The First Inning: Batter up!
"Hey, there! Are you waking up for me? How are you
was an angel standing beside him. Dressed all
in white and heart-breakingly pretty, with a glowy kind
of aura back-lighting
her. Definitely an angel.
Which, unfortunately, could only mean one thing. For
some reason....he was dead.
go back to sleep!" the angel ordered sternly. "It's
past time for you to wake up. Come on, now. Open your
was a pretty bossy angel.
"I mean it! Open them up!"
**I don't want to....**
"Talk to me!"
"Tell me your name!"
**Why don't you KNOW my name? Are YOU new
the angel shouted, clapping her hands
sharply together right next to his ear.
**All right, already! I'm awake...**
a deep breath, Spike forced his eyes open a
crack. "Stop yelling at me," he grumbled, shocked at
how weak his voice
sounded, and equally surprised
to see that his right leg was suspended in mid air.
Oddly enough, his surliness seemed
to make the angel
very happy. Her face was instantly transformed by the
prettiest smile he'd ever been graced with.
obviously a professional.
"I'll stop yelling," she said, 'if you'll tell me your name."
he croaked, then cleared his throat. "William...Tho-
mas....Richardson. But...most people....call me Spike."
Spike...I'm very happy to meet you. Want a drink of
He nodded, which turned out to be a huge mistake as
made him momentarily dizzy.
The angel smiled and helped him lift his head, offering
him a drink from a green
plastic cup. He took a small sip,
then laid his aching head back down.
"Spike...do you know where you are?"
ma'am," he replied, in as friendly a tone as
he could produce.
"Are you sure?"
I'm sure," he said, summoning up a smile for her. "I
mean....it's not really the way I've always pictured it, but
am I to question the Lord?"
Angel-face laughed. Beautiful, heavenly laughter. Like
angels laughing. He
immediately searched his fuddled mind for something
else amusing to say, just to hear her laugh
"Who indeed?" the angel said. "Are you in pain?"
That question gave him a nasty start. His eyes widened
in alarm. "Should I be?"
The angel, who appeared to be sporting a name tag
on the front of her white robes,
shook her head. "No,"
she said. "You're pretty doped up."
"Excuse me?" Doped up? Doped up on what? On dope?
drugs? They're pushing drugs in Heaven?
What the hell was happening? This was insane. There were
no drugs in Heaven.
He had been dragged to Sunday School
and Church for most of his childhood and early teens, and
none of the ministers
had ever mentioned a drug problem in
Heaven. Not once. Angels, yes. Angel dust, no.
Well, this was certainly disillusioning.
And who said they
could give him drugs anyway? He hadn't even used drugs
when he'd been alive. Hellishly ironic, considering
that it was
mostly fear of of being killed by them that had kept him
away in the first place.
And it hadn't
been for lack of offers He was...had
been...in a profession where drugs were plentiful
and easy to come by.
everyone he met had something on them that they
were willing to share. But the promise of the high just wasn't
to block out the common sense his parents had
drummed into him all his life, not to mention the regular
by the team doctors.
All that, coupled with the fact that he had seen too many
of his friends die painfully unnecessary
deaths long before
their time, had kept him straight and clean.
And now...THIS had happened! Dead in his prime,
drugged against his will, and....strapped to a bed?
**What the hell kind of Heaven are they running here,
the angel asked, smiling sweetly. He must
have spoken that last thought out loud. "You think you're
no. This was just getting worse by the second. Dead,
but not in Heaven.
The alternative was unpleasant, to say
"You mean...I'm not?" he asked meekly, hoping perhaps
to hear that he was in Heaven's waiting room and
be called in shortly for his interview with God. Here's a
magazine to read while waiting.
not," Angel-face laughed, a little too gleefully,
Of course not. OF COURSE NOT? Well, what precisely
was THAT supposed to mean?
And why would she say it that way, as if the whole idea of
him ending up in Heaven
was simply too ludicrous to
imagine? Maybe he hadn't been saintly in his earthly life,
but he certainly didn't consider
himself a candidate for
How in the hell had he landed in hell? He'd led a good
never deliberately hurt anyone. He hadn't cheated
on any of the women he'd been involved with. He didn't steal,
run red lights, drink to excess, duck out on his bills, or
park in handicapped spaces.
He'd always been kind to
animals and the elderly, had
made regular charitable donations, remembered to return
library books on time, paid his
taxes and called his mother
Jesus Christ! He hadn't even lost his virginity until he was
was completely unfair. What kind of arbitrary
criteria did this bunch have set up to earn admittance
through the pearly
gates? Had he failed some sort of
unknown test or something?
And as long as he was asking questions....since when
did Hell have angels? And...and windows...with a stunning
view of San Francisco Bay....
Where was the inferno,
the screams of the damned, the
little devils jabbing you in the ass with pitchforks?
He looked beseechingly up at
Angel-face. Maybe this was
some kind of left handed blessing from the Almighty. Perhaps
it was God's way of saying,
"Well, William, you haven't
been TOO bad, I suppose. Now, I AM sending you to hell,
make no mistake, but I'll let
you take one of my angels
along for company."
Spike tried to push himself into a sitting position, and
blacked out at the blast of agony surging up and
down his left arm. He was surprised to see it wrapped in a
bandage and strapped snugly to his chest, but
before he had a chance to open his mouth, his arm said,
collapsed out from under him, dropping him
back onto the pillow with an unpleasant thump that sent
another bolt of
pain screaming through his head.
**Okay, NOW it's beginning to feel like Hell...**
"Why would God let me break
my arm and then
give me a headache on top of it?"
"Spike...listen to me. You're NOT in Heaven."
he groaned, placing his right arm over his
"You're not in hell, either."
He moved his arm down an
inch, peering up at
Angel-face. "Pardon me?"
How could that be true? Heaven and Hell were pretty
much the only
options. It was one or it was the other.
"You're not dead, Spike. You're in the hospital."
The relief he felt
at not being dead was quickly over-
shadowed by the fear that he soon might be. In the
"You mean why are you in the hospital?"
He nodded gently, not wanting to jar anything loose.
hit by a car."
"Oh. Badly?" Big mouth, had to know!
"Not as badly as you could have been."
whom he now identified as a nurse,
wrapped her fingers around his right wrist, a move
that delighted him until he
realized that she wasn't
holding his hand, she was taking his pulse.
"You sprained your left wrist, your right
leg has a
hairline fracture and you have a whole bunch of cuts
and bruises. None of those things are too serious on
their own, but YOU also managed to get yourself a
nasty blow to your head."
She was silent for a moment, counting.
been unconscious since you were brought in,"
she added, taking an electronic thermometer out of
her pocket. "Open
He obeyed, not wanting to do anything that might
make her leave the room. The gadget beeped almost
instantly, and she checked the results, writing them
down on what he assumed was his medical chart.
the chart into it's slot on the wall, she
turned to him with another one of those killer
smiles. He smiled back at
"You rest now," she said, heading for the door.
What!? His smile disappeared.
**Say something, you
idiot! Don't let her leave!**
"What's your name?" His voice cracked slightly.
**Oh, that was well done. Sound
like a thirteen
year old boy. THAT'LL impress her!**
But she stopped and returned to his bedside.
he didn't have to be concerned about the
disposition of his immortal soul, he was able to con-
centrate fully on her.
or not, she was pretty enough to be one.
She had beautifully clear skin that never saw harsh sun
or wind. Her teeth
were even and white, and she had
grass green eyes with tiny flecks of gold in them. Her hair
was a lovely honey brown
mass, tied back from her face.
The uniform she was wearing didn't reveal much about her
figure, but he didn't care.
He could live a long and happy
life just gazing into those amazing eyes of hers.
"I'm Buffy," she said, extending
her right hand. "Buffy
He accepted her hand with what he felt to be pathetic
weakness. "I'm pleased
to meet you, Buffy. I'm Spike
Richardson....although I already told you that, didn't I?"
Spike watched her face
this time, to see if she recognized
his name, but all she did was release his hand. That kicked
the slats right out
from under his ego.
"I'm pleased to meet you, too, Spike. But now, I have to go
and let the doctors who've been
treating you know that
you're awake. There's also a man in the waiting room who
came in with you last night, and he's
been driving everyone
nuts asking when you'd wake up."
Oh, swell. He made a face. "Do I really have to see him?"
Angel-face looked surprised. "You mean you don't
want to see him?"
"Isn't he a friend?"
Spike replied glumly. "He's an agent."
"Oh. Well, if you're sure you don't want to see him
then I can probably
get rid of him. Shall I try?"
Spike nodded. "I'd appreciate it."
She smiled. "Okay, then. I'll take care of
again, she turned and headed for the door.
Spike felt his heart seize up. "Are you coming
course I'll be back," she assured him as she
walked out the door. "You're my patient."
He settled back into the
pillows, grinning like an
idiot. His own little 'Florence Nightingale' would be
**Sure she will,**
he thought smugly, spotting the
call button. **I'm her patient!**
He couldn't wait!
The Second Inning:
The Wind Up
Buffy tried hard to concentrate on her other patients. She
only had three, and they certainly
deserved the same
attention she gave to the patient in room 205.
But there was just something about him. He was
darn appealing, and funny....with a great smile. Every time he
smiled, it transformed his already handsome face
to a sweet
little boyish look that she would have a difficult time resisting.
She delivered meds, took vitals, and
changed dressings on
her other patients, making polite conversation, but feeling no
urge to stay and talk with them
once her work was completed.
Checking in on room 205, she found that her patient had
fallen asleep. This definitely
intensified the 'little boy' look
she'd already noted. His face was pale, with only the slightest
hint of a tan starting.
He had a mop of light brown curls that
were tipped at the end with the results of a previous bleach
job that he was
letting grow out.
Even though his eyes were closed, she could remember
well what a startling shade of blue they
were, and how they
sparkled when he smiled at her.
She had the oddest feeling that she'd seen him before,
wasn't quite sure where. He had to be from out of
town since he was apparently not used to San Francisco
too many locals landed in the emergency
room for being hit by a car. They knew how to dodge
taxis and cable cars.
general appeal that he had for her had made her feel
surprisingly protective of him...and a bit defensive.
had dealt with the agent in the waiting room briefly and
firmly, ready to switch from 'Nurse Nice' to 'Nurse Nasty' if
she needed to.
Buffy had explained that although Spike was awake and lucid,
he was still very weak and in no
way ready to have visitors.
Although clearly displeased, the agent gave her a business
card with both his office
and home phone numbers on it, de-
manding to be called immediately when Spike was up to it.
She'd examined the card
before slipping it into her pocket. It
had a cream colored background and chunky black lettering
stating that it belonged
to one 'Alexander Harris', who was a
member of the 'Rosenberg, Osbourne, and Harris Sports
Management Group' .
that explained a lot. Room 205 had an agent who was
extremely concerned about his health and well-being, so that
he must be some sort of professional athlete.
Shift change was coming up, but Buffy found herself oddly
to leave, certainly not without telling Spike goodbye.
She bought a can of soda from the machine in the nurses
then sat down to work on her charts.
At exactly 10:45, a call bell sounded. She knew without even
looking at the
board that Spike was pressing that bell.
As she headed for room 205, she saw an aide coming from
the opposite direction.
Putting on a bit more speed, Buffy
managed to cut her off at the doorway.
"I'll take care of it," she assured the
girl. "He's just ready for
his pain meds." Another light went on down the hallway.
"Why don't you take that one?"
Buffy suggested, pointing
Upon entering the room, she saw that Spike had raised the
back of the bed and
was sitting up a little. He smiled when
he saw her, but she could see the strain behind the grin. He
you in pain?" she asked.
"A bit," he replied, obviously trying for casual nonchalance.
Buffy had prepared the
injection over an hour ago, and had
been carrying it in her pocket. "Well, I'll fix that for you."
"You really ARE
an angel," he said softly.
Her cheeks turned light pink. "That's probably the nicest
thing anyone's ever said to
me," she replied as she tore
open an alcohol swab and cleaned a spot on his arm. After
administering the injection,
she recapped the syringe and
put it back in her pocket.
"The doc was in a few minutes ago," he informed her. "He
something about maybe starting an IV?"
Buffy grabbed his chart, noting the time of the injection,
then studied the
doctors instructions. "Hmm...yes. It's so
you can administer your own pain medication. They'll put
the proper dosage
in the machine and then you just push
the button when you feel you need it and it'll give you just
the right amount."
the business card, she pulled it out of her
pocket. "I got rid of your agent," she said. "For now. But
I'm under orders
to call him the minute you're ready for a
"Oh, God...was he terribly rude?"
"Nothing I can't deal
with," she said. "But my shift is
almost over and I won't be able to..."
"Please don't worry about it," he said
quickly. "I've been
dealing with him for a while now. I wouldn't want to keep you
here when you should be going home..."
was a pathetically obvious lie. He didn't want her to go
anymore than she wanted to leave. He was just too polite
Buffy glanced up at the clock. "Listen, I'm going to go and
clock out now," she said, "but I'll come back and
sit with you
for a bit if you'd like some company."
His face brightened up considerably, and she nearly had
catch a breath when she saw again how amazingly hand-
some he was.
"I couldn't ask you to...." he began.
didn't ask. I offered. Be right back."
keeps her promises!**
Spike was feeling mildly high from the pain medication,
and he was pretty sure he was sporting
an idiotic grin
when Buffy walked back into the room in less than five
"I'm back," she announced, dropping
a handbag and
sweater on one of the chairs by the window.
"I see you. A vision in white. My very own angel-nurse,"
Buffy noticed the slight slurring of his words. He must have
a low tolerance for pain meds, which probably
he didn't use recreational drugs.
Another check in the plus column. He was becoming too
good to be
Spike could hear how he sounded, but he couldn't seem to
restrain his tongue. He wanted to talk to her, to
voice, and he didn't really care how stupidly he was coming
"Feeling better?" she asked.
Every time you walk into the room, I get a little
Buffy tried to disregard his blatant flirtation since
as high as a kite, but she couldn't resist it. He was too
cute for words. And the way his blue eyes sort of
the hospital gown was darling.
"Are you wearing someone else's uniform?" he asked.
"What? Why would
you think that?"
"Because it says 'Elizabeth' on your name tag."
"Oh, well...Elizabeth is my given name, and
requires me to use it."
He grinned appealingly. "I like 'Buffy' better."
"Me, too. It's a nickname
I picked up as a baby. No one
here uses it."
His head tilted a bit. "Can I use it?"
"If you like."
I do," he said. "A lot." Actually, he was elated. A
secret name. One that only he called her. God was good.
scooted the other chair closer and settled into it.
"What shall we talk about?"
Spike ignored the question. "Are
all nurses as pretty as
"Every last one of us," a loud voice announced as a tall
and heavy built nurse
walked into his room, completely
banishing any intimate glow he'd been carefully establishing
must be the shift change, he thought glumly.
**Well, this just won't do at all. This isn't MY nurse.
She's too big
and too loud. My nurse is small and
delicate, with a gentle voice. She's an angel. So,
off with YOU, loud one. And
don't even THINK about
touching me on your way out the door!**
But Buffy, his angel nurse, was actually smiling
at the unwelcome interloper. "Hey, Elena. How've you
The other nurse pulled Spike's chart off the wall
flipped it open. "Over worked and under appreciated,"
she said. Scanning the chart briefly, she placed it
the bedside table and looked at Spike. "So, how
are you feeling, blue eyes?"
"Not at all well," he replied irritably
smiled. He was practically pouting.
Elena reached for his wrist with a shrug.
"Is this really necessary?" he
"Do you think I'd be doing it if it wasn't?" Elena
asked, looking at her watch and lobbing the ball
back into his court.
The instant he opened his mouth to answer back,
the woman inserted that blasted thermometer.
was about to take it right back out when Buffy grabbed
"She has to take your vitals when she
comes on duty,"
she explained quietly. "Take them and chart them. Now,
She softened her words with a
gentle squeeze of his
hand, which pretty much took all the fight right out of him.
If his angel-nurse wanted him
to sit still and submit to
this harpy's attentions, he'd do it for her.
Anything to make her happy. She could parade
nurse, doctor, technician, orderly and janitor through
the room if it pleased her.
"So how come you're
still here?" Elena asked Buffy.
"Aren't you three to eleven?"
Buffy nodded. "Yes. I'm actually off duty. This is
The thermometer beeped, and Spike nearly spat it out
of his mouth.
the results. "Yeah? Is he a friend of
yours?" She wound the blood pressure cuff around
Spike's bicep and began inflating
it. "Funny that he
wound up in the hospital where you work, huh?"
"Hilarious," Spike muttered, rolling his eyes.
Elena chuckled. "Be nice to me, cutie. We'll be spending
a little time together and I have all
the sharp instruments,"
she warned him, scribbling in his chart. "Has he had his
"Yes he HAS, thank you
very much!" he snapped.
The woman hadn't been an RN for twenty-five years
without learning how to deal with a fractious
right, then." She replaced the chart in its slot. "Call me
if you need me."
"Oh, you can count
on it," Spike called after her. Turning
back to Buffy, he smiled. "Alone at last."
She couldn't hold back her laughter.
"She's right, you know.
You should be nicer. You're gonna need her."
Spike shrugged. "I'll send her some flowers.
he insisted at her skeptical look. "I'd swear it on my
mother's grave but she isn't dead so it wouldn't be
Still smiling, Buffy leaned back in the chair, giving him
a speculative look.
"What?" he asked,
grinning back at her.
"Nothing. Well, it's just that....I keep thinking I've seen
you somewhere before."
"Yeah, but where?"
Spike shrugged. "In your dreams?"
She rolled her eyes. "Oh, brother."
I meant to ask if you followed the sports
"No. Why? Are you in them?"
"Yeah." He tried not to sound
too braggy. "I play for
"Oh, the baseball team?"
"Heard of us, have you?"
"Of course I've heard of the team. Just
never heard of you."
"Ouch. There goes the old ego. Thanks ever so, angel
made her 'poor baby' face. "I'm sorry."
Spike took her teasing in good spirit. "Well, I'm fairly new.
there one season, so...."
"Well, what position do you play? I don't know a lot about
the pitcher," he informed her. "Maybe you...."
She snapped her fingers suddenly. "Oh, now I remember.
I saw you
on the news."
"Yeah?" he grinned happily.
"Didn't you break some sort of world record or something?"
that she knew about this, Spike shrugged with a
small amount of modesty. "That's right. I pitched two con-
no-hitters last season."
"Wow....that's a good thing, right?"
"Damn right," he replied emphatically. "No one's
two consecutive no-hitters before. Closest anyone ever came
was Nolan Ryan back in 1973, and his were two
She looked impressed, which pleased him no end.
He pointed at a small closet. "Are my clothes
"Um, yes." Buffy opened the closet door and pulled out a
plastic bag. She placed it on the bedside table
it up. "What's left of them, anyway." She extracted a black
tee shirt and a pair of jeans. "It looks like
they had to cut your
pants off in the ER," she told him, glancing back into the bag.
"Apparently you weren't wearing
anything underneath them."
"Nah. Never do," he replied. "Is my jacket in there?"
"Yes," She pulled it out.
in the right pocket."
Buffy did as he asked. Her hand emerged from the
pocket holding a baseball.
the ball from my second no-hitter. I pitched a
perfect game. Go ahead...ask me what a perfect game
had to smile. "Okay....what's a perfect game?"
"A perfect game is when a pitcher throws 27 straight
outs. See, you
can walk batters and still pitch a no-hitter,
but not a perfect game. In the whole history of Major League
there've only been 16 perfect games."
The animated way he was talking was really adorable. He
was so proud of his
accomplishment, but he didn't seem to
want to be all 'boasty' about it. The more wound up he got,
the more she found
herself attracted to him.
"Well, I'm impressed," she said, putting his clothes back in
the closet. "But maybe you
should let me lock up the ball
for you. It sounds like it might be valuable."
"It is," he nodded. "You wouldn't
believe how much I've been
offered for it."
"Then I should definitely lock it up."
He tilted his head again
in that adorable way. "Tell you what,"
he said, "why don't you have it?"
"Me?" she asked, surprised. "I couldn't
"Why not? It's my ball. I can do what I like with it."
"Because....well, because you hardly know me.
would you want to give me one of your perfect balls?"
The comment hung in the air between them for a moment,
they both laughed at the same time.
"I meant...I mean...." Buffy said, her cheeks turning red.
"I know what
you meant," Spike said. "Look, if you don't
want my balls..."
"What? You mean you DO want my
"I'm getting a stitch in my side," she gasped. "Now stop..."
He took a deep breath, and waited for her
to stop laughing.
"Are you okay?" she asked. "You didn't just laugh yourself
back into pain, did you?"
I just...well, I need to...use the...you know," he said,
glancing pointedly at his lap.
"Oh. All right. Do you need
the bed pan or the urinal?"
Now, HIS cheeks turned slightly red. "Just the urinal."
She handed it to him, then
pulled the curtain closed around
the bed and waited.
"Um...angel-nurse?" His voice sounded a bit strained.
"Just a small one."
She peeked around the side of the curtain, then nearly
gasped out loud.
small one? Sure as heck doesn't look like a small
one to me!!!**