Nigel Hawthorn as Nigel Corrigan, Derek Fowlds as Humphrey Sellers and Laura Prepon as Lori
Watchers Council – Library – Evening
Giles juggled a stack of heavy, thick old books as he entered the library. Willow and Xander were seated, rifling through stacks of books they had already laid out on the table. When Giles slammed the new stack down, Willow and Xander looked up and sighed before continuing with their current books.
“So, what’s so scary about this…Hemorrhoid guy, anyway?” Xander asked.
“Hezekiah,” Giles corrected, making his annoyance well known with his tone. “And the scary thing about him, as you put it, was that he was one of the most well respected and gifted watchers of the last century. There was nothing this man could not do, a-and he proved that to be correct when he became a wizard.”
Willow looked up from an ancient watcher diary and furrowed her brow. “So…why are we worrying?” she asked. “I mean, i-it’s not that uncommon for watchers to work with covens and gain Wiccan knowledge, right? Rowena’s told me about her time with the Devon Coven, and she’s helped me out with a couple rituals.”
“No, it’s not uncommon,” Giles agreed, but then he dropped his voice ominously. “Too much magic, however…”
Both Xander and Willow looked up, both apparently startled at Giles’s tone.
“Exactly how much magic is too much?” Xander asked, sparing a quick glance to Willow. “Are we talking black veins and blood-a-pumpin’ magic?” He glanced at Willow. “No offense.”
Willow gave an agreeable shrug and continued to wait for Giles’s answer.
“Remember Ripper?” Giles asked . He continued when he received hesitant nods from Xander and Willow. “Hezekiah’s abuse of magic made Ripper look like, well, as you might put it, a Hogwarts drop out.”
“Well…he’s dead, isn’t he?” Xander asked in response, continuing his search. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but our job is done.”
“No, Xander,” Giles interrupted. “It’s true, Hezekiah has long since been dealt with. His magic, however, lingers. When I was still a watcher-in-training some…odd years ago, we would be sent out to retrieve items that belonged to Hezekiah. They were still enchanted with his magic and might harm those that came in contact with them.”
“So you were all assigned to take care of that?” Willow asked.
Giles nodded before continuing, “Yes, we were, a-and I was in charge of one team assigned to deal with an attic that contained many of Hezekiah’s personal belongings. The members of my team assured me that those belongings had been taken care of.”
Willow sighed, “Not the case, huh?”
“No,” Giles responded. “An old colleague of mine, Nigel Corrigan, informed me that there is some sort of apparel located in Ohio…near Cleveland, specifically. But I’m afraid he couldn’t provide much more information.”
“And hence the hitting of the books,” Xander piped up as he knocked on one book in particular to reinforce his point. “And watcher journals, my favorite! I can see why you asked me to help, what with the seven years of experience. And it’s reassuring to see I’m still part of the gang. Doing research…again. Shouldn’t I be building something right about now? I mean, that’s why I –”
“No,” Giles and Willow both answered, at the same time and in the same authoritative tone. Xander gave a frustrated sigh in response and tossed his book back onto the table with a thud.
Rowena then entered the room and took an empty chair next to Giles. “So,” she greeted before getting straight to business, “any luck?”
“We know the history,” Willow replied. “Now we just have to figure out what the heck’s going on.”
Rowena responded by laughing a bit before picking up a nearby book. Willow, on the other hand, continued to watch Rowena and eye her up.
“What’s with the hehe?” Willow asked. “Something funny?”
Looking up from her book, Rowena gave a quick nod before replying, “Yes, actually. I find it amusing that we’re here researching. We’re looking for something wrong when I suspect you already know what’s wrong.”
“Do you?” Willow asked, confused, then shook her head. “I mean, I do?”
Rowena just nodded.
Willow looked around the table and then back at Rowena. “Mind if you clue me in on what I seem to know?”
“Hmm, let me see…” Rowena started slowly. “I am sitting next to one of the most powerful Wiccans I’ve ever met, dare I say, the world has ever known, and she has no idea where these articles might be?”
The compliment was not entirely lost on Willow. “Well, thanks, I guess, but I didn’t feel anything amiss around here in Cleveland. Whatever we’re looking for might be too far away.”
“So you do have a feeling, but nothing concrete?” Rowena asked.
“Not really,” Willow shrugged. Giles nodded Xander over to a nearby bookcase and both men walked away to gather more books. “Besides, even if we find this stuff, we still need to figure out a way to destroy it. Hence the study group.”
Rowena still eyed Willow, however. “Are you sure? There is something off with you, right?”
Willow fidgeted nervously in her seat. “What makes you say that?” she asked, just before hurriedly burying her nose in one of the books.
Rowena reached across the table and took Willow’s book away. “Body language, for one,” she countered.
Before answering, Willow looked up to see if Giles and Xander were actively listening and saw that, while they did not appear to be actively listening, they were likely still within earshot. Willow moved around the table and took a seat next to Rowena, then responded in a low tone.
“This is all just hitting too close to home for me. The Hezekiah thing, I mean.”
“How so?” Ro prompted.
“The abuse of magic, leaving behind cursed objects, yada, yada…i-it’s kinda me but…in reverse.” Rowena still looked a little perplexed, so Willow went on. “I went from being a dark witch to a watcher. He went from being a watcher to a dark witch. So magic talk, dark magic that is, kinda makes me edgy, and I’m feeling a bit drained. I think I’m blocking myself here subconsciously.”
Rowena quirked an eyebrow.
“Okay, maybe it’s more conscious blockage than subconscious,” Willow admitted as she looked away and reached for a book across the table. “Point is, I’m not getting a strong signal here, a-and a strong signal might lead to…bad stuff. I don’t want to go there again. I haven’t been around black magic for a long time, so…”
Willow noticed the apology in Rowena’s eyes as she took in what Willow was saying and patted her hand. Before Rowena could say anything, the redhead quickly changed the subject. “So, do you have anything to add? Any developments I mean?”
“Andrew’s looking at the coroner’s reports as we speak,” Rowena informed her, as Giles and Xander returned to the table. “Hopefully there’s something there that can tell us more about that farmer just outside the city.”
“What farmer?” Xander asked, joining the conversation and slamming the book he had been carrying down on the table. “Someone died because of this Hematoma guy’s old magic outfit?”
Giles sighed, as if he was stopping himself from correcting Xander again.
“We don’t know that for sure,” Giles replied instead. “All we know is that a man with no family history of heart problems suddenly died from a heart attack. The man, according to his family, was in perfect health, and at the same time Willow feels that something might be going on in that general area, but nothing concrete. It merits investigating.”
“Yep, the rumblings in my tummy think it might be something more,” Willow stated, followed by a firm nod. “Or just a wild goose chase,” she muttered, less convinced.
“In any case,” Giles went on, “I’m going to try to call Nigel back and see if he can give us a more definite location as to where this magical clothing might be located, or any other odd occurrences. Miss Hagness picked up the first signals of its use, so perhaps she might know more now.”
“Any specific needle in any specific haystack?” Xander quipped. “This is the Hellmouth, after all.”
Giles rolled his eyes before leaving the table.
“Just keep looking,” Rowena said softly and tapped the book in front of Xander.
Watchers Council – Computer Lab – Later
“Well, looks like you were right, Mr. Giles,” Andrew announced, turning his computer monitor so that the others in the library could look at the coroner’s report on the screen. “‘Doctors feel that Mr. Blake’s death was due to a heart attack.’ The press didn’t release anything that disproves this, so…”
“Ah ha!” Willow pointed at her own computer that sat next to Andrew’s. “Look at this. There are police reports from the family stating that a scarecrow was chasing Mr. Blake before his heart attack. Funny, the paper left that little detail out.”
“What’d that suit look like again?” Xander asked.
“No wonder it wasn’t in the press,” Giles thought out loud as he squinted his eyes so that he could read the words off the screen. “They would have made fools out of themselves if they printed this.”
“Doesn’t mean it’s not true, though,” Willow responded, sharing a grim look with Giles before Faith and Robin entered the room. A taller girl with red hair walked between them.
At first, Faith and Robin were smiling, but their faces suddenly fell. “Jeez, who died this time?” Faith asked.
“Baby?” Robin said softly, trying to nod nonchalantly to the new Slayer with them.
“Oh,” Faith said, sparing a glance to the young woman. “I’m…kidding,” she tried to add.
“Somehow I doubt that,” the young woman replied.
Willow got up and walked over to them before Faith could say anything more. “I see you found another slayer,” the witch said optimistically.
“That we did,” Robin confirmed as he gently put a hand on the newcomer’s shoulder. “This is Lori. Lori, this is Willow, one of our finest watchers.”
“Oh, go on,” Willow blushed before offering her hand to Lori. “Hi! It’s nice to meet you.” While Lori accepted the hand, all she did was smile. “Hmm, how was the ride home?” Willow muttered to Faith, who laughed.
“Not too bad,” she answered. “Lori just has a lot to deal with.”
Giles walked up to them and smiled warmly at Lori. “Hello, I’m Mr. Giles.”
Lori politely smiled before recoiling behind Robin and Faith. “It’s okay, Giles is a watcher, too. He oversees the Council,” Robin told her. “Lori’s had more than her share of run-ins with some wrinkly faced guys lately.”
“So it would seem,” Giles said under his breath before turning to Faith and Robin. “I don’t really have time to go into details, but I need to be sure that I can count on you two to keep an extra careful eye on the girls for the next few days.”
“Normally you would,” Robin replied. “But…we have that trip to Tulsa.”
“Yeah, we’re leaving at the crack of dawn to go down there,” Faith added. “Otherwise, you know we got your back.”
“Then perhaps we can get a slayer to show Lori around,” Giles told Faith.
“On it,” Faith responded, before turning and yelling out. “Yo, Ken!”
Kennedy looked up from some kind of print out at her seat in the corner of the room and walked over toward the group, particularly Willow. “Found a few typos in the new and improved Slayer Handbook. Circled ’em in red – it might look bad if we can’t spell,” she said, tossing it on the desk before facing Faith.
Willow silently chastised Kennedy as Rowena hastily grabbed the print out and began to thumb through it. “I checked this,” Rowena insisted.
“Yeah, and you’re in America now. Drop the Canuck spellings already,” Kennedy added. Rowena shot Kennedy a dirty look before looking back at the copy in her hands.
“This is Lori,” Faith introduced as if trying to divert an impending argument. “Why don’t you show her the Slayer Dorm and get one of the girls to show her around?”
Kennedy obeyed, leading Lori out of the room and towards the dorms.
“The old Council never had a problem with my spelling. Not my fault Americans can’t remember to add the ‘u’ in color,” Rowena muttered as she briskly turned another page.
Andrew gasped and whispered, “Oh boy,” getting everyone’s attention.
The group gathered around the computer screen, each cringing a little at the sight from the coroner’s file that Andrew had successfully hacked into. It was a close up shot of Mr. Blake, the farmer, and his face was the perfect personification of fear.
“Heart attack or scared to death? Looks like a fine line,” Xander commented knowingly.
Watchers Council – Dining Room – Morning
Giles and Willow talked privately while Xander, Kennedy, Andrew, Rowena and a group of younger slayers conversed in the background, looking over the printed out police reports and coroner’s notes.
“So, we’re decided then?” Giles asked Willow. “We’ll go out to the farm and investigate, yes?”
“Yeah,” Willow agreed. “It’s just too coincidental. This man mysteriously dies when you get a phone call about an evil magical suit that’s missing, along with reports of a homicidal scarecrow. Add it up, and you get a connection…not to mention a really weird sentence.”
“Well, I suppose you and I will go,” Giles said. Willow gave him a look of confusion. “I-I have to admit that I do feel a-a little responsible for this man’s death.”
“Giles, you entrusted others to do their job. They’re the ones that dropped the ball on this one,” Willow replied.
“Which is precisely why I’m going this time. While I have every faith in you to handle this situation, for my peace of mind I need to see it through to its conclusion.”
Willow nodded her agreement. “I’m thinking we might need to bring someone with a little magic experience, if Hezekiah’s was as powerful as you say. Sorry, but you and I together might not be enough, Giles.”
“No, I concur, a-and his power was, well, is, everything I’ve told you,” Giles agreed. “The more help we can get the better.”
“Okay, so on the magical front we can either bring Ro or Andrew,” Willow told him. After a pause they looked over to both of them sitting at a table on the far side of the room. Rowena was looking at a book, while Andrew was blowing bubbles in his milk through a straw with a group of younger slayers, making the girls laugh.
Giles and Willow concluded in harmony, “Rowena.”
Giles paused a moment in thought. “Are we sure it’s wise to have all the watchers away?” Giles asked. “Faith and Robin will be gone as well.”
Willow pondered this a moment before nodding. “Kennedy can handle things for one night, Giles. Besides, Xander will be around.”
“You are trying to make me feel more secure, yes?” Giles teased. Willow simply smiled. “No, you’re right. As we’ve said the Council can’t survive by just a few individuals,” Giles replied. “Xander is…” Giles seemed to search for more to say, but finally gave up. “Anyway, Kennedy has shown vast improvement in her leadership skills.”
“You mean like not getting drunk and screwing around with lesbian vampires?” Willow quickly looked guilty. “Okay, I still have issues, alright, so sue me.” She slowly cracked a grin and Giles, too, began to smile. “Personal agendas aside…I think she can handle it.”
“If you’re sure about this –”
“I am,” Willow assured Giles. “I might just have to convince her that she is able to do this.”
Watchers Council – Hallway – Moments Later
“Are you for real?” Kennedy exclaimed. “You’re gonna leave me in charge?”
“Giles wants to go because he feels responsible, and I wanted someone with a little more magical experience to come with us –” Willow explained before being interrupted.
“Did I get this job because there was some sci-fi marathon on T.V. that Andrew couldn’t miss?” Kennedy joked, trying to cover up her uneasiness. When Willow didn’t say anything, Kennedy continued, “Let’s be honest. I’m gonna win this year’s award for greatest decisions. Sorry.”
“Hey, nothing to be sorry about. We’re past that, okay?” Willow responded. “Look, I wouldn’t have even considered this if I didn’t trust you or think that you were up to this. Besides, things have been quiet, so I think you won’t really have to worry about too much.”
Kennedy’s expression visibly darkened at the last part of Willow’s comment.
“What are you saying?” Kennedy asked. “I’ll only be okay on my own when there’s nothing going on?”
“No,” Willow responded, softly but insistently. “You know that’s not the case. Kennedy, I’m telling you that you’re capable. You don’t have to do a standard patrol, just show Lori the ropes and get her settled in a bit more. From what Faith and Robin said, she’s had a tough go of it so far and has been fighting demons off left and right. Maybe she could use a little breather from all the action she’s seen lately.”
“Fine, I can do that, but it would be nice to get a patrol in. The weather is actually pretty warm this week. It’d be nice to go out and not see my breath,” Kennedy explained. “I guess I’m just itching for action a little, too, you know?”
Willow simply raised her eyebrows.
“Not that kind of action,” Kennedy sighed. “It’s been quiet, and from what you’ve said, it’s always quiet before the big stuff goes down. I’d just rather not sit around and wait for it to come to us, follow me? Maybe this mission you’re going on is more than what you’re ready for. You guys might need a slayer, too.”
“Yeah, I get what you’re saying, but we need the girls protected here, so just lay low for the night,” Willow told Kennedy. “Besides, a two hour car trip to a farm doesn’t sound like anything you’d be interested in anyway.”
Kennedy shrugged as her thumbs found their way to her pockets. “You got a point,” she admitted with a small grin.
“Just understand that what I want you to do is like a mission. These girls are in your hands, Kennedy, and I know that you can handle it, whatever you decide to do. Just go easy, is all, and don’t stray too far from the Council.”
Kennedy finally, genuinely smiled at Willow’s confidence. “I get that, and for what it’s worth, thanks.”
Mr. Blake’s Farm – Early Evening
Clouds loomed in the sky, turning it a dark gray. Sounds of thunder roared not too far from the Blake farm. With Giles at the wheel, the Council car pulled up to the farm. After parking the vehicle, Giles, Willow and Rowena stepped out of the car and took in their surroundings.
“Looks like rain,” Ro commented as she turned her head to the sky.
As if on cue, small droplets of water began to fall lightly before starting to pour down on the three watchers.
“Feels like rain, too!” Willow shouted over the storm as she broke out two umbrellas from the car.
Rowena responded with a smile. Giles and Willow lifted the umbrellas, Giles leaning over Rowena to share his. “I love the rain. The sound it makes. The way it smells,” Rowena said.
“Well, in that case,” Giles said, moving his umbrella back over to shield only himself as he began to walk toward the house.
“Hey!” Rowena said, stepping under Willow’s umbrella and pulling it toward herself. “Didn’t say I loved it that much.”
“So, what’s the plan? Do we even have a plan?” Willow asked as she and Rowena walked to catch up.
Giles shrugged. “Investigate?” he offered.
The trio made their way to the nearest barn. Once inside, they handed their umbrellas to Rowena. Giles pulled out the folder he had tucked away in his jacket.
“According to the reports, Mr. Blake was found in one of the barns. Which one, I’m not really sure. If you would, you two look around out here. I’m going to check the house and see if any family is at home to question.”
Willow nodded. “Be careful, and good luck.”
“Same to you both.” Giles replied before moving towards the house.
Watchers Council – Lounge – Evening
Andrew and Kennedy were sitting in the lounge. Andrew flipped through the channels, not finding anything good to watch. Kennedy had her head propped up on her shoulder, her body language giving no doubt whatsoever that she was very bored.
“So, this has got to be cool, huh?” Andrew asked, noticing Kennedy’s demeanor. “I mean, being in charge…the big boss, the head honcho, the –”
“I get it, I’m in charge,” Kennedy snapped. “It’s not that big of a deal.”
“Are you kidding?” Andrew gasped. “You’re the glue holding this whole operation together. You don’t have to answer to anybody…for one night anyway. I’d think you, of all people, would be enjoying this a lot more than you actually are.”
“I know,” Kennedy agreed with a sigh. “I should be enjoying this more…but Willow and Giles are out on a mission, and Rowena’s with them. They get to do something and I’m pretty much a glorified babysitter.”
“Well…we could do something to make you not feel that way,” Andrew suggested.
Before he could come up with any suggestions, however, Kennedy’s face lit up. While Andrew stroked his chin, trying to think of something to do, Kennedy had already thought of her own thing to do.
“You’re absolutely right, Andrew,” she told him, still smiling. “And I’m taking a few of the girls out.”
“Uh, whoa…hold on!” Andrew said, holding up his hands. “I was actually thinking about hosting a movie night. In honor of the first spring storm, I was thinking the 1939 Judy Garland classic The Wizard of Oz.” To reinforce his point, Andrew went over to the media organizer and held up the DVD and waved it front of Kennedy.
“What? No, look, I’m going out,” Kennedy replied. “I’ll take Lori. I won’t have her engage or anything, and it’s so dead right now we probably won’t see anything. Vi can come too, and we can clue Lori into what we do each night.”
“Okay, I’m not liking this plan,” Andrew told Kennedy. “I’m smelling trouble with a capital ‘T’ here. Let’s just watch the movie.”
“Sorry, Andy,” Kennedy said. She pushed herself out of the chair and ignored Andrew’s shocked face. “Willow said it was best that I stick around here and show Lori the ropes. It’s a nice night out, so we’ll ‘walk and talk’.”
Andrew bolted out of his chair and tried to block Kennedy’s path. Using her slayer strength, she simply lifted him out of her way, but that didn’t stop him from trying to talk Kennedy out of going out.
“Kennedy, you can’t go,” he pleaded. “Not only am I getting a bad feeling about this, but what if something happens here. You’re in charge!”
“Xander’s here, and Rona,” Kennedy responded. “Listen, Andrew, this Lori girl’s already had a taste of vamps. She’s even dusted a few, from what they told me earlier. She just needs a little more confidence. Besides, I promised Willow I’d stay close, so a couple of times around a few blocks is all I’m talking about.”
“Okay, point taken, but –” Andrew began, not backing down.
“Look, everything will be fine.”
Without another word or objection from Andrew, Kennedy headed towards the Slayer Dorm. Andrew just watched and hugged the DVD to his chest, before sighing, “My vote’s still for Dorothy.”
Mr. Blake’s House – Night
Giles stepped into the dark house and called out. “Anyone home? The door was unlocked and I’m an investigator. Anyone here I can speak with?”
There was nothing to be seen, as the electricity was out, perhaps due to the lightning outside. When the lightning did strike, however, the room Giles was in lit up.
The watcher got a good lay of the place. The first strike revealed the living room was covered nearly entirely in dust and old furniture. He quietly maneuvered his way into the next room, which turned out to be the dining room. The table was set still covered with cluttered bowls, as if the remaining family suddenly abandoned their meal to seek shelter from the storm.
Giles continued moving and stopped in the doorframe to the next room, waiting for the lightning to hit nearby and light up the room for him. The thunder crashed outside, and Giles stood, waiting for the next flash of light. What he received, however, was a sharp, familiar click from ahead.
When the lightning struck, the room lit up. Giles gasped when he saw eight or nine people squeezed into the small utility room, huddled together.
“It’s all right,” Giles began. “I won’t…”
Giles heard the cocking of a gun.
The lightning flashed again, giving Giles a good look at the kid, around sixteen years old, pointing a double barrel shotgun at him. He was sweating and looking nervous.
“Freeze! Or I’ll shoot!”
Giles sighed and slowly raised his hands towards the ceiling. “Bloody hell,” he muttered.
End of Act One