Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters and The Piano characters are the property of their original owners.
Glancing to the side from his seated position on a beach boulder overlooking the ocean, a very annoyed Xander watched his game partner come trotting down the steep side of the coastal hill where she’d been keeping an eye on the small group of people who’d recently left the vicinity. Drawing near an aggravated man perched atop his rock, Kennedy stopped in front of him, nonchalantly reporting, “Okay, they’re out of sight. From how the movie goes, nobody will be back for a while. We should have plenty of time.”
“Time for what?
” snapped Xander, with real exasperation now in his voice. He held up a witch’s book in one hand, irritably shaking this tome in Kennedy’s direction. “Wils was so vague in her instructions that I don’t have any idea of what we’re supposed to do! Plus, you kept shushing me every time I tried asking you, until those people we were watching left! Will you just please explain?”
The Slayer’s mouth twisted in a wry smile at seeing how ticked off Xander was at this point. Still, she shrugged, “I’m not really sure myself, but I’ve got my own ideas about what she wrote, how ‘Kennedy gets a chance to show Xander without anybody bothering them’ should go.”
Taking the man completely by surprise, Kennedy sardonically snickered for a few moments, before continuing, “Looks like my significant other finally outmaneuvered me! Willow’s been trying to get me to do this for a while, but I didn’t feel like it. Now, let’s head over to the piano, and I’ll tell you all about it.”
Striding away towards the shoreline and what was there just before the water’s edge, Kennedy heard from behind Xander stand up and hastily follow after the woman. Next came him saying in complete bewilderment, “What’re you talking about, a piano?”
Slowing down a fraction from her companion to catch up, Kennedy turned her head to frown at the man now at her side, “Didn’t you recognize them earlier when we stayed out of sight and watched?”
Keeping in step with Kennedy, Xander lifted a hand to casually wave this at his scarred face, “No Slayer super-keen eyesight here, Ken. All I could get from how far away we were was that there was a bunch of men and women, and one little girl.”
“Oh.” Kennedy seemed thoughtful for a moment, before going on, “Well, the woman was Holly Hunter, the girl was Anna Paquin, and two of the men were San Neill and Harvey Keitel.”
Looking a bit blank as he walked along with his game partner, Xander shrugged, “I recognize most of ‘em. Paquin from the X-men flicks, Neill from the Jurassic Park series, and Keitel from Taxi Driver, right? But I don’t know the Hunter lady--”
Stopping short, Kennedy gaped at the man also halting in his tracks, before irately informing him, “She won the 1993 Oscar for Best Actress for her role in the film we’re in! Xander, this place, this time--” (she wildly gestured at their beachside location) “--this is New Zealand around 1850, and it’s the start of one of mine and Willow’s favorite movies, The Piano!
A sheepish Xander shook his head, responding with, “Sorry, Ken. It doesn’t mean anything to me. As far as I know, Wils and I never watched it together.”
Kennedy suspiciously eyed the man before her, who stared back in his simple honesty. Eventually, she said in a very pensive tone, “Now that I remember, I was the one to introduce the film to her. You really don’t know what it’s about?”
“Nope,” succinctly answered Xander. Jerking a thumb towards the wooden box on the beach a hundred yards ahead, which was presumably their goal, the man suggested, “Why don’t you tell me on our way, if it’s got something to do with why we’re here?”
“It does, now that you mention it,” nodded Kennedy.
The pair of New Council members started walking together again. Taking a deep breath, the Slayer began her synopsis: “The Piano
is about Hunter as an 1850’s woman named Ada who can’t or won’t talk. She uses sign language with her daughter -- that’s Paquin -- to communicate with others, but Ada doesn’t care about this. Playing her piano is a lot more important to her, and she’ll do it as much as she can. Anyway, Ada got into an arranged marriage with Alistair, one of the guys we just saw, who’s played by Neill. The ship which brought her and her daughter here in New Zealand left these two alone on this beach, along with their stuff and the piano, which didn’t make Ada happy at all. Her new husband didn’t like it either, with Alistair saying there wasn’t any way to move the piano to his house, or even any room there for it. The rest of the film goes on to show how the piano affects all the characters’ lives, right up to the end of the movie.”
Listening intently to all of this, Xander pointed at the box they were now close to, saying doubtfully, “We’re not here to, I dunno, swipe the piano?”
“NO!” yelped Kennedy, with an actual note of horror in her voice. Stopping before the crate, the young woman fervently declared, “That’d make the whole film totally pointless if it’s gone!”
“Okay, okay,” soothed Xander. He dubiously eyed the boxed piano for a few seconds, to then ask in absolute bafflement, “So, exactly what are
we supposed to do?”
Kennedy dryly corrected, “Not you, me.”
She smirked at the confused man, just before mentioning, “There’s one thing you might do first, though, Xander. Can you open the top of that box so we can put it back together later without it being noticed? In the movie, they’ll return for the piano, and we can’t let anybody know someone else was here.”
Bending down to pull a knife out of his boot sheath, Xander straightened up with this blade in his hand, along with a confident assertion provided to Kennedy, “No problem.”
The man walked once around the box, studying all the top planks, and then he began to carefully pry these off with the knife. Quickly finishing with Kennedy’s help, the loose planks were dropped onto the sand by the opened box. Xander bent over to return his weapon back to its former position. When he was upright again, the Sunnydale native blinked at Kennedy offering him the video camera she’d been carrying in her pocket. After a moment’s hesitation, he accepted this, with yet another expression of puzzlement on his face.
Giving him her own wry look, Kennedy snorted, “I’m certain Willow would be really cranky if she missed this. Okay, start filming.”
“Uh, sure,” Xander managed, holding the camera up to his features and starting it while aiming in the general direction of Kennedy standing in front of the piano on the starkly-beautiful beach. Through the view finding, Xander now watched the Slayer lift up and back the keyboard cover, and then place her graceful hands in the proper position on these black and white levers. Just when Xander began to realize what was about to take place, Kennedy started to flawlessly play the piano.
After a period beyond measure, the last poignant chord died away, and Kennedy gently replaced the keyboard cover. She turned to Xander still pointing the camera at her. Taking his finger off the operating button, Xander slowly lowered the recorder, revealing an awed face. Eventually, he whispered, “Wow. Kennedy, that was… Wow.”
Giving him an appreciative little smile, Kennedy chuckled, “It wasn’t too bad, I have to say. Now that Willow and I have a piano for me at our apartment in the castle, I finally got rid of the rust in my technique which started when I had to go to Sunnydale.”
“Huh?” choked Xander. He tried again, “Kennedy, I didn’t even know you could play at all! Much less like that!
The Slayer’s eyes sparkled at this heartfelt praise, but she said modestly enough, “Oh, I’m fairly talented for an amateur, but there’s a real big difference between what I can do and a genuine professional, Xander. It’s one of the few things I’m glad my parents pushed me into learning.”
Xander’s eyebrows rose. He knew like virtually all of the surviving Scoobies, the woman before him had little contact with her father and mother in New York City ever since the Sunnydale collapse, but he didn’t know the full story. Not sure of what to say, the man sensibly stayed silent.
Seeing this, Kennedy sighed depreciatively, but she went on regardless, “My mom and dad never had much of a loving relationship with me, Xander. We’re not very demonstrative in our family. As best as I can describe, it was mostly cordial. It didn’t really help either when I came out as soon as I could. Anyway, my piano playing was something my folks thoroughly approved about, despite me getting away with refusing to perform for their friends on cue. I’d just play for them, and for me…until Willow. And now, you.”
Straightening up, Xander now said as sincerely as he could, “Thank you, Kennedy.”
“You’re welcome, Xander,” was spoken in equally honest gratitude.
Smiling kindly at the one-eyed man, Kennedy then impulsively offered, “When this game’s over and we get back, why don’t you come to dinner with us at, oh, Friday? I’ll play for you and Willow afterwards.”
A delighted ear-to-ear grin blossomed on Xander’s face, as he instantly accepted, “You bet! Can we hear again what you just did?”
Her ripple of clear laughter ringing in the New Zealand air, Kennedy cheerfully responded, “I don’t see why not. Okay, let’s close it up again, and then get out of here to the next challenge.”
The superhuman woman and her companion amiably began working together to restore the box’s planks. A quick application of her Slayer strength with a thumb shoved the nails holding everything in place back into their original positions. Xander stepped back a pace to cast a critical eye over everything. He soon nodded with satisfaction.
A few moments later, after one last look around at the picturesque seascape, two people vanished in thin air. Left behind in the lonely location, a piano patiently awaited its next opportunity to touch the souls of those listening to this magical instrument.