**liliaeth and I raise Beloved’s banner in the air and wave it about, wildly** Huzzah! Huzzah! The next chapter is finally a reality, and we’ve moved forward two whole weeks since Will’s homecoming. Please follow the Warning Alert System.
2014 – Early December
Our boy is home, but things aren’t all blood and peaches. Angel and Nina get pointed in the right direction thanks to an old acquaintance. Will gets a tad frustrated and takes it out on himself (blood, but not overly graphic). More help is on the way.
Please, as always, read and comment! Buffy!Muse seems to have rallied enough to help us work through this chapter, and shows signs of continuing onward. She can use all the encouragement you’d care to throw her way.
Feedback is always welcomed.
Goddess bless willa_writes - my first and foremost mentor, gillo, who has a marvelous sense of what to cut away and what to shine, and just_sue, for making sure I don’t get mired in the pit of despair when Buffy!Muse goes AWOL.
To read Beloved from the beginning, go Here or to simply_beloved.
Full-sized banner by liliaeth beneath the cut.
Beloved – Chapter 27 – Little Boy Lost
Two Weeks after Will’s Homecoming
“And just what do you think I can do for him?” Dr. Xn Brzz’ic inquired, studying the couple sitting uncomfortably on the couch in his office. “Why would you not take him to a human doctor?
The vampire muttered a few words too softly to be heard, and received a sharp elbow in the side from his mate.
Brzz’ic shook his head, trying to wrap his brain cells around that one. When the patient and its family had been first described, he’d been disbelieving.
A vampire and a werewolf… mated.
A most unusual combination, even amongst the multitudes of pairings he’d come across in his practice over the centuries. That they were caring for a human child was just glahrmn on the prkl’in.
If it weren’t for the many referrals the Rumpari sent his way, he wouldn’t even have let the creature into his practice. He was fond of young Hthgofd, though why he insisted on the ridiculous nickname of Whistler was beyond comprehension. Kids today… no respect for their clans.
“I… we need you to find out just what those Watcher bastards did to Will.” Angel spoke through gritted teeth, shaking off his mate’s attempt to calm him down. “A half-year ago, he was a healthy, happy child. Now? He cringes in fear if I’m in the same room with him. He walks by his brother as if he didn’t exist. He won’t eat; won’t speak… his mother has to fight to get him to drink water. It’s the only thing he can keep down.”
Alarmed at her mate’s rising temper, Nina interrupted his ranting. “Hush, Angel. Dr. Brzz’ic only wants to help. That’s why he’s agreed to see Will,” she reasoned. “After all, he’s not the one responsible for any of this.”
“Watchers, you say? Why would the Council of Watchers go after one of their own kind?”
“It was a… faction. A personal vendetta,” Angel snarled. “And one that’s been dealt with… personally.” When he raised his head, Brzz’ic noted the barely restrained fury flashing amber in the vampire’s eyes.
Before he could continue the interview, Nurse T’tklina opened the door.
“Sorry to interrupt, Doctor… but I think you need to see the boy. Now!”
William sat in the doctor’s private waiting room, fiddling with the buttons on his shirt and the waistband of his new jeans. The stiff, scratchy fabric annoyed him almost as much as the irritating hum of the harsh fluorescent lighting. Will just wanted to curl up in a dark, quiet room. Alone.
The posters on the walls were creeping him out. Muppets everywhere, with their googly eyes and furry bodies... ugh! And the patchy green shag carpeting… all he could think about was the poor Vreegal kept prisoner in the Council’s demon holding pens. If it was lucky, it would be dead by now, and at peace.
Will shuddered; the niggling feeling of being watched made its way up and down his spine. He was sure that the mirror lining most of the wall behind him was made of one-way glass, and the doctor and his parents were watching his every move. Since he’d been back, they hadn’t left him alone for two minutes.
And the nurse sitting at the desk… no doubt she’d be as ready to buckle him down to an examining table as they had been, over there. If he didn’t cooperate.
And sometimes even when he did.
There was no way out of this. Will’s first visit with his old pediatrician, Dr. Somers, was a total bust. “Nothing wrong with him,” she’d said, when Mom and Dad asked why he couldn’t keep any food down. “Probably a psychological reaction to his traumatic experience. Just give him time, a multi-vitamin, and plenty of fluids.”
Hah! Fat lot she knew. Even though he was hungry – more than hungry - everything tasted off somehow. Like really spoiled. Eating or drinking anything made him want to vomit. Except for water. Not that he’d told her that. In fact, Will hadn’t said anything. To anyone. Not a word since his rescue. He’d learned his lessons really well from Thing One. When he opened his mouth, people died. People he cared about.
Memories of EJ and Mr. Chalmers brought tears to his eyes, but Will refused to let them fall. Refused to show weakness of any sort.
He squirmed restlessly in his chair. Could these seats be any more uncomfortable? Shiny plastic seats in primary colors; no padding. Several cushions on the floor looked tempting, but each time he’d thought of getting up, he’d catch sight of the box on the table that Dr. Brzz’ic’d asked him to sort before going into conference with his parents.
Will stared at the box of white plastic pieces. He was supposed to fit each piece into its respective place on the box-top. What did they think he was… a baby? It looked like a bunch of pre-school Lego pieces.
Sighing in resignation, Will picked up a block and without even looking, shoved it at the first hole on the board. Surprise, surprise, it didn’t fit. With a more critical eye, he scanned both shape and board and tried placing it in a more feasible-looking slot. Again he met with no success.
Stupid ‘intelligence’ test! He’d been playing with shape sorters since he was six months old. What did they have to do with how smart he was, anyway?
He tried to fit piece after piece into their place on the board. Some came close, and he was able to seat three sides properly, but never the entire form. This had to be a joke… sure, show the stupid demon-boy that he couldn’t do anything right.
Well… he’d show them. Nobody made a fool out of William Matthew Jamison Pratt-Dowell.
Jumping to his feet, Will tried to force the block into a hole. With a crack, it skittered out from under his hands and onto the rug. A slight sting in his left palm brought Will’s attention to a small cut just underneath his thumb. Wondering what kind of punishment he’d get for breaking the doc’s toy, the boy absently sucked the drop of blood that’d beaded up on the small wound.
A flare of… something flashed through Will’s system. He worried the injury with his tongue, trying to get more of that taste. When he failed, he squeezed the surrounding flesh, but again to no avail. Will grabbed at the nearest block and began to hit his fingers… anything to get more. His frustration built and the blows came harder, finally cracking the plastic.
The sharp pain drew his attention to his now bloodied fingers. Will licked the red drops from his wounds, then brought the cracked block down again, and again… systematically destroying the flesh on his hand.
Will was so intent on flaying skin from bone that he didn’t notice the nurse running to the door for the doctor. Didn’t hear the anguished cries of his mother as she hurried to his side. Barely noticed the strong, cool hands of his father as he was grabbed from behind; held against his father’s silent chest.
Soft grunts accompanied his flailing limbs as Will struggled ineffectually against the demon holding him. The murdering, evil demon he’d lived with all of his life until…
A burning pinch in his upper arm, a lurch of his stomach, and Will’s vision began to fade. Unable to fight either himself or his captor any longer, he slipped into unconsciousness.
Surreptitiously looking at the clock on the wall, Dr. Brzz’ic managed to contain his impatience to be done with this case.
After all, veterinary cases were far from his specialty.
Thank the spirits it was his last case of the day, and his waiting room was empty. He just hoped it wouldn’t get around that he was treating mere humans. His well earned reputation in the demon community would surely suffer.
It seemed like an easy enough case. Outside of the just-mangled extremity, the beast – William – had been brought in for showing signs of listlessness, inability to utter sounds, and refusal to eat. Dr. Brzz’ic was sure all William needed was time to re-adjust to his environment. These animal-napping cases were often notoriously hard on the poor beasts.
After rolling down the paper liner, he stepped aside and allowed the souled abomination to lay the creature on the padded medical table. Dr. Brzz’ic then shooed both owners out of the examining room, ignoring their strong objections. His patient was his main concern now, not its hysterical family.
First things first. The physical injuries weren’t life-threatening and could wait; it was more important to probe into the pup’s memories while it was still unconscious. Hopefully the source of its distress would be easy to locate; humans not being complex animals.
Pale pink tentacles formed from the tips of Dr. Brzz’ic’s thumbs, flattening out at the ends into small, flat ovals. He gently placed them over William’s eyelids where the skin was thinnest; a plentiful supply of blood vessels and nerves leading directly into the brain.
The doctor focused his concentration, thinning the contact points of his tentacles until he felt the slight electrical shock of connection to another living being. Jumbled images flashed before him, nothing he could make heads or tails of. It was as he suspected. Lower beings didn’t have the intelligence for coherent thoughts. There were also vestiges of fear, pain… and of course, confusion.
Just as he was about to break the connection, Dr. Brzz’ic felt a sharp stab of bright light and hunger. Severe, debilitating hunger. Once the clarity of the feeling took hold, the images also became sharper and eminently definable.
Kidnapping, a stone fortress; tweed-suited humans; isolation, indoctrination, drugs, invasive procedures accompanied by sheer terror and stark determination. Flash after flash, each one more horrifying than the other.
Oh Holy Spirits, what wouldn’t these creatures do to each other in the name of so-called science?
Underlying the memories, Dr. Brzz’ic felt something prickling at the corner of his own consciousness, something so unexpected he nearly broke the connection to the youngling. This was no mere human… no beast. This child had a soul. A true demon soul. A half-breed!
“The boy’s not human,” he whispered aloud, causing his nurse to stop in her tracks.
“Not fully, anyway,” he continued as he gently eased his tentacles from their connection without disturbing his patient. “A half breed, but unlike any I’ve seen before.”
Well, that explained the listlessness. The child was starving! The poor thing’s ribs were far too prominent; the complexion beyond pale. And yet, it was the quietest reaction to bloodlust as he’d ever seen. An immature demon wasting away for lack of basic sustenance. The doctor snorted his amusement – imagine, living with a vampire and dying for want of blood.
At least Angelus had the sense to seek help from the demon community before it was too late. A human doctor would never have made the connection. Then again, vampires were half-breeds to begin with. Mix that with even more humanity and… as one of Brzz’ic’s patients liked to quote from that Gump movie: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Dr. Brzz’ic gently wiped the sweat from William’s forehead, studying his patient closely. Even in repose the child was hyper-stressed. He twitched and moaned; low keening sounds that cried out for comfort.
Sweet spirits of Vengeance! May you lay retribution upon the evil that had worked over this boy.
Motioning to his nurse to let the parents back in, the doctor prepared to heal the child’s physical injuries.
The emotional wounds would take far longer.
Will came to as the sound of familiar voices filtered into his awareness.
“Why would he do something like that to himself, Angel?”
“Hush, now. We stopped him before he could do serious damage. He’ll heal, Nina. He’s strong.”
He started to struggle when the evil nurse loomed over his bed… a white cloth aimed at his face.
“Do not be afraid, child,” she said, sounding considerably less scary than he’d imagined. “I’m just going to clean the blood from your face and hand, so Dr. Brzz’ic can heal your injuries.”
How Will longed to see Mac’s friendly face. He’d grown to trust the man’s honesty over time. Always had a smile and a kind word for him when nobody else had. New people frightened him. He grew rigid with the nurse’s gentle ministrations, waiting for the pain to begin.
Dr. Brzz’ic stepped into Will’s line of vision, holding out his empty hands. “It’s all right, young William. You’re perfectly safe here,” he soothed, putting one hand on Will’s shoulder. “There are no humans here to hurt you.”
The doctor cupped Will’s hand gently between his own, ignoring the blood still dribbling from the tears in the skin.
Will’s eyes widened in fear as several tentacles slithered out from beneath the doctor’s white sleeve and crawled over his hand.
“It’s all right, youngling,” Dr. Brzz’ic repeated, the tentacles undulating and suckling at Will’s palm and fingers, making them tingle, but not unpleasantly. “Try and hold still.”
“Please help him… help my little boy,” he heard his mother sob from somewhere in the back of the room.
How could she know it was too late? Nobody could help him. He was the devil’s child, evil… lost. No wonder they took him to a demon doctor. Dr. Somers couldn’t help… he wasn’t human, after all. Mr. Chalmers tried to help him hold back the demon inside, and it cost him his life. EJ died for just being his friend.
“Of course we’ll help him, Mrs. Dowell.” The doctor’s tentacles continued their wriggling as he spoke, and Will finally relaxed into the sensation. “Of course, it would have been helpful if we’d have known the boy was a half-breed before treating him. It’s one thing to work with a mere human, but entirely different when dealing with an intelligent demon-child.”
“Demon?” Mom’s shrill voice echoed in the room. “Will is part demon?”
Will closed his eyes; humiliation complete. Even though his mom was a werewolf, it was only for three days a month. The rest of the time she was totally human.
Not like him, or Dad.
“It is done, William,” Dr. Brzz’ic proclaimed, holding Will’s hand in front of his face. “Good as new. Everyone please follow along to my office.”
Will hadn’t noticed the nurse easing him to a sitting position. Managing to push himself off the table, he couldn’t help but flinch when his dad wrapped a heavy arm around his shoulders and his mom flanked him as they walked behind the doctor.
Dr. Brzz’ic observed how uncomfortable the child was in the presence of his adoptive father as they attempted to settle onto his couch. Any other child presenting Will’s reactions would be suspected of being parentally abused. After seeing the memories of what the boy had been through, however, his first objective would be to get him past his near-phobic fear of demons.
If it were up to him, he’d tell the parents to immerse themselves in a demon dimension for a year or so – total immersion-style therapy – Arashm’har would do nicely. At least there Will might find peace – not a human being to be found. Brainwashed, that’s what he was… and nearly destroyed.
“There are several issues to be discussed, but one of the utmost importance,” the doctor began, trying to engage the boy’s gaze. “Child, I understand what you’ve been told… about your heritage… what you are.”
The boy seemed to shrink even further into the couch.
He stopped moving, tension curling from his small frame.
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with you,” Dr. Brzz’ic insisted. “Yes, you’re of mixed blood… but we don’t hold your human blood against you.”
Nina coughed, anxious to catch the doctor’s attention. “I… I don’t think that it’s the being human part that’s upsetting Will.”
“Please, Mrs. Dowell. I do understand the situation… better than you might think.” Turning once again to the boy, he continued: “You must accept and nurture all of yourself, youngling. It is not what you are that makes you a monster, but what you do.”
The child looked up, meeting the doctor’s eyes for the first time.
Encouraged, Dr. Brzz’ic continued, rummaging in his desk drawer and retrieved a small silver amulet.
“During my examination, it was discovered that you are surrounded by several different forms of magick. They combine the work of mages… and an ancient touch, as well. There is yet a third thread… with a distinctly female feel…”
At Angelus’ growl, he hurried along with a further explanation.
“All of the signatures are benevolent – meant to protect…”
“Did a piss-poor job of protecting him, didn’t they?” he grumbled.
Turning his attention to the father, Brzz’ic quietly said: “And what is to say he would have survived without their influences?”
The vampire had nothing to say to refute that statement.
Dr. Brzz’ic rose from his chair and walked over to the couch, kneeling directly in front of the boy. “Do you see the pentagram engraved into the metal? It, too, has been bespelled – to enhance the protections surrounding the wearer.” Opening the chain’s clasp, he asked: “Will you allow me to put this around your neck?”
William reached out, holding the amulet with his newly-healed hand. Before giving it back, he nodded slowly, and bowed his head.
As Brzz’ic settled the chain around the boy’s neck, he warned: “This will not make you invincible, youngling. Physical fights will still result in injuries. It will, however, enhance whatever protections you already carry.”
He scribbled something on a small pad, and handed it to Nina.
“I want you to fill this downstairs, and find some way to incorporate it in the child’s diet. It’s always best served body temperature, as your mate knows, but feel free to mix it in with his food if he objects.”
Angel looked aghast. “You… you’d have him drink… it is animal, right?”
“No, absolutely not!” Dr. Brzz’ic shook his head in disagreement. “The entire demon world knows of your aversion to… your normal food source. However, would you deny your boy insulin if he were a diabetic?”
“Of course we wouldn’t,” Nina insisted. “That’s why we’re here – to do what’s right and good for our child.”
“Then it’s to be dispensed as written, and taken daily, without fail. You’ll make a follow-up appointment with Nurse T’tklina before you leave.”
As the family stood to go, Dr. Brzz’ic had an idea.
“There is a demon therapist I’d like the child to see, if he’s willing to take on the case. He’s very good with beings who feel they don’t fit in… who’ve been traumatized for being different. If there are no objections, I’ll put William’s case before him the next time he opens a portal… let’s say in a week’s time?”
Once again the sharp-elbowed werewolf struck before her mate could object.
“That’s just fine, Dr. Brzz’ic. We’ll fill the prescription and make sure Will takes his medicine as you’ve prescribed. And please, get back to us about the therapist. We want our boy back.”
With a small wave of his hand, Brzz’ic watched the threesome file out of his office. This was going to be a case for the books.