Watchers Council – Gymnasium – Afternoon
The gym was filled with people. Mia and the other girls stood on one side of the basketball court, with the watchers on the other side. They appeared to be facing off like rival gangs ready to rumble, each side waiting for the other to make the first move. One of the girls lit up a cigarette and Andrew started to point to the “No Smoking” sign on the wall, but Faith stopped him. The smoking girl just glared at them defiantly.
“Is that all of them?” Giles asked.
“No,” Faith said. “More than half. I don’t get why Julia isn’t here.”
“Maybe it has something to do with the fact that…oh, she hates us?” Willow quipped.
“She’s been following me around the past few nights,” Faith said. “She told me she wouldn’t be here, but I really hoped she would…”
Robin looked at her. “Maybe you need to realize you can’t save everyone, Faith.”
“I do,” Faith said through gritted teeth. “I may be a dropout, but I’m not stupid, after all.”
“Never said you were,” he replied smoothly. “But you may just be looking for something in her that’s just not there.”
Giles coughed nervously to cut the tension. “So, Faith,” he cut in, “how do you want to handle this situation?”
“Me?” Faith exclaimed, turning to the tall watcher.
“You brought them to us,” Giles said, pointing his chin towards the gang on the other side of the court. “And you have a certain affinity for these girls and their experiences. If anyone can anticipate what it is they want to hear, then you’re the logical one to set the example for the rest of us.”
“Look, Giles,” Faith said, “I appreciate the vote of confidence, but I’m really no good at that sort of thing, ya know? You guys are the watchers.”
“These girls have no experience with watchers,” Giles pointed out. “They are, despite their haphazard methods, slayers. You are the oldest and most experienced slayer we have. And you were the one who convinced them to walk through our front door and give us a chance. I think it’s time we ‘showed our stuff,’ don’t you?”
Faith still looked doubtful and Willow piped in, “You can do this, Faith. I’ve got a lot of confidence in you.”
“Me too,” Robin added.
Faith looked at her lover and then sighed. “Alright, here’s what we’re gonna do. Let’s break up into groups so we can cover more ground. But start with a general tour first, especially of the kitchens and the dorms to show them we can offer them three squares and a warm, clean bed at night. Red, you dazzle them with the mojo like we talked about. Giles, you explain the history of the slayers, but please, try not to be too boring. Ro, you too, but emphasize more the watcher/slayer relationship. Let them know they’ll have someone who cares for them and watches their back. Robin, be a general and talk about tactics and strategy. These girls have been coming up with their own, so I think they’ll listen to that. Xander and Andrew, you guys stick with demon-y stuff and weapons research. And just where the hell is Kennedy?”
Everyone looked around and gave various shrugs. Andrew raised a hand. “I’ll go find her.”
“Okay,” Faith sighed. “Make it quick and tell her to show off the weapons. I think the girls are gonna like that.”
Andrew nodded and Faith looked at the group. “Everyone got it?”
Giles tried to hide a knowing smirk, but reformed his face at Faith’s glaring look. “Yes, Faith,” he said. “I think we understand.”
“Fine,” she said. “Then let’s do this thing.”
Watchers Council – Kennedy’s Quarters – Minutes later
Andrew poked his head through the crack in Kennedy’s door. Not seeing anyone, he pushed open the door wider and entered. Moving over to the bed, he picked up a notebook and looked at the open page.
“Pros and cons,” Andrew read. “Oh my god! She’s run off!”
Andrew dropped the notebook on the bed. “It’s such a big world for one little girl to be alone in. I have to stop her!” He turned around to find Kennedy standing in the open bathroom door. “Ahhh!” he screamed and jumped back to fall on the bed.
“I’m sorry,” Kennedy said, crossing her arms and glaring down at her uninvited visitor. “Who’s small?”
Andrew jumped off the bed, as if the whole situation was too hot for him to handle. “Kennedy!” he squealed. “What are you doing here?”
“I live here,” she said, sweeping an arm around the room. “What are you doing here?”
“Then…why are your clothes scattered all over the room as if you packed haphazardly?”
Kennedy looked around at the clothing in question. “This is what my room always looks like.”
“Oh,” Andrew said with a frown of distaste. “You know, maybe I can schedule the cleanup crew for a –”
“Andrew,” Kennedy interrupted. “What do you want?”
“Um, the lost girls are here,” he finally answered using his fingers to make quotation marks on the term ‘lost girls.’ “And Faith needs you to help be a tour guide.”
“Did you tell anyone what we talked about?” Kennedy demanded.
“No!” Andrew said. “We pinky swore on it and I never break a pinky swear. Besides, I wasn’t sure if you were serious or not.”
Kennedy shrugged and looked at the notebook lying on the bed. “I’m not either,” she admitted. “That’s why I was making the list. Seemed to help Willow a lot when she was trying to make a decision.”
“Oh, okay,” Andrew said, then pointed at the door. “We’ve gotta go. Faith’s waiting.”
Kennedy hesitated. “I don’t know,” she said. “Maybe I shouldn’t be around those girls…look what happened last time.”
Andrew shrugged his shoulders and looked at her. “You can’t live in your past, Kennedy.”
The brunette looked at him, as if surprised at his sudden display of maturity. Finally, Andrew pressed his point, “Besides, if you don’t come and help, Faith’s gonna kick your ass.”
At this, Kennedy smiled and nodded. “Okay, let’s go.” She followed him and closed the door firmly behind herself.
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Afternoon
Andrew opened the double doors to the kitchen and led his group inside with a flourish.
“And this, ladies, is the heart of the Council’s operations,” he said, moving around the butcher block. “We prepare three hot meals a day, plus we have hot and cold drinks and snacks available anytime, especially in the early hours when the slayers get home from patrol or the watchers are up late researching the latest threat. An army travels on its stomach and the Council is no exception.”
From where she was adding ingredients to the large mixer on the side, Tracey chuckled softly. Andrew moved over to her and placed a hand on her shoulder. “And this is my lovely assistant Tracey,” he said. “What are you skillfully making today, Tracey?”
Tracey rolled her eyes and said, “Chocolate cake for tonight’s dessert.”
“Yummy!” Andrew gushed. “Hear that, girls? Homemade chocolate cake.”
“You a slayer?” one of the girls asked Tracey.
“Nope,” she answered as she measured out baking powder. “Just a civilian. Somebody has to stay in the rear with the gear.” Tracey’s tone teased Andrew about his army analogy, and the girls chuckled.
“Tracey is working her way through college,” Andrew said proudly. “Now, let me show you the dormitories.”
Watchers Council – Training Room – Same Time
Padded mats lined the entire floor of the room. Wall-mounted ballet barres lined one wall as well as balance beams, parallel bars, vaulting and pommel horses.
“This looks like something I saw on TV one time at the shelter,” a girl told Faith as she led a group into the room.
“Must’ve been a gymnastics competition,” Faith said. “Not all of our training is for strength and weapons. We have to learn balance and coordination. You never know where you’ll have to fight vamps or demons. One time I fought a master vampire on scaffolding three stories off the ground. This kind of training helps in situations like that.”
“What happened with the vamp?” the same girl asked.
“I’m still here, ain’t I?” Faith smirked and the rest of the group laughed.
“Seriously, though,” Faith said, her demeanor turning grave. “Up until recently there was only one slayer, and her only purpose was to fight and then die. Now there are lots of us and we still fight and we still die, but we don’t have to be alone when we do it. That’s what the folks here are trying to do…help us survive.”
The group turned at a sound coming from the entrance. Robin and his group were standing there.
“Oh hey,” Robin said. “Just showing the girls the training room.”
“Okay,” Faith nodded and watched as they left.
“Damn!” one of the girls in Faith’s group drawled with appreciation at the departing man. “When do I get to be in his group?”
Faith angrily turned to the girl and opened her mouth as if to shout. Then she took a deep breath and said, “Come on, let me show you some moves.”
Watchers Council – Weapons Room – Same Time
“We have to train with all the weapons,” Kennedy was explaining, “but some of us prefer to specialize in one or two of them.”
“What’s yours?” Mia asked, looking at the racks of swords and staves.
“Crossbow,” Kennedy said. “I’ve been training with it since I was eight.”
“That long?” one of the other girls asked.
“Yeah, I was one of the lucky potentials,” Kennedy said. “My Watcher found me early. Not every potential was found before she was called. Buffy wasn’t.”
“Who’s Buffy?” Mia asked.
“She’s been slaying longer than anyone else,” Kennedy said with a small smile. “She was Chosen when she was only fifteen and, despite dying twice, she’s still alive. She’s the one who had the idea to activate all of the potentials.”
“So she’s the one we have to thank for being superheroes?” Mia asked.
“Her and Willow,” Kennedy nodded. “It was Buffy’s idea, but Willow cast the spell that actually did it.”
“The redhead?” another girl asked doubtfully. “She’s a witch?”
“Most powerful on the planet,” Kennedy boasted. Mia looked at her carefully. “Willow might look small, but she could kick any one of you into next week.”
Several of the girls snorted derisively.
“Can we try some of these out?” Mia asked, looking at the weapons.
“Sure,” Kennedy agreed. “But let’s stick to the practice swords. The doc’s got the day off.” She handed out the bamboo practice weapons and the girls paired off. Mia swung hers through the air so fast the noise cut through the room.
“Sweet,” she said, smiling at Kennedy as the other girls began to play. “Want to have a go?”
“Sure,” Kennedy said. She lifted a sword and took a defensive stance in front of Mia. The Asian girl rushed toward Kennedy with an obvious lack of skill. Kennedy easily parried each blow, keeping her moves tight and controlled. Finally, with a move so fast her edges started to blur, Kennedy spun around, while at the same time sending Mia’s sword flying through the air. As she spun past the other girl, Kennedy backhanded her bamboo sword across Mia’s chest and used a sweeping kick that knocked her to the mats. Kennedy completed the move by kneeling next to the prone girl and stabbing the faux sword next to her head.
“You’re dead,” Kennedy said dryly, with a slight smile.
Mia looked at Kennedy for a long moment, then began to grin. “Yeah. Good move. You’ll have to show me that sometime.”
“Sure,” Kennedy replied. “Be glad to. There’s lots of others where that came from, if you’re interested.”
Mia cocked her head slightly. “You’re family, aren’t you?” Mia asked. Her smile had turned into a smirk.
Kennedy seemed to recognize the reference and began to smirk as well.
“Come on, girls,” Kennedy said, ignoring the question and starting to blush. She rose to a standing position, bringing Mia up with her. “Let’s move on.”
Watchers Council – Training Room – Same Time
Willow led her group into another training room filled with standing training dummies. The walls were lined with throwing weapons of various sizes, including knives, daggers and shuriken.
“Andrew calls this room ‘Hogan’s Alley’,” she explained as the girls looked around with interest.
“From the fake town the Feds use to train agents,” one of the girls said and Willow nodded.
“How’d you know that?” another girl asked.
“Saw it in an old Police Academy movie,” the first girl replied.
“You and Andrew will get along well together,” Willow laughed. “We’re trained to use the throwing stuff to try to hit the vamps and not the humans.”
“How do you know the difference?” one girl asked.
“You look at the fangs painted on the dummies, dummy!” another girl sneered.
“Well, yeah,” Willow admitted. “But out in the field you have to rely on your Slayer sense to help you. Not all vamps wear their bumpy face, and it’s up to you to tell the difference, especially in the heat of battle. One of the exercises we do here is blindfold the girls and have them try to take out only the vamp dummies and not the humans.”
“But if they aren’t real, how can they tell the difference?” the girl who noticed the painted fangs asked.
“I’ll cast a spell on the vamp dummies to simulate the tingly feeling,” Willow explained.
“Cool!” the girl said. “What else can you do? Pull a rabbit out of a hat?”
Willow rolled her eyes. “No, but I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet,” the girl said sarcastically.
Willow thought for a moment and then moved to the center of the room, away from the closest dummies. “Attack me,” she said to the girl.
“What?” the girl said. “No way! Lady, I’ve taken down vamps three times your size. I’d sweep the floor with you.”
“Yeah, right,” Willow taunted. “Or maybe you’re just scared of the big bad witch?”
The girl’s eyes narrowed and she hastily pulled off her torn jean jacket and handed it to the girl next to her. “Fine,” she said, bouncing on her toes. “It’s your funeral.”
With that, the girl launched herself at Willow, arms swinging, but before she even got close to the witch she seemed to bounce off an invisible barrier. With a painful thump, the girl landed on her rear. Willow stood there calmly, with her arms crossed.
“Wanna try again?” she asked the girl.
With an angered look the girl jumped to her feet and began to attack the barrier. After a moment, the other girls began to try from different angles, but none of them was able to lay a hand on the witch. Finally they gave up, their hands bruised from the effort.
“There are lots of things out there you’ll come up against who have their own magic,” Willow said. “And lots of them aren’t as nice as I am.”
The girls looked around nervously as the air in the room seemed to shimmer. As one, they all hit the floor as every single weapon lining the room suddenly floated through the air. With a sound like a swarm of buzzing flies, all the weapons streaked through the room, dodging Willow, to embed themselves in one of the dummies. By the time the last of the daggers planted itself, the dummy looked like a pincushion from hell.
“Any questions?” Willow asked. The girls looked at her, astounded.
Watchers Council – Slayer Dorm Hallway – Moments Later
Rowena’s group met up with Kennedy’s group as they passed each other in the hallway.
“How’s it going?” Rowena asked the slayer.
“Not bad,” Kennedy said, looking at Mia’s back. “They seem interested.”
“Good,” Rowena said. “Oh, we’re still on, right? I don’t want to miss your training session this afternoon.”
“I’ll be there,” Kennedy said and moved the girls along.
Rowena led the girls to the slayer recreation room. A few of the resident slayers were already there, relaxing or studying. The girls in Rowena’s group looked at them curiously.
“You guys go to school?” one of the girls asked Marsha, who was seated at a desk with an open book and a calculator in front of her.
“Yeah,” Marsha said, rolling her eyes. “They make us do everything here.”
“The Council maintains its front as a private school for the sake of appearances, but we do provide a quality education for slayers and watchers-in-training,” Rowena explained. “A few of our students are even children of some of our staff members.”
“Would we have to go to school?” a girl asked.
“We certainly encourage it,” Rowena said. “We try to customize the curriculum for each student’s level and abilities. It’s our hope by the time a student graduates, she’ll have received an education comparable to the best Ivy League prep school.”
“You guys think of everything,” another girl said. “What good is book learning, though, when you’re out there facing vamps?”
“We train the slayers to be more than just fighters. And some of the best warriors in history were also scholars and poets. Many were the brightest people in their era, not always just the strongest. They used their brains and their brawn, which is something you’ll learn if you decide to join us,” Rowena added with a smirk.
“You like it here?” the first girl asked Marsha.
“Oh yeah,” the young blonde replied. “I’ve got a great watcher. She makes me study, especially this stupid math stuff, but she trains me in all kinds of neat things.”
“Will we get watchers, too?” another girl asked Rowena.
“Eventually,” Rowena nodded. “Right now we have many more slayers than watchers, but as we find new potential watchers and train them, everyone will be assigned a watcher. It’s our hope that we’ll be able to have a slayer and a watcher in every part of the country and the world to protect the innocent.”
“How long have you been a watcher?” someone asked.
“A long time,” Rowena answered. “I trained a girl in Turkey for several years, but she was ambushed before she became a slayer and died. Now I’m officially assigned a slayer, but I mostly train other watchers.”
“Too bad about your girl,” the same girl said. Rowena’s face reflected her sorrow as she nodded in acknowledgement.
Watchers Council – Street Level – Minutes Later
Mia was speaking with one of the girls from Willow’s group as Rowena led her girls outside to conclude the tour.
“How’d it go?” Willow asked the blonde watcher as the girls with her joined the others.
“Okay, I guess,” Rowena replied. “Only time will tell.”
Mia finally approached the watchers. “Well, thanks for the tour,” she said. “We’ll, uh…we’ll let you know, okay?”
“Of course,” Giles said warmly. “Come anytime, the door is always open.”
The girls began to file down the street toward the bus stop, but before she did, Mia turned to Willow and asked, “Did you really float all those weapons? No mind tricks or illusions?”
“No tricks,” Willow said. Mia nodded thoughtfully as she turned and followed the girls.
“Weapons?” Xander asked as everyone turned to Willow.
“Uh, just a few,” Willow admitted. “Um…you might need some special tools to get them out of the dummy.”
“How many did you float, Red?” Faith asked.
“All of them?” Willow blushed and everyone laughed.
“Oh sure!” Rowena said with a grin. “You dazzle them with flashy weapon tricks, but poor Giles and I…we’re the stuffy old boring watchers who can only teach them how to index.”
Willow’s blush deepened, but she laughed too and everyone started to move away to get back to work. Rowena pulled Giles aside as he started inside.
“Giles,” she said. “I need to ask a favor…I’m worried about Kennedy again.”
End of Act Two