The ‘village’ turned out to be a ‘rest stop’; there was a gas station, a general store and little else. The few buildings were surrounded by dark brooding trees that dripped damply in the misty rain. Kennedy watched what little activity there was from where she stood outside the gas station’s restroom, she had been in too much of a hurry to take much notice on her outward journey.
She carefully stepped down off the curb and started to make her way back towards the SUV. As she walked she saw a Sheriff’s cruiser parked near the General Store where Willow was getting a few things like bottled water and some chips, Kennedy had been craving chips for the last ten miles or so. Every now and again a car or camper would either arrive and stop or pass on through. In its own small way the rest stop was quite busy.
As she crossed the road towards the SUV Kennedy caught a glimpse of her reflection in the window of a Jeep parked a few yards in front to the SUV. She stopped dead and stared at herself.
“My Goddess!” She muttered quietly as she studied the ‘ball on legs’ that was Kennedy Rosenberg, “What has happened to me?”
Kennedy gasped in horror as she studied herself, the flat shoes (there had been no heels for her in months) the flabby white legs that disappeared up into a shapeless tent of a maternity dress. How she longed to wear something stylish and tight! To be able to get back into a pair of hip hugging Jeans, to just be able to see her feet again. Her back ached, her boobs ached, everything seemed to hurt…and there was all the weight she had put on, Kennedy hoped that her Slayer metabolism would help her lose it all after the birth.
Walking on Kennedy wondered when that was ever going to happen. Doc Zimmerman had said there was nothing to worry about and everything was normal, but she could not remember Willow’s pregnancy going on and on like this. Kennedy arrived at the SUV and pulled the door open; she sat down heavily in the passenger’s seat with her legs still in the road. Taking in great lungfuls of clean wilderness air she fought back the tears that had suddenly blurred her vision.
She tried to ration Kennedy DeSilver, rich-spoilt-brat, to two emotional outbursts a day, and as Willow was not here to see it she did not want to waste one. The thought made her laugh a little.
“Excuse me?” A male voice spoke from by the opened door.
Kennedy looked up in panic to see a twenty something man with short hair looking down at her with brown starring eyes. Kennedy gasped, she had not sensed him approach and the last time she had seen a face like that it was on the ‘Wanted Poster’ for a serial killer! Her hand felt behind her for the pistol that was hidden in the map pouch on the back of her seat.
“Sorry,” The guy was dressed in jeans and a denim jacket over a plaid shirt; he wore hiking boots and carried a small rucksack, “Didn’t mean to scare you.”
He watched Kennedy with cold eyes, no doubt thinking how much fun it would be to slice her up into tiny little bits. Her fingers came into contact with the grip of the pistol, Kennedy breathed a sigh of relief, now let him try something.
“It’s okay,” Kennedy smiled, thinking how surprised he would look when she drilled him between the eyes.
“You’re not heading south by any chance?” He asked innocently, no doubt imagining all the ways he could torture this poor defenceless pregnant woman, “’cause I could really use a lift.”
‘No way buster!’ The thought went through Kennedy’s mind in an instant, “Umm?” Was what she actually said.
“I know what you’re thinking.” The guy laughed disarmingly, Kennedy took a tighter hold of her automatic, “Mysterious stranger asks pretty girl for a ride. It’s like the first scene in some bad horror flick, right?”
Kennedy smiled, ‘He called me ‘pretty’’ she thought happily; then, ‘Only ‘cause he wants to kill me with his axe!’
“Right,” Kennedy snapped back from fantasy-horror-land.
“Well,” The guy continued, he was not going to give up he must be desperate for his next victim, “I’m Kevin Rafferty, my car bloke down just a few miles from here.”
“Good thing you’re at a gas station.” Kennedy replied levelly, narrowing her eyes and wishing this ‘Kevin’ (if that was his real name) would give her an excuse to shoot him!
“Yeah,” Kevin laughed brightly, “Well the mechanic took off for the weekend which kind of puts me in a bind because I’m supposed to be meeting my girlfriend.” ‘Kevin’ looked down as he spoke a sure sign he was lying! “We’ve never spent so much time apart and I’d hate to start now.”
Of course you haven’t, thought Kennedy, she’s probably buried somewhere really convenient
“I’d really like to help, but…” Kennedy tried to keep the insincerity out of her voice.
“No hitchhikers?” Sighed Kevin.
“Yeah,” Kennedy attempted to sound apologetic.
“Well, have a nice weekend.” Kevin smiled and walked away towards the Jeep parked in front of the SUV.
Kennedy swung her legs inboard closing the passenger’s door and locking it, she pulled the pistol from its hiding place and put it in her lap. She watched as Kevin tapped on the window of the vehicle in front. A dark haired girl turned to look at him; Kennedy’s enhanced Slayer eyesight gave her a good view as to what was happening. If Kevin the serial killer tried anything she could be out of the SUV in less than five minutes and be in time to see the poor girl being driven off to her untimely fate!
Kennedy sighed, maybe she could just shoot him through the windscreen, it would piss Willow off but it was better than having some poor girl… Kennedy stopped in mid bloodbath to look again at the girl in the Jeep. She could not be sure but…but she did look an awful lot like Faith. But, that was silly - Faith and Xander were still down in New Orleans and looked to remain there for some time. To hear Buffy talk about it there was a full scale war going on down in the still devastated areas of the city, and Faith was in charge of her own Slayer taskforce.
So what would Faith be doing all the way up here in Washington State? Kennedy thought hard while she watched as the Faith-look-alike gave Serial Killer Kevin the brush off. Faith would only be here if…Buffy Summers! Buffy had wanted Kennedy to move to the school in Cleveland when she had found out that Kennedy was pregnant. Willow had vetoed the idea. But Buffy was not the sort of person to let that stop her; obviously she had sent Faith to keep an eye on Willow and herself.
Now if that was Faith, Xander would not be too far away. Kennedy had no problem with either Faith or Xander. Faith she did not know too well, there had been the time in Sunnydale and a few meetings since. Kennedy thought of Faith as loud, brash and common; not the sort of girl she would have mixed with before Sunnydale unless she had wanted to piss off her parents. Kennedy had a sneaky admiration for Faith just the same; the way she had turned her life around made her see Faith in a different light. She was obviously something more than just a vulgar, oversexed, killing machine!
Now Xander, well Xander was one of Buffy’s best friends and all the little Slayer girls seemed to love him. Kennedy would not put witchcraft beyond Xander to get the girls to adore him, but… But he had listened to Kennedy’s problems back in the day and had given her some good advice even when he admitted to not really liking her. He had still loved Willow enough not to screw with their relationship. So Xander was more or less ‘okay’ in Kennedy’s books.
Willow opened the driver’s door and jumped in; she noticed Kennedy jump a little and the automatic resting on her lap.
“What’s wrong?” Willow cast a worried glance around the SUV.
“Nothing…I think.” Kennedy pointed to the jeep in front of them, “Don’t you think that girl looks a lot like Faith?”
Willow followed Kennedy’s pointing finger.
“Yeah she does a bit…” Willow screwed up her eyes trying to get a better look...
Just then a tall cute guy walked over to the jeep and around to the driver’s side, he opened the door and got in.
“That’s so not Xander,” Commented Willow huskily.
“Willow Rosenberg!” Kennedy nudged Willow with her elbow, “Once I get rid of this lump you and I are going to have so much sex that you’ll never drool at a guy again!”
“Was I drooling?” Willow asked guiltily.
“Yep!” Kennedy handed her a tissue, “Wipe your chin.” She ordered.
Willow distractedly took the proffered tissue and dabbed at her chin before she realised that Kennedy had been joking.
“Sorry honey,” Willow glanced at her girlfriend, “But that’s not Xander, and Faith is down in New Orleans and Buffy said that she wasn’t having us followed or anything and she’d not do anything like that after I’d said not to and…”
“You’re babbling.” Kennedy watched as the Jeep took off down the road.
Willow was probably right, Kennedy thought, it would be a funny way to follow someone from in front and there was no way that Faith would come up here to the damp Northwest without her personal bed warmer…so maybe she was mistaken. Buffy wouldn’t have them followed not after everything that Willow had said…would she?
Xander rested his elbows on the steering wheel of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and watched Willow and Kennedy through his binoculars. He was parked a couple of hundred yards down the road from the rest stop. From here he had a good view of the YSWA SUV without much danger of being spotted. He glanced over as the passenger’s door was opened and Faith climbed into the passenger seat. She slammed the door hard enough to weld it shut permanently and scowled at Xander.
“Explain to me,” Faith began as she fidgeted in her seat, “Why the fuck I have to squat in the woods like a bear when there’s a perfectly good restroom less than a hundred yards away?”
Xander took the glasses from his eye and turned to look at Faith, now would not be a good time to smile or make a smart assed reply, instead he said;
“Well, I did warn you about drinking all that coffee before we started out,” He watched Faith fume and took his life in his hands before carrying on, “Also if we’d parked at the rest stop I think Will or Ken might have spotted us and that would have spoiled the big surprise.”
“Surprise?” Faith was still having trouble getting comfortable in her seat, “Surprise, no one said anything about no surprise…and if I’ve got Poison Ivy on my butt I’m gonna make your life hell, Harris!”
“Ah but it’ll make you squirm all the more when we…OW!” Xander rubbed at his arm where Faith had hit him, “What was that for?”
“If you think we’re gonna screw in a tent you can think again!” Faith crossed her arms over her chest and looked out the window, “Fucking trees!” She hissed as she looked out at the local flora despondently; she was a city girl, the countryside was just somewhere you passed over as you flew to another city.
Xander was just warming to his rebuttal when he noticed Willow and Kennedy’s vehicle start to move off down the road.
“Okay let’s finish this later,” He started the engine and put the SUV into drive, “They’re moving.”
Fifteen miles later Willow turned the SUV into the entrance of the Pinetops Cabins Motel. The motel complex was made up of individual log cabins surrounding a main lodge. Pinetops itself was surrounded by dark, damp, woods and at the rear of the complex could be seen an overgrown clearing filled with gravestones.
“Oh how thoughtful,” Sarcasm dripped from Kennedy’s lips, “It’s even got its own cemetery!” She gave Willow a hard stare, “Thought we’d do some slaying while we’re here did you?”
“Sorry…” Willow brought the SUV to a halt outside the Reception cabin.
“NO!” Interrupted Kennedy loudly, “It’s me who should be sorry I’m being bitchy and bratty and you’re only trying to do your best…sorry, Will.”
“No,” Insisted Willow, “I should have known better…it’s like giving a recovered drug addict a load of drugs or something. You’ve not slayed anything for ages it must be getting to you.”
“So now I’m a drug addict now?” Kennedy said hotly as she turned in her seat towards Willow, “And…and we’re arguing again…”
“Sorry,” Whispered Willow.
“Don’t start,” Warned Kennedy.
For a moment the two women sat in silence.
“Let’s just go an’ check in?” Suggested Willow as the silence stretched, “You stay here I’ll…”
“No,” Kennedy opened her door and swung her legs out of the vehicle and started to squeeze herself into the open air, “I’ll come with, we’re a couple remember?”
“Yeah well we’ve been arguing like one lately.” Willow sighed heavily.
“Not enough sex.” Kennedy hauled herself upright using the door to steady herself.
“That can’t be all there is to our relationship.” Willow walked around to help Kennedy up the steps to the reception cabin.
“Works for me,” Kennedy grinned and kissed Willow on her cheek. “I have it all planned y’know?”
“What’s that?” Willow pushed the door to the cabin open with her foot.
“What I’m going to do to you when this little visitor has moved out.” Kennedy patted her tummy.
Kennedy and Willow looked around the motel lodge lobby; it contained a reception desk at one end and a roaring log fire at the other. There were a few overstuffed armchairs and a low table placed around the fire, the rest of the place seemed to be done in a fake frontier style that clashed horribly with the modern posters and leaflets for local attractions. A young couple stood by the reception desk arguing.
“All I tried to do was take you away for a nice weekend!” Pleaded the mousy blonde guy to his attractive blonde female partner.
“Here?” She crossed her arms.
“I know it’s a little creepy…” The guy was doing his best to placate his girlfriend.
“They’ve got their own cemetery!” Hissed the girl.
“Seems we’re not the only ones,” Willow smiled as she stroked Kennedy’s arm.
A woman in her late twenties manned the reception desk. “Can I help anyone?”
Willow glanced over at the young couple who were still arguing, “Reservation in the name of Rosenberg?” She asked.
“Here we are.” The receptionist smiled at Willow after consulting the ledger, “Cabin number five.”
Willow signed the register and took the key. Turning away she walked back to where Kennedy stood.
“Let’s go,” She whispered into Kennedy’s ear. “Maybe you can explain what you’re going to do when you’re thin again.”
Kennedy stood by the SUV blocking the view of anyone who might be trying to see into the back of their vehicle. Willow said the spell that would teleport their bags into their cabin. Kennedy looked around herself; the only word to describe this place was ‘dank’. The cabins were all log built, there were about six of them not counting the Main cabin, which they had found out contained the dinning room as well as the reception.
Light green moss covered the roofs of the cabins and the surrounding trees that loomed menacingly over the cabins cut down on the limited daylight. For a moment Kennedy concentrated on her spider sense and got nothing, no warnings of any sort…maybe they were safe after all. The sound of a vehicle pulling up pulled her out of her reverie.
Turning she saw the Toyota Jeep from the rest stop pull up in the motel’s small parking lot, the driver’s door opened and out stepped ‘cute guy’. Kennedy gasped so loud that Willow looked at her in panic calculating the distance to the nearest hospital. Kennedy pointed over to the Jeep.
“Faith!” They both exclaimed in shock.
Xander pulled the Cherokee off the road and down a dirt track. It bounced over the ruts and splashed through the potholes as he drove deeper into the forest. Once he was out of sight of the road he brought the vehicle to a halt and switched off the engine. In the silence that followed he could hear the sound of metal ticking as the engine started to cool down, the occasional thud as a large drop of water hit the roof and the barely concealed rage of the Slayer sitting next to him as she slowly came to boiling point.
“Blame Buffy,” Xander hoped this would forestall any physical attack on himself. “It was her idea not mine… if you remember I said leave well alone, but…you know Buffy.”
Faith let her breath out with a great whoosh she had not realised she had been holding in, she visibly relaxed.
“You don’t get away with it that easy, Harris.” Faith looked out of the windscreen and away from Xander.
“I’m gonna get Buffy for this.” Xander put his hands back on the steering wheel and starred out the windscreen. “This is putting too greater strain on our relationship. Look,” he began reasonably, “It’s just for a couple of nights and we can sleep inside the car and…”
“Wrong.” Faith turned her head slowly to eyeball Xander, “I can sleep in the car.” She poked him with her finger. “You can sleep in the tent!”
“But!” Xander looked around in panic at the dark woods that surrounded them, “There might be… things out there!”
“Yeah,” Faith opened the door and stepped out into the wilderness, “Saves me the trouble, killing ya myself.”
“Oh Faith,” Pleaded Xander miserably as he climbed out of the SUV and started to unpack the gear from the cargo compartment.
Alice clattered noisily down the stairs into the hall, as she headed for the family room the front-door doorbell rang. Quickly changing direction she skipped to the door and looked through the peephole. She saw a very tall, well built, youngish man wearing an old army jacket decorated with silver chains and studs. He seemed to be studying the front-door intently; Alice’s spider sense tingled warning her of danger.
Alice pulled open the door and smiled brightly up at the dour looking man. Who in turn looked down at her with lifeless eyes.
“Sarah Conner?” He asked; he had a really thick Austrian accent.
“Sorry, wrong house,” Alice beamed pleasantly. “Try the house down the street,” she pointed, “Number 1421.”
The man turned on his heel and without a word of thanks walked purposely out of the garden and down the road. Alice watched him go from the doorway. No way was that guy human.
“Oh well!” Alice smiled to herself as she shut the front-door.
Number 1421 was the neighbourhood haunted house, the vengeful spirits that inhabited it could be relied upon to deal with any unwanted visitors. Pleased with her quick thinking Alice skipped into the family room to find Ms Summers limping around with Tara wrapped around her leg.