Elijah Wood as Jeff Lindquist, Helen Shaver as Becca Giles and Lacey Chabert as Skye Talisker and Robert Picardo as Dr. Miller
Reba McEntire as Joelle Hansen, Steffani Brass as Shannon and Hugh Mitchell as Norman Hansen
Watchers Council – Night
Two and a Half Weeks Earlier
Faith and her company quietly filed toward the building. They were dirty from a recent fight, still caked with dried blood and filth; still stinking of sweat, fear and shame.
“We did what we could,” Faith told her companions as they closed on the building, on home. She stopped and looked at her rag-tag detail.
The slayers said nothing. No one looked at her except Kennedy. “We were fighting something worse than demons,” Kennedy offered. “We were fighting what’s wrong in the world. That takes more than just…slayer power. Faith’s right. We did our part. We shouldn’t feel like we failed.”
The slayers stood quietly for a moment, Kennedy’s words still hanging in the air. A far-off flash in the black velvet sky and a distant rumble broke the mood.
“C’mon,” Faith said wearily, as a few raindrops began to sting the slayers’ heads.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Night
The group made its way indoors to a subdued but glad welcome.
“Where’s Robin?” Faith asked Willow. Willow shook her head, not knowing.
“Oh,” Dawn answered, “he said to tell you he’s waiting upstairs.”
“Why, his leg broke or some –” Faith cut herself off, but the quiet chatter in the room subsided almost instantly at her comment. She shook her head. “Shiii –” she began to hiss. A hand on her shoulder stopped her.
She turned to face Giles. “Sorry, Boss,” she apologized. “Go on, get settled in,” she said to her slayer troops. “We can debrief tomorrow. Get some sleep.”
“Faith…” Giles called gently, as the slayers departed the lobby.
“Yeah?” she replied irritably.
“I know you’ve just come back from a – well, I know you had a rough go of it tonight, but I’d like you to come to my office as soon as you’ve cleaned up a bit.”
Faith turned away in annoyance and looked out the window. A bright flash of lightning hurt her tired eyes.
“Look,” she said, “I don’t have time for another crisis, okay? Right now –”
A loud crash of thunder cut her off. It rumbled and rolled itself out.
“Right now,” she said with tenuous control, “I want to go upstairs, see my man, take a shower, maybe with my man. Or maybe not since he doesn’t have a leg to stand on –”
“Faith,” Willow tried to lay her hand on Faith’s shoulder. Faith shrugged her off. “Look! Whatever this is can wait. I need a bath. I need some sleep. I need you all out of my face for a little while. Okay?”
“No!” a stranger’s voice rang out.
“Faith,” Giles cut in, “this is Joelle Hansen.”
Faith looked angrily at the woman, who stood next to Giles, wearing jeans and a black bodysuit. In spite of her youthful clothing, she was an attractive woman. It wasn’t until Faith took a good look at the woman’s face that she saw the age lines and careworn features.
“Faith, Mrs. Hansen is –”
“Miss Faith,” Joelle said in a deep southern accent, “please, Norman needs your help. I know you don’t want to know about him, and I wouldn’t ask…ever…except that –”
Faith looked at Giles, and he saw the question in her eyes.
“Faith,” Giles said deliberately, in a hushed tone, “Mrs. Hansen is the mother of your son.”
“Norman,” Mrs. Hansen said. “But then, of course, you probably don’t even know his name is Norman,” she said hurriedly. “You – you probably don’t know anything about him at all.” She smiled nervously. “Y’all probably think of him as still a babe. But he’s not.” Her smile faded. “Miss Faith, Norman needs –”
“No!” Faith said to the woman before turning to Giles. “Get her out of here. Give her anything she wants!” She turned back to Joelle. “Money? How much do you want?”
“Faith…” Robin’s voice sounded from just beyond the small group.
All heads turned to see him standing there. Willow and Rowena tugged at Dawn’s sleeve, and the young woman followed them reluctantly from the lobby.
“Let’s hear the lady out,” Robin said.
“You wanna hear her out, Ace? Go right ahead!” Faith turned on her heels. “But I don’t owe you any explanations. Got that? You’re on your own, Sport. Just like I was. Only I was fourteen. And he was…like twenty-five. And it was quick and easy, and we both had fun, and I never saw him again. Except that he left me a little memento that my watcher wouldn’t let me take care of.”
“All right, all right,” Robin said, trying to remain calm. “You were too young to take care of a ba –”
“I couldn’t abort it!” Faith yelled. “My watcher wouldn’t let me!”
The only sound in the lobby was the hard-hitting rain against the windows.
“Look,” Giles said, “why don’t we all take a few moments and freshen up o-o-or take a breath and –”
Faith squared against the woman. “If this is blackmail, you came to the wrong place. You and your little Norton can go right back to whatever hillbilly bayou you came from. And just to show what a stand-up person I am, I’ll have Mr. Giles write you a nice fat check…put some shoes on your kids. Y’all do know what shoes are, right?”
“Faith.” Robin’s stern tone caught Faith off guard. It was a tone he normally only used with the youngest slayers – but only when they were behaving badly. She looked at him, stricken by the expression on his face. “I think we have to hear the lady out,” he said with finality.
Faith searched his eyes, then hardened her own gaze. “We don’t have to do anything,” she said, quietly matching his steely tone. She turned on her heel and walked briskly to the front door.
“Faith! Faith, wait!” Robin quickly moved to follow her. As he brought his crutch around, the tip of it hit a slick spot on the floor – a smear of mud tracked in during the slayers’ rainy arrival – and the crutch slipped out from under him. He nearly fell over, but Giles and Joelle Hansen both reached out to him in time and kept him upright. Giles quickly handed the fallen crutch back to him and, with a look, asked Joelle to stay with Robin. The woman nodded, and Giles half-ran to catch up with Faith.
Watchers Council – Same Time
The front door of the Council headquarters flew open hard. Even against the blowing wind, the force of Faith’s push caused it to slam back against the building.
Faith stomped out into the dwindling rain, and rumbling thunder that was now in the distance. She stalked away from the building for a few yards before pulling up, then she bent over, her head near her knees. She let the rain hit the back of her bared neck and trickle down into her shirt. She was getting soaked. Her dark hair dripped with heavy drops of a mix of water, dirt, and dried blood. When she stood upright once more, she tipped her head back and let the cold, hard rain hit her face with sharp splats.
Without warning, she turned, facing a rain-soaked Giles, who had just caught up to her. “You knew about this?” she asked, her anger diminished, but still evident.
Giles sighed. “Yes. Both I and Wesley knew about it.”
Faith looked surprised. “Wes?”
“Yes, Faith, the Council has always known about your – about what happened – that there was a child. Surely you must have realized that your watcher was obligated to report such a –”
Her look cut him off. He cleared his throat. “Yes, well,” he continued, “the Council kept track of the boy. Just as they did with Robin when he was born and after his mother died.”
Faith looked at him dubiously.
“How else would he have retained her watcher as his guardian?” Giles asked gently.
She snorted at him.
“Faith, you’re certainly not the first potential slayer to have a child. Nor will you be the last, I’m sure. And while it is your own personal business, the Council has always had – and shall always have – a vested interest in the progeny of any slayer, whether that progeny is male or female.”
“When did you find out?” Faith demanded.
“When you came to us in Sunnydale. I was informed about it almost from the outset. When Wesley became your watcher, the Council informed him as well.”
“He never said anythi – Oh…” Faith groaned. “Buffy. Damn! That whole crew! Xander, Red, that ditzoid Cornelia –”
“Cordelia. And no. None of them were privy to that information. I never told a soul. It wasn’t my place to share that information. However, I’d say your outburst inside informed the entire first floor of the Council –”
“Yeah, yeah…” Faith waved him off irritably, as another lightning flash preceded a much louder thunderclap. “Damn. Why didn’t Wes ever tell me he knew?”
“Perhaps because he was afraid of the very reaction I’m getting now.”
Faith scowled but Giles continued.
“I know this is hard, especially coming off the assignment you just had. But we don’t have the luxury of choosing life crises any more than we do those, which are, by nature, supernatural.”
“You’re the only person I know that takes ten seconds to say ‘shit happens’.”
Giles smiled slightly and nodded. For the briefest of moments, Faith let her guard down and grinned too.
“Faith, when the Hansens adopted Norman, your son, they were told that –”
“He’s not my son!” Faith snapped.
Giles sighed and continued. “They were told that the boy might be a little unique and that his birth mother was a very unique, gifted individual…”
“It was just a mistake.” Faith muttered under her breath.
“…and they were given instructions that if anything extraordinary about him ever came to the forefront…”
“Am I allowed to make a mistake?”
“…that they must call a particular number for an agency that would do everything in its power to assist or inform them.”
“Just a stupid mistake that I made when I was just a stupid kid.”
“That agency was – and is – the Watchers Council.”
“Stop,” Faith ordered. “I paid for it once, and I’m not payin’ for it again!”
“You won’t be paying for anything. Norman will,” a voice interrupted.
Faith and Giles turned to see Joelle Hansen standing in the rain.
“His life very well might depend on you,” Joelle said. “He’s a good boy, my Norman. He does well in school, in spite of the pain and all the teasing. His hair’s just started to fill in nice again. And now we have to put him through the chemo, again. But this time –” Joelle stopped and took a breath. “Look, Miss Faith –”
“Faith. Okay? Just call me Faith.”
“Faith. If we don’t find a donor for him, he’s going to die. Our family – Norman – needs you to try and save him. ”
Faith shook her head, turning away.
“It’s what you do, isn’t it?” Joelle said pointedly. “Save people? People who don’t know you? Who you yourself don’t know, or even see sometimes? My husband and I aren’t asking you to risk anything more than a few days of your time and…a little bone marrow. It’s not an operation – there’s just a few needles to take the marrow out. The actual procedure takes less than one day, and in forty-eight hours you can go back to killing…” She looked at Giles, as though she didn’t believe what she was about to say. “…monsters,” she finished finally.
“You got that part right, lady. I kill monsters. I don’t have time for –”
“Is our son a monster? Would you let him die? Because if you don’t help him, he will. And if you won’t help him, it’s clear who the monster is.”
“Mrs. Hansen,” Giles said, touching the woman’s arm, “I know Faith, and I believe that she will make the right decision. But we’ve not caught her at her best, I think, and it is a bit sudden after…ten years? Please, let’s go back inside, out of this terrible rain.”
“All right, Mr. Giles,” Joelle said wearily. “A good night’s sleep is probably what everyone needs. Besides, Norman won’t sleep in a strange place until I get in.”
“Robin – the gentleman inside – will help see you to your room,” Giles said.
Joelle looked over at Faith, whose back was to her. “Thank you, Mr. Giles,” she said resignedly, but managing a smile at him nonetheless. She sighed and walked back toward the building and Robin, who was standing in the doorway.
Faith spun around once Joelle was out of earshot. “The kid’s here? The kid’s here with her, and they’re staying…here?”
“Now Faith, she’s got another child at home, and both she and her husband work. They’re a family of limited means, and I’ve promised Mrs. Hansen and Norman room and board until you make your decision.”
“No problemo, El Jefe. I deci-i-i-ide…no.”
Faith turned and began to walk away. Giles caught her by the arm and pulled her around.
“Now, see here,” he told her. “These people have used up most of their earnings in order to treat the boy’s cancer, which has gone into remission and hasn’t returned. The doctors believe he has an excellent chance at a nearly normal life, but not without first receiving a bone marrow transplant.”
“So he’s fine,” Faith shrugged. “What does he need me for?”
“The chemotherapy he underwent not only killed the cancer, but also the stem cells in the bone marrow that produce healthy blood,” Giles continued. “If he doesn’t get a marrow transplant, his body cannot produce healthy blood. The transplant will give him the healthy marrow he needs to replace the dead and damaged marrow he now has. And that will save his life. The best possible match for that transplant is you. Your marrow, Faith. Do you understand what that means?”
Faith pulled her arm away. “Yeah, it means I didn’t put enough distance between me and this problem the first time.” Faith stalked away from him, going back to the building.
Giles watched her disappear into the warm light of the entryway and saw the door close behind her. He frowned and shook his head a few times.
Suddenly, he turned and looked uneasily out over the Council grounds. Multiple flashes of lightning lit the trees from behind, casting crazy, dancing shadows on the ground. One of the shadows caught his eye as it streaked across his line of sight. Before he could make out what it was, the lightning bolt spent itself, and the sharp crack of thunder pierced the velvet blackness.
Giles walked quickly back to the building and out of the storm.
Watchers Council – Dining Hall – The Next Morning
At breakfast, the cafeteria was filled with girls. From one end of the room to the other, they sat laughing, shouting, squealing, chatting, giggling and throwing folded notes across the room with slayer strength. One of the notes struck the young blonde boy sharply on the side of the head.
Joelle smiled, took his chin in her hand and turned his head gently toward her. “Let me see, Baby…You look fine. No harm to my handsome man.”
“Stupid Sheenas,” he grumbled.
“Not Sheenas, sweetie-pie. Slayers, I think Mr. Giles called them.”
“Stupid sla-a-a-ayers, then.”
“Oh, honey, they’re just little girls, most of them. Shoot, ain’t none of them older than sixteen, looks like.”
Norman sat glumly poking at his oatmeal with his spoon. He cautiously looked around from under his brows and saw four young slayers to his left glancing his way and whispering conspiratorially. He gave them a dirty look, and they burst out laughing.
A thin man with his own shock of blonde hair and a white, batter-flecked apron came into the cafeteria in search of someone. He spotted her immediately.
“Mrs. Hansen? Hi, I’m Andrew. Mr. Giles asked me to see if you were here and to bring you and your little son…”
Norman crinkled his nose disdainfully at Andrew.
“…to the kitchen for breakfast.”
“Oh!” Joelle said brightly to Norman. “Well look at that, Baby. Here I thought this was the kitchen.”
Norman said nothing, but Joelle could see the relief on his face as they stood to follow Andrew out of the cafeteria.
“It’s a big place,” Andrew explained congenially. “It’s real easy to get lost.”
“Yeah,” one of the slayers said as Norman passed by. “Get lost.” The other girls with her laughed as the boy followed stiffly behind his mother and their guide.
“Who is that geek?” one of them asked no one in particular.
“Yeah, little wuss,” another said.
Shannon, sitting at the table with the teasing contingency of sister-slayers, smirked. “How old ya think he is?”
“Why, wanna go out with him?” The girls snickered.
“He’s too short for you, Shannie.”
“Yeah, he’s more of a girl than you are.”
That drew a round of laughter from everyone at the table. Even Shannon had to giggle a bit.
“Hey, hey, you guys!” said Lorinda, another slayer, who came over to the table. “Don’t you know who that kid is – the one that just left?” Without waiting for a response, she continued. “That’s Faith’s kid! Did you hear me? I said Faith’s kid.”
The girls looked at one another, then laughed again.
“Go ‘head – laugh,” Lorinda said smugly, “but it’s true. Faith had a kid when she was like twelve or something and –”
“You are so full of it,” one of the girls said. “You can’t have a baby when you’re twelve.”
“You can if you’re a slayer,” one of the other girls said haughtily. “It’s part of our powers, I heard.”
“Yeah,” Lorinda said. “And Faith did. She had a baby, and he’s it, and now he’s here with that country bumpkin woman to sue Faith for like a bazillion dollars or something.”
“Did I just hear my name?”
The group turned their heads in unison at the sound of Faith’s voice. “No,” one of the girls chirped. The others laughed.
“Good,” Faith said, and started to walk toward Kennedy’s table.
Shannon hesitated, then called out, “Hey Faith! You seen that kid that’s here with his mom?”
“What about it?” Faith said, turning and crossing her arms. She cocked her head to one side.
Shannon smiled easily. “Well, these numb-nuts think he’s your kid. You know, he’s like your…love child or something.”
The girls snickered, but the mood changed quickly as Faith neither moved nor said anything. The entire cafeteria quieted in a few seconds.
“Who said that?” Faith asked. No one moved.
Kennedy started to get up. “Faith…”
“Sit down, Ken.” Kennedy stood still and waited. “Who’s sayin’ it?” Faith asked again.
Shannon shrugged uneasily. “Just…overheard…someone…”
“Yeah, well, whoever said it…” she said, turning and looking around the room. Slayer heads bowed, some averting their eyes. “…is absolutely right,” she finished. There was a shocked silence in the room. “But he’s not suing me for a bazillion dollars,” she said. “And gossiping will do nothing but earn this table extra laps today.” She smirked and turned to see Kennedy blinking at her. “Isn’t that right?” she added, her cold stare daring Kennedy to say something to the contrary.
A few of the girls twittered, and in a moment, the entire room was as noisy and lively as before.
Kennedy walked by Faith and stood in the doorway. “All right, Maggots,” she said, and the room quieted immediately. “You heard her. Let’s move out. Move!”
The young slayers filed out quickly, off to their morning classes. Kennedy stole a glance back at Faith. The elder slayer was looking out the window at the rain-drenched grounds and puffing on a cigarette.
Kennedy squinted at her for a moment.
“Take a picture, Slick,” Faith said, still looking out the window. “It’ll last longer.”
A long minute passed before Faith heard the door close behind Kennedy.
Watchers Council – Office – Same Time
Rowena sat in a chair across from a man behind a desk. Her fingers idly played with the hem in her sweater and she didn’t say anything. The man, for his part, also remained silent, just watching her. Finally, he cleared his throat.
“Nothing more you’d like to add?” he asked.
“Nothing more I can add,” she retorted. “I told you, everything is fine. What more can I say?”
The man licked his lips and then began to nod. “Alright, but there’s someone here who’s concerned about you, other than myself.”
“Lemme guess,” Rowena sighed. “Redhead, about five-six, works around here as a witch?”
The man gave a slight grin. “So you’ve met?” he asked knowingly.
The response broke Rowena’s stone demeanor, and she began to grin too. “Yeah, quite often,” she answered.
The man leaned closer over the desk. “She’s worried, you know? That’s the only reason she came to see me.”
“What did she tell you?” Rowena asked.
“That’s confidential,” he replied. “But I can say that she’s not so sure your assessment of yourself is correct. Hence our meeting today.”
Rowena cleared her throat nervously. “Well…if Will has a problem with me, I wish she’d come to me directly.”
“Of course,” Rowena said indignantly. “She’s…she’s everything to me and I…I’m not sure what I’d do without her. Is that what you want to hear?”
“I’d like to hear about what happened in Iraq and how you feel about it now,” he answered.
“Like I said before, I did what I had to do, okay? It’s not a big deal,” Rowena replied.
“So it was easy for you to take two lives?” the man prodded.
“No,” Rowena snapped. “It wasn’t easy, but I’m dealing with it, alright?”
“How what?” Rowena asked.
“How are you dealing with it?”
“Is every word out of your mouth going to end in a question?” Rowena said, folding her arms across her chest. “Because we could be here all day.”
“Not necessarily,” he retorted, “Maybe if you would discuss the incident, then…”
“Yes, I killed people,” Rowena answered abruptly. “I feel lousy, but there isn’t much I can do, is there? I had a choice to make. I had people to protect and I did it. That’s all that should matter.”
“But I get the feeling that’s not all that matters,” the man answered. “Is that so?”
Rowena snorted. “God, here we go with the questions again.”
“Look,” he said diplomatically. “Why don’t we call it a day and meet again sometime this week. How does Friday look?”
Rowena sighed. “Everyday is a busy day right now. I just don’t have time for this…psycho gibberish. I have important work to do before Mr. Giles leaves for good and –”
“Willow has asked me to work around your schedule, so why don’t you call me later?” he proposed.
Rowena ran her hand through her hair in frustration. “Fine. Whatever,” she said before rising up. “I’ll look you up soon,” she added as she made her way to the door.
“Rowena,” he called out. “If you need me at any point…”
“Yes, I know. Thank you,” she said before she left.
The man sat back down in his chair and began to write something in the notepad on his desk. He looked at his watch briefly, then started to write again.
Outside his office, Skye stood at a safe distance as she watched Rowena walk away down the hall. When she knew the watcher was gone, she walked over to the office door, which read “R.J. Millenti, PhD.” She gave a light knock, and heard someone on the other side answer, “Come in.”
She quietly crept inside and closed the door behind her. The man still sat behind his desk writing something, not looking in her direction.
“Dr. Millenti?” she called out.
The man looked up and began to smile warmly. “Oh, Miss Talisker. I was beginning to think you had second thoughts on starting the internship.”
“Not at all,” she answered. “I just landed later than expected at the airport last night. Or, I should say, this morning.”
“Well, it’s nice to see you made it here safe and sound. Shall we begin?” he asked.
“Certainly,” she gave a firm nod.
“First, you should realize that we’ve made great strides with Dana. It might not seem like it when you observe her, but if you had read her case history already, you would know –”
“I have,” Skye interrupted. “Sorry,” she added at her impetuous outburst. “I’m really excited about doing this, and I have to thank you for allowing me to take on something this big.”
“Don’t thank me just yet,” he answered. “This will be a learning experience for both of us, as we continue to make steps with Dana. And don’t feel worried or threatened if she regresses from time to time. The young woman has been through quite a bit in her short lifetime.”
“I understand,” Skye said.
“Shall we, then?” the doctor asked, motioning toward the door.
“Ready when you are,” Skye replied.
He paused for a moment. “At first, I’ll be accompanying you for…safety’s sake.”
“She’s violent?” Skye asked.
“Yes, among other things,” he replied cryptically.
“What other things?” Skye prompted, a little less confident in her delivery.
“She’s a troubled young woman, but underneath all that pain and confusion lies a very intelligent girl. She can be quite clever at turning the tables and shifting the focus from herself.” Skye nodded in response. “So, as I said, I’ll be there with you until you feel you can manage a few sessions alone with her and I feel you’re ready. Agreed?”
“Yes sir,” she replied.
He smiled again. “I’m not a knight. Call me Dr. Millenti, or even Roger,” he told her in a friendly tone.
“Okay…Roger,” she said with a slight grin.
Watchers Council – Staff Lounge – Later that Day
“So, you must be Norman,” Robin began.
Norman put his pencil down quietly and looked slowly up into the dark eyes of the tall Black man with the crutch. The man offered his free hand, clutching the crutch tightly with the other.
The boy looked from the extended hand to the severed leg. Then he looked back into the tall man’s eyes. “That’s a mess.”
Robin regarded him for a moment. “Yeah,” he said, lowering his outstretched hand. “Yeah, it’s a mess.”
“Howdja do it?”
Robin waited one second then answered, “Fighting a demonic army from a hell dimension called Vor.”
Norman looked squarely at him. “Does it make you feel better if you lie about it?”
“About your leg. Lost it in an accident, right? Car wreck? Hey, were you in Iraq?
“You think I’m lying about what happened to my leg?”
“Duh. Yeah. Hey, it’s okay. I used to lie about my cancer. Used to tell people that I lost all my hair in a fire and that it was gonna grow back real fast. But it took a lot longer than I thought.”
“Mind if I…?” Robin motioned with his head to a chair at the table, opposite the boy. The movement made him lose his balance, though, and he wobbled a bit before regaining it.
“Ya better. ‘Fore you fall over.”
“You’re her son, all right,” Robin smiled in spite of himself.
“Yeah. Lucky me. Son of Sheena.”
“Sla-a-a-a-a-yer,” the boy drawled purposefully.
Robin eased himself into the chair. “Have you met her yet?” he asked.
“No. She don’t want to meet me. Besides, she’s a nut-job, like all these other Sheenas.”
“Wait a minute,” Robin said, holding his hand up. “You don’t believe in any of this do you? You think there’s no such things as slayers or demons or –?”
“And you do?” Norman asked. Then he looked back down at the missing leg. “Oh. Yeah. ‘Lost it in a place called Vor while fighting demons.’ Mister, I know they asked you to talk to me. Happens a lot. ‘Go talk to the sick kid, he’ll feel better if he knows someone else is –'”
“A slayer’s son?”
Norman looked at Robin. There was nothing but truth in the man’s eyes. “You – your mother is a Shee– a slayer?”
“Was. She was killed by a vampire when I was – well, about your age. Maybe a little younger, actually.”
Norman continued to stare at Robin, as though deciding whether to believe him. Finally, he looked down at his papers.
Robin’s eyes followed Norman’s down to the picture book and the sheaves of newsprint and the pencils scattered about. The book was open to a full-color spread. A pack of small dinosaurs was in a full-out run on the left page, chasing down a large, long-necked dinosaur on the right page. Robin stared at the picture, realizing that the boy was re-drawing, not just the entire scene, but larger renderings of minute details from the print.
“You did these?” Robin asked.
“Mind if I…?”
Norman shrugged his assent.
Robin leafed through the papers. “These are very good. How old are you exactly?”
“Very good. Really good…”
“I have a lot of time to draw,” Norman said quietly.
“See,” Norman showed him, “these are Deinonychus – Terrible Claw. They’re small, about ten feet long. They hunt in packs and go after big plant eaters, like Brachiosaurus. That’s this one here.”
“Didn’t you learn about dinosaurs in school?”
“A little, yeah. I learned about other stuff when I was a kid,” Robin answered.
“I liked going to school with other kids,” Norman said wistfully.
“You don’t go now?”
Norman shook his head. “Nah,” he answered. “I get home-schooled now. ‘Cause I’m sick. Ain’t been to real school in a couple of years.”
“I was home-schooled, too, for a while,” Robin responded.
Norman looked up at him and sighed. “It’s not so bad,” he said. “But I don’t get to do things, like, play baseball and stuff.”
Robin nodded, and an easy and friendly silence fell between them. Norman picked up his pencil and resumed his drawing, while Robin sat pondering the pictures in his own hand. Then he laid them down and looked straight at Norman.
“You know,” Robin said amiably, indicating the dinosaurs, “if it weren’t for the bones they’ve found, no one would believe in these guys, either.”
Norman looked up. “You ever seen a vampire?”
Robin gave a half-laugh and sat back. “A couple,” he said. “You?”
Norman shook his head.
“See,” Robin began, “the difference between us is not that I believe in them and you don’t, but that I’ve seen them and you haven’t.”
Norman shrugged. “It’s not scientifically possible,” he said. “Dinosaurs were possible because they came from the Earth, like us. Evolution, you know? And there’s all kinds of evidence – bones, eggs, fossils, amber. Vampires and monsters, they didn’t evolve from anything. They…they’re just not real.”
“Well, you’re entitled to your opinion,” Robin smiled. “But if you don’t mind a word of advice, I wouldn’t say that in front of the ‘Sheenas’.”
Norman looked up at him and nodded seriously.
Kennedy came into the room swiftly. “Yo, Robin, your cell on? Ro’s been trying to reach you. She called a briefing, and it’s getting started in a minute.” She looked across at Norman. “Hey.”
“Hey,” Norman answered shyly.
“Know what we have?” Robin asked quietly.
“Nope. But whatever it is, it hunts…uhhh…” Kennedy stopped, looking in Norman’s direction. The child was studiously shading in his drawing.
“I’m on my way,” Robin told her.
She nodded and left.
“Not that I could do anything about it once I get there…” he muttered under his breath.
Robin rocked from side to side, edging himself forward on the chair. Then he set his crutch, clutched it, and pushed himself upward with both arms. He steadied himself with some effort and looked at the boy again.
“Well, nice talkin’ to you, Norman. See you later.”
“Yeah,” Norman said. “Later. Hey! What did she call you?”
“Robin. I’m Robin Wood.”
“Oh. Like Robin Hood, only…uhhh…sorry,” the boy smiled sheepishly when he saw Robin’s look. He immediately added, “I get ‘Norman Bates’ all the time.”
Robin looked at the boy and chuckled. “I’ll bet you do, big guy. Later, huh?” He held out his hand. Norman returned the gesture, and they shook, the boy’s pallid, delicate hand swallowed up in the large, muscular black one.
Robin left without another word, as Norman knit his brow at his drawings.
Watchers Council – Giles’s Office – Same Time
“At least introduce yourself to the boy,” Giles said.
Faith sat listening calmly, but chagrined. She said nothing in response to him, and Giles sighed before taking his glasses off and cleaning them.
“What is it, Faith?” he asked, intent on rubbing the lenses out completely. “Why are you so dispossessed of this child?” He put his glasses back on and looked at her. “Joelle and Michael Hansen have been good parents to Norman. They love him, his little sister loves him. A better home could not have been chosen for him. All they are asking is that you help the boy. Give him a-a-a fighting chance to live. That’s the essence of your calling – giving humanity a fighting chance to live.”
Faith finally rolled her eyes. “You think I’m gonna say no, don’t you? You do! You think I’m gonna let the little rugrat die!? That’s just great. Not only does everyone in the Council know about it, but now you all think I’m gonna let a kid die!” Faith turned away.
V.O., Mayor Richard Wilkins: “You know, you worry too much for a girl your age. That’s unnecessary stress.”
Flashback – Sunnydale – Office of Mayor Wilkins
“Luckily, I’ve got just the thing,” Mayor Wilkins said to Faith, who sat sulking nearby.
He poured her a glass of milk and handed it to her.
“There you go,” he said. “Now, first you load up on calcium…”
Faith looked at the glass, then put it down on the Mayor’s desk.
Watchers Council – Giles’s Office – Continuous
“This is a little beyond cookies and milk!” Faith said sharply, as she turned back to Giles.
“What?” Giles asked, confused.
Faith shook her head, as if surprised to see Giles instead of the Mayor. “Nothin’,” she said. “Listen, I’m supposed to be in a briefing right now. I gotta go. Talk to ya later, okay?”
“And what would you have me tell Mrs. Hansen in the meantime?”
“Tell her…’yeah,’ Faith shrugged. “Simple.” She turned and headed out the door to Rowena’s briefing.
“Oh yes,” Giles groused aloud. “So simple.”
Watchers Council – Staff Lounge – Same Time
“Hi, honey-pie,” Joelle Hansen said, as she stepped into the doorway. She watched Norman scoop up his papers, pencils and dinosaur book and shove them all into his canvas book pack.
“See you later, Momma,” he said, shouldering the pack and making for the door.
“Where in the world are you off to?” Joelle half-laughed, as she caught the boy by the arm. “And in such a hurry? You already got a little girlfriend out there?” She smiled warmly.
She looked at him with affectionate suspicion and relented. “All right, all right. You go and have a good time,” she said as she let go of him. He was already out the door and starting after the man on the crutch, who was disappearing around a bend in the hallway.
“But don’t you go botherin’ anyone’s class!” Joelle called out, as she walked out of the door to see Norman making his way as fast as his weakened limbs would carry him. “And don’t go outside unless you come and get me first,” she called after him. “And turn on your cell phone.”
“Oh, Mrs. Hansen,” Giles strode up to her. “I see you’ve found the staff lounge all right, and –”
She politely held a hand up to stop Giles as she watched Norman fish his cell phone out of his pants pocket. She heard the “on” chime. Norman immediately picked his pace right back up and headed around the bend in the hallway.
She turned, smiling at Giles. “That child is like the Fourth of July every day. He just doesn’t sit still, no matter how sick he feels. By the way, it’s just plain Joelle.”
Giles returned the smile. “Yes, well, shall we?” He indicated the lounge. “I have some good news to report, Joelle,” he said as they went inside.
Watchers Council – Briefing Room – Same Time
Rowena shook her head at the group. “It’s not all bad news,” she said. “I don’t think they’re that big because, so far, the animals they’ve found torn up aren’t that big – mainly rats, cats, squirrels, rabbits, possums, a couple of raccoons and a small dog.”
“How do we know this is not just some rabid dog?” Willow asked.
“Yeah, or a coyote or something,” Xander tossed in.
“It’s the way the animals were torn up, and the fact that many of them were actually nursing offspring,” Rowena answered. “Oh, Robin. Hi, come in. We’re waiting for Faith, too, but we had to start.”
Robin nodded, as Xander got up to pull a chair out for him. Robin gave him an unappreciative look and a curt “Thanks.” Xander and Willow exchanged glances as Robin settled into his seat.
Rowena cleared her throat awkwardly and resumed her briefing and slide show.
“The reports the police provided show that some people actually saw shadows across the ground in the evenings prior to some of the discoveries of the mutilations.”
She clicked the remote, advancing from one slide to another showing views of dead, rent animals. “What they thought was an increase in roadkill, they’re now reviewing as cases of actual mutilation,” Rowena continued, clicking over a few more slides illustrating how inconclusive the evidence was.
“They’ve already made public announcements cautioning people to bring their pets inside at night. Of course, not everyone does. But the worst case was that of a female dog who was nursing her pups. The owners had a little kennel set up inside their garage for them, and it was closed and locked up tight. The next morning, they heard one puppy crying in distress. They opened up the garage and – well, this is what they found.”
There was a stunned gasp around the table as the slide appeared on the screen.
“Ro!” Willow almost shouted. “Nice delivery!”
“Oh! That’s awful,” Dawn exclaimed over Willow’s remark. “Those poor puppies. And their mother…”
“They never stood a chance, did they?” Xander said sadly.
“The least you could have done is warn us it was gonna be so…icky,” Willow chided.
Rowena blinked. “I…I’m sorry. After everything we’ve all seen, I never thought this would –”
“How did they get in?” Robin asked bluntly.
Everyone turned his way, then back to Rowena.
She clicked the next slide without a word. The slide showed a corner of the garage where something had chewed through the baseboard.
“The owners said that they had a small rodent hole in that corner that they were waiting to close up until after the puppies were weaned from their mother. Whatever these creatures are, they exploited that opportunity to enter the garage.”
“Why ‘creatures’?”Kennedy asked. “Why do we think it’s more than one?”
Rowena skipped ahead a couple of slides. “This next set of slides shows the strange tracking around the mutilations. These tracks don’t match any animal known to man – or to Cleveland, anyway. You can see very distinct differences in the individual tracks. This one is larger and wider, this one seems to have five claws instead of three, this one has three claws, but left a more curled imprint, and the pad is not as pronounced…”
“I count seven sets,” Robin said.
“No,” Kennedy countered, “there’s eight. See that deep set on the left? There’s another set tracking over it, but it’s lighter. Maybe they’re different weights and sizes. Maybe they’re…part of a litter?”
“Good thinking,” Rowena said. “It would explain why they’d seek out lactating animals.”
“Wait a minute!” Xander said. “If they’re a litter looking for milk, then they’re still –”
“Growing,” Dawn finished for him.
“And getting hungry for more than milk,” Willow added.
“You said people saw shadows crossing the ground,” Kennedy said. “That’s it? Just shadows?”
“Let’s assume,” Rowena said, “that these creatures are small enough to feed off lactating animals. Judging from these tracks, they’re also built for speed. In the darkness, small creatures, built low to the ground, running very fast…”
“Would look like a shadow,” Kennedy said.
“Exactly,” Rowena agreed. “And –”
“You need to go NOW!”
All heads turned to the doorway at the sound of Faith’s voice. She came into the briefing room, hauling a blonde-haired child by the strap of the book bag on his back. The boy’s feet barely touched the ground.
“Anyone know how he got into this area?” she demanded of the room at large.
Faith’s angry expression quickly faded in the silence, but Robin waited for full realization to cross her face before he quietly spoke. “Faith Lehane, allow me to introduce Norman Hansen.”
Watchers Council – Willow’s Apartment – Later that Day
Willow was unloading the dishes from her dishwasher when Rowena appeared in her kitchen doorway. She leaned against it and looked at her lover for a moment.
“What did you tell him?” Rowena asked quietly.
Willow turned around, plate in hand. “Huh? Tell who what?”
“Dr. Millenti,” Rowena continued. “He said you went to see him to discuss me, so…what did you tell him?”
Willow finished putting the plate away and then turned to face Rowena again. “I’m worried about you,” she said quietly.
“I told you, I’m fine.”
Willow bit her lip for a moment. “Maybe, but…you don’t seem yourself lately.”
Rowena sighed. “And just how should I seem, Will?”
Rowena snorted. “I am a watcher, or did you forget?”
Willow shook her head. “Not like this. You’ve been working twenty hours a day, a-and sometimes you don’t come to bed at all.”
“I’ve got a lot to do before Giles goes,” Rowena answered.
“Yeah,” Willow agreed, “but not that much. I went to Giles to complain, but he said he hasn’t seen that much of you.”
“Well, it’s not just work with Giles that I’m doing. It’s getting things in order with the other branches. I can’t see why you’re making a big deal out of this,” Rowena challenged.
Willow took a few steps closer. “Because I don’t think it’s just duty that’s pushing you lately. I think you’re running.”
Willow nodded. “I think you don’t want to face what happened – that you had to kill two people – a-and it’s easier to just make yourself busy than to realize what that really means.”
Rowena held her hands in front of her. “Now, don’t fly off on me for saying this but…you’ve killed people too, Will, and you seemed to handle it okay.”
“I’m never over it. But, I-I am better now, but it took me a lot more than a couple weeks. I mean –”
“I’m not you,” Rowena countered.
“Obviously, because for you it’s like it never happened. You came home, cried to me that you killed two men, and that was the end of it.”
“What are you saying? I’m a cold, merciless killer?” Rowena replied, throwing her arms up in the air.
“No, not at all,” Willow answered, her tone almost begging. “But you’re using this new position as a distraction to what happened. You’ve gotta deal with it Ro, for both our sakes.”
Rowena ran a hand down her own cheek and sighed again. “Then what do you suggest?” she asked.
“Delegate a little more, take a step back now and then…Maybe you’ll be able to think about it all.”
Rowena nodded. “Okay. I think it’s ridiculous, but if that’s what you want.” Rowena pitched a thumb over her shoulder. “I’m gonna take a shower.” Rowena turned and began to walk away slowly.
“Want some company?” Willow called out, nervous but hopeful.
“No,” Rowena said. She turned around with a slight smile, only to see Willow pouting. “I’m taking your advice Will, about thinking, and it’s kinda hard for me to think when we’re all wet and soapy.”
Willow cracked a small grin but nodded in understanding.
Watchers Council – Willow’s Apartment – Shower Stall – Moments Later
Rowena stood under the water, letting it hit her in the face. She silently began to cry, her shoulders rising and falling as she wept.
Watchers Council – Giles and Becca’s Apartment – Day
Baby Elizabeth bawled loudly again from the kitchen.
Giles’s head was turned toward Faith, but his eyes and ears were clearly focused on the baby’s distress.
“Maybe she wants to be fed now?” he called to Becca.
“And maybe she wants her Daddy!” Becca said in exasperation as she came into the living room from the kitchen, carrying Elizabeth. Her hair was pulled back, except for a long, wispy strand that had fallen down over one eye. She tried to poof it out of her face, but her breath hit the baby’s forehead. Elizabeth screamed even more loudly.
Becca looked at Giles expectantly.
“All right, all right,” he said, half-smiling at them both. “Faith,” he turned back to the slayer, “excuse me for just a few moments.”
“Sure,” Faith shrugged as Giles took baby Elizabeth from Becca’s arms and cradled the infant snugly in his own. She quieted a little as he walked into the nursery with her.
Becca sighed and regarded Faith for a moment.
“I look at you all, see the love there that’s sleeping…while my guitar gently weeps…” Faith and Becca heard Giles singing in the other room.
Faith raised an eyebrow at Becca.
“Well,” Becca said, quickly covering up the sound of Giles’s singing, “guess you lucked out on having to deal with the crying and the colic.”
Faith made a face and nodded.
“But,” Becca smiled, sitting across from the slayer, “I’ll be asking you for tips in about ten years.”
Faith looked away, as though she hadn’t heard.
Becca smoothed her errant strand of hair back into place. “How are you and Norman getting along?” she asked directly.
Faith gave Becca her coldest slayer stare.
Becca grinned. “Oh no,” she chuckled. “You may be able to scare vampires with that face, but I’ve been through bedtime with Elizabeth. You’ll have to do better.”
“I don’t know how-ow-ow, nobody told you. They bought and sold you…” Giles’s voice came floating from the nursery.
“Is he all right in there?” Faith asked sarcastically.
Becca shrugged. “As long as the baby’s happy, who cares?” she joked.
“It’s a lotta trouble to go through. I don’t get it. You have ’em, they give you nothin’ but grief, then they grow up and write books about how rotten you are.”
“Oh, is Norman writing an exposé?”
Faith huffed at her.
“From what I’ve heard,” Becca said quietly, “he’s already got enough for chapter one. With illustrations.”
Faith shook her head. “No one’s supposed to be hanging around outside the briefing room…”
Becca said nothing, but continued to look at Faith knowingly.
“Okay, okay,” Faith nodded, holding her hands up. “Maybe I did sorta know it was him…Maybe…maybe I was a little mad…kid doggin’ my heels like that.”
“Robin tells me he wasn’t dogging your heels, but very likely his, since they’ve been chatting. I mean, up until you hauled him into the briefing room by the book bag strap, Norman didn’t even know what you looked like. But he’ll never forget you now.”
“Eight days a weeeeek, I lu-uh-uh-uh-uhuhv you…”
Faith looked irritably toward the nursery. “You know what,” she said, “I’m too freakin’ old for this.”
“Oh? YOU’RE old?” Becca said in mock surprise. “And what does that make me?”
“You! You’re a mom! You like doin’ this! You-you should be doin’ this. I can’t – I don’t know what I – Look, I take care of myself. I’m no good at taking care of other people. You want savin’? I’m your slayer. You want nose-wipin’ and diaper changin’? That…man, that’s some deep shi–”
“Look, you’re right.” Becca’s voice was hard, but not cold. “So diaper duty is not for you. That’s fine. But that’s not what Norman needs right–”
“Whatever,” Faith told her, “I’m not looking to hug and cry and learn and grow. It happened quick, y’know? One minute I was with this really cool guy, the next minute I’m knocked up. I didn’t want any baby then, and I don’t want one now!”
“Norman’s not a baby,” Becca said bluntly. “And he’s facing something most slayers are spared – growing up unwell.”
Faith held still for a moment. “What do I do?” she asked quietly. “I don’t know how to do this. Why can’t I just give him the bone marrow and be done? He doesn’t need to know me to get it.”
“You could do that. But here’s a question: Why are you afraid to get to know him, Faith?”
She laughed ruefully at Becca. “I’m afraid of nothing,” she said coldly.
“Bullshit,” Becca countered.
“Look, I know who I am. I’ve seen a lot. And I’ve done even more. And I know that I’m not a mother any more than Barry Manilow in there is a rock star.”
“I heard that!” Giles’s muffled call came from the nursery.
“I agree, you’re not mother material at this stage of your life, Faith,” Becca replied frankly. “And god help anyone who expects you to be. But you’re still a slayer. And slayers help those in need. And sometimes, they’re even nice about it.”
Faith slouched back against the couch and jammed her hands in her pockets. “Funny,” she said sarcastically, “that doesn’t help.”
Becca sighed. “Don’t expect anything of yourself, or of him. Just be who you are, and let Norman be whoever he is. You know, I had this vision of a beautiful baby boy with hair and eyes like his father, smiling and laughing and sleeping so peacefully in my arms…”
“So now you’re sorry.”
“I’ll admit I’ve never been more tired, frazzled, irritated and overworked in my life. But here’s the thing: I wouldn’t trade it for anything. So am I sorry that I’ve got a daughter, not a son, with hair and eyes like Dad and a set of lungs like a banshee? Not for a moment. And I think, if you’d stop being angry and just…make friends with Norman, you’d very likely start feeling the same way. I can tell you it’s a wonderful feeling. And you’ll never regret it. But if that’s too much to ask, that’s okay too. Do what you can to save him, even if you never speak of it again…because if you don’t, we both know you’ll regret it.”
Faith scowled and stood. “Tell Mr. Mom I had to go.”
Becca nodded, but Faith didn’t see. She was already walking to the door. She let herself out quietly.
Giles stood in the nursery doorway, a gurgling baby Elizabeth in his arms. He was humming a tune to her, but stopped long enough to say, “Thank you.”
Becca smiled and got up. She walked to them and laughed at the happy baby’s expression. “No. Thank you,” she said, as Giles continued to hum. She touched his face with her finger. “How on earth do you do it?” she mused, watching the baby blow a bubble.
“I’m a good dancer,” Giles replied, as though Becca should have known. He bounced the baby gently in his arms. She cooed at him as he walked, in time to his own singing, back into the nursery.
“‘Cause I’m the tax man. Oo-ooo, I’m the tax maaaa-an. And you’re worrrr-king for noooo one but me…”
Watchers Council – Moments Later
Faith leaned back, eyes upward, and let her head come to a hard stop against the brick and mortar of the Council building.
She raised a cigarette to her lips and inhaled deeply, then let the smoke out in an elongated exhale that threatened to go on forever.
“I’m not his mother,” she said aloud, bitterly. “I’m not anybody’s. I’m not. I can’t…be that.” She lowered her head and looked out over the grounds. “Not what I am…” she whispered into the dead air.
Off in the distance, a light breeze shifted the branches on the top of the big tree. She watched them sway gracefully. “…no more than those branches,” she said almost inaudibly.
V.O. Mayor Wilkins: “Let me tell you something: Nobody knows what you are…”
Flashback – Sunnydale – Faith’s Nice Apartment
Faith stood somewhat abashedly in a baby doll dress, her feet bare, with Mayor Wilkins looking on.
“…not even you, Little Miss Seen-It-All,” he continued. “I think of what you’ve done, what I know you will do…no father could be prouder.”
“I hope I don’t let you down,” Faith said.
“Impossible,” the mayor said. “Now c’mon. I’ll buy you an Icee!”
Watchers Council – Continuous
The sharp, strangled cry of an animal in shock and sudden pain cut across the field from over the rise, shocking Faith out of her musings.
Faith dropped her cigarette without a thought and looked over the grounds, her entire body tense. Then she set out toward the place the sound had come from, all her slayer senses on alert.
End of Act One