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Title: Care and feeding 101 – An apple a day
Series: Care and Feeding
Author: Devo79
Characters: Angel and Xander
Rating: PG13

-------------------------------------------
Matt grabbed his messenger bag and slung it over his shoulder. He was still wearing his bright green scrubs but he didn’t really care. After three 24 hour shifts in the past week, he didn’t have the strength to shower and change clothes at the hospital. He just wanted to go home, slumber while standing up under the warm spray of the shower and then pass out for at least twelve hours in his bed... or on the couch, whichever he reached first.

He waved goodbye to the receptionist in the foyer and pushed the doors open to the parking lot. His car was an old and dented Fiat but at least it was always easy to spot its bright orange roof.

He fumbled a minute with his car keys, feeling how the tiredness had even made its way into his normally nimble fingers.

“Hey,” a voice called from somewhere behind him.

Matt turned and squinted in the bad light from the street lamps lining the parking lot. A man was standing two cars or so away from him.

“Buddy,” Matt sighed, “If you need medical help you need to go inside and register and the ER doc will be with you in no time,” he unlocked his car and threw his messenger bag on the passenger seat.

“You a doctor?” the man asked and this time he sounded a lot closer.

“Yeah,” Matt nodded and turned around; he gasped when he saw how close the man was standing. If Matt had wanted, he could easily have extended his arm and tapped the guy on his broad shoulder, “But,” Matt continued, “I’m off work right now so…”

“But you are a doctor,” the man persisted.

“Like I said,” Matt couldn’t help but feel threatened by the bigger man, “I’m off work so…”

The man moved like lightning and the last thing Matt saw, before he lost consciousness, was a pair of golden eyes hovering over him.

----------------------------------------

Flashes of light forced Matt to squeeze his eyes tightly shut, trying to keep the stabbing pain to a minimum. He slowly sat up and immediately saw that he was in the back seat of his own car. The car was moving at a pace that wouldn’t alarm any patrolling police officers and yet fast enough to be just above the speed limit.

The man was driving the car, his fingers clenched around the steering wheel. Matt tried to get a look at him in the rearview mirror but for some reason he couldn’t see anything apart from himself and the old ratty fabric on the front seat headrest. He probably had a concussion. He wasn’t seeing double but something was clearly wrong with his eyesight. He rubbed a pair of cold and clammy fingers against his brow trying to get rid of the pain in his head.

“You okay,” the man rumbled from the front seat.

“You knocked me out,” Matt growled at him through clenched teeth and then scooted back in his seat, suddenly afraid he had crossed the line.

“Sorry about that,” the man turned right and then looked briefly over his shoulder, “I need your help.”

“I told you,” Matt’s fear slowly dissipated and was replaced with anger, “You could have found a whole hospital full of doctors. In. The. Hospital.”

“Hmmm,” was the only response.

-----------------------------------

The apartment block was either condemned or certainly should be. The entire building looked one autumn storm away from toppling over. The man had Matt by the upper arm and was dragging him up the stairs. Matt’s messenger bag was over the man’s shoulder. Matt wondered what the guy wanted with the extra set of clothes he had in the bag.

They walked up the rickety stairs to the building and then down a long hallway. He was surprised when the man led him down another set of stairs and into the basement.

Matt could already see the headlines in the newspapers:
Young doctor strangled to death in basement.
Maniac kills and dismembers promising young doctor.

“Look,” he could hear the tremble in his own voice, “Just… if you let me go now I won’t tell anyone.”

The man didn’t even look at him, he just held on to Matt’s arm tighter and found a key in the inside pocket of his black coat. He unlocked the badly painted door.

The basement apartment looked alright. The living room and the small kitchen both seemed clean or at least nowhere as dirty as Matt had imagined an apartment in the old building might look.

Thankfully it didn’t look anything like the kind of apartment Matt would expect a serial killer to live in.

“He’s in here,” the man said and opened the door to a dark bedroom.

---------------------------------------

Okay, so he hadn’t anticipated this at all. He looked up at the man standing by the bed Matt was sitting on. The kid in the bed was sweating profusely, the sheets were damp and the dark bangs were sticking to the kid’s pale forehead.

“Fix him,” the man commanded and pointed at the child as if Matt was uncertain who he might be talking about.

“Look,” Matt started to rise from the bed but a large hand on his shoulder pushed him deeper into the old mattress.

“He’s sick,” the man said, “And if you don’t fix him…” the threat wasn’t finished but Matt caught another glimpse of the abnormal golden eyes.

“Okay,” he placatingly held up his hands and just nodded, “I’ll fix him,” he turned back to the kid and prayed that he could do as he’d just promised, “How long has he had this fever?”

“This bad? All day,” the man answered, “Before that he kept coughing,” he removed his heavy hand from Matt’s shoulder, “I bought some cough syrup but it didn’t help.”

“How long has he been coughing? And could you turn on some more light?” Matt tried to take the boy’s pulse the old fashioned way, with his fingers pressed against the skinny wrist, but his own heart was still galloping away making it hard to concentrate, “I’m having a hard time seeing in this light.”

“Sure,” the man walked out of the room and returned with a lamp that looked like it had been rescued from the rattiest of dumpsters.

He plugged the lamp in and turned it on. He removed the lampshade allowing the piss yellow light to fill the room, “He’s been coughing for a long time. He seemed to be doing better but then he just got worse.”

“Describe the cough,” if he was going to do this he might as well do it right.

“He’ll cough until he turns reddish blue in the face,” the man said and sat down on the opposite side of the bed, He reached out and touched the boy’s cheek.

“And the syrup had no effect at all?” Matt gently opened the boy’s eyes and checked his pupils as well as he could.

“None, I figured he had a cold. He was snotty and kept sneezing. But I don’t have a lot of experience with humans being sick.”

Matt looked uncertainly at the man and was surprised when he got up from the bed and grabbed the messenger bag by the door, “Here,” the man said and carefully sat it down on the floor by Matt’s feet.

“Ummm, what am I supposed to do with that?” Matt asked.

“Fix him,” the man repeated his earlier command and Matt felt dread fill his every fiber when he had to admit the truth.

“There’s only my clothes in that and my phone,” Matt said, his voice hoarse.

“But,” the man looked confused, “You’re a doctor and that’s your bag.”

“You thought I’d have everything I’d need in my bag?” Matt asked incredulously.

“It’s your bag,” the man repeated. He was starting to look desperate.

“Sure, but I don’t carry a bag around with everything a good doctor needs,” Matt felt like he was talking to a child.

“Doctors used to,” the man grumbled.

“Way back in the 1800 perhaps,” Matt conceded.

“What do you need?” the man asked.

“He,” Matt emphasized the word and pointed to the boy, “needs to go to the hospital.”

“You can fix him here,” the man crossed his arms but his eyes drifted to the sleeping boy.

“Not unless he needs a change of socks,” Matt said and stood up. He was starting to feel really pissed off, “Cause that’s all I have in my bag. I guess next time you better knock out someone with a bag full of medical supplies.”

“I can’t take him to the hospital,” the man finally admitted and pushed Matt out of the way as he bent down and started lifting the boy out of the bed. The kid hung limply in his arms.

“What are you going to do?” Matt asked.

“I’ll cool him down in the shower,” the man shoved past Matt, “I’ll freeze the fever out.”

“Are you nuts?” Matt asked and followed the crazy guy into the bathroom, “That could kill him!”

“That’s not your problem,” Matt saw a ripple go through the man’s face.

“You know what?” Matt said, his voice trembling. What the hell had he just seen? Matt gently touched the lump on the top of his head. He must have hit his head really badly. He moved out of the bathroom and into the living room, “You’re right. Fuck this mess,” he mumbled as he made his way to the front door of the apartment.

Just as his fingers touched the door handle he heard a whimper from the bathroom and then quiet crying.

“Just walk out,” Matt mumbled to himself, “Just walk right out and get the cops. Let them deal with it.” The crying grew louder and was now interrupted by wheezing coughs. He didn’t owe this maniac anything. The asshole had kidnapped him. Matt opened the door and was about to walk right out when he heard the man speak.

“You’ll be alright, Xander, we just need to get the fever down.”

The door seemed to close all on its own as Matt’s fingers let go of the door handle and turned around to walk back into the bathroom.

--------------------------------------------------

“Weren’t you off for the day?” Carl asked as he walked into the medication supply room.

“Oh,” Matt whirled around, “um…”

“You forgot to lock the door behind you and I noticed the green lights on the panel,” Carl pointed a finger over his shoulder, “Dude, you know how anal the boss is about security after those supplies disappeared last month.”

“Yeah,” Matt grinned, “Just,” he slapped his own forehead and winced when his fingers touched the lump hidden by his hair, “Totally forgot… long shift.” He’d hoped no one would notice him. His mouth felt as dry as a litter box and apparently, just like a litter box, he was full of shit. “I just wanted to double check the prescriptions for one of my patients.”

“You don’t make mistakes, Matt,” Carl said; “You the man!” he laughed.

“Yeah,” Matt nodded and giggled like an idiot, “But I let one of the interns lead on that case and … I honestly just wanted to cover my ass in case the baby doctor fucked anything up.”

“You ended up with one of the stupid ones?” Carl snorted and slapped Matt so hard on the shoulder that Matt was sure he’d have bruises.

He felt like a complete bastard. A lot could be said about his new intern but stupid wasn’t one of them. “Yeah,” he sighed and rolled his eyes,

“Wouldn’t know his dick from his nose.”

Carl just nodded, “So everything okay,” he pointed down at the papers on the desk behind Matt.

“What?” Matt asked and tried to shift his position so the prescription drugs he’d stuffed into his pockets didn’t poke him in the thigh. He thanked God that he’d put his lab coat on the second he’d entered the hospital. It covered his bulging pockets nicely.

Carl frowned, “Man, you need to get some sleep. The intern,” he drawled out the last word, “He won’t be getting you in trouble?”

“Oh, yeah,” he was sure Carl could smell the guilt, “He got it 100% right.”

“Well, I’ll be damned!” Carl grinned.

“Yeah, guess even a broken clock can be right twice a day, right?” Matt heard his own voice breaking and grimaced. He laughed trying to hide it but it just came out a little too high pitched.

“Shit,” Carl looked at the clock hanging on the wall, “I’ve got a meeting with my surgery team in two minutes. I bet Frank will hold one of his god damn there’s-no-I-in-team speeches. I swear to god I will punch him in the balls if he…”

“Then you better hurry up,” Matt said feeling desperate.

“Yeah,” Carl nodded and started to leave. Matt let out a deep sigh of relief just as Carl turned around. “But seriously, buddy, you need to go home and get some sleep.”

“Yeah,” Matt nodded and picked up the papers on the table, “I’ll just get all this back in order then I’m going home and passing out for the next twelve hours.”

Once the door closes behind Carl, he turns back to stare at his messenger bag on the floor. It was stuffed to the limit. His clothes lay on the top of the medication and equipment he was going to steal. Matt turned back to the papers he’d have to falsify in order to make the supplies disappear “legally”. He walked over to the door and locked it by punching in his code on the inside panel. He wanted no more interruptions.

--------------------------------------

“You can do this,” he mumbled to himself before he opened the door to the basement apartment and walked inside.

The man was sitting on the ratty old couch in the dimly lit living room.

“How,” Matt coughed a little uncertainly, “How’s he doing?” he nodded at the child slumped limply against the man’s chest.

“I think… he’s sleeping,” the man said, “I can hear his heart beat.”

“Ooookay,” Matt said and looked back at the front door of the apartment. He could probably make it outside if he ran. He made a very unmanly sound when he turned back and the man was standing right in front of him, the passed out little boy in his arms. “H-h-how’d you…” Matt stuttered.

“I can’t wake him up,” the desperation in his voice made Matt spring into action. He walked over to the coffee table and started emptying his pockets and swung the messenger bag off his shoulder and onto the floor. Matt put all the mediation in to little groups on the table and even pulled a few IV bags out of the bag.

“It’ll be easier if you put him on his back…” his eyes searched the room, “On the couch would be best and…” he paused as the man ever so gently put the boy on the couch and placed a pillow under the boy’s head. The boy’s moist dark hair clung to the man’s big hands.

Matt returned his attention to the bag and pulled out his stethoscope.

A small stuffed toy was picked up from the floor and the man placed it between the boy’s right arm and the couch cushions. It could be a dog but the fur was worn off, its face and the head squished so thoroughly that it was hard to determine.

“Help me turn him on his side,” Matt said and they both gently turned the boy on his side with the man holding him in place. Matt grabbed his stethoscope so he could listen to the boy’s congested lungs.

“So?” the man asked.

“Look,” Matt sat back down on the coffee table and looked on as the man pull the blanket up to the boy’s shoulders, “If we took him to the hospital I could be sure…”

“No,” the answer came quick and certain.

“If I could do some blood tests or a chest x-ray…” Matt tried.

“I said no,” the man looked more and more agitated, “You can help him here.”

“Alright,” Matt said placatingly, “I think he has whooping cough. A bad case of it too.”

“But,” the man stared from the boy to the doctor, “You can fix him.” It wasn’t a question.

“I think I got all we’ll need,” Matt pointed at the supplies he’d stolen from the hospital, “I’ll start right away.”

“And me?” the man asked standing uncertainly next to the couch.

“You?” Matt asked.

“What can I do to help?” the taller man clarified.

Matt looked down at the supplies on the table, picked up an IV bag and asked, “Can you find a vein?”

“A vein?” the man looked like he was about to start laughing, “Yeah, I think I can manage that.”

-----------------------------------

Matt got up from his position on the edge of the coffee table and stretched. It sounded like every bone in his body popped and he rubbed at
his tired red eyes.

The boy had been awake a few times during the night and the IV was still attached to the small hand. The stuffed toy stared up at the ceiling, one eye missing and its floppy ears resting against the boy’s cheek.

Matt could hardly believe what he was about to say, “I’ll be back tomorrow before my next shift,” he heard himself saying. “We’ve gotten him started on the treatment and gotten his fever down.”

The man was standing by the front door, his eyes narrowed and his stance defensive, “How’ll you get home?”

“I was hoping you’d give me a ride,” Matt said, “You still have the keys to my car.”

The man looked down at his wristwatch and then up at the ceiling, “I don’t think so, the sun’s risen by now.”

“The sun,” Matt frowned, “Yeah… it does that in the morning… usually…” he suddenly swallowed, his throat feeling dry, “But… you don’t… go out… much,” the man just looked at him, “in the sun…” Matt continued.

“No,” he agreed.

“And…” Matt thought back to the man’s eyes and the odd rippling on his face in those split seconds when...

“You’re smart,” the man said, “You can figure it out.”

“Ha,” Matt snorted and then shook his head, “Come on… pull the other one it’s…” he swallowed audibly, “It’s got… bells on it,” he finished lamely.

“You did praise me on how good I was at finding a vein,” the man smiled and his entire face changed. His eyes turned golden, his teeth sharpened and his forehead became more prominent with ridges over his nose.

“Oh, God,” Matt whispered. He looked over his shoulder at the sleeping boy.

Even if he could make it out of the apartment there was no way he’d be able to get the kid out with him. Matt grabbed the used syringe off the table and held it in trembling hands.

“You…” he waved the syringe back and forth, “you keep away from us or I’ll…”

“Us…” the man said and his face turned back to normal. He looked from the boy to Matt and nodded, “Do you want a beer?”

“What?!” Matt almost shrieked.

----------------------------------------------

They were sitting on the floor next to the couch. Matt took a big gulp of beer and choked on it. The man slapped him on the back and Matt almost went face first onto the floor.

“Sorry,” the man said and Matt just looked at him, “I don’t spend much time with humans,” he looked over at the sleeping boy, “other humans,” he corrected himself, “Sometimes I forget how fragile you can be.”

“oh, god,” Matt whispered under his breath and took another huge gulp of beer.

“Angel,” the man said.

“Where?” Matt asked and stared frantically around the room. The way his evening had gone he wouldn’t be surprised to see an angel waltz into the room and do the macarena.

“Me,” the man said, “That’s my name… Angel.”

“Seriously,” Matt said and started giggling. Yeah, he was pretty drunk. The lack of sleep and the strong beer, not to mention the fear, was definitely getting to him.

“You have a problem with that?” the man, Angel, asked.

“No,” Matt said and could feel a giggle fight its way up his throat, “No… nope, no problem at all,” he smirked and drank the last of his beer, “I don’t have a problem. I’m just drinking a beer with my good buddy, a vampire called Angel.”

Then he started laughing. He just couldn’t stop.

“Shhhh,” the vampire smiled, “you’ll wake the boy.”

-----------------------------------------

“If he doesn’t get better by tonight or if he doesn’t wake up,” Matt said and picked up his messenger bag, “you have to call me.” He handed Angel a piece of paper with his number on it.

“I will,” Angel promised.

“I’ll be back tomorrow morning,” Matt walked over to the coffee table, “I seriously need to sleep and shower… I stink.”

“I wasn’t going to mention it,” Angel began but then just looked at the floor, “You’ll be back?”

“I said I would. And when I do I expect you to tell me what the hell is going on.” Matt pressed a small blister pack into the vampire’s hand, “Give him another one of these in two hours and then just follow the instructions in the box on the table.” Angel’s cool fingers touched his as he withdrew his hand. “And keep him dry. He might sweat through his pjs and the covers. Just change them and make sure he doesn’t get cold.”

Angel followed the doctor through the room. Matt stopped beside a door that had a big old worm-eaten dresser in front of it. Two boards were hammered across the door making it impossible to get through it.

“What’s in there?” Matt asked.

“A small walk in closet,” Angel said and shuffled his feet.

“Well, uh, why is it boarded up?” he looked at the vampire standing next to him.

“We don’t use that room any more.”

“I sort of gathered that but why?” Matt suddenly had an image of dead bodies being shoved into the small room and Angel boarding it up and wished he hadn’t asked.

“There was,” the vampire coughed, “a spider in there.”

“A what?” Matt asked incredulously.

“A spider,” Angel repeated defensively, “We don’t use that room any more.”

Matt just stared for a second and then he started laughing. He laughed until tears were streaming down his cheeks and the vampire couldn’t help but smile. The human’s face turned an unattractive shade of pink.

Matt reached out and grabbed Angel around the wrist and wheezed out, “A s-spider.”

Angel stared down in surprise at the hand circling his wrist and nodded. Maybe, Matt thought, he wasn’t use to being touched by someone who wasn’t afraid… at least Matt wasn’t afraid in that moment, disarmed by the ridiculous situation.

“Xander is afraid of spiders,” Angel chuckled, “What was I supposed to do.”

------------------------------------------

Date: 2014-01-07 04:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mendenbar01.livejournal.com
Chinese hot pot soup (my recipe).

You just HAVE to write more of this. Pretty please? And just how old is Xander here? And if he is as young as it seems, how did he end up with Angel? I gotst ta know, I just gotst ta know!

Date: 2014-01-07 08:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devo79.livejournal.com
The first 3 chapters can be found here:

http://devo79.livejournal.com/tag/fic%3A%20care%20and%20feeding

I have plans of writing more in this verse.

Date: 2014-01-07 07:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skargasm.livejournal.com
The spider killed me completely - would love to see more.

Date: 2014-01-07 08:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devo79.livejournal.com
More on the way :)

You never know... some of Angel's not so living family might come for a visit ;)

Date: 2014-01-07 02:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] demonspot.livejournal.com
Yay. I love this verse.

Date: 2014-01-07 02:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devo79.livejournal.com
Thanks.

Hope to write more very soon.

Date: 2014-01-08 08:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anndaydream.livejournal.com
I'm so glad that you are writing again, you are and always have been one of my favourite writers. I have to admit to reading your Accidental Fatherhood verse over and over and now this one, hope you add to it soon.

Date: 2014-01-09 07:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devo79.livejournal.com
Thank you for being patient enough to wait (for ages) for updates :)

Right now I'm working on finally finishing my eternal WIP Childe.

Hooray! You're back!

Date: 2014-01-11 04:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] onlyspander.livejournal.com
I agree with the other comments: I love your work and I am so glad you returned to this fic. I also re-read your stuff on a regular basis.
Thanks for the New Year pressie!

Re: Hooray! You're back!

Date: 2014-01-12 12:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devo79.livejournal.com
Thanks for reading =)

I'm hoping to update Childe soon-ish and maybe some new stuff soon as well.

Date: 2014-09-20 12:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lusciousxander.livejournal.com
I've just read this amazing story for the second time and I can't get enough. It's very interesting having Angel who knows nothing about children taking care of Xander. I really hope to see a new chapter soon.

Date: 2014-09-20 06:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devo79.livejournal.com
So glad you like it :)

I am working on new chapters but I've been working a lot and the garden is eating up a big part of my spare time. When autumn and winter hits us I'll have much more time to write.

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