Watchers Council – Training Grounds – Continuous
“What are you doing here?” Faith asked Julia. “For someone that doesn’t like the Council, or me for that matter, you seem to be showin’ up an awful lot.”
“It’s not my fault some of my girls liked what you had to say,” Julia responded. “Especially Mia, who has almost as much pull as I do with some of them. Anyway, they wanna stop by and get the tour.”
“Where are they then?”
“I wouldn’t let them come…yet,” Julia explained. “I’m not buying your crap about the Council, but despite what you think I do care about my gang. In the end, they’re gonna choose…I’m willing to take the chance my girls will be loyal to me.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re seeing that they’re not yours,” Faith said. “And the Council is a good place. I mean, you guys would still be together, just in a different way and with more slayers.”
Julia shrugged. “They want to check it out, apparently.”
“So, we can expect them soon?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Julia responded. “But if your tour is gonna be anything like what you guys showed me the other day, I have nothing to worry about.”
Julia turned with a confident smile on her face and began to walk away. Faith called after her, “Some of your girls seemed interested last night.”
“We’ll find out tomorrow,” Julia yelled back.
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Later that Day
“So, how many girls can we be expecting then?” Giles inquired. Faith had gathered him into the conference room along with Robin, Willow, Rowena and Xander. They all looked at Faith for her response.
“Counted twenty-six last night, including Julia,” Faith told them.
“Wow,” Rowena marveled. She turned to Willow. “And you didn’t sense them? At all?”
Willow did a double take. “Hey, I’ve done pretty good so far. I can’t help that I missed a few,” Willow answered, before softly muttering the word “dozen” and adding, “right under our noses.”
“We might have to start spreading our resources even thinner,” Rowena told the group.
“What do you mean?” Willow asked.
“I’m not sure there are enough watchers to go around,” she explained. “There might have to be some changes. Watchers might have to double or triple up on slayers if these girls decide to join us. I could always take another, since Kennedy has been making good progress.”
“I don’t know about that,” Willow admitted reluctantly.
Giles nodded in agreement toward Willow. “I know we’ve…modified the rules of the Council, but every slayer has always had one watcher.”
“That’s because there was only one slayer and the rest were potentials,” Robin pointed out. “For better or worse, Willow changed that.”
“What is it? Pick on Willow day?” the witch asked.
“We’re not…picking,” Rowena insisted, while Robin said, “That’s not what I meant,” at the same time.
“Sure feels like that from where I’m sitting,” she challenged, but then she exhaled harshly and ran a hand through her hair. “Look, I still feel a little drained from our field trip to the farm and I’m just kinda a cranky bear right now. Let’s just figure this out.”
“Well, Faith, you talked to them, you know the most,” Giles pointed out, diverting the conversation back on topic. “Are the majority of them interested, really interested, in joining the Council?”
Faith waved her hand in the air, using the fifty-fifty gesture. “It’s split, really,” she explained. “Julia does have influence over these girls, but the ones I talked to liked the idea of getting off the streets. These girls aren’t what we’re used to dealin’ with, though. The whole, ‘Because it’s the right thing to do’ argument ain’t gonna fly with these girls.”
“Any ideas on what we might be dealing with?” Robin interjected.
“They’re not your typical high school cheerleaders living with the perfect families. These girls aren’t even out of their teens and they’ve already been on the streets for years now.”
“Meaning?” Willow prompted.
“I think we need a special sales pitch for them.” Faith answered as she looked around the table. “They aren’t in danger like most of our recruits because, let’s face it, they’re dangerous themselves.” Faith snorted. “I know I wouldn’t wanna get caught in a dark alley with any of ’em, with or without their slayer powers.”
“These girls scare you then?” Giles asked.
“Well, not petrified, but yeah, they have a certain intimidating presence. They’re not Miss All America sweethearts by any stretch, and I think they’d stab someone just as soon as they would look at them. They’ve got a wild edge and they’re not looking to be tamed.”
“Maybe we should rethink this invitation,” Rowena answered. “We can’t put the other slayers at risk. And if they –”
“No,” Faith insisted. “I think they should come here. Even though they’re…crude…the thing is, I think they’re… pack-oriented. Plus, they love to kick ass.”
“In other words, the perfect gang,” Robin added.
“Exactly,” Faith told him. “Which, when you think about it, is kinda ironic. That’s all the new slayer army is, when it comes right down to it. Trouble is, they’re gonna ask what’s in it for them and not sign up just because it’s what’s best for humanity like the other gals we’ve found. They don’t care about right or wrong, because they don’t live in a black and white world where the choices are cut and dried. They do what they have to in order to survive and they have fun while they’re doing it. So the typical ‘You’re chosen and have a birthright’ speech isn’t gonna mean jack to these girls.”
“Okay,” Xander said with a nod of comprehension. “So now all we have to do is think about how to entice a group of girls that have super powers and a disrespect for authority to change their lives. That shouldn’t be too hard. We’ve faced worse monsters, right?”
No one at the table said anything until Giles spoke up.
“Let me do some research first,” Giles told them. “Until then, just try and prepare yourselves for their arrival tomorrow. We may not be dealing with literal demons, but pointed in the wrong direction these girls could end up being just as big a threat.”
“Giles, will we still let them in?” Rowena asked.
Giles turned to Faith. “You’ve had the most interaction. What do you think?”
“Hey, I’m not Watcher Chick here, okay?”
“No, but you do have a great deal of knowledge and experience we can rely on. So…give us some of that straightforward style you’re known for,” Giles remarked with a slight grin.
Faith smiled. “Straight up? Let ’em in, but think quickly about what you’re gonna tell ’em and how they can fit in here. Otherwise, you’ll lose ’em and like you said, we might have a whole new big bad to deal with.”
“Thank you,” he told her. “We’ll do that. I-I’ll research more on these girls. Willow and Rowena, would you continue your profiling of the demons known to have worked for the Presidium? See if we can draw any connections?”
Both women nodded and everyone dispersed.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Moments Later
Faith practically ran for the door, but just as soon as she was outside, Robin was at her side. “I’m fine,” Faith said quickly, before turning and walking down the hall.
Robin followed, pointing out, “I didn’t ask how you were, and when people insist continuously that they’re fine, they’re normally not.”
“I’m special,” Faith replied, dismissing the topic.
“Going out?” he asked, still following.
Faith sighed. “I didn’t really have a plan,” she said after a moment. “I just…I can’t sit here and do nothing.”
Robin continued after Faith through the Council lobby and out the front door.
After making it outside, Faith showed no intention of stopping, but then Robin grabbed her by the arm and turned her to face him. His eyes scanned her face, and then he let go and sighed in frustration.
“I don’t get it,” he admitted quietly. “How could we have come this far, invested so much into us, and you can’t open up to me about who you used to be?”
“Don’t pretend like you had no idea what I was. You knew. I didn’t think I had to go over it with you,” Faith argued. “All that, my past, it’s just never been good enough for you.”
“I never said that,” Robin reminded her calmly.
“Like you had to,” Faith shot back. “Both of us knew it without you sayin’ it.”
“For your information, I never thought that once,” he told her. “I care about you, understand? Past, present, future, whatever. I need you, Faith, baggage and all. Why are you the only one who can’t see that?”
“Don’t humor me,” Faith scoffed.
Robin went to rebut her comment, but dismissed the thought and turned back to the Council. Faith’s jaw fell open, but she quickly regained her defenses.
“Where are you going?” she called after him.
He stopped and turned with a sad smile on his face. “You don’t want me around,” he replied. “But I hope you realize something, Faith, you can only push me so far away before I stop coming back.”
Faith stood there, the aftershock of her actions nearly-visibly weighing down on her shoulders. She watched Robin walk back to the building and disappear behind the door.
Faith turned to proceed down the sidewalk again and found Julia standing right in front of her. Faith jumped, but after a split second her face settled into an angry look.
“You seem edgy,” Julia smirked.
Faith ignored the comment. “What the hell are you doing here again?”
“You watched us,” Julia said. “I figured I could do the same. You going somewhere?”
“For a walk,” Faith shrugged as she shoved past Julia. “Just need some fresh air.”
“Getting a closed-in feeling?” Julia asked as she followed Faith.
Faith turned her head slightly, but did not address the comment. “I know the feeling,” Julia continued anyway. “That’s why I’m livin’ this way.”
“I know that life,” Faith laughed. “It has its moments…especially the hungry ones. They can suck.”
Julia shrugged. “When you’re hungry, you get food.”
“I played the stealing game before,” Faith responded. “Got myself into more trouble than I would’ve liked.”
“What? You got arrested or something?” Julia jeered. “I thought you were some bad ass slayer girl.”
“It’s more than that,” Faith said defensively. “And jail sucks.”
“Maybe you’re just weak.”
“And maybe you’re just some smart mouth kid!” Faith exploded as she rounded on Julia. “I was there once myself – stealing, doing my own thing. It led to me thinking I was a god and that no one could stop me. They couldn’t, either.” Faith paused and put her hands in front of her. “You know what, we’re not talking about this.”
“That’s cause I’m right, and you know it,” Julia called after Faith. “You miss the life, Faith. You hate being caged, and it’s why you’re pushin’ your boyfriend away.”
“That’s none of your business,” Faith growled as she got into Julia’s face.
“You’re right, that’s none of my business, but look me in the eye and tell me that the Council isn’t suffocating you,” Julia challenged.
Faith had no reply. She looked down and away from Julia’s face, as the girl smiled victoriously. Julia waited a moment for a response, and Faith delivered it with a punch to Julia’s face.
The girl slammed to the ground and Faith towered over her. Julia sat up and wiped the blood away from her smiling lips as she watched Faith walk away from the Council building.
“See?” Julia called out to Faith’s turned back. “You’re not the good, righteous slayer you claim to be. You’d do good in my crew.” She laughed at Faith’s retreating form.
Faith closed her eyes but kept walking.
Watchers Council – Library – Later that Day
“Knock, knock,” Giles heard a voice say behind him.
He smiled , then he turned away from a bookcase to face Becca, who was standing in the doorway. “How are you this afternoon?” he asked.
“Not bad,” she told him as she held up three Chinese take out boxes. “I brought lunch. Wanted to see if you’d like to take a break and join me. If not, Andrew volunteered to eat the Moo Goo Gai Pan I brought for you.”
Giles walked over and took the containers before giving her a light kiss. “Tell Andrew your Moo Goo is for me alone,” he added as he set the cartons on the desk.
“Oooh, sounds naughty,” Becca teased.
Giles gave her a bashful smile before walking over to the dorm-sized library refrigerator and grabbing two drinks. “Things at the shop are slow today, I take it?” he asked.
“Yeah, so slow I actually started thinking about the Slayer Academy.”
“How so? Did you rearrange your bookcases to find you had slayer strength?”
“No,” Becca answered with a smile, shaking her head. “I started to think about everyone coming to the performance this week and I wondered if you had a music program here. It’s a known fact that music helps children in their mathematical skills. Plus it might be entertaining for them – something other than doing push ups all the time.”
“I’m not sure where we could find someone to spearhead such a project,” Giles teased knowingly.
“Charming and funny,” Becca said, waving her chopsticks at him. “I like that…but seriously, what do you think? I’ve seen all that vacant space you’re not doing anything with by the dorms. I’m sure you could create a music room without too much trouble. We could probably go online and get some good deals on equipment. Nothing too fancy or anything, maybe a few basics to start with.”
“How about this?” Giles proposed. “You go online and ask Willow to handle the rest.”
“Passing the buck, huh?”
“Delegation of authority,” he countered. He raised his soda can in a toast before taking a drink.
“Charming, funny and a spin doctor?”
Giles nodded proudly and Becca just smiled at him.
Watchers Council – Computer Room – Later that Day
“So,” Rowena sighed, “we have five classes of demons so far that we’ve connected to the Presidium, and two unidentified.”
“Correct,” Willow remarked in a perky tone as she too looked at the screen.
“We’ve also had at least ten occurrences we can link to the Presidium, or suspect them of taking part in.”
“Correct,” Willow repeated in the same tone.
“Which leads us nowhere,” Rowena sighed again.
“Correct,” Willow answered once more, still sounding perky and optimistic.
Rowena closed the book she was holding and rubbed her eyes. “I need a drink,” she said as she stood up.
“Giles swears by coffee and Kahlua during times of stress – scotch if he’s really upset,” she added in afterthought.
Rowena grinned. “I was thinking more along the lines of a cola or maybe something a bit harder like root beer. But when the world ends because we didn’t figure this out in time, then we’ll go for the scotch.”
Rowena slipped into the other room and Willow called out, “Of course, it might be a fight trying to get the bottle from Giles.”
Rowena walked back in holding two cans and handed one to Willow. “That’s okay. He’s not that tough. I could take him,” she growled.
Willow smiled before she held up the can and looked at the name. “Root beer. So the hard stuff it is, huh?” She popped the top.
“It’s gonna be a long day, again,” Rowena said, opening her own can.
“Well, what do we know,” Willow said as she turned to face Rowena, still trying to sound positive.
“They like demons that can kick the crap out of us, for starters,” Rowena answered.
“Sarcastic, but also very true. They like muscle. What else?”
“They like to enslave civilizations,” Rowena added. Willow nodded and went back to typing.
“Next?” Willow called out.
“They practically drained the life outta Jeffrey, poor kid.”
“So they use magic as a weapon,” Willow remarked as she continued to type. “Oh!” she said excitedly, stopping from her task and facing Rowena. “And they recruit skanky magic ho’s to do their bidding!”
“You have issues with that woman, don’t you?” Rowena smirked. “I’m sorry I missed all that.”
“Lots, and let’s not go there, shall we?” Willow asked in a perky voice.
Rowena held her hands up in truce, before opening up the book in front of her again. “So that leads us to…”
“Right about where we started,” Willow finished.
Both women looked at each other and sighed simultaneously.
Watchers Council – Study – Later that Day
Kennedy sat on the window ledge, her head propped up by the window. Through the glass the Cleveland skyline was clearly visible. She hugged her legs close to her body and closed her eyes every now and again.
Seemingly sensing a presence nearby, the slayer opened her eyes and turned slowly to see that Andrew was standing at the entrance to the study, watching her.
“Something’s going on with you,” he said as he walked up to her. “I know…it’s like a fifth sense I have.”
Kennedy arched her eyebrow, but said nothing.
“You know, since Lori got hurt –”
“It’s been like this since before Lori got hurt,” Kennedy interrupted. “I don’t fit in anymore. Things have changed so much. I thought I had found a place at the Council but…I thought wrong.”
“Other than the whole Willow thing, the Jack the Ripper guy thing, the sucking thing, and the getting a new girl hurt thing, well, things have been good, right?” Andrew asked.
Kennedy shook her head. “Everything has been going downhill and I try to stop it but… I can’t,” Kennedy told Andrew.
“But some of that wasn’t your fault,” he pointed out. Realizing how this sounded, he tried to make up for it, “I mean, you’re important to the group a-and the younger slayers really look up to you. Well, they did until the suspension, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t teach them by showing them where you’ve been,” he said, trying to sound optimistic about it all.
“It doesn’t feel like I’m helping people,” Kennedy scoffed. “I do more harm than good.” Kennedy’s depression hit Andrew and he tried to say something, but Kennedy looked out the window and beat him to it. “I can’t do this any more,” Kennedy said, defeated. “I don’t feel what I felt before. I don’t feel like I’ve been contributing as much as I’ve been taking away. And it’s time I do something about that.”
Andrew smiled when Kennedy looked over at him. Her face reflected resolve as she nodded.
“Well, that’s good Kennedy,” Andrew told her. “A new perspective is just what –”
“I’m leaving the Council.”
Kennedy turned back to the skyline, and Andrew’s jaw dropped.
End of Gangland
On the next episode of Watchers…
While Kennedy struggles with her decision to leave the Council, Faith puts everything on the line to try and convince the “Lost Slayers” to join.
Click here to read “Lessons Learned” now!