Cleveland Hopkins International Airport – Gate 21 – Same Time
Kennedy’s eyes were locked with Kadin’s as their bodies slowly moved closer together. She swallowed back, her eyes flickering down to the hunter’s lips. There was less than an inch between them.
Their eyes slipped closed.
Both women’s eyes suddenly popped open, and they turned at the sound of the intruding voice.
A small blonde stood before them, her blue eyes shining and a teasing smile on her face. “I thought that was you,” she said softly. Her gaze flickered over to the slayer. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt, but I wanted to say hello.”
Kennedy eyed the other woman and forced herself to return the smile. “Nothing to interrupt.” She pushed herself back into her own chair, but never broke eye-contact with the blonde.
“Well, good,” the woman replied, before turning back to the hunter. “How’ve you been?”
Kadin cleared her throat and slowly stood. She was taller than the blonde, but not overly so.
“Jen, it’s good to see you.” She smiled as she pulled the shorter woman into a tense hug. She released it quickly and took a step back, shoving her hands into her pockets. “Uh, Jen, this is my friend Kennedy. Kennedy, this is Jen.”
The slayer nodded politely, and the blonde did the same.
Jen smiled before taking the step forward to place her hand on Kadin’s abdomen. She leaned up the short distance to the hunter’s ear and whispered.
“I had a great time. Call me sometime, k?” She slowly pulled back, then turned to Kennedy with a smile. “Nice to meet you.” Her hand lingered on the hunter’s stomach, and their eyes remained locked as the blonde slowly walked away.
Kadin stood completely still. Her eyes never left the woman’s back until she was out of sight. Turning back slowly, she met Kennedy’s eyes with a nervous smile.
The slayer raised an eyebrow, but didn’t return the smile. “So…Jen, huh? She’s cute.”
Kadin’s smile faltered, then completely disappeared.
“It’s not what you think,” she said shortly, walking back over to take her seat. “I had a late night a few weeks back. She was attacked by a vamp, and I staked it.”
“You mean you saved her,” Kennedy interrupted matter-of-factly.
Kadin just sighed and continued. “She was really shaken up, and I didn’t want her to get attacked again, so I offered to walk her home. We talked, that’s it.”
The expression on the slayer’s face softened. “You don’t owe me an explanation, but thanks.”
Kadin smiled and leaned back in her chair.
A long moment of comfortable silence passed between them.
“So…you got a thing for blondes, huh?” Kennedy finally broke the moment, looking over at the other woman with a slightly raised brow. “First lawyer lady and now the damsel in distress.”
Kadin turned her head and locked eyes with the slayer. “Not really,” she replied after a long moment. “Elana saved my ass big time, and I saved Jen’s. They just both happened to be blondes.” She leaned in toward Kennedy and her voice dropped. “I’m actually more partial to the dark and exotic myself.” A moment of silence hung in the air before Kadin nodded towards the vending machines. “Gonna grab a soda. You want?”
Kennedy shook her head mutely and watched as the hunter headed off. She let out a slow breath and ran her hand back through her short hair.
“This is gonna be a long trip.”
Watchers Council – Faith’s Office – Moments Later
Faith was going over some recent slayer reports in her office behind the Slayer Gym when Willow walked in, folder in hand. The brunette looked up when she heard footsteps approaching.
“Red,” she nodded in hello. “This an official visit?”
Willow bit her lip and clutched the folder nervously. “Well, sorta.”
Faith raised a brow at the answer and closed her own folder. “Is that a good sorta or a bad sorta?”
The redhead sighed and reached out to offer the folder to Faith. “It kinda depends on your definition of bad.”
Faith took the folder and let out a breath of her own before slowly pulling it open. Her eyes scanned over its contents for a long moment, then she closed it with a sigh. “Does Kennedy know?”
“Even if she does, I doubt it would have stopped her from going.”
“Yeah,” Faith sighed, throwing the folder onto the bench. Her eyes remained off in the distance for a moment before she turned her gaze back to her friend. “Now the question is, what are we gonna do about it?”
“According to Rowena…” Willow hedged slowly. After a pause, she added, “Nothing.”
“Tell me you’re kiddin’.” When Willow remained silent, Faith’s expression hardened. “You tellin’ me she’s just gonna let Slick walk into this blind?”
“She doesn’t think it’s any of our concern,” Willow replied quietly. “And this is one time when I agree.”
Faith let out a frustrated sigh. She walked out into her door into the gym, running a hand through her hair. Without warning, she slammed her hand down onto a rack of weights. The wood shattered, and the weights fell to the floor.
“This is bull,” she said calmly, locking eyes with the redhead. After a tense moment, the slayer quickly left the room.
Watchers Council – Rowena’s Apartment – Moments Later
Rowena sat at her kitchen table. A few books lay open on the table in front of her while she busily wrote in her journal.
The front door suddenly slammed open and a very ticked-off slayer stomped into the apartment.
“Blondie!” Faith called.
The blonde instantly dropped her pen onto the table and let out a slow breath.
“In the kitchen,” she answered calmly.
Faith quickly made her way inside and stood in the doorway, arms crossed.
“I’m assuming you talked to Willow,” Rowena said, looking up.
“Yeah, Red said you aren’t gonna do anything about Kennedy.”
Rowena let the statement hang in the air for a long moment before replying.
“Correct,” she said evenly, meeting the other woman’s eyes. “I don’t believe that it’s in Kennedy’s best interest for us to interfere in matters that are hers and not the Council’s.”
“Interfere in matters?” Faith repeated, taking a step further into the kitchen.
“She’s our friend, or at least she’s my friend,” the slayer added, pointing to herself. “And I don’t know about you, but I don’t just sit by and let my friends walk into dangerous and probably fatal situations.” She placed her hands on the back of the nearest chair. “We can’t just let her follow Kadin into this like some lovesick little puppy.” She let out a slow, calming breath. “Or else her heart ain’t gonna be the only thing that gets broken.”
Rowena let out a sigh of her own. “I know you love her, Faith. I…care about her, as well,” she added uncomfortably. Clearing her throat, she continued. “And she’s not going in totally blind. I have the Amsterdam Branch on standby, and I left a message on her cell phone.”
“And if she doesn’t get the message?” Faith asked, annoyed.
“Again, I have the local Council on standby. I’ll protect our members, but I’m not going to interfere in their personal lives. This is a decision she has to come to on her own, without our interference. I’m not going to immediately send in the cavalry because, quite frankly, I think she can handle it. But more importantly, we have to show her that we trust her to handle it.”
Faith remained silent for a long moment. “But you don’t know her like I do. Yes, she is a great slayer and an even better person. But not even Kennedy is gonna be willin’ to sacrifice herself for something so barbaric and…stupid.”
“It’s not up to us to decide that, Faith,” Rowena replied gently. “I realize you don’t want to lose her, and neither do I.”
“Yeah,” the brunette scoffed. “‘Cause she’s such a great asset to the Council. It’d be a shame to lose such a good slayer.”
“Yes,” Rowena replied, “she is, and yes it would, but she is also a very great asset as a friend and as a fellow human being.”
Faith glared at the other woman, then quickly turned and headed out of the room.
“Faith?” Rowena called from the table, causing the slayer to stop in her tracks. “I know you may not want to hear this, but…I think we both know that Kennedy will follow her heart. The best thing to do is to let her be an adult and to stay out of her way.” Faith remained motionless, standing with her back to the other woman. “And,” Rowena continued, “I think we both know where it will lead her.”
Faith stood still for a moment longer before quietly leaving the apartment.
Rowena’s eyes remained focused in the distance as the sound of the door softly clicking shut resonated through the apartment.
Watchers Council – Dawn’s Apartment – Noon
Dawn put her napkin down next to her empty plate and looked across her kitchen table at Skye, who had her head buried in a textbook. Lying next to a notepad was an untouched plate of food.
“Not hungry?” Dawn asked.
“Hmm?” Skye hummed absently and glanced up at Dawn.
“You didn’t eat your lunch?” Dawn pointed her chin, and Skye glanced at the plate.
“Oh,” Skye said with a grimace, looking at the food. “Nah, guess not. I appreciate it, honey, but just no appetite, I guess.”
Dawn shrugged. “Okay,” she mumbled.
Skye apparently missed the hurt tone in Dawn’s voice and just looked at her girlfriend more closely. “Dawn, can I ask you something?”
Dawn nodded a bit nervously.
“Did you ever wonder what it would be like to live forever?” Skye asked with a small curl in her lip.
“Live forever?” Dawn repeated, confused. “Where in the frilly frills did that come from?”
“Just making conversation, baby,” Skye shrugged. “I mean, think about it…wouldn’t it be cool to know that you were never gonna die?”
Dawn paused a moment in thought. “I suppose it would be kinda cool to know you’d be around a long time,” she finally answered. She stood up to collect the plates. “I mean, look at how much stuff has happened just in our lifetime? It’d be fun to see all the things that’ll happen long after we’re gone.”
Dawn turned to the sink and scraped the plates into the disposer. Skye closed her book and placed both hands on the table as she slowly stood up. As she looked at Dawn’s back, a feral smile spread across her face. Her eyes turned amber and the ridges in her forehead expanded. Skye ran her tongue over her lips, the tip barely grazing her elongated incisors as she silently stalked toward her girlfriend.
“But on the other hand…” Dawn continued, as she started to wash the dishes. “I know I’d miss all of the people I love. Goddess, like you, Buffy, Willow. I can’t imagine what it’d be like to see people grow old and die, like Giles, or jeez, even Elizabeth!”
Skye paused, a confused look on her face.
“I don’t think I could take the pain of watching generation after generation move on and leave me behind,” Dawn said, as she placed the last fork in the rack. “It’d be way too hard.”
Skye’s face shifted back to normal just as Dawn turned around and said, “Do you know what I mean, babe?”
Skye looked away, a pensive look on her features. She nodded and then turned and quickly walked out of the kitchen. Dawn just watched her leave, then sighed.
Delta Flight 117 – First Class – Night
Kennedy sat quietly in her seat, reading a recent sports magazine. She glanced over at the woman in the seat to her left. Kadin was sleeping soundly, her head resting against the glass of the plane window and her hands folded in her lap.
Letting out a sigh, the slayer turned back to reading.
Kadin’s eyes slowly opened, and she let out a sleepy breath. She blinked a few times and stretched out her arms to rid her muscles of their stiffness. A soft chuckle came from her right, and she slowly turned her eyes to meet its source.
“Hey there,” Serena’s voice echoed softly in her ears.
Kadin nearly jumped out of her seat. She stared back, wide-eyed, at her former lover. A soft smile graced the woman’s face as she reached out and placed a hand on Kadin’s knee. “Kadin, sweetheart? Is something the matter?”
“S-Serena? Is that…really you?”
The woman just continued to smile back at her. “Of course it’s me,” she replied softly, rubbing her hand along Kadin’s thigh. “I was wondering when you were gonna wake up,” she continued, lifting her other hand to brush back a strand of fallen hair from Kadin’s brow. “For a minute there, I thought you were gonna sleep through the landing. I didn’t want you to miss your first glimpse of Rio.”
“Rio?” Kadin repeated with a creased brow. “But…I thought we were going to Amsterdam? What about the…” She trailed off as she lifted her hand to her neck. Looking down, her necklace was nowhere to be seen. “What the…?” She patted down her vest, but found nothing. Looking back up into Serena’s eyes, she pleaded, “Rena, what’s happening to me?”
Serena’s smile faltered, and she reached out a hand to the hunter’s cheek. “Kadin, sweetie,” she began calmly, her smile slowly forming again, “you’re just going insane. No need to fret.”
Kadin looked down furtively, and her voice was just barely a whisper. “‘Rena?”
Kadin watched as the woman she had loved slowly began to transform in the seat before her. Her skin stretched and her bones popped as coarse, black fur sprouted up over her body. Serena threw her head back and howled, as her claws dug deeply into the seat in front of her.
The hunter was frozen in terror as the wolf form of her dead lover turned to her with saliva dripping from her canines.
Then the she-wolf lunged.
Delta Flight 117 – First Class – Moments Later
The hunter jerked awake so violently that her head smashed into the window and her legs flew up into the tray resting across her lap. The in-flight dinner flew into the air and landed on the floor.
Kennedy stopped mid-chew and turned her head to the side swiftly.
“Jeez,” she said, swallowing back a bite. “If you didn’t want the meatloaf, all you had to do was say so.” The slayer pushed back her own tray and reached down to pick up the still-wrapped plate. “Don’t gotta go crazy about it,” she mumbled, placing it back on the tray.
“What did you say?” Kadin said slowly, staring down the slayer.
“You know what I mean,” Kadin answered in a near growl. Reaching out suddenly, she grabbed Kennedy by the collar. “You called me crazy. I ain’t crazy.”
The slayer looked around with a raised brow. “That so? Well,” she nodded down to Kadin’s hand on her shirt. “This? Not really helping your case.”
All the aggression faded from the hunter’s face, and she instantly dropped her hand from the other woman’s shirt. She fell back into her seat and turned her head to stare out the window.
Both women remained silent for several seconds. “So,” Kennedy eventually nudged. “Wanna tell me what that was all about?”
Kadin didn’t speak at first. She gave a long sigh, keeping her eyes trained out the window.
“I think I’m losing my mind,” she finally said. She turned her eyes to meet Kennedy’s, warring emotions fighting to escape behind them. “And I’m starting to think that maybe it just ain’t worth it.”
Kennedy remained silent. She reached out and placed a gentle hand over Kadin’s. She gave the other woman her best comforting smile.
“I tell myself that every day. On both accounts,” she added with a light chuckle. “In our line of work, you’re lucky to make it through the first night, much less your whole life.” Kennedy leaned in a bit closer and dropped her voice. “After seeing what I’ve seen the last couple years, I can’t imagine what you’ve been through, having lived it your whole life.”
Kadin was about to reply when the captain’s voice came over the intercom. “Good afternoon. We’re expecting some turbulence shortly. Our attendants will come by in a few moments to make sure your trays are upright and your seatbelts are fastened. As always, thank you for flying Delta.”
Both women broke the contact to fasten their seatbelts.
Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport – Gate 12 – Day
Kennedy stepped into the terminal and placed her bag at her feet. She remained silent as she looked around at the busy airport.
“You ready?” Kadin suddenly said from behind her.
The slayer turned her head to the side slightly and smiled. “Whenever you are.”
Kadin nodded and pulled a slip of paper from her vest pocket.
“I got us reservations at this hotel in the city. Hotel Krasn…something.” She shook her head and placed the paper back in her pocket. She let out a breath as she looked around at the crowded terminal. “Let’s get outta here.”
Kennedy nodded and quickly followed her through the crowd.
Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky – Front Desk – Day
Kadin accepted the two keys from the attendant and slipped a bill across the counter. The man reached out and accepted it with a smile. She turned to face Kennedy and extended the key.
The slayer smiled. “Big tipper, huh? Is that how you get the extra little bottles of shampoo?”
Kadin shook her head with a chuckle.
“Not in this hotel,” she replied shortly. “They aren’t big on the little bottles, so much as the golden chalices.” She smiled as she picked up her bag and headed for the elevator.
Kennedy grabbed her own bag and quickly jogged to catch up with the other woman.
“Just how much did you spend on these rooms?” she asked as she stood next to the hunter.
Kadin just turned to her with a smile.
“Consider it a late Christmas present.” The elevator bell dinged and the gold doors slid open. The man inside nodded with a smile. Kadin returned the nod as she stepped inside, soon followed by Kennedy.
“Rooms 311 and 312,” Kadin said politely, and the man nodded in understanding before hitting the button to close the doors.
Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky – Third Floor – Moments Later
Kadin placed her key in her door, then turned to Kennedy with a tired smile.
“I’m beat. I was just gonna grab a shower then crash.” She pushed open the door and slung her bag inside. “Unless you wanted to maybe…hang out?”
Kennedy swallowed at the unexpected request.
“Uh, well…I,” she smiled nervously, nodding to her own door. “I’m pretty tired myself, but…rain check? First thing in the morning?” she offered. “Bright and early for a birthday breakfast. My treat.”
“Deal.” Kadin smiled. “As long as you don’t make them sing to me or bring over one of those little cupcakes with the candle,” she added.
“No singing cupcake, check.”
“So, I’ll just be heading for that shower now.” Kadin motioned inside her room
“Right,” the slayer agreed. “Good night.”
“Night.” The hunter nodded with a smile, before disappearing into the room and softly clicking the door shut behind her.
Kennedy let out a long breath and ran her hand through her hair before crossing the hall to her own room. Placing the key in the lock, she pushed the door open and stepped inside.
Watchers Council – Willow’s Apartment – Moments Later
Willow stood by her bedroom window, gazing out into the quiet Cleveland night. The snow was falling and all seemed peaceful. For once.
“Will?” Rowena’s sleepy voice penetrated through the darkness. “Is everything okay?”
The redhead turned back towards the bed with a gentle smile. “Everything’s fine. I was just thinking.”
The blonde sat up and rubbed at her eyes. “Nothing unusual about that,” she smiled sleepily. She reached over and patted the bed. Willow smiled before walking over and climbing in. “So,” Rowena began, folding her hands and placing them in her lap, “anything you care to discuss?”
Willow bit her lip and considered the offer. “I talked to Kadin. Today, while she was waiting for Kennedy.”
Rowena was quiet for a long moment. “I see,” she finally said. “Did it not go well?”
“That kinda depends on who you ask,” Willow answered with a sheepish smile.
“Will, what did you do?”
“I kinda…well,” the redhead hesitated. “I kinda told her that if she hurts Kennedy…”
“Yes?” Rowena prompted, when the other woman suddenly grew silent.
“I said I’d turn her into a frog, okay!” Willow finally blurted out, but her expression soon turned sour and she reached down to grab her stomach. “It hurt a lot less the first time I said it,” she groaned.
Rowena burst out laughing, causing Willow to shoot her a displeased glare.
“I’m sorry, Will,” she apologized, placing her hand over her lover’s. “But I just pictured you turning her into a frog and then running away.” The watcher’s laugh died down to a light chuckle. “I’m really sorry,” she apologized again, when Willow’s scowl turned into a pout. “It’s just…not only is the threat sadly cliché and completely untrue, but you were the actual one giving it.” Rowena pulled one of the witch’s hands between her own and rubbed the back gently. “Will, honey, remember what happened when we tried to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol?”
“Before or after I threw up in the popcorn bowl?”
“My point exactly,” Rowena smiled. “If you can’t even watch a puppet frog without feeling nauseous, what makes you think you can actually turn another human being into one that’s slimy, green and hops all over the place?” Willow’s eyes pleaded with the other woman to stop as she hugged her stomach tighter. “Sorry,” the blonde said shortly, before letting out a sigh. “But I think you get what I’m saying. Why did you threaten Kadin at all?”
Willow dropped her arms from her torso and let out a long sigh of her own. She studied the bedspread for a long moment.
“I…” She paused to bring her eyes up to meet Rowena’s. “Kennedy’s in a really good place right now, and I just didn’t want that to get messed up all over again. I mean, I know I’ve done my part in the heartbreak department.” She paused again and bit her lip. “But that doesn’t mean that I can’t still care about her. I just don’t want to see her hurt like that…not again.” She averted her eyes back to the comforter and began to pick at the seam.
Rowena let out a short breath, then reached out to lift the redhead’s chin, bringing her gaze back up to meet her own. “Will, you have every right to still care about her, and I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to see how much she cares about you.” The blonde lifted her free hand to silence the expected defense. “And that’s perfectly fine. You were very instrumental in each other’s lives at a point when it really mattered. I don’t ever want to take that away from you, nor will I try.”
When Willow didn’t respond, she continued. “Like I told Faith, Kennedy is a fine slayer and a great friend. That certainly entitles her to a little happiness. A lot, in fact. But as much as we may want to, we can not and we must not interfere with this. She’s a big girl,” the blonde finished with a light smile.
After taking a moment to let the words sink in, Willow sighed.
“I know that,” she said softly. “I know all of that, but…it still doesn’t stop me from worrying about her. Even if she is a slayer, there’s only so much her heart can take.”
“And you think Kadin’s only going to break her heart?”
“I know that’s not fair,” the Wiccan admitted. “I mean, I hardly know her, and going by my record with Kennedy’s heart, I’ve really got no room to judge.”
“Will,” Rowena sighed, “you’ve got to let it go. It was a long time ago, and you’ve both moved past it. She doesn’t hold it against you anymore, and you shouldn’t either.”
Willow met her lover’s eyes with a slow nod. “I know, and I’m trying. I just…I want her to be happy, y’know? She really does deserve it, especially after everything she’s done. I mean, how many times do you have to do right? How many times do you have to save the world before it finally cuts you a break?”
“Are we still talking about Kennedy here?” Rowena asked.
“Kinda,” Willow answered reluctantly.
“Will, I’m going to say this flat out – Gregor was full of it. While I sympathized with his plight, I don’t think that gave him the right to play god. He didn’t have all the answers, just hunches. And I don’t think for a moment that what you, or Faith, do day-in and day-out means nothing in the end.” When Willow said nothing, Rowena went on. “There are people who do good acts to make up for the wrong they’ve done. Then there are other people – people like you and Faith – who do good because it’s the right thing to do. And I don’t think, for even a second, that wondering if it will make a difference makes you a bad person. It’s okay to wonder if the good you’ve done in your life will make up for the bad deeds. That’s not selfish, that’s just being human.”
“What makes you so sure?” Willow answered. “Because I’m not, not now.”
“Because even if God Almighty came down from heaven and told you that you were damned, that nothing you did from here on out mattered, you wouldn’t stop doing what you’re doing now – helping the world and the people in it.”
Willow smiled slightly, as if in silent agreement, but then started to tear up. Rowena in response wrapped her arms around her.
“Listen to me, Willow Rosenberg. You’re one of the best people on this earth, so don’t forget that, ever.”
“But what about Ken?” Willow asked. “I’m scared for her, Ro. I really am.”
Rowena pulled back and gave her a reassuring smile. “I know, Will, and I think if maybe we just sit back and let fate run its course, it might surprise us all.”
Rowena ran a hand over Willow’s cheek, and the witch slowly smiled.
Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky – Room 311 – Night
Kennedy lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling and absently drumming her fingers on the exposed skin of her abdomen.
“Well, it’s not like you’ve got anything better to do,” she admonished quietly. After a beat, she sighed and then smiled. “I think Faith’s startin’ to rub off on me more than I thought. Guess I really should pick my friends better.”
The brunette chuckled and turned her head to glance over at the clock. It read, “2:00 a.m..”
“Too early for breakfast,” she admitted in a whisper. “Even for me.” Turning her eyes back to the ceiling, she let out another sigh. “It’s not like she’d actually object, and I don’t exactly have ’em lining up,” she added after a moment. “I mean, she’s made it pretty obvious that she’s interested in more than my witty conversational skills.”
Kennedy thought about it for another long moment. “Carpe diem,” she slowly whispered to herself. Giving the clock one last glance, she threw the covers back and got out of bed.
Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky – Room 312 – Moments Later
The door slowly creaked open, sending a sliver of light streaming into the room. Kadin instantly awoke from her light slumber and lifted her head to peer over at the door.
“H-hello?” she asked sleepily, raising her hand to block out the light from her sensitive eyes.
The outline of a female figure was the only thing visible in the backdrop of the light. Kadin turned herself over from her stomach and groggily sat up.
“You lost or somethin’?”
The woman stepped into the room and closed the door quietly behind her. Kadin could hear the soft pad of footsteps as the woman slowly made her way toward the bed, taking off her shirt as she did. The hunter squinted her eyes to peer through the darkness as the woman sat on the end of her bed.
“K-Kennedy?” The name tore at Kadin’s throat as she struggled to force it out. Her eyes widened, and she was suddenly very awake. “What’re you doin’ here?” She struggled to swallow. “At night, in my bed with…with me?”
Kennedy remained silent. She leaned down over Kadin, a slow smile spreading across her lips. It grew wider as she lifted her hand and wedged it down between their bodies.
Kadin’s eyes grew wider as the comforter covering her lap started to rise and fall slowly. Her eyes slipped closed, and her breathing picked up slightly. Before she could reply, Kennedy leaned further forward and claimed Kadin’s lips in a heated kiss, pushing her back onto the bed.
End of Act Three