Cave at Ruins of Lamios – Resume
Lorinda’s eyes were still fixed on the image of Gabrielle fighting the shadowy figure when she heard the sound of gravel shifting behind her. She turned her head slightly, but saw nothing. When she turned to walk deeper underground, she physically ran into a cloaked figure, making her jump.
He grabbed her by the upper arm, and in doing so caused his hood to fall back, revealing a vampire unlike anything Lorinda had ever seen. His ridges were deeper than most she’d seen, and his fangs seemed to cover his entire mouth, not just his eyeteeth.
“I am Lamios,” he told her.
Unable to form a response, Lorinda simply whimpered.
With a growl, he tossed her deeper into the cave. As she fell, she lost her flashlight, but quickly scrabbled to hold it again.
“The time has come,” he told her.
“Wwwwhat time?” Lorinda asked.
“You are a slayer, are you not?” he asked as he menaced forward.
“Then, it is time to once again fulfill the pact I made with the Slayer Gavrill. I am the test.”
Lorinda looked clueless as to what he was talking about, but when he charged forward, she dropped the flashlight and tried to strike him. He stopped her fist with ease before she could connect.
Taking her by the lapel with one hand, he grabbed her and tossed her even further into the cave.
Watchers Council — Kennedy’s Apartment – Night
Kadin nuzzled her head against Kennedy’s shoulder. “Why do they call it a bowl game?” she asked.
Kennedy was still watching the football players running across her television screen. She and Kadin were draped across the couch, hands lazily intertwined. Outside the window, snowflakes danced against the night sky.
“Dunno,” Kennedy replied. “It’s a tradition, I guess. Maybe because the trophy used to be shaped like a bowl?” She sat forward a little, jostling Kadin slightly. “C’mon,” Kennedy cajoled the television, raising her voice a little, “that’s pass interference!” She turned to Kadin for support. “Did you see that? They’re letting them get away with murder out there.”
Kadin smiled indulgently and gently pulled Kennedy back down onto the couch. “Wouldn’t want that,” she said softly.
Kennedy put an arm around Kadin. “Thanks for watching football with me. I know it’s not your favoritest thing.”
“Hey, any Kennedy time is good time,” Kadin assured her. “Anyway, ’tis the season, and all th –”
She was interrupted by the buzzing sound of an alarm from the hallway. Kennedy jumped to her feet.
Kadin looked up at her girlfriend, worry in her eyes. “What’s that?”
“Front Desk security,” Kennedy said. “I should probably –”
Kadin once again grasped Kennedy’s hand. “Hey, this was ‘us time,’ remember? Let Mia handle this one.”
Kennedy grimaced. “Sorry, but I’m the top girl on duty. I have to go. For all I know, it could be…” She trailed off, but she didn’t need to finish. Kadin’s face had already set into a frown.
“Fine, go.” Kadin crossed her arms and stared at the huddled college football players.
Kennedy took one last sad look at her girlfriend, then turned and left the apartment.
Cave at Ruins of Lamios – Moments Later
The young girl looked toward the front of the ruins. “Jeff!” she screamed.
“Ignitous,” Jeff said, and the cave lit up immediately.
Jeff saw Lamios towering over Lorinda, and sent a lightning bolt in his direction.
The demon turned, as if nothing more than annoyed by the jolt. Instead of facing Lorinda, he turned his attention to Jeff.
“I see the watcher has arrived,” Lamios taunted.
He walked rather casually toward Jeff, who was rearing back his arm.
“Encase!” Jeff shouted, tossing a ring-like beam of light toward Lamios.
The demon simply swatted it away and moved closer.
Lorinda, still shaking, got to her feet.
“Stay down,” Jeff told her. He produced a pistol from his back and began to fire.
Lamios’s body shook from the impact of the bullets, but it did nothing to stop him. As Jeff emptied the chamber, Lamios laughed.
“Silly boy,” he chuckled. When Lamios grabbed Jeff by both arms, Lorinda’s look of fear changed into one of determination. She charged up behind Lamios and leapt up to grab him by the neck.
Lamios chuckled again and simply tossed Jeff away, then hoisted Lorinda over his head and to the ground in front of him.
“Leave her alone!” Jeff shouted, making the demon turn in his direction.
Lorinda scampered to the corner and reached for her leg. She watched as Lamios began to move toward Jeff.
“Oh, crap,” Jeff sighed.
“That’s it, prune face,” Lorinda taunted Lamios. He stopped and turned toward her, though she still lay on the ground. “You’re a vamp. Vamps fight slayers. Slayers kill vamps. Right?”
“They can try,” Lamios replied.
“Then come down here and pick on someone your own size,” Lorinda taunted, as she struggled to get to her feet.
“You look like a scared little girl to me,” Lamios replied, leaning over to reach for her.
Taking the opportunity of his closeness, Lorinda shoved her collapsible wooden stiletto into his heart and shot up to a standing position.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later
By the time Kennedy stepped out of the elevator and into the front lobby, the situation seemed well in hand. The receptionist, a prim African-American woman in her thirties, stood calmly behind the desk while Casey and Kat restrained a young woman.
The woman’s long black hair flew around her face as she futilely struggled to free herself, and every time her shoes scuffed across the floor, they left wet tracks of snow. The receptionist noticed Kennedy’s entrance and walked over, all the while keeping her distance from the restrained woman.
“Glad you’re here,” the receptionist said.
“What’s up?” Kennedy asked.
“Girl comes in, asks for Miss Lehane,” the receptionist said. “I told her that Miss Lehane was unavailable. She became verbally abusive.”
“You lose a step?” Kat asked her prisoner. “I don’t remember beating you so easy…” Kennedy spared a glance at the woman, but still didn’t quite register who it was.
“She gave me her name,” the receptionist continued, “and when I looked her up in the database, she came up on the Watch List.”
One of Kennedy’s eyebrows shot up. She strode over to the two slayers and the prisoner they were easily holding. Once she got a good look, her other eyebrow went up as high as the first.
Marissa looked like she hadn’t slept in days. Her unkempt hair hung in front of her tired, desperate eyes. She calmed down long enough to raise those eyes to the same level as Kennedy’s.
“I have to admit,” Kennedy said, “I didn’t think Bureau Nine was dumb enough to try the same trick twice.”
“They don’t know I’m here,” Marissa said. Her voice was soft and raspy.
Casey and Kat both looked at Kennedy for a moment. “Okay, so it wasn’t quite the same trick,” she admitted, “but that doesn’t make them any less dumb. How did you even get here in this weather?”
“I walked,” Marissa replied. “It’s, um…it’s pretty cold.”
Kennedy’s eyes tracked the line of snowy footprints all the way to the front door of the building. Her expression changed from one of petulance to one of confusion. She nodded to the two other girls, and they released Marissa’s arms.
“Marissa,” Kennedy asked, “what the hell are you doing here?”
It was at about that moment that Willow emerged from the elevator, Althenea in tow.
“Hey, guys!” Willow began. “What’s going on? More parents? Boy, even the snow doesn’t –”
That was as far as she got, because as soon as Willow got close to her, Marissa grabbed her by both of her shoulders. “Please,” Marissa said plaintively, “you have to help me.”
Casey and Kat rushed to pull the woman off Willow, but an almost undetectable headshake from the redhead made them hold back. Willow had gone completely stiff when Marissa touched her, but her eyes let everyone know she was in control of the situation.
“Marissa,” Willow began, the word slow and deliberate.
Marissa collapsed onto Willow, sliding down her body until she was on her knees, arms wrapped around Willow’s torso and face half-buried in Willow’s shirt.
“You have to help me.” This time the words came out in a long sob, like all the desperation and pain in Marissa’s eyes was being let out. “I know I’ve screwed things up, but you have to help me.” She shut her eyes tight against the tears, but couldn’t prevent another loud sob from escaping her lips. Willow still hadn’t even flinched. Everyone else was stunned into inaction.
“Willow,” Althenea asked, “who is this woman?”
“She’s a slayer I used to know,” Willow told her.
“Not anymore!” Marissa cried, her voice muffled by Willow’s shirt.
“What was that?” Willow asked, moving for the first time to look down at Marissa.
Marissa looked back up at Willow, her eyes glistening, pure anguish in her voice. “I’m not a slayer anymore.”
Willow’s and Kennedy’s eyes met, but neither could find any answers in the other.
Cave at Ruins of Lamios – Same Time
“Yes!” Jeff cheered as he watched Lamios stumble backward, Lorinda’s wooden stake embedded in his chest.
“Thank you, Xander Harris,” Lorinda mumbled in appreciation.
The looks of joy on Jeff and Lorinda’s faces began to fall as quickly as they had appeared. They watched as the vampire casually pulled the wooden stiletto out and tossed it back to Lorinda.
“Oh, no,” Jeff said under his breath, making Lamios laugh heartily.
“Damn it, Harris,” Lorinda whispered.
“You two are quite the pair,” Lamios said. “But I am satisfied. Your test is complete,” he told Lorinda. “A test for both of you, I should say.”
“Okay, again, what test?” Lorinda asked, annoyed.
“I’ve been here many years, centuries even. Faced many slayers, even a few teams such as yours,” he explained. “In fact, the test is truly the only reason I wake anymore. The need for blood is next to nothing now. You could say I’ve evolved beyond my hunger.” He grabbed Lorinda by the arm and sank his fangs into it. She yelled and tried to escape, while Jeff rushed forward in horror. But before Jeff could get more than a few feet, Lamios pushed Lorinda away and licked his lips. “Nothing quite like slayer blood. That should do me until the next century.”
“For the third time,” Lorinda said, holding her arm. “What test?”
“A test of courage. I faced many slayers, but one, Slayer Gavrill, was the first one to survive a battle. The first slayer to live beyond her slayer powers.”
“Gabrielle,” Jeff muttered to himself.
“In truth,” Lamios continued, “she spared me, but on one condition: that I be the test that slayers in doubt of their calling, of their very lives, would come to face. They are sent to me by prophecy or by dreams. In any event, they come. We battle. But I never kill.”
“Well, there’s a tombstone in town that says different,” Lorinda replied. “It’s got my name on it, well not my name, but the name of someone in my family.”
“Lorinda Sheparton,” he said.
“Yes, you big fat liar,” she retorted.
“I did not deliver the deathblow. She came here because she was called. Once she defeated me, she returned to town. What happened after that, I cannot say, but if I were to guess…she was named a heretic. The townspeople probably killed her. But as for me doing the deed, no.”
“So what do you do? Fight slayers forever here?” Jeff asked. “If you don’t kill slayers and they don’t kill you, then it seems like an endless loop.”
“Some battles have lasted days. Others only a few minutes, such as this one. So if they deliver a deathblow, such as Lorinda, did a moment ago, I concede. More times than not, in the last few centuries, they run. So as I said, you passed, both of you. You stood by each other and used all you had to help, not just yourselves, but each other. That’s to be commended, but there is still much fear within you…particularly you,” he said to Lorinda.
“Hey, I’m not chicken,” Lorinda replied.
“A chicken, no. But you are scared about a great many things,” he told her. “You have answers you still need to find that I cannot help you with.” Lorinda looked away. “Go now,” he told them. “No more answers will you find here.”
Jeff looked to Lorinda, who looked back at him. Slowly, Jeff waved her toward him.
Ypsilanti – Denny’s – Late Afternoon
Faith’s breath left a smudge on the cold window. Then she placed her hand on the smudge and left a perfect hand-print on the glass. She settled back into her seat next to Rowena in the corner booth and picked up her plastic-covered menu.
The four representatives of the Watchers Council were almost the only customers in the local Denny’s. Faith’s gaze drifted over to a teenage couple at a nearby table who were whispering quietly to each other, with occasional glances over in Faith’s direction.
“These are all conflicting reports,” Rowena said, shifting through the papers in front of her. “I have to say, I’m not sure what else to do.”
“I could try to call the hell hound,” Andrew suggested. “That’d at least bring it out into the open so that we could see it, right?”
“If we don’t know the species, I doubt that plan will be successful,” Giles said. “I haven’t any other ideas, however.”
“Simple, then,” Faith said. “Andy and I head into the woods. He takes his pan-flute thingy or whatever. I take something sharp and pointy. We brought headsets, didn’t we?”
“Yeah, they’re in the van,” Andrew confirmed.
“Then we break ’em out,” Faith said, “stay wired, go in with our heads up.”
“I don’t like the idea of you going in blind,” Rowena said. “I need you to promise me this mission is going to be recon only, no going off half-cocked.”
Michigan – Woods Near Ford Lake – Evening
V.O., Faith: “I promise.”
It was night, but the forest was lit with a bright, ghostly light, the moon reflecting off the snow. Faith stepped carefully over a fallen branch, then Andrew behind her. Their footsteps were the only noises.
“We’re five clicks east of your position,” Andrew said into his headset. “Still no sign of the target.”
“Do you even know what a click is, Andrew?” came Rowena’s reply.
“Not…not exactly, but they –”
“Shhhhh.” Faith placed a finger to her lips for quiet. Snowflakes continued to fall silently between the thin, empty branches of the trees. There was now nearly a foot of snow on the ground. Andrew watched cross-eyed as a flake settled softly on his own nose.
Faith took a few steps forward and knelt down in the snow.
“Footprints,” she said, examining a series of depressions in the snow. “Recent.” She stood, a large axe clutched in her left hand. “Very recent, or else the show would’ve covered ’em up.
“You want me to try the flute again?” Andrew asked. “I know last time was a big zero, but I’m thinking that maybe –”
“No,” Faith said. “All we gotta do is play follow the leader.” She stepped quickly forward through the snow, sending little clouds flying as Andrew tried to follow in her wake. “Stay behind me.”
“Roger, alpha leader,” Andrew whispered. “We’ve got a niner on this bogie, and we’re going in.”
Michigan – Woods Near Ford Lake – Later that Evening
“How big is this place?” Andrew asked, hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath as he and Faith crested a small rise.
“Heck, if I know, Andy,” Faith said.
“Oh,” Andrew replied, straightening up. “Right.”
The pair made their way down from the ridge, still following the tracks, though they were becoming less distinct as snow continued to fall. After a short distance, the tracks disappeared.
“Where’d it go?” Andrew asked. “Is there a breed of hell hound that can turn invisible?”
“No,” Giles and Rowena both said over the headset.
Faith shot him a look. “Probably just doubled back and worked its way around…” Faith turned around and looked back up at the small ridge. “Behind us.”
Silhouetted against the gray, snowy sky was a very large, broad-chested canine figure, standing about three feet tall. It growled, teeth glistening in the veiled moonlight. White foam had collected around the corners of its mouth.
With a great leap, the creature lunged at Andrew just as he turned around, batting him easily to the side. Andrew struck his head against the trunk of a nearby tree and fell motionless to the ground.
“Andy!” Faith yelled. She grabbed the attacker around the hindquarters and pulled. Faith slammed down into the snow, the creature on top of her. A large white cloud rose up around the struggling pair as Faith desperately tried to hold the beast’s black, foamy maw away from her throat.
Red eyes watched this struggle from between two nearby trees. They belonged to a black, furry creature, crouched on the ground like a human on all fours. The lean, mean creature possessed a lithe body and bushy tail. It was about to launch itself into the fray when something grabbed it from behind and pulled it away from Faith and her attacker.
“Oh no you don’t,” a voice said. The creature growled and hissed as its body was dragged backward.
Masculine hands took a firmer hold, then lifted the creature and threw it into a tree trunk with a dull thud. Snow shook down around the struggling pair from the branches above. The man shook the snow from his head and then rose up, revealing his identity. It was Angel. He stood poised, waiting for the hell hound to attack again. He wore a long black coat that drifted silently above the new-fallen snow, and his square jaw was set in resolve.
Its legs acting as springs, the hell hound attacked again.
Faith was still in the small clearing struggling to hold off her own monster, its jaws snapping inches from her face. Rowena was shouting into her ear. “Faith! Faith, what‘s happening? Faith!” Then, a pause. “Andrew? Somebody answer us!”
In the thick of the woods, Angel punched the hell hound in the face, sending it skidding away, leaving a deep trough in the snow. It regained its footing and charged again, almost hopping with each stride.
“C’mon,” Angel growled, his vampire face now in full effect.
In the clearing, Faith managed to get some leverage with her legs and kicked off her attacker far enough to allow her to roll away through the snow and spring to her feet. When the creature growled once again and rumbled toward her, loose skin flapping in the wind, Faith turned and ran a step or so up the trunk of the nearest tree, executing a complete flip and landing directly on the creature’s back.
Angel held the hell hound down with one of his feet, ignoring its claws scratching at his leg, ankle, and knee. He picked up his other foot and planted it squarely down on the head of the creature. There was an audible crack, and the red glow of the hell hound’s eyes faded.
Meanwhile, Faith lay face-forward on her creature’s back, arms wrapped around its thick neck while it tried to buck her off. With a grunt, she tried to twist the monster’s neck, but her hands slipped in the cold. Before she could regain her grip, she found herself half-hanging off the thing’s shoulders, snow flying into her eyes. Faith scrambled to regain her balance and managed to right herself. Hanging on with her legs, she circled her hands around the creature’s neck once again. With a sudden jerk with her upper arms and shoulder, she made something snap, and the creature collapsed to the ground.
Faith rolled off the dead creature and lay on her back for several seconds, staring up at the night sky, her breath coming in short gasps. She blinked as the falling snowflakes fell in her eye. Slowly, she got to her feet.
“Faith!” she heard Rowena yell. “Are you there?”
Faith put a hand to her ear. “Yeah, I’m here,” she said into her headset. “I’m fine.” She glanced over at where Andrew was slowly sitting up, a hand on his head. He groaned softly. “I think Andy will be, too. The thing’s dead.”
“Dead?” Rowena asked. “Faith, you told me that…” But Faith had already removed her headset.
She walked over to examine the thing she had just killed. She could now see that it was just a normal dog, if somewhat oversized. Its fur was short, a light shade of brown except for a dark patch around the snout.
“A mastiff?” she asked quietly. She let out a long, visible breath into the air. “Sorry, Baxter, it was you or me.” With her right hand, she made the sign of the cross. Then she suddenly raised her eyes to the tree line, her head on a swivel.
“You hear something?” Andrew asked.
After a moment, Faith shook her head. “Nah, I guess not. Let’s get back before Blondie has an aneurysm.”
From behind the nearby tree line, Angel watched the pair trudge up over the rise and disappear. He was now back to his human features.
“Got your back, Faith,” he said softly. “Always.”
Slowly, a small smile appeared on his face. He turned up the collar on his jacket and walked in the opposite direction.
Ypsilanti Hotel – Lobby – Night
The wind-blown Watchers Council crew trudged through the automatic double front doors of their hotel. “Does anyone else feel like they’ve been inside one of those snow globes and some four-year-old turned it upside down and shook it really hard?” Faith asked.
“I think we’re all rather thoroughly shaken,” Giles said. “You gave us quite a scare back in the van.”
“Well, excuse me for not being real good at fighting and talking at the same time.” Faith noticed the wry smile Rowena was giving her. “What?”
“Could have fooled me,” Rowena said. Faith just scowled.
“At least you stayed conscious,” Andrew groused. “A lot of help I was.”
Giles regally placed a hand on Andrew’s shoulder. “My dear boy, you come from a long tradition of bystanders who are knocked out while slayers do the fighting. Embrace it.”
“There’s the pilot.” Rowena pointed at the man, who was waiting in a large cushy chair and reading a newspaper with the headline: “COUNCIL PUSHES AHEAD WITH JERUSALEM BRANCH DESPITE ISLAMIC PROTESTS.” Her voice sounded very relieved. The group began to walk over to where he was sitting. “I’ll be happy to get back to the Council, see Willow…”
“…get kissed,” Faith teased.
Rowena scoffed. “Faith, I’m a professional. That’s not— Ready to go?” She addressed this last to the pilot with a tone of optimism and impatience. Faith grinned.
“Ms. Professional,” the slayer muttered under her breath.
The pilot sighed and lowered his newspaper. “Unfortunately, no. What with the weather like it is, we can’t risk taking off. Or landing. Or the in-between part.”
“The flying?” Andrew asked.
“Yeah, that,” the pilot agreed. “So I booked us all here for two more nights, just in case.”
“Two nights?!” they all asked.
The pilot nodded. “Yeah, they’ve closed Willow Run.”
“Willow…What?” Rowena asked.
“Willow Run,” the pilot replied. Everyone looked at each other. “The airport we landed at…where the plane is.”
“Ohhh,” everyone remarked in understanding.
“Well, we’ll just have to go back by car, right?” Rowena asked.
Faith shook her head. “You saw the roads, Ro. It’s like a skating rink. It’s not worth the risk. ‘Sides which, it’d take all night in these conditions, right?” she said, turning to the pilot.
“Try into tomorrow morning. Three hours by car tonight would probably equal thirteen hours now. Providing there’s no accidents and we’re not in one ourselves, that is.”
Giles pulled off his glasses. “It would appear we are stuck here, at least for the time being.”
Rowena made a slight pouty face. “But I was gonna get kissed. And who’s gonna kiss my sweetie?”
“I’m sure Al will help out with that,” Faith said with a grin. The pout on Rowena’s face turned into a frown, and she walked away. “Hey, what’s the big deal?” Faith called out to her retreating form. “They’re just friends who had sex before. That’s all.”
“Now really, Faith,” Giles said, then went after Rowena.
“No kidding,” Andrew said, following along behind Giles.
“Hey guys,” Faith said, as she watched them walk away. “It was just a joke,” she added, turning back to the pilot.
He opened his newspaper again, scanning the articles. “Funny, but no one’s laughing.”
“Oh jeez,” Faith mumbled. Then she broke into a light jog to catch up.
Ypsilanti Hotel – Giles’s Suite – Minutes Later
Faith opened the door to Giles’s suite briskly to find the rest of the group already inside.
“There you guys are,” Faith said, walking inside and closing the door behind her.
“Look, I’m sorry, Ro. I was just teasin’. I didn’t know it was a sore spot –”
“It’s not,” Rowena answered. “I trust Will, and I trust Al. I’m just…”
“Bummed you can’t be the one kissing your honey?”
“Yeah,” Rowena replied. “And in some ways, it feels like Jordon all over again.” Faith quirked an eyebrow. “No, not that Will’s like Jordon. God no! Just not being there, as usual, you know?”
“Yeah, I guess…” Faith trailed off and looked around the room. “This is Giles’s room? Why does he have a great room and we’ve got…?”
“He booked a suite.”
“Damn,” Faith said, taking it in. “Remind me to upgrade next time.”
“Hey, Faith,” Andrew called her over. “Giles was just about to start his New Year story. Have a seat.”
“So do you have a touching prison tale too, Giles?” Faith asked.
“Not exactly,” he answered. “It’s more of an escape story, actually.”
London – City Sidewalk – Night
Saturday, December 31st, 1977
Giles walked along the sidewalk, his head down. In his ripped blue jeans and worn leather coat, he made his way through the human traffic, raising his head only high enough to avoid anyone in front of him. In his hand was a brown paper bag.
He squinted his eyes as he looked up to the second story window of a flat above him, his eyes trying to avoid the light falling snow that also clung to his long hair. He stood for a moment and then made his way through a door next to the main entrance of a small private shop.
London – Hallway – Moments Later
Giles climbed the stairs to a landing outside of a door. From the hallway he could hear Johnny Rotten singing “God Save the Queen” on the radio. He paused before opening the door, running his fingers through his locks, trying to dry them. Squaring his shoulders, he opened the door and pushed through the doorway.
Turning to see who had entered, Ethan gave Giles a smile and closed the book he had been reading.
“Bloody hell, mate. What took so long?” he said loudly over the music. He rose from a chair in the small, cramped living room and walked over, taking the brown sack Giles held. “I thought you got lost, Ripper.”
“Where is everyone?” Giles asked.
“Diedre and Phillip went down to the corner market. Tom’s still at work, but he’ll be home before the party.” Ethan made his way to the small kitchen attached to the living room.
Instead of following him, Giles went in the other direction and turned off the radio.
“Hey!” Ethan shouted over. “I was listening to that.”
“We need to talk, Ethan,” Giles said.
As if sensing the seriousness in Giles’s voice, he set the bag on the small table and walked back over.
“What’s wrong?” Ethan asked.
Giles released a sigh as he sat on the small, dingy sofa. “There’s really no good way to say this, so I’m just going to say it. I’ve enrolled in the Academy.”
“Academy? What academy?”
“The Watchers Academy,” Giles answered.
Ethan began to laugh so hard he doubled over. “Oh, that’s bloody rich, mate,” he said. “You almost had me there for a moment.”
He turned to walk away, but Giles’s voice stopped him.
“I’m not kidding, Ethan. I start in two weeks. The winter term.”
Ethan’s smile instantly fell. “You’re serious?” Giles simply nodded. “Sodding hell! What brought this on?” Ethan asked, the shock evident in his voice.
Giles waved his hand around the tiny room. “I want more than this,” he said.
“What more could you possibly need?” Ethan asked. “With magic, we can have anything we want. We’re so close, you and I. Soon we’ll have the power to unlock secrets that –”
“Should be best kept secret,” Giles replied. He paused for a moment. “A-and maybe I need…I need to find a life that doesn’t involve killing my friends.”
“Oh, Ripper,” Ethan said, walking over to his friend. “It was one spell gone awry. Randle knew the risks. We all did.”
“Those aren’t risks I want to take any longer. That’s why I joined the Academy.”
“So, following in daddy’s footsteps after all, are we?” Ethan teased.
“It’s time,” Giles replied.
Ethan scoffed. “Ripper,” he sighed. “You’ll spend a few years there, just like you did at Oxford, and then leave when the pressure gets too great. You’ll need to cut loose sooner or later, so just save your time, and your youth, and forget it now.”
“Why don’t you come with me?” Giles asked, avoiding Ethan’s speech. It almost sounded like a plea.
Ethan laughed again, “You are mad?”
“You have a gift, Ethan. A-and they have a coven there. You can still work magic. And it would be far better than…this…” He waved his hand around the room.
“And what exactly is wrong with this?” Ethan asked. “We have no rules here; we live on our own terms. You expect me to sit in some circle of witches, praying to Gaia and doing the Council’s bidding?”
“It doesn’t have to be like that. In fact, you could probably join the watcher program too, a-and leave this chaos behind.”
“But I love the chaos. So do you, Ripper. I think you’re forgetting that.” Ethan gave him a slick grin.
Giles rose wordlessly from the sofa and walked back toward the bedroom. Ethan watched him go for a moment and then followed.
He stopped in the bedroom doorway and watched as Giles began to open his dresser drawers.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Ethan asked, as he worked his way inside and leaned against the interior wall.
“I think it’s best if I go,” Giles said. He continued to pack his belongings into a leather bag.
“Now? It’s New Year’s Eve,” Ethan said, his eyebrows rising in surprise.
“It’s for the best. A new year, a new start. For both of us, actually.”
“And just where are you going?”
“I’m not sure,” he replied. “The Council gave me an advance in pay. I’ll find somewhere.”
Ethan began to chuckle again. “You’ve really lost it, mate.”
Giles zipped the bag closed. “I’ll come for my albums and other things next week,” he said as he brushed past Ethan.
This time Ethan didn’t pause. He followed Giles down the hall.
“So that’s it? You’re just walking away from everything, turning your back on the magic?” he asked.
Giles stopped as he opened the door. He turned back to Ethan.
“If you change your mind…”
“Not bloody likely,” Ethan scoffed.
Giles hung his head briefly for a moment, before raising it and meeting him squarely in the eye.
“Well then…Happy New Year, Ethan.”
Giles carefully closed the door behind him, not looking back again.
As Giles descended down the stairs, his bottom lip began to quiver slightly. Once at the landing, he cleared his throat and wiped his eyes. He looked back up the stairs. With a look of resolve taking shape on his face, he turned and walked out of the door to the sidewalk again.
Ypsilanti Hotel – Giles‘s Suite – Resume
“I saw Ethan once a few years later, but that night was the last time I actually spoke to him,” Giles finished. “Except for when he came to the hellmouth to wreak havoc on Halloween, of course. And every time since then, I should add.”
“Wow,” Andrew said. “That’s…that’s kinda depressing actually. Giles, don’t you have a better story than that?”
“He said memorable, not happy, did he not?” Giles asked Rowena.
“That he did,” Rowena agreed. “Sad, yes, but it sure qualifies as memorable in my book.”
“Screw this, guys,” Faith said, standing up. “It’s New Year’s Eve. Let’s celebrate instead of wallowing in yesteryear, for cryin’ out loud.”
“And what do you suggest, Faith?” Rowena asked. “Like you said. It’s New Year’s Eve, every place is probably packed to the gills and we won’t be able to get in anywhere.”
“This hotel is having a party right downstairs tonight,” she told them.
“And we’re not on the guest list, I’m sure,” Andrew pointed out.
Faith grinned. “It’s time I made this celebrity thing work for me instead of against me. You guys with me? A few drinks, a little dancing?” When no one said anything, she pleaded. “Oh, come on, guys!”
Rowena looked at the others, but no one moved. “What the hell,” she finally said, getting up.
“Cool, Blondie’s in,” Faith said as she motioned to Andrew and Giles. Both men began to grin. “You know you wanna go, so just say yes,” she told them.
Andrew still looked a little unsure. “I’m sure there’s going to be reporters crawling all over us and…where are you going?” he asked Giles, when he saw the older man getting up.
“I’m married, Andrew, not dead. Let’s go, ladies,” he said, motioning for them all to follow him.
“Woo-hoo!” Faith cheered, as she and Rowena began to walk behind Giles.
“Hey guys?” Andrew said to their retreating forms. “Guys?”
“What are you waiting for, Andy? Train’s leaving,” Rowena told him.
“Hey, wait up,” he said. Then he started to run toward the door.
Fade to Black
End of Act Three