by Kye and CN Winters
by Kye and CN Winters
by CN Winters and Susan Carr
Direction – Robert Kidman
Artists – Robert Kidman, CN Winters, Zahir al Daoud, Mattxxx, and Humaira
Four Weeks after "Sacrifice"
Watchers Council – Slayer Gym – Early Evening
Kennedy was pounding furiously at the punching bag. Her knuckles had become raw and beaten as she struck the bag with one deadly hit after another.
The door to the gym suddenly swung open, and she stopped her assault long enough to look over toward the approaching footsteps.
Faith stepped into the dim light of the back of the room and gave her friend a light smile.
"Is it her?" Kennedy asked with a sense of hope in her voice.
Faith just sighed and shook her head. "Sorry, Slick. False alarm."
Kennedy's gaze drifted back over to the worn and beaten bag as she closed her eyes and hung her head.
Cleveland Graveyard – Later That Night
Kennedy twirled the silver-tipped stake on the end of her hand as she casually strolled through the rows of headstones. The graveyard was quiet except for the usual late night sounds as the slayer walked along on her own.
Kennedy suddenly stopped in mid twirl as her ears barely picked up on the sound of crunching grass. She turned her head just slightly when a quick movement to her right caught her attention.
"Would you just come out already?" she called out into the darkness with a sigh. "It's really late, I'm really tired, and I don't feel like having to..." Kennedy's words died off when the dark figure stepped out of the shadows and into the moonlight.
Kadin smiled over at her lover and folded her arms beneath her long black duster. "Hey."
Cleveland Graveyard – Mausoleum – Same Time
The large door flew inward; then a bloodied hand gripped the jamb painfully. A weakened and injured young woman stumbled inside, barely managing to push the heavy door closed behind her. She breathed out deeply and slumped against the hard wood as she fell to the floor sobbing. Her naked shoulder glistened in the stream of light coming from a crack in the tomb’s stained-glass window as she wrapped her arms around the rest of her nude body.
The sound of a growl just beyond the door quickly caught her attention, and she instantly grew quiet. Tiny drops of blood dripped down from an open wound on her forehead as she pushed herself back from the door and slinked further into the crypt.
As a shadow passed across the window, the woman's blue eyes darted around the room. Moments later, the glass shattered inward, and a dark beast burst into the room.
The woman's eyes widened as she watched the werewolf land on all fours and then stalk closer. The beast's teeth gleamed with red saliva as its black eyes stared into hers. It took a few steps closer and then leaped into the air.
The woman's mouth opened with a growl as she reached up to grab the beast with both hands. They remained locked in a feral embrace as black stared into blue.
As the werewolf snapped at the woman's face, she struggled to hold it at bay. Her eyes flashed, and she growled deeply, digging her fingers into the coarse fur. She pulled the beast closer and then launched it backwards with a powerful shove.
The werewolf flew across the room and crashed through the door as the woman blinked back a drop of blood from her eyes. She watched the beast carefully as she slowly stalked forward, her body hunched over with each step.
Dark fur began to grow from every inch of her body as she dropped to all fours. Her facial features began to change, and she threw her head back with a roar. She stepped through the shattered door just as the transformation was complete.
The other werewolf was just pulling itself to its feet when she set her eyes on the fallen beast and growled.
Cleveland Graveyard – Same Time
Kennedy's eyes were wide as she stared back at the vision of her lost lover. "K...Kadin?"
The hunter sighed with a nod as she leaned back against a tree and kept her eyes locked with Kennedy's. "Hey."
"You already said that," Kennedy huffed. "You've been gone for four weeks with not so much as a phone call, and the best you can do is 'hey'?"
Kadin smiled just slightly. "Hello?"
Kennedy shot the hunter a deadly glare and tucked her stake into her jacket pocket. "Not funny."
Kadin gave the slayer a playful shrug and grin. "I thought it was."
"Where have you been?" Kennedy demanded, with annoyance in her voice. "And what was with that dramatic exit?" She sighed and shook her head. "Don't I even rank a good-bye?"
Kadin's smile faltered at the softly spoken words, and she pushed herself off the tree to take a step closer. "It wasn't good-bye," she answered just as softly. "At least, I didn't mean for it to be." Kadin dropped her eyes to the scuffs on her boots as she swallowed hard. Then she lifted her gaze back up to the slayer. "I was just...I couldn't stay here."
"Why not?" Kennedy asked again. "I mean, I know things were...messed up..."
"Messed up?" Kadin repeated instantly. "I turned into a soulless monster consumed by rage and anger who had to fight a she-bitch from hell to keep her from taking over the world and enslaving all of mankind, only to defeat her and gain her power which sent me into an even bigger fit of rage where I nearly attacked and killed your ex-lover, but you beat me to it by shooting an arrow through my heart which killed me, only to have me rise from the dead a few hours later." Kadin finally took a breath and then nodded. "So yeah, I think it's safe to say things are on a whole other level way above ‘messed up’."
"We could've helped you," Kennedy replied. "I could've helped you."
Kadin shook her head with a rueful smile. "How? Were you gonna shoot me again?"
Kennedy's expression hardened. "That is so not fair."
"Maybe not," Kadin shrugged. "But I really don't see any other way that you were going to control it...to control me."
Kennedy sighed and took a step closer to the hunter to reach out for her, but Kadin immediately took a step back. Kennedy looked up at her with a hurt expression, then let her hand fall back to her side. "So, that's how it's gonna be then? Just cut yourself off completely and live out the rest of your life in reclusion and misery?"
Kadin's eyes shined in the moonlight as she looked at Kennedy with a pained expression. "What other choice do I have?"
"You can let us help you."
"How?" Kadin nearly shouted. "I don't even know how to help myself."
Kennedy took a cautious step forward. When Kadin didn't pull back, she rested her hand on the hunter's shoulder. "That's what you have me and the rest of your friends for."
"Friends?" Kadin laughed. "Which friends would those be? The one whose shoulder I nearly tore off? Or the one that I had every intention of gutting like a fish?"
Kennedy dropped her hand but stared back into Kadin's hard eyes. "That wasn't you."
Kadin choked back. "Yes, it was."
"Look," Kennedy said, running a hand back through her hair. "Nobody at the Council holds any grudges or blames you for anything. Faith's back to her old pain-in-the-ass self, except now she's got yet another battle scar to brag about." Kennedy laughed slightly. "And Willow is...Willow." She gave Kadin a gentle smile. "We've all been worried about you."
Kadin scoffed and shook her head as she stepped away from Kennedy and turned her back to the slayer. "I can't go back there," she whispered into the darkness. "I can't go back there...and I can't face them." She felt a hand slip around her side, and for a moment, she closed her eyes at the feeling.
"We all want you back," Kennedy whispered in her ear. "I want you back." She leaned in to place a kiss on the hunter's ear. "I've missed you."
"Please, Kennedy," Kadin whispered in anguish. "Please don't make this any harder."
Kadin pulled herself away from the slayer's embrace and then turned to face her. There was a moment of silence between them as Kadin took in a deep breath. "I can't stay here and put anybody else in danger," she said, lifting a hand to brush back a strand of hair from Kennedy's eyes. "Especially not you."
Kennedy's brow furrowed. "Danger? What are you talkin' about?"
"This...thing inside of me," Kadin explained. "Until I know what it is, or at least how to control it..." She trailed off and averted her eyes from the soft brown stare. "I...I can't be with you."
Kadin lifted her eyes back to Kennedy's. "I can't be with you, Kennedy. You make me feel things that I..." Kadin licked her lips and let out a frustrated sigh. "I just can't...okay?"
"No," Kennedy shot back. "No, Kadin. It's not okay."
Kadin seemed a little surprised by the adamant reaction, but she just took a step back and shook her head again. "It's not up to you."
"So, what?" Kennedy asked coldly as she folded her arms across her chest. "I just have to accept this bullshit excuse for why you can't be with me, and I don't even get a say in it?"
Kadin's only answer was a light nod.
Kennedy shook her head with a disbelieving smile. She leveled her eyes at the hunter. "I always thought that you were one of the bravest people that I knew, but the sad truth is that you're nothing more than a spineless coward."
Kadin's eyes flashed, and a hard expression settled over her. "I guess we were both wrong then." Kadin paused before continuing. "Because I thought that you were the one person that would understand and respect my decision."
"I'm sorry if I won't support you in making the biggest mistake of your life," Kennedy replied hotly. "But I guess I'm just thick-headed that way."
"I never should have come back," Kadin sighed. "It woulda been easier if I'd just stayed gone."
"Then why didn't you?" Kennedy asked angrily.
Kadin was quiet as she watched the slayer seething only a few feet away. She ran a hand across her face and let out a deep breath. "Because I wanted to see you."
Kennedy's expression instantly softened. "Kadin, I..."
"Save it." Kadin shook her head. "It doesn't matter anymore. We're just not the same people we used to be."
"It doesn't have to be this way," Kennedy told her earnestly. "We can help you. Just give me...just give us a chance."
Kadin smiled sadly. "I wish I could. I really do."
"Why can't you?!" Kennedy practically shouted in frustration.
Kadin closed her eyes and released a breath. Then she cracked her neck and slowly opened her eyes again. "I don't want to hurt anybody else, Kennedy, and if I stay here...I'm not so sure that I can guarantee that I won't." Kadin reached up and placed a hand on her own chest. "This thing inside of me is...I can feel it coursing through my blood. I can feel it pounding in my heart and screaming in my head."
"Then please, Kadin," Kennedy pleaded one last time. "Let me help you figure it out. I can help you learn to control it if you just let me."
"You can't!" Kadin shouted as her eyes turned solid black. "That's what you're not getting, Kennedy. You can't help me. No one can."
Kennedy was startled by the flash of black in the hunter's eyes, but she played it off with a sigh, slumping her shoulders in defeat. "I guess that's it then."
Kadin's eyes returned to normal as she stared at the slayer with a completely blank expression. "Guess so."
"Just answer me one thing," Kennedy asked. "What..."
Before the rest of the sentence could leave her mouth, a sudden movement caught her eye as she watched a blur of fur tackle Kadin to the ground.
"...the hell was that?!"
Kennedy called Kadin’s name and took a step toward her, but before she could reach the fallen hunter, she too found herself tackled from the side.
Kadin grabbed the thick fur on the werewolf's shoulders as she struggled with the beast on the ground. Her eyes darkened, and a low growl rumbled up from deep in her chest as she grabbed the werewolf and easily threw it off herself.
By the time the beast hit the ground, Kadin was already on top of it, pinning its arms to the ground as she stared down into its yellow eyes with a burning glare of her own. "You so picked the wrong night, beastie."
Kadin released one arm to reach over and grab the wolf by the throat. She squeezed until she heard the beast moan beneath her. "And you definitely picked the wrong person to fu—"
Kadin watched as the beast transformed right in front of her. The dark black fur slowly receded to reveal creamy white skin. The yellow eyes faded into soft blue, and tangled blonde hair now hung across the very human forehead.
Kadin's own eyes returned to their usual brown as the anger on her face was replaced by a look of pure shock. Her body slackened as she loosened her grip on the naked woman's throat.
To Act One