Or, well, that was the intention anyway. I seem to have had a slight problem with her prompt. ::blushes:: Heh.
In line with the requested "vegetation" theme, this supposedly simple little fic idea I had went and grew a plot. A plot! Ficlet's aren't supposed to have plots, 'specially not the b-day prezzie kind! But alas, this one does...
"The Occisor's Charisma"
A Wolf&Declán!verse crossover fic, offshooting the London!verse
It was the cold across his left side where his body was used to Rachel's warmth that woke him. Rolling out of bed, Declán yawned. He glanced disinterestedly at the clock only long enough to confirm it was still the middle of the night and no time for decent folk to be awake, then he went to find his bedmate so he could go back to sleep in comfort. He found her sitting on the floor in the kitchen with the dogs.
"Rachel? Everything alright, hun?" he asked, voice heavy with interrupted rest.
Her voice held no such sleepiness, and the sharpness of her tone chased the last of it from him as well. "Get the car started, Declán. We need to get Buster to a vet... now."
In an instant, Dec was wide awake and taking in the scene anew. What he'd initially taken to be Rachel sitting on the floor with the dogs lying companionably beside her he suddenly saw differently. Buster was sprawled on his side with his head in her lap, while Levi was crouched close by with his nose just touching Buster's chocolately coat. Levi's eyes were open, but the excited jubilant look Dec was used to seeing in them was gone, replaced by a sorrowful gaze that kept flickering from Buster to Rachel and back again.
Buster's own eyes were closed, his body relaxed and still. It wasn't until Dec's sensitive hearing picked up the faintest whine that he realized the Lab wasn't asleep, but limp with pain.
"What happened?" He was already moving even as he asked, gathering up keys and wallet and cell phone. He'd call information for the address of the nearest 24-hour emergency Animal Hospital on the way.
Rachel eased Buster's head off her lap, gesturing at a half-cleaned spot on the floor and an empty vase. "I came out to get a glass of water and found the bouquet I brought home this afternoon scattered across the floor. Buster must have been chewing on the flowers for a while, because they were barely recognizable when I threw them in the trash." She got to her knees, then bent over to slip her arms under Buster's shoulders and back legs and curled his body to her chest. She lifted him as she stood, trying to not cringe at his pained whimpers. "He was sitting in the corner, a little puddle of vomit in front of him and looking pitiful. I'd just started cleaning it up when he collapsed..."
She looked mournfully at her boyfriend, Buster's dead weight cradled in her arms. "He's not breathing very good, Dec, and his heart's beating a mile a minute. I don't know what to do for him!"
"We get him help, that's what. C'mon, I'll drive."
The trip to Noah's Ark Veterinary Clinic took almost 30 minutes, even with Declán putting every trick he knew into cutting the distance. Rachel held Buster close the entire time, petting him soothingly and whispering reassurances in his ear.
A nurse, an older woman whose hair was still more blonde than grey, met them at the door. "Bring him this way. Tom's readying for you in the exam room. Do you know what kind of plants he ate?" She spoke quickly as she guided them down a hall past a few closed doors. Declán could hear the occasional bark or meow and even one squawk as they passed.
Rachel was shaking her head as the woman indicated she should lay Buster down on the exam bed in the brightly lit room at the end of the hall. Declán felt a moment of reassurance as he looked around and took in all the high tech machinery. The place looked more like the emergency room at a major hospital than a mere veterinary clinic. They seemed prepared to handle any situation; he was confident they'd be able to do something for Buster.
"The bouquet was a gift from a client," Rachel was explaining, and Declán shifted his attention back to her. "Mr. Eyre actually sent them to Dawn, but Spike didn't like the smell of the flowers so I took them home instead."
"Do you still have them? We'll pump your dog's stomach and ease his symptoms, but many plants are toxic to animals and often have different treatments. It would help to know exactly what we're up against."
Rachel was still petting Buster, not even budging as the nurse worked around her hooking up various monitors and slipping a breathing tube down Buster's throat. The dog didn't even struggle in protest of the uncomfortable act, which Declán knew was surely a bad sign. "I can go back and get them, if you think it'll help?"
The nurse, her pawprint-shaped nametag gaily proclaiming her name as 'Val', looked at him assessingly. "How long ago was he poisoned?"
"An hour, maybe less."
"Hmm... maybe." Val nodded, watching the blips and beeps on the monitors. "Go now, and quickly. The first few hours are always the most critical." She turned back to Rachel and Buster, wordlessly dismissing him.
Declán took the hint and left as quick as he could.
The gods of traffic were with him this time, as Declán made the drive home and back without hitting a single red light. The mangled bouquet lay innocuously in a plastic grocery bag on the front passenger seat. It was a struggle for Dec to keep his eyes off the damned thing, marvelling that something so beautiful could be so dangerous.
Plastic bag in hand, he loped back into the clinic and headed unerringly for the room at the end of the hall. He could hear Rachel and Val and another man with a vaguely familiar Welsh accent as he neared. He slid to a stop in the door.
All three humans looked up as he entered -- Buster didn't move, the whites of his open rolled-back eyes a better sign of his unconsciousness than anything. Then Dec took a closer look at the vet in the green scrubs and was surprised to discover he'd seen the Welshman's sharp angular features before, if not in this modern setting.
The vet's eyes narrowed in confusion for a moment before widening in returned recognition. Dec opened his mouth to say even he didn't know what, but the vet flicked his gaze sharply at the two women in the room and the words dried on his tongue.
"How's Buster doing?" he asked instead, wrapping a supportive arm around Rachel's waist. She leaned into him gratefully.
It was the nurse who answered him. "Critical, but stable for the moment. We've laved his gastrointestinal tract to extract as much of the unabsorbed toxins as we could, and given him some charcoal to soak up the rest. Anything more specific Tom can do depends on what you've got in that sack." Val nodded at the plastic bag in his hands.
'Tom', the vet, waved the werewolf over to a table in the corner of the room away from Buster and the girls. "Wolf's brother Declán, right?" He continued without waiting for Dec's confirmation, "I'm going by Tom Kirby right now, son of Noah and Val Kirby. And yes, I'm really a veterinarian... Now dump those flowers out and lets see what we what we're dealing with."
Dec did as ordered. "Val Kirby? As in that Val?" he tilted his head back toward the nurse.
Methos nodded, his attention focused on examining the mauled plants. "My daughter-in-law, actually. She knows I'm immortal of course, but only my son knows which Immortal I am. I'd like it to stay that way." His head suddenly jerked up, pining Declán with a steel look. Held delicately between his fingers was a mostly intact stalk, its vaguely bell-shaped flowers hanging limply down one side. Methos brandished the plant at Declán threateningly. "Where did you say you bought these?"
Declán's eyebrows twitched at the forceful demand, but he repeated Rachel's story. His confusion only rose as he watched the ancient Immortal stare searchingly at his girlfriend.
"Did you touch these flowers with your bare hands?" Methos asked, still looking at Rachel.
"Yes..," Dec's intonation rose in a question of his own as he stretched the word out. Methos ignored it.
Dec glanced at Rachel, catching her staring back at them. He shrugged. "I don't know, probably. Why?"
Methos raised his voice to be heard clearly by both of them. "Go wash your hands. Rinse them well in hot water, and use lots of soap," he ordered. "When you're done, I suggest you go call your coworker and let her know someone may be trying to kill her."
Rachel gasped, her hand flying to her mouth in alarm. Methos caught her wrist mid-air. "You don't want to do that, miss, until you've thoroughly washed your hands. Or you'll be the next one on that table after your dog."
He held up the purple bell-shaped flowers still in his other hand. "See this? Digitalis purpurae, otherwise known as common foxglove."
Rachel's eyes had gone impossibly wide. "Did you say 'digitalis'?"
Methos was not surprised she recognised the drug's common name before the plant's. In this day and age of medical advancements, more people were familiar with the treatments of heart conditions than they were of the various chemicals that could induce those conditions.
"Believe it or not, the foxglove is probably one of the least poisonous plants in that 'gift' of yours. From what I see, whoever assembled that bouquet put in only the most toxic flowering plants he could. Of the ones I could identify, there was foxglove, oleander, knightshade, and I'm almost certain those pink things are castor blossoms. You're lucky Buster didn't eat any of its seeds; as little as two beans contain enough ricin to kill an adult human in hours."
"Oh my god..."
Methos pushed gently on her shoulder, steering her toward the bathroom and its sink. "Go wash up. Now that I know what toxins are affecting your dog, I can work to counter their effects. With luck, he'll make it."
Rachel automatically followed his directive. She'd only taken a few steps though when a new thought entered her head. "Levi! Oh my god, Levi! What if he got into the flowers too?! Declán, wh--"
"Levi's fine, Rachel. I locked him in the bedroom before we left the first time. He was almost back to his usual bouncy self, so I don't think he ate anything bad." He flashed a visual query at Methos, who smiled reassuringly.
"Most likely not. Several of these plants smell and taste awful to most animals, so they won't try eating them unless they're starving or bored..."
"... or too dumb to know any better," Rachel added ruefully, nevertheless casting a fond look on her first pup even as she acknowledged his less than stellar survival instinct.
Dec grinned, rubbing shoulders with his girl. "Levi'll probably have torn the bed to pieces by the time we get home, I hope you know. And I don't want to be the one to tell my sister we need her to make us a new throw."
Even Methos laughed at that, well familiar with Wolf's penchant for crafting and the occasional flurries it sucked her into. Get her started on a project and there was no telling what she'd come up with before the momentum left her. The afghan had come about because Rachel had asked her for a scarf and Wolf had loved the sparkly, silky yarn so much she'd just kept going and going until she'd run out.
Still chuckling quietly, Declàn finished escorting Rachel to the loo so they could clean up. He found himself greatly relieved it was Methos who'd turned out to be the vet, someone he knew and trusted well enough to take good care of Buster. He was doubly glad that neither Rachel nor Dawn had suffered from handling the toxic plants, if that had even been their purpose.
Now the only question was: why had Nathan Eyre sent the deadly bouquet in the first place?
So now, if my Wolf does not object, I'll take a page out of her book and continue the tale in a series of short interconnected ficlets. If she so desires...
::bows:: By your leave, Red Wolf, I wish you a bountiful and joyous, Happy Birthday!