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The Devil's Gift

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The first thing she noticed was the smell... the antiseptic, fake-citrusy cleaning supply smell that she absolutely hated! It just screamed HOSPITAL in great big honking capital letters.

She tried to lift up her hand, wanting to rub the crust from her eyes, only to find that she couldn’t… her hands were tied to the rails of the bed by a pair of soft leather restraints.

Oh god... she remembered fighting... thought they were demons, as usual, but being in the hospital, it must have been either nurses or orderlies.

“Hey there,” a woman carrying a clipboard and several folders said as she entered the door to Buffy’s room. “Welcome back.”

Buffy raised her eyes, even as she continued to try and free herself. Her thoughts were kinda hazy and her movements sluggish. She felt drugged or possibly be-spelled.

“Where am I?” Buffy demanded.

“Oh, everything’s fine, dear. You're in Good Samaritan Hospital, in Los Angeles. A man found you wandering in the desert, and you were brought here, both dehydrated and confused. I’m Doctor Linda Martin, and I'd like to try and help you get your bearings. Do you remember who you are, and what you were doing there?”

She turned her head, staring at the window on the wall to her left. It didn't look hellish, but this could be some sort of elaborate hallucination designed to totally trick her into believing she was safe.

“I-I'm Buffy,” she said... biting back the ‘the vampire Slayer’ that wanted to come out. “Buffy Summers.” Judging by the lack of stethoscope around her neck, Buffy figured out she must be a shrink. The little hairs on the back of her neck and arms rose as she realized she’d have to be very careful in her replies.

The doctor waited for her to continue, ignoring the awkward moment of silence that followed her revelation.

“And I don't know how I got here,” Buffy continued. “I was... I was in Sunnydale, I fell, and then...” She tried to remember the train of events… Glory, her friends joining her to fight the fashion-challenged God, Spike being thrown off the tower, Dawn bleeding... “And then I was walking in the sand, the sun beating down on my head, and I thought I saw an angel.” The word slipped out before she could help herself. “Guess he turned out to be my Guardian Angel after all, since he saved me, I guess,” Buffy clarified.

“Well... he does have his moments,” the doctor agreed. “He'd like to see you, along with his partner, Detective Decker, if you're agreeable. They’re worried about you.”

“I'd like that too. To thank him,” Buffy said, wondering why a cop would want to see her.

The doctor smiled, wavering a bit as Buffy once again struggled against her restraints.

“Are these necessary?” Buffy figured she might as well ask. Even if this were hell… if demons were trying to fool her, they might set her free if they thought it would help her buy into it. And if it wasn't demons, pretending to cooperate by playing the sweet, innocent girl, they might lower their guard around her, so she could escape. Or at least give her a phone so she could call Giles or the others for help.

The shrink hesitated for a moment, sharing a glance with a man and a woman who had just walked into her room, before coming to her bedside to remove the restraints. Buffy gently rubbed her wrists, trying to get her circulation flowing again after being tied down.

“Ms. Summers,” Doctor Martin began, “I'd like to introduce you to Lucifer Morningstar and Detective Decker.”

“O-kay.” Could she still be dreaming? Or unconscious… or maybe really delusional. Lucifer? The Prince of Darkness? Could be some version of Hell, after all. Well there were plenty of vampires who liked to pretend they were Lestat or something. And of course, she’d met the real Dracula. So she figured there had to be demon fanboys out there. Whatever, she couldn't deny he was damned fine to look at.

“Well, hello there, darling,” ‘Lucifer’ practically purred. “And how are we feeling this morning?”

Detective Decker lightly smacked Lucifer on the arm and shook her head in annoyance. “Is there someone you’d like to call, Miss Summers?” she asked.

We would like to get out of this bed,” Buffy said, her body nearly vibrating with the need to move.

“Are you sure you're not going to attack anyone today?” Doctor Martin asked. “You put on quite the show yesterday.”

“I attacked people?” she squeaked. Damn, that ruined the harmless little girl act.

“Not to mention you twisted the metal safety bars on your bed. Were you under the influence of anything we should know about?”

“I don't know. I ... could have been? Right?”

“Perhaps it was just an adrenaline rush,” the doctor reasoned, “brought on by being abandoned in the desert, and then finding yourself in a hospital setting. It would make sense you’d be rather upset.”

“Did someone offer you a drink?" Detective Decker’s kindly expression loosened the teensiest bit of the knot in Buffy’s chest. At least she wasn’t accused of being a total freak.

“I don't know. I... I don't remember,” she replied, hesitantly. “What day is it?" She remembered beating up the vampire at the back of the Magic Shop, talking about how to take on Glory, fighting the God’s minions, climbing the tower to rescue Dawn… None of the above were appropriate to tell the doctor, or she’d be committed again, for sure. Once was enough, thank you.

“Today is June 30th, dear,” Dr. Martin replied to her question.

“What year?”

The doctor looked puzzled. “Excuse me?”

“What year is this?” Buffy reiterated. “June 30th 2000 and what?”

“It’s okay, Buffy,” Detective Decker tried to soothe her. “It’s June 30th, 2017.”

Buffy nearly choked on the water she’d been handed, earlier.

“What year were you expecting, sweetie?” Lucifer asked, staring at her with an intense look on his face.

Think carefully, Buffy, she thought. Looney bin alert, remember? “N-never mind. Of course it’s 2017. I don’t know why I asked such a silly question. It must be the drugs… the sedative… still in my system.”

She got the stink-eye from the detective, but Lucifer was eyeing her with curiosity.

“What do you want, Miss Summers?” The man (or possibly demon) asked. “What is it you ... desire?” His voice was smooth, soothing… it reminded her a little bit of Spike when he got in a good innuendo. So smooth, and his eyes looked deeply into hers, into her very soul, as if trying to drag something out of her, against her will.

Buffy, however, was having none of that. “What does every girl want? A nice outfit, some new shoes...” If he thought he was going to mind whammy her, he had another think coming. He had nothing on the Master, and she had no trouble with him... at least the second time.

“Let me guess, you're another one of dear old Dad's little miracles?” he asked with a snort, as if her defiance amused him.

“Probably not, since he left me and my Mom and sister and ran off with his secretary,” was her quick response. Now it was Lucifer's turn to look flummoxed.

“I wanted to know what day it was, so I’d know how worried I should be about my friends and my sister.” She wasn't sure if she heard him correctly when he mumbled something along the lines of: ‘You and me both, kiddo.’

Once again, Buffy gathered her nerves. “May I please have a telephone to call my family?” She couldn’t let anyone in the room know that she was petrified upon finding out that she was supposedly sixteen years in the future. Would her friends and sister still be in Sunnydale? Would they still be alive? Did they finally stop looking for her?

Doctor Martin probably took pity on her, because she produced a phone from the drawer of the table next to her bed.

“A little privacy would be nice,” she asked, her lower lip quivering as she thought of her loved ones. “I promise I won’t run off.”

The trio filed out, reluctantly, but did shut the door to ensure her privacy. Buffy knew they wouldn’t be far away, but at least she hoped they wouldn’t be eavesdropping.

“First things, first,” she said, cracking her knuckles, and punched in Angel’s number, only to hear: “I’m sorry, the number you have dialed is not in service at this time.”

Okay, that didn’t bode well. She tried the number a second time, with the same results. Frustrated, she called the operator. “How may I assist you?” a male voice asked.

“I’m trying to reach Angel Investigations in Los Angeles. The Hyperion Hotel? I’ve called twice, and I get a recording saying the number is not in service.”

“Are you sure you’re entering the correct number?”

“No, I’m using the wrong number on purpose, you idiot,” Buffy inwardly fumed. “Yes,” she gritted out through clenched teeth. “It’s a number I’m well familiar with.”

“One moment, please.” His response when he came back on the line wasn’t helpful, either. “I’m sorry, there’s no listing for Angel Investigations, or the Hyperion Hotel in Los Angeles, Miss. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“No thanks,” Buffy spat, and slammed the receiver down. “Okay… this time I’ll try Giles.” This time her efforts were greeted with a recorded: “I’m sorry, the area code you are requesting does not exist. Please hang up and try again.”

Unfortunately, her subsequent tries at calling Dawn at Revello Drive, Xander and Anya, Willow and Tara’s private line and Giles all yielded the same result. Area code not in existence. A last try with an operator yielded: “I’m sorry, we have no listing for a Sunnydale, California. Perhaps you mean Sunnyvale?”

This time she threw the phone across the room.

Doctor Martin, closely followed by Lucifer came running into her room. “What’s wrong, Buffy? Are you all right?” she asked her patient.

What crazy world did I end up in? Where is Sunnydale?