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Challenge #578 What If I Loved You? Part 1 by slaymesoftly
Chapter Seven
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When Giles called at 6 a.m. to tell Buffy that he knew about Joyce and would be by to pick them up by 7:30, she let out a breath she hadn’t even realized she’d been holding. In spite of her brave words to Spike about working alone, the idea that her surrogate father would be there while they waited provided some relief for the anxiety she’d been living with since the phone call the night before.
She and Dawn were standing on the front porch when Giles drove up, and they ran to the car before he had even come to a complete stop. Without the usual argument about who was going to ride in front, they got in and buckled up.  After exchanging morning greetings and expressing his sympathy about the reason for their trip, Giles drove directly to the hospital, letting the girls out at the front and telling them he’d meet them upstairs.
To his surprise, they were still in the lobby when he came in, and orderlies were struggling to drag a strangely dressed man away from Dawn who was pinned against the wall, cowering behind Buffy, while the man shrieked that he knew what she was and that she had to be “destroyed”.
Giles grabbed Dawn by the arm and pulled her away, freeing Buffy to leave her post in front of her sister and follow them to the elevators. There were deep breaths all around as they rode to the fourth floor, only to emerge and find other similarly dressed and disturbed-looking men being herded into the psych ward. Catching sight of Dawn, they all began shouting and screaming about destroying the Key. Fortunately, their orderlies were able to prevent them from rushing out, and Giles pushed Dawn through a set of double doors and into the much quieter surgical wing.  Buffy waited to be sure none of the crazy people were going to escape before following Giles and Dawn through the doors and into another area of the building.
They were greeted by Ben, who explained that he would be scrubbing in with the surgeon to observe as part of his residency program. He and Giles shook hands and he left, promising to take very good care of Joyce and let them know as soon as she was in recovery.
“Well, that was just... really, really weird,” Buffy said as they sat down in the family waiting room. “I wonder who they think you are, Dawn?”
“They didn’t say they knew who I am, they said they know what. How rude is that?”
“Quite rude,” Giles said with a small smile. “Did one of them say something about a Key?”
Buffy’s face lost all color. “He did.  He looked right at Dawn and said ‘the Key must be destroyed’.”
Giles frowned. “That’s interesting....”
“I know you meant to say ‘stupid and scary’ right, Giles?” Dawn glared at him until he looked away.
“Yes, yes. Of course I did.”
While they waited, Buffy much less than patiently, for news about Joyce, Giles put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a scrap out, paper upon which he’d written: Glory is Ben, Ben is Glory. They are the same. Ask Spike what he saw. Talk to Willow and Tara about a general remove all spells spell.
“Buffy,” he said. “What was the name of the young doctor who brought us in here?”
“His name is Ben – er Dr. Wilkinson. Why?”  Giles silently handed her the scrap of paper. Buffy read it with a frown, then handed it back.
“That makes no sense. What did Spike say?”
“Oddly enough, I cannot remember what he said specifically, only that I was to write down what he told me and to work on a spell to cancel any other spells that may be lingering around Sunnydale. He seemed quite certain there was magic being used to our detriment.”
Buffy just shrugged. “Okay, well it’s not cool that the skank – Glory? What kind of a name is Glory? — is back in town and still thinks I have whatever she’s looking for. But I don’t know what Ben has to do with anything. He’s just a doctor here. When I know my mom’s going to be all right, I’ll worry about her.”
“It appears, from what Spike saw last night after he left you, that she has minions that are not human. He was going to search for one and to try to... persuade... it to give us more information.”
Unbothered by the implication of how Spike intended to get the information, Buffy just nodded.  “Okay. Well I hope he learns something we can use about this “Key” that she’s looking for.” Buffy shot a glance at Dawn. “And why those crazy guys think it has something to do with Dawn.”
Giles stood up. “I believe I will go find a phone and suggest to Willow that she begin working on that spell immediately. If she and Tara come up with something that will work, we will put it into effect right away. At worst, it may explain Spike’s cryptic instructions, and at best, perhaps tell us what we’re dealing with.”
An hour later, the neurosurgeon appeared at the entrance to the waiting room. He smiled as Buffy and Dawn leaped to their feet, nodding at the older man who he assumed to be their father.
“We got the whole thing and it appears to be benign. I will, of course, have it tested to be sure, but I’m feeling quite confident.  You mother will need to remain in Recovery for a while longer, then she will have her own room on the floor. When I examine her in the morning, I will be able to tell her when she can go home.”
“Can we see her?” 
He shook his head.
“Not yet. She is in and out of consciousness as the effects of the anesthesia wear off, and of course, she will be on pain meds for a while until she’s healed. You may wait here for a few more hours, or you can go home or to school and come back this afternoon when she is more likely to be awake and able to speak with you.”  He turned to Giles.
“Are you their father, Mr. Summers?”
“Ah, no... I am... their uncle.  Joyce is my sister. Their father is... out of the country, I believe.”
The doctor looked dubious once he heard Giles’s accent, but nodded. “Well, I’m glad the girls have someone to look after them while their mother is recovering.” He looked back at Buffy. “I will let you know immediately if there is any change or any problem, but I’m not anticipating anything like that. If you have any questions that arise today, please call my office.”
They thanked him, and waited until he’d left the room before conferring.
“If there’s nothing we can do here, I suggest we repair to the Magic Box and begin researching a general spell-cancelling spell. We can call Willow from there and ask her to join us.”
Buffy and Dawn exchanged looks.  “I’m not going to school today!”
“I wasn’t going to make you,” Buffy said. “But I don’t know about leaving Mom...”
“I believe the surgeon was quite clear that you would not be able to see her or have any sort of meaningful conversation until she has had several hours to recover—“ He was interrupted by Ben’s appearance in the doorway.
“Oh, hi.”
Ben looked around furtively, then gestured for Buffy to come closer. “If you want, I can let you peek in at your mother. She’s in and out of sleep, but she asked for you.” Buffy joined him so quickly he blinked. “Uh, okay. Let’s go then. Just you.”
Leaving Giles and a stormy-faced Dawn, Buffy followed him down the hall.  “Um. Thanks, Ben. I really appreciate this.”
“Happy to do it,” he said, lowering his voice. “Here, just take a few seconds to let her know you’re here and then we’ll have to leave.”
Buffy entered the room full of semi-comatose people all attached to machines of one sort or another. She was relieved to see her mother had only the standard IV beside her bed, and a small heart monitor sensor attached to one finger. Figuring that meant Joyce wasn’t in seriously bad shape, she approached the bed with more confidence.
“Mom?  Did you want to see me?”
Joyce opened a bleary eye. “Buffy? Is that you?”  Buffy patted her hand and assured her that she was there.  “Where... who is that other girl who came with you? Why was she here?”
Buffy stiffened. “That was Dawn, Mom.  You know, my little sister? Your other daughter?”
Joyce tried to frown.  “You’re an only child, Buffy. You know that.”  Before she could continue to argue, Joyce sighed. “I’m so sleepy....” and shut her eyes.  Ben gestured for Buffy to leave, and after giving her mom a kiss on her bandaged forehead, she followed him out of the room.
“Well that was weird. I wonder why she can’t remember Dawn?”
The young doctor shrugged. “I’m not an expert on brain stuff, but I’d guess it’s just some kind of after effect of the anesthesia. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
Buffy continued to frown as she remembered how bewildered her mother had seemed at Dawn’s presence the night before, before she’d had any anesthesia. Shrugging it off as something to worry about later, she remembered Giles’s note that he said was something Spike had told him about the woman she’d fought.
“Ben, um... this is going to sound... but you know, it’s Sunnydale, and you’ll get used to... strange things...”
Ben gazed at her with amused curiosity.  “What is it?”
“Do you know anything about somebody or something called ‘Glory’?”
Rather than the puzzled frown she expected, Ben went white as a sheet and his eyes looked like they wanted to leap from their sockets.  He appeared as if he was going to hyperventilate for a few seconds; long enough for Buffy’s slayer sense of danger to go haywire and for her to back away from him.
“No...nothing. I know nothing. No idea what you’re talking about. I have to go now. They’re paging me!” With that he dashed down the hall and into an elevator that was just closing.
Buffy ran to the waiting room and began herding Giles and Dawn out. “Let’s go. I’ll explain later. Ben knows something he doesn’t want to talk about.”
When they were in the car, Giles said, “If this has anything to do with Ben and ‘Glory’, whatever that is, we need to run by my apartment and get my complete notes from last night. Perhaps they will be less cryptic than the note I brought with me.” 
While Giles went for the pad upon which he’d written down everything Spike had told him to, as well as a few notes to himself about anything else Spike had said and about getting a spell-removal done, Buffy called Willow and without explanation, asked her to bring Tara and meet them at the Magic Box. When she’d hung up, she looked at Giles to see him reading and re-reading everything he’d written down the night before.
“Well, this makes no sense at all,” he said. “Spike must have been drunk or something. I don’t know why I wasted my time on....” His voice trailed off as he came to his own notes about Spike’s warning that he was not going to remember any of it.  His face grim, he said, “Let’s go get that spell done.”
It took a very short amount of time, with them all searching, including Dawn, to locate several general spell-ending spells and for Giles and Willow to pick the one most likely to work for them.  While Giles gathered supplies off the shelves, Willow and Tara went over the words, wanting to be sure nothing went wrong.
“So, what’s going to happen now?” Dawn asked.
“If all goes well, any overall magic that is preventing us from remembering what Spike insists he saw last night, should be gone. As well as any other spells anyone has put on us. Which, to be fair, is unlikely, but one never knows....”
“Yeah, like Buffy and Spike being so sure they were going to get married last year and that all the rest of you were under a spell, but they weren’t. It was pretty funny....”
Willow’s glare told Dawn exactly how not funny she thought that particular memory was, but the teenager just stuck her tongue out and wandered around the shop looking for something to do.
The spell itself was relatively straightforward and easy, but it did require Giles, Willow and Tara to hold hands and concentrate together as they said the words.  They turned down Buffy’s offer to add her and Dawn’s concentration to the mix.
Willow shook her head and Giles agreed that Buffy was probably too close to supernatural magic – being the Chosen One – to use in a spell, and Dawn was... not needed. There was a moment of panic when Buffy wondered if removing all magic could cause her to lose her powers, but Giles assured her that only specific spells would be cancelled, not something as momentous as having been chosen to be the Slayer. 
The three participating people joined hands and began to recite the words of the spell meant to remove all magic spells currently in effect.  The finish was a bit anticlimactic at first, with nothing visibly changing. Giles noticed it first. When he read his note again, he remember Spike’s telling him that Glory had turned into Ben right before his eyes. And that Spike had left to track down a minion...
He stood up and stretched, saying, “I believe I should contact the Council to see if they know anything about this ‘Glory’ creature and her key.”  As he turned away, he spotted Dawn by the window and sat back down again with a thud.  “Dear Lord,” he whispered, as he stared at the girl who’d just appeared in their lives a few months ago.
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