When Kendra woke, her world was dark and cold and small. She pressed her hands upward; metal bent but did not break. She slammed her fists once, then twice, and weight shifted above her, but it settled again in a moment. She heard clanging outside, and a great rushing thrum, like the ocean contained in a single tank.
She was so, so hungry.
There were voices outside, one very familiar. It was low, rumbling, and angry. The metal around her shifted, jarring her as the box was set down. Some of the voices departed, and Kendra listened to footsteps, to the creak of hinges, to a bolt sliding shut.
A crinkling, and then the dry rustle of sand and stone. She smelled smoke, and sage, and blood. Something sparked in her chest, and she thrashed in her confinement, and this time the metal above her curved and burst open. She crouched and sprang towards the scent, but Mr Zabuto was chanting, salt falling from his hands between them, and pain like a thousand mosquito bites underneath her nails struck, whipping through her.
She screamed, and fell back into her coffin.
Mr Zabuto fell silent, his left hand clutching the sack of salt. His right palm was slashed and bleeding. Kendra braced her hands against her broken coffin lid and hissed.
"Oh, my girl," he murmured. "I am sorry."
He raised his bleeding hand and said a word, and Kendra jerked, and everything went black.
The Council kept her in a cave partially filled by the sea, their wards throwing her back whenever she tried to swim out. Every few weeks, a goat or a pig would limp in, half-drowned. Those were good days, lucid days. On those days, she touched the scar on her neck and wondered why.
One day, finally, twelve Watchers waded in, hands wielding swords and crossbows and magic. Kendra only feared the last, and they knew that well enough. She stood tall, shameless in the rags her clothes had become, willing her fangs to stay hidden.
"Where is Mr Zabuto?" she asked.
A man in the back smirked. "He disliked our request."
Kendra stepped forward. "What have you done with him?" The man held only a dirk, and he stepped back at the question, paling.
"He is safe," another said, and her hands sparked blue, so Kendra listened. "He did not want you to," she hesitated, "feel beholden."
Kendra folded her arms. "What do you want?"
"We have a mission for you," the man in front said. "If you have any Slayer left in you--"
"Aye," Kendra said. She raised her chin. "And?"
The witch-woman smiled. "We have found your sire."
Kendra felt her brow shift, felt her fangs lengthen. "Then take me to her."
Her jeans rasped against her skin, an alien fabric after so long. Kendra tried to shut the feeling out, just as she tried to shut out the chattering crowd around her, the pulsing music, the mob dancing madly, as if the world was ending.
She'd just fed--the witch-woman had handed her a plastic bag of blood, hospital-cold--but the revelers agitated her. She curled her fingers until her nails bit into her palm.
The music slowed to a molasses throb. Kendra looked up to the catwalk, where the strobe lights flickered, and there Drusilla stood, writhing between two lean, enthralled humans.
Kendra bent her knees and leaped, not reaching the catwalk entirely, but catching the lowest part of the railing. One of the humans shrieked and scrambled back, and Drusilla shoved the other half-over the railing before he righted himself and ran.
Kendra tensed, swung her body over the railing like the gymnast she used to be. She landed on her toes, and Drusilla clapped her hands. "Lovely!"
There was a stake digging into the small of Kendra's back, where she'd tucked it into her waistband. She bared her teeth at Drusilla.
"My dear," Drusilla cooed, "I've been waiting so long for you." She swayed forward, her skirts catching against the grating beneath her feet. "I've called to you, over and over, but you never answered me."
"The Council had me," Kendra said, her limbs feeling heavy, warm. "They brought me here."
Drusilla hummed, her nails tapping against Kendra's throat before dragging lower, snagging at the scoop neck of Kendra's T-shirt. "Why?"
"To kill you," Kendra admitted. Drusilla traced patterns against her skin, the lines catching like fire.
"Naughty things," Drusilla murmured. Her arm curved around Kendra's waist and slid the stake out, dropped it. It rolled idly on the catwalk. "Do you want to kill me?"
"Yes," Kendra said. Drusilla giggled as she bent forward. She kissed Kendra, a slow, sipping kiss that ended with a bite.
"Maybe later?" Drusilla asked.
Kendra nodded, and pulled her sire down for another kiss.