Presidium Lair – Next Morning
A minion to the Engineer was standing in front of a scared vampire.
“So then what happened?” the minion asked.
“Well, she just started blowing things up saying we weren’t worthy. We all ran, but I was the only one that got out. I followed her last night and she started to just grab people or set them on fire.”
“So you raised an incredibly powerful demon we have no control over? And this helps us how?” the minion asked.
“Well that wasn’t the plan. We did some reading,” he said, waving a book he held. “And we thought she was evil. You know, Sister Sin. It said that she had a master years before, so we figured we could get her to do what we wanted and then send her to the Council. You know more and more slayers are there everyday. It’s getting harder for us to feed. Plus, you don’t really want the slayers around and we thought –.”
“Enough,” the minion told him. “Bonnie,” he said, turning to the real estate agent. “Could you–?”
“I’m on it,” she told him. She hopped from the control panel in the lair where she’d been sitting. She ripped the book angrily from the vampire’s hands before casually staking him, turning him to dust.
“You know,” she continued, without missing a beat as she walked up the steps to the exit. “Maybe next time you should let me handle researching your resurrections before your fellas jump right into things. Talk about your comedy of errors.”
“That’s not sarcasm I hear, is it? Because that could be fatal for you,” the minion said sternly.
“Not at all, Sir,” Bonnie told him confidently, appearing not the least bit shaken by the threat. “But let’s hope, for both our sakes, the Engineer doesn’t find out about this minor setback. I’ll get my people on it.”
Without saying more Bonnie left the lair and the angry looking minion behind her.
Dining Room – Same Morning
“Okay, now here’s something you don’t see everyday,” Willow said as she sat down with the newspaper. “Well…not unless you live on a Hellmouth, that is.”
“What?” Giles asked.
“Some people got burned up last night. They just went poof.”
“Where?” Giles asked. Willow handed the paper over and pointed as he began to read.
Kennedy walked inside the dining room, with Andrew and Tracey following behind her with the breakfast cart. Looking weary, Kennedy took a seat next to Faith.
“Damn, you looked drained,” Faith remarked. “Another wild night on the town?”
“You could say that,” Kennedy muttered, as she nonchalantly made sure her hair covered the left side of her neck.
Faith leaned over the table to Rowena, who sat across from them. “Can you suspend me too? I could use a night out,” she said.
Rowena didn’t reply to Faith. She just cast a disapproving glare at Kennedy.
“Actually,” Rowena began. “Kennedy will be staying in from now on during her suspension.”
“But you said –” Kennedy tried to argue.
“That was before you came home staggering drunk,” Rowena countered. “The rules have changed now.”
“I wasn’t drunk. Just tired,” Kennedy countered. “And who are you to pass judgment anyway? I heard about what happened at the Christmas party. You were three sheets to the wind by the end of the night and getting my newly ex-girlfriend drunk.”
“We were neither on duty nor suspended for behavior issues at the time,” Rowena countered. “And for the record…” she added in afterthought. “We weren’t three sheets to the wind, just drinking. There’s a concept – it’s called self-control. Look into it.”
“Face it. You were getting smashed,” Kennedy jabbed. “Sounds like a case of do as I say and not as I do.”
“If it ends this pointless discussion, then yes,” Rowena sighed as Tracey put a plate in front of her.
“You know, Watchergal –” Kennedy’s face wore a smirk.
“That’s enough,” Giles said, intervening. “Kennedy, if you continue to have discipline problems we’ll be forced to move your residence to the Council stockade. Is that understood?”
Kennedy licked her lips and folded her arms across her chest. “Sir. Yes, Sir,” she muttered.
Giles sighed, but stopped himself from saying something more. He turned to Andrew, who was scratching his chest dramatically. “Are you alright?” he asked.
“Something is making me all itchy and I think it’s the Brand X deodorant I bought. I just knew something bad was going to happen, and I was right, because now it’s spreading.”
“Well, if you can stop scratching long enough, I need you to look at the coroner’s reports on these recent deaths,” Giles said, handing the paper to him.
“Do I have to do work right now?” Andrew replied as he took the newspaper. “Can’t you see my discomfort?”
“Coroner’s reports?” Tracey asked.
“Uh, yeah,” Willow answered quickly. “I’m, uh, doing some lectures for human biology a-and we think maybe they were spontaneously combusting, so we’d like Andrew to check it out.”
Tracey shrugged and went back to the cart, pushing it from the room.
“You gotta be more careful,” Willow told Giles in a hushed tone.
Embarrassed, he nodded his agreement. “Yes, sorry. Anyway, Andrew, look into the matter, if you would.”
“Fine, but first I need Calamine, or maybe some aloe,” he muttered, as he too walked from the room.
Watchers Council – Library – Early Evening
“Yes!” Giles exclaimed, standing up from the table where Willow was seated. The book he was reading was still in his hands and his eyes focused on the text.
“I love getting that reaction from a man,” a third voice in the room announced.
Willow turned to see Becca standing in the doorway.
“Hey you,” Willow greeted warmly. “What brings you out tonight?”
Giles grinned at first, but then looked suddenly worried. Becca moved a few paces deeper into the room.
“Well judging by the expression on Mr. I-forgot-about-my-date-tonight’s face, I’m not sure I have to answer that question,” she jabbed, folding her arms across her chest.
Becca smirked as Rowena rushed in behind her with a map and some papers in her hand, reading as she moved along.
“Okay I think I found the —” she stopped when she looked up and saw Becca there. She gave her a warm grin. “Oh, hello Becca,” she said politely.
Becca nodded a hello and gave Rowena a wave of her hand. “Go on, don’t let me interrupt.”
“Oh,” Rowena said again, with a shake of her head to refocus. “I think I might have that vamp lair narrowed down,” she answered, putting the items she carried on the table.
“Good, good,” he told Rowena before focusing on Becca. “I was just about t-to call you,” he told her nervously.
“You’re an awful liar, Rupert,” Becca said, before giving him a kiss. “But I can see you’ve obviously been busy.” She gestured at all the books strewn around them. “Another baddie in town?”
“It seems so,” Willow added, before turning to Giles. “What did you find?” She nodded toward the book in his hand.
“A banishing spell,” he said, handing the book over to Willow. She immediately began to read. “Judging by the markings that Andrew said the M.E. reported on the victims, the work is from one Sister Sin. This spell is the one used to banish her years ago.”
“Okay,” Becca said, holding up her hands. “I’m joining the research party late, so you’ll have to clue me in here.”
Willow cleared her throat. “Sister Sin was something that was conjured up by the Crusaders during the Spanish Inquisition. Someone to aid them in their ‘fight to save souls,’ a night walker.”
“Like a vampire?” Becca asked.
“Kinda sorta,” Willow replied. “She only came out ‘under cover of darkness to cleanse souls,’ from what the text says.”
“Right,” Rowena nodded, looking up from her map. “But she got a little out of hand. Over the ages, others have tried to resurrect her, with little success. Why she’s back again we’re not sure. Point is she’s here and passing judgment on sinners.”
“So is she one of those good demons then?” Becca asked. “Killing bad folks?”
“In theory, it might seem that way,” Giles explained. “But she has, well, somewhat of a high standard.”
“Essentially anyone who breathes is a sinner,” Willow added. “She sets the bar pretty high on morality. That equals bad, because she cleanses them by fire. And since fire and human skin don’t go good together, it leads to much badness.”
“You have a nun that’s torching people then,” Becca remarked.
“Yeah, in a short, condensed and not at all long winded sentence…yeah,” Willow answered. She handed the book back to Giles. “Can you make a copy of that, Giles? I’m gonna start gathering some supplies.”
“Certainly,” he answered. Giles to nodded Becca to follow him.
Willow turned to Rowena at that point. “Let’s see if the slayers can get a location. Think you can handle rounding them up and tell them what we’re looking for?”
“You don’t have to be flippant, but yeah,” Rowena replied.
“I wasn’t. I just asked a question.”
Willow paused to see if Rowena would say anything further. When she went back to looking at her map, Willow let out a soft sigh and started to leave the room.
Rowena then looked over to see Willow depart, then paused a moment before rising to her feet and walking out in the same direction.
City Street Outside a Church – Later That Evening
A man in a priest collar said goodbye to a parishioner on the steps of a church. He smiled and waved as woman walked down the sidewalk.
Once the woman was out of sight, Sister Sin’s crossed from across the street to meet the man, her eyes narrow. Upon seeing her robe, the holy man took a few steps closer.
“Why hello there, Sister,” he told her with a smile as she closed the distance between them. “Are you new to St. Peter’s down the street? I don’t think we’ve had the pleasure.” His tone friendly, he offered his hand.
“Sinner,” she hissed, pointing at the Priest.
“Excuse me?” he said,taken aback by her angry tone.
“I know about the apples,” she said.
He looked baffled and shook his head. “I’m sorry, Sister, but I’m a bit confused. What do –?”
“It was only a few, you said. Who would miss them? You’re a thief and a sinner.”
Slowly, a look of understanding washed over his face. “The market,” he muttered. “I was eight and I took…How did you know abou –?”
“I know all,” she said. Her eyes began to glow.
Watchers Council – Kennedy’s Apartment – Later that Evening
Hearing a knock at her door, Kennedy turned off the television and walked over to answer it. Her face registered surprise when she saw Giles standing there.
“May I come in?” he asked.
“Depends,” she said, sticking her hands in her back pockets. “Here to haul me off to the Council jail?”
He gave her a compassionate grin. “No,” he assured her.
Kennedy walked away, leaving the door open, and Giles passed the threshold before closing the door behind him.
“I’m concerned about you,” he began when she didn’t say anything.
“Is that so?”
“Yes,” Giles answered firmly. “You show exceptional promise as a slayer, Kennedy. In fact I’m not surprised. Mr. Jacobs was a fine watcher, one of the best in my opinion, and your talent shows that.”
“Yeah, he was so good he got himself carved up,” she answered. “What’s your point?”
Giles looked a bit taken aback. “That’s a bit of a cavalier attitude, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, well, I’ve been feeling a little heartless lately, if that’s okay with you?”
“No, it’s not alright with me,” Giles remarked. “Kennedy, I can’t claim to have a deep understanding of what you’ve been going through personally in recent weeks, but –”
“Then don’t,” she interrupted. She walked back over to her sofa and turned on the television.
After a few moments, he walked over to the sofa but didn’t take a seat.
“Will you please talk to me?” Giles asked softly.
“Sure,” Kennedy answered, not taking her eyes off the screen. “How about the fact that reality television sucks and that’s all I can find on T.V. anymore? These people wouldn’t know about reality if it bit them on the ass.”
“I meant about you.”
Kennedy finally looked over at him. “I know what you meant. And look, I appreciate what you’re trying to do here, but it’s useless. You can’t just wave a wand and make life grand, Giles. Although,” Kennedy said with a sarcastic smirk, “…that ex-girlfriend of mine might be able to. Maybe I should ask her to work a little mojo, for old time’s sake and all.”
Giles took a ragged breath. “I understand her recent decision hurts you, but I know that she does care for you, and your recent behavior is upsetting her, too.”
“Well, boo-hoo,” Kennedy said with a chuckle. “Life’s not fair. And I’m sure she’ll get over it. Actually, tell her to go get lucky. That’ll help.”
Giles released a sigh. “I see I’m not going to get anywhere right now, but…if you change your mind or you need anyone to speak with, then –”
“I know where to find you,” Kennedy finished, turning her attention back to the television. “Just make sure to close the door on the way out.”
Giles put his hands in his pockets and left the room, shaking his head.
After a few moments absently staring at the screen, Kennedy grabbed her jacket and put it on. “Screw this,” she muttered as she left her apartment.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Same Time
Rowena knocked on the open wooden door to get Willow’s attention The witch turned from her herb rack on hearing the sound.
“Hey,” Rowena said softly. “Thought you might need an extra set of hands gathering things.”
Willow turned back to her desk. “That’s okay. I got it.”
“Okay,” Rowena added. “Mind if I come in anyway?”
“Suit yourself,” Willow answered, with little emotion in her voice, as she continued to examine the bottles. “Did Faith and the other teams go out to search for Sister Sin and that nest?”
“Yeah, they just left a little while ago.” Rowena paused and looked at Willow for a moment, whose back was still turned. “I, uh…I wanted to apologize,” she said, taking a few steps closer.
“For what?” Willow asked, her eyes still focused on her work.
“I think you know what for,” Rowena answered. When Willow didn’t respond, she went on. “I’m frustrated and…I think I’ve been taking it out on you. After all, we always hurt the ones we love.” Willow finally looked over and watched as Rowena’s face moved from a gentle, cautious smile to a wide-eyed look. “Wrong choice of words, maybe,” Rowena corrected quickly, “I mean, since I’ve been here you’re one of the few people I actually spend time with, and that makes it easier. That’s all.”
“Easier?” Willow asked.
“Yeah, you’re safe. I’m relaxed enough to be my obnoxious self, I guess,” she confessed with a lopsided grin. “I think I know in the end that you’ll understand or…something. I’m not saying this right, am I?”
Willow gave a small grin and put the bottle that she was holding down. “You mean I’m a pushover.”
“No, that is not what I meant at all,” Rowena said firmly.
“Well, maybe not so much today, but I spent the larger portion of my life getting pushed around. I wasn’t exactly Miss Popularity growing up, if you can imagine. Shocking, huh?”
“It is a little,” Rowena answered.
Rowena shrugged. “Giles has a great deal of faith in you. When Tyrell took us, I didn’t think we would make it out alive, but Giles was certain we would, because you were at the helm. You proved him right and I’ve seen your magic talent first hand. Besides, anybody who can activate all the potentials in the world can’t be all that weak.”
Willow harrumphed. “Shoulda seen me the night before I did that spell. Actually, the night, the afternoon and the morning before. Even when I sat down to do the spell, I was shaking so bad I thought I’d pass out, but Ken stayed with me. She calmed me down, kept me grounded… I’m worried about her, Rowena. I didn’t mean for this all to happen, but…”
“You don’t have to explain your reasoning to me.”
“There’s a part of me that misses her, a part that wonders if I made the right decision, you know?”
“Yeah, I get that,” Rowena answered. “I think everyone plays the woulda, shoulda, coulda game in their heads.”
Willow gave her a slight grin. “She stood by me when I really needed someone and she really did bring me back to life. I was existing for a long time after Tara died. Not living, just…breathing. But she gave me her faith and her confidence a-and it picked me back up again. But after coming here and having more focus, I realized…as much as I love her for what she gave me, it wasn’t enough. I can’t love her the way she needs, and maybe it really wasn’t love at all that I felt… it was more like a passionate friendship? I couldn’t hurt her anymore, so I walked away. Great choice obviously, huh?” she added sarcastically.
“Kennedy has to make her own decisions in life,” Rowena insisted, “And yeah, she’s gonna stumble but I think she’s a strong person and she’ll rise above it,” Rowena told Willow. “I just wish I knew how to help her. And, for what it’s worth… I’m sorry I had to put Marsha in harm’s way the other night but again I’ll say, she is a slayer.”
“See?” Willow shook her head. “Look, I understand why you did what you did. I do. But she’s not just a tool or an instrument or all those things the Old Guard put in your head, Ro. She’s a slayer, but she’s also a girl, a flesh and blood girl with a heart and a soul. Yeah she’s got a destiny, a birthright, but… maybe I’m just biased, okay? But a slayer is more than just a stake with a person attached to it.”
“I realize that,” Rowena answered.
“No, I don’t think you do, and I’m not being facetious here,” Willow insisted. “I’ve seen a slayer cry. THE Slayer in fact. I watched her rage over her fate as the Chosen One. I’ve watched her laughing with her friends a-and I tended to her battered bones and a couple of broken hearts over the years. She might have been the Slayer, but she was always my friend first. Even after I…” Willow licked her lips nervously and shook her head as if to clear her mind. “Point is… slayers are human. Sure, superhuman, but still, they’re just people.”
Rowena just sighed. “I do see what you’re saying, Willow, but… I still don’t know where to start with Kennedy. She’s been unsupervised for well over a year now and to say she dislikes my authority is an understatement.”
“Maybe she doesn’t need authority right now,” Willow remarked. “Sure, Giles was always Buffy’s Watcher but he became a friend and, after a while, we were all family.”
“Meaning?” Rowena replied.
Willow picked up her bottles. “Maybe instead of a disciplinarian watcher… all Kennedy really needs is a friend?”
City Street – Night
Faith looked around the area with clear apprehension, sparing a glance behind her now and then.
“Okay,” Vi sighed. “What’s behind us? I’m not sensing anything, but I haven’t been at this gig as long as you have, either.”
“No, it’s cool,” Faith told her. “I just…look, can you take over the team tonight? I wanna head back to the council and check on Brat.”
“Sure,” Vi shrugged. “I’ll call if we spot anything.”
“Thanks, Kid,” Faith said. She took off jogging in the opposite direction.
Watchers Council – Outside Kennedy’s Apartment – Minutes Later
Faith knocked and put her ear closer to the door. “Open up, Brat,” she said. “I know you’re in there. I can hear the T.V.”
When Faith got no answer, she turned the door handle and walked inside.
“Hey Brat?” she called out. Not getting an answer, she turned off the television and headed toward the open bedroom door. “You decent in there?” she teased, before poking her head inside.
Coming up empty, Faith walked back to the kitchen. She spotted a matchbook with “The Alcove” embossed on it. She flipped it open to reveal the name “Valerie” and a phone number. Faith closed the matchbook and stuffed it in her pocket before heading out the door.
The Alcove – Evening
Faith pushed her way past the women crowding near the bar and caught the attention of the bartender. The crew-cut, brown-haired, corpulent woman nodded at Faith and finished serving the customers in front of her. After a few minutes, she moved opposite the slayer.
“Hey! What can I get ya?” she asked.
“Nothing, thanks,” Faith replied. “She here?”
“She who?” the bartender asked, cutting her eyes away from Faith’s. “Lots of shes in here tonight.”
“You know who,” Faith said. “The same one I come here looking for all the time, that’s who. You seen her?”
“Maybe,” the bartender replied, grabbing a glass and pouring a shot of bourbon, followed by a spritzer of soda. She handed it to the young woman standing next to Faith and took a ten-dollar bill in return.
Faith waited until the customer took her change and left. Then, without warning, Faith reached over the bar and with both hands grabbed the bartender by the collar of her t-shirt. She pulled the woman forward until her apron was dragging through the sudsy water in the sink.
“Look, sweetie,” Faith said. “I’m not in any mood, okay? Just tell me where she is and I won’t bother calling the cops to let them know that half the dykes in here tonight are underage, including the one you just served that drink to. Got the picture?”
The woman struggled feebly for a moment, and then with a look at Faith’s determined expression, she said, “Back room, third door on the right.”
“Who she with?”
“One of the regulars,” she replied with a shrug. “Valerie somebody or other. Beautiful, dark and dangerous-like, you know? Real predator type. Your girl looks pretty tough, she can handle herself.”
“Yeah, right,” Faith sneered and let go with one hand to unclip the key ring hanging from the bartender’s belt loop. “You’ll get these back,” she told the woman as she finally let go, ignoring the protests as she turned and walked towards the rear of the club.
In the dim light of the hallway, Faith fumbled with the key ring until she located the one with smudged white tape wrapped around it. Scrawled on the tape was the label, “master.” She fit the key into the lock and swung the door open.
The small room was lit only by harsh yellow streetlights coming in the dirty window, but it was enough for Faith to see the half-naked couple on the couch. A strange woman was lying on her back, with her head thrown back in ecstasy. On top of her, Kennedy licked at the woman’s neck, while one hand moved between their bodies.
Both women turned to look at the open door, and that’s when Faith spotted the fangs and blood on the other woman’s face.
“What the fu –!” she exclaimed.
End of Act Two