Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-
POV: Shifts Perspective
Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and Spanderverse: stories.
Notes: Tenth story in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Hospital Visits”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.
People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.
The Risks of Glory
Ch 5- Babble
Buffy awoke and stretched, feeling pain free. Finally she’d completely healed from Adam’s assaults and felt more like herself. There was still her mother’s illness to handle, and Dawn was finally told about the surgery yesterday which was another drama in and of itself, but things were settling down a little bit. It was Wednesday, which meant more class work she wasn’t remotely interested in bothering with. She’d mentioned last night at dinner just skipping classes and being here for her mother, but Joyce wouldn’t even entertain the notion. Instead she’d insisted that she wasn’t an invalid and could take care of herself. She’d spent three hours at the gallery the day before and today she was planning on starting a menu for Thanksgiving. She wanted the entire gang to be invited so she could do up a regular old-fashioned dinner party.
As Buffy showered, she was at least relieved that Riley wasn’t angry over Dawn’s comments anymore. Well, he’d had four days after all. And more good news…, Adam hadn’t been seen nor heard from since he’d taken a tumble into the woods. She had looked, but as expected, he’d wandered off. Still, she was holding out optimism that he’d been so damaged the vampires wouldn’t be able to put him back together again.
And as if the good news couldn’t stop, no Spike!
She’d been sure that he would show up on her doorstep or even in her kitchen with some sob story and clever song and dance routine. But nope, even her mom said she hadn’t seen him, so maybe he finally got the hint and took off. Just in case, she’d naturally had the ‘no pulse, no entry’ spell done against him- again. This time even Dawn and her mother agreed that he wasn’t allowed in the house. All that was left was getting her mother through her surgery.
Buffy faltered. She’d done such a good job of convincing herself that once the surgery was done, everything would be fixed. But there were the times, like now, when she realized that it might only be the beginning. Suddenly feeling the need to see her mom, she hurriedly scrubbed herself soap-less and exited the shower.
The Magic Box was once again in a lull. It appeared that weekdays would be slow, but weekends would bring out every wanna-be Wicca within a one hundred mile radius to the shop. Since this was a weekday…. Anya sat playing with her register, ringing up false sales and then refunds just so it would ding at her. Giles was huddled with a sheaf of thick pages, trying to decipher some ancient language that may or may not have some connection with the mystery orb.
Buffy entered the empty shop. After asking Giles for the morning update from the news, she turned conversation to Joyce.
“…so if you could just drop in on her some time today, Giles? I’d really, really appreciate it.”
“Of course, Buffy. Any word on when they’ll perform her surgery?”
“Day after tomorrow. You know, I’m all optimistic until I actually hear how soon it’s going to be and then it’s all ‘terror-gloom-tears’ time.”
“And she’s still at home? I would have thought they’d have her in for, uh, whatever they do before actual surgery. Taking vitals and interrupting your sleep in the middle of the night for blood tests and to give you a sleeping pill and such.”
“They tried. Hell, I tried. Mom refuses to stay lying around helpless in a hospital bed over the next two days. She was so adamant, even my Slayer powers were rendered useless. Even Dawn’s incredible powers of whining just bounced off of her mom-shield. I guess she’ll be okay. I mean, it’s only two days and she has her pills.”
“A-And afterward? If there’s anyway we can help with her recovery, you know you have only to ask any of us.”
“Thanks. As a matter of fact, I’m stopping by the Administrator’s Office between classes today. I wanted to drop a few courses, but mom nearly blew a gasket. I was able to convince her to let me move back home though. I’ll need everyone’s help to move my stuff out of the dorm sometime this weekend.”
“Certainly. I’ll spread the word to everyone to be available.”
“Thanks, Giles. Anya? You’re awfully quiet today. I didn’t even get a ‘Welcome to the Magic Box’ from you.”
“I’m crabby. Xander’s being mean and snotty because of that whole Spike thing and we haven’t even had sex in five days. If I don’t get some soon, I might die o-or go on a serial killing spree or something. Don’t humans self-destruct when they don’t get sex regularly?”
“This is what I’ve had to listen to over the last few days,” Giles directed at Buffy.
“Well, uh, sorry to hear that Anya…, I guess. Um, I’m gonna get to class.”
It was three-thirty and Buffy dropped her books on her desk and looked over at Willow’s empty bed. She’d spent so much time at Tara’s that for all intents and purposes that was her room now. Maybe she’d suggest that Willow make it her official residence instead of paying the dorm fee on a room she never used. She felt bad for dumping the whole cost on Willow, but she knew that she’d understand why Buffy had to move out of campus housing. Plus if Will really wanted to keep it, she could always request a new dorm mate be assigned.
Leaving the room empty, again, she exited into the hallway. There stood Riley, comically frozen in a mid-knock gesture. Smiling at him as he shyly put his hand down, she asked him how his day had been.
“Good, actually. I spent most of it with Graham. He’s close to being released from the doctor’s care finally. I mean I feel bad about cracking his ribs, but Nurse Greene and Dr. Watanabe are acting like I nearly killed the guy.”
Buffy couldn’t stop the sour frown from coming over her face at the mention of Graham. It bothered her that an Initiative or Meta-Ops-whatever-they-called-themselves guy was still hanging around. She turned and the two of them walked down the hallway.
“I know,” Riley said a little impatiently, having caught her expression. “I mean I understand your feelings about the guys, but Graham is my best friend. He’s gone out of his way to stay out of yours. You should cut him a little slack. He’s not Initiative anymore.”
“I know that,” Buffy said and even she flinched at the pissy tone of her voice. Trying to soften her stance in order to avoid an argument, she tried again. “I know he’s one of the good guys, okay? In fact, as a person, I like Graham just fine. It’s just… when you said the Pentagon was going to leave us alone, I thought that meant the army base would get moved or something. Every time I think about all that heavy hardware lying there waiting for some demon to get a hold of, I get a little wigged. Adam already tried to blow me to pieces with an arm cannon doohickey, remember?”
Instead of replying, Riley chose to drop the subject. It was going to be a sore spot with her no matter what he said. “So, what are your plans this evening? I was hoping maybe we could have dinner together. You know, candlelight, bottle of wine, fresh flowers in a vase… the whole nine.”
“Um…, yeah. Yeah, maybe. I just want to get back to the house and check on my mom. Why don’t you call me later at around six-ish and I’ll let you know? I gotta run, honey. I need to go over to the hospital and talk to the doctor about mom’s surgery on Friday. I was so frazzled by the news that she needed surgery; I didn’t even ask any questions. Like what the risks are or what we can do to help her recover afterward. I was just a total basket case.”
“I could come with you, if you need some moral support?”
“Oh, thanks, but… I kinda need to deal with this myself. What you could do, is go by the junior high school and walk Dawnie home. She just found out the whole story yesterday.” (1)
“How’d she handle it?”
“Total meltdown,” Buffy replied. “That’s why I really think that she could use your manly shoulder. She was really trying hard, unsuccessfully, to put on a brave little toaster face. I think there’s still some angst she needs to get off her chest and I know she’ll feel bad if she dumps it on me or mom. I don’t want her holding that kinda stuff inside.”
“Yeah, okay. I’ll see to her. Listen, though… give some serious thought to us tonight, alright?” Riley leaned in and gave her a quick kiss before they separated outside of the dorm building.
Buffy was leaving the hospital from her meeting with the doctor which had lasted all of ten minutes. He hadn't even gotten time to get all of the clichés out of his system before he'd been paged away to an emergency. Or so he claimed; she wondered if he hadn't had a secretary or nurse page him on purpose. Whatever, all she'd gotten out of him was the same old routine she'd seen too many times on E.R. 'We do this all the time'; 'there's very little risk'; 'your mother is a strong candidate for the procedure'; 'we'll see how things stand after the surgery'. Blah-blah-bibbity-blah- all of it useless.
As she made her way toward the exit, she noted a small commotion going on in the hallway in front of her. A young doctor-type, and a real cutie, was wrestling with some patient on a gurney. He had shaggy brown hair and the blue scrubs he wore were clinging nicely to his butt.
Shrugging, she made her way over to the doctor and the out of control guy to see if she could lend a hand. The patient was seriously having an attitude problem and even as she was making her way over, she saw him club Dr. Hotstuff in the face.
Grabbing the patient by a shoulder, she slammed him down onto the gurney and pinned him in place while a nurse and an orderly strapped him securely. The cute doctor, who turned out to be an intern named Ben, smiled at her gratefully.
"Strong woman. You must really work out," he grinned at her.
"Yeah, well… uh, fitness is in these days, right?"
Glancing down at the patient who was busy babbling to himself, she noted his features and recognition hit her like a fist to the stomach. This was Mr. Goodmore from the warehouse. He was out of his security uniform and dressed in a pair of tan slacks and a white shirt, but it was definitely him.
Ben noticed her interest and said, "Poor guy, huh?"
"I know this man. I just saw him last week. What's wrong with him?"
"I'm no psychiatrist, but he was rushed in when he tried to jump in front of a garbage truck. I'd say he was a little nutty," he tried to joke.
Buffy wasn't amused, however. "This guy isn't crazy. I mean he was working security and I talked with him and everything."
"Whatever you say," Ben said, "But right now we need to get him to the psyche ward and on a sedative."
"Mr. Goodmore," Buffy ignored Ben, "It's me. Remember? We met last week?"
"Oh, I know you missy! You think you're above it all! Well, you're not! They'll get to you to. They come through you're family. They turn them into frogs! FROGS! FROGS!" Mr. Goodmore started laughing maniacally sending shivers down Buffy's spine.
"What do you mean!? Who? Who's coming Mr. Goodmore," she pleaded.
"Let's get him upstairs," Ben told the orderlies as they began moving the gurney down the hallway. "Don't let him upset you. I don’t think he knows what he's saying. I'm sorry you had to see him like that though, considering you know him…."
"Yeah," Buffy told him. Her mind was racing. No one just turned into a raving nut in a week like that. At least they didn't on the Hellmouth without something else going on. "Yeah, uh, he seemed nice. Um, I'll see you around."
"Yeah, maybe we'll see each other around town sometime, or something?"
"Uh, sure," Buffy said distractedly. When she turned to leave again, she was barely managing not to barrel through people in her way.
Buffy came into the Summers' home in panic, suddenly sure that her mother's tumor or blockage; whatever was wrong, was an attack. She didn't know by whom or how they'd managed to make her mother sick and that had her upset. She couldn't fight what she didn't know and who knew what else 'whoever' was up to.
As she came in she found her mother lying on the couch holding her head. Tears were streaming down Joyce's face and she was grimacing in pain. She had gotten a damp washcloth for her forehead, but it was obviously not helping.
"Mom! Mom, what can I do?"
"Stop yelling at me, damn it!"
Buffy took a deep breath to calm her self.
She's only snapping at me because of whatever's wrong. It's going to be okay… it's going to be okay.
"Mom, it's going to be alright. Have you taken your pills this afternoon?"
"I'm in pain, Buffy! How do you expect me to remember, everything!? I can't keep up with everything, you know! I'm not a secretary, after all! Have you even bothered to check with front desk, yet?"
"Okay, mom, okay. Just lie here, I'm going to get you some help. I'll fix things…," Buffy ran upstairs to her mother's medicine cabinet and rummaged until she found Joyce's prescription pain medication. Glancing at the directions, she decided to just ignore them. Instead, she shook out two of the pink caplets and placed them on Joyce's nightstand along with a glass of water. When she returned downstairs, Joyce was sitting up and looking dazed.
"Buffy? Why are you home? You didn't skip classes did you? I told you I wouldn't put up with that nonsense."
"It's okay, mom. It's okay. Classes are over. It is late afternoon. Come on, I'm going to get you settled upstairs. We don't want Dawn to see you like this, okay?"
Buffy struggled as she had to half-carry Joyce up the stairs, but when they reached the top, she seemed able to walk by herself again.
"Buffy, I'm sorry. I know I'm acting weird, its just, my head…."
"I know, mom. It doesn't matter. I'm going to get you into bed and give you your pain pills."
"Oh, no, I can't. I have to get dinner ready and those pills make me feel wacky."
"I'm going to take care of everything," Buffy tried to calm her mother. "Dawnie's going to be upset if she sees you like this. Please, mom, let me do this for you. You'll feel a lot better once your pills kick in and you get some sleep."
Joyce nodded her acquiescence and allowed herself to be guided to her room. Buffy didn't bother undressing her, only removing her slippers. Once she had her sitting up in her bed and tucked under the blankets, she reached for the pills and water.
Her mother was once again out of it, and Buffy could feel the dam of tears trying to break through her calm resolve to hold herself together.
"Dawnie's just light and air, you know," Joyce babbled at her. "I told them. I told them 'I didn't order light and air', but they wouldn't take it back. I had to sign for it, you know. I hope your father understands when he gets home. I had no choice! The U.P.S. man wouldn't return it!"
"Shh, mom. Here. I need you to swallow these with a bit of water, okay? Then I'll see about dinner, alright?"
Buffy placed the pills in her mother's mouth and was relieved when Joyce obediently took them with her water. She was helping her mother slide down under the blankets, when Joyce unexpectedly slapped her hard across her face. The blow hurt her more than any hit Adam could have come up with, and Buffy grabbed her face in shock.
"You bitch!" Her mother went on a mercifully short rant, "You think I don't know you're trying to poison me!? I know! I know what ungrateful little bitches Slayer's are with their egos and their 'me, me, me, it's all about me'. Oh, yes, miss, don't think I don’t know what you're planning."
Joyce suddenly swooned. There was no other way to describe it and when she looked again at Buffy, she seemed to be back in the here and now.
"Buffy? What are you doing home, honey? What time is it?"
"It's a bit after four, mom. Riley picked Dawn up from school and probably took her for a walk or ice cream. I need to go down and start dinner. Can you lie down for me? Try to get a bit of sleep, okay?"
"Buffy… did I… was I acting, you know…?"
"Don’t worry about it. Another few days and you'll be yourself again."
"I don't want Dawn to see me acting crazy."
"I know. That's why I need you to just rest. Here, lie down…."
Once Joyce was settled, Buffy made her way down the hallway. Fighting herself every step of the way, she refused to make a sound; at least, not until she reached the bathroom.
Turning the spigots on full blast in the sink, Buffy began to cry in loud, huge sobs. She balled her fists and hit herself in the thighs. She hit the sink. She stomped her foot against the tiled floor. Mostly though, she just gave into body-shaking sobbing.
End Ch 5
(1) Dawn is 15 at this time and it actually in high school. Because of Sunnydale High’s destruction, however, they are cramming both age groups into the local Junior High. I should have included this somewhere in the story so it would be clearer why Riley’s going to the J.H. school.