Watchers Council – Conference Room – Later that Night
Rowena sat at the head of the table, with Willow, Giles and Brell at her left, and Faith, Kennedy and Andrew at her right. Faith and Kennedy both looked a bit bruised and disgruntled. Despite his stab wound, Brell seemed as calm as ever.
Willow leaned over and gave Giles an elbow nudge. “Just couldn’t stay away, could ya? One little vamp mission and you’re hooked again.”
“Rowena caught me on my cell phone on the way to the market. She said I might know something helpful,” Giles insisted, a slight grin playing at his lips.
“Becca convinced you to use a cell phone? You actually know how one works?”
Before Giles could answer, Rowena asked Willow, “Where’s Dawn?” before looking at her watch for the fourth time.
“She said she was on her way,” Willow replied with an uncertain shrug.
“I’m going to start the meeting,” Rowena said. “We can catch her up afterwards.” After Willow nodded, Rowena stood up and faced the group. “Dawn’s on her way, but we’ll go ahead and get started. Faith, Kennedy and Brell were searching for Reteesk tonight and had an encounter with the demons that were after him. I’d like Faith to give us an update on what occurred.” Rowena gestured at Faith, giving her the floor, and then sat down to listen.
Faith stood up and addressed the group. “We went to the Video Hut to see if Reteesk’s friend Ethrovai had seen him. When we got there, we found that the demons after Reteesk had come up with the same idea. They were there trashing the place and roughing up Ethrovai, demanding to know where ‘the Monarch’ was. There was a big fight, the demons got away and we still don’t know where Reteesk is.”
“Was anyone hurt?” Giles asked.
“Heli got a bad cut, but she’s not taking it too hard. Didn’t seem to phase her, actually,” Faith said.
“So this Ethrovai didn’t know where Reteesk is?” Rowena asked.
Faith shook her head. “He hadn’t seen him and had no idea where he might be.”
“Why did that demon call Reteesk ‘the Monarch’?” Kennedy asked. “That was pretty weird.”
“Hey, didn’t Creed call Reteesk that, too?” Willow queried.
“Yeah, he did,” Faith replied. “What’s up with that?” Faith and the others turned to Brell expectantly.
“Long ago, Reteesk’s family was royalty,” Brell explained. “But Presidium kill most of the Vl’hurg, scatter the rest. An empty title, all that’s left.”
“And now he’s got another set of demons after him,” Andrew commented sadly.
“A nearly indestructible set of demons,” Kennedy said. “We were giving them everything we had, and we were barely makin’ a dent.”
“Well…till your Uncle Greg showed up,” Faith corrected. “He was kickin’ some serious demon ass. He needs to let us in on all his little secrets.”
Giles leaned forward, looking confused. “Uncle Greg?” he asked.
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Moments Later
Kennedy escorted her uncle into the room. With all eyes on him, the older man followed Kennedy in and then took a seat at the end of the table.
Kennedy gestured at the visitor and said, “Everybody, this is Gregor Kalderash…my uncle…apparently.”
Gregor raised his hand to interject. “Technically, I am your great uncle,” he corrected. His accent was difficult to pinpoint. “I’m Janna’s uncle,” he said to the group.
Giles shifted uncomfortably in his chair, then said evenly, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Willow and Andrew nodded their greetings.
“We appreciated the help at the video store,” Faith said with sincerity.
“You are quite welcome,” Gregor replied, with a polite bow.
“Thanks for coming,” Rowena said. “We were hoping that you could provide some more information about the demons that our team encountered tonight.”
“They are called the Beluferae,” Gregor began. “They –”
Gregor stopped when the conference room door suddenly swung open and Dawn rushed in.
“Sorry, sorry,” Dawn said, hurrying to the empty seat next to Gregor. When she sat down, she looked at the old man briefly, then did a double-take, as if just realizing that she didn’t know this person.
“Gregor…Gregor Kalderash,” the old man said, holding out his hand.
Dawn looked surprised, but took his hand and shook it. Then she turned back to the group. “I’m really sorry I’m late,” she said. “I was still looking for Skye.”
“Skye’s missing?” Giles asked.
Dawn nodded. “I expected to see her today. She had a test this morning, but was supposed to be back afterwards.”
“Didn’t Heli give her an escort home last night?” Faith asked.
“Yeah, but she only walked her to the train station,” Dawn said. “I’ve tried to call her, but she’s not answering her phone.”
“Did you call her family?” Andrew asked.
“No,” Dawn replied. “I didn’t want to worry them just yet. We did a locator spell, but it didn’t work.”
“It didn’t work?” Willow asked. “Which one did you –”
“Let’s stay on task, shall we?” Rowena said to Willow, before turning to Dawn. “I understand that you’re worried about Skye, but we really need to deal with the issue at hand first. We can discuss Skye afterwards, all right?”
Dawn went stiff and crossed her arms tightly across her chest. “Of course,” she said coldly, then leaned back in her chair.
Rowena sighed and glanced at Willow, who gave the watcher a pained look. Rowena turned her eyes back to Gregor. “Mr. Kalderash?”
Gregor cleared his throat uneasily and began again. “As I said, they are the Beluferae. They are indeed formidable foes. They are worshippers of the demon lord Fenris, and what they want is to bring Fenris back into this world.”
“Fenris?” Willow asked, clear concern in her voice. “The Wolf God?”
Faith and Kennedy exchanged worried glances. “What?” Kennedy asked. “Who’s Fenris?”
“He’s a demon lord from one of the hell dimensions,” Giles interjected. “He’s managed to break into our world in the past, and according to the legends, it was he who created the first werewolf.”
“He bit a man, thereby creating a human/demon hybrid of sorts,” Rowena added. “This hybrid was able to spread the infection, even once Fenris was sent back to his own dimension.”
“So…are these Beluferae really werewolves?” Faith asked with a puzzled look.
Gregor shook his head. “No, they are merely servants of Fenris, seeking to bring about his return to this world. To them, he is their God, and when he returns, they believe they shall be elevated, made demi-gods, given power and authority over this earth.”
“How are they planning to bring Fenris back to earth?” Willow inquired.
“There is a ritual they can perform, but to do it, they need their totem of power: the only idol of Fenris present in this world,” Gregor explained. “Embued with the Wolf God’s essence, it can be used on a Hellmouth to summon Fenris and open the doorway to his dimension.”
“Okay, we know what they want,” Kennedy said, “so how do we kill the things?”
“Isn’t that supposed to be my line?” Faith teased.
“The Beluferae are nocturnal creatures, usually avoiding the day,” the old man went on.
“Does that mean they go poof in the sun?” Andrew asked hopefully.
Gregor shook his head. “Unfortunately, no.”
Faith looked puzzled. “The ones you hit definitely dusted.”
“Yeah,” Kennedy interjected, “how come you were able to do that? We were slicin’ and dicin’, but none of our demons went poof.”
“Like werewolves, the Beluferae are sensitive to silver, but silver alone isn’t enough,” Gregor said. “Magic must be a part of any attack on them.” Then Gregor turned to Rowena. “If you wish, I will show you how to modify your weapons and teach you the necessary magicks.”
“Thank you, Mr. Kalderash,” Rowena said. “We would be most grateful for the assistance.”
“How is it that you know so much about these demons?” Giles asked curiously.
“I have been tracking them for many years as they have searched for their idol, hoping to find it before they do,” Gregor said, a hint of weariness in his voice. Then his tone took an ominous turn. “I will not stop until they and their plans are destroyed.”
There was an awkward pause as the seriousness of Gregor’s voice seemingly unsettled everyone. Then Brell surprised everyone by speaking up.
“But why they after Reteesk?” the blue-skinned demon asked.
Gregor sighed and made a helpless gesture with his hands. “That I don’t know,” he admitted. “It’s clear that they don’t yet have the idol. If they did, they would have already done the ritual here at the Hellmouth. Perhaps Reteesk himself has the idol?” Gregor looked at Brell.
Brell shrugged, obviously not knowing the answer to that question.
Rowena took the moment to shift into action mode. “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do.” She turned to Faith and Kennedy first. “Keep the slayers on high alert for Reteesk and for the Beluferae demons.” She then turned to Willow and cast a quick glance in Dawn’s direction. “We’ll keep researching for more information.” Rowena turned to Gregor. “And as soon as we can arrange some workshops, we’ll get Gregor to work with the Coven and the slayers on techniques to use against the Beluferae.”
Once she had gotten nods of agreement from the leaders present, Rowena began to hand out various folders to them.
“Okay, now let’s –” Rowena stopped when she saw Dawn was already rising from the table. “Where are you going?” she asked.
Dawn turned to Rowena and glared at her for a few seconds. “What do you care?” she said icily. “I’ve got a girlfriend to find.”
“Dawn?” Rowena called out.
Willow stood up, watched Dawn leave, then gave Rowena a torn look. Then she followed after Dawn.
Rowena sighed heavily once again and muttered to herself, “Just once I’d like to have a meeting where no one storms out.”
Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time
Willow dashed down the hall after Dawn. “Dawn! Dawn, stop!” she called out until she reached her. When Dawn stopped and turned around, Willow said, “I’m sorr –”
“What is the matter with her?” Dawn demanded.
“Her? Who? Skye?” Willow asked, confused.
“No! Rowena,” Dawn replied. “She’s acting like she doesn’t care at all.”
“Dawn, that’s not true. She –”
“Oh?” Dawn begged to differ. “When you go missing, she’s ready to move heaven and earth to find you, but it’s anybody else…” Dawn crossed her arms. “Well, that’s fine. I don’t need her help.” Dawn turned and continued stomping down the hallway.
Willow stayed in place, and after a moment she called out, “Do you need mine?”
“‘Cause you’ve got it,” Willow added. “But chewing up the furniture around you isn’t going to help. Think you can calm down a little and focus?”
Dawn turned around and walked slowly back, looking apologetic.
“Willow, I’m sorry,” Dawn said. “I didn’t mean to take all this out on you. I’m just frustrated and worried and…”
“It’s okay. I-I understand,” Willow assured her. “I wanted to ask you about the locator spell, though. The one you said you and Jeff used. Which spell did you use? What happened?”
“The standard spell, the one you usually use. We used this.” Dawn held up a bracelet. “It’s Skye’s. I gave it to her last year at Christmas.” Willow took the bracelet from Dawn as the younger watcher continued. “But it didn’t work. It didn’t do anything, as a matter of fact. I don’t know if I did it wrong or if she’s…if she’s not alive anymore.”
Willow examined the bracelet. Then she looked up and handed it back. “Let’s not jump to any conclusions just yet. There’s another one we could try. It takes a little more work and its results aren’t as specific, which is why I don’t usually use it, but it’s worth a try. Can you get Jeff to meet us?”
“Yeah, sure,” Dawn answered, some optimism re-entering her expression.
“Have you tried tracing Skye’s credit cards or her cell phone?”
Dawn shook her head.
“Bring all her personal information with you too, then,” Willow said. “I’ll set up some spy bots to trace any activity online. You get Jeff, and I’ll meet you in the Coven Room in an hour.”
Dawn smiled, gave Willow a big hug, and ran off, calling out a sincere thank you over her shoulder.
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Same Time
Rowena cleared her throat and turned back to the head slayer. “Moving on to the next order of business before the interruption…Faith, can you get some of the younger slayers together; have them go door to door around the homes and businesses near John Carroll with pictures of Skye?”
Rowena turned to Andrew next. “I need you to do a computer search for Skye: see if her Council card’s been used, her transit pass, her university I.D., anything. And…check the morgue records for anyone matching her description in the last twenty-four hours.”
“I’ll contact the Chief of Police and see about filing a missing persons report.” Rowena then turned to Kennedy. “Kennedy, would you mind showing Mr. Kalderash to some suitable quarters in the residential wing?”
“Oh, okay, sure,” Kennedy said, nervously glancing at her great uncle.
Once the room was cleared, Rowena turned to the last person left in the room, Giles. He had a slight smile on his face.
“You’re doing just fine,” Giles told her. “And Dawn, as much as I love her, she has the ability to be…a bit dramatic at times.”
“Thank you, Giles,” she replied. “But she’s not the reason I invited you here. Well, I did want you to know the situation with Skye, but I wanted to know about Gregor.”
“Such as?” Giles asked.
“This Gregor Kalderash,” she began, “is he a relative of Jenny Calendar’s, as he claims?”
“I know Jenny did have an Uncle Greg,” he answered.
“Do you think it’s him? This man that’s here now, I mean. Maybe it’s a case of newbie cold feet but…although I’m grateful for his help tonight, I do want to be sure I’m not putting slayers in harm’s way by having him associate with them.”
“With some of the pictures I recall seeing, he looks like he could be a Kalderash. Until he gives you a reason to suspect otherwise, I would assume that he is who he claims to be.”
Rowena simply nodded.
“Is there anything else?” Giles asked.
“No, thank you very much for stopping by,” she replied.
“Not at all. Now if you don’t mind I better get home with the diapers, or I’ll face another apocalypse at home. I’d like to stop back, however, to see if there’s any news on Skye.”
“Of course. The door’s always open, Giles,” Rowena told him sincerely.
Regency Hotel – The Penthouse – Same Time
As they had done before, the Beluferae entered the penthouse quickly and made their way to their employer. When they reached him, they instantly kneeled, though it clearly irked them to do so. After a moment of respectful silence, their leader addressed him.
“My lord,” the leader said.
“L’min,” the shrill voice said expectantly. From the shadows came the rattling of an old-fashioned wheelchair. The rubber wheels squeaked slightly as the chair came to a halt right in front of the demon leader. L’min did not look up.
“Lord Vital’yevich,” L’min began, “we have not located the Monarch.”
The strangled sound of intense fury gurgled from the throat of the chair’s inhabitant as he struggled to form words. L’min ventured a gaze at his master.
In the wheelchair was the sickly body of a man. An attendant in crisp white scrubs was at his side. His limbs were shrunken and gnarled. The sickly man’s body shook in rage, and he slapped his right forearm against the arm of the chair.
“Useless!” he raged at the demons. “The mighty warriors of the Beluferae, useless!”
“Do you think you have all the time in the world?!”
L’min shook his head and started to speak, but was cut off by his master.
“Bring…me…the Monarch!” the man demanded. “Do it, or your precious idol will be destroyed! And with it, all your hopes of raising Fenris!”
“Yes, my lord,” L’min replied immediately. Again, he and his comrades quickly left the penthouse.
Vladimir Vital’yevich breathed heavily, his veins still bulging at his neck and temples. When his rage had subsided somewhat, he spoke softly to himself. “Must have the Monarch…must! Where’s my doctor?” He slapped the arm of his wheelchair once again and screamed at his attendant, “Where’s my doctor?! ”
Watchers Council – Guest Quarters – Moments Later
Kennedy opened the door and led Gregor inside. She gave a cursory wave to the suite and said, “Well, this is it.” Then she pointed out the rooms. “You got your living room, kitchenette, bed, bath and beyond. Well, I guess there’s not really any beyond, ’cause that’s all there is.”
Gregor smiled and set his bag on the floor before leaning his staff up against the corner behind the couch. Then he turned to his niece.
“Thank you, Kennedy,” he said sincerely.
Kennedy wouldn’t meet Gregor’s eyes for a very long time. After shifting nervously in place for a few seconds, she walked into the kitchenette and opened the cabinets.
“There’s a microwave and a coffee maker and a stash of different coffees and teas,” she said. “Some snack stuff.”
Gregor nodded gratefully.
“We usually take our meals downstairs in the dining hall, but if you want something special, just give Andrew a call in the kitchen,” she added. “The phone’s over here.” She walked to the corner table in the living room and pointed out the device.
Gregor just smiled and stared at Kennedy, making the slayer fidget even more. “You look so much like her,” he said. “When she was your age, I mean.”
Kennedy directed her eyes at her hands and didn’t speak for a moment. Then she mumbled, “Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard.” Before Gregor could say anything more, Kennedy looked up and said, “Well, um, I guess I’ll go and let you get some rest. Big day tomorrow and all that.”
Gregor once again nodded in acknowledgement. When Kennedy headed for the door and opened it, he walked over and touched her shoulder, stopping her. She turned to face her uncle.
“I would like for us to talk,” he said softly. “Some time, before I leave.”
“Okay,” the slayer replied with an uncertain shrug. “M-Maybe tomorrow.”
“Perhaps,” he said, not pressing the issue.
Kennedy flashed a final smile and left the room.
Outside in the hallway, Kennedy let out a deep breath in relief. She looked at her watch and stared off thoughtfully for a moment. Then she headed down the corridor.
The Alcove Bar – Later that Night
Kennedy walked through the front door of the Alcove, paused at the entrance and scanned the room. Several groups of women sat at tables, laughing and drinking. One couple hovered over the jukebox, apparently in the process of choosing several dollars’ worth of songs. The bar stools themselves were empty but for one; a lone woman sat at a tabletop video game, steadily putting in quarters between drags on her cigarette. After stepping a few more feet into the room, Kennedy could see the pool table in back, but it was unattended.
Kennedy sighed in disappointment and plopped down at the bar. When the bartender came over, she ordered a light beer. When her beer arrived, she took a swig and sighed again.
“A light beer?” came a teasing voice behind her. “I am sorely disappointed.”
Kennedy turned around and found Kadin standing there, a playful smirk on her face.
“Yeah, well,” the slayer explained, “we kinda got a thing goin’ on over at the Council, and I might have to go on duty at any time.”
Kadin gave a “whatever” shrug and sat down on the bar stool next to Kennedy. The bartender came over and started to prepare Kadin’s usual shot.
“No, no,” Kadin called out to the bartender. “Gimme a…light beer,” she said, with a grinning glance in Kennedy’s direction. The bartender stopped and looked at Kadin pointedly, her eyes wide in disbelief. When Kadin met the bartender’s eyes, she stopped grinning and said, “What? I can’t go light?”
The bartender rolled her eyes and filled the hunter’s order, setting a light beer on the bar. Kadin smiled again, picked up the bottle, and held it up in a toasting position. Kennedy duplicated her actions and the two of them clinked their bottles together. They both took a healthy swig and then set their bottles down. A long silence followed, broken only by a series of soft and slow love songs coming over the jukebox.
“So…what brings you to our favorite little dive?” Kadin finally asked. Her voice was even, but her eyes seemed nervously hopeful.
Kennedy didn’t answer right away. She took another drink of her beer and then said, “You, actually.”
Kadin let a small smile of satisfaction light her face. “Oh,” she said in a pleased voice. “That’s good.”
“Yeah. Some stuff has happened…some personal stuff…and I could really use a friendly ear.”
Kadin grinned. “You’re in luck then. I got two of ’em. Or course, I’m not sure how friendly they are. I’m not all that deep when it comes to psycho babble, but I’d give it a shot.” Kadin hitched her thumb over her shoulder. “Why don’t we head over to the pool table and you can chat me up over a game?” she offered. “Nobody here will play with me anymore.”
Kennedy snorted. “Do you blame them?”
“Hey, a girl’s gotta make a living,” Kadin said, as she led Kennedy to the pool table in the back corner.
“Like you need the money. I’m sure the Van Helsing estate is worth more than everyone’s lifetime income in this room,” Kennedy countered. The two of them set their beers on the shelf nearby.
“Wouldn’t say that,” Kadin replied. “After all, I bet that Council of yours pays pretty good. Plus, if I remember correctly, you’ve got your own fortune waiting to tap into someday.”
“Sure, if my half sister doesn’t suck it all up by then,” Kennedy replied.
As she chose her cue and chalked it, Kadin retrieved the rack from the wall and set it on the table. Then she put her quarters in the slots and slammed the slide into the machine. Seconds later, the balls came rolling to the cavity at the end of the table.
“Standard eight ball?” Kadin inquired as she started placing the balls in the rack.
“Your game, you call it,” Kennedy replied.
“Eight ball it is,” she answered.
Kadin quickly rearranged the balls as needed, placing the black eight ball in the middle, the one ball at the top, and a stripe and solid each in the other two angles. Then she rolled the balls to the correct spot on the worn green felt top and carefully removed the rack. After hanging the rack back on the wall, she chose a cue, chalked it and turned back to Kennedy.
“Wanna break?” she offered.
Kennedy shrugged and said, “Okay.”
She moved to the table, lined up the cue ball and, with slayer speed and grace, fired the cue at the white ball, sending it crashing into the triangle of balls. After a few seconds of ricocheting, both the two ball and the ten ball rolled into opposite pockets.
“Nice break,” Kadin said. “What’s it gonna be? Solids or stripes?”
Kennedy examined the layout of the table carefully, then said, “I’ll take stripes.”
As Kadin watched with interest, Kennedy lined up a shot to nudge the nine ball in the corner pocket, but the angle was off, and the nine ball bounced right back out.
“Damn,” she said. “Now I’ll probably never get another shot.”
Kadin chuckled. “You could get lucky,” she teased in an “as if” voice. “‘Sides, don’t you have something you wanna talk about?”
Kadin set up for a bank shot for the five ball in the corner. With a quick flick of her cue, she sank it easily. Kennedy watched as the white ball came to stop just where it would be in the perfect place for Kadin’s next shot in the opposite corner. Kennedy groaned.
“So…what’s on your mind?” Kadin asked as she moved around the table.
“You remember how I told you that I never knew my real mom?” Kadin nodded as she bent over to line up her shot. “She gave up custody to my dad and basically disappeared. I found out later that she’d died. I never knew anything about her or her family until recently.”
Kadin sank the four ball and then stood to look at Kennedy again. “And…?”
“Well…I got to meet my uncle,” Kennedy announced. “Great uncle, actually. His name is Gregor Kalderash.”
“Kalderash?” Kadin inquired. “That sounds like a gypsy name.”
“It is,” Kennedy confirmed.
“Gypsies, tramps and thieves…” Kadin suddenly sang out in her best Cher voice, before seeing the stunned look on Kennedy’s face. She instantly hung her head in embarrassment and mumbled, “Sorry. Go on. Please.”
Kennedy’s expression of shock gave way to one of amusement. “I sincerely hope somebody’s not revealing a secret Cher obsession,” she teased the hunter.
Kadin cleared her throat and lifted her head. “You were saying?” she prompted pointedly, before returning her gaze to the pool table. “Great uncle…never met him before…”
Kennedy gave up her needling and returned to the topic. “Yeah, we were in the middle of this mission, fightin’ these demons we’ve been lookin’ for, and then bam! There he is, on the scene, kickin’ demon ass like there’s no tomorrow. And when it’s over, he just says, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m your uncle, nice t’meet ya’!”
Kadin attempted her next shot, the one ball, but missed. “Damn,” she said.
Kennedy pumped her fist and said, “Yes! I get another chance!”
Kadin rolled her eyes and said, “So, this uncle of yours, he’s a demon hunter?”
“Apparently,” Kennedy replied, as she lined up to try again at the nine ball. “These demons we’re dealing with, he’s been tracking them for a while. They’re bad news.” She sank the nine ball and moved around the table, eyeing the other stripes.
“Well, what’s he like? Did he tell you anything about your real mom?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? You talked to him, didn’t you?”
“A little bit. You know, when I was showing him his quarters and everything.”
Kennedy looked over at Kadin sheepishly. The hunter gave her a chastising stare. The slayer groaned.
“I don’t know what’s the matter with me,” Kennedy blurted out. “I’m a slayer, for goodness’ sake. I’m supposed to be all Braveheart and everything. Can’t I handle a simple personal conversation?”
“You seem to be handling this one just fine,” Kadin pointed out.
Kennedy smiled briefly, seemingly at least a little comforted by that thought. Then her frown returned. She leaned over to take a shot at the twelve ball. She sank it hard, but the cue ball went in right after it.
Kadin shook her head and retrieved the white ball from its pocket. She looked over the table then set the cue ball. She sank the one ball that she had missed earlier, putting her in the right spot for the six and seven balls, which were less than an inch apart in the center of the far end of the table. With a perfectly placed hit, Kadin sent the white ball right between them, sinking them simultaneously into the corner pockets. Then she sent the lone three ball into the side pocket. Unfortunately, the eight ball had rolled toward the far corner behind a cluster of Kennedy’s remaining stripes. Kadin circled the table, considering her options, then she went back to her original position, directly in front of the cue ball as it lined up with the eight ball.
“Nah-ah-ah,” Kennedy warned. “Can’t use one of mine to sink yours.”
“Wasn’t planning on it,” Kadin said with a smirk. “Eight ball in the left corner pocket.”
Kadin moved her cue from its position parallel to the table and elevated it so that she was coming in at a sharp downward angle. When she struck the white ball, it hopped over the wall of stripes, landed precisely where it would bump the eight ball into the corner pocket, and then rolled backwards, away from the pocket.
Kennedy stood in awe, her mouth gaping.
Kadin grinned and said, “I believe that’s game.”
“How did you do that?” Kennedy asked.
“Come here, I’ll show you,” Kadin said. She picked up the eleven ball and placed it behind the other two stripes, where the eight ball had been.
When Kennedy was standing in place, Kadin moved behind her. “Now, line up the shot as if the obstacles weren’t there,” she instructed. Kennedy did so. Kadin moved closer so that she could guide Kennedy’s arms. “Now pull up so that you’re not coming in straight.” Kadin leaned over to whisper in Kennedy’s ear. “Can’t have you going straight, now can we?”
Kennedy turned to the side and grinned. “Absolutely not.” Then she turned back to the cue ball and Kadin took a step back.
“The trick is to stay in line with your original shot, but angle down,” the hunter told her. “Aim for the center of the ball from the new angle.”
“But what about making it roll backwards?”
“Don’t worry…the angle of the shot will put a backspin on the cue ball. That’ll keep it from rolling into the pocket.”
Kennedy took a deep breath and executed the shot. The cue ball hopped forward and cleared the stripes but didn’t sink the eleven ball. Still, Kennedy seemed happy that the jump itself worked. She started to turn around.
“Ha! That is so –” Kennedy stopped in place when she realized Kadin’s face was mere inches from her own. “Cool,” she finished in a lowered voice.
“Yep,” Kadin answered, locking eyes with Kennedy.
Kennedy swallowed hard, but didn’t look away. The two seemed lost in each other’s eyes as they moved closer and closer, slowly pulled together by some invisible force. When only an inch remained between their faces, they brought their lips together in a slow, smoldering passion, until abruptly Kennedy stopped and pulled away.
With her head lowered, Kennedy said, “I can’t do this.”
Kadin seemed hurt and took a step back.
“I thought I could,” Kennedy said, looking up. “But…”
“…you’re not ready,” Kadin finished, stuffing her hands in her pockets.
“Yeah,” Kennedy said with a wince, as if she expected some backlash. But Kadin didn’t say anything.
They both looked away and didn’t speak, glancing at the floor, then the wall, anywhere but at each other.
“It’s not that I don’t want to,” Kennedy said, breaking the silence. “I want. Believe me, I want. It’s just…”
“…not the right time?”
Kadin sighed, and then said sadly, “Okay.”
They stood awkwardly beside the pool table for another long moment before Kennedy finally spoke.
“I should go,” she said. “I should probably check in at the Council.”
“Yeah, sure, good plan,” Kadin agreed. “I guess I’ll see you around then.”
“Yeah, sounds good,” Kennedy said. Then she turned and headed for the door.
“Hey, Ken!” Kadin called out, stopping the slayer in her tracks and getting her to turn around. “For the record,” she said with a sexy grin, “I want, too.”
“Yeeahhh, I kinda gathered that,” Kennedy teased. “But it’s still good to know.” Then she waved and said, “See ya.”
After getting a return wave from Kadin, the slayer turned on her heels and left the bar with a grin.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Later that Night
With Dawn and Jeff beside her, Willow stood at the table in the Coven Room, perusing the text of the locator spell. She looked up and examined the ingredients on the table.
“So the security chief was a real jackass, huh?” Willow asked, as she started combining some items in a bowl.
“Totally,” Dawn said, crossing her arms. “He refused to do anything. He said Skye was probably sleeping off a hangover at a frat house. As if!”
“We need some oak bark,” Willow announced after a moment of mixing. “Live oak.”
“How much?” Jeff asked, as he went and retrieved a bin from one of the shelves.
“One piece’ll do it,” Willow replied.
Jeff came back and handed her the piece of bark. Willow dropped it into the marble mortar and began crushing it with the pestle.
“So, have you had any luck with your spy bots?” Jeff asked.
Willow shook her head. “Unfortunately, no. No hits on Skye’s credit cards or her cell phone.” Dawn’s expression fell. “But don’t worry! We’re gonna find her. This spell will work, you’ll see.”
Willow took a pinch of the ground oak bark and added it to the mixture in the bowl. After a final stir, she sprinkled the mixture on the map of Cleveland.
She picked up Skye’s bracelet and passed it over the map, reciting a spell in Latin. When she set the bracelet aside, the powdery mixture on the map began to glow and vibrate, moving across the surface.
Suddenly, the powder shot off the map in all directions and vaporized, causing the three observers to jump in alarm.
“W-W-What happened?” Jeff exclaimed. “Was it supposed to do that?”
“What does it mean?” Dawn asked worriedly.
Willow moved back to the table and the map. She looked at it with confusion on her face.
“It means she doesn’t exist,” Willow said ominously.
End of Act Two