Marting Hall – Computer Lab – Moments Later
A dejected Dr. Callaway sat in a stackable plastic chair wedged in the corner of her computer lab.
“Here ya go,” Tracey said, holding out a can of Slim-Fast.
Dr. Callaway accepted the offering. “Thanks.”
Tracey sat down in another chair nearby, slowly taking a sip from the can of Coke in her hand.
“You don’t need to lose weight, y’know,” she told her professor.
“I like the taste,” Dr. Callaway said quietly, though she made no motion to drink from the can in her hand.
Tracey wrinkled her nose at the notion of drinking Slim-Fast for fun, but said nothing.
After a moment, the older woman spoke. “I didn’t know what I was doing. When he first…I freaked out.”
Dr. Callaway’s House – Night
Screaming a single high note, Dr. Callaway ran out of her basement door, slamming it behind her. She scurried across and out of her kitchen, hands flailing. The sound of her screaming got quieter. Then the sound slowly got louder again until Dr. Callaway ran back into her kitchen. She continued to run until she had circled the island in the center of her kitchen three times. She never stopped to breathe.
Marting Hall – Computer Lab – Resume
“I tried to…turn him off,” Dr. Callaway continued. “I thought it worked.”
“Well, obviously it didn’t,” Tracey said. “Probably because of the whole magic thing. Generally, it’s pretty hard to ‘turn off’ magic.”
A ghost of a smile crossed the professor’s features. “I guess I should’ve learned from Fantasia, huh?”
“But not from Fantasia 2,” Tracey added. “Bad influence.”
“You’ll have to destroy it,” Dr. Callaway said, her voice suddenly louder and somewhat decisive.
Tracey raised an eyebrow. “Sorry?”
The professor sprang to her feet. “It’s not natural,” Dr. Callaway ranted, running a hand through her hair as she paced. “It’s an abomination! I see that now.”
“Wow,” Tracey deadpanned, “I’ve never had a professor before who was both bipolar and obsessive/compulsive. Kudos.” She turned her head to talk to…someone else. “Seriously, the woman’s crazy. Like, Jack Nicholson crazy. In The Shining or Batman, take your pick, really.” Dr. Callaway took a long swig of her Slim Fast. “See what I mean?”
Tracey turned back to her professor, her voice pleading. “You don’t understand. I agree with you, it was a mistake to build Hugh. But now that you have, someone needs to take care of him. It doesn’t matter how he was created.”
“It matters to me!” Dr. Callaway yelled. “I’m not going to have that thing in my house!”
Radio Air Studio – Night
“It was at that point I realized that I wasn’t going to get anywhere with her,” Tracey said into her microphone. At the same time, she loaded a CD into a deck and selected a track, without ever actually looking at what she was doing. “It was a little like talking to somebody who liked the last three seasons of X-Files…what can you do except nod and smile until they go away? And anyway, I didn’t want to leave Hugh with that woman on a regular basis, so that pretty much put me back to level one.”
Tracey adjusted a meter on her production board, then pressed a red button. The vaguely middle-eastern techno beats of the Chemical Brothers’ “Galvanize” could be heard softly in the background.
“At least someone was making progress, though,” she said. “And, what a surprise, those someones weren’t working for the Council.”
Club Destiny – Later that Night
The beat of “Galvanize” throbbed through Club Destiny. Laser lights fanned out over the thick, dancing throng. In the center of the gyrating twenty-somethings stood a group of between fifteen and twenty men, their faces twisted into the tell-tale visage of a vampire.
Wearing less than one usually would in the chill Cleveland spring, the nearest of a group of three or four girls tapped one of the vampires on the shoulder.
“I heard you’re carrying,” she shouted over the music. With an animal-like growl, the vampires turned to see who had disturbed them. Frightened looks crossed the girls’ faces, but they made no attempt to run. “Could you hook us up?” one asked weakly.
“That depends,” said the vampire who the girl had tapped. “What are you willing to give?” He grinned wickedly.
The screams of the two girls blended into the whine of the alarm coming from the metal detector at the entrance to the club. Faith stood under the contraption’s plastic arch with Marissa just behind her. Both slayers were dressed all in leather, with long coats and pants, and both wore identical sleek pairs of sunglasses despite the late hour.
“I’m sorry, miss, but would you please step over here?” a burly security guard asked Faith. Her face completely inscrutable, she obeyed. The guard ran a metal detecting wand around Faith’s waist. The device immediately emitted a sound halfway between a whine and a beep.
“Could you open your coat, miss?” the guard asked. Without changing her expression, Faith opened her coat to reveal a huge sword strapped to her waist, a couple of crossbows inside her coat, and a myriad of stakes.
“What the –” the guard began, before Faith knocked him unconscious with a punch to the face.
Marissa stepped through the metal detector, setting off the alarms all over again. She pointed to the guard. “Is he…?”
“He’ll be fine,” Faith said. “Probably on their payroll, anyway, even if he didn’t know it.” She nodded towards the center of the dance floor. “Over there.”
“I can sense it.”
Marissa cocked an eyebrow behind her Ray-Bans. “You’re good at that, aren’t ya? Is that why you knew about Skye when nobody else did?”
“Maybe,” Faith responded shortly. A woman carrying an oversized salted margarita glass bumped into the slayer. “Hey, watch it!” Faith growled.
The red-headed woman turned around and Faith’s eyes widened in recognition. “Hey, I know you. You’re that chick from the demon bar. Gabbie, right?”
“Glad to see you expanding your horizons, Faith,” she replied. She tried to move what seemed like a hundred garnishments in the glass before finding her straw and taking a sip.
“What are you doing here?”
“What? I can’t get a night off?”
Faith shrugged and said, “Whatever. Let’s go.”
The two slayers walked away, leaving the woman to fight with her beverage. Once Faith and Marissa were at the dance floor, Gabbie followed them. She stayed close by the bar, unobserved.
While Faith and Marissa walked purposefully across the floor, they seemed to move in slow-motion. Gabbie continued walking at her regular pace, her smile curling up in amusement. Also moving at regular speed, Tracey pushed through the crowd to walk beside the slayers. “Say hello to the new scourge of the underworld,” she said. “Now, you may be asking, since when do Faith and Marissa have matching all-leather outfits? Well, I’m telling the story, and if I say that they looked like they just walked out of The Matrix, that’s how they looked, all right?” She cast a quick sideways glance at Faith next to her. “I may be straight, but…damn.”
In an instant, Faith, Marissa and the crowd around them returned to regular speed. The two slayers walked right past Tracey toward the vampires. In the clearing in the center of the floor, the reveling throng was steadfastly ignoring the group of vampires feeding on the group of girls who had solicited them. Suddenly, two of the vampires drinking from their prey evaporated. The two girls, severely weakened, dropped to the floor, clutching at their bleeding necks.
Faith and Marissa were each holding a crossbow. The remaining fifteen or so vampires growled, surrounding the pair. “That was a big mistake,” Marissa muttered. She glanced over at her new partner. “Could use one of Xander’s repeating crossbows right about now.”
“Don’t need ’em,” Faith said, dropping her weapon rather than reloading. Marissa followed suit. The volume of the music pulsing through the club seemed to increase. The circle of vampires began to close.
With lightning speed, Faith pulled her sword from inside her jacket while at the same time bending herself over backwards at a ninety degree angle. At a quick slash from the slayer, three vampires were sliced in half, their dust tumbling to the ground. Marissa leapt forward, kicking a vampire with each leg while dusting two more with stakes she had produced from inside her sleeves. Falling on her butt, she rolled backwards and staked a vampire that she found standing over her. She then kicked another in the face as she flipped to her feet.
Attacked by vampires from four sides, Faith jumped in the air and did something not dissimilar from a triple axel, her sword constantly moving and finding another neck. Four more of the creatures immediately disappeared. Marissa staked another with one hand while shooting a crossbow with the other.
The remaining few vampires looked frightened and tried to run. Two of them chose the same direction, only to find Faith standing in front of them.
“W-W-What do you want?” asked one of the survivors, panicked.
“I’m just doin’ my job,” Faith said. Then she decapitated the pair with her sword.
Nearby, Marissa followed through after throwing a wooden stake into the retreating back of the last vampire from the group. The sound of his dusting could faintly be heard over the continuing beat of the music.
Faith reached down to help one of the unfortunate girls get to her feet. But unnoticed by Faith was another vampire creeping up behind her from the shadows. Gabbie casually pulled the pink umbrella from her drink and placed it between her thumb and index finger. With superhuman strength, she sent the projectile into the vampire’s back. As he looked down at his chest, the umbrella opened up, as if mocking him
“Damn,” he muttered, before turning to dust.
Faith looked behind her at the sound, only to see the dust and the remains of a tiny drink umbrella on the ground. Gabbie looked on silently and took a sip of her drink. Faith turned back to the last of the young women and finished pulling her to her feet. The girl immediately moved to join her friends, all of whom had scared looks on their faces.
“Don’t do drugs,” Faith told them casually. All four girls stared for a moment, then turned and ran.
Marissa was grinning as she picked up one of her crossbows. “That was…awesome!”
“Better than sleeping on the street and robbing people?” Faith asked, walking over to the other slayer.
“Oh, yeah,” Marissa said.
Faith nodded. “Thought so.” She reached somewhere inside her jacket and pulled out a few ten-dollar bills, then tossed them to Marissa. “You find yourself a room for the night. Something…Spartan.”
“Freelance, huh?” Marissa smiled.
“Freelance,” Faith agreed. “I’ll call ya tomorrow.” She watched Marissa retreat into the crowd, waving.
Tracey, now wearing her own long leather coat and shades, walked up next to Faith. “So, looks like you’ve come full-circle,” she pointed out.
“Almost as if it were planned that way,” Faith remarked, her tone almost wistful.
From her seat at the bar, Gabbie grinned.
Tracey’s Apartment – Same Time
Andrew handed Tracey several pages of printed out research. She had to quickly move the pages out of Hugh’s reach, standing up as the boy tried to grab the papers from her. “Go play with Uncle Brell,” she told him.
Brell stood from his seat on the couch with a sigh. “Hugh want to play Morak Beast?” Hugh nodded excitedly. Brell leaned over and let Hugh climb onto his shoulders.
“Hugh is a Golem,” Andrew explained to Tracey.
“And that would be what?” she asked.
“The creation of intelligent life through magic,” Andrew said.
“And also circuitry,” Tracey pointed out.
“Yeah…but think of Hugh as a twenty-first century version of a Golem.”
“Well, whatever he is,” Tracey said, “he needs to be out of my apartment.” She watched Brell carry a giggling Hugh past the pair on his shoulders, the boy holding onto the demon’s horns. “We need to find him a nice home.” Andrew only bit his lip in response. “What?” Tracey asked.
“Well…” He seemed reluctant to begin. “Your professor wasn’t exactly wrong about the whole ‘abomination’ thing.”
“Andrew!” Tracey exclaimed. “He’s just a little kid!”
“You don’t understand, Tracey,” Andrew insisted. “The magicks one would need for…” His eyes flickered to the boy on Brell’s shoulders. “They’re not exactly of the white variety, shall we say? I don’t even know how your professor found them.”
Berea Public Library – Day
Dr. Callaway sat at one of the reading tables in the public library. She picked up a book and held it in front of her face. In big block letters, the book’s title read “How To Build A Magic Robot.”
Tracey’s Apartment – Resume
“Andrew,” Tracey said, “you’ve seen Hugh. It doesn’t matter whether you’re made out of flesh or plastic or polyester or white magic or dark magic or purple magic or –”
“Tracey, we don’t even know if he has a soul,” Andrew interrupted.
“Of course he has a soul,” Tracey responded immediately. “He likes Star Wars, doesn’t he?”
Andrew smiled. “Well, you got me there.”
“I thought so.”
“But I still don’t know what we’re gonna do with him,” he continued. “I love you Tracey, I really do, but…we’re not ready to be parents.”
“Oh, hell no,” Tracey hurriedly agreed.
“Brell know someone maybe take Hugh,” Brell said suddenly, stopping in front of the pair. Hugh still held onto his horns.
“Seriously?” Tracey asked. Brell nodded. “Why didn’t you say something before?”
“Tracey not ask.” Brell shrugged his shoulders as best he could with a Golem sitting on them.
“Who?” Andrew asked.
Radio Air Studio – Night
Back in the radio studio, Tracey excitedly leaned into her microphone.
“I know the suspense is killing you, faithful listeners, but I just have to fill you in on what was going on back at the ranch. Lives in peril, blood-drinking creatures, blah, blah, blah. Y’know, important stuff.”
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Night
Buffy sat at the head of the table. To her right sat Kennedy. To her left was an empty chair. Seated in the remaining chairs were Rowena, Vi, Xander and Robin. Tracey struck a pose against the wall.
“Anybody know where Willow is?” Buffy asked the group.
There were head shakes all around. Buffy’s eyes settled on Rowena for a moment, but the watcher quickly shrugged.
Tracey rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right, like she would know. Those two spend so much time tip-toeing around each other, when all they really want to do is get horizontal. I don’t know why they just don’t do it already. Guess they’re waiting on one of those life-and-death, ‘moment of clarity’ situations.” Tracey sighed. “Drama queens.”
Just then, the door opened and Willow came in. Soot was on her face and clothes, and her hair was sticking out every which way. She tried to brush off her clothes, but only succeeded in sending small soot clouds into the air.
“Sorry, sorry,” Willow said, taking her place next to Buffy. “Jocelyn still needs some work.”
“What Jocelyn needs is a luck transplant,” Tracey interjected.
Buffy coughed as a soot cloud entered her air space from Willow’s attempt to pat her hair back into place. “So, Jocelyn problems aside, what are we going to do about these new vamps? Do we have any idea what’s going on?”
“Don’t worry, problem solved,” Faith announced as she burst through the door to the conference room, cleaning her sword nonchalantly.
“You found out what was going on?” Buffy asked.
“Nope,” Faith replied, “but all the vamps are dust, so it doesn’t matter now anyway. Just thought you’d like to know.”
At that, Faith leaned her sword on her shoulder, turned on her heel, and walked out of the room, a self-satisfied smile on her face. Stunned, Buffy and the others just stared at one another.
“Sometimes, there are advantages to working freelance,” Tracey commented.
“Okay then,” Buffy finally said. “I guess we can move on to the next order of business.”
Reteesk’s Apartment – Morning
Tracey reached up and knocked on a door marked “420” in gold letters.
“What’s that for?” Hugh asked from his position at her side.
“It’s a door…it keeps people out that you don’t want to come in.”
“Why doesn’t he want us to come in?”
“That’s the thing about doors,” Tracey said. “They not only keep people out…they also let people in.”
Tracey changed her eye-line to talk directly to the camera. “My wisdom is matched only by my power,” she quipped.
The door swung open to reveal Reteesk, his tentacles twitching apart into something that might have been a smile.
“My dear Tracey,” he exclaimed. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“It’s…” Tracey hesitated. “It’s complicated, actually. Brell sent us. Can we come in?”
“Of course, of course,” Reteesk agreed. “Where are my manners? Come in!”
Tracey still looked uncomfortable as she entered Reteesk’s apartment. The place was well-furnished. Ming vases filled with exotic, possibly extra-dimensional flowers sat on varnished wood shelves. Reproductions of well-known works of art hung from the walls…though some of them might have been the originals. The main room of the place centered around a gold-inlaid crate, doubling as a coffee table.
“May I take your coat, my dear?” Reteesk asked Tracey.
“Oh, of course,” she said, taking off her jacket and handing it to the demon. “You’re always so nice.”
“I simply believe in the quaint concept of manners,” Reteesk said. “Rare in this day and age, I am aware, but still of the utmost importance. And who, if I may ask, is your young squire this fine morning?”
Tracey’s brow furrowed for a moment, but then she shook her head. “This is Hugh,” she said. “He’s a robot…sort of…anyway, he’s a kid, and he doesn’t have a home, and he’s been staying with me,” Tracey rambled. “He’s torn up my place, and he’s ruining my life, and he may possibly have been created using dark magicks…but I really kinda like him.”
Reteesk leaned down and swept Hugh up in his arms. “This child is a Golem,” Reteesk said. It wasn’t really a question.
“Partially. The other part is robotic,” Tracey said. “Brell told me…he thought that maybe you would be interested in taking Hugh in…y’know, permanently.”
No one said anything for a moment. Hugh batted at Reteesk’s tentacles with one hand.
“You have a funny face,” the boy said.
“I suppose I do at that,” Reteesk said quietly. After continuing to look at the squirming Hugh for a moment, he put the child down and turned to Tracey.
“I am the last of my line,” he began, a certain gravity evident in his voice. “I live here, in a world that is not my own, in a time that I fear has passed me by. I must confess that I might find some comfort in a…a companion.”
A smile spread across Tracey’s face. “Really? Are you serious?”
“I have never been more serious, my dear,” Reteesk said. “Perhaps I can bring some…” They both turned to see Hugh knock over a vase. “…civilization to this boy.”
“That’s great! Like, Final Fantasy VII great. Of course, we’ll have to ask Hugh.” Tracey knelt down next to the Golem. “Hugh, would you like to stay here, with Reteesk taking care of you?” The kid did not respond for a moment. “I’ll give you a…well, not a cookie because you don’t eat, but I’ll think of something…Oh! How about Star Wars Episodes Three through Six on DVD?” She raised her eyebrows expectantly.
Hugh shrugged. “He smells nice,” the boy finally said.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Tracey sighed, getting to her feet. “Thank you so much,” she told Reteesk.
“Think nothing of it,” he grandly assured her. “My father always dreamt that I would produce an heir…though I doubt this is precisely what he had in mind.”
The pair regarded Hugh, who was already climbing up onto the expensive-looking coffee-table.
“You might want to do some child-proofing on this place,” Tracey said.
“I believe I shall,” Reteesk agreed.
Radio Air Studio – Night
Back in the darkened studio, DJ Trace supported her head with one hand, leaning on her elbow.
“So, as in all good stories, everything turned out pretty much for the best,” she said. “My professor successfully avoided the consequences of her rash actions, Hugh has a nice and, may I say, posh home, I can now get some sleep, occasionally, and I even have a new cool nephew to watch Star Wars with from time to time. And wasn’t my story so much more interesting than reality? I mean, how bored would you be if I’d told you what I really did this week. As my boyfriend likes to say, you would be Episode One bored. And that’s not a good bored to be.”
Tracey sighed before continuing. “Too bad none of that really happened. Here’s the Dresden Dolls with ‘Sing’.” She pressed a button on the board in front of her and a slow song with piano and acoustic guitar began to play. Tracey looked a little wistful, perhaps melancholy. At a sound behind her, her expression changed, and a smile began to slowly spread across her face.
Swiveling her chair around, Tracey held her arms open for Hugh to jump into them. Farther back, Reteesk watched the pair with pride in his eyes.
“You guys came to visit me?” Tracey asked.
“I must confess, I was somewhat curious about your nocturnal broadcasting escapades,” Reteesk told her.
Tracey directed her attention back toward Hugh. “Isn’t it past your bedtime?”
“I find,” Reteesk admitted, “that I am among the more lenient of parents.”
“What’s that do?” Hugh asked as he pointed, without touching it, much to Reteesk’s pride and Tracey’s surprise.
“That’s the air-board,” Tracey said. “These control the volume, and these turn the different things on and off.”
“What’s that do?” he asked, pointing again.
“That’s the meter. It tells me how strong the radio signal is.”
Fade To Black
V.O., Hugh: “What’s that do?”
V.O., Tracey: “Oh brother…”
End of The Secret Life of DJ Trace
Next on Watchers…
A strange temple is unearthed on a construction site and the Watchers Council is called in to investigate the unlikely archeological find. Willow and Giles begin to unravel the mysteries of the Watcher Line, only to find themselves trapped in the ruins.