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Joyce held Mr. Gordo close as she and Hank followed their escort. The stuffed pig had been Buffy's favorite childhood toy, and she'd clung to that fondness even through her delusions.

Thinking back to those too-few days when Buffy had woken up, Joyce wondered why they hadn't protested the doctor's method of bringing their daughter. Killing her friends? They'd been told the relationships Buffy had formed in her head were real to her and something like that could cause a healthy person to break.

They stopped at an elevator where a woman waited for them.

"Hank and Joyce Summers?"


"I'm Dr. Janet Fraiser. I've been overseeing your daughter's care, along with one of our on site psychiatrists. If you'll follow me, I'll take you down."

'"Can you tell us why she's here instead of a hospital?" Hank asked.

Dr. Fraiser nodded, "At some point, she came into contact with a highly classified substance. I've treated other people with the same exposure, so I know it's not the cause of her break. Based on what we know about it, though, it's possible she experienced something around the same time that did."

"So this substance..."

"Is a mineral that will remain in a person's body indefinitely. One interesting property, though, is that it creates... a sort of resonance that another person with the same substance can detect, allowing them to sense each other. And that brings us to some good news. When one of our officers, who has the same mineral, went to see her, Buffy reacted."

Joyce's eyes snapped to the doctor, "She's awake?"

"Not quite. She still hasn't spoken, but when Sam is in the room with her, Buffy will watch her until she leaves." Janet smiled, "But, based on what your email described, it's still promising."

"Do you have a treatment plan?"

Janeet shook her head, "Not yet."

They entered a dark room with a window overlooking a hospital room. Below them, a woman sat next to Buffy, reading to her. Even from here, they could see Buffy's blank face but there was *something* in her eyes.

Janet continued, "There may be a few options not available openly, but we'll need your consent and for that, we would need to run a security check before we can do that."


"For one, we would need highly specialized equipment and qualified operators. Another option involves a biological compound that would leave her with full amnesia. Both options were never intended for a situation such as your daughter's so I have no idea what kind of condition it would ultimately leave her in."

Janet smiled, "As far as we can tell, she isn't consciously aware of her surroundings yet and she still hasn't spoken."

Joyce absently ran her hand over the soft fabric on Mr. Gordo. They had waited seven years for Buffy to return to them She would wait another seven if it meant she would get her little girl back.