In Harm’s Way
Chapter Fourteen: Surgery
Spike ran at full speed, all the way to Sunnydale Memorial Hospital. One of the many perks he was discovering about his gem, was that he was a bit faster and didn’t get winded at all. He stopped just to the side of the ER entrance and put his right hand on his chest. As warm as he felt, he was almost surprised to not have a heart beat.
After he was sure that none of the Scoobies were in the waiting area, he casually sauntered over to the front desk and gave the young receptionist his most charming of smiles.
“’Lo there, love. Can you help a bloke out?”
She shuffled some papers and blushed. “What can I do for you, sir?”
“I need to suss out what happened to my friend. A girl with--”
“I’ll handle this, Lorraine,” an older woman said as she pushed the pretty girl out of her seat. “Take these files to Dr. Kaufman.” Then the woman turned cold eyes on him. “Are you a relative?”
He glared at her. “No.”
“What is the patient’s name?”
He leaned an elbow on the counter and stared at the woman while trying to keep his eye on the waiting room. “Buffy Summers. Was just brought in a few minutes ago.”
With practiced precision, the receptionist tapped away on her computer. “I can tell you that she was admitted.”
“And?” Spike prompted, as he scanned the room, making sure the Scoobies had not entered.
“That’s it. I can’t tell you anything more. Please wait for a family member to show up. They can pass on more information.”
He stood tall and glared at the woman, attempting to intimidate her.
She glared back. “This hospital has a strict policy about dress code. You’ll need to put on a shirt.”
Doing his best to fight down his building anger and the accompanying urge to take advantage of his new-found freedom to indulge it, knowing that he could tear the place apart and kill every one of the people in the waiting room, he opened his coat wider and said, “I’d a kept my shirt on, but then your patient would mostly likely be dead, seeing as how it was used to put pressure on her bleeding wound.” He wanted to vamp out and scare the hell out of the unpleasant woman, but Buffy was more important.
She stuttered, “Well--then--keep your coat wrapped around you.”
He nodded, but didn't even make a show of trying to comply with her order as he moved away from the desk. Casually, he edged his way towards the large swinging doors off to the side, putting him out of view of the receptionists and the main entrance.
He watched as one patient and then another was called through those doors. The waiting room was crowded with semi-sick people and their companions. If he was feeling peckish at all, it would be easy pickins, but he had no desire to feed.
Suddenly, he heard frantic, familiar voices at the desk.
“Is my daughter okay? Buffy Summers.”
“And Xander Harris,” Anya said, almost in hysterics.
Then he heard Red. “And Rupert Giles. Where is he?”
The receptionist’s voice boomed out into the room as she told them all to calm down. As all eyes in the waiting room went to the group of women being scolded, Spike took that opportunity to slip through the double doors.
On the other side of the doors, it was a different world completely. People in hospital scrubs moved to and fro at a quick pace, all too busy to be concerned with Spike. He casually strolled further into the treatment area of the ER, and then paused to lie in wait in a deserted hallway.
He had to find out if Buffy was okay. He paused and asked himself when it was that he’d started to think of the slayer of his kind as Buffy. She may have come at him like a freight train with her seduction, and his body may have come on board right away, but these feelings for her had just crept up on him. She’d slithered in past his defenses.
Spike knew blood, and Buffy's wound had been severe. Although, when he’d left her to get the gem, her heartbeat had still been strong, and the watcher had applied pressure right away. He assured himself that they had to have gotten her here in time.
An orderly came around the corner and Spike seized his opportunity. He grabbed the young man by the arm and shoved him against the wall, a hand over his mouth.
Spike closed his eyes for a second to let the thrill of seeing the fear in the man’s wide eyes sink in. The rush, the power--was not why he was here.
“I’m not going to hurt you, mate. I just want a little information, and you’re going to give it to me, yeah?”
Spike eased the pressure of his hand, but did not remove it, when the orderly nodded.
“You had a patient come in a little while ago. Pretty blonde girl. She’d been beaten up and has a thigh wound. She was bleeding all over the place. Do you know who I’m talking about?”
When the terrified orderly nodded, Spike removed his hand from his mouth. “I need to know how she’s doing and where she is in this labyrinth.”
“She…she’s in sur…surgery to repair an artery. Up in the O.R. I took her there myself.”
Spike relaxed. She was still alive. “Take me to her.”
“I…I can take you to the surgery waiting room,” the man offered.
Spike smashed the orderly into the wall. “Show me which operating room she’s in. I’m not going to interfere, I just need to see her.”
As he followed the orderly through a maze of corridors, Spike thought about Buffy. She had to survive. Science had come a long way since his day. As the elevator doors closed on them, Spike felt a pang of something inside. Was it guilt? Couldn’t be. And yet, here he was, injury free and the healthiest vamp on earth while the Slayer lay on a table somewhere with doctors attempting to stitch a major artery back together.
He stared at the ring in fascination and wondered if it only worked on vamps. The idea struck him so fast, that he didn’t think it through. He grabbed the orderly’s hand, vamped out and bit into his thumb.
While the orderly yelped and stared at his bloody wound, Spike went back to human form.
“What did you do that for?” cried the man, backing away and cowering in the corner of the elevator. The doors opened, and Spike yanked him out with him.
“No time to explain. Here, put this on for a minute.”
Hesitantly, Spike pulled the ring off his finger, and then quickly shoved it on to the man’s hand, staring intently at the bleeding thumb.
Cursing the fact that the ring only seemed to work on vampires, Spike yanked it off and quickly shoved it back onto his own hand.
“I’m bleeding,” the man complained.
“You’re in a bloody hospital, mate. Get a band aid--after you show me where Buffy is,” Spike said, grabbing the man’s upper arm and glaring at him.
“She’s there,” the orderly said, pointing to a set of double doors. “Operating room three.”
Spike scowled at the man and threatened, “You haven't seen me, yeah? If security comes up here looking for me, you'll have more worries than just a tiny cut on your thumb.”
Already forgetting the orderly, he shoved the doors open and searched wildly for room three. He peeked through a small window, but could only see an empty room with another door a few feet away. He pushed his way in and passed the sinks and green gowns, caps and booties.
Through the window in the other door, he could see them; doctors and nurses, all surrounding his Slayer. He couldn’t see her face, but he knew it was Buffy, lying on the table in the midst of blankets and gauze. His heart clenched with fear, even as his hands fisted. They’d better help her pull through or he’d tear each one of them limb from limb. The surgeon moved and he got a good glimpse of her thigh. They still had her open, but the team working on her seemed to know what they were doing.
After a few minutes, he was satisfied that they were doing all they could for her. He turned and went out of the room. Moving down the corridors, he found the surgery waiting room. Joyce’s tear-filled face nearly broke his heart. He stayed hidden, but desperately wanted to comfort the woman. Or, maybe, he wanted to be comforted by her. Willow held one of Joyce’s hands, while Anya patted her shoulder on the other side. Spike was surprised to see Xander next to Anya, his head wrapped in gauze and his eyes bloodshot. The watcher was not there.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
It seemed like he’d been pacing the hall for days, not hours. His nerves were shot. If one more hospital worker asked him if he wanted to sit in the waiting room, he was going to bite them. So far, Spike had managed to stay hidden from the group in the small waiting room and he wanted it to stay that way.
He almost revealed himself when a team, consisting of a doctor and two nurses with somber faces, entered the waiting room. There was quiet talking and then loud sobs filled the air.
Thinking that the woman he loved was dead, he ripped a fire extinguisher off the wall and threw it to the side. Fortunately, on his way to wreak damage on the doctor, he bumped into a distraught woman who had also been in the waiting room, but was not there for Buffy. She continued to sob as she fled down the hall, but the waiting room was cloaked in anxious silence and his rage vanished as quickly as it had appeared.
Spike had to take a walk after that. Not too far, but he turned a corner and leaned against the wall. With eyes squeezed shut, he repeated to himself, She’s not dead. She’s not dead. She’s not dead. , until he started to believe it.
Then it dawned on him, and another type of panic set in. The Slayer of Slayers was in love with the Slayer! He glanced down at the ring and frowned. The gem was in his possession. He had the advantage -- hell, the whole world was now his for the taking. He could storm in there and kill all the Scoobies, but instead he was practically reduced to praying for the Slayer's life to a God that, if he existed, would never hear his pleas. With a groan, he slumped against the wall.
Soft footsteps filled the hall, and as he peeked around the corner, a doctor and a nurse entered the waiting room. With stealth, he edged his way to the door and listened. This doctor spoke louder than the last one in the room had.
“Your daughter is very strong. The surgery went off without a hitch, and her vital signs are better than average for someone in her condition.”
There were sobs, but they were ones of relief from Joyce. The elation he felt at hearing that she was going to be okay overwhelmed Spike. He grabbed hold of the door frame to keep from sagging to the ground.
“When can I see her?” Joyce asked.
“She's in recovery now, but will be moved to an ICU room in about twenty minutes. As soon as we get her settled, you can go in for about five minutes. Just you, Mrs. Summers -- and she won't be awake.”
Spike moved down the hall and towards the surgical rooms. He was certain that the recovery room couldn't be too far, and he quickly located the one Buffy was in. She was attended by a nurse who did not leave her side, so he hid and followed as she was wheeled into her ICU room a few minutes later. As soon as they left her alone, he slipped inside the dimly lit room, but hesitated by the door.
The odor of the sterile environment, the sound of the machines softly beeping, and the sight of her lying so still on the bed would stay with him for days to come. Due to her Slayer healing, the bruises and swelling to her face were not as bad as he’d expected, but the tubes on her arm and the wires sticking out of her gown put a knot in his stomach that had nothing to do with hunger.
He approached the bed, swallowing past the lump in his throat, and gently placed his hand over hers. What would she do, if she woke up and saw him standing over her? Moreover, what the hell was he going to do with himself now?
She was pale, her bruises were still there, as were the smaller cuts; but the worst were her lips. They were dry and cracked and not their usual healthy dark pink. Still, ponce that he was, he had the overwhelming desire to lean down and plant a feather-light kiss on those lips and see her magically wake up.
Fairy tales. Get a grip, mate. The villain doesn't get the girl, not even in one of the Grimm Brothers’ original versions.
Buffy would not welcome his attentions, he was certain of that. He let his hand lightly run up her arm. There was something there between them. Without a doubt, she was as attracted to him as he was to her, but he couldn't see her admitting it to herself.
He'd make her see.
The things she'd said the other night about him going far away came to mind. But earlier that night, she'd kissed him back, passionately. That was his crumb. They weren't under any spell then. The fact that he had saved her life, and the lives of her useless friends had to count for something. He hoped.
He stared down at her, noting the slow and even way her chest rose and fell. If she'd just trusted him enough to let him have the gem earlier, she wouldn't be lying there, almost dead. Spike wanted to be angry with her, but he couldn't blame her, really, for not believing him when he said he'd help her defeat Adam. And in the end, she had trusted him. He held her hand again and gave it a light squeeze.
Now, how to get the Slayer to see that he could behave himself? For her, he could. He would. There was no question in his mind. With the ring, he didn't need to feed and it was just a matter of self control to keep from murdering the humans who pissed him off. That old receptionist was still alive and kicking; the orderly, too.
“Sir,” the nurse said quietly, “you can't be in here.”
Slowly, he released Buffy's hand and ran his fingers through his hair. “Yeah, pet. I know. Just had to see for myself that she was okay.” He tore his gaze away from his love and smiled at the nurse. “She's going to be okay, yeah?”
“Please, step into the hall.”
Spike let her guide him with her hand on his back until they were just outside the door, but stopped and once more asked the nurse about Buffy's condition.
“She's very healthy and the doctor is confident that she'll make a full recovery.”
Spike let out a deep sigh of relief. “Glad to hear it.”
“Spike?” Joyce asked when she came around a corner and saw him at Buffy's door. She paused then took a step back, putting a hand to her throat.
The nurse pointed towards Buffy's room. “I'll just go in and take care of the patient. Mrs. Summers, if you could just give me a minute, then you can come in.”
When the nurse closed the door, Joyce took a step back, as if to turn around, but then she halted and gave Spike a confused look. “They told me to be careful, because you have some sort of magical thing that makes you indestructible?”
Spike smiled at her. “You never have to take care around me, Joyce. I thought we already had this discussion.”
“But Mr. Giles and Xander were sure...”
He frowned and waved a hand. “Those gits wouldn't know what's what if it slapped them on the arse.”
She smiled softly at him. “I knew they were wrong.” Joyce took a step closer. “Willow says you saved them and killed the bad guy.”
“I guess I did,” Spike said with a shrug. “You daughter did it, really, when she told me where she had the gem hidden.” He held his hand out for her to show her the gem.
She took his hand and ran a finger over the ring. “This little thing makes you indestructible?” Joyce asked him, eyes full of disbelief.
“Crazy, right. I--”
“I don't know what would have happened if you hadn't killed that monster.”
Joyce charged at him and hugged him tight. He didn't know what to do with his arms, but eventually he wrapped them around her and squeezed her back.
She backed away, but kept her hands on his shoulders.
“Buffy would have bled to death on the street, if not for you.”
“I'm glad she's okay.” He took a step back and wrapped his duster tighter around his bare torso. “The nurse says she's going to make a full recovery.”
“Yes, and it will happen much quicker than the doctors think because she's special.”
Spike nodded. “That she is.”
The nurse opened the door wide for Joyce. “You can come in now. But, only you and just for five minutes.” She gave Spike a warning look before heading towards the nurses station.
Joyce smiled apologetically.
“No worries. I have to go now. Take care of her,” Spike said while gazing into the room.
“You aren't going to hurt anyone, are you?”
“What? No. I've got things I have to take care of, but I'll be back. Tell Buffy...tell her not to worry about me. I promise not to...um--tell her I won't do anything to make her feel sorry for letting me have the ring.” He paused and tilted his head at Joyce. “Did you know she had it hidden in a box of fake peas in the freezer?”
Joyce let out a short laugh and covered her mouth, while shaking her head. “No, but that was a pretty safe place. I detest peas and would never have touched them.”
“Smart girl, she is,” Spike said, then waved at her.
He turned a corner, looking for an empty office with a phone, but stopped short and then doubled back the way he’d come when he saw Giles hobbling down the corridor with a nervous nurse by his side, arguing with her that he wouldn't go back to his room until he saw Buffy for himself. His right leg was covered in a cast from his ankle to the top of his thigh, and he managed, albeit poorly, to make slow progress down the hall on sturdy crutches.
Ducking into the first open office he could find, Spike gently shut the door and locked it. He pulled a slip of paper from his coat pocket, got comfortable in a big leather chair, and picked up the phone. It took a few tries, because he had to dial '9' for an outside line, but he finally got hold of his own doctor.
He assured the demon that he was well aware of the risks and was willing to have the surgery done. He was told they'd be ready for him in the afternoon, and he immediately began making plans. He'd have to clean the black paint off the Desoto's windows and get himself a few new shirts, since he'd lost the only three that he owned. Then, he'd hightail it to L.A. and get the blasted chip removed.
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