Originally broadcasted 2/4/03
The Alcove – Night
Kennedy took a sip of the thick liquid and nodded. “It’s different.” She had to raise her voice against the music and general buzz of the bar.
Her companion smiled. A glass of the same drink was in her hand. She shrugged. “Maybe it’s my sweet tooth,” she said, also raising her voice, “but plum wine has always been my favorite. Goes down like silk.” With that, she took a sip and winked. So did Kennedy, but while drinking she took in the young woman’s appearance: tall, slender, with porcelain skin and a mane of hair the color of copper.
“You know,” Kennedy said, “I don’t usually let women buy me drinks.”
“Lucky me, then.” Her hazel eyes sparkled.
The music stopped. Or at least it paused. Kennedy leaned in and spoke in a more normal tone of voice. “I mean, usually I’m the one buying them drinks.”
Laughing, the other young woman raised her glass in a mock toast. “Here’s to new experiences.”
Music began to blare again. Kennedy had just enough time to open her mouth, but then shrugged and raised her glass as well. They touched glasses and each drank.
“My name. It’s Tamara Lewis.”
“Is that a first or last name?”
“That would be telling,” she smirked and then downed her plum wine. “Okay. Trade off. I buy the next drink.”
“Okay,” said Tamara. “But it’ll take me a minute to finish mine first.”
“Whatever,” answered Kennedy, leaning back. She took a moment to scan the bar. At least three dozen women filled the room, maybe half on the dance floor. Kennedy couldn’t help snorting.
“The posters,” Kennedy pointed. “Let’s see… there’s Desert Hearts and Bound and Heavenly Creatures and, oh yeah, The Hunger. Not exactly subtle!”
Tamara smiled. “Consider it a form of territorial marking.”
“Could be worse, I guess.”
“Pink triangles everywhere?” Tamara suggested.
“Yeah, that’d be worse.”
“Pictures of Melissa Etheridge covering the walls? A neon sign saying ‘Estrogen Only?’ Or they could change the name of the bar, you know: No Man’s Land, the Lesbian Lounge, maybe just go all out and call it Ye Olde Dyke Pub.”
Kennedy smiled at this, but barely.
“You’re sad,” said Tamara.
“No!” was Kennedy’s instant reply. “Just haven’t had enough to drink after a long day! I’m getting a beer. You want another plum wine?”
“I’m good for now.”
“Be right back,” Kennedy said with a wink.
Street Outside the Alcove – Same Time
He was tall, nearly six feet, and wore the simplest dark coat, which helped make him even less conspicuous. This part of Cleveland had tall buildings in great supply, with shadow-filled alleys in between. From one of these, he quietly watched the parade of women going in and out of the Alcove.
One woman in particular headed in his direction. She emerged from the Alcove, an overweight brunette moving at a good pace. She walked across the street and then turned left. He didn’t move, but watched her from the shadows. She looked young, no more than twenty-five at most. More, she huddled in her coat against the cold, rather than checking her surroundings. The man tensed slightly as she neared, head still down. From one pocket his hand slowly began to emerge – and in it, the Bowie knife it held.
The girl stopped. She looked behind her. The man went utterly still.
Another young woman was running up behind her. This one was black, about the same age. Smiling. “Wait for me!” she called, a little breathlessly.
Tina did. She waited three yards from the alley where the man also waited. He could do nothing save watch as her friend caught up with Tina and linked arms with her. “You know,” said the other girl, “it’s not safe you being out here all by your lonesome.”
“My hero,” murmured Tina with a grin.
Although there seemed little point, the man continued to watch as the two of them walked to the end of the block and got into a car. Tina’s, evidently. She was the driver, anyway. Within another minute the car was out of sight.
The man slipped his hand, and the Bowie knife, back into his pocket. Once again, his eyes fixed on the Alcove across the street. He waited.
The Alcove – Same time
“So,” said Tamara after a few sips of her wine.
“So,” answered Kennedy.
“Who is she?”
Kennedy blinked. “Who?”
“The girl you broke up with.” Tamara didn’t say this nastily. In fact, her whole manner was friendly. She was smiling, pretending to flirt without actually flirting, openly curious but managing to avoid rudeness.
“I…” Kennedy stumbled for a moment, the conversational equivalent of a hiccup. Then her brows pinched. “What are you? A shrink?”
“Marriage counselor,” was the matter-of-fact answer. “Sorry. Don’t mean to bring my work everywhere I go but – well, it’s part of who I am, you know?”
“Yeah,” said a sour-looking Kennedy. “I know.”
“And frankly, you’ve got Just-Broke-Up radiating off of you right now like heat. No offense, but it’s really, really obvious.”
“Great,” snorted Kennedy.
“Care to talk about it? Anything you want to get off the proverbial chest?”
“But…” Kennedy took a swig of her beer. “Okay. She cheated on me.” She shot a look at Tamara.
“Damn. That’s a biggie. I know too well.” She sighed sympathetically. “Personal experience, in case you’re wondering. But here’s to not putting up with what we shouldn’t!” She raised her glass in a mock toast.
But Kennedy looked away. “Actually…”
“Cheat on you?”
“Well, she did and she didn’t.” Kennedy took another swig, noting how Tamara took this in. She did it by blinking, then nodding, and finally shrugging.
“Guess you want to talk about it.”
“No I don’t!”
“Hey, I don’t mind! Besides, I’m a really good listener. Trust me.” Tamara even smiled at that. It was a good smile, cute and smart and extremely open. “Go ahead. Just say whatever you want.”
For three seconds, Kennedy said nothing. Then, she grabbed her beer and downed it in a series of long gulps. The glass was pretty much empty by the time she put it back on the tiny table between herself and Tamara. She looked directly into Tamara’s eyes. Then she spoke.
“Thanks for the drink.”
Kennedy got up and left.
Tamara watched her go, then sighed.
Street Outside the Alcove – Moments Later
Kennedy hardly paused to button her coat against the cold. Once out of the bar, she ran across the street at the first slight pause in traffic. She ignored the honking of the car that nearly hit her and continued moving.
This part of the sidewalk was darker. A nearby street light was out, broken. It looked as if someone had thrown a rock and smashed the lamp. Kennedy’s boots crunched over bits of broken glass, but she didn’t stop. There didn’t seem to be anyone else nearby. All activity was across the street, by the bar. Looking neither left nor right, she headed back to the Council, jaw set and both hands in pockets.
As she passed the darkened alley, he acted.
One hand moved almost too fast for Kennedy to react. Almost. It reached out of the shadows for her throat. She instantly crouched and rolled to the side, away from her attacker. Less than a quarter-second later, she was up again and facing him. He wore an ordinary long coat and in one hand was the gleam of metal – some kind of blade. She spun around and landed a kick where his solar plexus should have been.
Her aim was true, and her kick was more powerful than that of even an Olympic athlete. Her attacker should have gone down. Instead, he was just staggered. Kennedy did another spin, this time using its momentum to aim a jumping kick into her attacker’s chest. Sure enough, he fell back, then down with a thud.
The sound of metal on concrete echoed in the alley. He rolled to the side as he landed and managed to swing his fist. It connected with Kennedy’s jaw, sending her against the alley wall. Shaking it off quickly, she ducked to avoid the second swing. His fist hit the wall instead, where it left a crack in the bricks.
Momentum had brought him close to her. Close enough that she could drive her knee directly into his crotch. He gasped and staggered, but swung again. Kennedy ducked once more and her attacker left another crack in the bricks.
Instead of kicking, Kennedy took her wooden stake in both hands and drove all her weight and strength into it, aiming directly at her attacker’s heart. He gurgled and jerked at the impact, shuffling backward for a moment. Looking down at the wooden weapon now embedded in his chest, he began to sway. After another few moments, he slumped to the side and fell, landing with a crunch against the pavement.
Kennedy, gasping a little, watched all this. She stepped closer to the prone form, staring at him.
“Not a vampire, anyway,” she muttered. She also glanced at the two cracks in the masonry nearby. “But not human, either.”
She continued staring for a few seconds. The body showed no signs of evaporating, turning to dust, melting or anything even remotely convenient. With a sigh, she looked around the alley. At the far end was a garbage dumpster. Kennedy went over and checked – no lock. One good push and the top opened. She gagged at the smell.
“Oh, yeah” she sighed, “the glamorous life of a slayer.” Then she headed back to the body. She knelt, turned it to the side and reached over to retrieve her stake…when the body’s hand grabbed her wrist. Its eyes shot open, its face twisting in anger.
“Whore!” the man hissed. “Filthy – stinking – whore!”
Kennedy pulled her arm out of that grip and backed up. Her attacker pulled her stake out of his chest with a gasp, tossing it aside. Grimacing in either pain or rage, maybe both, he scrambled to his feet. Not once did his eyes leave her.
She, meanwhile, looked around for some kind of weapon, taking her own eyes off him for no more than a moment at a time.
Once on his feet, the attacker raised one hand and traced a symbol in the air, then another, and another. Each glowed a sickly yellow in his finger’s wake.
“Ash’k naurogu pendellu lok,” he chanted. “Margu nobray veshalli brovar!”
The words echoed, yet at the same time seemed far, far away. More importantly, they were having an effect. From above, wisps and then columns of fog began descending into the alley. What little visibility there’d been began to fade and his eyes began to glow the same sickly yellow as the symbols he’d traced in the air. In the gathering gloom they looked more and more like fangs.
Kennedy gulped and slowly backed up. Not waiting to see what other transformations might take place, she sprinted from the alley.
Fade to Black
End of Teaser