Chapter 4: Something Strange
Chapter 4: Something StrangeWARNING: Character Death.
A/N: I know this is cruel of me, but I wanted to have the comparison between the two Slayers.
Challenge: #2666 ‘Conception by Conspiracy’
by zoev. It isn’t an exact match, but hopefully it’s close enough for zoev.
Thanks to my beta: Waverly. Sorry to the other two; I wanted to get this posted this weekend before classes started, and tomorrow I need to prepare for them. EDITED to make changes suggested by Gideon.
Disclaimer: BtVS/AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. Stargate characters belong to Robert C. Cooper and Brad Wright / SyFy Channel. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
Glancing at the clock, Buffy stood up and grabbed her bag. “So, who wants to go with me to the hospital today?” she asked the almost daily question.
Anya frowned, confused at the blonde Slayer’s insistence that they spend time with the woman who tried to kill them and help the Mayor ascend to a full demon. “Isn’t Faith evil? Why do you waste time visiting her? I thought you slayed evil, not babysat it until it was a threat again.”
Ignoring the irony of Anya, the former Vengeance Demon for Scorned Women, asking that question, Buffy answered, “Because Faith helped us beat the Mayor. She told me how to get him to chase me into the school instead of eating the senior class. That makes her a probationary Scooby – at least until she wakes us and proves otherwise.”
“Buffy’s a firm believer in second chances,” Willow declared, half-proud/half-worried about the decision to care for Faith. When she started to get upset, though, she reminded herself that if she ever went evil – as if that
could happen – she hoped Buffy would try to save her too.
Xander snarked, “Yeah, just ask Deadboy how many she’s given him.”
Seeing the annoyed expression on Buffy’s face, Giles quickly moved to support her. “And on that note, I believe I will join you today, Buffy,” he offered before she could reply to Xander’s comment. Giles felt that sometimes that boy needed to think a little more before he spoke. Setting aside his dislike for Angel, Xander should at least consider how his words hurt Buffy – somebody he did
As they were approaching Faith’s room, they saw a doctor exit and walk down the hallway, towards the hospital exit. Buffy pulled her Watcher back before the doctor could see either of them, whispering, “Giles, something weird is going on here. That guy who just left Faith’s room is part of the Initiative. I think his name is Dr. Angleman or something. He’s Professor Walsh’s top scientist guy. Why would he be in Faith’s room?”
“I don’t know,” Giles said. After thinking about it for a minute, he asked, “Did you tell anyone about her being a Slayer?”
Her answer was quick and absolute, “No.”
That surprised him a little. “Not even Riley?” Giles thought she’d at least tell her boyfriend.
Buffy shook her head vehemently, “Not even Riley. I haven’t told him anything supernatural about the rest of the gang. All he knows is that I’m the Slayer – and that’s only because he saw me fighting those Gentlemen things.”
He instinctively inquired, “Why not?”
“Just didn’t feel right spilling everyone’s secrets to a guy I just met – especially when he works for a group that experiments on non-humans. Who knows what they’d consider non-human?” she added, thinking of Oz or even herself. Heck, maybe they’d even try to figure out how magick worked by experimenting on Giles, Willow, Ethan or Tara.
Giles looked down proudly at her and remarked, “That’s a very wise attitude to take.”
“Gee, I’ll try not to feel insulted by the surprise in your voice,” Buffy replied snarkily.
“I’m sorry, Buffy. I just thought you were enamored with both Riley and his group,” he said, allowing a little bit of his insecurities show.
Buffy saw the hurt in his eyes and felt like smacking herself for making him doubt his place in her life. Right now they had bigger worries though. “No…and seeing one of them in Faith’s room makes me even more leery about them.”
They asked the duty nurse how often Dr. Angleman came to see Faith and were surprised to hear that he’d been coming almost daily for the five weeks. How had he managed to avoid been seen before this?
“It could be that we’ve seen him,” Giles theorized as they walked away from the nurses’ station, “…but until you met him at the Initiative, it didn’t seem odd.”
“I guess,” Buffy allowed reluctantly. She still thought something freaky was going on.
Moving into Faith’s room, they looked for anything out of the ordinary to explain the Initiative doctor’s visits to the comatose Slayer. Unfortunately, the only thing even remotely strange was a full IV bag. Giles checked the patient file to see when it had been last changed, and sure enough…there was Angleman’s signature next to the notation a few minutes prior. But it was listed as a total parenteral nutrition (TPN) IV – basically a food and water mixture.
Buffy thought back to when she saw Faith before. The change wasn’t so big compared to the day before, but as she searched her memories of the week before, it became more noticeable…at least in her mind. “Does she look weaker to you?” she asked Giles, needing a second opinion. “I don’t think I’ve seen her look this bad since that first night she was here.”
He studied the younger girl more closely, surprised he hadn’t noticed it immediately. He didn’t visit as often as Buffy, so the changes were clearer to him. “Now that you mention it, she does appear more drawn since the last time I was here – which was last week.”
Poking her head out into the hallway, Buffy flagged down a passing nurse. “Excuse me, nurse? Can you tell me what’s going on with Faith? She looks like she’s getting worse.”
Even though she knew Buffy wasn’t a relative, the nurse had seen her visiting the patient nearly every day since the brunette was admitted the previous spring. The other nurses said the same thing. That’s why she ignored policy to inform her, “She’s been fighting something the past month. Every day she seems to lose a little ground to whatever it is. There are no indications of what it could be, though. This past week has been especially hard for her.”
“Is there anything we can--” Giles’ question was cut off by the machines going haywire. He and Buffy were pushed to the corner as the nurses and doctors attempted to resuscitate Faith. Twenty-two torturous minutes later, the attending doctor put the paddles back and glanced at the clock. “Calling it at 1547.”
“I’m so sorry, Buffy.” Giles caught the doctor before he left, asking, “Is there going to be an autopsy?”
The doctor nodded, “Yes. Her condition was improving until recently; we even hoped that she would wake up soon. Now we’d like to know what went wrong.”
Once they were alone in the room with her sister-Slayer, Buffy hissed, “We need to take some of that fluid in the IV bag. So help me, if they had anything to do with Faith’s death…”
Giles located a clean urine specimen cup and drained enough fluid to fill it. “We’ll let Willow study this before we worry about the Initiative, alright? If it does turn out that they were
involved... We’ll find a way to make them pay,” he vowed, letting hints of Ripper peek out from his calm Watcher-persona.