The Third Inning: The Pitch
Clinical detachment. It was something that all
doctors and nurses had to practice. Let the guard
down, let the emotions show, and you'd spend
too much time sobbing in an analyst's chair.
Buffy had actually been taught that. It was a part of
her nurses training, and she'd been fairly good about
practicing it the way it had been preached. Somehow,
she had managed to find a comfort zone, a place in
between the points of 'not caring at all' and 'caring
far too much than was good for sound mental health'.
Then, Spike Richardson had landed in her life,
and clinical detachment had flown right out the
His charm, good looks, and blatant flirtation had
completely disarmed her, and mixed in with all
that was a powerful amount of physical attraction.
Simply put....the man was adorable, in more ways than
one. How could she possibly be expected to not notice
it, or disregard it, when it was coming at her like a
And she could pinpoint the exact moment her
detachment had taken a powder; when she'd been
called in by him for assistance with the urinal.
The instant she'd moved back the curtain and beheld
his rather charming predicament, it had begun to
slip. When her eyes had moved down to the 'trouble
zone', it had picked up the pace.
For along with all the other goodies he possessed, the
ones visible when he was fully dressed, he also
happened to be extremely well equipped in a way
most men only wished they were.
In order to keep herself from staring like some over-
sexed baseball groupie, Buffy had gone right into
'stern nurse' mode, all business and practical concern.
Quickly deducing that his problem lay in the fact that
he was performing the necessary maneuvers with only
one good hand, and 'spillage' had occurred...not a lot,
but enough to be uncomfortable...she had acted.
After dumping the contents of the urinal into the
toilet, she had filled a plastic basin with warm, soapy
water and cleaned him up, then fetched fresh bedding
from the linen closet and changed the damp bed sheet.
By the time she'd finished with the chores, his pain
medication had begun kicking in and was making him
drowsy. He fell asleep right before her eyes, and she'd
gathered together her belongings and left, briefly stopping
at the nurses station to inform Elena of his output.
It was nearly one in the morning by the time she'd
arrived home, but she'd been oddly hyped up and had
trouble getting to sleep.
Now, when it was nearly time for her shift to begin,
she was nervous.....and a little excited....at the prospect
of seeing him again.
It seemed that clinical detachment had deserted her
She pushed her card into the time clock slot, waited for
the loud 'chunk' sound, then removed it and slipped it
back into its place on the board. With one last look in
the mirror to check her appearance, she stepped out of
Without even turning her head in the proper direction,
Buffy knew that there was something going on in room
Loud voices, raised in the tones of affectionate teasing,
rose from the end of the hallway.
"What in the....."
Anything else she'd been about to say was forever
lost when a small hand tapped her shoulder and she
turned to see one of the daytime LVNs grinning at her.
"Elizabeth!" the girl squeaked. "Do you know who we've
got in 215?"
"Um, yeah...." Buffy peeked at the girls name tag. "...Amy."
"Have you seen them yet?"
Buffy frowned. Them?
"Them? Who's them?" she asked, heedless of her poor
Without her really being aware they were doing it, her
feet began moving her along towards room 215. She
tuned out Amy's babbling voice and concentrated on
the noise coming from Spike's room.
Once she got there, she had to push her way into the
room past at least a half dozen young men who
looked to be in the same age bracket as her patient, or
maybe just a little older.
Two other nurses were in the room as well, and the
flirtatious banter was being lobbed back and forth like
"Angel Nurse!" she heard Spike say loudly, and she
pushed her way through the crowd of young men towering
over her. "You're back!"
"Uh, yeah....of course I am." Buffy tried to do a head
count to determine how many of these boys she was going
to have to eject from the room.
"Here." Spike held out his arm, still grinning. "Go ahead
and take my pulse. She does this every time she comes in
the room," he informed his friends.
Absently, Buffy placed her fingers around his wrist and
counted. When 15 seconds passed, she grabbed his chart
and made a note of it.
"Guess who these guys are?" he challenged her.
Buffy's eyes skipped from one man to the next. "Oh, I'll say
that they're probably the rest of the team."
"That's right!" he said brightly. "Yeah....that's Xander...
Xander Harris, he's the catcher. And that one there is Riley
Finn....best first baseman ever. That's Nick Newmar, our
shortstop, Alan Powell...he plays second, and that one there
is Jack Calvin....he's on third. Then there's....hey, where did
Elliott disappear to....he's our...oh, there he is...Elliott Hodge.
We stick him way out in deep left field so he can sleep
through all the games."
"Up yours, Richardson," an amused voice stated.
Loud laughter rang out in the room.
"Everyone....this is B....this is Elizabeth. She's my very
own angel nurse." He pointed one finger at Nick. "You
stay away from her."
"What'd I do?" the shortstop asked, placing one hand on
his chest and trying to look innocent. He made his blue
eyes wide, and gave Buffy a lop sided smile. "Nice to
meet you, Elizabeth," he said, pushing a mop of wavy
blond hair back. "Don't let the kid run you off your feet,"
he added. "He's not as hurt as tries to make out."
"Well, actually...." Buffy began to speak, but was cut
off by the third baseman.
"Probably stepped in front of the car on purpose,"
Jack said. "Just to get a little time off." His eyes, a
deeper blue than his teammates, gave off a boyish
sparkle that was difficult to discount. When you combined
it with medium length sable brown hair, his attraction
factor carried quite a kick. He looked to be a little
younger than the others, and Buffy couldn't help
smiling back at him.
The second baseman, Alan, leaned back against
the wall, his hands in the pockets of his jeans. "You
taking good care of our star pitcher?" he asked, his
dark grey eyes moving up and down her body with
Here was one who knew exactly how attractive he
was, Buffy thought. Those eyes were sharp, and didn't
miss a thing. The other two nurses in the room were
practically sighing as they took in the blond hair, the
nicely built chest and the impressive height. In a room
full of tall men, he was the tallest.
"Well, I'm TRYING to," Buffy replied, placing her
hands on her hips and shaking her head. "I'm not sure
all this racket is helping," she scolded.
"Uh-oh!" the one who'd been introduced as Xander
piped up. "I think we're in trouble, guys."
One of the afternoon aides walked in, dressed in a
white blouse and peppermint candy striped pinafore,
carrying a plastic pitcher of ice water and setting it
down on the bedside table....a table that already had
a water pitcher on it, Buffy noted, to go along with
the one on the other bedside table...and the two
on the small counter by the sink.
Spike Richardson smiled and said 'thank you', even
though the mission of mercy was highly unnecessary,
nothing more than an obvious ploy to gain admittance
to the roomful of handsome baseball players.
Dawn, as the girl's name tag proclaimed her to be,
blushed a light shade of pink and smiled. Her light
brown hair was pulled back into a neat ponytail,
with a couple of wisps escaping the elastic.
Buffy caught movement out of the corner of her
eye, and she turned to see a man she hadn't known
was there stand up suddenly. Although fairly tall, this
one appeared to be markedly younger than the others,
no more than fifteen or sixteen years old, and she
wondered what position HE played.
"Hi," he said, gazing at the pretty teenage girl
with an enraptured look in his eyes.
Dawn returned that gaze back at him and murmured,
Seeing that the two kids were slightly tongue-tied,
Spike helped them out. "Um....this is Sammy," he
said, gesturing at the gawking boy. "He's our bat
Which would explain his relative youth, Buffy
"He's a bit older than they usually are," Spike
went on, "but he kept showing up at the park every
day, begging for the job. Drove our coach crazy
until he finally gave in."
Sammy's cheeks flushed a little, but he didn't seem
displeased. With his dark brown curls and eyes like
melting chocolate, the reddish tinge looked good on
Buffy waited a moment, then tapped the girl on her
arm. "Do you think you could start collecting the lunch
trays?" she asked, trying to control her smile. "It won't
be long until they'll need them in the kitchen for dinner."
Dawn's blush increased. "Oh, I'm....yeah, I'll go and...and
do that right now. Sorry...I just...um..."
Sammy practically fell over his own feet trying to
get to the door. "I'll help," he volunteered, making the
guys in the room snicker and nudge each other.
Buffy found the situation very sweet, and if one of them
dared to make any kind of off color remark, she was
fully prepared to box that person's ears but good.
She leaned out the door and watched as Dawn moved in
and out of rooms, sliding the trays back onto the cart that
Sammy pushed along the corridor for her.
Turning back into the room, she saw Spike smiling. "Cute,
Buffy had to agree.
Deciding to give them all a few more minutes of visiting
time before she kicked the team out, Buffy went about
tending to her other patients.
Once she had all her medications delivered and treatments
performed she charted the results and then made her way
back to 215.
Although she would have supposed that a young man who
seemed to be so popular with his teammates would garner
a great deal of sympathy for his injury, she was a little
surprised to hear them all treating it like it was hysterically
It took her a few minutes to realize that this was simply
their way of conveying emotion while letting their friend
know that he'd be just fine, and that they would do what-
ever was necessary to help him along.
Finally, she had to go back and eject them from the
room. Visiting hours were over, and she'd noted on
her last brief stop that Spike was looking tired and
They all left, promising to return soon and asking her
where the pretty nurses had all gone off to. Buffy waved
her hand in the general direction of the elevator,
suspecting that they wouldn't be hard to find.
She walked back into room 215, and found Spike
had fallen asleep. Making a brief attempt to tidy up
the room a bit, she tossed out paper cups and half
empty soda cans, gathered up the pages of a news-
paper with a leading story on the accident and
frowned when she saw that the driver of the car
had been arrested for being under the influence.
Buffy hated people who got behind the wheel of
a car when they'd been drinking. She'd worked in
the ER long enough to see the horrible results of
such actions, usually visited upon the innocent party
while the guilty one suffered no more than a few
scrapes and a bad hangover.
She was closing the blinds against the glare of the
late afternoon sun when she heard a voice, slightly
slurry from sleep.
"Do you date patients, angel nurse....when they're
Every nerve ending on Buffy's body jumped to life.
"Would you date me?"
She had never dated a patient. Not once, and she'd been
asked many times. It was an iron clad policy that she'd
adhered to with strict determination, the same way she
did when it came to dating men she worked with.
No. Never. Dating a patient was a bad idea, and
she never even considered it......
Turning around slowly, she met his intent blue
gaze, opened her mouth, and said....."Yes."
The Fourth Inning: The Swing!
He grinned back at her, charming her right
out of ANY future notions of detachment.
"You mean it?" he asked, his blue eyes as
anxious as a child's. "You'll go out with me?"
Slipping her hands into the pockets of her
sweater, she moved to stand closer to the
bed. "What you asked before, about me dating
patients? I really don't. It's just....it's not a good
idea to get involved that way. And I shouldn't..."
"But you will," he interjected. "You said it. Can't take
it back now."
"I know." She sighed. "And I don't want to take it
His grin became even more boyishly cute. "Because
you like me?"
"Yes," she said, laughing just a bit. "I like you."
"And we should get to know each other better?" he
"I guess so." She took a closer look at him and noticed
that his eyes were a little overly bright, almost glassy.
That observation sent her right into 'nurse' mode, and
she placed her hand on his forehead. "You're a little
"You're telling ME!"
"No, I mean it," she said, pushing away the hand that
was trying to grab hold of hers. "I'll be right back."
"I'm fine...don't go....come on, angel nurse.."
She shook her head and ordered him to be still
until she returned with the thermometer.
When the gadget beeped, she wasn't surprised at
the result. "You're running a fever." She made a
quick note in his chart. "I have to put in a call to
"Oh, not him," Spike complained. "I saw him this
morning. He has cold, clammy hands." He gave her
an appealing look. "Can't YOU just take care of me? I
mean, it's not serious, is it? I feel fine."
"Probably not," she said. "It's not unusual to run a bit
of a fever after a surgical procedure, but I still have
to let him know about it and he'll okay treatment."
"What sort of treatment?"
"Most likely acetaminophen and a tepid bed
bath to cool you down some."
That information perked him right up. "A bed bath?
Given by angel-nurse?"
Buffy tried hard to subdue her smile. "Yes."
Ten minutes later she returned to his room,
placing her supplies on the bedside table.
"Are you in pain?"
"No," he shook his head. "Not a bit. Is it bath time?"
"Medicine first." She handed him a small cup
containing two white tablets, and his water. "Take
He swallowed them down obediently, watching her
fill a plastic basin at the sink. She placed it back on
the table, then pulled the curtain all the way around,
cutting them off from view of anyone passing by.
After adjusting his position, she placed thick towels
around him to prevent any of the water from dampening
his bed. "Lean forward a bit," she instructed, then untied
the fastenings of his hospital gown and let it drop around
Trying to ignore the hard, well cut muscle of his chest
and abdomen and concentrate on her job, Buffy dipped
her wash cloth into the lukewarm water, then picked up
his left arm and washed it from shoulder to wrist, being
careful not to disturb the wrappings around the sprain.
"Can I ask you a question?" Spike's voice was soft, and
a little husky.
"Yes." Buffy repeated her ministrations on his right
"If you never date your patients....why would you
She shrugged. "Don't know."
"You said you like me," he reminded her. "Why?"
"Are you fishing for compliments, Mr. Richardson?"
She smiled. How could she not, with him being so
darn adorable? "Does it matter WHY I like you?"
Now it was his turn to shrug. "Not really. As long as
"But tell me anyway."
Running the cloth gently over his shoulders, Buffy
considered her answer. "Oh...because it was cute
when you thought God had thrown you into hell and
slammed the gate after you."
He chuckled. "I was really out of it, wasn't I?"
"You were," she nodded. Taking a deep but silent
breath, she re-dipped the cloth and placed it on his
"Well," he persisted. "Is that the ONLY reason?"
The washcloth moved over the flat disc of his
nipple. She felt the sensation make him tense up
a little as he inhaled sharply.
"I'm not hurting you, am I?" she evaded. Looking up,
she caught him staring at her hand on his body.
"I...I wouldn't describe what I'm feeling as pain, no,"
he said quietly, glancing back up at her.
Buffy's hand went perfectly still for a moment when
their eyes met. "Did Doctor Phillips explain what
he did in surgery?" she asked, continuing to smooth
the tepid washcloth over his skin as she attempted
to distract herself by changing the subject.
There was a short pause, as if he was giving careful
consideration to his next move. "Yeah. He said it wasn't
a terribly bad break. He put a pin or something in. Said
it won't keep me out of the game, but I'll probably miss
the first part of spring training."
She nodded, avoiding his gaze. "You're very fortunate
that it wasn't worse."
"I know. If I couldn't play ball anymore...." He let the
sentence trail off.
Buffy picked it up. "If you couldn't play ball any-
more...what? What would you do?"
He thought for a moment. "I dunno," he finally
said. "S'pose I'd have to figure something else
out that I like just as much. Right now, playing
ball is pretty much what I like best. And I'm
damn good at it."
"Modesty is SUCH an endearing trait," she mur-
mured, continuing to apply her cloth.
"But false modesty is annoying and pretentious,"
he countered with a cocky smile. "Don't you
think you're a damn good nurse?"
"Yes...but I don't go around SAYING I'm a damn
"It's not the money, you know. There's already
more of THAT in the bank than one person could
"And there it is again."
"What? I'm not bragging. It's just a fact."
She scooted down a little, then pulled the
blankets off his uninjured leg, making sure he was
properly covered in the right place. "So, it's all
for the love of the game?"
"Uh-huh," he nodded. "Well, that and the babes."
"Girls love ball players. Hey, I'm teasing you.
A spurt of laughter parted her lips. "I think you're
a little bit incorrigible."
"I'm VERY incorrigible." He watched her drop the
washcloth into the basin and reach for a dry towel.
"What, it's not finished already, is it?"
"But you were just getting to the good part."
Buffy gently patted his leg dry, then whisked the
towel lightly over his chest. "Sorry about that."
"Well, I don't think I'm clean yet."
"That wasn't the purpose of the bath."
He grabbed her hand and placed it on his brow. "Do
I feel warm to you?"
"Not really, no."
"Oh, come on, angel nurse. A fever doesn't get
cured THAT fast," he insisted.
"It was a low grade fever," she said.
Spike grinned. "Well, if THAT'S all that's holding
you back I can send it sky high."
Before Buffy could even think of a reply, he
tugged on her hand, bringing her closer, cap-
turing her lips beneath his.
Although her hands were flat on his chest, she
couldn't even begin to try and fend him off. His
mouth was warm and tasted faintly of apples and
cinnamon, a flavor left over from the dessert on
his lunch tray.
When she felt the first light touch of his tongue,
she realized it wasn't him she might need to
struggle against, but the burgeoning desire she
was fast developing to climb into bed next to him,
to press herself against hard muscle and firm, bare
His slipped one hand around the back of her neck,
deepening the kiss even further, murmuring some-
thing against her lips that she couldn't understand.
Breaking apart for air was almost painful.
Panting, he pressed his forehead against hers and
closed his eyes. "You're amazing," he whispered,
"and I want you."
Buffy had no defense for it. "That works out nicely,
then. I want you, too."
"Buffy...angel...." His hands rubbed up and down
her shoulders. She could feel their warmth all the
way through her sweater.
"We...we have to stop," she said weakly. "You'll have
"No, I promise I won't. Don't stop."
The husky quality of his voice begging her to stay
close was madly compelling. She was literally one
kiss away from sinking into it without another thought,
when the PA crackled and she was called back to the
"I'll be back," she promised, dragging herself away
and gathering up the bath supplies.
"When?" he whispered, trying to catch hold of her
"As soon as I can."
He let her go with as much good grace as he could
muster up. Much as he would prefer to be the sole
focus of her attention, he understood that she had
Right before she left the room, he spoke up. "Buffy?"
She hovered in the doorway for a moment, waiting.
He'd always been a great believer in saying exactly
what was on his mind, in spite of the fact that this
philosophy had been known to backfire on him at
times. "I feel something," he said, laying one hand
on his heart. "Right here...you know?"
"I know," she smiled. "Me, too."
After she was out the door, Spike leaned back in
his bed and stared at the ceiling, his arms behind
his head on the pillow. **A swing and a hit!**
Life was good.
"I only have a minute."
Buffy dashed back into the room and through the
closed curtain. She sat down on the side of his bed
and they picked up where they'd left off.
Their kissing was much more urgent this time, harder
In the hallway, a call bell buzzed. "That's for me,"
she said, kissing him one last time and slipping free
when he tried to tighten his hold on her. "I'll be back."
Part of him wanted to protest this loud and long,
but common sense advised him to hold his tongue
and release her.
That scenario was repeated several more times
during Buffy's shift. She moved through her duties
with smooth efficiency, returning to his room in
between each one for what amounted to an
abbreviated make-out session.
She pulled away from him at one point, looking
concerned. "I'm sorry, is this bothering you? All
this starting and stopping?"
With a negative shake of his head, he shrugged.
"I'll take what I can get."
Buffy gave him one more kiss. "Good. I'll be
"I'll be here."
"It's almost time for....for shift change."
"Oh, don't tell me that," Spike protested, moving
his mouth down the soft column of her throat.
Buffy instantly lost her train of thought, but
retained enough sanity to move away when she
heard Elena talking to someone in the hall before
"Staying late again tonight, Elizabeth?"
"I'm just getting a bit of overtime."
"Who okayed overtime?"
"Um...well, no one. It's....well, he wants some
private duty nursing, and the holidays are coming
up, so....I took the job."
"Did you chart his vitals?"
"Oh, yes," Buffy replied, hoping the other nurse
wouldn't check to see for herself.
"Fine with me, then. Less wear and tear on my
support hose," Elena said as she left the room.
Spike grinned hugely at Buffy. "Does that mean
you have to do whatever I say?"
"Only in your dreams."
"Buffy....honey....as much as...mmm...as much as
I love doing this..." The last word made his voice
break when she bit down gently on his ear lobe.
"....it's getting late and...I wouldn't you to...be too
tired....to work tomorrow." Each comment was
punctuated with a kiss.
"Don't worry." she pulled away. "Tomorrow's
my day off."
No angel-nurse tomorrow? He hated hearing that,
but he forced himself not to complain. "Is it? And
what does angel-nurse do on her day off?"
"Oh...different things. I have two days off each
week, but they're not always in a row. So...one
of them I usually devote to the necessities of
life...running errands, going to the market, house
cleaning, that kind of thing."
"And the other one?"
"The other one I usually devote to me. I'll go
shopping, get my hair done, maybe a manicure.
Sometimes I spoil myself and go to a day spa
for a massage, a sea weed wrap and a facial."
"Now, THAT'S something I'D like to do for you."
"What, the facial?"
He chuckled deep in his throat. "The massage.
I'll leave the girly stuff to the professionals."
"Hey, a facial isn't just for girls. Plenty of men
get them, too."