Okay, uni is over for the semester...and what a semester it was! SO STRESSFUL, and no time to do anything to work the stress out, like writing much. But, here I am, hope you all enjoy! Thanks for reading, please review! love xx Shezzi
Dawn came to all of a sudden, starting upright in the bed with a cry, scrabbling for the IV in the back of her hand, her breath coming in short, sharp pants. It had been several hours since they had arrived at the hospital, and the doctors had been becoming more concerned. Cal had sent Ria and Loker home with promises to let them know as soon as she woke up, but the expression on Foster’s face had let him know he shouldn’t even bother trying it with her.
Spike had been sitting with his hip to hers, facing her, for the past half hour, ignoring all questions as to why he was doing what he was doing. He grabbed her hands before she could hurt herself, trapping them in one of his own as his other arm encircled her shoulders and he began to talk very, very fast.
“Dawnie, Dawnie, breathe. You’re safe; I’m here, Spike’s here, just breath for me, Niblet. Breathe, in and out, nice and slow, that’s it. Good girl. You’re alright, you’re safe, just relax. Just relax.” Cal, who had started forwards when she shot upright, stepped back slightly as she seemed to settle under his hands. “We’ll get you out of here as soon as possible, Bit. I promise.”
“Why…why am I here?” she muttered, not lifting her head off his shoulder. “And how are you here?”
“Bloody Watcher called me, din’t he? Told me what happened to your little girl. I’m so sorry, Niblet. Anyway, went by your place, but you weren’t there, so I went in to your office, nice place by the way, bit too much glass for my taste, but you weren’t there either. Two o’ your bints went back to check out your apartment once they realized I hadn’t been inside, and they found you passed out in your work out room and called an ambulance. Where were you, Bit?”
Dawn spoke in the barest of whispers, her voice almost breaking as she explained. “I…I had to see, Spike. I had to see for myself. I had to know that…that it was real. And I did. Spike, there…there aren’t words for what they did to her.”
“You went to BLOODY DARFUR?” the statement was shocked out of Spike, at volume, before he remembered where they were and who else was there.
Cal exchanged concerned and confused glances with Foster, both waiting to see how Dawn responded. He hadn’t been able to hear what she’d been saying to her ‘brother’, but what the younger man was saying was impossible. Darfur was on the other side of the ocean, it wasn’t somewhere you just popped for a visit, whatever the man thought. Dawn must be more out of it than the doctors expected to be saying such things, and he frowned in concern.
“The Watcher is going to…I’m not even sure,” Spike muttered, loud enough for everyone to hear. It was the second time he had mentioned someone called ‘The Watcher’, and the title had more than tweaked Cal’s curiosity.
“Dad will yell,” Dawn replied, her own volume increasing just enough to be heard in the near silent room, answering Cal’s unspoken question but raising half a dozen more, “he’ll rant and rave and threaten to come over here to tan my hide, but he’ll understand, just like you do. I had to, Spike, I had to. She was my baby, I had to know. Now, unless you want to try and talk me out of a full on panic attack, get me the hell out of here.”
Spike glanced over his shoulder. “Get a nurse, and the AMA paperwork, now,” he ordered, before he turned back to Dawn, stroking a hand down her hair humming softly. Foster glanced at Cal, who nodded, and she left the room quietly. Dawns arms were locked around him now in an embrace that would have been problematic if he actually required breath, pressing herself as close to him as she could as she endeavored to keep herself from falling apart.
“Miss Summers,” an officious sounding voice said as the door to the room swung open, “I really must protest, you are in no condition to be leaving the hospital. We need to perform tests, we don’t know what caused you to pass out in the first place…”
“We know. You don’t need to,” growled Spike, glaring at the officious doctor. Dawn had frozen, shaking against his chest, as soon as the man had entered the room. “Get the paperwork, now! My sister really doesn’t like doctors and hospitals, the only reason why I let her be brought here in the first place was because they insisted. We’re leaving. Get a nurse to remove the IV and catheter, or I’ll do it myself.”
“Go,” ordered Cal, standing between the man and the bed when he looked as though he was going to move forward.
Dawn was exceedingly glad her magic was tapped out for now; if it hadn’t been, things would have been happening, inanimate objects taking flight and other things that they wouldn’t be able to explain.
A nurse came in and handed Cal a clipboard, then set about disconnecting Dawn from the various pieces of equipment she was attached to. She was forced to work around Spike, who Dawn refused to release, clinging to him with her hands fisted in his shirt and her head buried against his chest. Once, when the nurse startled her, Spike reacted with an almost animalistic snarl.
Cal divided his attention between filling in the forms and observing the two. When the nurse was finished, Cal handed her the clipboard, and she left the room. Rather than wait for a wheelchair, Spike swung Dawn up in his arms and strode from the room, being careful to tuck the gown around her completely to cover her as she huddled against his chest, her jaw clenched tight and her racing pulse clearly visible at her throat. The primal fear on her face shocked Cal, even having seen her fear at the mere mention of doctors in the past.
He and Gillian moved with them, Cal in front, his expression parting the crowd and cowing any potential attempts to keep her in the building, Gillian behind, carrying Dawn’s clothes and keeping a close eye on their youngest team member.
Dawn didn’t release Spike even as he climbed into the car, something that he did with far too much ease and grace in Cal’s opinion, but with everything else happening today that was the last and least of his questions.
Once he was inside, he carefully shifted Dawn off his lap and onto the seat beside him, wrapping her in his duster as she fumbled for the seatbelt, her anxiety easing now that she was outside of the building but her hands still shaking enough to make the simple task a complicated one. She finally managed it, and tucked herself against Spike’s side, his arm coming up to drape around her shoulders automatically.
Without asking, Cal pulled the car out of the lot and headed to Foster’s house. His reasoning was simple: it wouldn’t be right for her to stay at his house when Emily was at her mothers, but he wasn’t letting her go back home to her apartment alone, either. He had no way of knowing if this so-called ‘brother’ was going to stick around for long, so she was going to Foster’s. And no, she wasn’t actually getting a choice in the matter.
While he drove, he exchanged the occasional sideways glance with Foster, who had already worked out where he was going and given him a small nod of approval. He knew from those small glances that she was working as hard as he was putting the pieces together, using her different skill set.
Spike confused him; if he didn’t know better he’d have said that the blonde man only breathed about four times in the entire half hour he had sat with his back to them, waiting for Dawn to wake up, his hands were room temperature at best, and he seemed to strong and graceful for it to be altogether natural. He filed all of those things away as he pulled into Foster’s driveway, glad to see that her husband’s car was still gone, even as he felt a pang for his partner.
“Where are we?” asked Dawn suddenly, lifting her head off Spike’s shoulder as she realized that she didn’t recognize the neighbourhood, let alone the house they had stopped in front of.
“Foster’s,” Cal replied shortly. “You’re staying here, at least for a few days.”
Dawn considered fighting it, but decided it wasn’t worth it. Besides, the feeling of being taken care of, of having people who wanted to take care of her, was a comforting one, so she simply nodded and allowed Spike to help her out of the car and carry her into the house, this time to spare her bare feet on the ground.”How long can you stay?”
Dawn asked him softly, slipping into Fyarl, which Spike had taught her years ago. ”Only a day or so at most, Bit. Peaches and Faith are holding the fort for now, but we got a big one coming down.”
He didn’t add that now that he had seen that she had people who would take care of her, good people who cared, he didn’t have to worry so much, except about her doing stupid things.
Dawn nodded silently, wishing he could stay but knowing that Faith needed him. The Council wouldn’t act openly against her, not after what had happened when they tried, but they wouldn’t help her either, so the only assistance she got was from Spike and Angel.
Spike set Dawn on the couch, perching beside her.
“Dawn, I’m just going to grab you some sweats,” Gillian told the younger girl, who nodded, “Cal, why don’t you put the kettle on?” she directed, and Cal nodded, shooting a slightly amused look at his bossy partner.
Gillian led Dawn into the spare bedroom, keeping a close eye on the young woman in case she stumbled or collapsed, then grabbed some clean sweats out of her wardrobe. She helped Dawn to dress, biting her lip at the sight of some of the scars on the girl’s slender frame, then led the way back into the lounge, where Spike was sprawled in a chair while Cal was setting a tea service on the table. She had to bite her lip at the incongruous picture he made; the tea set was floral china in dusty rose and his large hands looked frankly hilarious holding the pot.
Dawn slumped onto the seat next to Spikes, and accepted the cup of tea from Cal with a grateful smile and sipped it, finding it overly sweet but knew why Cal had done it; he thought she was still in shock. The way Doctor Foster was looking at her made her think that she thought so too; more than likely they both thought she should still be in the hospital.
“Dawn, you should eat something,” said Foster, coming back out of the kitchen with a pudding cup and a spoon, handing it to Dawn, who suppressed a giggle at the familiar sight; the sleekly-dressed psychologist was seldom without something similar tucked in her handbag to be pulled out at a convenient moment; Dawn was fairly sure she did it mostly just to get to Doctor Lightman.
“I’m gonna order in some Chinese,” Cal decided after a minute or more of uncomfortable silence. “What does everyone want?”
When the Chinese arrived they sat around the lounge, Cal and Spike exchanging stories of London while Dawn and Foster listened and laughed. Dawn offered an experience or too of her own after a while, one or two of which caused Cal to wince in sympathy for her ‘father’ while Spike chortled at the ‘Watcher’s’ difficulties.
Spike found himself relaxing muscles he hadn’t realized were tense as he watched Dawn interact with these people. His Bit had found her place in the world, he could see it in everything she did, and it made him happy for her. It also meant that he felt safe to leave earlier than he otherwise would have. He hadn’t lied to her, precisely, but he had downplayed the situation somewhat. Faith and Angel needed him back as soon as was humanly possible. He thought, now that he’d seen her in her new environment, he might leave in the morning. After giving her a lecture on the safe hiding place of a hide-it key, of course.
Dawn was fading fast now. The act of channeling the power of the Key without the proper rituals wiped her out for days, and her grief and horror were still weighing heavily on her mind. She clung to the present, listening to Spike and Cal’s stories, desperate not to let her mind pull her back to Darfur, to the broken body lying lifeless in the stony ground.
Dawn had drifted off on the couch, and Spike lifted her and carried her carefully into the spare room, where Foster pulled back the covers then tucked the girl in.
“I’ll stay with her,” the blond man said gruffly, and the two doctors nodded, slipping out of the door and closing it quietly behind them as Spike settled himself on the other side of the bed, on top of the covers, staring at the opposite wall.
“I should go,” Cal said quietly once they had shut the door. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Thanks, Cal,” Gillian replied, leaning up and kissing him gently on the cheek. “We’ll be alright. She’s strong, her life has made her that way. She’ll survive this.”
“I know,” Cal sighed. “I know.”