Disclaimer: not my characters, not my worlds, no infringement intended
Series: Mare Nubium
Time frame: toward the end of Buffy season seven.
"I think the water's starting to go cold again."
"So do you want me to juice the water heater? I can kick it up to full beyond a hot tub blast."
"I think I'm ready to go lie down now."
"Let me grab you guys some extra towels then."
Willow headed out of the small bathroom, leaving me behind with Anya in the shower. Both of us were wet and naked and slippery and I was too banged up to do anything other than let her prop me into a standing position so the hot water could do its thing. You'd think that the bad karma would just ease up a little bit here and there, but that's life on the Hellmouth for you.
"I'm back with fluffy towel goodness," Willow said, a puff of colder air following her back into the bathroom as she opened and closed the door. As Anya turned off the faucet, she flipped a series of towels over the shower curtain rod.
"I've got your hair first. Wet hair leads to everything else staying all cold enough to be shriveled up, and you don't need any more of that happening. I rolled my head forward, catching a good look at the water that was having a hard time draining from the tub. We hadn't been able to make a positive i.d. of the demon that had almost killed me earlier in the night, but we had learned that it had bled in a near rainbow of technicolor. The water now cooling in the tub had diluted the blood into something more pastel, kind of like that rainbow sherbert Mom used to give me once in a while when I was a kid.
Anya snapped the towel around my head, draping it so I couldn't see much. I had to hiss in pain as she accidentally brushed against the side of my face where the demon's fist had gone. If I'd still been human, it probably would have given me a skull fracture for that. Then the towel was wrapped around my head as she executed her version of a turbie twist, and she began to gently pat the rest of me dry, her hands careful not to press us against what seemed to be a mess of broken ribs.
After Anya finished drying both me and herself off, the two of them helped me hobble into Joyce's old bedroom. Since the worst of the damage seemed to be limited to the left side of me, I curled up in the bed and under the covers so that I was laying on my right side. Anya slid into the bed behind me, looping her arm over a slightly less bruised part of my stomach. I was naked and in bed with my gorgeous ex-fiancee who seemed to be liking me again, and I here I was too hurt to enjoy it. Bad karma had struck again.
"When was Carlos going to be able to make it here from Santa Barbara?" Anya said. Carlos was the ulfric, the leader of the closest werewolf pack to Sunnydale.
"He said some time between 2:30 and 3:00am." Willow said, glancing at the clock radio next to the bed. "So he's still at least a half hour out. Do you want me to make with the wolfy first aid then?"
"Please do, oh friend that resembles Little Red Riding Hood. I promise not to bite."
"You better not. I mean I've got enough problems in my life that happen once a month." Willow said as she began to pull off her jeans. Her shirt followed, but she left on her bra and panties. It hadn't been the first time that I'd gotten banged up enough to need some additional support until Carlos could get here, and it probably wasn't the last. She knew the drill by now.
She got into the other side of the bed so I could spoon around her, my chest touching but not pressing against her back, and my arm going around the bottom of her rib cage. Curling up with Willow wasn't quite like curling up with another werewolf when you needed to heal. But her own magic had a similar effect, and when she let her shields down just a little, my body could use what power trickled out to stabilize and start healing itself.
I tried to doze off, but the girls wouldn't really let me. Willow mumbled something about how people with head injuries shouldn't be allowed to really go to sleep. Then sooner than later, Kennedy came charging up to the second floor, walking into the bedroom without knocking.
"That Carlos guy you said you were expecting is at the front door. He's got someone named Malikah with him."
"Invite them in, and send them up," I said.
"So that's werewolf first aid?" she said, eyeing Willow's spot on the bed. She was clearly not happy with where her girlfriend was, but I think she was even unhappier that we had kept my not exactly human anymore status a secret from her and the rest of the Potentials until I had had to out myself that night. Girls gossiped, and sooner or later, it would have gotten out into the local vampire and demon community. It wasn't that I was ashamed of what I was, it was that the bad guys underestimating the Zeppo had given us enough of an edge to win a couple of messy fights we might have otherwise lost.
"Werewolf first aid. Don't worry, I'm trying to pull every guy trick in the books to get her to take her underwear off, and that kind of move is guaranteed to send her screaming back into your arms." I said. She gave me a small tight smile to show me she was anything but amused at that, but at least she went downstairs to let my people in.
I could smell Carlos and Malikah before I could see them, and I was already smiling by the time they walked into the bedroom.
"I'd like to thank the two of you for looking after my wolf until I could get to them," he said to Willow and Anya as nodded at them, his inflection carefully formal.
"And thanks for driving all the way out here to help him out."
"Dawn said on the phone that he got knocked on the head pretty well, and it's bad and hard enough having to shift on top of the Hellmouth under normal conditions, much less when you're trying to heal a possible concussion," he said, kicking off shoes and pulling his shirt off.
"You're going to leave everything on the floor again, aren't you?" Malikah said, neatly pulling her skirt down over her hips, and folding it to put it on top of a dresser. It was an old argument between the two of them. She may have been pack Hati during the nights, but she was a stay at home mother and fourth grade homeroom parent during the day. Her house didn't have so much as a flower petal out of place.
"I've just got to pick it up when we go back home, so why fuss?" Carlos said as he finished stripping. As he stepped toward the bed, I felt Anya pull away from me a little bit to make room for the wolves. I ended up with my head in Carlos' lap, and Malikah and Anya sharing space along my back.
"I still don't get why you stay in this town," Carlos said.
"It's where I'm supposed to be. Besides, you should be glad I'm here to help the Slayer keep the Hellmouth's most wanted bottled up in Sunnydale rather than having them end up bothering the rest of the pack in Santa Barbara."
"You never know. Right now, I've got enough hotheads around that could probably stand the lesson that would come from that kind of hunt, provided that they managed to survive it."
Carlos let his power wash over me then. He was one of those rare alpha shifters who could heal you quickly by their force of will alone. I let my mind drift as I felt the sea of warmth flow from him to me, and wash through all the parts of my body that had been damaged or broken. Muscles and bones rebuilt themselves, and the pain faded away. Carlos wasn't perfect, but you couldn't fault how hard he worked to take care of his pack.
When I opened my eyes again, it was because I felt Buffy's hand patting me on my calf. She was still covered by the same technicolor goop and blood that Anya had scrubbed off me earlier.
"How are you doing?" she asked.
"Lots better now. Did you get it? And did anyone ever figure out what it was?"
"All I can tell you is that that slut Rainbow Brite and her minions will never be bothering anyone in this town again."
I laughed, and was glad to discover that it didn't hurt. In a lot of ways, I've had a hard life, and it's looking like it's only going to get harder until we figure out how to stop the First. So when you do get those moments when everything suddenly feels warm and calm and wonderful, you grab onto them tight and hold them as long as you can. So there I was surrounded by both Scoobies and part of the Santa Ynez pack, and I ended up doing my best to avoid falling asleep because it somehow did turn into one of those really good moments.