Watchers Council – Kennedy’s Apartment – Late Afternoon
Kadin was sitting on the couch, flipping through the channels and eating a sandwich, when Kennedy walked in from the bedroom.
“You know, it usually works best if you actually pick one and stick with it.” Kennedy smiled as she leaned over the back of the couch to snag some of the chips from the bowl in the hunter’s lap.
“Hey!” Kadin scowled at her as she covered the bowl. “Get your own.”
“Can’t.” Kennedy shook her head as she popped the last chip into her mouth and reached over to grab her jacket from the rack. “Don’t got time. Gotta meet the others in like two minutes.”
“Big secret council meeting?” Kadin’s voice was calm, but she never turned to look at the other woman.
Kennedy paused in pulling her jacket over her shoulders. “It’s not a secret, Kadin. You’re part of this now, too.”
Kadin smiled as she slowly turned to look over at the slayer. “Is that why you’re always sneakin’ out while I’m still asleep to go to these not so secret meetings?” She paused. “Or maybe it’s why every time I ask you what they’re about, you always seem to find some convenient way to distract me and change the subject?”
Kennedy was silent as she pulled the jacket up over her shoulders. She let out a slow breath. “I don’t sneak. I just don’t want to wake you, is all, and I don’t always change the subject. It’s just…”
“No, it’s okay,” Kadin shook her head. “I understand. The others don’t trust me with the important stuff.”
“Kadin…” Kennedy sighed. She kept her eyes locked on the other woman for a long moment before finally turning and leaving the apartment.
Kadin waited until the soft click of the door resounded through the room before slowly turning to stare at the empty space.
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Moments Later
Kennedy sat down heavily. She kept her eyes downcast as the others talked around her.
“Okay, so that’s settled then,” Rowena looked up from the folder in front of her with a satisfied smile. The smile faltered slightly when she looked over to see Kennedy’s slumped form. “On to the next matter of business then.” The blonde cleared her throat. “Kennedy?”
Kennedy suddenly looked up.
Rowena cast a quick glance over to Willow, who was now staring down at her own hands.
“W-we need to talk about what happened out on patrol last night,” Rowena continued, bringing her gaze back to the slayer’s. “…with Kadin. And we’ve asked Faith here to try and give an unbiased slayer’s opinion, from somebody who wasn’t there. I hope that’s okay.”
Kennedy let out a slow sigh. “Look, she already apologized for that. Kadin’s a passionate fighter. When she gets in the heat of things, she doesn’t really pay attention to what’s around her.”
“That’s part of the problem,” Rowena stated gently.
“Problem?” Kennedy repeated.
“Yeah, Slick,” Faith finally broke in. “Huge problem. As in, the problem of your hothead girlfriend firing off that damn crossbow at anything that moves. Doc still doesn’t know if Nadia’s ever gonna be able to use that hand again.”
“It was an accident,” Kennedy repeated calmly, but the look on her face said otherwise.
“There’ve been a lot of those lately,” Rowena added. Kennedy turned her scowl on the Head Watcher. “I’m sorry, but it’s true, Kennedy,” Rowena continued. “Kadin’s been a little less than a team player lately, and it has come at a high cost. We’re concerned about what might happen next.”
“That’s bull,” Kennedy growled. “Kadin is very much a team player. She goes out there every night and fights right by our sides. Doesn’t that count for anything?”
“It counts for a lot,” Faith agreed. “I’m sure the teams don’t mind having another skilled fighter on patrol with them. But…”
Willow spoke up. “But you’ve seen it yourself. She’s not exactly on the same page with the other girls out there. She’s reckless, impulsive and never follows orders.”
Kennedy smiled, shaking her head.
“Kadin was right.” When she received a few blank looks, she elaborated. “She said you don’t consider her a part of the Council, and, obviously, you don’t. You don’t understand that she’s been doing this on her own for most of her life. She’s just not used to playing follow the leader.”
“Precisely,” Rowena agreed. “Which is why she needs to learn that we do things around here in a structured and specific manner. We have rules that she must follow.”
“I’ll talk to her, okay?” Kennedy sighed and looked around. “Is that all?”
“No,” Rowena answered after a tense moment of silence. “Willow, Faith and I have been talking, and…we believe we may have a solution.”
“To what?” Kennedy asked, confused.
Rowena looked over at the other women before turning back to Kennedy. “We have a mission that we would like for you and Kadin to complete. It will be just the two of you. Normally, we would send Faith but…we’re still waiting on word.”
“What’s the mission?”
“There seems to be a fairly large nest on the outskirts of town. We’d like for you and Kadin to check it out and decide the best course of action.” Rowena glanced over to see that Willow was now watching Kennedy intently.
“So what’s the real reason for this little mission, hmm?” Kennedy asked. “Is this some sort of test to see if Kadin can follow orders? What happens if she fails, huh? You gonna ban her from all council activity?”
“No, Ken. That’s not true. Not at all. This is merely a mission to discover the nature of a rather large and unusual nesting of vampires,” Rowena answered calmly. “But…if Kadin can’t even work as a team with you, then if she plans to go on Council operations, we’ll have to find another means of training for her.”
Kennedy set her jaw in anger as she looked around the table at the other members. “I get it. You want me to take Kadin on the mission because if there’s anyone that can turn her into your mindless little lap dog, then it has to be her own girlfriend.” She shook her head as she pushed her chair back and stood. “I’ll take your stupid little mission, but know this,” Kennedy paused and looked around to meet everyone’s eyes. “If Kadin’s not a member of the Council…then neither am I.”
Everyone watched in silence as she turned and quickly left the room.
“See? It went better than you guys thought it would,” Faith said dryly.
Hotel Hallway – Dusk
Nearly half the light fixtures in the hallway flickered, rather than glowed. Nearly every square inch of the paisley wallpaper was faded, stained or wrinkled – sometimes all three. The chairs around the table didn’t quite match. And the brass plaque reading “Bridal Suite” could definitely have used a polish.
On those chairs, around that table, in front of the Bridal Suite, five men sat. Their furrowed brows and yellow eyes concentrated on the card game before them. One or two actually growled in anticipation. Then, one of them looked up. His expression changed to exactly that of a child caught with his hand in a cookie jar by a stern parent. A very stern parent. Possibly an abusive and/or violent one.
All five vampires scrambled to stand up and look attentive. The cards were momentarily forgotten, and all their attention was on the figure headed for the door to the suite. She didn’t say anything, just gave a look, as one of them hurried to open the door for her. Her hands were full, carrying a silver tray. Yet the vampires didn’t relax until she had gone through that door and it was firmly shut behind her.
“Hey,” hissed one of vampires.
“You looked at my hand!”
“I did…” he began in what amounted to a bellow, then stopped himself. He continued in a whisper. “I did not.”
“Did too!” His opponent whispered back.
Bridal Suite – Same Time
The room was all reds, pinks and golds. Light fixtures on the wall had been designed to look like candelabras. None of them looked new. In fact, almost nothing in the room looked less than twenty years old. Everything, from the thick pink drapes drawn across the windows, to the heart-shaped bed, almost certainly cost a goodly sum when they were brand new. But those days were long gone.
Still, the petite blonde figure made her way into the room with a smile on her face. She had to fumble a bit to turn on one light, since her hands weren’t really free. The lamp gave her just enough light not to trip over anything. She walked across the carpet and deposited the tray she was carrying on the nightstand next to the bed. The grin on her face was tiny, but intense, like the gleam in her eyes.
“Wakey, wakey,” she said. She walked over and flipped the main wall switch. The candelabra lights flickered on. Most of them, anyway. Now the room was almost flooded with light. Comparatively. “Sun’s gone down, sleepyhead!”
A shape stirred from underneath the covers. It moaned in protest.
“I got you something,” the petite blonde said enticingly. “Something special.”
Several seconds later, the shape under the covers emerged. She sat up, pale blonde hair a tangled mane around her head and bright blue eyes blinking as they focused.
“Really?” said Harmony Kendall. She grinned. “You got me something, Luna?”
“That’s right,” the little blonde said, rushing over to her tray. She laid it on the bed next to Harmony – a silver serving tray with a carafe and fluted wine glass.
Harmony looked at the carafe and the deep red liquid it contained. “Is that…?”
“Yes,” Luna giggled. “Otter – your favorite!”
Harmony squealed. Luna poured the blood into the glass, then carefully placed a straw in the wine glass before handing it to Harmony. “Breakfast in bed,” she purred.
“You are,” gushed Harmony, “the bestest pal!”
“Nothing but the best for my Harmony,” giggled Luna.
“All those years, working for one lawyer after another, I’d almost forgotten what it was like to have a real girlfriend! Someone to spoil me!”
Luna smiled quietly, her burning eyes never leaving Harmony’s face. “That’s just what I was thinking,” she said huskily. Harmony put her lips around the straw and drank.
End of Teaser