Outside Abandoned Factory – Continuous
The beast advanced toward them, but Faith stepped forward to intercept him. Before it made contact with the team, a voice shouted out.
“Shap! Stand down!”
The creature stopped and then, with barely any discernible transition, shifted into human form. The Council team turned again toward the factory and the sound of the voice. They saw a man approach, apparently in his late thirties.
“Apologies, slayer,” he said to Faith. “Am I to understand these are your comrades from the Watchers Council?”
Faith shook her head in confusion and then looked to the team around her. “Uhh,” she began absently, making the man smile.
“I am known to many as Hilber. And I apologize that our guard scared you.”
“I wasn’t scared,” Faith said, shrugging him off.
Hilber gave a deep laugh. “I assume not. You’ve probably seen things far more frightening than our dear Shap here. Let’s all go inside.”
Abandoned Factory – Living Area – Moments Later
Although the exterior of the building looked like it was about to fall down, the interior was handsomely decorated.
“Nice digs,” Faith complemented as she looked around and the team walked further inside.
“Thank you,” Hilber replied. “My family has been here for many generations. Someday my daughter, Erios, will inherit this.”
“No offense, but the outside could use a little improvement,” Willow remarked.
“Heating definitely works, though,” Faith put in. She pulled off her jacket, slinging it over one arm.
“The outside appearance keeps real estate prospectors and nosy neighbors away,” Hilber explained. “Now, am I right in thinking that the reason you’re all here is because of Erios?”
“Not Erios so much as a young man she’s allegedly been seeing…his name is Richard,” Robin offered.
Hilber seemed to grow agitated. “The dreaded Caperlets sent you here, didn’t they?”
“I take it you folks have met?” Rowena asked.
“Never,” Hilber answered, which made the team look confused. “I refuse to associate with any life form as low as a Caperlet. My daughter, on the other hand…she refuses to listen to reason.”
“I’m confused,” Willow said.
“Me too,” echoed Faith, Rowena and Robin all at once.
“You see, the Montager and Caperlet family history goes back much further than this generation. When the first Montagers came to the Cleveland Hellmouth over two hundred years ago, the Caperlets forced our family here, to the Flats. Granted, we’ve built a fine home, but that chance to live on the other side of the river was taken from us. And it’s the Caperlets who are to blame.”
“So, you’ve got a Hatfields and McCoys thing going on here?” Willow asked.
“No,” Faith said, before Hilber could answer, “Now he’s got a Capulet and Montague thing going on. Two lovers from warring families.”
“Romeo and Juliet,” Willow muttered. She then turned swiftly to Faith. “How did you know that? I didn’t know you liked Shakespeare.”
“Hell, no. I don’t like Shakespeare,” Faith answered. “I had to study it for my English Lit class to get my GED. I guess it kinda stuck with me…anyway,” Faith stressed, “getting back to the subject…do you have any idea what’s happened to Richard? He’s gone missing.”
“Missing?” Hilber said, surprised. “I thought you came here to warn my daughter to stop dating humans. I thought the Caperlets told you she’s all to blame for this fiasco.”
Rowena and Willow looked at each other. “So you haven’t seen him?” Rowena asked.
“No, but, between us, if he’s gone missing, all the better. Maybe now Erios will move on and find an upstanding Denaver to build a life with instead of that…that…Caperlet.”
“Do you mind if we speak to your daughter, Hilbert?” Rowena asked.
“Be my guest,” he replied.
Erios’s Room – Moments Later
A young woman with dark hair lay on her stomach on a bed, reading a magazine. Her legs moved back and forth as she flipped the pages and listened to a set of headphones. A knock sounded at her door, but she did not respond in any way.
“Erios,” Hilber called out from outside her door. “There are some people here to see you.”
Unable to hear the knock, Erios continued to bop back and forth, listening to her music.
Hilber and the Council team stood in the hallway outside her closed door. He tried knocking again, but there was still no response.
“Teenagers,” he sighed, then finally opened the door.
Upon seeing her father enter, Erios pulled the headphones from her head and put down the magazine.
“Yeah?” she asked, as she watched her father and the Council team come inside.
“These folks are from the Watchers Council. They would like to ask you about…about…”
“Richard?” Erios asked in frustration.
“Yes,” he answered dryly.
“Hi Erios,” Rowena began. “I’m Rowena. This is Willow, Faith and Robin. Richard’s parents came to us saying he was missing. Your father says he doesn’t know anything about it, and we thought maybe you could help.”
“Yeah, I saw his folks the other day at the store. They said I hurt him somehow, but that’s not true. I haven’t seen him, either.”
“Are you sure?” Faith asked.
“I just said I haven’t seen him, didn’t I?” she replied briskly.
Faith got an annoyed look on her face and took a step forward, but Robin put a hand on her shoulder and moved closer to Erios.
“No need to get defensive,” Robin told the young woman. “His parents are really worried about him. We thought maybe you might know something. That’s all.”
“Last time I saw him was a few nights ago,” she answered. “We made a date to go to the movies, but he didn’t show up. I figured his folks finally got to him and he decided to call it quits.”
Rowena examined Erios closely for a moment, then turned to Hilber. “Do you mind if we speak privately with your daughter for a moment?”
Hilber had a moment of indecision, looking from Rowena to his daughter and then back again, but finally he nodded and left the room, closing the door behind him. Rowena walked over and sat at the edge of Erios’s bed.
“Now that Dad is gone,” she said in a soft voice. “Tell us what’s happening.”
“I told you –”
Rowena held up a finger. “No, that’s not true. You said what your father wanted to hear. Now I want the truth, because anyone who’s, what…eighteen years old?”
“Seventeen,” Erios corrected.
“Seventeen,” Rowena continued, “thinks love is a matter of life and death. And to be honest, you don’t seem too upset about Richard being missing. So that tells me one of two things: either A) you know where he is or B) you had something to do with his disappearance and he’s come to harm.”
“I didn’t hurt him,” Erios insisted. “I love him.”
“So,” Rowena went on, “it’s A then.”
No one said anything. They just looked at Erios, who began to fidget under their scrutiny.
“I swore I wouldn’t say anything,” she finally whispered.
“Whatever it is,” Rowena told her. “We’ll do our best to help…now, what’s happened to Richard?”
Erios remained silent, reluctantly looking around at the Council members in her bedroom.
Training Area – Same Time
Vi’s shoulders glistened with sweat as she stood in her tank top as her arms and legs jabbed and kicked in fury at an unseen object. She paused for a moment and wiped her forehead.
“Had enough yet?” she asked.
“That’ll do,” a voice said meekly from behind a facemask.
Vi reached up to remove the mask to reveal Xander in his puffy suit.
“You told me to give it all I got, didn’t you?” Vi told him.
“Yeah, I know.” Xander winced. “I just forgot how strong you slayers really are when you wanna be.”
Vi helped walk him to a nearby wall where he leaned a moment. She walked behind him and removed him from his confinement and let the suit fall to the floor. She then walked over and put her sweater over her tank top before walking back to him.
“So Buffy used to beat you up too, huh?” she asked.
Xander could only nod.
“So…who beats you up better? Me or her?” she asked, in almost a timid tone.
Xander arched an eyebrow. “Why do I get the sneaky suspicion we’re not just talking about training here? Are you jealous of her?”
Vi shrugged at first. “Well, I know you had this huge crush on her – Willow mentioned it before and…”
“Annnnd?” Xander prompted.
“And sometimes I wonder,” Vi replied.
“Abouuut?” Xander continued to drawl. When Vi didn’t add more Xander added, “Out with it already.”
Vi took a deep breath. “I think maybe sometimes the only reason you’re with me is because you can’t be with her. You know? Trading one slayer for another?”
“Yeah and that’s why Willow was with Kennedy – because she couldn’t have Buffy, right?”
“Huh?” Vi asked, confused.
“Exactly,” Xander replied. Vi still looked confused. “My point is it’s something that doesn’t make sense. Willow didn’t get involved with Ken because of some deep-seated desire for Buffy and I didn’t get involved with you for that reason either.”
“Okay,” Vi said casually.
“Okay? That’s it? Okay?” Xander replied. “This is a big deal Vi. I need to know if I made you feel…inadequate or something.”
Vi shook her head. “No it’s not you. In fact, you’re great. And that’s part of the problem. Great guys never liked me. I never had a guy as handsome or funny as you in my life ever and sometimes…sometimes it seems too good to be true.”
“Well, would it make you feel any better to learn I’ve never had a girl that’s friendly to everyone and normal, and yet absolutely extraordinary?” Xander asked.
Vi gave him a smile. “Yes, it does,” she replied.
Xander took her hands in his. “Listen to me carefully, okay?” Vi nodded. “I’m not in love with Buffy. I’m in love with you. And if Buffy walked through that door tomorrow, that wouldn’t change. All right?”
“All right.” Vi nodded happily.
“Now,” Xander told her, “let’s get back to some training that will allow me to walk without limping, agreed?”
Vi giggled. “You got it!”
Darkened Room – Same Time
Skye sat in an office alone but turned when she heard the door behind her open. Dr. Wagner and a man walked inside. Wagner took a spot behind the desk that sat in front of Skye while the man took the chair to Skye’s left in front of the desk.
“You rang?” Skye said annoyed.
“Yes, I rang,” Wagner replied hotly. “We haven’t heard anything for several hours. We thought maybe you were dead.”
Skye snorted sarcastically. “As you can see I’m fine. Can I go now?”
Wagner slammed her hands down on the table. “This is important work. You shouldn’t be taking it so lightly.”
Skye cackled. “I don’t care what you think. And I don’t care about you or your work.”
“Well you should start caring because we could make your life quite difficult and you know exactly what I mean.”
Skye let out a large sigh. “Yeah, I know that. So what’s the job?”
“Just observe and report your findings on the Council. A simple job.”
“Okay, well so far everyone seems to buy my excuse of ‘I don’t remember what happened,’ except for Faith.”
“The head slayer,” Wagner said as she made notes. “Go on.”
“She just looked at me kinda weird and left the room.” Skye shrugged.
“And as for the others?”
“Business as usual I guess,” Skye replied.
Wagner released a frustrated sigh. “I need you to be a bit more descriptive.”
“Fine. Giles is still gone. The slayers are still slaying and let’s see, oh yes, the watchers are still watching. I think the Coven might have a new member too. Some old dude – relation to Kennedy or something.” Skye shrugged.
“You realize that in the future I expect more information about the Council’s movements and goings-on?” Wagner asked.
“Aye, aye Captain,” Skye said with a salute. “Anything else?”
“Yes, keep a low profile,” she said. “Don’t do anything that might cause suspicion, especially around Faith.”
“Anything else?” Skye repeated in a ho-hum voice.
Wagner shook her head and Skye rose, going to the door. She paused as she opened it and turned to face Wagner.
“You should know something,” Skye told her. “You can only keep a dog on its leash so long before it finds a way out. Don’t forget that.”
Without saying more she exited the room.
End of Act Two