Felicity's Willow, Cordelia, Michael, and Reagan, and I'm Buffy, the OR (hey look ma! I'm a group of doctors!), Chris, and Lexi. You can usually tell because my abuse of the English language crosses boundaries of not only grammar, but reason, as well.
Feedback is highly appreciated, as I'm needy and about to shoot my computer with a fucking anti-aircraft gun, Vincent, because my fuckoff tables aren't working eight hundred times.
0:02 before Surgery: OR
“How’re his vitals?”
“Had a little trouble while we were putting him under, but he’s stabilized.”
“So we’re go?”
“I wanna keep the anesthesiologist here to watch him, just in case, but I think we’re fine.”
0:04 into Surgery: Buffy
I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe, and I can’t feel anything, can’t make the room focus. It’s like I’m not even here, like I’m watching everything from underwater.
I wonder if he’s dreaming.
0:18 into Surgery: Lexi
“Lexi, you’re going to have to be reasonable about this . . .”
I don’t want to talk to Her. I know She’s not good. Everybody whispers black about Her. Everybody knows.
I put my hands over my ears. “Go away!”
She just raises an eyebrow and smirks, but She does leave when Eve comes in the room. She looks concerned. “Everything okay, Lex?”
She’s giving off red. I see that kind of heat around only her, because of her daemon blood. Daddy taught her how to control it, but I can still see it when she’s upset. It’s the color of raw strawberries now, hot like the sun even from here.
“Are you okay?” she says again, because she thinks I didn’t hear her the first time. There’s hurting, in her voice, and when she speaks, the red cools to yellow for a minute.
She doesn’t look like she believes me, but she looks away and the yellow fires to red again as she leaves. She shuts the door, and She comes back.
“It’s funny for you to be afraid of her,” I say, and She looks angry. She doesn’t give off a color. Not a new one. Only just black, like they whisper about Her.
“I’m not afraid of her.”
But She is. She’s afraid of all of them, because She’s afraid that everything won’t go perfectly, that they’ll mess things up. Well, they might.
0:22 into Surgery: Willow
I find myself remembering things: how Angel used to show up in his leather coat and say a couple cryptic things and I always thought he was cute and he and Buffy were meant for each other. How it was obvious right from the beginning. The look on his face the first time he saw the twins. The way he was a second father to all our kids, and because that wasn’t enough, as if he had more adoration than children to adore, he became a teacher. How he never seemed to believe that everything was as good as it was.
And maybe it wasn’t.
I find myself remembering the last time we sat here, like this. The pain was so raw then. I’d hurt before, but when Joyce died . . . oh, what I felt was nothing compared to what Buffy went through, but it was still . . . something. All of a sudden she was gone, this part of my life. More of a mother, in some ways, than mine.
I find myself imagining life without Angel, and then I remember Buffy is sitting here and I am supposed to be helping her. But there is no help for that.
I want to curl my arms around her, but she’s always been untouchable when she’s hurting.
0:34 into Surgery: Chris
I think maybe I should touch her or something, but I don’t. She’s sitting away from me, next to me, yeah, but in a way that I know she doesn’t feel like she’s with me.
She doesn’t look at me, but she kinda turns her head a little, acknowledging that I’m here, maybe. Knowing that I’m here? Maybe that’s enough, that she knows. I don’t know.
“What.” It doesn’t sound like a question. Sometimes she talks like she doesn’t have emotions, like she doesn’t feel. I kinda get scared when she does that, cuz I don’t have anything that connects me to her anymore, I’m not sure that we’re even the same species. She gets like that and I feel like I’m with Warrior, Slayer, not my girlfriend, not my Reagan. It scares me, the kind of fear that you can’t fix.
“Is there . . . anything I can do? Maybe, do you want to talk about this?”
“You have no idea.” There’s emotion, there, but I’m not sure that it makes me feel any better. She sounds like she’s going to cry, like she’s going to break, and I don’t know if I can deal with that. She’s never done it before, and I don’t know how to help her, how to make it right.
I go for it, and touch her. Put my hand on her shoulder, pull her back against me, so that she fits against me and just falls into my hug. “I have no idea about what, baby?”
She feels cold and leaden in my arms all of a sudden, as though she could transform from soft, warm, living girl to hard icy steel at will, and felt that now was a good time to showcase her talents. “About . . . I can’t.”
“Reagan, I . . .”
“Get off me.” And all of a sudden, she’s crying, her too pale face in her hands, shaking in my arms, harder than a seismic jolt, steel then soft steel then soft, making half gasp half moaning noises and just shaking . . . I tighten my arms around her, trying to calm her, trying to give her something solid and sure and there . . .
“Get off of me.” I don’t know where she got that voice. It’s low and dark and primal and I can’t imagine it ever pairing with her face, coming out of those soft perfect lips.
Apparently, I didn’t move fast enough. Before I know it, she stands more quickly than any human can, and I’m against the wall on the other side of the room, sliding to the floor and landing hard against the wall. She seems farther than I know she is, eyes wide and tears down her cheeks, still shaking, still crying, but quietly, slowly, body stilling to a tiny tremble and eyes so wide . . . her lips tremble, and I can hear her breathe with a harsh gasp. Her arm’s still out from throwing me, and her eyes are just huge, and she looks so shocked, so scared . . .
“Chris.” She looks at her still extended arm, then draws it in close against her body, like she forgot about it until she saw it. She looks at me, trembling and scared, and starts to come to me, but then stops, shakes, looks like she can’t move. “Chris.”
I get up, okay, a little shakily, a little pain in my back, and go to her, take her hand, and use that to pull her to me, against me again. She melts, this time, and starts sobbing again.
“I’m so sorry . . . God, I’m so sorry, I . . . I didn’t . . .” she stops, looks up at me, extra pale cheeks looking luminescent and not quite real under the rain of tears washing over them. “I’m so scared. And everything’s wrong, and . . . and my dad . . .”
She cries, and I hold her, keeping her close and settling with her to the floor when her knees give. My girl.
0:47 into Surgery: Michael
They’re trying to distract me, all of them. Uncle Xander and Eve wanted to play Life, but it’s a stupid game and anyway, I don’t . . .
I want my dad. I know it’s stupid and I’m being a kid about this and I should just . . . buck up or something, like everyone else. But I want Dad, and I want Mom to come home. If they were home, maybe I could forget.
Dad never did those things. Dad isn’t like that. People are good or they’re bad and Dad isn’t . . .
I wonder what the surgery is like. I wish Uncle Xander would stop trying to cheer me up. I wonder if he knows . . . Not that there’s anything to know. Not that they would tell me if there was. Stupid little Michael. I know they’re trying to protect me. Look at them, offering to watch all my stupid movies and play my stupid games. Don’t they know it doesn’t matter?
Dad didn’t do those things. I know he didn’t. So why can’t he come home?
1:01 into Surgery: Buffy
“I think maybe we’ll . . . get s-some food. You know, sugar could . . . s-so we don’t get all . . . all shaky and stuff. Do you want anything . . . ? Will? Buffy?”
“Ooh! Yeah, snack cakes, cuz, you know, the sugar . . . you think they have donuts . . . ?”
After a while, all their talking just fades into itself, and its warm and fluid but far off, like when there’s a song you know playing in a radio in the next room. You can’t really hear it, but you know that it’s there, and what it is, and it’s not scary just incomplete.
I don’t care.
I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care. Me? Not caring.
I just know that I can’t breathe, and that I’m having a little trouble feeling inside my body right now. I could give a flying fuck about snack cakes.
God, this isn’t me. Sorry, God. Sorry . . . whoever.
And they’re all looking at me . . . why are they all looking at me?
And everything focuses suddenly, bursting through with bright Technicolor and Panasonic sound. They’re looking at me, and they’re looking concerned, and they’re talking so . . . they must have been talking to me for a long time.
God. I just need this day to be over with.
“Yeah. What? Sorry.”
And Tara starts on again, “No, don’t be sorry, it’s okay . . . we . . . w-we were just w-wondering if there was . . . if you wanted anything to eat,” but before she’s done asking me, I can hardly hear her again. And I’m drowning again, and I don’t know how, and they’re all getting further and further away and
Willow puts her hand on my shoulder and jerks me out of the water. “You should eat something. Keep your strength up.”
I’m still a little waterlogged, so it takes a little while to register the words I need to respond to her. “No . . . No.”
Great. Concern face. “You need to eat.”
“I can’t eat,” I whisper, and I wanna cry, and why are they all still looking at me? “I can’t. I won’t . . . I don’t think I’ll be able to keep anything down.”
And I do feel like I’m going to start to cry again, and the only thing I want is to be away from here, so they don’t see my face streaked with tears and my eyes red and why are they all still looking at me?
Wait. No. These are my friends. I love them, and they love me. They’re here to take care of me, and to . . . to be here for me, and for Angel.
God, I’m so sorry . . . I’m sorry, everyone. I don’t know what’s . . . what’s wrong with me.
I just need this to be over with.
1:23 into Surgery: Reagan
When he touches me, I don’t even feel it. Like I’m in a . . . cocoon. Like no one can touch me.
If no one can touch me, then no one can lie. Or is it only physical? Will I still be able to hear, to see . . . everything?
If I stay here, right here, and don’t move, then only he will touch me and since he can’t really . . . no more lies. No more . . . happily ever afters. No more it’ll be better soons. No more he’s evils.
He’s not evil. He’s Daddy. And nothing is going to be okay.
But it doesn’t matter. If nothing can touch me then it doesn’t matter. Does it?
2:08 into Surgery: OR
“Thank you . . .”
“Dr. Kearns, how’s he doing?”
“Blood pressure and pulse are both strong and stable. Breathing’s fine, too, settled down. Should be fine.”
“Do you have another appointment?”
“McAllister in twenty.”
“I think it’s alright if you leave . . . unless you think otherwise.”
“I’ll send someone to check on him in thirty.”
2:39 into Surgery: Cordelia
I’m not good at the patience thing. I’ve never been good at the patience thing. He knows that. He knows . . . me.
Pull it together Chase. I look over at Buffy — even she is holding it together better than me or . . . no, I don’t believe that. She’s just not dealing. Not thinking. Maybe that’s the way to do it. Forget all that being strong crap. Forget smiling at people and looking perfectly put together. Forget dealing with things as they come at you. Just shut off. It seems to be working for her.
I know it’s not really working for her. And it wouldn’t work for me either. But it seems preferable to . . . to this. To this pretense that I’m . . . fine.
“Can I go talk to Mom?” Michael asks. I shake my head, not really sure why I volunteered to bring the kids here. We’re taking shifts at the house, at the hospital. Let them come for a few minutes if they want, see what’s going on — nothing — and then take them home, where they don’t have to see it, don’t have to smell that godawful, disgusting smell of . . . Wesley told me I shouldn’t come. But of course I’m Cordelia Chase (Wyndam-Pryce now, but I can’t call myself that . . . even if I always wanted to be a girl with two last names) and no one tells me I can’t handle it. I can handle anything.
I don’t think I can handle this. He knows that, he would know that. He would take one look at me and tell me to go home.
No, that’s not true. He would take one look at me and then he would take me home.
I can handle anything. Anything but this.
3:56 into Surgery: Willow
I feed her like a child, just take one more bite, you’ll feel better, really you will. She won’t feel better, but the last thing she needs is to get sick. I try and do the little things, because I can’t touch the big ones. So I make her eat when she doesn’t want to, and bring her water and get her to walk around. It’s like having a child, Chloe little again only Buffy doesn’t want to curl up in my arms and be comforted, she wouldn’t fit in my lap and if I push too hard I know she’ll snap. So I don’t push. Just a bite now and then, that’s all I ask. A word every half hour — that can carry over, if she says five then she can be silent for forty-five minutes. Just . . . something.
Her children come and go and she barely sees them. A child has no concept of anyone outside themselves and their parents — so Giles brought Sara and Lexi and Cordelia brought Michael and Eve and they all went away again, after hovering just out of her sight. She would have tried, had they come nearer. But she has nothing left for herself, much less for them.
I wish she could take comfort in them, if she can’t find it in me. If it was anything else, I think she could. But not this. All her strength, all her ability to give or take, all of it is with him.
So I make her eat and drink and walk and talk — just a little, just enough so that we both know she’s still alive.
4:48 into Surgery: Reagan
I want to go, to see. Everyone else went I should . . . I feel like I should go. As if somehow I’m being a better daughter if I sit in a white room and wait instead of in our pretty living room which Mom picked the colors for and Dad filled with old, beautiful things.
I hate hospitals, but so does Mom and she’s there. Everyone else went.
Sara told me that there was nothing to do there, no reason to go. They didn’t even talk to Mom, they didn’t want to disturb her. Apparently the same does not go for me; when she came home Sara took it upon herself to sit with me and talk, as if Chris was slacking in his job: keeping me in contact.
Chris is doing a very, very good job. Too good. I want to hide inside him, burrow right into his skin and take up residence. I think I would feel safe there.
I hate how he makes me feel safe; it makes it okay to feel, which I don’t want.
Sara does the same thing, though . . . differently. She came and sat cross-legged beside us and French-braided my hair, ignoring all protestations. Then she insisted Chloe come help, and Julianna and the three of them remembered childhood clapping rhymes I had long since managed to block out of my head. Giles found my guitar and came in, sitting nearby and strumming softly, all the songs he taught me when I was young.
I wanted to scream. What makes them think they can laugh, or play or . . . I didn’t want to finish that sentence.
I left the room. Chris followed me. I hate when he does that. And the way he folded me up close to his heart, as close as I could be without being part of him for real and how he made me cry.
I should go. If everyone else was strong enough, I should be too. But I just want to . . . to hide. I just want to hide.
5:21 into Surgery: Chris
And she’s blank canvas again, and I don’t know how she does it. I watched her with Sara and Chloe and Jules, and she met my eyes for a second, looking like a deer in the headlights. Help me . . . please help me . . .
But now, there’s not even that. There isn’t anything, and I don’t know if she’s even in there, or if she’s left her body, gone someplace else a little less painful.
I don’t blame her, but it scares me.
“I’m going,” she whispers, all of a sudden, and her eyes, her face flood with Reagan again, like maybe she’s a machine that can be turned on all at once, all lights going on at the same time.
“To the hospital,” and her voice sounds like something dead.
“Look, you don’t have to . . .” because she looks like she’d rather die a thousand times than be back in that building again.
“Yes I do.” She stands, and looks back at me with that ‘help me’ look again. “Don’t follow me.”
And she goes, and the silence without her hurts so much more than the silence she carries with her.
I don’t follow her.
6: 12 into Surgery: Cordelia
It’s sick the things people do to themselves. Me included. Mostly me.
Wes told me not to come back, to stay there, help with the kids. I laughed at him. I am possibly the least comforting mother on the face of the planet. Jules told him to let me go, I wouldn’t be happy unless I had my way and I certainly wouldn’t be happy then.
Teenage children are a nightmare, especially when they’re just like you. My God I love her.
So I wait. Here. Willow and I exchange words once in a while, out of desperation or a sense of obligation. I tried to talk to Buffy, but she barely responded, not even seeming to hear me and I’m not in the mood for patience or being ignored.
I take one step, and then another. My shoes tap on the floor and I take another step, testing. Tap. Another. Tap.
I was stupid to come. Should have stayed with Wesley, or let him come. I thought . . . I don’t know what I thought. Tap. Tap. If I can do this one thing, if I can make it through these hours and be here then he’ll have to . . . Well if he wasn’t, I’d know. I’d just . . . I’d know. But if I stay here it’s like Murphy’s Law. If I’m prepared, nothing will go wrong. But if I’m not here, everything will go wrong.
Not that I really believe that. Tap. But I didn’t want to be here so of course I have to be. Like I can finally prove to him and to . . . to me and to everyone that I have changed. I, Cordelia Chase Wyndam-Pryce (three names, even better) am a good person.
He made me that. I want him to know I am that he . . . that he made me that. I want to be that.
6:43 into Surgery: Lexi
She went away after She got upset. I thought She’d come back, but She hasn’t. The air is so loud with everyone’s buzzing that it hurts, and I can hardly hear anything over it.
Reagan’s out hunting, even though it’s daytime. Looking for daemons, but trying to kill the bad things inside of her.
But she doesn’t know that. She will.
“Because she’s awake,” She says, coming back all of a sudden. All the roaring talk comes to a stop all at once when She enters the room, crowding it with black. Everyone fades to whispers, whispers about Her, whispers of black. “She’ll know everything.”
“Don’t hurt her,” I say, even though I know that She will.
She laughs. “Daddy should be done, soon.”
And then She’s gone, and the whispers come back into screaming, but the black doesn’t go away for a long time.
7:26 into Surgery: Michael
Stephan’s teaching me how to shoot. The angle to cock your wrist at, the amount of force to put behind the ball. I’ve made three in the row.
“Hey, why aren’t you on my team?” he asks with a grin. I’ve watched his team play, the way they pound across the court, pushing, twisting, finesse and raw power all in one. His team? “I coach at Sunnydale Junior High, you’ll be there next year, right?”
“Well don’t forget to try out. You’re a natural.”
It’s because of Mom, I think about telling him. Because she’s special. I’m not but I’m still strong, fast. Better than the other kids, just a little.
If Dad was a vampire, then it might be from him. Not that Dad was a vampire.
I don’t say anything about it.
“Try again,” he urges and I do, winding up and letting go. The ball catches the rim, hovers there for a split second perfectly still. My breath catches — and then it falls. Out, not in. “Next time.”
Yeah, next time. Sara comes outside, slipping her arms around Stephan’s waist and leaning her head on his shoulder. He’s way taller than her, but I know she could beat him up. Or beat him at basketball, probably. She’s good at jumping. We used to play, but she always won.
I’ll be taller than she is in a few years. But she’ll probably still beat me. I want to just . . . be in a normal family for once. Then none of this would be happening.
“You guys having fun?” she asks.
“Your brother’s going to be varsity, I can feel it,” Stephan said, bending to kiss her. I glance away, a little embarrassed. It’s weird thinking of Sara kissing and stuff like that. Especially with Stephan. He’s so . . . perfect. Normal. Not like Sara’s a freak or anything but . . . it’s strange.
“Mmm. The Gryphon genes are strong in him,” she teased, walking over to try and give me a nougie. I move away but she catches me. Instead of the punishment she bends and kisses my hair and I freeze. “It’s getting dark. Let’s go inside.”
But I don’t want to go inside. Even the dark feels more normal than our house sometimes. Anyway, they’ll want me to . . . talk or something. But Sara insists, and Stephan agrees and it kinda worries me that I want to stay outside. Dad would have liked the dark, if he . . .
How much longer will this take?
8:18 into Surgery: Buffy
I can’t do anything but think of him. Willow’s trying to take care of me, I think, or maybe I’m just imagining that, imagining her trying to coax me into conversation, and Cordelia’s pacing, and Xander checking his watch and the clock and his watchandtheclockandhiswatch . . . but I can’t see anything but Angel. I remember seeing him the first time, gorgeous in an annoying sort of way, smiling up at me from the flat of his back, “Is there a problem, ma’am?”, and then me hating him for a whole second when he reminded me of my duty . . . “I love you” the first time, wet and dangerously close on his bed, voice so choked with emotion I thought he was breaking . . . and the next time, face tear-streaked, crying, still hurting and confused and innocent and so doomed, so dead . . .
A tube. Down her throat. I mean, there was a tumor, a brain tumor, but she had an
and she’s fine now, shesbeenfine . . . a tube. Down her throat.
. . . the smell of his skin after making love the first time, his shudder, his gasp, his warmth . . . the smell when he came back from Hell, like dying things . . .
. . . and the poison, the smell of that, poisoned sweat sickly sticky cloying smell that made you need to wash and cry because you had sat so close to something that had already started to rot inside . . .
down her throat. an operation.
. . . the way he looked the first time I saw him in the sunlight for real, not a dream, face lit a thousand different ways all at once, and my heart screaming iloveyou . . .
i try not to but i can’t stop. close your eyes.
. . . the way he looked in the sun, lit end of the poker yelloworange when we went down to Juarez on Assignment for the Alliance, a favor for Whistler, almost living the old West while hunting daemons, his skin lit like that, white cotton man’s shirt open and leather holsters around his slim hips, a living cliché breathing cigarette smoke like a dragon lady but so so beautiful . . .
you’re just so pretty when
. . . at the prom, his arms around me and his eyes avoiding mine because he didn’t want to go, he didn’t want to leave me but he had to . . .
close your eyes. a tube. down her throat. she had an operation and
. . . when the twins were born, his eyes then, his face, a new kind of light . . . the first time he touched them, their skin, pale like his, marveled at their eyes dark, like his . . .
it’s tradition. it’s not tradition. it’s genetics. you can’t have brown eyes by – it’s tradition.
you’re just so pretty
. . . and during my first labor, being so good, being so him, his hands wrapped around mine, holding me, keeping me in this reality, whispering into my ear “iloveyoubabyyou’redoingsowelli’msoproud
i try not to but i can’t stop.
. . . the ways his wounds healed shiny when he came back from Hell and how he cried when I touched them. How I couldn’t look him in the eyes . . .
close your eyes.
. . . afterwards because I was afraid of the change Hell had given them, the marring and twisting and wrongness in them . . .
she’s been fine
. . . and the way they are now and how they crinkle at the edges when he laughs and the way tears track down his face when he cries and the noise he makes . . .
a tube. down her throat.
. . . when he’s crying and the noise he makes when he’s coming and “hold me” and “if you’re going to the store, could you pick up” and “I’m worried about” and “I need” and “the kids” and “I love you” . . .
close your eyes.
. . . and the way he works his mouth when he’s nervous and when he’s kissing me and his hands on my back and in my hair and on my breasts and making dinner and holding the kids when they were babies and a sword like a samurai and my heart is in your hands and I love you and there was a tumor but she had an operation but she’s better now, she’s fine, she’s been fine . . .
And I’m flat through a stained glass ceiling and I’m back to white, back in the waiting room with the smell of antiseptic and the lights too bright and Willow coaxing and Cordelia pacing and Xander checking the time constantly and Reagan’s between my legs, and her head’s in my lap and my hands are in her hair and I’m petting her and I didn’t even know she was there and there’s someone saying my name and
“I’m Mrs. Gryphon.”