Iron Makes Steel
Don’t own BtVS or Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter. Joss Whedon and L. K. Hamilton respectively.
Buffy was standing, looking back at the crater that used to be Sunnydale with an unreadable look on her face. The scoobies had tried to get her to leave the edge of the crater for over fifteen minutes before they gave up and left to wait in the bus.
“Whistler.” The blonde slayer called out, her brain thinking at the speed of light and the balance demon was the only one who could have answers for her.
There was a sort of... reverse fading sound and then, “You rang Slayer?”
Buffy didn’t turn to face him, instead looked up into the sky, “This isn’t real is it...”
Whistler’s voice replied with a grin embedded in the tone, impossible not to hear. “Of course it is. You’ve finally won. This isn’t a dream.”
Shaking her head Buffy frowned as she looked out at the crater that used to be a town that had felt so real, but now every instinct she had said it wasn’t. It wasn’t real, “I didn’t ask if this was a dream. I asked if it was real.”
There was a long silence and Buffy turned to look at the balance demon who had a confusing look on his face. After a few more moments of silence the demon’s face cleared and he smiled. “No. It isn’t.”
“Then I guess it’s time to wake up,” Buffy decided and just like that, illusions that had been in place for years vanished from her mind and a tear ran down Buffy’s face when the blonde closed her eyes. “Goodbye Whistler. I’ll miss you.”
Whistler’s voice answered, his characteristic snark absent for once. “No... You won’t.”
Buffy opened her eyes and found herself exactly where she’d expected, in a white padded room with a straight-jacket on. Standing calmly she walked to the door.
“Doctor?” she called into what appeared to be a microphone near the door.
Instantly a man in a white coat was at the door, opening it as she backed away from the door. “I’m Doctor McKinley, I’m your doctor here. Did you want something?” The doctor was very hopeful, Buffy Summers had been in the mental hospital for the past six years and not once during those six years had she so much as acknowledged her surroundings.
It was better than he might have hoped, she turned and smiled a relieved smile, “I know who I am doctor... I remember.”
“What do you remember?” McKinley asked gently.
Buffy’s eyes unfocused while memories came to the surface. “I remember... I remember being mauled by a giant lion seven years ago. I was ok at the time, the Pride took responsibility for my injury and all was well... for a time. The master of the city of Los Angeles... we were his animal to call...”
The doctor could sense the blonde’s, for she was a true blonde here, hesitation. “I need to know you remember what really happened Miss Summers, not what your hallucination told you.”
Buffy sighed, clearly not wanting to talk about it, “Sometimes... he’d use his power to call a lion to his lair to use as... entertainment for his Kiss. Male, female, it didn’t seem to matter. One night he chose me and I tried to fight it... but I couldn’t. I wasn’t strong enough.”
McKinley nodded, that fit the reports he'd been given, “Yes... you were found talking to a red-headed girl about needing to go out patrolling for vampires in the graveyards. Your parents sent you here where we found the... evidence of your ordeal. I believe your parents hired several hunters in their quest to avenge their only daughter. The ones who did this to you are dead.”
Buffy’s eyes snapped up from the floor to look piercingly into the Doctor’s eyes. A moment later they softened. “Can I get out of here Doc?”
The doctor, being one of the few doctors in this place who wasn’t prejudiced toward lycanthropes himself, smiled. He’d fought hard to get her case, and was the sole reason she hadn’t simply been thrown in one of those glorified prisons for lycans. “Of course Miss Summers. Would you like me to call your parents?”
Buffy nodded before she looked down at the straight jacket that even now kept her in an eternal hug.
“Oh, I’m sorry, let me get that,” Doctor McKinley started to move to unbuckle and release Buffy, convinced as he was that she had returned to the land of the sane.
Buffy shook her head. “I got it.” Then with a twitch of focus Buffy popped her shoulder out of place, and twisted the straight jacked so her hands were around front of her, still linked together but in front. Another twitch of focus and there was a second audible pop when her shoulder slid back into place.
The doctor stared at the display of pain-tolerance and flexibility. No one had ever reported her having the capability, much less the knowledge, required to dislocate, and relocate, one’s shoulder so easily. Much less the pain-tolerance to actually do so.
Buffy had to focus now, her hands were still encased in thick fabric but she managed to pull the buckle binding her hands together to her mouth, wincing at the pain of purposefully touching the silver buckles, and loosen, then release it. Hands freed Buffy looked at the doctor and turned around. “Now I need your help.”
The doctor stared at the buckles binding the coat onto Buffy’s slim body and only one thing entered his mind. “How?”
“A friend of mine, when I was fourteen, was a big fan of the Lethal Weapon movies. We both learned how to pop our shoulders out of socket to escape straight jackets like he did in the movie. It hurt, but we were young and stupid. I never did tell my parents,” Buffy lied smoothly, no way she was telling him that she’d been in an asylum even inside her delusion and she’d tried to escape by slipping the jacket and the skills she’d learned then were still in her head. She wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon if she told him that.
Doctor McKinley nodded slowly, reaching up to unbuckle the straight-jacket, breaking all sorts of protocol by letting her out of it before he’d really had an evaluation of her mental state but, he decided, it wouldn’t hurt if he broke the rules just this once... and maybe broke them again by getting her out of this asylum within the day.
Buffy Summers was a special case to him, his brother was a lycan. A panther in New Jersey. He hadn’t been driven temporarily insane like Buffy was but because of that connection, he couldn’t help but want to help her as much as he possibly could. If that meant going out of his way to hide her lycanthropy from the charts, from his bosses, and even convincing the nurse who worked on her case with him to help sneak her to a safe place she could turn on the full moon where no one would hear or see her then that's what she would do. He knew that if it got out that she was a lycan, she’d be thrown into a “Safehouse” within the day, never to leave. Not even when she got better.
That path decided Doctor Kenneth McKinley got Buffy OK’d and released in less than a day. The twenty-one year old lioness was to be released into the custody of her mother.
There the woman was now, “Joyce Summers? I’m Doctor McKinley. I’m assigned to your daughter’s case.”
The relief was visible on the woman’s face. “Thank god, has there been a change?”
“There has. Your daughter went from... her usual condition,” The doctor didn’t need to say that said usual condition was almost catatonic, talking to people who weren’t there. “To... well...”
Joyce's voice was so filled with emotion it nearly made the doctor tear up, “Can I see her?”
“You can do more than that. Buffy?” Doctor McKinley called out and Buffy walked around the corner she’d been waiting behind.
“Hi mom,” Buffy said hesitantly, on the edge of tears at the look on her mother’s face.
Joyce Summers’ eyes filled with tears as well while she moved forward to give her daughter a hug, the tears breaking and streaming down her face as she cried from her happiness.
Soon enough the Summers pair were back in Joyce’s car and heading for home.
During the car-ride to her mother’s house Buffy’s mind raced. Her memory told her that although she hadn’t been raped by the male vampires as she thought she would be when the Master of the City called her beast. Instead she was there to serve as a blood donor to a group of out of town vamps who weren’t kind. As a matter of fact the entire time they’d been feeding off her she felt a horrible pain in her neck and tears ran down her face. She’d never felt so helpless.
Arriving back at her childhood home Buffy swore that she wouldn’t feel so helpless ever again.