Chapter One: Two Years and Counting
"NO!" Kennedy cried out, sitting straight up in bed and gasping for breath. Beside her, Willow was instantly awake.
She placed a calming hand on her girlfriend's back. "Kenn? Baby, are you ok?"
"She killed him."
"Wait, what?" Willow sat up. "Who was killed?"
"A man…I…I don't know." Kennedy frowned.
Willow gently tucked Kennedy's hair behind her ear. "Baby, I think maybe you had a nightmare…"
"It wasn't a nightmare," Kennedy said angrily as she stood up. She crossed to the window and stared out before turning back to the bed; when she saw Willow's confusion, she softened. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, it's just…it wasn't a nightmare. It was way too real for that." She sighed and leaned against the dresser.
Willow frowned. "Then…do you think…I mean, it's been a long time, but…do you think it was slayer stuff? A vision?"
Kennedy grew quiet. Willow leaned over and turned on the bedside lamp, allowing its faint glow to warm up the room. "Is there a new slayer we have to find?"
"There was this…room. I'm not sure what color the walls were supposed to be; maybe they were pale pink before…or maybe the pink spots weren't pink, they were pale red from…well, there was this guy, on the floor."
Willow got out of bed and joined her lover by the window; a look of concern on her face matched the one on Kennedy's. "What kind of guy?"
"A dead guy…there was a dead guy, on the floor, and there was blood everywhere. Someone was hiding, I think. I couldn't see, but I could feel it."
"Not here, though…it was far from here. But Willow…she saw me, I know she saw me!"
"Faith." Kennedy finally focused on Willow. "Faith was there, and she saw me."
Willow's eyes widened at the mention of the slayer's name. Since Faith and Buffy had left them all two years ago, Kennedy had had only one shared dream with Faith, and not recently.
In her dream, the slayers were in trouble (or at least Faith was; Kennedy couldn't share dreams with Buffy). They were being pursued by a vast blackness that seemed to be devouring everything in its path. Others slayers had shared the same dream, and Willow and Giles had worked overtime to research energetic anomalies and safeguard themselves. It turned out to be a rogue band of material from another dimension, trying to assume its true form. A coven was able to stop the energy ribbon outside of Missouri, but there was no sign of the Chosen Two. With no more dreams, no one had been able to confirm if they were alive or dead.
"Faith?" Willow said. "They're alive?"
"I guess so. At least she is."
"And she was…you said she was hiding from someone?"
Kennedy pursed her lips. "No. Will, I think someone was hiding from her. She was covered in blood. I think…I think she might have killed that guy."
"I used to think true happiness involved being woken up in the night by beautiful women," Xander yawned while turning on the kitchen sink. "I should have been more specific."
"Like that it shouldn't be for emergencies?" Willow said wryly.
"Like they should have any interest in me instead of each other," he said with a wink. He started making coffee. "Ah, youth."
Willow smiled and sat down at the table.
The early morning sky was still black; the sun wouldn't even think about rising for another hour. There was a slight chill in the air downstairs; pretty soon they'd have to give in and turn on the heat as another summer officially stepped aside to let autumn take over in Vermont.
Kennedy came downstairs, dressed for the day in sweatpants and an old tshirt. "Coffee ready?"
"If you could convince your girlfriend to help me out a little here."
"Sorry, Xander, no unnecessary magics; this ain't Bewitched."
"Ohhh, if only our lives were that black-and-white."
As the coffee finally started dripping into the pot, their light banter faded and reality settled back in. Xander poured the three mugs and brought them to the table. For awhile they sat in silence, until Xander cleared his throat.
Kennedy nodded. "I guess."
"Which is a good thing," Willow added. "It's good to know that."
"Sure, sure…I mean, it's a little weird though, right? That this is the only contact we get?"
"Willow, he's right. The only other time I shared a dream with Faith, she was in danger. We haven't gotten anything from them!" She sighed, frustrated. "I don't know the use of it, the dream; it's not like we know where they are so we can help them."
"They don't know where we are, either," Xander said. "I mean, as far as we know."
"Right! So, again, what good is it?"
Willow put down her mug. "What exactly happened in the dream?"
"I told you-there was a dead guy, a human being, on the floor. Someone was hiding. There was blood everywhere. Faith was covered in it; she was standing over the guy."
"But what else? Was she angry, upset…"
"Laughing?" Xander threw in. Willow shot him a look. "What?"
"We're not discussing that again."
Xander leaned back and threw up his hands. "Look, two years ago she tricked Buffy into leaving us. Her family. We'll probably never know what she said to convince her, but I bet it was a pretty good story. Maybe she's gone back to her old ways and took Buffy with her."
Willow glared. "You know why they left; it was the only way to keep us safe."
"No, Faith didn't want to deal with her responsibilities; there was no reason for Buffy to leave too."
"Xander, I saw her! She wanted to go. I know you don't want to hear that."
"You guys!" Kennedy stood up. "Enough. None of this matters right now. They're in trouble."
"And why should we help them?"
Kennedy grit her teeth. "Because they asked. I'm sure of it."
Willow's brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"
Kennedy sighed. "When Faith looked at me…I felt like she knew I was there, in the room with her. The last dream I just kind of witnessed, you know? Like an outsider?"
Xander sighed and got up for more coffee as Willow leaned forward. "Ok…tell us again. We know the basics-Faith, blood, body. Look past that, and tell us what else. Was there anything to suggest where they were? How long did the dream last?"
Kennedy leaned against the cupboards and pressed her hands to her face. "Aaaugh! Ok, I'm sorry." She exhaled her frustration. "Um…the dream came on pretty fast, it felt like a jolt. Everything was kind of fuzzy, the colors were all off." She paused. "I could hear something…like a heartbeat? Yeah, and it was going really fast. That's all I could hear."
"The smell. Blood." Kennedy looked uncomfortably at Xander. "As I started to see better, I saw the dark form on the floor was a man, and standing over him was a woman. She was slowly shaking her head from side to side, like she was upset? Her hands, her shirt, were covered in blood. She started looking around, like she knew someone was there, and then suddenly…her head snapped up and she stared right at me, and everything came into sharp focus, but just for an instant. It was Faith." Kennedy ran a hand through her hair. "She looked awful; scared, angry. But, I have no idea where they were. Once she looked at me, I woke up. I don't know if any of that helps."
They were all quiet for awhile, until Willow stood up with a quizzical look on her face. "I think it does; it sounds like you're right about her asking for help."
Xander raised an eyebrow. "What makes you say that?"
"Kennedy didn't see whatever happened from start to finish; it sounds like she was pulled in when the moment came for Faith to pass on a message. Whatever happened in that room, Faith wanted to make sure you saw it."
"But why?" Xander asked. "Why would Faith want us to know she'd killed someone else?"
"Maybe there's more to the story," Willow suggested. She frowned. "No sense of Buffy, right?"
Kennedy shook her head. "There never is."
Xander laughed softly. "There's really nothing for us to do, is there? This was more like a teaser, to let us know they're alive but not-so-well."
"We can do something," Willow said. "I'll ask Deanna if any of the other slayers had this dream tonight; that will let us know if it was a slayer visiony-thing or a private note for Kennedy. We can let people know they're alive, too."
"I…wouldn't," Xander said. "Not until you hear back from Deanna. I mean, I don't want to stir up certain people's feelings about the issue when they've just started to settle, finally."
"You mean Dawn."
"What are we gonna say to her? 'We think your sister's alive, well, maybe, but we are sure Faith's alive and she killed someone? Sorry Kennedy got the memo and you didn't?' I think we should wait until this plays out a bit more."
Kennedy grabbed her coffee cup. "I think he's right."
"Ok," Willow said. "I'll contact Deanna, but no one else, and for now we just…wait?"
They waited almost a month.
No other slayers came forward to report any unusual dreams. Kennedy didn't have any more. Gradually they all stopped waiting for the other shoe to drop; they went to work, they slayed, they researched demons, and life fell back into the pattern it was in before Faith's mysterious message.
One cold October evening, Kennedy made the turn to their house. She drove through the woods until the road became gravel once again, right at the edge of the driveway. She pulled up beside the house, leaving plenty of room for Xander and Willow. The two of them often shared the second car, since their schedules were so similar. Kennedy liked it; she got some alone time and the people who had been best friends pretty much since birth got their time too. She felt that was important, especially since Buffy had left.
Kennedy let herself in, turned on the outside lights for Willow and Xander, and went to the kitchen to microwave some popcorn.
Buffy's leaving had wrecked the group (and while Kennedy missed Faith's friendship, her disappearing act had been less of a surprise). Kennedy had not known the blonde slayer for as long as the others had, but she was enraged on behalf of her friends. For years, their circle had revolved around not just the slaying, but Buffy herself. They would have done anything for her.
Kennedy could understand that she had left to protect them, but she thought the way it was done was cowardly. Sure, they probably would have tried to stop the slayers if they'd known what they were up to. Maybe there would have even been a fight. But stunning them all by just leaving…that only spared Buffy, and nobody else. Kennedy cringed as she remembered the look on Dawn's face when Willow had to tell her…
The loud "ding" of the microwave let her know her popcorn was ready, and shook her out of her depressive mind-wanderings. Why am I thinking about all of this now? She dismissed the uneasy feeling in her gut as she wandered into the living room and turned on the TV.
Kennedy was sprawled out on the couch, snacking away, when she heard the car pull into the driveway. She frowned; it was barely six o'clock. Willow and Xander are never this early. Something must be wrong. She stood up quickly and pulled open the front door.
She didn't recognize the old car in front of the house; it was dark, blue or black, with a couple of minor dents. Pretty non-descript. She crossed her arms and stared into the vehicle; two women with dark hair in the front, someone else with lighter hair in the back. Kennedy watched as the woman in the passenger's seat got out of the car and started for the house; her dark hair was swept into a ponytail, but her face was down and Kennedy couldn't make it out. Her attention was brought back to the car as the driver got out and turned to open the back door; her face caught the light.
"Faith," Kennedy said, after a moment of shock. Faith didn't look at her-she just reached into the car and pulled out the last person; a child with sandy-colored hair, who promptly settled back to sleep against the slayer's shoulder.
By then the dark-haired passenger had reached the door; she looked up and met Kennedy's eyes. It was Buffy.