Didn't I, Didn't I, Didn't I See You Dyin'?
see chapter 1
I made the mistake of deciding that I wanted the story to make sense, and so I’ve struggled with this chapter more than any other. Please review with any suggestions for improvement you might have, or suggestions for things in the story. I’ve got a general outline for where it’s going to end up, but much of the detail is done as I write, and I surprise myself with where it heads. Didn't I, Didn't I, Didn't I See You Dyin'? He was standing on the edge of a moonlit clearing in a forest. It was nighttime, and the moon was full. There was an utter stillness that engendered a sense of unease, rather than calm. He became aware of a distant din, as of a movement of a large host. It was moving toward him rapidly. Something, some prey, was being driven. The noise grew swiftly, and he could soon pick out sounds of baying hounds, neighing horses, animals crashing through the underbrush. A horn sounded, piercingly clear, sending a shiver up his spine. The hunters crashed out of the woods into the clearing, riders mounted on snorting field hunters. Darting between the legs of the unconcerned horses were smaller animals. It was difficult in the silvery light to discern just what they were, but there were certainly dogs as well as other wild beasts. The master held up a hand, calling for the hunt to rest, and they came to a halt. As the master’s head turned, the moonlight revealed the face of a beautiful woman—apparently the mistress of the hunt, rather than master. The hunters milled around, resting, drinking, eating; they were all women. He was frozen in place, whether due to fear or something else, he was uncertain, yards away the nearest beast. The hunters either ignored him or could not see him. Possibly they just didn’t care. A group of them were discussing something, strategy, or perhaps they had lost their quarry, when a huge stag burst from the trees and stopped dead, alarmed by the sight of the hunters. It instantly bounded away in a different direction. Several of the hunters gathered their reigns to follow, very angry from the sounds of it, but the mistress waved them off, and with a gesture, the hounds leapt in pursuit. The mistress looked around the hunters, gathering their attention, her glance resting on him for the briefest moment. With a wink, she turned and the hunters were off again, leaving as swiftly as they had appeared.
Once again, Xander had not had a restful night’s sleep. More dreams, none remembered. Well, at least no dreams remembered that didn’t involve sharks and pizza delivery. Maybe it was a bad idea to eat a large pizza just before bed, and to watch Nick at Night reruns while eating the pizza.
Well, at least it was Friday, he thought as he walked down the sidewalk in front of Sunnydale High. Glancing up morosely, he brightened as he saw Willow and Buffy coming towards him up the sidewalk from the opposite direction.
Buffy was wearing a nice pair of gray slacks and a black silk top with thin straps. Willow was dressed how she normally was, all a clash of bright colors—purple pants with yellow shoes? And that pink striped sweater so did not go with her auburn hair. It was totally Willow, and made her all the more adorable.
Xander stopped walking. Did he just think Willow was adorable?
Shaking his head to clear it, he hurried up and caught up to them just as they reached the top of the steps up from the parking lot.
“Well, good morning, ladies,” he said in a cheery voice. They made room for him as he squeezed in between them. “And what did you two do last night?”
“We had kind of a pajama-party-sleepover-with-weapons thing,” Willow said.
“Oh,” he said. Looking back and forth between the two, he continued with a drawl, “And I don’t suppose either of you had the presence of mind to locate a camera to capture the moment?”
Willow kind of half-smiled, half-frowned.
“No, but maybe next time we’ll invite you to take pictures,” Buffy said teasingly.
Xander stumbled, and barely caught himself. “Really?” he squeaked. He cleared his throat, then repeated himself in an obviously lower than normal voice, “Really?”
“Sure, Xander.” Buffy rolled her eyes as she and Willow stopped walking and turned back to face him. “I’ll just tell my mom that you’re going to spend the night with me and Willow in my room. I’m sure she won’t have any problem with that.”
“I have to go,” Willow put in. She was clearly trying to keep from laughing at Xander’s expression. “I have a class to teach in about five minutes and I have to arrive early to glare disapprovingly at the stragglers.” As she turned to go, she spotted Ms. Calendar walking across the front lawn. “Oh, darn. She’s here.”
As she walked off, Xander could hear her mumbling, “Five hours of lesson planning yesterday down the drain...”
“So what’s the what?” he asked Buffy, as they watched Willow sulking away.
“Angel,” she said, still watching Willow. “He kind of killed her fish. Then left them in an envelope on her bed. It really wigged her out.”
She watched Ms. Calendar with a thoughtful expression, before turning to Xander with a distracted smile. She rested a hand on his arm.
“You know what?” she said, “I’ll see you in class.” She left him and approached Ms. Calendar.
Xander watched her stop and talk to Ms. Calendar for a few moments, then continued on into the school. He headed to his locker.
As he went by the wiring closet, helpfully labeled with a sign that said “Wiring Closet”, a couple of men came out and locked the door. They were wearing gray baseball caps and matching gray shirts, with AlarmCo logos emblazoned on them, and one carried a huge toolbox. Probably had something to do with Snyder’s surprise visitor from yesterday.
He noticed a group of girls watching him. They had stopped talking and had all turned to watch him as he walked by, giggling to each other as he passed them. Great, he thought, eveyone’s still making fun of the Xan-man.
“Hey, Xander,” one of the girls called out to him, somewhat coquettishly. The others just giggled some more.
“Hey … you,” he responded, with a bemused nod. He didn’t recognize any of them. He continued on his way. Man, he couldn’t wait for all the hubbub after his breakup with Cordy to die down.
Amy found Xander sleeping on the sofa in the student lounge. Perfect, she thought with a grin. He was lying on his side, just on the edge, facing the coffee table in front of the sofa.
Setting her books on the coffee table, Amy moved around the back of the sofa. She unsteadily clambered over the back of the sofa, thankful she had decided on the low-rise jeans this morning instead of the cute new skirt she had originally picked out.
She turned and eased her knees down between Xander and the back cushion, so that she was kneeling on the sofa. She faced towards the armrest where Xander’s head rested, with one knee placed slightly in front of the other, trying not to bump him and wake him prematurely.
Amy placed a hand on top of the the back of the sofa and slowly eased herself down behind Xander. She wasn’t the most physical of girls, and wanted to make sure she had enough leverage to push him off on the first try. The awkward position caused her to overbalance at the last moment. As her hand slipped out from under her, she fell the last few inches to wind up lying on her side behind him.
Amy’s weight on the cushions caused Xander to roll back against her. She held her breath, afraid he might wake up. When after a moment he hadn’t, she sighed quietly in relief, which caused him to settle back against her a little more.
Amy had to fight a sudden impulse to wrap her arm around Xander and hold him against herself. Where had that come from?
A couple of sniggers alerted her to the attention she had attracted, curious watchers wondering what she was doing, and that brought her mind back to her self-appointed task. Taking a deep breath, she placed her hands against his back and pushed him over the edge of the sofa.
As he hit the floor with a thud, she sat up and crossed her legs demurely. As she smoothed her hair, she pasted on a nonchalant expression and fought to keep check on the grin she could feel threatening to break free.
Xander passed the basketball to Curly Neal, of the Harlem Globetrotters, by bouncing it between the legs of one of the Washington Generals, their opponents for this exhibition game. Curly faked a pass to Meadowlark Lemon with one hand but actually held the ball out in behind himself, which Xander grabbed as he twisted around the other side of the hapless defensive player.
Xander dribbled once, then stopped as another opponent got in front of him. Leaning in close to the man, Xander reached around the defensive player to hand the ball off to Scooby Doo.
Scooby began to spin the ball on his nose. As another player moved in to try and steal the ball, Scooby simply tilted his head back and the ball rolled down his back and along his extended rear leg, stopping its movement but continuing its spin on the tip of his paw.
Xander looped around to get in position so he could leap up and dunk the ball in the hoop when Scooby bounced the ball between another players legs. It was one of the signature stunts of the Harlem Globetrotters, featuring Xander “Airman” Harris, the Clown Prince of Basketball, and special guest Scooby Doo.
Xander was just starting his jump when someone pushed him from behind and he fell face-first onto floor.
Xander sat up quickly and turned angrily to the offender. “Come on ref! That was an obvious foul!” he cried.
Amy Madison smirked at him from where she sat on the sofa … in the student lounge … of Sunnydale High. There were a couple of giggles from behind him.
“You should probably get up off the floor,” Amy said, patting the couch next to her. “Unless you want to take your penalty shots, that is.”
Her blue eyes were sparkling with amusement.
“On the subject of sports,” Amy said as Xander sat in the corner of the sofa, “what do you know about softball?”
“That the ball is only soft compared to a baseball,” Xander answered. He sullenly stared at the coffee table and rubbed his sore nose.
“And that’s it.”
“Hmm,” Amy mused. “I was hoping you’d know more than that. We’re trying to put together a couple of informal co-ed teams, and we need more players, and maybe a couple of vampires.”
“Vampires!” Xander’s head snapped around. Realizing where they were, he continued quietly, “Why would you need vampires?”
Amy cocked an eyebrow. “Umm…” she began slowly, “we need ‘umpires’. We’re talking about softball. Why in the world would we want vampires for softball. I think we’ll be mostly playing during the daytime, anyway.
“On an unrelated subject, we’ve got that history test next week on Imperial Japan during World War II. Do you wanna get together one night next week before the test with Willow and Buffy and study for it?”
“Uh, sure, I guess so,” Xander said. He was a little confused by the abrupt change of subjects.
“Great,” Amy said. “I’ve got one of the books Mr. Miller recommended, ‘The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Vampire’. I was going to read it anyway, so I’ll just give you guys a summary of it.”
Xander stared openly at Amy. Either he was going insane, a distinct possibility considering recent events in his life, or she was doing this on purpose. “Did you just say, ‘Japanese vampire’?” he asked, dreading the answer to the question, any answer.
“No” she said, “I said, ‘Japanese Empire’. Why would I read a book about Japanese vampires for history class?
“Anyway,” she said, without pausing for a response, “a bunch of us are meeting at the pep rally tomorrow night. You guys should totally join us. I hear that the seniors are all gathering wood, you know from crates and stuff, and they’re going to light it and and have a huge vampire.”
“Okay! I know you said ‘vampire’ that time,” Xander snapped, getting tired of the game. “You said, ‘huge vampire’!”
“No—” she said, slowly and distinctly, “I said, ‘huge bonfire.’”
Amy slid back slowly toward the other end of the couch. She gave Xander a considering look, as if she was considering calling for the nice gentlemen in white coats to come and take him away.
“Xander, what is it with you and vampires, today? Did you watch that bad Mel Brooks spoof of Dracula that was on TV last night or something?”
Xander groaned. He was going crazy. “I gotta get to class,” he mumbled, then got up and left at a rapid pace. He never noticed Amy’s satisfied grin as he left the lounge.
Jenny Calendar, born Janna, sat, eyes glued to her computer monitor in the school’s computer lab. It was her family, the Kalderash gypsy tribe, that had cursed Angelus with the return of his human soul a century before. The ritual of the undead, the spell they had used to curse the vampire with his soul, had been lost.
Well, not the actual ritual. They still had that. But it was written in sixteenth century Romani, the language of the gypsies, and had been written down well before there was actually a written form of the language.
It had been recorded using a mixture of Romanian Cyrillic and Hungarian Latin script, where the characters of the other languages alphabets were used to represent approximate the sounds of the Romani words, a technique called transliteration. Copies of the ritual had been made over the last four hundred years. Since Romani had had no standardized writing system until the last eight or nine decades, the copyists had inevitably made minor changes to the text to suit themselves. The result was a mishmash of transliteration methods.
The key to reading the ritual was the annals of the Kalderash. Throughout their history, there had been annals kept by the tribe. Spanning centuries, they recorded the major events of the tribe: marriages, births, deaths, migrations. By examining the changes in these records, one could translate the centuries-old ritual.
No one had ever written down a complete translation using any consistent methodology. For one thing, its jumbled form made the ritual arcane knowledge, available to only the few with access the the annals. For another, the annals would always be available. After all, they always had been. Until they had been lost.
Jenny thought she knew a way to translate the ritual. She was more than just a high school computer science teacher. She was a brilliant computer programmer, who just happened to be a techno-pagan. And she was fairly well versed in gypsy magic.
Combining her knowledge of computers with her understanding of magic and rituals, modern techno-pagan and ancient gypsy, she had come up with a computer algorithm that hoped would result in a restored ritual. She nearly had it, although her program did need some more debugging.
The ritual of the undead, along with the Orb of Thesulah that she had picked up before school that morning, would allow her to return Angel’s soul to his body, return him to the way he was before … before Buffy. Angel could once again be the Champion for good that he was destined to be.
When Rupert Giles had stopped in earlier, she had been startled. She had quickly hidden the program, switching to the GUI desktop. She wanted it to be a surprise.
“I spoke to Buffy today,” she had told him.
“Oh! Yes?” He had seemed pleased.
She had looked down, coyly, hiding her smile. “She said you missed me,” she had said.
Jenny hadn’t mentioned that Buffy had not even begun to forgive her. Perhaps if this worked out, she would be able to start.
“Well, she’s...,” he had started to say, then he had sat on the edge of the desk, looking away; sighing, he had continued, “…a meddlesome girl.”
Jenny hadn’t wanted to get his hopes up falsely about the ritual, so she had only said that she may have some news. Hesitantly, she had gathered her courage and asked to see him later. She had hoped that she would be able to share her success with him, then.
“You could stop by my house,” he had suggested.
There had been lots of grins and “okays” and “goods”, and then he had been gone. She thought fondly about how he had been a little awkward.
Smiling as she anticipated seeing Rupert soon, she returned her attention to her code. Almost there. Maybe if she tweaked the random number generator.
Rupert Giles thought that it might be a good idea to cast the spell to keep Angelus out of his home, as well as Buffy’s and Willow’s. He had found a spell to revoke an invitation to a vampire in the book that Jenny had loaned him yesterday. Angel had been in his apartment at various times over the course of the last year, in his association with Buffy and fighting the forces of darkness. Now that he was one of those forces….
Giles stopped by Buffy’s house on his way home, in order to pick up the spell book from Buffy. He knocked on the front door, keys still in his hand.
Willow answered the door after a moment, and stepped back, making room for him to enter, offering the standard non-invite invitation they all used out of habit now. A vampire could only enter a home with an explicit, verbal invitation, and only an invitation from a member of the household, at that. Willow could not invite a vampire into Buffy’s house, but the habit was deeply ingrained.
Giles greeted Willow as he entered, and she handed Jenny’s spell book to him. Enquiring about how the spell went, he learned that Angelus had been there earlier.
“It went fine,” Willow said, “Well, it went fine until Angel showed up and told Buffy’s mom that he and Buffy had...,” she paused, seeming a little nervous. Giles looked blankly at her before she continued, “ Well, you know, that they had... you know. You do know, right?”
“Oh,” realization hit Giles, “yes. Yes. Sorry.” He had been so distracted, between thinking about Jenny coming by his apartment and concern that Angelus might have hurt Buffy or her mother, that it had taken him a moment to recognize that Willow was delicately tip-toeing around the subject of Buffy having had sex with Angel.
“Oh, good,” Willow said, sighing with relief, “‘cause I just realized that being a librarian and all, you maybe didn’t know.”
“Oh, thank you,” Giles said dryly. “I got it.”
Mrs. Summers was apparently upstairs having “the talk” with Buffy. A little bit late to have it after she had already had sex, Giles thought. Perhaps he should intervene with Buffy’s mother.
“Sure! Like what would you say?” Willow asked, somewhat enthusiastically, when he mentioned it.
He looked around the room and up the stairs for a few moments, and stammered a few random syllables.Willow opened the front door for him, promising to tell Buffy that he had been by.
Jenny was running for her life. She quickly turned the corner of the dark hallway and ran through the double fire doors into the student lounge, passing lockers, and vending machines. The exit there was the closest to the computer lab. She pushed on the crash bar frantically, but the door wouldn’t open.
Spinning around, she ran back through the student lounge and turned down another corridor. With a quick look over her shoulder, she could see Angelus through the windows on the fire doors, striding briskly towards her, a grin of anticipation on his demonic features.
Jenny had just finished the translation of the ritual, and had been looking at the pages as they were printing out. Glancing up from the lab printer, she had seen Angelus sitting in the back row of the lab.
He had smashed the Orb of Thesulah, and had shoved her computer off the desk. The monitor had shorted out and caught fire, quickly spreading to the CPU case as he tore up the printout and dropped it into the flames.
“Looks like I get to kill two birds with one stone,” he had said, a tone of cheerful malice in his voice. He had dropped the last bits of the printout onto the flames, greasy black smoke roiling up as the bits of plastic and paint and metal were consumed or melted by the heat. He had turned to look up at Jenny, his features already morphed from his almost-pretty human visage into a nightmarish demonic form that was barely recognizable as Angel.
“And teacher makes three,” he had said.
Jenny ran down the hallway and out a door at the rear of the building. She ran through the covered breezeway which circled a fountain before it curved back to another entrance to the front part of the school. When she was halfway around the loop, she glanced back, noting in terror that Angelus just emerging from the doors behind her. He was still walking, but broke into a jog as he saw her.
She grabbed the handle and pulled and pushed on the door, jiggling it frantically. It wouldn’t open, and she kept jerking on it. Finally, the door came open, and she leapt inside and pulled it closed behind her, the latch catching just as Angelus crashed into the door.
She turned and ran down the brightly lit hallway. She could hear Angelus growling in frustration as he jerked on the door behind her. There was a janitor’s cart up ahead, and just as she reached it she could hear Angelus’s boots pounding the floor right behind her. She desperately pushed the cart into him, and he crashed into it and flew over it, landing in a heap of spilled rolls of toilet paper and bottles of liquid hand soap.
Jenny turned and raced up the stairs, up and up and up. She risked a glance behind her. She kept going all out, even though she didn’t see him behind her yet.
She glanced back again as she reached the top of the stairs. He still wasn’t behind her. Where…?
She ran straight into him, waiting for her.
Giles walked down the steps to the front door of his apartment. He inserted the key in the lock and turned it. He paused when he realized that the door was unlocked.
“Hello?” he called out, pushing the door open cautiously. Wondering who could be in his apartment, he looked around cautiously. Could it be….
“Jenny?” he called.
He listened, and heard nothing at first. After a moment, he heard a quiet whimper.
“Hello?” he called out, more forcefully than before. “Who’s there?”
He looked around for a convenient weapon. Not seeing one he could reach quickly, he fumbled a stake out of one of his overcoat’s pockets.
Holding the stake up before him, he edged cautiously towards the weapons chest, just to the side of his sofa. As he moved in that direction, he saw Jenny, curled up on the floor against the opposite wall, hiding between his antique phonograph and cabinet.
She was clutching a large cross, shivering. Her dark hair was stringy and her makeup was smeared, as if she had been caught in the rain, or fallen in water.
“Jenny!” he said, alarmed. He rushed to her. “Are you alright? What happened?”
He gently took the cross from her, and wrapped his arms around her. She was still shivering, and a little damp, as well.
He picked her up and set her on the sofa, the got a blanket to cover her with.
“Ssh, ssh,” he said, trying to calm her. “It’s okay now. It’s okay.”
She just huddled there and cried, and he sat and held her hand, making reassuring noises. After a while, she drifted off to an exhausted sleep.
While Jenny slept, Giles cast the spell to uninvite Angelus from his apartment. Then he called Buffy’s house, to let Buffy and Willow know that something had happened to Jenny. He told them Jenny was alright, there was no need for them to come over.
Giles was holding Jenny’s hand when she woke up.
“You’re alright,” he reassured her. “Everything’s going to be alright.”
Giles fixed her some tea, and tried to make her eat something, but she was still too upset. He reassured her, again and again, that she was safe. He had performed the spell, and she was safe in his home.
Eventually, Jenny calmed down enough to tell him what had happened.
Jenny could clearly see Angelus’s evil grimace by the light through the semi-circular window, facing the front of the building.
He cackled with glee as he grabbed her arms. She knew that she was going to die.
“Jenny,” he said, as if chiding a misbehaving child, “I’m beginning to think you don’t like me.
“I mean, come on! I shined my shoes and put on a clean shirt.” He was relishing the moment, milking her terror for all it was worth. “I came to pick you up from work, and you still won’t say you love me?
“Women!” he snorted.
An alarm bell started ringing stridently, and cold water sprayed down on them from above, soaking them instantly. The burning computer in the computer lab had set off the fire alarm.
Angelus shrieked and shoved her away from him. He covered his head with his arms, stumbling around incoherently for a few moments before he dove through the glass of the window.
Just as he was about to drift off to sleep, Xander shot upright in his bed. “There’s no pep rally tomorrow night!”