Lacey Chabert as Skye Talisker, Gale Harold as Jim Pollan, Caroline Dhavernas as Grace Hatherley, Elijah Woods as Jeff Lindquist, Norika Fujiwara as Mia Nakata, Laura Pyper as Casey Pierce, Asia Argento as Marie LeBouchard, Rachel Hurd-Wood as Lorinda Sheparton, Alexis Bledel as Denise, Laura Prepon as Lori Carew, Christine Carlson Romano as Hope Lehane and Gary Oldman as Mr. Jason Felix
Sendhil Ramamurthy as Rajiv Venugopal, Freema Agyeman as Siobhan Hartley, Michael Nouri as Dr. Roman Solaris, Eric Szmanda as Chip Clarke, Ted Raimi as Douglas Dent, Abigail Breslin as Daryn Ballard, Ethan Phillips as Joseph McCarthy and Sir Derek Jacobi as Varthrim
St. Matthew’s Church – Early Afternoon
As soon as the minister had concluded the service, both Xander and Kennedy instantly turned to Willow.
“What the hell was that?” Kennedy asked.
“Yeah,” Xander chimed in. “For a second there, I thought we might be in for another Orgasmabomb. Sooo disappointed now.”
“I don’t know,” Willow answered, frowning. “Some kind of power surge or something.”
“Was it magic?” Kennedy inquired.
Willow shook her head and shrugged uncertainly. “Sort of…maybe…I don’t know.”
All three looked around the sanctuary. People were milling about, talking quietly, making their way toward the exit. None seemed to be in a state of alarm.
“I’ll check in with Operations when I get back,” Willow said. “See if anything’s been happening.”
After a nod of agreement from Xander and Kennedy, the three headed for the door.
Watchers Council – Willow and Rowena’s Apartment – Later that Day
When Willow entered the apartment, she headed straight for the bedroom. When she looked inside, she found Rowena sitting up in bed, clicking away on her computer. The laptop was on a specially designed table that fit comfortably over her legs and stomach.
Rowena looked up from her computer and said, “How was the service?”
“It was…good,” Willow answered. “A lot of people from the Council were there.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there with you.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Willow said, waving off the apology. “It’s not your fault the Wonder Twins were at it all night. Speaking of reasons for absences, though…aren’t you supposed to be resting and not working?”
Rowena quirked an eyebrow at Willow. “If you didn’t want me to work in bed, then you shouldn’t have asked Xander to make this table for me.”
“Touché,” Willow admitted as she sat down beside Rowena. She gave her wife a long, heartfelt kiss. “I just don’t want you overdoing it,” she added, slipping a hand under the table and onto Rowena’s belly. “And that’s you in the plural.”
Rowena smiled warmly and placed her own hand over Willow’s. “We’re not,” she assured her. “I checked my email, and now I’m just skimming the daily division reports.”
Willow patted Rowena’s arm approvingly. Then she sobered and asked, “Did anything…weird get reported today? Like in the last couple of hours?”
“You mean weirder than usual, I presume?” At Willow’s confirmation, Rowena scanned down her computer screen. “Nope. Nothing that I can see. Just the usual unusualities.”
Rowena grinned at her invented word, but Willow didn’t seem to notice. She was staring off, deep in thought. A concerned expression came over Rowena’s face.
“Why? Did something happen?” the blonde asked.
Willow sighed and looked back at Rowena. “Well, sort of…”
Watchers Council – Kennedy’s Apartment – Same Time
With Marsha trailing along beside her, Kennedy strode purposefully into her bedroom and started stripping off the dress clothes she had worn to the church service. With a huff of relief and slight disgust, she tossed them into the corner.
While Kennedy moved to her chest of drawers and began pulling out her typical slayer-wear, Marsha waddled over to the discarded clothes and gave them a huff of her own, in echo of Kennedy’s.
Suddenly, Marsha froze in place. She cocked her head, sniffed the air and then whipped around to face the door. She unfurled her wings and crept forward in a crouch, puffing smoke from her nostrils and growling deep in her throat.
Kennedy looked up from what she was doing. “What’s the matter, baby?”
Marsha was still aggressively fixated on the open doorway. Kennedy grabbed the small dagger lying on her chest of drawers and eased silently toward the door. She waited several seconds, then rushed out of the bedroom with Marsha right behind her.
They were both surprised to find absolutely nothing outside the door.
After a fast but fruitless search of the whole apartment, Kennedy shot Marsha an accusing glare. “Gettin’ senile in your old age?” she asked the little dragon. “Or are ya just goin’ nuts like me?”
Marsha stuck her nose in the air, gave a loud harrumph and stalked away. Kennedy just laughed, shook her head and returned to her bedroom.
Watchers Council – Xander’s Workshop – Same Time
Still in his coat and tie, Xander strolled around his workshop. He moved from area to area, touching or examining each ongoing project, but settling on none of them. He sighed and headed for his desk. He removed his jacket and tie and laid them over the back of his chair.
As he did so, his gaze fell on a small collection of pictures arranged on the corner of his desk. They were of family, friends and loved ones. His eyes grew sad as he pulled one from the center of the group and drew it closer.
It was a picture of Vi. She was smiling brightly, and her eyes were sparkling with light and laughter. She seemed so full of life.
Seemed. Past tense. As in not anymore.
Xander sighed once again and set the picture back on his desk.
As he began to unfasten the first few buttons of his dress shirt, a tiny tendril of mist materialized out of thin air and swirled around his upper back. He shivered at first, then gasped and whirled around. He stumbled back against his desk, causing the propped-up photographs to fall like dominoes. With his eyes darting around the room, he reached up and gently touched his neck and shoulder. His brow furrowed in confusion when he saw nothing behind him and no one in the room.
Xander let out a deep exhale and got his breathing under control. When he turned back to his desk, he noticed the toppled pictures in the corner. He stared at them for a long moment and then walked away, making no attempt to right them.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – A Short Time Later
Willow laid a large square cloth in the middle of the floor. On it, she placed two candles – a black one on the side nearest the door and a white one on the opposite side.
She went to a table and retrieved a small, worn leather volume. She flipped through the yellowed pages and found the passage she was looking for. She slipped a bookmark between the pages, closed the volume, and knelt down to set the book in the center of the cloth.
As she rose to her feet, she heard a strange noise behind her. She craned her neck around to listen more closely. At first, there was nothing, but then she heard it again.
It was the faint sound of a child crying.
Willow walked over to where she thought the sound had originated. She tilted her head to the side and listened once again.
“Hello?” she called out. “Is somebody there?”
She heard no response. She stayed there a full minute longer, waiting to see if the sound would recur, but it didn’t. Puzzled, she scratched her head and then laughed at herself.
“It’s started already,” she said with a rueful eye roll. “The Mommy Imagination Syndrome.”
Willow struck a melodramatic pose. “Look out, everybody! With the power of my overactive mind, I can turn a mere sigh into a wail of pain, a knee scrape into an ER visit…and my children aren’t even born yet!”
Finally, she dropped the act and smacked her palm against her forehead. “Good grief…” she mumbled.
Watchers Council – Slayer Briefing Room – Same Time
“I knew it when I woke up,” Casey said, perched on the edge of the table with her chunky leather boots up on the seat of the chair in front of her. “I said to myself, I said, ‘Today’s gonna be a freaky one’.”
Just then, Casey saw Grace enter the slayer briefing room. The young watcher was carrying piles of manila folders tucked under her arm, while punching a series of keys on her Blackberry.
When Grace got to the podium up front, she dumped her folders, finished the sequence on her Blackberry, and looked up at the crowd of slayers before her.
“All right, my merry band of She-Ra’s, let’s get this started, shall we?”
“Where’s Allister?” Marie asked.
“She’s laid up and not in the good way,” Grace said, batting away the comment. “Twins were keeping her up all night, and she feels a little worse for wear.”
“And she feels like that now? Wait till they’re born and crying and chucking up all over the place,” Denise said from her spot standing in the back of the room. Shilpi gave a nod from beside her.
“Yeah, and guess which certain P.A. will be playing nanny?” Lorinda added, giving Grace a wrinkled-nose grin.
The group laughed heartily, but Grace just rolled her eyes. “Okay, okay,” she said, gesturing with her hands for the room to calm down. “Seriously now, I’ll be giving out the assignments today, and yeah, you will respect my au-thor-i-tah because, if you don’t, I have no problem writing you up to Ro, and you really don’t want a heavily-pregnant, hormone-fuelled woman with swollen ankles laying on the punishment.”
Grace looked down at her Blackberry. “Here we go…Kennedy’s got the day off today so, Marie, you’re in charge of your squad. Training room three is booked for you, and you should continue practicing the techniques you started last week.”
Marie gave Grace an acknowledging salute.
She jumped from the table she was perched on and turned around, standing to attention. “Yes sir!” she barked playfully.
Grace grinned. “You’re taking S.I.T. Squad four to the loading bay this afternoon and teaching them…oooh, advanced stealth techniques. Orders say everything’ll be set up for you when you get there.”
Casey sat back down, looking pleased.
“Lorinda. The Clinic. You remember that plastic surgery joint downtown, under Cleveland’s answer to the Kwik-E-Mart?”
“Ah, how is Ramesh?” Casey asked sincerely.
“Still selling those god awful Samosas,” Grace gave back dryly and then continued with Lorinda. “A patient of Doctor Colton’s has been flagged as a potential threat. The patient is coming in for a second consult this evening. Little does it know that you and Shannon, Bailey, Jennifer and Rachel will be waiting in the wings. Jeff will be the watcher on site. Shannon’s at the dentist now, but should be back any minute, so clue her in when you see her at the gym.”
“Got it,” Lorinda replied, giving her a wink and a cocked-gun affirmative gesture.
Grace cleared her throat and scrolled to the next item on her Blackberry. “Vi, you and –”
Grace stopped instantly, and the room went silent.
“Grace?” Marie asked, concerned.
The watcher was frowning at her screen. “I, umm…”
Marie stepped around the table and came to the podium beside her.
“The document on my Blackberry,” Grace said, holding out the device for Marie to see. “Look, it has a bullet point for Vi. I…I don’t understand…”
As Marie took the Blackberry from Grace, the screen flickered, and the phone turned itself off. Within seconds, it booted up again and returned to normal.
“Did you see it?” Grace asked.
Marie nodded. “Maybe it’s just a glitch. You know, picking up something on a crappy Wi-Fi connection? Might wanna get Andrew to check that out.” She handed the device back to Grace.
Casey leaned over to Lorinda and whispered, “Freaky.”
“Yeah…sure,” Grace said to Marie. She took a moment and composed herself, shaking out the tension in her body. Then she went on with her presentation. “Umm…yeah…right, Siobhan, you’re in Training room seven. Ken wants you to show Squads five and seven the defense and counter attacks that you were taught at the good Bureau. She said for you to pick the other B9 slayers you want as aides.”
When Siobhan nodded her assent, Grace looked up and scanned the entire room of slayers. “Well, that’s it, so scoot!” She set down her Blackberry and gave them a two-handed shooing gesture to send them on their way.
As the group filtered out of the room, Lorinda came to the front, where Grace was piling up her folders.
“What was that all about?” she asked. “The Vi thing?”
“I really don’t know,” Grace answered. “I didn’t write it, and I could have sworn it wasn’t there earlier when I scrolled through the assignments.” She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “Maybe I’m losing it. Trial prep, baby prep and all the filler in-between…”
“Yeah, well, in case I don’t see you, good luck tomorrow,” Lorinda said, surprisingly sincerely.
Grace smiled, a little touched. “Th-thanks.”
Lorinda returned the smile. “And don’t worry about the Vi thing. Casey’s right…there’s something weird about today. Gotta make tracks, so see ya!” She turned and headed for the door, leaving a still-confused Grace behind.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Later that Day
Willow and Hope sat across from one another on the large cloth on the floor – Willow with her back to the wall and Hope with her back to the door. They were both cross-legged, with their hands resting open and palms-up on their knees. Their eyes were closed, and they were breathing in and out slowly and deliberately.
When they opened their eyes, they turned their gazes to the candles before them. The white one in front of Willow was lit, but the black one in front of Hope was not.
“You just focus your energy, and then speak the words,” Willow instructed.
After a brief pause, she softly but firmly spoke a command in Latin. Gradually, the flame on her white candle disappeared from view. A few seconds later, it reappeared on Hope’s black candle.
“Like that,” Willow announced in a pleased voice.
“Wow,” Hope said, smiling in amazement. “But wouldn’t it be easier just to create a new flame on the other candle rather than move the old flame to it?”
“Of course it would,” Willow replied. “But that’s not the point of the exercise. The goal is to hone your skills of concentration. When it comes to telekinesis and teleportation, even a second of distraction can be catastrophic – like ‘materializing inside a concrete block’ catastrophic.”
Hope’s eyes grew wide. “Oh.”
“Uh-huh,” Willow agreed solemnly. “Okay, you try now.”
Hope murmured a quick prayer and then took a few nervous breaths. After glancing quickly at the open book before her, she focused her will on the two candles. When she was ready, she spoke the necessary words.
Slowly, the flame on her black candle vanished. Just as the flame started to rematerialize on the white candle, Hope’s attention was drawn to the area behind Willow, which had begun to shimmer with a strange light.
Suddenly, the horrifying image of a winged demon burst into view. Hope screamed in reaction and scrambled backwards off the cloth, toppling the candles in the process.
“Hope! Watch it!” Willow cried out, catching the white candle and extinguishing it before it could fall and ignite something else. “What’s wrong?”
“Demon! Right there!” Hope yelled, pointing frantically.
Willow whipped around, her magic at the ready, but by that time the apparition was gone. The redhead rose cautiously to her feet and examined the area, but she saw no sign of anything out of the ordinary. When she turned back to Hope, she found the young woman staring at the now-empty space in confusion.
“I think that’s enough for today,” Willow told her gently. “Why don’t we pick this up tomorrow?”
Hope stood up and walked closer. “Y-Y-You gotta believe me,” she insisted. “It was there. I saw it!”
“I believe you,” Willow said. “But…truth is, it’s probably just a side effect of the spell. It might even be related to that Auflexian demon. You know, just some residual bad mojo left over from the possession?”
Alarm came over Hope’s face. She reached up and touched her cross necklace. “You don’t think that…that it’s still inside me, do you?”
“No, of course not!” Willow instantly assured her. “You banished it, fair and square. It’s gone. Kaput.”
“But you said –”
“I know, but what I meant was…all magic leaves a kind of energy trail behind. It fades eventually, but it takes time.”
Hope thought about that for a long moment and then nodded in understanding. “Tomorrow then?”
“Tomorrow,” Willow answered with an encouraging smile.
At that, Hope left the room. Willow watched her go, a look of deep concern in her eyes.
Watchers Council – Slayer Gym – That Afternoon
Jeff Lindquist stood beside Siobhan Hartley. They stole quick glances at each other, but only for a moment. Both of them kept the bulk of their attention forward, on the target area.
Off to the side, Lorinda stood watching, one eyebrow raised and one side of her mouth grinning. Beside her stood Grace, looking back and forth from the target area to Jeff and Siobhan. Shannon, beside Grace, had her eyes fixed on the target area.
On the other side, Lori sat behind a control panel. She waited a long series of seconds, then barked, “Go!”
Instantly, six silhouettes sprang into view from behind six curtains.
Siobhan had her gun out in less than a quarter second. The laser sight was unerring, as was her aim. A hole appeared in the forehead of what looked like a Fyarl Demon.
Jeff was slower. “Et la!” he muttered under his breath as he gestured. Balls of magic flew from his hands. The silhouette of the elder vampire was entrapped in some kind of eldritch force, as was the hulking figure with the sword. Siobhan’s laser sight found the latter’s forehead a moment later.
“Hey!” Shannon objected loudly.
“What?” Siobhan said, her attention still on the silhouette.
“That isn’t funny!”
Lorinda snickered, and everyone but her took a better look at the hulking figure with a sword. Its face had been repainted.
Jeff sighed. “I doubt he’d mind, Shannon.”
“But what’s Norman’s face doing in the shooting gallery, anyway?” She shot a glance at the still-giggling Lorinda.
“Figured it’d keep people on their toes,” she said with a shrug.
“Someone all of you know?” asked Siobhan of Jeff.
“Faith’s son,” he said. Siobhan made an “oh” shape with her lips.
“You’re tied, by the way,” Lori said. She stood with a little difficulty and limped over in their direction. “Siobhan got one first, but Jeff immobilized two. And you correctly identified the threats.” She gestured at the other three targets – a police officer, a Vl’Hurg, and Darth Maul.
“I don’t get it,” said Grace. “What is all this supposed to prove again?”
“Pretty simple,” Siobhan replied, relaxing and sidling up to Jeff. “Just a little demonstration that we’re up to each other’s standard. Right?” She grinned, putting one arm up on Jeff’s shoulder.
“That’s what I thought this was about,” he said, not quite looking at her and trying to ignore the invasion of his personal space.
“What if you didn’t have a gun, though?” Lorinda asked.
Siobhan shrugged. “Different situations, different tactics.”
The opening of the door made all sets of eyes shift. Hope had stepped inside the gym, but stopped. She looked at the small cluster of people and hesitated. Then she took several steps towards them. Jeff met her halfway.
“Hey,” he said, smiling. Then his smile faded. “What happened?”
“Nothing, maybe. Or something.” Her voice was low. Her eyes darted towards the others. Jeff took her hand in his and headed for some chairs in a far corner.
All the others just watched this, Grace with her head cocked to one side. Lorinda took a deep breath but said nothing. Lori, on the other hand, actually studied the pair as they talked – the way Hope looked directly into Jeff’s face as she spoke, the way he listened intently then said something in reply. They couldn’t hear any words, but all saw Hope begin to relax, saw her lean into Jeff’s hand as he placed it gently on her cheek, saw them both smile. Lori shot a look at Siobhan, whose eyebrows were lifted slightly. Then Siobhan caught Lori’s eyes and shook her head slightly. Lori stared at Hope and Jeff again. Meanwhile, Lorinda had watched this exchange with one raised eyebrow. Again, she said nothing. But Lori and Siobhan noticed that she was watching.
“Hey, everyone,” Jeff announced in a loud voice. He was hand-in-hand with Hope now. “I gotta go check on some things. See you later.” The pair headed to the door through which Hope had come.
“What’s up with that?” Grace muttered.
“Probably want some time alone,” Siobhan offered with a grin. “Young love makes the world go round and all.” She shrugged.
“I guess,” said Lori in a monotone.
Grace shook her head. “I don’t think so. Something’s going on.”
“Something is always going on,” Lorinda said. “Hadn’t you noticed?”
Watchers Council – Faith’s Office – Same Time
Faith was poring over a stack of reports when she heard a knock on the jamb of her office’s open door. When she looked up, she saw Willow waving at her.
“Got a minute?” Willow asked as she stepped inside.
“Depends,” Faith said with a smirk.
“On what?” Willow said, eyeing Faith suspiciously.
“On whether or not you’re plannin’ on forcin’ me to listen to Ro’s sixteen secrets to a sick-free pregnancy.”
Willow laughed and said, “No, nothing like that. I promise.”
“So, what’s up?” Faith said, leaning comfortably back in her chair.
“Well, I wanted to talk to you about something,” Willow answered, moving forward until she was standing at the side of Faith’s desk. “About Hope.”
Faith immediately tensed up, and her smile fell away. She folded her arms across her chest and said evenly, “What about her?”
“I’m concerned about her,” Willow replied. “She’s not exactly fitting in at the Coven, and today…she just lost it right in the middle of an exercise, had a total freak-out. And after Jocelyn, I guess I’m just…worried.”
“So, why’re you talkin’ to me about it?” Faith asked.
“Um, well, she’s your sister. I just thought that…maybe you would, I don’t know, have some insight…or something.”
Faith glanced away for a moment, fingering her cross necklace as she did so. When she looked back at Willow, she uncrossed her arms and said tersely, “Well, you thought wrong. I don’t understand Hope. I never did, and I never will.” Faith turned back to her desk. “Anything else?”
“No, I guess not,” Willow said as she headed for the door. “Thanks anyway.”
After Willow left, Faith sighed heavily and slumped in her chair. She stared at the office wall, her mind clearly deep in thought.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Moments Later
As Willow turned a corner, she was nearly run over by Kennedy, who was too busy wiping the sweat from her face with a towel to watch where she was going. Willow stopped the imminent collision and gave Kennedy a playful poke in the arm.
“Hey, where are those slayer senses?” Willow teased. “Aren’t you supposed to be super-aware of your surroundings or something?”
Kennedy flopped her towel over her shoulder. “Right now, my slayer powers are pooped. Dracula could probably sneak up on me.”
“Oh! I met him once. Did I tell you?” Willow interjected excitedly.
“Only about a hundred times.”
Willow gave Kennedy a fake scowl before launching into a total change of subject. “So…have you gone to see Dr. Millenti yet?”
“Noooo, I haven’t,” Kennedy said pointedly, before resuming her walk. Willow followed right alongside her.
“I really think you should,” Willow told her sincerely. When Kennedy didn’t reply, Willow went on. “We’ve ruled out any haunting, any magical source of these visions you’re having, so –”
“So, what then? I’m crazy?” Kennedy shot back as she stopped in place to glare at Willow.
“No, that’s not what I meant,” Willow explained gently. “I’m just saying that seeing him has really helped me.” She reached out and gave Kennedy’s arm a squeeze. “And I think he could help you too…if you give him a chance.”
Kennedy glanced away for a long moment. When she looked back, she said, “If it gets worse, I’ll go see him. Okay?”
Willow flashed a smile of victory and handed Kennedy another one of Dr. Millenti’s business cards. “You better,” she told the slayer as she started down another corridor.
“Or what?” Kennedy countered as she watched Willow go.
“Or I’ll chain you up and make you listen to my Dracula story a hundred more times,” Willow answered. Then she turned the corner and was gone.
Kennedy snorted and glanced down at the business card. She shook her head and stuffed it in her pocket.
Watchers Council – Residential Hallway – Moments Later
After talking briefly with Willow, Kennedy continued on her way toward her apartment. When she came through the doors of the residential wing, she turned down a long hallway.
Suddenly, about twenty feet ahead of Kennedy, the air popped and crackled as a figure materialized out of nowhere. Kennedy’s eyes widened at the sight.
It was Heli.
But she was not like what Kennedy had seen before. Her hair was dirty and matted; her clothes were ripped and covered in blood. Her eyes, once cold and calculating, were now savage and feral. With a growl, the blonde turned her monstrous gaze on Kennedy. The two slayers locked eyes for the briefest of seconds. Then Heli let out a furious roar and rushed forward.
Just as Heli reached her, Kennedy reacted…only to be shocked and surprised when her hands met cold, empty air as Heli’s image ran straight through her. Kennedy whipped around, but found the hallway behind her empty. She turned back the other way; it, too, was empty.
Shaking and panting, Kennedy fell back against the wall and let herself slide to the floor. She hung her head between her knees and focused on her breathing.
When she finally raised her head, she reached into her pocket and pulled out the card Willow had given her. She looked at it for the longest time before letting her arm drop limply to the floor, the card held loosely in her hand. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the wall.
Watchers Council – Kennedy’s Apartment – Moments Later
Kennedy sat slumped on her couch, with her cell phone in one hand and Dr. Millenti’s card in the other. She stared at the numbers on the card for the longest time before finally letting out a deep sigh. She set the card aside and punched in a familiar quick dial instead.
As the call began to ring, she leaned forward, waiting expectantly for Kadin to answer, but all she got was the hunter’s voice mail. Kennedy let out a growl of annoyance and just snapped her phone shut without leaving a message.
She glanced around her empty, quiet apartment. Then, with another heavy sigh, she trudged off to the bathroom to shower.
Watchers Council – Xander’s Workshop – Minutes Later
Kennedy slipped into the workshop. At first she didn’t see Xander, so she wandered in, looking into the various work areas. When she passed his desk, she noticed the toppled cluster of pictures. She picked up the photo of Vi, glanced at it for a moment, then laid it back down, exactly as it had been, on its back on top of the stack.
When she turned the corner into another work area, she found Xander at his workbench with his back to her. He was busy repairing a broken crossbow. He had the weapon locked into a vice as he worked on the delicate trigger mechanism. Once, then twice, he attempted to set the new part into place, only to have it shift at the last second. The third time it happened, he cursed and slammed the part back onto the table. Then he picked up a nearby ratchet and threw it across the room. It ricocheted off the wall and went clattering to the floor.
“Hey, can I throw something too?” came a voice from behind him.
Xander turned and saw Kennedy standing there with a tiny grin on her face.
Xander looked a little embarrassed at first, but then he said, “Be my guest,” and gestured at his workbench, which was covered with tools.
Kennedy walked over, examined the selection, and picked out a hefty adjustable wrench. Then, with a loud grunt, she flung it across the room, where it left a sizable indention in the drywall before falling to the floor.
Xander gave her a mock-glare and said, “Showoff.”
He picked up a ball-peen hammer and duplicated the slayer’s throw. The hammer landed just right and embedded itself head-first into the sheet rock. He turned to the slayer and gave her a proud eyebrow-lift.
Kennedy rolled her eyes and chose another tool, two actually, one for each hand. She nodded to Xander, and he also chose two tools.
“Ready?” she asked. When he indicated he was, she yelled, “Go!”
At that command, the two of the starting rapidly hurled every solid tool within hand’s reach into the far wall, letting out twin battle roars as they did so. When they ran out of tools, they both stood there, panting from the exertion. They looked at each other, a bit guiltily, and then started laughing.
“That was fun,” Kennedy said.
“Yeah,” Xander agreed. “Stupid, but fun.”
Then they glanced across the room. The sheet rock looked like it had been pummeled by catapulted projectiles, and the floor was covered in a clutter of steel tools. Their eyes grew wide at the mess.
Kennedy shrugged and grabbed a nearby bucket. “Come on, I’ll help you clean up.”
Xander did the same, sighing first and then giggling to himself. “It was fun, wasn’t it?”
With more laughter, the two of them began picking up the tools they had thrown.
Watchers Council – Dining Hall – Evening
At the set of tables where the senior leaders usually ate, Kennedy and Xander sat across from one another, mostly picking at their food. The light mood from their earlier stunt in the workshop had dissipated. They made amiable small talk occasionally, but otherwise they just remained silent, and that was okay with them.
Faith and Robin sat nearby, chatting with Buffy and Jim. Andrew was weaving through the tables, checking with his patrons to make sure they had all they needed to enjoy their meals.
“Mind if we join you?”
Kennedy and Xander looked up and found Willow and Rowena standing beside the table, trays in hand.
“Sure,” Kennedy said, putting on a smile.
“Here, let me help,” Xander said, jumping up and taking Rowena’s tray from her. He held it in one hand as he helped her into her chair with the other.
She plopped into the chair and let out a sigh of relief. “Thank you,” she said gratefully. “If I get much bigger, I’m going to need escorts to follow me everywhere just to help me sit down and stand up.”
“Just a few more weeks, sweetie,” Willow recited on cue as she took her seat.
“Easy for you to say,” Rowena grumbled. “You’re not the one wearing triple-x underwear.”
Kennedy immediately choked on her drink, and Xander froze in the middle of sitting down. He shot a glance at Willow, who was just shaking her head and chuckling. Xander let out a burst of nervous laughter and sat down, suddenly very interested in what was on his dinner plate.
Rowena was confused. She looked at her companions. “What?” she demanded.
“Nothing, honey,” Willow told her wife. “It’s just…” She trailed off, her eyes drawn to a vacant area a few tables away.
“What is it?” Rowena asked worriedly.
“I don’t know,” the redhead replied, getting to her feet.
Kennedy soon joined her. By the time Xander and Rowena turned around to look, the area exploded in light, forcing them to shield their eyes. When they could look again, they saw a swirling mist, glowing with an eerie light. Nearby Council personnel scrambled away from the anomaly, staring in terror and awe.
Then the sounds of fighting could be heard emanating from the mist. Within seconds, three figures came into view: a pair of winged demons screeching and lunging at a red-haired woman, who was fighting them off with what appeared to be a length of pipe.
In the apparition, the woman’s back was to those watching. But when she slipped past the demons’ grasp and turned, everyone saw who it was, and no one could believe what they were seeing.
It was Vi.
End of Act One