Buffy’s Apartment – Morning
The Next Day
Buffy yawned and carried her cup of coffee to the living room, where she plopped onto her sofa and turned on the television. After a commercial played, the early news came back on.
With a backdrop that showed a picture of the Council Headquarters, the morning anchor looked into the camera solemnly.
“As speculation continues regarding the recent events at the Watchers Council, particularly the apparent poisoning of Violet ‘Vi’ Joston, our own Leonard Lance was on the scene with one of those closest to the slayer.”
As the anchor turned to the monitor and the pre-recorded video began to play, the now-fully-awake Buffy leaned up and set her coffee cup on the table, never taking her eyes off the screen.
“Can you tell us what it was like to lose your best friend, Vi Joston, to one of your own fellow slayers?” Buffy heard the reporter ask Kennedy.
“What was it like?” she heard an outraged Kennedy say.
“Oh no,” Buffy sighed.
Then she saw a furious Kennedy throw the reporter against a wall.
As the camera jostled to get a good picture, Buffy saw Kennedy point at the reporter and say, “Stay the bleep away from me!”
Then Buffy saw Kennedy whip around and grab the lens of the camera. She heard Kennedy say, “Get the bleep out of my face!”
Then the image went wild with an ascending vertical shot of the side of the building, then the roof and sky, then nothing.
As the news program returned to the anchor, Buffy muted the television. Then she groaned and dropped her head into her hands. After a long grrrrr of frustration, she straightened up and picked up her phone. She quickly dialed Jim Pollan’s number.
“Please tell me you’re on it,” she said as soon as he answered.
“If you mean Kennedy killing her chances of ever doing a Barbara Walters interview,” Jim replied, “then, yes, I’m on it.”
“Thanks,” Buffy said, somewhat relieved. “Keep me posted.”
Buffy hung up, then immediately dialed Faith’s number. When the grumpy and drowsy slayer answered, Buffy said, “We need to talk. Now.”
Watchers Council – Patrol Check-In – Later that Morning
Still in the same clothes from the night before, Kennedy dragged into slayer headquarters and finally checked in at the patrol desk.
The slayer on duty noted her arrival in the log. Then she gave her a sheepish frown and handed her a piece of paper.
“You’re wanted in Ms. Summers’ office,” she told Kennedy. “Like now.” The girl grimaced. “Sorry, she said to say that.”
Kennedy rolled her eyes, groaned and stuffed the note in her pocket. Then she trudged toward the door.
Watchers Council – Buffy’s Office – Moments Later
Buffy and Faith were standing together with Kennedy standing opposite them. No one appeared to be in the mood to sit. Buffy had her arms crossed tightly and she didn’t look the least bit happy. Faith was a step closer, clearly in confrontation mode. Kennedy looked at her boots.
“You didn’t check in last night after shift,” Faith said with an accusatory tone.
Kennedy shrugged. “So I didn’t check in right away and my report’s a few hours late, big deal.”
“It is a big deal when you abandon your patrol partner and don’t tell anyone where you are!” Buffy interjected. “Mia was worried sick.”
“So she ratted on me, huh?”
“No, she didn’t,” Faith answered. “She was covering for you, and believe me, I’ve had a chat with her about that already. I didn’t realize you were gone till B called and woke me up…after she saw you on the early morning news.”
Kennedy’s eyes widened, then she shook her head in disgust. “That bastard!”
“Bastard or not,” Buffy said, “you didn’t have any business shoving him or his cameraman.”
“Did you hear what he asked me?!”
“Yes, I did,” Buffy replied. “But I’ve got enough trouble dealing with the fallout from one psycho slayer. I don’t need the world thinking we’ve got another one who’s going ballistic on reporters!”
Kennedy took a step toward Buffy and pointed angrily at her. “Don’t you dare compare me to Heli!” she said through clenched teeth. “I am nothing like her!”
Buffy wisely backed off. “That’s not what I meant,” she told Kennedy. After a quick pause, she went on. “But…my point still stands. No matter how bad things get, you just can’t let your anger get the better of you, and definitely not on film.”
“B’s right,” Faith said. After a sigh, she added in a gentler voice, “Look, Slick, I know times are hard, it’s hard on all of us, but –”
Before Faith could finish, Kennedy interrupted. “Okay, fine, I get it. I’ll just say ‘no comment,’ and it won’t happen again,” she said sullenly. “Can I go now?”
Faith looked at Buffy, who rolled her eyes and reluctantly nodded. By the time Faith turned around, Kennedy was already out the door.
Watchers Council – Kennedy’s Apartment – Around Noon
The door to Kennedy’s apartment swung open and a very pissed-off slayer stomped into the living room. She slammed the door behind her and threw her jacket onto the coat rack, knocking it completely over. Marsha rose up from her position on the sofa to see what had happened.
“Geez, what did that coat rack ever do to you?”
Kennedy looked up sharply at the sound of the other voice. Kadin was standing a few feet in front of her, leaning against the doorframe to the kitchen. Although her tone had been sarcastically teasing, Kadin didn’t look amused.
“Not now, Kadin,” she sighed angrily.
“Yes now.” Kadin looked at her pointedly. “Last night. After patrol. Just you and me. Ring any bells?”
A look of realization came over Kennedy’s face. She shook her head and dropped her gaze to the floor. When she lifted it, she said simply and without much contrition, “Sorry. Something came up.”
“What? Did you need another private lesson from Willow? Did Mia need some special training after hours?”
Kennedy scoffed loudly.
Kadin moved closer. “No, I know what it was…it was yet another hot tip from the Hunt-For-Heli-Hotline, wasn’t it? Something you just had to follow up on, right?”
Kennedy’s eyes burned with rage as she stared back at the hunter. “Why don’t you just back off with all the smart-ass remarks? You have no idea what I’m going through, okay?”
Kadin’s brow arched just slightly. “I have no idea?” She dropped her arms to the sides and smiled in disbelief. “Forget who you’re talking to? I’m the crazy monster hunter who went on a rampage killing everything furry within a hundred feet all for the sake of avenging my father and you’re telling me I have no idea?”
“You know what?” Kennedy sighed, throwing her hands up in the air. “I don’t need this.” She turned and reached for her jacket.
“Well, I’d really love to hear just what it is you do need,” Kadin shot back, taking a step forward. “Because, hell Kennedy, these days? I don’t have a clue.”
Kennedy turned around swiftly to meet Kadin’s eyes with a cold stare. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Oh, I think you know,” Kadin answered hotly, but then she softened her tone. “Every time I’m here, I might as well not be. When you’re not in meetings, you’re training or patrolling or hanging out with your exes, or following dead ends on Heli.” She let out a deep sigh and ran a hand back through her hair. “You’re everywhere but around me.”
Kennedy shook her head with a snarky smile. “Oh, that’s rich coming from you…little Miss ‘Can’t talk now, got yet another plane to catch to wherever the hell it is that needs my help this time’.”
“Don’t even go there!” Kadin shouted, pointing a finger at Kennedy. “I turned down three jobs in the last month, and I canceled my trip to Costa Rica, just to spend time with you, to be here for you. But all you care about lately is finding Heli.” Kadin crossed her arms and looked away. “Never thought I’d have to be jealous of a psycho.”
“Everything’s a joke to you, isn’t it?”
“No, it’s not, but I’m trying to make a point.”
“And what would that be? To show me how not to be a supportive girlfriend?”
“Well, excuse me if I don’t want to help my girlfriend destroy herself over some pointless revenge!”
“Pointless?!” Kennedy said, outraged. “She killed two slayers. Just murdered them…savagely…methodically…for fun!”
“I know,” Kadin said in a much gentler voice. “And I know how much Vi meant to you, ‘the last of the Sunnydale originals’…And if I had a way to bring her back, I would, but I don’t. You don’t. And…this path you’re on…it doesn’t lead to anything except more pain. Remember? You told me that.”
“It’s not the same,” Kennedy ground out between clenched teeth.
“Why? Because –”
“It just isn’t!” Kennedy shouted. “Damn it! Why don’t you get this?!” She let out a frustrated roar then clamped it down tight. Her eyes burned with rage as she slowly said, “I just want Heli –”
“What? Dead?” Kadin finished.
Kennedy glared at her, then turned away without answering the question. “No,” she finally replied softly.
“Kennedy, please,” Kadin called out gently. “Don’t let this thirst for revenge destroy you. Because, believe me, it will.”
“This isn’t revenge…it’s justice.” Kennedy took a deep breath, then added in a voice mixed with hurt and anger, “Why doesn’t anyone get that?”
Kadin sighed. “It doesn’t matter if you wrap it up and put a nice little bow on top. It’s still the same.”
Kennedy turned back to face her. “Did you watch that video? Did you see how horribly Vi died?”
“Yes, but that –”
“Just save it, okay?” Kennedy said, lifting a hand to silence her. “I don’t need any more of your take-the-high-road lecturing.”
Kadin’s expression grew sullen and she let out one final sigh. Her gaze dropped away, and she shook her head sadly. Then she met Kennedy’s eyes.
“Then I guess you don’t need me, either,” the hunter said.
Kadin brushed past Kennedy and grabbed her duffel bag from the couch. She pulled on her heavy coat over her vest and reached for the doorknob.
“Hey! Where are you going?” Kennedy asked.
Kadin didn’t turn back as she replied, “Where I’m needed.” She grabbed the door and yanked it open, then stepped out and slammed it behind her.
Kennedy stared at the empty spot where Kadin had been for a long moment, before finally sighing and disappearing into the bedroom.
Kennedy’s Apartment – About Two Hours Later
Kennedy had her feet propped up on the coffee table as she idly flipped through the channels. Her gaze was locked on the screen, but she clearly wasn’t interested. She absently stroked Marsha on the head as the dragon rested her head in her lap.
Kennedy’s eyes drifted over to her cell phone resting silently on the cushion beside her. She let out a deep sigh and clicked off the TV. Reaching over, she picked up the cell phone and flipped it open.
The slayer bit her lip and stared down at the buttons. After a long moment, she finally relented and pressed the button for the number one on her speed dial.
“Calling Kadin…” flashed on the screen and she lifted the phone to her ear.
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport – Same Time
With her duffel bag now checked and her heavy coat draped over her arm, Kadin took her ticket back from the attendant behind the desk. She smiled politely and nodded.
As she stepped out of line and away from the crowd, Kadin glanced at her ticket: connection in Miami, arrival time in San Jose, Costa Rica, around midnight. As she tucked her ticket into her inside vest pocket, her cell phone began to vibrate and ring. She reached into the front pocket of her vest and pulled out her phone. She flipped it open and glanced down at the caller ID.
“Kennedy Calling…” showed on the screen.
With a frown and a sigh, she pushed the off button. Then she closed the phone, dropped it back in her pocket, and headed for the line at the security check.
Kennedy’s Apartment – Same Time
Kennedy sat motionless on the couch, holding the phone in a death grip at her ear.
After the fourth ring, there was still no answer.
As the familiar sound of Kadin’s voicemail greeting started to drift into her ear, Kennedy sighed and flipped her phone closed.
Fade to Black
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Evening
Two Days Later
It was near the end of the dinner rush. No one was in line, so Tracey and Andrew were beginning to take the food trays out of the steam table. They pulled out two long trays of lasagna – one with meat and one without – and one tray of Italian spinach. While Tracey set the hot trays on the back counter to cool, Andrew started putting the leftover salad and garlic bread into plastic containers.
Tracey sidled up next to Andrew. “Third time this month for lasagna,” she commented.
“Yeah,” he said sadly. “It was one of Vi’s favorites.” Then a quirky smile came over his face. “I used to call her Garfield, because she could eat a whole tray by herself.” He chuckled, then sobered again.
Tracey’s eyes welled up with tears, and she gave her boyfriend a proud smile. Then she wrapped him in a big hug, which he gratefully returned.
Watchers Council – Dining Hall – Same Time
Dawn sighed and rubbed her eyes with her fingertips, as the noise from the slayers sitting in the dining hall drummed in her aching head. She was about to get up and go to her room when she heard a few sneers from another table as Shannon made her way past Lorinda.
“Shannie-Shannie Mega-Fanny! Gonna go sit with your watcher?” Lorinda called out in a baby-voice.
The girls at Lorinda’s table laughed and snickered as Shannon quietly made her way toward Dawn’s table.
Dawn groaned inwardly, her head hurting too much for her to want to speak to anyone.
Shannon set her tray down at the table. “Hey,” she greeted Dawn quietly, pulling a chair out.
“Hey yourself,” Dawn said with false cheer. She tried a smile, but it was more of a grimace.
“You don’t look so good,” Shannon said directly. She noticed Dawn’s untouched food. “You feel okay?”
“I’ve got a bad headache. Guess I’m just a little…tired.”
“Yeah,” Shannon said, and sat down. “Me too, I guess.”
Dawn looked at her sharply through squinty eyes as the headache worsened. “You are?”
“Yeah. Been…I don’t know…tired. Like I don’t feel like doing anything. Ever since…”
“Since?” Dawn prompted her.
The answer was so simple and soft that Dawn blinked at Shannon a few times before it registered. “Since Marly and Vi…?”
“Yeah,” Shannon answered. “I really liked Marly. And I really-really liked Vi. Vi was, like, really cool about…about keeping some people in line.” She stole a hard look at Lorinda, who was busily boasting about some escapade or another to her friends. “And…and Vi was…was just cool.”
“Yes,” Dawn said. “She was.”
“She saved my life.”
Dawn waited a beat before saying firmly, “But not at the cost of her own, Shannon. She died afterwards. It had nothing to do with –”
The look of horror that came over Shannon’s face took Dawn by surprise. “Oh…no. No. I–I didn’t mean that!” Shannon said. “I know it was after…I know. I–I just…it’s just that she was here one minute and the next she – I don’t get it! Why do we have to do this stuff? Why do we have to be slayers? What difference does it make anyway?”
Some of the girls at a nearby table glanced at Shannon. She noticed and lowered her voice.
“I mean, there’s still gonna be demons and evil and vampires and – and if not, there’s gonna be bad people causin’ wars and doing crimes…” Shannon’s whisper grew bitter. “So it’s not like we’re gettin’ rid of any of it, ’cause it just keeps coming back! And Vi can’t come back! And Marly can’t come back. Or my watcher – my first watcher – Peter.”
Dawn took a deep breath and let it out slowly, while Shannon sat sullenly picking at her food. “You’re right, Shannon. Vi, Marly and Peter…can’t come back.”
Shannon pushed the food around on her plate with her fork and waited. When Dawn was silent for several seconds, she looked up at her.
Dawn smiled at her, in spite of the sharp pain in her head. “You know, Shannon…I lost my mother when I was around your age. She died of an aneurysm – a blood clot – in her head. It was just like Marly and Vi – here one minute, gone the next. And she was the only person in the world that I had to go to. Just like Peter. So when I lost her, it was like I lost everything.”
Shannon said nothing but continued to look openly at Dawn.
“But I hadn’t. I still had my friends, who cared a lot about me – Giles, Willow, Xander…and I still had Buffy.”
“And then Buffy died.”
“Yes, she did.”
“But Buffy came back.”
“She did. But if Buffy had never come back…” Dawn swallowed a lump that suddenly rose in her throat. “I still would have been okay, Shannon, because I had –”
“You had people who loved you,” Shannon said softly.
“You do, too. You have your family, your –”
“My mother doesn’t want me,” Shannon said matter-of-factly. “She’s got my cousin, Mary-Adele. She lives with us – them – and she’s all girly-girl and wears dresses with little bows and collects dolls and stupid stuff. And my father doesn’t want me, either. What guy wants a girl who’s stronger than both of his teenage sons? Only my grandfather wanted me,” she said sadly. “And he’s dead, too. My only real friend that I can talk to or really hang with is Norman, and he’s all the way in Atlanta.”
“So, who do you have then?”
“There’s no one?”
Shannon looked up again, searching Dawn’s face. Dawn was smiling at her, gently.
“Sometimes,” Dawn said quietly as she rose to her feet, “the people who love us the best are the ones we take most for granted. The ones who are constantly watching out for us every day, who make us keep going when we just don’t care and who talk to us when we’re down. Even when they have killer headaches.” Dawn grinned in spite of the pain in her head.
Shannon looked down at the table. “Yeah, but those people often have death wishes, I’m finding out.”
Dawn looked away for a moment and took her seat again.
“I didn’t say that the people who love us will always be smart,” Dawn answered with a guilty grin. “In fact, there are times we all do pretty stupid things. But again, I have people who love me, like Buffy, and Skye, too. They pointed out that I do have people here that need me, including you, and it got me back on track…Shannon?” Shannon still kept her head down. “Shannon, look at me please?” Finally, the young woman raised her head. “I’m not perfect. No one is. And I made you a promise that I didn’t end up keeping. I know that. But I can tell you that I’m dealing with what immortality could mean to me. It might really be a blessing and not a curse, like I first thought. But I have to get there in my own way. And I’m sorry that the first way I chose ended up hurting you, too.”
“So…are you there yet? Got it figured out?” Shannon asked.
Dawn grinned. “No, but longing for death isn’t an answer. And even though I’m not there yet, at least I’m heading in the right direction…But my point is still the same, you do have someone,” she said, tapping her own chest. “I know I don’t deserve your trust again, but that’s not going to stop me from trying to do everything I can to earn it. We all should be entitled to a few do-overs in our lives, wouldn’t you say?”
Dawn began to rise slowly. A slayer at a table behind Dawn and Shannon saw Dawn getting ready to leave.
“Hey, Shannon!” the girl called. “C’mon over here!”
Dawn’s smile quirked a bit as she lifted her tray. “See! You’ve got more friends than you think, if you’re willing to look. Come by later, if you like. I just need to take an aspirin and lie down for a bit.”
Shannon looked up. “Got any anchovy pizza?”
“No, but if you come up later, I’ll order us one,” she half-laughed.
“Later!” Shannon said and got up with her tray to go to the other table. She stopped and turned to watch Dawn make her way slowly out of the dining hall.
“Hey, Shannon, c’mon, we saved a seat for ya!”
Shannon turned and smiled at the group.
At the same time, Willow came in the main door of the dining hall, she walked straight toward the food line. When she saw Kennedy nearby, though, she made a detour and headed toward the slayer. She found Kennedy slouched in her chair, just aimlessly pushing her food around with her fork.
“Hey!” she greeted lightly as she sat down. “What’s on the menu tonight?”
“Lasagna,” Kennedy said without enthusiasm.
“Oh, goody!” Willow said excitedly. “I hope they got some veg left over.”
Kennedy watched Willow nearly bouncing in her chair. “What’s got you so chipper?”
Willow smiled widely. “Ro is coming home tomorrow!”
“Lucky you,” Kennedy said blandly.
Willow looked at Kennedy questioningly. “Kadin out of town?”
“You could say that.”
“Oh!” Willow said, as if a bright idea had just come to her. “You wanna hook up with me tonight? We could keep each other company while our honeys are away.”
Kennedy dramatically raised her eyebrow.
“Not like that,” Willow chided with a chuckle.
Kennedy gave a brief smirk.
“So, do you wanna?” Willow asked again. “If you’re not on duty, that is.”
“I think I’ll pass. You probably want to torture me with Modern Bride magazines,” Kennedy said with a slight grin.
“Nope, Armani catalogs. This is one wedding where I can actually wear a tux!” she bubbled.
“As if we didn’t already know who wore the pants in that relationship,” Kennedy chuckled.
“I promise, we can find something else. What do you say?” Willow replied.
“I’m off-duty till our session tomorrow, but tonight…I’ve got a date with a stack of Heli reports in my apartment.”
Willow frowned at that. “Kennedy…”
Kennedy nodded her head toward the kitchen. “You’d better get to the food line before Andrew closes it down.”
Willow glanced at the kitchen, then back at Kennedy. “I’ll be right back. Stay put.”
After Willow left, Kennedy pulled out her phone. She flipped it open and called Kadin’s cell number. It rang once, then twice.
“Come on, Kadin,” she grumbled. “Answer the damn phone.”
For the umpteenth time over the last two days, Kadin did not pick up. When Kennedy heard Kadin’s voicemail kick in, she hung up, growling in frustration.
Just then, Willow returned with her tray.
“What’s wrong?” she asked sympathetically. “Fallout from the reporter thing?”
“Heard about that, huh?” Kennedy saw Willow nod ruefully. “No, nothing about that. It’s…” She paused and looked down at her hands. “Me and Kadin…we had a fight.”
“Oh,” was all Willow could say.
Kennedy sighed in exasperation and went on. “We were supposed to get together, and I forgot and came home late, and she bitched about it, and then she started lecturing me about Heli and revenge, like she’s one to talk, and I got pissed, and the next thing I know, she’s storming out the door, probably headed off to yet another monster mission across the globe.”
Willow leaned back, surprised by the torrent of words. “Oh, well, um, maybe you should call her,” she suggested. “You know, try to make—“
“I did,” Kennedy replied, annoyed. “But does she pick up? Nooooo.”
“Where did she go?”
Kennedy shrugged. “Costa Rica, I think. Maybe. At least that’s where she had been scheduled to go.”
“Well, there ya go,” Willow said with a forced smile. “M-M-Maybe she’s in the remote rainforest, w-w-where her cell wouldn’t work.”
Kennedy gave Willow a ‘yeah-right’ stare.
“Did you leave a message?”
“No. Why should I?” Kennedy shot back petulantly. “She’s the one who ran out on me. Why should I leave a message? She should be the one leaving a message.”
Willow reached across the table and touched Kennedy’s arm gently. “I know I’m not the best person to give advice on this, but…sometimes being together is more important than being right.”
An angry glare flashed in Kennedy’s eyes, but then it quickly faded. She looked away as if considering the matter. “Well, she thinks I’m some psycho, too hell-bent on revenge to see straight.”
Willow appeared uncomfortable. “I’m not sure how to say this but…I don’t think you’re a pyscho but I-I’m worried about you too, Kennedy.”
Kennedy held her hands in front of her. “I’m fine. Okay, that’s not true. I’m not fine. Parts of me are a total wreck, but you know what I want? What I really want by doing all of this?”
Willow shook her head.
“I want to look Heli in the eyes. I want to put a pair of cuffs on her, and I want to walk her into an eight-by-eight cell where she rots for the rest of her awful life. If that’s revenge, then yeah, maybe Kadin’s right.”
“My opinion on this is probably biased, but…again, that doesn’t sound psycho to me. Kadin thinks it does?”
Kennedy looked a bit sheepish. “I didn’t tell her that. Truth is, I haven’t told her much of anything lately…Guess that’s my fault, huh?”
Willow shrugged and then made a gesture toward her ex-girlfriend. “Maybe, but hey! There’s nothing that says you can’t say it the next time you see her, right?”
Kennedy didn’t look very sure about the prospect, but she nodded anyway.
Watchers Council – Kennedy’s Apartment – Later that Night
Kennedy sat on the couch, sifting through stacks of reports from the Watchers hotline. There were two messy piles of pages on each side of her. On the coffee table in front of her were several stacks that had apparently started out neat, but were now in a disorganized heap. A whiskey glass, empty except for two half-melted ice cubes, sat sweating on a few scattered sheets on the corner of the table.
Kennedy quickly scanned the page she was holding. “Useless!” she said, before tossing it on the heap on the coffee table. “Useless!” she said after viewing the next page. She repeated that process until every sheet in her hand had been discarded. “All useless!”
She reached for her whiskey glass. Upon seeing it empty, she threw it at the wall, smashing it into pieces. She then turned her attention to the coffee table. She swept off the stacks of pages, sending them flying all over the living room. She did the same for the piles on the couch before upending the couch itself. Then she picked up the coffee table and hurled it across the room, where it collided with her entertainment center, narrowly missing the television, but causing the shelves of CDs and DVDs surrounding it to crash to the floor.
Her body heaving as she gasped for air, Kennedy took in the sight of her trashed living room. Then she growled and headed for the front door. She snatched her jacket off the coat rack and left her apartment, slamming the door loudly behind her.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later
Kennedy stomped out of the elevator, then strode right past the empty reception desk. Just as the door closed behind her, the night worker stood up behind the desk, holding the pen she had dropped. She glanced at the door curiously, as if wondering if she had missed something. She gave a quick shrug, hopped back on her stool, and returned to her crossword.
Fade to Black
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport – Late Morning
The Next Day
Kadin squinted against the sun as she stepped off the plane. She shivered in the cold as she went down the steep steps to the tarmac. When she got to the bottom, she pulled on her long coat and headed for the terminal door. As she walked, she reached into the front of her vest and pulled out her cell. She flipped it open, pushed the button to turn it on, and waited.
The following message showed on the screen: “No New Messages.”
Kadin closed her phone and put it away.
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport – Moments Later
Kadin was leaning against a wall near the baggage claim. Her eyes scanned over the crowd of people huddled by the unmoving conveyor belt. She let out a deep breath and reached into her vest pocket to pull out her phone again.
She stared down at the silver device with a sense of longing in her eyes. Her thumb brushed over the lid, but then she hesitated. When she saw the checked bags begin coming down the conveyor, she stuffed the phone back in her pocket.
As soon as she took a step toward the line, her pocket started to vibrate, followed by the melody of the familiar ring.
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport – Moments Later
While Casey went to park the Council van, Willow walked in the far entrance of the baggage claim area. She went immediately to the monitor where the incoming flights were listed. She found the information she was looking for, then turned away to find a place to wait.
Across the room, she noticed Kadin standing beside one of the baggage conveyor lines. She tried to wave at her, but Kadin didn’t see her. The hunter was reaching for her pocket to pull out her cell phone.
Once Kadin had her phone out, she rapidly flipped it open and looked at the caller ID: “Kennedy Calling…”
The hunter smiled as she watched the name blink on her screen. She pressed the answer button and put the phone to her ear.
“Hey, I was just gonna call you. Listen, I –”
A deep male voice cut her off. “Hunter.”
Kadin froze in place, her eyes growing deep with concern.
The male voice chuckled deep and husky on the other end of the line. “I’m so pleased you remember. I wish I could say I’m happy to hear your voice, but you know, there’s that little thing about me completely despising you.”
Kadin’s brow furrowed deeper in confusion. “What have –?”
“Just shut up and listen,” Coen’s voice rang through her head. Her phone suddenly beeped, causing her to jump slightly. “Take a look.”
Kadin slowly pulled the phone away from her ear and pushed the button to bring up the incoming file. Her eyes grew wide, and her breath caught in the center of her chest when she saw the image appear.
It was Kennedy.
Her forehead was bleeding from a cut near her temple. Her eyes were droopy and glazed, as if she’d been knocked out or drugged. Coen was sidled up next to her, glaring coldly at the camera and holding the slayer tightly by the chin.
End of Act Two