Watchers Council – Coven Room– Night
“So, what exactly am I supposed to do, and how do I know if you’re in trouble?” Andrew asked nervously, as he helped Willow light the incense.
Willow’s lips curled slightly. “You need to stay tuned into my spirit, kinda like seeing me with your soul and not your eyes. Remember all those meditation exercises I’ve been showing you? Just like that.”
“Do we know if this is even going to work?” he posed. “I mean, astral projection isn’t like taking a walk in the park, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to find Hellmouth locations from that realm.”
“Have you learned nothing, Grasshopper?” Willow teased. “Nothing’s been guaranteed since we moved to Cleveland. But it’s the only shot we’ve got right now. The only real problem I might see is if someone close to us is in distress, I’d automatically go to them first. I think Jeff might inadvertently throw off our little venture here, but I know going in that he’ll probably be my first stop, and after that I can move forward.”
“What about Rowena?” Andrew asked. “I saw her this morning and she looked kinda down too.”
Willow went back to lighting the final incense, avoiding eye contact. “I’ve considered that too,” she said softly. “But everyone else seems okay, no impending jeopardy, so we’ll just have to see what happens, won’t we?”
Andrew gave her a firm nod and squared his shoulders as Willow took her place on the air mattress that was covered by a red velvet sheet. She laid her body out and Andrew linked his fingers with hers from his sitting position at her side.
“Are we ready?” she asked.
Again, he nodded, and they both closed their eyes and took a deep breath, blowing it out slowly. Just above a whisper, Willow began to chant.
Boston City Street– Moments Later
Faith walked down her sister’s street casually, her hands stuffed in her pockets. Suddenly three demons rose up from the nearby shrubbery.
“Slayer,” one of them hissed.
Faith shook her head, her hands still inside her pockets. “Oh goody, I’m famous,” she muttered to herself. “So boys,” she went on, addressing them. “Miss me? I’m back.”
City Hall – Meeting Room – Same Time
Rowena sat with Vi, Mia and approximately thirty other community members on the left side of the room. At the head of the room seven City Council members sat. On the other side of the room were five men. One man in particular regarded Rowena with an icy scowl.
Mia turned back from his glare and leaned over to Rowena and Vi. “If looks could kill,” she said softly. “That guy over there must be Palmer.”
Rowena turned around and gave him a slight grin, then turned back again. “Like Willow said, better him than Necksa.”
Vi gave a brief glance and added, “He hasn’t taken his eyes off you since we came in. This could turn out to be a thorny situation. We better leave as soon as the meeting is over.”
“What’s he going to do?” Rowena asked.
Mia took note of his sharkskin business coat and olive-toned skin. “I don’t know? Fit you for cement shoes and feed you to the fishes?”
Vi suppressed a giggle. “He does have that certain Corleone air about him.”
Rowena turned around again to see the man still looking at her. “Maybe he’ll make us an offer we can’t refuse,” she joked.
The City Council Chairman caught their attention when he asked, “Is there any new business to address?”
Rowena raised her hand and moved to her feet. “Yes, sir. As members of the local business association, my colleagues and I would like to express our concerns about the expansion of the waterfront and Palmer Corporation’s development plans.”
He motioned her forward to the microphone with a hand gesture.
“Here we go,” Rowena said to Vi. Then she stepped forward.
Astral Plane – Same Time
Willow stood still on the astral plane as people walked around her and through her, briskly carrying luggage. She noticed the massive ceiling and the huge stained glass window on the far side of the wall.
“Guess Bonnie didn’t lie,” Willow remarked to herself. “Grand Central Station.”
Astral Plane – Same Time
In less than a second, Willow was transported again to another location. She immediately noticed the change in clothing worn by the huge mass of people surrounding her. Instead of jackets and pants, the locals wore shorts and tank tops, indicating a warmer climate. She turned around and spotted Cinderella’s Castle in the distance. She walked over to a gift shop on the busy mock street and spotted a T-shirt that read “Disney World’s Magic Kingdom” through the window.
Willow looked back at the castle again and shook her head. “This is so not good.”
Astral Plane – Same Time
Just as quickly, her location changed again. She found herself on a city street watching Faith battling three demons, who had her surrounded. “Oh no,” Willow muttered.
Willow watched as one of them tossed the slayer onto a rundown-looking car and tried to crush her chest with its fists, the slayer dodging at the last second. Seizing the opportunity, Faith quickly reached over and snapped his neck, sending him to the ground, lifeless. The other two demons who witnessed the kill quickly began to retreat up the street.
“You’re lucky I don’t have time for this!” Faith shouted.
Willow watched Faith reach into her pocket on the side where she had landed. She pulled out a cell phone, which was now in three parts.
“Beautiful,” Faith sighed in frustration. “So much for my bitch buddy.”
As Faith dropped the useless phone to the ground and began to walk up the street again, Willow was suddenly sucked into a living room.
Astral Plane – Boston Living Room – Same Time
Willow saw a middle aged man and a young woman who bore a striking resemblance to Faith. Both were looking out the window, watching the slayer approach.
“She’s stronger than we figured,” Hope said out loud.
“It doesn’t matter,” John answered. “It was only three demons on an open street. When we go tonight, she won’t be able to hold off the number we have waiting for her.”
Hope went to the door and opened it. Willow’s jaw dropped as she saw Faith walking up the porch steps.
“Have any trouble getting back?” the younger woman asked casually, betraying no knowledge that she had seen the demons, or her sister’s danger.
“Not anymore than usual,” Faith replied.
Coven Room – Same Time
Willow shot up from the mattress, startling Andrew.
“What did you see?” he asked, noticing the horrified look on Willow’s face.
“Her family’s setting her up for something,” she muttered as she jumped to her feet and rushed from the room.
“Who? What? Huh?” Andrew shouted as he rose to follow Willow’s running form.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Same Time
Giles stood by the computer terminal, talking to the secretary as she put on her coat. Robin approached as the woman began to depart.
“Night, Mr. Giles,” she told him in a friendly tone.
“Goodnight Patty. See you tomorrow,” he told her.
“So,” Robin said, patting Giles on the back, “tonight’s the night, huh?”
“Yes, I have the terrace all set up. All I need is the takeout food to arrive,” Giles replied.
“You’re not doing the cooking yourself?”
“Good gracious, no. I want this night to be perfect,” he answered with a slight grin.
Robin gave a brief chuckle. “You nervous?” Robin asked.
“Actually, no. Well, not at this very moment. I’m not sure how I’ll feel an hour from now,” Giles replied.
Giles and Robin turned when they heard the Coven Room doors open with a crash. They looked bewildered as Willow ran out.
“Faith’s in trouble,” she told them with Andrew quickly following behind her. “Her family plans to hurt her, maybe kill her. I don’t know but strange things are afoot in Boston.”
“I’ll call her,” Robin said, picking up the phone.
“Don’t bother. It’s broken,” she said. Robin looked confused. “I saw her toss her cell phone,” she added in clarification. Robin put the phone back down. “Where’s Ken?”
“Her quarters, I assume. It’s not patrol time yet,” Giles offered.
“Call her. Tell her to meet me at the airstrip with two teams. We’ll take the jet out to Boston –”
“The jet is in Boston,” Giles reminded her before she could finish.
“Damn it,” Willow cursed in frustration. “Okay then, plan B.”
City Hall – Meeting Room – Same Time
A large man stood directly across from Rowena at another podium. The dark man from the back continued to stare silently from his seat.
“As CEO of Palmer Corp,” the man at the podium continued, “I can assure you that no harm will come to any wildlife or any natural resources as a result of our expansion.”
“You can’t guarantee that,” Rowena challenged. “And furthermore, your expansion will change the water flow and put other businesses, such as ours, in jeopardy of flooding. That water has to go somewhere if your structure is enlarged. With so many offices you already own, and a great deal for sale in the city, we see no reason why you should put our buildings at risk, when you could take expansion funds and put them into an existing structure.”
“It’s not your place to tell me how to run my business,” Palmer snapped.
“And it’s not your place to endanger ours,” Rowena said. She pointed to the thirty people behind her, encouraging a few claps and cheers. Those seated behind her were mostly business people, ranging in social class and with ages between twenty to sixty.
“What? Your home for wayward, tree-hugging dykes? I’ve heard about your school,” Palmer countered.
Rowena closed her open mouth and quickly looked down at the paper in front of her. She gripped the sides of the podium as her face turned red. The assembled spectators reacted noisily to the outburst, and the City Council Chairman quickly banged his gavel.
“Okay, enough,” he said.
“The point, sir…” Rowena turned to the City Council members in front of her, controlling her rage. “…is the shopkeepers and institutions that share the waterfront with Mr. Palmer are opposed to this expansion because of the threat it represents to our livelihoods. Thank you.”
“Mr. Palmer?” the Chairman asked. “Anything further you’d like to say? Besides personal attacks, I should add.”
“No sir, just that the board has already voted on this and had no problem as of last week. Ms. Allister hasn’t presented any evidence that her claims are correct.”
“Maybe we should send Necksa to talk to him,” Vi quipped under her breath to Mia.
“Very well then,” the Chairman said. “All those in favor of letting the prior motion stand say aye.” No one spoke on the panel, and the Chairman added, “All opposed?” Everyone on the board gave an “aye” in response and he turned to the businessman. “I’m sorry, Mr. Palmer, but the city has voted to overturn your variance based on the majority in the area being opposed to your expansion. Meeting adjourned.”
The left side of the room broke out into applause and soon began to file out, but not before a few people close by patted Rowena and the slayers on the back in victory.
“Time to make our hasty retreat,” Mia said. She motioned her head toward the door.
Rowena, Vi and Mia collected their coats and turned, only to come face to face with the man in the suit. He adjusted his tie and ran his hand down the length of it.
“Ms. Allister,” he said politely.
“And you are?” she asked.
“Forgive me. Jimmy Volano. I run the contracting company that Mr. Palmer hired for his expansion. I was impressed with your argument, I must say. It was unfounded, but it shows you can be a persuasive woman. I admire that.”
“I stand up for what I believe in, yes.”
“As do I,” he countered with a slick grin.
Rowena met his eyes as Vi and Mia cast a nervous glance at each other. “I’m sure that Mr. Palmer will have more work for you in the future, regardless of the City’s decision,” Rowena said evenly.
“Ohhh, I’m sure he will. I just wanted to wish you a good evening, Ms. Allister.”
“Good evening to you too, Mr. Volano,” Rowena replied quietly.
He gave a lazy nod. “Be safe going home girls. It can be rough out there at night.”
Casually, Volano strolled away and made his way over to Palmer, offering his hand.
“Okay, I’ve been officially slaying for about six months now,” Mia began as they all watched Palmer and Volano talking to each other, “I’ve seen some freaky and frightening stuff, but…”
“He’s the scariest thing yet,” Vi finished, in a matter of fact tone.
“Good, then it’s not just me. Rowena? Thoughts?” Mia asked.
“I’ll let you know when my heart stops threatening to beat out of my chest.”
Mia grinned. “It’s agreed, then. No walking. Let’s take a cab back home.”
Watchers Council – Lobby – Same Time
“You’re on time!” Giles said excitedly as Becca entered the lobby doors.
“A miracle, I know,” she joked. She closed the distance between them and gave him a kiss.
“I have dinner prepared on my terrace, if you’d like t-to come up,” he offered.
“I’d love to, but first I need to speak to Willow.”
“She’s not here, I’m afraid,” Giles answered.
“Oh, Rowena expected her to be around tonight…” Becca seemed to be on the verge of saying something more, but cut herself short. “Any idea of when she’ll be back?”
“She’s gone to Boston with Kennedy and Robin t-to check on Faith.”
“Everything okay? Why didn’t you go too? I would have understood.”
Giles smiled affectionately. “I know. But Robin told me that under no circumstances was I allowed to let anything interfere with my plans this evening. I must admit, it’s difficult to delegate authority after so long, but as they pointed out, yet again, the Council can’t be one person alone. So, with that said, I’m officially off duty.”
“Hmm, so I’ve got ya all to myself then, huh?” she asked with a hint of mischief in her voice.
Giles responded with a nervous grin and asked, “Should we go up?”
“Sure,” Becca said, taking his hand.
Giles’s Terrace – Moments later
Out on his terrace overlooking the water, Giles fidgeted with his chair and his napkin. Becca poured him a glass of wine and handed it over.
“You’re nervous,” Becca said, breaking the growing silence.
“What makes you say t-that?”
“You haven’t finished a sentence since I got here without stuttering.” The teasing grin she wore fell as she saw the concerned look on Giles face. “Oh God, this isn’t about Faith. You’re breaking up with me aren’t you? This is the big kiss off meal, isn’t it?”
“Kiss off? No!”
“Really?” Becca asked. “Because maybe I totally missed the mark here. I thought things were going great, but…”
Giles reached over, put his hand on top of Becca’s and locked eyes with her. “How great?” he asked softly.
Becca blushed and turned away momentarily. “I’ve been happier these past few months than the last ten years. You, the gang…you’re all a big part of that. I think when it comes right down to it, I’ve never been happier. Period.”
Giles’s smile grew as he rose and reached into his pocket. Becca watched him silently, her mouth slightly open, as he knelt on one knee.
“Oh God,” she muttered softly as she watched him open the box and display it to her.
“Rebecca Montague…will you marry me?” he asked softly.
Becca’s fingers shot to her lips and she was unable to say a word.
Council Helicopter – Moments Later
Andrew sat on the floor of the helicopter, swaying side to side as he hummed Ride of the Valkyries.
“I love the smell of napalm in the mornin’!” he burst out.
Kennedy looked at Andrew and then Willow with an annoyed expression.
“And why is he here again?” she asked loudly over the noise of the helicopter, pitching a thumb in his direction.
“At least it’s not a sci-fi reference,” Willow offered with a shrug.
“That still doesn’t answer my question,” Kennedy replied. “Why is he here?”
“I might need help trying to pinpoint Faith magically. So sorry, he’s going along for the ride.”
They both turned when Andrew began to make a machine gun sound and motion with his hands.
“Are we there yet?” Kennedy shouted up impatiently to the pilot.
“ETA one hour, ma’am,” he shouted back.
“Oh lord,” Kennedy sighed, running her fingers through her hair.
Watchers Council – Coven Room– Later that Night
Jeff sat in the middle of the large casting area with a picture of his mother in his hands. He tightened his fingers around the edges and began to cry softly.
“It’s hard, I know.”
He turned sharply to see Dawn standing behind him and wiped his cheeks. “How did you –?”
“Willow gave me the key before she left. Asked me to keep an eye on things.”
“You can’t stop me,” Jeff told her as he stood up to meet her.
“I realize that,” Dawn replied as she stepped further into the room. “And I’m not here to stop you. I’m here to help you.”
End of Act Three