Giles staggered up the stairs, careful not to spill the brandy in his glass. He had to sleep sometime, he supposed, and while he was frightfully pissed was as good a time as any. It was the best of times, in fact--the only best of times he could find in what was truly the worst of times. He snorted. It seemed that all he could do was make bloody literary allusions--he couldn't make a single other thing go right. Jenny... Jenny was dead, and the only way he could sleep was to pass out. Buffy was gone, he didn't even know if she was alive. He lifted the glass to his lips and, with a toss of his head, finished it off. Not that it helped. Jenny's blank eyes kept staring at him. He couldn't stop seeing her there, her head lying awkwardly--unnaturally--askew.
He should have known the flowers weren't from her. Roses weren't Jenny's style--they were too tame, too cultivated--they could never express her wild spirit, the one that took so much joy in life. But in his excitement at seeing her--at the thawing of the unnatural coldness that had held them apart, he hadn't thought. He'd gone blindly upstairs, expecting a night of passion--squirming--only to find that the trust he'd placed in Angel had not, as he should have known, extended to Angelus. He smiled bitterly. If only he'd killed the demon that night--if he hadn't been so weak.
"So human." A voice whispered in his ear, and he turned, stunned, expecting to see her. The only thing he could make out through the haze of his tears was the bottom of the steps--the wood floor--the air. He leaned against the wall and sank down on the steps, bitterly aware that if only he'd accepted Jenny--listened to her earlier, before that business with the love spell had embarrassed her too bloody much to face him--then maybe, just maybe, she'd still be alive.
"Rupert," whispered a voice. His head darted up, but all he could sense was the wind whispering against his face. He ran his hand across his face, and dried his tears. None of his windows were open--were they? A quick glance around told him he'd had the sense to bar his domicile from both human and supernatural intruders before he'd begun his campaign to obliterate awareness. "You never did see what was right in front of your face, England."
There was no mistaking it that time. It *was* Jenny's voice.
"Jenny?" He whispered her name, hardly daring to believe she wasn't an hallucination of his addled brain--or a leftover fragment of Drusilla's nightmare.
"I'm right here, Rupert," he heard.
She materialized right in front of him, sitting on the steps and looking as lovely as she had before... Her arms were crossed, and she leaned back against the banister, smiling sadly at him. "This is Sunnydale, Rupert. Did you really think I'd gone so far away?" //I couldn't,// her eyes seemed to say.
"You're dead, Jenny." Giles staggered to his feet, and Jenny stood with him, watching him with what looked like concern.
"Dead is relative, Rupert, or hadn't your Watcher ancestors told you that?" Giles leaned against the wall and peered into his glass.
He chuckled weakly. "None of them have ever haunted me." Revenant or no, she still had the same sharp tongue as always. "Why are you here?" Giles climbed one more step, then another, placing one foot carefully in front of the other. If she was just a hallucination...
"Because I couldn't stand seeing you be hurt. Because I finally figured out how to do this." He stopped at the top of the stairs.
"That isn't the only reason, is it, Jenny?" Giles' eyes were full of hope.
"Because I love you, Rupert." She started fading away then, as if the admission frightened her--and perhaps it did. The only day she'd said those words--he'd heard them, heard them for the first time in his life from a woman who meant them, she had died, and not painlessly, not peacefully.
"No!" Giles reached for her, tripped, and fell down the stairs. As he lost consciousness, he saw her bending over him, her eyes full of concern.
Giles' head ached beyond anything commensurate with a hangover. "Ow," he muttered. "Bloody hell."
"You know, Rupert," Jenny said, and though his eyes weren't open, he could hear the smile in her voice. "Just because I'm dead doesn't mean you should be too."
"Jenny?" He reached out for her, until he remembered that she was a ghost, that she couldn't hold him, touch him, though he desperately wanted her to.
"Rupert, sssh," she said. "You're in the hospital. If you're not careful, they'll think you're crazy."
"Hey, G-man," said Xander, pushing open the door for Oz to wheel Willow in. Cordelia followed behind them.
"Xander," said Giles. "How good to see you."
"You're not that thrilled," said Cordelia. "Which is okay, but we're here to make sure the forces of darkness don't harm you in your incapacitated state." Giles could hear Jenny chuckling in his ear.
"How..." Giles took a deep breath. "How did you find me?"
"It was the weirdest thing," said Cordelia. "Xander and I were--" She glanced over at Willow. "We were studying, and I got this phone call, and I could have *sworn* it was Ms. Calendar, except for...well, she'd dead and all, and she--or whoever it was--told us we should get over to your house and we did and we found you lying on the floor with a huge cut in your head."
"And smelling of booze," said Xander, "which was very not-fun, might I add."
"Xander!" Willow glared at him.
"Okay, so maybe I shouldn't have put it like that, but I didn't like it." Xander crossed his arms and glared at Giles. "So is this a regular occurrence lately?"
"I hope not," said Cordelia, putting her hands on her hips. "Because with the Slayer gone, we really don't need the Watcher out of the action too."
"And now who's tactless," said Oz. Maybe we should let Giles get some rest?"
"That's probably a good idea," said Willow, glaring at Xander and Cordelia.
"We'll be right outside," said Oz. "So, like, holler if you need anything."
"And if I can get access to the nurses' station," said Willow, with a grin on her face that gave Giles a few apprehensions, "I can program the buzzer to go off really loud so we'll know too."
"That's my Willow," said Jenny. "Always hacking where she shouldn't belong." "You--called Cordelia?" Giles, said after the children had left, turning his head to look at Jenny, who was sitting in the chair next to his bed.
"I can do a few things, Rupert," Jenny said, smiling. "And I didn't actually pick up the phone and dial, but I can do a very clever imitation of a phone call when I want." She leaned over and brushed her lips gently against his, wiping away a few tears. "I'm never very corporeal, Rupert," she said, when his hand passed through her cheek. "And I don't even know why I haven't passed on--except that I can't seem to go. Not alone. Not with my people waiting on the other side."
"And I can't go with you," he said. "I have a Slayer who needs me--or do I?" "You do," said Jenny. "I'd know if she were dead."
"The ghostly informational network," said Giles.
"You should sleep, Rupert," said Jenny. "You need to heal."
"But if I sleep," he said, softly, closing his eyes. "Then I can't see you, and if I don't see you, then I'll miss you, and I just got you back."
"You're tired, Rupert. You're babbling." Jenny laughed.
"I never babble," muttered Giles, burrowing into the blankets. "Will you be here when I wake up?"
"Of course," said Jenny. "I won't leave you, Rupert."
She had before, though--not by any choice of hers--but she'd come back. She'd come back to be with him. "Promise?"
"I promise." The cool breeze he'd come to associate with her ruffled his hair, and he fell asleep. For the first night in a long, long time, his dreams were calm.
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