parts 22 and 23
“Well, this has certainly been cleaned up, and the stitches were placed quite well, considering that they were in an arm and you were probably awake. If I hadn’t seen you yesterday before dinner to know that you had no injuries, I’d think these were a few days old already,” Ms. Weaver shook her head, and sighed. “These are healing nicely, but what I have to ask is what caused this? The pattern suggests something with a very large mouth and very sharp teeth bit you, almost like a shark, but there shouldn’t be any sharks in the city, and you wouldn’t be swimming with them.”
“The helpful nurse who put the stitches in assumed it was a dog, and suggested I make certain to watch for signs of rabies,” Kendra allowed herself to smile.
“A dog?” Ms. Weaver glanced at the many stitches and snorted. “What really happened?”
“I let her think it was a dog because that would be easier for her to deal wit, to understand,” Kendra paused, and looked at the nurse. She hadn’t talked much about her past, and Kendra had no idea if she had any previous encounters with magic, or demons, or vampires. But as the closest source of care, she would have to find out eventually.
“Life isn’t about easy answers, Kendra,” her voice held traces of old sorrow.
“It was a demon. It attacked a couple who were out for a walk, killed de man, would have likely gone after de woman. Vanessa was very upset, and I walked her back to her apartment. She happened to share de apartment wit’ a nurse, who put in the stitches,” Kendra shook her head. “It is me destiny to hunt and slay demons and vampires. This will not be me last wound from fighting.”
“What will be the last one? It looks like this thing came close to catching your bone… how large was this… demon?” Professional concern for the injury warred with dismay and fear.
“One day, I will not be strong enough, fast enough. One day, this will be de death of me,” Kendra answered, her voice low. “I do not expect it to be a gentle death.”
“If you know that this will one day kill you, then why…?” the woman couldn’t find the words to finish her question, her eyes growing wide and her color taking on an unflattering greyness.
“If not me, who? I know some of what is out dere, and could not stand back and do not’ing while monsters kill people, destroy hopes and futures and families. Everyone dies one day, I want to do somet’ing worth it before dat day comes,” Kendra sighed, her shoulders slumping a bit, “An’ I do not want that day to be soon.”
“Do you intend to take any of the students with you? Or our future professors, Charles and Erik? Tell me that you at least have a good supply of weapons,” the nurse’s tone had become pleading.
“At this moment, none of de students would be able to help fight such monsters. They are young, they do not have the strength or skills that would be needed. If I live long enough, if we someday have a student who might be able to help, then I might ask that person. But not unless they have the skills, have the right mindset, unless they are willing. This is my destiny, not theirs, they should get to choose. As for Charles and Erik, Charles has been seeing Miss Victoria, and Erik… he went the other night, but one of the vampires was very unsettling to him, and I do not know if he will go hunting wit’ me again.” Kendra paused, letting her mind go over the ideas of either of them hunting with her. Erik’s abilities were better suited for a fight, but she would enjoy Charles’ company so much… “I take many weapons wit’ me.”
“Oh dear…” for a few moments, the nurse just stared at the stitches in Kendra’s arm, before she sighed. “I guess this means I’ll be patching you up a lot. We might want to find a skilled and tolerant surgeon as well.”
“I could no more deny me destiny than you could not know how warm or cold t’ings are around you. You heal, you offer soothing words, you help people get better, you are a shield for those who need protected,” Kendra tried to find the words to help the older woman understand. “I am the sword, to slay dangers that many others do not even know exist. Dangers they do not want to know.”
“You are not just a weapon, you’re a person. Nobody has the right to convince you otherwise,” the words had a bitter undertone that suggested that Dorothy Weaver had a few unwelcome memories that tied in to the matter of personal status and who was or wasn’t a person.
“I t’ink in this place, I can be a person, be Kendra,” she frowned at the stitches, thinking that it was all very well to say that she was allowed to be Kendra here. The problem was that besides being the Slayer, who was Kendra? She’d never had the chance before, and now… there were so many other things going on to distract her from asking silly questions about her likes and hopes.
“Why don’t you ever use more than that? You’re always Kendra, or Miss Kendra if the students are around. Why is that?” Ms. Weaver was frowning again as she asked.
“It is the only name I know. I was raised to be the Slayer. Mr. Zabuto, the one who raised me, told me that a Slayer had no family, they protected the whole world. That my birth family knew what an honor it was for their child to have the potential to become the Slayer, and that they had given me to the Watchers to raise in a fitting manner. I did not know them, not even their names,” Kendra explained. She’d tried to explain this to Buffy, when they’d first met. The blond Slayer hadn’t understood, had though the whole idea was horrible, that it had left Kendra deprived and missing something important and vital in her upbringing. At the time, Kendra had thought Buffy was being silly.
Judging from the appalled expression on Ms. Weaver’s face, Buffy wasn’t the only one who thought that way about her upbringing. As the nurse sputtered incomprehensible fragments of words and swearing, Kendra concluded that the woman was more than appalled, she was furious.
It made Kendra wonder if there just might be some truth to what Buffy had said. That maybe she had been wronged by her upbringing.
End part 22.
“Miss Kendra, can you help us?”
Jean’s worried voice pulled Kendra from her thoughts. The distraction was welcome, as her mood had become quite close to brooding, or perhaps sulking, and neither was acceptable or productive. A Slayer had better things to do with her time than brood over what could not be changed, or sulk because life did not follow her whims.
She looked up, seeing Jean and a blue Jean… the same blue as Misty’s scales, but not the normal features for the other girl. “Misty? You are aware that you look remarkably like Jean right now.”
“We were talking and then I changed and… and I don’t know how it happened or how to fix it!” Misty’s voice was higher, faster than normal, and her hands were clenched.
“Let us find a quieter area to talk about this. Perhaps one of the back corners of the garden, or near the lake?” Kendra offered. At the least, going somewhere quiet and less likely to be interrupted might help the girls to calm down.
The girls were quiet for a few moments before they spoke at the same moment, both voices blending together, “the lake.”
The walk to the lakeshore was quiet, though Kendra did mention that the path made an excellent morning jog, and that getting into better shape could only benefit both girls. Once there, they settled along the beach, well above the high water line. Jean and Misty fidgeted a bit on the pebbly sand, not used to sitting on such a surface.
“We were talking about the history paper, and then… and Misty started to look different. It was sort of gradual, and then I was looking at a blue me,” Jean offered.
“I didn’t mean to,” Misty muttered.
“Has this happened before? Your appearance changing to resemble that of someone else,” Kendra asked. Part of her wondered if it would be unsettling to look at someone who shared your features but had such a different complexion. Another part of her mind was sorting through memories of different types of demons. There were several sorts who could perform a degree of shape-changing, even a couple that were highly metamorphic. While Misty didn’t feel like a demon, some of the principles might carry over.
“yes,” the word was almost too quiet to hear.
“Have you ever changed size, or to a shape that wasn’t shaped like a person?” Kendra asked. There were six, maybe seven types that she was remembering, six types of demons and one aftereffect of a mystical ritual. If she could figure out which explanation was the closest for Misty…
“No. Normally I look a bit like someone else, but it fades after a while. I looked a bit like my mom for almost an hour once,” Misty sighed.
“Does your hair ever change, or are you just lucky that I’m a redhead too?” Jean asked. “That seems a lot more interesting than hearing what people didn’t say.”
“Sometimes my hair changes. Sometimes it happens just because,” Misty sighed and leaned her chin on her hand.
Kendra considered the girl a few moments before asking her next question, “Charles… Professor Xavier believes that the differences that give you and the other students their special abilities are linked to genes. If this is so, then they could be passed on from your parents. Do you know if there are any strange abilities in the families of either of your parents?”
“My mother has said over and over that there’s nothing like this on her side of the family, that they’re all normal. Except for the part where I’m her mistake, the reason why she had to stop going to college,” Misty picked up a handful of pebbles and started throwing them towards the lake. “I don’t even know if she knows who my father is, or if she just had too much to drink at a party one night. She won’t talk about it.”
“There are stories that I have heard of some who can change their shape. From those stories, the changing is an effort of will, that if they have seen a person, the can sometimes manage to match their features exactly. I was cautioned that just because they can match someone’s form does not mean that they speak or act in the same way. It sounded as if holding a shape was a matter of will and practice, like good posture,” Kendra decided not to use the word ‘demon’ if she could avoid it.
“There’s a lot of detail to look just like someone,” Misty offered.
“One of the t’ings I was taught is how to meditate. It helps clear my mind, helps me to keep my emotions under control, to remember t’ings, and to push past me body aching or not feeling well. It can help in place of sleep for a while, and helps to keep away bad dreams,” Kendra explained. “I t’ink learning this would help both of you.”
Kendra explained a few basics, and told the girls to get comfortable, close their eyes, and focus on the image of a candle flame, pushing all other thoughts and pictures out of their minds. She watched as they closed their eyes, fidgeting a little.
Misty licked her lips, parting them in preparation to say something.
Jean spoke, her eyes still closed, “Yes, I can really hear what people are thinking. I’d like to not hear what they’re thinking most of the time. Toby was trying to cheat for the quiz. Justin smokes when he thinks nobody’s watching. And Nurse Weaver listens to Elvis Presley.”
“When you are more skilled, there are tricks that I know that are to help keep others from influencing my mind. They may help you to keep the t’oughts of others out of yours,” Kendra didn’t add that Jean was supposed to be trying to meditate instead of answering Misty’s questions, or that most would consider it more polite to let someone ask the questions before they were answered.
“Yes Miss Kendra.”
She had the feeling that trying to teach these girls how to meditate would be its own sort of challenge. Not as painful as fighting vampires, not as easy to explain as teaching fighting, dodging, and general fitness… then again, meditating and knowing your own mind could be a very useful skill in a school for people with special abilities. But at least this was something she could start while her arm healed.
End part 23.