Watchers Council – Library – Day
Faith, Vi, Mia and Kennedy walked in to see Willow and Rowena sitting motionless at the chessboard. Skye stood with a batch of books in her arms and an array of them on the floor and table in various stacks.
From the doorframe, Andrew asked Skye, “What are you doing?”
“Making this room as unappealing to stay in as possible. If it looks under construction the Nosey Roseys might move on,” she answered.
Kennedy walked up to the table and touched Willow on the shoulder. “Hey Will?” she called gently, getting no response.
“That’s weird,” Faith remarked, as she examined Rowena and waved her hand back and forth in front of her eyes, also getting no reaction. “You say you enchanted the board?”
“It didn’t work for us, but obviously they’ve got the magic touch. Now we gotta find a way to undo it,” Andrew answered.
“Did you look in the Podeximis Chronicle?” Mia asked Andrew.
“What?” Kennedy and Faith asked, confused.
“It’s a book that has counterspells in it,” Mia explained.
“How the hell do you know that?” Kennedy asked incredulously.
“Rowena told me about it the other day.”
“And how does something like that come up in idle conversation?” Kennedy asked, a little annoyed.
“It wasn’t idle. I was curious and asked what happens if people work mojo against the Council, and if we had a line of defense. She mentioned a few books, but I remember the Podeximis one because of the name. I told her it sounded like a skin condition and she laughed – which, by the way, proves the woman does have a sense of humor, despite what you say,” Mia added, teasing her lover.
Faith chuckled and Kennedy looked even more aggravated. Andrew glanced down the hall and started to look frightened.
“Line up at the table,” he whispered and waved his hands, directing them.
The slayers all looked confused, until they heard Giles’s voice from the hallway saying, “And this is one of our libraries.”
The five women stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the table, without an inch between them, trying to shield Willow and Rowena as Giles led the group through the doorway.
Giles looked confused by the mess and Skye spoke up.
“Just organizing the shelves like you asked, Mr. Giles. The girls came by to help,” she said pointing at the slayers, who all started to nod emphatically in agreement.
“You girls are just about everywhere,” Alex remarked.
“Well, you know, well rounded and all,” Faith said. She stole a book from the pile in Skye’s hands and absently flipped through the pages. “Knowledge is power!” she said with a smile. “But as you can tell, really not much to see here.”
“Right,” Giles agreed. “We’ll leave you girls to your re-organization. Shall we go to the workshop?” he asked the two women.
Both of them nodded.
Once the inspection group was in the hallway again, Giles turned to Alex. “Do you mind if I send Jeff back to class now? I don’t think there’s much more we’ll need from him, and I don’t want him falling too far behind today.”
“Fine by me,” Jeff spoke up. “And I can give you a call tomorrow, Alex. Make sure things are still on course?”
“All right, Jeff. If that’s what you’d like.” She nodded her approval.
Giles nodded too and pointed at Jeff. “Good. Off you go, then. Ladies, right this way,” Giles said, as he pointed towards the stairwell at the end of the hall. As the women pulled away from him, Giles turned around with a scowl and pointed Jeff into the library. Jeff just nodded nervously and ducked inside, closing the door.
As soon as Jeff closed the door behind him, the slayers all relaxed and everyone gave a collective sigh.
“Okay, let’s get to the Coven Room and find the Pod book,” Faith told them. “Vi, you stay here and stand guard. Lock the door and don’t let anyone in until we get back. Not even Giles. Got it?”
“Not Giles?” Vi asked.
“No, he’ll be smart enough to make up an excuse, like someone locked it accidentally and he doesn’t have a key on him, if the tour comes back. That’ll buy us time to move the chess masters here if we absolutely need to. Otherwise, I don’t want to disturb them. It might do more harm than good. So call the Coven Room if he shows up.”
“What about all these books?” Skye asked.
Faith took them from her arms and handed them to Vi.
“Vi’s a good alphabetizer, I’m sure. This’ll keep her busy until we get back. Now move it out,” Faith said as she shuffled them, with the exception of Vi, from the room.
Once the rest of the group was gone, Faith poked her head back in. She gave a concerned glance at the two watchers at the table. “If their condition changes or…gets worse, call me, okay?”
Seeing the fear in Faith’s eyes, Vi gave a firm nod. “I will, Faith.”
With a nod of her own, Faith reached around and locked the door, before closing it behind her.
Chess Game – Same Time
Willow looked apprehensively across the board. She was almost within touching range of Rowena, but her hand couldn’t breach the distance because of the barrier.
“Are you okay?” the witch asked.
“Let’s just keep going,” Rowena answered firmly. “Go on.”
“Okay,” Willow said, taking a deep breath. “Bishop to Queen’s Knight Three. Check.”
Rowena hummed as she examined the board. “Pawn to Queen’s Bishop Five.”
“I really don’t see why you like her,” Rowena’s pawn said in a deep male voice to Willow. The pawn had morphed into the figure of Jordon Tyrell. “Look at her now,” he said, pointing to the board. “She plays it so safe that she’s backed into a corner. She has no advantage to press and all she can do is run. All talk and no play makes Rowena a dull girl,” Jordon said, then paused to eye Rowena up and down the length of her body lecherously.
“Well, at least I can talk. If I remember correctly, you were always fond of the stoic ‘I’d rather not deal with that right now’ theory of communication,” Rowena responded bitingly.
“Now, now, don’t remind me how much fun it was to beat you to a bloody pulp last year,” Jordon said with a wink.
“Don’t listen to him!” Willow yelled from her side of the board.
“Taking orders, are we?” Jordon baited. “That’s a new trick for you. Do you take orders in bed now, too?”
Rowena tried to concentrate on the chessboard itself, and not on Jordon’s taunts. “Sorry, Jordon. We’re done. Get over it,” she told him, as she looked him in the eye.
“I am over it. Maybe you’re the one with the problem?”
He moved and when he reached the square, he grinned evilly and then transformed back into an inert pawn.
Rowena took a calming breath as she closed her eyes. She opened them again and motioned to Willow. “Your move.”
Willow hesitated. “What was he talking about?” she asked.
“Nothing. Don’t worry about it. Just move,” Rowena replied quickly, folding her arms protectively across her chest.
Willow looked up suddenly and then placed her hand on her shoulder, as if feeling for something. She examined her shoulder.
“What is it?” Rowena asked.
“Someone’s touching me,” she answered. “Do you see anything?”
Rowena shook her head. “No.”
Willow gave a relieved sigh, “Good, I don’t see anything either, so I’m not crazy but…but I can feel it.” She paused a moment longer and softly said, “It’s Kennedy.”
“How do you know?” Rowena asked.
Willow gave a bashful smile. “I just do.”
Rowena looked away uncomfortably for a brief moment. Then her expression changed as an idea struck her. “You can feel her. So maybe we are still sitting at the table, Willow. We heard Dawn earlier and now…”
“Dawn,” Willow muttered, comprehension dawning.
“Yeah, Dawn. We –”
“No, no,” Willow said quickly. “They were acting weird all morning, like they were up to something.”
“Dawn, Andrew, Jeff and Skye, all four of them. They must have done something to this board and…oh boy! Tron!”
“The crappy movie?” Rowena asked.
“Well, that’s a matter of opinion,” Willow remarked, with a surprising twinge of defensiveness, “but yes, that’s the one. They were watching it last night.”
“And they decided to make a ‘real game.’ Well, guess who’s stuck playing it now?” Rowena asked rhetorically.
“They better pray I don’t make it out of here alive, because I will kill them many times over,” Willow grumbled.
“Fine, kill later, move now,” Rowena told her, pointing to the board.
Willow glanced at the board and threw her hands up, not really focusing on the game any longer. “Knight takes Pawn,” she said casually.
She watched as the pawn slowly turned into a bleeding, battered Giles. He eyed her reproachfully. “You’re good at that aren’t you? Trying to kill people you claim to love.”
Willow’s jaw dropped.
Watchers Council – Xander’s Workshop – Moments Later
Xander stood by a circular saw, pushing a piece of wood. Giles, Alex and Evelyn all stood at the door, but Giles waited until the wood was cut and Xander stepped away before shouting over the noisy machinery.
Xander turned toward the doorway before shutting off the saw and taking off his glasses. “Hey Giles,” he said walking over, still covered in sawdust.
“Xander Harris. This is Alex Neel, Jeff’s attorney for his emancipation, and Evelyn Manor, from Children’s Services.”
“Good afternoon, ladies,” he said politely, with a small bow.
“Mr. Harris is our handyman, jack of all trades, you might say,” Giles offered proudly.
“Do you ever work with the children here?” Alex asked.
“Oh, all the time,” Xander told her.
“Is that so?” Evelyn asked, as she and Alex walked deeper into the room.
“Yeah, we make…” Xander trailed off as he saw Giles’s eyes widen slightly and jaw tighten. “Bird feeders, holiday crafts, things like that.”
“Wooden stakes?” Alex asked. She pulled one from a crate filled to the top with them.
“Those are for the fence that Xander’s working on, I believe,” Giles lied quickly.
“Right!” Xander answered. “Almost done,” he added.
Evelyn walked around the room. “You have quite a bit of dangerous equipment in this room,” she noted.
“If you don’t know how to use it, yes,” he agreed. “But before anyone even comes in here, they know the safety rules, and we work in small groups,” he assured her.
“But even in a small group, you can’t be everywhere at once, I’m sure,” Alex remarked.
“I know where everyone is at all times in my shop,” Xander answered heatedly.
“I only say this because I’m concerned,” Alex replied.
“I think your concern borders a little on paranoia. Look,” he said, holding up his hands in truce. “I don’t want to argue. Just know that any students who come in here are well trained and advised before they ever turn on a tool.”
“What about the tools just lying about?” Alex pointed to a table.
“I’ve been working all day with no…field trips scheduled here.”
“That might be the case,” Alex agreed. “But when we walked in, you didn’t know we were here. What if it had been one of the children? You could be putting them in grave danger.”
“Grave danger?” Xander retorted. “Lemme tell you something. There’s danger a lot graver in this world than a carpenter’s plane.”
“I agree with Miss Neel,” Evelyn told the room. “Changes need to be made here.”
“And they will be, I assure you,” Giles put in quickly. “Perhaps we can go up to the kitchen now?”
“Yes, I think I’ve seen all I need to down here,” Evelyn remarked formally. Then she walked out the door followed by Giles.
As Alex started to leave, Xander reached out and grabbed her arm.
“What are you doing? I thought you were trying to help Jeff,” he said.
“I am,” Alex replied, pulling her arm away. “I want Jeff to be able to live on his own, but not if he’s endangered, or if anyone else is, for that matter. I do have Jeff’s best interests at heart here, Mr. Harris.”
“Not from where I’m standing,” Xander countered. “Mentioning it in front of the state inspector?”
“Showing her my concerns are the same as hers helps Jeff’s case. But know this, none of these are problems that can’t be rectified. I want to make this a smooth transition for Jeff. So if you’re as concerned as you claim to be, I’d advise you to adhere to any changes we suggest in our reports. Is that understood?”
Xander harrumphed. “Ma’am, yes, ma’am,” he said sarcastically.
Alex gave him a slight grin. “Very good soldier. Carry on,” she said. She tossed him the stake and left the room.
Chess Game – Same Time
Willow stood facing Giles’s bloody and battered body and shook her head in shock.
“No, no, this isn’t happening,” she muttered to herself.
“No, it’s not,” Giles agreed. “Not now. But it did. You took great pleasure in beating me within an inch of my life. After all I tried to teach you, show you. After all the times I looked out for your well being, tried to show you that you had self-worth, instilling a sense of self-respect, this is how you repay me? Repay Buffy?”
Willow held back a sob and Rowena shouted to her.
“Fight it, Willow!”
“I promised I’d never hurt you again, Giles. I meant it.”
As soon as she uttered the words, the pawn returned to its stationary, wooden form before vanishing. Willow ran a hand down her face and gave a deep sigh. “Your turn,” she told Rowena.
“Willow are you o –?”
“Move!” she exclaimed, before taking a short pause to regroup her nerves.
Rowena took a deep breath and announced to the board, “Queen to King Two.”
Willow squared her shoulders and started to shake her head as she examined the board. “Oh no, you’re not getting my Queen that easily. Bishop to King Three.”
They both watched in anticipation as the bishop slid over a space and then began to change into a human shape. Willow’s eyes grew wider as she watched.
“Wh-wait a second,” Willow muttered. “Why is she here?”
The figure turned away from Willow and looked at Rowena.
“Oh, she knows why,” Tara answered as she stared at Rowena. “Do you want to tell her, or should I?”
End of Act Three