Left and Up, or Straight Ahead?

Summary: An alternate version of "Passion", where a fateful choice by Jenny as she flees from the homicidal Angelus has profound effects on the order of things. . .

Disclaimer: These characters are all the property of their owners/creators (not me).

Rating: PG-13. Usual violence, some sensuality, disturbing cruelty at times. Sensitive souls should perhaps retreat to safer climes.

Time Frame: Alternate timeline for "Passion."

Archiving: Please do. . .but e-mail me at eilandesq@aol.com to let me know. . .I like to know where my stuff ends up. . .and I might want to see what else you have got.


Part I

7:20 PM

Jenny ran at full speed down the corridors of Sunnydale High, desperately fleeing the sound of snarls behind her as Angelus stalked her. Occasionally she would hit a door that refused to give, and was forced to either waste precious time forcing it open, or take another route. Both approaches slowed her, and she heard the demon closing distance with her as her heart raced faster and faster.

Damn it, I was so close she thought as she moved along one of the exterior walkways, Angelus no more than seventy feet behind her. I could have talked to Giles. . .Angel could have had his soul back tonight! Jenny was a gentle soul at most times, though her experiences with Buffy, Giles and the Slayerettes had certainly aroused various intense emotions in her; however, all she was feeling right now was anger. Anger that she was going to fail after coming so close. Anger that she was going to miss her long-awaited reunion with the man she had loved desperately for months. And most of all, anger at the harm that the thing that was chasing her had done to all of her closest friends, including the one who was no longer alive so that she could beg his forgiveness. Deep within her mind, she swore a terrible oath to her Gypsy ancestors that, whatever the cost, she would not fail. . .she would restore Angel's soul and right the wrongs she had contributed to.

She reached the door at the end of the walkway, only to find it jammed shut. She thought she heard Angelus snickering as he rushed towards her. The door popped open and she slammed it in the snarling face of Angelus, allowing her to open up a thirty foot gap before he tore the door open and began closing on her again. She saw a janitor's cart ahead of her and thrust it into the charging demon's path, smirking grimly as it sent him tumbling. A split second choice confronted her: left and up, or straight ahead? Her first impulse was to head up the stairs, but an inner instinct warned her not to. She continued straight, fleeing faster at the sound of the enraged Angelus closing on her yet again. He had closed to twenty feet when she saw a full pail of water that a janitor had left on the floor ahead of her. Angelus was only ten feet behind Jenny when she deftly kicked the bucket over, leaving a stretch of slick floor that even a Slayer could not have avoided at the speed Angelus was going. He skidded and plowed full speed into a bank of lockers, stunning him. Jenny continued on, mentally blocking out the outraged bellows of the powerful vampire as he recovered his bearings. Exultation rushed through her entire body, utterly drowning out the fatigue that had been starting to slow her down. She had won! She had beaten the bastard! Giles would be so proud of her. . .tears came to her eyes as she burst out the open side door of the school and ran out into the night.

9:00 PM

Buffy walked into the kitchen, her body language suggesting that she had just gone twelve rounds with a seriously nasty demon. Willow, in spite of the inherent seriousness of the whole thing with Angel. . .no, it wasn't really him anymore, was it?. . .could not help but feel a little amused that Buffy's spent condition was due to having had THE TALK with her mother. Willow's amusement died down when she realized that she had yet to have that talk with her own mother, who would not be thrilled to find out that she was dating a musician. Somewhat creeped out by the line of thought that that idea provoked, Willow decided it was time to be supportive. As Buffy sank into a chair, Willow stood up and walked behind her, rubbing her shoulders to relieve some of the muscle tension she knew would be there. Buffy glanced over her shoulder and smiled. "Thanks Will, but I think I'm beyond the ability of one of your neck rubs to help." She shook her head ruefully and commented, "The scary thing is, Mom took it better than I thought she would. . .though the details I didn't share with her might have had something to do with it."

Willow smiled and sat down facing her best friend. "Giles stopped by. I gave him back the book, and he said he would be heading back to his place." Willow giggled, causing Buffy to raise an eyebrow at her and forcing her to explain, "I told him what you and your mother were talking about, and he wanted to. . ." , Willow assumed an imitation of Giles' British accent and continued ". . .intervene on her behalf." Willow giggled again and explained, "I said, 'That would be good. . .What would you say?'"

Buffy pictured-accurately-the expression that must have been on Giles' face at that point and started giggling along with Willow, which lasted about ten seconds before both sobered, wiping their eyes. Buffy smiled wistfully and commented, "At least he wanted to help. . .did he say what he'd be doing, now that we're done with Angel-repellant duty?"

Willow hesitated, and Buffy had a strong feeling what Willow was going to say. The Slayer frowned as Willow finally responded, "I had the feeling he was going to see Miss Calendar tonight."

Buffy got up and began to pace around the room, as Willow watched with concern on her face. After a moment, Buffy looked at Willow and commented, "Well, they didn't waste any time, did they?" Willow noted that her teeth were clenched together as she said it. All right, a voice within her spoke with an intensity that rather shocked her, that's quite enough!

Buffy was about to start a full-fledged tirade when she noticed that Willow was meeting her gaze with an intensity she could never remember her friend duplicating. She started to open her mouth to ask what was wrong when Willow spoke: "Buffy, sit down and shut up!"

The Slayer would not have been more shocked if Angelus had wandered into the kitchen in a pink tutu and began dancing Swan Lake. Without thinking, she sat down and faced her friend with a hurt, puzzled expression. Willow saw this and realized she had gone overboard: "Buffy, I'm sorry, that was too harsh. But you're totally out of whack with this whole Angel thing, and you're taking it out on Giles and Miss Calendar. Xander isn't going to call you on this, and Giles can't, so I have to be the bad guy. . .and I'm not good at it. . .all right? "

Realizing that this had to be terribly difficult for her shy friend, Buffy decided that she would at least let Willow make her case. "All right, Sarge, I'm listening. But I don't see why I should feel happy about Giles deciding that someone who betrayed me. . .betrayed all of us should be the love of his life."

Willow snorted and retorted, "When exactly did she betray you, Buffy? All right, she was spying on Angel for her people, making sure he was unhappy. But she never actually did anything to mess with you guys, and she did a pretty good job helping us to save the world a few times, if you take the time to think about it." Willow could see Buffy reviewing the history of their relationship with Miss Calendar mentally before nodding curtly and turning back to listen. Willow continued, "From what she said, her people didn't share the one piece of information that would have helped. . .and as soon as she found out, she rushed over to try to help. If she hadn't, I'd be dead right now, and Xander probably would be, too."

Willow could see Buffy's face briefly twist in pain as she remembered that night: Willow helplessly in the grip of Angelus, Jenny and Xander helplessly waiting as she pleaded with the soulless demon, only to have him mock her. Willow moved on, seeing that her words were sinking in. "Her mission was to keep that curse in place. . .without it, Angel would have been just another monster for the last hundred years. . .or someone would have had to destroy him." She gripped her friend's arm and squeezed, causing Buffy to look at her with eyes that glistened with unshed tears. "Buffy, Angel saved her life more than once. I'm sure she liked him a lot more than Xander ever did," she asserted, provoking a chuckle from Buffy at the profound truth of that statement. "If she had known, she would have told you, Buffy, I'm sure of it. Do you think she wanted a rampaging monster free of the curse loose in the world?"

Buffy looked up at the ceiling as if to try to summon one last burst of righteous outrage, but Willow could see that the effort was going to be futile. Annoyed, Buffy blew air through her lips, then looked at her friend with an exasperated expression. "All right, now what do I do? I've made a mess of things with Giles and Miss Calendar. . .I don't know how to fix it."

Willow smiled, feeling that they had accomplished something important. "I think you fixed things with Giles when you gave Miss Calendar the go-ahead to see him again. And as for her, I think she'd be quite willing to accept a heartfelt expression of desire to patch things up between the two of you. . .after all, Xander, Angel and I were willing to let bygones be bygones, even after that dance you had with Xander the first night of school."

Buffy blushed as she remembered the intense dance she had shared with Xander, and the hurt she had thereby inflicted on Willow and Angel (not to mention the effect on poor Xander). She sighed and capitulated: "Okay, Willow, you win. I'll go to Miss Calendar tomorrow and throw myself on the mercy of the court." She leaned forward and hugged her friend: "Thanks."

Willow hugged back, sensing tension depart from the Slayer as they broke apart. She looked at Buffy and suggested, "Ice cream?"

Buffy nodded and elaborated: "Big scoops."

9:45 PM

As Giles approached the door of his apartment, he noticed that it was slightly ajar. Carefully, he opened it, ready to defend himself should the intruder be a mundane burglar or something more dangerous. Nothing revealed itself to him, and he looked around the ground floor of the apartment. He immediately saw the ice bucket chilling the bottle of excellent champagne, and a note with a red rose lying atop it. He picked up the rose and inhaled its fragrance before opening the note. In Jenny's long, flowing handwriting, it read simply: "Come up when you're ready. J."

He was damned well ready now. But the restraint bestowed by years of experience allowed him to pour the champagne and place the rose between his teeth before he headed up the stairs. He knew exactly where the bed was, and he expected to see her there, waiting. He was somewhat startled to see the bed empty and was standing there in confusion when he saw movement in the corner of his eye. His mouth opened, causing the rose to tumble to the carpet: it was joined momentarily by the two champagne glasses, which shattered after falling out of his nerveless hands.

Jenny was standing in the corner of the room, almost invisible in the faint light coming from the street. She was wearing some kind of filmy nightgown that was hard to distinguish from her pale, almost translucent skin. Her dark eyes met his and held them for a moment before she emitted a throaty chuckle and commented: "Be hard to drink that now, Rupert."

He chuckled back and responded, "Yes, and somehow I can't muster up too much despair regarding that problem." He walked over to her and stroked her neck: her skin was cool from the breeze coming through the window. "Jenny," he began, his normally even voice breaking with emotion. She put a finger to his lips and interrupted, "Shh." She nodded to the bed and commented, "I think we can put off discussion until later, Rupert. I do have some news. . .but I think we've waited long enough for this, don't you?"

Giles was not inclined to argue, and gently lifted her onto the bed, where he quickly divested her of the flimsy nightgown. They kissed, then began various creative methods of stimulating each other while Jenny began gently removing items of his clothing, starting with his coat and shirt. Giles was in a state of complete bliss-he could not ever remember being this happy. So it was that he did not notice that he was rapidly becoming dizzy and weak until he was about to lose consciousness. He tried to call out, to warn Jenny that something was wrong. . .but it was too late, and he tumbled into blackness.

11:45 PM

She watched him as he lay there, the breeze from the window gently ruffling his hair. She had put his shirt back on, as it would be convenient later. How long would it be. . .ah, here we go. She watched as the two small holes in his neck closed up, then as his handsome features distorted, changing to a more demonic vision. She saw his eyes open in confusion, saw his head turn to her and then the recognition in his eyes, then again the confusion.

She decided to fully clarify the matter. Her own visage changed: though her features were rather more delicate than the run of the mill vampire, there was no question what she had become. She reached under the bed and pulled out the cooler she had placed there before Rupert had arrived. She opened it and removed five pints of O+ blood, still in the standard Red Cross containers. She began feeding them to the fledgling vampire, soothing him with, "Eat now, dear. We've got a lot to talk about."

. . .to be continued.

As always, comments are welcome and desired.