parts 9 and 10
Morning didn’t feel much better for Kendra. Oh, she wasn’t tired anymore, but she still felt out of sorts from the long ordeal at the hospital, still confused over the differences between the vampire last night and the ones from home, and still annoyed by that ridiculous woman, Victoria Grey. Pulling on some of the clothing that Charles had found for her, Kendra slipped out the door.
Twisting, unhappy thoughts were no reason to let her conditioning slip. There was a thin path that led to the lake, and se set out jogging along it, savoring the crisp air and the many scents of the outdoors. The air was cooler than Jamaica, and held far fewer flowers. It was also much cleaner than the air in Sunnydale.
As she ran along the path, Kendra let her thoughts settle, and some of them made more sense. The hospital had been annoying, greatly because Mr. Zabuto had always been there to shield her from other administrators, as was part of his duty as a Watcher. A Watcher stood between their Slayer and any problem that kept them from performing their duty – family obligations, social services that knew nothing of demons and vampires, paperwork from medical personnel when a victim was saved or a Slayer injured… She’d never been forced to deal with annoying and tedious forms like that before. Of course the experience had been frustrating.
As for the vampire, one really wasn’t enough to get a good idea. She’d need to see more of the vampires in this new world to get a better idea what was normal. It could always be that the one she’d fought was an anomaly, and that most of the vampires here had the traditional yellow eyes, jagged teeth, and wrinkled brows. It could be that his particular bloodline carried a few differences, like that one Greek like that tended to get hooves. Once she killed more of the local vampires, she’d have a much better idea of the local ‘normal’. It would be nice if he had been normal, he had been weaker and slower than the ones that she was used to fighting.
As for Victoria Grey… The woman seemed to be from a prosperous family, and a good section of town. Why had she fallen apart like that? Sobbing hysterics and draping herself all over Charles like that, it was positively shameful. Even if the woman wasn’t a Slayer, or raised with the knowledge of what dangers lurked in the darkness, did she have to act like such a helpless twit? Did the woman have no sense of dignity, of self-respect?
Charles hadn’t even been the one to save her anyhow.
Kendra returned to the mansion, feeling a little better than she had before, even if she was still irritated by that woman. Shaking her head, she tried to push thoughts of the woman away, knowing that she had other things to worry about. Better things to focus her thoughts on.
Opening the door, she caught sight of Charles’ friend, still looking sleepy. He had bare toes peeking out under the hems of his trousers, his shirt was untucked, and he was moving with the sort of slowness of someone who is either very tired or not yet fully certain of what they’re doing.
“Good morning, Erik. Has Charles stopped muttering about not hearing the vampire’s thoughts yet?” Kendra asked with a smile.
“I think he took a break while he slept,” Erik snickered. “He seemed more shaken by that than the fact that he was really a vampire, with fangs and trying to drink that woman’s blood.”
“I suppose it would be very unsettling for him, if he always hears something from everyone. Though I must wonder how much he hears, and how he manages to think so well of people if he can always hear what goes through their minds,” Kendra offered. She wondered just how it would be to hear thoughts, and if it would be difficult to adjust to such an ability.
“So he’s mentioned. The comparison that he made is that it’s like hearing someone just a bit too far away, you can tell that they’re talking, but you can’t make out the words,” Erik said.
Gesturing towards the door, Erik asked, “Is the paper here yet?”
“I did not look,” Kendra admitted. “Instead of jogging along the driveway to the gate and back, I took the path to the lake.”
“How far did you go? Considering that fight last night,” Erik paused, his brows lowered. “I know that you’re stronger than an ordinary woman. Are you also more resistant to injury?”
“I went all the way to the lake,” Kendra laughed. “Last night was a very light patrol, with only the one vampire. I am a bit harder to injure than a human, and I heal much better. I think the water might be nice to swim in, but I do not think I would feel safe entering the water without a weapon.”
Erik’s eyes widened, and for several moments he couldn’t manage words. After a pause, he managed, “That’s impressive.”
“Thank you,” Kendra said. “As a Slayer, I can sense the vampires and demons. If you and Charles manage to get that device working properly, I wish to try it, to see if I can sense them from farther away. To see if it will let me know what sort of demons are out there.”
“Does it make a difference what type of demon is there?” Erik’s words were soft.
“Some can only be killed with certain weapons. With wood, or with iron. By fire or being cut into many pieces. If you need iron against a demon, it is better to know and have such a weapon with you rather than only a few wooden stakes,” Kendra explained.
“You mentioned iron, does it have to be pure iron, or would steel work?” Erik was looking at her foot now, shifting his weight from side to side slightly.
Kendra felt a little amused by his unease, and took a moment’s pity on him. “That depends on the demon. Some are as vulnerable to steel as to iron, others are not. And there are some that it does not matter what you use as long as you separate them into the correct number of pieces in the correct places.”
“How do you keep all of that sorted in your head?” Erik asked.
“Instead of learning electrical engineering, I learned about different types of demons and how to kill them. Instead of learning how to dance and smile at boys, I learned to use a sword, to shoot with a bow or crossbow. When you know that forgetting something can lead to a very painful death, you remember,” Kendra explained.
“Yes, that does help you remember the most horrible things,” Erik whispered, his eyes suddenly going flat in a way that hinted at ugly memories.
“You have your own horrible things you remember, don’t you? Things that burned themselves into your mind in a time and place that you would rather forget,” Kendra touched the back of his hand. “I do not know what ugliness you have seen, but you have survived it. Do not let the pain of the past destroy you now when it did not destroy you then.”
He looked at her, and for a moment, Kendra thought that Erik would yell, would have angry words about her daring to speak of what his past must hold. As he glared, the layer of pain ebbed from his eyes, and he shuddered. “You are right, there was ugliness. And I refuse to let them destroy me, or anyone else again.”
“There is more than one way to be destroyed, Erik,” Kendra warned. “There is the death of the body, and there is the slow death of the soul. The second can be much worse.”
“Now you sound like Charles,” Erik muttered.
Laughing, Kendra changed the subject. “Can you help me find the kitchen? After a nice morning run, I find that I am hungry.”
“Of course. Breakfast sounds like a wonderful idea,” Erik agreed. “This way.”
End part 9.
Charles was already in the kitchen, a mug of coffee in front of him as he rubbed his temples. He didn’t turn away from his coffee as he mumbled, “Morning.”
“Yes, and I think only one of us is really awake,” Erik replied, pouring his own mug of coffee. “Unfortunately, it isn’t me.”
“I do hope that you believe me about the vampires now, Charles,” Kendra added, pouring her own coffee before starting some toast.
“I can’t doubt you anymore, Kendra. You mentioned patrolling, and that you fought vampires and demons. Are things always so dangerous for you?” Charles looked at her.
“Last night was not that dangerous. There was only one vampire, and he was weak. I will need to determine if he was typical of the vampires of this world, or if there is a variety among the vampires,” Kendra caught the toast, and moved to pour honey over it. “I still do not know what sort of demonic threats there may be.”
“How will you know if a threat is truly demonic, rather than a strange looking mutant?” Charles was frowning now, and his finger was trailing over the rim of his coffee mug.
“Or purely human evil,” Erik added.
“I am the Slayer,” Kendra repeated. “I will know if something is demonic, or a vampire. I will know if something is a danger. There have been stories of longer lived Slayers that could learn to sense danger from humans.”
Charles made a noise, something that wanted to be a protest.
Kendra looked at him, shaking her head. She could see Erik glaring at him, and the silverware rattled in the drawer. “While the evils and dangers of demons and vampires are often more obvious than those of humans, humans have done more harm to humans than all the different demons combined. Demons kill because it is in their nature to do evil. Humans do evil for a hundred petty reasons. Because they are bored. Because they do not like something about you. Because you have something they want. Because it makes them feel strong. Because someone offered them money.”
“But…” Charles tried to protest again.
“Demons are more predictable,” Kendra said, her head tilting down to stare at her toast. “With them, you can say that it is normal for a Wukuirie to cause the deaths of humans, that it is normal for a Fyarl to beat others to death. You can not so easily say what is normal for a human to do. Some will help others, while there are those who would beat a person down to take their wallet and money.”
“What about a person’s better nature?” Charles’ voice held a bit of a quaver as he asked.
“It is a wonderful thing in those who have it, but not all people have a better nature. Some have only an indifferent and a worse nature,” Kendra spoke softly, knowing that her words would hurt Charles and his optimistic view of people.
Charles sighed, and took a sip of his coffee. “I want tomorrow to be better than today. I want the world that our children live in to be better than what we have.”
“Such a goal takes more than dreaming, Charles. It will take a great deal of work, and more people who share such a dream,” Erik paused before continuing in a whisper. “A world where a person’s faith, or what country they were born in do not matter. That would be a tomorrow worth fighting for”
“You want to build that device to find more mutants,” Kendra began. “Find them. Not just the ones who would be good at fighting for your better tomorrow against those who fear and hate, but as many as you can find. Those who can do great things and those who can do little things. Find them, bring them to a place where they will be safe, and teach them. Teach them that tomorrow can be better, teach them that they do not need to be afraid of themselves. Find and teach as many as you can, of all shapes and faces and hues, and then let them go out into the world to teach others.”
“That sounds like a school,” Charles smiled. “What would I call it? How would I explain it?”
“You told me that your power is a gift. This is your dream, your vision. It will be your school. Charles Xavier’s school for the gifted,” Kendra said.
“I like that,” Erik mused. “Of course, he’ll need to find a good many more people if he’s going to have a school. Teachers, cleaning staff, cooks, nurses for when the students get sick or injured… A doctor if there are some who fear the public hospitals.”
“Such a thing will start smaller, with a few that you find. Perhaps some will be people who have such skills, mathematicians, nurses, cooks. If this gift is given without a pattern, why not to those who have such skills? Or why not bring in concerned friends and families of the ones who do have such a gift?” Kendra suggested.
“A very good idea,” Charles was smiling now, and took a swallow of his coffee. “But is it a good idea to bring ordinary humans in as well?”
“How else will those you wish to teach learn to live with those who are ordinary humans unless they have practice?” Kendra countered. Remembering Sunnydale, she added, “Being without a special power does not make one ordinary. Me Watcher had no special powers, but he was not ‘ordinary’. Xander fought at the side of another Slayer, with no powers and no training, because he could not stand aside and let people die as he did nothing. It is not having power that makes someone brave, or great.”
“Then we must also teach responsibility,” Erik declared.
End part 10.