Watchers Council – Conference Room Four – Night
Marissa sat in a pool of light in an otherwise darkened room. She slumped in her chair, her posture one of defeat. Robin sat across from her, his face in shadow.
“It was Isabel that did it,” Marissa began. “I think I know that much.”
Robin flipped open a dossier on the table in front of him. “Willow mentioned that possibility. You’re referring to Isabel Ortiz?”
“Yes,” Marissa nodded. “Not her fault, I guess. She didn’t ask for this, any more than I did. She didn’t ask to be brought here, either. We did that. God, she was all ready to stay hidden in that little town ’til she died, and we brought her here to Slayer Central.”
“And when you say we,” Robin clarified, “you mean Bureau…”
“Bureau Nine, yeah,” Marissa confirmed. “They told us that if we didn’t touch her, we’d be fine. Guess they were wrong.” She looked down at her lap, running a finger through her hair. “Nothing…Nothing happened at first. The doctors even checked out all of us when we got back to Cleveland. Nothing.”
“So it’s not just you then?” Robin asked.
“The whole team. They have sixty or so girls over there, you know…and after a couple days, all ten of us on that team lost it. It’s a miracle none of us were on patrol or something when it happened…One moment you’re a superhero and the next…” Marissa snapped her fingers. “Presto. You’re nothing.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Just like before.”
Robin sighed. “Marissa, you have to understand that we want to help you. However…I for one am a little confused at this point. Bureau Nine seems to place a high value on slayers, even de-powered ones. I doubt they would just throw you out on the street.”
Marissa smirked. “Oh, they valued me all right. They were super nice and understanding.”
“That flashing light you’re seeing is my sarcasm detector,” Robin deadpanned.
“They jabbed a bunch of needles in me and then said they couldn’t help,” Marissa explained, exasperated. “They told me there was no cure, that that was it. They offered to start training me to do a job like Lori’s.”
“But then…why are you here?”
“I’m a fighter, not a bookworm. I can’t do Lori’s job. I’m not sure I even want to do Lori’s job. I knew this was coming eventually, but…it shouldn’t have happened. Not yet.” She looked up earnestly at the man across from her. “After Bureau Nine found me, I figured out some things, y’know? Being a slayer is what I was born to do. Without it, I’d just be another homeless chick asking for change. And when they told me that was it, I…I’m not even sure what the point is anymore. Believe me, the last thing I wanted to do was come back in here, get on my knees, and beg Rosenberg for help, but I think she and her witch buddies might be the only ones who can.”
Robin was just looking at Marissa at this point, simply letting her continue as long as she was going to.
“The thing about Bureau Nine…they’ve got all the latest science, all the latest gear, they’ve got everything planned down to the floor…they’ve got everything, but they don’t get it.”
“Get what exactly?”
“Magic…I mean, they use it sometimes, they even have these little portable boxes that’ll do locator spells for us in the field, do you guys have those here yet? Anyway, they use it, they try to fight it, but they don’t feel it. I’m just your basic homeless chick and even I can see that. Some of the people here at the Council, they don’t just use magic, they live it. They’re inside it. Rosenberg, for example. We haven’t gotten along, but I can tell you this…they don’t have a Rosenberg over at Bureau Nine, or at least not one I know about. That’s why I’m here.”
“You really think the Coven can cure you?” Robin said.
“They better,” Marissa replied. “I know lots of other tidbits about B9 I’m more than willing to share.”
After a long moment, Robin got to his feet and began to walk away from the table.
“Oh, one more thing.” Robin turned around at the sound of Marissa calling after him. “I’m still not totally sure I’m not contagious. You might want to keep an eye on the girls that were there in the lobby. Kennedy, for example.”
Robin paused for a moment and then nodded.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Night
Willow sat, legs crossed and eyes closed, on a small mat in the center of her Coven Room. She didn’t even flinch when Kennedy sat down beside her.
“Well, I was meditating,” Willow sighed. Then she opened her eyes.
“Sorry,” Kennedy cringed.
“It’s okay. You still have your slayer sneaking skills, I see,” Willow said with a small smile. “Hey, aren’t you supposed to be with your honey, watching Dick Clark?”
“Not on yet. Actually, they’ve got Ryan Seacrest doing most of it now,” Kennedy told her. “Dick Clark had a stroke or something.”
Willow mockingly put a hand to her chest. “You mean he’s not a vampire? My world’s all topsy-turvy!”
Kennedy looked away for a second. “Yeah,” she said quietly.
Willow noticed the worry on Kennedy’s face and placed a reassuring hand on her knee. “Kennedy, you’re not going to lose your powers. Marissa would have had to grab Isabel while I was in Spain, which means that was multiple weeks ago. If she was contagious, Bureau Nine wouldn’t have any slayers left, and we know they do. She just said that to get us to work extra hard on a cure.”
Kennedy looked up. “And can you? Cure her?”
It was Willow’s turn to bite her lip and turn away. “I don’t know. According to every test we know how to run, she was never a slayer. She’s got no residual energies, nothing. There’s nothing left to bring back, which means I’d have to start from scratch.” She turned back to look directly at Kennedy. “I don’t know how to turn girls into slayers on an individual basis, Kennedy, and if I did, I’m not sure Marissa Stavros would be the place I’d start.”
“I know,” Kennedy said. Suddenly, she got to her feet and began to pace across the open floor of the Coven Room. “It’s just, I feel kinda sorry for her, in spite of everything. I mean, what happened to her, I’ve had nightmares about that. I still have nightmares…sometimes.” She stopped and leaned on a set of shelves. “At first I was angry that you never told me the real reason you and Faith went to Spain. Though I always thought that story about porpoise demons was sorta…fishy.”
“That was Faith’s idea,” Willow sheepishly pointed out.
“But I get it,” Kennedy continued. “Need-to-know basis, and I…didn’t need to know. There’s no hiding it now, though.” She sighed and wiped her face with one hand. “This Isabel scares the crap out of me, Willow.”
Willow rose to her feet, concern etched on her face. “Kennedy…”
“Magic always has consequences, right?” Kennedy asked. “That’s what you always say. We shouldn’t have expected to do the Slayer Awakening spell without…”
“Kennedy!” Willow nearly shouted. “Isabel didn’t lose her powers until this past May. This isn’t about that.”
“We don’t know that,” Kennedy said quietly. Willow didn’t have a comeback. Instead, she walked over and hugged Kennedy. The two women clung to each other for a long moment, Kennedy’s hands curled into claws behind Willow’s back.
When Kennedy finally pulled back, she said, “What are we going to do with Marissa if we can’t cure her?”
Willow shrugged. “Beats me.”
Kennedy thought about it. “Well, she’s not a slayer anymore, so we could probably get away with just throwing her out in the street somewhere…” She trailed off when she saw the look Willow was giving her. A couple of seconds passed. “You know,” Kennedy said, “thinking back on it, that last sentence sounds kinda dumb.”
Willow grinned. “I think we’ve all been kinda dumb lately.”
Kennedy nodded. Then she brightened and asked, “Hey, you and Al want to come over to our place and make fun of Ryan Seacrest? Y’know, you could get Skye out of your hair for a while.”
“Sounds great,” Willow agreed, as she and Kennedy began to walk out of the room, “as long as you don’t mind some PDA at midnight.” Kennedy’s eyes widened. “Ro told Al she could stand in for her if she wasn’t back by the time the ball drops,” Willow explained.
Kennedy grinned. “Y’know, Faith gets teased about being the slut of the group, but sometimes I wonder about you…”
Willow began to genuinely smile brightly. “Actually I have a better idea. You and Kadin each grab a van and meet me out front.”
“What are you –?”
“Just do it,” Willow said as she looked at her watch. “I’ll explain later,” she added as she went to the elevators.
Ypsilanti Hotel – Ballroom – Same Time
“Sorry. Not on the guest list, you don’t get in,” they heard the doorman say in front of them as they watched two people step to the side.
“This isn’t going to work,” Rowena whispered to Faith as the group stood in the line to get into the ballroom.
“Of course it will,” Faith told her.
As the line moved up, Faith came face-to-face with the doorman with a checklist.
“Name?” he asked.
“Lehane,” she told him. “Party of four, maybe five if our pilot decides to take up our offer and join us.”
He looked up at her on that final comment. At first he wore a gruff expression, but then it softened. “Are you…?”
“Yeah, I’m me,” she said, sounding bored. “We got stuck by the storm after finishing some Council business. Hope you don’t mind if we crash, we’re not on the list.”
“Not at all,” he said, opening the velvet rope. “You folks enjoy yourselves.”
“Thanks,” Faith answered with a smile before giving him a kiss on the cheek. “Happy New Year, Cutie.”
The doorman blushed as Faith walked in, with the others following her. She turned back to Rowena with a smirk.
While the blonde shook her head in amazement, Faith took each of Rowena’s hands. Faith led her through the human traffic, dancing as she went.
“To the bar?” Andrew asked.
“Sounds splendid,” Giles replied, and the pair made their way to the side of the toom.
Giles and Becca‘s House – Later
Becca opened her door to see Willow standing on her porch, with Althenra next to her and a large group of other people from the Council behind her on the front lawn.
“Happy New Year!” they all shouted, making Becca grin.
“Well,” Willow began nervously. “I asked you over earlier a-and you said no because you didn’t want to take the kids out, so I figured, since you wouldn’t come to the party, we’d bring the party to you…if that’s okay, I mean.” She fell quiet after her babble.
Becca stroked Willow’s face. “You’re a sweetie,” she told her. “You all are. Come on in, gang!” She opened the door wider, letting the cheering pack inside the house.
Ypsilanti Hotel – Ballroom – Same Time
“Relax your hips,” Faith said, taking Rowena by the waist. “Like this.” She moved behind the blonde, pressing her body against Rowena’s. Just then, someone snapped a picture of them dancing, making them blink.
“Whoa!” Faith exclaimed. “Next time a little warning there, Champ. You blinded us.”
“Where’s Mr. Wood tonight?” the photographer asked skeptically.
“Probably with her honey,” she answered, motioning to Rowena. “We swapped partners tonight.”
The group around them all chuckled.
“Faith,” Rowena chastised.
“Oh lighten up, Blondie,” Faith told her. “I’m kidding,” she told the paparazzi photographer. “Got stuck in the snow storm, so we’re crashing here. What about you?” she asked him.
“What about me?” he asked.
“No honey with you tonight?”
“Can’t say I’ve got one,” he replied.
“Well, I’ll give ya a kiss. Everyone needs to start the New Year off right.”
“I just might do that,” he replied.
“What’s your name?”
“Dwight,” he replied.
“Well, come back in ten, Dwight.” She waved goodbye as Rowena dragged her toward the bar.
“What are you doing?” the watcher asked.
“Playing the game, Ro,” she answered. “He’s got a picture of us that could start a crazy rumor mill. I make a friend, chances are he’ll dump it.”
“You think that will work?”
Faith looked around the ballroom. “I got us in here, didn’t I?”
Rowena thought about this for a second. “Shutting up now.”
Giles and Becca‘s House – Living Room – Moments Later
The entire house stood around the wide-screen television, watching the report from Times Square and counted down.
“Four…Three…Two…One…Happy New Year!”
The sound of clapping, horns, and noisemakers filled the living room before people started singing “Auld Lang Syne.“
Willow turned and kissed Al. before looking around the room. Robin was giving Tracey a kiss. Buffy kissed Dawn on the cheek and then gave Skye an awkward hug, much to Skye and Dawn’s surprise. Kadin and Kennedy were in each other’s arms dancing, a bit oblivious to everything around them. But it was Xander who caught Willow’s eye. She watched as he went into the kitchen, and she began to make her way toward him.
Ypsilanti Hotel – Ballroom – Same Time
Giles gave Andrew a firm handshake before pulling him closer. He turned to Rowena next and bent down to give her a kiss. As Rowena worked around to Andrew, Giles came face-to-face with Faith.
“Happy New Year, Faith,” he told her sincerely. He leaned down and kissed her. as well. He pulled her into a hug. “I know you’re still looking for answers…Just know that I’ll always do what I can, when I can and where I can to help. You have my word.”
Faith pulled back and gave Giles a genuine smile. She then paused and said, “Ditto,” making them both chuckle at the simplicity of the response.
Giles and Becca‘s House – Same Time
“Happy New Year,” Becca told Willow as she passed. The two women kissed briefly, and Willow kissed Liz on top of the head, who was sitting on Becca’s hip. “Thanks for coming over. This was a great idea,” she added.
“Thanks for letting this crazy bunch in. If you have a house left by the time we leave, we’ll have to make this a yearly tradition,” Willow teased as she continued through the traffic. “I’m going to grab another drink,” she said, excusing herself. “Be right back.”
Giles and Becca‘s House – Kitchen – Moments Later
“Hey Mister,” Willow said from the island, her voice cracking. “I didn’t get my New Year’s kiss,” she told him.
Xander turned from the refrigerator, and she saw he had unshed tears in his eyes. She began to tear up too. She made her way over, wrapping her arms around him.
“I miss her too,” she said softly. “I don’t say it often, but I feel it all the time. A-and it might not seem like a lot, but you’ve got me, Xan. You’ll always have me.”
“Me too,” a voice said, calling over toward them.
Willow pulled back and looked behind her to see Buffy standing there, three glasses of champagne in her hand. She walked over and gave a glass each to Xander and Willow.
“To a Bright New Year, guys. And best friends,” Buffy toasted.
They all raised their glasses together and took a drink just as a ringing cell phone went off. Willow pulled hers from her pocket and smiled.
“Your sweetie?” Buffy asked.
Willow grinned and nodded.
“Well, are you gonna answer?” Xander asked.
She paused a moment longer, but then pressed the button. “Hey cutie. Happy New Year…You too…Can you hang on a sec?”
Willow stepped closer to Xander.
“I didn’t get my kiss,” she told him. She pulled Xander down to her and kissed him gently on the lips, then turned to do the same to Buffy. “Happy New Year, guys.”
Buffy smiled. “Go on, you’re wasting your minutes,” she teased Willow, giving her a light push out of the room. Willow went back to her phone and started from the room.
“So Xan,” Buffy began. “Tell me what you think?”
“Who’s Will gonna pick to be the best man, because I look pretty damn cool in a tux?”
“Best MAN,” Xander said, polishing his fingernails on his shirt. “It’s called best man, who do you think will get the gig?”
“How about this?” Buffy said, digging into her pocket and producing a quarter. “Heads I win, tails you lose – ready?”
“How about heads you win, tails I win?” he said, putting his hand over hers.
“Fine,” Buffy sighed. She flipped the coin and slapped it on the back of her hand.
Both of them looked at it at the same time, and Xander said, “Huh, would you look at that?“
Ypsilanti Hotel – Ballroom – Same Time
“I’ve come for that kiss,” the photographer told Faith.
“Hey, happy official New Year,” she replied. She leaned over and gave him a slow kiss, pulled him into a hug. “Here’s to you finding the ‘one’ this year…well, if that’s what you’re looking for, that is,” she said.
“Thanks,” he replied. He turned on his camera and went to the picture of her and Rowena dancing. “Great shot, huh?” he asked.
“Not bad, but I’ve looked hotter,” she replied.
He took it back but then showed her as the image now had a message that said, “Are you sure you want to delete?,” then pressed a button.
“Maybe someday I’ll get that hotter shot,” he told her.
“Hey,” she said, “how about a pic of me and my Council buds here? I’ll pay you if –”
“No, that’s cool.”
“Hey, guys!” Faith shouted to them. “Drop the phones and line up here quick. My buddy Dwight’s gonna get a pic of us.” They all scrambled together, and Faith said, “Say cheese!”
Dwight snapped the shot and then looked at the camera. “Perfect! Send it to the Council in Cleveland?” he asked.
“Yeah, that’d be great.”
“You got it,” he said. He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek this time. “Happy New Year’s, everyone,” he said with a wave as he walked away.
“Hey Ace,” she said as she answered. “Happy New Year to you, too…Just hangin’ out, getting drunk with Ro, flirting with reporters. You?” Faith laughed and then said, “You know that ring-tone on my phone? Yeah, well, why not get hitched? Not tomorrow or next week, maybe not even next year but…maybe someday. Would that be cool?…Robin?…Robin?…Sorry didn’t mean to give you a heart attack.” Faith listened for a moment and then started laughing. “No, I’m not that drunk yet, sheesh! So is that a yes or not…I guess I am asking if you’ll marry me over a cell phone.” She smiled again and then shouted, “Woo-hoo!” The group turned to her. “He said yes!” she told them.
They all looked at each other, confused. “Yes, to what?” Giles asked.
“I’m gettin’ hitched someday. I asked, and he said yes.” The group stood speechless. Faith turned back to the phone. “You’re not alone, Ace. I think I gave everyone here a heart attack too,” she confessed with a smile.
Greek Island – Docks – Next Day
Jeff and Lorinda sat waiting for the ferry, neither one saying anything.
“Did I succeed in scaring her off?” Lorinda asked.
Jeff looked confused. “Who?”
“Oh, I doubt it,” he said with a grin. “Those Lehane gals are pretty tough. It’d take more than one smart-mouthed slayer,” he said, bumping shoulders with her. “After all, look at how Buffy is, and Faith’s still around,” he teased.
“You have to admit, she seems to have disappeared,” Lorinda remarked. “Hope, I mean, not Faith,” she added for clarification.
“Not like we’re married or anything. She can come and go as she pleases. I mean, yeah, she has been a bit scarce lately. But she said she’s busy with classes.”
“You believe her?” Lorinda asked.
Jeff nodded. “Sometimes you need to just trust people until they give you a reason not to,” he replied.
Lorinda fell quiet for a moment. “I think maybe I’ve got some stuff to sort out.”
Jeff grinned and patted her on the back. “Don’t we all?”
A boat pulled next to the dock, and both of them rose and began to walk over to the line that was forming.
Fade to Black
End of Auld Lang Syne
Next on Watchers…
The conflict between the Council and Bureau Nine heats up with the help of some sparks from an old frenemy.