Watchers Council – Slayer Training Room – Morning
The sound of Sheila’s scream made its way to the training center and Rowena and Kennedy looked at each other. Like lightning, they both took the steps two at a time and headed in the direction of the kitchen.
On the way, they found Sheila and Ira running down the hall.
“Oh God, there’s something in there. Some kind of…mutants,” Sheila told them, pointing toward the kitchen. “Oh no,” she said, turning to Ira. “That poor young man is still in there with them.”
“I’ll check it out,” Ira told her. “You go find Willow.”
“Actually,” Kennedy said, grabbing his arm. “Rowena will help you both find Willow, and I’ll check it out.”
Before he could argue, Kennedy was already in a run up the hallway. “She shouldn’t go in there alone,” Ira told Rowena.
“She’ll be fine,” Rowena insisted. “It’s what she’s trained to do.”
“Make those things jump rope or something?” Sheila countered. “She’s a physical education teacher.”
“I think it’s time Willow did some explaining,” Rowena said. “So please, let’s go. I believe she and Mr. Giles are in the library, going over the Watchers Council policies today.”
“Watchers Council?” Ira asked.
“Like I said, Willow will explain. Come on.”
Not wanting more of an argument, Rowena grabbed each of Willow’s parents by their arms and led them down the hallway toward the library.
Watchers Council – Slayer Kitchen – Moments Later
“Kenny!” the young spawn both cried and ran toward the Slayer, wrapping their arms around each leg.
“What happened?” Kennedy asked, looking at their parents.
“She was here,” Tram explained. “The demon woman who sent the other demons for us. She was here. Tram sure the demons will arrive now. We must leave.”
After prying herself free of the spawn, Kennedy walked over to the intercom and pressed the button. “Faith call 227. Faith call 227,” she said.
“What’s up, Slick?” she heard a response shortly after.
“I need you in the kitchen now. And bring Vi and Rona. Tram will explain after you get here.”
Watchers Council – Library – Moments Later
“Well, this definitely has to go,” Willow told him as they looked at a huge scroll.
“Agreed. No taking of the slayer’s powers on her eighteen birthday for the Council’s amusement,” he remarked with disdain.
“Okay,” Willow agreed. “Now, Article 27. No slayer will –”
Willow and Giles both looked up to see Rowena, Sheila and Ira in the doorway. Quickly, Willow and Giles tried to cover the ancient scroll, but Rowena entered and shook her head. “The jig is up as they say, Willow.”
“What?” the redhead asked, fearful.
“They found Tram’s family,” the blonde explained.
“Oh,” Willow said softly.
Ira took a step deeper into the room. “What’s the Watchers Council and what on Earth were those things we saw?” he asked sternly. “I want the truth, Willow, because quite frankly…I don’t have time today to play what’s my line.”
Giles and Willow looked at each other.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later
“Tracey, wait up!” Andrew yelled.
She stopped and quickly turned around.”Why? So you can tell me they’ve got a skin condition? Or maybe there’s another sci-fi convention? Or maybe they’re part of some experiment for the students?” she asked. “Look, I signed on here because I needed the money, and I like working with you, but this…this is pretty freaky even by my standards.”
“I understand,” Andrew told her. “Really, I do, but we haven’t quite figured out how to tell you.”
“Tell me what?” Tracey asked. Andrew still hesitated. “Look,” she added, poking his chest. “You’ve got sixty seconds to explain what’s going on here or I’m walking out that door.”
Andrew sighed. “Okay, it’s like this…”
Watchers Council – Slayer Dorms – Moments Later
Kennedy came to halt at the room Bonnie had used the night before, only to find it vacant. She ran back down the hallway to her apartment and opened the door, grabbing her coat.
As she ran back down the hallway, she put on her coat and headed toward the walkway to the main Council building.
Watchers Council – Lobby– Same Time
Hitting the double doors into the Council lobby at breakneck speed, Kennedy blew past Andrew and Tracey, who were still there talking.
“And where is she going?” Tracey said as she pitched a thumb over her shoulder.
“Now that, I can’t answer,” Andrew said, holding his hands up in front of himself.
Watchers Council – Same Time
Kennedy looked down the street to find Bonnie trying to kick away the snow that had piled up around her automobile overnight.
“Hey!” Kennedy called out as she made her way over.
“Get away from me,” Bonnie told her.
Kennedy paused only for a moment before continuing toward her. “Look, I’m not sure what happened inside –”
“You’ve got genetic mutants living in there. That’s what happened,” Bonnie told her.
Kennedy seemed to consider her answer. “Yeah,” she began. “But there’s no reason to be scared. They just look a little different from you and me.”
“A little?” Bonnie challenged.
“Okay, a lot…but they won’t hurt you, or anyone. Why don’t you come back inside and we’ll have some of the students get you shoveled out,” Kennedy offered. “I can explain why they’re visiting.”
“They don’t live here?” Bonnie asked, pointing to the building.
Kennedy nodded her head. “Right. And you’re perfectly safe. I promise.”
Bonnie looked reluctant for a moment, but then followed Kennedy back toward the building. “Fine, but I’m not putting them in the brochure pictures,” she added.
Watchers Council – Library – Moments Later
“So they’re demons? But good demons?” Sheila asked.
“Yeah, they are. Still think I’m crazy?” Willow asked, appearing almost fearful of their answer.
Sheila and Ira sat on the sofa, side by side, while Giles and Willow leaned on the table across from them.
“And you have this ‘destiny’ to help mankind?” Sheila asked.
Willow nodded. “I train slayers. Just like Giles trained Buffy. A-And I’m a watcher myself, to a girl named Marsha.”
Sheila didn’t say anything but Ira began to shake his head.
“This is ridiculous,” he said. “There has to be a logical explanation for all of this.”
“There is. I’m a watcher,” Willow replied.
“I refuse to believe it,” he told her.
“Refuse all you like,” Willow replied calmly. “It doesn’t change what it is.”
“You’re insane, Willow,” Ira said, moving to his feet.
“Ira, please,” Sheila began. “It’s not going to help to –”
“NO! I’m done listening to this nonsense. Pack your bags,” he pointed to Willow. “You’re coming home with us. We’ll get you some counseling, and once that’s finished, we’ll see about getting you into a good graduate school.”
“I’m not leaving, Dad,” Willow told him firmly.
“Oh really?” he countered. “And just how long do you think you’ll have a job here when I notify the local mental health department of this?”
“Go ahead. They know about the Council and our activities,” the witch replied.
“Then I’ll go to the state education board.”
“Kinda pointless again. We got ’em in our pocket, too.” Ira tried to speak again but Willow continued. “And as for the Feds? I’ll get you a printout of our contacts in the FBI, CIA and the IRS if you like. I’ll even let you use the phone…but I think you’re failing to grasp the point here, Dad.”
“Then let’s hear it,” he said, folding his arms across his chest in a similar posture that Willow held.
The witch closed the distance between them, her arms still crossed.
“I make $150,000 dollars a year. I have a fully furnished apartment with a few artifacts that are older than any in the Museum of Natural History. I could have any car in the world that I want and I help Giles run a business that has over $250 million in its bank account as of last week,” Willow shot off quickly.
“Two hundred and fifty? Really?” Giles piped in happily.
“Stocks I picked went up,” Willow shot over to him with a smile, before turning her focus back to her parents.
“You must be joking,” Ira blinked in astonishment.
Willow shook her head. “Nope. So if you want me to have a rich life, I couldn’t get much richer than I am now. But here’s the thing…” she walked even closer, coming eye to eye with him. “I still buy my clothes at Fashion Barn instead of Saks. I’d still rather cook my own dinner than eat at the most expensive restaurant in town. And I’d rather skip a few of those dinners or eat pizza because I’m researching ways to keep humankind safe. You want me to have a better life, but the truth is, my life today couldn’t get much better. I have a job I love, I work with some of the bravest people the world has ever known and I have a family that loves me,” Willow said, turning back to grin at Giles briefly. “So this is my life, Dad. Will I be a world famous educator or a self-made millionaire with the latest software invention? No, probably not. Will the name Willow Rosenberg fade into obscurity? Most likely. But I know I’m making a difference, however small that might be. I save lives every day and that’s the legacy I want to leave behind me.”
Ira paused and looked his daughter up and down. “You’re still crazy,” he finally told her.
“Ira,” Sheila sighed as she watched him reach for his suit jacket and put it on.
“And don’t you start,” he told his wife, pointing an accusing finger. “If you want to buy into her delirium, you go right ahead. I’m done listening.”
All three of them watched him storm from the library and slam the door shut. When no one said anything, and Sheila sat down on the sofa, Willow cleared her throat.
“I’m sorry I can’t be what you guys want me to be,” Willow told her mother sincerely. “But I’ll never be sorry for the path I’ve chosen.”
Sheila sighed. “I just wish you would compromise a little. Maybe go to grad school for your father? Give him some time to adjust, perhaps?”
Willow shook her head. “This is my way, Mom. And I’ve found that the lowest points I’ve had in my life were when I’ve strayed from this path that I’m on now. I realize who I am. And as much as I’d like to give you what you want…I won’t do it at the risk of sacrificing myself.”
Sheila pursed her lips, took a deep breath and rose from the sofa. Wordlessly, she left the room, closing the door behind her. Once the door was closed, Willow spoke.
“Giles,” she said as her body began to sway slightly.
“Yes,” he replied, coming up to her side.
“Oh Gods, I never did that before. I never stood up to him.”
“I’m quite proud of you,” he grinned.
“Thanks,” Willow replied with a grin of her own, but it quickly fell. “I think I need a paper bag to breathe in right about now.” She leaned back into him.
Giles steadied her with a broad grin on his face and his hands on her shoulders.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later
Andrew and Tracey still stood next to the stairs in the lobby as she questioned him.
“So Faith and Kennedy and all the other girls are these slayers of vampyres?” she asked, using Andrew’s unique pronunciation.
Andrew nodded. “And Mr. Giles and Willow and Rowena and the other watchers-in-training help prepare the slayers to fulfill their destiny.”
“And you?” Tracey asked, sitting up and looking at him with uncertainty. “What’s your role in all this?”
Andrew puffed up his chest and opened up his mouth, as if in preparation to expound on his unique duties at the Council, but then a moment later he let out his breath in a whoosh.
“I’m their cook,” he said in a low voice. “I keep the kitchens organized, and I direct the housekeeping crew and basically I just help out where I’m needed. You see…not too long ago I did some really evil things. Things I’m not very proud of. So this is what I do. As the Vulcans say, we’re here to serve. And I serve the Council. Whatever Mr. Giles or Willow or any one else needs, I do. They recently sent me to L.A. to act as a liaison to one of our associates and I got into my role a little too much and…well, actually that’s not important. The point is, I’ll do anything for them, even if it’s to give my life. They gave me a home and a purpose, even when I didn’t deserve it. And that’s my role, Tracey. To serve.”
Tracey looked at him intently. “And now that I know the Council’s secret, what? Am I in for life? If I decide to leave, will you put me ‘on ice’?”
“Oh, no,” Andrew insisted. “You’re free to go, but…do you know how tough it is to find good help? I really wish you’d stay, if not for the Council, at least for me. You’ve been a Godsend, really, but if this is all too much and you can’t handle it, I understand.”
Tracey paused and looked around the Council, as if taking it all in for the first time. Finally she turned back to Andrew.
“Come on,” she said, pulling him toward the kitchen. “Let’s go get lunch ready.”
“You’re staying?” Andrew asked hopefully. “That’s great!”
Tracey bumped shoulders with him as they walked along. “I have to stay. You never gave back my Planet of the Apes DVD I let you borrow,” she joked as they walked toward the kitchen.
“Next week, I swear,” Andrew answered.
“Suuuuure, I heard that two weeks ago,” she said, giving him a playful shove.
Watchers Council – Slayers Rec Room – Afternoon
Becca walked into the lightly populated rec room. Some of the girls were watching television, while a small group played billiards. The blonde started to head for the comfortable leather chair tucked away in the corner, a hardcover book held in her hand.. However, she paused when she noticed Xander sitting at one of the computer terminals.
“Playing a game?” she asked, coming up to the young man.
“Nope,” he said, rolling a chair close to his and inviting her to sit. “Finding suppliers for my workshop. I’d like to select my equipment in person, but this storm has us all homebound, so I’m mostly researching right now.”
“Rupert mentioned you were a carpenter,” Becca said.
“Yep,” he smiled. “And thanks to Willow, I can be one again. Figured it was only fair to repay her by offering my services to the Council.”
Becca looked confused. “Repay her for what?”
“Oh,” Xander said. “Last year I lost my eye. But Willow worked some mojo and fixed it.”
“Wow,” Becca exclaimed. “I knew Willow was a witch, but I never realized she was that powerful. At times she seems so… timid; unsure. Not at all like someone who can wield that kind of energy.”
“They aren’t lying when they say it’s the quiet ones you gotta look out for.” Xander grinned, before turning serious. “Nah, she’s been through a lot. And magic hasn’t always been her friend. It’s caused her a lot of pain, too, but she’s cautious now. Giles told me she spent months researching different spells. because the ones she found first kinda went to a bad place. I wouldn’t have done it anyway, if it meant that, but…it’s good to know that Willow’s got a handle on it now.”
“Very righteous of you, Xander,” Becca said. “Guess the rumors of you being a pretty cool guy are true.”
Xander smiled, but before he could reply, he suddenly stood up and moved protectively over Becca. She turned swiftly to see what startled him but found nothing. A moment later a loud CRACK filled the room and the cue ball came flying across the room from the billiard table and headed straight for Becca’s head. She ducked, but before it could hit her, Xander neatly caught it in one hand. He then casually tossed it back to the slayers at the table.
“Remember girls: slayer strength now. Maybe you should break from the other side,” he teased. They gave him a look of apology and took his suggestion as they continued with the game.
Becca looked at him in astonishment. “Want to explain that?”
Xander shrugged and took his seat again. “It’s nothing,” he said and tapped a few keys on the terminal.
“Xander…” Becca said, her tone not allowing him any evasion.
“Becca…” He looked at her for a moment and then said, “Not long after Willow fixed my eye, I left the Council and started traveling again. I didn’t expect this to happen. I know she said there might be consequences to the spell – magic always has a price – but this is kinda creepy.”
“What is?” she asked.
“Sometimes…” he paused and licked his lips, taking a breath. “Sometimes I can ‘see’ stuff. Before it happens, you know?”
“You can see the future?” she asked.
“Yeah, but it’s always less than a minute before it happens,” he explained, sounding a bit defeated. “Like now. I saw the cue ball flying towards you and hit you in the back of the head.”
Becca looked over at the table. “That’s not so bad,” she smiled. “It saved me from a possible concussion.”
“Yeah, but other than helping folks avoid a few mishaps, what good is it?” he asked. “Not like I can stop an assassination or predict an earthquake.”
“You could always head for Vegas and make a fortune on the roulette table for yourself and the Council,” Becca joked.
“We’ve got all the money we need, thank you very much,” he said, a stern look in his eye, though a smirk on his face indicated he was teasing. After a moment, he grew serious again. “I don’t know, I’m just afraid I’ll miss something I’m supposed to ‘see.’ I’ve always been the guy with no special powers, you know? Sometimes it felt like a real deficit. My best friends are a slayer and witch, and then there’s me, ordinary Joe.”
“That’s not a bad thing, Xander,” Becca told him.
“Oh, I know. And I’m getting to that point. Sometimes having no power was a true power in itself, because I could see things from the non-mystical realm, you know. But now I’ve got something that might distract me from that ‘everyman’ day-to-day foresight. Not to mention, this might be something that forces me…” he broke off.
“To accept the responsibility of your gift? Like Buffy and Willow had to do?” she guessed.
“Gift or a curse – I haven’t decided yet.”
Becca put a gentle hand on his cheek. “That’s why you came back, isn’t it?”
“I came back because I missed my family,” he said, “but yeah, I’m curious about what’s going on. I figure at some point I’ll ask.”
“So Willow and the others don’t know about this?” Becca asked.
Xander shook his head. “Not yet, and I’d kinda like to keep it that way for now. Willow hasn’t had the best relationship with her folks. Sure, it was better than I had with mine but…she’s a bit preoccupied right now. When it settles down, I’ll tell her.”
“I don’t think it ever settles down here,” Becca joked.
“True,” Xander acknowledged with a nod. “Let’s just say, when Willow straightens out her own problems then I’ll bombard her with mine.”
Becca gave him a warm, understanding smile. “You’ll have to tell them at some point, but I won’t say anything,” she assured him.
“Thanks, Becca,” he said. “And if I had to give Vegas odds, I’d say Giles doesn’t need me at the roulette wheel. He’s hit the jackpot right here in Cleveland.”
Her only reply was a radiant smile.
City Street – Afternoon
Faith drove along in the Silverado with Tram’s family and Rona and Vi in the back.
“Where we go now?” Tram asked.
Faith looked at him in the rear view mirror. “Brell’s gonna meet us at a restaurant not far from here. He said he’s got arrangements in the works.”
No sooner had the words left Faith’s lips than the truck was suddenly side-swiped by a vehicle appearing from the cross street. They did two 360-degree turns before a lamppost brought them to a stop, bouncing the truck back into the road facing in the opposite direction.
“Damn it,” Faith swore and looked behind her. “Everyone alright back there?” she asked.
The group looked at each other for a moment, then all nodded to her, but suddenly Rona pointed out the front windshield. “We got company,” she told Faith.
Faith turned back around to see four demons step out of each door of the car that had struck
“When it snows it pours,” she remarked casually.
End of Act Two