punch_kicker15: (Kendra)
[personal profile] punch_kicker15
Title: By the Book
Author: punch_kicker15
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Relationships: Kendra/Buffy
Summary: Kendra tries to live her life by the Slayer Handbook when Buffy is infected by the telepathy demon from Earshot. (AU Season Three: Kendra survived the assault on the library in Becoming, Willow restored Angel's soul on the first try, and Angel left town soon after that.)
Word count: 1129
Notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] femslash_minis, for [livejournal.com profile] aaronlisa, who wanted the pairing, the Bronze, the Slayer Handbook, and kissing, and didn't want Xander or Kendra dying.

Combat with demons may cause increases in appetites, both physiological and carnal. The best remedies for this condition are vigorous exercise, and hearty and healthy meals.
--The Slayer Handbook, Chapter Six.

After she was called, Kendra had followed the Handbook’s guidelines, but had found them insufficient to quench the fires that burned inside her. A few months after being called, she discovered that a self-induced orgasm was a far more reliable remedy.

After a while, it became a less reliable remedy, as if she needed something more than her own touch.

Perhaps that was the reason for her shocking lack of decorum on the night she and Buffy fought the mouthless demons.

The demons had no claws or fangs; they looked like a cross between a Circoch demon and an iguana. They fought without finesse, brute strength their only advantage. One knocked Kendra to the ground and wrapped its hands around her throat. She kicked hard at its legs, but her kicks seemingly had no effect.

Buffy yanked the demon off Kendra, and stabbed it in the gut. The demon writhed for a bit and then went still.

They stood side by side on the playground, watching the last demon make a break for it. They started running after it, but at precisely the same time, both of them realized he was too far and too fast to catch, and stopped. They were both breathing, hard, each breath in sync with each other. Kendra had the odd certainty that their hearts were beating in sync as well. She couldn’t stand it any longer. She turned and grabbed Buffy’s shoulders and kissed her hard.

Nothing in her life had prepared Kendra for this moment. Buffy’s muffled gasp of surprise, Buffy’s hands running over her shoulder blades and down her back, Buffy nibbling on Kendra’s lower lip--all of these things were new and powerful.

Of course they were new to Kendra. This was her first kiss. And a tiny speck of reason took control, and reminded her that it had to be her only kiss. She pulled away so quickly that Buffy pitched forward a bit.

“Sorry,” Kendra said. “We can’t.”

“What?” Buffy yelped, confusion morphing to frustration.

“It was a mistake.” Kendra said. “I’m sorry,” she added, because just one apology felt inadequate.

***
It is crucial for a Slayer to maintain cordial but distant relationships. Impartiality is a key component of making sound decisions.
--The Slayer Handbook, Chapter Three

For two days, they didn’t speak to each other except for combat strategies on patrol.

Buffy developed an itch on one of her hands, and Mr. Giles was worried that she’d been infected by an aspect of one the mouthless demons.

Kendra left the research to Mr. Giles and the Scoobies. She wore out a pair of boots hunting demons day and night. At night, she was bone-tired, which was good. Exhaustion kept the self-recriminations at bay.

One afternoon she sneaked into the Bronze, through the back door with a broken lock. She made a sweep of the area for demons as a half-hearted justification for her presence. The large space was oddly peaceful when no one else was there.

She sensed movement behind her, and whirled around, striking a defensive stance.

“Hey, kudos on the ‘hiding in the last place I’d expect you to find you’ gambit.” Buffy said.

Kendra shrugged. “Didn’t work that well.”

Buffy said, “I wanna talk to you, about what happened the night we fought those mouthless demons.”

Kendra said, “Do you want to change our fighting strategy?”

Buffy let out a nervous laugh. “No, about what happened--after. The smoochies that ended abruptly.”

Kendra thought, I thought we’d settled that.

Buffy said, “No, it’s very much un-settled.”

Mouthless demon--infected by an aspect of the demon--telepathy--How dare you!

Even though it was unnecessary, Kendra decided to speak. “This isn’t fair. If you wanted to know, you could have asked me, instead of trying to read my mind.”

Buffy said, “Well, it’s not like I’d get a straight answer out of you.”

I pulled away because the kiss was a moment of weakness and a mistake. “I must avoid emotional attachments to be an effective Slayer.”

Buffy said, “Oh, come on. Are you quoting The Slayer’s Handbook again? I have plenty of emotional attachments, and they make me a better Slayer.”

Oh, really? If you’re a better Slayer, then what are you doing here? “Why aren’t you using your mind-reading powers to spy on The Mayor? Why are you wasting time playing mind games about a stupid kiss?”

Buffy’s jaw tightened, and for a moment, Kendra thought they might come to blows again.

Buffy snarled, “You kiss me out of nowhere, and then push me away and get avoidy, and I’m the one playing mind games? You’re right about one thing. This is a waste of time.”

She stormed out of the Bronze. Kendra made no move to stop her.

***
A Slayer must not shy away from telling difficult truths.
The Slayer Handbook, Chapter One.

Buffy collapsed at school, overwhelmed by the telepathy.

Kendra patrolled on her own, until Mr. Giles gave her a new mission: capture a mouthless demon, and bring the heart back for Buffy to eat.

She scoured every graveyard, the Bronze, the foothills, and the University, slaying half a dozen demons along the way. None were the mouthless variety, so she kept looking.

She finally spotted it walking along the beach. She tackled it to the ground, the demon thrashing and kicking sand into her eyes, as she pummeled it with every ounce of strength in her body. Her hands and arms ached with every punch. At last it went still. She cut open the chest and retrieved her prize.

***
The next day, right before the Scooby meeting at the library, Buffy approached Kendra in the hallway. There were dark circles under her eyes that even makeup couldn’t conceal, but she seemed fully recovered.

“Thanks for saving my sanity,” Buffy said.

“I do not require thanks for that,” Kendra said. “I did what I needed to do.”

There was an awkward pause; Buffy looked down at the floor, then back up at Kendra. “I think we both said things we didn’t mean--”

Kendra didn’t flinch from her gaze. “I meant everything I said and thought. I’m sorry if you couldn’t handle the truth.”

Buffy scowled. “Really? You’re Jack Nicholson-ing me? News flash: My life for the last two years has been nothing but handling difficult truths. But whatever. If that’s what you think of me, I’m sorry I ever tried to understand you.”

She pushed past Kendra and stalked into the library. And Kendra didn’t need telepathy to know that their hearts would never beat it in sync again.
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