Challenge as originally posted by michamon2001(:)
incident on broken dirt
“Why?” Buffy asked indignantly, turning around to face off with a sharp glare. “I mean… does it really matter? You’re going regardless of what I want or say or do so what does it matter if Willow gives you the typical going away present from the Hellmouth. Of course we gotta do this the worst way possible. Make it a real blowout of a send off. After all, it’s the Scooby way.”
Giles took a deep breath, trying to be patient, trying not to worsen an already tense situation. “I know this is hard for you. It’s more difficult for me than you could possibly imagine. I’ve told you, Buffy, were there another way…”
“You’d what… stay?” She challenged him, jaw clenching in anger. “You wouldn’t, would you? Even if I asked you… even if I begged you?”
“Please what, Giles... beg?” With all the dramatics of a soap opera diva, the Slayer fell to her knees and clenched her hands together, as if praying to him with false hope. “Alright then, here it is. Please stay, Giles. Is that what you wanted to hear? Is it what you need, me reduced to this?”
“Don’t make this any harder than it already is,” Giles mumbled, wounded. “You have no idea…”
“No, Giles… you have no idea!” Buffy leapt to her feet and started marching off, arms dismissing him with an irritated wave. “Like you know what I’m going through, here. Like you have any idea beyond those constantly polished rose-colored spectacles of yours.”
Giles pursued her, weaving through the landscape of tombstones and quickly gaining ground. He reached out, gripping her firm by the arm to stop her escape. “Come now, you’re just being unreasonable.”
Buffy tore her arm free, looking much like she was ready to haul off and hit something… perhaps even him. She shuffled a few steps away, needing to recapture some space.
“That means a heck of a lot coming from mister skip-town-in-a-crisis. You want to leave…. leave already.”
The limit of his patience met, Giles’ sympathy gave way to stubbornness. “Perhaps I should.”
“No skin off my nose… whatever that means.”
“It means it’s painfully obvious that I’ve overstayed my welcome.”
Buffy bit back her anger, her sadness, her frustration and said with an uncertain voice, “Yeah, I guess it does.”
The blurred motion of black took both Watcher and Slayer by surprise as a jagged stone club darted out from the shadows, striking Giles square on the forehead head. An eerie crack sounded, like that of splitting wood, and his head snapped back with the force of the impact. A rain of glass shards speckled to the trodden grass as the bent frames fell, landing somewhere beyond the paths light. A substantial trickle of red oozed from the resulting gash, flowing over his eyes, widened with confusion. Before Buffy could react, Giles collapsed to his knees on the dampened grass, head swaying absently under the weight of shock.
The second strike came almost immediately following the first, swiftly colliding with the backside of Giles’ wobbling head before Buffy could reach the attacker. The Watcher went limp, folding sideways to the grass littered path. His head lay busted wide open and spilling his last blood.
Possessed, Buffy charged the shadowed beast, making quick work in dispatching it with a single powerful kick, brutally severing its head from its body. It burst into a shower of liquid, dissipating on the night’s winds before she could even assess what it had been.
She hurried to where Giles had fallen.
A passing jogger came upon the scene, spotted the downed man and the young lady standing above him and quickly ran off, retrieving her cell phone and anxiously dialing as she retreated. Buffy barely even noticed her, too occupied by the sight of her injured Watcher at her feet.
“Giles, are you okay?”
No answer but that of a vacant stare into the darkness, lips parted and dry, barely breathing.
“Giles?” she repeated softly. “I got it. Okay to get up now.”
She got a sinking feeling but disregarded it as she knelt beside him and placed an adrenalin-inspired trembling hand to his shoulder.
“Come on. This… this is nothing. I mean, you’ve been smacked around before. Just a little… a little bump, right?”
No answer, no reaction and way too much blood… his blood. Panic seized her. She pressed her hand to the pooling wound and felt it give a little. Her first thought was that it shouldn’t do that. Christ, it was mom all over again.
“Someone call 911!” She looked around, screaming. “Someone, anyone… call 911! Please!”
She could see no one was coming to her aid.
“I need a phone. Why don’t I have a fucking phone?” She rambled on anxiously as she cupped the wound firmly but not enough to cave beneath the pressure of her brutal hand.
“N-no… don’t you do this. You can’t leave me!” She ordered, giving him a stern nudge at the shoulder. Her voice broke into a weep as she whispered a desperate plea, “I can’t do this without you, Giles. Please don’t go…”
The songs of sirens intensified from off in the distance.
the harsh realities of dawn
Eight days had passed since the incident. The Scoobies were on their adopted rotation of Giles watch, it being Buffy and Dawn’s turn yet again. They sat in the hospital waiting area doing the requisite waiting for news on any change in Giles’ condition.
Surprisingly, the Watcher’s Council had come through in the paperwork department; handling all the insurance and financial related issues. They also managed to convince the hospital administration to override the familial visitation restriction to include authorizing the gang’s visits.
It had become a sad sort of routine for everyone involved. Buffy would stop in after patrol and on the way to taking Dawn to school. Anya would relieve her for a few hours, having accepted closing the shop midday on a temporary basis due to the circumstances. That’s when Buffy would try to steal a few hours of rest and try to forget about the man laying alone and nearly comatose in a hospital bed. Then Buffy would pick up Dawn from school and they would both haunt the hospital lobby, Dawn doing her homework as Buffy caught more catnaps on various lobby furniture. Then Tara and Willow would take watch as the Summers girls got some much needed food and Buffy prepared for her nightly patrol. Xander had the shortest window, being the only one with a full time job. His guilt over it became more evident with each passing day, barely acknowledging anyone as he took his turn from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm, quietly munching on donuts and root beer as he leafed aimlessly through the outdated magazines.
They’d been given the official and rather bleak medical diagnosis that set Willow on a tailspin of research and denial. Xander took just as much to denial, ignoring Anya’s persistent reminders of how fragile the human brain is and how Giles would most likely end up an imbecile if he survived at all. It’s not that she didn’t care. She simply couldn’t cope with her jumble of raw, complicated human emotions. It seemed it would never get easier for her. So she became a sort of obnoxious spokesperson for everyone’s deepest, darkest concerns. Then when alone and serving her shift at the hospital, she would find herself absent of words and cry over the articles of the Ladies Home Journal and Vogue and not understanding why.
But the doctors had words enough for all of them. Harsh phrases like ‘extensive blunt force trauma to the frontal lobe’ and ‘post traumatic amnesia’ and ‘altered behavioral and cognitive functioning’. What it all boiled down to was that no one really knew how Giles would come out of this thing. It scared them more than any of them could talk about, especially Buffy.
“How are you today, Buffy?” Nurse Sam asked as she took a moment from her rounds to greet them.
“I’m… I’m here, breathing, living… can’t complain, I guess.” Buffy shrugged.
“And how’s Dawn?”
“I’m fine. Too much homework, though. Know anything about ‘the chemistry’?” Dawn asked; her lap buried under text books.
“Only the long version.” The nurse smiled and then her eyes went wide, recalling something. “Oh yeah... you wouldn’t happen to know a Randy, would you?”
“Randy?” Buffy repeated, confused.
“Yeah, Tammie, the on-duty graveyard shift nurse, said some platinum blonde cutie came by last night, real late. Claimed to be Mr. Giles’ son, Randy. Our records make no mention of a son. I guess when Tammie was looking in on the discrepancy in the files, the guy got all fidgety-like and left.”
Buffy crossed her arms and grumbled, “I think I know the guy. He won’t be back.”
“Come on, Buffy… it’s kinda sweet… in a creepy, stalkery type way,” Dawn shrugged and returned her attention to her books.
A doctor strolled by and in noticing the young ladies, walked up to join in on the conversation.
“I didn’t expect to see either of you two lovely young ladies today but it looks as though your persistence finally paid off, Miss Summers. Mr. Giles regained consciousness this morning and is faring quite well.”
She bolted to her feet. “Can I see him… I mean, if it’s not gonna hurt him or anything.”
“Me too.” Dawn jumped up, spilling her books clumsily to the floor. “I go to... I mean, I wanna see him too.”
“Can we both see him?”
By the uncertain look on the doctor’s face, Buffy could tell he was uncomfortable with the idea.
“Well, it won’t do any physical harm, I assure you. But it could be somewhat emotionally trying for both of you. It’s early yet and there is no telling exactly how severe the PTA is at this point. It would actually provide us with a chance to explore the extent of the loss, seeing the interaction with someone close to him.”
“Um… okay,” Buffy answered absently, ignoring everything but the answer she still waited to hear. “So can we see him?”
“I think it’ll be alright,” the doctor answered with a smile and motioned down the hall. They walked to the end of a corridor and turned the corner, marching midway until the doctor stopped before a door and gave it a light knock. He cracked it open and stepped inside.
“How are we today, Mr. Giles?”
Buffy listened carefully for a reply. Dawn looked to her and her keen Slayer hearing for eavesdropping on what was being said. Buffy could only shrug.
“You’re looking very well, Rupert, better than to be expected. Lucky for you and your friends, you’re a very resilient man.”
“What’s going on?” Dawn whispered to Buffy.
“I don’t know,” she whispered back.
“And I have good news, some of those friends were nice enough to stop by. You have visitors, Rupert. Mind if I let them come in?” The doctor asked cheerily, pulling open and holding the door for them to enter. Buffy hesitated; anticipating hearing Giles’ voice eagerly inviting her in but the invite never came. The doctor nodded, silently instructing her to enter and she obeyed, stepping just beyond the arch of the door with Dawn close on her heels.
There he was sitting upright in the bed wearing a yellow and pink floral pattern hospital gown. So not his style or taste, Buffy thought. His forehead head was wrapped, perfectly bandaged, looking almost uncomfortably tight with a messy outcropping of curling tufts atop the sterile white mesh. He looked so different, especially without the glasses, staring wide-eyed at her then Dawn and back again to her.
“You remember Buffy, don’t you?” The doctor prompted him gently.
His eyes dashed anxiously from her back to the doctor.
“No, I don’t,” his voice cracked nervously and the doctor’s face fell a little in disappointment.
“It’s alright, Rupert. It’ll most likely come back in time.” The doctor tried to reassure him but Buffy wasn’t convinced by his flat tone.
“What happens now?” Giles asked anxiously, barely able to hold Buffy’s gaze.
‘That’s what I’d like to know,’ responded the pessimistic voice in her head.