Counting the Days
Distribution – WaTchers
Disclaimer- C.N. Winters and Susan Carr own all things Watchers. I bow to them. And Joss owns the characters. https://thewatcherscouncil.net/
Pairing- Willow/Kennedy, but a bit of a downer
Summary- This is following the Watchers episodes ‘Love Hurts’ and part of ‘Dark Force Rising’. Kennedy never healed; it’s now Christmas and she’s stuck in a wheelchair. Kennedy’s POV.
This turned out completely different than it was originally supposed to. I thought it was just going to be Kennedy’s thoughts inside her head, but then it turned into a short story type thing, so wala. Hope it’s not that bad.
December 24th. Wow, thinking back on the beginning of the month, late November, and to how much I looked forward to this day, it almost doesn’t seem like it was me. I had finally figured out the perfect gift for Willow, I had a whole day planned out for the two of us to spoil her rotten, a month in advance so /nothing/ could go wrong, and then in comes the shit which immediately has to hit the fan.
I almost couldn’t even look at her after she slept with Xander. I felt like shit for two weeks, and we had it out a few times. But after we last talked, I finally felt like she was getting where I was coming from, and that things would be alright again.
Then someone upstairs decided to be funny and stick me in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. Ya fucking hoo.
Is it bad to be jealous? To hate someone for what they have and you don’t? Because I’m looking out the window, watching a bunch of the girls having a huge snowball fight, and I’m finding it hard not to hate them. Why the hell did Rachel have to die, did I have to break my back, and they get out all fine and dandy?
Okay, that isn’t fair, I know. But neither is this. I’ve got a pair of wheels to live on for the rest of my life, and I’m only counting the days until Willow leaves me. Why the hell should she stay? It’s only been two weeks and I already feel like I can’t take it anymore. I’ll start to become an angry, bitter person, and I’ll get old and fat and turn into one of those bitter old grannys that are always hitting people over the head with their canes. I find myself always staring at my legs, trying to move them, thinking that if I just concentrate hard enough…
What about Slayer healing? Shouldn’t that have been enough to heal me? If not, then how the hell am I supposed to do my job? Crush their feet with my wheel power and poke the vampires with a large wooden pole that I couldn’t even carry by myself while wheeling around?
I can’t watch this anymore, it’s too much. Grabbing the wheels I try to roll backwards, but immediately get stuck. God dammit, why the hell do these things have to have an emergency brake? “Stupid piece of shit…” I muttered to myself, jerking the handle on the side of the wheel. God, if anyone else sees this, I think I’ll die of embarrassment before I get a chance to do it myself in the future…
Suddenly a hand covers mine and I nearly jump out of my skin. Well I would, if my legs would allow it. “Hey Sweetie…” Willow says softly, leaning over the back of the chair. Giving me a small smile, yet at the same time not looking me in the eye, she unlocks the stuck gear in one easy motion.
“Damn…” I grumble, turning slightly red. “Still have to uh, get used to that… not used to having to put myself in ‘park’ and ‘drive’ every time I wanna move somewhere.” My voice is strangely quiet and forced, even to myself, and I’m having a hard time looking at Willow. She leans down over the back of the chair, wrapping one arm around my waist as best she can, and rests her chin on the top of my head. It’s kinda like a half-hug, and I like it.
After closing my eyes for a minute, I look back out of the window and watch as Vi tackles Rona into a giant snow bank, coming up laughing. I sigh unintentionally, and Willow takes notice. Stepping around to the front of me, she kneels down, forcing me to look her in the eye. “Kenn… I-I know that, I guess with everything, people have been asking how you are and stuff but… I’m worried about you. You aren’t sleeping, eating. You’ve been so distant and quiet lately, and it’s not like you at all…”
I let out a harsh laugh. “Can you honestly blame me?” I finally look across at her, and instantly hate the pitiful look she’s giving me. I don’t want sympathy, it’s the last thing I need. Taking a deep breath, I shake my head and break our gaze. “I think I’ll get better with time. It’s just… right around the holidays. Kind of bad timing.”
Willow smiles sadly, going around to the back of my chair. With one last glance out the window, I get turned around, and she wheels me out of the front hall and into the giant living room. Giles ended up getting a huge tree, and it took several ladders for us to decorate all the way to the top. Well, us not including me. I have a feeling Willow purposely kept me busy and away from that area when they were decorating.
She stops by the couch, and again walks around to the front of me. Used to this routine by now, I lift my arms up and slip one around her shoulder, using the other to help her lift me out of the chair. Another five seconds, and she’s helping me settle onto the couch, soon following and pulling me up against her. I could get used to this, the pampering part… Willow’s the only one I’ll let help me anyway. I have a hard time trusting anyone else to do it.
Willow flips through the channels, not seeming to care whether or not we find anything interesting to watch. Her non-remote arm is wrapped tightly around my waist, holding me in place in more than one way. Willow’s my anchor; ever since everything happened, she’s all that’s kept me here, kept me relatively sane. I guess it’s sort of like a tradeoff, since she doesn’t really need me to keep her grounded anymore with magic.
“Hey, Charlie Brown’s Christmas is on,” she says suddenly, excitement in her voice. I remember her telling me that was her favourite Christmas movie, even though she’s Jewish. Something about Xander and the Snoopy dance.
I remain quiet, leaning back into her a bit more. Exhaustion has been a normal part of my life the last few weeks. I haven’t been able to sleep much at night, and everything I have to do takes twice as much energy now. Willow wanted to move somewhere on the lower floor, but I told her not to worry about it, I’d find a way around. Giles actually hired someone to build an elevator near our apartment after that, heh. Well, not build, just fix the broken one we originally had and get it upgraded. The things these people will do for you… it’s amazing.
My eyes are starting to drift shut, no matter how hard I try to keep them open. Must… watch… Charlie…
“Shh, just relax, Kennedy… go to sleep,” Willow whispers in my ear, brushing the hair off of my forehead. Her voice is soothing, and since I’m already half unconscious, I figure I might as go all the way…
I wake up with a start an hour or so later, wincing at the sudden jerking motion. I might be paralyzed below the waist, but that doesn’t stop my ribs and back from aching quite often. Willow’s gone, nowhere insight and neither is anyone else. It’s dark outside now, probably around five or six.
“Will?” I call out, wincing as I try to move a little. Gonna need those painkillers. Too bad they’re in the other room. “Faith? Giles?” Okay, seems /no one/ is here. Eyeing my wheelchair, which is sitting at the other end of the couch and way out of reach, I grimace slightly again. I honestly don’t know /why/ I still get these random pain attacks, it’s a big pain in the ass. The doc said something about my body adjusting, since it can’t heal properly, or yadda yadda yadda, something or other.
Seeing how I’ve been abandoned, I use all of my arm strength to get myself into a semi-sitting position, gripping the back of the couch for support. I start to move towards the wheelchair, and it kinda seems like it’s working. Maybe if I just put a little pressure on my legs I can get there quicker…
It’s almost like I try and throw myself into a standing position, but instead of falling towards the chair or being able to grab it, I collapse instantly and smash into the coffee table, tears springing to my eyes as the wind gets knocked out of me. My arms seem to have given out as well and I can’t even push myself back up.
So herein lies what I’m capable of. Not a damn thing.
Willow must have been in the kitchen or something and heard me crash, because suddenly she comes rushing in, falling to her knees by my side. “Kennedy! What happened, are you okay?”
“No…” I manage to get out, biting my tongue and trying not to let any more tears slid down my face. It isn’t from the pain, it’s the fact that I can’t do one single thing without needing help. I can’t even get off the couch. Suddenly I just don’t care anymore, and fall apart on Willow’s lap, burying my head into her jeans and starting to sob. “I can’t do this, Will, I can’t do anything anymore…” I catch a brief glimpse of Faith and Rowena standing in the doorway, obviously having followed Willow after hearing the noise. They quickly disappear, leaving Willow alone to deal with me. I don’t blame them.
“Shh, Sweetie, it’s okay, it’ll be okay…” Willow gathers me in her arms, rocking me back and forth, just like a baby. And that’s what I feel like at the moment. I’ll need ‘parent supervision’ for the rest of my life, and I just don’t see it being worth while.
Once I finally regain some composure, although I don’t move from my position on Willow’s lap. “Will, you don’t have to do this…”
“What are you talking about?” Willow asks quietly, her voice slightly cracked, and I can tell she’s fighting not to cry too. She continues to stroke my hair, trying to calm me.
“Me. Just… just leave me, I’m not worth it. I’m only going to be a burden to you, and I don’t want that…”
“God, Kennedy, no-”
“Listen to me,” I say with more force in my voice than I thought I was capable of at the moment, and finally look up at her. “I’m going to pull you down, ruin your life, and make you unhappy. I can’t do anything by myself, I can’t slay anymore, and I’m only getting in the way of you and the council. You don’t have to put up with me, just… send me to one of those old folks homes or something.”
Willow laughs at that, but is still shaking her head hard. “No, silly, I’m not sending you anywhere.” She kisses my forehead and gently places my head back on her legs, running a soothing hand over my cheek. “Despite what you think, you aren’t a burden, to any of us. We all want to help you, and no matter what dumb excuses you can come up with, I’m going to be here for you and so are they. Got it?” She looks me in the eye, and I can see she’s serious. I want to yell at her.
Dammit Red, just dump me already, you’re only going to make it harder in the future. I’m giving you the chance to do it now, trying to make it as quick and painless as possible.
But I don’t have the energy, and at the moment I’m grateful that she actually wants me around. I sigh heavily, slumping against her shoulder, burying my face in her neck.
“Good…” She smiles, wrapping her arms around me in a warm hug. “Now, I was in the middle of helping Faith and Ro cook dinner, you hungry?”
“Yes,” I admit. “But I don’t think I can face them right now. Or anyone for that matter.” I give her a pleading look. “Can you just… help me upstairs? I’m really tired…”
“That I can do…” Standing up slowly, she grabs the chair and brings it over, helping me back into it. While waiting for the elevator to make the one floor trip up, Willow looks down at me again. “I meant what I said, Kenn. I’m not going to just toss you aside because you got hurt. Remember when I said I love you?” A small grin is tugging at the corners of her mouth.
“Yeah, I remember,” I force a smile back. “Thanks.”
“C’mon, lazybones, get up…” Willow keeps up with the insistent poking, which is sadly starting to wake me up.
“Mnah… no… need sleep…” I grumble into the pillow, pulling it over my head.
Willow yanks the pillow away and tosses it across the room. “Am I gonna have to drag you out by the hair? It’s Christmas, now get up.” She grins evilly.
Rolling over onto my back, I sigh loudly. “Fine, I’m up… sort of…” Before I can close my eyes and attempt to go back to sleep, Willow suddenly sweeps me into her arms, and I nearly fall over at the suddenness. “Whoa! What are you doing?”
“No chair today,” she says once she regains her balance. “I’ll do the whole ‘carry you over the threshold’. Only, with no actual threshold, and we’re going downstairs…”
“You sure you can hold me?” I arch an eyebrow as she starts towards our bedroom door.
“Yep. I think I can handle it, chubby…” she jokes, heading down the stairs. Seems I’m the last one up, the others are already in the living room, steaming mugs of coffee in hand. “Sorry we’re late. Someone values sleep /way/ too much…” she announces as we enter.
After my little ‘episode’ yesterday, I’ve been dreading seeing the others, but they don’t seem to be avoiding my gaze or giving me weird looks. It’s nice, for once.
Rowena vacates her seat on the couch and Willow plops down with me in her lap, not showing any signs of moving. “Become my new cushion, huh?”
“For today, yep. I’ll be sure to let you know when my legs go completely numb.” She grins for a moment, then it falters and she looks embarrassed suddenly. “I-I didn’t mean it like…”
Huh? Oh, wait, that’s what she meant. Or didn’t mean. “Hey, I didn’t even take it like that, don’t worry.” I offer her another smile, slightly weirded out by my own cheeriness. But hey, enjoy it while it lasts. “So who goes first?”
Soon presents and cards are being passed around, wrapping paper flying everywhere, everyone laughing and having a good time. The whole time I sit there with Willow’s arms still wrapped around me, giving me a comforting feeling.
When everyone seems busy or absorbed in something, I search around the tree for a specific box… spotting it, I get Faith to hand it to me, then turn to Willow. “So, um… I know this was supposed to be a secret Santa thing, and I didn’t draw you, but… I wanted to get you something anyway. So… here.” I hand her the box, and she gingerly takes it.
“What is it?”
“Well open it and find out,” I tease, settling back against the cushions. She starts off slowly, then ends up tearing it open in two or three rips. Inside the box is a book, and another smaller box.
“Ooo, ooo, I know what this is!” she exclaims, her eyes shining with excitement. “I can’t believe you remembered,” she says, picking the book up out of the box. “I-I can’t believe you even /found/ it. How did you find it?”
The book isn’t anything special. Well, to me, anyway. But I remember Will grumbling about how she couldn’t find a copy. It’s another spell book, obviously, one on natural healing and counter spells and stuff, on the lighter side of magic. Took me almost three weeks to find a copy, but outside of town I managed to track one down. “So you like?” I ask.
“Like? Duh!” she says, giving me a bright smile and then pulling me into a massive hug. “Thank you, Sweetie.”
I hug her back, then motion towards the other box. “You’re not done yet.”
Looking slightly surprised that there’s more, Willow picks up the small red box from inside, looking it over. She slowly opens it up, and draws from inside a necklace. Holding it up to the light, she exams in, a slow smile spreading across her face.
Unsure if she knows what it is, I start to explain. “It’s a-”
“Love talisman,” she finished for me. “I know… and wow. It’s gorgeous, thank you.” Enlisting me to help put it on, ten seconds later it’s glittering around her neck.
“I know I already got you a necklace for graduation, but when I was looking I saw it and-”
“It’s perfect,” she yet again cuts me off, her smile growing even more. “I love it, and I love you, thank you…” Again she hugs me, and we let it linger this time. Pulling back, I kiss her lightly on the lips.
“Hey, lovebirds,” Faith calls out, chucking a pillow that thwacks me on the back of the head. “Stop with the PDOAs and open the rest of your presents.” She grabs a giant box and carries it over to the couch, setting it in my lap. It weighs a ton.
“Jeez, what’s in this thing?” I question, looking the box over.
“Oh, well, lets just say you aren’t the only one who ducked under the Secret Santa rules.” Willow winks at me, her eyes sparkling. “So open it.”
Grinning I tear into the paper, chucking it onto the floor. The box inside is practically duct taped shut and I have quite a time getting it open, but finally manage. Tearing the box open, I can practically feel my eyes bulge. Holy crap…
“I remember you eyeing it when we went window shopping a few weeks ago,” Willow explains, one hand lightly stroking my back. “So, went back out the next day and bought it… you like?” she asks timidly as I lift the crossbow out of the box.
Like? Like doesn’t describe. I’ve been wanting one of these babies since my Watcher first introduced me to the weapons. It can fire up to five arrows at once, has a silver-plated handle yet is still light enough to move with, lasts practically forever, and can fire up to 90 yards. “Huh…” is all I manage to get out at first, gawking at my new weapon. “I mean… huh…” Second time apparently /isn’t/ a charm.
Willow looks over to Faith. “Is that a good ‘huh’ or a bad ‘huh’?”
“By the look on her face, I’d say it’s a good one…” Faith jumps up from sitting on the floor and comes over to gawk as well. “Jesus Red, that’s some nice piece of artillery… where’s mine?”
I finally stop staring at the crossbow and look over at Willow. “Where’d you get the money for this?” I remember these things costing a pretty penny or two. Or six, for that matter.
“None of your business, missy,” she shakes her head, poking me in the side. “Just glad you like.”
“Like doesn’t begin to describe,” I tell her, then fling myself forward and practically squeeze the life out of her. “Thank you!!”
She gags a bit, then manages to get in a few breaths. “Your welcome…” she chokes out, patting me on the back. “Can Willow breathe now?” I loosen my grip but don’t let go just yet.
Again with the holy crap. I can’t wait to go and try this baby ou-
Ahh. Therein lies the problem. I can’t.
By a few weeks ago, I know Willow means before the whole Xander thing, when we went out for lunch one day and window shopped along a few streets. Back when things were normal.
Damn. My seemingly good mood has evaporated again. Why do I always have to do that?
Willow pulls back, looking me in the eye and seeing the sadness start to return. “Hey, don’t think like that,” she scolds, however lightly. “I didn’t mean to get you down. I wanted you to have it, and even after everything that’s happened I didn’t return it. Please, don’t be sad, you can still train with it and stuff.”
“I know. Sorry,” I force another grin, looking away. “Didn’t mean to go all depresso for a second there. Thank you,” I say with all sincerity, and bury my face into her neck again. Despite my resistance, a few strays tears fall from my eyes and onto her skin. I stay where I am, content with the warm feeling and also not wanting to let anyone else know I’m falling apart again.
“We stand a chance…” Willow whispers into my ear, tightening her hold on me a little. “Please don’t give up on me. I need you.”
“I won’t…” I whisper back, letting out another silent sigh. No, I won’t give up just yet, baby.
But I’ll keep counting.
(Note: PDOA= Public Display of Affection in case you were unsure.)