This came out a little longer than I expected...chapter three will probably be shorter and hopefully be up a lot quicker!
Jenny stopped at the other side of the crypt, staying close to Angel. She regarded them interestedly with sharp yellow eyes.
Jenny stopped at the other side of the crypt, staying close to Angel. She regarded them interestedly with sharp yellow eyes.
“What, no hug?” She pressed her hand dramatically to her chest. “I’m hurt. Would it help if I did this?” She tilted her head slightly, and her vampiric features melted away, revealing her human face.
Buffy and Giles just stood there, their faces frozen in blank horror. Angel smirked at them, obviously aware that in the space of a few seconds he had turned the odds in his favour. Giles was the first to speak, staring at Jenny as though she were the only thing in the world. “You weren’t…your neck…there were no bite marks…”
Angel strolled over to her side and winked at Giles. “I didn’t bite her where you could see.”
Buffy reached Giles just in time and struggled to hold him back as he lunged towards the vampire.
“No! He’s trying to provoke you!”
Angel watched them, his arms crossed, clearly enjoying the show.
“So,” said Jenny, “anyone miss me?”
“Shut up,” said Buffy.
“Oh that’s nice. So that’s how you greet an old friend? Jeez, I died for you and you still haven’t forgiven—”
“I said shut up,” said Buffy. She turned to Angel. “Why?” she said, her voice shaking. “It wasn’t enough just to kill her?”
“Well Dru so wanted us to be a family again, and since I staked Darla, I figured we could use another woman around the place. Jenny here’s been very accommodating.” He draped an arm around her shoulders.
“Oh, speaking of family…” Buffy whirled round as another two vampires entered the crypt, moving to flank the doorway.
Angel tilted his head towards them. “Did you get them, send them where I told you to?” They nodded. “Good. Our little family is growing after all.”
He looked back to Buffy. “You know, I really prefer to work alone, but there is something to be said for this whole ‘minions’ thing.”
Buffy could feel her pulse quicken as her eyes flickered between the new vampires. Four against two in an enclosed space like this wasn’t good odds, especially if she had to protect Giles, still standing frozen, staring at Jenny, who was watching him with mild amusement. Add Angel into the mix and they were in serious trouble. Buffy made a rapid decision and tugged frantically at Giles’ sleeve.
“Giles, we’ve gotta go. Come on, we’ve gotta go!”
“Aww, leaving already?” said Angel. “So much for our little reunion.”
He leaned an arm casually against the wall as the two new vampires started towards Buffy. She sent one flying across the room with a punch, and lashed out desperately at the other, barely managing to block his attack in the confined space, trying to move towards the entrance as they fought. As the first vampire picked himself up and leapt towards her again, Buffy kicked the second squarely in the centre of his chest, throwing him into the other and sending them both stumbling further into the crypt. Seizing the chance, she half dragged Giles out of the entranceway. He hadn’t so much as moved during the brief fight, and for a moment she was terrified that she wouldn’t be able to get him to run, that she would be forced to stay and fight them right now to protect him. But some instinct seemed to have kicked in as the cooler night air hit them, and they both took off across the silent cemetery. When they were near the edge of the wall, Buffy glanced back briefly and saw no-one following them. It was strange, but she didn’t much care why right now. Logic, reason, strategy didn’t matter anymore.
All she wanted was to get away.
“I don’t…I can’t believe it,” whispered Willow.
“Believe it,” said Buffy grimly.
“And he just let you go?”
“He had backup the whole time,” said Buffy. “He didn’t want to kill us. He wanted us to see.”
“Have I mentioned recently how much I don’t like this guy?” said Xander.
It was a little past three in the morning, and a sombre atmosphere hung over the group, spread around the library table in varying states of exhaustion. Xander was pacing the room. Oz and Willow were sitting together, holding hands tightly under the table. Cordelia, for once, hadn’t even complained about being dragged out of bed, and was watching Buffy, her face unusually serious.
“This is bad, right?” she said. “I mean, if Angel is trying to build up their forces again, that must mean he’s coming for all of us. To kill us.”
“Maybe not even that,” said Xander bitterly. “Maybe he’ll just…”
“Do to us what he did to her,” said Oz quietly.
“God, how could Angel do this?” said Cordelia. “I mean I know he’s—”
“It’s not Angel,” broke in Buffy, and Cordelia lowered her eyes, biting her lip. There was brief silence.
“What are we going to do?” said Willow.
Buffy glanced over to where Giles was sitting, his head in his hands. He hadn’t said a word since they had gotten in. She jerked her head subtly towards him. “Guys, could you…could you give us a sec?”
“Sure,” murmured Willow.
“We’ll um…we’ll go and see if we can grab something to eat from the cafeteria,” said Xander.
As they filed out slowly, (Willow casting an anxious glance back as the door swung shut) Buffy pulled up a chair next to Giles and sat down. “Giles? You okay?” She winced. “Stupid question, sorry.”
Giles let his hands fall from his face, but didn’t look up, instead staring blankly at the floor.
“Foolish of me,” he said. “I thought…I had thought that the worst thing that could possibly happen had already…” His voice caught for a moment and he visibly steadied himself. “We have to stop this. We can’t let this go on.”
“We won’t,” said Buffy. “I know it’s already too late, but I can’t think of what else to say. I’ll stop it. I promise.”
“How?” he said in a hollow voice. “By killing them? By killing her?”
“Yeah,” said Buffy. “I have to. There’s no other way.”
Buffy tensed at his tone. “What’s that supposed to mean? You think I’m happy about this?”
“It doesn’t matter what I think,” said Giles.
“Yes it does,” said Buffy frowning. “Of course it does. Giles, what…?”
“You couldn’t kill Angel,” he said bitterly, “after all he did. Even knowing what he was capable of. And now someone I loved is on the other end of a stake, and you don’t even hesitate.”
“You think this is easy?” said Buffy, horrified. “This is just as hard for me as it is for—”
“Don’t,” broke in Giles coldly, raising his head to look at her, his fists clenched on his lap. “Don’t pretend that you have the slightest idea what this is like for me.”
Buffy’s mouth fell open. “God, do you hear yourself? How can you say that to me? You think Ms Calendar is some special case, that she’s more important than Angel? You think your pain is so much worse than mine?”
Giles said nothing, but the answer was plain in his expression.
Buffy started from her chair in fury. “How…” she said, tripping over the words in her anger, “how can you even…I love Angel! More than anything in the world! What happened to him wasn’t his fault! I love him and I’m going to have to kill him, and…”
Giles glared at Buffy, knocking his own chair over as he rose to face her. “Angel was trying to atone for a lifetime of horrors, and he still found true happiness with you,” he said vehemently. “What right did he have to that? Jenny did nothing wrong. Nothing! She was blameless…she was trying to help, and we pushed her away! We gave her nothing but grief! He killed her! He made her a monster!”
He stopped suddenly, the sound of his words ringing in the abrupt silence. He stared at Buffy, seeming to realise for the first time that he had been shouting. After a few long seconds, Buffy slowly leaned down and picked up the fallen chair, tucking it neatly under the table with the others.
Giles joined her, and when all of the library chairs were neatly lined up in stoic ranks pushed into their correct places, he sat on the edge of the table, Buffy perched beside him. When Giles finally spoke again, his voice was calmer, but heavy somehow, as if every word caused him pain.
“She died alone, Buffy. I never got the chance to tell her…I watched them bury her in the earth and I knew that I played my part in putting her there.”
Giles sighed. “And now she’s back, and I’m going to have to see her die again. This time there won’t even be enough left to bury. So you’ll forgive me if I can’t summon up much sympathy for the plight of her murderer.”
“Her murderer,” said Buffy, trying to keep her voice steady. “That’s what you think of him? That’s really all he is to you now? No middle ground, no understanding, no compromise? Nothing he did before means anything?”
There was another long silence.
“Do you have any idea what that bastard probably did to her before he killed her?” Giles said quietly.
“And what do you think she’s been doing since she got turned?” asked Buffy. “Rescuing puppies?” The anger had drained out of her, and she placed a hand tentatively on Giles’ arm. “It’s not their fault. Angel or Ms. Calendar. This is something that happened to them that they couldn’t control.”
Giles was silent.
“Do you remember what you told Xander when Jesse was turned?” continued Buffy. “You said: ‘You’re not looking at your friend, you’re looking at the thing that killed him.’ And you were right.”
Giles turned to look at her, surprised. “He told you that?”
“Yeah. Just after Angel…just after what happened. It helped.” Buffy ran her hands through her hair, wearily. “You’re right, he’s a murderer and so is she. They’re vampires, Giles. Nothing more. I couldn’t kill Angel before and people lost their lives because of it. I can’t make that mistake again. They’re vampires. And you know what we do to vampires.”
Giles closed his eyes briefly. “I know,” he said heavily. “I know.” He managed a weak smile. “We’re doing this the wrong way round, really. It should be me telling you all this.”
“You did,” said Buffy. “I’m just… telling you back. Reminding you.”
“I’m sorry I lost my temper,” Giles said. “It’s, ah…it’s just, being a Watcher, I’m still more used to…well, watching. It all feels rather different when something like this happens to you.” He looked helplessly at her. “I suppose you’re the last person who needs to be told that.”
“It’s hard,” Buffy said quietly. “I know. But at least…now we can help each other. Do what has to be done.”
Giles took her hand and gave it a slight squeeze. “Damn right we will,” he said. “We owe it to them.”
When the others came back into the library ten minutes later, they found Buffy and Giles sitting together in companionable silence. They both rose as the doors opened.
“Sorry for making you guys wait,” said Buffy,” and sorry for making you come out here so late. I guess we just sort of panicked.”
“No, it’s good,” said Willow. “Well, not good, but…we needed to know.”
“I probably could have waited until morning though,” muttered Cordelia.
“No,” said Xander. “I’m glad you called us. It’s better to have some time to get used to…y’know.”
“All the same, right now the best thing to do is to go home and get some rest,” said Giles. “With Angel building up his forces, we’re not safe here after dark any more, not even together. We’ll have to be more careful from now on.”
Willow eyed him sadly, nodded and turned back to Buffy.
“What about…what do we do?”
“We do nothing. I do my job.” Buffy closed her eyes for a moment, then turned to address the others. “They’re vampires. They’re evil, soulless demons,” she said resolutely. “Just because they happen to look like…like people we once knew, that doesn’t mean they deserve any kind of mercy. Because they sure as hell won’t show us any.”
“It’s that simple?” said Willow quietly.
“It’s that simple,” said Giles.
He could read it as many times as he liked, it didn’t make it any less true. After a while, staring at the words meant they lost their essence somehow, became meaningless shapes. He didn’t look away anyway. It wasn’t as if there was anything else to see, not here.
They hadn’t put a date of birth on her gravestone, or one of death. In a way it was strangely apt. Her death wasn’t an end after all, just a…change. A morbid punctuation mark in her existence. Looking at her grave now, he could still see where the earth had been disturbed, where she had pulled her way up through the dirt into a new life as a monster. Another kind of birth. It had been nearly a week since he had first seen her in the crypt with Angel, and that felt like just as important a date to be recorded. Perhaps when she was dead once more, she should have a second stone. One for each murder.
No. It isn’t her. She’s gone. She’s gone and she isn’t coming back.
The sun had slipped below the horizon and the faint light left was fading fast, but he remained standing before the grave, as he had done last night, and the night before. If Buffy had noticed his exhaustion during the daytime, she hadn’t mentioned it. She probably thought it normal, under the circumstances.
He had left the crossbow at home. Some things shouldn’t be done at a distance.
“I thought I’d find you here,” said a familiar voice. “You’re really predictable, you know that?”
He turned to see Jenny walking towards him across the grass. His heart beat sped up as he saw her, but then, it always had.
“Pretty stupid to stay out here after dark, don’t you think?” she said. “I thought you’d have learned that lesson from me.”
“You’re assuming I’m trying to avoid you,” he replied.
“Oh, so you’re here waiting for me?” she said, grinning delightedly. “Well you could have chosen a more romantic spot.” She stopped a few yards from him. “Come to take me out, Rupert?”
“It’s my responsibility. I wouldn’t ask anyone else to do it.”
“How very pro-active of you,” Jenny said. “Could have done with a bit more of that decisiveness when I was alive.” She spread her arms wide. “Come on then. Hit me with your best shot.”
Giles pulled a stake from his jacket. “I’m so very sorry, Jenny,” he said quietly.
“Being a bit premature, aren’t you? You haven’t won yet.”
“I’m not apologising for killing you now.”
Even in the semi-darkness he could see her rolling her eyes. “What then? Because there’s such a long list of things for you to feel guilty about, isn’t there? And now I guess you’re adding one more to the list tonight, huh?”
“No. I won’t feel guilty for this,” he said. “This is a mercy.” He regarded her coldly. “No more than putting down a rabid animal.”
He had hoped to provoke her to anger, and sure enough her face contorted into the vampiric features as she lunged at him. New vampires had little control over their instincts. There was a flurry of frantic movement as she lashed out furiously at him again and again, and he struggled to block or dodge each blow. Adrenaline kicked in and he moved into the swift rhythm of a fight without thinking, familiar from dozens of other encounters with vampires. They’re faster than you, and stronger. Use that against them. Exploit their anger. Confuse their instincts. They don’t expect prey to fight back. Wear them down. Don’t let them touch you. Look for an opening. He hesitated and she landed a blow across his face that sent him staggering back with the impact, managing to stay on his feet even as he tasted blood.
She broke into a grin as she saw his wince of pain, and she grabbed his coat, dragging him roughly towards her…and there was his opening, in that split second of overconfidence. Instead of pulling back, he threw his weight forward, pitching her off balance. She may have been faster and stronger than him, but in terms of sheer mass he had the upper hand. He bowled her over and she landed hard on the ground with a gasp, pinned beneath him as he brought up the hand still clutching the wooden stake…and stopped. They stayed there frozen in a strange tableau, Giles holding the stake raised above her heart, the blood pounding in his ears, his breath shallow and quick.
The seconds ticked by.
Jenny stared up at him. “You’re really gonna kill me Rupert?” Her face morphed back into human features, and his gaze was locked with the deep brown eyes he knew so well. He flinched, despite himself, and the flicker in her expression showed she had noticed. “Do you really have that in you?” she said. “To kill the woman who loved you?”
The stake shook slightly in Giles’ hand.
“Jenny Calendar is already dead,” he said, jerkily. “She was human. You are not her.”
“Do it then, if it’s that simple,” she said, the edge of confidence creeping back into her voice. “Buffy couldn’t do it to Angel, You’re the Watcher, you set a good example. Do it. Dust me. Turn me into ashes.” Her eyes glittered in the moonlight. “Kill me again.”
He fell back in one sudden movement, the stake dropping from his hand. Jenny scrambled swiftly up from the grass, a smile curving around her lips. “Thought so.”
Giles got to his feet, staring at her. “You’re not her,” he repeated.
“Oh yeah, very believable,” she said, grinning. “Try it again with a little less conviction.”
She rolled her head around, theatrically working the cricks out of her neck, and started to circle him lazily, still talking.
“I remember where I live, you know. And where you live. I remember my old friends, my family…and what a fun bunch they were. I remember the first time we met.” She smirked at him. “I remember our first kiss. So maybe I’m not exactly the person you knew, but I’m the closest you’re gonna get. And you just can’t kill me, can you?” She tilted her head to the side and observed him thoughtfully. “When I was human, did you love me?”
The question caught him off guard and he answered without thinking. “Yes.”
“Huh. You probably should have said something. I mean you left me kind of high and dry with the whole ‘shun the traitorous bitch’ attitude.”
Without warning, she darted forwards and struck him across the face, sending him flying into a nearby headstone. He crumpled against it, head ringing, feeling as if every bone in his body was broken, and watched as she strolled towards him, talking as if nothing had happened to interrupt.
“Not that it really matters to me now, of course. I mean, this vampire thing is great. Who knew being dead would make you feel so alive? All that pain, all that worry, all that heavy, clinging guilt…it’s all just…gone.”
She crouched down, grabbed the collar of his shirt and jerked him forwards until his face was inches from hers.
“You know what you get to keep, though? The anger.”
She stood up, pulling him upright with her.
“I don’t actually blame you for dumping the old me. What a whiner, right? Constantly going on about her duty and her family and how lost and alone she felt. God, she was pathetic.”
She threw him to the ground again, and he lay there, barely conscious, too exhausted to even try to move.
“But y’know Rupert, I’m still a little insulted. I figure I owe you.”
Giles tried to speak, but the words got lost on the way to his lips. It didn’t matter though, because at that moment Jenny stiffened suddenly, and glanced over her shoulder. From his position on the ground, he couldn’t see what she was looking at, but the mystery was soon solved as the familiar voice of Angel came drifting over the grass, coming closer.
“Oh there you are,” he said, coming to a halt next to Jenny. “Sun comes up soon. Playing with your food?” He poked Giles with his foot, rolling him over. “The Watcher? That was fast. I’m impressed.”
“You want him?” she said quickly.
“No, he’s not really my type, sweetheart,” smirked Angel. He gave Giles a vicious kick to the ribs. “You know, making him a vampire too would really be funny, but honestly I just can’t stand the idea of having someone that boring living forever. He’s all yours.”
There was a brief pause. “You’re right, the sun comes up soon,” said Jenny. “We should go.”
“You’re not gonna kill him?” said Angel, sounding surprised.
“No. He made a fool of me when I was alive,” she replied. “I plan on returning the favour.”
Giles, slumped on the floor at her feet, made an effort to raise his head enough to see both of them. His eyes were blurry with pain, but he could just see Jenny’s features studying him with a vague amusement.
“Besides,” she said, “isn’t it far more fun just to watch him suffer?”
Angel’s face split into a grin, and he slid his arm around her waist as they disappeared into the night.
“You learn fast.”
To Be Continued…