Act 8

Fade In:
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Sometime Later

The last of the slayers limped into the infirmary. Nearly all of them were wounded, but those able to walk were carrying those who could not. The doctor rushed over to direct them, sending some of the wounded to be immediately treated, while sadly directing a few others to the temporary morgue in the corner of the large emergency room.

Becca grabbed another bandage and continued wrapping Marsha’s leg. The young slayer was chatting animatedly about the battle, but Becca shushed her with a stern word. Marsha looked at her confused and then followed Becca’s glance to where the doctor was talking with Jeffrey.

Willow stood next to the young mage, her arm comfortably wrapped around his shoulders as he continued to look at Lily. His mother looked small and frail lying on the bed.

“When will she wake up?” he asked the doctor, interrupting her.

“I wish I could say when, Jeff, but I can’t,” the doctor replied. “She’s taken quite a beating and it’ll take a long time for her to heal, but I assure you we’ll do everything we can.”

“Just let me know what I can do to help, okay?” Jeff said.

“We’ll all help, Jeff,” Willow said. “Right now, though, we could use your assistance with the other wounded.”

Jeff finally looked at his mentor and nodded. “Right, on it,” he said and then turned to assist the nurse setting Robin’s leg.

Faith and Giles looked at Brell as the demon carefully cleaned the yellowish blood from Tram’s forehead. Julia leaned arrogantly against the wall near the door, ignoring the frenetic activity going on around her as she watched them with a defiant expression on her face. Mia worked with Andrew as he stitched up a watcher trainee, while also not-very-subtly keeping an eye on Julia.

Finally putting the towel aside, the demon turned to the pair. “Brell will come later for brother’s body,” he said. “Family take care of it.”

“Is there anything we can do to help, Brell?” Giles asked. “We don’t know what your customs are, but we usually pay our respects to the departed.”

Brell nodded. “Brell know, but family will take care of respects. Watchers have their own burials to attend to. Many burials,” he added, looking around at the body bags.

Faith sighed. “I’m so sorry about Tram.”

Brell took the slayer’s hand. “We all know risk when we come here, pretty slayer,” he said. “Today you defeat the Engineer. This world not taken over like our world. Watchers keep their promise. Family safe. Tram give his life for that. It is high price, but one we all willing to pay.”

With that, he gently kissed her hand before dropping it and turning for the door, ignoring Julia as he walked past her. Faith met Julia’s eyes for a moment.

“Come on, Giles,” Faith said, turning away. “Let’s get to work on the living.”

With a final glance at Mia, the renegade Slayer turned and left

Fade Out

Fade In:
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Sometime Later

Most of the chaos had been cleared away. All but the most extremely injured had been moved to the dorms and elsewhere in the Council. Dawn appeared in the doorway and looked around. Spotting Willow sitting on a stretcher, she approached the witch.

“Hey Will,” she said. “How ya doing?”

“Okay,” Willow replied, looking on as the doctor finished spreading ointment on her scorched legs. “Thanks, Doc.”

“No problem,” the woman replied. She capped the ointment and handed it to Willow. “Spread some more after your shower and again in the morning. I’ll check it tomorrow. Hopefully there won’t be any blistering.”

Willow nodded and then turned to Dawn as the doctor left.

“What’s up, Dawnie?” Willow asked as if sensing the young girl wanted sometime.

“Um…hm,” Dawn said, looking down at the floor.

“Dawn?” Willow asked. “Everything okay?”

“Yes, but I’d like to ask you something,” she said. “I talked with Buffy, and it’s okay with her and…” Dawn trailed off.

“Just ask, Dawn,” Willow said. “You’re starting to sound like me and I never realized how disturbing it was.”

Dawn gave her a feeble smile. “I’d like to stay,” Dawn finally blurted out. “I mean, here at the Council. I’ve only got one more year of high school left and I’d like to do it here. And I want to join the program and become a watcher.”

Willow looked stunned. “Really?” she asked. “You want to be a watcher? And you want to stay here? With us?”

“I mean, if…if it’s okay with you?”

“Okay with me?” Willow laughed and pulled the young girl into a hug. “Of course it’s okay with me. I’ve missed you so much. But…what about Buffy? Is she going to stay, too?”

“No,” Dawn shook her head. “She mumbled something about having more baking to do, whatever that means.”

“Maybe someday,” Willow said sadly. She looked at Dawn a moment longer. “You’ve grown so much, Dawnie. I’m so proud of you, and I know someone else who would have been just as proud.”

“You mean Mom?” Dawn said. Willow nodded. “I love you, Willow,” Dawn pulled Willow into another hug.

“I love you too, Dawnie,” Willow replied. “Come on, let’s go find the gang and tell them the news.”

Cut To:
Watchers Council – Lounge – Minutes Later

Rowena was sitting on the couch next to Buffy and Xander as Giles paced around the room. He looked up as Dawn and Willow entered the room.

“Ah, Willow,” he said. “Buffy and Xander were just recapping the Engineer’s demise for Rowena and I.”

“It was touch and go for a while there, but fortunately the good guys won…again,” Willow said. “We had a lot of casualties, but I hate to think what would have happened if he succeeded in opening that portal.”

“Are you okay?” Rowena asked. She looked at the ragged remains of Willow’s corduroys.

“Oh yeah,” Willow said, following her gaze. “Just scorched a little, no worse than a bad sunburn and, believe me, I’ve been there.”

Rowena gave her a wan smile and Willow continued her own, happy smile. “Dawn’s got some good news!”

“Oh yeah?” Xander said. “Give it up, Dawnie. We could always use some post-apocalyptic good news.”

Dawn blushed. “Willow said it was okay, so if it’s okay with you, too, Giles, I’m gonna stay and finish my education here at the Council.”

“That’s great!” Xander said, standing up and hugging her. “Junior watcher gets promoted to watcher-in-training.”

Giles smiled. “Wonderful, Dawn,” he said. “I’m sure you’ll be a credit to the Council. Your experience and intelligence are exactly what we need.”

“I agree,” Rowena said, standing up and laying a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Your assistance during this crisis has been invaluable.”

“Thanks, guys,” Dawn said. “I’m glad those monks decided to boost my brain cells a bit, even though they modeled me after Buffy.” She jerked her head at her sister.

“Hey!” Buffy protested. “I’ll have you know I did better on the SATs than Willow.”

The redhead rolled her eyes. “I…I was under a lot of pressure,” she defended herself. “I think the Powers that Be must have taken pity on you a-and made sure your random bubble patterns matched the right answers.”

“Well, I’m the Slayer,” Buffy said with a pout. “Champion to the Powers that Be. Who has time to study when you’re saving people from creatures of the night?”

“I wish they would have sent me some help,” Xander complained. “I might not have been their champion, but I did my share of work for them.”

“Poor Xander,” Buffy soothed. “It must be a bitch having champion envy.”

Rowena moaned at the slayer’s pun and said, “And on that note, I’m going to bed. Goodnight, people.”

“Goodnight, Ro,” Giles said, and everyone echoed him as the watcher left the room. Willow watched her leave and then joined Buffy on the couch.

“So,” the slayer said, grabbing Willow’s hand and squeezing it tight. “How many does this make for us now?”

“Apocalypses?” Willow replied, and Buffy nodded. “Who knows? I lost track sometime after Adam.”

“Now that was a fun time,” Xander said, flopping down next to Willow. Dawn moved next to Giles and the watcher uncharacteristically put his arm around the young girl.

“Indeed,” Giles said. “After magically joining with the slayer, I had the uncontrollable urge to buy shoes for months afterwards.”

Dawn laughed. “Well, I’m starting to get used to apocalypses.” She broke off as everyone stared at her. “What…okay, whatever. I’m gonna go give Skye a goodnight kiss.”

“That better be all you give her,” Buffy warned.

“And this from the one who used to sneak out every night of her high school career,” Dawn retorted.

“I snuck out to slay vampires!” Buffy said with a glare.

“That’s not all you did with vampires,” Dawn said, then ran from the room squealing as her sister jumped up and gave chase.

Willow chuckled along with the two men and then gave Xander a kiss on the cheek. “I’m going to bed, too. Goodnight.” She moved to Giles and repeated her action despite his blush. The tall watcher pulled off his glasses and began to polish them with his handkerchief.

“Goodnight, Willow,” he said with a warm smile.

Cut To:
Watchers Council – Willow’s Suite – Minutes Later

Willow walked into her darkened apartment and dropped her bag on the side table next to the door. She closed the door behind her and put her hand on the light switch, then appeared to change her mind. Instead, she moved through the living room to the bedroom and turned on the nightstand lamp, letting the soft, diffused light fill the room. She seemed for a moment like she was going to turn to face someone, but stopped herself. With a shake of her head in dismissal she took a step toward her dresser.

“Hello, sweetie,” a voice said behind her.

Willow froze. The voice was as familiar as her own. Slowly, she spun around to see the figure standing before her. Her legs gave out and she sat heavily on the bed.

“Tara?” she whispered.

“Hey,” Tara smiled gently.

“Oh, Tara,” Willow whispered. “I’m dreaming, right? This is another dream?” Tara shook her head and Willow mimicked the action. “So…you’re really here?”

“I’ve always been here, Willow,” Tara replied, her face soft and gentle. “And you always sensed it, just like you did a few seconds ago. Only, things are different now and you can see me this time.”

“Then, why? I…I mean why now? After all this time?” Willow still looked uncertain. “Anya came to me and told me about karmic circles a-and that you were trapped and I was the reason why and –”

Willow stopped when Tara held up her hand.

“It’s time for me to say goodbye,” Tara explained, her warm blue eyes meeting Willow’s green ones.


“It’s time for me to move on,” she answered.

“So…I’m never going to see you again…ever?”

“No, you will, someday, in some life, many lives from what I understand, but…in this one…no. I’ve completed my circle here, and so will you, someday, but before I can really let go, I need to know that you’ll move on, too.”

“But…but I have,” Willow said, confused. “I mean, Kennedy and…” Willow broke off as Tara shook her head.

“Kennedy helped you so much, and I admire her for that,” Tara said. “She’s sassy and that’s perfect for a slayer. But your heart lies somewhere else now, doesn’t it?”

Willow nodded, looking guilty at her bedspread. “I’m sorry, Tara,” she said miserably, but then she looked up at the sweet sound of Tara’s laugh.

“Sorry for what?” Tara asked. “For loving someone else?”

Willow nodded. “You and I…we…we should have been forever.”

“Oh Willow,” Tara said. “We are forever. We’ll always be forever. Nothing can ever change that…not fate or destiny or the boundaries of time and space. We’ll be together again. That I can promise you.”

“Really?” Willow said hopefully. “It’s just…sometimes I feel guilty. I never thought I could love anyone again as much as I loved you.”

“Of course you can, Willow,” Tara said. “During the long journey through our lives, we touch so many others. When you find someone who you can love, and who loves you back…it’s a wonderful gift from the gods, one that  you shouldn’t deny. Our souls have joined repeatedly over eons, but not just ours alone. You need to go to her, Willow. Tell her how you feel. Take that first step.”

“I’ve never been one for making that kind of move, you know?” Willow said, and Tara laughed again.

“How well I do,” she replied. “But this time you must. You have to be strong. It’s going to be a rough and long road, but you know that anything worthwhile is never easy.”

“I guess you’re right,” Willow said with a smile. “If I can have even a fraction of what I had with you, then I would spend the rest of my life happy.”

“Sweetheart, you can have so much more, and that’s all I want for you,” Tara said. “To be happy. Now go to her.”

Willow looked at the door, just for a moment, then turned back to respond. The room was empty once again. Tears filled her eyes and she wiped them away.

“Goodbye, baby,” she said, and then resolutely walked out the door.

Cut To:
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Same Time

Buffy found Faith checking on the injured slayers and watchers-in-training. She looked on as the other slayer went from bed to bed, making sure each occupant was sleeping comfortably.

“Shouldn’t you be taking care of your man?” she finally asked when the brunette reached the last bed.

Faith turned and smirked at her. “Listen to the voice of jealousy,” she replied, then joined Buffy at the doorway. “When you gonna find your own boy toy, B?”

“I don’t know,” Buffy shrugged. “Had enough of relationships for a while. Dawn’s decided to stay here and officially become a watcher, so I might wander around some more on my own. Maybe when I get tired of that, I’ll settle somewhere and finish college. Hey, I heard you finally got a taste of education. Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” Faith said. “Willow’s all for me pursuing the post-secondary lifestyle. If she bugs me enough, I might take her up on it and get my revenge by forcing her to tutor me some more.”

“Will’s a great tutor,” Buffy said. “She saved my delinquent butt through many an exam.”

“Yeah,” Faith said, and then her face brightened as she changed the subject. “Hey, that’s great about li’l D. Won’t you miss her?”

“Of course I will,” Buffy said. “She’s my sister, but she’s growing up and taking the first steps into the big scary world. Besides, I know you’ll take care of her, because if you don’t –”

“Yeah, yeah,” Faith interrupted. “I know, it’ll be the knife in the gut for me.”

“Nah, I think I’ll use the Scythe this time,” Buffy quipped as they turned to leave the infirmary. “I saved it just for when you pissed me off.”

Faith laughed. “Y’know something, B?” she said resting her arm on Buffy’s shoulder as the other slayer wrapped an arm around her waist. “I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.”

Buffy groaned. “You’ve been hanging out with Andrew way too much.”

Cut To:
Watchers Council – Rowena’s Suite – Minutes Later

“Hey,” Willow said as Rowena opened the door of her apartment.

“Hey,” the blonde smiled. “Come on in.” Rowena closed the door behind Willow before running her hand down the redhead’s arm. “How’re you feeling?” she asked with concern.

“Oh, I’m ah, I’m good,” Willow said nervously. “You? How’s the rib?”

“It’s there. Are you sure you’re okay? Because you look like you might implode at any moment,” Rowena teased.

“No, no implosions I just…” Willow tried to go on, but found she couldn’t. Instead, she pointed to Rowena’s sofa. “Can we sit down over there?”

“Sure,” Rowena said, concerned, then led the Wiccan over to the sofa and took a seat next to her. “Willow, did we lose another girl?”

“No, this is actually about me…I’m just not sure where to start,” Willow confessed, looking as if she might begin to cry.

Rowena’s face grew more concerned and she brushed a hair that had fallen down behind Willow’s ear. “Okay, you’re starting to scare me here. Did something else happen?”

Willow broke into a smile and shook her head. “No, I’m just…I’m beginning to chicken out. That’s all.”

“Chicken out?”

“Yeah,” Willow said, relaxing and not paying close attention to her words. “I planned to come here and give you a big, long romantic speech about how much I love you and how my whole life people chose me a-and for the first time everyone is telling me to make the first move a-and –.” Willow stopped and realized what she had just said out loud. Her eyes went wide. “Oh gods, that’s not how I wanted it to come out a-and I messed it up and now –”

“You’re actually telling me you’re in love with me?” Rowena asked.

Willow examined her for a moment. as if trying to gauge her reaction. When Rowena didn’t say anything more, Willow slowly nodded. “Yeah, I am. I mean…I’m in love with you a-and I have been for a while now, but I wasn’t sure how you felt. But today, I felt it. When you put your arms around me and held me, I felt a connection I haven’t had in a really long time. And I think you felt it too.” Willow’s shaking hands took Rowena’s in hers. She brought one hand up to her lips and kissed the back. “I love you,” Willow whispered.

Willow’s hand released Rowena’s and worked its way into the blonde’s hair, slowly bringing their faces closer together. Willow leaned closer and kissed Rowena on the cheek first and then closer to her ear. She pulled back slightly and felt Rowena tilt her face toward her. Taking the invitation, Willow’s lips met Rowena’s…softly at first. She pulled back, just a fraction. This time however, Rowena leaned forward and recaptured Willow’s lips of her own accord.

This time with more assurance, Willow returned to Rowena and lightly kissed her top lip. Rowena responded again and met Willow with a soft moan. But then, almost as quickly, she pulled away and looked at Willow with a petrified expression.

“I-I’m sorry,” Rowena stuttered. “I-I can’t do this, Willow.”

Willow sat opened-mouth on the sofa as she watched Rowena dart up and begin to pace in front of her. The witch’s shoulders dropped and she couldn’t look at the blonde any longer.

“No, I’m sorry,” Willow muttered to the floor. “It’s not your fault. I…it was my mistake.”

Willow bit her bottom lip as her eyes watered.

“It’s not you,” Rowena insisted.

“Okay,” Willow said. She glanced in Rowena’s direction, but quickly looked away again. “Then it’s not the whole gay thing, is it? ‘Cause, you know, there are benefits to the girl-on-girl pairing, like no unexpected pregnancy a-and it’s a money saver too – no pills or patches to buy.” When she didn’t get so much as a grin with her attempt at humor, Willow grew serious again. “But maybe it’s not that at all. Maybe you don’t love me and I got the signals all goofed up. If that’s the case, then at least we got things out in the open, right? And maybe we can move on from here and be –?”

Rowena stopped in front of Willow and moved to her knees with a slight grimace. “No,” she insisted, on the verge of tears herself. “It’s not anything like that, Willow, honestly. I’m…” Rowena pushed at the water that hung in her eyes with the back of her hand, struggling to find her voice. “You didn’t misread me. I’m crazy about you too. Really. But…I’m scared.”

“I scare you?” Willow asked. “I wouldn’t hurt you Rowena,” she whispered.

“Not intentionally, I’m sure,” Rowena answered.

“Rowena –?”

“No,” she continued. “You don’t understand. I never felt this way before – ever.”

Willow looked confused. “So you love me, too?”

Rowena nodded.

“And it’s not the gay thing?”

Rowena shook her head. “I was confused at first, but Althenea helped me put things in perspective. So yeah, I know I love you, too.”

“And this is bad because…” Willow let the sentence hang, waiting for Rowena to finish it.

Rowena took Willow’s hands in hers. “Because when I almost lost you today, I felt that shock wash over me, that helplessness. And when it looked like you weren’t going to make it…I was never more scared in my entire life.”

“Sometimes scary things happen,” Willow agreed. “Sometimes terrible things happen, but you have to take that chance. That’s the price for loving someone.”

Rowena seemed to ignore Willow’s remark and continued. “I never thought I could love anyone like this and if-if things got any deeper, and I lost you, then…I don’t know if I’d be able to go on. I’m scared because I…I love you too much, Willow.”

Willow paused and cocked her head. “So let me see if I understand this? You don’t want to be with me because you love me?” Willow snorted as she finished.

“I didn’t say it made sense,” Rowena answered dryly.

“Ya got that right,” Willow sighed and looked away in frustration.

“Besides,” Rowena countered. “I’m leaving for England to help Robson, remember?”

“Sure. It was vaguely mentioned, but nothing’s set in stone. Look, you don’t have to go,” Willow told her. “We’ll send someone else.”

“Who else has the experience?” Rowena countered.

“Hell, Giles is English,” Willow replied, tossing her hands in the air. “Let him go back to London for a while.”

“And I’m sure he and Becca would both love that idea, wouldn’t they?” Willow looked away and Rowena continued. “The man’s put his time in and then some. He should start enjoying his life and Becca’s a part of that. so we can’t send him there. But I, on the other hand, well, I know the area. I know how to relate to the overseas Council and I’m the one most experienced for the job of organizing them more thoroughly.”

“How long will it take?” Willow asked reluctantly.

Rowena paused, with at least as much reluctance. “I don’t know if I’ll be coming back to Cleveland,” she finally answered softly.

Willow did a double take. “If? You mean when you’re coming back, right?”

“I might be staying in the European office,” Rowena told her. “Giles and I discussed it, and if it’s best that I serve the Council that way, then I’ll be staying.”

“But not forever,” Willow argued. “You’ll be back someday, right?”

“Maybe not, and I can’t ask you to wait,” Rowena told her. “It wouldn’t be fair.”

“Oh? Like it’s fair that you and Giles just made the decision that you could be leaving for good and didn’t bother to tell me or even include me in the discussions?”

“He wanted to, but I told him there was no sense saying anything until I got there and could take a look at their operations firsthand. We didn’t see the need to upset you until we knew for sure.” Rowena’s voice shook.

Willow looked angry at first, but then a sarcastic grin came to her face and she stood. “Works out kinda nice for you then. You can just run off to England because you’re too scared to stay here.”

“That’s not what I’m doing,” Rowena argued.

“The hell it’s not!” Willow said angrily, making her way to the door.

“Look, Willow, I have a duty – a calling. I can’t just throw away my responsibilities.”

“No, but you sure can hide behind them.”

Rowena rubbed her forehead, but didn’t reply.

“You know somethin’,” Willow began. “I love you, probably more than anyone has ever loved you, but you’re hiding, no matter what you call it. So hop on a plane and run off to England. When you decide that you want something real and you’re willing to risk your heart, drop me a line.”

Willow continued to walk to the door.

“Don’t be mad at me, please,” Rowena begged. “You just don’t understand what I’ve been through…I’m not meant to find someone. It’s…complicated.”

“No,” Willow countered, pointing her finger. “It’s pretty simple, actually. You did find someone. You’re just too afraid to enjoy it.” Willow turned again to leave, but stopped again and faced Rowena. “And don’t say I have no understanding here, okay? I know risk and I know loss. But I also know that when you meet someone who you live for a-and would be willing to die for – well, it’s worth the chance.”

“I know how you felt about Tara,” Rowena began. Before she could get any further, Willow spoke.

“I was talking about you,” Willow answered softly. She swallowed the lump in her throat and ran her fingers through her hair, exasperated. “Have a safe flight, Rowena. If you’re ever in Cleveland again, look me up.”

Willow walked out the door and Rowena let out a sigh. She moved forward a step, as if she was going to follow, but stopped. Slowly, she started to cry, then she buried her face in her hands as she fell to her sofa.

Willow continued walking down the hallway to her room. The further away she walked from Rowena’s door, the harder she began to cry.











End of Another Apocalypse  

End of Watchers Season One

On the next episode of Watchers…Season Two Begins!

In the second season premiere, Rowena and Willow try to move on by throwing themselves into their work on opposite sides of the Atlantic, while an unexpected new ally brings disquieting news and causes new conflicts within the Council.


Click here to read “Everything Old” now!

Enough watching;

Let’s Talk about Season 1

Check out the Watchers Forum to make new friends, catch up with some old chums and talk about all things Watchers!