Chapter 2 – Emergency Room
Chapter 2 – Emergency Room
Sunnydale General Hospital
Friday, March 5, 1999
The ER doors swing open admitting Stephanie, an EMT, pushing a bloody, beaten and still unconscious Xander Harris on a stretcher. Willow Rosenberg is holding his hand as Jack O’Neill, Xander’s uncle, follows. Stephanie immediately bypasses the less critical cases in the main waiting area and wheels Xander into the treatment area. Willow remains at Xander’s side the entire time. Jack goes to follow but is stopped by a nurse.
Jack immediately protests, “Why does she get to go in?”
“That’s Willow; she always goes in with Xander.”
Jack begins to argue further and is making a scene demanding that he be allowed to enter the treatment area with Xander. He finally backs down when the nurse says “Look, we can stand here arguing about this or you can let me get back to work and help that young man. What’s it going to be?”
The nurse points him in the direction of a small room off the main waiting area. With one last scowl at the doors to the treatment room and muttering curses, Jack turns to head to the waiting room. Just then Daniel comes rushing into the ER.
“Where is he? What’s going on? Is he going to be okay?”
“I don’t know. They won’t let me in with him.”
Taking a look around the ER waiting area, Daniel sees a man cradling his arm to his chest (it looks like it might be broken), there’s a woman with a small child on her lap who’s fussing quietly and a little boy seated in the seat next to her, and various other small groups waiting to be attended. Daniel asks “Where’d the girl go?”
“Willow was allowed to go in with him,” Jack snarks as he heads into the waiting room followed by Daniel.
“They didn’t allow you in but they allowed her in? Isn’t that odd?”
“Yes, very but apparently Willow ALWAYS goes in with Xander.” Jack runs his hands through his hair and takes a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. “Daniel, you should’ve heard her and the EMT talking. Looks like rushing to the hospital is something Xander’s familiar with. They all act like it’s normal: Willow, the EMT, hell, even the nurse knew who Xander was. The ER nurse recognized him by sight! Jeez, how twisted is that?
“I remember him when he was this cute, adorable little kid, ya know? He was so quick to smile and laugh. God, he was so friendly and…silly. He’d go out of his way to make you laugh,” Jack says chuckling as he remembers a particular incident. Sobering he says “That’s the image I’ve had of him in my head for the past 10 years. Okay, I knew he wasn’t still that little kid. He’s a teenager. Teenagers aren’t cute or adorable, their hormonal and have attitudes. Okay, actually my other nieces and nephews are pretty good kids, but my point is he should be worried about flunking history or not making the team or whether he’ll have a date for the prom or something. He should NOT be worried about whether he’s going to be beaten so badly he ends up in a hospital, again.”
Jack lets out a huge breath and sits down. He can’t help thinking ‘if I’d only tried to reconnect with Jessica sooner maybe I could’ve stopped this from happening.’ Jack’s always been a sucker for kids (after all he’s still just a big kid himself despite all he’s gone through) but after losing Charlie and then last week almost losing the other “Charlie”, Jack knows he’s going to feel especially protective of any kid that crosses his path. And, this isn’t just some kid, this is his nephew! God, he hates this.
Daniel sits next to Jack, putting a comforting hand on his arm. “He’ll be okay, Jack. After all, he’s your nephew, and if you’re anything to go by, he’ll be too stubborn to stay down for long,” Daniel gently teases. Jack gives him a slight smile, appreciating the gesture.
“I called Hammond. I told him a family emergency came up and we’d need to be here for a couple more days at least. He said to take as long as you need.”
‘Hammond,’ Jack thinks, ‘Jeez, I didn’t even think about calling the general. Course, who’s had time to think? Well, except for Danny naturally.’
“Thanks,” Jack said with a small smile. They sit quietly together waiting for news on Xander. Jack doesn’t question that Daniel’s presence has a calming effect on him; after all, it always does.
The Scooby Gang (Rupert Giles, Buffy Summers, Daniel “Oz” Osbourne and Faith Lehane) rush into the ER looking around for any sign of Xander. Giles spots the nurse, who banished Jack into the waiting room, at the nurse’s station.
“Nancy,” Giles says as he hurriedly walks over to her, Buffy at his side. Faith and Oz hang back a little but are still close enough to hear the conversation.
“Has Xander arrived yet? Is he being seen? Do we know what his condition is?”
“Yes, he arrived a few minutes ago. He’s in the back. Dr. Russell is seeing him now.”
“Matthew? W-Well, he’s in good hands then.”
Buffy interrupts saying “Giles, I’m going back there. One of us should be there with him. He shouldn’t be alone.”
“Willow’s with him. She accompanied him in the ambulance,” Nancy replies.
“Oh. Okay, good. Well, that explains why we couldn’t get in touch with her,” Buffy says, looking relieved. “Do you know what happened? What attacked him?” She leans in slightly and whispers “Did he say what kind of demon it was or describe it at all? Anything would help.” Turning to Giles and the others, she continues “Giles, we’ll need to start researching right away. I want this thing dead by the end of the night.” Giles nods, wishing he had access to his books at the hospital.
“Buffy, Rupert, it wasn’t a demon, well unless you count the human kind,” Nancy interjects disgustedly before they can go any further.
The Scoobies turn their attention back to Nancy and just stare at her with blank looks on their faces for a moment. “Wait, are you saying a human put Xander in the hospital? It wasn’t a demon or a vampire or…or maybe it was a spirit. A spirit could hurt someone. Right, Giles?” Okay, so it sounds pathetic even to Buffy, but the thought of a PERSON hurting Xander was just…wrong. She patrols every night to keep humans, people safe from the things that go bump in the night. It’s so easy to view the world as black and white: humans good, demons bad. Sometimes, it’s easy for her to forget that not all evil is inhuman.
“Nancy, do you know what happened? Was he mugged?” Giles asks, although, in truth, he can’t imagine anyone looking at Xander and thinking he’s walking around with a lot of money on him. There’s this niggling voice in the back of his head that says he knows what happened. Giles refuses to listen to it and tells it to bloody well sod off! This is a random event that NO one could have seen coming much less stopped, dammit!
Nancy is silent, looking at them all, considering exactly how she wants to answer that question. These people are the good guys. She’s known this for a while now, so have several of the other nurses and even a few of the doctors (like Dr. Russell), ever since that time Buffy was admitted into the hospital with the flu. It was only for a couple of days and her fever was so high she was rambling incoherently much of the time, but after she was discharged, the staff noticed a decline in the death rate in the children’s ward. They never explained what happened and Nancy never asked. There were other times as well: whenever the hospital started getting really busy, usually one or more of them would show up requiring treatment for some injury or other, and then the ER would settle down for a while again. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the pattern here although most just simply ignore the obvious.
Of course, even those who’ve figured out the pattern, and choose not to ignore it, don’t really know what’s going on. Nancy does; she didn’t deliberately set out to know, and there are times – almost always – that she wishes she doesn’t know. On one of the Scoobies visits, Giles was in for a head wound, as usual. This one was pretty bad, though; he kept murmuring about demons and vampires. Nancy was all for ignoring him, after all he did have a huge bump on his head, but when she looked at the teenagers to reassure them that he would be fine, she saw the fear in their eyes. They immediately tried to cover for Giles, saying he had been watching a monster marathon on TV and that must be what he was talking about but Nancy could see in their eyes they were lying and desperate. Unbidden, memories of strange rumors and events she’d suppressed (as any good Sunnydale resident would) surfaced from the back of her mind. She pretended to believe them and the relief that flooded them was palpable. It was in that moment that Nancy knew she would do everything she could to help these people and that she would probably never get another decent night’s sleep.
‘Okay,’ Nancy thinks, after pulling herself back from her memories, ‘they’re the good guys…Their also family, a close family, in an almost Don-Corleone-mess-with-me-mess-with-my-whole-family kind of way. If I tell them what Stephanie told me, Tony Harris probably won’t live to see the morning or at the very least he’ll be in the hospital, too. Of course, Willow knows, so she’ll tell them anyway. And, Giles is usually very level-headed and law-abiding…unless you mess with one of his kids.’ Nancy sighs mentally. There’s really no way they’re not going to find out and if she tells them maybe she can, hopefully, keep them from doing anything rash and stupid, like breaking Tony out of jail to break Tony.
Decision made, Nancy answers “Xander’s father was arrested for child abuse. I don’t know all the details, but someone called 911 and when the police arrived Xander was in bad shape and unconscious. Two witnesses say they saw Tony do it.” The Scoobies have looks of murderous rage in their eyes. Nancy quickly adds “He’s in jail. The police are handling this, that’s their job. There is nothing left for you to do except be here for Xander. He needs you now. Focus on him, on helping him recover, not on getting revenge.” She slowly releases the breath she didn’t even realize she’d been holding, as she sees the murderous rage dim slightly from their eyes and determination set in.
“It’ll probably still be a while before there’s any news. Why don’t you guys go wait in the waiting room and I’ll let you know something the moment I can,” Nancy says gently.
As they turn to head to the same waiting room Jack and Daniel are in, Nancy places a hand on Giles’ arm stopping him. He looks back at her questioningly. After the others have continued on, Nancy quietly says “There’s a man in there who came in with Xander also. He was pretty insistent about going into the treatment room with him. I finally got him to back down. I don’t know who he is but I thought you should know.”