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Summary: Challenge response. Buffy doesn't die at the end of "The Gift." You'd think that would be a GOOD thing, wouldn't you? AU after "The Gift." Obviously.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Dr. Who/Torchwood > GeneralEarnestScribblerFR1579,026129315,8363 Jan 1023 Oct 10No

Off Balance

Standard Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the creation of Joss Whedon and is owned by Fox Television (I think. If I'm wrong, smack me). Doctor Who belongs to the BBC.

In my fanfics, I like to quote or echo lines from canon dialogue. Expect that to continue, for both fandoms.

In the first chapter, I forgot to thank BuffyCharmed, whose "Slayer Who" fanart (chapter 76) led me to this challenge.

Off Balance

Xander had run back to the Magic Box with Giles' keys, and now he was driving the Watcher's BMW to the hospital with the top down. It was less than half an hour after sunrise, and the streets were nearly deserted.

Buffy was slumped in the back seat, wedged between Willow and Tara. Dawn lay across their laps, holding Xander's wadded-up shirt to her bleeding stomach. Anya sat in the front passenger seat. There hadn't been room for Giles, but as he was uninjured, he'd elected to follow them on foot.

"She's still unconscious," Dawn said unhappily.

"We'll have the docs look at her," Xander promised, "as soon as they're through with you."

"Yeah," Willow said. She raised her voice and said, "You hear that, Buffy? We're taking you to the doctor."

"Nnggghhhh…." Buffy said. She stirred restlessly.

"I guess she heard you," Dawn said. "Buffy?"

Buffy's head tossed back and forth. "…did this to me," she murmured. "You made me. Made me…"

"What's she talking about?" Dawn asked Tara. The blonde witch shook her head in confusion.

"How 'bout that," Buffy murmured. "I win."

Suddenly her eyes snapped open. She said "Nghuh!" and sat up. Dawn clutched her stomach tighter and hissed in pain.


"Hey, Buffy. Not so rough, please."

"Dawn," Buffy breathed. She looked down at the blood-soaked shirt her sister was using as a pressure bandage. "Xander," she called out.

"Going as fast as I can without crashing," Xander replied. The tires squealed as he turned a corner. "Sunnydale General dead ahead."

"Don't say dead," Dawn groused.

"Just hurry," Buffy said. She tried to smile reassuringly at her sister, but there was something in her eyes, something uncertain; something Dawn had never seen before and couldn't identify.

The teenager settled her head back into the crook of Tara's arm, taking care not to jostle her friend's injured hand. "How are you feeling?" she asked the witch.

"Oh," Tara said, "better. Um. Sane," she added with a shy giggle. "My hand kinda hurts. I guess I t-tore off the cast when I was, um, you know."

"Well, we'll take care of that too," said Willow. "Right, Buffy?"

"Absolutely," Buffy said, but her attention was still fixed on her sister. It was, Dawn decided, as if the Slayer were studying her. As if Buffy had never seen her before…

"I was buried under debris," Anya said, "but a few weeks in the hospital and I'm sure I'll be fine. Thanks for asking."

Distracted from the thought, Dawn grinned. "Don't ever change, Anya," she said.

The emergency room doors slid open and Buffy strode in, carrying Dawn in her arms.

"I need a gurney here, stat!" she yelled. The orderlies and EMTs took one look and sprang into action.

Within seconds, Dawn was being wheeled into an examination cubicle, one of her hands still gripped in both of Buffy's. The medic on duty had set aside Xander's shirt and was examining the wounds underneath.

"We're gonna have to cut this dress open," he told Dawn.

"Slice it to ribbons," Dawn replied through gritted teeth. "Save me the trouble."

An orderly tapped Buffy on the shoulder. "Excuse me," he said apologetically, "I realize she's important to you, but…you're kind of in the way here."

"But," Buffy began, turning back to Dawn.

"Go," Dawn told her. "You got me here. You did your part. I'm in good hands." She winced in pain as the medic probed one of her cuts. "See how the others are doing," she added, slipping her hand out of Buffy's grip.

Reluctantly, Buffy nodded and backed away into the hallway. The orderlies drew the curtain across the cubicle. The Slayer turned away from the curtain and headed back to the emergency room foyer.

Willow and Tara were at the admission desk, the latter leaning on the former for support. Still wearing his T-shirt, Xander had picked up a wheelchair from somewhere and was taking it out to the parking lot to get Anya.

Buffy stepped over to a wall and leaned against it, so as not to be in anyone's way. She folded her arms and studied the Scoobies carefully. Her middle finger was tapping absently on her opposite elbow in a beat of four, tap-tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap-tap, but she didn't notice.

She also didn't notice the stocky, balding man in surgical garb who walked up to her -- not until he spoke, anyway.

"Miss Summers?" he asked, startling her.

"Wh-what? Oh! Yes. Me," Buffy said. "Hi. Can I help you?"

"I'm Doctor Fennerman," he told her. "I'm the surgeon who's been tapped to take care of your sister."

"Sur…geon? Does Dawn need surgery?"

"Just some stitches," Fennerman assured her. "Uh, quite a few stitches, actually. And we need you to fill out some paperwork. But I'm sure she'll be fine."

"Good," Buffy said distractedly, "that's, that's good. Isn't it?" She was watching Xander wheel Anya back into the foyer as a nurse went over to help him. She frowned thoughtfully.

The doctor blinked in surprise at Buffy's reaction.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

Buffy seemed not to have heard. She was watching Willow and Tara now, her brow furrowed in concentration.

"Miss Summers?"

Startled again, Buffy snapped out a hasty "Fine!" She turned her attention back to the doctor. "I'm fine. Just, you know, a little off balance. It's been an ordeal, you know? You know." She laughed nervously and turned to watch Anya being wheeled into the examination area.

"Are you sure about that, Miss Summers?" Doctor Fennerman asked gently. "Maybe we should check you over."

Again, it took Buffy a moment or two to register his words. "What? But aren't you…what about, um…you know, her. My sister. Dawn. What about Dawn?"

"Oh, I didn't mean me," the doctor said, even more concerned now. "Let me call an intern. He'll give you a quick medical once-over, just to be safe. Nothing extensive; he'll just take your temperature, check your blood pressure, listen to your heart…that kind of thing."

"H-heart?" Buffy's eyes widened in alarm. "That's okay," she said. "Really."

Doctor Fennerman's expression hardened. "I think…" he said. "I think I'm going to have to insist. You may be going into shock. Just…come back to the examination area, all right? I really am trying to help."

"But," Buffy said. "You. I mean…" With a sigh, she rolled her eyes at the ceiling. "Doctors," she said. "Always Doctors." She looked at the physician levelly, then made an after you gesture.

In the examining room, Fennerman opened a cabinet and took out a hospital gown. "Just change into this," he said. "You can leave your pants on. Someone will be with you as soon as--"

But when he turned back to face Buffy, she was standing right next to him. She was inside his comfort zone, so he took a step back, but she stepped even closer. She was staring into his eyes with an intensity he'd never seen before in his life.

"Look into my eyes, doctor," she said quietly. "Be in my eyes."

He looked. And then he couldn't look anywhere else.

"You will listen to my voice," Buffy continued. "You will listen and you will obey."

"I…what? No, I…"

"You will obey. I am your Master, and…"

She leaned forward, and her stare seemed to bore straight into his skull.

"You. Will. Obey. Me."

"I…obey," he said, reluctantly at first, but then with a growing sense of relief as he stopped resisting.

"Okay," Buffy said. "You've already examined me. I'm fine. No injuries, no shock, no fever…elevated pulse rate and blood pressure, probably due to recent stress, but nothing that requires treatment. In fact, you're a little annoyed with yourself for wasting your time with me when there are people out there who need your help. Do you understand?"

"…Yes…" he said.

"Anything that contradicts that? Forget it."


"When you wake up, you'll forget this conversation too, and you'll go do your absolute best for Dawn."

"…best for Dawn…"

"Good." Buffy stepped back. She drew in a deep, cleansing breath and blew it out again. "Okay. Wakey wakey." She snapped her fingers.

The doctor blinked, gathered himself, and dropped the hospital gown on the examination table.

"Well?" Buffy said with her best Valley Girl smile. "Do I pass?"

"You're fine. Get out of here."

"Okay. And…thanks. I mean that."

He smiled and waved her off. "Damn fool hospital regulations," he muttered under his breath, "making me waste my time…"

Buffy turned and strode off toward the foyer. "Like riding a bicycle," she smiled to herself.


And thanks to everyone for all the kind words.

I thought at first that this would be a drabble series, but Ch. 2 came out longer. I guess I'll make each chappie as long as it needs to be.
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