So, although general consensus of the fic is good, there's a couple things pointed out to me that I feel need a little fixing. Please go back to chapter 15 and read the second half that's been added today, before continuing with this chapter. I may not reply to every review, but believe you me, I do read 'em all.
I know my chapters are shorter than folks would like, but personal circumstances and the 3000 word limit imposed by the Fic-A-Day challenge don't give me a lot of wiggle room. If I had the time to devote and unlimited word count, believe me, I'd go into all those details you folks would like. I'm sorry that I can't do more.-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
Giles rushed through the halls of Sunnydale General as quickly as he could without being called to account for dangerous behavior, although his urgency-vs-decorum ratio was leaning heavily to the left.
He bustled frantically to the room that he'd been informed Jenny was being kept in and knocked twice for the sake of politeness before bursting in. Inside, he found Jenny in a hospital gown, laying in bed with layers of gauze wrapped around her head and breathing equipment affixed to her nose and mouth. Cameron was sitting calmly at Jenny's bedside with her chart resting in her lap. Cameron looked over at him as he entered the room.
"How is she?" Giles blurted. "Is she- I mean, will she-"
"Jenny is in critical but stable condition, with the complication that she is also in a coma." Cameron informed him softly.
Giles heart sank. "How bad?"
"The doctors have not yet conclusively determined her rating on the Glasgow Coma Scale. At this time, they are tentatively rating her at an eight or nine. She does not open her eyes, but she does respond to physical stimuli by both twitching when a needle is applied to her hands or feet, and she makes sounds of discomfort."
Giles closed his eyes. He knew enough about the Glasgow Coma scale to know the lower the number from fifteen, the worse the coma. She was in the middle range, which may or may not indicate brain damage. Oddly, Cameron's clinical analysis of Jenny's condition made hearing the news a little easier. Not much, but it was something.
He closed the door behind him. "What happened?" he asked in a lowered tone, reaching out to hold one of Jenny's hands without thinking as he moved to stand beside Cameron's chair.
"Jenny was working late. She'd asked me to help her with a database problem she was struggling with. I went to get her something from the vending machine and when I got back, Angel was in the classroom, threatening her."
"Why? I mean, apart from the fact that he's once again a demonically possessed sociopath," Giles asked around a lump in his throat.
Cameron paused. "I'm not sure I'm permitted to say. She was working on something she hoped would help you and Buffy with Angel's recent change and asked me to maintain her secret."
Giles removed his glasses and rubbed at his eyes. "What would that be? I mean, the only thing she could really do would be to reconstruct the curse..." He trailed off as his breath hitched. "That's what she was doing, wasn't it? She was trying to re-create the curse to restore Angel's soul."
"Did you see any of it?" Giles asked urgently.
"No. She asked me to create a database of modern Romani and gave me enough ancient Romani to create a comparable database for translation purposes." Cameron seemed to hesitate before adding, "I'm sorry."
"For what?" Giles put his glasses back on his nose.
"I was unable to prevent her injury. Angel was going to kill her and I could not permit that. However, I did not realize the capacity that vampires have for functioning through pain and injury. After I broke his wrist, he threw her down the stairs so he could escape through the window."
Giles fancied that he could almost see a hint of remorse on Cameron's face. He let go of Jenny's hand for a moment and kneeled down next to Cameron. "No, you musn't think that. Her condition isn't..." He took a deep breath. "..ideal, but even injured and comatose is far preferable to the alternative."
Cameron seemed unconvinced. Rather, her expression didn't change, though that was hardly different from any other time he spoke with her out of the public eye. "My programming indicates that I have partially failed in maintaining my primary objective."
"But you did not fail it completely. You were working with incomplete data, yes? In a day or two, you and I shall have a long talk about just what vampires are capable of. Buffy should be there too - she has more hands on experience, as it were. Next time you encounter Angel or another vampire, you'll have the information you need." He peered into her unblinking eyes and added emphatically, "Jenny's still alive, and that's what counts."
Giles had a thought triggered by his own statement and added, "Have you called anyone else yet?"
"Only Xander. I was supposed to meet him for a late-night snack, and I did not want to worry him. He's on his way here. I did not yet contact Buffy or Willow. I was uncertain how they would respond to the news. Especially Buffy," Cameron explained. "Should I have contacted them? I'm not experienced with delicately disseminating bad news."
"No, no, what you've done is fine. Buffy will respond to the news better if it comes from me. Willow too." He had another random thought. "How on earth did you convince the doctors to let you stay in here?"
"I told them I was her niece. We look sufficiently similar to add credibility to such a fabrication. Added to the fact that she'd had to identify the body of her uncle, the hospital staff did not suspect anything was wrong." She paused and added, "I was very distraught when I brought her in."
Giles looked puzzled for a moment before understanding crossed his face. "Ah, yes, of course. Well done." He chuckled ruefully. "Your human mannerisms have been improving by leaps and bounds. I suspect we have Xander to thank for that."
"Xander has helped me to behave more appropriately human in a public setting," Cameron agreed. "I don't know if he's succeeded in teaching me about emotions, however."
"Well, I don't pretend to understand the technology behind your design, but you are a learning computer, by your own words. Emotion is ... emotion is a great deal of information that happens all at once. I expect that a steep learning curve is par for the course." Cameron began to look confused, so he amended his turn of phrase. "It's going to take time, Cameron."
"That seems to be the case." Cameron nodded blankly.
At that point, there was a knock at the door. Without missing a beat, Cameron threw her arms around Giles and buried her nose in his tweed-clad shoulder. When the doctor entered the room, Cameron began to wail, "I'm sorry, Giles! I didn't know what else to do!"
Giles was taken aback by Cameron's sudden reversion to her human mimicry, but immediately schooled his face to add understanding to his worry. He gathered Cameron into his arms and began to sway with her slightly. "It's okay. You did the right thing by seeing to Jenny first. She'd be proud of you."
The doctor gave them a sympathetic look, and Giles relaxed slightly. Now all he had to deal with was the painful minutia of arranging for Jenny's care, dealing with Xander and figuring out how to break the news to Buffy and Willow. It could be worse. A lot worse.