Chapter One—The Freshman
All characters belong to Joss, Mutant Enemy, and Fox. This story is for entertainment purposes only. Author's Note:
Faith died, never emerging from her coma. As a result, Kennedy was called. Now she's on the Hellmouth, raring to go... Who needs Buffy, anyway? Starts concurrent with Season 4, as you can probably tell from the chapter titles, but things will diverge pretty quickly.
Kennedy waited impatiently for her watcher to get to the point. Finally, she exclaimed, “Notty, just give me the damn ID's.” Grabbing them from her startled watcher's hand, she looked the driver's license and social security card over. The driver's license was for the state of California and indicated her name was Kennedy Anne Stallings. It also showed her age to be eighteen, two years older than she actually was. “Stallings is okay, but what kind of lame middle name is Anne? What the fuck? And why again can't I be twenty-one? If we're going to the expense of getting fake ID's why not make some that'll do some good and let me have the occasional glass of wine?”
Notty gave her a haughty stare. “Need I remind you, Kennedy, that there isn't a high school to attend or you would be there instead of enrolled at the University of Sunnydale? And as far as the middle name on your ID's is concerned, it was my mother's name, God rest her soul. I would appreciate it if you would stop belittling it.”
“No, Kennedy. You have a sacred duty. At the same time, the Council feels that we should try an experiment so I have been instructed to allow you a certain amount of leeway. To attend college. To have friends. But if I believe it is truly interfering with your slaying, I will have to inform the Council. Do I make myself clear?”
Glaring at him balefully, Kennedy snarled, “Crystal.”
Notty nodded briskly. “Now, your classes do not start for another two days. So I would like you to start patrolling tonight with the purpose of familiarizing yourself with the campus. There has been increased activity there, while that in the town proper has decreased substantially. Make sure to dress appropriately for a four hour patrol.”
“Dress appropriately? When exactly have I dressed inappropriately?” Guiltily, Kennedy remembered the cotillion outfit she'd worn on her second night Slaying. But that wasn't her fault that Notty had discovered a nest the night she was formally presented. Killing those six vampires had completely ruined her dress, too. That was ten grand down the drain.
Notty nodded in acknowledgment. “Only once, true. But a caution is never wasted. Remember too, that you need to focus less on extending the fight and more upon actually slaying the creatures. Thrust and move on. Thrust and move on. Focus on that, and I am sure you will have a splendid after-action report for me.”
Kennedy sighed and nodded. “Okay, Notty. You got it. I'll try to avoid beating the crap out of any vamps and just dust 'em. I'm going to change and head out.”
“That sounds fine.”
Kennedy headed to her room. She shared the one bedroom apartment with her Watcher, Notty, which felt really cramped. She was used to a more lavish life style, having been raised around money. Kennedy was less than impressed with his excuse that the Council had arranged for the apartment. But after being called a few months ago, she had agreed with Notty that the only way for her to be effective was to leave the nest and strike out on her own. Well, with him, that is. Plus it had the added benefit of keeping her family safer.
They had slowly drifted west, allowing her to become acclimated to her abilities. The end goal had always been the Hellmouth. Now she was here, ready to show this town how a real
She shimmied out of her short dress and threw on some jeans and a short-sleeved black t-shirt. A dark windbreaker went over her shirt. Adding a couple of extra stakes and a cross completed the ensemble and she headed out.
Fortunately, she and Notty lived somewhat close to the Sunnydale campus, so it was a short walk to where she could, hopefully, find some action. But after nearly an hour of wandering around, Kennedy was no closer to finding a vampire than when she started. Then she felt it. A vampire was nearby.
Moving stealthily, Kennedy closed the distance. Her ability to sense vampires and demons was one of her better skills, one she was trying hard to continue to improve. This was one of the things she and Notty agreed on completely. Far better to know where the damn things were, than not to, and maybe become an appetizer.
Hearing a twig snap, Kennedy froze. Then moving with lightning speed, she grabbed the figure that had been lurking in the dark nearby and threw him against a tree. Raising her stake above her head, she struck!
And slammed the stake into the tree, narrowing avoiding staking the man
who stood in front of her. His eyes went wide as he registered the near miss.
“Hey! Watch it! You almost stabbed me, you know. Save that for them that deserves it.” Her almost-victim spoke with a strong, Irish brogue.
“Maybe you shouldn't be stak... er stabbed, but what were you doing lurking out here? Waiting for some poor girl to come by and then drag her into the bushes?” Kennedy didn't like the looks of the guy. Bright blue eyes looked out a relatively plain face. Short curly hair covered his head. He was about five foot, eight inches tall, with a slight build. He had a flat brimmed hat that had seen better days. Otherwise, he was dressed in a forgettable pair of worn pants, a wide-collared shirt with a sad excuse for a jacket worn over it. All in all, he was pretty unprepossessing. She slipped her stake back into the waistband of her jeans.
He sounded offended. “Hey! I wouldn't do that, lass. Actually, I'm here to help you
“Me? Sorry. I don't think you'd be much help to me.”
The man shook his head. “There's help and there's help. I'm here to help you get on your path, Kennedy.”
Kennedy's eyes narrowed. Abruptly, she moved, shoving the man back up against the tree. “How do you know my name? What else do you know?”
Despite her action, the man didn't look afraid and continued to gaze at her through blue eyes. He spoke with sincerity, “I know a lot about you, Kennedy. I know for instance about your sacred duty. You're a Slayer and... Achoo!” The man's sneeze shook his entire body. Kennedy started to leap back, grossed out by the cloud of mucus he'd expelled, then stopped, arrested by the sight of spikes shooting out and covering the man's face. Menacingly, she grabbed him by the neck and pulled out her stake again, waving it in his face.
“What are you doing? Let me go!” For the first time, he sounded a little worried, although nowhere near as much as he should
“You're a demon! You're right about me being the
Slayer. That's the problem. I slay your kind.” Kennedy started to stake him.
“Wait! Let me explain!”
Kennedy stopped. She didn't know what he thought he could say that would dissuade her from slaying him, but she decided to give him a second.
The man didn't immediately speak. Instead he concentrated a moment, shook his head vigorously, and the spikes disappeared, leaving him again human in appearance.
“Nice trick. It won't save you. By the way, what are you?”
“I'm half-Brachen demon, on my father's side. Brachen demons are peaceful. We don't go in for all of that 'send the world into hell' crap. We just try to get by. As for me, like I said, I'm half-Brachen. The spikes only come out when I'm fighting, or when I'm sneezing or something. My hay fever's been bad this summer. I always thought California was supposed to be almost paradise. They don't tell you about how all the green stuff being hell on your sinuses. It's a lot worse than Ireland.”
“Cut the crap. Like I believe you're not evil. Give me one reason why I shouldn't slay you?”
“I can give you two. First, I'm a seer and was sent to you by a vision from the Powers That Be. Second, there's a vampire right behind you!
” With that, his spikes popped out, and he shoved Kennedy away from him with surprising strength. A two by four whistled through the space her skull had occupied just a few seconds before. It narrowly missed the half-demon as well, while the vampire, with supernatural quickness, used the butt end of it to punch him in the stomach, folding him in half and sending him crashing backwards into the bushes.
Kennedy almost lost her footing as she fell backwards, but somehow managed to stay erect. The vampire in question, a tall one who looked like a sad combination between a surfer and a stoner, even to the point of wearing sandals, quickly turned and swung his weapon at her again. She easily dodged the blow and as he turned from its force, gave him a powerful kick to his lower back, making him drop his makeshift club.
“You're going to have to do better than that, blood-breath.” Wow, that was sad, she thought. She could do better than that.
“Dude, I'm so stoked. I'm going to bag me a Slayer. And I get to eat you, too. Whoa, Slayer's blood must be like Thai stick.”
“Dude? Stoked? I just wanted to let you know that the whole stoner thing? Pretty tacky even when it wasn't completely over. Why don't you people lay off the happy weed and get a damn job? The work ethic in this country sucks. Besides...” Kennedy slapped aside the vamp's powerful punch, and sliding in behind him, drove her stake into his back, dusting him. She finished with, “You're slowing me down from my 'thrust and move on' mission.”
Kennedy surveyed the scene. The vamp was dusted. The half-demon was laying in a pile of bushes, wheezing. She extended her senses, concentrating on the feelings Notty had worked so hard with her to master. No more vampires in range. Good. Now she'd deal with her other problem. “Might as well come out, the vamp's dead.”
The man slowly scrambled to his feet, holding his ribs. “Sorry, lass, I would've helped ya, but I was trying to see if there were any more of them.”
Kennedy eyed him skeptically. “From the bushes?”
He looked embarrassed. “Well, yeah. And I had a wee problem with breathing as well.” There were leaves and grass stains all over his clothes that he vainly tried to brush off.
Kennedy decided to take pity on him and tried to help make him more presentable. After all, he had saved her life. Although she was certain that without him there to distract her, she would have been fine. After a moment, though, she gave up making him presentable as a lost cause.
“All right. What's the deal? You said something about the Powers. What are they?” Might as well get down to the heart of the situation, she thought.
“They're a who, not a what. The Powers That Be. Think of them as powerful supernatural entities, mostly neutral in the battle between good and evil. They try to keep things in balance so that nothing gets too out of whack. That being said, evil cheats a lot, so they tend to help the good side a lot. That's where I come in.”
“You?” Kennedy knew her tone was doubtful. Powerful supernatural entities working through this guy? How desperate were they?
“Yes, me. I'll have you know that I've done a lot of good in my life. Why this one time... never mind. Let's focus on the now, lass. Anyhow, they gave me visions so that I can help people. I try to make sure they do what's needed and maybe help them to get on their path. That's why I'm here. I saw this group of vampires, led by this blonde lass, quite fetching she was, that's been killing students over the past few years. I figure I'll tell you where they are and you can take care of them. How's that sound?”
“Sounds like I'll be doing all of the work, while you're reaping the credit. That's how it sounds. Luckily, I'm a sucker for a sob story.”
“I didn't tell you any sob stories.” The man looked puzzled.
Kennedy nodded. “Uh huh. Your whole wardrobe reads like a sob story. Hence the pity.” Taking the man's arm, Kennedy walked him along. “Now tell me more about where these vampires are...”
Sunday paced, impatiently waiting for Skels to get back. The rest of her minions watched her apprehensively. While she was far more likely to use sarcasm than violence, no one could lead a group of vampires without occasionally needing to make an example. Which she planned to do with Skels.
“Where is he? That stupid stoner. I knew better than to put him in charge of getting dinner.”
Sally, sitting fat and indolent on a bean bag nearby, snarked, “I thought you sent him because he's the most expendable.”
Sunday stared at her coldly. “No, that would be you. Whoever heard of a fat vampire? It's sad and unnatural. I think you need to go on a diet.”
Sally, alarmed, quickly capitulated. “I didn't mean anything. Sheesh, Sunday, lighten up.”
“I'll lighten up when Skels comes back without a bag full of 'ganja, mon.' I really need to get myself some better minions.”
Just then, there was a loud knock on the door. A man's voice said, “Pizza!”
Sally jumped up. “Sweet! I haven't had a pizza driver in a long time.”
Sunday rolled her eyes. “That's because they don't come out here anymore after you ate the last four. Jimmy, go see who's there. Be careful.”
Sally pouted. “Well, he could be new. Hey, maybe that's why Skels is late. He ordered delivery.”
Jimmy opened the door. Visible in the doorway was a short, nondescript man holding a pizza box, which he pushed into Jimmy's hands. Stepping past him, the man came inside. “You owe me $22.85 for the pizza.”
Jimmy turned towards the man. “Hey, we didn't order any pizza. We ain't paying you jack.”
Sunday watched the man as he scratched his head, looking puzzled. “This isn't 1411 Pinemont?”
Sally volunteered. “No, it's 1415.”
The man looked relieved. “Oh, that's okay then. Well, just give me back the pizza and I'll be on my way.”
Jimmy scowled. “I don't think so. I think you should stay for dinner.”
“Sorry, I can't, gotta run.”
“You aren't going...” That was all he got out before he exploded into dust. The box fell to the floor. Behind the cloud of dust stood a girl holding a stake.
Sunday snarled. “Who are you?”
The girl looked at her pityingly. “Me? I'm Kennedy. The Vampire Slayer. Now where would you be going?” Throwing her stake like a missile, she dusted Andy before he got two feet, leaving just the four of them in the room.
“I heard the Slayer was blonde,” Sally said, before realizing that she had just attracted said Slayer's attention.
“Do I look like a blonde? Wow, look at you. You're a fat one. That's pretty rare in a vamp. You know, Sunday, isn't it? You really should focus on quality not quantity when it comes to minions. Even if tubby here is as big as two normal vamps.”
“Screw you! I'm going to...” That was all Sally got out before she was stabbed in the back by the pizza man.
As her dust settled to the ground, Sunday realized that she was alone with Kennedy. With the Slayer. She had always dreamed of killing the Slayer, but as long as she stayed away from her hunting grounds, Sunday hadn't gone hunting her. That would have been unnecessarily stupid. Sunday wasn't an old vampire, but she had always considered herself a smart one. Now she was a smart one in serious trouble.
Kennedy sauntered around the room, never taking her eyes off Sunday. There was something extraordinarily menacing about her casual stroll. But then that might have been the stake she had produced from seemingly nowhere. “Well, well, well. Look at all of this stuff. What are you? Packrats? Where did all of this come from?”
Sunday snapped, “Our victims.”
Kennedy looked amazed. “Seriously? So you not only kill them, but you rob them? Of posters and boomboxes? That's so... petty. I guess I should have expected something like that of someone named after a day of the week. Sunday's not exactly the classiest name there is, you know?” Her walk was slowly turning into a narrowing circle, its center on Sunday.
“Like Kennedy is? I'm going to kill you and pizza boy, too.” Sunday moved in a circle counter to the one that the Slayer paced. She had already decided that if she could get to the door, she was making a break for it. The effortless way that Kennedy and the other man had dealt with her minions chilled Sunday to the bone. She'd always imagined that if the day came when she took on the Slayer, she would kick her ass, while quipping about her clothes. Staring into the cold eyes of the predator watching her from just a few feet away, Sunday didn't feel the least like making a joke. Death was in those eyes.
“Well, considering there was a president named Kennedy, I beg to disagree.” With that, Kennedy stopped moving. Sunday noted with despairing eyes that Kennedy still stood between her and the door.
“You didn't think I was going to let you escape, did you? I wasn't Called yesterday, you know.” With that, the Slayer attacked with blurring speed!
Sunday blocked the first punch, got caught by the second, managing to get one of her own in. The hammer blow she struck knocked the shorter girl off her feet. Unfortunately, Kennedy flipped herself back to her feet effortlessly before Sunday could take advantage. Her return kick a half-second later nearly took Sunday's head off and knocked her off her feet. She managed to catch the next kick from Kennedy while still on her knees and flip the girl sideways over a couch. Sunday took the opportunity to make a break for it.
The pizza guy blocked her way with an upheld cross. Instinctively shying back from the holy object, Sunday was grabbed from behind and thrown right through a changing screen with a nature scene painted on it. As she lay there dazed, Sunday thought, I always liked that scene. Then she was picked up and slammed down across something hard and unyielding, snapping her spine.
As Sunday lay there, paralyzed, a movement above her caught her eye. The Slayer stood there holding a stake. “You know, if you weren't a vamp, I could seriously go for you. Your look is a nice balance between butch and feminine. It really floats my boat, if you know what I mean? I would have made you scream. Unfortunately...” With that the Slayer moved, the stake flashing down faster than Sunday's eyes could follow. Then everything went black.
Kennedy dusted her hands as she got up from the pile of ash that used to be a vampire. Looking around, she tried to sense if there were any more vampires nearby. Nope. So she had probably gotten them all, based upon the conversation she had overheard before she had moved in.
“I still think that you should have gone in first.”
Kennedy turned and look at him. “It worked didn't it? I needed a distraction. By the way, nice work dusting Kirstie Alley there. That was impressive. She never even saw you coming.”
The man's face brightened. “Yes it was, wasn't it? Lass, you did good.”
“No more visions?”
The man shook his head. “Not just yet. You never know though when one'll hit.” He hesitated, then asked diffidently, “What you said to Sunday? About going for her? Was that just a bit to taunt her?”
Kennedy rolled her eyes. He definitely was a guy. Only a guy would bring up a crack like that. “No, I said it because I like girls. I'm not into the whole butch, biker scene. But I also don't like them too sweet. Too much sugar gives me a toothache.”
“Ahh, I see. Well, I'm not one to judge, you know? If you're attracted to girls that's your own business. I just think it's interesting...”
“All right. I guess we should go.”
Kennedy nodded and started to leave. Then halted at his next question.
“Who does all of this stuff belong to?”
She responded, “It's probably how they disposed of their victims. Kill them, pack up their stuff, maybe leave a note, and no one thinks anything about a missing college student. If they do, it's assumed they left on their own.”
“Diabolical. Hey, you don't think anyone would mind if I helped myself to...” The man gestured towards the masses of crap clogging the room.
“Doubtful. Knock yourself out. Take my advice though, and focus on your wardrobe.”
The man, who had been examining a large boombox, looked at her. “What's wrong with me clothes?”
Kennedy scoffed. “What isn't? At the very least, lose the hat. It just cries out 'street trash.'”
“Hey!” The man looked offended, then shook his head. He started gathering up things and soon had a pile to take off with him. Despairingly, Kennedy noticed there weren't any clothes there at all.
“Lass, if you wouldn't mind carrying this box for me? Oh, and if you weren't going to eat that pizza, maybe stack that on top?” At her nod, the man grabbed the other box and they headed out. They walked for a while in silence. Finally, she saw that they were heading towards the bus station. So demon-boy doesn't have a car, she thought in disdain. Setting her box down, Kennedy watched while he retrieved a bag from a nearby locker.
“So what now?” Kennedy had been giving the situation a lot of thought. She could use someone with the man's abilities. His visions would be helpful and even better, he hadn't shied away from getting down and dirty when it counted. And her watcher had encouraged her to start thinking about who could be useful to their mission here.
“I have to head to Los Angeles. There's... someone who needs my help. Going to miss me?” His smile was a near-leer, but harmless.
“I wouldn't say that. But I was thinking. I could use someone like you. Those visions could come in pretty handy. And you don't seem the type to shy away from a fight.”
“Well, I kinda have my hands full right now, lass. But I'll think over your offer.”
They stood and made small talk for another few minutes. Then the man said, “There's me bus. It was nice to meet you, Kennedy. I hope to see you again.” With that he started to board.
“Wait. You never told me your name. Who are you?”
The man stopped and gave her a look full of mischief. “Let's just say I'm a friend.”
Kennedy frowned. So, he wanted to play it that way, did he? “What if I don't want a friend?”
The man laughed and turned away. His closing words drifted to Kennedy on the wind. “I didn't say I was yours...”
Kennedy walked back slowly. She'd dealt with another two vamps on the way, neither of which had been the slightest challenge. She was feeling the presence of yet another vampire nearby, when she heard the sounds of a scuffle. Moving fast, Kennedy headed that way.
Rounding the corner, Kennedy saw a short girl, cussing and spitting, being held in place by a vampire, who was leaning in for the bite. He had just gotten his teeth in, when Kennedy barreled into them, sending all three of them sprawling.
She rolled and came back to her feet just in time to block the vampire's first punch. Kennedy slipped his second and as he was carried past her by the momentum of his blow, kicked him in the knee, tearing his ACL and displacing his kneecap. The vampire went down, howling in anger. Kennedy jumped on top of him, planning to stake him right then and there, when he caught her hands and flipped her over his head. She hit the ground on her back with a thud, knocking the breath out of her.
Kennedy got to her feet just in time to meet the vampire's wild haymaker that put her right back down again. As she lay there dazed, she took several kicks. Kicks that would have been a lot harder if the vampire had a good leg to plant his weight on when swinging the other. Kennedy curled up into a ball, trying to escape the blows. Then the vampire was astride her, punching her in the face. She managed to block most of the blows with her arms, and slipped a couple that went through. Still, she took two more that rang her bell.
Kennedy was starting to think that her career might be shorter than she'd ever imagined when the vampire suddenly shouted and stood up. As he spun away, Kennedy caught a glimpse of the girl she had saved. She was holding a switchblade knife, its blade covered in blood. There was a look of fear on her face as the vampire moved towards her.
Kennedy stumbled to her feet, bruises and aches permeating her entire body. Damn, I hurt, she thought. Luckily, with the pain came an answering surge of anger. It carried her through driving her stake into the vamp's back and into his undead heart. She coughed as she breathed in part of the resulting cloud of ashes. Still coughing, Kennedy looked for the victim.
“What the fuck was that? Did you see that? I stabbed that motherfucker right in the heart! I know
I did. He barely noticed it! What the fuck's going on?”
Kennedy knew just how she felt. The first time she had seen a vampire was when she was twelve. Notty had taken her out of the Westchester house for an outing. What he hadn't done was warn her that he was taking her out to slay her first vampire. A vampire that he had already captured and drugged, making it little more difficult to kill than an ordinary person. Still, Kennedy had been small for her age. That, coupled with the surprise, had nearly done her in. But in the end, she had won.
Staring at the man who had been her tutor through the slowly dispersing cloud of ashes, Kennedy had known her life was never going to be the same. She'd known it even before he'd starting explaining her destiny. Of course, his explanation had made it clear just why he had her doing so much karate and judo. She had enjoyed the physical aspect of her studies, which had been a nice contrast to previous tutors who had focused on etiquette. The only physical activity her previous tutors had countenanced was riding, since every young lady needed to be able to ride in the Hunt, even if they rarely killed the foxes they hunted anymore.
The next few months had passed by in a whirlwind. Kennedy had enjoyed knowing she was special. The only thing that had sucked was knowing that there was one person even more special than her: the current Slayer. Not that Kennedy wished she would die so that she could become the Slayer in her place. But she did hope that if something did
happen, she would be Chosen. More time passed. Years. Finally, her chance came to be special. To be Chosen.
Waking up in a blaze of energy, she blurred through the day, not slowing down the slightest despite Notty's admonishments to be discreet. Kennedy had been thrilled with the sensation of speed and power, of having senses that noted every sight, sound, smell, and sensation of her new world. Then she'd had the first dream.
Shortly after being Chosen, Kennedy had her first Slayer dream. She'd dreamed fighting a huge multi-headed creature emerging from a hole in the floor of what looked like a library. Others had been around her, helping. The thing had eventually been driven back, but only after vicious fighting and heroics on the part of all involved. She'd told Notty of the dream. He'd informed her that it was a dream of the past. All Slayers had them occasionally. She wasn't to worry about it, but to tell him if she had any more. Which she had. Several more. Almost nightly. Ultimately, Notty had decided that they were needed on the Hellmouth. Which seemed to be a good choice since she hadn't had a single nightmare since.
“Earth to crazy bitch. You there?”
Kennedy looked up, startled. She had been so lost in her thoughts, that a vampire would have killed her and she would have never noticed. Then again, maybe not, since they made her guts cramp worse than her period. “What did you call me?”
The girl flinched slightly at Kennedy's growl. But didn't stop her from saying, “I want to know what's going on. What was that thing? Why didn't it die when I stabbed it?”
Kennedy eyed the girl. There was something a little off about her, but whatever it was, Kennedy could pin it down. She was about three or four inches shorter than Kennedy, about five fee two inches tall. Short blonde hair framed a round face dominated by huge dark eyes and a sensuous, pouty mouth. She was more sexy than pretty. Not Kennedy's type, but good for a one nighter maybe. From the cool look she was giving Kennedy back, the girl didn't swing her way, though. Too bad. “I'm Kennedy. That was a vampire.”
The girl frowned and shook her head. “No way! Vampires aren't real.”
Kennedy frowned. “If you believe that after what you just saw, you're a moron. Look, bitch, th...”
The girl interrupted, “The name's Veruca.”
“Whatever. Listen, vampires are real. So are demons. So you need to watch out. I won't always be around to save you like I was tonight.”
At Kennedy's reminder that she had just saved her life, the girl looked embarrassed. “Hey, sorry about the 'tude. I was just freaked out. You saved my life. I don't think I would have been able to get away. He was too strong. The funny thing is I knew there was something off about him. He smelled weird.”
Now it was Kennedy's turn to feel embarrassed. “Well, you saved my life too. If you hadn't stabbed him, I'm not sure I could've gotten him.”
“How did you?”
“How did I what?”
“How were you able to fight that thing? It was stronger than hell. And you were doing pretty good until he got a lucky shot in.”
“I... ah... that is...”
Veruca's eyes narrowed. “Don't go all secret identity on me, Kennedy. If you're some kind of vampire or demon, too...”
“I'm not! I mean, I'm not a vampire or demon. I'm the Slayer.”
“What's a 'Slayer?'”
“It's a long story. Let me buy you a cup of coffee and I'll fill you in.”
“Sure. I don't plan to sleep much tonight anyway. I'll probably have nightmares.”
“...so that's how I became the Slayer.”
“Cool. So you're stronger, faster, and all around nastier than a vampire?”
Kennedy shrugged. “Most of them. Not all. Some of the older ones are pretty tough. But most of them are just annoying little shits unless they get a lucky shot in. Like tonight.”
“Do you live here in town?”
“I just moved here with my Watcher. Right now I'm staying with him. I start UC Sunnydale next Monday. Kinda a combination of a cover and an actual education.”
“You live with some old guy? That's gotta suck. It's going to be hard to party with him cramping your style.”
“Well, it's not like I know anyone else. It's not permanent. I'll move out eventually, and find myself a place.” Kennedy didn't like that she sounded defensive as she said it. Besides, Notty wouldn't be letting her out of his sight anytime soon.
“How about now?”
“What do you mean?”
“Look, I go to UC Sunndale. I'm a sophomore. I have an apartment just two blocks from campus. The problem is, my roommate just took off. She was going to summer school to make up a couple of classes she had failed.”
“She failed those, too. Too busy drinking and screwing to study. So I need a roommate badly. The band gig is cool, but barely pays half the bills, you dig?”
“Sure, I got it. I'm not sure about moving in with you, though. I need to see the apartment.”
“Too worried it won't be blue enough for your blood?” Veruca asked mockingly.
Angry, Kennedy asked, “What the fuck does that mean?”
“I can tell you're a snob. You didn't say where you're from, but you sound like you're from back east somewhere. Probably one of those 'debutantes.' Am I right?”
Kennedy refused to tell Veruca how close her gibe was to reality. What does it matter if the apartment's a shithole, she asked herself? It's close to campus and convenient for Slaying. What more could you want?
“You're wrong. I'm taking you up on your offer. I'll move in tomorrow.”
Veruca eyes glowed. “Great. We do have to set some ground rules, first.”
Kennedy was puzzled. “What ground rules?”
“Actually, only one. I don't care who you bring in or what you do. None of my business. You'll do the same for me. But you need to know that I'm straight. I'm not into girls so don't give me any more looks.”
Chagrined, Kennedy asked, “It was that obvious?”
Veruca nodded. “You looked at me like you wondered what I'd taste like. And not in a vampire kind of way. So, as long as that's clear, I'm cool with whatever else you do.”
“It's clear. You're not my type anyway.”
Slightly curious, Veruca asked, “Exactly what is you type?”
“My ideal girl is my height, slim and fit, a little butch, but who still likes to dress like a girl. Not too busty, cuz more than a mouthful's wasted 'n all. I like her to have long red or light brown hair. Her eyes should be toffee-colored. As far as her personality, it should be a little take-charge so that I don't have to worry about dominating her.”
Amused, Veruca smiled. “You're right. That's not me. Kinda particular, aren't you?”
“Exactly. What's the address so that I know where to go.”
“The address is 2107 University Way, apartment 307. Just come on in when you get there.”
“Okay, I'll do that...”
“So that's the jist of it, Notty. What do you think?”
Her watcher nodded thoughtfully. “He's right about Brachens. The Council has never had to send a Slayer after them. They tend to mind their own business and keep out of trouble. He didn't say if he were coming back, did he?”
“No, he just said he had to help someone in LA. I don't know if he'll be back.”
“Too bad. He would make a good first addition to your team.”
Impatiently, Kennedy shook her head. “I'm not going to make friends just with people who are useful. That's not what I'm supposed to be doing and you know it.”
Unperturbed by Kennedy's outburst, Notty shrugged. “I don't see why the people who end up being part of whatever group you form cannot be both your friends and helpful to our cause.”
“Life's not like that.”
“Perhaps. Perhaps not. Only time will tell. Did you have anything else, Kennedy?”
“One more thing. The girl, Veruca Sanderson?”
“She invited me to be her roommate. She has an apartment near campus. I told her I would.”
Notty looked confused. “Told her you would what?”
“I told her I would move in with her.”
Notty shook his head. “I forbid it.”
Kennedy's eyes darkened. “You what?”
“I... look, Kennedy, no matter what that piece of plastic I gave you says, you are only sixteen years old. You are not an adult. While I am not your legal guardian, I am responsible for you. I take this responsibility seriously.”
“I've been taking care of myself since I was a kid, Notty. You know that better than most. My parents have been absentee to say the least. It's not like I'm moving across the country. It's only about fifteen blocks from here. But it's fifteen blocks closer to campus, you know? Besides, this shitty little one bedroom just isn't cutting it. I know you said I could have the bedroom, but my stuff just fit. Anyway, my mind's made up.”
He studied her carefully. She wasn't sure what he saw, but after a moment he sighed and acquiesced. “All right, Kennedy, I won't interfere. I just wish you would be careful. This 'Veruca' is just a normal girl. Knife or no knife, she is not prepared to deal with the realities of your life. Keep her as much out of it as you can. Will you promise to do that?”
“Sure, Notty. I promise. Look, there's not going to be any problem...”