Watchers Council – Conference Room – Night
“And therefore, that is why we have changed the Council’s slogan, as well as many other methods that seemed too…aged,” Giles concluded. “These are new times, after all, and there isn’t only one slayer any more. The ways of the old Council just didn’t correspond with what we hope to accomplish here.”
Giles smiled at Julia, only to find that she was seated with her chin resting on the table and an uninterested look on her face. Willow, Rowena, Robin and Faith were also gathered in the room. Willow gave Giles a small thumbs-up for support, but his smile faded anyway.
“Nice story, Mr. Giles, but I just came here to check things out,” Julia told him. She nodded over to Faith. “I didn’t make her any promises.”
Julia moved to get up, but Giles held out his hand. “Julia, please,” he pleaded. “What you have is an extraordinary gift, one that can be put to good use if you join us. The demon to slayer ratio has been tipped to our favor, but times are changing rapidly. There are more and more demons and threats against the world every day…especially when one is living right on top of a Hellmouth.”
“What’s a Hellmouth?”
Julia was met with a collective sigh from the group before Faith picked up Giles’s slack. “The Hellmouth thing is tricky,” Faith explained. “But here’s the thing: I saw what two of your girls can do out there. They were fast, strong and getting the job done until I stuck my nose into their business. We, the Council, need that. We need any help we can get.”
“Well…I don’t know. I mean, what’s the point?” Julia responded. “I’ve been on my own since almost as far back as I can remember. No one wanted to stick his neck out for me… why should I fight for a world like that?”
“To give us a chance,” Faith said with a tone that sounded desperate. “Look, I can relate to where you’ve been, believe me, but if you don’t want in, there won’t be any beef. Just, let your girls come down and check the place out too –”
“That’s not gonna happen,” Julia interrupted. Abruptly, she pushed herself away from the table and walked toward the door.
Faith was up before anyone else and raced Julia to the door. Willow called after her, “Where are you going? We can answer any questions –”
“You already have answered my questions,” Julia told her with a faux smile. “I got the facts, and I’ll think about it.”
The door slammed shut, leaving the room in absolute silence. Faith’s hands brushed through her hair in frustration and Giles lowered himself back into his seat. Rowena sighed as she looked down at Giles. “She’s not coming back,” she stated flatly.
“Yeah, well, I’m not drownin’ in our loss,” Faith said as she opened the door and moved to leave. “I’m going after her.”
Robin was there, however, holding her arm and looking down at her. “I think she might need some space, baby,” he said quietly. “If you keep pushing her, she’s gonna keep responding the same way.”
“I know,” Faith agreed. “That’s why I’m going to follow her to see where she and her crew stay. Maybe I’ll go over there when Julia is out and talk to some of the other girls.”
“From what you’ve said, and how she speaks about the gang, Julia has a pull on these girls,” Willow reminded Faith grimly. “How do you know they won’t have the same mindset as her?”
“I may not be able to change Julia’s mind, but I’ll be damned if I won’t try to help those other girls,” Faith shot back. “If I know them the way I think I do, a warm place and three meals a day will sound a hell of a lot better than what Julia can give them.”
“How do you know?” Robin asked, his tone laced with doubt.
Faith chuckled, despite the way she choked out, “I can relate.”
Faith exited the room, but Robin followed closely behind her. They remained silent as they walked to the front door, where Faith reached over to the coat rack and pulled on her jacket. Robin watched her the whole time and followed suit until she put her hand on his arm. “Not this time, Ace,” she said in a low tone. “Just…do me a favor and trust me when I say this is something I gotta do on my own, okay?”
Robin let go of his jacket and took a step back. “I don’t understand why,” he admitted.
“I don’t really expect you to,” Faith replied. “Don’t wait up.”
Faith was halfway out the door when Robin called after her, “I know what you’re doing here.”
She looked back at him and watched as his eyes conveyed most of his emotions. “Please,” he began. “Don’t push me away. Not when you really need me.”
“I’m a big girl, Robin,” Faith notified him in a small voice. “I can take care of myself.”
Folding his arms, Robin watched Faith walk out the door.
Central Park, New York City – Night
New York City 1989
A young black man, around sixteen years old, crawled backward on his palms toward a dumpster as three stalking vampires snarled.
“It’s a school night, son,” one of them taunted. “Shouldn’t you be at home tucked in bed?”
The other two laughed as all three of them moved in closer. The young man shot to his feet and pulled a stake from inside his coat pocket, making them laugh even harder. But before they could advance any closer, the one farthest to the left combusted making the remaining two vampires turn around.
They all looked to see an aging man reloading a crossbow and yelling, “Robin! Get out of here!”
Not wasting a moment of the distraction, Robin staked one dead center in the heart as the other one advanced on the well-dressed man. He fumbled nervously with the bolt and the vampire snarled and gnashed his teeth as he approached. The man raised the crossbow at the last moment, shooting the vampire directly in the heart and turning him to dust.
With a sigh of relief, he lowered the weapon and looked at the young man who was racing toward him.
“Robin, what on God’s green earth do you think you are doing?” the man shouted in a British accent. “You call this going to the movies?”
“Look, I’m not a kid. I can take care of myself,” young Robin said, putting the stake back in his pocket as he tried to walk past the man.
The man grasped Robin’s arm, stopping him, and asked, “Is that so?”
“What’s your point?” Robin said, pushing the man off.
“My point, dear boy, is that you are not a slayer. This is not your responsibility.”
“Oh yeah, well if I don’t do this who will, huh? This city is crawling with vamps and –”
“No matter how many you kill, you won’t know who took your mother,” the older man finished. Robin looked away sharply and the man put his hand on Robin’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, Robin. But it’s true. You can’t spend your life patrolling for trouble every night. Boys your age should be worrying about girls and going to basketball games on Friday nights. They shouldn’t be hanging out in city parks or graveyards.”
“You don’t get it,” Robin said, brushing him off and walking away.
“The bloody hell I don’t!”
The outburst made Robin stop and turn around with a look of surprise.
“Robin, please,” the older man continued, growing a bit calmer. “I loved your mother too. The Council states that a slayer is an instrument we use to fight evil, nothing more.” Robin suddenly looked angry at the man’s words. “But they failed to realize she was also human, with a heart and a soul. It’s because of this that I promised I would always take care of you. I can’t help her anymore, but I can look out for you. I know you don’t want to hear it, but you have to give this up, Robin. You have to walk away.”
“I won’t do that,” the young man answered.
The watcher ran his fingers through his hair in obvious frustration. “So much like your mother,” he sighed, before starting to chuckle slightly. He took a few steps closer and looked Robin up and down. “You’re determined to do this, regardless of what I say, aren’t you?”
Robin simply nodded.
“Well then…perhaps we can strike a deal. If you keep your end of the bargain, then I’ll keep mine.”
“What are you suggesting?” Robin asked.
“I’ll train you,” the watcher answered. Robin looked doubtful and hopeful at the same time. “However, a few rules first,” the watcher said, grabbing his surrogate son’s arms and giving a squeeze. “Vampires are strong, and you have the muscle tone of a limp rubber band.”
“Hey! I’ve got muscles!”
“Not enough to stand against a vampire. You won’t have slayer strength, Robin, so you’ll need your body to be in top physical condition. As we train physically, I’ll also train you mentally. When I feel you’re ready, then we’ll patrol – but only together. Think you can agree to this? If not, tell me now, so we don’t waste either of our time.”
Robin gave a short nod.
“If, at any time, I discover you’ve been going out behind my back, I’ll end the training immediately and you will cease to have a life outside of school until you graduate. Is that understood?”
“Yes, sir,” Robin said respectfully.
The man smiled and nodded as the two began to walk through the park side by side. “For the record, I know you can take care of yourself with most things, Robin,” he added. “But sometimes, we all need a little help.”
The man patted him on the back as they continued along.
City Street – Evening
Julia kept checking behind her as she walked to her destination. The girl was good, but Faith was better and knew how to stick close to the walls and travel through the shadows.
Every now and again, Julia would start sprinting and cut quick corners, trying to shake Faith. She didn’t fall for it, though. Julia was fast, but Faith was faster.
Julia stopped at the edge of the Warehouse District in downtown Cleveland. She turned left and headed straight for a six story, abandoned warehouse. Faith took in her surroundings.
“Could’ve done worse,” she commented to herself as she watched Julia take a running leap before clinging to the side of the building.
In under a minute, Julia had pulled herself up to the roof before disappearing from Faith’s sight. Faith stayed where she was, her figure overshadowed by the tall building she was leaning against, and watched as Julia stepped up to the edge of the roof and scanned the area.
For insurance, Faith ducked down low and hoped Julia’s slayer eyesight wasn’t in tune. It seemed as though Julia’s hazel eyes locked on to Faith, but then the girl turned and disappeared once again.
That was when Faith bolted from her hiding spot toward the building. She kicked off of the ground and soared up into the air, slamming into the wall about three floors off the ground. Faith winced a little, but ignored the pain and continued to climb up the building until she reached the roof.
Faith poked her head out first, just to check for Julia, and pulled herself over the ledge when she saw the coast was apparently clear. There was a door that led into the building and Faith walked over, only to find it locked. She turned away from the door and saw a skylight on the roof.
She slowly approached the window, carefully not showing too much of herself as she looked down. Faith watched as Julia walked into the room. The younger girl was being cautious, and Faith made sure that she wouldn’t be seen.
When Julia thought it was safe, Faith heard her whistle and watched as the gang filed into the room.
Julia’s Abandoned Building – Same Time
Julia was met with a flood of questions that merged into a cacophony of sound. She winced before holding up her hand. The questions stopped instantly and Julia looked over the group of girls. The look on her face showed that she was annoyed and some of the girls in her gang started to back away from her.
“Okay,” she said with a sigh. “Where’s Mia?”
The gang all looked over their shoulders, before parting slightly and letting Mia, a slight Japanese-American girl, through. “Have a good night, Jule?” she asked quietly.
Julia shrugged, “It wasn’t anything special. My little detour, however, means that we have to stay out late tonight. We still have a job to do.”
“Where did you go, exactly?” Mia asked.
“It doesn’t matter,” Julia answered quickly, before changing the subject. “You coming out tonight or still nursing your injury?”
“Arm’s still a little sore,” Mia responded, rubbing her right arm. “Who was that woman in the alley earlier? Is she gonna help us?”
“She’s no one!” Julia exploded, the questions finally getting to her. “I don’t wanna hear another question about what I did tonight, okay Mia?” Mia nodded once, her expression never changing from her set features. “Sometimes I wonder about you,” Julia said quietly as she walked up to Mia’s face.
Mia didn’t blink. “I was gonna say the same thing.”
“You know what? You’re lucky that woman ruined this evening’s plans, because now, I have to go out,” Julia said. “Imagine if she didn’t and you mouthed off to me again. Then I’d have to deal with you because the job was done.”
Mia continued to stare back, although her jaw clenched slightly and beads of sweat began developing at her forehead. “First five girls,” Julia called out while still looking at Mia. “It’s gonna be a late evening. Everyone else…Mia’s in charge. Let’s go.”
The five girls that Julia called ran out of the room, while Julia backed herself out because her eyes were still locked onto Mia’s. Julia pointed at her before exiting the room. That was when Mia breathed out a sigh of relief and let herself relax. She turned to see the rest of the gang waiting for orders.
“Julia’s not here anymore, guys,” she told them with a frustrated tone. “You can do whatever you want. Just make sure you’re asleep in two hours when she’ll be back.”
The girls did as they were told but snapped back into place when they heard a knock at the door. Mia’s head snapped up and she watched as the door handle jiggled on the inside. The gang clamored behind her and scattered to find weapons, but Mia held her hand up and they stopped instantly.
The noise stopped, as well, and Mia began to slowly approach the door. When she was close, the door flew open and knocked her to the floor. Mia groaned before pushing herself up and looking at who had broken in.
Faith took a couple steps into the room. “Sorry about the door,” she said with a shrug.
The gang moved forward, but Mia held her hand up again. They stopped, and Mia tried pushing herself up. All her weight, however, was pressed on to her injured right arm and she crumpled back to the floor.
Faith walked over and helped Mia up. “I’m not here for a fight or anything. I’m –”
“You’re the woman from the alley,” Mia finished. “I recognize you.”
“Yeah, Faith’s the name,” she nodded.
“Mia,” the young woman replied.
“Julia around?” the Slayer asked.
“You just missed her.”
“Good.” Faith smiled. “I actually wanted to talk to you guys alone.”
Mia and the gang didn’t say anything.
“Look, I get that Julia’s probably taken care of a lot of you, but where I took her can take care of you guys too, and with much better lighting,” Faith joked as she took in the dank surroundings. She then noticed Mia holding her right arm. “Especially you with that busted wing – we’ve got a doc on staff. There’s food, a warm bed, and you still get to kick some vampire ass.” Faith still received silence in response. “I know you guys might be feelin’ bad about going behind Julia’s back –”
“That’s not it,” Mia interrupted. “Most of us here don’t feel like that. We do what we have to in order to survive. We’re not all like Julia.”
“I’m assuming you know her the best?” Faith asked Mia.
“I do,” Mia responded. “I’ve been with her since I was kicked out of my house three years ago.”
“It’s not easy being on the streets alone,” Faith told her.
“Oh really? What would you know?” Mia countered.
“I had to hitchhike from Boston to California when I was just a teen. Prior to that I spent a few months running for my life. And that’s not just some cheesy expression. I was really running.”
“So no home?” Mia asked.
“Didn’t have much of a family life to speak of, but to make a really long story short, I found some people that helped me. It’s the same help I’m offering you gals, if you want to take it.”
“You run some Girlstown or something?”
Faith smiled. “I could tell you about it,” she said. “But maybe you should see it for yourselves.”
Mia looked reluctant.
“Hey,” Faith said, throwing her hands in the air. “Offer’s there but if you’re too chicken of Julia, or me, then suit yourself.”
“We’re not chicken,” Mia answered defiantly.
“Then prove it,” Faith challenged. “Come with me. Just remember there’s safety in numbers, so the more the merrier.”
Faith turned and started toward the door with her eyes closed, as if praying the girls wouldn’t call her bluff.
“You’re trying to use our egos against us,” Mia told Faith.
The slayer stopped and turned around. “Did it work?”
Mia cracked the tiniest of grins and nodded for Faith to lead the way. The other girls followed behind them.
City Street – Moments Later
“So, what?” a young girl with dirty blonde hair asked. “We’re supposed to do what these watcher people want us to do?”
“Watchers are there to help train us so that we can use all the powers we have,” Faith answered. “Not to put you guys down, but I’ve seen slayers fight just using their instincts, and I’ve seen them fight knowing all they can do. Who do you think wins?” Faith wasn’t met with the reaction she had hoped for, but smiled and added, “Not to mention, you guys could all probably learn how to use a throwing ax.”
“Oh, cool!” a young girl, perhaps all of fifteen years of age, said with an excited tone.
“So,” Mia began as she walked up to Faith. “When can we get the grand tour? Julia’s certainly not going to pass along what she saw.”
“And why is that, exactly?” Faith asked.
Mia shrugged. “I think she gets off on the power trip and…other stuff.”
“Big fish in a small pond, huh?” Faith grinned. “Anyway, you guys can come to us whenever you want,” Faith told her. “This is your choice. No harm, no foul.”
A noise was heard in the background and Faith turned to see Julia. She walked out from the shadows. “What the hell are you doing?” she asked through gritted teeth.
“Just out for a moonlight stroll,” Faith replied calmly. “Care to join us?”
“You had no –” Julia began to yell, before she cut herself off and regained her composure. “You’ve taken care of that, Faith, and now I think it’s time for you to leave.”
“Look, Julia –” Faith began. Julia grabbed Faith’s arm, but the slayer easily yanked it from Julia’s grasp. “I’m sorry for stepping on your toes, okay? But I’m not sorry for giving those girls the choice they’re entitled to.”
“I guess I didn’t really make myself clear before when I said this was my group,” Julia responded. “We’ve been there for each other, when no one else wanted to take care of us.”
“So why the hell are you denying them this?” Faith shot back. “I respect your whole leader thing, I do, but the Council’s a good group, and we need all the help we can get.”
Julia sighed, “You just don’t get it.”
“It seems like you don’t either,” Faith said quietly. “Look, me and you, we’re not that different. I’ve been in your place, I know what it’s like and I’m proof that you can come out of that change fine.”
“Oh really, Miss Know-It-All. Please enlighten me,” Julia challenged.
Abandoned Building – Night
As Faith jogged through the hallway of the old warehouse, her foot got caught on something and she was tugged down. The Slayer slammed onto the floor with a sickening slap and blood spurted out of her mouth.
She remained where she was for a moment before she slowly pushed herself to her knees and tried to catch her breath. Her head peeked up. The look on her face suggested that Faith sensed something in the air.
Faith found strength from somewhere in her depleted body and continued running in the same direction. The door that she was running to was cracked open and Faith pushed it so hard that it slammed into a wall inside the room.
The sound echoed against the walls and filled the empty room. Faith remained at the doorway, scanning the room. Then she noticed a hand sticking out from under a pile of wreckage.
She instantly ran over and pushed the debris off with ease, but immediately screamed and stumbled back. Expecting to find a body under the wreckage, all she found was an arm that looked as if it was ripped off a human body in a particularly painful manner.
Her hand clapped over her mouth as tears formed in her eyes.
Her name came out more like a moan than a statement. The slayer looked over to her left and discovered another hand sticking out from underneath the rubble. Once more, she began to toss debris aside. After moving the final crate, she found her watcher, Rosa, battered and bleeding, with only one arm and one leg.
“I gotta get you outta here,” Faith said. moving to lift her.
“No!” Rosa’s voice was demanding, but lacked any power behind it. “Too late. Trap,” she continued, struggling as she talked. “Go now. Remember. Sunnydale. Buffy Summers. Go!”
“I’m not gonna leave you here!”
“Save yourself,” came the weeping response. “Run.”
There was a cracking noise from behind her and Faith whipped her head around… and saw nothing. She knew, however, that she wasn’t alone. Faith turned her head in the other direction and was met with a fist.
Suddenly the Slayer was on her back, about two hundred feet away, trying to think through the numbing pain that throbbed on her cheek. Faith propped herself up on her elbows as she tried to refocus her eyes across the room. She heard the screams of her watcher and as her eyes widened repeatedly, the world seemed to come back into view.
She watched, petrified, as the screaming continued. But just as quickly as it began, it stopped, and the only sound was a sickening thud. Faith shook her head. as if to push her shock aside at what she just witnessed. Then she suddenly found herself looking up at the growling face of Kakistos.
City Street – Evening
“He killed her?” Julia asked.
Faith nodded once. “He ripped her apart,” Faith corrected Julia, her voice cracking slightly. “She was the closest thing I had to a mother and I had to watch her die. Before that, though, I was mostly out on the streets with no real direction. My watcher showed up and offered me the chance to make something out of myself. After Kakistos killed her I…I lost sight of that. But in the end, it all came down to me wanting a life,” Faith concluded. “And the way I started to live wasn’t a life.”
Julia had been with Faith through the whole conversation, but the brunette’s final words offended her. “So, you think my life is pointless then?”
“No, Julia, damnit,” Faith swore. “Look, I don’t mean it like that. I respect what you guys are doing – sticking together, fighting evil, tryin’ to make it on your own. I had a fellow slayer, and she and I were pretty tight for a while, but I never forgot what happened the last time I got close to someone. I had too much damn pride and fear to put my trust into someone else and depend on her. So instead of staying on the path my watcher always wanted for me, I chucked it all away. I fell in with a bad crowd after that and lived for the excitement that living on the edge brought.”
“Your life got boring by being good?” Julia laughed. “If you were as bad as you say you were, there’s no way that stuffy place is exciting enough for you now.”
“Life isn’t just about excitement,” Faith responded.
“Then what good is it?” Julia asked. “A tiger can’t change its stripes. Can’t tame a wild child, and you can’t tell me that there’s nothing better than being out on your own and having no one to answer to.”
“You think you’re free?” Faith accused as she pointed over to Julia’s building. “What about these girls here? They don’t control their lives, they answer to you.”
“But I don’t keep them on a leash,” Julia told her. “And they haven’t sold out who they are just to hang with me.”
“I’m not a sell out,” Faith said defensively.
“Oh really? Then why do I get the feeling that when these watcher folks ask you to jump, you ask how high?”
“It’s not like that. We work together to solve problems. They have the final word, but we have a voice that they listen to. More of a voice than any of these girls have under your control, I can tell you that.”
“I think you’re kidding yourself.”
“Check the record, okay? I have a kick ass job, a guy who loves me, even though he’s outta my league, and I’m fixing my life by trying to finish school. I have goals and plans that don’t include how I’m gonna get my next meal. Can any of you say that?” she added to the group.
Julia had heard enough, and with a look of anger she pushed Faith and reared back to punch her but stopped when she heard a few thumps from the ground beneath her. Both women heard the sound and looked down to find three wallets lying at Julia’s feet.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” Faith muttered.
End of Act Two