Revenant

Summary: Jenny's grave is disturbed. . .and the goal is vengeance.

Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine, as they remain the property of their owners/creators. . .I'm just taking them down the road not traveled.

Rating: PG-13, for themes and general intensity.

Time Frame: Third season, between "Amends" and "Gingerbread"

Archiving: Please do, but e-mail me at eilandesq@aol.com because I'm interested in where stuff I write ends up, and I'll want to see what else you've got there.

REVENANT


Oakmont Cemetery was typical for Sunnydale: level ground, a few trees. . .and far too many graves. Three dark-haired men slipped quietly through the night, alertly watching their surroundings for any signs that they were being observed. Detecting no one, they located the grave that they were seeking and began taking various powders and mystic objects from their coats. They traced a magic circle around the grave, then sprinkled small amounts of half a dozen odd looking substances onto the grave itself. Having concluded this, the men sat down around the circle and began chanting in a language that few then living would have recognized. After about five minutes, the grave began to glow with a bright light. The men looked excited, and became more so as the glow grew brighter and brighter. Abruptly, their expressions changed as they realized that something was wrong, but it was too late: the burst of energy that came from the grave reduced the three men to smoking corpses before they could even begin to scream, and two nearby trees burst into flame.

Angel was nearby, taking yet another of his long evening walks to distract him from thinking about Buffy, when he saw the flash. He sprinted towards the graveyard, wondering what creature could be causing such a disturbance, and before long he came upon the three bodies. . .and realized whose grave it was. With a look of profound horror, he looked down into the blasted-open grave. . .and saw that it was empty.

Angel felt a pang of intense grief before forcing himself to focus on the problem at hand. Someone had just used terribly powerful magic on Jenny's corpse, and he had a sinking feeling what it pertained to. Reluctantly, he started towards Giles' apartment. Going back to Hell would be a picnic compared to giving Giles this piece of news.

*****

They had all gathered at Buffy's house at Giles' request. Joyce brought refreshments in for everyone, then sat down in a chair in a corner of the room and watched as Giles haltingly began the proceedings: "Ah. . .Angel came to see me about an hour ago to give me a disturbing piece of news, and I believe that it concerns all of us." He turned to the silently waiting vampire and prodded, "Angel?"

Angel nodded and explained what he had seen in the graveyard: all present were visibly angry and revolted at the thought of Jenny's grave being desecrated. After Angel finished, Xander asked, "Why would anyone do something like that?" His eyes looked haunted, and Willow asked, "Angel, did the bodies. . .did any of them look like they might have been relatives of Jenny?"

Giles smiled grimly, simultaneously marveling at his protégé's ability to reason on the fly and wincing at the thought that her sharp mind had come to the same unpleasant conclusion that his had. He nodded and replied, "Yes, they did. . .and their identification papers proved it. All three men were members of the Kalderash Gypsy community. Three of Jenny's relatives came here to cast dark magic on her corpse."

Willow nodded and replied, "I was afraid of that. . .Giles. . .oh no, not the ritual of Melarchus."

Giles frowned and replied, "I'm afraid so. . .and that is not the kind of thing that you should be aware of, Willow, but there's no point in denying the obvious. . ." He visibly calmed himself, then continued, "The ritual of Melarchus is designed to allow the raising of a corpse of someone who was murdered, for the purpose of achieving vengeance on the murderer, and on anyone who might help the murderer. The ritual endows the corpse with a great deal of power. . .if Jenny. . .if Jenny's corpse has been subjected to it, we will be unable to stop it without using some terribly powerful spells." He turned to the two quietly listening Slayers and commented, "I will need you two to keep the revenant from killing Angel long enough for me to complete the counter spells. . .it won't be easy, but I have confidence in both of you."

Buffy and Faith both nodded, but Angel burst in: "Giles, you don't have to go through this. I'm the one she's after, and I have the ability to cast the spells. . .let me take the responsibility. I'm the one who caused this situation in the first place."

Giles turned to Angel, and all present could see the ambivalence in his eyes as he looked at Angel, then replied, "No, Angel, I have to do it. The thing we have to defeat isn't Jenny, it's a revenge demon raised by her damned fool relatives, and keeping it from exploiting her corpse is something I'm quite glad to do." He sighed and continued, "Angel, I'm not sure I've completely forgiven you, but I know she would have, because her last wish was to try to restore your soul. . .and she was right to want to do so." He laughed bitterly and commented, "It would make my life so much easier if I hated you, Angel, but I don't . . .not any more. You've done your best to make amends for the misdeeds of Angelus, and I appreciate your offer to do so once again. . .but this time, it's best that the one who loved her undo this treason to her memory." He walked over to Angel and concluded softly, "I hope that you understand."

Visibly moved by the compassion that Giles was showing for him, Angel nodded and looked away. Willow called out, "What about me, Giles? I can help with the spells, even if you want to be the one to cast them."

Giles nodded and replied, "I would be glad to have your help, Willow. It will also serve to keep you out of the fray. . .the creature will home in on Angel and not come after us while we do what needs to be done." He looked over at Xander and Oz and commented, "The creature is capable of recruiting help from others of the undead. . .it might have a vampire or two in tow when we find it. You two can help by drawing any such helpers away while Buffy, Faith and Angel hold the creature off."

Xander replied, "Not a problem." Oz nodded in assent, and Giles commented, "Good. All right, everyone take the supplies outside. . .I'll be out in a minute." The teenagers and Angel filed out silently, and Giles removed his glasses and polished them methodically. As he put them back on, Joyce walked over to him and squeezed his shoulder, asking quietly, "Are you going to be all right, Rupert?"

Giles looked over at Joyce, and his face was grim as he replied, "Not until this nightmare is over, Joyce." He managed a brief smile of thanks for her concern, then he walked out the door without saying another word.


*****

The bodies were gone when the small group arrived at the blasted gravesite; obviously, the authorities had done their usual job of covering up, and the incident would be dismissed as an incident of teenage vandalism. Buffy and Faith prowled the area, looking for the ghastly creature that would come after Angel. Xander and Oz stood by in grim silence with stakes in their hands, and Giles and Willow carefully set out the materials required for the spells. After a few moments, their preparations were complete, and Willow watched anxiously as Giles began speaking in a language that the others assumed was that of the Kalderash people. He had not been at it long when a familiar voice called out: "Rupert, your accent is atrocious. You'd have been lucky if you didn't summon something from the Fifth Pale rather than what you're trying to do."

Everyone turned to where the voice was coming from: a slender figure slipped from behind one of the trees and slowly walked towards the startled group. Jenny Calendar showed none of the ill effects from the treatment her body had received both before and after death; as before, she was stunningly beautiful. She wore a simple white dress, and a pale white luminance surrounded her. Faith and Buffy sprinted over to interpose themselves between Jenny and the stunned Watcher. Jenny observed the grim expression on their faces and commented, "From the reception I'm getting, you'd think you were expecting a revenant to show up. . .that is it, isn't it, Rupert?"

Giles blinked, transfixed by the presence of the woman he had loved standing thirty feet away from him, and replied, "Yes, actually, but the accounts I've read of revenants indicate that its appearance is that of an animated corpse; obviously, that is not the case with you. But I'm still not convinced that you are my-that you are Jenny Calendar. I think an explanation is in order."

Jenny sighed and replied, "What happened is that my idiot uncles. . .including my favorite one. . .I'll miss him. . .tried to use the Ritual of Melarchus without finding out the most important piece of information: whether I had already achieved my vengeance against my killer. Since I had, the spell backfired and killed them. Unfortunate, to say the least."

Giles blinked again and asked, "You already achieved your vengeance? I don't understand. . .Angel hasn't been destroyed."

"It was you, Miss Calendar, wasn't it?" Willow burst in, her eyes aglow with comprehension. "You were the one who helped me with the curse ritual. . .I felt a presence take control of me. . .but I didn't know who it was. . .it was you."

Jenny nodded and smiled wistfully as she explained, "Willow, you would have succeeded if you had been in full health, but time was running out and the ritual might have killed you if I hadn't intervened." She smiled and chided, "If you ever have to perform the ritual again, make sure to do it in a private home, so that vampires won't be welcome, all right?" Willow nodded ruefully and smiled at the sheer pleasure of speaking with Jenny again after so long.

Buffy had been listening, but she could not stay silent any longer, and she burst out, "All right, I'm ready to believe that the ritual didn't turn you into the unstoppable monster from Vengeance Land, but it did bring you back. . .how did that happen?"

Jenny's face fell, and she whispered, "I've been here since I died. . .unfinished business and all that. When my uncles performed the ritual, it created an opening that permitted me to manifest in a material form. . .so that I could bring things to closure."

"What unfinished business is that?" Giles' voice was curious and concerned in equal measures as he continued, "Jenny, if we've neglected anything, I'm so-"

"Rupert, don't. There's no way you could have known." Jenny's voice was reassuring, and Giles visibly relaxed as she continued, "All of you have unresolved feelings relating to the way I died, and how things were between us when it happened. I'm here to help you deal with them, so that you can move on and live your lives without being burdened by them." She took a breath, then continued, "Willow, I'd like to start with you, if that's all right."

Willow nodded, and Jenny continued, "Willow, you felt badly about shutting me out after Buffy found out who I really was and what I was doing in Sunnydale. I never blamed you for it, Willow. You are her best friend, and loyalty is still a virtue, even in these sad times. You were never anything but completely polite to me, even when you were avoiding me, and you never did anything to make me less than proud of you. . .you were the best student I ever had, and you did a wonderful job taking over my computer class. . .I just wish I could have been there to advise you in the last year. . .you have a bright future ahead of you, and I'm proud to have been your teacher."

Willow blinked, and tears came to her eyes as she stepped forward to hug Jenny: she was relieved to discover that Jenny's material form was sufficiently solid to allow for an embrace. She stepped back and looked into Jenny's dark eyes as she whispered, "Thank you for everything. . .Jenny."

Willow stepped back, and Jenny called out, "Oz." Oz started, and mumbled apologetically, "Uh. . .sorry to react like that. I didn't think you'd have anything to say to me."

Jenny smiled and replied, "You felt badly that you didn't have the right words to make Willow feel better after I died. . .but you've been there for her for the last year, in good times and in bad. . .it's something to feel good about. May you live a long and happy life, Daniel Osbourne."

Oz nodded, and Jenny turned to Xander, whose eyes were visibly brimming over. Buffy watched in shock as he started sobbing and calling out, "Oh God, Miss Calendar, I'm so sorry."

Jenny moved forward and embraced him, patting him on the back and soothing him: "Xander, it's all right. . .it was an accident, and it wasn't time yet, anyway. Rupert wasn't going to accept me back until Buffy gave him her consent, and she needed more time."

Buffy blinked in confusion, then she put two and two together. Xander's use of the love spell had interrupted Jenny's first attempts to reconcile with Giles, and he had blamed himself for the fact that they hadn't gotten together again soon enough for her to be under the protection of the group. Buffy had always wondered at Xander's fierce condemnations of any attempts to bring back Angel after he had killed Jenny. . .now she understood, and a lot of residual resentment she had towards Xander for his harsh words to her at various times melted away.

Buffy watched as Jenny pulled back from Xander and continued, "Xander, you are the heart and soul of this little group. You throw yourself into danger without a thought to your own safety, all to protect those you love. I would have been dead months before I actually died if you hadn't gone into the most dangerous place on Earth to save Buffy. . .those months were infinitely precious to me, and I will always be grateful for them." She grinned, then commented, "You know, you actually are rather cute. . .don't think that it would take a love spell for anyone to be interested in you. . .there are any number of women out there who would love to have a White Knight at their side." She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, and concluded, "Xander, all my best wishes to you, and to those you love."

Blinking away tears, Xander nodded and stepped back. Jenny looked over to Buffy, and Buffy felt as if a dagger of ice had been plunged into her heart as she commented, "I can't imagine that you could ever forgive me, Miss Calendar."

Jenny smiled and replied, "What, that you let me get killed? Whose fault was that? I knew that Angelus was out there: I knew that he targeted the friends of the Slayer. I was working on something that directly threatened him. In spite of that, I chose to work in a location that any vampire who wanted to could wander in and kill me: not one of my greater moments. Buffy, you were right to be angry. . .I should have let you know what was going on. Both you and Angel had saved my life: I should have trusted you and let you know why I was in Sunnydale. I waited too long, and the results were tragic. You did your best when you consented to having me see Rupert again. . .you love him, and you wanted him to be happy. Buffy, I don't hate you. . .the only emotions involved are admiration. . .and respect."

Buffy took a deep breath, and whispered, "Thank you.", as she stepped back. Jenny turned to Angel, and the ensouled vampire was visibly shaken as the woman he had killed walked up to him and whispered, "Angel, you need to let this go."

"How can I?!" Angel exclaimed as he abruptly turned away from her. "What I did to you was one of the most atrocious things Angelus ever did. . .taking the love of Giles' life away from him. . .leaving your corpse for him to find. . .if there was ever an unforgivable offense, that was it." He looked down at the ground as he whispered, "How you must hate me."

Jenny smiled at him, and responded, "No, Angel, I don't. The Angel I knew was my friend. . .the one who helped to save my life on more than one occasion. . .the Angel who had a wicked sense of humor after hours when the big bad of the moment had been defeated, and when we were all just hanging out. . .the monster who showed up after the Judge came to town had nothing to do with him. . .and I remember thinking when Angelus was chasing me down that I wished that my good friend Angel was around to save my ass. . .no such luck, alas. " She reached out with her hand and caressed his cheek as she concluded, "Angel, I've achieved my vengeance against Angelus. . .he's gone. . .replaced by my good friend, who will do his utmost to undo the harm he has caused. . .or am I mistaken?"

Angel looked at Jenny with new resolve as he replied, "No, you are not mistaken." He stepped forward to embrace her and kiss her on the forehead, then he withdrew as Jenny turned to Giles and commented softly, "Oh Rupert, I wish I could have done something before now to make the pain go away."

Giles looked at the woman he had loved so desperately while she was alive, and felt moved to comment: "I doubt that anything would have done that. . .but seeing you again has made the pain recede a bit. . . but I still wonder. . .how could you stand to see me, given that I chose to support Buffy over you?"

Jenny sighed, then replied, "Because that is who you are, Rupert. The well-being of the Slayers is hardwired into you. . .and anything that gets in the way of that will have you to deal with. . .including me." She looked deeply into his eyes, and saw the pain that still dwelled there, and sighed, "Of course, charging into the Factory with a crossbow and a flaming baseball bat was quite impressive. . .if deeply stupid. It's a good thing Buffy knew you well enough to follow you, or you would have left her without her Watcher. She's gone through that once, she doesn't need to go through it again. . .so be careful, all right?" She leaned in and whispered, "Rupert, I know about the Cruciamentum. . .you have to tell Buffy, and find some way to avoid putting her through it."

Giles' eyes widened, and he whispered back, "I'd like nothing better than to spare Buffy that barbaric ritual. . .but if I refuse, the Council will sack me and replace me with someone who will put her through it. . .or worse."

Jenny clucked in annoyance and replied, "Rupert, you have the resources of some of the brightest and most tenacious people I've ever known. . .including Buffy herself. Tell them, and they'll help you figure something out that will fool those idiots on the Council. . .the alternative is possibly losing Buffy's trust, and Faith is already disinclined to trust anyone. . ." She heard the sound of footsteps receding behind her and sighed, "Speaking of which. . .I'll be right back." She turned away from him and began following Faith, who had quietly slipped away from the group while Jenny and Giles had been talking, and the others watched her, surprised, as Jenny caught up to Faith about a hundred feet from the rest of the group and called out, "Faith. . .I wanted to speak with you."

Faith whirled and blinked, and was shocked into an honest and polite reply: "Ah, Miss Calendar. . .we never met each other. . .I just thought that I was a third wheel here."

Jenny sighed and met the Slayer's gaze as she replied, "That's really the problem, isn't it, Faith? You've convinced yourself that you're never going to fit in here. . .that the others see you as a cheap knockoff of Buffy, and that you really don't matter as much as they do as far as they are concerned." Jenny could see the hurt in Faith's eyes, and she hastened to continue, "Faith, I understand a little of what you're feeling. . .I was the outsider here while I was alive. . .oh, Rupert adored me, and the others liked me. . .at least until the whole thing with Angel came up, but I always felt apart from them. . .and it caused me to withhold my trust from them. It cost me everything." She paused, overwhelmed for a moment by the memories, then continued, "Faith, they are the finest people I've ever known. . .if I had trusted them, let them know who I really was and helped them to investigate the circumstances of Angel's curse. . .so much pain could have been avoided."

Faith blinked and looked away, then replied, "Trust isn't something that has worked out much for me. . .it seems that everyone I've relied on has screwed me over. . .or died on me. Not a good track record for putting my confidence in anyone."

"I understand why you're hesitant, Faith: life hasn't been too kind to you up to now. . .but you've had the good fortune to run into a group of people who can make your life a lot better. Faith, I read the Watcher diaries that Rupert keeps around. . .a typical Slayer lives less than a year after being Called. Buffy would have died many times over without the help she gets from her friends. . .it will be worth your while to stick around here. If you give them a chance, they'll be there for you. . .it's a lesson I learned too late." Jenny spoke softly, watching Faith carefully as she did so: she was pleased to see that the Slayer turned back to her and listened intently with a somber look on her face. She smiled and concluded, "Faith, they're not perfect: they've screwed up royally on any number of occasions, and every one of them. . .even Willow. . .drove me to exasperation now and again. But when things go bad, they are always there when you need them. . .and that means a lot." She reached out and clasped Faith's shoulder as she whispered, "Faith, I've watched you. . .you're really good at what you do, but you can learn a lot from Buffy. . .and she can learn some things from you. Give it a chance, all right?"

Faith looked at Jenny for a long moment, then nodded once and walked back to where the others were standing. Jenny followed, and stopped in the center of the small group as she announced, "I'm sorry. . .but I've done what I came here to do, and I have to leave now."

Tears appeared in the eyes of most of the watching group, and Giles stepped forward and stammered, "Jenny. . .I'm not sure I can stand to lose you again."

The beautiful cyberpagan smiled at Giles and walked up to him, wrapping her arms around his neck as she whispered, "I'm sorry, love, but some things can't be helped. . .enjoy your life: I'll be waiting on the other side for you." She drew him down for a kiss, and as their lips met, Jenny's body began glowing brightly, then faded into nonexistence. Giles staggered, then sank to the ground, crying softly. Buffy moved over to him and embraced him as she had the night Jenny died, and the others just stood and watched as Giles mourned his lost love again.

EPILOGUE

The Mayor twitched as the change began to fall upon him, and the crowd began screaming as he began to metamorphose into a huge, snake-like creature. He was so preoccupied with the experience that he failed to notice the small figure moving over to him and raising an odd curved dagger. Consequently, he was completely shocked when he felt a sharp pain in his side and felt himself totally losing control of his voluntary muscular reactions. He fell to the ground with a loud thump, and found that he was utterly incapable of movement. After a moment, a petite blonde figure walked into his line of vision: Buffy Summers. She gave him a contemptuous look, then commented, "I suppose you would be interested in knowing about what just happened."

The Mayor tried to nod, but failed, and Buffy took his silence as assent as she continued, "The Books of Ascension had a lot of nifty information in them. . .well worth the five grand that the Council had to cough up for that demon who had them. Among other tasty tidbits, it stated that the Dagger of Alondra would immobilize a creature who was in the process of becoming a true demon. . .for five minutes." She held the ichor-stained dagger up for him to see, then continued, "So the clock's running, and I've got nothing more to say to you." She turned to her right and called out, "Faith?"

The Mayor heard footsteps, then the roar of a motor starting and running. The newly formed true demon felt a chill as he saw the younger Slayer walk into view with the biggest, nastiest chainsaw that he had ever laid eyes on. Faith winked at him, then walked out of his line of view. He felt a terrible pain just behind his head, and it just got worse from there. Thankfully, the soon to be deceased demon blacked out long before his huge head tumbled to the pavement, severed from its body quite neatly.

The vampires that had been detailed to crowd control witnessed all of this, and terror gripped them as it never had before. They fled en masse, outrunning the swarm of armed teenagers that pursued them in their desperate effort to get to safety before the sun came back out.

Buffy watched the scene with satisfaction, and Faith walked over to her and grinned as she commented, "Wonder if true demon tastes like chicken?"

Buffy turned to Faith and grimaced as she replied, "Ewww. . .only you could come up with that one, Faith."

"I beg to differ, Buffy. . .am I not the king of inappropriate humor in Sunnydale?" Xander walked up to the Slayers, his duties as field commander of the Sunnydale High militia having ended, and slipped his arm around Faith's waist as he commented, "Nice work, Faith. I admire a woman who knows how to use a chainsaw."

Faith looked up at him with smoldering eyes and replied, "That's not the only thing I can make growl when I put my mind to it." She drew him down for a kiss, and Buffy rolled her eyes and commented, "Is there anything that doesn't make you two think about sex?"

Xander looked over at her and pondered the question for a moment, then replied, "I'm sure that we'll find something, if we keep at it." Faith pulled him back down for another long kiss, and Buffy shook her head and walked away. . .she still couldn't believe that Xander had ended up with Faith. . .the night that the Hellmouth had opened again, Xander had saved Faith's life, and that had led to a passionate encounter and a new bond between them. Something had caused Faith to lower her defenses long enough to let Xander in, and Buffy had a sneaking suspicion that Faith's brief conversation with Jenny's spirit had a lot to do with it. Faith refused to confirm this, in spite of long conversations they had after Faith had agreed to move into Buffy's house with Joyce's enthusiastic agreement.

Giles walked up to them, noted Faith and Xander's amorous activities with a raised eyebrow, and turned to Buffy and commented, "Well done, Buffy. . .it would have been most unfortunate had Mayor Wilkins been able to reach the students. . .you and Faith have saved a lot of lives today."

Buffy sighed and replied, "Just another day's work on the Hellmouth, Giles." She grinned and commented, "The Council definitely came through by sending this dagger along. . .guess they're not all bad when they're not trying to kill me." Giles had come to her two days after Jenny had appeared to them and told her about the Cruciamentum: after a few moments of rage, she had helped him come up with a plan to fool the Council, and it had gone off without a hitch. Quentin Travers had suspected nothing, and both Slayer and Watcher had received abundant praise for their performances. Faith was more than a year away from her own Cruciamentum, but she had already been prepared for the experience, and Buffy and Giles both had confidence that she would carry off the deception as well as Buffy had.

Giles looked at Buffy, and asked, "What are you thinking, Buffy?"

The Slayer turned to Giles and replied, "I'm thinking that I want my diploma. . .I've certainly earned it, no matter what that eunuch Snyder thinks." She turned and glared at the diminutive principal, who seemed to be in a state of catatonic shock.

Giles looked at Buffy and nodded, "I agree completely." He smiled wolfishly and concluded, "Let's get it, shall we?" The two of them walked determinedly towards the shell-shocked principal, both silently giving thanks to the departed soul of the person who had set right so many problems that they had faced.








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