City Street – Moments Later
Julia shrugged and leaned over to gather the wallets up before looking back defiantly at Faith.
“What the hell is that?” Faith asked. “That the ‘job’ you pulled tonight? Beatin’ people up and takin’ their money?”
“A girl’s gotta eat,” Julia said as she laughed nervously and shoved the wallets back into her pockets. When Faith said nothing except for casting a disapproving glare, Julia went on. “Look, I was nothing my whole life. Out on the streets, I was still treated like dirt and beat on until the day your witch friend gave me what was rightfully mine. You and the watchers believe in all that destiny crap, right? Then isn’t this my destiny? These powers are a part of who I am, so why not use them?”
“For stealin’?” Faith replied. “That’s not what your powers are for, Julia. They’ll give you free meals at the Council and, here’s the added bonus, it’s not stealing.”
Laughter erupted from Julia and cut through the night air. “No, but I get to be a nice lap dog, don’t I?” she countered. “Don’t give me your ‘holier than thou’ crap,” she said in a menacing tone. “I saw the way you fought. The wild child inside you wants out, and fighting is its only release. Pretty soon, it’s gonna get harder and harder to contain that. Stop denying who you are, Faith, and stop judging me for it.”
Julia nodded the girls back in the direction they had all come. They looked to Faith for a moment, but one by one they all headed back toward the warehouse. With a satisfied smile plastered to her face, Julia taunted Faith. “Better watch your back from now on!”
The look on Faith’s face showed that Julia’s words were not lost on her.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Later that Night
Faith walked down a hall toward the gym, looking more exhausted than she might look after fighting ten vampires. The scowl on her face showed defeat.
The closer she got, the louder the grunting and pounding of fists became. Faith walked inside to find Kennedy at the punching bag. After a moment, the younger girl stepped back and caught her breath.
“Hey,” Faith called over to her.
Kennedy stiffened, but relaxed a little when she saw Faith. “Hey,” she returned. “You look like crap.”
“You’re nothing special either, y’know?” Faith shot back playfully before nodding to the bag. “Who pissed you off?”
Kennedy continued trying to catch her breath as she took off the gloves she had on and tossed them aside. “No one,” she answered without looking at Faith. “I just…I couldn’t sleep and I hadn’t really had much vamp action. Probably just pent up Slayer energy that needs to be –”
“Don’t cover with me, Kennedy,” Faith interrupted quietly. “I meant what I said before. You can talk to me…about anything.”
Kennedy looked up and met Faith’s eyes. She was quiet for a moment and seemed like she was going to say something, but then she looked away. “I’ll remember that when there is something going on,” she told Faith. “But right now, there’s nothing happening…literally, since I’ve got enough punishment to cover the rest of my life.”
“Fine,” Faith replied, as if too tired to weed Kennedy’s discontent out of her. “My door’s open, though, when you wanna chat.”
As Faith turned and slowly walked toward the exit, Kennedy furrowed her brow in thought. She opened her mouth, but shut it just as quickly. Faith got closer and closer to the door.
Faith smiled to herself. “Yes?” Faith replied, turning to face Kennedy.
“Do you?” Kennedy asked as she kicked at the floor with her boot. “Have a minute, I mean?” Faith nodded, but before she went over to Kennedy, a throat was cleared from behind her.
Robin stood at the door and looked over at Kennedy. “Is it okay if I borrow her?” he asked the younger girl.
“You know, babe, we were just –” Faith began, but Kennedy cut her off.
“No, it’s fine,” Kennedy insisted, though she couldn’t quite make it sound convincing. “Go…talk.”
Faith looked back at Robin, then she turned one last time to Kennedy and said, “We’re rescheduling.”
Kennedy nodded and watched Faith and Robin walk out of her sight before she released a heavy sigh.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Moments Later
“So…how are you?” Robin asked as he buried his hands in his pockets.
Faith shrugged as she and Robin walked slowly toward their room. “I got to talk to a few girls without big brother lookin’ over our shoulder,” she said. “I think they find the idea of someplace to stay more appealing than the whole watcher thing itself. They like trouble with a capital ‘T,’ but a few of them…I get the feeling they want more. But their leader chick though, she’s got ’em on a short chain.”
Robin nodded. “Okay, but I asked how you were doing.”
“Fine,” Faith answered with an uneasy tone. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
Robin stopped walking and turned to face Faith. “Because you keep talking about how you can relate to these girls,” he told her. “You’re cracking jokes about something that is hitting close to home. You’ve been doing really well here, and I’m proud of you, but you can’t tell me that having this in your face isn’t affecting you at all.”
Faith averted her eyes and crossed her arms. “Look, I’m really tired –”
“And I’m tired of you shutting me out, like this.” He motioned to her stance and body language. “You’re physically rejecting me. You’re not the only one that’s had to deal with something like this, Faith.”
“What? So you’re the big time expert now?” Faith snapped. “Please, grace me with your ever present knowledge, oh wise one.”
“You don’t have to get defensive with me,” Robin told her.
“Then get the hell off my back,” Faith spat and headed back toward the gym. “I’m staying at the dorms tonight.”
“Faith,” Robin called out again in agitation.
She just waved him off and continued to walk away. Looking defeated and angry, Robin walked down the hall in the opposite direction.
New York City Street – Night
New York City 1991
A vampire landed hard on the concrete and rolled to a stop, hitting a garbage can fully fanged and incredibly infuriated. He ran up behind 18-year-old Robin as the young man traded blows with the vampire in front of him.
Robin ducked the swing and sidestepped the vampire he heard approaching behind him. When he did, it put both vampires in front of him again. Quickly, he staked the nearest one. Three quick jabs to the other vampire’s face were enough to stagger him enough so that Robin could issue the death blow.
As soon as the vampire turned to dust, the watcher sitting on a nearby bus stop bench hit a stopwatch and announced, “Five minutes and 43 seconds. A new record,” he said proudly. He scrunched his eyebrows, however, when he saw no joy on Robin’s face. “Did you hear what I said?” he asked as he walked over.
“Yeah, that’s…that’s good news. Maybe we could take a patrol down Broadway? Visit a few alleys. Shows will be getting out soon and there’re always vamps hoping to nab a lost tourist or two,” Robin said, looking at his watch.
The watcher rose and walked over to him, putting a hand on his shoulder. “You’ve done well this evening, Robin. Let’s call it a night.”
Robin’s expression showed anything but joy over what he accomplished. He simply stared at the pile of vampire dust.
“Not a single blonde one in the bunch,” Robin muttered in a defeated tone.
The watcher sighed. “You can’t kill every vampire in the world until you catch her killer.”
“Maybe not,” Robin agreed. “But if I can save someone else’s mother by taking out as many as I can before I go, then that’s good enough for me.”
“But at what cost to you?” the watcher asked.
“What do you mean? I’m helping people here,” Robin argued. “And as long as that creature is still walking the earth, I’ll be hunting it…I just wish you’d tell me more. Narrow my search.”
“I told you all I know,” the older man replied.
“Somehow I doubt that,” Robin muttered.
“Look here,” the watcher said, taking Robin by the arm. “I’ve always been straight with you, haven’t I? You promised to train and I promised to watch, remember? I’ve told you all I know, Robin.”
Robin rolled his shoulders. “I know. It’s just…frustrating.”
“I realize that. I do. Nikki was an exceptional woman and an excellent slayer. But even if you find her killer, and even if you manage to destroy him, it’s not going to bring her back.”
“So what do you suggest? I just walk away from the fight like you left the Council?” Robin immediately slumped his shoulders. “I didn’t mean that the way that it sounded.”
“You know I left the Council because I refused reassignment. And then when they found out I was training you, the choice was made for me but…I don’t regret that, Robin. Honestly. What I do regret is not giving you the life your mother wanted.”
“Hey, I promised to go to NYU in the fall, right? I promised I’d get a life. What more do you want?” Robin asked.
“Your mother was a slayer,” the watcher responded. “But she also was a mother. She went into every battle to make the world a better place for everyone, but mostly for you. I know this to be true. All I’m saying is don’t become so focused that you forget about the people who love you, people like Deidra and yes, even me.” He grinned as he paused and Robin gave him a genuine smirk.
“Mom always said ‘Gotta work the mission’,” Robin told him.
“Yes, but don’t forget one of the main reasons she had a mission was because she loved you. She had someone in her life that mattered. Don’t let revenge and doubt consume your life. You’re far too good a man to waste all that energy on your darkness.”
“Okay,” Robin agreed with a nod. After a brief silence, he put his arm around the watcher and patted his back. “How about an early breakfast? My treat. We’ll even find a place that serves English muffins. Whadda ya say?”
“Capital idea,” the older man answered with a slight chuckle.
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Morning
Kennedy walked into the kitchen looking as tired and worn out as she had the night before. To solve her sleepiness, she headed straight for the coffee.
Kennedy jumped at the sudden greeting. She turned quickly and saw Rowena sitting at the table in the far corner, with a book open and a cup of tea. The turn happened so quickly that some coffee spilled out of the pot and onto her hand.
“Ow,” Kennedy cried out. She quickly dropped the pot on the counter and waved her hand around. “Crap…if that doesn’t wake you up, what will?”
“You okay?” Rowena asked. “I didn’t mean to startle you because…you know, you don’t scare easily.” Her tone was teasing.
“Glad you’re amused,” Kennedy told her. “I thought I was alone.”
“Yeah, I couldn’t sleep,” Rowena confessed. “Brian’s stories have been…sort of haunting me.”
“You’d never know, considering he was a ghost,” Kennedy quipped. “Have you read through all the journals you guys took from that farm?”
“Just about,” Rowena admitted sheepishly. “I can’t help myself sometimes. I can just get so involved in things that I lose track of everything else.”
“Like sleep?” Kennedy joked before the smile slipped away from her face. “I know the feeling, believe me.”
Rowena smiled politely at Kennedy as she marked her page and shut her book. Kennedy had turned away and began to make herself a new cup of coffee. “How’s Lori?”
Kennedy turned her head slightly, but then looked back down at the coffee as she responded, “Why ask me? Doctor’s here today, right?”
“I figured since you kept checking on her so often, you’d know her progress,” she explained.
“She’ll be fine,” Kennedy said. “With her slayer healing and all, she’s gonna be ready to train again.” The slayer mustered all of her courage and put on her most convincing, reassuring smile before turning to face Rowena. “It wasn’t that big of a deal.”
“Good,” Rowena replied. “Then you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.”
“Who said I was?” Kennedy shot back defensively.
Rowena appeared to hold back a sigh. “No one, but you seem a bit tense. That’s all.”
Kennedy shrugged. “Are we training today?” she asked, changing the subject.
“Whatever you want,” Rowena said. “In truth, we probably won’t be training for much longer.”
“Meaning,” Rowena stressed, smiling as she went on, “You’ve proved your worth in my eyes. I just need Giles to sign off on my reports. Then I think you can go about your duties unmonitored, as before.”
Kennedy nodded and ran a hand through her hair, seemingly unaffected by the news.
“Hey, Kennedy!” Andrew called as he walked into the kitchen. “I see you found the coffee and…spilled it all over my floor!” He pointed indignantly at the small puddle of brown liquid on the kitchen tiling. “Did you plan on cleaning that up or just let it stain the tile! I’m glad you think you can just throw food around here like…are you okay?” He stopped as he got a good look at her drowsy face.
“Getting tired of people asking me that,” Kennedy admitted. “I’m gonna go work out.”
Andrew watched her leave with her coffee cup in hand. “What was that all about?” he asked Rowena as he leaned over to clean the floor.
“Not sure,” she answered as Faith walked into the kitchen.
“Hey, where’s my food?” she asked Andrew, playfully picking up a spoon and fork at the table and lightly tapping them in a demanding fashion.
“Faith,” Andrew sighed in annoyance.
“Cool it, Andy. I’m just teasin’ ya,” she told him, before turning to Rowena. “Still reading that dead kid’s stuff?”
Walking by the kitchen in the hallway, Willow listened for a moment and heard Rowena and Faith talking. She put her hand on the kitchen door and took a deep breath before entering.
“Good morning, everyone,” she announced upon entering, and walked over to the coffee pot.
A chorus of various greetings welcomed her as she poured the coffee into her cup. Next she grabbed the sugar and began to pour it into the cup.
“Oh, Rowena,” she said casually, without facing the blonde. “I was thinking, since I wasn’t taking anyone to Becca’s performance, a-and as far as I know you’re not taking anyone, that maybe we could take each other? I mean, like driving there, not necessarily together together but you know, you and me? I had a good time at the Christmas party a-and –”
“Hey Red,” Faith called out.
“Yeah,” Willow said, finally turning around.
“Got enough sugar in that cup?”
“What?” Willow looked down at her coffee mug and noticed she was still pouring sugar. “Oh!” she exclaimed as she righted the container again, stopping the flow. “Uh, anyway, would you like to go?” she asked nervously.
“Sure, sounds like fun,” Rowena answered.
Willow smiled broadly and gave a nod. “Great! It’s a date – well, a get together really a-and…what time? Seven at your place okay? Because I think it starts at eight, if I remember –”
“Seven will be fine,” Rowena answered, cutting her short.
“Okay, seven. Cool. I’ll see you at the meeting then, today, I mean.”
With that, Willow quickly averted her eyes from the pair and darted away, so all that was left for Faith to watch was the swinging door. She looked back at Rowena, who had her nose back in her book again. Finally, she couldn’t hold back any longer and began to laugh out loud, making both Rowena and Andrew turn in her direction.
“What’s so funny?” Andrew asked.
“Red was totally hittin’ on you,” Faith told Rowena.
“She was not,” Andrew piped in.
“How many dates have you gone on?” Faith asked Andrew as he stood over the stove.
Andrew pursed his lips. “Define date.”
Faith rolled her eyes. “You’re not entitled to an opinion,” she told him, before quickly turning back to Rowena. “But you, you’re a good looking chick. I’m sure you’ve scored before. Tell me you didn’t see that.”
“We’re just going to Becca’s gig together,” Rowena replied.
“Did we just see and hear the same conversation?” Faith asked.
Rowena shook her head. “I think you’re making too much out of this, Faith.”
“You mean the nervous stutter, the fidgeting with the hair, the endless stream of sugar that will probably put Red in a diabetic coma? You didn’t see all that?”
“Well, that doesn’t mean that she’s interested…in me…that way,” Rowena remarked.
“Uh huh,” Faith answered, unconvinced. She looked up and watched Xander walk in.
“Oh hey,” he said, getting Rowena’s attention. “Just the gal I was looking for.”
“What’s up?” she asked.
Xander came over and took a seat in front of Rowena, making sure to take a deep breath first. “Okay, here’s the thing. I figured I’d find some cute, sexy stud to set you up with for Becca’s concert. But when I couldn’t find one, I thought you might settle for me.”
Rowena snorted into her coffee and Faith smiled broadly.
“Day late and a dollar short, Xan – Red beat you to the punch and already asked her out.” Faith informed him.
“You’re going out with Willow? I didn’t know you liked girls. I mean, I guess I shouldn’t assume, I just – does Kennedy know this?” he asked Rowena, unable to hide his surprise.
“No, I – it’s not like a date or anything. It’s a social outing,” Rowena told him. When Faith snorted and shrugged at the wording, Rowena quickly continued, “I mean a get together, kinda thing. She said it wasn’t a date, despite what anyone else says.” She stopped her rambling and cast a look of annoyance in Faith’s direction. The slayer just held her hands up.
“I call ’em as I see ’em,” Faith chimed in.
“But since Willow did invite me first,” Rowena went on explaining to Xander, “I don’t want to go back on my word.”
“Oh no, that’s cool,” Xander replied. “I’ll just take what’s left of my shattered hopes and go back to my room to lick my wounds,” he teased.
“Now you’re going for sympathy?” Faith asked.
“Hey, maybe she’ll take pity on the charity case, which is me,” Xander replied with a grin.
“Oh, stop it,” Rowena insisted with a giggle. “Look, why don’t the three of us go together? I’m sure Willow won’t mind. She’s meeting me at my place at seven.”
“Well it wouldn’t be the first night I spent with Willow and a beautiful blonde. Come to think of it, they were all blondes at some point – Anya, Buffy, Tara, heck even Oz now and then, but I don’t know if he qualifies as beautiful. A boyish charm, most definitely, but beautiful, no.” Faith and Rowena both began to chuckle and Xander smiled broadly and faced Faith. “See? Charity works,” he told her with a wave of his finger.
“Yeah and pathetic puppy dog eyes don’t hurt none either,'” the Slayer criticized.
“They certainly don’t,” he admitted freely and proudly as he stood up. “I’d stay to discuss the finer points of emotional corruption and manipulation, but I’ve got a lumber delivery coming.”
They gave him a nod and after he left, Faith turned to Rowena with a smirk but said nothing. The watcher continued to look at her before finally throwing her hands in the air.
“What am I? Sex on a stick?” Rowena asked.
“You got it goin’ on, Sweetcheeks,” Faith teased. “You’re quite the vixen, apparently. Two dates on the same night, at the same time, no less.”
“I still say –”
“Yeah, yeah,” Faith cut her off. “Save it for Andrew. He’s never had a date. He’ll believe you,” she said as she stood up. “Gotta see to the girls. I’ll be back in an hour, Andrew, and I’ll expect food.” She gave him a mockingly stern finger wag, then a playful chuck on the shoulder before leaving.
Andrew grinned until she was gone, then started rubbing his shoulder where her fist had made contact. “Ow…” he whined.
Watchers Council – Training Grounds – Day
“Okay, ladies! Hit the grass,” Faith yelled. She was quickly met with a roar of moans and groans. “Those attitudes aren’t gonna make this easier. Give me a hundred.”
“Jeez, Faith,” Vi grumbled as she slowly started to do her push-ups. “Can’t we, like, run or something? I like running better.”
Faith was looking past the group of slayers, however. “Faith?” Vi questioned, snapping Faith out of her trance.
“Yeah,” Faith replied absently. “Um, you can head up the laps. Just…get out of here.”
“Sweet!” Vi cheered as she and the slayers ran off.
Once the area was clear, Julia walked up to Faith with a smile on her face. “This is what you want us to be a part of?” she laughed. “Boot camp?”
End of Act Three