Buffy smiled while she walked to the hospital, enjoying the late October sun. Last week had been a good one and she hoped this one wouldn't be any different.
Of course, even last week had started rocky. Meeting Mark's sister at the charity run had been a shock. Although realising that she was engaged to Dr Marmine had been an even bigger shock. Luckily she'd been at her mom's House that night when the implications of it had finally hit home – and doubt had started to creep up.
Had she been only offered the position in the program because of her engagement with Mark? Had Marmine, who had been friendly and helpful at her job interview, offered her the place in the program because of her relations and not her abilities? It would certainly explain his change of attitude towards her almost as soon as she had arrived.
Lisa had patiently listened to Buffy's concerns before she had pointed out that it hadn't been solely Marmine's decision to take her on – although she hadn't denied Marmine's motives. She had been thinking along the same lines after all. And, upon Buffy's question, Lisa had also admitted that House knew about the whole situation. In fact, Cuddy assumed he had figured it out a few weeks ago. Like she had. But, unlike House who probably kept it to himself for more sinister reasons, she simply hadn't known how to tell her.
Buffy had been a bit miffed by that at first, but, another tub of cookie-dough ice cream later, she had admitted that she could see her mother's point. After all, they had only met a few months earlier and were still in the getting to know each other phase. There would be more difficult situation ahead of them – and both of them would, albeit unwanted, hurt the other to some degree.
They had celebrated their first fight - if you could call it that to begin with - with another tub of ice cream. Each. This time it had been triple chocolate flavour. Unfortunately that last portion had proven too much for Lisa and she ended up being sick early the next morning. Buffy, who'd been sleeping in the guest room, had held her mother's hair as she got rid of all the ice cream.
After that rocky stretch the remaining weekend had gone smoothly. As had the following week. Even House had refrained from commenting on the situation. As usual, he had complained throughout their physiotherapy sessions about missing parts of General Hospital and Buffy had pointed out that he was TiVo-ing it anyway. Then he had complained about the exercises she had him do and Buffy had pointed out he'd been unable to do most of them only a couple of month ago. All in all, their sessions had been fairly normal.
At the end of the week she had signed the contract to buy the house she had already fallen in love with. It would be another month until she could move in, but the first step had been done. Then, at the weekend, she had spent more time with her two replacement slayers. She had helped Sondra and Eve with their sparring, had supervised their weapons training and taught them one or two more tricks. The girls had been thrilled to hear that they could move from their temporary living arrangements into Buffy's current apartment just after Thanksgiving.
But they had also told her about some rumours in the demon world. So, on Saturday night, they had all gotten ready for patrolling, numerous weapons hidden between them. Even though Buffy hadn't intended to fight, she had been just as ready and armed as the girls. They had gone straight for one of the main demon bars in the area.
Buffy smiled at the memory. Stopping for a moment in the sun, she watched a mother patiently leading her toddler along. The little boy stopped ever so often, unceremoniously plopping onto the path to look at a colourful fallen leaf or butterfly or bug while his mom gave him all the time he wanted to discover the world around him. The smile on Buffy's face grew even further as she placed her hand on her belly. In a few months time, she'd hold her own baby in her arms. She couldn't wait to finally meet the little one growing inside her.
Sighing, she continued on her way to work – and let her thoughts drift back to the demon bar.
She had entered the bar, Eve and Sondra flanking her yet standing slightly behind her. As one, they had walked up to the bar and, while the girls turned to watch the room, Buffy had seemingly effortlessly jumped up onto it. The room had quietened within seconds. She had walked up and down the bar, making a point of looking every single demon present into the eyes – while twirling the Scythe in her hand.
Then she had mentioned the rumours - about her loosing her touch, about her inability or unwillingness to fight. Some of the demons had snorted and a couple of fledglings had gone as far as laughing her straight in the face and offering to show her some real action. Buffy hadn't blinked an eye as she took a stake from the small of her back and threw at one of the fledglings. His friend hadn't even finished transforming into his game-face before he too had found himself with a stake in his heart.
Calmly collecting her stakes, Buffy had put them back were she took them from and asked if there were any more questions. Leaning casually against the bar, she had given the room another stare – and asked them what they would think would happen if anything happened to her or any of her friends. Asked how many Slayers they thought their little place could deal with. Not waiting for a reply, she and the girls had left the bar again.
And last night she had gotten a call from Eve, telling her about the little chat she and Sondra had on the cemetery. They had been approached by a messenger from the demon population. He had told them that there was a general warning out. Attack the Chosen One or her family and you're an outcast – or, in simplified terms, pretty much dead. After all, there were enough other slayers around to kill to make yourself a name.
Apparently someone had done a bit of thinking – and come to the right conclusions. There had been enough demons in the bar able to pick up on her pregnancy, no matter how small her belly, giving them the reason for her momentary semi-retirement.
Whoever had made the decision had been smart enough to see the bigger picture. Buffy had already proven to do anything to protect the ones she loved. Throw her own child into the mix and only an idiot would think that this would make her softer. Besides, nobody had said anything about them having to change their ways. All they had to do was to leave Buffy alone. And at least the smarter ones never had any intention to fight her in the first place. So the demons had a new rule – as long as the Chosen One was in their territory, she was to be left alone – but nothing else would change.
Buffy blinked and found herself standing in front of the hospital. Turning to the left, she saw Julian jogging her way, grinning as he waved and called her name again.
"Buffy, hey. How was your weekend?" Julian unceremoniously linked arms with her and pulled her into the hospital. "I don't know about you, but I had the best time ever!"
Buffy chuckled, "Met a new girl?"
"Yep." Julian spun her in a circle right in the middle of the foyer. "You should try it yourself."
Buffy eyes gleamed with mischief as she replied, "Find myself a girl?"
"Can I watch?" House asked from where he was leaning against the wall.
Julian opened his mouth but no sound came out. Buffy just shrugged her shoulders. "If the price is right."
This time Julian actually squeaked, his eyes opening comically wide. Buffy just shook her head and patted his shoulder. "Come on. It's House we are talking about. Stop being so gullible, it just doesn't suit you."
Julian frowned as House protested by shaking his cane at Buffy. "Hey! Stop breaking my toys."
Looking at Julian, Buffy asked, "See?"
Julian frowned but eventually started to nod. Then he started to grin while he wiggled his eyebrow suggestively. "Can I watch too?"
Both Buffy and House snorted, though for different reasons. "Great, now you're overcompensating."
"Naw," House said. "But he seems to learn fast. Think he'd make a good apprentice?"
Buffy shook her head. "Nope. I mean, your fellows aren't fully House-trained yet and you don't want any accidents to happen, right? Untrained as they are, they might even ruin your image!"
"Hm," Julian said thoughtfully. "Just the other day I've overheard them praise you in the open clinic. Imagine it would have been a patient rather than me overhearing them. He could have specifically asked for you!"
Buffy and House stared at Julian who had a nice blush creeping all over his face. Then they started to grin in unison. Wiping a fake tear from the corner of his eye, House put an arm around Buffy. "Damn, they grow up so fast these days!"
"I know!" Grinning, Buffy stepped up to Julian and linked arms with him. "Come on, kiddo. Time to do some actual work."
House watched them leave before walking towards the elevators, quietly chuckling to himself. Cuddy's daughter or not, it sure was never boring with her around.
"Are you going to eat all
of that?" Kamil asked in disbelief as he watched Buffy put her tray down.
There were two big sandwiches, one Reuben and one BLT, a bowl of soup, a chicken salad, a slice of cheesecake and the mandatory triple chocolate muffin fighting for a bit of space on it.
Julian and Keelan snorted as they stared at Kamil. "Must have been a while since you last joined Buffy for lunch, huh?"
Keelan nodded in agreement to Julian's question.
"Just a tiny bit of advice – eat quick or she'll finish your lunch for you too."
"Very funny." Buffy crossed her arms as she pouted at her friends. "You can't complain about my hungry grumpiness one moment and my eating habits the next. That's so not fair."
Keelan patted her shoulder in conciliation. Leaning over so he could reach Julian's tray, he stole a brownie – meant for Buffy to start with – and put it onto her plate. "There you go. Dessert for the little one."
Buffy sighed in delight as she finished off her soup, the salad was gone already, and went straight for the brownie. After all, soup and salad was a main course. And a main course needed to be followed by a dessert. Then, once she'd finished her baby's lunch, she'd continue with her own – the remaining sandwiches. Of course, they had to be followed by another dessert. Hence the cheesecake and muffin.
"Damn," Kamil said eventually, "I've never seen someone that tiny eat that much!"
Luckily, Buffy was so absorbed in her food that she missed the comment – or Kamil would have been in a lot of trouble. As it was, Julian and Keelan were holding their breath, waiting for Buffy's reply. Only when it became clear that she had somehow missed the comment, did they slowly release their breaths again. There had been another time when they hadn't been that lucky and just the memory of it had goose bumps running up and down their backs.
"Man," Julian said with a shake of his head, "we really need to have a little chat about the foot-in-mouth disease."
Keelan nodded in agreement. "Yeah, that was way too close."
Buffy's phone rang just as Kamil wanted to ask what he had been missing. Buffy listened for a moment, a frown starting to appear on her forehead. Then she closed her phone rather forcefully. Snatching the muffin from her tray, she quickly got up and was halfway across the room before she turned to her friends once more. "Sorry!"
They looked at each other then shrugged their shoulders. There was nothing they could do. Other than save the slice of cheesecake from being bored to death, that is.
Buffy quickly made her way to the emergency room. Letting out a sigh of relief when she spotted Allison, she hurried over to her. "Hey."
"Buffy?" Allison frowned at her friend, wondering if they had a lunch date she'd forgotten about. "Is something wrong?"
Buffy was already scanning the room for a familiar face. Turning back to Allison, she said, "I've just received a phone call. A friend of mine's been brought here after an accident."
"Oh! I'm sorry. What's the name?" Allison grabbed a nearby nurse while she waited for Buffy to answer.
"Eve. Eve Fairbanks."
Allison gave the nurse next to her a questioning look. The nurse nodded in returned and pointed towards their left. "I'll show you to her."
Buffy gave a curt nod and followed her, unaware of Allison coming as well. Allison had just finished with a patient and thought she might just as well see if she could help. The nurse moved efficiently towards one of the trauma rooms, which meant Buffy's friend was badly injured. Allison thanked the nurse and stepped into the room in front of Buffy.
It was pure chaos. Dr Laura Jameson was working on the head or upper body – Allison couldn't be sure as her view was obstructed by a nurse – and Dr Rafael Rodrigo was tending to one or more open fractures on the legs. The next moment, the request for more blood was drowned out by a request for some medication or other. Allison stepped aside as a nurse was running out of the room, presumably catching something else that was needed.
Looking at Buffy, Allison found her staring at one particular point at the head of the stretcher and, following her line of vision, ended up at the cardiac monitor. Her heart rate was on the fast side and her blood pressure low, but her breathing wasn't too bad. So far so good. It wasn't exactly great but it could be much worse. Now she just needed to get Buffy out of the room so the other doctors could attend to her friend properly.
"She's starting to wake up." One of the nurses announced. Dr Jameson nodded in relief, seeing that her patient had been unconscious ever since the accident and showed signs of a severe head injury. Before she could give any instructions though, Eve started move around violently.
"Easy," Dr Jameson said in a soothing voice – only to be rewarded by her patient's arm lashing out at her, only narrowly missing her. However, that didn't stop her from trying to sit up.
Buffy, having almost been in trance while she stared at the cardiac monitor, willing it to continue beeping, moved quicker than Allison had ever seen her move.
"Sondra?" Buffy asked as she moved to the head of the stretcher.
There was a hick-up from one of the corners. "Yeah?"
"Hold her lower body down, watch out for her injuries."
Sondra sniffed again but appeared at the foot of the bed just as quickly as Buffy head ended up near the other end.
Ignoring the protests of the people around her, Buffy got a firm grip on Eve's shoulders, effectively pushing her back down. "Eve."
The only reaction Buffy got was Eve struggling against her and using her hands to try to pry Buffy's hands of her shoulders.
"Eve. Calm down. Now." Buffy voice changed from soft and comforting to hart and demanding. The effect was immediate. Her struggles ceased – almost anyway – and she blinked several times. Eventually she managed to focus on Buffy.
Buffy took one of her hands of off Eve's shoulder and gently stroked her blood-covered cheek. "I know. But I need you to keep still so the doctors can help you."
Eve whimpered but didn't start to struggle again.
Buffy kept stroking her cheek while she looked up to meet the doctor's eyes. "Pain relief?"
"Uh. Right. Yes. I want to ask run a couple of tests and ask some questions first," Dr Jameson replied. Recognising Buffy's frown for what it was, she added quickly, "I'll be fast."
Buffy nodded, watching as the doctor run some quick tests and asked Eve a few simple questions. True to her word, it only took a few minutes before she asked for more morphine to be added to Eve's drip. Buffy kept contact with Eve until she felt her relax under her hands. "How serious is it?"
Dr Jameson looked at her calculating.
Buffy knew that look well enough. "Eve just turned 18. She doesn't have any blood relatives but I'm one of her medical proxies."
The doctor sighed. "To be honest, I'm surprised she woke up. She took a nasty blow to the head and probably got a fractured skull as a result. She was also loosing a lot of blood but that somehow seems to be in control at the moment. And she's stable for now. We need to get her to radiology for x-rays. As for her legs…"
Buffy looked down and the sight almost made her sick. Bones were sticking out from both her lower legs and her left foot was lying on the stretcher at an unnatural angle. The knee didn't look too good either. "Shit."
"That about sums it up," Dr Rodrigo said. "The only good thing I can tell you is that the blood flow isn't interrupted. But we need to get her in an operating theatre as quickly as possible."
"I agree," Dr Jameson said, handing the wand of the ultrasound machine to a waiting nurse. "I'm worried about both her liver and spleen. There're massive amounts of blood in her abdomen, though, like I said, the bleeding seems to be easing off a bit." She had another look at Eve's vitals before saying to the room in general, "Radiology first and then into the operating theatre. Get a general and an orthopaedic surgeon, they'll have to work on her internal organs and legs at the same time."
Allison gently pulled Buffy aside as Eve was moved out of the room. "You okay?"
Buffy nodded absently, her eyes on the other lost person in the room. She walked over to Sondra who was still as white as a wall and hugged her.
Once she felt herself engulfed in arms of Buffy, Sondra woke from her shock and started sobbing. Buffy could do nothing but stroke her back reassuringly, telling her over and over again that Eve would be fine.
And, Buffy hoped, if she repeated it often enough she might eventually start to believe it herself.
--A/N: Well, I don't have any kind of medical degree, so I googled my way through the last bit. Anyway, thanks for reviewing!