Watchers Council – Watcher Rec Room – Day
Willow and Rowena were seated on one of the large couches, a chessboard balanced on the cushion between them. To their left, a large bay window looked out over the main lobby.
Rowena was staring down at the pieces intently as she chewed on her fingernails.
“This can’t be fair,” she pouted slightly as she looked up to Willow. “It must be the hormones clouding my…” The rest of her words were cut off when Willow pitched a thumb out the large window. Rowena looked up to follow Willow’s line of sight.
Both women watched as Kennedy stalked across the lobby without a word to anyone. With a scowl on her face, she stomped her way toward the elevators before disappearing out of their sight.
Willow turned and gave Rowena a worried look; the blonde just nodded and smiled. The witch smiled back at her and then got up.
“None of those pieces better be moved until I get back,” Willow said in a mock-threat.
“Like I need to cheat to win,” Rowena replied. “Go on,” she added, with a motion of her hand toward the exit.
Willow turned to leave, but quickly shot back around to see Rowena wearing a teasing grin and holding her hand perched over Willow’s side of the board. She pulled her hand back, and Willow admonished her with a disapproving look.
“Just kidding,” Rowena said. “I knew you’d look. You might be blowing your one shot at victory by leaving.”
Willow rolled her eyes and grumbled, “One shot at victory.” As she turned to go, she heard Rowena giggling behind her.
Kadin’s Cabin – Living Room – Moments Later
Kadin was seated in the large recliner staring at the blank television screen when Serena walked up to her.
“Kadin?” she called out softly. “Are you…okay?”
The hunter didn’t acknowledge the other woman as she sat with her hands folded across her stomach and her feet flat on the floor.
Serena made another cautious step forward and then took a seat on the end of the couch beside Kadin’s chair. “Do you want to talk about it?” she asked after a moment.
Kadin kept her eyes trained on the blank screen. “Nothin’ to talk about,” she answered flatly.
Serena let out a slow, calming breath and fell back against the couch. She shifted her eyes up to the mantle above the fireplace across the room. She noticed the simple, metal-framed picture propped up in the center. It was the only decoration on the wooden surface.
Kadin was smiling with her arm wrapped around Kennedy’s shoulders, as they both held a cup up towards the camera. There was a large white banner hanging in the background, and friends were scattered around in the shot behind them.
“You look happy,” Serena said, as she kept her eyes on the photograph. “I can’t remember ever seeing you smile like that.”
Kadin’s eyes finally drifted over to the picture on the mantle. “Things are different now,” she answered.
Serena turned her head to look at the other woman. “So different that your only option is to run?”
Kadin shot her a quick glance before dropping her eyes to her lap. “You don’t understand.”
“I don’t?” Serena challenged, pushing herself up. “I don’t understand what it feels like to be cut off from the rest of the world? To feel like I have no one left that could possibly understand what I’m going through? To know that my only choice is to run away and live the rest of my life in solitude?”
Kadin closed her eyes and sighed as she shook her head.
“You know what’s inside of you,” she told Serena. “You understand it…you know what it comes from.” She paused and let out a breath, furrowing her brow. “I don’t even know what I am.”
All traces of anger and frustration instantly vanished from Serena’s face.
“Kadin,” she whispered as she placed a gentle hand on the hunter’s arm. “You’re not a monster. You were given this gift for a reason. A good reason, but the only way you’re going to be able to use it is if you learn to understand and accept it. It’s also not a bad idea to take help where you can get it.”
Kadin clenched her fingers tightly. “What if I don’t want to?” she asked. “What if I don’t want to understand it? What if I don’t want to be it?”
“You don’t have a choice,” Serena told her. “But I was in that meeting. Those people in that room care about you, especially one person in particular.” She paused before adding, “I know what it’s like to feel like a monster…but I don’t have the answers you need. They, on the other hand, they just might.”
Kadin watched her intently. “And what if they don’t?”
A small smile flitted across Serena’s lips. “You’ll never know if you don’t open up to them. As for me, I’ve learned to accept that the wolf is just another part of my life. It’s not everything I am.” She gave Kadin’s arm a warm rub. “But in the end, we don’t get to choose what we are, but who we are is entirely up to us.”
Kadin looked over at her and smiled for the first time all morning.
Watchers Council – Kennedy’s Apartment – Moments Later
Willow approached the door cautiously as she reached up to knock. The door swung in with a slow creak just as her hand made contact with the wooden surface.
“Kennedy?” she called out, as she gently pushed the door open. “You in here?”
The slayer stepped in from the kitchen to glance over at the doorway. Willow noticed a glass full of brown liquid in her right hand.
“I thought Faith said you kicked that,” Willow said as she stepped into the apartment and closed the door behind her. “I don’t think she’d be too happy if she found out…”
“She won’t,” Kennedy snapped. “Unless you tell her.” She lifted the glass to her lips and downed half the contents. Then she made her way around the couch to fall down onto the cushions heavily. She reached out for the remote and turned on the TV. “What are you doing here, anyway?”
Willow stepped closer to the end of the couch. Shrugging her shoulders, she tucked her hands into her back pockets and moved closer to the slayer. “You didn’t look too happy downstairs,” she explained casually. “Just wanted to make sure that you were okay.”
Kennedy kept her eyes on the screen as she lifted the glass up to her mouth again. “Well, I’m not,” she answered, and then downed the rest of the brown liquid. She placed the glass back on the coffee table, but never took her eyes off the television. “There’s your answer. You can go now.”
Willow’s brow furrowed. She hesitated, just for a second, before finally stepping up to take a seat on the opposite end of the couch. She remained silent as she too turned her eyes to the screen.
Kennedy watched Willow’s movements out of the corner of her eye, but kept her gaze firmly on the screen as she idly flipped through the channels. After a few long and tense moments, she let out a huff, dropped the remote to the couch and turned to face the other woman. “Are you just gonna sit there all day?”
Willow turned to the slayer with a sweet expression. “If that’s how long it takes for you to talk, then…yes.”
Kennedy looked back at her with a slightly confused stare. “What about Rowena?”
Willow smiled smugly. “She had the same problem earlier of not wanting to talk,” she answered cryptically. “But she too fell victim to my unyielding charms.”
Kennedy raised a slow eyebrow, a small smile spreading over her lips. “Unyielding charms, huh?”
“Yep,” Willow nodded with a grin. “So why don’t you save us both time and just tell me?”
Kennedy released a breath before replying. “I went to see Kadin.”
Willow’s smile faltered. “I take it that didn’t go over so well?”
Kennedy shook her head sadly.
Willow scooted closer and reached down to place her hand on the slayer’s knee. “How bad was it?” she asked gently.
“She told me that she kissed Serena, but that was as far as it went.”
“Do you believe her?” Willow asked after a moment.
The slayer released a slow sigh and ran a hand back through her hair. “I know that I want to,” she answered softly.
Willow rubbed at the denim-covered knee comfortingly. “I don’t know Kadin as well as you do. But I can see that she loves you, a-and I think we both know that she’d never do anything to hurt you like that.”
Kennedy glanced down at the hand on her knee before she lifted her eyes to look over at the other woman.
“Would you?” Kennedy asked gently. “If Tara showed up on your doorstep right now, alive and well…would you turn your back on Rowena?”
Willow’s hand instantly stopped, and she pulled it away slowly. Her eyes widened, and she released a slow breath. “What a question,” she laughed nervously. She took a moment to gather herself before she finally answered. “I honestly would consider it – all of it.”
“But don’t you love Rowena?” Kennedy asked instantly. “I mean…it sure seems like you do.”
“Of course I do,” Willow answered. “I loved Tara, too. But it’s not a question of who I love most. It’s about the love that I once shared with someone who was very special to me a-and the love that I have now with someone very special. But in the end…I’d say Rowena.”
“I beg to differ. I don’t think it would be that simple if Tara was here,” Kennedy replied.
“I didn’t say the choice would be easy,” Willow answered. “I just know that the life I’ve been building with Ro is very important to me, and the truth is, it’s more about me than either of them or their qualities.”
“Not sure I follow you there, Will.”
“I’m a different person than the girl Tara knew. And Rowena, she fits me today a-and we’ve got big plans ahead of us for the future. I wouldn’t toss away what I have with Rowena just because Tara came along…Maybe Kadin feels the same way a-and maybe that kiss had to happen so that she could…I don’t know…figure that out.”
“Be nice if that was the case, but I’m not so sure,” Kennedy remarked.
“Did you ask?” Willow replied.
Kennedy looked a bit embarrassed. “I left before I said anything too…dumb.”
“That’s good,” Willow told her. “Sometimes it’s best to cool off before spouting out stuff you really don’t mean.” Willow replaced her hand on Kennedy’s knee as she leaned forward. “Just consider that maybe it’s not about Kadin loving Serena more or loving you any less. She’s got major things going on in her life, a-and we’re talking big-time, life-altering ‘I might be a monster now and my dead girlfriend showed up’ type stuff.”
Kennedy released a long sigh and slumped her shoulders. “I’m just…scared,” she finally admitted. “I don’t want to lose her, but…I don’t think that I can help her, either. Not anymore.”
Willow’s expression changed, and her resolve face set in. “Not with that attitude, you won’t.”
“What?” Kennedy replied, a little shocked.
“You heard me,” Willow told her sternly. “I know you, Kennedy. You’re too stubborn to let something get in your way so easily. So she loved Serena. So what? She loves you now. Don’t forget that, and don’t let her forget it either.”
Kennedy didn’t reply, just staring back at the other woman.
“If you want her a-and you want to help her,” Willow told her, with a light shove to her leg, “then fight for her. Don’t let your fear, or her fear, get in the way of your happiness.” A smile spread over her lips as she gazed back into deep brown eyes. “A few years ago, I had given up on love too. I let my fear keep me from being happy, and it took a certain strong-willed and relentless slayer-to-be to show me the error of my ways.”
Kennedy smiled gently. “I’m glad she did. It’d be a shame to waste such a wonderful heart like that.”
Willow’s smile softened, and she gave the slayer’s knee one last pat. “That goes double for me.” Willow took the glass from Kennedy’s coffee table. “I’ll go dump this. You go get the girl.”
Kennedy smiled wider.
Watchers Council – Watcher Rec Room – Minutes Later
Willow had a ‘cat that ate the canary’ grin on her face as she looked across the chessboard at Rowena. She flexed her fingers up and down a couple of times before picking up one of the chess pieces with a finger and thumb. Carefully, as if holding something fragile, she moved it.
“That would be check, my mate,” Willow said, before releasing a cackling laugh. Rowena just grinned and shook her head, as Willow started to dance in her seat and, “Checkmate…checkmate…checkmate-checkmate-checkmate.”
Rowena laughed out loud when Willow began to roll her arms around in a circle in a victory dance, her hands balled into tight fists.
“It was just one game,” Rowena reminded her. “You realize that, right?”
“Yeah,” Willow agreed, briefly pausing her dance, “but the point remains the same. Which is…checkmate…checkmate…checkmate-checkmate-checkmate.”
Rowena just laughed harder as Willow continued to dance. “Please tell me you won’t do this every time you win.”
Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time
Faith and Buffy were walking side-by-side when they looked over into the Watcher Rec Room and saw Willow dancing. They both paused a moment and gave each other a confused look before looking back into the window.
Willow noticed them at that point and gave them a thumbs-up sign. Rowena continued to laugh and shake her head.
“I don’t even want to know,” Buffy sighed, as she and Faith went on their way.
After they had turned the corner, Faith asked, “So…how long do you think this meeting with Kadin’ll be today? Five minutes, ten minutes tops?”
Buffy gave her an annoyed look.
“Come on,” Faith said. “You have to admit, Kadin’s not a Chatty Cathy.”
“Yeah, you’ve got a point. But I was thinking…maybe you should have one of the slayers look after Kadin for the time being, until we get this figured out a little more.”
“You mean spy on her,” Faith said matter-of-factly.
“Did I say spy? No, I did not,” Buffy answered. “We’re just protecting the Council’s interests, protecting Ken and even Kadin herself, who might still be in danger. It just seems that it would be best if…” Buffy trailed off when she saw Faith’s bored look. “Yes, send someone to spy on her.”
Faith grinned. “You could have just said that to begin with.”
They walked along for a moment. Then Buffy said, “I’m just not sure I trust her. Does that make me a bad person?”
“Well, the scar on my arm thanks to Kadin says no,” Faith replied. “And the truth is…someone is already watching her. Two someones in fact – a day and night guard. Their job is to just observe and report what they see, not to engage in any way. Ken doesn’t even know.”
Buffy stopped walking and gave Faith a look of surprise.
“What?” Faith asked.
“You already thought of that?” Buffy asked in astonishment.
“News flash, B,” Faith said, “I’ve been doin’ this job for a while now. Kadin got away once, but she’s not leaving again. Not until we figure out what’s up.”
Buffy grinned. “I’m impressed…really.”
“Can you please not act so shocked?” Faith asked. “I do have some credibility in these parts.”
“I’m sorry,” Buffy said, as they started to walk again. “But really…wow.”
Faith sighed and rolled her eyes.
Kadin’s Cabin – Kitchen – Moments Later
Serena placed a cup on the kitchen table in front of Kadin, then sat in the chair beside her.
“So, that’s it?” she asked, as she sat down and took a sip from her own cup. “You killed her and then poof…you’re the ‘All Powerful’?”
Kadin nodded once as she raised the cup to her lips. “Pretty much.” She took a drink.
“That’s…huh,” Serena replied, then took another sip. She placed the mug gently onto the table before turning her eyes back to the hunter. “So, your plan was to…what exactly? Run away to the hills and hope to find a nice, cozy little cave to live out the rest of your years, like some hideous outcast from society?”
Kadin smiled slightly, then put her mug down on the table. “Well, when you say it like that,” she replied with a light chuckle. “I guess it does sound kinda…”
“Stupid?” Serena supplied, with a smile of her own.
Kadin nodded, still smiling. “Yeah.”
Both women fell into a comfortable silence. Serena dropped her eyes to her mug of hot chocolate, and Kadin’s gaze drifted over to the blonde.
“How do you do it?” Kadin asked. “That feeling inside you…how do you keep it from taking over?”
Seconds of silence passed between them before Serena finally spoke up. “It’s not something that you know, really,” she answered. “It’s more of something that you…learn. You learn the difference between keeping it under control and just giving in, but to the hundredth power.”
Kadin furrowed her brow and slumped back into her chair, allowing the words to sink in. After a moment, she sat up and placed her elbows on the table. “So all I really gotta do is learn not to give in so easily…despite the fact that I don’t really even know what it is that I’m fighting not to give in to.” She paused and looked up at Serena.
“I’m still not always sure exactly what I am, and I’ve had it inside of me my whole life.” Serena added after a moment. She reached over to place a hand on top of Kadin’s. “I think it’s more that you’re wanting the quick and easy answer when the truth is that there’s no such thing.”
Kadin looked down at their clasped hands, then back up to Serena’s eyes.
“You don’t have to understand it, Kadin,” Serena went on. “You just have to know that it’s there and that you have to live with it. You have to control it…and not let it control you.”
Kadin remained silent as she looked back into the soft blue eyes. “Thank you,” she whispered. She turned her hand to take Serena’s into her own, giving it a gentle squeeze.
A moment of silence passed between them before Kadin finally cleared her throat and released Serena’s hand. “Serena,” she began slowly, “I’m really happy that you’re alive. Really,” she added with more inflection. “But…like I said, things are different now. I’m different now.”
“So we’ve established,” Serena teased with a light smile.
Kadin couldn’t help but smile back. “Yeah,” she added. “But what I’m trying to say here is…”
“Kadin?” Serena broke in gently. “You don’t have to do this. I get it.”
Kadin looked up at the woman and released a slow sigh. “I wish that things between us hadn’t ended like they did.”
Serena nodded. “Me too.” She reached over to take Kadin’s hand into her own, rubbing her thumb over the calloused palm. “And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want a second chance. But what we shared is in the past and will always be a part of us.”
Kadin laughed. “You said that a lot better than I did last night.”
“What?” Serena prompted with a smirk. “You mean how right after we kissed, you shoved me away and ran off to lock yourself in your bedroom all night without actually saying anything at all?”
“Uh,” Kadin said sheepishly. “Yeah. Sorry about that.”
Serena shook her head. “Nothing to be sorry for,” she told the other woman. “I’d actually have been more surprised if you had stayed to talk things out. There are some things about you that even time can’t change.”
Kadin chuckled and flexed her fingers in the other woman’s grip. “I could say the same thing,” she teased. “You still snore loud enough to wake the dead.”
“I do not!” Serena shot back in mock offense. “I’ve never snored in my life!”
“Yeah,” Kadin quipped. “Sure you haven’t.”
“That’s it,” Serena scoffed, jerking her hand from Kadin’s. “I’m not trying to make you feel better anymore. You suck.” She averted her eyes, but kept the light smile on her face.
Kadin just laughed as she reached down for her mug.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Afternoon
Kennedy pulled on her leather coat as she made her way to the door. She stopped when the sudden buzzing of her cell phone alerted her that she had an incoming text message.
She reached into her back pocket and pulled out her phone. She flipped open the top and glanced down at the screen. There was a text message displayed there, with “Willow” listed as the sender.
Good luck and remember…it’s just like a fairy tale.
Kennedy smiled as she pressed the save button and flipped the phone closed. She tucked it into her coat pocket, then reached out to pull open the door.
Kadin’s Cabin – Front Door – Moments Later
Kadin watched Serena place a blanket and various food items into an old black duffel bag.
“Thanks for letting me borrow this,” Serena told her with a smile. She placed the last few bottles of water into the bag, then pulled tight on the cord. “And thanks for the clothes and stuff, too. I’ll find some way to get it all back to you.”
Kadin shook her head. “Don’t worry about it,” she told the blonde gently. “I got plenty more. Seems that years of wandering aimlessly alone has made me accumulate these things.”
Serena laughed as she placed the duffel onto the floor by the door and took a step back. “So…” she said in a long sigh. “Guess this is it.” She looked as if she might cry.
“I can take care of Coen,” Kadin told her. “Make it so he never hurts you again.”
Serena shook her head. “It’s my problem. I never meant to drag you into it, so…I’ll deal with it.”
Kadin stepped forward and took the other woman into her arms. They shared a long, silent embrace, Kadin finally forced her eyes back open. “Take care of yourself,” she told the blonde.
Serena smiled with her eyes still closed as she drew the hunter in for a tighter hug. “I’ll be sure to do that if you promise the same,” she whispered softly. She slowly opened her eyes, but held onto her for a few last moments. “And if things with the slayer go sour…head over to Spain.”
Kadin gently pushed back out of the hug. “I don’t plan on that happening. If she’s stayed with me through all of this…I think she’s a keeper.”
Serena pulled her back into one last hug, her blue eyes starting to glisten with tears. “And one very lucky lady, too…Be happy, Kadin,” she whispered into the hunter’s ear.
Kadin closed her eyes and returned the hug tightly. “You too,” she added in a whisper of her own.
Serena pulled back out of the hug and turned to pick up her bag. She stopped at the door to glance back over her shoulder with a smile. Kadin returned the gesture.
Serena didn’t say another word as she pulled the door open and stepped outside. Kadin watched as the door shut softly behind her. She stood and stared at it for the longest time.
Just as Kadin turned to leave the room, she heard a light knock on the front door. She turned to cast a questioning glance at the clock before making her way back over.
“Serena?” she called out as she walked over. “Did you forget…?” Her words trailed off when she pulled the door open and found Kennedy standing on the other side.
The slayer stood on the doorstep with her hands shoved into her pockets. “Hey.”
For a moment, Kadin simply stood there with a surprised look on her face. It wasn’t long before it was replaced with a smile. “Hey,” Kadin replied. She slowly took a step back from the door and dropped her hand down to her side. Kennedy stepped into the cabin and closed the door softly behind her.
“I’m just gonna say this,” Kennedy began. “I love you. I know you love her, but I don’t want to just walk away. On the other hand, I don’t want to crowd you, either. I’m confused, as you can tell, and I –”
The words fell away as Kadin pulled Kennedy into a passionate embrace and kissed her hard on the lips.
As they pulled back, Kadin grinned at her. “You really talk too much sometimes.
Slowly, Kennedy began to grin too, but then she asked, “Serena…?”
“Just left,” Kadin told her. “But I don’t want to talk about her. I’d rather talk about more important stuff, like us.”
Kadin took Kennedy by each hand and began walking backward, deeper into the house.
Kennedy smiled and followed her.
Dirt Road – Later
Serena adjusted the strap of the duffel bag over her shoulder as she took a few more steps down the road leading through the woods. Then she stopped and cast a quick glance back over her shoulder.
“Are you going to come out now?” she called out to the deserted road behind her. “Or were you planning on following me all the way into town?”
A few short moments later, Coen Vance stepped out of his hiding place along the wooded area to the right of the dirt road. “You were always good at that,” he called out to his sister as he moved closer.
“This stalking thing is getting old,” Serena said with an exasperated sigh. “I’m really not in the mood for another fight.”
“I’m not here to fight you,” her brother answered. He pulled open the tattered blanket he was wearing to reveal the slowly healing wounds from the earlier battle with Kadin. “As you can see…your little girlfriend really did a number on me. I’m not in any condition to go picking any fights.”
Serena set her duffel bag onto the ground. “You should have left when you had the chance,” she told him calmly.
Coen shrugged and pulled his blanket tightly back around his shoulders. “You know me, baby sis,” he taunted with a laugh. “I never was any good at taking your advice.”
Serena stared back into her brother’s scarred face. “I wish things could have been different for us,” she told him softly. “I wish we could have been the family that our mother always wanted us to be.”
The smile was instantly gone from Coen’s face. “Our mother was weak,” he snarled back at her. “She was just like you. She betrayed our father for the first person that gave her a second look.”
“She loved our father,” Serena replied gently. “She tried to love him despite what he had become…but she couldn’t. You can’t love someone who doesn’t want to be loved.”
“Our father was the only one who loved us,” Coen spat. “Our mother left us. She was a whore.”
Serena’s face remained expressionless as she stared back into his cold eyes. “He really destroyed any shred of humanity left in you, didn’t he?”
Coen stood up as tall as he could despite the pain from his wounds. “Our father taught me to be proud of what I am. He was a great man and an even better Knight.”
Serena took the few steps necessary to bring herself face-to-face with her brother. She took a few moments just to stare into his eyes. “Forgive me,” she finally whispered. She pulled her arm back, then quickly shoved it forward.
Coen’s eyes widened in surprise, and he slowly stumbled backwards. He looked from Serena’s clear blue eyes down to his chest, where a silver knife was now sticking out of the center.
Tiny drops of red collected on the knife’s hilt, teetered momentarily on the end, and then fell to the ground.
Coen lifted his hands to either side of the knife, the blanket dropping off his shoulders. He looked up to give his sister one last glance, then fell to his knees and then slowly crashed face-first onto the ground.
Serena watched him fall with a solemn expression.
End of Serena
Next on Watchers…
Kennedy leads a Council team to Japan in pursuit of Heli and finds herself barreling toward a climactic confrontation with the psychotic slayer.