Disclaimer: Neither BtVS nor Kendra belong to me. More's the pity!
It was strange, thought Kendra, looking around the noisy enormity that was Heathrow on a Tuesday morning. Strange how alien this place felt. It was nothing like the Scottish highlands where she had grown up with her watcher, often the only person she would see for weeks on end. The few neighbors there would stare at them – at her – when she went into the village. First, she was a little brown girl with her enormous red headed watcher – a quiet man whose brogue was thick and familiar. Second, though Kendra didn’t know it, the neighbors were a little afraid of her watcher. Eventually, no one stared any more, but they kept to themselves and the villagers left them alone.
The reason they were scared was simple. Sam Zabuto was an enormous man, standing over six foot six, and he was a stranger to this part of Scotland. The name, which no one else had ever heard, didn’t help. No one knew what he did with the small black girl who he kept from the small village school and who was not allowed to make friends in the village.
Things only deteriorated when she was about eleven and a young boy about the same age who had been wandering the countryside. He had come upon her practicing a sword routine, leaping high, and slashing at the air so the sun flashed on the enormous weapon. He had attempted to talk to her, and she had shyly responded. However, her watcher had come upon them about fifteen minutes later, and for the first time in her short life, he had raised his voice, sending her racing off to the large stone house on the hill. Whatever he had told the young boy, he had never ventured back onto their property and neither had anyone else.
Here no one gave her a second glance. No one seemed to notice anything odd about her. She just felt odd. Out of place at London Heathrow. Too many people. Too much noise. The air was stale. There were too many lights, too much glitz, too much commotion. He had given her a small packet of documents, including a British passport, a small plastic rectangle with her name on it, a sword in her luggage and a thick wad of strange looking greenish currency, and told her to go to Sunnydale. She had made her way via train from Glasgow without incident. The trip by train was something they had done before, of course. Those times she had visited the offices of the watcher’s council – with its dark rich woods and the comforting smell of books.
Every time she went there, she wished to be able to lose herself in the books she glimpsed along the walls of every room, but instead, she would be seated in the corridor outside someone’s office on a highly polished, stiff backed wood chair while Mr. Zabuto met with his colleagues.
Occasionally there was another young girl, usually fair skinned like those in the village, but occasionally, brown like her, with dark eyes and features that looked exotic to Kendra who never saw any other brown skinned people except for the times they came to London. She was curious about the other girls, but they were supposed to sit quietly, so she never spoke to any of them and none of them ever spoke to her. She would spend hours trying not to slide off the too tall chair.
The corridors had been poorly lit, and there were no books there, just cabinets full of old objects, some of which were weapons. The first and last time she had attempted to get a closer look, she had brushed her tiny body against the enormous glassed in cabinet, and an alarm had begun to sound. Mr. Zabuto and a half dozen other watchers had poured from the room, to stop by the doors as the security detail entered the corridor, guns drawn.
Someone had called off the security guards, and she had returned to her seat, painfully aware of the barely concealed contempt of her watcher’s colleagues. His expression had been more difficult to read. She had been mortified. When they had returned home, he had presented her with an enormous tome, full of weapons of all kinds. A few weeks later, he had presented her with a sword of her very own for the first time.
They were calling her flight. She filed down the walkway with everyone else, feeling the claustrophobia inducing press of people. It made her feel jumpy and uncomfortable. By the time she reached the door to the plane, people were backing up at the door, and everyone just crowded around, waiting. She bit her lip. She didn’t belong here. Someone would discover her secret. She felt hemmed in and just a little panicky. Then a door nearby opened and she saw daylight and took a grateful lungful of the cool, if slightly smelly air. A reedy looking man came though the door and took a large bag from the waiting flight attendant, and headed back through the door, almost dragging the heavy bag.
The passengers slowly began to board. The side door was slowly closing behind the man, when some impulse made her follow. She was outside before she thought about it too hard. She was good at not being noticed. She saw him set the bag onto the conveyor belt, and as the man turned away, she hopped onto the belt and sped up the short ramp unnoticed. Within moments, she was inside the hold. Alone. The tension began to leave her almost immediately.
She looked around as her slayer’s eyes rapidly became accustomed to the semi dark. She saw a spot, near the front of the plane, just above the baggage, where there was a small space. Some kind of equipment area. There was a canvas ‘seat’, obviously designed for someone to sit in while working on the equipment. She made sure not to touch anything, and curled up and willed herself to sleep as soon as the doors closed and she found herself in complete darkness. The warmth of the equipment kept the cold of the hold from being completely unbearable. It had never even occurred to Kendra that she was putting her life at risk.
Once asleep, Kendra didn’t wake up until the plane touched down at LAX almost eleven and a half hours later. She scrambled out, and quickly found the same kind of door as before, leaving the terminal with the other passengers heading for immigration and customs. When a similar opportunity presented itself on the flight to Sunnydale, she took it. This time, the plane was smaller, and her hiding place was much less comfortable.
The hot afternoon air in LA was terrible and it didn’t improve once they shut the hold. She felt nauseated. She remained awake, stretching periodically, to try to keep from becoming stiff.
Unfortunately, this time someone saw her coming out of the hold, and she was forced to knock him out. She ran, flat out, not knowing she hadn’t been seen by anyone else. She didn’t stop to collect her luggage. Kendra didn’t stop running until she was well away from the airport. As she walked into town with nothing but Mr. Pointy secreted in the small of her back and the small handbag containing her documents, she thought maybe she should have ridden inside the plane. Maybe next time.