Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes
Summary: Two long time, but very different, friends are caught up in a spell and changed forever. They learn to cope and must rely on each other to survive in their new forms.
Spoilers: None! Definitely AU
Warnings: M/M – if you don’t like boys together, don’t play here!
Disclaimer: Don’t own the characters nor make any money from stories etc, and bow down to their original creators Joss, et al., plus all the wonderful online writers who continue to give the Buffy/Angel verse characters life.
On the second day of their visit the family was rather shocked to see Will in a full body cast. An MRI had revealed that the severe bruising caused by the bullet, and the delicate operation to remove it, had caused massive swelling around the spinal chord with reactions in five vertebral junctures
Skye and Brad were taken aside by one of the young doctors as their other fostered charge rushed to sit by Will’s side, desperate for him to wake up.
“I know you had to sign all the permissions, and he is a lucky man to have been found… but… just so you know… We’ve taken the precaution of giving him a heavy sedative, he is being fed intravenously as you saw yesterday but we’ve also inserted a catheter and added a temporary colonic bag. The cast is necessary, the lateral process T6 on the right was shattered and the spinous process T5 has also been damaged our second set of MRIs and Xrays this morning revealed a crack in the T6 vertebra itself, a damaged disk and muscle injury. We can’t risk him moving. It seems the swelling is affecting discs and of course the swelling is affecting the spinal cord above and below. The tests are showing no pain response in his legs… At this stage it is unclear as to whether the damage will be permanent but we are hopeful he will make a slow but full recovery.
“The good news is that his internal bleeding and other injuries have responded well to the surgery and although he’s not out of the woods yet, it is possible he will be in a regular ward by Thursday. Oh and the bullet has gone to police forensics – with photos of the injuries. You did sign the release but I simply wanted to confirm our actions for you. I’m sure the police will be in contact at some stage soon… I hope they get the bastard who did this.”
Skye had been gripping her partner’s hand so hard that Brad swore he heard a finger snap.
“So what now? What can we do for Will? You… You know he’s ‘special’?”
“We have alerted staff of that fact, yes. So for now it is best you simply reassure him. Do all the things you would if he was at home in bed sick… um… Perhaps just chat, read to him, play music, that sort of thing… it will pass the time. And if he asks questions about his condition, be honest with him. At this stage it’s just… a little too early to tell. But um… just remember, we have counsellors and chaplains on site if you need them, not just for Will, for you too.”
Skye paled at the thought that they might need outside counsellors, and that Will might not recover. Certainly some of his scarring would be permanent but the thought that he might need to wear a brace long term, or worse, use a wheelchair for months, or forever, was just awful.
Will drifted in and out of consciousness for the three days after the carers had heard the devastating news. Will was aware of his dear friend (Lex)ander and occasionally Skye and Brad being present, but struggled to coordinate his hand to give even a tiny squeeze back when the voices asked him if he could hear them.
Something bothered him more than the distant voices, he didn’t seem to be able to move his legs… at all! He was flat on his back and in some sort of hard casing so was unable to lift up to see. He assumed his legs were in a cast also. Tubes and monitors seemed to be everywhere, nose, arms… and other places.
(Lex)ander felt the first real squeeze on the morning of the fourth day and saw the amazing blue eyes flutter open in the evening of day five post shooting. The dear friend lifted up and kissed Will joyfully and shed a tear before literally bounding to the door on all fours and pulling up to stand and call to Skye who had gone outside with a policeman to answer yet more questions.
She paused in the conversation as the over excited ex-dog reported the most welcome news. The young policeman realised the significance of the development and promised to return the following day.
When Brad arrived they all rejoiced and Will’s bed was angled up a little – allowing him to see his surrounds and all three loved ones at once. It was a start, but it took only a matter of a half hour he was exhausted again.
A day later, a therapist came in to massage his legs and arms. Skye was there to learn to the techniques so she might do it also, but ended up stroking the damp brow as he screamed out his fear and frustration when he realized. Will knew he could not move his legs… but had not realised the reason. He was told he was being massaged but couldn’t even feel his legs being touched or apparently gently moved as the therapist worked joints a little and stimulated unresponsive muscles.
Skye stayed with him until he fell into an emotionally exhausted sleep then spoke briefly to the doctor on duty. It was decided that a slight increase in Will’s sedative would be prudent. The swelling would eventually begin to abate according to the medical team, but it would be several weeks before any firm predictions could be made regarding the improvements and longer term effects.
On the second day of therapy Will simply lay listlessly on the bed, powerless to assist and too tired to protest. The therapist was encouraging and cheerful but around midnight, as day seven approached, other things began going wrong.
Will’s breathing became laboured, his temperature skyrocketed and he began to hallucinate. Antibiotics were changed then increased as he apparently convulsed, though his body was restrained by the stiff casing and paralysis. The source of the new problem identified as an infection stemming from his internal injuries. A mere six hours later, with virtually no warning, his left lung collapsed and blood pressure became erratic.
Brad and Skye were contacted at home and drove the old truck at break neck speed to the hospital, (Lex)ander in tow. The ex-dog knew from the curt orders to ‘get in the truck’ and the strained tone of conversation as they drove, that something was terribly, terribly wrong.
They were ushered back up to the ICU and waited for nearly thirty desperate minutes as several senior surgeons were called for and consulted before the family was informed.
Will was deemed stable, but any infections should have occurred earlier. The chief surgeon struggled to explain the sudden downturn. The crisis was not yet over but at least it seemed Will was responding to the new treatment regime.
As they entered the room where Will was now lying, Brad and Skye caught (Lex)ander and held him as he wept for his companion. His dear friend now had tubes *everywhere* and so many pieces of equipment around him that he could hardly be seen!
There was little they could do. They remained for some six hours or so, then were encouraged to return home for sleep as it might be ‘a long haul for the next few days’.
En route to their cottage, Skye’s resolve took a turn she never thought possible. Arriving home, she grabbed the mage’s books and sought to appeal to the ‘higher beings’.
Finding “A Supplicant’s Appeal for Healing” she read and re read the semi spell/ semi prayer. There would apparently be consequences, a price, but she had to do something. Brad hugged her hard a she told him her plan, then assisted in collecting all the necessary items from their home. He was terrified of losing her, but also understood her reasoning. With no hope of their children (something they had established some years before) this was about *family* in the broader and most beautiful sense of the word. He would support his dear love… all the way for that.
The mage and his mistress had been preoccupied with their little family during all the dramas, but the tomcat had followed the trail to Brad and Skye’s cottage when (Lex)ander and Will did not return after three days.
Arriving at the cottage, he saw the open book from the window sill, and entering sensed the extreme distress of all in the room. There were only three humans. The pretty blonde Will was not there. The mage concentrated hard to source old human memories and listened. It seemed something was terribly amiss and the kindly Skye was going to try a spell from his books. The mage’s sensibilities surged to the surface. She needed help!
He raced home, nipped Nicola hard and the entire family was roused, making their way to their neighbour’s cottage as fast as the three month old kittens could manage.
The two adult cats settled their children near the fire then nudged Skye trying desperately to read and construct the spell involved while Brad attempted to calm the dear ex-dog by promising to return to Will within hours. The mage and Nicola rubbed against her, and though distracted and distraught, she realized that the two felines were determined to tell her something.
She moved across to Brad who had finally stroked (Lex)ander to sleep using an old brush now covered with soft sheepskin, the sensation apparently reminiscent of having his fur groomed. He smiled at her and simply said, “You *know* I love you,” before kissing possessively then adding, “I’m here… I’m always here! I love these boys but… Please don’t lose your way!”
She gathered the spell ingredients and positioned them as instructed then sat cross legged in the middle of the pentagram, each point marked by a candle. But it was a single candle that was her focus as she meditated and attempted to contact the mage and his partner in the astral realm.
It was a brief meeting. The mage cautioned her of the possible cost, but then encouraged her to use his and Nicola’s energies to boost her own as the spell took hold.
Before the conversation ended she turned her focus from her usual astral plane, twisted her energies and felt the joining of others before appealing to the powers themselves for guidance and to Gaia for help for a favourite son. Will was one of Gaia’s own, changed by magic; an innocent, a hero, a sweet and loving being in whatever guise.
In the process of praying for Will, she included (Lex)ander, her own Brad and the two changed cats.
A rumble from the earth and two white figures answered her call.