"Jenny?" I turned around, and there he was, the man I loved...who also had avoided me for the past two weeks. "Are you all right?"
"Rupert?" Why was Rupert in Sunnydale's cemetary?
"I was worried sick. Willow told me you didn't show up for your classes today..." He stopped, finally taking in the fact that I was at a fresh grave and was wearing black. "And you're here for a funeral. I'm sorry." His face shuttered and he turned to go.
"You didn't even bother to check with Snyder to see if I'd taken the day off, did you?"
"I was worried," he said, turning back to me.
"I'm fine, Rupert," I said, giving him my best inscrutable face.
"I'm sorry," he said. "Kalderash," he said, looking at the simple marker. "The old man..."
"The old man in the hotel room? He was my uncle. I didn't want him to go unremembered."
"Dear God. Jenny, I didn't know. I'm...I'm sorry."
"You had more important things to worry about, Rupert. An impending apocalypse will get you distracted." I paused, looking at the tombstone. "It seems like there's always one of those in Sunnydale."
"Yes, they are rather prevalent." He looked at me closely. "I suppose it's what comes of living atop a Hellmouth."
"Yeah," I said, very obviously not looking at him. "Look, Rupert, I have to get back to my house." I fished in my purse, pulling out a set of keys.
"Would you like some company?" At least he was being tentative about it. "I don't have anything planned for the rest of the day."
"That's ok," I said, forcing myself to smile at him. "I'm fine." He didn't look convinced. "Really." I don't think that convinced him either.
"I'll follow you home," he said. "Keep you company. You don't look like you should be alone."
"Rupert, I'm fine," I repeated. "He was...we never got along anyway."
"Nevertheless..." I tried to walk away from him, to prove that I didn't need him as much as he obviously didn't need me, but my legs gave out and I crashed to the ground.
"Ow." I sighed, and resigned myself to a few minutes of rest before I gave another shot at getting to the car.
No need to worry, my librarian in shining armor was there to rescue me. "Jenny?" He was at my side in an instant, helping me to my feet and supporting me. "Are you all right? What's wrong?" That was, of course, the precise moment that my jacket, pulled askew by Rupert's aid, chose to show off the impressive set of bite marks I'd acquired the other night.
I shrugged, wincing at the pain in my sprained collarbone. "Nothing much that a few days of rest won't cure."
"What happened," he said, worried eyes looking into mine.
"Angelus," I said, using my most casual and nonchalant tone. "He ambushed me a couple of days ago outside my house." At his horrified look, I closed my eyes. "I had a cross," I said, looking back at him. "He ran off."
"But not before almost killing you. Dear God, why?" I loved the man, even if he *was* a blithering idiot sometimes.
"I'm a Gypsy, Rupert," I said. "Who do you think has the most hope of recursing him?"
"Those magicks are lost," he said, helping me towards my car. "You said so yourself."
"Who has the best chance of rediscovering them?" I stumbled slightly, and Rupert caught me. Goddess, it felt so good to be in his arms again. I wish I knew if it would last.
"We have to get you to a hospital," he said. What, just because I got dizzy spells every few hours I needed to see the doctor?
"I'm fine, Rupert," I said, lying through my teeth. "Another night or two of uninterrupted sleep and I'll be good as new."
"Or as good as dead," he said. "How badly did he hurt you?"
"Just get me home, Rupert," I said. "Just let me go home and leave me alone."
I pushed him away and stumbled again, landing heavily on the ground and one of my various bruises, and against a particularly hard tombstone. "Janna," I whispered.
"What?" He'd bent down to pick me up.
"Janna." I leaned back against the tombstone. "My name is Janna. I am of the Kalderash people. If I die, I die alone. They will not mourn me, and they will feel nothing." I tried to brush the tears from my eyes, but that damned sprain got in my way, and I lowered my arm with a gasp of pain. "So why bother going to the hospital?"
"I'll mourn you, damnit!" He was getting that intense look now. Goddess, I loved him. "You're not alone, Jenny."
"Oh?" I looked up at him, my vision blurry. "Then why have I been alone for two weeks now? Why is Willow handing in her assignments with an angry face? Why is Xander refusing to hand in his assignments at all?"
"That would, I'm afraid, be Xander," said Rupert with a weak grin.
"No," I said. "That would be anger. Buffy glares at me in the hallway. Cordelia continually makes catty comments about my clothing when she even bothers to come to class. I am alone, Rupert Giles, and if you meant for me to have time to think about my misdeeds, then believe me, plenty of thinking has been done."
"That's never what I intended, Jenny."
"No," I said, trying to push myself up with my good arm. "It's what Buffy intended, though, and it's what you went along with, so it's as good as what you intended." I got to my knees, and slowly got to my feet, pushing away Rupert's offer of help. "I'm not saying I shouldn't have told you the truth long ago, but how would you have reacted?"
"Would you reacted any differently, if, after that whole Spring Fling business, I'd said, 'By the way, Rupert, my real name is Ms. Kalderash, I was sent here to spy on Angelus and make sure my people's revenge continues, and, I haven't been telling you the whole truth?'" I stepped very firmly--or as firmly as I could manage--away from him. "How would you have reacted?"
I never found out, though, because I fainted. I guess there was only so much my abused body was able to take.
I woke up in my bed, the feather comforter pulled up to my neck, and a steaming cup of tea on the table next to me. I looked over, blinking the sleep out of my eyes and my contact lenses, and saw Rupert sitting on the chair in front of my desk, a book in his hand. "Rupert?" I blinked again. "Why are you here?" I looked around. "For that matter, why am I here?"
"I had the hospital send a doctor out," he said. "I know you didn't want to go in. You're to wear a sling on that arm, and you're exhibiting symptoms of severe anemia." He brandished a bottle of pills at me. "These will help with that, but you're also to eat vast quantities of red meat in the next week or two."
I smiled. "Thanks, Rupert." I sat up and reached gingerly for the cup of tea. He beat me to it, rushing across the room and handing it to me before I could even wince at the strain I'd put on my collarbone. He sat on the edge of the bed, and we chatted as I finished my tea. Compared research notes, really. It turns out we'd both been looking into Angelus' curse--there was one lead that looked particularly interesting, but we'd have to check it out in more detail when I was well, because it involved a fair amount of time on the computer.
I put down my empty teacup, and settled in to sleep, a soft, "Thanks," reserved for Rupert. Just as my eyes closed, I felt him settle onto the bed and put his arms around me. I sighed in contentment, and turned around so that my cheek rested on his chest.
"I love you, Janna," he whispered to me as I snuggled into his arms.
"I love you too, Rupert Giles," I said, finally able to let go and sleep without nightmares.
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