Mount Shasta – Night
Kennedy and Marsha stood back to back, Vanessa still tightly secured in her bjorn on Kennedy’s back. The six yeti-like creatures had begun to circle them. As one stepped closer, Marsha belched fire in their direction, making them step back. However, it was only temporary. Soon enough, the Sky People were trying to close in again.
“If they knock me down,” Kennedy instructed Marsha, “you grab the backpack and fly to the base with Vanessa.”
Marsha voiced her discontent with a growl and hiss.
“I mean it. You leave me behind and get her to safety. No arguments.”
The Sky People took another step closer. But before they could close the distance, the noise overhead of helicopter blades prompted everyone to look up. They watched as three cables dropped between Kennedy and the Sky People. At first, all Kennedy could see was three figures making their descent down the lines, silhouetted by the bright spotlights of the helicopter.
With a small thud, all three individuals landed at the same time. Once they were within a few feet of her, Kennedy smiled.
“Cavalry’s here, Luv,” Spike told her. Faith and Angel stood to either side of him.
“Get them out. Now!” Angel said, in a tone that brooked no debate.
Faith was already in the process of taking off her harness and simply nodded to Angel. She motioned Kennedy closer to her.
“Step in,” Faith ordered. Kennedy seemed reluctant. “I have to get you hooked so they can pull you up to the copter.” Again, Kennedy didn’t move.
At the same time, Angel and Spike began to trade blows with the Yeti. One slashed at the latter’s leather coat with its claws, but Spike stepped back just in time.
In response, he morphed into his vampire face and growled. “Hey, watch the coat, you bloody overgrown hairball. This is vintage.”
“Please,” Faith all but begged, “you gotta have faith in me, Slick. I’m not gonna let anything happen to you or Vanessa. I promise.”
Kennedy raised an eyebrow. “I gotta have faith in Faith?”
The other girl just rolled her eyes and gestured emphatically with the harness in her hands. Kennedy took a deep breath and a step forward, which was all that Faith needed. The older woman started to put the contraption around Kennedy, who continued to clutch Vanessa’s bag.
Kennedy asked, “What about Marsha?”
“We got her,” Faith promised, “Right now, she can help Aunt Faith clean up.”
The last sentence was directed at Marsha, and the dragon did a half jump and small dance at the prospect of helping out. Faith gave the line a hard tug and flashed a mag light up at the helicopter. Kennedy rose and when she was about a story in the air, she watched as one of the Yetis tossed Spike into the rocks and then raced toward her and Vanessa. Her eyes widened as she watched the creature make an incredible jump in the air, but she was equally as shocked when she saw Faith jump about three feet in the air to snag it by its legs. They both fell to the ground with a hard crash, and Faith immediately rolled out of the way.
Kennedy could see and hear the events happening below her, but she found herself unable to do anything about them. Angel took a hard punch and fell to the snow. One of the Sky People stood over him, growling.
“Marsha!” Faith yelled. “Barbecue this bitch already!”
Kennedy was high enough now she could no longer hear the conversation, but she could still see what was happening. Marsha reared back and hit the Yeti full force. At first, all Kennedy could see was a fireball and a long stream of fire.
On the ground, the Yeti was completely engulfed in flames, so much so that the saviors, along with the other Yetis, began moving out of the way of the flames. Angel scrambled backward on his hands and knees as the monster’s bellows of pain slowly subsided and it collapsed to the snow. They heard one of the Sky People make a whistling noise, and then watched as the others retreated into the forest.
When Kennedy reached the helicopter, she found a hand reaching for her and looked up to see Andrew trying his best to steady her so he could pull her in. Once she was safely inside, Andrew unhooked her and tossed the line back out. As soon as Kennedy was inside, she took off the backpack to check on Vanessa. She sighed in a mixture of surprise and relief at the sight of Vanessa happily gurgling, rather than crying.
“Looks like you love adventure. It’s wonderful to meet you, Vanessa,” Andrew yelled over the helicopter.
Kennedy smiled and yelled back, “We have to thank Uncle Andrew for coming to get us.”
“Completely a team effort,” he shouted. “Council included. They re-routed Faith from L.A. to fly straight here and we met her.”
Kennedy looked back out the side of the helicopter in the howling wind to see Faith and Angel grabbing onto the cables below, ready to be pulled up. Spike, however, paused and pulled a spare cigarette out of his jacket’s inside pocket. He reached down and lit the cigarette on the dying embers of the very scorched Yeti, then stuck it in his mouth, walked over to the final line, and tugged. Angel rolled his eyes as the trio began their ascent.
A moment later, Kennedy watched Andrew move back to the entrance to help Faith inside. Spike followed behind her, and then the vampire reached out to Angel. A moment later, Marsha landed inside the helicopter next to them, then folded her wings over her back.
Marsha scurried over to Kennedy, while Angel slammed the helicopter door shut behind her. Kennedy petted her head in gratitude before Faith interrupted her with a bear hug.
“It’s so good to see you, Slick,” Faith said. At first Kennedy seemed unsure how to react. Then she loosely closed her arms around Faith, as well, patting the other woman lightly on the back.
“Uh…I’m happy to see you, too, I guess,” Kennedy said. Then her eyes widened, as if she had just thought of something, and she pulled back from the hug to speak to Faith.
“Kadin didn’t kill Ro, did she?” Faith smiled. Kennedy did not. “I’m serious. Is everybody OK?”
“Blondie survived your jump, too. They’re all good,” Faith told her. “May I?” She opened her arms to receive Vanessa.
Without reservation, Kennedy handed the backpack to Faith. The older woman gazed at the infant and smiled brightly. She looked up at Kennedy and said, “I can see why you would go to the ends of the Earth. She’s gorgeous and spunky.” Faith laughed. Then her face took on a serious tone, and she asked, “Did Willow do a slayer reveal spell yet?”
Kennedy shook her head no. “We don’t wanna know anything yet. We’re just going to let her be a kid.”
Faith just nodded as the helicopter flew through the night air.
Cleveland Watchers Council – Infirmary – Night
Kennedy’s eyes opened, then she sat up with a start. She was in a bed in the Council infirmary with curtains pulled up along two sides of it. Monitoring devices beeped all around her, and she had an IV in her arm. She turned her head to see Kadin sitting in a chair next to the bed, holding Vanessa in her arms.
The two of them looked at each other for several seconds. “Is she…?” Kennedy began.
“She’s fine,” Kadin replied quietly. “Better than you, actually. Docs ran every test in the book, and then Willow did a bunch of other ones. Our daughter is alive, and here, and OK. You did that. And so is Marsha, by the way. She got the go ahead to fly back home, to the cabin.” She put an emphasis on the last word.
Kennedy laid back on her pillow and let out a long breath. “OK.” Her eyes flicked over to Kadin. “So why am I here?”
“You, young lady, were dehydrated and starting to develop frostbite, and didn’t eat in a couple days.”
“I had a granola bar,” Kennedy said defensively. “Well, half of one before a bunch of fairies showed up. And a whiskey…for important investigation reasons.”
“Sure,” Kadin said, with a half-smile. It faded very quickly, and then the two of them sat next to each other in awkward silence. For several seconds, the only sounds were the beep and whirr of the medical equipment and Vanessa’s occasional gurgle.
“So–” Kadin began.
“So–” Kennedy attempted at the exact same time. After another awkward pause, Kennedy said, “No, you go.”
Kadin sighed deeply. “I…I wish I’d believed you. I really, really do. You were right, and I don’t know if you can ever forgive me. I kind of don’t think you should.” She couldn’t meet Kennedy’s eyes. “But I am really, really sorry, if it’s worth anything.”
Kennedy sat up further and tried to lean forward to catch Kadin’s eyes, though the IV held her back. “Hey,” she said, a definite rasp in her voice. “Hey, look at me.”
After a slight pause, Kadin managed to comply. Kennedy gave her a middling attempt at a reassuring smile.
“It’s okay,” Kennedy said. “Really. Everything you did, you did because you loved our family. Which is what I was doing, and of the two of us, I turned out to be right, but…honestly, it could just as easily have been you.”
“Wait,” Kadin said, almost warily, “you’re not going to…it’s gonna be awful hard to get back into your good graces if you’re gonna insist I never left. I know different.”
“I’m exhausted, Kad,” Kennedy replied. “In all the ways. I don’t have the energy to hold a grudge or act out or do whatever Bratty Kennedy would have done. What you’ve got here is Old and Tired Kennedy.”
“Or maybe you’re just Mature Kennedy now,” Kadin said with a small smile.
“You say potato,” Kennedy sighed. She lay back on her bed, staring at the ceiling. “God, it used to feel like I spent half my time in here. Now I can’t remember the last time I ended up in the infirmary.”
Kadin tried to keep her smile and adjusted Vanessa in her arms so that she could lean over Kennedy. “And I feel like I should say, you’re not crazy.”
Kennedy blinked a few times. “No, I think maybe I kind of am.”
“No, Ken, what–”
“The Fairy Queen, she said something to me, and I think she was right.”
Kadin’s eyes darkened, and her smile disappeared. “You mean the bitch who kidnapped our daughter?”
“She had no reason to lie,” Kennedy insisted. “She told me I had a darkness in my soul. And I think…I’m so tired. Like not from being trapped on a volcano, but before that. But I can’t sleep. Stuff that used to make me happy just doesn’t. I cry all the time. I told Dr. Millenti I didn’t, but I lied. And all I can think about is just replaying all the bad stuff in my head, like on a loop. I…I thought I would feel better if I could just get to Vanessa, and I’m glad she’s OK and we have her back, but…I think something might be really wrong with me.”
Kadin reached down with one hand, Vanessa in her other arm, and grasped Kennedy’s around the IV taped to the back. “That sounds to me like you’re depressed, Ken. You said it yourself in therapy, you could both be right and depressed, it’s not an either/or deal. But that’s not crazy.”
Kennedy licked her dry lips. “You say potato.” But she let Kadin hold her hand for a little while.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time
Faith was standing just outside the infirmary doors, watching Kennedy and Kadin from a distance, when she felt a tap on her shoulder.
“Can’t seem to stay away from here, can you?” she heard a young woman ask.
Faith turned to see her daughter standing there and she smiled.
“Hey, JellyBe—sorry. Nikki,” Faith corrected herself. She stopped and looked at her daughter for a long beat. “I really missed you.”
Nikki looked at her mother with practiced teenage skepticism. “Mom, you just saw me the other day.”
Faith shrugged. “It was too long. It always is.”
Nikki motioned her head toward the inside of the infirmary. “Why don’t you go in?” she asked. “You brought her back.”
Faith shrugged her shoulders and said, “I just wanted to make sure she’s all right. I don’t want to intrude. Ken’s been through enough, but she’s got you to thank.”
“I didn’t do much,” Nikki said with a shrug.
“Yeah, you did. Not that you need my approval, but ya done good, kiddo. You helped save them.”
“Liz helped a lot,” Nikki blushed.
“It was a team effort, for sure,” Faith responded. “And without your legwork, Ken would still be miserable raising an octopus daughter, so…y’know, again, great work.”
“I guess,” she said as they began to walk down the hallway together. After a few moments of silence, Nikki asked. “Think Aunt Willow will do the slayer locator spell on Vanessa?”
“Maybe. Maybe not. They’re not ready just yet.”
“Did you ever test me?” Nikki asked.
Faith nodded. “We did…You weren’t…And that’s okay.”
Nikki grinned. “Be honest. Did you want a slayer daughter?”
“Honest? No,” Faith replied. “The gig isn’t long, but you need to survive it, and even some of the best fall in battle. So I’m selfish – I want to keep you in the library doing the research. Let them do the dangerous heavy lifting.”
After a brief silence Nikki asked, “What about Buffy’s daughter? Will she be a slayer?”
“Not sure,” her mom replied. “I figured if Aunt B wanted me to know, she’d tell me. But maybe they’re waiting like Aunts K and K, to find out.”
Nikki giggled. “I haven’t heard you call them that in years.”
“It’s been a while, huh?”
Nikki nodded. A moment passed, and Nikki looked tense as she started to speak. “I was thinking maybe…”
When she trailed off and didn’t say more, Faith prompted her. “Maybe what?”
Nikki just shook her head but said nothing.
“Hey,” Faith said compassionately, sensing her distress. “I won’t push. But when you’re ready, you can say anything to me.”
Nikki stopped walking and faced Faith as she quickly asked, “Could I spend the summer with you in L.A.?”
Faith looked confused and slightly shocked. As the seconds of silence passed, Nikki’s eyes grew wet. Without waiting for permission, Faith pulled Nikki into a hug and kissed her temple. “L.A. might not be an option this summer,” she whispered to Nikki.
The young woman pulled away. It wasn’t a quick movement, but she didn’t make eye contact with her mother as she said, “Forget I mentioned it.”
Faith took her daughter gently by the chin, so their eyes met. “Hey. You’re a watcher now – listen more closely and read between the lines. I didn’t say no, did I?”
Nikki slowly began to grin. “What does that mean?”
Fairy Realm – Great Hall – Same Time
The Empress Zorgy’s tennis shoes stepped into the Great Hall of the Fairy Queen. She cocked her horned head.
“Are you new?” she asked the guard.
“How perceptive.” The Queen’s voice came from inside the Hall. “As you are perhaps aware, all of my previous guards were recently slaughtered. Because of the escapade that you involved us in, Empress.”
A long pause ensued. Zorgy waited, a ghost of a smile on her face as she watched the stoic visage of the guard.
“She may enter,” the Queen finally said, exhaustion creeping into her tone.
The guard moved aside, and Zorgy did so. The table in the center of the Hall was once again piled high with sweets and fruits, and the Fairy Queen once again sat at one end, a lace mask covering her eyes and another extremely revealing dress wrapped around her curves. The Queen appeared to have recovered, at least somewhat, from her rapid aging, though her mask might have been hiding the worst of the crow’s feet.
Zorgy’s eyes lit up when she saw a particular pile of pastries. “Oh, I love these!” She quickly strode over, grabbed one and stuffed it into her mouth. “Demon dimensions are great, don’t get me wrong,” she said through her chewing, then swallowed. “But the food scene in Vor is, well, not great. Is it you guys who make the cookies in a tree, or is that elves?”
“Perhaps you wish to explain to me why I should not slay you where you stand,” the Fairy Queen intoned. “Through your overtures, through the deal we made with you, you brought bloodshed to Tir-Na-Nog, where there had been none for a millennium.”
Zorgy sighed and plopped down in a chair near the Queen’s end of the table. “Hey, I’m not the one who couldn’t deal with one human witch slash former vampire slayer on a roaring rampage of revenge.” She paused and shrugged. “Actually, it sounds slightly more excusable when I say it like that.”
The Queen sat up in her chair and looked Zorgy in the eyes. “Your plan for us to kidnap the human child failed.”
“Did it?” Zorgy did not look away. Neither did the Fairy Queen. “I heard that there was something of a skirmish inside the Watchers Council the other day. Between the leaders of the Council and their own children. And something about a pigeon. That wasn’t me, but props. Honestly, I was just hoping to separate Kennedy from the others, but your cute little Changeling has set things in motion beyond my wildest dreams. These things take time, is all.”
“I care not.” The Fairy Queen shook her head and got to her feet. “Our deal was, if we performed this task, you would return our islands on Earth to us once your conquest is complete. You will honor this deal.”
“I mean, sure,” Zorgy said, as the Queen walked toward her. “But I was thinking, why stop there? The day of my army’s invasion is coming soon. And I’m sure that, especially given recent stuff that happened, your army would be thrilled to get involved in, y’know, wiping the humans from the face of the planet.”
The Queen stopped next to her, staring down dispassionately at the demon. “The Sidhe exist to protect life.”
Zorgy looked her up and down with a raised eyebrow. “So do you, like, get cold, or…” The Queen’s face did not move. Zorgy casually turned back to the table and grabbed a cookie. “Yes, you protect life. But what life, exactly? We both know that the only way, at this point, for all your precious trees and polar bears and tiny squirlsey-wirlsies to live is for the nasty humans to go away.” She turned back to the Queen and popped the cookie into her mouth, impishly wiggling her eyebrows as she did so. “And I’m guessing that, given the choice between snapping your fingers and making the humans fade away into dust or feeling their bones snap beneath your fingers, you’d probably have more fun with the latter.”
The Fairy Queen looked at her for a long moment, then reached out with lightning speed and grabbed Zorgy by the throat. Her black, feathered wings unfurled behind her. She brought her lips an inch from Zorgy’s ear. “I will not lead my army to its destruction against iron weapons,” she growled. “And I need not leave my Realm to feel bones snap.”
Zorgy appeared strangely unphased. She finished chewing her cookie, then swallowed.
Then she reached up, grabbed the Queen by the wrist with one hand, and easily flipped her onto the table. Dishes and feathers went flying. The Queen struggled beneath Zorgy’s hand, as her Guards rushed forward. Seeing them coming, Zorgy stood back, while the Queen lay stunned on the table.
“Re: your little iron deficiency,” Zorgy said, her tone business-like, “I’ve been talking to my mages. Their spleens aren’t made of pure mystical energy or however your fun speech goes, but they are demons, they’ve got some tricks. I’m thinking maybe we can do something about that. What do you say?”
The Queen slowly sat up and looked at Zorgy, her wings large behind her. Very slowly, the corners of her lips turned upward below her mask.
Watchers Council – Watcher Rec Room – Night
“Wait, wait, wait,” Grace barely got out through her laughter, waving her chopsticks as she tried to catch her breath. “You actually said that? No pussy for–” That was all she could get out before the laughter overtook her again.
Rowena giggled from her seat on the opposite end of the sofa from Grace, her stocking feet propped up on the table in front of her. The Chairwoman was stretched out sideways on the sofa, her own feet lounging a few inches from Rowena. The pair were surrounded by the remains of their order of Chinese takeout. Except for the two friends, the room was empty.
“In my defense,” Rowena calmed down long enough to say, “I’m Canadian. We have exactly one kind of aggressive. Passive aggressive.”
“Please. I’ve seen you handle a sword. You’ve got other kinds of aggression,” Grace said as she tried to get her breathing under control. “God, it’s been a minute, hasn’t it? Since we did this, I mean.”
Rowena took a swig from her yellow cat thermos and smiled. “Yeah. I…I’m sorry I’ve kept to myself lately. I’ve kind of been in my own world. I’m sorry I didn’t feel like I could tell you about it.”
Grace stuck her chopsticks into her fried rice and set down the container, her face slightly more serious. “Well, you had good reasons. Willow and I aren’t exactly going to braid each other’s hair anytime soon. But I care enough about you not to put that on you. On the other hand, if she hurts you, my revenge upon her will be swift, merciless and involve frogs.”
Rowena sighed. “I mean…she already hurt me, but I’m going to ask you to hold off on the frogs for now. I don’t think she meant to. I think she really thought we could all just go off and bang other people and it would be great. She doesn’t feel bound to conventional norms…whatever that means.” She turned her head to look over at her friend. “I mean, am I the one in the wrong here? Maybe I’m just not hip enough for this marriage.”
“Well, I can’t tell you how to feel about Willow sleeping with other people,” Grace said. “If it pisses you off, it pisses you off. That seems like, y’know, a completely normal person reaction.”
“Honestly, it doesn’t just piss me off,” Rowena said. She took another drink. “I can’t remember being so angry. About anything, really. We were fine. No. We were good. And she…” Rowena trailed off and shook her head. She took another drink from her thermos, then said, “I’m sorry, here I am talking about my stuff when you’ve…how are you, really?”
Grace leaned back over the side of the couch, her eyes looking up at the ceiling. “Who fucking knows?” She swung her head up to look back at the other woman, her free hand rubbing her chest. “Speaking of your favorite ginger, Willow made a crack while you were gone about me and Jeff being separated.”
Rowena’s eyes went wide. “Grace, I didn’t, I swear–”
The Chairwoman held up a hand to silence her. “I know. She said she figured it out herself, and I believe her. Honestly, I’m kind of surprised more people haven’t. Or at least they haven’t told me about it, I guess.” She sighed, and Rowena reached out a comforting hand and put it on Grace’s foot next to her on the couch.
Grace shook her head, and a small smile came back to her face. “You know, you could at least let me get my vicarious thrills. Willow gave you the go-ahead. I gotta tell ya, if I were you, it would be on like Donkey Kong.”
Rowena raised a finger, as if to shush her friend. “No. Nononono.” She tried moving it toward Grace, but this proved ineffective.
“I’m serious! When was the last time you did stuff with a penis involved?”
“Did stuff? Is that a technical term?”
“Yes!” Grace insisted. “I’ll tell you, because I know exactly when it was, based on how old your youngest is. We’re getting close to double digits in the year column, right?”
Rowena blushed. “I’ll admit, I’ve thought about it. A few times. But it’s not like there are just penises all around for the taking…” She stopped and raised a finger again. “No, I said that wrong.”
“I can think of one,” Grace said, leaning forward excitedly. “I heard about you and Robin at karaoke.”
“Robin and I are just friends, we’re not…”
Rowena made a noise like she was choking and traded her chopsticks for her thermos again. “OK, if this conversation is going to continue in this direction, I might need something stronger.”
Grace sobered slightly and sat back. “I don’t know if I can. I’ve still got to go over the reports from the whole Kennedy situation. Including yours.”
Rowena shook her head ruefully. “They just…took her baby and replaced it. I can’t even imagine. And we don’t even know why.”
“I have an idea,” Grace said. When she didn’t say anything further, Rowena gestured impatiently with her hand, and the Chairwoman sighed. “I think…” She took a deep breath. “I think it was Zorgy.”
“Is that what we’re calling her?” Rowena asked. “Wait, what do fairies have to do with this Empress woman?”
Grace held up a hand, ticking off her points on her fingers. “She’s recruiting CEOs and real estate moguls here on Earth. She’s looking for allies. Clearly her interdimensional portal game is on lock. And look at all of us running around, at each other’s throats over all this. Jen and Shannon nearly had a Buffy and Faith moment. Divide and conquer – that’s her MO.”
“But why Kennedy?” Rowena asked.
A far-off look came into Grace’s eyes. “I dunno. Maybe she was just picking off the sick wildebeest.”
Grace shook her head and sighed. “I think that pretty soon, she’s gonna come after all of us. I’m really worried about this one, Ro. We’re chasing our tails, and things are gonna get worse before they get better.”
“I don’t know,” Rowena said, trying her best to sound comforting. “Everything worked out with Ken, in the end. We’re the Watchers Council. We can take a couple twists and turns, right?”
At that moment, there was a light knock on the doorframe of the Watcher Rec Room, and both women turned their heads to see Faith standing in the doorway.
“You can’t get away from here, can you?” Grace teased.
“I wanted to make sure Ken got home safe here to Cleveland. I’m sorry to interrupt the girl time,” Faith said, sounding a little nervous, “but, uh, they told me I could find you here.”
Grace pulled her feet off the couch, swiveling around to sit up straight and look vaguely Chairwomanly. “Yes?”
“I’ve been thinking a lot. About a lot of things, and I…” Faith’s eyes shifted from Grace to Rowena and back again, then took a deep breath. “I want to come back. To the Council, I mean. I want to work here again.”
Grace and Rowena both sat and stared at her for several moments, then turned their heads to look incredulously at each other.
Kennedy and Kadin’s Cabin – Night
Kennedy watched the television absently as she held Vanessa in her arms.
When she looked down, the baby was starting to open and close her eyes, indicating to Kennedy that Vanessa would probably be ready to sleep soon. As gently as possible, she moved from her position and walked toward the nursery.
Kennedy put a cooing Vanessa into her new crib beneath the dragon mobile. Marsha stood protectively by her feet. She smiled down at her daughter.
“There we go. Don’t worry, we burned those other sheets from the mean fairy baby, these are new ones. Or well, Marsha’s really the one that burned them, but…”
Vanessa quickly settled down as Kennedy tucked her in. She leaned down and gave her daughter a kiss on the forehead.
“I love you, mi hija.”
For several moments, Kennedy looked down at her daughter in her crib, one hand idly stroking the top of Marsha’s head, a wide smile on her face.
Then, slowly, her smile faded and disappeared. She stayed there, eyes now hard, and watched Vanessa fall asleep. Then Kennedy sniffed, ran a hand under her nose, and turned to leave the nursery, Marsha following just behind.
Fade to Black
End of Leap of Faith Pt. 2