(Fic) In Sure and Certain Hope
A while ago, I wrote a couple of stories telling how Kennedy died and Willow had a mysterious naked encounter with a snake demon goddess (see icon). This is the sequel to those tales; it helps to have read them, but isn't essential. All you really need to know is, well, Kennedy's dead. And Willow has been off committing acts of nakedness with a snake demon goddess. (Who promised in return to teach her the secrets of powerful healing magic).
Note: in the previous stories, I gave the goddess the name 'Nehushtan', which was the name of a powerful snake spirit in Hebrew mythology. Buffy episode 8.15 has now revealed that her actual canon name is Saga Vasuki, which is the name of a powerful snake spirit in Hindu mythology. I've dealt with the conflict in this story.
I've written the fic from Kennedy's POV, which is a first for me. Especially since, as I said, she's dead. :-)
Setting: Takes place in February 2004, after the end of Season 7 and before the start of Season 8.
Rating: 18 (There's a fairly explicit sex scene taking up about 10% of the wordcount).
ETA: Director's commentary on this fic is here.
In Sure And Certain Hope
It's quiet here. Soft and warm. Enveloping. She drifts, empty, silent, still.
There are no memories of pain or sorrow to shadow her existence. No grief or worry.
Something's wrong. This isn't...
Only an endless comforting blank nothingness, forever and ever.
This isn't... I shouldn't... I'm not...
In the silence of eternity, the self is submerged into the unity of the whole.
I will not... There's something... I am... I am...
The tiniest of sounds, but it shatters the crystal perfection holding her in its silver grip. Time begins slowly moving around her again, faint and tremulous as the first faint rumblings of an avalanche.
A word. A name. My name. Identity flows back in, thoughts move faster.
She has no eyes here, but she can see the moving figure in the distance. Quartering the ground, peering to and fro, searching. Searching for her.
She has no voice here, but she calls out a name. And the figure comes rushing towards her, faster than thought, crying out her name again, not in enquiry but in greeting and triumph.
There are no bodies here, no familiar human forms, but the glittering red-golden form shining in front of her is instantly familiar. She'd know her anywhere, in any world. She has no mouth here, but she smiles in welcome.
"Hey, Will. Come to take me home?"
It's hard to picture a glowing avatar of divine light getting flustered, but somehow it happens for a moment, then the voice of her lover echoes in her mind. "Uh, that's the plan. Unless you'd rather stay here?"
"Nah. It's boring, there's nothing to do except contemplate your navel. And since I don't have one here anymore, that got old real fast."
The glowing avatar of divine light grins. "Come on then. Let's go home."
Kennedy stands up - despite her lack of feet, or indeed of ground to stand on - and looks around.
"Um, do you know the way? It all looks the same to me."
"Of course." Kennedy reflects that a glowing avatar of divine light can actually project quite a range of facial expressions, despite its lack of a face. This one is currently looking smug. (Not to mention cute and huggable, but that's something that will have to wait until she has, you know, arms.) As she watches, the figure gestures, and then a glittering silver cord fades slowly into existence. One end of it, anyway - the other stretches far away into infinity.
"Okay. Cool. Let's go."
"You'd better hold onto my arm. Don't want you getting lost."
"But you don't have an-- oh. Now you do. Clever."
And so they move off, Willow gathering up and wrapping the silver thread around her hand as they follow it down.
"So what if there's a demon or something winding up this thread from the other end, and we meet in the middle?"
Her tone is light-hearted, but Willow's flat answer gives her the clue that all of this isn't quite as easy as her girlfriend is making it look.
"We overpower it. Force it to show us the way back. Or kill it, and trust to luck."
Kennedy stays silent after that, her hand on Willow's arm and the glittering cord the only anchors in a shifting cloudy grey nothingness. There's no time, no breath, not even a heartbeat to measure the passing minutes, so she doesn't know how long it takes, but eventually Willow stops.
"We're here." It doesn't look any different to her eyes, but she trusts Willow.
And Willow vanishes.
"Hey!" What was that about trusting her? Kennedy feels the emptiness tugging at her again, and she remembers now, she's felt this before. This is how it started, where it started, and that means...
White hot pain lances through her chest, impaling her on a spear of agony. She screams, clutching at it, collapsing inward, wrapping herself around the pain until it pulls her in and twists her inside out. Her heart pounds inside her, sweat springs up all over her skin, her lungs gasp frantically for air, her hands claw at the carpet beneath her...
She opens her eyes - then instantly closes them again as the harsh brilliant light of the sun dazzles them. But it was long enough to catch a glimpse of Willow's panic-stricken face staring at her with pleading, desperate eyes.
Willow's in trouble. She needs me. I've got a body again! God, it hurts, can I give it back?
Then there's a hand on her forehead, and the pain... vanishes. Melts away in the gentle healing warmth that spreads out from the touch on her skin. She blinks her eyes open again, squinting through her lashes to shield out the glare.
"What's the matter? Has something gone wrong?"
"No. Oh Goddess, I'm sorry, I didn't realise... it wasn't supposed to hurt."
"What wasn't - oh! You mean bringing me back to life?"
Willow nods, biting her lip and wringing her hands together. "I'm really sorry..."
"But you healed me, didn't you? Your hand just now, you healed me? So it worked? You got what you wanted?"
"What? Oh, yeah, I've got lots of new stuff now. But I never meant for you to..."
"Forget it. I said I'd do this for you, and I did it, and it worked. So we've won, and we should be happy."
She tries to get up, and her head spins and she quickly lies down again.
"Do me a favour and pull the curtains across, would you?"
As Willow hastens to comply, Kennedy takes stock of herself. The pain has gone, she just feels dizzy and tired and weak. Apparently being dead can do that to you. And there's a funny taste in her mouth, and her skin feels kind of gritty. But all her major organs and limbs seem to be still attached, and experiment shows that she can still move them.
"Can you sit up, if I support your head?" She tries, and then there's a coolness against her lips, and she opens her mouth to the blessed taste of pure water. She opens her eyes again, and in the dim half-light of the curtained room she can see Willow kneeling beside her, still looking anxious. Not to mention naked, which surprises her until the memory floods back of how this started, all that time ago--
"How long has it been?"
"Huh? About three-four minutes, I went to the kitchen to get the glass..."
"Dumbass. How long was I dead?"
"Oh. Y'know, I don't know. It's been one night and one day for me. How long was it for you?"
"Longer. Or maybe no time at all, I can't tell." She sits up fully, and grey feathery strands drift off her body and float to the ground. She looks at them, puzzled, then realises what it is. Why her skin feels so gritty. It's dust. "I'm covered in dust!" She brushes at her arms in shock, repeats her words in sheer disbelief. "I'm covered in dust!"
Willow looks at her in astonishment; their eyes meet... then suddenly, simultaneously, they both burst into giggles. Arms mutually encircling, they cling to each other in a helpless fit of laughter, as Willow chokes out "S-s-s-o much for b-b-being houseproud."
"M-maybe you need to get a f-french maid outfit and a feather duster to get me clean."
"Don't tempt me."
At last they calm down, and Willow looks over at the side table where she's left her mobile. Rather than get up - which would mean letting go of Kennedy - she gives the phone a Significant Look. It obediently floats up through the air and drops neatly into her outstretched hand. "This'll tell us the date... oh. Battery's run down."
"Try your computer? Anyway, while you're doing that, I think I need a shower."
"Sure you wouldn't fancy a bath? The candle shop had some new scents last time I went. Just make sure you don't use the Toad, that one's for rituals not bathtimes..."
"Nah. A bath's too relaxing. I've been dead for... however long it was. I need reinvigorating!"
Kennedy stands up - she has to pause a moment as a fresh wave of dizziness takes her, but she's already feeling much better than a few minutes earlier. Laughter is clearly, um, the third-best medicine (with Slayer healing powers being the second and Willow herself, obviously, being number one. Always.) She smiles at her lover as she pushes open the door to the bathroom.
There's an antique full-length mirror against one wall, and she studies herself carefully in it for a few minutes. First things first: she does have a reflection, which gets rid of one nagging little worry she's had ever since Willow brought her back to life. She looks a bit pale, but otherwise trim, fit as ever, and still damned sexy if she says so herself. Although the rust-coloured smears all over her body aren't helping much. She looks down, and there's a crusted scab between her breasts, right over her heart. She rubs at it, and dried blood flakes away under her fingers and reveals smooth, unblemished brown skin beneath. Huh. She shrugs, and steps into the shower cubicle.
She lets the water run for a while, sluicing away the grime and dust, then reaches over to the temperature control and twists it all the way to the left. Then screams in mingled agony and exhilaration as freezing icicles slam against her skin, sending shocks right through her and blasting away every last cobweb in her brain. She dances from side to side on the spot, unable to bear the cold on any one part of her for more than a second or two...
"What's wrong... oh." Willow has dashed in, hearing the scream, then her worry fades and her expressive mouth curls into a grin as she rolls her eyes. "I forgot. I'm living with a masochist."
"C-c-c-cold showers are part of my c-c-cultural tradition. D-d-don't mock them."
"Your cultural tradition? Are you speaking as a native New Yorker or a Mexican-American, 'cause I don't think either of them are...?"
"Adopted t-t-tradition then. I'm an English boarding school g-g-girl as well, don't forget."
"Was the plumbing there really that bad? And did they-- sweetie, uh, I don't want my first use of my new powers to have to be curing you of hypothermia. Are you sure you're okay?"
"F-f-fine. Though maybe I do need warming up...?" Kennedy reaches out a hopeful hand, but Willow shys away as if it were on fire.
"No way you're getting me in that thing."
"Ch-ch-choices, choices. Cold shower or hot Willow?" Kennedy grins, then reaches over and shoves the temperature control back to a more civilised level. Immediately the bathroom fills with steam, and she does her best to bat her eyelashes in a winsome and imploring manner. Willow snorts at that, but this time at least she doesn't pull back when Kennedy reaches out to touch her again.
"I've been kind of dead. I want to know I'm alive again." Willow still seems strangely hesitant - maybe the magic took more out of her than she's letting on? So Kennedy tries a different tack. "At least you can scrub my back for me."
"Well, okay. As long as you scrub mine." Willow manages a grin at that, and a few seconds later the bathrobe she's put on in the meantime is lying pooled around her feet again. She steps over the rim and joins Kennedy in the shower.
"You can help me wash the dust off. I still can't believe that, you know. How long was it?"
"Um... longer than I thought. A month."
"A month? A frickin' month?"
"'Fraid so. Today is February 23rd. Um, still 2004, thank Goddess. It's the late afternoon. And you would not believe how many emails we've got stacked up. I haven't even dared to check the phone messages..."
"February? An entire month?"
Kennedy rests her forehead against Willow's shoulder, still trying to process it. Willow pats her awkwardly on the back. "I-I'm still getting used to it myself. I said it was only one day for me..."
"I've been dead a month?" She snorts with sudden laughter. "Why am I complaining? Most people who die are dead a lot longer than that..."
"Was it... are you okay, sweetie? Really? 'Cause when Buffy came back, uh, I mean, when I brought Buffy back, it was pretty bad. For a long time."
"Now you tell me." But Kennedy says it with a smile. "I think I'm okay. Not got the urge to eat your brain or anything like that. Well, not that it's your brain I'd want to eat anyway..."
"You've kind of got a one-track mind thing going here, haven't you?"
"Oh come on. It's been a month!"
"But we--" Kennedy suddenly stops, and decides to try a radical new approach instead: giving the other person chance to talk about herself. "What was it like for you? What sort of tests did Nehushtan put you through?"
"What's that mean?" And why does Willow seem even more uncomfortable now?
"Uh, it's the name she prefers to use these days. 'Cause, I suppose when you're a billion-year old goddess you pick up all sorts of names, and it's like clothes, you use one for a while and then you get tired of it, or you associate it with that party where the guy, or, uh, girl you fancied goes off with someone else so you never want to wear it again 'cause it brings back the pain, so you..."
After a while Kennedy tunes her out, only half-listening to what she says. She's known Willow long enough to recognise her classic avoidance tactics when she sees them; but she's also known her long enough to realise that head-on confrontation rarely works out well. So instead she grabs the shower gel from the shelf, kneels down and rubs up a lather in her hands, then starts stroking them gently up and down Willow's leg. After a while her girlfriend's long, complicated explanation trails to a halt, and Kennedy's sure she's breathing more heavily than she was.
"I thought you were planning to scrub my back, not my legs?"
There's a husky tone to her voice that wasn't there before, and in the privacy of her mind Kennedy thinks "Score!" But outwardly, she smiles demurely and says "I can if you like."
So she stands up, and Willow starts to turn her back; but Kennedy puts her hands on her shoulders to stop her, then squeezes out more gel. She grins at Willow's confused expression.
"Got a better way of doing it."
And with that she slides her hands under Willow's armpits and encircles her back, rubbing the foam into her body and taking a moment to slide her finger down the length of her spine and make her gasp and arch her back, and their breasts are pressed together and Willow's breath is warm and fast in her face, and her heart is thudding.
And Kennedy tilts her head for a kiss, and again there's that strange moment of hesitation, but then Willow's mouth meets hers and her lips are parting, and her own arms are embracing Kennedy and their bodies cling together, and Kennedy's own excitement is mounting hot and hungry inside her, and she twists them both around, Slayer grace keeping her sure-footed on the wet, slippery floor of the shower, putting her back to the wall, feeling her own urgency, then gasping in shock and pleasure as Willow's fingers unerringly seek their target, push up deep inside her, thrusting right to her core. It's sooner, faster, more than she'd normally like it, but now it's perfect, it's exactly what she needs, it's like Willow's read her mind, except of course she's promised she doesn't do that (except in emergencies) but Kennedy's sure she cheats sometimes, not that she minds if this is the result, and she can feel herself starting to spasm, her muscles clamping down around Willow's fingers...
Which are suddenly withdrawn, leaving her hollow and whimpering at the loss. Kennedy's heard of delayed gratification and decided long ago that she wants nothing to do with the concept. But Willow's got an odd expression on her face, almost timid, and she asks hesitantly "C-can we do it like this instead?" And she's pushing her thigh up against Kennedy's crotch, wriggling it to and fro so it sends shivers up inside her. So she only hesitates for a moment, then sets her feet apart so Willow can put her leg between Kennedy's, and as she does Willow suddenly devours her in a deep, passionate, hungry kiss, all her reserve gone, tongues swirling and intertwining, clinging to her lover desperately. She braces her leg on the rim of the cubicle, and they're moving together, Kennedy grinding herself into Willow's thigh, wet and slick with more than the shower water, faster and harder and closer and faster and deeper and faster until she gasps and screams and her whole body shudders and the world spins and darkens and it's only Willow's leg beneath her and arms around her that stop her from falling.
And when her breath slows down and she can hear herself again over the thudding of her heart she smiles up into her lover's eyes and breathes a 'Thank you' and then a 'My turn now'. And there's no reluctance or hesitation left in Willow that she can see, but she does say "Can we get out of the shower first? I don't wanna turn into a prune. And I'd like to make love in our own bed."
Kennedy grins, her insouciance returning. "Whatcha like me to do to you there, eh? Other than make you come lots of times, of course..."
"That sounds like a good plan itself..." Willow hesitates. "I really do love you. And I've missed you."
For a moment, Kennedy wants to push, ask the question... but she doesn't. She's got her Willow back, and that's all that matters. All that will ever matter.
"'Course you did. And I'm going to show you what you missed."
Hand in hand, all coy smiles and giggles, they make their way to the bedroom. Unregarded, over on the other side of the room, the 'Messages Waiting' sign still flashes on Willow's phone...