The cool air circulating the room danced with the scent of the flowers making the scent stronger. The american beautities were tight red buds. The card still sat in the midst of the brilliant bouquet still unopened. Since that day I’d hated red roses they looked like blood.
“Jenny,” I heard just as clearly as I heard the television and it made me jump. “Sorry Jenny, this is where you get off.” I’d remember those words until the day I died. I turned on my side trying not to remember. I stared at the roses. Their wilting sisters found solace in the garbage can.
Phillip came to mind. Ruggedly handsome, women threw themselves at him. But he didn’t measure up, he never could. Wanting what he couldn’t have, Phillip became an ardent suitor. I had to smile at his persistence.
I turned again and the map glided effortlessly to the floor. Getting the map was as close as I could get. Going to Bath now, well it was pointless. What would I do? At first I’d thought I would take a pictures with my mind’s eye so I could imagine him there. But the simple act of getting the map in the first place brought so much pain too much pain.
Slowly sleep came, silently like a thief in the night. I fought it at first but finally gave in to its sweet release. Tonight my dreams lofted me to Sunnydale, California and the life I had there. Little did I know my family obligations would cause my death? Death to the ones I cared most about at least as far as they were concerned.
I was back in my small apartment grieving over Uncle Enyos, regretting everything and just wanting to be right with him. On the table in front of me were several unsent letters. Letters I would later burn.
I lay against the couch trying to decide what to do. Then it came to me I’d create a spell, make Angelus think he’d brought about the end of the world while I had time to finish the spell of restoration. I began to get excited, I could make right the wrong I’d done Rupert’s slayer, his ‘meddlesome girl.’ More importantly things at least could be right with him. Finally everything was falling into place. All I needed was the orb and the completed translation. My only problem, I was running out of time.
I shifted on the bed as the dream me shifted on the couch. Rupert hadn’t run when I told him I’d loved him. In fact he smiled giving me a tiniest shred of hope that possibly, maybe … I could only dream. I went to bed that night hopeful for the first time in weeks.
The next day bloomed brightly. I had a lighter step and a grateful heart. I walked into the dark abyss of the Dragons Cove. Bodies of things unrecognizable were suspended in murky liquid jars. Totems carved from bone lined the decaying shelves while black paraffin candles flickered everywhere casting eerie shadows on the cluttered walls.
Several feet away stood a dark figure in a dakhi robe. As I closed the door the figure turns smiling. He is a juju man with a thick Romany/Russian accent.
“What are you looking for today love spell, voodoo doll Ouija board? I have a special on rabbits’ feet. Now what can I do for you?” He smiled a toothy smile.
“Orb of Thesula?” I look at him knowingly.
“Ah so you practice. Sorry but this time of year, well you know.” He laughed as he walked into the next room.
I followed him, walking through the beads hung from the ceiling to divide the rooms. This room was more familiar. A room I could find what I needed.
He moved to the back of the shop then returned with a case in his hand. “Here ya go miss, one Thesulan orb the spirit vault used in the Rituals for the Undead.” Again the toothy grin.
I whipped out my credit card as the juju man rang up the sale. I carefully opened the case reveling its mysterious contents. To the untrained eye it resembled a paperweight. To me it was hope.
“I have a strict policy on no refunds, miss. I mean this is useless with the Rituals for the Undead. The transliteration texts were lost and the rituals are well gibberish. This is really an overpriced paperweight.” He looked at me studying me.
“What would a pretty young thing like you want with this?” He asked as he returned my credit card and the orb.
I’d been working on a computer program to translate the Romanian liturgy to English based on a random sampling of the text. I knew I was close to the full translation. I’d spent hours since Angel turned working on it.
“It’s for a friend,” I said simply and left the Dragons Cove.
I made my way to school. In my bag I had one of the books Rupert lent me with the spell I’d written and the orb. As I walked across the campus I had a feeling of anticipation. The birds were singing and I felt as if this would be the day that would indeed change everything.
Things had gone smoother than I’d anticipated; I’d made it to school with time to spare. Around me the sounds of students laughing and talking made me smile. As I looked ahead I saw Buffy making a beeline for me. I bit my lip wondering if I should say anything. This was still too premature, I told myself. Wait until you can actually tell her something.
Buffy stepped in front of me stopping my progress.
“Miss Calendar.” Buffy said her eyes squinting in the sunlight that lit her beautiful young face.
“Hello Buffy,” I said uncertain of her intent. “Can I do something for you,” I said as I shook my head.
“Miss Calendar,” she started again, “I realize that well you feel bad about everything and I want you to know that I’m glad and I want you to keep it up.” She said her every word like a sword slicing my body.
“Happy to oblige,” I said stepping out of your way. Once again she stepped in my path. It was as if we were dancers moving off of each other.
She sighed. “He, well he misses you. He doesn’t say anything but you can tell. I don’t want him to be alone, to be lonely.” She paused. “I don’t want anyone to.” Her eyes lowered. It was if the entire weight of the world hung on her shoulders.
“Buffy,” I ventured, “if I can …” She cut off my words. “Look, we are good here. Let’s leave it,” she searched my face with her eyes and then turned and walked away.
I stood there for a minute totally caught off guard. I wanted to stop her and tell what I was doing. But I didn’t want to hurt her unnecessarily. I would live to regret that decision.
The rest of the day was uneventful. I spent every spare minute working on the translation. I stopped to eat an apple around five. That simple act of normalcy made me feel better, for a minute I could pretend I was anywhere but the Hellmouth.
I stretched for the first time in several hours. I wandered out of my room and down the hall. Sydner was in his office. Great I thought to myself. I slipped by him quietly. So many late nights I learned how to get past him.
I walked past the library and Rupert saw me. I almost stopped but there were still too many unsaid words between us. The words I love you still hung in the air. I got my coke and walked back down the well-lit halls. It wouldn’t be long until the school was in darkness.
If Rupert was still in the library I couldn’t see him. I stood outside debating penetrating those walls where I’d once been welcome. Possibly he’d left or it occurred to me he was waiting for me. I was too close to a solution. I walked back down the hall to the computer lab. I turned off the lights so Principal Sydner wouldn’t notice my presence as he drove away. I opened my bag placing the orb and the book on my desk.
I toiled away for several hours. I was confident that I would have a solution soon and would be able to give both Buffy and Rupert the news. Then maybe … I couldn’t think about that now.
My finger ran down the lines of text displaying on the monitor. I was deep in thought when I heard something behind me. I turned to look. There he was leaning against the door jam, his hands in his pockets.
I quickly turned off the monitor; I could feel myself blushing under his gaze.
“Hi,” I said shyly.
He stepped forward once again entering my world. “Jenny, you’re working late.” He walked slowly toward my desk. I turned in my chair to face him.
“Yea, well it’s a special project … for a friend.” The awkwardness hung in the air as thickly as the want that was beginning to rise between us.
“I spoke to Buffy today,” I began my heart beating hard in my chest. “She said you missed me.” I tilted my head and looked at him.
A shy smile crept across his face, “Well as I’ve told you before, she is a meddlesome girl.” That was all I needed.
“I don’t want to be premature, but I think, well I may have found something helpful. I could be wrong but I may have some news. I have to finish up here may I see you later?” I breathed as I took the risk but I could tell. Yes I think he loved me.
“Yes,” he gave me that dazzling smile. “You could stop by the house.” His finger ran over his book.
“Good, I’ll see you then.” I said feeling almost weightless.
“Well, yes good,” he replied as he made a move to leave.
“Rupert?” he turned as I said his name. “Your book.” I reached for the book to hand it to him. As I did he reached for the book his fingers covering mine.
We stood there frozen for a minute smiling at each other. It was a first step, a beginning.
“Later, then?” his head went down in the shy way he had when I overwhelmed him.
“Later,” I smiled as I removed my hand and watched him go. Little did I know that would be the last time I saw him.
I don’t know how much longer I sat in front of the monitor watching the program translate the text. I moved my neck from side to side stretching it out. ‘End of program’ flashed before me.
I laughed out loud. I backed up the program to a floppy disk. Then I set out to do the tedious process of printing. My heart started beating wildly. It wouldn’t be long until I saw Rupert. That’s it I thought to myself.
I was staring at the monitor when I felt him. I swallowed trying to focus on the monitor to will him away. I blinked trying to keep back the tears. I glanced up to see Angel sitting on a desk, leaning against the board in the front of the room.
“Angel,” I blew out a breath, “How did you get in here?” It felt as if my heart would stop.
“Oh, I was invited,” He laughed looking at me. “Quite a friendly school. The sign in front of the school, ‘Formatic trans sicere educatorum,” He leered moving off the desk.
“Enter, all ye who seek knowledge,” I translated like a robot.
He grinned. “What can I say Jenny? I’m a knowledge seeker.”
“Angel,” I began “A little birdie tells me you made a trip to the local boogedy boogedy store.” He is now standing in front of my desk. I begin backing away looking for my spell. My eyes scan the desk. The spell it was in the book. The book was somewhere with Rupert.
I tried to search my memory for the words my eyes darting back and forth.
Angel picked up the case opening it carefully. His long fingers stroked the orb and it glowed. “The orb of Thesulah … supposed to summon a person’s soul from ether then store it until it can be transferred.
Angel began to toss the orb in the air.
“Jenny, you know what I hate about these things? He drew back his arm hurling the orb against the far wall. It shattered into millions of pieces.
“These are so damn fragile, must be that shoddy gypsy craftsmanship.” He sneers as he moves to the monitor swiping it and the computer off the desk and onto the floor.
I remembered Rupert’s words about Angelus’ obsession with Dru and all he’d done to her. Keeping the tears away was difficult. My mind was racing. Buffy was his obsession this I knew. But if he was getting to her through me, I knew if he weren’t successful he’d go to Rupert. I was strong enough to save myself but all I could think about was the danger to Rupert. I watch as he rips the paper from the printer. The monitor and computer begin to smoke. A small flame is awakened and then begins to dance around the equipment burning the computer and monitor. Angel threw the torn printout on top of the equipment fanning the flames.
Angelus turns to look at me but now he is wearing his game face. I slowly move to the corner. He bolts across the room slamming me into the back wall. As I slowly rise I feel the blood oozing from the gash in my forehead. He licks his lips as the blood lust rises in him.
I run to the door pulling it open and out into the dark hallway. I run past the lounge Angelus not far behind. In my mind I call forth the words and my tongue begins to speak in the old language. I run into the night and through the courtyard. The breeze moves over my face helping me to flee. I run into a door. As usual Principal Sydner has locked the door. A few words and a slam against it with my shoulder and it opens I turn to slam it in Angelus’ face.
The breeze has given me my second wind. I run down the hall, as he is able to breach the distance between us. I grab the cleaning cart and twirl it around behind me. Angelus stumbles over the cart giving me the minutes I need.
I run up the stairs to the landing. I move against the wall and perform a glamour becoming in essence the wall. The words roll off my lips and there is another me running down the hall. Done with the cat and mouse of this game, Angelus approaches from the opposite side charging my doppelganger and grabbing her.
The clone Jenny screams as he clamps his hand over her mouth.
“Sorry Jenny this is where you get off.” He snapped her neck. He was so into the kill he didn’t smell the blood still oozing from my forehead. Angelus is grinning the grin of a killer as he scoops up the lifeless body and carries her out of the building.
I stand there against the wall for a few minutes and slowly I move out of the wall. Angelus has killed Jenny Calendar but Janna Kalderash has been reborn.
I walk the streets of a quiet Sunnydale to my apartment. I get the cash from my place. Sadly I burn the love letters I’d written. I did not know the last one I’d started was tucked away in book now in Rupert’s possession. I call a cab. As the plane taxis off the runway, the tears fall down my face. At the LA airport my family would have a ticket for me to travel back to Borsa.
My hand instinctively goes to wipe the tears from my hot wet cheeks. The alarm on the table is going off. I hit it with my hand and the room is quiet except for the television continuing to entertain an audience that is not there.
I struggle through the routine of getting ready. The hot shower washed away the dreams but the feeling was still there. I could live a life because I knew he was alive somewhere. But then how does one define a life?
My hair was longer now. On the outside I was Janna, but on the inside I was still Jenny, his Jenny.
The loud knocking on the door heralded Phillip. There he was incredibly handsome with a corsage in his hands. I had to laugh.
“I don’t think that’s quite appropriate, Phil. This is a panel discussion not an anniversary.” I gave him a frown.
“Janna, we’ve been dating a year now,” I knew what he was going to say.
“Phil, look this is my first conference. I’m a little nervous. You’ve built me up so much, I don’t want to disappoint you.” I took his arm and he escorted me to conference room. The other panelist where there; some of the best-known people in the world. I felt out of place with these highly respected speakers but I did know my topic.
The crowd was large more than we had anticipated. I felt a bit nervous but as the session began things got easier. I looked forward to the session tomorrow.
The banter was great and the audience was laughing. Once again it was time for my question. In the back a man stood. The lights hid him from my view. I placed my hand over eyes trying to get a look.
“Ms. Kalderash,” the voice began. There was something about the voice. “Does the formation of a lie based on the use of magicks constitute the outcome of said lie based on the effects on those the lie is used upon to provide the intended rouse?” The man stepped to the side so I was looking directly at him.
Suddenly, he was two inches from my face our bodies moving at lightening speed like those horror movies. In a blink we were separated again the room between us.
The moderator laughed awkwardly. “Janna do you need clarification?” She looked at me confused.
I shook my head. “No, I know exactly what he is referring to, thank you Ruth.” We were both miles apart and inches apart at the same time. His face was cold and drawn.
I began to speak and nothing came out. I was dizzy my head was spinning the faces in front of me were blurred. “Well, I … you see …” I was able to get those four words out but just barely. His face was so different unforgiving.
“No,” I choked out. Phillip was beside me his hand moving across my back.
He whispered to Ruth, and then he was leading me out of the room. We passed objects and I didn’t know where I was. The path to the elevators seemed so long. My feet felt as if they were weighted down.
I heard it. One word, “Jenny.”
I stopped in my tracks, as Phillip pulled me forward. “Janna, don’t mind him.” Phillip encouraged.
“Jenny!” It was louder now. I turned to face him. The tears welled up in me, but I would not let them come, nor would I let my hand go to his face. I wondered if I were still asleep back in my room?
“Why Jenny?” His voice was softer now. “Leave her alone, pal.” Phillip pulled me backward. “Janna forget this jerk,” he said close to my ear.
“He’s not a jerk,” I whispered but neither of them heard me.
Phillip turned me around to face him pulling me forward. Rupert moved toward us.
“I was talking to her ponce.” His voice was different, harder. Phillip dropped my hand, turned and pushed Rupert with his full force. Rupert wasn’t expecting this and fell backward over a table.
“Bloody hell,” he yelled. Phillip pulled me forward to the elevator. I watched Rupert run toward the doors as they closed. “Who was that asshole?” He tried to hold my hand. “It doesn’t matter.” I knew he hated me. I was planning my escape. I’d make my excuses and get out of here.
At my door it hit me exactly what happened. I crumpled down the wall in a daze. The man I loved was in the same hotel the man who hated me with a passion. The tears began slowly at first. I handed Phillip my key and he opened the door. It took him a while to get me to stand my legs were like jelly.
I was finally standing when I saw Rupert standing behind Phillip. Rupert tapped Phillip on the shoulder. Phillip turned as Rupert hit him square in the jaw. Phillip was out cold.
I moved inside the door closing it in Rupert’s face. He pushed forward causing me to fall backward. He rushed through the door slamming it. He turned to lock it and stood standing gazing at me. His face was beet red his breathing fast. I sat on the floor looking up at him willing myself to wake up.
Finally he tentatively put his hand out to me. I accepted it and stood up. His touch brought all the old feelings back. I was on sensory overload. My own breathing was hard. As soon as I stood he dropped my hand. He leaned against the wall.
“You are going to talk to me Jenny whether you like it or not.” He voice was angry. I’d only heard his voice like that two other times. Once when he was talking to Ethan and the other when he’d told me to leave his office.
I looked at him as I stepped out of my shoes. He gave me a look. He could care less about the heels or how I was feeling.
“Why Jenny, why did you let me think … how could you let me do go through that?”
I was mute looking at him.
“Do you care did you ever? I lost the only woman I ever loved. The hell you put me through.” He studied me.
Suddenly he pushed me against the wall. He held me there pinned. “All of it was an act, wasn’t it part of the job. Bloody bint.” He moved away watching me.
I rammed him straight on hitting his chest with all of my might. The words began to roll and I hit his chest over and over. “So you could live,” came out jumbled. “I couldn’t see you die,” I was able to stutter. My face was so close to his. “You hate me don’t you?” He nodded slowly.
His face was inches from my own. We were both breathing hard staring at each other. He grabbed my hands turning me around so that my back instead of his was against the wall. His hands held mine against the wall pinning me there. I could feel his breath on my face. I wanted him to take me. I wanted him once just once even if he hated me, I loved him.
The room was quiet but my heart beat in my ears pounding away. I closed my eyes breathing him in, after all this time he smelled the same. I wanted to taste him. I slowly opened my eyes expecting him to disappear like some apparition. I could feel his hands on me still pinning me against the wall. His face had softened but his eyes held a steady glare.
‘Rupert,” I whispered his name. From my lips his name traveled the scant distance between us. He closed his eyes at the mention of his name. He leaned his head in to touch mine. His hands moved to my neck. My breath was even harder more rapid.
“I hate you,” he said low tone. “How could you …” he trailed off searching my face as if it held some mystery there. The tears slowly glided down my face resting on his hands. His hands gripped my face now.
“Angelus,” I tilted my head up my lips almost touching his.
“I thought you were dead.” He said sadly.
“I was Rupert, I have been inside since I left.” We were sharing the same the air.
He moved away and I fell forward a step. His eyes saw the flowers. He moved to them and took the card and read it. He took the flowers by the vase and held them above the garbage can and just let them go.
“From the ponce?” He nodded toward the door.
“Yes,” I said sadly.
His eyes moved to my hand.
“It’s nothing England. We haven’t … we don’t … he’s just a guy I date.” I sat on the bed.
“Don’t call me that.” He yelled. In two steps he was over me.
“Like I’d believe that.” He shook his head.
“Check it out, look around the room or not believe me. It doesn’t matter.” I looked at him.
“We mattered … once. I grieved for you. Jenny I never got over you.”
He turned on his heel and walked to the closet. He stood in front of it. “Blast.” He moved to the door.
“Jenny Calendar is dead.” With that I put my head in my hands and sobbed. I heard the door slam shut.
“I loved you too,” I whispered.
Papers came tumbling down on my head. I looked up at the cascading pages falling around me. One page floated gently down to my lap. I picked it up. The paper was faded from age. I picked it up and read it. The first two paragraphs were the love letter I’d started to Rupert.
Beneath them I found his familiar scrawl.
“Would you do it again, Jenny?” He stood towering before me.
“Yes, I would Eng … Rupert.” I answered sadly.
“Did you … ever love me Jenny in any small way?” The hurt he was feeling spread across his face like ivy covers a tree.
“Always,” I said and bite my lip. “You’re bleeding Jenny.” He moved to the bathroom to get a Kleenex. He said something I couldn’t comprehend.
He sat on the bed next to me handing me the tissue. “You are alone aren’t you?” I nodded to the affirmative. I moved off the bed to a chair tucking my legs under me. A slight smile rested there for an instant on his face, yes he knew me too well.
Phillip started beating on the door. I stood and went to answer it. He pushed his way past me and Rupert was on his feet read for trouble.
Phillip looked at me and grabbed me by the shoulders. “Is this the one you told me about? Is that the fucking librarian?” He was clearly angry. His jaw was swelling even now. Phillip started shaking me hard.
Immediately Rupert was between us tearing Phillip away. He began pushing Phillip back. He pushed and he pushed until Phillip was out the door. Rupert slammed the door again and I heard it lock.
“Poof,” he said to the door as if Phillip were standing there.
He walked slowly toward me. “Did I hurt you?” He asked a bit more gently.
“No I said as I leaned against the wall. “I’m fine.” I closed my eyes. I wanted our last minutes to be civil. I wanted to remember him.
“What do you want Jenny?” He stepped closer to me. It would have been so much easier to just touch him.
“What I want I can never have Rupert.” I lowered my eyes.
“What do you want Jenny?” Even though I was looking down I knew he was there above me.
“You,” it would be the one word that would change my life again.
I raised my head in time to see one tear fall down his face. He tried to brush it away. My hand went to his face but he caught my hand stopping it from its destination. This time he didn’t drop my hand.
“You are still so damned beautiful.” He murmured for no reason. This was his way of getting back at me and I wouldn’t stand for it.
I had changed my mind. I didn’t want him like this in hate. I pulled away from him but his hand held steadfast. I moved out of his grasp and sat back on the bed. I picked up the paper beside. I glanced at the words he’d written underneath mine. The words were new, freshly written.
I read them and I was numb, confused. The words came straight from his heart; I began to tremble, as I understood their meaning. Again he was next to me. I turned to look at his face. He lowered his head just like he did whenever I overwhelmed him.
“Tell me this is real, that you aren’t some dream. Promise me you won’t leave me again.”
“I can’t promise that, Rupert. I’ve told you I’d do it again. Rupert if I thought something would happen to you I’d do anything to keep you alive.” I was honest.
“No secrets between us Jenny, ever again.” I moved to touch his face and this time he didn’t move to stop it.
The second tear dropped and then the third. Then I couldn’t count the tears. My hand went to his neck and I pulled him to me. He moved his head to my lap and cried. My hand moved through his hair stroking it softly. After a while he fell asleep. I moved carefully so not to wake him. I was able to move his legs so he was lying across the bed. I moved to the other side and stretched out. I watched him sleep. After awhile, I too began to doze.
I felt the arm around my waist first. My eyes opened with a start. He was next to me watching me. I turned my head toward his. He leaned in to kiss me. It was very soft and sweet. His hand went to my head pulling me toward him. I felt my body heat begin to rise. He moved to take me in his arms. My leg moved between his. I moved it slowly. His hand moved to my thigh his fingers stroking the inside of my leg. Each time his fingers moved higher and high.
“This isn’t how I wanted it to be, Jenny,” I moved my fingers across his lips to silence him. I lay back on the bed. “Make love to me Rupert.” I cooed seductively. He turned so he was on me his full weight on my body. This time the kiss was bruising, passionate and so long over due.
“You are real.” He said kissing me so carefully. His lips came down in full force his tongue parting my lips easily. It darted in and out like the tongue of a poisonous snake. It moved around in my mouth relearning every part. I began to suck it very tenderly, but as it moved it aroused me and I began to become more demanding sucking it for all I was worth. Always content to stay still in the past, his large hands began to rove over the top of my clothes. His tongue continued to play with mine but now he was drawing it into his mouth. He kissed me over and over again. Every nerve in my body was on fire.
I rolled him over so he was on his back. I pulled away sitting up straddling him. His hands pulled my dress up slowly revealing the body underneath. He caught his breath. I placed my hands on his waist moving up his body. “I’m going to make you squirm.” I promised as my tongue traced his lips slowly.