A POSTCARD FROM HELL III.
Willow instinctively grabbed hold of Kennedy as she fell into her arms, the sound of the gunshot still ringing in her ears. Willow tried to hold Kennedy up but she was just too heavy and together they slowly collapsed onto the floor. Willow looked down into Kennedy’s face; the young woman’s eyes were wide with shock, pain and fear. Slowly her eyelids flickered and closed.
“NOT AGAIN!” Cried Willow as she cradled her lover’s body in her arms, “Please honey don’t die!” She begged.
Johnny crawled towards Willow, as he did so his hand touched Kennedy’s leg, and he found himself in the vision again. He saw the town in flames, the bodies of the townspeople lying sprawled in the street. In amongst the flames and carnage stood Willow Rosenberg, not the red-haired, green-eyed, smiling Willow. But a dark evil Willow with black hair and lifeless black eyes who turned people into living torches with just a glance.
Willow sat on the floor of the bank with Kennedy’s head cradled in her lap; her tears falling on to her lover’s face. Willow was vaguely aware of people running and screaming around her, she looked up to see Johnny’s face inches from her own he seemed to be saying something, but she could not hear what.
She just wanted it all to stop! She had just wanted to grow old with Kennedy and the baby, now that would never happen, She knew how to stop it all, how to make sure this would never happened again. She looked up at the would-be bank robbers who stood looking stupidly at the gun that had taken Kennedy’s light away. Willow wiped her eyes on her sleeve, and smiled down at Kennedy.
Sheriff Walt Bannerman sat in his office with Doc Hurst the county coroner; Walt placed a glass of whisky in front of the coroner.
“How’d they die?” He asked.
“You’ve got me there!” Came the Doctor’s answer as he took a sip of whisky, “It’s as if some one just flicked a switch and they stopped living! They’re the two healthiest corpses I’ve ever seen! Maybe they died of shame after shooting that girl? How is she, do you know?”
Walt leaned back in his chair and took a sip from his own glass, “As you know Doc the .38 calibre Police Special is not the most powerful hand gun in the world! The bullet broke a couple of ribs, there’s some internal damage but the hospital says she’s doing fine!”
“What about the pregnant girl she was protecting?”
“Gave birth to a healthy baby girl the same night!”
Johnny Smith walked along the hospital corridor looking for room G16. After a few wrong turns he eventually found it, knocked on the door and walked in. Willow was sitting up in bed supported by piles of pillows, in her arms she held her new born daughter. In the room with her was a short woman about Willows age with long blonde hair, she seemed to have something wrong with her right eye, she fumbled for a pair of dark glasses before she turned to look at Johnny.
“Hi Johnny!” Cried Willow cheerfully, “Come and see what I’ve got!” She gestured to the baby. “Oh! This is my friend Buffy. Buffy this is Mr Johnny Smith; he’s been very kind and helpful during our stay. He’s also put up with a lot of crap from Kennedy an’ me!”
“I wouldn’t have said ‘put up’!” Johnny smiled as he walked towards the bed.
“Buffy, why don’t you take Tara to see her other mom? I need a few minutes alone with Johnny.”
Buffy took the baby from Willow and cradled her in her arms. As she walked out of the room she stopped next to Johnny and stage-whispered into his ear.
“If you have any trouble with her Mr Smith, just give me a call and I’ll take her down!” She smiled and left the room. Johnny walked over and sat in the chair by Willows bed. Willow let out a loud sigh and flopped back onto the pillows and closed her eyes.
“I’m pooped!” She exclaimed.
“You killed them, didn’t you?”
“Darn straight I did!” Willow watched Johnny through slitted eyes
“They shot Kennedy!”
“But they didn’t kill her!”
“I didn’t know that at the time! An’ shouldn’t you be saying, ‘thank-you for not burning the town down’?”
“Yes, what stopped you? I don’t know how but I knew you could have.”
“I made a promise to someone. If I’d gone dark this time I’d never have come back.”
“But, what gives you the right to dispense summary justice?”
“What gives me the right?” Demanded Willow sitting up in bed, “Living on a Hellmouth for seven years! Watching my friends and loved ones die, beating every Big Bad the universe can throw at us! An’ all for what? So we can do it all again next year, this time against an even bigger Big Bad!”
“Do you know what it’s like to hear your best friend say; “I’m only sixteen. I don’t want to die!” Then watch her go out and die because it’s her duty. How many lovers have died in your arms Johnny Smith? How many times did you save the world before you were twenty-one? Touch me Johnny Smith and see what I’ve seen!”
Johnny took hold of Willows outstretched hand and was plunged into the hell that had been Willows life up to this point. He saw the insecure teenager who was good with computers. Then he saw ‘Dark Willow’ who tried to destroy the world, the Vampires and monsters, dead friends. The destruction and heartache that had been Willow’s life until Sunnydale had been destroyed.
“This can’t be real!” He said once the vision was over.
“Didn’t the things you see convince you, or are you doubting your own visions now?”
Johnny hesitated for a moment; “I don’t know what to believe.” He shook his head in bewilderment.
“Look I’ll give you the short version,” Said Willow leaning back again, “My friend Giles will give you the long detailed version if you decide you want to hear it.” Willow took a deep breath, “Magic is real, demons, vampires and werewolves all exist. Everything that you thought was a story book monster is real! The magic’s would have taken me if I’d used it to destroy the town in revenge for Ken’s death!”
“So what are you Willow?”
“I’m a very powerful witch, and Kennedy is a mystical warrior known as a Slayer. The short blonde girl with the dark glasses, she’s my best friend and the oldest Slayer in the world, or the Slayer who’s been active the longest, we don’t know which. We’re the people who stand between the darkness and the light so others don’t have to.”
“And she wears the dark glasses to protect her identity?” Johnny joked.
“No, she staked a vampire that exploded, it injured her eye. She’s a bit self-conscious about it is all.”
“Even if everything I saw is true it still doesn’t give you the right to kill people!”
“No it doesn’t!” Replied Willow deflating a little, “I don’t even think they were actually evil just stupid and lazy! Too stupid to get a good job and too lazy to work hard!”
“And for that you killed them?”
“No I killed them cos they shot Kennedy, and I’m tired of weeping over graves! At least now they’ll never do anything like that again. I wonder how many lives I saved? What would you have seen if you’d touched them Johnny? Fluffy bunnies and puppies, or a life of violence? How many people would they have killed? You’re in a unique position to find out. Now, let me tell you Johnny Smith, anyone threatens me or mine from this point on, they’re going to be a greasy smudge on a page in history! I’d rather have you as a friend than an enemy. That’s a great power you’ve got there.”
“And with great power comes great responsibility!” Johnny replied.
“Funny they never mention the price. There’s always a price. One day I’ll pay for killing those two. You can put off paying the price for a long time, but it always comes back to bite you on the arse! What price will you have to pay Johnny Smith?”
In another room Kennedy lay in her bed, she was bored. They would not let her go and be with Willow for some reason. They seemed to think that a bullet in the back was serious! She felt fine, a bit achy but otherwise fine! The bullet had not even hit any major organs! Who did they think she was? No, Kennedy was going to have to wait until someone else decided she was well enough to see Willow.
The door opened and in walked Buffy carrying Tara in her arms, “Sorry I didn’t knock!” Said Buffy, “Arms full of baby here!” She handed the child over to Kennedy. “I wonder if we should start classes in childcare?” Asked Buffy. The two women sat in silence for a while.
“Thanks.” Said Buffy eventually.
“For what?” Asked Kennedy looking up from the baby.
“For saving Willow!”
“Who do you think I am?” Demanded Kennedy angrily, “You’ve never really trusted me since that time in London when you thought I’d hit Willow!”
Buffy took control of her own temper before she said anything more.
“Look Kennedy I don’t think we’ll ever be friends. I don’t think Slayers like me an’ Faith can be friends with other Slayers. It’s the whole ‘lone hunter’ thing. Look, when you and Willow first got together I thought you saw it as a game, a fling with one of the big girls, ‘Hey look at me I’m doing it with the big bad ass Wicca!’ sort of thing. I think I blinded myself to what was happening between you an’ Will. It wasn’t until Xander told me to look at the pair of you when you thought no one was watching that I realised what you two had, and I was jealous! So, I’m saying thanks for saving my friend, and thanks for loving her, and if we can’t be friends can we try for respect?”
“Okay,” Said Kennedy grudgingly.
“You have to admit it was an amazing black-eye you gave her!”
“Yeah! In my sleep!” Exclaimed Kennedy.
“An’ all those Brits trying to pretend everything was normal.” Replied Buffy.
“Until we had that knock-down fight in the Conference room!”
Both women looked at each other and couldn’t help but start to giggle at the memory.
“The looks on their faces!” Smiled Buffy.
“OWWW! Don’t make me laugh, it hurts!” Wheezed Kennedy.
“Okay, okay! Now are we good?” Asked Buffy.
“Yeah we can try to be civil.” Agreed Kennedy, “Now, can you take Tara back to her mom?”
“Why? Is there something wrong?” Buffy’s voice was edged with panic.
“No! I think she needs changing is all.”
Sheriff Bannerman looked across his desk at the middle-aged black woman who sat there. “Are you sure Mrs Williams?” he asked.
“As sure as I can be without having been there Sheriff!”
“Well, thank-you very much,” Said Walt standing up and showing the woman out of his office, “I’ll get one of my deputies to drive you home.” Bannerman called over a deputy and told him to take Mrs Williams home. He went back to his desk and sat down. He ran through the security footage once more.
The picture was sharp and in colour, the screen was divided into four, one section for each of the cameras in the bank. Walt pressed ‘play’ and watched the scene unfold again. He watched as Johnny and the two Rosenberg women walked into the bank unaware that there was a robbery in progress. He saw one of the robber’s turn towards the new comers. Then the first of the weird occurrences happened. Walt had simply not believed the speed with which Kennedy had placed herself between the gunman and her friend. It was almost as if the video had jumped a few frames. But Walt had checked the time index at the bottom of the screen and there was no corresponding jump. Next the kid with the pistol fired; the bullet hit Kennedy in the back, probably saving the life of Willow and her unborn baby. The scenes on the other three screens descended into pandemonium as people ran for cover. The two would-be bank robbers just stood and starred stupidly at the gun as if it was a snake that had just bitten them. He looked back at the screen showing the Rosenbergs. The pregnant one, Willow, had fallen to the floor clutching at her friend’s body. Johnny had crawled over to where they lay on the floor, he seemed to be saying something, but Willow did not appear to hear him. Then it happened.
Willow looked up at the two robbers and for an instant it looked as if her hair turned black, she said something and at the same moment the two robbers fell lifeless to the floor. Walt had called in Mrs Williams because she could lip-read, she was quite adamant about what she had seen and had in fact watched the footage a dozen times to make sure.
Why would anyone in the position Willow Rosenberg found herself in say something like ‘Bored now’? Walt shook his head in puzzlement, ejected the video and placed it in an evidence bag and locked it in his desk.
Willow and Kennedy’s adventures are continued in, ‘Blood-Bangers’ a ‘The Shield’ crossover.