Title: As a Queen, Sufficient
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not.
Summary: Kendra, debriefing after her first trip to Sunnydale. 1500 words.
Spoilers: Set immediately after "What's My Line?" in B:tVS Season 2.
Notes: For tigerpetals, in the Rarewomen exchange. Minimal use of dialect. Titled in reference to an Elizabeth I quote: "[I]n the end this shall be for me sufficient, that a marble stone shall declare that a Queen, having reigned such a time, lived and died a virgin."
"A most impressive report," Mr. Zabuto said, looking up at last from the pages Kendra had written on the long journey back from Sunnydale. "Three Terakans defeated! William the Bloody and his companion temporarily overcome, if not destroyed, and many lesser vampires staked. A very considerable total."
Kendra smiled at her Watcher, pleased with both the tally and the praise. It had been the first time his research into the prophecies had sent her to a place so perilous as the Hellmouth; he usually traveled with her, but had feared his increasing age and recent injuries would make him more a hindrance than a help to her in such a threat-rich environment. Her successful performance and return was a credit to both his teaching and her skill, even allowing for the irregularities she'd encountered during the trip.
"It was a challenge, but one that we successfully met," she agreed, brushing the heel of one hand against the haft of Mr. Pointy where her favorite stake rested inside her waistband.
"Mmm, yes," he replied, a wrinkle forming briefly between his brows. "We. According to Rupert Giles, you worked closely with his Slayer during your time there?"
Kendra nodded. Of course; Mr. Giles had been as surprised at Kendra's presence as Kendra had been to encounter another Slayer. He had asked her many questions of the sort that would not be covered in a formal report, and Mr. Zabuto was sure to have several also, as he had not been there to meet Buffy.
"You must tell me more about the experience," he replied, smiling avidly. "You write that you met while you were each patrolling for threats, and tested one another's abilities before ascertaining that you were both, in fact, Slayers?"
As long as one defined patrolling 'searching the apartment of a vampire for the presence of an undead creature'? And that each had assumed the other was a vampire before Kendra declared herself? Kendra suppressed a wince. She would not lie to her Watcher, but there were many ways to describe truth, as she had learned at length from memorizing the histories of her calling, and she had come to respect her sister Slayer's differences despite the difficulties of their meeting.
"Yes; it was very strange. I did not t'ink she was human at first, and she thought the same of me."
He made a notation in his journal, then tapped the pen against his chin as he looked back up at her, eyes bright. "Fascinating. This situation has not occurred before, to the best of our knowledge; the Council has long wondered how one Slayer might react to another, but it had not occurred to any of our researchers that your sixth sense would recognize her mystical abilities as an indication of inhumanity. But I gather that the matter was swiftly resolved?"
"She suggested we strike a truce until we could meet with her Watcher, and we did. He realized very quickly how it happened; she drowned last spring at the hands of the Master, but t'ey revived her."
"On June the 2nd?" He made another note. That was the day she had broken a practice sword in training, and they had first realized she was the new Chosen One; Mr. Zabuto had kept meticulous notes of her progress for as long as she could remember, but they had grown much richer in detail over the last five months.
"He did not name a date, but it did happen in late spring," Kendra nodded.
"And she recovered without significant impact to her abilities?" he added, raising his eyebrows. The line came and went between them again; but this time, curiously, he did not lower pen to page.
"She reported feeling stronger afterward, not weaker," Kendra confirmed.
Mr. Zabuto tapped the pen against his chin again, glancing away to stare in the middle distance. He seemed momentarily troubled, and she wondered what about that worried him, but he shook his head without explaining. "Ah; I'm sure Mr. Giles will mention that detail; I need not note it, but what a twist of fate! It will be curious to see whether yet another Slayer will be called when she has laid down her duty, or whether the title is still essentially singular in nature- though I am sure that will not become a concern for some time yet. You are exceptionally skilled, my dear, and it is clear she is quite capable."
He summoned a smile for her then: kindly as always, though not as caring as she had seen between Mr. Giles and his charge. "T'ank you, sir," she replied, smiling back, wondering about the difference; wondering whether Buffy would pity her for that, too, or if Buffy was the one who should be pitied.
Was it because Buffy had been untrained, that she had known the love of parents, that Mr. Giles seemed so driven to ensure her happiness? Kendra did not remember hers, and she had never found Mr. Zabuto lacking in that respect before. He had given her every tool she needed to perform her duty and answered every question she had ever asked him, but he had never been a father to her. And she had not wanted him to be. She had looked up to him as a mentor, and he had made her strong. Love had always been reserved for the faded photographs Mr. Zabuto kept for her: the mother and father that had given her up so that she would be prepared for her destiny. It had no place in her present.
There had been a certain amount of novelty in experiencing a small part of the other Slayer's life: the tingling breathlessness that she felt when speaking to Buffy's friend Xander, and the support of the others in helping defeat the Terakans- which she had also not mentioned in her report. But she found it more difficult to fight with such distractions, and she still had trouble believing that Buffy frequently brought untrained, vulnerable civilians into battle. She would never have brought any of the children of their village to fight against such powerful foes, for fear that protecting them would divide her concentration. She did not require their emotional support to lend strength to her arm.
How exhausting must it be to live with such emotional upheaval on a constant basis? Fashionable clothes and smiles from boys, while nice, were not really adequate compensation. Maybe Mr. Giles was right, and the Handbook would not have helped his Slayer learn her duty, whatever Mr. Zabuto might say about the rules. But the impulsive, immersive approach that worked for Buffy would only fracture Kendra's focus.
"I only speak the truth," Mr. Zabuto replied, warmly. Then he put pen to paper again, expression inquisitive. "What style does she favor? What weapons? You wrote of an informant; is there a considerable network of such under the auspices of her Watcher? I had not thought there would be, as the proportion of aggressive demons is typically much higher so close to large wells of negative energy, but I could see the necessity of slightly more lenient policies considering the environment."
The corner of Kendra's mouth curled at the memory of the ill-favored bartender. Informant was a strong word for the man's role in events; but she had not known how else to explain the matter of Angelus becoming Spike's captive without breaching matters Buffy would prefer kept secret.
"She favors an improvisational mix of styles," Kendra began diplomatically, taking the questions in order. She'd defer the last to Mr. Giles; she was sure the two Watchers would enjoy discussing sources and reference materials between themselves, given their different specialties- she had seen at least three volumes in the school library's cage that Mr. Zabuto would covet, and she knew her own Watcher had several prophetic works Mr. Giles did not. "She had no preparation for being Chosen, so Mr. Giles has emphasized speed and unpredictability in her training. And she is very strong. I have the reach, and my form is better, but she was able to land just as many strikes."
"Ah. Perhaps a new physical instructor would be in order, then? You do very well; but it never hurts to sharpen one's abilities, and it has been difficult to find an adequate challenge for you since you took up your duty. I have been remiss; I am certain the Council has a number of tutors I can call on to assist, now that I can no longer test you myself."
A new tutor? Kendra's smile widened. That was welcome news; Mr. Zabuto would only choose the best, and she always enjoyed acquiring new skills and knowledge to better fulfill her destiny.
"T'ank you, sir," she repeated, then frowned, remembering the crossbow. "As for weapons..."
She was content with her life; with her Watcher; with her studies and the long hunts Mr. Zabuto assigned her. It was sufficient.
What more did one Slayer really need?