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Cold

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Something cold and hard was pressed against her back, leaning on her. No, that wasn’t right. She was laying on it. Something smooth and uncomfortable. Her whole body ached from the cold actually, like the time she and her brother had gone outside to play in the snow for hours and had returned with red cheeks and numb fingers. When that had happened her mom had wrapped them both in blankets and plopped them down in front of the smoky fireplace. She wondered if the same thing would happen this time.

“She’s a pretty one,” said a voice. It sounded weird, as if the person was speaking to her from the other end of the tunnel.

She felt the sheet, which she had just realized was on top of her, lift off for a moment.

“Would you stop? You’ll get reprimanded again.” This voice was louder. It sounded like a different person.

“I was just looking,” said the first.

“We need to finish this report,” said the second.

“Alright, alright.”

“Jenny Calendar, female, late twenties. Cause of death: cervical fracture. She has a large cut on her forehead, bruises on her arms and neck, and what appears to be a bite mark on her inner thigh.”

What were they talking about? Was she in the hospital? The beds were certainly a lot less comfortable than she remembered.

“Kinky,” said the first. She was beginning to hate his far-off whine of a voice.

“Shut up, Stuart,” said the second before continuing, “Finger marks are visible around the neck. All in all the trauma is consistent with a murder.”

“The boyfriend did it. The boyfriend always does it.”

“Come on, I’ve got paperwork to do.”

Then there was the distant sound of a door shutting and the voices of the men disappeared.

She waited a moment, listening, and then opened her eyes. Light came to her like a punch to the retina and she quickly closed them again. She opened one, though just a crack, then forced the other open. There was definitely light above her, but she couldn’t make out any clarity to the shapes around her. Everything was a bright and painful blur. Slowly she sat up, her body stiff and cold, and looked down. She could sort of make out the pale shape of her body, and even see some purple blurs against her skin. She blinked a few times and the world came into slightly more focus. She was in a small room on a metal table with a lamp over her. On one side she could make out what appeared to be a wall of metal cabinets.

She blinked again. Her body ached.

She swung her legs over the table and let herself drop onto the floor. She felt a little dizzy, but managed to keep her feet on the ground. She wrapped the sheet tighter around her, but it gave her no warmth. Her face felt oddly tight and pinched. There was a mirror in the corner of the room above a dingy sink. She went over to it and saw nothing but the room behind her. No reflection.

Oh.

The door swung open behind and she turned to see a young man in a lab coat. When he saw her he emitted the most wretched noise she had ever heard, so she leapt over to him and snapped his neck before it could continue. Then the smell hit her, and the hunger. There was still warm blood in his newly dead veins. She ran her tongue over her sharp teeth and then sank them into the man’s neck. She drank and drank and then dropped him unceremoniously onto the floor. She didn’t feel cold or sore anymore. She felt stronger than she had ever felt.

A memory hit her then. When you rise, come to the factory immediately. I have plans for you.

Angel. Angelus.

That’s right.

He wanted her to come to him. Well, fuck him. She wasn’t his dog. And she wasn’t going to die like his dog.

She had something to do first. She fastened her sheet around herself like a toga, not even bothering to look for her clothes and then walked calmly out of the morgue.

***

Dr. Cutler, the medical examiner, came back into the autopsy room, coffee in hand, to find the dead woman missing and Stuart dead on the floor.

“Not again,” he said.

***

Xander could barely breath, his lungs felt so tight in his chest.

“I guess Giles had a big night planned tonight,” he said, looking at the roses and champagne bucket in the living room.

“Giles didn’t set this up. Angel did,” said Buffy, handing him a drawing. It was in charcoal on old, yellowed paper, and would have been quite a good drawing, if it didn’t depict the lifeless face of Jenny Calendar.

“This is the wrapping for the gift,” Buffy continued. She turned and went upstairs.

“Oh, man. Poor Giles,” Xander said. The words came out in a forced exhale.

Out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of something white. He looked up and saw a pale figure approaching. He yelped and lurched back toward Willow and Cordelia. They screamed behind him.

“Hi, kids,” said the figure, the demon that had once been Jenny Calendar. She smiled at them. Her face wasn’t vamped out, but it was paler than it had been when she was alive.

“Buffy!” Xander yelled. He heard Buffy’s footsteps running back down the stairs.

Jenny leaned casually against the door frame and pulled the caution tape down, tossing it behind her.

“Xander, get back,” said Buffy.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” said Jenny.

“Worse,” Buffy practically hissed out.

“Well, that’s not fair. I like to think I’m more useful than a ghost. I feel better than a ghost would feel, at least. I feel strong,” said Jenny. She was moving her hand around and watching it as though seeing it for the first time, before clenching it into a fist.

“You’ll feel nothing soon,” said Buffy. She turned to Willow and Xander and said, “Help me find a stake.” Xander quickly ran back to the weapons chest with Willow, but found it empty.

“I wouldn’t do that,” said Jenny, holding up a yellow floppy disk between two fingers.

“Why not?” asked Buffy, while at the same time Willow asked, “What is that?”

“Oh, this? It’s the key to restoring Angel’s soul. You see, before your boyfriend snapped my neck like a toothpick, I managed to translate the old text of the spell. Angelus thought he had destroyed all the records of it, but he missed this one piece. Shouldn’t be surprised really. He’s even more techno impaired than Rupert.”

Xander managed to find a stake in one of the desk drawers and quickly gave it to Buffy, who advanced toward vampire Jenny.

“Uh-uh, one more step and I crush it into pieces,” said Jenny. Buffy stopped.

“Why are you here? To cause him more pain?” said Buffy, her voice coming out high and strained.

“No, I actually wasn’t thinking of him at all when I came here. I’m here for you. I want to make a deal.”

“I didn’t trust you when you were human. You think I’ll trust you now?” yelled Buffy.

“Ouch! So much for not speaking ill of the dead,” said Jenny, shaking her hand as if it had been burned. She was still grinning like a snake, but then let the smile fade and said, “Look, the truth is, as strong as I feel right now, you could kick my ass from here to the old country. I’m not stupid and I’m not much of a fighter. I’ve seen you defeat so many vampires that would stand a better chance than I ever would. And I think you can even defeat Angelus, if you have to. So call this throwing my hat in with the winning team.” She tossed the disk to Buffy and added, “Go ahead and check to see if it’s the real thing.”

“Willow,” said Buffy, before handing her the disk.

Willow went over to Giles’ ancient computer and inserted the disk. It took a moment and then a white page of text came up on the screen.

“The Ritual of Restoration. I think this is it, Buffy,” said Willow.

“I still think this could be a trap,” said Buffy.

Jenny raised her hands in surrender.

“Just don’t kill me. That’s all I want. I’ll lay low for tonight. You perform the ritual, chase Spike and Drusilla out of Sunnydale, whatever you need to do. And then when this is over, remember that I helped you,” she said.

Buffy paused for a moment, regarding the vampire.

“Come in.”

“Buffy, what are you doing?” said Xander.

“Don’t worry,” said Buffy. And he didn’t really. He trusted Buffy.

Jenny looked just as concerned as Xander, but she stepped over the threshold. She didn’t seem willing to come in any farther than that. She looked around the room and seemed to notice the roses for the first time.

“Did Angelus set all this up? Twisted,” Jenny said with a chuckle.

“Cordelia, can you find some chains?” Buffy asked. Cordelia nodded and began rummaging through the house.

“You know, as fun as bondage sounds, I think I’ll pass,” said Jenny. She ducked out the door and ran off into the darkness. Buffy ran to the doorway and looked out, but didn’t follow her.

“Oh, man,” said Xander again.

“Do you still want me to look for chains?” asked Cordelia.

“No, Cordelia,” said Buffy.

“That’s good because all these trunks are empty,” said Cordelia, gesturing to one of them. Buffy walked over to look.

“That’s where Giles kept his weapons,” said Buffy.

“But I thought he kept all his weapons at the library,” said Cordelia.

“No, those are his everyday weapons. These were his good weapons, the ones he breaks out when company comes to visit,” said Xander. He was sort of trying to make a joke, but his voice didn’t sound joking at all. He sounded freaked.

“He went to find Angel,” said Buffy.

“That means he went to the factory, then?” asked Willow. She was still sitting by the computer, but fidgeting uncomfortably.

“So Giles is gonna try to kill Angel, then?” said Cordelia.

“And it’s gonna get him killed,” said Buffy.

***

Buffy couldn’t stand the silent pain on Giles’ face as he drove them back to his apartment. It was even worse than seeing him cry for the first time on the street outside the factory. She had arrived just in time to find Giles unconscious on the factory floor and to give Angel a well-deserved ass kicking. But then Angel had gotten away. The only blessing was that Ms. Calendar hadn’t been there for Giles to see. Buffy had been running on pure anger and adrenaline then, but now she was left with a turmoil of emotions to sort through.

“I have to tell you something,” she said, her voice sounding small.

Giles made a noise, but kept his eyes on the road.

“About Jenny. She, well. S-she came back,” Buffy said.

Giles’ jaw clenched and his hands gripped the steering wheel so tight his fingers went white.

“He,” Giles began, pausing a moment before forcing out, “turned her?”

“Yeah, she came by your house.”

“It wasn’t her. Jenny is dead,” he said.

Buffy felt herself losing her nerve, but she was tired of secrets, so she said, “She also may have found a way to give Angel his soul back. She brought us the spell. I don’t know if it will work or if she is just messing with us. I don’t want to get your hopes up, but if it works...maybe we could give Jenny her soul back, too.”

Giles was silent.

***

Angelus wanted to throw Spike in a furnace, and still considered it a possibility. Drusilla might kill him if he did, though, so he restrained himself. They had all managed to escape the burning building but Angelus had singed his arm pretty badly. Now they all stood outside, Spike sitting in his wheelchair and Drusilla ranting about oceans.

Jenny came to them then, wrapped in a clean white sheet that stood out against the ash and the red flames. She looked like a ghost. She looked like her ancestor, the Romani girl who had started this all, come back to haunt him.

“Where the hell were you?” he snarled at her.

“You killed me, remember?” she snapped back. She had a smart mouth.

“I told you to come straight here,” he said.

“You’ve forgotten how disconcerting it can be to rise, old man.”

That was too far. Angelus grabbed her by the throat and squeezed hard, lifting her off the ground. She clawed at his hand with sharp nails.

“Jesus Christ, mate, you turned the librarian’s girlfriend. You’re stretching this out too long, I think,” said Spike.

“No one cares what you think, Spike,” said Angel. He threw Jenny down on the street and she rubbed her neck. Drusilla walked over to kneel next to Jenny and began to pet her hair.

“I want to keep her. She would look so nice on my shelf. I’ll put her between Miss Edith and Miss Ruth,” said Drusilla.

“We have no choice but to keep her, I think, Love. But she better make herself useful,” said Spike. He was one to talk about being useful. Angelus kept himself calm, though. He still needed all of them.

“She will. Trust me, Spike,” he said, with a smirk.

Spike rolled his eyes and then his wheels as he moved farther away from the flames. Drusilla continued to sit on the concrete with Jenny and fuss with her hair. They needed to find a place to stay for the next day.

***

“Four candles?”

“Check,” said Xander.

“Cattle bones?”

“Check and also gross,” said Cordelia.

“Runes and incense?”

“Check and check,” said Xander.

“Ok, then all we need is a Orb of Thesulah,” said Willow. She looked over from the computer to where Xander and Cordelia were sitting on the carpet of Giles’ living, the supplies spread out in front of them.

“What is that?” asked Cordelia.

“It says that it will capture a vampire’s soul from the ether and allow us to send it back into the vampire,” said Willow.

“Well, what does it look like?” asked Cordelia.

“It’s, uh, orb-y and you know, Thesulah-y,” said Willow.

“No idea, then?” said Xander.

“No, but if Giles’ computer ever connects to the internet then we could look it up,” she said.

The door to the apartment opened then and Buffy and Giles entered, looking rumpled, covered in ash, and utterly exhausted.

“Giles!” Willow exclaimed, running to hug him. He patted her gently on the back.

“What happened?” asked Xander, jumping to his feet.

“Fought Angel, but he got away,” said Buffy.

“We’ve been reading about this ritual and getting all the supplies together. All we need is an Orb of Thesulah,” said Willow. The hope on her face was devastating to Buffy and Giles.

“Yes, I, uh, I have one,” said Giles, then added, “But, Willow, if Jenny is a vampire, then it is very likely that this is a trap. Something terrible could happen if we try to perform the spell.”

“Maybe we could ask Amy to look at it. She is a witch, so maybe she’d know,” said Willow.

“Yeah, cause her last spell went swimmingly,” said Xander.

“We’ll ask in the morning. I think for tonight we should all just…” Giles trailed off. He sounded tired.

“Cordelia, do you think you could drive Willow and Xander home?” Buffy asked. Cordelia agreed immediately.

“What about you, Buffy?” asked Willow.

“I’m going to stay and uninvite all vampires from the house,” said Buffy.

They said their goodbyes and then it was just Buffy and Giles in his living room.

“You should go to bed. I’ll take care of it,” she said.

“If I’m honest I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep,” he said. Buffy went over and hugged him. She wanted to tell him how much he meant to her and how she would make it all okay. But she didn’t know if she could. He turned and walked up the stairs. Buffy took the book of spells that pre-vampire Jenny Calendar had given them. She couldn’t save Ms. Calendar, but she could at least protect Giles’ house.