Disclaimer: All characters are copyright property of L.J Smith.
I'm in a bit of a malevolent-mood. I was inspired to write this while reading chapter 7 of DaRkEnD MeMoRiEs and chapter 2 of Amber13's FG fics. The thought came to mind...what if? Voiced by Michael :) Muahahahaha (evil laugh)

Ooo888ooO

The shift from Jenny's stubborn refusal to yield to the shadows, to finally internally admitting defeat to him, happened at the same time he had a change of heart. It was amusing that the group of battered teenagers hadn't the intelligence to reflect on what had just happened. Jenny, at least, he would have expected to recognize the dire situation she was now in.

But like her friends, she was riding the blissful train of ignorance. Walking down the street, bathed in the tainted hues of sunrise, Jenny still had the grace and beauty he'd longed to capture. He was tired of playing games with her. He'd made it quite clear in the lighthouse. No tricks, no games, no fun. He knew Jenny crossed the line the moment she released her grandfather's soul, and those of the thugs. They were his rewards, just as they were trophies for every other shadow being in his realm.
They all had a rightful claim over Jenny and her friends.

A life for a life; an eye for an eye. Timeless laws wouldn't change just because Jenny was Jenny. He had to herd together his elders the moment the souls were freed, to bargain. Not for Jenny's life, or for the safety of her friends – but for more time. He wanted to savour their terror just a little longer, drink in Jenny's fiery determination one last time.

Of course, he didn't put up a fight when his elders followed him to the lighthouse to claim their prize. He knew better than that. What made him furious was the indignity of having them attempt to take Jenny right in front of him. His pride is what pushed him to act. There was nothing more to it. He gave Jenny and her friends a head-start in a new game with his elders. They wouldn't know until they were tucked in their beds that night, when the shadows would come out to play. But his elders understood his deed. A small token in return for not disgracing his pride. Shadow men loved to chase, it was part of the thrill of the game.

He reflected on his small victory as he watched the teenagers huddle together. They were no longer pawns to play with; they were simply prey yet to be claimed. When that became his reality, his perception on Jenny changed. His 'feelings' toward her altered. For her one trivial victory throughout the games, he wanted compensation for his gamesmanship. He had a reputation to uphold. Jenny tricked him by lowering to his level of play, by deceiving him with an oath that was meant to be irrevocable. Today he rose to her level and tricked her in return, by pretending to die so that she may live. Good versus evil.

The fact that Jenny had put the ring on delighted him. He would be her every thought. She would mourn him. She would blame herself. She would take the guilt of his sacrifice as her burden. She would hurt as badly as he had when she tricked him. A sweet revenge.

It was clear they all bought into it. "Do you ever wonder, you know... what if?" Michael asked.
The rest of the question was unspoken, and the glowering looks the others sent the rumpled boy was answer enough. What if... his name was carved back into the rune stave?

It was a joke to Julian. The question and the boy; a great big joke. The thought that it wasn't real never crossed their minds. Jenny tried to convince him that good eventually triumphed over evil. By the end of the week, Julian's elders would have shown her how dead wrong she was.

Perfectly sculpted pale lips curled into a sensuous smile, and the young shadow man disappeared into the shadows. Humans were vein. Even Jenny with her heart of gold. She wasn't the only one Julian had stalked for years, and she certainly wouldn't be the last he would play for to win.
Another day, another game... another prize.