São Paulo, Brazil. February 2, 2005
All the portents suggested that the demon L'rup would make his next earthly appearance on the fourth, which, fine, that's the sort of thing demons did, except the fourth also happened to be a certain very important anniversary, so Willow felt a little put out by the timing.
One little demon-free night of romantic type fun. Was that really so much to ask? One would think the forces of darkness would have better manners. Except for the part where they were the forces of darkness.
"We'll make the best of it." Kennedy looked up from cleaning a sword, this time over an old newspaper, so that any dried up bits -- or worse, still rather moist bits -- of pus-colored demon blood wouldn't stick to the rug. Or to people's bare feet when they just wanted to enjoy their pancakes in comfort. "It's an early riser, right?"
"An hour after sunset," Willow confirmed. "At least, if I'm reading the Codex correctly. It's written like a riddle, and just to make things harder, I could only find a French translation. The original has been lost for centuries."
"I have faith in your riddle-cracking," Kennedy said. "It'll rise, I'll kill it, and we'll be sipping champagne by eight o' clock. Preferably in bed."
"Sounds like a plan."
"It's the beginnings of a plan," Kennedy said. "I think the part with the champagne could use a few more details."
"Like strawberry details?"
"I could definitely find a use for strawberries."
"I'm liking this plan." Willow grinned and put down her book so she could dance her fingers up Kennedy's arm. "Tell me more."
Kennedy set aside the weapon and leaned in for a kiss. "How about a preview instead."
"Crossbow? Check. Sword? Check. Marshmallows? Check. Toad stone? Check."
Kennedy laughed. "Marshmallows?"
"If we must have a bonfire, I will be roasting marshmallows. That's just the way it is."
"Okay, I'm a fan of s'mores, but I missed the part where we planned a bonfire."
"Yeah." Willow sighed. "This isn't the kind of demon that goes poof. We'll need fire."
"Too big to teleport?" Kennedy frowned and traded a knife for an ax.
"No," Willow admitted. "I could manage, but teleportation spells sometimes lead to dizziness, and dizziness leads to other not fun feelings. It's all very draining, and I'd rather save my energy for the after party."
"Oh I'm definitely a fan of the after party." Kennedy grinned at her. "Save your strength. We'll do fire."
They emerged from the Metro just as the sky melted into shades of pink and orange. Back in Sunnydale, the town would have quieted as the sun dipped, but here in São Paulo, the streets bustled with activity well into the night, and most of the population remained oblivious to vampiric danger.
Willow insisted that the credit belonged just as much to Kennedy's danger-limiting efforts as to the fact that well over ten million people called the sprawling metropolis home. Most of the local evil preferred nearby Santos, on the coast. The busy port featured a more hellmouthy vibe than its big sister, and Kennedy patrolled both cities. Not that either one could hold a candle to Sunnydale when it came to demon activity. Well, former non-cratery Sunnydale, anyway.
Santos boasted an indoor cemetery, and that attracted tourists of the fangy variety, while a fair number of demon species preferred ocean-adjacent living. Tonight's demon, on the other hand, went for a more academic setting. It liked to rise every nine years and snack on university students.
"Why students?" Kennedy asked.
"Maybe it found some frat boys stupid enough to feed it," Willow said. "According to the Codex, the indigenous Tupi people used to feed it llamas disguised as humans. Or tried anyway, that didn't always go so well, what with llamas not really being human-shaped."
"Gotta admit," Kennedy said. "The chance to beat up some frat guys does have its appeal."
Willow smiled at a mental picture of Kennedy delivering a little punishment. That lithe body in motion, hair flying, flashing that feral grin that could make her heart do the skipping thing. "Not to be all pro-violence, but I'm not opposed to watching that."
Kennedy raised an eyebrow.
"You know," she added hastily. "If they're feeding a demon and deserve the beating."
"In my experience, frat boys are usually up to something worthy of at least a smack upside the head. Just not the level of violence I dish out to the average vampire."
"Maybe it was a Sunnydale thing, but every frat party I ever went to came with a body count." Willow shivered, remembering how many times she'd been unlucky enough to find the first body. "So not fun."
"I'm not sure frat parties are that much better without death in the mix," Kennedy said. "I prefer my parties testosterone free."
Willow smiled at the gleam in Kennedy's eyes, and reached for her girlfriend's hand. "Definitely my kind -- "
Kennedy dropped her hand and spun to face the alley, a stake dropping from the sleeve of her leather jacket. Darkness had yet to envelop the city, but vampires were safe enough in the shadows of dusk. At least until the Slayer found them.
"Diga boa noite, Edward." Kennedy yanked the vampire backwards, away from his intended victim, and slammed him into the grimy brick wall. "Teus dias de cintilação terminaram agora."
"Huh?" The monster blinked at her, then exploded into dust as she plunged the stake into his chest.
"Doesn't anyone read anymore?" Kennedy turned to check on the girl she'd saved, who thanked her in French and hurried out of the alley.
"I don't think that was right," Willow said.
"Dusted vampire. That's a good thing."
"No, I mean your Portuguese. It sounded like you used Babelfish or something."
"I did use Babelfish." Kennedy sighed. "This witty banter thing is a whole lot harder when it takes three tries to guess the bad guy's native language."
"This city does put the multi in multicultural. What were you trying to say?"
"Oh, it was a very clever reference to that silly book Dawn sent us. Or at least it was clever in English and Spanish. If the Portuguese came out muddled, then I'm not so sure about the French."
"More Babelfish? Sweetie, I speak French. And after all these months here, my Portuguese isn't too shabby either, if I do say so myself. Next time, let me do your translating."
"Oh, I have much better uses for your tongue." She flashed her most tingle-inducing wicked grin. "Time. I meant time."
"Sure you did."
Willow's demon locator spell led them to a small wooded area in the university's sports complex, between the stadium wall and the tennis courts. "Try to do your slaying over that direction." Willow gestured toward the track. "We can't do the fire thing here in the trees, and dragging heavy dead things leads to seriously not romance compatible situations like sweatiness."
"Sweatiness can be very compatible with romance," Kennedy pointed out. "I find it's often vital to the process."
Willow let Kennedy catch her gaze, and a flash of heat made her shiver. "Sure, but not, you know, before. I vote to avoid the dragging."
"How long until this thing rises?" Kennedy watched the last dregs of sunlight vanish. "Another hour?"
"So say the Codex-translating French monks."
Kennedy flopped down against the stadium wall and patted the grass beside her. "However shall we pass the time?"
Willow sank down next to her girlfriend. "We'd better behave. There could be -- "
"Vampires." Kennedy sighed.
"I was thinking students -- "
"No." Kennedy was back on her feet, stake in hand. "Over there. Vampires."
Since the vampires numbered a mere three, Willow didn't bother to get up. The grass was comfy, and besides, she liked to watch Kennedy work.
Kennedy stepped out onto the footpath, and waited for the vampires to reach her. "I'd hate to bust your asses just for walking while dead, but I'm on a tight schedule, so I really can't wait around to see if you attack anyone. How about you save us all some time and just attack me?"
Violence, right on cue.
"I can't believe that actually worked." Kennedy ducked a blow and knocked her nearest opponent on his ass. The other two rushed to corner her, but she danced neatly out of the way and let them collide with each other. "What are you, the undead stooges?"
The first vampire sprang back to his feet to attack from behind.
Kennedy flung him over her shoulder.
The other two closed again. One exploded to dust before he -- or Willow -- even saw Kennedy raise her stake. The other spent his last few seconds of undeadness with Kennedy's foot on his throat. The third fled, with the Slayer in hot pursuit. He didn't get far.
"That got the blood pumping." Kennedy flopped down on the grass beside Willow and wiped her hands on her jeans. Her skin was flushed, and her eyes shone. Her fingers landed softly on Willow's thigh.
Willow liked that, and let her own fingers dance over the back of Kennedy's hand. "You said something about passing the time?"
With a grin, Willow leaned closer and released Kennedy's hand. As those talented fingers began to slink up her thigh in a promising manner, Willow slid her own hand into the warmth of Kennedy's jacket. The fabric of Kennedy's top tickled the inside of her wrist, and then the back of her hand when she splayed her fingertips against her girlfriend's muscular back. Her lips brushed that spot just below Kennedy's ear, producing a very satisfactory gasp.
Kennedy squeezed her knee.
And loud noises interrupted inconveniently.
Kennedy swore and leapt to her feet, stake at the ready. Then she dropped it straight back down the sleeve of her jacket, because this particular source of noise could not be silenced with violence. "Good evening, gentlemen. You might want to avoid denting the heck out of that keg."
Two of the guys continued their endeavor, ineptly, while a third stared at her like she was the crazy one.
She switched to her admittedly questionable Portuguese. "Se você ferir esse barril, perderá seu depósito."
"The keg." She pointed at the keg and tried Spanish. "Si dañas este barril, perderás tu depósito."
"Es pesado," whined one of the guys.
Willow grinned to herself. She knew Kennedy couldn't resist.
Sure enough, Kennedy reached down with one hand and hoisted the keg effortlessly. "A donde?"
They pointed the way, and Kennedy gestured for Willow to follow. The small dorm room was crowded but unremarkable. Once they'd delivered the keg, and more importantly ascertained that nobody in it had any demon-feeding on their agenda, Willow and Kennedy returned to their patch of trees.
"It was worth a try," Kennedy said. "How much longer now?"
Willow consulted her watch. "Any minute."
For a while, the imminent demon arrival occupied both of their thoughts, but as 'any minute' began to stretch out into an hour, they grew restless.
"Your demon is running late," Kennedy said.
"I guess the French monks didn't account for daylight savings time."
Kennedy flopped back down on the grass. "Maybe this demon is like a kettle."
"Like when you're waiting for water to boil, you're not supposed to look at it? Maybe if we ignore the demon, it'll hurry up and get its ass in gear."
"Do asses have gears?"
"A question for the ages."
Willow slipped her arm around Kennedy. "I guess we'd better start ignoring the demon."
"Hmm." Kennedy grinned at her. "Where should we start?"
"I'm starting right here." Willow scooted closer and leaned in to press a gentle kiss to Kennedy's throat. She trailed her lips up towards her ear, and let her fingers sneak under Kennedy's shirt to once again press against bare skin.
Willow loved Kennedy's back. She enjoyed the way the lean, hard muscles jumped beneath her fingertips. She felt Kennedy's tension, and wondered just how much she could distract her from their mission. She flicked an earlobe with her tongue, and slid her fingertips higher.
"Love the enthusiasm," Kennedy said. "But I need to keep my eyes open right now."
"Bet I can make you close them."
"Not even a question," Kennedy said. "But I'd rather not get eaten tonight."
"What?" Willow pulled away with feigned hurt. "But we have strawberries."
"I'm not falling for the puppy eyes," Kennedy said. "We both know exactly what I meant. Now let me watch for hungry demons like a responsible slayer."
Willow pouted for real at her girlfriend's failure to play along.
"What? You thought I'd reward that terrible double entendre?" Kennedy shot her a stern look, then pounced.
Within moments, Willow went from gasping in surprise to, well, just gasping. Kennedy didn't sneak hands under clothing, she just dove in without any pretense and had Willow at her mercy within seconds.
"We are in public, you know." Willow struggled for self control, but she couldn't force the neediness out of her voice. Or keep her hips from jerking in response to Kennedy's strategically placed thigh.
Kennedy gave a snort. "College campus. Dark. I can get away with way more than this."
She punctuated the word 'this' with her thigh.
Kennedy dragged her tongue along Willow's jaw. Her piercing found that one magic spot with uncanny accuracy.
"Yes," Willow tried to whisper.
"Shh," Kennedy replied at her failure. "Public, remember?"
"Don't care," Willow claimed, with feeling.
Kennedy laughed. "Well in that case -- "
Then the blissful contact ended abruptly. No laughing girlfriend. No wandering fingers. No muscular thigh. Willow dragged herself upright just in time to watch Kennedy land a punch.
"Slayer!" The vampire seemed more enthusiastic than most to meet Kennedy. "I have dreamed of the day we would dance at last!"
Make that a lot more enthusiastic than most.
"Hate to let you down, Bub, but I've got better things to do." Kennedy ducked his blow, swung in close, and staked him.
Willow almost felt bad when he looked down at the stake in horror before exploding into dust.
Kennedy wiped her hands on her jeans. "Now where were we?"
"Where's the stupid demon, that's what I want to know." Willow glanced at her watch, then climbed to her feet so she could check the stars again. "It's well past time."
"Is it possible someone else did the slayage?"
"We'd have noticed," Willow said. She bit her lip. "At least, I think we'd have noticed."
"No, I mean, the last time it rose."
"Nine years ago? I doubt it. I searched pretty thoroughly. The newspaper archives mentioned the expected number of missing students, so if anyone tried to save them, they failed. And Dawn checked, too. None of the Council files mentioned sending anyone."
"Buffy was the Slayer then, right?"
"Freshly called and working in Los Angeles."
"And we have the right spot?"
"I thought we did." Willow sighed and flopped down to reach for her bag. "Let me do a quick demon locator spell, just in case."
Kennedy agreed, and joined her in the grass.
She closed her eyes to concentrate, and focused her energies on the spell. It was one she'd cast successfully many times before, yet it fizzled immediately. "I think I'm distracted."
"I'll do a quick patrol." Kennedy jumped to her feet, and dropped an extra stake on the grass beside her. "Just in case."
Willow nodded, and closed her eyes again. She felt hyper aware of her body, and not in a tuned-in-to-the-elements witchy kind of way. Very distracting. She tried to think about demons, with fangs and claws and possibly antlers or extra eyes, but her mind flashed back to the gleam in Kennedy's eyes earlier, just after strawberry-related banter.
She shook her head and tried again. Slime, blood, ugly death . . . Kennedy's shoulders when she worked out in a tank top, lean muscles rippling with every blow to the punching bag.
At that, she had to admit defeat. She gave up on the spell, and rummaged in her bag for the ingredients to something that required less magical ability, and more tedious mixing and stirring. Even Xander could have managed this spell.
She did the mixing and the pouring, followed the instructions to the letter, and waited. The barest little glimmer skipped off toward the athletic field just beyond the tennis courts, danced in some circles, and dove into the ground. After that, nothing.
"Any luck?" Kennedy asked.
"No joy. You?"
"Nothing's stirring but some idiots who really suck at beer pong." Kennedy put her hands on her hips and did her best drunken frat boy impression. "Hey babe, wanna make out?"
"Yes please." Willow batted her eyes and threw her arms open wide.
Kennedy paced back and forth while Willow fanned herself.
They'd made out. They'd patrolled. Willow had recounted the tales of three separate demon risings back in Sunnydale. Kennedy had repeated a story her former watcher, Hyatt, had told her. Then she'd told a much more interesting story about getting trapped in a dumbwaiter with her very first girlfriend while hiding from her stepsister.
They'd made out some more.
Still no demon.
"The sun's going to rise," Kennedy said. "I think we should give this up as a lost cause."
"It has taken tardiness to a new level," Willow said.
"I hate being all keyed up for nothing."
"In more ways than one." Willow thought forlornly of her beautiful fresh strawberries and the bottle of champagne she'd left chilling next to the bed. The ice had melted by now.
"Hey, a little nap, a little shower, and then a little -- "
"Oh!" Willow waved toward the tennis courts. "Look!"
It rose majestically, splitting the clay right at the service line as it rose to its full height. Five eyes, no antlers, one cone-shaped horn. A fair bit of slime. With a mighty roar, it announced its arrival. Then it shook like a wet dog and splattered chunks of ruined tennis court in all directions.
"It's big!" A feral grin lit Kennedy's face. She grabbed her favorite sword and dashed toward her quarry.
Willow slid a vial of blinding potion up her sleeve and followed.
They slogged toward home as the sun crept higher in the sky, covered in ash and dust. Kennedy had demon slime in her hair, and bright green demon blood on her clothes. Willow had crusty bits of something she didn't want to think about stuck to her boots.
The battle had been fierce. Willow had managed to levitate her potion into three of the L'rup Demon's eyes, but that still left it with two perfectly functioning ones. That made for several harrowing minutes before Kennedy managed a final blow.
Building the fire had taken longer, and in hindsight Willow regretted making the effort. Just as they'd managed a useful blaze, students began emerging from their dorms. She'd been forced to teleport the whole mess -- demon, flames, and all -- to avoid answering any awkward questions.
She wiped impatiently at the blood still trickling from her nose. Her earlier friskiness was well and truly squelched. Kennedy, however, bounced with energy as they reached the house.
"I need to pop in the shower." Kennedy waggled her eyebrows. "Join me in five minutes?"
"Oh Sweetie, teleportation spell." Willow paused at the kitchen sink to rinse the worst of the dust from her hands. She briefly considered shoving her whole head under the faucet. "Could I interest you in a low fat yogurt instead?"
Hours later, Willow awoke to find Kennedy sound asleep. The weapons were polished and put away, the laundry was drying on the line, and the champagne stood in a bucket full of fresh ice. Not wanting to wake her girlfriend, Willow settled down at the kitchen table to review the codex, determined to find what she'd missed.
Her mind drifted to Kennedy's attempt at banter the night before. Just what had she said to that vampire? She reached for her laptop to look up the Portuguese word she hadn't recognized -- cintilação -- and wondered if she'd remembered it wrong. Flickering? That made zero sense.
If she remembered it wrong, or had heard wrong, or if Kennedy had simply mispronounced the word, the result would sound less like word salad. Matando, assassinato, bebendo sangue . . . not even close. Maybe Kennedy had tried to translate a pun? She got up to search for the book Dawn had sent.
Once she sorted out the first half of her mystery, Kennedy's difficulties with Babelfish revealed themselves clearly. While clever, the translation program lacked concepts such as context, and while English often used the exact same words for adjectives and verbs, languages with more complex verb conjugations rarely did. Of course the website had led Kennedy astray.
The French monks probably did much the same thing with the codex, she realized. Dawn and dusk, sunrise and sunset -- somehow they'd flipped the two, because seventeenth century Europeans likely gave zero thought to any worldviews different from their own. If the original writers used unexpected cues to differentiate between homonyms, the monks probably missed them.
"That's the last time I trust French monks," Willow muttered. "Eurocentric bastards."
"Oh good, you're up!" Willow yanked the scribbled results of her earlier project from under the laptop and slapped them down on Kennedy's placemat. "See, the Portuguese for sparkling is 'brilhando' -- I mean, I see where you were going, but 'cintilante' is an adjective, so -- "
"Willow?" Kennedy bypassed her customary seat at the table and instead sauntered closer to Willow. She brushed her hair out of the way and leaned in to blow hot breath on her neck. "It's not that I don't appreciate the effort, but do you really want to spend time on a linguistics lesson right now?"
Willow shivered, and tore her eyes away from her papers. She took in Kennedy's attire -- or more accurately the fascinating ways in which she lacked certain bits of it -- and the gleam in her eyes. "Time for strawberries?"
"Definitely time for strawberries." Kennedy offered her hand. "Unless you'd rather wait . . . "
Willow took Kennedy's hand and allowed herself to be pulled to her feet. "I'd like to veto waiting. After all, there is one thing worse than a tardy demon."
"Oh?" Kennedy tugged her along in the direction of the bedroom. "Tell me, what's worse than a tardy demon?"
For a moment, her clever punchline disappeared from the tip of her tongue, her brain losing all interest in favor of watching the sway of Kennedy's hips.
"Well? I'm waiting."
"The Demon of Tardiness is pretty inconvenient," Willow said. "But right now the one I most want to avoid is the Demônio das Interrupções Constantes."
"The what?" Kennedy asked, laughing.
"The Demon of Constant Interruptions."