Radio Air Studio – Night
Tracey played air drums with wild abandon as the current song finished its climax. On the final thump, she tossed her hair back and moved to her microphone, hitting the on-air button.
“Oh man,” Tracey said a little breathlessly, “I love that song! It’s so good it made me forget where I left off. Now…where were we?”
Watchers Council – Lobby – Morning
Andrew came skidding into the lobby. When he saw Xander talking with Faith, he ran over.
“Xander, could you take a look at room 304 in the slayer dorms? It’s kinda…destroyed.”
Radio Air Studio – Night
“Oh, wait…we were after that, weren’t we?” Tracey corrected. “That’s right.”
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Later that Morning
Jeff led Jocelyn to a seat next to Willow in the Coven Room, then sat down next to Andrew.
“Willow, Andrew, this is Jocelyn,” Jeff introduced.
“It’s nice to meet you, Jocelyn,” Willow said.
As Andrew merely smiled his greeting, Willow stuck out her hand for a friendly shake, but Jocelyn didn’t reciprocate. Instead, she only gripped her purse strap more tightly. Willow withdrew her hand.
“So…Jeff tells me you can do magic,” Willow prompted.
Jocelyn nodded nervously. “Yeah, I can…well, sort of, sometimes. I mean, it doesn’t always do what it’s supposed to do, you know?”
Willow chuckled. “How well I know,” she admitted.
“Anyway, I-I-I decided to take you up on your offer,” the girl continued, “even after you terrified my cat. ‘Cause…’cause…something happened with my boyfriend.”
Willow, Andrew and Jeff shared some curious glances and then turned back to Jocelyn.
The blonde dropped her gaze to her hands, which she had placed on the table. “We were, um, getting serious, and then I accidentally…”
Jocelyn leaned over to Willow and began whispering in her ear.
Suddenly, Tracey popped up behind them. She too leaned over and listened in. Within seconds, Tracey began giggling.
Radio Air Studio – Night
“I’d tell you what I heard,” Tracey said into her microphone, “but the FCC would have my ass.”
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Resume
As Jocelyn finished her whispering, Willow’s eyes widened. Andrew and Jeff were leaning across the table, anxious to hear what the blonde was saying.
“Oh my,” Willow said. “And do you do things like that all the time without meaning to?”
“Yes,” Jocelyn said.
“Do what?” Jeff asked.
“Yeah, do what?” Andrew echoed.
“Details not important, guys,” Willow replied, noticing that Jocelyn seemed to be getting a little upset.
“My boyfriend broke up with me and told everybody at school!” the teenager complained woefully. “That’s why I want to transfer here, to the Council’s school. If that’s okay, anyway.”
“It won’t be easy,” Willow told her. “You’ll have to learn how to use magic properly, all while keeping up with your regular studies. It will be a lot of work.”
“I’ll try,” Jocelyn said. “I mean, I want to try, if you’ll let me.”
Willow smiled and nodded. “Of course,” she said, picking up a pen and form on the table. “Let me just get you to sign a few papers, and we’ll go from there.” Willow handed Jocelyn the pen and slid the papers across the table.
Once in Jocelyn’s hand, the pen began to glow. She yelped and dropped the pen onto the papers, which instantly caught fire. She backed away from the table in fright, while Willow and the others rushed to extinguish the flames.
“Sorry…” Jocelyn quietly.
“Oh boy,” Willow muttered under her breath.
“Speaking of boy…” announced Tracey, from behind Willow and Jocelyn.
Dr. Callaway’s House – Kitchen – Late Afternoon
“Do you know this kid?” Tracey asked in a tired voice. The plastic-looking child she had discovered in the basement tugged on her hand, his head swiveling in an attempt to take in every detail of the room. Dr. Callaway’s eyes were wide with horror.
“I-I have never seen it before in my life!” she stammered.
Tracey sighed and leaned down to talk to the child. “What’s your name?”
The boy stopped his squirming momentarily to consider the question. “I dunno.”
“You don’t know your name?” Tracey asked. “What about your parents? Who are your parents?”
“I don’t know what I’m for,” the boy replied, his face innocent as only a child’s can be.
“Maybe I should call animal control,” Dr. Callaway said nervously.
“What?” Tracey blurted, standing upright again. “He isn’t an animal, he’s a kid! Admittedly, he’s a little weird, but that doesn’t make him an animal!”
Tracey looked in a completely different direction and said, “I can relate.”
Elementary School Playground – Day
A third-grade version of Tracey hung upside-down by her knees from blue monkey-bars, She waved a long tree branch in the air.
“By the power of Grayskull!” she shouted. “I have the Power!!!” She smacked the side of the monkey-bars with the stick.
Dr. Callaway’s House – Kitchen – Resume
“That’s not a human boy,” Dr. Callaway argued. “Look at it!”
The child had managed to get free of Tracey’s grip and grab a spatula off the top of the counter, and was now banging it against different buttons on the front of the dishwasher. The boy laughed as the indicator lights on the machine changed color.
“That’s not for playing,” Tracey said gently, prying the child’s fingers loose from the spatula. He just looked at her, eyes wide. Tracey then rounded on her professor. “Whatever you think about him, he was in your basement. He’s your responsibility!”
“Just get rid of it!” Dr. Callaway shouted.
“I can’t just get rid of him!” Tracey yelled back. “What am I supposed to do with a little kid?” Behind her, the boy was now opening various drawers and rummaging through them.
“If it stays here, I’m just gonna call animal control,” Dr. Callaway insisted.
Tracey opened her mouth and closed it a few times before answering. “Fine.” The child was tugging on her hand. “What?!?” she asked him, exasperated.
“What does this do?” the boy asked, holding up a long wooden spoon.
Tracey took the boy’s hand and turned to leave, but Dr. Callaway called after her. “Tracey?”
“Promise me you won’t tell anyone about this.”
Tracey brow furrowed. “Why don’t you want me to –?”
Slowly, Tracey nodded. “I promise.”
Outside Dr. Callaway’s House – Moments Later
“What’s this?” the boy asked, pulling down on Tracey’s arm. She looked to see him leaning down to touch Dr. Callaway’s impeccable front lawn with a slightly-too-shiny finger.
Tracey knelt down next to the kid. “That’s called grass,” she said patiently.
“I’ve never seen this before,” he said, his words very clear for a boy his age.
Tracey just stared at the small boy for a second, then shook her head. “Yeah, well, just wait until your parents decide you’re spending too much time indoors and tell you to go mow the lawn.”
“What is ‘parents’?” the boy asked.
Tracey stopped in the middle of getting to her feet. After a moment, she turned her head to look at nothing in particular. “I am the only one having a Twin Peaks moment?” She grabbed the child’s hand. “C’mon, let’s go.”
“What’s that?” he asked, pointing.
Tracey sighed. “That’s my car. Not the Batmobile, I’ll grant you, but I had my girl Marie trick out the…”
“What’s it do?”
“Do all your sentences have question marks at the end?”
“It looks scary,” the boy noted.
“Guess not.” One corner of Tracey’s mouth curled up in a half-smile. “It’s fine.” She opened the passenger-side door. “Look, nothing scary. It’s like When a Stranger Calls in there.”
The boy stomped one foot on the white pavement of Professor Callaway’s driveway. “I DON’T WANNA!” he screamed.
“Okay, okay.” Tracey motioned frantically in an attempt to soothe the child. She knelt down next to him again, stroking his hair. “Shh, shh, it’s okay.” Slowly, his bawling began to quiet. Tracey smiled. “You know, I have to call you something.” She thought for a moment, then her expression changed to indicate that an invisible light bulb had just appeared above Tracey’s head. “What about Hugh? You know, from TNG, when they adopt that Borg and he doesn’t…you have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”
“I like Hugh,” the boy said after a moment.
“Hugh it is, then,” Tracey grinned, getting to her feet. “Now, if you get in, we can play a game.
Hugh considered this before nodding. “Okay.”
Tracey’s Car – Moments Later
After making sure Hugh was strapped in behind her, Tracey turned the key in the ignition. The engine sputtered, but refused to start.
“Is it broken?” Hugh asked.
“No, we’re good,” Tracey insisted. “Marie, you said you were good with cars,” she muttered under her breath, before trying the key again to the same result.
Interstellar Spacecraft – Bridge
“Work, darnit!” Tracey banged on the side of her blinking console. “We need the hyperdrive back online!”
“Captain, we’ve got deconfessions…,” reported Hugh, who was reading a console on another part of the bridge.
“Decompressions,” Tracey corrected. “Seal them off, and get me the engine room.”
Tracey and Hugh were the only two crew visible – both in futuristic uniform. The spacecraft was in the Trekkian mold, a little too clean, with more blinking lights than a Vulcan could understand, much less a diminutive, shiny-skinned human. However, Hugh appeared to be doing just fine.
Tracey grabbed the side of her workstation to keep from toppling over when the entire bridge suddenly shook.
“Shield levels?” Tracey prompted.
“Bad,” Hugh replied. “The aliens want to talk.”
“Put ’em through,” Tracey ordered, striding to a command chair in the center of the bridge. She pressed a few buttons before sitting down.
An image of Kadin Van Helsing, wearing a silver-colored jumpsuit and sporting large ridges on her nose and brow, appeared on a large view-screen in front of her. “Greetings, human,” the alien spat. “Are you prepared to surrender?”
Tracey scoffed. So did Hugh, a split-second later. “Humans don’t surrender,” Tracey said. “We just keep fighting. It’s this thing we do. I thought when you called you were prepared to be reasonable, but –”
“Zorlon 7 is rightfully ours!” Kadin bellowed.
“Since when?” Tracey replied. “Intergalactic law doesn’t change just because you say it does. Rules are rules.”
“Yeah,” Hugh agreed, his tone making evident his distaste for their foe.
“I make my own rules,” the alien growled. “Our readings show that your shields are almost depleted. Surrender now or die!”
“Which part of ‘humans don’t surrender’ didn’t you get?” Tracey wondered.
Kadin huffed and broke the connection. The bridge soon shook again.
“We’re gonna blow up!” Hugh shouted, his voice high-pitched and scared.
“No, we’re not,” Tracey said, determination in her voice as she stood up. “I’ve got a plan. I need all power to weapons!”
“All power to weapons!” Hugh repeated enthusiastically.
Tracey looked up from examining her console and grinned. “This is always the best part.”
“He has to lower his shields to fire, if only for a second,” she explained, now talking to Hugh. “The next time they fire, fire back immediately.”
“But our shields are down, too,” Hugh pointed out.
“That’s why we gotta hang on,” Tracey replied.
“They’re shooting at us!” Hugh squealed.
“Fire!” Tracey ordered.
The bridge rocked wildly as the alien shots came in. Sparks flew everywhere. Hugh screamed. Tracey sprawled on the floor.
On the view-screen, the alien ship suddenly exploded, a single ring of light traveling out horizontally. Slowly, the debris of the central explosion disintegrated into nothingness.
“We won!” Hugh exclaimed.
“We always do,” Tracey said, getting to her feet, she looked slightly the worse for wear.
“Where are we going now?” Hugh asked.
Tracey’s Car – Late Afternoon
“Where are we going now?”
Tracey turned her head for an instant to look in the backseat, then returned her eyes to the road. “I can’t take you straight to the Council’s bigwigs, but I need help on this one. Don’t worry, I know one guy who always, always, always comes through.”
Watchers Council – Andrew’s Apartment – Night
Andrew, wearing a t-shirt that read, “Yoda, the best advice he gives,” took a break from reading a comic book to drink from his can of soda. He snickered at something he read, then grimaced. “Carbonation in my nose…ow!”
Hearing a noise, Andrew turned his head towards the glass door of his balcony. Then there was another tap when a pebble glanced off the glass.
“This better be good,” he sighed, getting to his feet. “This new writer they have on Astonishing X-Men is amazing…”
He slid open the balcony door.
Outside Andrew’s Apartment – Continuous
When Andrew stepped through the door, he was suddenly wearing full Elizabethan garb. He wore a red velvet doublet and a pair of baggy, gold embroidered short pants over gray tights. His navy blue hat was topped off with a jaunty feather.
He found Tracey standing on the grass beneath, wearing a rather elaborate white dress with red ruffles.
“Andrew, Andrew,” she called. “Wherefore art thou, Andrew?” Looking up, she smiled. “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the East and Andrew is the sun!”
“Here standeth I!” Andrew said. “Why dost thou cast thy stones at the quivering panes, calling for my most fortuitous appearance? Art thou not Tracey and my girlfriend?”
“Neither, fair saint,” Tracey replied, “if either thee dislike.”
“How camest thou hither, and wherefore?” Andrew asked. “Thou art welcome in my house without these rituals! I beg of thee, come hither with me, and we shall partake in Halo 2 together.”
“I bear tidings of grave consequence,” Tracey told him. “Well, kinda,” she added with a sheepish shrug.
“Alack,” Andrew said, “there lies more peril in thine eye than twenty of Kennedy’s swords. Look thou but sweet, and I am proof against all ill.”
“An oath I have sworn this very day, for reasons I know not,” Tracey said. “I have many wonders thou hast not beheld, this day or any other. Prithee, come to my abode with greatest speed?”
“By love, who first did prompt me to inquire,” Andrew replied, “he lent me counsel and I lent him eyes. I am no Han Solo. Yet, wert thou as far as that vast galaxy in the far and distant past, I would adventure for such merchandise.”
“O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?” Tracey asked.
“What satisfaction canst thou have as yet?” Andrew answered.
“The exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.” Tracey looked up at Andrew in adoration.
“I gave thee mine before thou didst request it,” Andrew replied, “and yet I would it were to give again.”
Tracey’s brow furrowed. “Wouldst thou withdraw it? For what purpose, love?”
“But to be frank, and give it thee again,” Andrew said. Tracey breathed a sigh of relief. “And yet I wish but for the thing I have: My bounty is as boundless as the Alpha Quadrant, my love as triumphant. The more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.”
“Is not the Alpha Quadrant bounded hard by the galaxy’s edge?” Tracey asked.
“Thy beauty hast driven my soul to madness,” Andrew agreed. “I shall make haste. Stay but a little, I will come again.” He retreated back inside his apartment.
Radio Air Studio – Night
“Isn’t he just so romantic?” Tracey beamed. “Best boyfriend ever.” She sighed dreamily, before catching herself.
“Anyway,” she said into the microphone, “things weren’t going quite so romantically elsewhere.”
Downtown Cleveland Alley – Night
A strong kick in the middle of the back roughly jarred Marissa awake. She had been curled up over a vent in a narrow back alley, her duffel bag cradled between her arms. Slayer instincts kicking in, she instantly sprang to her feet and threw a punch, only to find her attack handily parried.
“You’re gonna freeze to death out here,” Faith said.
“I’ve lived through much colder,” Marissa replied, relaxing only slightly. “You just gotta know where the warm spots are. What do you want?”
“I just wanna talk,” Faith said.
“And why exactly should I listen?” Marissa countered. “You’re with them, with the Council. The people who screwed me over, who killed Janet!” She was almost yelling.
“I seem to recall that it was a giant magic wooden monster that killed Janet, not the Council,” Faith said calmly. “Anyway, I’m not with them anymore. Remember? You wanna talk about getting screwed over…”
Marissa regarded the other girl warily for a moment, then finally letting her guard down. She leaned on a nearby dumpster, blinking a few times. “You never even shot anybody,” she said eventually. “Jackasses.”
“Not lately,” Faith agreed. “You want a drink?”
“As long as you’re buyin’.”
Arturo’s Bar – Later
“Just a Bud,” Marissa told Tracey, who was tending bar. It was a small, dingy establishment, lit mostly by the various neon beer advertisements lining the walls. Marissa and Faith sat at the bar, on two stools with ripped seat coverings.
“You got it,” Tracey replied. She turned around and winked at the camera.
“So, how’re you really doin’?” Faith asked.
“Like a bag of psychotic cats trapped in a burning meth lab,” Marissa answered after a moment’s consideration.
“Yeah, I kinda remember that feeling,” Faith said. “And you know what I figured out? It doesn’t have to be like that.”
“Yeah?” Marissa said, an eyebrow raised skeptically. “What am I s’posed to do, exactly? Beg the jackasses to take me back? ‘Cause that ain’t gonna happen.”
Faith sighed, shifting position on her stool. “Marissa, just because you got booted doesn’t mean you have to go back to where you were before. Living on the streets, angry, not trusting anybody. We both know how much that sucks. You can still protect people.”
Marissa laughed. It wasn’t out of amusement. Rather, it was cold and full of bitterness. “People have never wanted me. My father drank himself to death, my mother was afraid of me. People have never done jack for me. Why the hell should I care about protecting them?”
“Because people are better than the alternative,” Faith said simply. “If you go down that road, if you stop caring, then you’re just gonna stay down there in the dark, and you can trust me when I say, it ain’t gonna be fun. And the farther you go, the harder it’ll be to turn back.”
“You wanna talk in metaphors, I’m not really your gal,” Marissa said.
Tracey plunked two glasses of beer down on the bar in front of the two slayers. “You should listen to her,” she said, motioning to Faith. “The woman knows what she’s talking about.”
As Tracey turned her attention to the other patrons at the bar, Marissa took a long swig of her beer. Wiping her mouth, she asked, “What do you have in mind?”
“Word back at headquarters has it that there’s a new vamp nest in the Flats,” Faith told her. “The bodies are startin’ to pile up.”
“They can do their own dirty work,” Marissa replied immediately. “I don’t work for the Council. Which, unless my memory’s gettin’ all Swiss Cheese, was their idea.”
“I don’t work for the Council anymore, either,” Faith said. “I’m freelance. Just like you.”
“Freelance,” Marissa repeated, turning the idea over in mind. “That might work.”
She raised her glass. “Screw the assholes. We’ll show ’em what slayers are really about.”
“Hell yes,” Faith agreed, knocking her glass against Marissa’s.
As both girls downed long draughts of their beers, nearby Tracey was grinning. “I think this might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Tracey’s Apartment – Later
“He’s…made of plastic,” Andrew observed with fascination. He watched Hugh run around Tracey’s apartment. “Reminds me of Warren’s work.”
“Uh huh,” Tracey confirmed.
“His name is Hugh?”
“Thanks,” Tracey said. Her voice was hollow, perhaps from the shock of seeing her apartment so torn apart. Books were thrown haphazardly onto the floor. In the kitchen nook, bowls and plates were turned upside down and piled on the floor.
Brell, looking exhausted, reclined on Tracey’s sofa.
Tracey poked at an XBox controller that now hung from a light fixture by its cord. “What the heck happened?” she asked.
“Hugh very curious,” Brell said. “Has more energy than Brell.”
Seeing Brell’s condition, Tracey managed a sympathetic smile. “Thanks for baby-sitting.”
“No problem,” Brell told her, waving his hand. “Makes good change from watching nephews and nieces. At least only one of Hugh.”
“Why didn’t you just take him to the Council?” Andrew asked Tracey.
“I promised Dr. Callaway I wouldn’t tell anyone,” Tracey said.
Hugh started taking several DVDs off a shelf and throwing them to the floor. “What’s this for?”
“You told me,” Andrew observed.
“And Brell,” the blue demon added.
“Well…I can’t do this alone,” Tracey explained. “You guys are like my family.”
A goofy grin appeared on Brell’s face.
“But I’m not like your brother, right?” Andrew said. “Because that would be a little creepy.”
“Nope,” Tracey agreed, snaking her arms around Andrew’s torso from behind and resting her chin on his shoulder. “Definitely not my brother.” He smiled in response.
“Can Brell be Tracey’s brother?” Brell asked.
Tracey saw Hugh reach out to grab her Playstation 2. “No!”
Brell looked disappointed. Hugh took one look at Tracey’s face and backed away.
“Not you Brell, him,” Tracey said, pointing to Hugh.
“Oh,” Brell said, standing up and trying to lead Hugh away.
“Wait,” Andrew said, turning his head to look at Tracey just behind him, “I thought your professor said she didn’t know anything about Hugh. Why wouldn’t she want you to tell anybody?”
“Because she’s not telling me everything, obviously,” Tracey said. “I need to talk to her again, but I can’t until class tomorrow. In the meantime, could you help me try and figure out where exactly Hugh comes from?”
“Sure,” Andrew agreed. “Where should I start?”
“Well, he clearly isn’t human,” Tracey said. “Is that a good enough starting point?”
“I guess it’ll have to be,” Andrew sighed. “I might have to figure out a way to get inside him and tinker around.” Tracey gave him a look. “No!” Andrew said quickly. “Not like that, sheesh!”
“Well, I’ll have to figure out how to make it through the night without too much property damage.” Tracey shook her head. “Guys, what am I gonna do?”
“If Tracey want Brell’s advice,” Brell began, as Tracey nodded, “maybe practice being mother.”
Hugh ran past with a bowl on his head. Tracey did not look happy. She turned to the camera.
“Does it look like I have maternal instincts?”
End of Act Two