Rating: R (mainly just for language)
Disclaimer: All of the materials borrowed from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel belong to Joss Whedon and to the entities and companies associated with their creation. I have borrowed them for creative and entertainment purposes only. No compensation has been or ever shall be received for the writing below. No copyright infringement is intended. The same is true for what I have borrowed from Watchers.
My Website: http://www.dragonwriter17.net/
Feedback: Yes, but only if it’s of the non-flamey variety: DragonWriter17@aol.com
Distribution: Just here on the Watchers Forum for now. Eventually: The Mystic Muse, Near Her Always, Watchers Forum. If you are interested in posting my story on your site, please contact me first for permission.
Spoilers: The BTVS Season 7 finale; The end of Watchers Season 3.
Pairings: Willow/Rowena, Willow/Kennedy
Author’s Notes: I once told CSR that I’d try my hand at Kenlow story, and this is what I came up with. When BTVS Season 7 aired, I did not warm to the Willow/Kennedy relationship at all. I still mourned Tara and felt that the Willow/Kennedy thing was way too rushed. And Kennedy kind of annoyed me (she was a self-admitted brat, after all). Watchers, however, has taught me to appreciate Kennedy so much more. I think that’s why I’m able to write this now. By the way, I will be writing this in Watchers style, not in fiction style or in full screenwriting format (although I may cheat a little on the “no thoughts” rule.) Also, I started this story in the middle of Season 3 Watchers without knowing exactly how the season was going to end, so there may be some differences in actual Season 3 canon and what I do here. For example, I started this story with the assumption that Willow and Rowena would be getting back together by the end of Season 3. I don’t know for sure if that’s going to happen or not, but that’s the idea I’m working under here. Thanks to Isis for the cool banner!
Number of Chapters: 9
Story Summary: While a new vampire species menaces the city, a powerful talisman, once thought lost, comes into the possession of the Council, just in time for an unexpected visitor.
Deep within the crater that used to be Sunnydale, a Council-sponsored archaeological team worked with painstaking slowness to uncover the remains of the high school. There was no semblance of structure left behind--merely rubble. Three men and two women worked in separate areas, carefully sorting larger pieces, sifting through sand for smaller objects, and brushing sand and mud from recovered items. The lead archaeologist, Dr. Garrett, was working her way around the rough circle to gauge progress when an outcry from one of her team members caught her attention. She rushed right over.
A twenty-something scruffy young man wearing a red bandana lifted a dusty item and set it in the outstretched hands of Dr. Garrett. With her eyes blazing with curiosity, she carefully uncurled the dusty item and held it up for a closer look. It was an amulet with a heavy chain and a large gem in the centerpiece.
“Is that what I think it is?” asked the young man.
“I thought it was destroyed,” another of the team members commented.
“That’s what everybody thought,” Dr. Garrett said. “But obviously everybody was wrong.” She gave the young man a pat on the shoulder and smiled at the group. “Congratulations, folks, you’ve just found the Champion’s Medallion.”
Faith entered the room and joined Willow and Rowena at the conference table. Rowena sat at the head of the table while Willow sat to her left. A small package was on the table in front of Willow next to some folders.
“Are we it?” Faith asked.
“ ’Fraid so,” Rowena said. “Buffy’s in London, and everybody else is either on vacation or on assignment. Thanks for filling in, by the way.”
“Hey, I told Ken I’d cover for her, so no prob,” Faith replied.
Rowena picked up the gavel and then grinned. “Hardly seems worth the effort for such a small crowd…” She tapped it on the table anyway. “I call this meeting to order. First item on the agenda…our little discovery. Willow?”
Willow took Rowena’s cue and opened the small package. Within seconds, she had laid the box’s contents on the table. The newly-cleaned amulet gleamed in the harsh light of the room.
“Holy shit! Is that what I think it is?” Faith asked.
Rowena looked questioningly at Willow.
“It appears to be,” Willow said uncertainly.
“But…I thought it was crispy-fried down in the hellmouth,” Faith said.
Willow shrugged. “Well, that’s what we all thought. ’Course we thought Spike was history, too, and then he showed back up in L.A. months later.”
“The question now, however, is what to do with it,” Rowena said.
“We need to study it, verify its authenticity, and Buffy in particular should take a look at it,” Willow suggested.
“Until then, we should keep it locked up, though,” Faith said. “Put it in the Vault with all the other scary magical items.”
“I concur,” Rowena said.
“Me too,” Willow agreed. Then she set the medallion back in its box.
“Next item,” Rowena prompted. “The Lamiae Aetheriae.”
“The what?” Faith asked, confused.
“The Ninja Vamps,” Willow explained.
“Oh. Yeah, well, no luck there,” Faith said ruefully. “These guys are like…ghosts or something. They’re feeding in clubs, right in front of us sometimes, and we don’t even have a clue they’re there. I mean shouldn’t our slayer radar be picking up on ’em or something?”
“This is a species of vampire we don’t know much about,” Rowena said. “Unfortunately, our research hasn’t told us anything that you haven’t already figured out.”
“What we need is a way to track them,” Willow said.
“Right,” Faith confirmed. “You help me find the suckers, and I swear, we can kill ’em.”
Willow and Rowena and Faith all nodded in agreement on that issue, but then they paused and looked at each other, clearly out of ideas on what else to do.
“We’ll keep up the research,” Rowena finally said before moving on. “Third item, Kennedy and Kadin’s mission.”
“Kennedy’s supposed to call some time today,” Faith supplied. “When she does, I can let everyone know what’s up. Far as I know, things are going fine.”
“Okay then, any other business?” Rowena inquired. When neither Faith nor Willow spoke up, she gave the gavel another tap. “Meeting adjourned.”
“Be honest,” Willow teased Rowena. “You know you miss the gavel.”
“Not as much as you might think,” Rowena replied with a small smile.
“Oh come on, I know in your mind, you’re holding it aloft and saying, ‘I have the power!!!’ ”
Rowena couldn’t help but grin. “Okay, I admit it…I do, on occasion, miss the gavel, but my occasional substituting for Buffy allows me to satisfy my board room She-Ra cravings.”
As Willow and Rowena chit-chatted, Faith prepared to leave. Just when she had pushed her chair back up to the table, her cell phone rang. She pulled it out of her jacket pocket and looked at the caller i.d. It showed Kennedy’s name and number.
“Speak of the devil,” Faith said to Rowena and Willow before flipping open her phone. “Hey, Slick, how’s it going?”
Rowena moved to Faith’s side of the table, in anticipation of receiving news of Kennedy and Kadin’s mission. Willow stacked her folders together and then began repacking the medallion into its box.
Suddenly, an explosion of light and a gale of wind burst out of nowhere behind Willow, knocking her against the table. When she turned around, she saw a blinding portal opening right in front of her. A figure stepped out of the gateway. And then just as quickly as it appeared, the portal was gone.
Willow and Faith and Rowena looked at the figure in surprise and alarm. It was Kennedy. A long-haired Kennedy. A dazed and bruised Kennedy.
“What the hell?” Faith said, still holding her open cell phone.
“What?” demanded Kennedy’s voice out of the phone. “What is it?”
“Look, I gotta go,” Faith told the Kennedy on the phone. “Call ya later.” As the slayer’s voice started to strongly object, Faith hung up.
Willow stared in shock as the Kennedy right in front of her stumbled forward.
“Willow…?” the battered slayer said in a choked voice. Then she promptly passed out and hit the floor with a thud.
Willow immediately ran to Kennedy’s side and turned her over. The slayer had clearly seen better days. She was thin and dirty, covered in scrapes and cuts and bruises, her clothes frayed and tattered. With her eyes full of confusion, Willow ran her fingers along the brunette’s long braid of hair.
Just then, Kennedy came to and saw Willow hovering over her. She reached out and touched Willow’s face. Grateful tears sprang up in the slayer’s eyes. “Willow…thank god…” Kennedy pulled Willow to her and kissed her passionately, desperately.
Rowena and Faith came around the table just in time to see the kiss. Faith glanced over at Rowena, but the watcher’s face was unreadable.
Willow pulled out of the kiss, gently but deliberately. Kennedy gave Willow a bewildered look then abruptly scooted back several feet away from Willow. Deep pain was clearly in her expression.
“You’re not my Willow, are you?” Kennedy asked, casting several glances at the room she clearly didn’t recognize.
Rowena stepped forward and put her hand on Willow’s shoulder. “No, she’s not.” Rowena didn’t say this meanly or possessively, just matter-of-factly and somewhat compassionately.
Faith came closer and said, “And you’re not our Kennedy.”
At that, Kennedy shook her head but said nothing more.
Willow looked at Faith and Rowena then turned back to Kennedy. “Well, wh-who are you?” Willow asked. “W-Where are you from? W-When are you from? Why are you here?”
Kennedy gave a rueful laugh. “It’s good to know that you’re still babbling in at least one dimension.” Kennedy took a deep breath and said, “Look, I’ll tell you everything, and you can tell me everything, but right now, I could really use a shower and something to eat.”
“Oh. O-O-Of course,” Willow said awkwardly.
Willow reached out to help Kennedy get to her feet. When the slayer stood up, she hissed in pain.
“Oh my god…you’re hurt,” Willow said. “We should call Dr. Miller, get you to the infirm—”
“I’m fine,” Kennedy insisted, cutting Willow off. “It’s an old wound, already healing up.”
“Will, why you don’t take Kennedy to the apartment,” Rowena suggested, “and I’ll go scrounge up some food in the kitchen?”
Willow nodded mutely.
“I’ll spread the word to the senior members,” Faith said.
Willow came in the bedroom with an armful of clothes that she had “borrowed” from Kennedy’s apartment. She plopped them on the bed in a heap. A hair dryer could be heard running in the bathroom.
“Overkill probably,” she muttered to herself when she looked at the excessive amount of clothes. “She’s bound to like some of it. I mean, she’s still Kennedy, right?” Willow turned to the bathroom door. “I got you some clothes!” she called out loudly over the hair dryer.
“What?” came Kennedy’s voice over the dryer.
“I said—” Willow stopped yelling when the hair dryer was turned off and a towel-clad Kennedy opened the door. She started back in a lower voice, “I, um, I said I got you some clothes.”
“Cool,” Kennedy replied, beginning to check out the choices.
“I, um, I kinda stole ’em from our Kennedy’s closet,” Willow explained sheepishly. “She’s probably gonna kick my butt when she gets back.”
Kennedy picked out some underclothes, a pair of jeans, and a t-shirt. Then, without so much as a warning, she dropped the towel around herself and started getting dressed.
Willow froze for a moment, her eyes involuntarily drawn to Kennedy’s body. When Kennedy smirked at her long glance, Willow cleared her throat and turned around, embarrassed. “Sorry,” she mumbled.
“You don’t have to turn away for my sake,” Kennedy told her. “Been on the run a while. No time for modesty.” Kennedy pulled on her jeans. “Plus, it’s not like we haven’t seen each other before. Right?”
Willow chuckled nervously and turned back around, but kept her eyes politely averted. Well mostly.
Kennedy fastened her jeans and then yanked on the loose waistband. “Guess your Kennedy’s got a little more meat on her,” she said. “I’m not exactly gettin’ three squares a day lately.”
When Kennedy went to pull her shirt over her head, she winced slightly, causing Willow to look up. It was then that Willow got a glimpse of the wound on Kennedy’s back.
“Wait,” Willow called out. “Let me see.”
“Oh now you wanna see,” Kennedy teased.
Then she sighed and complied with Willow’s request. She turned around and lifted her shirt so that Willow could see. It was a deep gash maybe seven inches long across the lower part of Kennedy’s back, right above the waistband of her jeans. Given slayer healing, it was probably a few days old, but it still looked rather nasty.
“Kennedy!” Willow protested, running her fingers gently along Kennedy’s back. “This is bad! Y-Y-You need to see Dr. Miller and—”
Kennedy grabbed Willow’s hand and turned around. “It’s not that bad,” she insisted. “I can do without the doc.”
“Well-well…at least let me put some antibiotic a-a-and a bandage on it,” Willow offered.
When Kennedy shrugged in acquiescence, Willow entered the bathroom, gathered what she needed, and quickly returned. As Kennedy continued to dutifully hold up her shirt, Willow applied an antibiotic ointment along the gash.
“Kennedy, this was really deep and awfully close to your spine. How did it happen?”
“Eh, some Butch demon, in some dive outside of Des Moines…”
“Vutch demon?” Willow asked, alarmed.
“Yeah, whatever. Anyway he tried to slice and dice me before I incinerated his ass. You know, you wouldn’t think that Evil Inc. would give a crap about Iowa. I mean, there’s nothing there.”
Willow forced a laugh at Kennedy’s nonchalant attitude. She finished placing a large bandage over the wound and gave the slayer’s back a pat to indicate she was done.
Kennedy put down her shirt and turned around. “Thanks,” she said.
The two were mere inches apart. Willow looked into Kennedy’s eyes, but the slayer kept glancing away.
“Things are bad where you come from, aren’t they?” Willow asked softly.
Kennedy looked at her feet and nodded. “Ah…yeah.”
Willow reached out and put her hand on Kennedy’s arm. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.
Kennedy met Willow’s gaze and held it. They stared for the longest time, moving imperceptibly closer, until Kennedy finally cleared her throat and took a step back.
“So…you and the blonde, huh?” Kennedy asked.
“Um, yeah. Rowena. Rowena’s her name.”
“You and me…well, the other me…we broke up, I guess.”
There was a long pause. Then Kennedy asked, “Over her?”
“No,” Willow instantly answered. “Not really. Kennedy probably still thinks so, though. Our Kennedy.” Willow wrung her hands a moment before looking up. “Kennedy’s got a new girlfriend now. Someone she really seems to care about.”
“Good for her,” Kennedy said evenly, but she didn’t say more.
“Where you’re from…you and me…we’re still together?”
Kennedy didn’t answer. A look of anguish and uncertainty came over her face.
“I-I-I’m sorry,” Willow said. “I shouldn’t have asked. It’s none of my business.”
“No, it’s okay,” Kennedy said, pulling herself out of the bad memories. “I mean, I asked you first, and earlier I kissed you, so you’re probably wondering, and…” Kennedy paused and took a deep breath before continuing. “It’s just…I don’t know.”
Thinking of her own relationship troubles, Willow chuckled. “I can relate,” Willow said in a lighter tone.
“I got food!” they heard Rowena call from the kitchen. “Come and get it!”
Willow stepped aside and gestured for Kennedy to go ahead of her. Then the two of them left the bedroom.
While Rowena and Willow nibbled on the chips and dip, Kennedy dug into the huge tray of food that Andrew had whipped up. She wolfed down two burgers in a minute flat and then started in on the chef’s salad.
“Damn, this is good!” Kennedy said through a mouthful of food. “Hadn’t eaten like this in a while.”
“Well, she certainly eats like our Kennedy,” Rowena told Willow. Kennedy rolled her eyes but kept eating.
“She doesn’t look quite like our Kennedy, though,” Willow commented.
“What?” Kennedy asked, her curiosity piqued.
“Our Kennedy has short hair,” Willow said. “She chopped it all off last fall on a whim. She’s letting it grow back now, but it’s still short.”
Kennedy scoffed at the thought of short hair. “Last thing I’d want is somebody calling me ‘cute and perky’!”
Willow and Rowena burst out laughing. “She’s Kennedy all right,” they said to each other simultaneously.
Kennedy grumbled and went back to her food.
This time, the meeting that Rowena called wasn’t so small. Seated at the table were Faith, Robin, Xander, Vi, Dawn, Andrew, and Giles. The head of the table was left vacant for Rowena, and the two chairs on the end nearest the door were empty.
When the door opened, Willow and Rowena entered, followed by Kennedy. After the slayer had walked a few steps in, she stopped in place and nervously looked around the table. As she stared at them, they stared at her. Pain filled Kennedy’s eyes as she looked at each one. She seemed to look the longest at Dawn. The others looked back in shock.
“Good lord!” Giles exclaimed.
As Willow took the seat next to Xander, he leaned over and whispered, “Are you sure she’s not a pod person? You know, like that Faith changeling from Vor?”
Willow smiled. “Don’t worry. We tested her, and she’s for real,” Willow reassured him.
Xander chuckled and looked at Kennedy. “No offense.”
“None taken,” Kennedy replied.
“Please, sit,” Giles said, motioning to the seat next to Willow.
Rowena had already taken her place at the head of the table. Once she had opened the meeting, she turned to Kennedy. “I’m sure you know that we’ve got a million questions, but I think the best thing is for you to just tell us your story.”
Kennedy nodded in agreement. She took a deep breath, glanced once more at Dawn, then began.
“Well, as you’ve probably heard, I’m from an alternate dimension,” she said. “One that’s not real fun to be in. In my world, we failed to stop the First. When we went to Sunnydale High that day, we lost...”
With Sunnydale evacuated, the high school was trashed and abandoned. Robin led the group up to the entrance. He and Giles held the doors open for the others. As they went inside, Dawn walked beside Buffy.
“I wish Spike was here,” Dawn said to her sister.
Buffy glared at both Robin and Giles. “Well, he’s not.”
The sisters walked inside while the others followed.
Once inside the school, Faith came up to walk alongside Buffy.
“You got the bling bling, right?” Faith asked.
“Oh gee, was I supposed to bring that?” Buffy replied with mock ignorance. “But it really doesn’t go with what I’m wearing.” Faith rolled her eyes. “Relax, I’ve got it right here.” Buffy pulled the amulet from her pocket.
Faith looked relieved at the sight of the talisman, then a worried expression came over her face. “Are you sure that thing’s gonna work? What’s it supposed to do anyway?”
“Haven’t a clue. Guess we’ll find out when I put it on.”
Faith stopped Buffy and let the others pass so that the two slayers could talk privately.
“What if it...? Listen, B, if you want me to, I can wear the thing. I do fit the bill: ‘someone ensouled but stronger than human’. I know I haven’t always acted like I had a soul, but I do have one. And I know I’m not exactly a champion, but—”
“You are a champion, Faith,” Buffy interjected. “You proved that in L.A. and you’re proving it here. But this is something I need to do.”
“But why? You’ve already sacrificed yourself once. What if this thing just—”
Buffy stopped Faith’s rant with a raised hand. “Faith, I appreciate the offer, I do. But I need you on the front line, with the scythe, and the hopefully newly activated Slayers. We don’t have any idea what this thing is going to do or how long it’s going to take. You have to hold them as long as you can.”
Faith thought about this a moment then nodded wordlessly. Then the two slayers started walking again.
“Wait a minute,” Faith said, interrupting Kennedy’s narration. “You mean Buffy was planning to wear the medallion? I thought it was supposed to be worn by an ensouled vampire, like Spike.”
“It was,” Kennedy stated firmly.
“But…Spike wasn’t there, you said,” Dawn commented.
“No, he wasn’t,” Kennedy replied, casting a glare in the direction of Giles and Robin. Both men guiltily dropped their gaze to their hands.
“So…what happened?” Xander inquired.
“Things didn’t go according to plan,” Kennedy continued grimly.
Faith, Buffy, and the potentials gathered around the Seal of Danthazar. Faith pulled out the Tawarick knife and handed it to Buffy.
“You first, B,” Faith said.
Buffy cut her palm with the knife then handed it off. All of the others did the same. Together, they let their blood drip onto the seal. Moments later, the seal absorbed the blood and began to glow. Its sections folded into one another, and the seal opened. Then Buffy, Faith, and the potentials entered the hellmouth.
In Robin’s office, Willow sat on the floor with the scythe before her. Lit candles and other magical items were also present. Kennedy sat across from Willow, waiting and watching.
“They should be in place,” Kennedy prompted.
“Okay,” Willow said. “Magic time.” Then she laughed nervously and added, “You ready to kill me?”
“Starting to be,” Kennedy replied in an annoyed voice.
“Good. Fun. Great.” Willow took a deep breath and put her hands on the scythe. “Brace yourself,” she warned as she began the ritual.
Kennedy looked on with anticipation. “Come on, Red. Make it happen,” she whispered.
Buffy, Faith, and the potentials crept down into the dark cavern. Faith moved close to Buffy and nodded silently. Buffy pulled out the medallion and put it on. The two slayers waited expectantly, but nothing happened.
“It probably just needs to warm up,” Buffy said. “I’m not worried.”
With weapons drawn, the group spread out along the flat ledge that overlooked the deep cavern. Below they saw thousands of Turok-han, snarling and growling and readying themselves for war.
Buffy’s eyes grew wide. “I’m not worried,” she repeated unconvincingly.
The potentials did not look comforted by her statement.
“As long as Willow can work her spell before they—” Buffy started to say.
The Turok-han suddenly went silent and, as one, looked up at the ledge.
“—see us,” Buffy finished with a whimper.
Roaring in rage, the uber-vamps began rushing up the walls toward the slayers and potentials.
“Willow…” Buffy whispered worriedly.
As Willow continued the activation ritual, her body seemed electrified by the powers passing around and through her. Then the spell seemed to climax.
“Oh…my…goddess!” she exclaimed as the scythe suddenly flared with a brilliant white light.
Kennedy’s head snapped up as the effects of the spell hit her. Now a fully empowered slayer, she smiled wickedly.
Amanda and Vi and Rona drew in gasping breaths as Willow’s spell passed through them. They and the others were no longer potentials; they were slayers, and they were ready to do battle.
Just then, the uber-vamps surged over the ledge and charged Buffy and Faith and the new slayers.
Vi took one look at the horde and said with confidence, “These guys are dust.”
The fight was on. Slayers, new and old alike, put everything they had into the battle: kicking, leaping, punching, stabbing. All around them, the vampires were going down. But for every one they killed, a dozen more arose from the cavern below.
“Buffy!” Faith called out as she kicked back a vampire. “When’s that amulet gonna do its thing? We can’t hold out forever!”
“I don’t know,” Buffy replied, swiping at three Turok-han surrounding her. “Oh! God…” Buffy groaned as the amulet started glowing. Even the uber-vamps around her were taken aback.
“It’s about damn time,” Faith grumbled. Then she added excitedly, “Now we’ll see some action!”
Faith’s smile faded when she noticed that Buffy didn’t look very well. Buffy dropped her sword and seemed unsteady on her feet. The Turok-han scrambled away from her.
“Buffy!” Faith shouted.
Kennedy smiled and held out her arms. She clenched and re-clenched her fists, relishing the new power surging through her. Then she looked back up at Willow. Her smile instantly vanished. “Willow?” she asked worriedly.
Willow was encompassed by a pure white light. Her hair had gone completely white, tears flowed freely down her cheeks, and an expression of rapture was on her face. Suddenly, she cried out in pain and doubled over as the white energy seemed to come under assault by a black cloud.
Kennedy jumped to her feet and tried to go to Willow’s aid, but she was repelled by the black cloud, as if it were functioning like a force field. The black cloud began to invade the white light, disrupting it, damaging it. Kennedy beat on the cloud, trying in vain to get past it and to Willow. Summoning all her strength, Willow straightened up and forced the scythe through the black cloud, handing it to Kennedy.
“Get this to Faith,” Willow told Kennedy, grimacing from the strain.
“No! I’ve got to help you!” Kennedy insisted.
“You can,” Willow countered, “by getting the scythe to Faith. Stop the First. I’ll be okay till then.”
After staring at her girlfriend for a long moment, Kennedy reluctantly did as Willow had told her. She leaped to her feet and rushed out of the room with the scythe. It was only after Kennedy had left the room that Willow allowed herself to scream.
Kennedy leaped down the steps and into the cavern, the scythe gripped tightly in her hands. The Turok-han rushed her, but she instantly put the scythe to good use, decapitating one vampire then staking another then sweeping the weapon around to take on the next one. She worked her way several yards into the battle until she saw Faith next to Buffy. She couldn’t see exactly what was going on, but she called out anyway.
“Faith!” Kennedy shouted, holding up the scythe. Faith didn’t respond.
Kennedy didn’t have time to shout again as more uber-vamps came at her. Behind her, Turok-han began moving up the stairs and into the high school.
Buffy shuddered as the amulet’s power shook her body. Faith rushed over but was repelled by a force field surrounding Buffy. Faith pounded uselessly on the shield as the slayers behind her continued to fight the Turok-han.
Inside the shield, Buffy was suddenly face to face with the mirror image of herself. It was the First.
Smirking, the First said to Buffy, “I just want to thank you…”
Then the First turned to look directly at Faith outside the shield. Faith met the First’s eyes.
“…you and your little slayers…”
Faith frantically returned to her pounding on the shield.
Anya and Andrew fighting vampires in the North Hall
Voiceover, The First as Buffy: “…all your little army…”
Willow lay writhing on the floor, still under attack from the black cloud.
Voiceover, The First as Buffy: “…and especially your witch…”
Buffy stood frozen in fear as the First turned back to her and said, “…for making all of this possible.” The First gestured grandly at the ongoing battle.
The First stopped smiling and took a step closer to Buffy. “I told you I would be made flesh,” she said fiercely. Then her face lightened again, and she pointed at Buffy’s chest. “And I’m thinking your bit o’ flesh will do nicely.”
At that, the First simply walked into Buffy, the incorporeal image of the slayer merging into the physical form of Buffy herself. Buffy screamed in agony as the ultimate evil took possession of her—body, mind, and soul.
When Kennedy paused, everyone at the table sat in total shock. Giles reached over and put his hand over Dawn’s. She didn’t react, so he withdrew his hand. Still no one spoke. Finally, Andrew raised his hand.
“Umm, what happened to us?” Andrew asked quietly. “The other us, I mean. Some of us got out, right?”
Vi perked up at that. “Yeah, we made it out, didn’t we?” She looked at Kennedy with desperate hope in her eyes. Xander took Vi’s hand in his.
Kennedy dropped her gaze to her lap and shook her head. When she glanced back up, she said, “Some of us survived.” Kennedy hesitated then added, “Me. Faith. Willow. And—” She cut her eyes at Dawn for the briefest of seconds. “And that’s it.”
The room grew silent once again.
Eventually Dawn broke the silence. “What happened to Buffy?” she asked softly.
“Dawn,” Giles said in gentle warning.
“No, I wanna know,” Dawn said testily. “Tell me.”
“There wasn’t any more Buffy,” Kennedy answered plainly. “She was gone…just gone. It was Buffy’s body, but…”
Tears began rolling down Dawn’s cheeks, and she put her hand over her mouth. A small sob escaped, and she abruptly rose to her feet. “I don’t wanna hear any more,” she said before rushing from the room.
“Dawnie!” Willow called out.
Xander stood up and put his hand on Willow’s shoulder. “I’ll go.” Then he left the room to follow Dawn.
“Dawn! Wait up!” Xander called down the hallway. Dawn didn’t stop. Xander finally had to run after her and grab her arm. “Dawn, I—”
“I know…you just want to talk,” Dawn said, pulling her arm out of Xander’s grip. “Well, I can’t, okay?” She wiped the tears roughly from her face.
“Okay, we won’t talk then,” Xander replied in his usual joke-in-the-face-of-disaster way. “We’ll just sit around and glare. Maybe huff or grumble a few times. Point is…I don’t think you should be alone right now.”
Dawn softened a little at that. “I appreciate the offer, Xander, I do. But right now, I just wanna be by myself and think a little. I’ll be okay, I promise.”
“Well, okay,” Xander said reluctantly. “But I want you to know I’m here for you…if you need a shoulder…or if you wanna do that glare-and-grumble party I mentioned.”
“Thanks,” Dawn said with a small smile. Then she headed back down the hallway.
Xander watched her go, a worried expression on his face.
“Sorry,” Kennedy mumbled after watching Xander take off after the distraught Dawn.
“It’s not your fault,” Willow told the slayer. “This just…it’s just a little too close to home, you know? Especially lately.”
“Yes, first Skye, then this,” Giles said. “It must be quite overwhelming.”
“It’s all overwhelming,” Faith said. “I mean, it’s just…blowing my mind.”
“Me too, and I wasn’t even there,” Rowena noted. “Either time. I don’t think.” Rowena looked at Kennedy questioningly. Kennedy shook her head. Rowena nodded in response.
“Well, what happened? How’d you get out?” Faith asked.
“After the First took over Buffy’s body, she immediately destroyed the amulet,” Kennedy replied. “Then she and the super vamps really got down to business. They slaughtered every slayer within reach. It was only because of the scythe that Faith and I got out of there at all. By the time we got upstairs…” Kennedy paused. She didn’t say the words, but everyone knew what she and Faith must have found there. Kennedy moved on. “Willow had managed to protect herself with magic, barely, so we grabbed her and got the hell out of there.”
“Did Sunnydale sink into the ground?” Robin asked.
“No, it just became invasion central, the First’s capital city,” Kennedy said. “We high-tailed it to L.A., but it wasn’t long before it too came under attack. Millions of demons flooded the west coast, and nobody could stop them.”
“What about the slayer activation spell?” Willow inquired. “Did you—”
“It didn’t work,” Kennedy answered before correcting herself. “I mean, it worked, obviously, but it just didn’t finish working. When the First attacked Willow, it disrupted the spell, and only a small portion of the potentials in the world were actually empowered. It was mainly those in North America. Still, we didn’t have anything like what you have here, from what you’ve told me. And even if we’d had the numbers, we just didn’t have the time to find them, to get them ready.”
“What did you do?” Rowena asked.
“We went on the run—me and Willow and Faith. For three months, we fought our way across the country, barely a step ahead of the First and her army. We gathered up any slayers we happened to come across, but they weren’t trained, and they were freaking out, and there were just so many attacking us…”
Kennedy stopped and glanced away, the pain of bad memories clearly on her face. After a moment, she looked back at the group and continued.
“We contacted Althenea in England, and she and her coven came up with a plan that they thought would work,” Kennedy said. “But we needed the Champion’s Medallion, and to do that, we needed another hellmouth. So we set up a meeting in Cleveland. Unfortunately, it was already in bad shape too. Once word had gotten out about the First’s invasion, the local demon population had started wreaking havoc on the city. The same thing was happening all over the world, but especially in the U.S.”
“What was this plan that you all had come up with?” Giles asked.
“Althenea and her coven had discovered a way to attack the First using the amulet,” Kennedy explained. “Even though the First had taken over Buffy’s body, that wasn’t really the full ‘being made flesh’ thing; that part was still to come. If we could use the amulet against the First before she got to that point, we’d have a chance of defeating her. A slim chance, but at least it was a chance.”
“But you said that the amulet had been destroyed,” Vi noted.
“Right. Which is why I had to go dimension-hopping,” Kennedy said. “We figured we’d just Quantum-Leap one of us into an alternate reality—one in which the amulet hadn’t been destroyed yet—and nab us a medallion that way.” Kennedy got a confused look on her face. “I don’t know why I ended up here, though. I figured I’d end up in Sunnydale or L.A. some time prior to the battle at the high school. I guess the spell didn’t work.” Kennedy sighed in deep disappointment. “I guess I’ll go home empty-handed in three days.”
Willow looked at Rowena with an unasked question in her eyes. Rowena shook her head, indicating that now was not the time to reveal the fact that they had the amulet in their possession. Willow’s expression showed hurt and anger. She turned sharply away from Rowena and back to Kennedy.
“Three days?” Faith asked. “What do you mean by that?”
Kennedy pulled a small crystal out of her pocket and set it on the table. It was glowing ever so faintly. “My ticket back home,” she said. “It’s gotta recharge itself. Should take about three days. When it’s back up to full power, I can activate it and go back home.”
“Tell us more about this spell that sent you here,” Rowena directed. “And the one you intended to use against the First once you got the amulet.”
“I don’t know much about the amulet spell,” Kennedy replied. “That was pretty much between Will and Al.” Kennedy cut her eyes at Willow for a moment before adding, “Well, Al mostly.” She took a deep breath. “Even so, it was still in the planning stages. And as for the other spell, I just did what Al told me to do…”
In an underground room of a huge building near the lake, Kennedy helped Althenea set out the items needed for the portal spell. They laid the objects in a small circle in the center of the room. At the doorway, Faith spoke with three young slayers, instructing them on the plan to defend the room. In the back corner, Willow sat in a chair, leaning against the wall, her arms limp at her sides, her eyes empty.
All of seven of them in the room were beaten and battered from months of running and fighting. They were dirty and hungry, and their clothes were torn and disheveled. Except for Willow, the group looked exhausted but determined, as if they were fueling themselves on their last bit of hope. Willow, however, was beyond hope already. She was a mere shell of herself, guilt and anguish having drained the life from her. Kennedy left Althenea and walked over to Willow. She knelt at Willow’s feet and took the redhead’s hands in her own.
“Hey,” she said softly to Willow. “It’s almost time.” Willow didn’t respond. Kennedy brushed the tears off Willow’s cheeks. “Will, please…we need you. I need you.” Kennedy kissed her desperately.
After the kiss Willow slowly met Kennedy’s eyes. “You’re better off without me,” she whispered in a hoarse voice.
“No!” Kennedy instantly denied. “No, that’s not true! I—”
“Kennedy,” Althenea interrupted. “It’s time.”
Kennedy glanced at Althenea and nodded, then she turned back to Willow. She looked deeply into her girlfriend’s eyes, but Willow had already retreated within herself once again. Kennedy reluctantly left Willow’s side and rejoined Althenea at the circle. Suddenly, they heard a loud thudding on the floor above them. As Kennedy and Althenea looked up at the sound, Faith left her slayers at the door and walked over.
“We’re not alone,” Faith said. “Better get this show on the road.”
Althenea handed Kennedy a crystal. “This will get you back home. When it glows bright green, use the incantation I gave you. It should blip you right back here.” Kennedy nodded. The witch turned to Faith. “No matter what happens, don’t let them disrupt the spell. It may take a while for it to build enough to send Kennedy on her way.”
“Got it,” Faith replied.
“Ready?” Althenea asked, turning back to Kennedy.
“As I’ll ever be,” Kennedy answered.
As Kennedy stepped into the circle, Althenea knelt on the floor with the scythe in front of her. Faith returned to her slayers just as a pounding began on the door to the room. Willow still sat zombie-like in the corner.
Althenea put both her hands on the scythe and started the ritual, speaking in an ancient tongue. Blue light shot out of the items forming the circle and began to build in strength, creating a bubble-like shield around Kennedy. Just then, demons burst through the door. Faith and her untrained slayers leapt to the defense, but they were simply outnumbered. In less than a minute, one slayer was down and another injured. The demons were threatening to break through.
“Al!” Faith yelled.
Althenea stopped her incantation and turned to Willow. “Will! Get up, damn it!” she screamed. “We need you!” Althenea went back to her incantation.
Willow slowly turned and took in the scene before her. Suddenly, her eyes cleared, and she jumped from her chair. She ran to join the fight by the door, hurling a fireball at one demon then another. For a moment, she appeared to be turning the tide of the battle, but then one of the demons came up behind her, grabbed her, and hurled her against the wall. She sank to the floor, dazed.
“Willow!” Kennedy cried out when she saw the redhead hit the floor. Then she took a step forward as if she intended to leave the circle.
“No!” Althenea shouted, stopping Kennedy in her tracks. “Don’t break the circle! We can’t stop now!”
Kennedy never took her eyes off Willow, who came to just in time to see the demon up-close as he wrapped his sharp-clawed hand around her throat. He lifted her off the ground.
“Willow!” Kennedy screamed again, this time resting her palms on the inside of the blue-light shield.
Faith looked over her shoulder at Althenea. “Do it!” she commanded.
Just as Kennedy watched the demon rip his claws into Willow’s body, Althenea belted out the final line of the spell, and Kennedy disappeared in a flash.
Once again, the group was quiet. Glances were cast about the room, but no one seemed to know what to say. Even Xander, who had returned in the middle of Kennedy’s narration, was at a loss for words.
“Anyway, that’s my story,” Kennedy said. She rubbed the back of her neck and then massaged her temples.
“Thank you, Kennedy,” Rowena said. “I imagine you’re rather tired from your ordeal. I’d like to offer the hospitality of the Council. You’re welcome to rest here for the next three days before you have to return. Xander, would you please escort Kennedy to the guest wing and—”
“Wait!” Willow interjected. “Aren’t you going to—?”
“Willow!” Rowena warned. “No. Not now.”
Willow crossed her arms tightly but didn’t say another word. Kennedy looked at the exchange curiously.
“Xander?” Rowena prompted.
“Guest wing,” Xander answered. “Gotcha. Come on, Ken. I’ll give ya the quickie tour while we’re at it. By the way, we’ve moved up in the world since the Summers home was jammed with potentials. You won’t even have to share a bathroom. And if you play your cards right, I just might give you the guest room with the mini-bar. Just kidding…”
Willow waited until Xander had completely shut the door and had had time to move down the hallway before whipping around to face Rowena.
“Why didn’t you tell her that we had the amulet?!” Willow demanded.
“Because we don’t even know if it is the Champion’s Medallion yet,” Rowena countered. “Do you really want to get Kennedy’s hopes up only to dash them when this turns out to be a counterfeit?”
“But it must be real,” Willow insisted. “Why else would the spell have directed her here, right now?”
“We have to be sure, Willow,” Rowena said. “And we have to decide as a group whether or not to even allow Kennedy to take possession of the amulet.”
Willow started to object but stopped herself. She finally just nodded mutely.
“I suggest that we take the night to consider the matter and reconvene tomorrow,” Rowena announced.
When everyone seemed amenable to the idea, Rowena dismissed the meeting.
After Xander left, Kennedy shut the door and leaned against it. She let out a big sigh and just stood there for a long moment.
Eventually, she moved away from the door and into the sitting area. She stood there for a minute or two before walking into the kitchenette. She ran her fingers along the counter, poked at the microwave keypad, then peeked in the refrigerator.
A sigh or two later, she was in the bedroom, checking out the bed, then opening the curtains to gaze out over the Council grounds. She closed her eyes and frowned, as if unpleasant memories were flooding in.
-- Kennedy watching
her fellow slayers get slaughtered in Sunnydale
Kennedy took in a halting breath and wrapped her arms tightly around herself as a single tear leaked out from each lid. Then she opened her eyes and wiped off her cheeks, clearing her throat loudly. She reached up to massage her temples, grimacing as she did so.
“I hope they got some aspirin in this place,” Kennedy grumbled before heading into the bathroom.
Willow and Rowena were in bed together, getting settled in for the night. Willow lay with her back to Rowena.
“ ’night,” she said to the blonde over her shoulder.
Rowena smirked and scooted over to spoon Willow.
“You’re still mad, aren’t you?” Rowena asked, resting her chin on Willow’s shoulder.
“No, I’m not mad,” Willow said unconvincingly. When Rowena didn’t reply, Willow rolled over to lie on her back. “Okay, maybe a little,” she admitted.
Rowena leaned up on her elbow and put her other hand over Willow’s. “You understand why I did what I did, right? It simply wasn’t the right time to tell Kennedy about the amulet.”
“I know,” Willow said. “It’s just…” Willow turned over on her side to look directly at Rowena. “She’s been through so much already,” Willow said with a pained expression. “If there’s anything we can do to help her, we should do it.”
“And we will…if we can.” Rowena paused then said, “I’m just concerned that maybe you aren’t thinking about this as objectively as you should…given your prior relationship with Kennedy. Well, with our version of her anyway.”
“You aren’t exactly unbiased when it comes to Kennedy either,” Willow pointed out. “She’s been a thorn in your side since—”
“Kennedy and I have made our peace,” Rowena interjected amiably. Then she cleared her throat and added, “For the most part.” Willow grinned at that. “Look, Will,” Rowena continued, “whatever we do, we have to put the Council first, and if that means denying the amulet to Kennedy, then that’s what we’ll have to do.”
Willow’s pained expression returned, and Rowena scooted closer, wrapping her arms around the redhead. She kissed her warmly then rested her forehead against Willow’s.
“It’s so bad where she’s from,” Willow whispered. “And it’s our fault, all of us, in her world. We thought we were doing right, but it was all wrong, and now…”
“We’ll help her,” Rowena promised, “any way we can.” Then she kissed Willow again and hugged her tightly.
Kennedy tossed and turned in her bed. Her body was bathed in sweat as a nightmare gripped her mind.
“No…” she said, shaking her head. “No…”
Abruptly, she shot up in bed. “Willow!” she cried out.
With her chest heaving, she drew in panting breaths as she struggled to regain her sense of where and when she was. Suddenly, she gave an enraged roar and swung her arm back against the lamp on the nightstand, smashing it against the wall.
Kennedy jumped out of bed and scanned the room, clenching her fists as if she were looking for another item to destroy. Luckily, she didn’t see anything to her liking and didn’t lash out again.
Instead, she got her breathing under control and then pulled on her clothes. Within minutes, she was out the front door.
“Kennedy!” Willow called out in fright as she sat up straight in bed, waking Rowena in the process.
“Willow, what is it?” Rowena asked, reaching to the redhead with concern.
Willow put her hand on her chest where her heart beat madly. She took a deep breath and sighed, then fell back against her pillow.
“Nothing,” she said. “Just a bad dream.”
“It’s just a dream, sweetie,” Rowena said. “I’m sure Kennedy’s fine.”
“I’m gonna go check on her,” Willow announced, pushing back the covers.
“Will, it’s two in the morning,” Rowena pointed out.
“I don’t care. I gotta go.”
Willow hurriedly pulled on some clothes and then slipped on her shoes. She rushed over to Rowena’s side of the bed and kissed her.
“I’m sorry,” Willow said, “but I really need to do this. Once I know she’s okay, I’ll come right back.”
When Willow gave her a hopeful grin, Rowena smiled back indulgently. “Okay,” the watcher said, “you better.”
Willow kissed Rowena again and dashed from the room. As Rowena watched her girlfriend go, a frown crept into her face.
Kennedy punched the bag mercilessly, jab after jab. With sweat pouring off her brow, Kennedy changed from jabs to full punches, grunting hard with each punch. She gave a yell of frustration as she put all her might into a final blow which caused the bag to swing back hard on its chain.
“Thought I might find you here,” Willow said.
Startled, Kennedy gasped and turned in a flash, fists ready. Her abrupt reaction frightened Willow, causing her to jump and hold up her hands in surrender.
“Hey, hey, it’s just me,” Willow said in a coaxing voice.
“Jesus, Will, you scared the shit outta me!” Kennedy said, lowering her fists.
“Sorry,” Willow replied with an apologetic shrug. “I went to your room to check on you and—”
Kennedy looked at her watch. “At two o’clock in the morning?” Kennedy winked playfully at Willow. “Just what were you wanting to check out?”
Willow rolled her eyes then continued. “I had this dream about you and—”
Kennedy waggled her eyebrows. “Oh, dreamin’ about me, huh?”
Willow stepped closer and touched the slayer’s arm. “Kennedy, I’m serious. I’m worried about you.”
Kennedy’s light tone vanished. “Well, you shouldn’t be. I’m fine.”
“Tell that to the lamp in your room.”
“Sorry ’bout that. I got a little…mad.” Willow raised her eyebrow at Kennedy. “Hey, at least I didn’t smash anything else. I came here instead.” Kennedy wiped the sweat from her forehead, pausing to massage her temple.
“Headache?” Willow asked.
“Yeah,” Kennedy said. “My head’s been killing me since I got here. Must be inter-dimensional jet lag or something.”
“Well, why don’t you hang up the gloves for now, and we can go hang out in the rec room? Maybe play a game of pool, or some darts, watch a movie…”
Kennedy smiled at that. “Sounds good.” Willow smiled back.
Willow took careful aim as she stood in front of the electronic dart game. Two darts were already in the board. She held the third in her hand. She let it fly. Thunk! Right in the triple twenty.
“Woo-hoo!” Willow hooted. “Triple twenty…I believe that is game and match,” she bragged.
Kennedy sighed and carried her darts up to the board and returned them to the case on the shelf nearby. Willow removed her darts from the board and did the same.
“I can’t believe I beat you,” Willow said. “I never beat you. None of you slayers. Not with your super-duper weapony expertise thingee going on.”
Kennedy shrugged then grinned. “Maybe I’m just goin’ easy on ya.”
“Or maybe that inter-dimensional jet lag is affecting you more than you’re letting on,” Willow countered. “Why don’t we go with something a little less strenuous? I say it’s movie time.”
“Okay, but I don’t want some boring sappy date movie, okay? Gimme something with a lot of action, something that’ll keep my attention, like Die Hard or something.”
“No sap. All action. Check,” Willow said, leading Kennedy over to the big screen TV.
With Die Hard rolling right along without her, Kennedy was fast asleep on the couch before the big screen TV. She had her head in Willow’s lap, and for the first time in months, the slayer slept soundly and safely.
Willow looked down at Kennedy fondly. She smiled at her, gently stroking the slayer’s hair.
When Willow turned her gaze back to the screen, she saw Bruce Willis pulling glass shards out of his bare feet. Willow grimaced and looked away. She grabbed a small couch cushion and placed it against the side of her head. Then she closed her eyes and joined Kennedy in sleep.
End of Part Five