Word count: 2090
Setting: During an alternate* S5, after the altercation with Glory in “Blood Ties”.
Summary: Property damage has consequences.
AN: The continuing saga of Buffy's adventures in community service. Follow this link to Chapter One. This chapter is a bit more angsty and less innuendo-y (sigh) than the last one. Now beta'd by the incomparable BarbC (rahirah)!
*Quickie overview of the Vamp-Next-Door-verse: Buffy did her first few slaying years in LA, with the full knowledge of her family, and moved to Sunnydale for college. Joyce and Dawn followed a year later. Riley left town at the end of S4. Spike's been living on the Hellmouth for a few years, for Reasons. You can read all about it: On LJ / On AO3 / On BSV / On TSR / On EF
Spike pulled the bloodmobile up to the loading dock behind the Sunnydale Memorial Hospital. Word hadn't got around that the buffet was closed, so a few sorry specimens converged on them from the dark corners of the parking lot. Before they could reach the dock, Buffy leapt off the roof of the bloodmobile, whirling her sword so that she removed the head of one vampire and an ear from another with her first swing. The bloodmobile door burst open, and a fire-breathing dragon spilled down the steps and out. The vampires scattered at speed, but not before Spike, who had flanked them when Buffy made her appearance, managed to stake two more, including the one who was cradling his bloody ear-stump as he tried to flee.
The dragon faded away into the tarmac, tendrils of colored mist marking where it had been. Willow and Tara peeked out of the bloodmobile door.
“Very impressive, guys,” said Buffy. “It was only a little see-through. Totally convinced those vamps.”
“It lasted twenty-seven seconds that time,” said Willow, showing Tara a stopwatch.
“It's almost too good for the likes of these wastrels,” said Spike. “Might want to save that trick for the higher class of bad guy. Keep your powder dry, all that.”
“They didn't use any powder, Spike. Just those herbs and things.”
Tara smiled. “He means that we want to keep the surprise fresh for when we really need it.”
“Oh. That's a good point.”
The girls trooped back into the bloodmobile. Spike kept watch. Buffy untied their hostage. They helped the bloodmobile technician carry the day's donations inside. Buffy brought up the rear, holding Glory's minion by the scruff of the neck.
Rhonda the blood drive coordinator was looking at her watch with a creased brow when Spike barreled in through the double doors. She started at the noise, but broke out in another of her wide smiles when she saw Buffy. Her smile faltered for a moment when she saw Scurvy, but then she bustled over while the tech supervised the hand off to a grateful staff.
“I knew you could do it!” she said.
“With a little help from my friends,” added Buffy. “Not this guy, though.” She shook Scurvy a little and it sniffed.
Rhonda nodded. “Thank you. Oh, yes! I have t-shirts for all of you,” she said. She dug into the large tote slung over her shoulder and pulled out some rolled up white shirts and handed them around. She tried to press one into Spike's hand, but he shook his head and began to rummage through his pockets for a cigarette.
“He's allergic to white,” said Buffy.
“Of course,” said Rhonda, as if that was such common thing that they kept Epi-pens on hand for sufferers. “How about a water bottle?” She beamed up at Spike, holding out a plastic bottle with white crosses printed all over a red background.
Spike looked at Buffy, who shrugged.
“Much obliged,” he said, gingerly taking the bottle by its cross-free cap. Rhonda relaxed. She passed the rejected shirt to Scurvy, without seeming to notice what she was doing. It clasped the shirt to its chest and stood rooted to the spot.
Willow unfurled her shirt and Buffy noticed that it was covered in red crosses. She raised a brow. Why hadn't she thought of that? Vamp-proof athletic wear was an idea whose time had come. It had the words “I Helped Keep Sunnydale Sanguinated” splashed across the front in arterial red.
“You'll be back tomorrow, won't you?” asked Rhonda.
“Sure will,” said Buffy. “I don't think you'll have as many problems with drop off after tonight. But there are still undesirable elements out there.” She looked down at Scurvy, but it was behaving. It stroked the t-shirt and said nothing.
She wondered what to do with the little demon. Try to get more info about Glory, obviously. But how? She didn't want to hurt it — it was tiny, pathetic, and not that strong. Spike probably would take over the “interrogation”, if she asked, but he might feel really bad about it. Then he wouldn't be in the mood to let Buffy help him with that stiffness he'd mentioned.
She sighed. A Slayer's work was never done, darn it.
They headed for the front exit, the witches chattering about possible variations on the dragon glamor. Once Rhonda was out of sight, Spike handed the water bottle to Scurvy, who clutched it to its chest along with the t-shirt as Buffy towed it along with them. They could decide what to do with it while they were going through the drive-up window at the Doublemeat Palace. While contemplating the chocolate shake in her near future, she bumped into someone coming out of the staff lounge.
“Oh. Hey, Buffy, isn't it?” said the man, who Buffy remembered had tried to help her when her mom was admitted a few weeks earlier.
“Right! And you are...” Dan, or Bob, or Len or some guy name like that.
“Right! I didn't recognize you without your stethoscope.”
“I'm just getting off duty. How's your mom?”
“She's doing better. Entire days go by with her fully clothed and gainfully employed.”
“That's great.” He noticed Scurvy and jerked in surprise. His lip curled for a moment before his expression smoothed over. He looked away from the little creature.
Scurvy glanced up from stroking its new possessions and bowed slightly to the doctor. “Sir,” it said, attention already back on the shirt. Then it froze and its eyes widened.
Buffy and Spike both noticed the odd exchange. It looked like the little creature was acquainted with young Dr. Kildare. Buffy shrugged. It was probably nothing. This town was weird that way.
Spike, however, must've thought it was something. Demonic radar, or smell-o-vision, probably.
“You two know each other?” he asked.
“Uh, not really,” said Ben, not looking at Scurvy. “Should we?”
Scurvy looked affronted. It focused on the ceiling and recited, “I serve none but the stunning and groovy Glorificus.”
“Right,” said Spike.
Tara looked at the doctor in that not-looking way that Buffy associated with her brand of “third eye” mojo, then shook her head and turned her attention once more to Willow.
Buffy heard her name being called from down the corridor. She turned and saw Dawn hurrying toward them.
“Dawnie! What are you doing here?”
Dawn gave the group a little wave. “Hi, everybody. Mom decided we should pick you up after your exhausting community service and all go for pizza. The pizza part was my idea.” She beamed.
“Mom? Where is she?”
“She's waiting in the car. She said she felt a little tired.”
“And she sent you in here by yourself?” She lowered her voice. “With Glory on the loose? That's not like her. Let's go. Right now.”
Dawn's forehead wrinkled. “You think she's...”
“It's probably nothing, Dawnie.” Buffy's something's-wrong-o-meter was pinging like crazy. “Uh, Ben, I know you're off-duty, but would you mind coming with, just to check?”
“Sure, Buffy. Glad to.”
“Okay, Dawn, lead the way. Spike, would you mind taking charge of our pal, here?”
He nodded and took hold of the Scurvy's arm, none too gently. Dawn took off back the way she'd come, Buffy at her side, the rest following. Joyce's Jeep was parked blessedly close to the entrance. Joyce sat in the reclined driver's seat, eyes closed, one hand held to her temple. Buffy knocked on the window.
Joyce blinked at Buffy. Her mouth opened and closed, but she didn't say anything. Her eyes closed again.
Buffy ripped open the car door and shook Joyce. Her head lolled to one side.
Ben tapped her shoulder. “Buffy. Let me take a look.”
Buffy stepped to the side, wringing her hands. Ben pulled a penlight out of his pocket and held open the lids of one of Joyce's eyes, then the other, shining the light in each. He held his fingers against her throat for a few moments. He turned, face grave.
“She needs to be admitted. I'll go get a gurney and some orderlies.” He left, running.
Buffy immediately went back to her mother's side, carefully taking one of Joyce's hands in hers. Dawn, vibrating with anxiety, crowded in next to her. Buffy slipped one arm around her sister.
“Is she...?” Dawn whispered.
Spike spoke from behind them. “She's alive. Breathing's shallow, but she's breathing. Pulse is thready, but her heart's beating.”
Buffy let out a long breath. “Hang in there, Mom. Help is on the way. We're here with you.”
Joyce's eyes fluttered and one side of her mouth twitched — it could be an attempt at a smile. Buffy squeezed her hand, very very gently.
Buffy sent Willow and Tara home after they got word that Joyce was stable enough to undergo some tests.
Spike, who'd disappeared someplace with Scurvy, returned to the waiting area a few minutes after the witches had gone. Scurvy carried a bulging plastic shopping bag, and was now dressed in the volunteer tee, a hoodie, and some scrub pants, rolled up at the cuffs. The demon kept touching the garments with an astonished expression on its face.
“Who's this?” asked Dawn.
“Hostage, of sorts. Says its name is Scurvy.” answered Spike. “One of Glory's minions, we think.”
Dawn looked at the creature. “It's cute.”
Spike and Scurvy both did a double-take at that. Buffy smiled.
“Well, it is. Like a pug or something,” Dawn explained. “Or Clem.”
“You're very kind, young human,” said Scurvy. “Do you serve the violent-but-generous one?”
Dawn looked confused. “Serve who?”
“Means your sis, Dawn.”
“Generous one? That's rich!” Dawn rolled her eyes. Buffy sighed.
“Oi, show the girl what you've got.”
Scurvy blinked and then dug around in the bag, producing a bright stuffed animal and presenting it to Dawn with a deep bow.
“A gift to provide comfort while you await tidings,” it said.
“Ohhhh,” crooned Dawn, hugging it to her chest. “Thanks.”
Spike nudged the demon, who nodded and dove back into the bag. It held out a deck of cards.
“Would the young human like to instruct unworthy Scurvy in the way of the entertainment known as Hearts?” it asked.
“Sure,” said Dawn, hopping out of her chair and sitting cross-legged on the floor and patting the space beside Buffy's feet. Scurvy studied her posture and attempted to mimic it. Soon, Dawn was explaining the rules of the game while Scurvy listened, occasionally rubbing a bit of fabric from its new clothes between its fingers.
Spike dropped into the seat next to Buffy.
“What's the what?” she asked, nodding toward Scurvy.
“Got a hunch. The little sod seems a bit more malleable than at first blush. Might be able to catch more flies with honey with this one.”
“Why would we want to catch flies with it?” asked Buffy.
“'Flies' in this scenario being information, sweetheart. Which you know very well,” he said, catching her grin.
“Worth a try, I guess,” she agreed. “It does seem kinda suggestible. Just don't let it out of your sight.”
“Don't plan to.”
A half hour later, a woman in scrubs came out to talk with them.
“Ms. Summers, your mother was in the right place at the right time. The CAT scan we performed showed a relatively minor event, but also caught a much larger aneurysm on an artery in her brain that will require immediate surgery to repair. As with any surgery, there are some risks, but we are confident that she will pull through. We're not seeing a return of her recent malignancy.”
“Oh, thank god,” said Buffy. “When is the surgery?”
“We're prepping her right now. I've got some paperwork for you, which shouldn't take long. You can have five minutes with her before she goes in. Come on back.”
“Thank you, doctor. Dawn?”
Dawn scrambled to her feet and trotted after Buffy, card game forgotten.
“Well, Scurvy, alone at last,” said Spike.
Scurvy blinked up at him.
“Want some coffee?”
Scurvy nodded and followed Spike out of the waiting room, fingering its hoodie and clutching the bag of swag and old robes.
Continued in Chapter 3