It's fic! By me! And it has nothing whatsoever to do with the latest issue of Season 8!
Title: Parallel Lines
Setting: Before 'Anywhere But Here'.
Warnings: Unreliable narrator. Emo relationship angst. A sympathetic portrayal of Kennedy.
ETA: director's commentary here.
Kennedy wants to know more about Willow's history with Buffy.
Kennedy balanced the knife in her right hand, eyeing the target carefully. She weighed distances and angles... then, on a whim, shifted the blade to her left hand instead. Then to make things even harder, she closed her eyes and set her other hand down in place.
The knife flashed down in a rapid sequence of blows - chop-chop-chop-chop! When she opened her eyes again, it was buried in the wood just a millimetre from her untouched right hand, and the small circles of sliced carrot spilled across the chopping board in perfectly symmetrical, evenly-sized shapes.
She grinned in triumph and flung the knife in the air, spinning and glittering as it arced around, and caught it back-handed. As she did, there was an "Eep!" from behind her, and she spun, instantly contrite.
"Sorry, babe. Didn't hear you come in."
"I expect flying weaponry out on patrol, not in my own kitchen." Willow softened her words with a smile as she walked over to the drawer, opened it, and pulled out an entire box of candles. Kennedy blinked in surprise.
"You planning a month-long bath? Or an orgy?"
"Huh? Oh, these. No, I need to set up a teleportation circle. Buffy called, said she needs me over there."
"Oh. Right." Kennedy concentrated on sliding the carrots into the pan. "So when are you going?"
"Uh, now, pretty much."
Kennedy swallowed her instant flare of anger. She was trying to be a Good Girlfriend. So instead she said in a careful measured tone, "But I'm making dinner. For us."
"Sorry, sweetie, but it did sound kinda important. Something about a demon nest. I'll be back as soon as I can."
"Okay. Fine." Kennedy was horrified to feel the beginnings of a tear prickling at her eye. She of all people wasn't a crybaby, dammit! It must be the onion she'd been chopping earlier. She put the pan down on the stove with a little more force than was necessary, water slopping up the sides. Yes, anger was better. She embraced her anger.
She gradually became aware that Willow hadn't moved; she was still standing there, candles in her hand, just looking at her.
"I - uh, I can, uh, I mean, I'll stay for dinner first."
"Buffy needs you, you said. You'd better go."
"But I don't have-- you're mad at me, aren't you?"
"You noticed that then?" But Kennedy made the fatal mistake of looking over at Willow as she said it, and the stricken look on her partner's face almost made her resolution melt. Willow always hated quarrels, and her woebegone expression made Kennedy want nothing more than to rush over and enfold her in a huge hug. She sternly fought the impulse down again.
"You'd better just go. Demons don't kill themselves."
"Actually, some do. This one time, in Sunnydale... uh, no. Sorry. Inappropriate non-sequitur. Bad timing. Sweetie, if you really don't want me to go of course I'll stay."
That was exactly what Kennedy had been hoping to hear, but of course at that moment her inconvenient conscience chose its moment to pop up. She was still a Slayer, after all.
"Will, if there is a demon nest there maybe you really should go and help take it out."
"Don't worry. I can be late. From what Buffy said, she'll need time to get a team together anyway, this will be a multi-Slayer plus witch type job."
"Then why don't I come with?"
"Huh? Sweetie, you're in charge of the Slayer squad here."
"So? You can teleport us both there and back before either of us are missed. And it'll be fun to fight alongside you, I don't get to do that nearly often enough."
Willow started stammering. "I - uh - I d-don't think that w-would be a good idea. Really. It's n-not that I don't want you there, b-but Buffy--"
"Why would our fearless leader have a problem with it? She doesn't hate me, does she?"
"No, of course not!"
"Only it seems to me that every time I suggest going to Scotland with you, you always find some reason why I shouldn't. There'd be no room in the helicopter. I might disrupt the chain of command, whatever the hell that means. You'll be too busy with Buffy to have any time for me. What am I supposed to think?"
As she said that, a nasty suspicion blossomed in Kennedy's mind. She fought it back, dismissing it as ridiculous, but the idea wouldn't let go. Willow was spending an awful lot of time in Buffy's company these days. Time alone together, and despite all Willow's denials Kennedy was becoming more and more certain she was keeping her girlfriend away deliberately. And Willow and Buffy had a history going back forever, they'd known each other since they were young teenagers, they'd shared things Kennedy could never hope to touch...
What exactly was going on between them? Kennedy almost came straight out and demanded an answer there and then, but she restrained herself. If she was wrong, she'd only drive Willow away with her suspicions; and if she was right... she didn't want to think about the possibility that she was right.
So she kept quiet. She let the matter drop, brushed over Willow's babbled explanations and apologies, and concentrated on putting the finishing touches to the meal. She asked Willow to lay the table and get things ready, and her girlfriend obeyed the instructions meekly. By the time they sat down together at the dinner table, they'd established a détente once again, and could even smile and make small talk.
By the time they were halfway through the main course, Kennedy had decided on a plan of action. She was just slicing through a piece of meat and using the fork in her left hand to pop it into her mouth when she glanced up to notice Willow watching her. Her years at school in England meant that Kennedy had learned to use a knife and fork European-style, and she'd never lost the habit; it always fascinated Willow. So their eyes met, and Willow smiled at her, and Kennedy seized the opportunity.
"Hey, I don't think you've ever told me how Buffy reacted when she found out you were gay. How did it go?"
"Haven't I? Well, it was kind of crazy. She completely freaked, you know?"
"Freaked how? 'Oh that's wonderful' freaked or 'oh my god you're a freak' freaked?"
"Uh, pretty much the second, I think."
Kennedy felt a huge wave of relief pass through her. True, Willow was now going on about how Buffy soon got over it, and how she'd been great ever since, but Kennedy believed in first reactions. Especially when it came to Buffy; if there was one thing Kennedy genuinely admired about the senior Slayer, it was her straightforwardness. Buffy might hide things - in fact, she had quite a history of that, if Willow's stories were to be believed - but she didn't lie about them or about her feelings. Still, she decided to make sure.
"So she hadn't guessed already? She wasn't one of those 'Yeah, I've known that for ages' types?"
"Not at all. She was pacing all up and down the room like someone lit a firecracker inside her, and she kept on saying my name over and over again, like in every second sentence. It was weird." Willow proceeded to perform a Buffy impersonation, complete with gestures and facial expressions and a unique touch of her own - a tiny glamour to turn her hair temporarily blonde - which had Kennedy in a fit of giggles. She told herself it was relieved reaction.
"And this was while you were at UCS, right? After you'd already gotten together with Tara?" As usual, a brief shadow flitted across Willow's face as she heard that name, but Kennedy was pleased to see it didn't dim her smile for more than an instant before she nodded agreement. Kennedy was determined not to let the ghosts of the past haunt their relationship. Any of the ghosts.
"So in all the years she'd known you before that, Buffy never once put two and two together?"
"Well, be fair. I wasn't really sure myself for a lot of the time, or I thought maybe it was a phase I'd grow out of, or that I'd like boys more if I really pushed myself. A lot of the books in Mom's library talked about that kind of thing." Willow grimaced. "I sent her a more up-to-date bibliography, after I came out. She said thank you, but I don't know if she read through it."
Kennedy expressed sympathy, but her concern right now was Buffy, not Willow's parents. She brought the conversation back on track.
"Well, there was this one time I kinda dropped a hint. To see how she'd react, you know?"
"And she completely rejected the whole idea. She reassured me as much as she could that I totally couldn't be gay, that I had nothing to 'worry' about."
"Oh, great. Classic."
"That's what I thought. That's why I didn't mention it again, until the whole thing with Oz and Tara blew up and I couldn't hide it anymore. B-but don't get me wrong, Buffy's been great about it ever since."
"Yeah, but she knows you. You're her high school best friend, and you get special friend allowances."
"N-no, I don't think it's just that. She's--"
Willow looked unconvinced, but Kennedy - her heart still singing inside of her - hurried to reassure her. She wasn't attacking Buffy, she liked Buffy herself, Buffy had plenty of good qualities. Buffy... Kennedy had one last moment of doubt.
"You don't suppose she's repressing, do you? That's she's gay herself, but in denial?"
"Buffy?!" Willow burst out in incredulous laughter, her face a picture. "Buffy, the straightest person in Straightville, Arizona? Have you any idea how many hours I spent listening to her drooling over Angel, or describing Riley's muscular forearms to me in exquisite detail? Heck, I'm pretty sure Faith carried a torch for her at one time, but Buffy was completely oblivious. And all the time those two spent together, you'd think she'd have noticed, but nope. Buffy likes The Cock."
Kennedy grinned broadly. "I guess somebody has to. At least it keeps the population up."
"Not if all your boyfriends are vampires."
"Yeah, what is up with that?"
And so the rest of the meal passed in pleasant gossip and conversation, and when it was over Kennedy was still so happy that she volunteered to clear up and wash the dishes herself, leaving Willow free to teleport off to the castle in Scotland straight away. Willow promised to get back as soon as she could, with a sly grin and a wink that hinted there'd be something to look forward to when she did. Kennedy watched her blink out of sight in a flare of magical energy with a light heart. Sure, she knew she ought to be angry at Buffy for her covert homophobia, but it wasn't like she was the only person in the world who felt that way, and she hid it better than most - and if it meant there was no chance Willow would be having a secret affair with her: well, Kennedy was prepared to forgive a great deal.
She whistled as she carried the first lot of dishes back into the kitchen.
(Fic) Parallel Lines
It's fic! By me! And it has nothing whatsoever to do with the latest issue of Season 8!