Watchers Council – Lobby – Continuous
“Oh hey,” Mia called out, walking over to Willow across the crowded lobby. “Is the meeting done?”
“Great!” Willow exclaimed upon seeing the approaching slayer. “Uh no, it’s not, but we need your help. Can you watch her?” She pointed to Bonnie. “Make sure she doesn’t try anything funny.”
“Sure, but what –”
Willow turned briskly to Andrew before Mia could finish. “Go get Giles down here, now.”
“What about Jeff?” he asked.
“I’m on it, just go.”
Without waiting for him to confirm, Willow pushed through the front door and toward the street as Andrew walked toward the conference room.
Conference Room – Same Time
“How are the field teams doing, Robin?” Giles asked.
“Good, for the most part. We’ve got three major areas in Asia covered, two in Africa and seven in North and South America.”
“New York, L.A., Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Mexico City and Buenos Aires,” Giles said, looking at a printout. “No one reporting problems?”
“Requesting help, but no problems,” Robin told him. “I informed them that once we have teams ready for the other larger cities, Philly, Dallas, Detroit and such, we’ll see that they get backup.”
“How’re Robson’s troops holding up?” Xander asked. “I sent those new crossbow pistols over two weeks ago.”
“He hasn’t gotten them yet, to my knowledge,” Robin remarked. He looked over at Giles, who confirmed with a nod. Robin then turned back to Xander. “Europe is doing extremely well, otherwise. Rowena’s been able to send ten teams out across Europe and the Middle East, and to quote Robson they’re doing ‘just splendid’,” he said, ending with a fair attempt at a British accent.
“Good,” Giles complimented. “We’ve got several teams here I want to release soon to the smaller U.S. cities. Places like Miami, Las Vegas – areas that have not only large numbers of residents, but tourists as well. They should be ready in the coming weeks.”
“You give the final okay and I’ll order the one-way plane tickets,” Robin replied with a smile.
“And these are all Hellmouth cities?” Kennedy asked.
“Well, perhaps not on Hellmouths themselves, but certainly large human populations equal larger vampire populations and other various demons that prey on the living for their survival,” Giles answered.
“Hence New York and L.A. screaming for backup,” Robin interjected.
“A-And we will send it, as soon as we can get at least one team in those other major cities,” Giles repeated.
“So even if these cities have Hellmouths,” Faith began, “how do we know where?”
“What do you mean?” Giles asked.
“Sunnydale’s Hellmouth was right under the high school. Thanks to Bonnie, we’re parked on top of Cleveland’s. So with a city as big as New York or L.A. how do we know the exact location of a Hellmouth? That’s of course assuming those cities’ve even got one.”
“We don’t,” Giles answered honestly. “We have vague ideas, some written references in various texts, but nothing concrete, I’m afraid, and not very much information on America. It’s still a very new country, historically speaking, and it having a strong Judeo-Christian influence doesn’t help matters. Many people who had knowledge of demon folklore never wrote a word for fear of persecution. It makes things rather difficult on this side of the ocean, I must admit.”
The group turned to see Andrew enter the room quietly. “Sorry to interrupt, guys, but Bonnie is hanging out in the lobby.”
No one said anything, but their faces all registered surprise. The group began to collectively rise to its feet.
City Street – Moments Later
Willow moved through the tide of people on the street and spotted Jeff weaving in and out of the human traffic. She picked up her pace until she was only a few steps away.
“Jeff! Hold up!” she said, out of breath.
Jeff recognized the voice and moved next to the wall of a nearby building, out of the flow of people. He came to a stop, but he refused to look at her.
“I know that you’re upset, but please come back. You shouldn’t be alone right now.”
“I’m not going to be alone,” he told her. “I’m gonna find a way to bring my mother back.”
“No, Jeff,” Willow shook her head.
“What? It’s good enough for you to do, but not good enough for me. It’s no secret you brought someone back from the dead.”
“Yeah, but not without a terrible price. So I’m asking you, don’t make the same mistakes I made.”
“I’m not you,” Jeff spat, “and if you can bring back Buffy, I’m sure I can bring back my mother.
“Look, Buffy is adapting now, but what we did – what I did…I ripped her out of heaven. And even though she’s doing better, in the end, I did more damage than good.”
“Well, my mother hasn’t been in heaven that long. She won’t miss it,” he challenged.
“I’m not only talking about Buffy here. The spell itself is extremely dark a-and dangerous. It’s what awoke the First and destroyed Sunnydale a-and nearly destroyed the world. Is that something you think your mother would want?”
Jeff didn’t say anything and Willow went on.
“I’m sure your mother would have wanted to see you grow to be a man. But you and I both know that your mother would rather have you become a man without her here than watch you exist in a world where evil reigned because she was brought back. I’ve told you before, magic has –”
“A price,” Jeff finished. “I have been listening.”
Willow put both hands on his shoulders. “Then listen to me now, Jeff. You’re not alone. It feels like the world is shattering and you’ll never be happy again. You might spend days or weeks, maybe even months, wondering if it’s ever going to get better until, one day, it does, even if it’s just a little bit. And with each day that passes you’ll see you do have people who love you, people like me and Andrew. We’ll never take the place of your mother, Jeff. No one can. But you’ll make a space for her inside and you’ll find she gave you the strength and the love you need to carry on. So, it will get better. You just have to trust me.”
Jeff finally looked up and saw the love and concern in Willow’s eyes and he began to sob loudly. The priestess pulled her student into a tight embrace. She let the young man cry into her shoulder as she stroked the back of his head in silence.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later
Jeff and Willow walked through the front door with Willow’s arm still firmly planted on the young man’s shoulder. As they moved through the personnel traveling through the lobby to various areas, Jeff’s jaw suddenly dropped, then immediately tightened. Willow saw his reaction, but didn’t have time to stop him before Jeff broke into a run.
“No, Jeff!” Willow shouted, following after him.
Bonnie and Giles turned to the sound of Willow’s voice to see Jeff only steps away from Bonnie. He tackled her to the ground and began punching any open area of her body he could find.
“She’s dead because of you!” he screamed repeatedly.
Giles tried to pull him off, but Jeff pushed him away. The elder watcher nearly fell, but Robin and Xander managed to catch Giles and right him before he hit the ground. Taking action, Faith and Kennedy both grabbed a flailing arm and pulled Jeff to his feet and away from Bonnie. Once the one-sided fight died down, the onlookers went back to work, speaking with associates or answering the ringing phone lines.
“Jeff, let us handle this,” Willow told him. She motioned silently for Faith and Kennedy to let him go. Once free, Jeff immediately took to the stairs as raced back toward his apartment.
“Thank you,” Bonnie said as she struggled to get back on her feet.
“Don’t,” Willow replied harshly. She roughly pulled Bonnie up, coming nose to nose with her. “He’s right, ya know? And his mother isn’t the only one you helped kill. So if you don’t have anything useful, I’ll toss you to the Presidium lynch mob myself. Understood?”
Bonnie swallowed hard as she held her aching arm and locked eyes with Willow.
London Watchers Council – Afternoon
Rowena sat at the computer terminal. She had paused her work to light a cigarette when the door opened behind her.
“Tea time,” Robson announced, his voice making Rowena turn around.
The watcher pulled the cigarette from her mouth and glanced at her wristwatch. “You’re a few hours early, aren’t you?”
“Yes, but you’ve had nothing since this morning. Thought you could use a spot of high tea.”
Rowena craned her neck toward the platter that Robson carried. It held tiny sandwiches, made on very thin slices of bread, filled with crisp, thinly sliced cucumbers, tomato slices, watercress sprigs and thinly sliced chicken. She also spotted lemon cheese tarts, ginger snaps and scones, with a variety of jams to go along with them. After setting the tray down, Robson promptly began filling Rowena’s cup from a small kettle, while simultaneously handing her some sugar packets.
“You’ll need those to ruin my perfectly good cup of tea, as usual,” he teased.
“Sorry Robson, but I need more than cream.”
“Bloody Americans,” he sighed with a grin.
“I’m not an American,” she said, smiling in response, “Canadian, remember?”
“Is there a difference?” he posed. Rowena looked up to the ceiling in thought, and after a few moments of silence, Robson prompted her by saying, “Yes? I’m waiting.”
“I’m thinking.” She chuckled.
Robson smiled warmly at her. “Have a biscuit,” he said as he handed her a sugar cookie. “It might help the thought process.”
“Oooh! The metric system!” Rowena smiled, taking the cookie. “You’re in a good mood today, with the jokes and all.”
“I am,” he agreed with a nod. “We have everything in place now – a knowledgeable staff and watchers and slayers actually out in the field. What’s not to be happy about?”
“Very true,” she said, raising her cookie in toast and clicking it against the one Robson had in his hand.
“Of course, those twenty-hour days you’ve put in helped,” Robson muttered.
Rowena just shrugged it off. “I couldn’t sleep, so I might as well work.”
“If you don’t mind me saying, I’m not the only one who appears to be in better spirits as of late. Looking forward to your return to Cleveland, perhaps?”
Rowena took a sip of her tea and played with the rim. “Not exactly.”
Robson studied Rowena, but said nothing. When she didn’t go on, he cleared his throat. “After I called Althenea, she told me some things.”
“What things?” Rowena asked nervously.
“About Ms. Rosenberg. About you,” he answered.
“Oh jeez,” Rowena groaned and rolled her eyes. “Thanks for dragging Althenea into this, by the way,” she added sarcastically.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to break confidences,” he said sincerely. “But I was worried, Rowena. I knew I needed to do something, and she was the only resource I could turn to. You rarely left this office. You weren’t eating enough, smoking too much and…”
“And?” Rowena prompted.
“And I wondered if someone had been killed in Cleveland you were close to.” Rowena looked confused, so Robson went on. “I hadn’t seen you this despondent since your potential, Ipek, died. So I called Althenea to see if she could help.”
Rowena ran her fingers through her hair. “Talking to Althenea helped, so let me drop the sarcasm and give a sincere thanks, but…I’m still petrified beyond belief at going back someday.”
“Someday soon?” he asked hopefully.
Rowena grinned. “You really want me out of here, don’t you?”
“No,” Robson insisted. “I needed guidance to keep things on track, which I have had. You being here serves no purpose at the moment, Rowena, and, to be honest, you’re probably needed in Cleveland far more than here. North America is brimming with possible Hellmouths, and Mr. Giles needs your assistance more than I do, truth be told.”
“Yes, you have experienced watchers here like Mr. Myers, but still –”
“But nothing,” Robson cut her short. “Rowena, you know as well as I do that the Council’s true home today is North America, as it should be. And with that said, the most talented and dedicated watchers should be there, yourself included.”
“Perhaps,” she answered.
“And might I say you belong there because it is your home. I know I was having you on about a difference in nationalities but, honestly, it doesn’t matter where you came from originally. Cleveland is now your home, because home is where your heart is. So for both of our sakes,” Robson added, giving her a slight grin. “Go home.”
Rowena took a drink of tea. “Maybe you’re right, but I won’t be very welcome there. Not anymore.”
“We’re talking about Ms. Rosenberg?”
Rowena pursed her lips and nodded.
“Did I tell you about the first time I met her?” Rowena shook her head no and Robson continued. “I spotted her in one of the Coven training sessions. She seemed so quiet and reserved, but underneath that she exuded unspoken strength. Therefore, I asked Miss Hagness privately about her. She told me about the black magics and about how she nearly killed Mr. Giles and was now living with him. And oh my, the coven exercises she endured to be functional again…” Robson trailed off and shook his head before continuing, “I have to say…I don’t think I would have had the strength to survive it, and keep in mind this is a man who survived the attack of the Bringers. So, believe me when I say that young woman has been through hell and she is still as resilient as she ever was. I have faith you’ll find a way to each other.”
“Giles has faith too, but…”
“Consider this,” Robson proposed. “Here was a woman ready to kill him only weeks before, but Mr. Giles still trusted her. I thought he was perhaps blinded by the power and the promise she possessed, but that wasn’t it, not at all. His reasoning made sense, however. She’d been to the darkest place in human hearts and she was still standing, still wanting to fight the good fight. She came to respect the power she had and she was learning to balance her passion and her control. He trusted that, should the time come again, she’d make the right choice.”
“But would she?” Rowena asked.
“What do you mean?” Robson asked.
“Let’s say something happens to me, something serious, or…I die. Will she turn into something totally destructive again?”
“I don’t know,” Robson answered with a shrug. “But maybe that’s one of many questions you should ask her when you get there. The more you know, the better I think you’ll feel.”
“Knowledge is power.” Rowena grinned, but with a hint of melancholy behind it.
“That it is, my dear.” Robson put a hand on her shoulder. “You returned to England because of your sense of duty, leaving behind any personal agenda. You didn’t shirk your responsibilities. So, I’m asking you to do the same now. Don’t stay here when you’re obviously needed elsewhere.”
Rowena took a sip of her tea. “I’ll consider it,” she told him.
“That’s all I ask,” he answered with a comforting smile.
Watchers Council Infirmary – Day
“On three,” the doctor told Bonnie, who had a washcloth stuck in her mouth. “One…Two…” Before he got to three, the doctor twisted Bonnie’s wrist and the Council members gathered around her gurney winced in response to the snapping and cracking noise as the doctor twisted the limb to set it for a cast. Bonnie bit into the washcloth, muffling her pained scream. “Sorry, had to be done,” he told her dryly.
“Now, you said you had information?” Giles asked, roughly pulling the washcloth from her mouth and tossing it on the floor.
“Can I at least catch my breath?” she asked.
“No,” the room all said at once.
Bonnie sighed and leaned back against the wall. “Fine,” she said, giving up on the chance of a respite. The doctor began to work on her wrist cast. “From what I overheard and saw during my time with the Engineer, he’s conquered dozens of dimensions. The Engineer’s plan this time, however, was unusual.”
“How so?” Robin asked.
“He was taking advantage of some anomaly in dimensional physics. And although he was a powerful magic user, he needed the device to link the two dimensions together – our world and Vor; Willow and himself.”
“So when do you get to the part we don’t already know? Because the way we see it, the Presidium is gone,” Kennedy chastised.
Bonnie gave a slight grin. “The Presidium wasn’t the Engineer. He’s only one of twelve magical demons, who I’m guessing are pretty pissed off.”
“Twelve?” Faith asked. “Twelve more Engineer-type baddies?”
“Eleven now,” Bonnie corrected. “And not exactly like him.”
“That’s good,” Willow breathed out.
“Many of them are even more powerful than he was.”
“That’s bad,” Kennedy quipped, turning to Willow.
“Very bad,” Bonnie added. “I’m sure the Presidium still plans to attack Earth. In all honesty, I’m not sure why they haven’t yet.”
Andrew took a bold step toward Bonnie, trying to look intimidating. “We have no reason to think that she’s being honest. I say we beat the truth out of her and make her squeal, like the pig she is.”
Robin put a hand on Andrew’s shoulder and pushed him away. “Despite the over-dramatization, Andrew makes a good point. Why should we believe anything you say?”
“You can’t afford not to,” Bonnie told him. “I’m not looking to conquer the world, all right? I don’t want glory or redemption or gold stars on a graph for all the good deeds I’ve done so I can show St. Peter. I’m just looking out for me. And when the Presidium came to me, told me they were going to take over this dimension, but needed my connections, I gave them what they asked, in exchange for my freedom after their occupation. But in order to save my hide now, I’ve gotta try to pick the winning team. You won the last time, so I’m playing the law of averages.”
“What else do you know?” Giles asked.
“That’s the thing, huh?” Bonnie smirked. “I give you all my information, all my contacts and you throw me back out on the streets to the demons that hold a grudge against me.”
“We wouldn’t do that,” Giles replied.
“The nerve damage in my hand thinks otherwise,” she shot back and Giles looked away guiltily. “Nuh-uh. I’ll tell you what you need to know when you need to know, and in the meantime you give me asylum from all the mini-big-bads out there that want me dead because they never found their Graceland that I promised.”
“I still say we beat her,” Andrew muttered.
“And you could,” Bonnie told him. “Drag me out for my hourly beating each day, deprive me of food, water and decent shelter…if that’s how this Council truly operates.” She paused and looked at Giles. “But again, I’m playing the odds. I think Mr. Giles knows you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. So the question now is…can we strike a deal?”
End of Act Two