City Street – West Side of Cleveland – Night
Vi had just turned the corner into an alley when she saw three men, who appeared human, and three Bacnee demons heading in their direction. She shot back out of sight and took a calming breath. Then she turned and whispered to the slayer next to her, “Got any acid tucked away in your coat?”
The girl looked slightly confused and shook her head.
“Damn,” Vi sighed with a slight grin, before looking serious again. “Everyone hide. No movement until I move. Go,” she whispered.
The five girls took to the shadows in doorways, or behind the nearby dumpster, but Vi reached out and grabbed a slayer by the name of Tammy.
“Stay here. Make eye contact. Act like we’re talking,” she told her.
Tammy’s eyes went wide, but she seemed to push her fear aside as Vi began to talk. “So then I told Johnny, ‘If you can’t bother to be here on time what’s the point?’ Am I right or am I right?” Vi asked her casually while leaning against a light post.
Tammy glanced and saw the demons approaching, but quickly shot her head back to Vi.
“I’m not sure,” she answered as the demons got closer.
“What do you mean you’re not sure?” Vi asked, as if she was growing angry, but she kept her eyes on the turned backs of the demons after they passed. “What if Don showed up almost an hour late and THEN expected to get lucky? What would you do? Come on, tell me the truth.”
The demons were well past them. Vi watched as one man turned around and looked at them before turning back.
“Damn, I’m hungry,” Vi heard him tell the guy next to him.
“Focus, man. Presid business first, then dinner,” his friend insisted.
As they rounded the next corner, Vi turned to Tammy.
“Follow behind me,” she told her. “Far behind.”
Vi took a running jump and grabbed the secured fire escape above them. She scurried up the ladder until she was on the roof. Pointing to Tammy below her, she headed in the direction the demons disappeared. Taking the hint, Tammy gave a wave to the other girls and they began to walk down the street a safe distance behind.
Abandoned Looking Warehouse – East Side of Cleveland
“Lift me up,” Rona told the four Slayers around her. Two of them offered their shoulders to her and she placed a foot on each side so she could see inside the dingy window.
One of the girls below her let out a groan. “Damn Rona, start training a bit more, would ya?”
The other girl tried not to laugh, but when she did, Rona nearly fell off with the rise and fall of her shoulder.
“Hey, cut it out, smart ass,” Rona whispered down to them as she clung onto the window frame.
Through the window, she could see two vampires, and then five more. Inside she spotted some bongs and a few hypodermic needles on a table with a clear bag full of white powder.
“Think we found the gallery,” she remarked casually. She was about to hop down when she saw two women being led, kicking and screaming, into what looked like a holding cell or a metal cage of some kind.
She hopped down to the ground and turned to the girls. “Call the Council,” she said.
“We’re not going in?” another asked.
Rona shook her head. “I’ve counted at least ten in there I could see. There might be ten more I don’t see, so let’s get some backup first.”
The Alcove – Back Room – Night
“Get dressed,” Faith growled at Kennedy. When she moved into the room, she walked over to the window and turned her back on the pair, as if not wishing to view any more of the scene.
“Goddamnit!” Kennedy swore. Her lover quickly grabbed her clothes and vacated the room, as if the presence of two slayers was more than she could handle.
“Get dressed,” Faith repeated. “We’re going home.”
“Why can’t you mind your own business?” Kennedy asked, sitting up and pressing a not-too-clean bar towel to her neck.
“You are my business,” Faith said, turning from the window. “I’m not going to let you do this.”
“Do what?” Kennedy challenged as she re-buttoned her open shirt. “Keep a vamp off the street? Save some innocent victim? Better me than letting her hunt and get out of control.”
Faith’s eyes widened in astonishment as Kennedy finished dressing. “My God!” she exclaimed, moving closer to her friend. “Are you even listening to what you’re saying? How long did it take you to delude yourself before you decided to let that vamp suck you off? You’re Chosen! You slay vampires, not lay them!”
“I wouldn’t be the first,” Kennedy said petulantly.
“Don’t EVEN bring B into this conversation,” Faith said, her face flushing with anger. “Let’s go.”
“Go where?” Kennedy said, shrugging off the hand Faith had gripped around her arm.
“Back to the Council,” Faith said, grabbing Kennedy’s arm again and pulling her towards the door. “You need help, and I can’t do this on my own.”
“No frikkin’ way!” Kennedy said, pulling away again. “This is my business, Faith, no one else’s, and certainly not everyone’s at the Council.”
Faith turned around again. “Look, I’m sorry things are tough for you right now and your goddess dumped you flat. Welcome to the real world, Ken. Everyone’s got problems, but they don’t turn to vamps for comfort…so let’s go.”
“No,” Kennedy said as she pushed her away again. “Screw you, Faith. I don’t need you. I don’t need Willow and I sure as hell don’t need the Council.”
As she turned to walk away, Faith shook her head mournfully and then lashed out with her fist, catching Kennedy’s jaw with a sickening crunch. Kennedy’s eyes rolled back in her head and she fell to the floor with a thump.
“Look at you,” Faith said to the unconscious girl at her feet. “One punch and you’re out like a light. Damn lucky she didn’t drain you dry.”
With a sigh, she bent over, lifted the other slayer over her shoulder in a fireman’s carry and left the room.
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Moments Later
“Anderson does a good job I think,” Andrew commented.
“His sci-fi is okay. It’s solid. But Zahn’s the best, hands down,” Becca told him, waving her finger.
Giles, who had just walked in with a teacup, stopped. “And what exactly are we discussing?”
“The closest thing to episodes seven through nine,” Andrew remarked.
“Excuse me?” Giles asked.
“You know,” Andrew rolled his eyes in annoyance as if Giles should know. “The stories that came after Return of the Jedi. Hello?”
“I didn’t think they made any movies? They only did those…what did you call them? Prequels?” Giles answered.
Andrew sighed and rolled his eyes again. He motioned to the blonde across from him to take over.
“We’re talking books not movies,” Becca explained, before turning back to Andrew. “And as I was saying, Zahn captured the voices much better than any other author.”
“Yes. He does get bonus points for that,” Andrew remarked in a dignified voice. “But my problem is that they were a bit predictable. And as for the villain?” he harrumphed. “I know Darth Vader, and Mr. Grand Admiral Thrawn, you are no Darth Vader.”
Becca chuckled but it subsided as she watched Andrew wiggling in his chair.
“Something wrong?” she asked.
“I’m a bit itchy right now,” he told her, slightly embarrassed. “My rash seems to be spreading…further south. Will you excuse me?”
Before she could answer, Andrew darted from the room and Giles finished his journey to the teakettle, pouring another cup.
“Have I mentioned yet how sorry I am that I wasn’t at the restaurant?” he asked as he walked over and took Andrew’s seat.
“About ten times now, yeah. I’m starting to lose count,” she remarked, stealing his cup and taking a drink. “This will come in handy when I need some emotional blackmail,” she teased.
Giles grinned. He had risen to get another cup when Rowena walked inside the kitchen.
“Rona called. We’ve got a location on that nest,” she told them.
Giles and Becca followed her from the room.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later
Rowena, Giles and Becca walked over to the computer terminal where Willow was seated. Upon noticing them, she rose.
“Looks like it’s more than a gallery, Giles,” Willow began. “Rona reported the vamps putting some less-than-willing folks in a cage at a warehouse on 26th Street. I told her to hold the team until we call back.”
“Good,” he told her. “See if we can send some more girls along. I’d like to have Faith there if at all poss –”
He trailed off when he noticed Faith entering with an unconscious Kennedy slung over her shoulder.
“Dear lord, what happened?” Giles asked as Becca took a step closer to him.
“I knocked her out. Someone get me a glass of ice water.”
Faith walked over to the lounge area and tossed Kennedy into a chair. Rowena immediately came over and handed Faith a glass as she spoke. “I realize that she’s infuriating at the moment, but that’s no excuse to resort to harming a fellow slayer.”
Faith took a quick drink. “Ahh. Thanks,” she said, licking her lips. Then she casually tossed the remainder in Kennedy’s face.
Kennedy shot upright in the chair, sputtering and choking slightly. “What the hell?” Kennedy exclaimed.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt her. I was trying to save her.” Faith pushed Kennedy’s hair to one side. “Look at this!” she told everyone.
“Puncture marks?” Rowena asked with growing concern. “She was attacked by a vampire? Where did you find her? And why did you hit –?”
“Not attacked,” Faith answered, folding her arms across her chest. “She let some freaky bitch suck her. When she wouldn’t come home I took matters into my own hands… well, fist actually.”
“You let a vampire feed on you?” Rowena asked Kennedy with a shocked expression.
“I thought slayers killed vampires. I’m confused,” Becca said to the room.
“That makes two of us,” Faith answered in a disapproving tone while keeping her eyes on Kennedy.
Kennedy didn’t look up. “She wasn’t hurting anyone,” she offered the group.
“I assume that there’s a perfectly reasonable and not at all insane explanation, yes?” Giles asked the bitten slayer.
“Yeah,” Faith piped in. “She’s totally whacked now.”
“She’s not an evil vampire,” Kennedy told the group.
“Really?” Giles asked, a bit intrigued.
“Hey waitaminute,” Faith started again. “Did you take some stupid pills? We’re talking about a frikkin’ vamp here, people.”
“Well,” Giles shrugged, “it certainly isn’t the first time that a-a slayer has –”
“Sorry Giles,” Faith cut in. “I know you’re real fond of B and all but slayers and vamps shouldn’t be screwin’. Sorry, but that’s just wrong.”
“Screwing?” Willow asked. “You mean…?”
“Yeah, Red,” Faith answered, with a touch of compassion, sensing the redhead’s distress at the news. “I caught them together.”
“Oh,” Willow said, taking a seat on the other side of the room. She promptly began playing with her fingernails, not looking up.
“This really isn’t any of your business,” Kennedy said, starting to rise.
“Wrong, Brat.” Faith pushed her back down in the chair, but Kennedy shot back up to her feet, coming nose to nose with Faith.
“You better back off,” Kennedy warned.
“Or what?” Faith taunted. “I’ll knock you out again?”
“I’m feeling better now, so let’s just see,” Kennedy shot back. Both women set their jaws and clenched their fists, taking a step closer to each other.
“Please, everyone just calm down,” Giles told them. “Now I realize that Kennedy’s judgment has been called into question recently, but I see no reason why we should make accusations until we learn more about the events that –”
“What more is there to learn?” Rowena challenged. “Slayers and vampires are not an acceptable pairing by any stretch of the imagination.”
Faith raised her hand in a ‘thank you’ fashion to Rowena, before they all heard Willow speak up.
“It’s easier said than done,” the witch remarked. “We can’t control who we fall in love with, a-and if Kennedy –”
“No, but we control who we sleep with,” Rowena said, turning around to face Willow. “Besides, this isn’t about love at all. There’s no gothic fairy tale ending here. And if that is what she thinks, then she’s kidding herself.”
“Maybe not,” Willow challenged. “But until you lose your heart to someone…” Willow trailed off and gave a slight roll of her shoulders. “Point is, slayer, vampire. Doesn’t matter in the end. When two people connect, then they connect.”
“Yeah, but you’re forgetting a large part of your equation, Willow. They aren’t both people… one of them is a demon,” Rowena argued.
“What the hell do you know?” the witch shouted. Rowena leaned back slightly in surprise. “Look, am I happy she’s foolin’ around with a vampire? Hell no! But I understand how it can happen and if you weren’t so closed minded, maybe you’d see that!”
“Closed mi –” Rowena said in a shocked voice, before a look of anger washed over her features. “My mind is the frikkin’ Grand Canyon since I got here! I-I’ve consorted with demons for information, I work with people like Robin who’ve had no formal training as a Watcher…”
“Hey,” Faith remarked, offended. “He’s got experience, Blondie.”
Rowena ignored the comment and went on, “And it seems like half the people I work with are gay –”
“Two are not half,” Willow challenged.
“The jury is still out on Andrew. Point is, I’ve put a lot of my beliefs on hold to see how you all have operated for the past seven years,” Rowena hissed. She began shaking her head. “Closed minded,” she sighed. “I can’t believe you can sit here and accept this kind of behavior. It’s totally preposterous. And who’s more despicable? I can’t even begin to fathom, Kennedy, for getting her kicks with the undead, or you two who think it’s fine and dandy?” Rowena added, waving to both Willow and Giles. “Am I wrong?” she asked Faith.
“You said it, sister. Slayers screwin’ vamps, man,” Faith sighed. “I don’t get it.”
“And you shouldn’t,” Rowena added. “It’s an abomination to everything the slayers and the Council stand for.”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Giles chimed in.
“I’ve read your journals. No, you probably wouldn’t,” Rowena shot back sarcastically.
“Now you look here,” Giles began. Becca reached up and grabbed his arm, preventing him from approaching any closer.
“No, you look,” Rowena cut him off with an angry tone, taking a step to meet him.
Soon everyone began talking at once except for Kennedy, who simply sat back down in the chair, letting everyone verbally spar with each other. When it got to be too much, she put her hands over her ears and yelled.
The room suddenly grew quiet and everyone looked at her.
“A vampire needs blood to live,” she told them. “I feed her and I save people she might otherwise hurt. She doesn’t go stalking victims. She gets what she needs b-y –”
“You being a whore?” Faith asked. “Sorry Brat, but this explanation…it’s not helping your case any. She belongs on the pointy end of a stake.”
Kennedy didn’t say anything further. She just looked down into her lap. “You just don’t get it,” she sighed.
“Then enlighten me,” Faith said, tossing her arms away from her body.
Kennedy didn’t say anything. Faith waved her off and sighed as she began to pace.
“I need to ask something and I need an honest answer, Kennedy,” Willow began, looking at the slumped slayer. “Did you invite her here or into your apartment?”
“No,” Kennedy answered without looking up.
“Honest? I don’t want anyone put at risk, including you.”
Kennedy looked up and flinched at the pain that seemed to be reflected on Willow’s face.
“No, I did not,” she answered.
Willow simply nodded and began to nervously play with her fingernails again, her eyes focusing on her hands.
Rowena began to shake her head. “What am I going to do with you? You’re constantly getting into these situations where you jump in with your heart, and then you have to jump out with your head. Your heart and your head have just been in constant conflict with each other.”
Kennedy folded her arms across her chest, “I don’t do that.”
“Yes, you do do that.” Rowena told her.
“Oh really, Miss Freud?” Kennedy spat.
“Absolutely,” she said, pointing at Willow. “Case in point.”
“What?” Willow asked to no one in particular.
Rowena ignored the witch’s question and went on. “You jumped into a relationship with Willow for superficial reasons and now your heart refuses to let go. But taking up with a vamp is not the answer here.”
“Thank you.” Faith sighed in relief. “Tell her again because I think she’s missing the point.”
“I’m not a kid,” Kennedy debated.
“Well you sure as hell are acting like one,” Faith told her. “Spoiled brat because she can’t have her way. Red made her choice, so let it go.”
“Can I just leave now?” Willow muttered as she put her face in her hands. At that moment Vi walked into the council building, getting everyone’s attention. “Oh, thank God,” Willow sighed.
As Vi finished her journey over, she observed how all eyes fell upon her and the room went quiet.
“Did I come at a bad time?” she asked.
Giles shook his head briefly to gain a new focus. “Sorry. Not at all. Did you locate Sister Sin?”
“Nope, but I did overhear a very interesting conversation about her. The girls are still tracking them,” she said, holding up her two-way radio.
“Them who?” Rowena asked.
“The Presidium. Apparently, we’re not the only ones looking for Sister Sin.”
Rowena and Giles looked at each other with confused expressions.
“Hey guys,” Robin called down over the banister from the stairs. “I just heard on the scanner there’re emergency units at a local church about fifteen blocks away. Serious burn victim.”
Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later
“Faith?” Giles called out, making the dark-haired slayer look up at him. “I want you to go to the warehouse.”
“No offense, G, but shouldn’t I go with you guys to track this Sister Sin chick?”
“No, and don’t call me G. It’s annoying,” he answered.
“Fine,” she shrugged. “Just thought you’d need some experienced slayers there, is all.”
“Vi has been battle tested and will do well with us I’m sure. Besides, we don’t have to physically confront her. We just need to get Willow close enough to do the spell. However, we don’t know what Rona will find once she’s inside that lair. You’ve worked a nest before. She needs your experience.”
Faith just gave a firm nod of acceptance.
“What should I do with Kennedy?” Rowena asked. “I have to help Willow with the spell, and to be honest, I don’t feel comfortable leaving Kennedy here alone. We could lock her up for the evening, but if something happens she might be trapped and… I’m at my wit’s end. Truth be told, I’m not sure what to do.”
“Perhaps you can stay here. Andrew can help Willow instead,” Giles offered. The three of them looked over to see Andrew spinning in circles, trying to scratch his back. “On second thought,” Giles sighed.
“I’ll take Ken with me, if that’s all right,” Faith told them. “I know we’ve got her on suspension, but I might need some help in there, even if it is only one vampire she beats to death with her bare hands.”
Giles turned to Rowena. “It’s your call, really,” he told her.
“Oh brother,” Rowena groaned. “Are you sure?” she asked Faith. “I don’t want her to endanger your team with her antics.”
“Nah, it’ll be cool. You guys might think I’m crazy but…maybe she needs this. Like a boost of confidence or somethin’. Sometimes having just one person believe in you can make a difference,” she added with an almost embarrassed shrug.
Rowena released a sigh. “Okay, but let me talk to her first, all right?”
“Go for it, Goldilocks. I’ll be outside when she’s ready.”
They watched Faith walk away. Rowena turned to Giles.
“You’re certain?” she asked him.
“Your slayer. Your call,” he told her. “I found t-that sometimes procedure was more of a hindrance than a help with the Old Guard. This is a decision you should make as her watcher.”
“Oh brother,” Rowena repeated in a similar tone before she walked over to Kennedy, who was still in her chair looking cheerless.
The slayer glanced up when she spotted the watcher’s legs. “You’re going to take me to the stockade, aren’t you?” Kennedy asked.
“I don’t have long so I’ll keep this brief. Faith is waiting outside for you. We need you two to catch up to Rona’s team and handle that nest.”
Kennedy shook her head. “So getting bit qualifies as an act of getting off suspension?”
“No, but their team needs you tonight. I won’t lie or mince words here, Kennedy. A lot is riding on what you do this evening. I can train you to be a better slayer, but I’m not the best when it comes to teaching you about relationships. It’s not what I do but I do know this… As much as you want to, you can’t rely on someone else to make you feel alive.”
Kennedy looked up at Rowena, as if she was going to say something. Instead she closed her mouth with a snap and looked back down at her lap.
“Go arm yourself,” Rowena instructed. “Faith’s waiting.”
City Street – Short Time Later
“Did you see anything new?” Faith asked Rona as she and Kennedy approached.
“Not yet, but three more went in, from what the girls out front told me.”
Faith nodded. “Well, let’s take another look, Brat,” she said to Kennedy, motioning to the window. The girls around them hoisted both of them up and they looked through the crud-covered window.
“Oh my god,” Kennedy sighed as her mouth dropped open.
“What?” Faith asked.
End of Act Three