Chapter 9 - Videos, Nerds and Cavemen
A/N: Thank you all for your reviews and encouragement. Please let me know who you would like to see Xander paired with, either het or slash, and I'll try to incorporate it into the story. Please continue to comment because I really do take them to heart. All constructive criticism is welcome. Also, if you have any particular ideas on where you'd like to see this go, let me know and I'll see what I cand do. Enjoy.
Chapter 9 - Videos, Nerds and Cavemen
Intensive Care Unit
Sunnydale General Hospital
Saturday, March 6, 1999, Late Morning
"Oh, okay, how about this one: ‘I could’ve been a contender,’" Willow says passionately.
"Will, if you’re not even going to try, I’m not playing," Xander says.
Willow pouts and her shoulders slump forward as she says "I couldn’t think of anything that wasn’t obvious." She suddenly brightens and says with a big smile on her face and her eyes gleaming, "Hey, we can rent some new videos once you get out and have all new material. We’ll eat loads of popcorn and veg out watching nothing but brain rotting video goodness!"
"Sounds like a good plan. Count me in," Jack says from the ICU room doorway.
Willow and Xander startle and immediately straighten up, sucking the relaxed atmosphere out of the room. "I should go...be with the others," Willow says as she rises from the corner of the bed she’s sitting on and quickly scurries out the room.
Jack looks in the direction Willow took off in, seeing her meet up with the rest of the teenage brood clustered around the few chairs in the ICU waiting area. He shakes his head slightly saying "I did take a bath this morning." He tilts his head to the side reconsidering, then says "Actually, no I didn’t but surely it’s not that bad, right? Seriously, is it bad?"
"How would I know? I can’t smell at the moment, remember?" Xander replies.
"Right." Jack tries taking a last discreet sniff of himself, causing Xander to chuckle and shake his head.
"Those are some friends you’ve got there," Jack says trying to refocus.
"They’re the best. They’re my family, you know?"
"Yeah...I’m sorry it’s been so long but, um, well..." Jack says expelling a small puff of air and spreading his hands helplessly not really sure how to finish that sentence as he doesn’t have the faintest idea what drove his sister to cut off all contact with the rest of the O’Neill clan. Jack sticks his hands in his jean pockets and rocks slightly on the balls of his feet.
"I’m not looking to lay blame here."
"That’s cool." Jack takes a quick look around the ICU room, trying to figure out how to broach the subject he really wants to talk about. "Look, Xander..."
"I’ll bet you thought I forgot about you, didn’t you? You can admit it," ask Dr. Russell says with a tired smile.
"Not possible. I’m unforgettable, Doc," Xander says with a smirk. He’s once again in a good mood as Matthew’s visit interrupts what Xander’s sure is going to be an awkward, and probably painful, question and answer session, especially since Xander is hoping to avoid providing any real answers.
Matthew looks up from Xander’s medical chart with a raised eyebrow. "Okay, I’ll give you that one but don’t press your luck. Well, everything looks pretty good and I haven’t heard anything about you terrorizing the nurses sooo...I’ll spring you."
Xander sits up a bit too quickly in his excitement and has to grit his teeth and focus on breathing to push back the pain that springs to his ribs, low back and shoulder at the move.
"Are you okay?" Jack asks quite concerned.
"Yeah. I’m okay, just a bit excited, that’s all."
"Xander, I’m moving you to a regular room but that doesn’t mean I’m giving you free rein here. You need to take this slowly."
"I know, I just..." Xander chuckles as he continues "forgot."
"Ah, so you ARE forgettable. Well, at least forgetful."
"Ha, ha, very funny."
"Okay, so what’s say I sneak one last peak before I head out. I mean something’s got to get me through the drive home," Matthew says with a wink.
"Sure thing." Xander then looks at him suspiciously and says "You mean the eye, right?" All Xander gets in response is a snort of laughter as Dr. Russell pulls the curtain around them.
Daniel is waiting with, but slightly apart from, the Scoobies in the ICU waiting area. He tries to smile at them reassuringly but just gets wary looks in return. ‘Come on, Daniel, you can do this. It’s just like any diplomatic mission...with teenagers. I don’t know anything about teenagers. Even when I was a teenager, I didn’t know anything about teenagers’ Daniel thinks. ‘Here goes nothing.’
"Um, we were never formally introduced. I’m Daniel," he says in his friendliest we’re-peaceful-explorers-so-don’t-shoot-us manner.
The Scooby gang looks at each other silently trying to determine how to react to Daniel’s overture. Just when Daniel’s about to give up all hope of having even the simplest conversation with these people, Willow holds out her hand saying "I’m Willow and we’re not usually so rude. Things have been kind of crazy as you know." Pointing to each one in turn, Willow introduces "This is Giles, which you already know, um, let’s see this is Buffy, Cordelia, Faith and Oz."
"It’s very nice meeting all of you."
"So, have you known Xander’s uncle long?" Willow casually asks.
"About three years now. He’s a great guy." Seeing their dubious faces, he says “You don’t like the military much do you?”
“Oh, we have no problem with the military. They can come in quite handy,” Buffy says with a secretive little smile. The others all smile along with her. Daniel looks at them curiously, thinking he’s obviously missing something.
“So where’d you two meet?” asks Faith.
“We work together.”
“Really? I mean, no offense or anything but you don’t look all macho soldier guy,” Buffy says.
“What do I look like?” Daniel asks, curious as to how they view him.
“You look like Giles, only less...I’m so not ending that sentence. What I meant was that you look…” Buffy trails off trying to find an inoffensive word.
“Nerdy,” Cordelia helpfully supplies.
“Academic,” stresses Willow.
“This from the Queen of the Nerds,” Cordelia rebuts.
Daniel’s beginning to look decidedly uncomfortable with the turn this conversation has taken.
“Don’t sweat it. They’re always like this. It’s said in love,” Faith assures him.
“Whatever” Cordy replies, while Willow lets out a “pfft” and rolls her eyes.
“Well, actually I am…academically inclined. I’m an archeologist and linguist.”
“Really,” says Giles, showing interest in the conversation for the first time. “How fascinating. How does that involve you with the military? Colonel O’Neill didn’t appear quite as…academic.”
“Jack has his moments.”
“Thank you,” Jack says coming up behind Daniel. Turning to him, Jack asks “What kind of moments do I have?”
“Smart ones,” Daniel quickly says with a grin. “I was just telling them that you aren’t a caveman. Well, not always.”
“That was a long time ago and I seem to recall I wasn’t the only one to have his inner caveman come out to play, Daniel.” Now it was the Scoobies turn to look confused.
Turning back toward the Scoobies, Jack says “Well, I’m the bearer of good news. The doctor says that Xander can be moved out of ICU. He’s doing a final exam, then Xander’ll get the okay,” which brings big grins and happy murmurings all around.