Disclaimers: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy & Fox. Numb3rs belongs to CBS. (NOT ME!)
Summary: While struggling to ignore her destiny and forget the tragedies that resulted from it, Buffy is drawn to save an innocent and makes a new friend in the process. And Charlie learns that there's more to the world than he'd ever imagined.
Warnings: Umm. None really. I suppose if you don't like reading about stuff they do in hospitals you shouldn't read this... Though that's gotta cut back on the amount of fan fiction you read in general.
Author's Note: I should have mentioned in the prologue that I'm playing with the timelines for both series a bit to make them work for my story. I'm probably changing more than I need to, but it helps me write, and shrugs writer's creativity license and all that. I was going to wait till tomorrow to post this, since I still needed to proof-read it last night and was supposed to be helping with the drama department's play from 9AM to 9PM today and tomorrow, but that was canceled for a funeral. Which makes me wonder how we're supposed to be ready for opening night, which is on Halloween, but it's not really my problem. I'm just a lowly volunteer that's doing this for the 10 extra credit it'll add to me grade in Introduction to Theater.
So now I have a lot more time free and I want to post this.
Part I in Mathematics & Magic
By Jess S
Chapter 1: A Hellish Place
Los Angeles, California – Monday, June 3, 1996 – early morning
"Miss, fill these out as quickly as possible, please," a nurse ordered, shoving a clipboard at Buffy before running off down the hall with her co-workers, all gathered around Charlie's gurney as it was run into the surprisingly full ER.
Buffy blinked, looking at the multiple pages of information that she certainly didn't know and back at the nurse's rapidly retreating back. "How am-?" she stopped as sudden inspiration struck, and went rooting through her pockets for the cell phone she'd called 911 on a little while before. After fumbling with it for a few seconds she smiled as the phonebook popped up.
She frowned as she scrolled through the list, coming across a surprising number of doctors in wide range of area codes. Spotting some message paper on a nearby desk she snatched a piece and made her way to take a momentarily empty seat near the ER's entrance and started to make a smaller list of possible contacts and their numbers. She finally ended up with the a list of five numbers:
Mom & Dad Home
"Obviously 'Mom and Dad' aren't home," Buffy muttered to herself. "So who's cell? 'Don' and 'Larry' might not be family... Mom's or Dad's?" After another second's thought she scrolled down to 'Mom' and pressed the green 'Call' button.
Ring. Ring. Ring.
"Charlie? What are you doing up at this hour? It must be...what, two in the morning, now?" a confused woman's voice inquired.
Buffy licked her lips nervously before asking, "Mrs. Eppes?"
"Wh—Yes. This is Margaret Eppes. Who is this?"
"M-My name's B—Anne. My name's Anne. I'm in LA General Hospital with Charlie."
"Oh my god! What happened?!"
Buffy took a deep breath, struggling for composure as the woman's panicked tone brought back memories of her last argument with her own mother a few weeks before. "It l-looks like someone broke into your house. I-I was out walking, and... your front door was open. I heard Charlie calling for help, a-and I called an ambulance," she explained quickly, unable to keep her nervousness out of her voice.
It was several long moments before Mrs. Eppes spoke again. Buffy could hear her taking several long, deep breaths to calm herself even as she heard a man's voice asking what was wrong in the background. "…Thank you for that, dear. What did you say your name was?"
"Well, thank you very much for your help, Anne. Will you please tell Charlie's doctor that his father and I will be on the first available flight back from Paris?"
"Y-Yes, ma'am," Buffy nodded, before hurriedly continuing. "They want me to fill out some paperwork for him. Can you help me? I don't want to make him wait for anything."
"What are—No. Never mind. Yes, I'll help you. One moment," she obviously pulled the phone away from her, but Buffy could still hear her ask her husband, "Alan, call the airport and the front desk. We need to get home right away. Charlie's in the hospital." Then she was on the phone again, "All right, dear. Are you ready?"
Having already seated herself at a table with a pen in hand, Buffy nodded. "Yes, ma'am."
"Well, Charlie's full name is Dr. Charles Edward Eppes."
Buffy blinked at the title but wrote it in anyway, "He's a doctor?" she asked, her tone curious.
"Or mathematics, yes."
Buffy frowned in slight confusion, but shook her head and forced herself to move on. "Okay, his birth date?"
"May fifteenth, nineteen-seventy-seven."
"His social security?" Buffy asked, writing down the response and breezing through most of the following questions with relative ease. Finally closing it with, "And who should I put down for emergency contacts?"
"Margaret and Alan Eppes. Mother and Father. You have me cell phone number already, from Charlie's cell? Do you have Alan's?"
"Your husband's? Charlie's 'Dad'?"
"Yeah, I do."
"And his brother, FBI Special Agent Don Eppes."
"All right. Is his brother nearby? Should I call him?" Buffy offered with a frown as she quickly scanned the paperwork again, to make sure it was complete, starting slightly when she realized she'd made another unusual offer of help. She shook her head at that, reasoning that she probably just felt guilty for not getting there sooner or patrolling more often. It certainly hadn't been easy to keep the Slayer suppressed, but so far she'd handled it. Until tonight. If she'd been able to ignore it tonight Charlie would be dead and those three vamp-hos would still be trolling the town.
"Oh, would you, dear?" Mrs. Eppes' thankful response drew Buffy out of her thoughts. "He's in Washington, D.C., or thereabouts, but he could still fly there much faster than his father and I can. If he's not on an assignment in the field. He works in Fugitive Recovery. I have to pack now – would you mind calling him?"
"No-No, not at all."
"Thank you so much, dear. Please call me if anything, anything at all, changes. All right?"
"I will, Mrs. Eppes."
"Thank you, Anne. I'll see you in a few hours."
"Goodbye, Mrs. Eppes. Have a safe flight." With another sigh, Buffy hung up and opened the phonebook again to try the brother's cell phone. She was starting to see why Giles always told her to just drop people off and leave, or better yet disappear when the ambulance arrived.
After several unanswered rings – unsurprising, considering the time – the phone's voicemail picked up. "Hi, this is Special Agent Don Eppes. I'm not available to take your call right now. Leave a message."
At the tone Buffy started, a bit nervously. "Umm, hello, Agent Eppes... I'm sorry to bother you, but your mother, Margaret Eppes, asked me to call you and tell you that Charlie's in the hospital. Your brother, Charlie, I mean. I-I think she's hoping you might be able to make it to California sooner than your parents, since they're in Europe...She said you m-might not be able to, if you're working now on case now, so if not that... that's understandable... It's two A.M. right now, and I'm waiting for a report from the doctors at LA General Hospital. If you get this any time soon, feel free to call me back. I don't have my own cell phone, so I'm using your brother's…Goodbye." As she brought the phone away from her ear, she stopped herself just before hitting the 'End' button to bring it back. "Oh! And my name's Anne."
"Miss?" the nurse that had pushed the clipboard at her a few moments ago had returned, an expectant look on her tired face. "Are those papers almost done? We need that information as soon as possible."
"Y-Yeah. Here they are. I had to call his Mom to answer some of them," Buffy told her, hoping to excuse the amount of time it had taken her to fill them out.
The nurse nodded distractedly as she looked the paper's over before looking up with a frown. "His mother? You're not family?"
"N-No." Buffy shook her head, "His parents are in Europe. In Paris. And his brother lives in Washington, D.C. I found him, and called the ambulance. The police said I could come in with him."
"Oh. Are you his girlfriend, then?"
"N—" Buffy blinked, suddenly struck by the realization that if she admitted to not knowing Charlie at all before finding him this evening she probably wouldn't be able to help him anymore. She didn't want that. For one, she'd promised Mrs. Eppes she'd look after him until his parents got here. And two, despite how much she still hated hospitals, a large part of her wanted to make sure he was okay, so she nodded. "Y-Yeah. We're kinda new though."
The nurse nodded, still frowning. "We need to get in touch with his family as soon as possible. Is his brother flying in also?"
"I don't know. I called and left him a voicemail, but he's an FBI Agent, and his Mom said he might not be able to come if he's working now." Buffy shrugged a little helplessly. "She said that they'll be back as soon as possible. But they're in Paris, so it could be a while."
"And if they're flying we won't be able to contact them for an extended period of time... Can you get Mrs. Eppes on the phone again?" The nurse asked, still frowning. "If she gives the hospital permission, you can act as his advocate."
"U-Umm... A-Alright. Give me a second, please," Buffy replied, taking out Charlie's cell phone again, and opening the list of recent phone calls to select 'Mom,' again and hit 'Call.'
As the phone was ringing, the nurse gave her a nod and said, "I'm just going to take these to the doctor. We'll be right back to speak to her."
Buffy nodded, watching her speed away with no little amount of relief as she glanced around to find herself alone with the cell phone at her ear. After a total of four rings, Mrs. Eppes picked up.
"Yes, Mrs. Eppes, it's me." Buffy replied quickly. "I'm sorry to call you back so soon. But a nurse said the doctor's need to speak to you..."
"What happened? Is Charlie okay?"
"I-I think so, they haven't told me otherwise, at least," Buffy replied hesitantly, pausing for a second before continuing. "Umm, I should tell you. I told the nurse that I was Charlie's girlfriend. When she realized I wasn't family I think they would have had to kick me out, a-and I didn't want Charlie to be a-alone here, so when she asked if I was his girlfriend I-I said yes." When Mrs. Eppes didn't respond after a moment's pause, she hurried on. "Th-they said that if you give your permission I can a-act as his, umm, advocate until you get here. I-I'd still call you, of course but—"
Mrs. Eppes cut her off, her voice surprisingly warm and kind. "That's fine, dear. Thank you again, for doing so much for Charlie... You're sure you're up to this responsibility?"
"Y-Yes, ma'am. I th-think so." Buffy glanced up as she heard footsteps approaching her again, the familiar ones of the nurse she'd been speaking to and, as she glanced up she saw, an older woman hurrying towards her. "The doctor's here now."
"Okay, let me talk to him, please."
"Her," Buffy corrected quietly, before putting a hand over the phone's speaker to talk to the doctor. "I have Mrs. Eppes, Charlie's Mom, on the phone now."
The doctor nodded, accepting the phone from her. "Hello, Mrs. Eppes? I'm Doctor Helgen, the trauma surgeon on duty this evening." She paused for a second, clearly listening, before nodding again. "Yes, Charlie should be fine. He sustained a number of injuries, the worst of which is a mild concussion that we're keeping an eye on, but he also lost quite a bit of blood." Again she paused and then nodded again, this time sighing. "Yes, we need to give him a transfusion, but I'm afraid the hospital is now short on O negative blood and we'll need to either give him O positive or wait for more blood to be shipped here from another hospital." She paused then nodded again, "Yes, I'm afraid we had to do a lot of transfusions this evening and our supply of O negative ran out. There's more on the way. If we give him O positive—"
"Won't that make him sick?" Buffy protested with a frown, shaking her head as the doctor and nurse looked at her. "Since he's O negative? I-I thought you couldn't mix those."
The doctor nodded resignedly, "As Miss – Anne, was it? – just pointed out, we really shouldn't mix O positive blood with O negative. It could make him very ill." She paused for Mrs. Eppes response again, "The problem, Mrs. Eppes, is that your son needs blood. He lost most of his from his injury and may not last much longer, even tied to the IVs and life support we have him on. We don't know how much longer his body can support itself without more blood."
Buffy's frown deepened, and she shook her head. She'd known, of course, that the vamp had taken a lot of his blood, but the added complication of the hospital not having his rare blood type on hand obviously meant he could still die. That was part of the reason, she remembered, Giles had let Willow talk all of them into getting their blood tested, so that they'd know their blood types... She started as the memory that thought brought came back to her.
Giles nodded in response to Willow's arguments with a slight smile on his face. "You have a number of excellent points, Willow."
"So when should I sign us up for?" Willow demanded, eyes scanning Sunnydale General Hospital's homepage on her laptop. "SGH is having a blood drive now..." She shook her head, "You know, I used to wonder why we have so many of them. We have like, five times the number of blood drives here in Sunnydale than any of the hospitals in LA have."
"Really?" Xander mumbled through the doughnut he was currently munching on. "Guess it makes sense, with all the vamp attacks around here."
"Indeed it does," Giles agreed still smiling. "And the two of you should get your blood tested. And donate some, if you so desire. Though, as a werewolf, Oz cannot."
"Yah, that'd be bad," Xander agreed as he reached for another piece of sugary goodness. "Survive a vamp only to become a 'wolf every full moon. No thank you," he nodded to Oz and again mumbled through his doughnut, "No 'fense."
"None taken," Oz nodded in return.
Willow frowned, "What about you and Miss Calendar? And Buffy, she's a lot more likely to need blood than we are."
"Jenny and I already know our blood types. Jenny, because she knew where she was moving to when she came to Sunnydale, and I because it's Council policy. And Buffy doesn't need to be tested."
"Why not? She—"
"Is the Slayer." Giles cut in, "And as per Council policy her blood was tested immediately after she was first Called. And, it was once again found that she has the same blood type that every other Slayer has had before her."
"Slayer's all have the same blood type?" Willow blinked, before shaking her head. "That's kind of neat. Do you know why?"
"No." Giles shook his head as he removed his glasses and began to polish them. "It's been theorized that all Slayers are universal donors because that is the opposite of vampires, who's blood always turns to that of universal receivers when they are turned." Setting his glasses back on his face, he continued. "But we do not know for certain. To our knowledge, their blood doesn't even change. They're born universal donors and when they become slayers their blood takes on some mystical attributes, which may contribute to their abilities, but it does not change types."
"So Buffy's O negative?" Willow asked.
"O negative plus Slay-power!" Xander added, apparently intrigued by the idea.
Here, Buffy finally spoke up, looking up from the math book she'd been struggling to comprehend for the quiz that was coming up the next day. "What does that mean if I donate blood?"
Giles frowned, "I beg your pardon?"
"If I give blood. Will it help or hurt whoever, umm, gets it?"
"Theoretically," here the glasses came off again, "It could only help. However it is standard Council policy that Slayers cannot give blood. Nor can I, as an active field Watcher."
"Why?" Buffy demanded with a frown, "If it'd help—"
"It isn't considered wise for you to voluntarily weaken yourself. And some Watchers believe that the blood of a Slayer might have a mystical affect on a normal human being. Vampires have always insisted that the blood of a Slayer is significantly different – more potent – than the blood of normal humans for them, so it is a reasonable hypothesis."
"So someone I gave my blood to could become a Slayer?"
"No, no," Giles shook his head as he put his glasses back on. "Not as such. As their own body recovered, it would replace your blood with their own, and whatever abilities they gained from having some of your blood should fade. There's a chance some remnants of your abilities might remain... but the Council is rather, protective, of the Slayer. So it's never tested that."
"What about blood bonds?" Willow asked, still clearly intrigued. "I read about those in one of the magic books."
"Yes, that is a possibility, as well." Seeing that Willow was the only one of the three teenagers that knew what he was talking about, he explained. "As the blood of the Slayer contains a mystical component, though it might not pass their powers on to another, it could very easily form a blood bond between the two."
"What would that mean?" Buffy asked, math book forgotten in her lap.
"It would be similar to the bond that exists between a vampire and his or her Sire. Both are able to sense each other to some degree, and feel a connection between them. And yes, some of the Sires attributes are generally inherited, though in different amounts depending on the individual." He paused, before continuing again. "In essence, you would forever feel connected to whoever you saved, and as the Council does not want the Slayer to have such connections—"
Buffy cut in, "They forbid Slayers from giving blood... Even when it might save lives. When my ability to heal might be the difference between life and death for someone..."
END OF FLASHBACK
Buffy shook her head, frowning as her mind came back to the present. She still didn't want to be the Slayer, but she didn't want to let Charlie die either. And despite the Council's 'forbidding' the act, she knew she could help. So she spoke up. "Excuse me, Doctor Helgen?"
"Please excuse me a moment, Mrs. Eppes," The doctor turned to her with a frown, "Yes, Miss?"
"I'm type O negative."
The doctor blinked. "You are? You're certain?"
"Yeah. I had my blood tested at a blood drive just a few months ago." Buffy lied more smoothly than before. "Can I give Charlie some of my blood?"
Doctor Helgen stared at her for a moment before nodding and turning her attention back to the phone. "Excuse me, Mrs. Eppes? Apparently Miss... your son's girlfriend, Anne, is also a Type O negative and willing to donate." She paused a second and nodded again. "Yes, she is. Now, I understand you're willing to let Miss – one moment," raising an eyebrow at Buffy she asked, "What is your last name, dear? I can't seem to recall it."
Buffy hesitated for a moment, but reasoning that she was already tied to Charlie through the 911 call she might as well trust the spell Angel had placed on his old surname really did work. Plus, she still felt a bit safe with it, since it wasn't a name the Watcher's Council was likely to be looking for. "It's O'Conner. Anne O'Conner."
"I understand you're willing to let Miss O'Conner act as your son's medical advocate in your absence? Yes, Anne O'Connor." Dr. Helgen nodded again. "Very well, I'm going to give you to Nurse Lockley, she'll give you a few numbers you need to call. The hospital director and whatnot, to allow this." She paused then nodded again. "Yes, we will make an effort to keep in touch with you, but probably won't be able to while you're in the air. If you could call us before you board your plane, we'll be able to contact you through the airline itself, in the event of an emergency." She paused a few moments longer and nodded again. "Yes, of course. Please make these phone calls right away... Thank you, Mrs. Eppes. Have a safe flight. I'll pass you to Nurse Lockley now." So saying, she handed the phone to the nurse who quickly moved away toward the nearby nurses station even as Dr. Helgen turned back to Buffy and gestured towards the ER doors, "Shall we?"
Buffy couldn't help but glance worriedly around the hospital room, at all the people bustling about, all the equipment... and the far too still, too pale, Charlie.
"Don't worry, dear," Nurse Lockley told her, as she came up beside the bed Buffy had been told to lie on next to Charlie. "He's going to be fine. I'll put your phone right here with your purse, all right?" She inquired, as she set the phone next to Buffy's bag on the bedside table.
"Yes," Buffy nodded, "thank you... how long will this take?"
"Not too long," the nurse assured her. "He obviously needs a lot of blood, so we're going to take as much as we can. So you'll be hooked up to an IV of saline solution, to counteract the blood loss as much as possible." She pointed to the IV another nurse was bringing up along the side of the bed opposite the one Charlie was on. "Considering how small you are, we obviously can't take—"
"Take as much as he needs," Buffy cut her off firmly, shaking her head when both nurses frowned at her. "I'm in really good shape and I've always healed quickly. I've actually lost a lot of blood before – not recently – and my doctor said that my body actually reproduces it much more quickly than most peoples. So take as much as you possibly can, I'll sign whatever you need me to for it, but like you said, he needs it."
"I... We'll have to check with the doctor," Nurse Lockley told her after a moment's hesitation. She nodded to the other nurse and then towards the doctor and the younger nurse hurried over to Doctor Helgen.
A few moments later Dr. Helgen was at Buffy's bedside, while the younger nurse was hurrying off. "Is there a problem, Miss O'Connor?"
"No," Buffy shook her head, frowning. "I just told her to take as much blood as she can, and she doesn't want to. But he needs it!" She replied firmly, nodding slightly towards the pale, unconscious Charlie, whose pulse was reading rather thready and breathing was rough.
"Yes, he does." Dr. Helgen agreed, "But we don't want to hurt you to help him. You're very small—"
"I'm in great shape. And I've always healed quickly. I've even lost a lot of blood before and I was fine soon afterward." Buffy paused for a second, then added, still frowning, "I don't mind staying here for a few hours afterward, for observation or something, I promised Mrs. Eppes I'd stay with Charlie till she got here anyway."
At that Dr. Helgen offered a small, kind smile. "Yes, I heard..." then she sighed, shaking her head. "We'll need you to fill these papers out, for yourself, first. And sign the forms at the back. Then we'll get started, all right?" she asked, accepting the once again full clipboard the younger nurse had returned with.
Taking the clipboard from the doctor, Buffy nodded. "Okay."
While the nurses continued to bustle around her and Charlie and Dr. Helgen looked on, Buffy started filling the forms out, hoping what Angel said about the spell on the name 'O'Connor' continued to hold true for as long as she stayed here.
'Full Name... Anne Joyce O'Connor. Birth Date, four, fourteen... if I tell them I'm only seventeen they'll probably refuse to do it, so not 1979. Nineteen-seventy-five. So I'm twenty-one and just look very good for my age. Didn't come in with any ID, so they couldn't check it even if I had it... Height? Five feet three inches. Weight?...One-hundred-twenty, I think. Medical Insurance?" Buffy frowned again in thought. "I can't say what I actually have, cause the Council might notice that. And I really don't know how much Angel's spell will cover, so I don't want to make it look suspicious by saying I have the same insurance... What was Willow's? Blue Cross of California? Well, that'll have to do... membership number?" She shrugged as she quickly filled a number in. "Well, the spell will have to cover this. I'll just say the same number as Charlie's, mixed up a little.'
"Almost ready, Miss O'Connor?"
Buffy gave Nurse Lockley a distracted nod, hurrying a little despite the nurse's patient tone. 'Primary Care Physician? ... Who was the doctor that was turned a week or two before Acatha? He had a practice here in LA too, I think... Mark Wallace? Yeah.' Buffy nodded decisively, writing it in. 'Emergency contacts? Should at least give them someone they can actually call,' she thought, as she wrote in 'Mrs. Margaret Eppes... Medications and allergies are a 'no.'' Turning to the next page, she quickly signed and date the forms that followed, slowing only slightly on the signatures to make sure she put the right name in all of them, barely reading the forms themselves. After signing the last one she handed the clipboard back to Nurse Lockley with a smile. "All done!"
The older woman frowned at her as she replied. "You really should read the forms before you sign them, dear. They're for your own good."
Buffy shrugged, forcing a little cheer into her tone as she lightly replied. "I've read them before. One of my teacher's in high school made us look at this kind of stuff for a few weeks. Thought they'd be a good life lesson." She said, waiving her hand at the clipboard. "Guess he was right. The format's a little different on some of them, but the general gist of it all was the same, so I just skimmed it." In reality, she'd had to bring one of the Scoobies to the emergency room often enough that she really did know most of their forms word for word.
After a moment's silence, Lockley nodded. "Smart man... I'll be back in a moment with Doctor Helgen."
A few minutes later, both women returned just as one of the other nurses finished taking Buffy's blood pressure and another one hooked her up the saline IV they'd been talking about before. Though Buffy had noted that the bag on this IV was bigger than the one that had been brought over earlier. A few minutes after that, she was lying all the way back, watching as the doctor first stuck a need into Charlie's arm one spot, then a needle into another spot on Buffy's arm – near the inside of her elbow, before connecting them with a thin tube as a Nurse Lockley put a small plastic ball in Buffy's hand.
"Squeeze the ball," Lockley told her, before shaking her head and patting Buffy's hand softly, "No, gently, gently. And slower, about every five to seven seconds."
With Lockley's calm coaxing, under the attentive eyes of Dr. Helgen, Buffy watched as her blood left her body and flowed steadily into Charlie's, a little uncomfortable with the action as she felt confusion from the Slayer part of her at the loss. The Slayer, which she'd been able to feel more and more steadily with each passing day since her death at the Master's hands, was unhappy at loosing blood but was happy that the blood would help save the life of an innocent that vampires had tried to take... After a few minutes of the conflicting emotions rolling around her head, she felt that volatile part of her being relax and accept what was happening... and she swore she could actually feel her healing ability kick in, as though to make up for the loss while it was occurring.
"Are you all right, Miss O'Connor?"
Buffy nodded to Dr. Helgen's concerned inquiry. "I'm fine... It just... looks a little weird, you know? To watch my blood like... that."
Dr. Helgen nodded in understanding, smiling slightly. "Actually, most people don't watch when they're donating blood, even when it's into another person that's right next to them. They might glance at the person they're helping, but generally they either shut their eyes or look at anything but the needle in their arm and blood leaving them."
"Blood doesn't bother me," Buffy said with a shrug, adding with a glance around the room. "I'm not overly fond of hospitals, actually, but blood itself doesn't bother me."
"Most people don't like being in hospitals," the doctor nodded sympathetically again. "I can't really blame them. Being in one if you don't work there means that either you're sick or someone you care for is... Have you spent much time in a hospital before?"
"Not really." Buffy replied honestly, seeing no harm in a truthful answer. "I visited my dad's Mom a few times before she died when I was little... and I saw my cousin die in one."
"Yeah. Celia. She died when I was eight..." Buffy told her quietly, her eyes distant as she traveled down memory lane to that terrible memory that she'd only recently learned was tied to demons also. "She was supposed to be getting better and my parents left me in her hospital room to play with her. We were coloring and then she suddenly just froze up and started shaking... then all the machines started making a lot of noise and I hid in the corner while the doctors tried to save her... One of the nurses spotted me as they were covering her up..."
Buffy started at the doctor's equally quiet, sad words before shaking her head. "Not your fault... but thank you."
"It's easy to understand your not liking hospitals, then," the doctor offered kindly. "And it makes your calmness and decisiveness today all the more remarkable."
"Umm... thanks, I think." Buffy sighed. "It was a long time ago, anyway. And Charlie needed me."
"He did... How old was your cousin?"
"Celia? I think she was seven when she died. Just a little younger than me."
The doctor shook her head sadly. "I became a doctor to help people. And I've learned to accept death when it happens...but it's much harder with children."
"It should be, I think." Buffy replied, as her mind traveled back to some of the time's she'd needed to rescue children from vampires. Most of the residence of Sunnydale knew it wasn't safe to come out after dark. And most of the parents there made sure their children were always safe, especially the little ones... But sometimes she'd run into out-of-towners that weren't so wise... She shook her head as one of the nurses' cleared her throat.
"Doctor?" the nurse murmured, bringing the doctor out of the thoughts she had also apparently been lost in.
"What? Oh!" With ease of long practice, Dr. Helgen quickly moved to remove the needle from Buffy's arm, allowing a nurse to put a bandage on the spot as the last of the flood in the tube flowed into Charlie before he, too, was bandaged up. "There we go."
Buffy frowned, glancing at Charlie, who seemed to be a little better but still looked awful pale. "Are you sure that's enough?"
"I only meant to take one liter, dear, and we took a little more that," Dr. Helgen told her gently, smiling at her concern. "Don't worry though. He should be fine now... though how he lost so much blood from such a small wound I really don't understand, even a neck wound..."
"But you didn't take that much," Buffy protested again.
"Look," the doctor pointed to some of the machines around Charlie as she spoke. "His pulse and blood pressure are steady now. And his breathing is becoming much more regular. All good signs. And we legally can't take more blood from you. We probably shouldn't have taken as much as we did, considering your size."
"I feel fine!"
"Good," the doctor nodded again. "You may experience some dizziness, though your body should replace the blood you've lost in the next twenty-four hours. I don't want you to leave this bed for at least an hour. We—"
"But I promised—"
"We'll keep Charlie right here, so you can keep an eye on him, all right?" After receiving a nod, the doctor gently patted her on the shoulder. "We're going to keep you hooked up to this IV and one of the nurses will bring you a snack and some orange juice. I want you to eat that and then get some rest, all right?" She held up a hand to forestall protests. "If there is any news, I'll be sure to let you know. But both you and Charlie need to rest right now."
After a moment's silence, Buffy nodded reluctantly, though she was happy to see that Charlie did seem to be breathing more easily, and he didn't look quite as pale as before. "Okay... you'll wake me if—"
"I'll wake you if Charlie needs anything," the doctor nodded, her pale blue eyes bright as she offered Buffy another smile. "You did a good thing this evening, Miss O'Connor. Now get some rest."
Obediently, Buffy laid her head down and closed her eyes, not really expecting she'd actually be able to fall asleep, but after a few moment's the calm, quiet noises around her became distant as she faded off to sleep.
Joyce Summers sighed as she moved around her kitchen again. Puttering. She didn't need to be at the gallery for a few hours yet. Normally she wouldn't even be awake at this hour, the birds were still only half-awake.
But then, nothing had been 'normal' about the last few weeks. Not since the night she saw her daughter shove a wooden stake through a man's heart and learned he was a vampire after he'd crumbled to dust. And learned that her daughter was some kind of mythic warrior that was supposed to fight these monsters.
She wished she'd reacted better. Since finding out all of what her daughter's 'destiny' entailed, she really wished she hadn't taken her confusion-based anger out on her only child.
It hadn't been anymore reasonable to scream at Mr. Giles when he'd come to her home to ask after Buffy a few days after she'd run away. After Joyce had kicked her out. But it had made her feel better. A little, at least.
Though that feeling quickly faded over the hours she'd then spent with Mr. Giles, learning about her daughter's life of the last few years. Learning about the fights and weird occurrences Buffy had referred to.
It had broken her heart all over again. And until her daughter came home, she didn't think that her heart had any hope of healing.
She'd filed a missing persons report weeks ago. At the same time Mr. Giles and several of Buffy's friends had gone to the police station to clear Buffy's name. Apparently the Sunnydale High School principle really was an evil man, as Buffy had insisted so many times. For she could think of no other reason he would be so insistent that Buffy was a murderer. Nor any reason he could refuse to let Buffy to return to school once her name was cleared.
All of that had eventually been sorted out though. Now all she needed was for her baby to come home. She hoped Buffy came home soon on her own.
But she also put much more faith in Mr. Giles finding her than in Sunnydale's fairly incompetent police department. Giles, at least, was expending time and effort to find her. The police barely seemed to be trying...
Joyce shook her head. After finding out that real, true demons existed she'd been seeing evil everywhere, which was not how she wanted to live. Hopefully, the world would seem like a better place when Buffy came home. And hopefully that was soon. She didn't know how much more of this waiting she could take...
End of Chapter 1: A Hellish Place, Part I.
AN: Well, what do you think so far?
Thank you to those who review for the prologue, I'm glad that you like what you've seen so far and hope you continue to like it as I go along.
Comments and constructive criticism are always welcome, so please review!
Bye for now!
Sunnydale, California – Monday, June 3, 1996 – early morning