Watchers Council – Science Classroom – Later
The plastic chair Willow had been sitting in smashed against one of the lab tables, breaking into two pieces.
Kennedy stood, still holding the bottom of the chair, seething. She, Mia and Marissa were now the only people in the room.
“Someone’ll hear you,” Marissa told her edgily.
“I don’t care!” Kennedy snapped. She saw the others wince and lowered her voice. “I don’t care. I’m going to kill them.”
“You’re not a killer, Kennedy,” Mia said quietly, her eyes looking down at the floor.
“Like I’ve been sayin’, I don’t think we have a choice anymore,” Marissa put in. “We have to get someone out there, get them the info, ’cause I don’t think we’re coming out on top otherwise.”
“She’s right,” Kennedy said. Mia shook her head, but said nothing. “They’re going around torturing people whether we behave badly or not.” She looked at Mia. “You want to look me in the eye and tell me it’s wrong to kill the guys who just did that to Willow?”
Mia shuffled her feet. “No,” she finally said. “But we need to tread lightly. And we need a plan.”
Tenth Street Outside Watchers Council – Afternoon
Giles moved around erratically in front of a convenience store, periodically glancing down at the cell phone in his hand.
“Hey Giles!” a female voice called. “Mr. Giles!”
He looked up to see Kadin Van Helsing running down the sidewalk towards him.
“Kadin?” he asked uncertainly.
He winced slightly when the hunter grabbed both of his arms and looked up at him, a panicked look in her eyes.
“Is it true?” she asked. “Kennedy’s in there?”
Giles hesitated before answering. “A lot of people are in there.”
“Is Kennedy in there?” Kadin repeated, more anger in her voice this time.
“Yes, yes, I’m afraid it appears so,” Giles finally said, nodding.
Kadin let Giles go and put a hand over her mouth. She took a couple of shaky steps backward, brushing against a lamp-post. Then she glanced up at him, as if she had suddenly noticed how emotional she was getting in front of him. She turned her face away, sniffing loudly and running a hand through her hair.
“Okay,” she whispered. “Okay, right.”
She turned back to Giles, having pulled herself together.
“I’m going in there,” she announced. Giles only just managed to catch her arm as she went past him.
“Kadin, you can’t do that,” he told her.
She spun on her heel to face him. “You can’t stop me. Kennedy and I…I’d die for her. She’d die for me.”
“And if you act rashly now, you’ll both be dead, and for nothing, to boot.” He kept his hand on Kadin’s arm as she glared up at him. “You’re right. I can’t stop you. But I think perhaps the men from Homeland Security with the very large guns might.”
Kadin took a moment to look around the scene for the first time. It was swarming with government agents, many of them obviously brandishing weapons. A few snipers had set up shop in the windows of the office buildings opposite Council Headquarters.
“Probably,” she sighed, backing down. She glanced down at her shoes, paced over to the window of the convenience store, then turned. “So what should I do now, then?”
Tenth Street – Command Tent – Same Time
In the shade of the command tent, Agent McMahon stood next to Robin and watched Kadin dispassionately from behind his dark glasses.
“So, her last name’s really Van Helsing?”
Robin nodded, without looking away from the binoculars he was using to scrutinize the front windows of the Council Headquarters.
“Huh.” McMahon sat down behind his desk. “Whole world is going on under our noses. How is it we didn’t see it sooner? I’ve worked in Intelligence for decades, never heard a peep of this sorta thing.”
Robin lowered the binoculars. “You get used to the world you live in, forget about the other ones until they intrude on yours. Our world intruded on yours last May. Your world intruded on ours today.”
One of the agents working the computers spun in his chair.
“I’m getting something,” he told them.
“What is it?” Robin asked. He and McMahon crowded around the other agent’s computer.
“It’s another transmission from your TV set-up,” McMahon said. “Networks won’t be stupid enough to carry it live this time, but we can still patch it through. Right, Maddox?”
“Yes sir,” the other agent replied, typing a few quick commands. A man in a ski mask appeared in a window on the computer screen.
“Are you ready to talk now?” asked the man on the screen. He spoke in perfect English, clearly the same man who had been interrogating Willow. “We grow impatient. Perhaps things would go smoother if we spoke in person. Send a delegation, no more than two, to the front door. They will mark themselves with a white flag. No weapons or recording devices allowed. If you keep to the terms, you will not be harmed. If you do not keep to the terms, or if you delay, more of your people will die. It is your choice.”
The transmission cut off. The two Homeland Security agents glanced at Robin. It was a moment before he spoke.
“More?” he asked. “More of our people will die?”
“Director Wood,” McMahon began, “I know what you’re thinking. But we can’t do it. The United States government does not negotiate with –”
“We are not the United States government,” Robin snapped.
Robin cut him off with a look. It was quite a look.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Moments Later
Dawn leaned up against a wall, anxiously chewing on her fingernails. Skye leaned on her shoulder, looking like she was about to doze off.
Dawn nearly leapt to her feet, and Skye was suddenly very awake, when two of the masked men roughly tossed Willow in the middle of the floor.
“Willow!” Dawn exclaimed, crawling forward and putting a protective arm around her High Priestess. Andrew and Jeff also appeared at her side.
“Are you okay?” Jeff asked, concern in his voice.
“I’m alive,” Willow said. Her voice was scratchy and quiet.
“Why’s your hair all wet?” Andrew asked.
“Rule of three,” she muttered.
“Guys, back off,” Dawn told them. Reluctantly, Andrew and Jeff watched as Dawn helped Willow over to the corner where the Coven’s floor cushions were kept. “Just take it easy,” she said reassuringly. “Take it easy.”
Willow let out a quick breath as she lay back on the cushions. A sheen of sweat covered her skin.
Dawn looked down at her. “What did they do?”
Willow avoided Dawn’s eyes for several seconds. Dawn nodded.
“They didn’t leave any marks,” she said quietly.
“They’re underneath the shirt,” Willow told her.
“Let me see.” Dawn reached to pull up one of Willow’s sleeves, but Willow grabbed her hand.
“Dawn, we don’t need to talk about this now,” she said. “There’re other things going on, okay?”
Slowly, Dawn nodded. “Okay.” She tried to smile. “Hey, if it’ll cheer you up, I could get myself shot again.”
“I’m good,” Willow assured her.
In another corner of the room, Jeff watched Jocelyn struggle in her glowing green handcuffs. After a moment, she stopped in frustration.
“That’s not going to work,” Jeff commented. He sounded tired.
“Will too,” Jocelyn hissed.
“You’ve been doing that for hours. And…are your wrists bleeding?” He leaned forward to examine Jocelyn’s hands, but she pulled away.
“I’m fine,” she insisted, keeping her voice a whisper. “This’ll work. I have…” She looked furtively over at the gunman guarding the door. “…dainty wrists.”
Jeff burst out laughing. Jocelyn looked at him like he was from Mars, but he couldn’t stop himself.
Watchers Council – Front Steps – Minutes Later
“No fast movement,” Amira told Robin. The two of them looked utterly alone as they stood just outside the front doors of the Council. Robin held a makeshift white flag: the top half of the front page of that day’s Plain Dealer attached to the snow scraper from someone’s car. “Let them think they are in control.”
“They are in control,” Robin said.
“Yes, but if they doubt that, it is bad for us,” Amira replied.
“You’ve done this before?” Robin asked.
“No,” Amira said shortly. She put her hand on the door and pushed.
Robin took a breath. “Okay then.”
In the lobby, they found three of the masked men waiting for them. Two carrying large assault weapons flanked a central figure, his hands behind his back.
The lights were down in the lobby, the only light coming from the front windows. Everyone inside cast very long shadows.
Robin and Amira waited patiently, their hands in the air, while one of the gunmen searched them thoroughly. After a few moments, he said something in Arabic and moved away.
The leader took a step forward.
“You are Robin Wood,” he said. “Security Director.”
There was a long beat before Robin said, “Yes.”
“You must not be very good at your job,” he said, opening his hands to gesture at the empty lobby. “This place is…not very secure. And you,” he turned to Amira, “I don’t know you.”
“Amira Aziz,” she said. “Slayer.”
The man sized her up for a long moment, walking slowly in a circle around the two Council members. His footsteps echoed loudly on the floor. When he spoke, he did so in very fast Arabic.
Subtitle: “You dress like a Muslim woman. And yet you work here, in this center of evil. How is this possible?”
Amira’s angry response was also in Arabic.
Subtitle: “You call yourself a Muslim? Islam is a religion of peace. And yet you commit acts of terror in the name of God. How is this possible?”
The man stepped close to Amira, his eyes locked on hers.
Subtitle: “The power you carry within you did not come from God. It came from Satan.”
A sly smile appeared on Amira’s lips.
Subtitle: “Satan looks a lot like a pretty redhead these days.”
Robin glanced edgily between the two of them. “Guys, this isn’t exactly helping.”
“You’re right,” the Arabic man said, though he still seemed to be speaking to Amira. After a moment, he broke the stare-down and turned to Robin. “You’re right, of course, Mr. Wood.” He turned his back on the two of them for a moment, adjusting his ski mask. He exchanged glances with his two compatriots.
The man turned back around. “We told you our demands. Are you ready to comply?”
“I can’t meet them,” Robin replied.
“Of course you can,” the man told him. “You’re Robin Wood. If you called the President right now, you would get through to the Oval Office. You can pull the strings.”
“I want to know who’s dead,” Robin said. The Arabic man gave him a strange look. “Before I give you anything, I want to know who you killed.”
Amira glanced at Robin out of the corner of her eyes. “Mr. Wood…” There was warning in her tone.
“During our initial attack,” the Arabic man said, “some of the slayers resisted. One of them was shot.”
“Who?” Amira asked.
“I don’t know,” the masked man replied coolly. “I wasn’t there.”
Robin glared daggers at him. “You son of a bitch.”
“We also shot one of your Coven members,” he said. “But she…came back. Gave my men quite a scare.”
“We are done here,” Amira said. She grabbed Robin by the arm and led him towards the door.
“It was nice talking to you,” the man called after them. His expression darkened as the front door fell closed behind them. His two cohorts with guns walked up beside him. One of them spoke in Arabic.
Subtitle: So, should we begin the executions?”
Bureau Nine – Felix’s Office – Day
“… sign here and here,” Lori pointed out to Mr. Felix, who sat at his desk with an open folder in front of him. “That’s great. I spoke with Mel from Logistics, and she spoke to Mike from Security, and he said that…” Felix signed where she pointed.
“Yes, Jason you wanted…” Ethan said, barging into the office without noticing Mr. Felix and Lori, “…oh…don’t mind me.” He gave them a small grin, almost a leer, and stepped over to the couch.
Caught off guard, Lori looked down to Mr. Felix, who gave a nod and handed back the folder. “…umm, where was I…”
“Mike from Security,” Mr. Felix prompted.
“Yeah,” Lori glanced over to Ethan and then back to Mr. Felix, placing a hand on the folder now in her arms. “He said that he can’t rustle up a security detail to escort the transport to the storage facility until Thursday at the earliest, considering what’s going down at the Council.”
He sighed. “That is understandable. When you are done with the final transport schedule, could you put it up on the shared folder on the server?” Mr. Felix asked, clicking his pen.
Lori nodded. “Sure.”
“Thank you,” Mr. Felix said, giving Lori a smile before she crossed the office for the door. “Oh, could you tell Mr. Murray to pack up the Sphere and take it to Logistics once his analysis is complete?” Ethan quickly glanced over at Lori and then back to the floor.
“No problem,” she smiled, opened the door, and left.
Mr. Felix looked over to Ethan. “Yes, Ethan, I am sorry. Come.” Ethan got up and took a seat opposite Felix. “Honestly, I fear I might be losing my edge. So very much happening of late,” he said, with what was almost a laugh.
“Sign of old age, mate.”
“Probably.” Mr. Felix gave Ethan a long, intense look. “There’s a situation going on at the Council right now.”
Ethan sat up. “So I’ve heard.” Before he could say anything more, the office door burst open.
“Jason, I need to –” Dianna began. Then she stopped, both words and movement, as she caught sight of Ethan.
“Where you been, Di?” Ethan quipped, turning in his chair to face her.
“I’ve been…busy.” She gave Ethan a look that was intended to silence him, and it seemed to work. She turned her attention to Felix. “Jason…”
Mr. Felix raised his hand. “I know, Dianna. Our resources are stretched at the moment…
“But,” he continued, “I am doing what I can. There are favors I’ve called in, and a sub-team is being assembled, just in case. I’m also investigating some other avenues.” Felix looked at Ethan, who had one eyebrow raised. “Dianna’s daughter, Grace, is a watcher at the Cleveland Branch.”
“I’m sorry,” Ethan said flatly.
Dianna almost flinched. “That’s the sort of thing you say to people when they’ve lost…” Her eyes began to glaze over. “No…no…she…she hasn’t…” She turned to Felix.
He shook his head. “No. She hasn’t been shown on their broadcast. The actions of these men are formulaic, if well planned and executed.”
“They’re using anti-magic to suppress the Coven?”
Felix nodded, answering Ethan’s question. “If that is the only real difference in this situation from others, then they are most likely to copy other extremists who commit such crimes in the name of their God.” Mr. Felix took a breath. “What I’m saying is that these men value the lives of those they take hostage. They represent a source of power over us.”
“But they believe they’re proving a point,” Dianna said bleakly, “and they don’t value those lives as anything more than bargaining chips.”
“True,” Felix said, looking her directly in the eyes.
“Dianna, we don’t know if they’ve killed anyone…yet,” Ethan offered.
“And what are we going to do about it?” She looked at Felix.
He took a deep breath. “The FBI’s Anti-Terrorism unit is on site, and Mr. Wood and a squad of their Black Ops slayers are –”
“I said, what are we going to do about it,” Dianna reiterated, this time with more force.
Felix stood. He didn’t blink. “Everything I can. Everything I can think to do. That is my promise.”
“How much will that turn out to be?”
“I wish I knew.” He said this softly.
Suddenly, Dianna’s cell phone started ringing. She pulled it out of her pocket and checked the display. “It’s Daniel, Grace’s dad. Excuse me,” she said as she walked to the door. “And Jason,” she added, turning back to him, “thank you.” She opened her cell phone and started to speak, “…Hello, Daniel. Yes I’ve heard…” She closed the door behind her and headed down the hallway.
Ethan looked back at Mr. Felix. “And the truth?”
“I’m not in the business of lying.”
“You’re in the wrong profession then.”
“I fear you don’t really know my profession then.” He raised his voice suddenly, eyes pinning Ethan. “Anti-magic. Do you know of any way to nullify the effects?”
Ethan let out a breath. “Depends on the spell.”
“I need you to narrow down which ones are most accessible to the terrorists – ones that would render a witch as powerful as Willow Rosenberg helpless.”
“What if they didn’t use a spell?” Ethan posed. “Perhaps they just…” He seemed unable to finish the sentence at first. “Perhaps they’ve killed her.”
“That would be unfortunate, but I strongly believe magic could be at play here rather than homicide. There are more magic wielders in the world than just Ms. Rosenberg. What I’m requesting is your help and magical expertise in researching what those spells might be.”
Ethan gave a nod as he got up. “Will do.”
“Time, I fear, is vital.”
“If you need anything, anything at all, clear it with Lori.”
Ethan was almost at the door when it opened on its own. A well-dressed African-American man stepped aside, allowing Ethan to pass. Once he did, the dapper man entered and closed the door after him.
“Any news, Nicholas?” Felix eyed the folder in the other man’s hand.
“Not about the Council, sir. I’m sorry.”
“Well…no bad news, then?”
“No. But about Mr. Rayne.” Nicholas stepped forward and handed Felix the folder. Felix opened the folder. The first thing visible was a collection of photographs. He sat down, glancing at each one. They clearly showed Ethan and Gwen Raiden conversing in what looked like an abandoned car lot.
“I thought you should know at once, sir.”
“You did the right thing.” Felix frowned, studying the photos.
Watchers Council – Library – Same Time
Jackson sat at one of the tables in the library, staring up at the clock on the wall. The big hand pointed to five, and the little hand was somewhere around three. One of the hostage-takers glanced over when his head thudded down on the table.
“It’s been eight hours,” he groaned. He turned his head to look at Grace, who had her feet up at the end of the table, hands behind her head. “I haven’t even eaten yet today, y’know. I was going to grab something after the meeting, like a blueberry muffin. Doesn’t that sound good right now, a blueberry muffin, with that stuff on top?”
“Oh, quit whining,” Grace told him. “I’ve had to pee for the past three hours, but you don’t hear me complaining.”
Rowena, Buffy and Jim were all conferring quietly on the floor.
“I find the whole stratagem far too perilous,” Jim said.
“Indeed,” Rowena nodded, “but I can’t just repose in this depository for the next millennium awaiting facilitation. I am a personage of engagement.”
Buffy held up two hands to get their attention. “First of all, you two need to stop talking like that. I’m getting a headache.”
“But it’s fun,” Rowena pouted.
“No, it is not!” Buffy snapped. “Anyway, second of all, I’m with Jim, it’s super-dangerous, but, even though I’m not really sure what you said, Ro, I’m sick of waiting. I’m no good at it. Still a slayer, after all.”
“If any slaying happens, we’re in deep trouble,” Rowena said.
“We’re already in deep trouble,” Jim remarked. “I guess that means we can’t make it worse.”
“Oh, trust me,” Buffy said, “it can still get much, much worse. Do it.”
Watchers Council – Library – Moments Later
“I have to go to the bathroom,” Rowena announced. She stood directly in front of one of the gunmen, hands on hips. He said something in Arabic in return.
“Maybe I’m out of the loop,” she continued, “but this doesn’t seem like it’s going to end anytime soon. Eventually, you’re gonna have to feed us and let us pee.”
She received yelling in return. Another gunman began to walk over.
Rowena waved her hands in dismissal. “No, no, you’re not listening. You need us. Without us, you don’t get what you want. So…I have to go to the bathroom. You want to come along, be my guest.”
She watched the two masked men as they argued, very similar to the way one would watch a tennis match.
Eventually, one nodded to her and motioned toward the door.
“Hey, how come I don’t get to go to the bathroom?” Grace asked loudly. Rowena gave her a very stern look and very quickly made a slashing motion across her throat. Realization flitted across Grace’s face. “Oh. No, I’m good, you go.”
Watchers Council – Hallway of Classroom Wing – Same Time
Kennedy peeked around the corner again and now saw two masked men defending the doorway. She pulled back and pinned herself against the plain white wall of the hallway. Silently, she swore to herself.
Watchers Council – Science Classroom – Moments Later
Mia and Marissa waited expectantly back in the science classroom.
Kennedy shut the door behind her and said, “There’s two of them.”
Marissa sat down in one of the chairs. “Crap.”
Mia sighed. “Okay. New plan.”
Watchers Council – Slayer Rec Room – Same Time
Lorinda was no longer conscious. Her eyes were closed, and her breathing was shallow. A makeshift bandage made out of Casey’s sweater was wrapped around her upper chest and shoulder.
Faith looked down at her, stone-faced. Marie and Casey waited behind her.
“She’s dying,” Casey said quietly. “I think there’s probably fluid build-up or something. I have no idea. As far as I can figure, the only reason she’s still alive is the slayer healing, and it’s just delaying the inevitable.”
“We have to do something,” Marie said. Her voice sounded calm, but there was a little bit of an edge to it. Faith made no response. “Are you listening to me? I can’t just stand here and let this happen.”
Faith shook her head for a couple of moments before she said anything. “No. No more dead people.”
Marie moved forward and grabbed Faith by the shoulders. She hesitated for a moment after doing so, almost in surprise that Faith hadn’t begun to beat the crap out of her. Faith looked practically shell-shocked.
“Faith, I don’t know what’s going on with you, but you’re going to have to snap out of it. Did something happen on that island getaway that I don’t know about?” Faith avoided her eyes, and Marie pressed on. “Something did happen, didn’t it? That’s why you’re gun-shy.”
“Is that a fact? Look, this has nothin’ to do with that,” Faith hissed back.
Casey put a hand on Marie’s elbow. “She’s right. What the point of us breakin’ out if everyone else gets offed?”
“But we’ve been through so much worse than this,” Marie insisted. “Faith, you’re a leader. All these girls would follow you into hell. Most of ’em have. I know I have. You give the word, and we’ll put it all on the line.”
Faith sighed, looked down at Lorinda. “The only thing you can do for this girl right now is pray.”
“Faith!” Casey admonished.
Marie made a huffing noise and threw up her hands. “C’mon! They’re counting on us to –”
“No,” Casey said to them. “Let her go. There’s nothing we can do right at this moment. Just…be ready.”
Faith nodded her thanks and moved away.
Watchers Council – Bathroom – Same Time
Rowena gave her masked escort a nervous smile before she closed the door to her stall and bolted it shut. The gunman turned around, resting an assault rifle on his shoulder, and began to hum a tune. After a moment, it coalesced into a very strange version of “My Humps.”
Inside the stall, Rowena sat down on the toilet seat lid without flipping it up. She took another furtive glance at the gunman’s feet in the space below the door, trying to control her breathing. She reached a hand inside her blouse and produced a cell phone. She hit a few buttons and began to compose a text message.
Tenth Street – Command Tent – Same Time
At a quick tone from his cell phone, Robin reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his cell phone. He pressed a few buttons, and then his eyes widened.
“It’s Rowena!” he announced excitedly. McMahon got up from his chair. “It’s Rowena Allister!”
“She’s sending you text messages?”
Robin was reading. “Held in watchers library…seen at least six gunmen…”
Watchers Council – Bathroom – Same Time
Rowena was still texting when the gunman rammed his shoulder into the door. She leapt to her feet.
“Hey, I’m urinating in here!”
“No,” he replied flatly and rammed his shoulder into the door again.
Rowena hurriedly began to try and finish her message. Just as she hit send, the tile exploded behind her. She turned to see a perfect bullet hole in the wall, inches from where her ear had been. Then the door finally burst open.
The masked man grabbed Rowena by her shirt and pulled her bodily out of the stall. He threw her into the opposite wall and punched her, a hard right to the face. Rowena lost her footing and ended up on the floor. She received a few kicks in the back. Then the assault stopped.
Slowly, Rowena tried to open one eye. It took a few tries because there was blood running down her face. When she did, she saw the barrel of an assault rifle inches from her nose.
Watchers Council – Classroom Wing – Same Time
The two gunmen guarding the exit in the classroom wing immediately pointed their weapons at Marissa when she rounded the corner.
“Wow!” she said loudly. “I must have just gotten completely lost. You can just go around in circles in this place. I had the old building down, but this one, this one I can’t quite figure out.”
“Hands up!” one of the men yelled.
Marissa did as he asked. “Yeah, sure. Hey, you wouldn’t happen to know where the train station is?”
Marissa got down on the floor and let the man begin to search her. “You don’t really understand English, do you?”
The man who wasn’t searching her began to reach for his radio.
“Now!” Marissa yelled, and Mia and Kennedy fell through the ceiling.
In what seemed like slow motion, Kennedy twisted around in the air and delivered a boot to the face of one of the men. Mia managed to hit the ground and slide under the feet of the other man. He tripped and fell to the side, discharging his gun repeatedly into the wall above Kennedy’s head as he did so.
The man Kennedy had kicked was on the ground, reaching dazedly for his radio. He got off a few words in Arabic before Kennedy kicked the device out of his hand. Then she scrambled to reach for his gun where it had fallen on the floor, but he managed to grab her ankle.
Meanwhile, Marissa was holding onto the wrist of the other man, trying to keep him from pointing his gun where he wanted to. She was losing her grip when Mia climbed onto his back and cleanly snapped his neck.
Kennedy delivered another hard kick to the nose of her man, and he was out. She gingerly picked up his gun. “We really need to do something about the dust in the ceilings.” She turned and saw Mia looking down at the man she had just killed. “Are you okay?”
Mia licked her lips. “Yeah,” she said quietly. She looked up at Kennedy. “Yeah, I’ll be okay.” She looked down. “He won’t be, though.”
“We don’t know how much he told ’em,” Marissa said. “We don’t have much time.”
“You go,” Mia said softly to Kennedy.
“What about you guys?” Kennedy asked.
Marissa picked up the gun lying on the floor at her feet. “We’ll stay. Surprise ’em from the inside when they attack from outside.”
Mia leaned forward and lightly kissed Kennedy’s lips.
“Go,” she whispered.
After a moment of standing almost in shock, Kennedy nodded and handed her gun to Mia. “Be careful.”
Then she turned and sprinted out the door.
Tenth Street Outside Watchers Council – Sunset
Robin stood alone, a few buildings away from the Watchers Council. He leaned forward on a white and orange traffic barrier. The sky over Lake Erie was a strange combination of pink and orange.
“It has been a long day.”
It was Giles who had spoken. He leaned forward on the barrier next to Robin.
“Yeah,” Robin agreed.
Giles took in the sunset. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”
“I hear it’s because of the pollution,” Robin said.
For a moment, neither of them said anything, or even looked at each other.
Then Robin said, “I thought I heard something from inside. Right after I got the messages from Rowena. It might have been a gunshot.”
Giles ran a hand over his mouth and took a breath. “It might have been.”
“I’ve never shied away from responsibility,” Robin said, keeping his eyes on the sunset, “but I’ve never had so much of it in my entire life…and at the same time, I’ve never felt this helpless.”
“We all feel helpless,” Giles said. “That seems to be the entire point of terrorism.”
“I thought I’d seen everything,” Robin said, “that I was ready for everything. Even as a principal, I had rules to follow for this kind of thing. Problem is, those rules apply only if I’m inside…I wasn’t ready for this.”
Giles turned to look at him. “We’ll get through this. We simply need to have faith. Something you should know a little something about, no doubt.”
Robin did not smile at the pun. Instead, he shook his head. “The fate of all those people rests on the cripple. I don’t have a lot of faith left, Giles.”
“Well, I do,” Giles said. “I have faith in you.”
Robin thought about this for a few seconds. Then he finally turned to look at Giles, placing a hand on the barrier. “I know I need to send a team in,” he said. “Things are about to break, one way or another, and we need to be on top when the dust clears. But…I’m scared.”
Giles looked a little surprised at this admission.
“It’s…strange, what you think about, you know?” Robin continued. “I’ve been trying to think of a time. A time when they sent in the cavalry in one of these things. A time where it all…worked out. I don’t know if I could live with that on my hands, if it didn’t.”
Giles looked back at the sunset for a moment. He took off his glasses and wiped them off a few times, then replaced them.
“For years, I sent Buffy out almost every night to fight the forces of darkness,” Giles said. “Every time, I knew there was a chance, a very real chance, that she wouldn’t come back alive. But I sent her anyway, because I had to.”
He and Robin stood silhouetted against the sunset.
Tenth Street – Command Tent – Moments Later
Robin walked into the command tent purposefully, his artificial leg hardly noticeable.
“All right, people, I’m going to need maps of the compound. And someone get me Amira Aziz…Hey, is that –”
“Kennedy!” Kadin yelled. The two women ran to each other and met in the middle of the street. Kadin laid a deep kiss on Kennedy, lasting for several seconds.
Agent McMahon watched this impassively from behind his sunglasses. “That’s something else that’s never happened before on a stakeout.”
Kadin came up for air and gave Kennedy a once-over for the first time. “Why are you wearing PJs?” she asked.
Kennedy gave her a small smile in return. “It’s been a long morning,” she replied, then turned her attention to where Robin was walking towards her.
“I know how many of them there are, I know where they are and I know how they’re armed,” she said.
Robin looked around at the agents waiting for his instructions.
“We’re going in,” he announced.
End of Act Three