The Visit - Part 2
4,120 (2 of 5)
Dawn followed the left branch of the driveway when it forked just past the gate.
"Why aren't we following them?" Cassie asked Dawn, pointing at the Hummer as it headed to their right.
"The road loops around the estate in a big circle," Dawn said. "That's the quickest way to the infirmary from here. Since Caroline isn't hurt, and Buffy's not the best patient," she added, "I thought we'd park near the living quarters and walk from there. That'll keep the chaos to a minimum so your mom and our nurse, Tomoe, can deal with her without us in the way. If we're lucky, they'll be done with her before we get there."
"Oh," Cassie said, looking curiously at Caroline who was giggling. "What's so funny?"
"Only the Boss," Caroline said, shaking her head but not elaborating.
"Interesting building," Sam said, in an obvious attempt to break the silence, as they passed a large stone and brick building that seemed to dominate the landscape.
"It was built in the 1890's as a mansion," Dawn told them, "It was turned into a private girls boarding school right at the end of the Depression. The Council bought the whole thing back in the sixties and shut down the school. We're not sure why, the records were destroyed years ago. It never had more than a hundred students at a time. We turned one of the dorms into living quarters for the permanent residents and the other is used for transients."
"Transients?" Sam asked.
"We have training schools at all of our larger campuses but this is the main one."
"That's because Buffy is here," Caroline muttered, not looking up from her phone.
"Faith spends a lot of time here also," Dawn said, turning to frown at her as they waited for the garage door to rise.
"And we all know why," Caroline said snidely.
"Caroline, if you have issues with Faith, you know who to talk to," Dawn said, pulling the Rover into a space in the garage. Turning it off, she popped open the trunk.
Caroline looked at her for a moment, before sighing and putting away her phone. "No problems," she said. Jumping out of the Rover she went around to the back and grabbed her bag.
"Don't forget to go to the infirmary," Dawn reminded her as she started walking away.
"Do I look like Buffy?" Caroline threw over her shoulder before disappearing through the nearest door.
"Sorry," Dawn said, helping Sam and Cassie get their luggage out of the SUV. "Some times it's like a soap opera around here. Her sister has a hero-worship kind of thing going on with Faith and she's not taking it too well. If they weren't on Buffy's team we'd probably move them to another office. And that'll all make more sense after we have a chance to talk about things tomorrow."
"Ah," Sam said.
"Do I get to find out what's going on too?" Cassie asked. "Not that two certain old people even told me something was going on," she grumbled.
"That's up to your mom," Sam told her. "You've got my vote if you need the opinion of an 'old' person," she said, poking Cassie.
"Cassie? Our philosophy around here, for what it's worth," Dawn said, "is that things work out better if our families know what's going on. And as far as I'm concerned you're family."
"I am?" Cassie asked, giving her a delighted smile in response, as she followed them down the hall. "How does that work?"
"Well, your mom is married to Buffy," Sam said. "So that makes Dawn her sister-in-law, and your aunt."
"This is Ohio, so Buffy would have to adopt you to make it official, actually," Dawn added. "And then Sam would be your aunt also."
"Cool! Uncle Jack is going to be so jealous," Cassie said. "You'll be a real aunt, not just honorary."
"Did you want to put your things away in your rooms?" Dawn asked them, stopping at a junction in the hallway. "I can drop you off there before I head to the infirmary to check on Buffy and we'll all meet up later for dinner. Or you can come with and we can go to dinner after."
"Janet isn't going to want to leave Buffy in someone else's hands," Sam said. "If Buffy has to stay there, she'll stay also."
"Buffy only stays in the infirmary if she's unconscious," Dawn said, "Or Tomoe threatens her with a trip to the hospital. Let's put your bags in my office for now. It's on the way. We can decide what to do once we check on Buffy."
Dawn walked out of the infirmary, Sam and Cassie following right behind her. There'd been evidence of Caroline's brief presence, but otherwise it was unexpectedly empty. Looking around, she spotted a small crowd gathered near the Hummer.
"Vi? What's going on?" Dawn asked, as they joined the crowd.
Vi grinned. "You have to see this," she said, waving at the back.
Dawn walked over to the Hummer and looked in the back seat. She couldn't help laughing. At some point during the trip from the airport Buffy had fallen asleep and was now awkwardly wrapped around Janet.
"That's so cute," Dawn said. "Did anyone get a picture?"
"Many," Cassidy said, smirking and holding up her phone.
"You know where to send copies," Dawn told her with a matching smirk, "we can discuss payment later."
"Is someone going to help me get her out of here?" Janet asked, interrupting them. "She won't wake up!"
"And she won't for hours," Dawn said, shaking her head. "She's definitely crashed. Where's Tomoe?"
"Right here," a voice with a Southern accent to her left said. "If y'all could move back, we'll pop her out of there. Is it just the leg?" she asked, parking a wheelchair next to the Hummer.
"Yes," Janet said, answering the tall Asian looking woman. "Or at least that's all she would admit to."
"Typical. Let's get her inside and out of that suit," Tomoe said, carefully positioning herself next to Buffy, not waiting for an answer. Reaching over, she carefully loosened Buffy's hands from their grip on Janet's blouse and lowered her arms. "She's really latched onto you," she said in a soft voice. "She must really like you."
"That's one way to put it," Dawn said, smirking. "Tomoe? Meet Janet Frasier."
"You're the doc our hospital-phobic leader married?" she asked as she effortlessly lifted Buffy off of Janet. "Doc, if you could support her leg?" Between them, they managed to get Buffy into the wheelchair, Janet filing away the hospital-phobic comment for later.
She followed as Tomoe carefully guided Buffy's wheelchair into the infirmary, the others right behind them.
"Janet, you're welcome to stay," Tomoe said, before turning to Vi and Cassidy. "Vi, Cassidy, you know the drill. Log out of the suits and put them with the others that need to be cleaned. I'll check you in a minute. Dawn, did you want to stay?"
"No, we'll get out of your way," Dawn said. "Janet? Once Buffy is all set, have someone call me. We'll all go to dinner together."
Janet nodded, raised an eyebrow at Sam and Cassie to make sure they were okay, and getting their nods in return, turned back to help with Buffy.
Looking around the small examination room Tomoe had moved Buffy into, Janet felt right at home. Without the hi-tech panel on one wall, it would have looked like one of hers back at the mountain.
"She always looks so small, when she's out like that," Tomoe murmured, running a small handheld device above Buffy after she'd placed her on the examining table.
"She gets hurt a lot?" Janet asked.
"Often enough," Tomoe said, looking at the device. "Okay, the suit shows no major damage except for her leg."
"What's considered minor damage?" Janet asked, wondering how sophisticated the suit was.
"It keeps track of all impacts, so, surface injuries mainly," Tomoe said softly, walking over to the wall panel. "Let's get her out of it." Tomoe pressed something on the panel.
Janet jumped, startled by a strange sound as Buffy's armor seemed to deflate around her.
"I'm assuming you removed the armor from her left leg?" Tomoe said. Janet nodded. "Pick an end. The rest of it comes off the same way."
"Where do you want the pieces?" Janet asked, quickly and efficiently beginning to remove the armor from Buffy's right side.
Tomoe pulled a large flat briefcase out of a cupboard. Hanging it from a large hook in one wall, she unfolded it, revealing the outline of a person. "They attach in the obvious places," she said, demonstrating with a piece. "Someone will take it to the armory later to be refurbished."
"What if she needs it again before that happens?" Janet asked as she continued to remove sections of armor from her sleeping wife, more to satisfy Sam's curiosity when she told her about it later than her own.
"It's all still very experimental," Tomoe said, grimacing at the bruises that were revealed when she removed the chest-piece, "so right now the teams that have the suits have a spare. If they work out, Xander said we'll get our own equipment to make them ourselves."
"The Council seems to be very rich," Janet said as she helped Tomoe turn Buffy on her side so they could remove the back pieces.
"The old Council, before Buffy and Giles took over, sat on its money, waiting for a rainy day, according to Willow," she said. "Buffy has no problem spending it on anything to keep us safe and Giles usually goes along with her."
"Yes," Tomoe said, winking at her. "Us. Slayers."
"Oh," Janet said, surprised for a moment until she remembered how Tomoe had picked up Buffy earlier.
"The strength comes in handy with the more difficult patients," Tomoe said with a smirk, nodding at Janet's realization. "Slayers don't make the best patients."
"Stubborn?" Janet asked, curiously, not having seen that side of Buffy yet.
"Very," Tomoe told her. "It doesn't help that most of us have a very high pain tolerance."
"I've got a few like that," Janet said, thinking of Jack. "The stubbornness anyway. Amazing how just the sight of a needle can cure that."
Tomoe laughed. "Okay, one last piece and then the leg. Good thing she's still out. We don't have to listen to her usual complaints about the hi-tech chastity belt she's wearing."
"She doesn't strike me as having modesty issues," Janet said, watching carefully, amazed at its compactness as Tomoe unhooked it from Buffy.
Tomoe shrugged, "Not a psych, Doc. You'll have to ask her about that yourself. Let's get her into something less revealing in case she wakes up before we finish."
"What next?" Janet asked, nodding as she helped Tomoe put a hospital gown on Buffy.
"You're the Doc, Doc," Tomoe said. "Usually, if it looks bad enough, I'd get our on-call to take a look at it."
"You have more experience with her healing rate," Janet said. "But I'd feel better if we could X-ray her knee."
"Her bruises should be gone by tomorrow," Tomoe said, running a hand above several large ones on Buffy's arms and ribs. "The suit said her ribs are okay, but we should check them also. Doc, if you could unwrap that leg, I'll take a quick look at Vi and Cassidy so they can get out of here. The portable X-Ray is in the other examination room. I'll bring it back with me."
Janet carefully unwrapped Buffy's leg, placing the last pieces of armor in the case. The swelling hadn't gone down any, and dark bruises were now visible between her knee and the cut. Brushing the hair away from her face, Janet stared at Buffy for a long moment. This wasn't exactly how she'd planned to spend her first evening in Cleveland.
Tomoe folded up the armor case and placed it by the door while Janet looked at the X-rays.
"So, what do you think, Doc?"
"Definitely sprained," Janet said. "How do you deal with sprained knees on one of your slayers, since they heal so fast?" she asked.
"If it's just a sprain, the same as anyone else. They don't all heal at the same rate," Tomoe said. "Anywhere from one to two weeks for most of them, and then a month out of duty rotation, just to make sure."
Janet nodded, unable to hide her surprise. That was less than half the time she would pull any of her people from active duty.
"Did you want to stay here until she wakes up?" Tomoe asked, "Or did you want to join Dawn for dinner? Afterward, Dawn can help us get her up to their apartment."
"You don't keep patients here?" Janet asked.
"It depends on their personal situation, and how injured they are, of course," Tomoe said. "We aren't really set up for more than three at a time here. Buffy has her sister, and you, to keep her out of trouble for the next couple days while her knee heals. And she'd leave on her own anyway once she woke up," she said.
"You can't tie her to the bed," Janet said.
"Well, we could actually. I've got some special rope that even a slayer can't break," she said, smirking. "But I try not to use it except for special occasions. Demonic possession, hallucinations, that kind of thing."
"Demonic possession?" Janet stared at her.
"It happens," Tomoe said, shrugging.
"Not too fond of demon caused hallucinations myself," a soft voice mumbled.
"Buffy?" Janet turned to look at her.
"Hey," Buffy mumbled, sleepily waving a hand at her.
"Boss?" Tomoe asked, walking around to her other side.
"Hey Tomoe, what are you doing here?" Buffy asked.
"You're in my infirmary," Tomoe said, shaking her head. "No more Happy Pills for you," she added.
"But they work so well," Buffy said, pouting at her.
"Yes, Janet?" Buffy turned to look at her.
"What are these happy pills for?" Janet held up a hand to stop Tomoe from answering for her.
"Make the pain not so bad so we can obey rule number one," Buffy said, frowning in concentration.
"Rule Number One?" Janet asked, brushing back the hair from Buffy's eyes again.
"Don't Die!" Buffy said.
"That's a good rule to have," Janet murmured. "But I'm guessing they aren't working correctly for you," she said. "Correct?"
"Maybe," Buffy admitted sheepishly.
"No maybe," Janet said, shaking her head. "I understand the why but we need to find you something else. I wouldn't be surprised if they are addictive also."
"They aren't supposed to be, Doc," Tomoe said.
"At a regular dosage? Maybe not. The amount Buffy seems to need for them to work?"
"Thanks," Buffy mumbled, pulling Janet into a one armed hug before falling asleep again.
Janet gratefully sat on the stool Tomoe placed next to her. "How long?" she asked.
"Till she's completely awake? Or how long has she been taking the pills?" Tomoe asked.
"Both," Janet said, not looking up from Buffy's face. She could look at her forever, she decided.
"We've had the pills for six months. This is only the third time she's needed them, that I know of," Tomoe said. "Not more than an hour."
"Names," Buffy blurted out, sitting up.
"Names?" Janet said, staring at her in surprise.
"Summers-Frasier, Frasier-Summers, Summers or Frasier?" Buffy asked.
"What brought that on?" Janet asked.
"Not sure," Buffy said, shrugging. "Must have been dreaming about it. Where's Tomoe?"
"Giving us some privacy," Janet said.
"I don't think I'm in any shape for anything that needs privacy," Buffy said to her.
"I'm sure we could work around any immobility issues," Janet said, winking at her. "But I'm also sure there are better places to experiment with that."
"Um, yeah," Buffy mumbled, feeling her face turn red. "Not the most romantic setup," she said, playing with the hem of her hospital gown.
Buffy looked up to find Janet smiling at her, "Yeah?"
"We're here for a week. Plenty of time for a bit of romance," Janet said. "But no expectations. Getting to know each other is a good start."
"Good. Good," Buffy said. Her plans for private Janet time while they were in Cleveland were really more ideas than plans. Ideas that would have to be slightly adjusted but still do-able. "Are you hungry? Or did you eat while I was out?"
"Your sister, Sam, and Cassie already ate," Janet said. "Something light would be welcome, lunch was a long time ago. How are you holding up?"
"Happy pills make me unhungry," Buffy told her. "Right now? Could only eat half a horse. Really," she added sheepishly.
"So, all those 'special features' take a lot of energy?"
"Willow and Tomoe are the experts," Buffy said. "You'll need one of them to explain it using the sciency medical words. I'll just mangle it."
"I'll talk with Tomoe tomorrow," Janet said. "How do you think it works?"
"Willow said something about conservation of massive energy," Buffy said, scrunching up her nose, knowing that was wrong. "The, quote, special features, unquote," Buffy said, waving her hands in the universal gestures for air quotes, "are part of what makes someone like me, like me. It's magic."
"Magic," Janet stated, shaking her head and sighing.
"Yup. But it needs something to keep it going, like one of those pilot light things in a furnace. And I can't believe I know what one of those is," Buffy said, grimacing. "Anyway, it takes energy, on top of the ordinary energy a Buffy, such as myself, needs to do Buffy things, to keep that pilot light thing going. Not a huge amount but more than a normal person."
"But after getting hurt, like today, it takes maybe twice the normal Buffy calories to fill me up," she said. "Or after a huge fight."
"Hmm.." Janet nodded. "I can see that. Heavy physical activity, like fighting, puts a lot of stress on the body. It's a more subtle kind of wear but your body still has to repair itself afterward. Which takes more energy."
"If you say so," Buffy said, shrugging. "So, order out for pizza or the caff?"
"The cafeteria sounds fine," Janet said.
"Are you sure you want to eat there?" Buffy asked, as she walked down the hall next to Janet, her crutches making a solid thump with each step. "There may be staring and... Staring," she said, though it was late enough that almost everyone would have already eaten dinner and too early for slayers inflicted with post-patrol munchies. So it probably wouldn't be too bad, she hoped.
"It's up to you," Janet said. "But I should check in with Cassie and Sam before we eat so they don't think we've run away. They came by earlier with your sister on their way to dinner."
"And you didn't go with them?" Buffy asked. "I wouldn't have noticed."
"But I would have," Janet said, giving her a firm look.
Buffy wondered if the expression on her face was Janet's version of Willow's 'resolve face'. She'd noticed that all of the other redheads she'd surrounded herself with, even the twins with their strawberry blonde hair, had the same intense 'take no prisoners' look to some degree. "Okay," Buffy told her.
Janet had been surprised that Tomoe had given into Buffy leaving the infirmary on crutches, instead of a wheel chair with her injured knee but after wandering around seemingly deserted buildings looking for Dawn, Cassie, and Sam, she wasn't going to complain about Buffy's mobility.
Dawn's office had been empty so, after having a quick bite in the cafeteria, they'd headed up to Buffy's private quarters, managing to get there without being seen. Stopping in front of her door, they could hear loud laughter.
"Either Dawn is telling her favorite 'embarrass Buffy' stories or they're watching a movie," Buffy said.
"Or some kind of game," Janet guessed.
"I did warn you that Dawn was a corrupting influence," Buffy said. "Now she's got both Sam and Cassie in there with her."
"Unless they are playing strip poker, I'm sure they're fine," Janet said.
"Not likely with Cassie in the room," Buffy said. "But someone should probably warn Sam not to play against her unless she wants to lose."
"Sam plays to win," Janet said. "Dawn should probably be warned also."
"Sometimes I forget Dawn's a grownup," Buffy said, shaking her head before smiling at Janet. "Maybe we should let them find that out together."
"Definitely," Janet said, returning her smile.
"Ready?" Buffy asked, her hand on the doorknob. "We can still escape. I have connections."
"You need to get off that leg," Janet said regretfully, following her into the room.
"These are pretty fancy for guest quarters," Sam said, flopping down onto the end of couch after the sisters had said goodnight.
"No, I don't believe they are," Janet said, running her fingers through Cassie's hair as the tired girl lay sleeping, with her head in her lap.
"Not really guest quarters," she said, adding "I don't think they'd put guests right next door to Buffy and Dawn."
"I learned some interesting things today," Janet said quietly, "They are very talkative."
"Like what?" Sam asked.
"Daniel would be fascinated by the social structure here," Janet said. "Very Amazon-like. Women warriors. They even have a queen."
"Go Woman power!" Sam said, grinning. "Did we know this already?"
"We knew Buffy was special," Janet said. "Now we know there are a number of other special women like her. Every girl or woman we've met today, with the exception of Dawn, is a slayer."
"Huh. And whatever a slayer does involves combat," Sam said, frowning. "What are these mythical pests they're fighting?"
Janet shrugged. "Something extremely dangerous," she said, stating the obvious.
"Good thing we didn't bring Jack with us," Sam said. "Those two twins seemed very young. He'd go into over-protective mode."
"You think?" Janet asked. "He doesn't have a problem with you being in danger."
"I'm not Cassie's age," Sam said. "And I'd already seen combat long before I met him."
"Right," Janet said, blanching at the thought of Cassie and the things she suspected Buffy faced.
"But that can't be the only reason the Joint Chiefs wanted us to play diplomat."
"Hmm," Janet murmured. "I believe tomorrow will be very enlightening."
"Do you think they'd let us have one of those suits to take back with us?" Sam asked.
"It's very unlikely," Janet said. "They're custom fitted and apparently extremely expensive."
"That's too bad," Sam said.
"If you're patient enough, I suspect you could convince Dawn to get you one of your own eventually," Janet said. "But right now? They only have enough for several field teams. Or talk with the mythical Xander and find out who makes them and maybe you can convince the General to get you one."
Sam snorted. "That UST between Jack and Daniel will resolve itself before that ever happens."
"Jack and Daniel?" Janet stared at her friend in real surprise. "Why not?" she added after some thought.
"They're straight guys," Sam reminded her. "Nothing will ever happen between the two of them. They just think they're buddies."
"Well, we did," Janet said, looking down to make sure Cassie was still sleeping.
"Once," Sam said, blushing. "But speaking for myself, making love to Dawn? That was something very special."
"Buffy's no slouch in bed herself," Janet said, smirking. "Not sure it was quite the religious experience you seemed to have had but there was definitely something there that you and I don't have together."
"So, we got lucky?"
"Very," Janet said. "Help me get Cassie into bed."
"So, when do we get to meet this Queen of the Amazons?" Sam asked after Cassie had been tucked into bed.
"Hopefully, Buffy will be joining us for breakfast."
"Buffy?" Sam looked at her, confused.
"Buffy," Janet echoed, winking at her.
"What does that mean?" Sam asked. "You married the Queen of the Amazons and I married her sister? Should I be panicking? Do we need to treat them differently?"
"No panicking necessary," Janet told her. "According to Vi, Buffy has problems with the whole concept, so not mentioning it would be good."
"Can't someone else become queen?" Sam asked. "If she doesn't want it?"
"Vi didn't really explain," Janet said. "Buffy has more, of whatever makes them all special, she said." Janet shook her head. "She's their alpha."