This story takes place before the events of my "Four Friends" stories.
In this episode, everyone picks up the pieces -- and restocks the first aid kit.
“I’m sorry,” Dana said again. “I’m so sorry.”
“You don’t have to keep saying that,” Faith told her. “You weren’t yourself. We understand.”
Robin thought it remarkable that everyone really did understand, considering a third of them were still in the hospital two days later, and most of the rest confined to their beds. Jason had been found lying on the computer room floor with a concussion -- in fact, the men had taken the worst of the punishment, and Giles was the only one still able to go under his own power. As for himself, Robin couldn’t wait to get out of this wheelchair.
Faith and the now dressed Buffybot sat on either side of Dana’s bed in the medical room, which for the first day had been jammed full of folding cots. After coming up with believable stories, Giles had shipped the most seriously injured to a local hospital, and now only Dana remained along with Kara, who was recovering from a broken collar bone and the effects of an impaled tire iron. They’d carefully avoided bringing any males into the room at first; but Dana did, indeed, seem to be recovering from the mental illness that had plagued her since before she became a slayer.
“I’m glad you're all right,” Buffybot said, also repeating herself, as she reached out to take Dana’s hand.
“And I’m glad you're all right -- but I’m still not sure what happened.”
“What do you remember?” Robin asked.
“Some of it.” Dana shuddered, causing Buffybot to pull the covers up around her shoulders. “It was like ... I just had no control over myself at all, until Bottie got close to me. I remember escaping the hospital, and what I did to the vampire ...”
Robin winced, but nobody followed up on the comment, so Spike’s secret remained safe. Come to think of it, the Buffybot didn’t even know Spike had died in the Hellmouth.
“I remember the way all of you tried to talk to me after I got here,” Dana continued. “Faith came the most, and she kept telling me she’d been lost too, and that I could find my way back like she did ...”
Her face reddening, Faith looked away. “Um, I think we should let you rest some more.” She rose, but Buffybot shook her head.
“I’m staying with my friends.” She smiled at Dana, who looked grateful.
“Sure.” Standing, Faith started to wheel Robin’s wheelchair out, but Kara caught his attention.
“How’d our first mission go?”
Robin grinned at her. “It ended well.”
Giles waited in the hallway -- they’d decided not to have more than one man at a time in Dana’s presence, for now. His arm was in a sling, and a bandage swathed his forehead. “Well, Dawn and Andrew are off to Italy. Their symptoms lessened as soon as we left the building, so I believe I was correct -- they’ve developed a sensitivity to magical energies.”
“Allergies,” Faith clarified.
“A temporary effect, I think. But in the meantime they’ll have a nice vacation with Buffy, and recuperate from their injuries.”
Recuperate. There was going to be a lot of that going on around here, and not just physically. Robin looked up at Giles. “Dana’s not completely healed.”
“Her original brain disorder seems to be, but she’ll need time and professional help to recover emotionally.” Giles paused to clean his glasses. “Remarkable. The robot somehow drained the excess magical energies from Dana, and used them to repair itself.”
“So Willow did do a magic whammy on the Buffybot,” Faith said.
“Yes, it would appear so. Willow was dabbling in magic quite a bit at the time.”
He seemed unsettled at the thought, and Robin figured it had to do with the fact that the real Buffy was dead during that period, permanently so -- or so everyone had thought. He’d heard the stories so many times that he sometimes felt nostalgic himself. “So Buffybot can use magical energies to do self repairs, I get that. But did she heal Dana’s mental illness?”
Giles shook his head. “I don’t think so. I believe the spell worked, which Andrew and Dawn were very happy to hear. But we hadn’t considered that any cure for mental illness -- even a magical one -- takes time, and can produce side effects no one had anticipated.”
“Next time,” Faith suggested, rubbing her sore back, “let’s try for ‘may cause drowsiness’.”
“Quite. I believe eventually the magical energy would have healed Dana’s mind, but if not for Robin, Kara and the Buffybot, she would have caused great damage by then. And the knowledge of that may have damaged her psychologically all over again.”
“Hey, I helped,” Faith protested. “I bought time by letting her throw me through a door.”
“Yes ...” Wincing, Giles turned to head down the hallway. “And with that in mind, I’m off to take another dose of ibuprofen.”
Faith started wheeling Robin in the other direction. “Rona and Vi are in the gym, trying out fighting moves on crutches. Let’s go make fun of them.”
“First, it’s my turn to apologize.”
“What, for not being able to give me any? Don’t worry, I’ll lay you on the bed tonight and ride you gently, like a bronco instead of a bull.”
“For thinking you were ... the old you.”
There was silence in the hallway, except for the squeaking of the wheelchair.
“You know, if you’d just admit every once in awhile that you’re a good person --”
“Shut up!” But Faith didn’t sound angry. “I have a reputation. I like my reputation. I don’t wanna screw that up.”
“Yeah? Well, I love you. I don’t want to screw that up.”
“Whatever.” With one hand, she reached out to massage his neck. “All this talk about screwing is turning me on. Let’s discuss that stuff later.”
“How much later?”
“I’m thinking maybe at Kara’s fiftieth birthday party.” She pushed him into the gym, where a half dozen slayers -- most violating medical orders -- were laughing as they moved around on crutches.
“I’ll hold you to that.” Robin reached over his shoulder to take her hand, as she began calling encouragement to the girls.
All in all, he decided, it had turned out to be a successful mission.