Watchers Council – Kitchen – Morning
Dawn bounced happily into the staff kitchen.
“Aieeek!” Andrew spun, his apron swirling out from his hips like a skirt. He brandished a long metal spatula at the smirking teenager. “Don’t do that!” he told her.
“Or what? You’re gonna flip me over?”
“When I left you,” he said, holding the spatula in front of himself like a light-saber, “I was but a student. Now,” he turned and slid the spatula beneath the fried egg, “I am the master chef.”
A small movement at the kitchen table caught Dawn’s attention. She turned to see the latter half of an eye-roll being given to Andrew by a boy around her age with dark hair and bright blue eyes.
“Hi,” Dawn said, taking a seat.
“You do?” she asked with a hint of surprise.
“Duh! Dawn Summers. The human Key. The Slayer’s pesky kid sister. The Scooby-dupe. You got baby-sat by Spike and haunted by your mother’s ghost. You walked around twiddling your thumbs at The First while everybody else got to be a slayer. But you’re pretty. So you got somethin’ goin’ for ya.”
“And just who the hell are you?”
“Jeff. Jeff Lindquist.”
Dawn paused a moment. “Riiight. The firestarter.” She noticed an open book of spells before the boy. “Planning to torch something else?” she quipped.
He raised it up so she could see the title. She stared at the strange lettering for a quick second.
“You’re reading that in Sumerian?”
Another eyeroll. “You don’t know much. It’s ancient Sumerian.”
“All Sumerian is ancient. It’s a dead language,” she countered. “But I’m sure you knew that too…So, where’d you learn to read ancient Sumerian?”
Jeff set the book back down. “My mother taught me. She teaches here. We live in the Watchers quarters. What about you?”
“I live with my sister.”
“Again I say, ‘duh?’ – I mean who taught you?”
“Oh! Well, Giles started to, and then I picked up some more on my own…”
The two continued to talk as Andrew burned more breakfast.
Cuyahoga County Clerk’s Offices – Morning
Willow stood at a clerk’s window waiting for her to finalize the paperwork and the forms the plumber gave her to upgrade the Council’s sprinkler system.
She didn’t notice the young woman who stole out of the office diagonally across the hall. Amy had just finished planting the last of a series of talismans in City Hall offices.
“Now, you’re sure you’re up to code on your smoke detectors?” the clerk asked, “because this only handles the plumbing, not any electrical.”
“Oh yes, state-of-the-art detectors of all things smoky. In every nook and cranny.” Willow answered, smiling.
The clerk smiled back.
Ethan walked up behind Amy, who was now peering around the corner of the hallway.
“If you’re trying to be inconspicuous, peering around corners won’t help. May I suggest an invisibility spell? That way, no one would have to see you,” he added under his breath.
“Quiet,” she whispered.
“My, my. We look as though we’ve seen a ghost. Not to worry. I’m sure he’ll be far more frightened of you…If he has any sense.”
Amy completely ignored Ethan. He came up alongside her and looked down the hallway. There at the service window stood a customer speaking pleasantly with the clerk. He looked back at Amy wondering at her interest in the exchange.
“I know her,” Amy whispered. “She could blow my cover.”
“Oh, well then, by all means, let’s stand here and wait for her to notice you.”
The customer’s voice carried over to Ethan’s ears.
“And then another time, I had just finished teaching my class and the sprinkler went off again…”
Ethan turned his head slowly, not sure why that voice seemed so familiar. All he could see was red hair. Suddenly, the customer dropped the pen she’d been holding. She bent down to pick it up and as she rose again, laughing with the clerk, Ethan got a good look at her face.
“Well, well, well. How fortuitous. But what is she doing here?”
“You know her too?” Amy asked.
“She’s the slayer’s friend. Holly… Cherry… Wisteria…”
“Willow,” Amy provided, surprised. “Willow Rosenberg.”
“Yes. Rumor in the underworld says she got into a bit of trouble a while back with some black magicks. Flayed someone alive just by looking at them – very powerful, I’m told,” he said, the admiration clear in his voice.
“Who told you about tha –?”
“How do you know her?” Ethan countered.
“I used to live in Sunnydale. We went to high school there with Buffy and Willow and the rest of –”
“Ah yes, the Slayer and her Droopies.”
“Scoobies,” Amy corrected.
“Whatever. So then, you are quite familiar with them all – including, perhaps, one Rupert Gi –”
“Shhh! C’mon – this way,” Amy pulled Ethan into a corner by the elevators as Willow turned and began to walk toward them.
Wedging herself into the corner, Amy pulled Ethan into her, yanked his face down and pressed his lips against hers. She held his head tightly between her hands, grasping his hair.
Willow turned the corner to the elevators and saw the couple – the woman almost completely hidden by the man, who had his back to Willow – in the corner. She smiled and turned bashfully away.
Ethan began to squirm uncomfortably against Amy’s thin lips. She glanced to see the elevator had yet to arrive. Amy felt Ethan start to pull away and angrily dug her fingernails into his scalp. He jerked once – in pain – but didn’t lose contact.
At the elevator, Willow shifted from one foot to the other, nervously keeping from looking at the amorous couple. Finally, the elevator arrived and after another eternity, the doors opened.
“Elevator’s… uh… here…” she offered meekly. The couple made no move or sign. She smiled awkwardly, looked down, and got in the elevator. “Of course, what you might want to get is a room,” Willow muttered as she pressed the button.
The doors slid shut, and a moment later a slap rang out in the hallway.
“What?” Ethan protested, hand to his face. “You started it…Tease.”
“C’mon,” Amy said. “I want to see where she’s going.”
“Or who she’s going to, ” Ethan added as they hurried to the stairwell.
Willow walked out the front door of City Hall and down the street to a waiting car. Amy and Ethan cautiously exited the building just seconds later.
“There she is,” Amy said.
She and Ethan kept their distance as they followed the redhead down the street.
Willow stopped at a bright silver Aston Martin and Ethan put his arm out, quickly stopping Amy as he watched.
“Ripper…” Ethan said on a breath.
“Who?” Amy asked as they stared at Willow and Giles in the car a few yards away.
“Still robbing the cradle, eh old mate?”
“You mean Giles? Yeah,” Amy sneered, “Buffy was his little pet slayer and now Willow’s his little pet witch.”
“Ah, the sweet sound of jealousy, and perhaps just a smattering of, what – pure hatred?”
“This is not about hate. It’s about power…She’s got it and I want it.”
“Quick,” Ethan said, “They’re leaving. Taxi!”
A yellow cab pulled up and Ethan hopped in, pulling Amy along with him.
“Where ya goin’?” the cab driver asked.
“How gauche to have to say,” Ethan replied. “Follow that car!”
It wasn’t long before they had left the city center and were driving toward the coast of Lake Erie. When the silver car turned onto the road leading to a large converted brick building in the distance, Ethan bade the driver stop and let them out.
“Wait for us,” he told the driver. “We won’t be long.”
“I don’t get paid for waiting.”
“You will – and very nicely” Ethan flashed a wad of bills at him.
“So twist my arm,” the driver grinned, turning the car off.
Ethan and Amy carefully made their way along the road, taking care not to be seen. They stopped some distance away, by a cluster of trees, and watched.
Three young women came out of the building and Giles and Willow spoke with them. Then the group started to go indoors.
“So, Ripper… you’ve set up shop here. And you’re flying the banner of the watchers. But where’s your slayer?” Ethan mused.
“She’s not here, she’s not with Giles anymore,” Amy told him. “But that girl – the one on the end with the long hair – that’s Buffy’s sister, Dawn.”
“Well,” Ethan said, looking at Amy as if for the first time, “you seem to know a lot about Ripper and his Little Red Witch and friends. Seems he’s gotten tired of blondes and has taken up redheads, instead.”
“Believe me,” Amy said, “there’s nothing going on between Giles and Willow. Not that way, anyhow.”
“Oh, you don’t know Ripper like I do.”
Amy snorted. “You don’t know Willow.”
“I see. She’s a good girl.”
“No. She’s gay.”
“Ah. And you’re certain you’re not jealous?”
The Hyatt Regency Hotel – Ethan’s Room – Evening
That night, alone in his room, Ethan sat shirtless and cross-legged on the floor. In front of him was a circle of candles, each connected with rough, hand-twisted string. Inside the circle lay a piece of paper with the address of the new Watchers Council building. Beneath that paper was an old wallet-photo of a very young and long-haired Rupert Giles playing an electric guitar.
Ethan picked up the worn, crinkled photo and looked at it.
“What a waste,” he said quietly. “So much going for you and –” he stopped, and sighed sharply. “And you threw – it – away,” he finished disgustedly. “Oh well,” he murmured gravely, “let’s see if we can’t make up for it now.”
He wrapped a few herbs within the paper with the address on it and deftly folded the ends in. Then he laid the herb-filled paper on top of the photo and sprinkled some toadflax on everything. Finally, he chanted:
“By this black night and
this red flame,
Let naught, for you,
be quite the same.
And those who, with you,
and Chaos reign.”
He clapped his hands together once, sharply. Flame burst from within the herb-wrapped paper. It quickly engulfed the entire thing and went out without any trace, leaving the photo of young, rocker Giles unscathed upon the floor.
The Hyatt Regency Hotel – Amy’s Room – Same Time
In the adjacent room, Amy Madison was working a more straightforward spell. She didn’t have an image or photo of Willow, so Ethan had cleverly drawn one for her. It hadn’t been a half-bad rendering – certainly enough to enable the spell. The flame she produced burned everything, including the likeness of Willow beneath it, until nothing remained but ash.
The Hyatt Regency Hotel – Ethan’s Room – Same Time
Ethan lifted up the picture of young Giles and smiled almost warmly at it. “You know, old mate” he said to the image, “Cyril was right. I’m beginning to like this job far better than the rest. after all…”
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Next Morning
It was Andrew who ran into the problem first. The water from the cold-water tap in the kitchen was running red-hot and the hot water, ice cold. Giles experienced similar problems, when his morning hot shower hit him with all the warmth of an Icelandic glacier.
Elsewhere in the Council building, light switches worked at will, some lighting up every light, others not lighting at all. Two ceiling lights in the slayer dorm hummed and popped wildly before blowing out completely, sending a shower of sparks down from above.
Dawn, oblivious to all of these things, was fast asleep in her own room.
Her alarm went off with a loud ringing and she came up out of sleep just enough to flail at the clock until she hit the off button. Then she rolled over and pulled the blankets over her head, blocking the morning sunlight. The clock rang again. She turned it off again. It rang again. She turned it off again. It rang again and again and so forth, until she pulled the batteries from it and flung them to the floor, where they proceeded to roll under the bed. All lay quiet and still, including Dawn for a few minutes. Smiling, she breathed deeply and relaxed, heading back toward sleep.
The window shade rolled up at once and hit with such force that the entire shade roll dislodged from its brackets and fell to the floor with a crash. Sunlight struck Dawn, full in the face. She stared at the ceiling, and sighed.
City Hall – Same Time
“They should be experiencing some of it right about now, I’d say,” Ethan told Amy as they made their way to City Hall to finish their original job.
“I don’t get it,” Amy said as they walked toward the building, “What’s between you and Giles?”
“More than he’ll ever admit,” Ethan said seriously.
“Well, if you want any help…”
“My dear girl, Ripper is the one person I don’t need any help with. Now, let’s finish placing these talismans. We’ve only a few more, and once that’s done, we can get on with the spell.”
“I think we’re casting too widely. We can’t control that many people at once – I mean, the entire City Council and –”
“Yes, but you see, my dear – dear assistant… these are politicians – easily influenced and controlled. It would be a lot different if they had minds of their own or particularly strong wills. Even if one or two of them do, they wouldn’t be any match for me.”
“So say we all…”
Amy turned her head sharply and glared at him, but Ethan kept walking as though he’d taken no notice. She stood on the sidewalk, lost in thought.
Ethan turned just as he reached the building entrance.
“And now I’m working solo?” he asked her, unsmilingly. He didn’t wait for an answer. “Well. That’s what I wanted in the first place.” He opened the door to the building and went through without another word.
Amy, scowling, followed.
Watchers Council – Willow’s Classroom – Afternoon
Willow entered the classroom, smiling. She looked around and noticed that their class guest, Dawn, had chosen a seat next to Jeff. As usual, all the students – and Dawn – remained standing behind their desks until Willow led them in the blessing:
Blessed be the earth.
Blessed be the waters.
Blessed be the sky
And we, their sons and daughters.
Blessed be our hands.
Blessed be our minds.
Blessed be our works
That we may help mankind.
Blessed be, blessed be, blessed be.
And, as usual, Willow gave them all a simple charm to cast to begin the class. This day, it was a slightly more demanding task – to pull their chairs out without touching them.
Willow demonstrated first by gazing at her own chair. Almost immediately it backed up, scraping lightly over the floor. It came to a stop at just the right distance and Willow took a seat.
There was a brief pause as the fledgling witches stared at their own chairs. Dawn gave a shrug and decided she’d try too.
At first, one or two chairs scraped the floor harshly, intermittently, but these were soon joined by the rest until all the chairs – except for two – had come out from under their desks at greater or lesser intervals. The students took their seats, one by one.
Dawn’s chair seemed to wobble, catching Willow’s attention. Her eyes narrowed at the sight. The chatter of the girls in the class died down to nothing as Willow began to stand up. Dawn’s chair was making noise as it jerked slightly in place.
That was when Willow saw the sly smile on Dawn’s face. Looking down, she spotted the source of the magic at the end of Dawn’s foot. The teenager was nudging the chair with her toe. “Dawnie!” Willow laughed out loud.
“Made ya look,” Dawn said with a grin.
Jeff’s chair – which hadn’t traveled an inch – suddenly moved. It flipped a somersault over the long desks behind it. Two of the students had to dive to the floor to avoid being hit as it flew back against the wall. It hit with a loud ‘crack.’ The chair snapped right down the middle and fell to the floor.
The room was silent. Everyone stared, first at the chair and then at Jeff, who stood with balled fists and an angry expression.
Willow frowned. “And again, a little too much energy for –”
“Wow!” Dawn said. “That was – wow. Even Will wasn’t that strong when she first –”
Dawn heard the snickers of some of the girls.
Jeff looked away. He pulled another of the chairs over and sat down sullenly.
Dawn quietly took her seat.
Willow shot a caustic glance at the snickering girls, but said gently, “It’s always a good thing to have the power. Sometimes, though, it can be tricky to harness it. That comes with age, practice and patience. And it pays off. Believe me.”
She smiled and began to sit down, but she never made it. Suddenly, her own chair shot back and hit the wall as Willow herself dropped down and out of sight. The students all leapt from their seats and gathered about her desk only to find Willow sitting on the floor, making pained faces and rubbing her butt.
She looked up. “Jeffrey – I’d like to see you after class. Everyone, sit down – carefully! And no one do or say anything. Now let’s try to get to work.”
Dawn whispered to Jeff, “Friendly tip – don’t piss Willow off.”
Jeff looked at Dawn. “Wasn’t me,” he said, irritably.
“What did you say?” Willow asked.
Jeff looked up to find Willow looking at him, expectantly. “I said it wasn’t me,” he said in a louder voice.
The students snickered again. Willow gave him a look and began to speak, but something in Dawn’s expression stopped her. Willow sighed and picked up her lecture.
“If it wasn’t you,” Dawn whispered, “then who do you think it was?”
“I don’t know,” Jeff whispered back. “But when I find out…”
“Shh,” Dawn said, seeing Willow’s eyes on them both. “We’ll figure it out later – after school.”
Jeff turned and blinked at her a couple of times – surprised. Dawn simply smiled over at him and he unexpectedly found himself smiling back.
City Hall – Late Morning
An hour later, Ethan and Amy left City Hall with Ethan carrying a list.
“We’ll spell the City Directors on this list tomorrow,” Ethan told her, “as soon as I’ve prepared what we need.”
“Good,” Amy said, “I’d like to do a little shopping today.”
Ethan stopped in his tracks. “Shopping? I thought you might like to accompany me to Ripper’s new home for wayward slayers and –”
“Yeah, yeah, I would. Really. But I – well, a girl needs a few things, you know? There’ll be time for Ri – uh, Giles.” Scowling, she added, “And Willow.”
“I see… Well then – I shall meet you back at the hotel tonight.”
Agreeing, Amy and Ethan split up, taking separate taxis.
“Where to?” the driver asked Ethan.
“You see that cab that just pulled away? The one at the stoplight?”
Watchers Council – School – Back Hallway – Afternoon
“You’re wrong, Ken. About Jeffrey knowing what he’s doing.”
“Willow, he made your chair go all Crash Gordon on you!”
“Well, maybe. Okay, so yeah. But he’s just a kid a-and he’s got a lot of – of serious potential. He just needs to learn some control is all. Besides, he’s a teenager with lots of pent-up hostility and – and I know that nothing boosts a witch’s energy levels like being a little bit – well, cranky and hormonal.”
Kennedy looked impatiently back at Willow. “No. You made a mistake letting him take your class. He can’t handle it. And besides, he gets into plenty of trouble without using magic. Or did you forget about the laundry incident?”
“Well… everything was put back. Even the underwear –”
“Hello? He flew it all at half-mast when the City Council came down to give Giles final approval for the School…”
“And anyway, no underwear was hurt in the incident.”
Kennedy turned disgustedly away from Willow.
“And they had that nice, breezy, lakefront scen–”
“Willow! That’s not the point,” Kennedy persisted.
“Look Ken, being your girlfriend I say this with love – this really isn’t your area of expertise, okay? Yeah, the kid has some anger management issues and likes causing mischief, but he’s not all that different than I was back then, a-and maybe if I had someone to show me right from wrong, I might’ve…Let’s just say things might have been different for me.”
Kennedy seemed unaffected by the confession. “What if he wants to join the Coven? No one wants him there.”
“He can’t join the Coven.”
“Good. Huh? Why? He can do magic – bad magic – so why couldn’t he join? Not that I’m arguing.”
“Besides the fact that you and everyone else thinks he’s a – a bad seed? Because he’s not eighteen. You have to be a legal adult to join a Coven. Some rituals and spells are too adult to allow a – a kid to participate. And some are done skyclad. You know – naked… start out with itchy robes on, but then…”
“They come off?” Kennedy smiled seductively and spun to face Willow.
“Yeah. They… ”
Kennedy pressed her lips against Willow’s and they kissed gently for a moment.
“Maybe I’d like to join your Coven,” Kennedy said. “Or maybe we could just have a cyclops ritual of our own.”
“Mmmmm… Ken… mmmmmnnn… Ken, sweetie, I have to run downstairs and get next week’s lessons outlined. I’ll see you after supper and then maybe we can – find a couple of itchy brown robes.”
“Itchy ropes? Sounds good to me,” Kennedy smiled mischievously. She turned and walked down the hall to her next class.
“I said robes!” Willow called after her, smiling. Willow headed toward the back stairwell to avoid the crush of students about to return from lunch.
She opened the large steel door, ignoring the “Off Limits, Hazardous Area” sign. Light streamed in from the high-set windows in the stairwell, making her squint. She waited until her eyes adjusted to the bright light. Then she began to carefully make her way down the stairs. She walked down four or five of the chipped and cracked concrete steps.
Then it happened.
Her legs became wobbly. Dizziness overtook her. She grabbed the handrail and held it fast to keep from falling. But the handrail came easily towards her, as though it was made of warm taffy.
“Oh!” she cried out once and tumbled.
She fell face down on the landing below and didn’t move for a second or two. Her stomach wrenched. She couldn’t breathe. She coughed raggedly as air rushed back into her lungs.
She tried to get up, but her right knee felt like it was on fire and hurt too much to bend. Something wet trickled down her forehead to her lip and she recognized the metallic taste of blood.
“Ken…” she said shakily, attempting to raise herself up with her hands. “Gi–”
Her arms gave out and her cheek hit the floor with a heavy thump. She lay unconscious in the filtered light of the sun’s rays, covered with cement dust and crumbled bits of concrete.
The Hyatt Regency Hotel – Afternoon
“Let me out here, driver,” Ethan said as Amy’s cab pulled up in front of the Hyatt Regency ahead of them.
He threw several bills at the driver, not paying attention to how much he had overpaid, and got out of the cab.
“Hey, Mister, your change…” the driver’s voice faded behind Ethan.
Ethan sighed, his pace slowing. “Well, that was a lot of money wasted for nothing,” he said aloud. “Or is it!” A well-dressed elderly woman passing by gave him a wary look.
Ethan entered the Regency behind Amy and saw the elevator door close. He quickly took the adjacent lift to his and Amy’s floor. He arrived in time to see her room door close.
Quietly, he entered his own room and moved soundlessly to their common door. He pressed his ear to it.
“Blessed be the dark gods, the source of my power, my soul-guides and my strength…”
Ethan listened carefully as Amy cast a spell calling on the powers of the dark gods. She had put out one of her hand-hammered casting bowls filled with cloyingly sweet-smelling ingredients. She continued her chant as she laid out a pentagram around herself and the bowl. Then she closed the pentagram and lit candles at each of its corners.
“…call ye forth and cast ye out into the world.”
Ethan’s eyes widened as he recognized the spell.
“…awaken and alight, breathe ye of this world and rage upon its beauty. Be thee shadow no longer, but live full upon the wind, and water and earth, that even fire should bow before thee and thoust rekindle the fullness of thy life.”
Amy lit the ingredients in the bowl. They began to smolder and glow. A flame appeared – small at first, then rising to a height of almost four feet.
“Awaken, all! Awaken and be! Awaken and blessed be thee!”
Amy sprinkled yew bark, mugwort, amaranth and ebony shavings over the burning ingredients. The flame dipped and rose again.
Next, she flung Balm of Gilead onto the mixture. The flame was immediately sucked down; it dragged oxygen into it like a vacuum.
Amy looked down. All of the ingredients had completely disintegrated. There was nothing left in the bowl. It was as pristine as when she had started.
“By Janus and all the gods,” Ethan whispered behind the closed door, “what have you done?”
Ethan waited long moments at the door between his and Amy’s room until he heard her leave. Then, he followed her out of the hotel and into the Arcade Shopping Center to a phone booth. He kept out of sight as she made a call and heard her say Cyril Rodham’s name and something about her task being accomplished. She hung up and went on to shop.
Ethan waited until she was well out of sight. Then he went to the phone booth and placed a call. “It’s Rayne. I need information. I need to know if there is a dormant Hellmouth or doorway in or around Cleveland. No, Cleveland, New Jersey – of course, Ohio! Yes, I’ll wait…as if I have a choice.”
Watchers Council – School – Back Hallway – Day
“Where are we going?” Dawn asked Jeff.
“The secret gathering place.”
“Secret hiding place?”
“Gathering! The secret gathering place. Whenever the class wants to do magic without Willow knowing it, they go to their secret gathering place.”
“They’re doing magic on their own?”
“Yeah. That and sneakin’ cigarettes and beer.”
“Well, if it’s such a secret, how do you know about it?”
“‘Cause I follow ’em. And I watch ’em an’ listen to ’em cast spells and talk. Gets kinda boring. They talk about the same stuff over and over, mostly about clothes and boys – and me.”
“What do they say about you?”
“The usual,” he grunted and fell silent.
From the look on his face, Dawn could see she shouldn’t press the point further.
“So why are we going to the secret gathering place?” she asked.
Jeff rolled his eyes. “If we’re gonna figure out who did the magics on Willow’s chair, we have to look for clues.”
“Where spells are cast… in secret… in the secret gathering place.” Dawn finished.
“Were all the Scoobies as bright as you?”
Dawn bit down on a sharp reply.
“This way,” he told her. They started down a long, dark corridor at the back of the building.
The optical illusion soon become apparent: the additional corridor couldn’t be seen until one got very close to it, because of the sharp angle it took off the secondary corridor. It looked as though they were heading down a dead-end. “What part of the building is this?” she asked a bit warily.
“No. Just – didn’t see this part of the place, that’s all.”
“You’re scared,” Jeff concluded.
“Hey!” Dawn said loudly. “I’ve faced a lot of creepy stuff in my time – hallways are nothing compared to battling ubervamps.”
Jeff ignored the comment and pointed. “Here, this way.”
He led her to the doorway to the secret gathering place. On the door was a sign she could only partially make out. The words ‘Limits’ and ‘Hazardous’ jumped out at her. Jeff opened the door.
“They aren’t here tonight,” he explained, “or we woulda seen the glow from the cigarettes and candles under the door.” He lifted something out of his pocket and – click! – a light beamed into the stairwell.
“You had a flashlight all this ti – hey! What is that? Down there!”
Jeff shined the light down toward the spot Dawn indicated. There at the bottom of the landing lay a still and familiar form.
“Ohmygod, ohmygod,” Dawn flew down the stairs.
“Hey, careful!” Jeff warned.
“Willow!” Dawn cried out. One of her feet slipped on the crumbling steps and she almost tumbled down the stairs herself. She grasped the banister, steadied herself, and continued down to Willow’s side.
“Willow? Willow!” She gently touched the witch’s shoulders to rouse her.
Jeff had reached them and knelt down beside Dawn.
“Is she – she’s not – she’s still alive… right?”
Dawn looked at Jeff. The anger and arrogance was gone and she could hear the concern in his voice.
“She’s alive,” Dawn said, calmly, removing her fingers from Willow’s neck. “She’s unconscious.”
Jeff reached out and began to raise Willow’s shoulders.
“No! We don’t know how bad she’s hurt,” Dawn said, swatting him away. The boy looked up, wide-eyed at Dawn’s sureness and assertiveness. “Get Giles,” Dawn ordered firmly. “Tell him Willow fell down the stairs and she’s unconscious. Leave the flashlight.”
Dawn began checking Willow’s pulse at her neck again as Jeff took the stairs two at a time.
Dawn heard his fading footfalls. She looked back down at the red-on-red of blood-soaked hair plastered to Willow’s head. Dawn brushed back a shock of it.
“Please be okay.”
Fade to Black
End of Act Two