Summary: The aftermath of the great Slayer activating spell. Can a Slayer and a Witch live happily ever after?
Spoilers and/or Warnings: Set post-"Chosen".
Title, Author and URL of original story: Sundays At Nine by lily_lovely, located at http://lily-lovely.livejournal.com/4649.html.
Many thanks to my (until-now hidden) beta's bastardsnow, moragmacpherson and laney_1974 who reassured me I was not insane for stopping where I did.
Willow thinks she’s a lot stronger than she really is.
Not true, of course. Kennedy, like so many other people, is a mass of inner neuroses hidden beneath the surface. Her surface however, is a lot thicker than most peoples. That’s why it’s so easy to play the confident, never-wrong, never-back-down Slayer. Be the one who always makes the first move.
Have the guts to ask out the scary witch-girl who almost ended the world.
Mind you, she was hot. Which helped.
But this? This isn’t the Willow she fell in love with back then in those frantic Sunnydale nights. There was loving, there was laughing, and the days were full of excitement and horror, while the nights… the nights were something else.
That Willow had something to live for.
This Willow is lost, confused. Changed.
Ever since casting the Spell.
That Spell which changed everything. It made Kennedy what she is now, what she always wanted to be. Like something out of a fairy tale.
Thing about magic and fairy tales: there’s always a price.
This price might have been Willow.
~ + ~
In the middle of the night, Kennedy wakes at times. Well, the middle of the night for Slayers tends to be about dawn, what with the whole patrolling and fighting throughout the night. Body clock adjustment issues tend to be the thing that no-one mentioned to all the new Slayers that got created by Willow.
Still, it’s not like her rich family ever flew around the country that little. Jet lag was something she’d learnt to deal with by the age of 12. Daddy was an important man, Mother would slur, with lots of things that only he could sort out.
And so now, with dawn spreading across the land, she can study Willow, safe in their bed. See the contours of her body, the hidden strength of character she doesn’t even know she possesses at times.
It’s at times like this that Kennedy can drop the act of being the strong one, and just lie there, deeply in love with the red-headed witch before her. It scares her at times, just how deeply she fell, so fast. She wants to protect her, to save her. To hold her so much.
But for now, she lies there watching her. Willow blows a strand of that gorgeous hair away from her mouth automatically, and snuffles quietly in her sleep.
Kennedy reaches out a hand and gently pushes the errant strand back behind Willow’s ear.
She’s not stupid. She knows something’s going on in Willow’s head that even Willow can’t deal with right now. That Willow’s not even ready to face up to.
She’d do anything for Willow. Kill anything, go out and search the furthest ends of the earth for something she needs, throw herself in front of Willow to save her any pain.
That’s not what Willow needs right now.
So she says nothing, just snatches these few, precious, wonderful moments and waits.
~ + ~
Naturally, it’s Xander who approaches her first when Willow first comes up with this whole idea of moving to Britain.
There have been times she’s hated him in the past for just what he meant to Willow. There have been times she’s almost loved him in the past for what he meant to Willow. It took her a long time to realise just how much of the other is bound up tight with either of them.
They complete each other in that certain way. Some of it’s the long term relationship they’ve had since kindergarten all those long years back. Some of it’s the shared terms of reference, the old stories, the old gags, the shared shorthand that only a twenty-year knowledge of someone will explain. (Sometimes, a small, ashamed part of her relishes the fact that even Buffy gets lost at times by them).
But Xander and her? Never been great on the old sharing front. They both love Willow, they both never want her to be harmed. And he’s letting Kennedy do it now.
In a way, it’s a high compliment.
Xander just looks at her, and jerks one thumb back towards Willow’s current location. “Take care of our girl, right?” is all he says.
So much is unsaid in that gaze.
Kennedy suddenly realises that she’s not the only one to notice Willow being a bit… off. That Willow’s lack of doing magic is not the only thing the others have picked up on. (Well, maybe not Buffy, but Giles doesn’t miss anything.)
That maybe, she could have had allies. A little late in the realisation, but warming nevertheless.
“We’re off tomorrow,” she says obliquely, part acknowledgement, part apology. “I’ll do my best.”
Xander holds her gaze a little longer, and she meets it firmly, determined nothing will get to Willow. Eventually a little smile appears at the side of Xander’s mouth, vanishing quickly. He nods. “I know you will.”
Validation of a sort. And from an unexpected quarter. Kennedy quickly returns to her packing, not letting the sudden prickliness in her eyes bother her.
~ + ~
England is England.
They told her it’d be cold. They told her it’d be raining all the time. They were right about that.
But London itself? Is amazing.
It’s old, so old it hurts. Some of the buildings just reek of times past, and sometimes Kennedy swears she can feel the spirits of the old Slayers running alongside her and the others as they pound the streets in hot pursuit of this week’s demon.
But the city’s so alive it hurts in another brand new way. So many sights to see, so many different people to meet, so many different experiences to inhale in. And Willow’s not interested.
She’s just focused in on that teaching assistant job she could at the University. That, and not doing magic. Willow leaves the nice comfortable flat they have together (that Kennedy had to arrange) only to go to work, the cafe or to go food shopping.
Kennedy tries her best. Tales of her time at work, which nasty they took down today, which gym she’s gonna try this week, what the girls said about who. To her own surprise, she’s getting good at leading the London Slayers. Missteps along the way of course, but she’s desperately trying to make Willow proud of her, be the person that Willow deserves.
Willow doesn’t say much in return, but there’s still an inner core of Willowness that comes out every now and then. When her eyes sparkle or she’s ticked off at something.
But even that’s getting more and more rare.
Even every Sunday at nine, when Xander calls, she seems to be drifting away. More often than not, Xander is the one doing all the talking before being cut off by yet another problem rearing its ugly head.
At night when Kennedy watches her sleeping, Willow seems more restless, more driven than before.
And once, Kennedy could swear she whispered “Tara”.
~ + ~
Willow Rosenberg has left the building, ladies and gentlemen.
Was it something she said? Something she did? Something Kennedy didn’t do? Didn’t say? Or was it just something deep inside Willow that she didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t show Kennedy?
Who knows? Willow didn’t say.
She just never came back from work one day. Wallet gone with her, some clothes and her papers for the university. At first, Kennedy thought it was something magical related and set all the London Council offices on high alert, tracking down everything they could.
Watcher after watcher plunge into the most obscure prophecies they could lay their hands on. Every demon hangout in London they know of, or even suspect gets five or six Slayers crashing through it pissed off and looking for answers.
Nothing knew anything, and that left Kennedy with just one option: Calling the Scoobies to report that her girlfriend (and possibly the most powerful witch in the north hemisphere) had gone missing.
Emails have gone unanswered, cell phone (or mobiles as they call them over here) switched off. She even quit her job – walked straight into the University, dumped the stack of graded papers on her Professor’s desk and handed in her notice there and then.
All the professor could remember was she mumbled something about needing a break. And that was it, even with two Slayers, a one-eyed man and a very pissed off Ripper staring him down.
So Kennedy leans back in the kitchen chair in their flat and stares at the bottle on the table in front of her. It’s the best brand she could get at this late hour. Whiskey. Malt, and awfully, awfully tempting.
For the first time ever, she understands her mother a little.
~ + ~
It’s time for Xander to call.
What can she say this time? “No, still no idea where she is. How was your week?”
And why the hell is he still calling? He knows Willow’s not here, so why he still bothers with this stupid ritual is beyond her.
Oh sure, there’s an element of relief on her part that none of them are blaming her (not even Buffy, which does surprise her) but it’s more guilt than anything that keeps her hanging around the flat waiting for that call.
That bottle’s still there, also waiting for her. Sat up there on the shelf, staring silently at the back of her head. It’s not going to win, but simply throwing it away would mean she also lost in a different kind of way.
The phone finally rings, and she focuses in on that instead. She and Xander talk of various things, professional demon hunting shop talk mixing in effortlessly with sports talk, gossip and general eye-rolling at Buffy’s latest beau.
Occasionally, she’s even able to help them out with information. Other times, she picks his brains for help with what Xander calls the Care, Management and Feeding of Slayers. Oddly enough, her mad pursuit of any leads possible on Willow didn’t actually upset any of those that she’s been placed in charge of. More like solidified her position and caused them to respect her a lot more than before.
She’s lost Willow, she’s damn well not going to lose anyone else.
So that’s what she’s doing here every week, caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Between the one eyed man who sees too much and the demon drink. Everywhere she looks around the flat, she can still see traces of Willow, parts of her she left behind.
Even the bed still smells of her. Though that’s fading away now.
Then one week it all changes. “We’ve got an address,” Xander says.
~ + ~
That’s another thing about London Kennedy likes: the rooftops. They have character, they have their own tiny cities and ways of travel across them at night time.
And they can provide great views.
Views of a certain magic shop across the other side of London. One with a redheaded witch who just started working there.
The door of the Mystic Moon opens and Willow walks out. She looks better than she has for months, more alive, stopping in the doorway to share a laugh with the owner as she locks up behind them.
She looks like Willow again, rather than the pale imitation Kennedy suddenly realises she was living with for all those months.
“Yeah. It’s her,” she says into the cell phone in a low mono-tone.
She can almost feel the pain coming over the cell from the other end. Xander’s voice continues on anyway. “There’s more, isn’t there?”
“She’s been hanging out at the local lesbian bar. Picking up various girls, taking them home with her. No sign of any magic or influence on her.”
“In short, she chose to abandon us all.”
Kennedy hangs up, and carefully passes the cell back to one of her Slayers at her back. She pauses for a long moment, watching Willow walk away. Finally, she lowers her head, breathes out and smashes her fist hard into the nearest wall.
Cradling her now bleeding hand, she swings her head around sharply, and stares at her girls. “Well, what are you waiting for?” she snaps, “An invite? We got a whole city to look after. Amy – you and Deb get Peckham tonight. Chantelle, Charlotte, Kellie, you three get the clubs. Everyone else, standard patrol routes apart from Karly and Michelle.”
Her mouth forms into a tight line that might have been described charitably as a smile. “We’re going to bust up the nearest demon bar.”
When she gets home that night, blood on her hands, it’s easy to unscrew that top and pour the first drink.
~ + ~
Hangovers aren’t nice, but either she’s getting used to them by now or Slayer healing has finally decided how to deal with them.
Eyes still tightly closed, she reaches out. There should be a bottle somewhere over on the bedside table…. That’s a) not a bottle, b) coffee, and c) hot!
Suddenly awake, Kennedy sits bolt upright in her bed. The embarrassed looking girl that she’s never seen before waves from the other side of the room. “Hey,” she says, “Hope you do like coffee, but there’s no way I could choose out of all those different types of tea in there.”
Kennedy blinks, and decides that coffee might be a good thing to have now. After all, anyone who meant her harm would killed her by now, right?
She sips the coffee and realises two things. Firstly, this is really good coffee. Secondly, she’s topless. The coffee probably helped with that bit.
Eyes wide, she grabs for the sheet to cover herself up. Big Bad Slayer, scourge of the demon underworld, suddenly all shy. “Awww…” pouts the strange girl from across the room, “I was kinda still enjoying those.”
Rapid mental calculations and the feeling of actually being rested quickly add two and two together for Kennedy. “Did I..? Did we…? Last night?” she squeaks out, eyes going even wider than before.
“Ohhhh….” says the girl, “Sorry, didn’t realise it was your first time. Um, perhaps I’d better be going then.”
“No, no, wait,” Kennedy says quickly, hand to her forehead in pain, “It’s just I’ve never been that drunk before to forget everything. And I’m making a total mess of this, aren’t I?”
A smile plays across the girl’s face. “I thought you knew your way around a girl’s body too well. Well, that and this place being pretty obviously two girls together.”
Kennedy grimaces. “Well, just the one of us now. Which is where the getting drunk thing sorta came in.”
Her visitor just shrugs. “Cool. Guess that means I don’t have to rush off too quickly then. Any chance I can use your shower?”
Despite herself, Kennedy laughs for the first time in ages. “You know what you want, don’t you? Shower’s through there.”
The girl, who Kennedy suddenly realises is dressed in Willow’s dressing gown, grins and waggles her eyebrows as she goes. Her voice trails back into the room. “And what I really want right now is someone to scrub my back….”
Shaking her head, and still grinning, Kennedy downs the coffee and crawls out of bed. “Might help if I had a name to go along with the hot body.”
“Oh, now that’s just insulting to a poor little innocent girl, though I will take the compliment on my body.”
“Insulting? You’re the one using my shower, after all. And all the hot water!”
“Good point. Hi, I’m Talia.”
“I’m Kennedy. Apparently, life does go on.”