Chicken Soup for the Soulless
Well, at least that answered the question of whether Willow was awake yet or not. It was a right impressive sneeze and Spike marveled at how such a slight little thing could make the headboard shake like that.
And no, it didn’t make him wonder what else she could do to make the bed shimmy that same way.
All right, so what if it did? He hadn’t had any in awhile and deprivation was bound to make a bloke a bit… reflective on the potential of the ladies of his acquaintance. It wasn’t just Willow. He had even thought about… all right, so he hadn’t thought about anyone else, but that was only because he didn’t have such a wide social circle these days, what with the chip and all.
She sat up, arranging her pillows behind her, just before…
There she went again, more forcefully than before – this time her head jerked back and hit the wall.
“Ow,” she whined, reaching up to rub the back of her head, her nose reddened and scrunched up in the most ador… No it was not adorable. And she wasn’t adorable. Then she turned and fixed a quizzical look on him. “What are you doing here?”
“Brought you some soup,” he said, remembering the tray he was carrying. She relaxed slightly, but he knew that wouldn’t last.
It didn’t. Within seconds, she came over suspicious. “Why did you bring me soup?” She paused and then added, “I thought Buffy was coming over to feed me and stuff.” Then she was wracked by a coughing spasm and Spike hurried over to set the tray on her desk before coming back to the bed, tucking the blankets tighter around her, and rubbing her back.
“Think they’re still worried about catching what you’ve got,” he said once she quieted.
Willow looked at him quizzically. “What about you?”
“Vampire, remember? Not much chance of gettin’ sick once you’re dead.”
“Oh. I knew that, didn’t I?” She reddened in shame; he hated to see her feel that way. Yes, the moron had asked him the same question, but that block of wood wasn’t the least bit afflicted – well, not with anything you could cure, at any rate.
“With all that junk cloggin’ up your head, you’re allowed to forget a few things.” As if to help make his point, she was immediately wracked by another fit of coughs.
“I hate being sick,” she whined, tears in her eyes, once the coughs had subsided.
Spike pulled her to him so that her head rested on his shoulder and began stroking her hair“’S’okay, luv.”
There was a soft sigh, but then she grew upset again. “No, it isn’t,” she wailed. “I’m completely useless. I can’t even help with research or…”
Quickly cutting her off, Spike snorted, “Pfft. ‘Bout time the others learned to pull their own weight. Be nice of the Watcher to at least learn to turn on a computer, and as for Doughnut Boy, time for him to try his hand at reading something that doesn’t have naked chits in it.” He was poised to say something about Buffy when he decided that maybe less was more when giving his unvarnished opinions of her worthless friends.
“That’s not fair,” she protested, before another sneeze stopped her from continuing. “Kleenex?” she asked. Spike handed her one and she wiped her nose. “I feel so icky.”
“There, there now, pet. You’ll be right as rain in no time. You just need rest. Oh, and soup.” He got up and got the tray, admiring her grace as she balanced it neatly on her legs. The once-hot broth was now cooled to the perfect temperature and Willow sipped it gratefully.
“Thanks, Spike.” After she took two sips, though, her brow furrowed again. “This tastes different,” she said, her eyes narrowing as she looked at him.
“Different from what?” He was puzzled, and a bit insulted, to be honest. No one had ever impugned his skills in the kitchen before… or anywhere else, for that matter.
“From what Campbell’s usually tastes like.”
What? Who was…? If some bloke was making her… Oh. Wait a minute. Did she mean that tinned rubbish he’d seen in her pantry? “That would be because this isn’t some store-bought, processed swill. Made this m’self.”
Her eyes shot wide with an expression that looked a lot like awe. “You… you made this? For me?” From the tone of her voice, you’d have thought he’d made her choux farci au saumon and not some plain mug of broth, noodles, and bits of indifferent supermarket poultry. He hadn’t even had enough time for the broth to take on a proper flavor.
“Nothing fancy,” he said, feeling a tightness in his chest at the way she was gazing at him as if his soup was the most wonderful gift she’d ever been given. “But I couldn’t see feeding you something laden with enough chemicals to constitute a science experiment.” He really couldn’t. Hell, he hadn’t even heard of half the ingredients listed on the label of that so-called chicken soup she’d clearly been expecting.
“No one’s ever made me homemade soup before. It’s…” She paused and that hitch in her voice wasn’t from her congestion. “It’s the best soup I’ve ever had. I didn’t even know chicken soup could taste like this.”
If he’d been a ponce, he’d be feeling… But he wasn’t a ponce, so it didn’t mean a thing to him that the chit was looking at him like he was her knight in shining armour.
All right. All bloody right. It did mean something. So just call him William, stick a book of poetry in his hand, and have done with it. “If the broth had more time, it’d be even better. But you needed something now, so…”
“You know how to cook, huh?” She fixed him with a look both questioning and confused. “Why did you do this for me? Go to all this trouble, I mean?”
Gods below. Even wracked by the grippe, she managed to come up with the tough questions. “Don’t right know,” he said with a shrug. “Guess I felt like it. Not a skill I get to put to use very often.” And if that wasn’t an outright lie, he didn’t know what was, but what the hell else was he supposed to say?
Oh, indeed. Bloody hell! She looked deflated and as she sipped her soup he could see how much less joy it brought her.
That damn chip was turning his demon into a cuddly toy, that was it, but he couldn’t stop himself from sitting carefully on the bed next to her and saying, “Figure I might as well be nice to ya, seein’ as how…” He stopped himself before he said anything about understanding what it was like to have the love of your life rip out your entrails and stomp on ‘em and how much he wished he’d done things differently the day he kidnapped her, instead finishing with a lamely noncommittal, “You’re not so bad, y’know. Only one out of the whole Scooby lot that I can stand. Things are better when you’re around.”
His answer was a soft smile and then she tucked back into her soup, clearly enjoying it again. When she was done, he picked up the tray so he could take it downstairs. Before he could advise her to lie back down, she was already doing just that.
As he headed out the door, he heard her say softly, “I like you too, Spike.”
If he’d been that poncy milksop William, he’d have smiled all the way back to the kitchen and he might have sung to himself as he washed up the mug and spoon. But of course, since he wasn’t…
Bugger it. At least there weren’t any witnesses.