Story by CN Winters and Susan Carr
Written by CN Winters
Directed by CN Winters and Susan Carr
Produced by CN Winters and Susan Carr
Edited by Kate and Amazonchyck
Sound by Steff
Art Direction by Chris Cook
Artists - Chris Cook, David Zahir, Sarah, Libbi, Chantal, CN Winters
Watchers Council Lobby – Evening
Faith walked back into the lobby, looking at a book as she spoke. "Okay guys. When I agreed to –." She stopped as she saw Buffy standing near the doorway with Dawn and Skye entering behind her. "Boy, look what the cat dragged in."
"Five by Five. Yourself?"
Faith and Buffy just stared at each other for a moment and no one in the room spoke.
"I thought I'd lend a hand," Buffy told her. "Looks like you guys could use it judging by the angry mob that's leaving a bit dazed and confused."
"We got it under control," Faith told her, "but thanks, B, for taking time out of your globe trottin' to ride in on your white horse at the last minute. Can't tell you how much I appreciate that."
"Faith," Willow began.
Giles gently tugged Willow's sleeve and shook his head, silently requesting that she stay out of it. Faith walked closer to Buffy, totally ignoring the witch as the blonde Slayer closed the distance between them.
"I knew you'd have a problem," Buffy sighed.
"Got that right. I've been busting my ass here for months and suddenly you just pop in to save the day. All the glory but none of the work. Is that it?"
Buffy shook her head. "That's not why I'm here. You've got something big going down and –."
"You don't have to tell me what we have, B. Believe me, I know. But it's what WE have, not you. You can go back to your merry life and we'll handle things."
"That's not gonna happen," Buffy replied soundly.
"Faith," Giles said as he approached the pair. "Buffy came here of her own free will."
"Did you know she was coming?" Faith accused.
"No," he answered honestly. "We didn't request her presence. We simply told her the situation and that we were searching for all the Slayers we can find."
Faith looked at Giles a moment longer and then turned back to Buffy. "Fine. But I'm not taking orders from her." Slowly she turned back to Giles. "If that's the case I'm gonna be the one headin' off to Europe."
"I wouldn't expect you to relinquish your role as leader to these girls," Giles told her sincerely.
Faith paused and handed the book back to Giles. "You take care of the study group. I feel the need to work out and hit something really hard."
Faith left the room and Xander rubbed the back of his neck.
"Well," he began with a grin, making his way over. "Welcome to the Hellmouth, Buff. As you can see, not much as changed."
She grinned warmly at him and opened her arms up to accept him.
"Not exactly the entrance I was hoping for," she confessed as Willow and Giles walked over.
"Despite what I just heard, we're really glad you're here," Willow said as she pulled Buffy into a hug before she looked over Buffy's shoulder at Dawn and Skye. "And you must be Skye," the witch commented as she walked over. "No disrespect, but I've heard so little about you," she told the young woman in a perky yet sarcastic voice.
Skye's smile widened and she chuckled a little before she offered her hand. "Dawn told me you were a little upset she didn't say anything while she was here."
"Oh she said all right. She said lots," Willow countered. "Just not to me."
Willow glared at Dawn a few seconds before a slight grin worked its way to her lips.
"I'm never gonna live that down, am I?" Dawn asked as Willow walked over and hugged her.
"Nope," Willow answered. "And as much as I'm glad to see you guys, I really wish you hadn't come."
"I tried to tell her no, but she refused," Buffy sighed. "And Skye's argument was, and I quote, 'I'm a legal adult so if I want to go to Cleveland I will.' And there you have it – the daring duo on my coat tails." Buffy turned around and looked at Giles. "And how are you holding up these days?"
He gave her a weepy smile and pulled her into his arms. "Thank you for being here," he said softly.
Buffy tightened her hold before pulling back to look at him. "Come on. If I had the choice between sitting in Venice drinking wine or hanging out with my family who's facing unspeakable evil…where do you think I'd really be?"
Buffy beamed and Giles returned the sentiment with a grin of his own. He then turned around sharply. "Oh, this is Rowena Allister, one of our senior Watchers. Rowena, my Slayer, Buffy Summers."
"Nice to put a face to a name," Buffy greeted pleasantly.
"Likewise, but I must confess…"
"What?" Buffy said as she examined herself quickly under Rowena's appraising eye.
"Oh, nothing bad," the Watcher said quickly. "I just expected you to be…I don't know…taller. You're quite the legend in these parts."
"Oh, I've heard a few tales about you too," Buffy said before Willow forcefully grabbed her by the arm. Quickly, Buffy switched gears. "Oh, like that Opie book, for starters."
"Hey Buff," Willow interrupted. "Why don't I show you to your room a-and maybe Rowena can take the younger demon fighters over to the dorms?" Willow said nodding her head toward Dawn and Skye.
"Sure, sounds great." Buffy barely answered before Willow began briskly pulling her along. In the distance Buffy gave a guilty shrug and Willow appeared to be whispering something heatedly in the former Slayer's ear. Rowena smiled as she watched the pair and then made her way over to Dawn and Skye.
Presidium Lair – Same time
Larmin sat as his terminal as Bonnie approached, giving him a slight bow upon arrival. "Everything is in place. We're just awaiting your word."
"We're taking a big chance here. You realize that?" he told her.
"You can't be in a war without risks. But the Presidium needs to thin the Slayer herd and this is our best option."
"And the scouts are sure the Watcher will be there?" Larmin asked.
"They've been surveying her for weeks now and they've found the perfect location."
Larmin gave a thoughtful nod. "Very well then. Put the first phase of the plan in motion and see that the Slayer Faith is captured alive."
"Alive and unharmed?"
Larmin paused for a moment again and then grinned. "Just alive will do."
With a nod, Bonnie left the lair.
End of Teaser
Onto Act One