Kendra was dead, that much was certain. She’d been dead four years now. Her throat had been slit by Drucilla and she’d bled to death. So there was no doubt about it, Kendra was absolutely, positively dead.
Buffy knew Kendra was dead. She, herself, had found Kendra’s body on the library floor. Buffy had been accused of and nearly arrested for her death. The evidence of Kendra’s death had been quite clear and unmistakable. Therefore, if nothing else, it must be understood by the reader that Kendra was well and truly dead.
A cold snap had fallen over Sunnydale for Christmas Eve, the temperatures falling into the realm of near freezing. It had happened once before, several years ago, but most residents ignored it. When the strange happened, the best defense was to pretend it was normal.
It was still relatively early, but the sun hadn’t shown itself all day, so it was quite dark out. Lights up and down the street were blazing, trying to make a dent in the unrelenting grayness.
Buffy Summers stood in the Doublemeat Palace, staring out the window at the bundled up people walking outside. They were laughing and holding hands, leading happy, normal (well, normal for Sunnydale) lives, carrying brightly colored packages in their arms.
Inside, the restaurant was decorated in festive Christmas cheer. Green and red adorned every available surface and some hardy soul had spray-painted fake snow on the plate glass windows.
"Merry Christmas, Buffy!" Dawn called out as she entered the restaurant. Buffy rolled her eyes as she faced her sister.
"Bah humbug," she muttered. Dawn looked started.
"Well, aren’t we all Scrooge-like?" she said. Buffy looked around the empty restaurant.
"What there to be all Christmassy about?" Buffy demanded to know. "All it means is I’m going to be another year older, more in debt, and still working this crappy job with no future," she said bitterly. "If I could, I’d bitch-slap every idiot who wished me a Merry Christmas."
"C’mon Buffy, it’s Christmas," Dawn entreated. "A time when people band together with feelings of love and good will." Buffy rolled her eyes, but Dawn persisted. "They do. It’s a time of forgiving and for opening up your heart to one another." Buffy glared.
"What exactly is it you want?" she demanded. Dawn smiled.
"I’m supposed to remind you that we’re having Christmas at Xander’s tomorrow." Buffy snatched up a rag and started cleaning empty tables.
"I’m working," she said. Dawn looked horrified.
"You’re working on Christmas Day?" she asked in disbelief. "You’re kidding, right?" Buffy shook her head, scrubbing down a table with unnecessary force.
"We need the money, Dawn," Buffy snapped. "Especially if you don’t me to have to take back your presents." Dawn threw up her hands in defeat.
"Fine. Just so you know, I’m going over to Janice’s tonight. Her parents invited me over for their Christmas party," Buffy nodded curtly.
"Whatever. Make sure you’re not out wandering around after dark. Vampires aren’t big on Christmas charity," Buffy remarked sarcastically as Dawn left. Dawn rolled her eyes at Buffy, smiled cheekily and sang out:
"Merry Christmas!" before letting the door swing shut behind her.
It grew darker and colder as the afternoon passed into night until finally it was time to leave. Buffy, her hands red from washing greasy dishes, hugged her coat around her tightly as she left the store.
She made a cursory tour of the cemeteries, but despite what she’d told Dawn, vampire activity was down. Even they were caught up in the Christmas spirit. Buffy kept her head down as she strode to her house.
Dawn and the Scoobies had decorated, something Buffy had been unable to work up any enthusiasm for. She’d gone to work one day and when she’d gotten home, lights had been hung and decorations put up.
On the front door was a wreath of pine and holly with an angel sitting in the middle. There was nothing spectacular about it. It had been Joyce’s and she’d hung it on the front door for every Christmas Buffy could remember.
Looking up as she unlocked the door, Buffy jumped back in shock and cried out in surprise. Because instead of the angel’s face she saw, it was Kendra’s instead.
Buffy had not thought of Kendra since that fateful day in the library. And yet, there her face was, staring back at her. Then, as quickly as it appeared, Kendra’s face faded, and it was an angel once again.
"Ok, that was just weird," Buffy said, as she cautiously opened the door and looked inside. The house was as it always was, albeit cold and dark. "Must have been my imagination," Buffy muttered, locking the door behind her. Rattling the door, Buffy doubled checked the locks.
Satisfied that it was secured, Buffy shrugged out of her jacket and tossed it onto the back of the chair. Turning on some lights, she scurried up the stairs into her room and changed into her yummy sushi pajamas. Pulling her robe over her pajamas, Buffy trundled back down to the living room. She carried her fast food bag to the coffee table, settled onto the couch, and turned the TV on with the remote.
Buffy idly flipped channels as she ate the greasy hamburger. She barely tasted the food as she plowed through it. It was merely fuel for her body, like gasoline in a car.
Without warning, the lights flickered as the power went out. Sighing, Buffy rummaged through the kitchen for matches. She lit the candles that sat around the room, giving it an eerie glow. Blowing out the match, Buffy tossed it in the ashtray they kept around for Spike.
As she turned back toward the middle of the room, Buffy found herself face to face with a semi-transparent Kendra.
Startled, Buffy gave a small scream and jumped onto the couch. Kendra looked much as Buffy remembered her, despite being slightly see-through. Kendra’s long dark hair was pulled into a ponytail, and she was wearing a crop top with baggy khakis. Around her was a silver chain that wound around her waist and over her shoulders. Attached to it were knifes, stakes, swords and weapons of all kinds, wrought of heavy iron.
Buffy blinked in disbelief.
"Kendra? Is that you?" she whispered, climbing slowly from the couch. The apparition stood with its transparent hands on its transparent hips.
"Who do you t’ink it is?" it asked sarcastically. Buffy crept closer and tried to touch it. Her hand slid effortlessly through the specter.
"Oh my God!" she gasped, pulling her hand back. "What do you want?" The spirit cocked her head.
"What I want, Buffy," Kendra said, "is to spare you my fate." Buffy snorted and settled herself on the couch. She crossed her legs Indian style.
"I’ve already suffered your fate." Buffy said. "Been dead, done that." Kendra’s ghost waved away her statement.
"Buffy," she said, crossing her arms. "I’m not talking about death. Death is somet’ing we all face. I’m talking of the path you’ve chosen to take since you returned from death."
"Kendra, you’re not making any sense."
"Look at me, Buffy. I wear the chains I forged in life." Kendra gestured to the chains. "I thought of nothing but the battle. I saved lives but not souls." Buffy shrugged.
"That’s our job, Kendra. We slay vampires and demons."
"No, our job is to make the lives of others better, through human kindness," Kendra corrected. She held up the iron chain. "You’re making a chain of your own, Buffy. One I only pray you’ll be able to throw off before it’s too late."
"Point, Kendra, what’s the point?" Buffy asked wearily. The last thing she wanted to deal with was a lecture about her life. Kendra sighed.
"Fine," she said "You will be visited by three spirits tonight. The first will arrive…"
"At 1 am, the second at 2, the third at 3," Buffy finished, dismissing Kendra. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is the weirdest dream I ever had," she muttered to herself. Kendra drew herself up.
"’Dis is no dream, Buffy," the spirit roared. Buffy covered her ears to protect them. "Without these spirits, you will never find your way back to heaven," Kendra predicted. "This is your only chance to spare yourself from my fate."
As she spoke, Kendra began to fade from sight, her voice fading with her.
"Watch for the spirits." was the last Buffy heard before Kendra disappeared entirely.
Blinking, Buffy stared in shock at the spot where Kendra had stood moments before. The lights returned in a sudden blaze of brightness.
"No more Doublemeat burgers," she swore, rubbing her eyes. Buffy gathered up the remnants of the burger and crumpled it in the bag. "That was just bizarre," she mumbled, tossing the bag into the trash.
Buffy climbed the stairs, her brain still trying to explain what she’d just seen. She crawled into bed, robe and all. Exhausted, either from her long shift, the late hour or her visit from Kendra, Buffy fell immediately asleep.