Originally broadcasted 10/14/03

Fade In:
Watchers Council – Reception Foyer – Mid-Morning

Rowena Allister walked through the front entrance to the new Watchers Council headquarters and frowned at the spectacle before her. The foyer was filled with bustling activity. Willow and Giles stood to the side watching as Andrew directed a crew of workmen.

“What’s going on?” she asked as she approached them.

“Oh, Ms. Allister,” Giles said. “Yes. Good morning.”

Rowena looked at him a moment longer, but found him still distracted by watching all the activity. She then turned to Willow, raising an eyebrow as if to repeat her question.

“Oh,” Willow said, waving a hand at the area behind the reception desk. “We’re just putting the finishing touches up here. We want to maintain the appearance of a private school, you know.”

“Of course,” Rowena replied. “But the Council has not yet made its final decision regarding whether or not to allow you to remain in operation. Do you think it’s wise to continue to spend the Council’s funds this way?”

“Ms Allister…” Giles began in an annoyed tone, but he trailed off in the face of Willow’s warning glare. “I can assure you that we are the Council.”

“Mr. Giles, I have the utmost respect for what you and Ms. Rosenberg have accomplished so far, but you must know your methods do not follow Council operating procedures. I am only here to observe and assist as I can. And I am a firm believer that all of our resources would be better used fighting evil rather than each other.”

Giles was about to reply when a brown-uniformed young man entered through the front doors.

“May I help you?” Willow asked, while looking sideways at Rowena and Giles to make sure the verbal blows would not start flying again.

“Delivery for W. Rosenberg,” he replied, a large rectangular package tucked awkwardly under his arm.

“Oh, that’s me!” Willow said. The man gently placed the package on top of the reception desk and handed her his electronic clipboard to sign.

“Thanks,” Willow said. She looked at the address on the package as he left.

“Who’s it from?” Andrew asked, coming over to see. Giles and Rowena also moved closer to the desk.

“Buffy,” Willow said, pulling the tab on the top of the box to open it. Reaching a hand inside, she pulled out a small envelope. Opening it, she read aloud, “Dear Will. The University of California sent this to me, since mine was your last known address. It took them this long to track us down. Good thing they had these saved in Sacramento and not Sunnydale, eh? I hope you don’t mind, but I took the liberty of doing it up nicely for you. I’m so proud of you, my little hacker. My love to all, Buffy.”

“What is it?” Giles asked.

Willow pulled out the rest of the packing material from inside the box and then tore off the brown-paper wrapping. Inside was a large framed certificate. The hand polished cherry wood of the frame and the gold-edged matte under the glass clearly showed the care and expense that went into it.

“My diploma,” Willow laughed, holding it up for them to see.

“University of California at Sunnydale,” Rowena read. “Congratulations. High honors, that’s impressive, considering.”

“Considering?” Willow asked with a frown. “Considering what?”

“Well, considering you were so busy fighting evil the unconventional way in which you learned,” Ro shrugged.

Willow had opened her mouth to reply when Ro continued, “Tell me, Ms Rosenberg, do you plan on going to graduate school? Because if you blew up your high school and then your hometown, I’d hate to see what will happen at your next graduation.”

“Did you just make a joke?” Giles asked, blinking in confusion.

“Yes, I’ve been known to do that from time to time,” Rowena said in deadpan, then cracked a small grin.

“How did you know about the high school?” Willow asked.

“Mr. Giles’s journals, as well as Mr. Wyndham-Pryce’s, were all standard reading at the Academy, although neither has reported to the Council recently,” Rowena answered instead.

“Now, that is not true, Ms Allister. Mr. Wyndham-Pryce frequently reported to the Council, when there was one to report to,” Giles said with a smirk. Willow smiled at Rowena’s frown. Giles added, “I too have been known to joke once in a while.”

Just then Kennedy came bounding down the large staircase with her usual slayer energy.

“Hey honey!” she said, kissing Willow on the lips, causing Rowena’s frown to deepen even further. “Whatcha got?”

“Present from Buffy,” Willow said, then showed her lover the framed certificate.

“Wow!” Kennedy said. “Cool! Mind if I go hang it up in our apartment?”

“Thanks.” Willow smiled, then handed the frame to Kennedy.

“Okay, guys!” Andrew announced, climbing up a ladder left by the workers. “After much research, debate and great craftsmanship, I am proud to present our Mission Statement. A creed for all to follow, one could say. A way of life really.” He lifted a hand indicating the nearby drape-covered wall, doing his best Vanna White impersonation.

“Go ahead, Andrew,” Giles said indulgently, before Andrew could add more.

“Ta da!” Andrew trumpeted and pulled the drape, away revealing a large wooden coat of arms. The three ravens over the lion stood out sharply against the background, with the Council’s motto offset in flowing script.

Expedia est Potentia,” a new voice read aloud. The others turned from the crest to the newcomers.

Vincent DeVeer stepped aside to reveal the face of the speaker. The man’s eyes reflected his smile as he observed the group. Behind them were two other suit-clad men, both older gentlemen, their bearing reflecting that of the speaker.

“Knowledge is Power,” the speaker translated, focusing on Giles. “That is not the Council’s motto, Rupert. Have you forgotten – From Knowledge, Victory?”

“Of course not, James,” Giles replied. “But that was the old Council. This is our motto, reflecting change and a vision for the future. We can never have ultimate victory over evil, but we can have the power to keep it at bay. ”

“I see,” the man said. “Well, aren’t you going to introduce me to your colleagues?”

“Certainly. James Tyrell,” Giles said. “May I introduce Andrew Wells, one of our slayers, Kennedy, and Willow Rosenberg.”

“Ms. Rosenberg,” Tyrell said, taking Willow’s hand. The redhead frowned at him suspiciously. “You’ve been quite resourceful, I understand.”

Willow pulled her hand away and turned to Giles. “Are they all like Travers, or is that just a coincidence?”

Giles hid a smirk, while DeVeers’s smile grew even larger.

“Quentin was a dear friend of mine, and one who will be sorely missed,” Tyrell told Willow.

“I’m sorry for the loss of your friend, Mr. Tyrell. But forgive me for being a bit suspicious of those who kept company with Mr. Travers. I found him to be less than forthright in all our dealings together when he ran the Watchers Council,” Willow remarked.

“Any of those dealings happen last summer, Ms Rosenberg? I heard about your extended holiday in England last year with the coven. Feeling rested and ready to do the Council’s bidding again?”

“Very much so,” Willow said with a hint of defiance in her voice and taking a step closer to Giles. She turned her back to Tyrell. “In any case,” she added, “welcome to Cleveland. I hope your brief stay will be pleasant.”

“I’m sure it’s a lovely city, despite its location on a Hellmouth,” he said genially. “But I’m afraid we’re here strictly on business.”

“Oh?” Willow said. Her tone caused Giles to cast a surprised glance at her, as if looking to check the color of her eyes. “Well, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit, but as you can see, we too are quite busy.”

“Actually, no you’re not,” Tyrell said. “You see, Ms. Rosenberg, this operation is now shut down. By order of the Council of Watchers, you are hereby instructed to cease and desist any further activity. All resources you acquired shall be returned and all slayers will immediately report to Mr. DeVeer for reassignment. Understood?”

Black Out

End of Teaser