Act 1


Fade In:
Watchers Council – Communal Dining Hall – Early Morning

Willow entered the dining hall and smiled at the frantic activity. Groups of slayers chatted animatedly while devouring their breakfasts. At a more sedate table she noted Giles speaking with Robin and Kennedy. Willow quickly headed for them and placed a large folder on the table as she leaned down to give her girlfriend a good morning kiss.

“Hey Sweetie,” she said with a smile.

“Morning,” Kennedy replied.

“Good morning, Willow,” Giles said. “Are you joining us or are you taking your morning repast in the computer room again?”

Willow gave him a wry look. “I finally programmed the computer to automatically gather any unusual occurrences during the night, so now I just have to collect the report in the morning.” Willow tapped the file folder on the table.

“Great idea,” Robin said. “Have a seat.”

“Oh, thanks,” Willow said. “But first I hear the call of mocha. Be right back.”

Willow was just about to grab a cup from the stack next to the urn when a full mug was thrust at her.

“Here you go, ” Andrew said, excitedly. “I got a special cup just for you.”

Willow looked suspiciously at the words printed on the novelty mug.

“Get a taste of religion. Lick a witch,” she read aloud looking at Andrew. “Very funny.”

Andrew smiled, shifting from foot to foot, hands thrust deep in the pockets of his jeans. “Yeah, cute, huh? I found it at this occult store over on Holly Lane. How’s the coffee? I made it the way you like.”

Willow took a sip. “Mmmm, good. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” Andrew said. “Uh…what would you like for breakfast? I didn’t have time to make fresh bread, but I arranged a bakery to deliver to us three times a week. And Siegel’s Kosher Foods promised to let me know of all their specials and I put in a special order for fresh bagels for Saturday morning.”

Willow watched with growing concern, as Andrew finally finished his speech with a satisfied grin. “Well…uh…that’s…that’s really nice of you Andrew. Um, not that I don’t appreciate it, but why are you going to all this trouble just for me?”

“Well,” Andrew fidgeted. “You’re…you know, a watcher, well, not only a watcher, but other than Mr. Giles, you’re the Watcher. And you’re a witch and like, really smart and…”

“And what?”

“I’m really sorry for what happened to Tara and I’m sorry about the stupid things I said last week and for hurting Kennedy and I really want to learn from you and I don’t know how I can make everything up to you,” he finished in a rushed tone.

Willow took a moment to absorb and translate Andrew’s words. Her face softened at Andrew’s obviously pained expression and she put her mug down on the serving table. She moved closer to Andrew. He stepped away slightly, but she pressed forward and took both of his shaking hands in her own.

“Andrew,” she began. “I accept your apology. I know you didn’t have anything to do with Tara. A-And I’m sorry for what happened with Warren. As misguided as you were in following him, I know you cared about him. I had no right to do the things I did after Tara’s death, to him or to you.” Andrew took a deep breath and Willow continued. “But I don’t want or expect any special treatment from you. Only by our future actions can we find redemption for our past actions. Right?”

Andrew nodded.

“Good,” Willow said. Then she remembered something as she released his hands and picked up her mug again. “What did you mean, you want to learn from me?”

“Oh, well, Tucker and I…I mean, our parents,” Andrew began. “Well, they weren’t very religious and you said you wanted to follow the Wiccan path and, well, I’ve been reading up on it online and at that occult store and I never knew it was, like, you know a real religion. I thought it was just casting spells and wearing robes and being spooky.”

Willow gave a slight grin and sipped her coffee as Andrew continued.

“But I think it’s so cool that you guys worship a goddess and a god and celebrate holidays and full moons and grow closer to the Earth and all that. I mean, that makes so much more sense to me than trying to talk to some guy sitting on a throne surrounded by clouds.”

“Well, I can’t begrudge others their choice of faith,” Willow said, blinking at the eager young man. “Even today some Wiccan covens have their deities with one powerful leader. The Greeks, for example, still worship Zeus. Ever heard of him?” Willow asked with a knowing smirk as she took another drink.

“Really? Like Clash of the Titans Zeus?” Andrew asked, a bit surprised by the fact.

“Well, I’m not sure if he looks like Sir Laurence Olivier.” Willow chuckled before she continued, “But yes…do you want to learn about my Wicca?”

“Yes, and…if I can, I’d like to be a part of your Coven,” Andrew took a deep breath, as if he had just faced his greatest fear and survived.

Willow thought a moment. “Everyone is welcome to learn about Wicca from me, Andrew, but if you’ve read a bit you might know that not everyone can be a priest or priestess. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication.”

“Yeah, but I’d like to do it. I mean, I like helping the Council, but I’d like something more…?”

“Spiritual?” Willow guessed.

Andrew nodded, finally relaxing completely in Willow’s presence. “Yes. More in a personal growth direction. Do you understand?”

“I do,” Willow nodded. “And I think maybe it’s a good idea for you. Perhaps you can help me organize the classes and you can put one of your big boards to good use? In the meantime, I’ll give you some more books to read and perhaps in a couple of months you can assist me with a full moon ritual?”

“Really?” Andrew said excitedly. “Oh! Should I call you Lady Willow now?”

Willow laughed. “No, most emphatically not! That’s for a high priestess, which I ain’t,” she told him with a slight grin. “Getting there, yeah, but not there yet…So have you eaten yet?” Willow asked, changing the subject.

“No.” Andrew shook his head. “I was busy making sure the girls were fed.”

“Well, I think it’s time you took a break.” She smiled warmly at him. “You got a taste of religion, so go get a taste of breakfast now.”

Andrew nodded again and turned toward the hot table to begin filling a couple of bowls.

Willow refilled her mug and returned to sit next to her girlfriend.

“What was that all about?” Kennedy asked, jerking her head back at Andrew.

Willow shrugged. “Andrew’s either got a bad case of hero worship or mind-numbing fear of me.”

Kennedy laughed, “Can’t say I blame him. You come off pretty scary sometimes. I sure as heck don’t want to get on your bad side. Now your backside is another matter altogether.”

Willow frowned as Giles turned from his conversation with Robin. “You know the rules,” he told Kennedy with a slight grin. “No disturbing sex talk while at the dining table.”

“What’s so disturbing about my backside?” Willow asked, looking down over her own shoulder before turning back to Giles with a grin.

“Yeah, I like her backside,” Kennedy offered.

“Oh for heaven’s sake,” Giles muttered. “Anyway, getting back to business,” he said in a clearer voice, casting a disapproving eye at Kennedy who was busy grinning at Willow. “Remember this, Willow – watchers have to be larger than life sometimes, especially with headstrong slayers,” he added, keeping his gaze on Kennedy.

“Not only a watcher, but a Wiccan as well,” Willow elaborated, glancing at the young man filling a carafe from the coffee urn. “He wants to join my Coven.”

Giles raised an eyebrow as he thought that over. “Hmm. Might teach him a bit of discipline. He has talent, but he lacks direction. Wicca could be the perfect road for him to travel.”

“I think so, too,” Willow said. “Besides, he definitely has people skills, even if it’s not apparent on the surface. I mean, look at how he was able to bond with almost everyone on a personal level, even Spike. Not many people can do that.”

“Spike?” Kennedy asked, incredulously. “What could Andrew possibly have in common with a hundred or so year-old reformed vampire?”

“Not sure exactly,” Willow replied. “But I caught them in Buffy’s kitchen one night discussing dinner appetizers a-and of course Spike played it off.”

Andrew returned to the table balancing a heavy tray. “Here you go, Mr. Giles. Fresh tea. Is there anything I can get you guys?”

“Nah, we’re good,” the brunette Slayer said. “Eat your own breakfast.”

Willow turned to the group. “Everyone just about done?” she asked, looking around the table. After a series of nods, she handed Kennedy her file and picked up her bowl and coffee mug. “Then let’s get some work done,” she told them as she stood up.

Fade To:
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Moments Later

“Faith get off okay this morning, Robin?” Willow asked, glancing at a computer spreadsheet before putting a spoonful of oatmeal in her mouth.

“A little before dawn. Detroit’s not that far, so she should be calling soon,” he replied, pouring himself more coffee. “Girl doesn’t need much sleep,” he added in afterthought.

Kennedy snorted, “Lucky you, eh guy?”

“Is there any time of the day when you’re not thinking about sex?” Giles asked her.

“Only when I’m slaying,” she smirked back at him.

Robin smiled and turned to Giles. “I think it’s a generic trait of slayers.”

Willow glanced over to see Giles with an agitated look and she cleared her throat to change the subject. “Alright then, progress reports. Robin? How are the renovations going upstairs?”

“The senior staff’s suites are almost complete. The decorators are coming in today to finalize our selections. Now that the majority of the construction workers are out, they’re eager to move in. We’ll probably be able to move in by the end of next week. The third floor rooms should be completed in the next two weeks.”

“Great, and the slayer’s dorms?” Willow asked.

“Just about done. The main problem is of course the plumbing – both buildings actually. That many girls taking showers all at one time is putting a strain on the system. I think if we get any more girls in, we’re going to have Lake Erie backing up into every single pipe.”

Willow sighed, “Well, keep on it. Ken?”

“I’ve got the major equipment coming in tomorrow to the training facilities. And I’ve got the carpenters coming out to measure for the weapon’s cabinets. Sure wish Xander was here. That chest he built Buffy was sweet.”

“We all wish he were,” Willow smiled wanly. “Andrew? How are you managing?”

He put the spoon down in his dry cereal and addressed Willow.

“Well, Kennedy finally got the rotation schedule down for household duty, so that’s working out nicely. The girls seem to enjoy the break in monotony from training and patrolling, and thankfully they’re not complaining. On one of my big boards I’ve drawn up a chart for each girl and their ‘chores’ for the day…kitchen, cleaning, and so on. Of course, with so many arriving every day I have to keep readjusting, but I’m using the computer for that.”

“Great,” Willow said. “Giles? How’s the search for surviving watchers? Any luck?”

This is what we know,” Giles sighed. “The First did its job all too well. Robson has been unable to make contact at all, but he thinks he may have a lead in London. If it’s anything like his other leads I’m not putting much faith into it.”

“What does he have?”

“A name. Rowena Allister,” Giles answered. “Her potential slayer was killed in Istanbul and she’s been unaccounted for ever since. But he believes she might have gone underground to avoid the First…He said he’d let us know.”

“Is he going to remain in London?” she asked.

“For now,” Giles replied. “His injuries were quite severe. He’s still not fully recovered…Fortunately, I believe he’s willing to head our European office if we so choose. Not all the girls will want to travel to America, you know.”

“Right,” Willow said thoughtfully. “I haven’t gotten a clear image of any former watchers outside North America. Hopefully he can search Europe, since the spell doesn’t seem to go any further than sea to shining sea, ya know?”

“Well, other than Robson, I did contact the Coven and passed along your modified ‘seeker’ spells for both watchers and slayers. Althenea has volunteered to contact those she can and at least make sure they are not in immediate danger.”

“Okay, great,” Willow said, making a note on her pad. “I’m sure she’ll turn up something soon….Um? Anything else?” She looked around at the group and registered their negative responses. “Okay, then. Last night, the patrols reported slaying five vampires and three demons. Two were Tagrash demons, nothing special there, just out on their usual run of carnage and mayhem. The other one was unknown. Rona gave a pretty good description and I’m running it against the computer’s database. However, it’s slow going since not all of the variables are programmed yet.”

Giles looked bored.

“In the long run, you’ll see how helpful it will be,” she pointed out to him with an exasperated sigh. “However, the number of slayings seems to be increasing. When we first arrived, the average patrol would be lucky to nab two vampires a night and hardly any demons.”

“Which means what?” Kennedy asked.

“Not sure yet,” Willow said. “Could be that since the Sunnydale Hellmouth is closed, all of the vamps and demons are heading here. Or…”

“Or what?” Robin asked.

“Well, nature always seeks a balance. Light and dark, good and evil, that sort of thing. Before, when there was only one slayer, she was able to withstand the forces of evil. They balanced each other out, so to speak.”

“But now that there are many slayers…” Giles quickly caught on to Willow’s reasoning.

“Exactly,” Willow exclaimed. “We threw everything kinda out of whack when I awoke all the potentials. Oops!” she added with a bashful grin before continuing. “So now it looks like nature is trying to fill the void.”

“But where are the demons coming from?” Andrew asked.

Willow shrugged. “Vampires increasing their production? Demons traveling across dimensions? Who knows? This Hellmouth has gone unchecked for quite some time, which means it’s been relatively ‘safe’ for the local baddies. But still we should check this out, Giles. If we can’t stop the flow, perhaps we can at least slow it down.”

“I’ll get on it,” he said.

“In other news,” Willow continued, “there was a fishing boat disappearance reported last night.”

“Another one?” Robin asked.

Willow nodded. “The preliminary police report isn’t taking it too seriously yet, but the Coast Guard is searching. This is the third disappearance in a week, so I think we need to check into it. Robin, since Faith’s out of town for the day, why don’t you and I go talk to the marina owner’s wife this afternoon and see if she has anything extra to add that wasn’t in the police report?”

“Not a problem,” he said. “I’ll meet you in the garage.”

“Okay…” Willow said, finally closing her folder. “That takes care of today’s business. Anything to add?”

As the rest of the group began to move off in their separate directions Kennedy leaned over and kissed Willow’s cheek.

“What was that for?” Willow asked amused.

“You’re doing great, Will,” Kennedy said. “You’re a terrific watcher.”

“No,” the redhead replied. “I just like order. Now, you get to work. I’ve got things to do,” she added with a smile.

Cut to:
Sloane Marina – Lake Erie – Afternoon

Willow raised her face up to the bright sun, appreciating the early afternoon warmth. The autumn nights were starting to get quite chilly in Cleveland and she looked forward to the thermometer passing 70 in the afternoons. Robin noticed her expression and smiled.

“You’ll get used to it,” he said.

“I think not,” she said. “Even though everyone is quick to tell me that.”

The couple approached a portly woman holding a clipboard and giving instructions to a dockworker.

“Excuse us,” Willow said. “Are you Mrs. Tapman?”

The woman looked at the tall man and petite woman and her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Who’s asking? You cops?”

“Uh, no ma’am,” Willow said and handed her a business card. “Private investigators. Please accept our condolences, but we understand that your husband is not the only fisherman to go missing recently. We’re trying to determine if there’s a connection somehow.”

“Well, good luck to ya,” the woman said, turning around and heading to the small lean-to that obviously served as a makeshift office. “Strange things always happening on the lake. You folks ain’t from around here are you?”

Both Willow and Robin shook their heads. “We’re new arrivals in Cleveland, Mrs. Tapman,” Robin explained. “What kind of strange things?”

The woman shrugged. “She might not be as deep as the other lakes, but Erie has her own share of mysteries. The Great Lakes Triangle, South Bay Bessie, ghost ships, that sort of thing. Folks love to talk about such nonsense, but I don’t buy into it. I’ve spent the greater part of the past thirty years living right next door to this lake and I’ve seen nothing resembling anything that goes bump in the night.”

“What do you think happened to your husband?” Willow asked. “The police report said he was out night fishing.”

“Looking for catfish,” she explained. “Probably got pulled under by one.”

Willow glanced at Robin with a confused look on her face. He just shrugged. “Excuse me? How could a catfish pull a man under?” she asked.

Mrs. Tapman laughed. “Oh missy, you’d be surprised at how big the cats grow out here.” She pulled a plastic laminated sheet from under the blotter near the cash register. “Here’s Harold and one of the smaller cats he caught.”

Willow and Robin both looked wide-eyed at the photograph of a man holding a fish obviously longer than he was tall out of the shallow water. 

“Holy Goddess!” Willow exclaimed.

“You say they get bigger than this?” Robin asked.

“Sure do,” Mrs. Tapman said, pleased at their reaction. “Told you, lots of strange things out there, but all natural I’d wager. Harold spends his life doing what he loves. That’s all any of us can hope for at the end of our days. And he’ll be back. He’s too ornery to die,” she told them with a forced grin.

Suddenly there was a commotion at the other end of the marina. Several of the workers called for Mrs. Tapman and the three made their way over.

“What’s going on, boys?” she asked.

One of the workers pointed to the water under the dock. Robin and Willow stepped forward and saw the pasty flesh of a bloated arm, covered in the remnants of a flannel shirt. Robin grabbed a hooked pole and gently turned over the body. Willow could see that most of the body was missing, but the face and torso remained. Several of the dock workers turned away in horror.

“Oh God!” a Hispanic worker exclaimed. “That’s Jack Corley.”

“Go call the police,” Mrs. Tapman ordered. He ran off to the lean-to.

Robin replaced the pole on its hook. “You knew him,” he asked.

“Yeah, one of the local rummies,” she said. “He hung out with that no-good low-life Dennis Arnold. They spent more time at The Spot than with their families.”

“That a local bar?” Willow asked.

She nodded. “Over on Whiskey Island.” She continued to stare at the body bobbing in the water.

“Still think it’s a catfish?” Robin asked.

Mrs. Tapman looked at him blankly. “If it wasn’t,” she said. “I’d be glad to know.”

“Thanks for the information, Mrs. Tapman,” Willow said.

As she and Robin began to leave the marina, Robin asked, “What do you think?”

“Something’s fishy,” she said. “I doubt all of the disappearances were caused by those overactive thyroid catfish.”

“I don’t think a catfish could chew up a body like that,” he pointed out.

“No, but he could have simply drowned and then got caught in a propeller. There’re some pretty huge boats out on the lake.”

“I concur,” Wood nodded. “But where does that leave us?”

“I’ll pull the ME’s report later. In the meantime, we can do some research on the strange stuff she mentioned.”

Just as they reached Giles’ car, Willow’s telephone rang.

“Willow Rosenberg?” she said. “Oh hi, Faith. How’s Detroit?”

Robin smiled as he listened to Willow’s side of the conversation.

“What? Toledo? What happened?” she glanced at Robin, the worry clear in her eyes. Robin’s smile faded quickly. “Oh Gods. Okay. Listen to me, Faith. You just sit tight, okay? Don’t do anything stupid. I’ll take care of it, I promise…no! Absolutely not! Just hang in there. What? No, I’m not going to kill you or anyone else. Just relax. I’m on the way.”

As she closed the cover on her phone, Robin asked, “What happened?”

“Faith was arrested by the Toledo police for speeding,” she said with frustration, opening the passenger door. “I told her before she left, ‘Take it slow’. So what does she do? She gets picked up for speeding…I’m gonna kill her,” she muttered.

“Hey, you said –”

“Yeah, I know what I said, but I’m not gonna tell her that while she’s spazing. Look, let’s get back to headquarters. This isn’t going to be easy, but we’ll figure it out,” Willow remarked, as she climbed inside and slammed the door shut.

Robin quickly followed suit and the expensive car sped out of the marina.


End of Act One

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