Watchers Council – Library – Day
“Bonnie’s still safe and sound in her cell,” Faith said as she and Kennedy entered the library. Giles nodded his thanks as Willow spoke to the group that had now gathered in the library.
“You guys realize, we took advantage of the situation and the Engineer’s machine. If what Bonnie is saying is true, the Engineer’s death won’t scare them away from attacking Earth again.”
“Yeah, but if that’s the case, why aren’t they here?” Xander posed.
“Bonnie mentioned the portal,” Robin replied. “They can’t pull their troops through.”
“Okay,” Xander conceded. “But while they try and find a way to bring everyone in, why are we still here,” he said, motioning around the room.
“What are you saying, exactly?” Willow asked.
“No hit men,” Faith remarked softly. Xander waved in her direction to show she was following his thought train.
“Huh?” Willow asked, confused.
“The Presidium should be gunning for us big time,” Faith spoke up. “Even if they can’t get their army in, they can get agents inside, just like the refugees who have come through. But no one’s trying to knock us off.”
“Yeah.” Xander nodded. “In classic warfare, if you see an ace pilot or a sniper taking down your best and bravest, you eliminate them to reduce your casualties. So why haven’t we been eliminated yet? Not that I’m asking for a quick death, or, y’know, a slow and painful one, I’m just saying it doesn’t add up.”
“Technically, we didn’t stop them. Their plan backfired,” Willow pointed out.
“Yeah, it backfired,” Kennedy added, “but we put up a fight and regardless of how we won, we still won. If they plan on coming back, then why haven’t they tried to get rid of us first, so it doesn’t happen again?”
“We’re vital to them,” Giles said softly. “As Kennedy said, regardless of how we defeated the Presidium, the fact remains the same – our attempt to thwart their efforts succeeded. I don’t see them making the same mistake twice by having us around as the unstable variable to disrupt their plans.”
“So we’re vital. But how?” Robin asked.
Giles sighed. “I haven’t the faintest idea.”
“No, but someone here in lock up might know…speaking of which, what do we do with her?” Willow prompted.
“We’ll keep her in a containment cell for the time being. We’ll continue our research and see if we can confirm anything that she’s mentioned already,” Giles told them.
“Do you think she’s telling the truth?” Faith asked. “Not really the most reliable of sources, ya know?”
“I realize that,” Giles answered. “But something might be better than nothing. Even if she’s not being a hundred percent honest, she might lead us in the right direction with legitimate names and places. I say we keep her here, but only for the time being and under twenty-four-hour surveillance. Agreed?”
Everyone nodded except Willow. “I’m not sure, Giles,” she told him. “Jeff is taking his mother’s death pretty hard and holds her accountable. As much as I hate to say it, she might be in more danger here than out there.”
“Let’s vote then. All in favor of Bonnie staying, say aye,” Giles prompted. Everyone except Willow spoke. “I’m sorry, Willow,” he said, turning back to her. “You’ll just have to keep closer tabs on your protégé for the time being.”
She nodded reluctantly, then turned to Dawn. “You mentioned something about the floods.”
“Oh yeah,” Dawn said, opening a folder on the table in front of her. “I don’t have any proof that the rash of floods isn’t human related, but there are some creatures called undines, or water spirits.”
“I’ve heard of undines,” Willow remarked, “They closely resemble humans in shape and size. Their ruler is Necksa, who they love and honor unceasingly. But undines usually work with people and help them, not create havoc.”
“True,” Dawn agreed. “But I found out about another creature called Glaistig. She’s a Scottish undine described as beautiful and seductive. She lures men to dance with her and then sucks their blood. But she can be friendly too, looking after children or old people, or herding cattle for farmers. Another report pulled up something called a rusalka. They’re girls and young women who die by drowning, either through the workings of nature or by the hands of men. Then they lead the life of an ethereal water being, their souls irreversibly bound to the waters where their real life ended.”
“Any hunches yet on a connection to these mug shots?” Willow asked.
“I was going to look in that big navy-colored book, the one on merlore, but I can’t seem to find it.”
“It’s in England,” Giles answered. Dawn opened her mouth as if to ask a question, but he added, “With Rowena. It was her book.”
“Oh,” Dawn said uncomfortably and pushed her hair behind her ear. “Well, that’s okay, just give me another day or two to work it out. I did notice when I pulled a map, the floods seem to be making a circle, clockwise in direction. But the circle hasn’t been completed yet. It could be a lead or just a wild goose chase.”
Faith nodded. “Okay, get me the map and we’ll organize the teams to check out the areas that haven’t been hit yet. Maybe they’ll catch something.”
Dawn nodded and turned to Willow. “Can you get me linked into the European database? They might have something more over there.” The witch looked at a paper in the folder before her and didn’t answer. “Willow?” Dawn asked to get her attention. The redhead’s face shot up to look over at Dawn.
“I’m sorry, Dawnie. What did you say?”
“The European database. Can you get me in?”
“Oh yeah, sure, no problem.”
A small silence passed over the room until Giles spoke, “Right then, any further business?” When no one said anything, he announced, “Meeting adjourned.”
The group began to collect their paperwork and started to filter out of the room, until the only two left were Xander and Willow.
“You okay?” Xander asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Why?” Xander didn’t answer. Instead, he gave her a pensive look. “Really, I’m okay,” Willow insisted. “It’s not like I’d never expected to hear her name again. She’s still a part of the Council, so it’s bound to come up.”
“I was thinking, and don’t automatically say no, just hear me out…maybe you should call her,” Xander proposed.
“And say what exactly?”
“I’d start with ‘Hello’ and then work up to ‘How have you been’?”
“You make it sound so easy,” Willow told him with a teasing grin. “Nah, I don’t know Xander. Giles has talked to her, but… look, if she wanted to contact me, she would have, and she hasn’t, so…” She let the sentence hang and shrugged her shoulders.
Xander walked around the desk and brought Willow to her feet. “Come on,” he said, with his hand gripping her arm. “Let’s call her.”
“No, really. I mean look at the time,” Willow remarked dryly, pointing to her watch.
“It’s the afternoon there, Will.”
“Right, a-and she’s probably in meetings, so I’ll be disturbing her.”
“Dawn needs her book, right? So just call up and ask if she could do a bit of research and get back in touch. And if a conversation picks up from there, all the better.”
Willow exhaled noisily with a groan. “If I call, will you leave me alone and not ask again?”
Excited, Xander slid the phone over and handed the receiver to her. “Speed dial, number two,” he pointed.
“Three,” Willow corrected. “Two is the pizza parlor. We know our priorities around here, after all.”
Willow took a deep breath and hit the number. Xander smiled as Willow nervously put the phone to her ear, avoiding eye contact with him.
“Yes, hello. Rowena Allister please,” Willow said, her voice cracking. Xander waited anxiously as he watched Willow. “Oh, no, that’s okay. No message. Thanks.”
Quietly, she hung up, and Xander’s expression fell. “What happened?” he asked.
“She wasn’t there,” Willow answered. “I told you.”
“Well, let’s try back later.”
Willow shook her head. “No, I made the call like I said I would, so let’s just drop it.”
“I said, drop it,” Willow said more forcefully. Her expression was near tears as she picked up her folder and started for the door.
“Hey?” Xander called out.
“What?” she asked, frustrated, as she turned around.
“I won’t ask again, but if you change your mind and need someone nearby –”
“I don’t think that’ll be necessary, but thanks.” Willow’s tone was to the point as she briskly left the room.
“Damn it,” Xander said under his breath after she was gone.
City Alley – Night
Faith and Vi walked down an alley with three younger Slayers behind them. “Ken? You got anything yet?” Vi asked over her walkie-talkie.
“Not yet,” came Kennedy’s reply. “A couple of vamps, but that’s about it.”
“Lucky you,” Faith said, cutting in. “We haven’t even seen that. Looks like tonight’s a washout on any mermaid chicks.”
Faith and Vi heard Kennedy laugh over the speaker. “No pun intended, right?” she added.
Faith smiled at Vi and shook her head. “Brat,” she muttered before she hit the button again. “You’re real funny…just keep your eyes open in case Ariel shows up. If she starts to do one of those roaring ballads, just let her finish and give us a call. We’ll move in together.”
Faith and Vi heard Kennedy laugh again, then start into a rendition of “Under the Sea.” “Oh, come on Faith, I’m sure you know the words,” she ended.
“Sorry, Slick.” Faith grinned as she held down the mic button. “Belle was the only cool cartoon chick, ’cause for once, a girl got to save the guy.”
“You women’s libber, you,” Kennedy teased. “While you’re off burning your bra, we’ll do another sweep. See if anything turns up.”
Vi laughed as Faith replied, “Copy that.” Faith put her wireless communicator back on her hip as her team continued down the alley. Vi began to hum the theme from Beauty and the Beast and Faith just shot her an annoyed look. The redheaded slayer started to chuckle.
“So, did you cry when he died at the end?” Vi asked. Faith didn’t answer. She continued to walk. “I cried,” Vi shrugged. “My watcher took me to go see it after much prodding. Only after it got an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture did he ‘find it worthy of merit’,” Vi said in a proper voice. Faith continued to walk. “So, did ya cry or not?” Vi asked again. Faith stopped and faced her.
“Yes, I cried. And yes, my watcher took me, too,” Faith said exasperated. The younger slayers giggled behind the pair. Faith shot them a cold expression that shut them up, their smiles falling all at once.
“I liked the theme,” Vi answered. “Again, after a good prod, my watcher bought me the soundtrack.”
“I liked the first song,” Faith answered. “That ‘Bonjour’ song when she’s in the village.”
Vi began to sing, “I want much more than this provincial life.”
“Just watch, I’m goin’ to make Belle my wiiiiife,” Faith finished.
They looked at each other and both of them began to chuckle until Faith stepped into a large puddle and came to a stop.
“What?” Vi asked.
“Water,” Faith said.
“It could be from an air conditioning unit,” Vi offered.
“Not that much water. Come on.” Faith waved toward another alleyway. “Let’s follow the trail.” Faith grabbed her walkie-talkie. “Ken, we might have something here. Corner of 34th and Elm. Copy?”
“Roger that,” Kennedy answered. “On the way.”
Back Door of Office Building – Moments Later
The team moved closer to a closed door to see a steady stream of water coming out from under it. Faith put her finger over her lips. “Listen,” she told them.
Vi cocked her head toward a creaking noise and turned to Faith. “It sounds like –”
Before she could finish the door gave way and a wave of water swept over them, knocking them all off their feet. They washed to the opposite wall of the alley as the water continued to pour out. Soaking wet, Faith got to her feet, pulling Vi up along with her.
“Let’s check it out,” she said. She pulled her walkie-talkie from her hip and gave it a shake before hitting the button. “This is Slayer One to Blue Bear. Do you copy?”
“Go ahead, Slayer One,” the voice answered.
“We’ve found another flood, Gene. 34th and Elm. We’re going in, so make sure your boys in blue don’t get trigger happy on us.”
“Copy that. Police units will be en route shortly.”
“Over and out,” Faith said, putting the walkie-talkie back on her hip. “Let’s go,” she said and nodded her girls inside.
The water was still knee high and continued to stream out. Faith pointed in several directions and each girl split off, looking around the destroyed office.
Vi looked up and saw a figure that appeared to be pure liquid. “Uh, Faith?” she called out, pointing. As Faith looked in the direction Vi indicated, the figure disappeared toward the floor, merging with the water.
“Where did she go?” Vi asked. “You saw it, right? It wasn’t just me?”
“I saw her,” Faith said as she began to look at the water around them. Suddenly a wave surfaced and the figure was several feet in front of Faith. The water demon sailed effortlessly toward Faith and once it was close enough to connect, she swung. Her hand, however, went straight through the creature and she spun around, falling into the water.
Ken and her team entered through the doorway just in time to see Faith fall and Vi reach down to pick her up. Before the smaller slayer could get Faith upright again, the creature slammed into Vi, taking her off her feet, as well, before disappearing again.
Kennedy charged inside, “Younger girls! Out now!” she ordered as she and her team forced their way inside against the current.
When neither Faith nor Vi immediately resurfaced, Kennedy started to feel around the water, until she was yanked under herself by one arm. She managed to turn slightly and raise her head, taking a deep breath. Her two accompanying slayers grabbed hold of her before she slipped totally under.
“What happened?” one of the pair asked, as they supported her by both arms.
“Find them!” Kennedy yelled and broke away. She started reaching again into the water. “Faith! Vi!” Kennedy searched frantically, her arms making large sweeps, hoping to find them.
Her face registered success and she yelled, “Over here!” The two other slayers arrived and pulled with their combined strength until Vi broke the surface. The petite slayer wheezed as she tried to catch her breath and force the water from her lungs at the same time.
Kennedy continued to search, but suddenly Faith’s body floated up behind them. “Grab her!” she ordered. Kennedy tossed the older slayer over her shoulder. “Out of here!” she said. The group all ran outside until they reached an incline closer to the main street.
Vi continued to wheeze, trying to take small breaths and keeping her hands in the air, while Kennedy laid Faith down on the cement. Suddenly Faith began to cough and spit out water, and Kennedy breathed a sigh of relief.
“Good God, I thought you were dead,” Kennedy told her.
“My plan,” Faith croaked out.
“To scare me to death?” Kennedy asked, before she muttered, “This is why I hate water.”
Faith shook her head. “It held me. I played possum.”
Two police cars pulled up to the back of the alley and four officers got out and made their way over.
“Hello, ladies,” one of them greeted. “You need any help?”
“They’ll be okay, Gene,” Kennedy told him. “But you might want to hold off on sending any more units in until it drains a bit more. Something’s in there.”
“What is it?” he asked. “Creature feature?”
“Yeah,” Faith croaked. “And she don’t play nice with others.” She started coughing again.
The cops all looked at each other, then the building and then each other again. “Well, how do we kill it?” When Faith shrugged, he added, “This is your department, right?”
Faith looked to Kennedy and the younger slayer answered. “Not exactly our department, but we’ve got watcher people in the know. So don’t call us. We’ll call you.”
“But what do we do?” he asked. “Should we –”
“Just let this place drain and don’t get trapped inside any small areas.”
“Or large ones,” Vi chimed in, her voice still strained.
Kennedy looked back at the size of the building before pointing to Vi. “Or large ones,” she agreed wryly.
Watchers Council – Giles’s Apartment – Night
Giles opened his door to see Robin there. “Come in,” he motioned.
“What’s up?” Robin asked. “You sounded nervous.”
“Well, I am a bit,” he replied and handed Robin an open ring box.
Robin took the box and began to grin. “But this is so sudden,” he joked.
“It’s for Becca,” Giles chastised. “Well, perhaps. Perhaps not…do you think she’ll like it?”
Robin tilted the box back and forth. “It’s a nice sized rock,” he admitted. “But…”
“Isn’t this a bit quick?” Robin asked. “You know I think Becca’s great, and she’s funny as hell when she’s giving you a hard time,” he added with a smirk. “But really…are you ready for this?”
“I am,” Giles replied. “I’m just not sure if she is. Her first marriage didn’t go well and this life…it’s dangerous. I realize that, but I’m not sure if she does. I’ve been second guessing myself all summer long, so I’m not sure if I should ask.”
“No offense, but you guys ain’t getting any younger,” Robin teased.
Giles rolled his eyes and took the box back as he closed it with a snap. “I’m looking for advice here.”
“All right.” Robin nodded, looking serious again. “Why get married? Will it make a difference?”
Giles thought for a moment. “I’ve known many women over my lifetime, but with Becca…she understands me, sometimes better than I understand myself. We have much in common, really, but it’s more than that.”
Giles paused again and looked at the ring box. “I look at her and I can see forever.” Giles gave an awkward smile. “I know that sounds incredibly clichéd, but…I can’t remember a time when I’ve felt as fulfilled and complete. For the first time, in years really, it feels like everything I do matters, and I know she’s the reason. So I want that…and I don’t want to lose it.”
Robin smiled. “I’ve never sat down and talked to Becca about the two of you. But I’ve watched her – the way she looks when she talks to you, how she listens to you. I can’t promise, but I think if you ask, you’ll get a yes.”
Giles grinned and put the box back in his pocket after tossing it once in the air. “Good then. I’ve made up my mind. I’ll ask her to be Becca Giles.”
End of Act Three