Popsicles and Stitches
written by Kim Wylie

Rating: FRT
Spoilers: None indicated.
Summary: No summary available.
Feedback Author: Kim Wylie

“No, don’t do it like that,” Giles said with a wince.

Cordelia glared at him but didn’t remove her hand from the gear shift.  “Look, Giles, do you want to get to the hospital or not?”

He cringed again as she threw his car into gear and launched them into the street.  Gravel from the back tires cleared the sidewalk and several hedges.  “Cordelia, there is a trick to the clutch which requires—“

He cut off again as the change into second gear was accompanied by a sharp spasm of grinding.  With visions of mechanics bills dancing alongside the stars before his eyes, he tried again, “Cordelia—“

“Giles, be quiet and hold your head.  You’re bleeding down your cheek.”

He transferred his handkerchief, already sodden, to his other temple.

“I think you should start wearing a helmet all the time, not that it wouldn’t look extremely dorky, because it would,” Cordelia said.  “But, obviously, you don’t care about how you look.  Just don’t get one of those silver bicycle helmets because they are so totally over.”

Giles opened his mouth, thought better of it, and closed it.

“So what’s our story when we get there?” she asked.

“Uh, mugging.”

“Again?  Didn’t you use that excuse last time and the time before?  How often are they going to believe you get mugged in a month?”

“It’s been over a month since I’ve been to the hospital.”

Cordelia snorted.  “Well, just don’t drag me into it.  I was an innocent passer by and stopped to help you out of compassion.”

Personally, Giles doubted she could make that story seem realistic but kept the thought to himself.

The bounce up the ramp to the emergency entrance laid to rest the myth that Giles’ car possessed shock absorbers.  His forehead hit the car roof, sending a stab of pain down his cheek and causing him to grunt in pain.

“Sorry,” Cordelia muttered.  She glanced over.  “You’re bleeding down the other side.  Do you want a kleenex or something?  I think I have one in my purse.”

“Let’s just go inside.”  He opened his door and took a tentative step out.

Cordelia came around to his side of the car.  “Do you want, like, help or anything?  I could give you my arm if you promise not to bleed on me.”

He sighed.  “No.  Thank you anyway.”

The nurse at the desk favoured him with a frown as she called for a wheelchair.  “Mr. Giles, hit in the head again?”  She handed him a pad of gauze.  “How did it happen this time?”

“I was mugged.”

“Really.  How…..unusual for you,” she said.  “Let’s see, they came up behind you in the dark, you didn’t get a good look, and you won’t be able to describe them to the police.  Health card, please.”

Cordelia eyed the nurse, somewhat impressed, and whispered to Giles, “Good memory.”

The nurse heard her.  “Repetition has that effect.  Did you witness it?”

“No,” Cordelia said.  “But there were a lot of them.”

Giles, holding the gauze to his head while checking his pockets with one hand, was starting to worry that his wallet actually had been stolen.  Cordelia, not wanting to touch him, pointed down vaguely and said, “What that’s in the front?”

“A stake,” he mumbled.

“No, you used that on a vampire,” she said.

“Umpire.” Giles corrected.

“Oh, right.”

The nurse stared at them.  “You were mugged by whom?”

“Umpires,” Cordelia said.

The nurse eyed her.  “Which one of you has the head trauma?”

“Perhaps you have a record of my insurance card on my file?” Giles asked.

“I need to see the card,” the nurse told him firmly.

“Oh for God’s sakes,” Cordelia cut in.  “I don’t want to be here all night!”  She jabbed a hand down the front pocket of Giles’ pants and fished around.

“Cordelia,” he sputtered.

“Like you’re not enjoying this,” she retorted.

“Truly, I’m not.”

She extracted his wallet.  “Here.  I knew this didn’t look like a stake, Giles.”  She opened the billfold and retrieved the requisite card.

“Most people, when they get mugged, lose their wallets,” the nurse commented.

The wheelchair came.  As the nurse helped Giles into it, she asked, “Would you like your friend to accompany you?”  There was a peculiar emphasis on the word ‘friend’.

“No,” Giles and Cordelia said simultaneously.

“Take him to x-ray first,” the nurse said to the orderly who chuckled.

“Same as always, eh?”

Cordelia paced idly around the waiting area.  As she passed by one of the doors leading outside, she caught her reflection in the glass.

“Damn,” she mumbled, craning her neck.

The nurse looked over.  “Is there a problem?”

Cordelia flopped into a chair.  “These were ninety-five dollar silk stockings.”

“If you don’t mind my saying, honey, get your friend to replace them while you can.”

“He’s not my friend,” Cordelia said, using the same tone in return.

“I’ve seen him in here before with two other young girls and both of them claimed the same thing,” the nurse said.  “One of them said he was her…..librarian.”  She raised an eyebrow significantly.

Cordelia stood.  In a frosty voice, she asked, “Which room is he in?”

* * * * *

Giles lay on his back on an examination table, eyes closed, holding a wad of gauze to his forehead.  A sheet was half-drawn over the examination gown he wore.

Cordelia moved his clothes from a chair so that she could sit down.  “Why did you take off your pants?” she asked, holding them up.

Giles opened his eyes with a jump.  “What are you doing here?”

“I’m not waiting out there.  That nurse thinks I’m your paid date.”  She sat down and crossed her arms over her chest.  “Not that it’s any better in here if you’re showing off all your personal attributes.”

“I need stitches on my leg as well,” Giles replied reluctantly, drawing the sheet further up his chest.  “There is a cafeteria in this hospital, Cordelia, and other hallways and rooms.  Perhaps you might meet a young single doctor.”

“The only doctors I want to meet are in Beverly Hills.  So, Giles, what do you want to do while we’re waiting?”

“We could be exceedingly quiet,” he suggested.  “I have a headache.”

“Well, you were hit pretty hard.  Oh, I found some magazines.”  She leant forward.  “Field and Stream.  Popular Mechanics.  The Manatoulin Northerly.  God.”  She rifled to the bottom of the pile.  “Hey, Cosmopolitan!”  She held it up, then sighed.  “June nineteen fifty-two.”  She glanced over at him.  “Where you alive that long ago?”

Her answer was a sigh.

She turned a few pages.  “Damask, your grandmother’s unquestioned linen for the table, is being replaced by colourful silks and chiffons.  Ladies, dare these bold fabrics under your best silverware, even if you do receive your grandmother’s stern eye in return.  Oh please!”

Cordelia flipped through a few more pages.  “Endearing and enduring ivy, a tour through Rose Kennedy’s garden.  Tupperware and Avon, how to have a career and your husband too.  The lure of the King Charles Spaniel.  Thirty minute lima bean recipes your children will adore.  God, what was *wrong* with these women?”  She turned pages in silence for a few moments.

Giles closed his eyes but the quiet broke when she said, “Here’s a quiz!  Giles, we could take it together!”

He rolled onto his side and hid his face in his forearms.

“Rate your relationship with your husband, ten simple questions that may surprise you.  Question one.  Your husband comes home from the office three hours late, with his boss, and asks you to serve a dinner that will get him that promotion.  Do you, *a*, offer drinks, prepare the chicken supreme recipe, page sixty-two, get the best silver, and smile?  Or do you, *b*, rush upstairs to change your dress before suggesting to your husband to start the barbecue?  Or, *c*, put on an apron, open a tin of soup, and hope for the best?”  Cordelia frowned.  “That’s it?  What about *d*, the one that starts with a call to a divorce lawyer?”  She looked back at Giles.  “If you dared do that to me, you’d sure get an earful.”

“Cordelia, it is one of the few certainties of the universe that *that* situation will never come up between you and me.”

“That’s for sure,” she agreed, not catching his sarcasm.  “Question two.  The children have been sick with influenza for the past week.  You wake up feeling ill on the day that your husband is due to leave on a five day business trip.  Do you, *a*, admit to him that you feel ill and ask him to call your mother while you make his breakfast?  Or, *b*, admit that you feel ill but tell him firmly to enjoy his trip and not to worry?  Or, *c*, put on rouge to hide the fever spots and cheerfully pack his suitcase as if there is nothing wrong at all?”  She sucked in her breath furiously and said something colourful.

“Cordelia,” Giles said in a painfully quiet voice, “you don’t have to wait with me.  I’ll be fine.”

“I don’t?”  She brightened.  “Ok.”  She stood and started to gather her belongings, but paused.  “Wait, you might be, like, really seriously injured.  It might even be fatal.  If I left you here to die, Buffy and Willow might get upset.”  She sat back down.  “No, I’d better stay.”

She looked idly around the room.  “Giles, do men of your generation really like dog-like martyred women?”

“Nineteen fifty-two is not my generation.  I hadn’t been born yet.”

“It’s close enough.  What type of women do men your age like?”

“Women who sit on chairs on the *other* side of examining room doors.”

She scowled.  “I’m starting to sense that you get cranky when you have a concussion.”

Giles raised up enough to see a clock on the wall.  Cordelia followed his line of sight and mumbled, “When’s a doctor going to get here anyway?”

“It’s busy tonight.”

“But you’re bleeding all over.”  She glanced around the various counters until she found more pads.  She wet one under a tap and, with a gentleness he found surprising, wiped the side of his face.

“If that doctor doesn’t hurry, you’re going to die from blood loss.”

Giles breathed out tiredly.  “You’re quite the comfort, Cordelia.”

“Thanks, Giles,” she said with a sudden smile.  “You were too, you know, so I guess I owe you.”

“When was this?”

“When I was in here, when I got that spike through my stomach.”  She threw the soiled gauze into a garbage pail but remained standing by the side of the bed.  “You came every day.  My parents didn’t even do that,” she added with a shrug.

He looked up at her for a moment, unsure what to say in return.  The moment broke when a resident came in, bearing a suture tray.

“Mr. Giles,” he said with a grin.  “How nice to see you again.  What’s it been, three weeks?  Four?”

“Four and a half,” Giles retorted.

“A new record.”  The resident pulled a stool up beside the bed, then gave Cordelia an appraising eye.  “Hello, I’m Dr. Holster.  Are you a…..relation?”

“I don’t even know him,” Cordelia shot back.  “I was driving by and saw him getting mugged.  Well, I didn’t *see* him getting mugged.  I saw him after.”

“After the umpires had left?” Holster asked with a knowing tone.

“Were you at a baseball game?” Cordelia asked Giles.

“Yeah, umpires can get really nasty in the pee wee leagues,” Holster said.

Giles put a hand to his forehead and begged, “Please, do the stitches.”

Holster held up a syringe.  Giles frowned.  “Not another tetanus?”

“You’ve had enough of those, haven’t you?” Holster replied breezily.  “Your x-ray’s clear but you took quite a hit.  This is Demerol.”

“I don’t want it.”

“But I want you to have it.  If I’m going to put,” Holster paused while he studied the top of Giles’ head.  “twenty some odd stitches up in there, I want you to be a happy camper and let me blanket stitch in peace.  What colour thread would you like tonight?”

“I don’t want anything,” Giles said emphatically.  “I have to drive home after this.”

“Can’t your girlfriend drive you?”

“I’m not his girlfriend!” Cordelia cut in.

“She’s half my age,” Giles added.

Cordelia swatted him.  “*More* than half, thank you!”

Giles turned to the resident and snapped,  “Just do the stitches.”

Holster held up the syringe again and Giles added, “No.”

But the needle went in.  “You’ll probably feel sleepy,” Holster said, ignoring an emphatic English-accented swearword as he swabbed a spot on Giles’ head and started the sutures.  He gave Cordelia another quick glance before saying to his patient, “Rather pretty one tonight, not that the other two young girls weren’t.  This one’s top of the line.  I guess you were in the mood for dark hair.”

Cordelia hesitated while working out just how much of an insult she’d suffered, before saying in a maliciously sweet tone, “This old guy here wouldn’t earn enough in ten years to hit my worth.  If you insinuate once more that he’s buying my favours, this bed rail is going to get lodged in your throat from the bottom up.”

“Old guy?” Giles repeated angrily and somewhat fuzzily.

She patted his arm without looking down.  “Go to sleep, Giles.”

Holster opened his mouth but clamped it shut when she stared him down.  He dropped his gaze and finished the sutures quickly.  “The nurse said something about your leg.”

Giles, who had started to drowse, was instantly awake.  “Cordelia, leave the room.”

“So you can make more comments about me behind my back?  No way.”

“I’m trying to hold on to some dignity.”

“You lost all that long ago, Giles,” she told him.

She felt his look on her and glanced at him.  Despite the Demerol, he out-stared her.

“All *right*.  God!”  She flounced out.  Giles waited until he was sure she was gone before lowering the sheet.

“That’s a brutal cut.  Almost looks like it was done by something with claws,” Holster said.  “Were you near the lion cage at the zoo?”

“Right.  That’s where I go every bloody Saturday night!”  Giles stopped himself.  After a few moments, he added more quietly, “Sorry.”

“No problem,” Holster said.  “In order for me to clean and close this properly, you’re going to have to remove your underwear.”

Giles glanced at the door.  Holster followed his gaze and murmured, “Weren’t you headed towards this tonight anyway?”

“I rescind the apology,” Giles said curtly as he accommodated the resident’s request.

“Hey, I’m envious.  She’s classy.”  As Holster cleaned the wound on Giles’ thigh, he added, “Another inch and a half and your night would have been a complete wash out.”

Giles realized he’d made involuntary fists at Holster’s remarks.  He forced himself to relax, shutting his eyes against the hospital fluorescent lights while the resident started in with more sutures.  He opened his eyes a few minutes later when the feeling of being on a boat riding up-and-down waves became a raft in a whirling hurricane.

Holster eyed him as he pulled the sheet back up.  “Is the Demerol giving you a kick?”

“Apparently,” Giles pushed his palms against the metal bed rails in an effort to calm the boat.

“Don’t fight it,” Holster said.  “I’ll return in an hour.  If your pupils dilate in a way I like, I’ll let you go then.”

After he left, Giles rolled back to his side, listening to the hospital noises and letting the boat that he was on rock however it wanted.  He was almost asleep, lulled by the rolling of carts and the mumble of indistinguishable voices, when the sharp clacking of stiletto heels beat like a woodpecker through his throbbing head.

“Are you completely closed up now?”

He groaned internally as Cordelia strode up to the side of the bed.  “Did Dr. Doolittle do all his blanket stitches?”

“Yes,” Giles replied.

“So we can go now?”

“You can certainly go.  Take my car.”

“How will you get back?”

“I’ll take a cab.”

She tapped her fingernails on a table top while she thought about it, each rap sending a spike of pain across his brow.

“When did he say he was coming back?”

“Tomorrow night.  Late.  Perhaps even the day after that.”

But she hadn’t heard him.  With a chirp of amusement, she said, “Hey, I know the answer to the great debate before Buffy or Faith do.”

Giles glanced up, wondering uncertainly if the Demerol had affected his hearing as well.  “Pardon, Cordelia?”

“Even Willow wanted to know but she wouldn’t come out and admit it.”

“Admit to what?”

“Wondering whether you wore boxers or briefs,” Cordelia replied, pointing at where they lay folded on top of his other clothes.  Sardonically, she added, “Somehow I knew they’d be boring white.”

An unwanted imagining of a conversation around the library table during a time when he hadn’t been present suddenly and vividly crossed his mind.  He felt a blush sweep right up under his hairline and tighten all the stitches.

“And if they’re out here, that means that underneath that blanket, you are…..” Cordelia’s voice trailed off.

Giles grabbed onto his sheet.  “Do not peek,” he stated, clearly and severely.

“I *have* to peek,” she said.  “I won’t be able to stop myself.  If it’ll make you feel better, I’ll wait until you’re asleep.”  She pulled a chair beside the bed and asked, “So when is that guy coming back?”

Giles glared at her as best as he could through blurred vision.  “Cordelia, take my car and go.”

“I bought you a popsicle.”  She held it up.  “It was either this or a tuna sandwich.  That’s all the cafeteria had left.”

“I’m not hungry,” he said.  “Did you, in fact, hear me when I said to go?”

“Yeah, sure,” she said.  “Whatever.  I got you cherry flavour.”

He knew when he couldn’t cope anymore.  Pulling the sheet up so far that it brushed under his nose, he said, “No thank you.”

“Do you want the tuna sandwich?”

Paling, he shook his head.

“My mother used to buy me cherry popsicles when I was sick.  Well, she used to until she decided to have Epstein-Barr.”  She pulled off the wrapper and regarded the popsicle.  “I don’t think I like cherry.”

“Then why did you buy it?” he asked gruffly.

“It was the only flavour they had.”  She tasted it cautiously.  “Like it makes a difference anyway.  This whole night’s been a waste.”

He literally prayed she wouldn’t elaborate.

“Ross McEwan stood me up.  Cory Himmler did yesterday and that guy from the soccer team did last weekend.  That’s not a big deal because it’s not like the soccer team’s cool enough that I even remember their names and Cory I always stood up P.X.  He’s no loss.”

“P.X.?” he queried without thinking.

“Pre-Xander,” Cordelia said.  “But *Ross* was important.  His father owns five car lots, two in Los Angeles.  Do you know what that could have done for me?  It’s like I have Xander slime all over me or something.  Geez!”  She blew a hair off her face.  “I’ve decided I’m going to be like you.”

Giles eyed her.  “Pardon?”

“You know, be pathetically alone.  I’m going to be just like you, Giles,” she said, looking directly in his eyes as she sucked on her popsicle.  “All this sex stuff causes too much hassle, don’t you find?  I wore garter belts just for him.  Do you have any idea how tightly they’re pinching me right now?”

Giles returned the look uncomfortably as she bent her head so close to his that her hair fell over his arm.  She whispered, “And this puckered-lace bra is going to have to come off.  Sure, it’s fine for the guy.  It stirs him up but it’s damn hot.  My chest is practically on fire!”  Cordelia’s lips curved around the end of the hard stick of ice.  “It’s celibacy from now on, Giles.  Nun-like.  This is a complete and total no-sex zone.”  She stuck out her tongue and slurped on the sugary pink end.

Giles used the blanket to wipe away a sudden trickle of sweat under his lower lip.

She paused in mid-lick.  “You look awfully flushed.”

“I-I have a h-headache,” he said quickly.

“Still?  I thought he gave you something for that.”  She sucked in the last of the popsicle, then got a gauze pad and wet it under the cold water tap.  She returned to the same side of the bed and pressed the pad to his forehead.

Unfortunately her reaching to do this put her cleavage back in his direct line of sight.  A bit of gold lace edged out from the neckline of her sweater as a scent of warm musk pervaded his nose.  He squeezed his eyes shut but the musk remained.

“When is that guy coming back, Giles?  I’ve asked you twice already.”

“And I’ve told you twice,” he managed.

“No, the first time you tried to make it sound like he was never coming back and the second time you tried to distract me by offering your car.  I hate to break it to you, Giles, but that car will never be a bribe.”

Startled, he opened his eyes and stared up at her.

“See, I was listening,” she said.  “You didn’t think I was, did you?”

“Then why did you make me repeat it?”

“Because it was fun,” she shrugged.  “I don’t often get a chance to have fun with you, you’re so obsessively buttoned in.  I’m beginning to think you have a chastity belt chafing you under there and your keeper has lost the key.”  She paused, then asked, “Did that sound insensitive?”

“Remarkably so especially coming from a child less than half my age,” he retorted.

“Is that how you see us?” she asked curiously.  Then she answered her own question by continuing, “I guess you would, being so old.”

In a voice coarse with weariness, he said, “I’m too old.”

Cordelia raised an eyebrow and regarded him for a moment before bending down and brushing her lips against his.

She expected him to say something, make a protest or stutter a few words in embarrassment.  When he said nothing, she took it as a dare and deepened the kiss, exploring him hard and ending it by running her tongue along the edge of his mouth.

“You’re not as off-limits as you want us to believe,” Cordelia said.  “You just don’t like to play games.”

Giles drew a breath and quietly revised his opinion of her.

She strode to the door. “Now where *is* that doctor?”

* * * * *

“Do you think he went to the hospital?” Willow asked when Buffy’s knock on Giles’ front door went unanswered.

“I hope he did.  That one vamp hit him hard.”  Buffy scrounged through her purse for the spare set of keys Giles had given her.  “He was bleeding,” she added.  “I should have checked on him before now.”

She opened the door and they went in.  “Giles?” she called softly into the hush.

She went down the hall and glanced into the kitchen before turning back to Willow.  “Maybe upstairs?” she asked.

Willow said, “I don’t know,” and was turning around when she paused.  She peered through the doorway to the living room and an odd expression crossed her face.

Buffy looked over Willow’s shoulder.

And paused in shock.

A fully-dressed Giles was asleep on the couch, laying on his side, his head on the arm rest, and his legs drawn up.  Curled in the space between his legs and the back of the couch was Cordelia, asleep as well, her head resting on his hip.  Several wadded popsicle wrappers were on a coffee table in front of them.

“What should we do?” Willow asked in a bare whisper.

Buffy took Willow’s sleeve and pulled the latter with her back to the front door.  They crept outside and Buffy locked the door after them.

“Are we sure he’s ok?  I didn’t see him breathe.  Maybe we should have checked first to make sure he had a pulse,” Willow said.

“He had a pulse,” Buffy mumbled.

“But—” Willow started.

Buffy shook her head.  “Nope,” she said.  “No way.”

The two girls looked at each other dubiously for a few minutes.

“Denny’s?” Willow finally suggested.

Buffy nodded.  “I’m going to eat every pancake they can make.  That should do it.”

They ran for the bus.


NOTE: The author has continued this and made it into a series. Unfortunately, due to content of sexual relations between an adult and someone under the age of 18, we cannot archive it here. For those of you who would like to continue reading this series, being forewarned regarding sex between an adult and a 'not quite yet 18 year old', please use this link to take you to the next part of this series... Popsicles, Cuddles And Couches