Sineya is the first, she knows, but she dreams. There are others, different, but they are hers. When she sleeps, under the sun—it is too dangerous at night, and the heat of the day calls for little else when she is alone, no community to provide for—they fight instead, her blood in their veins, running, bursting out, being stilled. And there is another girl, another her.
Sometimes there are men, too. Sineya prefers to avoid them for now. She cannot know if those others, the ones with the girls, are the same as the ones she has met. But as for herself, she will do without them.
When she wakes under the moon, it is enough to know of the other girls. The ones she provides of herself for.
“The moon watched us, the people, every night. The people died every night, and the moon watched us die, more and more. One night, she said, ‘This must not be. The people will die until they are run out.’ And so the moon sent her light down to us, her daughter. This daughter became the people’s light.”
This might be the first recorded mention of the Slayer: a moonbeam in the shape of a girl. It is possible that, because she did not have a Watcher, she told this to the people she met, unable to explain the source of her powers, perhaps unable to understand them. Or she could have chosen to believe there was a higher purpose, beyond the immediate cause. Certainly we cannot fault her for that, for it would have been the very same cause as our own.
There are other versions, not all that different from this one. They were recorded later, and give more detail to the story:
“The moon had a daughter, once, and she was very sad. She was sad because she watched us with her mother every night, and together they would see us die in the dark, making her mother cry. One night, the moon’s daughter said to her, ‘I promise I will give you reason not to cry so much.’ And she went down, into the dark, with us. Ever since then, less of us die, we live longer, and there is only one light in the sky at night, because the other is down here with us to this very day.“
“Long ago, the people would die so often in the night, that we were afraid. And we wept, and we begged the lights, the only lights in the dark, for her help and mercy. And so the moon and her stars her daughters heard us. One of the stars went to the moon her mother and she told her, ‘Send me, mother, to help the people who suffer below, for we hear their weeping and wish to give our light to them, that they may see it and rejoice.’ The moon said to the star, her daughter, ‘Go now, and give our light to them, that they may see it and rejoice.’ And this is how the moon sent one of her stars, her daughters, down to us, the people who suffered below.”
These last two give more importance to the girl; she is not merely moonlight, but a body of light in her own right, and she chooses to go down for our sake. We know the girls don’t choose. We don’t even choose, at least not as to which girl; wouldn’t that be easier for us all? Still, the thought is a comforting one. After all, who wouldn’t want to be taken care of—by a mother no less—rather than do everything himself? Wouldn’t it be nice if the girls came up and did everything themselves, without requiring our guidance?
Would it? Don’t we? Kendra stops, fingers pinning down the pages of the thick volume, keeping them spread open. The spine has been read enough that one more crease won’t matter, but not too old that it required her delicacy to keep the book together. She’s sure her copy of Portrait of the Slayer in Folk-Tales I by Henry MacHoney can survive many wrinkles yet.
The book is her companion. Kendra has read many books, as part of her Slayer training, as part of her curiosity and interest in understanding who the Slayer is—who she is. Most of them are factual recordings, and she has retained the more immediately relevant parts: the kinds of demon, the kinds of dream, the visions of Slayers past. She has read her own dreams, written in her hand.
In them, she is not the only Slayer. She knows what it is like to be one of many on Earth, stars burning in the dirt to echo the sky. Now she has met Buffy, she knows what it is like to have that outside of her sleeping mind; at least a taste.
It is true, Kendra thinks, that a Watcher’s guidance is useful. She is aware of Mr. Zabuto’s role in her life, appreciates the contribution of his knowledge and the weapons he provides. The pictures of her family. He does not provide a replacement father, but he makes sure she feels the connection to who she came from. It reminds her of the importance of what she must do.
He gave her this book, and though the Watcher comments claim the stories to be just that, she thinks there is truth in them; sense, not fancy. She is Chosen, yes. She did not choose her powers. No one, as far as she has read, chooses who the Slayer is. But she does choose to be the Slayer. To perform the duties this life requires of one. She has always lived this truth, and now with Buffy, she is more certain than ever of it being more than training.
Deferring to the Watchers makes sense on the whole, but in this case, Kendra decides, the one who collected these stories did not understand the whole picture. Wherever her powers came from, she herself has come from another like her, and they all persist in the same task, face the same darkness. They fight under the same moon, and they are remembered—they remember. It is the Slayer’s sole comfort, and the only one Kendra needs. She is grateful to the book for the thought, even if that Watcher could not fully perceive it. Perhaps he hadn’t had a Slayer to tell him that.
Little wonder, then. A Watcher without the Slayer was, as Mr. Zabuto had told her, but a guardian with no one to guard, humanity without a future.
Kendra sleeps with the book in her bed, as ever, remembering the future she exists to provide.