Watchers Council – Dining Hall – Evening
The senior staff sat at the head table of the communal dining room. Giles, for once, was sitting at the end of the table, with Becca to his right.
Conversation flowed easily among the group. Every now and then, Willow would lean over and make a whispered comment to Rowena, who would blush, pretend to ignore the redhead, and then say something to Dawn, who was sitting on her other side.
As Andrew wheeled out a serving cart, Giles stopped him from leaving by grabbing his arm and motioning to take a seat at the table. After Andrew sat down, Giles stood up.
“Becca and I have an announcement to make,” he told them with a growing grin.
“We all know about the wedding Giles,” Willow told him, before shooting a look at Robin across the table. “Some of us sooner than others,” she added as she got up to get more wine.
Robin grinned and just shrugged. “What can I say? I make a great confidant.”
“No, it’s not about the wedding,” Giles answered. “There’s more…we’re, uh, we’re having a baby too.” Collectively, jaws dropped around the table but no one said a word.
Xander looked left and then right. “Is that crickets I hear chirping?” he asked.
Giles nervously looked around. “I know this is a bit of a shock.”
“That’s the understatement of the year,” Rowena said, her jaw still slightly agape. “I thought you couldn’t get pregnant?” she asked as she looked across to Becca.
“I couldn’t. The doctor says it’s a small miracle,” she answered.
Again, the room fell silent for a moment, as grins slowly worked to their faces. Still no one said anything, until Xander spoke again. “Well then, way to go Giles,” Xander commended with a nod. “Whoever thought you could be so studly and virile?”
Faith chuckled and shook her finger at Giles. “Nice to see you decided to make an honest woman out of her, even if it is a shotgun wedding,” she teased, with a wink to him.
Giles smiled and shook his head but as he started to answer Becca cut him off.
“Who do you think you are?” she snapped at Faith.
Faith’s happy expression fell in an instant. “What?” the slayer asked.
“Rupert proposed before we found out about the pregnancy, and you’re not exactly one to criticize about how one should live their life.”
Faith looked nervously to Robin at her right before looking across to the blonde again. “Where the hell did that come from? I was just teasing, Becca. I think this is great news.”
Becca placed the napkin that was in her lap on the table and rose with a quiet, “Excuse me.”
Giles watched her leave the room. Faith reached out for his arm as he started to move from the table.
“I’m sorry, Giles,” she told him sincerely. “I didn’t mean anything by –”
Giles held up his hand. “It’s not you,” he assured her. “She’s been edgy all day, and it seems to be getting worse. Hormones a-and all that, I’m sure,” he said with a grin. “Excuse me.”
Andrew shook his head as he rose and walked to the serving tray. “Premenstrual to the tenth power,” he muttered.
“Yeah, like you’d know all about that, wouldn’t ya?” Faith teased.
“Apparently, Becca’s not the only one with that problem today,” he shot back boldly.
“Look at you Andy, gettin’ a backbone,” Faith nodded approvingly. “I gotta cure for that which involves kickin’ your ass all the way to the middle of the lake.”
“Um, kids? Can we cut the bickering and just eat?” Rowena asked.
“Hear, hear,” Willow said, tapping her fork on her plate.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Same Time
“Where are you going?” Giles asked, as he chased after Becca.
“Home,” she answered.
Becca stopped and turned around. “Why do you think? I went off on Faith for no reason. I even went off on a customer today, Rupert. I just shouldn’t be around people right now. Obviously my body isn’t adjusting very well to impending motherhood.”
“You’ve had a busy day,” Giles assured her. “So you snapped at Faith. She understands. Please, just come back to the table.”
“No,” she answered and started to walk away. Giles reached out and touched her shoulder and she spun around. She batted his hand away and pushed him back by the shoulders, making him stumble slightly. “Get your damn hands off of me.” Giles heard her mumble a name and then, “…work will be done…” Becca trailed off, looking confused. In response, Giles also looked a bit bewildered. “Just leave me alone!” she shouted.
She stormed away. Giles called out her name again, but she refused to stop. Putting his hands in his pockets, Giles watched her leave, then walked back toward the dining area.
Council Van – Same Time
Mia bounced in her seat as the Council van rumbled down a pothole infested side street. She glanced over at Kennedy, who occupied the driver’s seat.
“Okay,” Mia began. “I’ve gotta admit that I don’t have a single clue to what the big surprise might be.” She glanced out the window at the ramshackle neighborhood. “And I can’t imagine what type of romantic hideaway is, you know, hidden away in this part of town.”
Kennedy didn’t answer, instead tapping the brakes to let a mother cat and three kittens dash across the street. A jar of industrial-sized ketchup rolled between the two slayers. Mia looked at it and raised an eyebrow.
“And I’m also wondering why we took the van. Andrew’s gonna be pissed when he finds out we drove off with his groceries.” She pointed her thumb over her shoulder towards the boxes of canned goods stacked in the rear of the van. “You know how he gets.” She rolled the ketchup back in place.
Kennedy remained uncharacteristically quiet.
“Are you mad?” Mia asked, a bit of worry creeping into her voice. “I… I’m sorry I doubted you,” she continued in a rush. “I shoulda known you weren’t lying to me when you said you had something planned. I know you wouldn’t do that – lie to me, that is.”
“I was,” Kennedy admitted, finally.
“I was lying. When you called me on it the other day – I lied. I didn’t have anything special planned for us. Not then, anyway. ”
“Oh.” It was Mia’s turn to be silent. Her eyes locked onto a bird that fluttered to a landing on a streetlight ahead of the van. She watched it as if it was the most fascinating thing in the world.
“You okay?” Kennedy asked. After passing the streetlight, Mia had sunk back into her seat and closed her eyes. “I’m sorry,” Kennedy continued. “I didn’t mean to lie to you. I just…I kinda felt put on the spot. Like…like it was a pop quiz or something.”
“You think of me as some kind of test?” Mia asked.
“No! Well…Maybe a little.” Kennedy took the turn a little too fast, and there was a THUMP! from the back of the van as some of the boxes tipped over. “I mean, not that you’re a test,” she continued in a rush, “but that I’m gonna fail to pick up on some kinda hint, or clue, and then…I don’t read minds, Mia, and I don’t speak ‘Hint,’ and I don’t want to lose someone else because of that.”
She gave Mia a steady look before turning her eyes back to the road.
“It’s funny, you know?” Kennedy began. “When we’re out on patrol, I know everything there is to know about you. I know which vamp you’re gonna jump first; I even know what move you’re gonna use on him. I know if you need me to watch your back or if you’re ready for the guy behind you and are just luring him into a trap. But when it comes to knowing what you like, what drives you, I’m just…I’m just not good at that kind of stuff. And I don’t know if I ever will be, but I don’t want to lose you because of it. I really want this to work,” she added. “I want us to work.”
Kennedy gunned the engine and the van bounced across a railroad crossing right before the gate closed. Neither Slayer paid it much attention.
“You really want us to work?” Mia asked after a moment.
“Yeah, I really do.”
“Me too,” Mia said, after a moment’s hesitation. “And for what it’s worth, I didn’t mean to put you on the spot. I just worry sometimes. When I was with Julia, I was never with Julia. She never claimed to be my lover, but it never stopped her from inviting me into her bed. And I guess, like an idiot, I took what I could get. But now, my life is changing so much that I don’t want to settle again. Does that make sense?”
“Perfect sense,” Kennedy answered. “I knew my share of boarding school brats that swore they weren’t ‘queer,’ as one of them called it. And I can tell you first hand, she sure didn’t kiss like a straight girl.”
Kennedy gave a tiny grin that Mia returned for a brief moment.
“Well, like I said, things are different now,” Mia went on. “I don’t want another Julia, but I’m not really sure where I fit into your life, and…” She blew out a breath. “I don’t really expect you to know everything about me, or us, but I’d like to think we relate to each other in ways that aren’t just kickin’ ass.” She laughed. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’d be nice if there was more, ya know? And it’s not all one-sided; it’s not like either of us is named Great Chief Talks-About-Herself.”
“What? Me? I’m an open book. Pretty much whatchya see is whatchya get. You know everything there is to know about me.”
“Really? And your last name is…?” Mia asked with a grin.
“Okay…so there’re a few little things.” Kennedy shot back, grinning sheepishly. She pulled out her wallet, handing it to Mia, who read what appeared to be a driver’s license before handing it back. “Happy now?” she teased, as she stuffed the wallet in her back pocket again.
“Much,” Mia answered confidently. “And to my credit, I totally knew you were ly-fibbing to me. You’re a terrible liar, Ken.”
“Are too. And I can prove it with one word.”
“Yeah?” Kennedy challenged.
“Bluituitis,” Mia said with a laugh. “Brell and his Bluituitis condition. Come on, Ken, if you wanted me to respect your lying skills, you should never have told me about that one.”
Kennedy sighed. “Okay, so I’m not a world-class liar. I’m working on it, though.”
Mia laughed, “Nah, I like that you’re honest. It’s just one of the things I love about you. Plus, it’s a rare virtue these days.”
“Yeah?” Kennedy smiled. “Well, it’s been brought to my attention that I’m sometimes more honest than is socially acceptable.”
“Give me honesty over ass-kissing any day. I like it better when we’re truthful with each other. Talking like this…it’s nice. You’re sweet, and you’re funny and I think if someone asked about us…you’d tell them the score, because that’s just you. And that’s why I want to learn more and stick around.”
“Kinda cleared the air, huh?” Kennedy asked. Mia nodded with a small grin. “And, hey, we’re here.” Kennedy wheeled the van into a parking spot across the street from a rundown brick building that had a large hand-painted sign proclaiming that it was The Good Samaritan Mission.
Mia looked around curiously. “Kennedy, where, exactly, is here?”
Kennedy pointed across the street.
“Okay. Let me get this straight. For our special, romantic evening, you bring me to a soup kitchen?” Mia asked, her voice tinged with confusion and a dash of disappointment.
“Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it,” Kennedy told her, leaning over to give her a kiss before exiting the van. Mia sat still for a moment, then shrugged before opening her door, too.
Becca’s Apartment – Moments Later
Becca entered her apartment and immediately grabbed her head in pain. She shook it, as if to clear it, then began muttering repeatedly “Imbethit, Imbethit, Imbethit.” She let out a high-pitched scream and began to pull books off of her bookshelf and throw them angrily on the floor, as if searching for something.
Not finding what she sought, she picked up the lamp from her end table and threw it against the wall as she howled.
Watchers Council – Dining Hall – Moments Later
Giles picked at his food as Faith looked over at him. “Again, I didn’t mean to ruin tonight,” she said softly.
“It’s not you, Faith. Honestly,” Giles answered. “Something’s not right and I can’t put my finger on it.”
“Like you said,” Faith replied. “Hormones.”
“No. She said something peculiar in the lobby.”
“What?” Rowena asked.
“Something like, ‘I’m Beth and work will be done’.”
“Huh?” Willow asked.
“Exactly,” Giles sighed. “It made no sense.”
Rowena stopped drinking and put her glass down. “That’s odd.”
“Do you think it means anything?” Giles asked.
“I don’t know,” she answered, chewing on her lip in thought. She rose from the table, taking her glass. “Let me do some checking.”
“No, finish dinner at least,” Giles insisted.
“I’m done anyway,” she told him, before turning to Willow. “Wanna help me look this up?”
“Oh, sure,” Willow said. She rose from the table and the two of them walked from the room. “Demon books all around?”
“No, a few medical books. Becca might have a medical condition associated with the pregnancy. Like a chemical imbalance.”
“I’m going to go to her apartment,” Giles told the table. “Call there if you discover anything,” he told the two departing women.
Rowena and Willow both nodded at the door.
Faith frowned as she watched the two women leave, with Willow putting her hand on the small of Rowena’s back as she opened the door for the two of them.
“Somethin’s up with them,” she said quietly to Xander, as she nodded toward the door and went back to eating.
“Will and Ro?” he asked.
Faith just nodded.
“Nah, I’ve asked. If there was, she’d tell me,” Xander replied.
“Then somebody’s lying,” she answered.
“What do you mean?”
“Either you know and you’re lying to me. Or you don’t know and she’s lying to you.”
Xander shook his head. “You’re just reading into things.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Faith sighed. She took a drink.
Watchers Council – Skye’s Room – Moments Later
Skye opened her door and saw Willow and Rowena standing in the hallway.
“She’s not here. She’s not naked. And she’s eighteen now anyway,” the young woman immediately said.
Rowena blushed and Willow tried to hold back a smile. “That’s not why we’re here. We need your help with research.”
“Demonology?” Skye asked.
“No, Psychology,” Rowena answered. “We need to borrow your textbooks.”
Skye looked confused as she let them inside.
Council Safe House – Later that Night
Vi pointed to the window shades and Lori made sure they were pulled down before Vi turned on the lights. Inside stood Clem, Brell and the refugees.
“This place will be your home for the next twenty-four hours, guys,” Vi told them. “I know it’s not much, but it’s safe. Our resident witch has a spell in place, so anyone out to harm you won’t find you as long as you stay within these walls. If you step outside, then you’re fair game, so try to stay indoors until we can make arrangements to move you out of the city. Okay?”
Brell nodded and began to translate as Clem took Vi aside.
“Are we really going to be safe here?” he asked.
“Yeah, no one knows about this place. And we’ll have another team escort you on the next leg of your journey. We’ve done this a few times now, so we’re getting pretty good at it,” she smiled reassuringly.
Clem gave her a grin and a thumbs up in response. She then reached into her pocket and handed him a business card.
“The number is by the phone, too, but keep this on you. If you have any trouble, give us a call. We’re not sure what Brell’s folks here eat, so if you’ve got any requests, can you get me a list in the next few minutes?” she asked.
“Oh, human food is just fine. I like cheesy snacks myself, if it’s not too much trouble.”
“I think we can manage that.” Vi chuckled.
Becca’s Apartment – Moments Later
Giles walked up to Becca’s door and paused a moment before knocking. When he got no answer, he called out to her.
“Becca? Are you there?” Still he heard no answer. “If you’re inside, please open the door.” Suddenly he heard a crash from the other side. “Becca?” he called again, with more urgency. He tried to turn the doorknob, but it was locked. “I’m coming in,” he called out.
He began to kick the door repeatedly. Finally, on the fourth kick, it gave way, and he walked in to find the place a shambles.
“Becca?” he called out, his voice cracking in fear. He moved through the kitchen quickly to go to the bedroom, only to find it vacant, too. He started to walk back through to the other side of the apartment, where the bathroom was. He slowly opened the half-closed door to find Becca by the commode, sitting on the floor, shaking.
“Becca!” He lunged forward to help her, but her voice, loud and urgent, stopped him. “No! Don’t come near me. I don’t want to hurt you.”
Giles took slow, careful steps toward her. She began to rise, sliding up the wall until she was in a standing position with her hands behind her.
“Let me help you,” Giles told her.
“I said don’t!” she shouted at him, before looking away. “No, no, no, I can’t. Don’t make me do it.”
“I’m not going to make you do anything.”
“Not you!” Becca shouted. “Him!”
Giles looked around the room. “Who?”
He didn’t see the knife Becca swung at him until it had already slashed across his stomach. He slumped to the floor and stared up dumbly at her, his eyes wide with shock and the pain of betrayal as she menaced over him. Without warning,she stabbed him again, this time in the shoulder. Then she bolted from the room and out the apartment door.
Bleeding, Giles reached after her but came up empty, with the knife still lodged deep in his shoulder.
End of Act Two