PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT
Paring: What else? S/X of course.
Rating: Adult for language and M/M activity.
Disclaimer: None of the characters in this story belong to the Bee.
and she makes no money off them, or anything else. The Bee is broke.
Summary: The Rosebud Murders took an emotional toll on
everyone involved. Is love enough for a happily ever after or does
it take a hell of a lot of work and compromise to build a life together?
Spike and Xander struggle to find out.
Thanks to Petxnd for the lovely banner
Spike tucked the thin manilla folder under his arm and
slapped his hand against the double swinging doors
marching purposefully into the ME's basement office.
"Hey, Doc, you in here?"
"Yes, yes, I'm here. Wait. Don't go!"
The short, round Indian doctor came rushing from the back room,
still covered in blood and wearing a messy, full body plastic apron.
Spike cringed at the gory sight and the smell that waifted in.
"If you're busy, Doc, I can come back later."
Doctor Ahn waved his hand dismissively.
"No, no, don't worry, he's not going anywhere. So what did
you find? You say one of my photos has the evidence?"
Spike shuddered as the doctor removed his rubber gloves with a
"snap" that sent blood and brain matter flying up into the air.
"Um, yeah." Spike leaned away from the gore, waiting till it had
settled then dropped his file on a clean spot of counter and
opened it up.
He removed one of the pictures and handed it to the doctor,
stepping next to him.
"This bruise on her neck."
Doctor Ahn pulled down a large stationary magnifying glass that was
attached to the stainless steel lab table and held the picture under it,
focusing on the area Spike had indicated.
"Yes, I remember seeing that and I think I noted it in my report.
As an elderly female she had many discolorations on the surface of her
skin, most of them natural occurrences caused by the thinning of the
epidermis and the weakness of the blood vessels due to age. Do you
think there is something significant about this one?"
Spike held the photo closer to the lighted glass.
"Look at the shape, Doc. A normal bruise or discoloration tends
to be round. This one has a very distinct X or cross shape."
Doctor Ahn frowned and studied the area again, finally nodding.
"Yes, yes, I see what you mean. If it was caused by body contact
with a foreign article, it had to have been immediately before death.
Post mortem would have caused only a skin impression and no
bruising, however if it had happened when she was still living for some
time the bleeding under the surface of the skin would have been much
more extensive, obliterating the shape of the object. Only problem
is that there is no sign of garroting or strangulation. If something was
put around her throat there would have been bruising or indications
of it on the front of her neck where the pressure would have been
greatest. Also there was no breakage in the capillaries of the eyes that
always occurs in a strangulation. No, she clearly drowned. Bath water
in the lungs and sinuses do not lie."
Spike shook his head.
"No. I don't think she was strangled. You would have found that
right off. Our killer is to smart for that. Besides, if she were choked,
the first instinct is to grab at the hands or items around your neck
and I know you didn't find any foreign material under her nails.
No defensive wounds."
Doctor Ahn's eyes lit up with renewed respect for his partner.
"Yes, excellent, excellent. Do we know what caused this?"
Spike held up both forefingers and stepped around behind the doctor.
"I have a theory. Pretend you are Myrtle and bending over to fill
Doctor Ahn did as Spike ask, tilting at the waist and bracing his
hands on the rim of his cold lab table. Spike stood behind and over him.
He gripped the doctor's neck with his right hand and firmly pushed
his head downward.
"Right here. Do you feel this?"
Spike wiggled his thumb and the ever present silver thumb ring he
always wore, pressing and releasing it against a spot on the side
of Doctor Ahn's neck.
"It's just where the bruise appears, right?"
Doctor Ahn concentrated, feeling Spike's hand and running his fingers
over where Spike's thumb ring moved against his skin at the same time
studying the picture. Spike could see the wheels spinning in his partners
brain as the scientist considered, reconsidered and verified the offered
"Yes, yes, that would be exactly the right spot. So you think whoever
did this was wearing a ring on their hand and forced her head under
the water? Yes, yes, I can see that hypothesis being viable. Being off
balance she would have gripped the rim of the tub rather than attempting
to dislodge the killer's hand. At this angle and considering her physical
stature it wouldn't have taken much time or strength to do the job.
Excellent! Excellent William! Do we have a suspect? Do we have
Spike released his grip on the ME and stepped back crossing his arms
over his chest and leaning against the table.
"I have an idea but no motive. I think if I can reinterview a few of the
people involved it might help."
Spike scooped up all the photos and shoved them back in the envelope.
He tapped the file on the table and turned to go waving it in the air.
"Thanks, Doc. I'll keep in touch."
Then, just before leaving Spike stopped and turned.
"Say, Doc, do you think a woman would be strong enough to do this?"
Doctor Ahn paused in his process of snapping on a new pair of rubber
gloves and frowned as he considered the question.
"Yes, yes I think it would probably be very easy for a person of any
size or strength to do it. It was more a matter of balance than power."
Spike nodded and walked out the door heading for the elevator,
his head spinning. He knew at this point in the investigation he
needed to step back, take a deep breath and clear his mind of all the
facts that were warring for center thought.
As the elevator door slid shut, sealing him in the temporary isolation
of the tiny cage, Spike gave in to the other issue that weighed heavy
on his heart. He wanted, no he needed, to see Xander.
He needed to grovel, to say he was sorry and be near the man he loved.
He knew that would include apologizing to that bizarre collection
of odd balls that Xander had surrounded himself with and Spike
decided that, yeah, he was even willing to do that.
Within minutes he was breezing through the lobby, past a strangely silent
dispatch officer who never even looked up.
Hopping into the Corvette, Spike rooted through the disarray of CD cases
until he found Xander's favorite, Hamilton Loomis, and popped it in.
He flipped on "Voodoo Doll", cranked up the volume and sang along.
He felt better than he had in weeks. He felt whole, complete, strong,
and now he was on his way to collect his lover and get their relationship
back on track. No more arguments. No more surprises.