Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (tv)
Characters: Kennedy/OFC (her female Watcher)
Summary/Teaser: To live in this world you must be able to do three things
Spoilers: None
Notes: I saw Ari's request for the femslash_minis Kennedy round (pair Kennedy with her original Watcher; want: Pre-S7. Gone With The Wind. Horses; don't want: Other Buffyverse characters, death) and I couldn't resist. (And I don't even like Kennedy). Making this fit with canon was beyond my capabilities, but I did my best.
Word Count: 1309

Disclaimer: Joss&co. invented Kennedy and the world I draw from in this fic. I claim no ownership of it. I do own the story I invented, though. Don't steal; if you want to archive, just ask.

Feedback of all kinds (positive, negative, both) is cherished.


Love What Is Mortal
by Elizabeth Scripturient

Love What Is Mortal

and when the time comes, let it go

She was ten years old when Emmeline met her. Tiny, dressed head-to-toes in riding gear the same cream color as the horse she was riding save her dark brown helmet and boots. Emmeline had watched some polo in her younger days, but she had never really been one for horses. Watching this little girl crouched atop such a powerful beast, however, she recalled hearing some classmates raving about a book called The Black Stallion and suddenly it made sense.

Emmeline was waiting when Kennedy got off her horse. Kennedy shook her hand politely, but her eyes were full of disdain.

"She's had private tutors since she was 5," Mrs. Danforth offered, as if by way of explanation. "Academics, sports, arts, everything. The Council wrote us when she was only three years old."

Emmeline nodded patiently. She had already read the Council's full report on the Danforth family, and if the Council had been dissatisfied they would have sent additional personnel much earlier, but she understood that she appeared not just as a representative of the Council but as a judge.

Kennedy certainly appeared to have the spirit necessary to survive. Emmeline wondered how Mrs. Danforth would react were she to say that, wondered if the Danforths would be so supportive if they were confronted with the blunt truth of their daughter's Calling. And on the other side, the Council didn’t like to acknowledge the fact that the only way these girls could survive was through an abundance of that very spirit that caused them to bridle so against the Council.

*

Emmeline took her to a graveyard that first night.

"You're kidding, right? A graveyard?"

"That is where the vampires come from."

"You’re not gonna sic a real vampire on me, are you? I'm only ten!"

"It is hardly in my best interest to get you killed, and even a fledgling would pose a challenge to my abilities, as I am not a Slayer. But you need to get used to fighting on uneven terrain, and in the dark.”

“Who am I supposed to fight? You?”

“Of course. I may not have superpowers, but I have decades of experience on you, including fighting on uneven terrain in the dark. It will be a fair fight."

And indeed it was. Teena Pierce had trained her well.

*

Kennedy soon came to love their nighttime training sessions. Her parents worried about her schoolwork slipping and forced her to quit horseback riding lessons. She was able to persuade them to allow her to take archery as an extracurricular, however.

One week when she was twelve, however, Kennedy was grumpy and lethargic.

"You still have to keep fighting," Emmeline insisted. "Vampires aren't going to take the week off just because you have the flu."

At first, this had the desired effect of riling Kennedy and thus driving her. As the week progressed, however, it became more and more difficult to rouse the girl. On the sixth day, she refused to go out altogether. Emmeline was beginning to even try cajoling to get the girl to cooperate, and she actually found herself praying. She was weary, too, and she didn't know how long she'd be able to keep this up.

Kennedy did get up, but only to go to the bathroom. Emmeline sighed, wondering if she could forcibly manhandle the girl out the front door.

"Emmeline!" Kennedy yelled.

"What is it?"

"I'm . . . bleeding."

"Your mother stores sanitary napkins in the cabinet, top shelf. I'll get you a clean pair of underwear." Emmeline pushed out a long breath, relieved that now she had an actual cause for the symptoms -- and one that would pass.

She knocked on the bathroom door and Kennedy opened it a crack, taking the offered garment.

"I hope you know I'm not going out tonight," Kennedy said when she came out.

"Because the vampires are going to take a holiday each month when you have your period."

"Shut up," Kennedy said, crawling back into bed and turning away.

The Danforths were at a charity function and wouldn't be back until much later. Emmeline decided to give up on outdoor training for the night.

"Why is this night different from all other nights?" Emmeline asked softly.

Kennedy rolled toward her abruptly. "That's what Jews say at Passover.”

Emmeline looked up in surprise.

Kennedy made an attempt to shrug despite lying down. "I went with my friend Deliah once."

"Rituals are given power by their repetition and by the belief of the practitioners. There is no ritual for a Potential Slayer's first blood, either in this sense or in that of first kill, but I would like to make one for you tonight. The onset of menstruation is one of the truest initiations for a girl who is Chosen. Even after all these millennia, we still don't entirely understand how the Call works, but we do know that a girl is only Called after the onset of menstruation."

Kennedy looked at her with mild interest.

"I'll be right back." Emmeline went down to the kitchen and returned a few minutes later.

She held out a white fibrous item. "Take, eat."

Kennedy took it, popped it in her mouth, and then made a face.

"Horseradish, the bitter herb. The Slayer is forged in pain, and part of a neverending tradition of death. You must never forget that."

"Well aren't you a ray of sunshine?" Kennedy said, sticking her tongue out after she had swallowed.

"The fact that you swallowed the herb indicates you are willing to accept the responsibility and sacrifice." She held out her other hand.

Kennedy picked it up. "Truffles! Mom's secret stash?"

"No, she gave me some for my birthday a few weeks ago."

Kennedy ate the truffle gladly.

"A Slayer must always remember that we fight for joy -- not the joy of the hunt or the joy of the kill, but to preserve humanity."

"Do you remember the Fourth Question?"

"No."

"Why do we lean on a pillow when we eat tonight. We lean on a pillow to be comfortable and to remind us that once we were slaves, but now we are free."

*

Kennedy was fourteen when she first kissed Emmeline. Emmeline pulled back.

"You don't want to kiss me," Kennedy said crossly, and pouted.

"Frankly, my dear, you should be kissed often, and by someone who knows how; that would not, however, be me."

"Rhett was awful for her but you, you're just right."

"I am your Watcher, Kennedy."

"What better fit then? You told me Watchers are destined, same as Slayers. So in a very basic sense, we are destined to be together."

"And what have I taught you about the dangers of personal attachment?"

"Fine," Kennedy said shortly and turned toward the punching bag.

*

Emmeline lasted another year.

"Do you remember what I told you about the dangers of personal attachment?" she asked Kennedy one day.

"Of course I do," she said, focusing more intently on the stake she was carving.

"Well it's just as true for Watchers as it is for Slayers. My job depends upon sending you into danger, and I can't do that if I'm too emotionally involved. I sent the Council my resignation."

Kennedy looked up sharply. "You can't leave!"

"I can and I am. The Council has already received my papers. Your new Watcher is scheduled to arrive tomorrow."

"What? They can't just let you quit like that."

"They certainly weren't happy about it, and I will never be a Watcher again, but they can't let me stay on if I'm not fit, so they are willing to cut their losses. You've trained well, and you're in your prime. If you are Called I am sure you will do me proud."

"Yeah, sure, whatever," Kennedy said, turning back to her stake.

-----

The title and epigraph are paraphrased from the over-quoted ending of Mary Oliver's poem "In Blackwater Woods"

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.


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