Watchers Council – Front Lobby – Morning
“I just wish you would have called before I came down here,” Becca said.
Giles and Becca stood in the lobby, near the front desk. One of Becca’s arms was on her hip, the other held a baby carrier with Martin inside. Giles’ face carried a somewhat put-upon look, not least because Elizabeth seemed to have physically attached herself to his leg and wasn’t showing any signs of letting go.
“I’m sorry,” Giles said. “I thought we’d have this crisis resolved by now, but –”
“Have breakfast, Daddy,” Elizabeth pleaded, without releasing her death grip on his leg. She had a huge, impish grin on her face.
Becca held out a hand in Elizabeth’s direction, as if to say, “See?”
“Unfortunately, I have first-hand knowledge of dark magic that could be very valuable in this particular case,” Giles told Becca.
“And Willow and her Coven can’t handle this?” Becca asked.
Giles didn’t seem to know quite how to answer. “They’re doing their best,” he finally said, “but every bit of information anyone can bring might be of value. The point is, this person seems to have a particular grudge against the Council and right now I just don’t feel that it’s safe here for you and the children.”
“Have breakfast, Daddy!” Elizabeth repeated.
“If it’s not safe for us, it’s not safe for you, either,” Becca reasoned. When he didn’t reply. she added, “Look, come eat with us and then…I don’t know, maybe getting away from the center of this might help clear your head a little. You can come up with some fresh ideas. I’ll even spring for some brain-food, like a tuna fish sandwich,” she finished with a grin.
Giles smiled slightly, but then sighed, scratching his forehead. Becca waited expectantly.
“There’s a bagel shop two blocks away on the corner,” he finally said. “I may be able to join you there a bit later, once we have more of a handle on things. I can’t make any promises.”
“Okay, but if I don’t see you, I’m bringing something back before we go home,” Becca told him. She held out her free hand, “Come on, Liz.”
Elizabeth showed no sign of obeying, remaining attached to her father’s leg.
“Liz, go with your mother,” Giles said.
“Breakfast?” was the only response.
“Elizabeth Giles, I implore you, please, let go of me,” Giles begged.
Elizabeth still had a huge smile on her face as she stared up at him, not moving.
Watchers Council – Main Conference Room – Moments Later
“I’m such an idiot,” Willow said. In her anger, she kicked the underside of the conference table she was sitting at. “Ow!”
The Main Conference Room was being used as a sort of nerve center. Watchers, slayers and others continually streamed in and out. Lori was at the far end of the table, taking notes on a laptop computer as Amira and Valentine spoke. Dawn, Jeff, Skye and Hope clustered around a dry erase board in one corner. Buffy was camped out behind the front podium, papers spread around her in a semicircle. Sanger was also there, sitting quietly in her own chair in the back of the room and sipping a cup of coffee.
“I’m fairly certain that every single person in this room stands ready to contradict you there,” Rowena said with a small, loving smile. “This isn’t your fault. She’s avoided everything we’ve thrown in her path.”
“No, it completely is my fault,” Willow insisted. “I was the one who taught her. I was the one who thought I could help her control it…now look at her. It’s like déjà vu all over again. A-and I’m paralyzed – afraid to do a damn thing, because I might make it worse.”
Willow looked away from Rowena to the Conference Room’s front video screen. It showed security camera footage of Jocelyn sending a public mailbox through the front window of an upscale clothing store.
“It never gets any better,” she said softly. “Just when I think I’m starting to figure things out, the same things keep coming back. It’s like…it’s like everything’s a cycle. Like we’re all that Greek guy pushing a rock up a hill but it’s never going to get there. History just keeps repeating itself.”
“Sisyphus,” Rowena supplied.
Willow turned back to look at her. “What?”
“Sisyphus,” Rowena repeated. “The Greek guy pushing the rock up the hill.”
“I knew that,” Willow said.
“See?” Rowena replied. “You’re not an idiot. I understand that you have a history with this kind of situation, and that it’s very painful, but right now, that history is one of the best –”
Willow rounded on Rowena, swiveling in her chair. There was a sudden hardness in her eyes.
“You understand? You weren’t there! You didn’t try to kill your closest friends, along with the world. You didn’t feel the way that it made me feel. You…You can’t possibly understand.”
There was a tense moment of silence, during which Rowena looked away and rubbed the bridge of her nose.
“Maybe not,” she said finally, “but I do know that I’m here for you, and that I can help if you’ll just let me…If we focus, we might find a real way of stopping her.”
Willow sighed. “I know. I’m…I’m sorry I snapped at you. I’ve just been up all night. The Coven hasn’t had any luck and…” The two of them exchanged a quick peck of a kiss and Rowena pulled back to look Willow in the eyes. “There has to be something they can do,” Willow added.
Giles entered at the front of the room and walked over to Buffy. “Any change?” he asked.
“More of the same,” Buffy said. She momentarily rested her hands on her knees as she got to her feet. “Reports keep coming in. This girl has seriously gone off the deep end.”
“We’re still talking about Jocelyn, and not Willow, correct?” Giles asked, leaning over to Buffy’s ear. “She’s looking worse every hour this goes on.”
They both glanced over at Willow, who was scratching her forehead and shaking her head at the same time, still looking quite distressed as she talked to Rowena.
“Rowena’s trying to reach her,” Buffy said. “And even though she’s not catatonic, Will’s not…”
“Engaging the enemy,” Giles finished.
Buffy sighed in frustration. “I don’t get it, Giles,” she told him. “Our biggest gun seems to be…jammed. As soon as Willow got the physical description – the black hair, veiny-ness – it’s like she’s just…shut down.”
“You do realize the next time our group encounters this girl, they’ll have to take her down, and by any means?” Giles asked.
“Yeah.” Buffy frowned. “Willow asked the Coven to look for non-lethal methods. but we’re moving forward with the contingency plans you guys drew up in case…” She trailed off.
“In case Willow ever suffered a relapse,” Giles finished. “I remember…I’d hoped it wouldn’t come to this.”
“Well, we don’t know where Jocelyn is now,” Buffy continued. “The most powerful witch in North America can’t stop shaking in her boots long enough to do a locator spell that works. To make things worse, Jocelyn’s stayed one step ahead of us in the field…which makes sense, since she’s flying and we’re stepping, but the trail’s pretty clear. Crocker Park, Great Northern Mall, Lakewood…she’s moving this way.”
Robin Wood and Jason Felix were walking towards them. Robin held out a folder for Buffy.
“Another attack?” she asked.
Robin shook his head, a sober expression on his face. “Mia’s team just got back from O’Hara’s house in Westlake. It’s pretty chaotic, she cut quite a swath over there…they took some pictures.” He gestured to the folder.
“Be warned,” Felix said. “It’s rather gruesome.”
“Well, over the years I’ve seen some pretty…” Buffy opened the folder. She squinted, turned the page, then returned to the first page. She looked up at Robin. “Was this a person?”
“Unfortunately, yes,” Robin said. “Right now we’re pretty sure his name was Trevor Halladay. Apparently, he and O’Hara had been dating for some time.”
“They were dating?” Buffy asked. “You don’t think that…”
“That this could be what set Miss O’Hara off, so to speak?” Felix replied. “Perhaps. All the evidence at this point indicates that Mr. Halladay was…quartered using magical methods.”
“She did it herself,” Giles said.
“That would follow,” Felix agreed.
“But…why?” Buffy asked.
“Based on what Jackson and his team’ve uncovered, no clue,” Robin provided. “Trevor’s friends claim there were no problems between them. He was crazy about her, faithful, too, from what they’re saying. This week they were making plans for a senior trip. So. like I said, no clues; he did nothing to deserve this.”
“Nobody deserves this,” Buffy sighed as she waved the folder. “So we’re still no closer to finding out what made one of our Coven members turn supervillain? That’s comforting.” She turned to Giles. “You know how much I hate this, but I think it might be worth bringing in an expert. Maybe you should call Ethan for a little magical back-up…did I just say that?”
“You did,” Giles replied with a small smile, “but Ethan is…unavailable.”
“I thought he was pretending to be a good guy now,” Robin said. “Disappearances aren’t going to help his cause.”
“He isn’t pretending, it’s just that…” Giles sighed. “He’s on his honeymoon.”
Buffy made an incredulous noise in her throat.
“Really?” Felix said with a smile. “Good for him! With Miss Kreswell, I presume?”
“Yes,” Giles nodded. He noticed the expectant look on Buffy’s face. “And I don’t know where they are, so don’t ask me.”
In the corner by the white board, Dawn and Jeff were busily conversing.
“If we tried McGregor’s Ritual,” Jeff suggested, “that might freeze her long enough to…”
“To what?” Dawn asked. “Force Persephone’s Knot on her? You and I both know Jocelyn’s practically made of magic on a good day. That’d kill her, and Willow specifically ordered us to look for non-lethal methods.”
“No offense,” Hope said, “but we might have to consider a lethal method.”
Jeff and Dawn looked at each other, but didn’t reply directly to the comment. “Anyway,” Dawn continued, “McGregor’s Ritual requires the egg of a Passenger Pigeon, and I seriously doubt we can get our hands on any of those.”
“Well, okay,” Hope began, “but what about…”
“Skye, you with us?” Jeff asked.
Skye had not been paying attention, instead looking off in the opposite direction. She pointed at where Sanger was now chatting amicably with Lori and the two slayers. “Who is that?” she asked.
“That’s the lady from this Oversight Committee,” Dawn supplied. “She seems nice. I can introduce you if you want,” she added, with a bit of skepticism and a twinge of envy.
Skye watched as Lori laughed at something Sanger had said. “No thanks. It’s just…she might be the slickest manipulator I’ve ever seen.”
“Takes one to know one, I guess,” Jeff commented. Dawn shot him a withering look.
“No,” Skye replied, not seeming to have taken offense. “It’s in the body language, the tone of voice…she’s a master.”
“Maybe she’s under the Imperius Curse!” Hope said suddenly. The others stared at her. “Jocelyn, I mean.”
“That’s only in Harry Potter, baby,” Jeff told her softly.
“Oh…right.” Hope looked genuinely disappointed.
“You read Harry Potter?” Skye asked, surprised.
“Well, everybody else did,” Hope said. “I didn’t want to be left out.”
Dawn shook her head to refocus. “Maybe if we use something to just trap her. Something that’s strong enough to hold her so we can reason with her.”
“But again, that involves getting close enough,” Jeff replied. “She’s never in one place long enough.” Jeff sighed. “We need another brain on this.”
“Speaking of,” Dawn sighed, “where’s Andrew? Shouldn’t he be here?”
Watchers Council – Parking Garage – Same Time
Tracey gave a large suitcase one last hard shove in an attempt to fit it into the trunk of her old, beat-up Ford. Then she slammed the trunk closed. She looked vaguely surprised when it stayed shut.
“I don’t see why you have to leave today,” Andrew said as he stood next to her. “I mean, your grad school doesn’t even start for two weeks.”
“I have to leave today because I’m driving to California,” Tracey told him, in a tone that said this was not the first, or even the third, time she had explained this. “It’s the only way I can take all my stuff. Plus, I’m stopping on my way to visit my Aunt Crystal in St. Louis.”
Andrew wrung his hands. “But…we were going to have a whole secret surprise goodbye party for you! Well, not a surprise anymore because I just told you, but I was going to make German Chocolate cake, because I know it’s your favorite, with regular candles because you think trick candles are mean, and Jeff was going to conjure streamers, and –”
Tracey stopped him by laying a single finger softly on his lips. “I’m sure it would have been wonderful.”
“I can get them all down here,” Andrew said, looking suddenly inspired. “They probably have German Chocolate at the Giant Eagle…”
“Thanks,” Tracey said with a smile, “but I’m pretty sure everyone’s busy, and I really do need to go.”
“I…know it’s a great opportunity for you,” Andrew said, deflated. “You need to follow your dream. I just…I don’t like the idea of you being so far away.”
Tracey snaked her arms around Andrew’s waist. “I know. I’ll miss you, too. But this is the digital age. We can IM each other whenever you want, not to mention, y’know, talk on the phone. And I’ll be back for school breaks and holidays. Plus, you could always come visit me. Of the two of us here, you’re the one who has access to a private jet.” Tracey smiled.
“It’s not the same,” Andrew said sadly.
“I know.” Then Tracey kissed Andrew. At first it was gentle, and then the two of them grew in fervor. The lip smacking lasted for several seconds. It was only reluctantly that Tracey pulled away. “I won’t say goodbye, Andy. So how about see you later?” she said softly, then turned and walked around her car to the driver’s side door. She opened it, but didn’t get in, instead looking back at Andrew.
“I love you,” she said.
“I love you, too,” Andrew replied.
“When this Jocelyn business blows over, call me,” Tracey told him. “We’ll have phone sex.”
With that, she got into the car and closed the door behind her. Andrew looked slightly stunned, and didn’t scramble out of the way until Tracey almost backed the car over him. He watched as her tail lights faded into the distance.
Bruegher’s Bagels – Later
Becca did not look happy. This might have been because Giles had yet to appear. It might have been because Martin was crying his eyes out. The diner was about half-full of patrons, many of whom occasionally cast Becca and her loud child baleful looks. She sat at a booth in the corner, with Martin’s bassinet on the table. Across from her, Elizabeth was eating a strawberry muffin. She had somehow managed to smear jelly all over her face.
Becca leaned over Martin and picked him up. “Shh…shh…it’s okay,” she cooed, bouncing him on her shoulder. The crying did not abate.
“Daddy’s gonna miss breakfast,” Elizabeth announced.
“Yes, it looks like he is,” Becca sighed, still patting Martin on the back. “But Daddy’s job is very important and…oh, Lizzy, you’ve got muffin all over your face.”
“It’s yummy,” she said.
Becca grinned as she picked up a napkin from the table with her free hand and tried to use it to wipe off Elizabeth, but the girl just wrinkled her nose and shied away.
“Hold still, honey,” Becca ordered, and Elizabeth dutifully did as she was told, while wearing that same impish smile. “There,” Becca said, as she finished wiping. She turned back to Martin, who was still wailing. “Shh, shh…”
The waiter stopped by the edge of the table.
“Did you need anything, ma’am?” he asked politely. “More coffee?”
“My daddy fights ugly bad guys,” Elizabeth told the waiter, before Becca could answer.
“He does?” the waiter asked with a chuckle, turning to Elizabeth.
“Uh-huh,” Elizabeth nodded. “But he says they’re not all ugly. Sometimes they look like you and me. And sometimes people that you think might be bad guys are really nice, like my daddy’s friend Brell.”
The waiter looked to Becca, who rocked Martin back and forth in her arms, for more information.
“Yes, Liz, he does fight bad guys,” Becca said. “He’s a watcher at the Council,” she added to the waiter.
“Oh, now it makes sense,” the waiter said with a chuckle. “If it’s okay with you,” he said, with a conspiratorial wink to Becca, “all the daughters of people at the Watchers Council get a free cookie.” Becca nodded her approval. The waiter then turned to Elizabeth. “Would you like one?”
Elizabeth looked eagerly to Becca for an answer and she nodded to her as well.
“Yes, thank you. That would be nice,” Elizabeth told the waiter.
“I have to ask…how old are you?” the waiter asked incredulously, chuckling again.
“Two right now, but I’ll be three in May,” she said, holding up two fingers and then adding one more.
“She’s so bright. What a peach,” the waiter complimented Becca. “I’ll be back in a few minutes with that cookie,” he said, before walking away.
“Thanks,” Becca told him as he departed. Martin began to grow fussy again, so Becca went back to rocking him in her arms. Absently, she began to lightly sing, “Daddy fights the bad guys, yes he does. Daddy fights the –”
Becca’s chant was interrupted by a sudden gust of gale force winds inside the bagel shop. Patrons screamed and scattered as bright blue lightning crackled in the center of the dining area. One bolt struck a chair and it splintered into several pieces. Becca shielded her eyes against the light and Elizabeth screamed in a single, incredibly high-pitched note. A dark shape emerged from the light and, as suddenly as it had appeared, the lightning was gone.
In its place stood Jocelyn, her dark eyes dispassionate. “Hello, Mrs. Giles. It’s good to see you.”
“You…” Becca stammered, clutching the wailing Martin to her chest.
“Mommy?” Elizabeth pleaded.
Jocelyn turned her head. “Yes, that’s her.”
“W-What do you want?” Becca asked.
“I’m sorry,” Jocelyn said, sincerity in her voice. “This wasn’t my idea.” She strode forward and took Elizabeth by the wrist. “I’ll need to take this one.” She dragged Elizabeth out of the booth. The little girl stretched out an arm in the direction of her mother and screamed.
Jocelyn had gotten about five strides when Becca, having left Martin in his carrier, swung a metal chair at the back of Jocelyn’s head. The chair crumpled on impact. Jocelyn stopped, looking like she’d just heard a fly.
“Why are you doing this?” Becca shouted.
Jocelyn turned and regarded her sadly. “Because it will destroy them.”
Then there was a bright flash, and more lightning.
“No!” Becca shouted, over the sound of the lightning and Martin’s crying. She was forced to take cover from the lightning, arms over her head. With a gust of wind, Jocelyn and Elizabeth were gone.
“What’s happened?” a male voice was asking frantically. “What’s going on? Where’s Liz?”
Becca got to her feet and found Giles standing right there. “She took her,” she said, her voice soft and hollow.
“What?” Giles asked, shaking his head. “I-I don’t understand.”
“Oh God, she took her!” Becca burst into tears and hugged Giles with all her might.
Council Van – Same Time
Denise regarded the weapon in her hands with some skepticism. “Does this thing seriously work?” she asked.
She was seat belted into the back of a black Watchers Council van as it made its way along a busy downtown street, along with Chamique and Shilpi, whose creamy brown skin hinted at possible South Asian origins. Marie drove, with Kennedy riding shotgun. The girls in the back each held a bulky, gun-like contraption of metal and white plastic.
“Well, we never field tested it at the Bureau, but the mages assured us it’d work,” said Shilpi, from her seat across from Denise.
Denise sighed. “Very comforting, Shilpi.”
Chamique yawned. “It’s too early. I’m a slayer. I’m not supposed to be up before noon.”
Kennedy looked into the back seat, frowning. “Poor you. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind the next time that –”
“Look out!” Denise shouted, pointing out the front windshield. In the road directly ahead, a blue flash of light was just dissipating, revealing two figures, one tiny and one normal height with dark hair. Marie slammed on the brakes, and Kennedy whipped her head around, bracing for impact.
E. Ninth Street – Continuous
Keeping one hand locked around Elizabeth’s wrist, Jocelyn raised her other hand in the direction of the approaching van, palm out. Just as the vehicle seemed like it was about to plow into the two of them, Jocelyn wagged a finger.
The van ran into an invisible barrier. It flipped into the air, end over end, seeming to float over Jocelyn and Elizabeth’s heads in slow motion. It landed hard on its roof and slid along the asphalt for some distance, sparks flying. Eventually it came to a stop.
Kennedy found herself upside down, held in position only by her seat belt. “Oh…crap,” she managed, before raising her voice. “Is anybody hurt?” She received no response. She tried to turn around, but found that she couldn’t. Struggling with her seat belt, Kennedy managed to loosen it just enough so that she fell down head-first to the pavement. Her door had popped open in the crash. Kennedy let out an involuntary yelp of pain.
At the same time, Marie was crawling out through the driver’s side door. She had a huge welt on her forehead. “I hate car crashes,” she groaned.
Without warning, Jocelyn grabbed Marie by her shirt and hauled her all the way out of the van. Marie had time to say, “I really hate car crashes,” before Jocelyn sent her flying across the street and through a large window.
Fourth National Bank – Same Time
Bank customers scattered as the upscale establishment’s front window shattered. Marie skidded across the marble floor, cutting herself on broken glass, before slamming into a counter on the far side of the bank lobby. She tried to stand up, but was unsuccessful. Marie collapsed, spitting blood onto the floor.
E. Ninth Street – Same Time
Kennedy was on her feet, in a fighting stance. Jocelyn stalked toward her, yet to break a sweat. A confused look flitted across Kennedy’s face when she saw Elizabeth standing over on the sidewalk, seemingly alone.
“Liz?” Kennedy asked. As she was still taking this in, Jocelyn made a sweeping movement with one arm and Kennedy went flying down the street, traveling forty feet in the air. When she landed, the asphalt cracked beneath her.
Dazed, Kennedy raised her head. “Liz, run!”
But Elizabeth remained rooted to the spot. Closer inspection would have revealed small, green glowing bands around her ankles. Unable to flee, Elizabeth stood in mute terror.
Jocelyn watched silently as Kennedy made a shaky attempt to get to one knee.
With a harsh bang, the back doors of the van sprang open. Denise stood there, brandishing one of the strange weapons. Shilpi glowered from over her shoulder, a long cut on one cheek. Chamique was still on what had once been the roof of the van and was now the floor. Her body was in an awkward position, and she was unconscious.
“Freeze!” Denise shouted at Jocelyn, with all the authority she could manage. When Jocelyn simply turned her head, a vaguely interested look on her face, Denise fired. An energy beam shot out of her weapon, bright gold flecked with dancing red. When she removed her finger from the trigger, Jocelyn was no longer there.
Denise hesitated. “Did…did it work?”
“No, it didn’t,” Jocelyn said. She was standing right next to them. Denise barely had time to blink before Jocelyn waved her hand and the slayer flew backwards into the van with a yelp. She slammed into the back of the front seat and was immediately pinned by a torn strip of metal. Denise cried in pain as her arm bent at the wrong angle.
Shilpi dove for Denise’s gun, but before she could reach it, the gun leapt away from her and landed in Jocelyn’s hand.
“I wish I could let you,” Jocelyn said, “but I can’t.”
Shilpi tried to sweep out Jocelyn’s legs from her spot on the ground, but Jocelyn was too fast for her. “Frium,” Jocelyn said, and Shilpi was frozen mid-leg sweep…literally. She was totally encased in ice.
Jocelyn stood over the frozen girl for a moment. “Is this why we had to come here?” she asked.
She was blindsided by a gold and red blast. Kennedy stood in the center of the road, holding one of the futuristic guns. Horns blared as traffic swerved around the two of them, but Kennedy took no notice.
“That’s enough,” Kennedy said, the anger in her voice barely concealed.
At first, the blast’s effect seemed to have been negligible, but then Jocelyn swayed and fell to her knees, gasping. The air around her shimmered, and the sunlight surrounding them seemed to become obscured a little.
“Anti-magic field,” Kennedy explained, standing over her. “I really hope it hurts.”
Jocelyn was on the asphalt, wheezing. “No, I can’t,” she managed. “I’m not…”
“Not what?” Kennedy asked. “Not a bad person? Because I think we both know that’s a big fib.”
Jocelyn screamed, and Kennedy took a startled step back. Jocelyn writhed in the street, clutching at the chain around her throat.
“Wow,” Kennedy said, “it really does hurt.”
Jocelyn had stopped writhing, but now she was crying. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she said. “It…it would have been better if I’d never been born.”
Kennedy’s eyes softened, just a little. “Maybe you can still –”
Then Jocelyn was on her feet, a hand on Kennedy’s chest. Kennedy let out a sharp gasp as the area around Jocelyn’s hand began to glow. Her mouth opened and her eyes rolled back in her head. Red lightning flashed around the two of them.
Jocelyn pulled her hand away, and she now had more black veins on her face. Kennedy fell to the ground, eyes wide, struggling to breathe. Jocelyn raised a hand and there was a purple flash. The rippling subsided and the sun was bright again. Jocelyn ran over to where Elizabeth was still standing and waved her hand to remove the restraints.
“You’re a bad guy,” Elizabeth said angrily.
“Looks like,” Jocelyn replied. She grabbed Elizabeth’s wrist. There was a blue flash, several bolts of lightning, and a gust of wind, and then the two of them were gone again.
Kennedy lay in the street, staring sightlessly up into the sky.
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Day
Several nurses surrounded Shilpi as she lay in bed, shivering although she wore a thermo-blanket.
Several beds down, Kadin sat and held a sleeping Kennedy’s hand. Kennedy was on oxygen, and a heart monitor beeped slowly. Faith put a hand on Kadin’s shoulder.
“Any change?” Faith asked.
“No,” Kadin said softly. “They…they said she was almost completely drained. They don’t know when she’ll wake up or…or if…” She choked on the words, swallowed.
“She’ll wake up,” Faith assured her. “She’s a slayer. We’re bad-ass like that.”
Kadin tried to force a smile, looked up. “How are the others?”
“Well, Willow quit cowering long enough to thaw Shilpi,” Faith told her. “Denise’s got a broken arm, but she’ll heal in no time. Marie’ll be fine, she’s just got a lot of cuts and bruises. Chamique…well, she’s awake. She can’t move her legs, but she’s awake.”
“Kennedy told me once that she broke her back,” Kadin said, “but her slayer healing kicked in and she was fine.”
“I hope Chamique turns out the same,” Faith said. “Anyway, she’s not the only one bad off.”
Faith looked over toward the door to the hallway, where Rowena hugged a distraught Becca while a stoic Giles stood nearby.
“We’ll find her,” Rowena said. “We’ll get her back.”
“You don’t know that,” Becca said. One of her hands balled into a fist, then relaxed.
“I do,” Rowena said. “I…I give you my word.”
“Your word?” Becca asked.
Rowena tried to smile. “As a mother.”
Becca burst into tears again, and Rowena’s smile died immediately. “Thank you, Ro, but I don’t…” Giles put a hand on Becca’s shoulder and she tried to pull herself together. “I-I have to feed Martin.”
“He’s being taken care of,” Rowena assured her. “I’m sure he and Shannon are having a great time. Just…try not to worry too much.”
Jason Felix brushed past the three of them as he walked into the infirmary. “I’m so sorry,” he said to Kadin. “I came as soon as I heard.” He looked around the room, eyes flicking across Chamique lying in her bed, crying. “This is simply intolerable.”
“You still worried about drug testing?” Faith asked him pointedly.
“I actually wanted to speak with you, Miss Lehane,” Felix said. “I’m glad I caught you. We must start the contingency plan and stop this girl. I only hope that we can do so while Elizabeth Giles survives.”
“What are the chances of that?” Kadin asked darkly. Faith again glanced over to where Giles and Becca were standing, hoping they hadn’t heard that. “No, really. I mean, Jocelyn’s probably killed a few dozen people by now. She killed her own boyfriend. She tried to kill Kennedy. She won’t hesitate to kill Elizabeth. We know that.”
Felix sighed. “I am afraid you may be right, Miss Van Helsing. However, the truth shows she has hesitated. She has a plan. and we will never forgive ourselves if we do not attempt everything in our power to recover Liz before Jocelyn has her way.”
“Gotta agree with you there, but how do you stop something that’s in one location one moment and in another the next?” Faith asked. “The problem right now is, not much is in our power, as far as I can see.”
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Moments Later
Xander found Willow sitting on the floor, surrounded by books. Her back was against the wall, and her head was in her hands.
“You okay?” he asked.
“No,” Willow said, without raising her head.
“Sorry, stupid question,” he sighed.
“I can’t do this,” Willow said. She wiped tears from her eyes and turned her face up to look at Xander.
“What can’t you do?”
“Any of this,” she told him. “I-I thought I was a grown-up now. I thought I was ready. Now I’m married and twins are on the way a-and I-I can’t do it. I can’t even keep my own students from going on killing sprees. I can’t even teach them to avoid my own mistakes. I can’t –”
“Willow!” Xander cut her off and stepped forward. He knelt down in front of her and grasped her hands in his own. “I want you to listen to me. I love you. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I can’t think of anybody better to be a mom. You will figure all of this out, and you will be just as strong as ever before. No…stronger.”
“Xander…” Willow whispered. “How can I teach my kids not to be afraid of the dark if I’m still petrified by it?”
“Well, for starters, you could try a night light,” Xander told her. Very, very suddenly, Willow laughed. Just twice, but it seemed like enough. “See? There’s my girl,” he continued. “We’ve got to get moving, though. Buffy called an emergency meeting in the Conference Room.”
“We know there’s an emergency, Xan. They’re bringing slayers into the infirmary by the truckload. It’s not –”
“Jocelyn has Liz,” Xander told her. “Becca and Marty got in after you left Kennedy.”
Willow’s jaw clenched.
Watchers Council – Main Conference Room – Minutes Later
Buffy stood at the podium and glanced around the room. Faith was there, as well as Mia, looking uncomfortable in what was usually Kennedy’s seat. Rowena, Robin, Jason Felix and Lori were seated in the center. Off to Buffy’s right were Dawn, Andrew and Jeff.
Buffy cleared her throat, and the room grew silent.
“I know you’re all tired. It’s been a long night and day. This is all pretty shocking, but we can’t let it –”
The door flew open, and Xander entered the room. Buffy turned to glare at him.
“Where’s Willow?” she asked, annoyed.
“She’s gone after Jocelyn,” he announced.
Buffy and Faith shared a slightly relieved expression, until they turned to see the nervousness on Rowena’s face.
End of Act Three