The Essence of Life

The Essence of Life

By Susan Carr

Rating: PG
Pairing: Willow/Kennedy
Summary: Kennedy’s thoughts on the meaning of magic.
Notes: Disclaimer: All non-original characters herein belong to persons such as Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, UPN, WB, etc, etc, etc, rather than me, myself and I. No compensation is received by me, only the pleasure I take in writing it.
Spoilers: Get It Done.

***

Kennedy closed the door behind her, hearing the soft click in the darkness. She waited a moment by the door for her eyes to adjust to the dim light as the lumpy shapes of sleeping girls revealed themselves. She then carefully made her way over to the bed and sat down on the edge. Wearily, she rested her head in her palms and tried to take a deep breath to calm herself.

“Ken? You okay, girl?”

“Yeah, Rona. Go to sleep,” Kennedy replied, whispering in the darkness.

Rona eased her way out of her sleeping bag near the wall and gingerly stepped over to the girl. Kennedy felt the bed shift as the other girl sat down next to her.

“You know you can’t be lying to me now, don’tcha?” Rona whispered.

Kennedy sighed. “It’s just scary, you know?” she tried to explain.

“I know! We could hear it, but the girls were too afraid to investigate and after Chloe I was scared to leave them alone.” Rona asked. “What happened?”

Kennedy shrugged. “Slayer stuff and magic stuff and Willow...”

Rona peered at Kennedy through the darkness. “She hurt you?” she guessed.

“Kinda...” Kennedy said. “She had to...she needed my help and there was no time to ask permission first.”

“You okay?” Rona asked again.

“Yeah, really I am,” Kennedy explained. “I just need time, that’s all. Go to sleep, Rona. We’ve all had a hard day and tomorrow’s gonna get worse.”

“Every day gets worse!” The black girl squeezed Kennedy’s hand in friendship. “Try to sleep, girl,” she said and then went back to her sleeping bag.

Kennedy quietly changed her clothes in the darkness and crawled into the small bed she shared with Willow. Somehow, she knew her girlfriend would find somewhere else to sleep that night and felt a pang of jealousy when she realized it would probably be with the Slayer. Then the jealousy faded as she remembered it was her who had pushed Willow away.

I’m sorry, Willow, she thought to herself. I’ve spent nearly my whole life training for battle, but my Watcher didn’t prepare me for this. I just don’t know how to process this. It’s one thing to listen to you tell me about your darkness, but quite another to feel it inside me, pulling at my essence, tasting me as if I were something to be consumed for your pleasure.

Kennedy sighed as she relived the experience. She knew Willow had power, she’d seen it before, but she thought it was kinda cool that her girlfriend was as much a kick-ass as the Slayer. Fantasies of herself as the Slayer with her powerful witch lover by her side, protecting the innocent and mowing down evil hoards had filled her mind. She now knew those were just silly school-girl daydreams. Reality had given her a big fat kick in the ass tonight.

You scared me, Willow, she sighed as she put her hands behind her head and stared up into the darkness, ignoring the soft whisperings of the sleeping girls around her. You’re so powerful, so much more than I thought. I’m embarrassed at how I bragged to the other girls how if they didn’t do what I said, if they slacked off on their drills, I’d sic my bad-assed girlfriend on them to teach them a thing or two. It worked beautifully on them - they hold you in awe as much as they do the Slayer. But not me, you are mine, my scarlet-haired beauty who I love to hold close to me at night as you kiss me so sweetly and gently.

I never thought I’d be the one to get taught a thing or two.

Unable to lie still any longer, Kennedy jumped out of bed and out the door.

She made her way to the kitchen, one of the few places not packed with sleeping trainees, ex-demons or former evil geniuses. She put a kettle on the stove and hopped on the counter to wait for it to boil.

She looked at her bandaged hand, remembering the demon that caused the injury. She was glad it was dead and gone back to wherever it came from. She suspected something in Spike had changed tonight. When he returned dragging the corpse of the demon, she looked at him wearing the battered leather duster. She noticed the look of dismay Xander had given the vampire and could feel the tension increase amongst the Scoobies. It was as if that duster held some kind of symbolism she couldn’t even begin to guess at.

The Scoobies themselves were a mystery to Kennedy. The love they held for one another was astounding and Kennedy imagined it had a lot to do with the experiences they shared over the years. Even Anya, despite her sarcasm and snide comments, was loved by the rest of them. Kennedy suspected that she’d be just as willing to give her life for the others as they would for her.

You Scoobies are an odd bunch, Willow, she reflected. You guys love each other so much you’d gladly die for each other. I’ve never seen that in a group of people, and I don’t think I ever will again. But the secrets you keep are scary. There’s so much you don’t share with us, is it any wonder we get frightened? Is it any wonder the First was able to get to poor Chloe?

When the kettle began to whistle, Kennedy grabbed it before it could wake anyone. She went about fixing her tea, outwardly calm, but inside her emotions were pulling her apart. Since that fateful day she found her Watcher dead, her life just kept getting more and more complicated.

You’re the biggest complication, Willow. And the biggest reward. I’ve never known anyone as powerful or as sexy as you. You’re like the paradigm of contradictions. Shy, yet bold. Afraid, yet courageous. Naïve, yet wise. I could spend a lifetime just figuring you out. I think I want to spend a lifetime figuring you out and that scares me more than anything.

She sighed as she took her first sip of the tea. Her Watcher had told her of her possible destiny and here she was facing it, even without having been called as the Slayer. Most potentials spent their lives without fulfilling their destinies, but now they had no choice. They had been thrown into the fray without the benefits of Slayer powers. They were just ordinary girls who had no idea what they were up against.

Ignoring the danger, Kennedy opened the back door and took her tea outside. She sat on the porch steps and sipped at the steaming drink. The night was cool, but Kennedy barely felt it.

Did she know? Kennedy asked in her mind. Did Tara know about the darkness inside you or did it just come out after she died?

“She knew.”

Kennedy jumped at the sound of the sad voice behind her. She managed not to spill her tea all over herself.

“Willow!” she said, shocked. “What are you doing here?”

Willow smiled at Kennedy in the dim light. “Kinda hard to sleep with you thinking at me all night.”

“You can read my mind now?” Kennedy asked her brow darkening on the verge of anger. The thought that this was yet another violation filled her with coldness.

“Only when your thoughts are directed at me,” the redhead explained. She took a seat next to Kennedy, wanting to press close to the brunette’s warmth, but not sure about the extent of the new boundaries between them. “You’ve been pretty worked up tonight. I thought I’d see if I could help.”

“I’m sorry,” Kennedy said. “I didn’t realize. Can you do this with everyone?”

“No,” Willow said. “Just people I’m close with. Buffy and Xander, of course. Giles. Sometimes Anya and Spike. Helps during certain situations.”

“Hey!” Kennedy exclaimed, remembering. “That night Buffy took out the turok-han...that’s how the three of you set it up. You were talking to each other while the rest of us were busy wetting our pants.”

Kennedy’s heart thrilled to hear Willow’s laugh, then grew serious as she remembered something. “Tara knew?” she asked. “About the darkness in you?”

Willow’s face turned grim. “Kennedy...” she began and then stopped. Taking a deep breath, she looked into Kennedy’s eyes, probing the extent of the younger girl’s sincerity about the things she had been reflecting on tonight.

“You’re right, you know...about the Scooby secrets,” she said, taking Kennedy’s hand. “Telepathy aside, we’re a tight-lipped bunch, even with each other.”

“Willow, I...” Kennedy squeezed the redhead’s hand and scooted closer. Willow welcomed the warmth. Kennedy’s energy created massive amounts of heat, which Willow welcomed from the petite woman.

“Kennedy, it’s okay,” Willow said. “I don’t want to keep any secrets from you. Not about me at least. Like I said earlier, you had to know, especially now before we...”

“Fell in love?” Kennedy asked her eyebrow rising in a question, finally using the word they had been dancing around.

Willow smiled. “I was thinking more like gotten closer, but I suppose it amounts to the same thing.”

Kennedy shrugged. “I suppose so. And I know you’re right, Willow. I needed to know. It’s scary, but it doesn’t change how I feel about you.”

“I’m glad,” Willow said. “About Tara...”

“Did you hurt her, Willow?” Kennedy whispered.

“Not...not like I hurt you tonight,” Willow answered, tears in her eyes. “Tara was a powerful witch, and almost from the beginning I drew upon her essence to work magic so it was something she was used to...something that just evolved as our relationship did. No, what I did to her was a lot worse.”

“What did you do?”

“After I started using dark magic, I couldn’t get enough of it,” Willow confessed. “It was like using drugs. Each spell I cast was like getting another fix. It got to the point where I cast spells just to experience that high.”

“Whoa! Is it like that now?” Kennedy asked.

“Yes,” Willow said. “But I’m stronger than it now. I don’t need that high all the time. I can draw upon the light as well as the dark and achieve balance. But back then I was out of control.”

“And Tara didn’t like that?” Kennedy guessed.

“We fought over it. And then I did the unforgivable...I cast a spell to make her forget our fight.”

Kennedy’s brow scrunched up as processed what Willow told her. “You erased her memory?”

Willow nodded and Kennedy felt the chill inside her again. “Oh, Willow!”

“You’d think I’d learn from my mistakes. After Tara found out what I’d done, she gave me a week to give up using magic. Just one week, that’s all.”

“One week,” Kennedy repeated in a small voice.

“I lasted less than twelve hours. But instead of erasing Tara’s memory, I erased everyone’s. Nearly got us all killed...again. When the spell was broken, Tara left me.”

“Oh,” Kennedy said, not knowing what else to say.

“I lost all control then,” Willow continued. “Hooked up with Amy and she introduced me to the seedier side of Sunnydale’s magic community.”

“Trouble, eh?” Kennedy guessed.

“Trouble, as in lots of...,” Willow confirmed. “Her and I hit the Bronze one night and caused all kinds of mischief. But it was visits to Rack that really clinched the deal.”

“Rack?” Kennedy repeated. “Can’t say I’m liking that name.”

“He was a slimeball,” Willow agreed. “That thing tonight? When I drew upon your essence to complete the spell? He did that to me, more actually...he gave me power, but he crawled around inside me as if he were...well, I’d like to say as if he was raping me, but I let him do it. It was horrible, Kennedy.”

Kennedy shook her head. “No, Willow. It wasn’t like that with you. Sure, it hurt, but it wasn’t...”

Willow smiled softly. “I know what it was like, Ken. I was there.”

“What happened to Rack?” Kennedy asked, wanting to change the subject.

Willow looked at her with sadness. “After Tara died...and I went off the deep end...”

“Oh...” Kennedy whispered. “Well, I suppose I’m lucky you didn’t turn into him, too.”

Willow looked out into the dark garden and noticed to her dismay that the rosebushes Tara had planted when they first moved in had been trampled.

“Willow?” Kennedy said after what seemed an eternity.

“Hmmm?”

“Tara? She forgave you, didn’t she? Before she died?”

Willow nodded. “She did. It was the most miraculous thing that had ever happened to me...other than her falling for me in the first place, that is.”

“I know I’m not her, but from what I know about her and from what you’ve said and what Dawn has said...”

Willow smiled at that. “Dawnie adored her.”

“Yeah, she did and that says a lot about Tara. But Willow, I think that if Tara could forgive you, then I’d be petty not to try as well.”

“Kennedy...”

“No, Willow!” Kennedy stopped her. “You did what you had to do tonight and I know that you’d do it again and probably will. We’re all going to have to make sacrifices in order to win this fight. I’m willing to make those sacrifices and if that means letting you suck the life out of me again, well then just go ahead. At least next time I’ll know what to expect.”

“Kennedy, I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I know that!” Kennedy smiled. “But you do it if you have to, Willow. I said I’m ready to make sacrifices, but I’m not willing to sacrifice losing you as well.”

“What...?”

“I don’t want the magic to come between us, Willow,” she explained. “It’s like it’s trying to, from that damned curse Amy put on you to what happened tonight. I’m not going to let it get between us. You’re worth fighting for, even if I have to fight you. Got it?”

“I think I’m starting to,” Willow smiled, a slightly confused expression on her face. She snuggled closer to Kennedy. “Did you really tell the girls I was your bad-assed girlfriend?”

“Yep!”

“Oh gods,” Willow sighed. “A-and are they really in awe of me?”

“Yep!”

“But not you?”

“Nope.”

“How come?”

“Because...I can do this,” Kennedy replied and leaned forward to capture Willow’s lips with her own.

“Good,” Willow said, pulling back. “I like it when you do that.”

“Oh yeah?” Kennedy said, and then her expression darkened. “Damn...”

“What?”

“Just wishing we had a whole room to ourselves...” Kennedy suggested.

“Be grateful we’ve got the bed to ourselves,” Willow laughed. “If any more girls show up, we’re not even going to have that.”

Kennedy groaned. “Shhh! Dawn told me that we don’t say things like that in Sunnydale.”

Willow’s face grew alarmed. “Oh gods! I forgot! Well, I’m sure we can arrange something in the morning? Perhaps you can send the girls out on a marathon run or something. I think Rona’s just about ready to lead them on a simple drill like that, don’t you?”

Kennedy smirked. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“You’re a good drill sergeant, Ken,” Willow said.

“Yeah, but I’m an even better kisser,” Kennedy said and moved in to prove her point.

The End

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