Watchers Council – Playing Fields – The Next Day
Norman sat under the big tree on the large quilted blanket his mother had made for him. It was worn with use and age and bore a large tear that had been carefully re-sewn.
Graphite and colored pencils, assorted books and many loose sheets of newsprint were ringed around him like a magic circle. He steadily filled in some shading on his drawing of the solitary girl standing at the plate down on the playing field. It was Shannon, who looked out toward the deserted pitcher’s mound and playing field as though an entire baseball team stood facing her.
She swung a wooden bat, doing her best not to step behind herself. The bat sliced through the air, making contact with an imaginary baseball. She looked as if she could almost hear the sound of a crack, then watched as an imaginary ball flew up and over the crest of the grounds, just out of the reach of . . . Nikki, she decided; tall, thin Nikki, the Watchers Council’s best outfielder.
Norman saw Shannon’s swing and crinkled his nose at her, as he watched her look skyward and away into the distance, as though she was watching something flying away. Norman saw nothing but a blue sky pocked with small white clouds above an empty green field.
Shannon stopped and frowned. Then she swung again, careful not to use too much top hand. There was another imaginary “crack,” as she lined the ball past the Bruins’ Second Baseman, Caitlin Benyi. A stand-up double!
Shannon, still standing alone at home plate, put the bat down and sighed. Then she took her batting gloves off, dropped them on the grass and grasped the bat more firmly. Wood to palm, the slayer set herself and peered expectantly toward the empty mound.
This time, she swung with all her might, and the imagined ball, moving fast and starting to sink, struck the wood with a crisp, clean smack that resonated up her arms and into her shoulders.
She watched the ball sail up and over the head of Johnny Damon, who was digging towards the warning track at Fenway Park, only to watch helplessly as the make-believe ball arced over the fence. He turned and looked back at Shannon. Then he smiled and tipped his hat to her, his long hair flying about his face in the breeze.
She grinned at Damon, then bent over a bit to set herself for another swing. Damon faded and Cleveland’s “Coco” Crisp appeared in his place.
As she began to straighten up, she saw Norman staring at her from several yards away.
“Huh!” she cried out softly, startled out of her daydream. “What are you looking at?” she demanded hotly, her face turning bright red.
He looked down quickly, his own face turning a sickly pink – more like a rash than a blush.
She watched him for a moment, swinging the bat with one arm back and forth across her body. Finally, she left the plate and crossed the grassy field to the boy on the blanket. She stopped at the edge of his quilt and stared down at him. He was busily drawing a picture of a nearby weed.
“I said, what are you looking at?” she asked easily.
He glanced up quickly. Her expression was calm.
“Your hips aren’t right.”
He quickly looked down and began drawing again. “Your hips. You have to open them with the swing. You gotta swing the bat, not let it swing you.”
Shannon blinked at him. “You play?”
Norman looked at her. “Yeah, right,” he said ruefully. “I can’t play. Too sick most of the time. But I watch a lot, and I listen to the announcers – the old players. They know a lot, and you can learn a lot just watchin’ and listenin’.” He went back to his weed drawing, carefully filling in the veins on the leaf.
Shannon nodded. “I’m Shannon,” she said simply.
“I know. I’m Norman.”
“I know. Hi.”
Norman stopped drawing again and looked at her. She looked back at him, and they stared at each other for a few seconds.
“Hi,” he said, finally.
She walked around him and looked down at the weed drawing, then over at the actual weed sticking out of the grass. “Wish I could do that,” she said, indicating the picture.
Norman looked at the bat she still held in her hand and pointed to it. “Me too, ” he said quietly.
“Can’t you play at all? What happens to you, do you barf or somethin’?”
“Nah, just get real tired. Then, after a while, I just get real sick.”
Shannon sat down cross-legged on the grass. “Just from playing ball?”
“No…” Norman said, resignedly, “just from doin’ anything. Except drawing. And reading. And watching T.V.”
Shannon sat quietly, staring at the bat that lay across her legs. “Wow,” she said softly. “What’s that like?”
Norman looked at her squarely. “What’s it like playing baseball with a bunch of Sheenas?”
“Shee –?” Shannon suddenly burst into a grin. “C’mon, I’ll show you,” she said, getting up.
Norman just looked up at her.
“Whatsamatter? Scared of a little slayer?”
“I told you I get si –”
“So only take a coupla cuts. That won’t make you too tired.”
“What am I swinging at? Monsters?” he said sarcastically.
“Uh-uh. This.” She reached deep into her pocket and produced a dirty, scuffed baseball. Some of the threads were broken.
Norman looked over his shoulder toward the building.
“Aw, just forget it,” Shannon said, turning from him. “Guess they’re right. You’re not much of a slayer’s son.”
She grinned just slightly and lingered as if to see if he’d take the bait she was setting. She began stepping away when the bat was suddenly snatched, though not completely wrenched, from her hand.
“Two swings,” Norman told her.
Shannon openly grinned.
Watchers Council – Grove Beyond The Rise – Same Time
“Damn,” Kennedy said, as she paced around again. “The ground didn’t hold a track. Too many dead leaves…”
“Yeah,” Willow agreed. “But the M.O.’s the same.”
Rowena stood with pursed lips, looking over the area surrounding the mutilated fox on the ground. Faith stood next to them. Rowena parted what was left of the animals legs and Kennedy and Faith looked at each other in confusion. Rowena rose again and started to shake her head, as if in thought.
Kennedy shot a look in Rowena’s direction. “What’s wrong?” she finally asked the watcher.
“It’s not,” Rowena said. “It’s not the same M.O.”
Kennedy shook her head. “Huh? Yes it is. Mother fox, torn apart, chewed up and left –”
Rowena was shaking her head back at Kennedy. “Who said it was a mother fox?”
“Well, it wasn’t a mother bobcat!”
“It wasn’t a mother,” Faith said, catching on.
“So…” Kennedy said, quirking her mouth in thought. She shrugged and added, “…what?”
“So, smartass,” Faith said, “if these things are after mom-juice, why go after anything that’s not laminating?”
“Lactating,” Rowena corrected absently.
Kennedy thought for a moment. “Maybe they can’t tell the difference. I mean, maybe they’re just going after anything female. Maybe that’s all they can sense. Then, when they find out they’ve hit a dry bar, they go mental and tear the place up. You’d think they’d just eat –”
“Maybe they’re old enough to have teeth and claws, but not to ingest solid protein or…” Rowena put in, preoccupied with the ground a few feet away from the scene.
“Or what?” Willow asked. Rowena didn’t answer. She just continued to walk, with the analytical look still on her face.
“Whatcha got?” Faith asked, walking over to Rowena.
“I think they came from there,” Rowena said, pointing at two places on the ground. Something seemed to have landed hard, then jumped again. Then Rowena pointed back toward the deeper part of the grove.
“Looks like they jumped,” Faith said.
“They’re getting more mobile, and possibly airborne,” Rowena agreed.
“Wait a minute,” Kennedy interrupted. “Why would they come so close to us? I’m not complainin’ – it’s a lot easier to shop from home instead of going out looking for a nice demon. But Cleveland’s a big place. And if these puppies want breast-milk, why wouldn’t they hang around a place like – I don’t know – a hospital? You know, a maternity ward or –”
Rowena and Faith looked at one another sharply.
“Becca,” Faith said.
The group fell silent for a moment.
“C’mon,” Willow said, leading the way back to the Council building. “Let’s get a search party together, Faith. If they hunt at night, that means they sleep during the day. And they can’t be far, maybe still on the grounds. If we can flush them ou –”
“Faith,” Rowena called.
The three women stopped and turned to look at her.
“If they are a brood of growing – whatevers – then there may be a mother nearby, too. And we have no idea what that might be like.”
“Well I’d say we’re about to find out – real soon,” Faith said.
“Mothers can be –”
“Yeah, real mothers, I get it.”
” – highly protective. And dangerous. Deadly,” Rowena finished.
“I’m the deadliest thing in these woods,” Faith smirked back over her shoulder.
“You were,” Kennedy shot back, “until I came along.”
Rowena watched them trading barbs as they moved off toward headquarters. “Demons are one thing,” she said to herself quietly, frowning. “Protective mothers – that’s something else.”
“Hey, hurry up!” Kennedy called back to Rowena. “Before some demon mistakes you for a female!”
Faith punched Kennedy on Rowena’s behalf, knocking the younger slayer sideways a couple of feet, but still laughed in spite of herself at the remark.
Rowena heard a twig crack behind her and turned quickly. The grove stood quiet, still and ever-deepening.
The watcher waited a second or two before turning back around and following Willow and the two slayers back to headquarters.
Watchers Council – Robin and Faith’s Apartment – Later that Night
Norman heard the door open and close, followed by a voice he immediately recognized. He sat stock-still, his fingers gripping his pencil so tightly he was leaving fingernail marks in it. He heard Robin’s hushed voice ask, “Did…tell Becca…?”
The reply came in equally hushed tones. “…freaked Giles out…Willow… protection…entire building…female teachers after dark…searched… nothing…here?”
“Yeah,” Robin said more loudly. “He’s in the kitchen.”
Norman swallowed hard. He began to look around for a back door, but the only exit was behind him, through the living room and into the slayer’s path.
Norman froze, his eyes wide. The slayer was coming up behind him. As she closed in, he began to breathe more quickly. He couldn’t see her, but when she was just at the back of his chair, he quickly slipped sideways out of his seat, making the chair rock one way then the other.
Faith jumped, startled, and looked at the boy with an expression as wide as his own. She looked down in wonder at his delicate frame and his pale, sickly face.
“Hey, slow down, buddy,” Robin said gently from the doorway. He crutched over to stand at equal distance from them both. “Faith just wanted to come and, well, say a proper hello.”
The boy seemed not to hear. His wide, light eyes were fixed on the slayer’s cold, dark ones. Faith searched his face, seeing it well for the first time. Quietly, she looked him up and down. His small frame was tense, as if he were ready to pounce or fly from the room. His small hands were balled into tight fists. She looked back into his eyes. Then she saw it: defiance.
She extended her hand to him. “Uh, hey.”
Norman turned. He leaned over the kitchen table, strewn with paper and pencils and half-done sketches of claws, teeth and shadows on the ground. He swept everything into his open book bag and swung it over his shoulder. Then he stalked past the slayer and Robin.
“Hey!” Faith called as he passed by. “Hey! ” She grabbed him by the arm just as he reached the door.
Norman pulled away and felt her grip immediately tighten.
“Faith,” Robin cautioned, seeing panic in the boy’s stance.
Norman turned toward the slayer, dropping his book bag. Pencils spilled from the pack, rolling across the tile floor. Quickly and with perfect aim, Norman kicked Faith sharply in the shin. He balled his free hand into a fist and prepared to punch her.
She grabbed him by both arms and gave him a single, hard shake, “I said, hey.”
She stared harshly at him, but her angry look diminished when she realized how hard he was breathing. Sweat was forming on his forehead, and in his eyes she saw something she’d seen reflected back at her out of innumerable eyes. Abject fear.
Norman steeled himself. “Let me go,” he said, his shaking voice and his wide eyes betraying his fear. Then, more deeply and steadily, he declared, “I have to pick up my pencils.”
Faith let him go, gently, and blinked at him.
Norman, surprised at his own release, looked quickly down at his book bag and scattered pencils. He got down on his hands and knees and carefully picked up each one.
Faith stood, lost and looking toward Robin for help. Robin looked back at her, then down to the floor. Faith’s eyes followed his and saw that one of Norman’s pencils lay at the base of Robin’s crutch. Faith moved to Robin, picked up the pencil, and looked at him once more. He nodded at her.
Faith walked two paces to where Norman was just standing up and held the pencil out to him. He looked back at her hatefully, but reached for the pencil. Faith didn’t let go.
Norman looked up at her angrily. “What?” he demanded. “What do you want?”
“I…” Faith began. “Look, kid, I just want to talk. That’s all. Just –”
“Why? Why do you want to talk to me? You don’t even like me. You don’t even want me! You never wanted me! And I don’t want you! ”
“Like I ain’t heard that before,” she half-laughed.
Norman snorted and picked up his book bag, adjusting the shoulder strap.
“Look, kid, I was fourteen, for Chrissakes! Nobody told me you were gonna show up someday! I could’ve gotten it taken care of, you know! I didn’t have to have any baby!”
“I wish you hadn’t.”
Faith went slack-jawed at the bitterness in the boy’s voice. “Well…” she began slowly, “you – you got a family that thinks otherwise!”
Norman turned, still fiddling with the shoulder strap, but not moving from his spot.
“Look, I ain’t mother material, y’know?”
“No,” Norman muttered sarcastically. “Really?”
Faith moved ahead. “Probably never gonna be. So don’t get your hopes up. But…I can see that…you are my kid. Yeah. You’re mine,” she finished ruefully.
Norman stopped playing with the shoulder strap and turned his head slightly back toward her.
“You know,” she continued, “I’ve dusted a lot of vampires too stupid to be scared. They make some dumb remark and then – fffftt! Outta here. I’ve killed demons too mean to be scared and destroyed forces too incredible to be worried about me. But they’re all gone, and I’m still here.”
“Lucky us,” Norman muttered. Then he added quietly, “I’m not like you.”
“Yeah you are. I’ve seen a lot of wannabe Big Bads pee their demon drawers when they’ve come face to face with me. Those are the ones smart enough to be scared. But I’ve never seen someone smart enough to be scared, stare this slayer down and then live to tell about it. Oh yeah. You’re my kid, all right.”
“No! ” Norman cried, turning and looking straight at Faith. “I’m not. And I don’t want to be! You’re a Sheena. You’re a-a –”
“Norman Alvin Hansen! ”
All three heads looked out toward the living room to see that Joelle Hansen appeared in the doorway.
“I’m sorry,” she apologized to Robin. “I came to get him, and I knocked, but there was no answer, and the door was unlocked…”
Robin smiled and nodded at her reassuringly. Joelle looked at her son. He was staring sheepishly at his own feet.
“Norman,” she told him, “you apologize to Miss – to Faith – right this minute, and –”
“What did you say?”
“I said ‘no.’ I’m just as sorry as she is that she’s my – that she had me. But it wasn’t my fault. It was hers. She has to apologize. And I want to go home. She can keep her dumb marrow. We can find someone else!”
“Norman!” Joelle saw the look on the boy’s face as he braced for a tongue-lashing. She softened. “Norman, go back to the room. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Without another word nor a look at either Robin or Faith, Norman left the apartment, quietly closing the outer door behind him.
“If you couldn’t actually see how sick he is, you’d never know it,” Joelle said, pushing her hair away from her face. “He’s so full of…himself.”
“Yeah,” Faith said with a sardonic smile, “loads of fun.”
“No,” Joelle looked at Robin. “She’s right. He’s…a handful sometimes. He’s a good boy, but it’s so devastating to have such spirit and be so unable to do the things the other kids do. His father calls him our Fourth of July Boy. He goes off like a bottle-rocket sometimes.”
Voiceover: Mayor Wilkins: “You little Firecracker.”
“My mom used to call me that too,” Faith said softly.
Joelle and Robin looked at her. “I’m sorry…?” Joelle said.
“Huh? Oh, nothin’.”
An awkward silence fell among them, and Joelle sighed and smiled. “I should get back. We’ll call his daddy tonight. He’ll be okay. Are…are you?”
Faith looked at her. There was genuine kindness in Joelle’s eyes. Faith looked away uncomfortably.
Before Faith could answer, Joelle said, “It’ll be fine. He’ll come around. Don’t give up. Please. He…he never knew he was adopted. We never wanted him to know. That was a mistake. We should have told him as soon as he could begin to understand. But I know it’ll be all right. It’ll be fine. You and Norman will both see.” She smiled as she placed her hand on Faith’s arm.
“Thank you,” she told Robin.
He smiled back at her. “Anytime.”
Joelle left as quietly as her son.
Faith and Robin stared after her for a moment, silently. Finally, Faith shook her head and turned to see Robin looking concernedly down at her. She held his gaze for a moment and then lifted her hand up. Robin looked at it and saw that she still held Norman’s pencil. He smiled at her, bent forward and kissed her gently on the forehead.
Fade to Black
Watchers Council – Joelle and Norman’s Quarters – Morning
Two Days Later
“Norman,” Joelle called out, “I’m just going down the hall to speak to Mrs. Giles for a little while. Do you have your cell on?”
Joelle appeared in the doorway of the bedroom and looked at the boy’s tousled hair and pale face as he examined a stack of baseball cards. “Why don’t you try to get a little more sleep, sweetie-pie?”
“I told you, I’m not that tired.”
“All right. But don’t stare at your cards for too long, okay?”
Joelle smiled and left quietly. As soon as his mother was gone, Norman put aside his cards, picked up his cell and hit a speed-dial number. He let the phone ring twice and ended the call. Within seconds, there was a double-knock at the apartment door.
Norman threw off the covers and went quickly through the living room. He swung the front door wide open. Shannon looked both ways, then pushed him back out of her way as she hurried in. She shut the door behind her, threw the bolt, then turned and looked at Norman. They stared at each other a moment, then both broke out into big grins.
“Hey!” Shannon glanced down, and a strange look crossed her face before she began to giggle.
Norman crinkled his nose at her. “What?” He looked all around himself. “What? Tell me!”
“Those pajamas are sooooo not cool,” Shannon said, giggling harder as he scowled.
“Yeah, well, gimme a minute.”
She waited in the living room while he changed his clothes. Within a minute, the bedroom door opened.
“C’mon,” Norman called out from inside the bedroom.
She went in. There on the bed was what she had been waiting to see. Norman’s collection of baseball cards lay in neat stacks, by team.
“Hey,” she said admiringly. “This is great!” She sat down and began to look through the cards. “Montreal?”
“Yeah, the whole set from last year,” he said, smiling.
“Those’ll be worth somethin’. Hey wait!” She picked up another pile. Norman leaned over to see what had caught her attention. He rolled his eyes when he saw Johnny Damon’s card in her hand and her eyes all lit up.
“What?” she asked indignantly. “He’s a good player!”
“Yeah, and ‘Oh’,” he said in his best imitation of a girl, “‘all that beautiful hair!'”
Shannon gave him a look. “Jealous?”
Norman’s face fell, and then so did Shannon’s. “Oh. Oh, Norm, I – I’m sorry. The chemo–”
“It’s okay. You got a point,” he said with a shrug.
“But it’ll grow back again if you do chemo again, right?”
Norman shrugged again. “It could, I guess. If I get the bone marrow, I might not need any more chemo.”
“You mean for the, um, transplant? The one Faith is supposed to help with?”
Norman looked away in disgust. “Don’t want her help.”
Shannon put the baseball cards down. “Why not? She’s your mom. Okay, okay, not your mom that raised you, but…she’s your real mom.”
“Birth mom,” he corrected. “My real mom brought me here.”
“Fair enough,” Shannon relented. “But Faith…she’s a slayer! Bet her marrow’s even better than anyone else’s. So, why not do it?”
“I’ll live without it.”
“Why? Because you don’t you like her? That’s kinda dumb – giving up a normal life because she ticked you off?” Shannon asked, but before he could answer, she said, “Faith’s like, I dunno, not like a mom or anything, but…we can go to her if somethin’s up, y’know? Doesn’t matter if we have a school problem or a monster problem. Faith’s good in a tight spot. And she’s fun, too.”
“Maybe she just likes Sheenas better than her own kid.”
Realization hit Shannon. “Oh. I get it. Yeah, maybe…My mom never wanted me, either. Right from when I can remember. I used to think she hated me, but now I guess I think she just doesn’t want me ’cause I scare her.”
“But you’re her kid. Mothers aren’t scared of their kids,” Norman frowned, then laughed.
“What’s funny?” Shannon asked.
“Just tryin’ to picture Momma scared of me.”
“Maybe Faith is. Scared of you, I mean.”
Norman stared at Shannon blankly, then shook his head.
“Hey,” Shannon explained, “slayers get scared, too. They say Buffy – has anyone told you about Buffy?”
He nodded impatiently.
“They say she used to be scared about a lot of stuff when she wasn’t dusting vamps or fighting off Willow – that’s a good story, when Willow went all black magic and Buffy had to fight her to keep her from killing Giles and destroying the worl–” Shannon stopped, seeing Norman’s look of frustrated disbelief. “What’s wrong?”
“You. Are. All. Nuts,” he proclaimed. “There is no such thing as vampires or demons or monsters or witchcraft or magic or-or…slayers! It. Isn’t. Possible. Period.”
“Yes it is.”
“No it ain’t.”
Silence hung in the room.
Norman crossed his arms and looked smugly at Shannon.
“Willow. She put a protection spell around the building to keep the demons from getting Becca.”
“A what spell?”
“Protection. It keeps out demons and evil…forces…that…” Shannon’s voice trailed off as Norman looked at her in benign pity.
“You are all crazy,” he said matter-of-factly. “Next thing you’ll be telling me is that you’ve got unicorns and dragons flying around and Harry Potter lives next door.”
It was Shannon’s turn to look incredulous. “Don’t be stupid,” she said, waving her hand. “Harry Potter is just a bunch of books…and not very accurate.” Suddenly, she turned to him, excited. “C’mon,” she said, beaming, “I got somethin’ to show you!”
“Tell me or I won’t go.”
“No. You won’t believe me.” She left the room. In a few seconds, she reappeared in the doorway. “You want proof?” she asked.
Norman squinted at her. “This is some joke, right? Gonna get me in a room full of those Sheenas and–”
“Hey! That’s not what friends do to each other, Norman! It’s not what I do. Now do you want proof or not?”
“Yeah. I want proof.”
“Then come with me, and be extra quiet. I think we can catch up to Ken, but we can’t let her see us…”
Norman looked around the room quickly and grabbed an inhaler off the nightstand. “Wait up,” he called to Shannon, who was already at the front door.
Watchers Council – Giles and Becca’s Apartment – Same Time
Becca put a cup of tea down on the table in front of Joelle, whose lilting southern accent was delighting baby Elizabeth in her arms. Becca and Joelle laughed as Elizabeth cooed.
“She’s a darlin’,” Joelle said as she gave the baby back to Becca. “My little girl, Janie, she was like that, too. All you had to do was talk or sing to her and she’d just light right up. Norman would talk to her for hours about, oh, anything he could think of, dinosaurs, birds, how to tell a tree by its leaves.”
“He’s quite the little naturalist, isn’t he?”
“He’s very natural,” Joelle said, proudly. “Even when he’s not feeling…that isn’t what you meant, is it?”
Becca smiled warmly. “I meant he’s very much into the natural sciences.”
“Oh. Oh yeah, yeah he is. He can name all kinds of animals, bugs, trees, rocks – he knows them all. And not just to name. He draws them. That boy can draw just about anything. And he knows just what to put in a picture. He captures just what makes a thing what it is. You know, you can see the soul of what he’s drawn, right there in the picture.”
“That’s quite a gift. You must be a very proud mother.”
Joelle smiled sadly, and Becca gave her a puzzled look. “You don’t know how many nights I’ve lain awake just praying to God that someday I’ll wake up and he’ll have been my real baby all along…”
“He is. Just ask him,” Becca said gently.
“I wished it so bad…His Daddy and I didn’t tell him he was adopted. Not until the doctors couldn’t find a donor match. Then, when I called the number and that Mr. Robson over in England told me to call y’all here…we had to tell him. He took it awful. Wouldn’t speak for three days. Little Janie finally got him to talk. He’s her hero. Sun rises and sets by what her big brother tells her.”
“Faith…” Joelle began hesitantly. “…Faith didn’t have anyone like that growin’ up, did she?”
“According to Rupert,” Becca said, “no.”
“Did I just hear my name?” Giles came in from the study and kissed Becca neatly on the top of the head. He laid a hand on the dozing baby’s head. “How are you, Joelle?” he asked.
“I’m fine. I-I-I was just hopin’ to talk a little bit about Faith. See, in the past few days we’ve been here, I see more and more of where Norman gets some of his, well, misbehavior. And some of his energy. And his sharpness.”
“He’s a bright boy. And Faith has always been an exceptionally bright, though headstrong, young woman.”
“What was her family like?”
“Ah. Well. I’m afraid it was nothing like your own.”
“I didn’t think so.”
“Faith didn’t have much parenting. Her father tried to kill her about a year and half ago. And her sister was trying to help him.”
“But Faith has family here. Robin and she are a solid and steady couple, the girls look up to her – and even our most senior slayers and watchers. She’s proven herself to be a good and trustworthy person.”
“And an ex-convict?”
“Ah,” Giles said again. “Yes, well, she had a very, very troubled youth. And she’s paid terribly for it. But she is not that person anymore.”
“Least not where you can see,” Joelle concluded.
Giles made no reply, and Becca looked down at the baby.
“She looks up to you as a father figure, doesn’t she?” Joelle asked hopefully.
“More as an old friend,” Giles replied. “I’m afraid the one person who actually gave Faith any sense of security and fatherly love was a man who was about as far from the ideal of a parent as one could get.”
“But didn’t she have a watcher?”
“Several. But the only one with whom she formed a close bond was a woman who was brutally killed early in Faith’s slayer career. It left indelible scars on Faith.”
“Do I really want my boy to get close to her…at all?”
Giles pulled a chair out from under the table and sat down, folding his hands in front of him. “I think, Joelle, that your initial instincts were correct – that Norman should not only know of his real mother, but should actually know her and who she really is. Much of it is not nice. And Faith herself is difficult even for her friends to understand at times. But speaking as a friend and confidant, I’ve seen Faith come farther than any slayer has ever come. She was a rogue slayer – out of control and full of anger and venom and, honestly, quite dangerous. She’s left that behind. And I believe – selfishly, for Faith’s sake, I admit – that Faith stands to gain as much from this transplant as your son does. Maybe more. I can’t make anyone’s decision, Joelle. Not yours, not Norman’s, not Faith’s. But as her friend, on my honor as a watcher and having known just what she’s had to survive to become the woman she is…I only hope that you will continue to allow her and Norman to develop a lasting relationship.”
“What my husband means is, give her a chance,” Becca said, patting his hand.
An uneasy silence followed, but was interrupted by a loud burp from the baby. Giles and Becca laughed.
“Well,” Joelle said, “that’s all I needed to hear.”
V.O. Faith: “It‘s not like I wasn‘t trying, okay?“
Beep, beep, beep, beep…
Watchers Council – Faith and Robin’s Apartment – Same Time
The high pitch of the alarm clock pierced Faith’s brain. She blinked rapidly and sat up in bed, smashing the alarm clock down with one hand. Robin stirred softly beside her, then fell right back to sleep.
Faith became aware of things slowly – the light of morning coming through the window, the chirping of birds outside and the sounds of a contingency of young slayers already doing morning calisthenics outdoors.
She glanced over at the sleeping Robin before swinging her legs over the side of the bed. As she stood, the phone rang. She picked it up halfway through the first ring.
An urgent voice on the other end of the phone rattled almost non-stop at her.
“On my way,” she said, and hung up the phone quickly.
“Yo, Ace! Ace! ”
Robin woke with a snort.
“Let’s go, there’s a meeting in ten minutes.”
“What do you mean, you can’t?”
“Takes ten minutes just to put my – Jesus, Faith. I can’t just get up and run, you know?”
“Then get up and walk, but get up! I’ll meet you there,” she said and walked quickly into the bathroom for a shower.
Robin pulled himself up into a sitting position. Then he pushed his right leg against his left thigh and slid both to the side of the bed. Only one leg dangled down. He reached for his prosthetic, but it slipped from his fingertips onto the floor. He swore once, then lay down again, reaching down to the floor to snag the prosthetic. Once he had it, he began again, this time with the metal frame firmly in hand.
Faith came back in, unceremoniously drying her hair and naked. She tossed the towel on the bed, taking little notice of Robin’s struggle with the metal-frame device that filled the gap between his left knee and the ground. She dressed quickly and wordlessly, as Robin angrily removed the prosthetic in order to smooth a crease in the stretch sock he had pulled over the stub of his knee.
Faith, dressed and ready to go, turned to see him re-attaching the prosthetic. “You still workin’ at that?” she asked. “Lemme give you a –”
“No! I got it,” Robin said.
“Thanks,” he added stiffly. “But it’s all set. Thanks.”
She shrugged at him. “Gotta go. See you down there.”
He grunted in acknowledgement and waited for her to close the front door before shaking his head slowly. He reached for his crutch leaning up against the nightstand. It clattered to the floor, too far away for him to bend down and pick it up. He maneuvered himself to the very edge of the bed and stretched his right leg out, hoping to snag the crutch with the toe of his foot. It was still out of reach.
“Dammit! ” he yelled. “Dammit, dammit, God friggin’ DAMMIT! ”
With a growl, he swept his left arm toward the wall, knocking over the lamp on the nightstand and a glass of water. He breathed heavily for a few moments, still in a rage. Then he put his elbows on his thighs and lowered his head into his hands. He rubbed his forehead a few times, then blinked and swallowed.
“Dammit,” he whispered.
End of Act Two