Chapter 8 – You See Me, ICU
A/N: Sorry for the delay in updating. I've been busy, busy, busy. Oh well, here's the next chapter. I hope you enjoy. Please review and let me know what you think. Thank you for all the encouragement.
Chapter 8 – You See Me, ICU
Intensive Care Unit
Sunnydale General Hospital
Saturday, March 6, 1999, Mid-Morning
The elevator doors open, expelling Buffy, Willow, and Cordelia Chase, Xander’s ex-girlfriend, into the ICU waiting area. The nurses on duty cast nervous glances at the gaggle of teenage girls entering their domain, concerned that their ICU is about to be disrupted. After all, this isn’t the first time these particular girls have haunted the ICU and while not rude (for the most part), they do have a tendency to take the area over. Buffy and Cordy are completely oblivious to the nurses’ looks. Willow notices and gives the nurses an apologetic smile and a small wave. Giles spots them and comes out of Xander’s room to speak with them.
“Hey, guys. I made breakfast,” Buffy says as she hands over a paper bag with the Espresso Pump’s logo on it, to Giles and Faith, who spent the night “guarding” Xander. Xander couldn’t be safer in the hospital and certainly doesn’t need a guard, but right now, after yesterday’s events, they all feel the need to protect him.
“I don’t think you can actually call it ‘making’ breakfast if you buy it,” Willow counters.
“I had to go to the coffee shop, stand in line, place the order, then pay for it. For me, that’s as close to cooking as I want to get. Plus, this way it’s edible! So, everyone wins.”
“Hey, I’ve had B’s finest. I’ll take bought over homemade any day.”
“Thank you, Faith,” Buffy says sarcastically while glaring at her. Faith just grins at her around the blueberry muffin in her mouth.
“Did you happen to have an extra grande latte while you were there?” asks Giles.
“Maybe. I mean it was like way late when we left last night and it’s gotta be like what 6:00 now?” Buffy glances at her watch and sees it says 10:45. “Okay, maybe a little after 6:00.”
“Did you sleep at all last night?” Giles asks with a concerned look on his face.
“Well, I got into bed and closed my eyes. That’s like sleeping, right?”
“Perhaps you should let the sugar high dissipate a bit before going in to see Xander.”
“How is he?” asks Cordelia.
“He’s doing well, all things considered. Matthew even discussed moving him into a regular room this afternoon if he behaves.”
“Do you think it’d be okay for me to pop in and say ‘hi’?”
“I’m sure he’d appreciate that very much, Cordelia.”
Buffy turns to Willow with a put-upon look on her face. “How come I’m the only he’s picking on?”
“Well, you were kind of your own one woman show.” Seeing Buffy’s frown, Willow quickly continues, “Which is something you don’t see nearly enough of nowadays.”
“Hi,” Xander replies, looking nervously at Cordelia.
“You look goo-…Okay, you know what, I’m not gonna lie to you. You pretty much look like crap.”
“Thank you. These are the times I’ve missed most about being with you,” Xander says sarcastically.
“I didn’t mean that to be insulting.”
“No, of course not. ‘You look like crap.’ How could that possibly be insulting. I don’t know how I could’ve taken that wrong.”
‘Amazing’ thinks Cordelia ‘I’ve been ten seconds and we’re already fighting.’ Frustrated, Cordelia turns to leave then spins back around. “Can we not do this right now? I was worried about you, okay. They tried to tell me how bad it was but...I guess it didn’t really sink in until I saw you just now.”
Xander feels bad because he can tell that Cordy really is trying to be nice. It’s just so easy to slip into old habits; he and Cordy have been insulting each other since they were little kids. Hell, even when they were dating, they still tended to insult each other. “Sorry, habit. It’s okay. This situation is kind of different. I get that.”
“So, any idea how long you’ll be here?”
“Matt wants to keep me here for awhile. I think he’s hoping for my entire recovery, but I have faith I’ll drive him and the nurses nuts before then. I’m betting I have them volunteering to PERSONALLY drive me home within two weeks.” Xander has a diminished version of his trademark goofy smile on his face.
Cordelia smirks saying, “I’m thinking less.”
Cordy pulls over a chair by Xander’s bed and they continue to talk about various things, mostly just small talk. It’s the longest and nicest conversation they’ve had since they broke up. It’s the first step either has taken in getting over the whole Xander-kissing-Willow fiasco.
Jack and Daniel come into the ICU waiting area and immediately see the Scoobies. “God, not again,” Jack says as he begins to rub his temples where a headache has suddenly sprung up.
“They’re not that bad, Jack.”
“Daniel, please. I’ve spent the entire night in a chair smaller than...something small,” Jack says with a slight shake of his head. “Anyway, it was damn uncomfortable and I don’t want to deal with them right now. And, if you want me to be polite, and you always do, you don’t want me dealing with them right now. A sleep deprived Jack is not a nice Jack.”
“I know. Believe me, I know!”
“Easy, big fella. Look, they’ll each want to visit with Xander, right? That’ll take a while and they certainly won’t miss us, so let’s take a little walk. I could stretch my legs.”
Daniel glances at the assembled group, then back at Jack. “Okay, lead the way.”
Jack and Daniel find themselves in a little courtyard attached to the hospital. They walk silently for a while before Jack suddenly blurts out “She’s not even here.”
“Jessica.” Jack stops walking and faces Daniel. “Her kid’s in the hospital and she’s not here. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Jack, not everyone is...” Daniel trails off trying to figure out how to say this without hurting Jack in the process.
“Not everyone is a good parent. That’s what you were going to say, right?”
“It doesn’t make her a bad person, Jack.”
“No...Doesn’t it? I mean...” Jack chuckles sardonically. “Who the hell am I to judge who’s a good parent? I wouldn’t exactly win awards in that department either. Maybe it’s genetic, except my parents were great. My other brothers and sisters are great parents. So, it looks like just Jess and I got the sucky parent gene.”
“You were a great parent.”
“You don’t know that. You can’t. My son was already dead when we met.”
“I know you. I’ve seen you with kids. I’ve seen you with Cassie. You’re great with her, Jack. She adores you. In fact, I haven’t met a kid that didn’t love you.”
“Sure, I’m a great playmate but that doesn’t make me a good father, Daniel.”
“You’re wrong, Jack,” Daniel quietly says. “But, this isn’t about you. This isn't about Jessica either. It seems to me this is about Xander and if his mother can’t be there for him – for whatever reason – then somebody else should be. Jack, I know that the thought of that boy relying on you is terrifying. You probably want nothing more than to run as far away as you can. That’s normal and nobody would blame for that. But Jack, you’ve got so much to give Xander. I’m not telling you to try to become his father. Just don’t let a horrible accident stop you from doing what I know you really want to do.”
Jack is in the hospital courtyard, talking into his cell phone. “Carter, I need you to look into some people for me. First, I want everything you can get for me on Anthony, Jessica and Alexander Harris from Sunnydale, California. On Tony, I want you to focus on any complaints, charges, violent history, anything of that nature. On Xander, I want you to focus on his medical history; I want to know how often he’s been in the hospital or missed school and why. He should probably have a pretty decent medical file with Sunnydale General Hospital. I also want you to check out the staff at Sunnydale G.H., especially anyone who’s been repeatedly involved in Xander’s treatment. Finally, I want you to check out a group of people associated with the local high school.” Jack then proceeds to give his second-in-command, Samantha Carter a detailed description of each of the Scoobies he’s met to date. “I need you to get this to me ASAP.”
“Sir, may I ask what this is about?”
“Look Carter, this isn’t official. I’m asking for a favor here. Right now I just need to know the information. I’ll explain later.”
Sam sits in her lab in the SGC contemplating what to do for a moment before she responds, “Yes, sir. It’ll take a while to run down the information you want, but I’ll call you as soon as I have something. Oh, and sir, good luck.”
“Thanks, Carter,” Jack says as he hangs up.
“Jack, do you really think this is the way to go?” asks Daniel.
“You were right, Daniel. I can’t walk away.” Jack thinks back to the conversation he overheard between Xander and Giles this morning. Based on what he heard, deadly fights are not only normal but common place. Giles, as an adult, should be setting an example, not encouraging combat. But he certainly seems to have been doing just that for the past two years apparently! What kind of guy surrounds himself with a bunch of teenagers anyway? Is Giles some kind of cult leader or a pervert or both? Do these kids fight to prove themselves to him? And, what exactly did Xander mean by the “forces of darkness”?
“Too much doesn’t make sense,” Jack continues. “I have to know what’s going on. I have to know if Xander’s in danger and not just from Tony. There’s something seriously wrong here and I’m going to find out what it is.”