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Don't feed the Plants

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Summary: In Sunnydale, even gardening can be hazardous to your health. x/over with 'Little Shop of Horrors' Buffy/Angel, Giles/Willow

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Miscellaneous > Musicals/PlayspythiaFR15916,088162,7347 Mar 067 Mar 06Yes

Chapter Nine

{Show me your face
Clean as the morning
I know things were bad
But now they're okay}

“Well, he said he was fine - but there was blood and unfocusy vision – and then the doctor kinda went into overdrive after I dragged him over to do something. So I don’t know.”
Buffy muttered something at the other end of the phone. Willow pressed a little closer under the hood, trying to ignore the slightly raucous drunks who were busy singing bawdy love songs to the receptionist.
“Oh, yeah, I know that – ‘cos he ordered an admission bed. The doctor, I mean. I think he means to keep him under observation for a while. That’s … yes, the concussion. And the - blood loss, I guess. Xander was right about the stitches. No – no, I-I don’t think you need to come over. I’m sure he’ll be fine. Yes. Yes, I will. Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow? Good. Night.”
She put the phone back on the hook and slowly walked back to the waiting area, wondering if a half lie was any better than whole one. She wasn’t sure that Giles would be fine. She wasn’t sure how anyone could be ‘fine’ after something like that had happened to them. She was quite sure she wouldn’t be. It would be nightmare city for weeks, and lots of avoidy behaviour around plants and stuff – not to mention being traumatised by needing to be stitched back together and the prospect of being scarred. For life.
She sighed and dropped onto one of the long padded benches, pushing a pile of well thumbed magazines out of the way so she could make herself comfortable. She suspected that guys didn’t worry so much about getting scars, and she also suspected that Giles would say he was fine, whether he was or not. But that wouldn’t make it right.
She flicked idly though a couple of magazines, got herself a cup of coffee, drank that as slowly as she could, then put the empty cup down with another sigh, glancing – first at the still curtained alcove just beyond the nurses’ station, and then at the clock. It was past late and heading for all good souls should be abed – which was exactly where Buffy was going, and Xander probably was, and she ought to be but …
One of the white coated nurses bustled out from behind the curtain, and Willow sat up for a moment – only to slump down again as the woman collected something from a trolley and vanished back behind the curtain again. The three nurses had been doing that for a while, waltzing in and out as if they were taking part in some obscure dance routine. Willow wasn’t sure if they were helping or hindering Dr Thackery; she’d seen all sorts of strange things being taken in to him, the most sensible of which had been a trolley bearing softly steaming bowls of water, and a tray of what had looked suspiciously like hospital tea.
Not something Giles would be thankful for, she’d suspected when she saw it; hospital tea wasn’t real tea – not like the kind of stuff he drank, anyway.
Another glance, a further sigh. She wasn’t going to leave until she was sure he’d been properly taken care of. Because someone ought to. Giles didn’t really have anyone … well, there was Miss Calendar, but that was all tentative and first date kind of stuff, not the way that Buffy had her Mom, and she had … well, she and Xander had each other, right? And they all had Giles looking out for them, even if he pretended to be grumpy about it most of the time.
Well, okay, she admitted to herself, sometimes he is grumpy, and not just pretending …
But she knew that was because he cared, and that his gruff lectures were a way of venting his frustrations at not being able to keep them out of trouble. A way, too, of dealing with the fear that haunted him, every time he sent Buffy out on patrol. He was her Watcher, and he was supposed to feel responsible for her – but no-one had asked him to feel responsible for the rest of them, and yet he did. Seriousl did, which was kind of cool in a way; cool and oddly comforting – because knowing someone really cared, rather than said they did because they thought it was expected of them, was a whole dose-worth of warm fuzzies, all on its own.
There were, of course, lots of other ways that being around Giles inspired the warm fuzzy moments; the sweet glow she got whenever her praised her, the way he trusted her with his books, even the way he’d sometimes greet her arrival in the library with a smile.
But she’d never tell him that.
“Miss Rosenberg?”
The friendly looking older doctor with the twinkling eyes and the cute laughter lines was smiling down at her. He looked tired; his hair was tousled, his coat was rumpled – and there were spots of blood on it, darkening red blotches staining his sleeves. For the briefest of moments Willow feared the worst. She felt her stomach clench and her heart drop into her shoes. “Yes?” she squeaked, wide eyed and apprehensive. “Is – is Giles okay?”
“He’s fine,” Doctor Thackery assured her, offering her a hand to help her up. “At least, he will be, given a few hours sleep and a little time to heal. We’re going to keep him for the night – if that’s okay with you?”
She nodded warily, her sense of relief un-knotting her stomach while she made herself breath as slow and as evenly as she could manage.
“Nothing to worry about, of course.” The Doctor gently steered her towards the still curtained cubicle. “We just want keep an eye on him for a while - make sure that bump on the old noggin isn’t going to give him any problems. They’re going to be taking him up to the ward in a minute. I thought you might like to go with him. Tuck him in,” he added with a grin.
Thank you,” she declared, her gratitude totally heartfelt and not all because he’d had the kindness to remember her in among the busy bustle of the evening. She was grateful that he’d listened to her concerns – and that he cared enough about his patients to step in when he was so obviously needed. Although if she caught sight of the other doctor – the one who’d put Giles way down on the list and had left him lying in misery for hours – then it was likely she’d give him a piece of her mind.
“You’re welcome,” Thackery smiled. “So’s he. And don’t look so worried. Most of the damage is superficial; he’ll be up and about in no time. Little … tender in places, for a while anyway,” he confided warmly. “But nothing to panic over. Nothing to sue over, either,” he suggested, not entirely in jest. Willow found him a wan grin of her own.
“Don’t worry,” she said, still looking anxious despite his reassurances. Tender was not fun. “I don’t think … Giles doesn’t like to make a fuss. Not unless it really needs to happen. And not so much about himself, either. Now,” she added, a little ruefully, “if that had been me lying there …”
Thackery chuckled. “That, I can imagine,” he said, his expression wry. “He’s very fond of you, you know? Fond of all of his students by the sound of it. Good teachers like that are hard to find. I’d hang on to this one if I were you.”
“Oh, we will,” Willow assured him, pushing through the curtain and coming to an abrupt halt at the sight that awaited her. “We will …”
Gone was the bloodstained, dishevelled figure she’d left lying pale and shivering amongst the pillows. In its place was a much more reassuring vision; Giles was lying on his side rather than his back, an IV tube taped to one arm, and a blanket covering his legs. They’d replaced his torn and blood-soaked clothing with a clean hospital gown, and the hasty makeshift dressings and bandages with layers of pristine and professional linen. His face was still pale and his hair was still faintly tousled, but he looked so much better lying there that Willow felt all the knotty anxiety that had sat inside her for the past few hours simply melt away. She thought he might be asleep, but the sound of her voice flickered his eyes open; he blinked, focused, and then smiled at her with bemused delight.
“Good Lord,” he murmured, a soft pumped full of painkillers drawl. “Willow? Are you still here? I thought I told you to go home.”
“You did,” she smiled, moving to stand by him and wondering if he’d object to her reclaiming his hand. “But I didn’t. I guess I can now. Since you’re all – stitched up and everything.” She gave in to the impulse and dropped her hand over his where it lay on the top of the blanket. He gave her a slightly startled look – then turned his palm and let her lace her fingers through his own.
“I certainly am,” he sighed wearily. “And that sounds like a jolly good idea to me. You have school tomorrow, remember?”
She nodded; she didn’t need the reminder, but Buffy certainly would have done. She found herself wondering if he wished that it had been Buffy who’d brought him to the hospital, if he’d have been less startled if it had been his Slayer who’d stayed … and then his hand tightened around hers with almost imperceptible pressure, and his smile widened just that little bit, and she knew it didn’t matter one way or the other.
Because he was really, really glad to see her there.
“Thank you,” he said, managing to pack more gratitude into those two words than a whole slew of gift-baskets and Hallmark cards would have conveyed. “F-for staying, I mean. And for … berating doctors on my behalf. I know you would have … much rather been elsewhere.”
“Well yeah, but … so would you,” she countered, a little self consciously. Being praised by Giles was always nice. Being thanked by him was even nicer. But she never entirely felt deserving of the first, and she didn’t feel deserving of this at all. “I shouldn’t have left you,” she said, then coloured, realising how that might sound. “Not to be ‘going on alone guy,’ I-I mean. You’re not – Buffy, you know.”
“A fact I have been painfully reminded of tonight.” He sounded vaguely embarrassed about it. “I was the one who told you to go – there’s nothing to feel guilty about in that. And you kept your wits about you later. Picking up on my hint about the roof. You acquitted yourself well tonight, Willow. Much better than I did.”
“Don’t be silly,” she said, half embarrassed by his adding praise to praise and half annoyed that he should seek to belittle himself after everything he’d been through. “It wasn’t your fault that Simon hit you with a shovel. And you were all with the stoic bravery and stuff afterwards. You only screamed the once …”
She tailed off. He was looking at her with a slightly pained expression – one that had nothing to do with the cuts and the bumps and the bruises – and she suddenly felt extremely small. “Sorry,” she gulped. “Not helping here, huh?”
His hand tightened on hers a second time, a little more firmly and with a lot more reassurance. “Actually,” he said gently, “you’re helping a great deal. But you should go home.”
“I will,” she promised, and grinned – because suddenly she knew everything was going to be okay, and they’d all be laughing about this by the end of the week – even Giles. “Just as soon as they get you into a proper bed. Doctor Thackery,” she confided happily, “promised I could tuck you in.”
The upward roll of his eyes was perfect. As was his pained look and the inevitably martyred sigh. “Oh good Lord,” he groaned.
But she knew he didn’t mean it. Because he held on to her hand – and went on holding it, all the way up to the ward and afterwards. Right up until he finally fell asleep.

{Tell me this feeling lasts till forever
Tell me the bad times are clean washed away…}

Outside in the dark, three nurses leaving their shift – who were also three cheerleaders, still in school, and three other creatures altogether – paused to glance up at the still lit windows of the ward, and smiled.
“I think they handled that pretty well, don’t you?” the plump one said, a note of affection in her voice. The tallest one snorted.
“Sure,” she drawled cynically. “And he’s really going to survive the next few years with his slayer taking such good care of him, isn’t he.”
“He will,” the middle one said, linking one arm with her older sister’s, and the other with her younger’s as they headed down the road and into the night. “Few bumps in the road, the odd knot in the thread and little heartache on the way, but … they’ll make it. All of them. They have Fate and Chance and Destiny on their side.”
“Yeah,” the plump one chuckled. “Nice to know there’s someone you can rely on to save the world. Again.”
Their giggles floated back as they vanished into the darkness, their shapes blurring and fading into nothing but a lingering hint of starlight. The very last thing that might have been heard – if anyone had been around to listen – was the voice of the tallest, dropping into thoughtful tones.
“Now then,” she said. “Whereabouts in the world did the next of those cursed things take root …”

{Hold your hat and hang on to your soul
Something's coming to eat the world whole
If we fight it we've still got a chance
But whatever they offer you
Though they're slopping the trough for you
Please, whatever they offer you
Don't feed the plants}

The End

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