Supercollider Complex – Accelerator Basin – Continuous
“What the heck is that?” Willow asked, as the metal-headed man-monster came slowly lumbering their way. Faith and Kennedy seemed just as confused.
“Pyramid Head,” Andrew answered. “The big bad of Silent Hill 2.”
“Video game villain,” Xander clarified.
“Oh,” Willow said, nodding. Then she stopped and said, “Huh?”
“Never played it,” Xander said. “I’m more of a Resident Evil man, myself.”
“Me too,” Vi said to Xander, “but we did see the movie, remember?”
The awkwardness of that question was swept away when Kennedy jumped into the conversation. “A video game?” she said incredulously. “How did some made-up monster from a video game get –?”
“Figure later, fight now!” Faith interrupted, drawing attention to the fact that Pyramid Head was nearly upon them.
As Faith, Kennedy and Vi ran to meet their attacker, Willow cried out to Andrew, “On three! One…two…three!”
On three, they both sent magical bursts against the monster and hit him square in the chest. Pyramid Head reeled from the twin blows, and actually took a few stumbling steps back, but otherwise, he seemed unaffected. He resumed moving forward.
The three slayers began an alternating stab-and-jab attack. While one slayer faked a jab on one side, the other two would sneak in stabs on the other side. Unfortunately, the wounds they inflicted did little damage.
“Dodge!” Andrew shouted at the slayers when he saw Pyramid Head make a big sweeping swing with his knife. “Dodge! Whatever you do, don’t let him touch you! Don’t get near him!”
Willow pulled Andrew from his coaching until he stood with her in front of Xander, Daryn, Douglas and Chip. Then she turned to face the foursome. “No matter what, you keep back and stay with Andrew! Got it?”
As Xander guided Daryn a few yards back, Willow turned to Andrew. “Keep them shielded. You’ll have to compensate for the tendril strikes but –”
“No,” Andrew said, cutting her off. “You stay. I know the game. You don’t.”
Just then, Faith’s body came flying into the group, knocking all but Xander and Daryn down like bowling pins. In reaction, Xander moved in front of Daryn, but his face showed relief when he realized it was only Faith and not the monster. The slayer groaned and clutched her side as she gingerly leaned up.
As Andrew also sat up, he told Faith, “Don’t let him get close enough to shove you. It’s not good for your health.”
She pinned him with a glare. “Ya think?”
Ignoring her pain, Faith angrily jumped up, stepped over Andrew, and yanked Chip to his feet. “You conjured up this guy! How do we kill him? We’ve stuck him more times than a pin cushion, and he’s not even slowing down!” She pointed over Chip’s shoulder to where Kennedy and Vi were still battling the monster.
As Andrew and the others stood up, Chip stuttered a nervous reply, “I-I-I told you. I haven’t beaten him yet. I’ve been on the Labyrinth level for weeks and –”
“Labyrinth level?” Andrew shrieked, pushing between Chip and Faith to confront the technician himself. “You didn’t tell me you were on the Labyrinth level!”
Under Andrew’s onslaught, Chip began backing guiltily away.
“You can’t beat Pyramid Head on the Labyrinth level!” Andrew went on. “Unless it’s a boss fight, he’s invincible…you just have to avoid him.”
“Uhhh…we don’t have time to avoid him,” Douglas interjected, holding up his sensor for Willow and the others to see. “According to the readings, we’ve got less than an hour to make the repair. If we don’t do it by then –”
Douglas’s comment was cut off by a scream from Andrew. When the group looked in his direction, they saw Pyramid Head bearing down on them, his knife raised over his head. Before anyone could react, the monster brought his blade down on Chip, effectively cleaving the technician in two.
As everyone retreated to where Xander and Daryn were, Willow turned toward the monster and thrust her palm forward. “Repelle!”
A magical battering ram slammed into Pyramid Head’s chest. It knocked him back about twenty feet, sending him tumbling over a piece of machinery. Faith ran to join Kennedy and Vi as they pressed their advantage.
The energy drain from the massive spell sent Willow to her knees. Andrew knelt in front of her and asked, “Can you –?”
“Go,” she told him. At that, Andrew took off, with Xander following right after him.
After taking a few deep breaths and putting on her resolve face, Willow spoke the necessary words. A shield went up around her. As Douglas huddled down behind Willow, Daryn settled in right next to her. The child’s eyes were completely riveted on what Willow was doing. She watched in amazement as Willow used every ounce of strength to maintain the shield against the onslaught of the striking tendrils.
When Andrew left the group, he didn’t head for the slayers; instead, he started searching the area, dodging sinkholes as he did so. “Gotta be something around here…”
“Where are you going?” Xander demanded. “The fight’s over there!”
Andrew ignored his friend and continued searching. “Aha!” he cried out, as he found a small stack of unused lengths of rigid metal conduit. He grabbed up several pieces of the hollow metal rods and tossed one to Xander. “Aim for the tongue hole!” he shouted as he ran toward the battle.
“Aim for what?” Xander called back, looking confusedly between his axe and the small metal rod. Then he ran after Andrew.
Still hurting from their previous battles, the three slayers were now bleeding from one or more cuts made by Pyramid Head’s razor-sharp knife. Though they had avoided serious injury, they were tiring quickly.
“We…can’t keep this up…much longer,” Kennedy said, breathing hard and wincing as she clenched the fist of her injured wrist. “We need another plan.”
“Well, that’s great…you got one?” Faith replied sarcastically.
“I do!” Andrew said as he skidded into the group, quickly followed by Xander.
“Andrew! Xander!” Vi chided. “What are you doing out here?”
Andrew handed out the pieces of conduit, earning him strange looks from the slayers.
“What the hell are we supposed to do with these?” Kennedy asked.
“Pyramid Head has a small hole on each side of his helmet. These nasty-looking, black, tongue-like things shoot out of them if he gets you in a stranglehold, and I figured –”
“GAAACCKK!” Xander dropped his axe and his piece of conduit when a large hand suddenly wrapped itself around his neck and lifted him off the ground.
“Xander!” Vi screamed, throwing down her weapons. She ran to him and tried to pull him out of the monster’s grip, but couldn’t.
As Pyramid Head brought Xander closer, the snake-like tongues began flicking in and out of the small holes on the side of his helmet.
“Now!” Andrew shouted then sent a bright beam of magic straight at the monster’s massive metal helmet.
Once Pyramid Head was stunned by Andrew’s attack, Kennedy and Faith cast aside their swords, moved in, and at the exact same moment, they drove the pieces of metal conduit into the tongue holes as far as they could.
Pyramid Head screamed in agony. He dropped Xander and his great knife and fell to his knees, clutching at the rods now deeply embedded into his brain. Vi grabbed Xander and dragged him away. Andrew, Faith and Kennedy stepped out of the way as the monster continued to flail about. Soon, however, Pyramid Head stopped flailing and went crashing to the floor on his back.
At first, he didn’t move, and it appeared that he was dead. Just as the slayers began to ease forward to check, he stirred once again, making them jump back.
Vi growled, left Xander’s side, and stomped over to where Pyramid Head’s great knife lay on the floor. Using all her slayer strength, she gripped it with both hands, lifted it up, and, with a running overhead swing, she brought it down on the monster’s neck. With a spray of blood, the helmeted head was completely severed from its body, and the monster didn’t move again.
As Vi let the enormous knife clang to the concrete floor, she stepped over to the fallen monster. Then she glared down at him and announced firmly, “Pwned.”
At Vi’s statement, both Xander and Andrew chuckled, but Kennedy and Faith merely looked at each other in confusion. Kennedy shook her head and said, “More Geek-Speak.” Satisfied with her taunt, Vi walked over to where the other four were standing.
With Pyramid Head apparently dead, Willow released her shield. As Douglas got to his feet and crept cautiously toward the battle scene, Willow stayed on her knees, just trying to regain her breath. When she looked over at Daryn, she found the girl once again staring at her in complete awe.
“You’re strong,” Daryn said. “Like an Amazon.”
It was Willow’s turn to look amazed. She stared deeply into the young girl’s eyes until her own eyes grew a bit watery and she chuckled.
“Yeah,” she said softly, as she tucked a strand of Daryn’s long hair behind her ear. “Like an Amazon.”
Meanwhile, over at the monster, Douglas peeked apprehensively at the body. “W-W-What if he comes back?” he asked timidly.
Everyone shot him a glare that said, “Don’t jinx us!”
Douglas gulped but went on. “I mean, i-i-isn’t that what always happens? The bad guy’s never really dead. He’s like Dracula…he always comes back.”
Kennedy and Vi shared a worried look. Then they both ran back over to Pyramid Head, one of them on each side. They grasped the protruding rods, lifted the massive helmet off the floor, carried it several yards away, and chucked it into a nearby sinkhole, where it disappeared with a brief flash of light.
“Come back from that, ya freak!” Kennedy called into the disappearing sinkhole.
“Yeah!” Vi added.
Then the two slayers looked at each other and grinned. They did a quick high-five, linked their arms over each other’s shoulders, and walked back to the group.
With the monster’s head gone, relief was on everyone’s faces…until Douglas’s handheld scanner started emitting a shrill alarm.
“We need to hurry,” he told them. “Time is running out.”
Supercollider Complex – Collision Chamber – Moments Later
Fighting tendrils and dodging sinkholes, the team rushed into the remains of the exploded collision chamber. Chunks of foot-thick lead walls lay in a wide circular scatter pattern, along with bits and pieces of machinery and equipment. In the center of the debris was a pulsating point of light, and around it was a glowing shell, a bubble of light that echoed each pulse.
Willow called everyone together. “Okay, here’s what’s gonna happen,” she reminded them, as she and Douglas started pulling items from their bags. “To fix the rip, we have to do a ‘techno-spell,’ a merging of technology and magic. Douglas and Andrew are going to cover the technology side of things, and Kennedy and I are handling the magic.”
“What about the rest of us?” Faith asked.
“Just keep the demons off our backs,” Willow said. “Portals are popping in and out all over this place…no telling what might come out.”
“And if the spell works?” Vi asked.
“Then everything will go back the way it was.”
“Will it be like time going backwards, like it never happened?” Vi asked.
“No, it’s not an ‘undo,'” Willow said. “It’s a ‘move back.’ Everything that’s not in its proper place and time will go back to where and when it came from, and the strands of the various dimensions and realities will get…pieced back together and propped back up, so that they don’t overlap anymore.”
“But are you sure that everything has to go back?” Xander pressed. “I mean, what if one little piece didn’t go back? What would happen?”
The group grew quiet as most directed their gazes to the floor, including Vi herself. After a long, awkward moment, Kennedy spoke up.
“World’s end,” she said, in answer to Xander’s question. She looked up to meet Willow’s eyes. “Isn’t that what you said, Will?” Although the words coming from Kennedy’s mouth were the right thing to say, the pain in her eyes attested to the price she was paying to speak them.
“Pretty much,” Willow said sadly. “If even one displaced element, o-o-or person, isn’t returned, then it could make the entire repair unravel.”
Xander slumped and hung his head. He clenched his jaw repeatedly, but said nothing more.
With tears in her eyes, Willow stepped over to her best friend’s side and touched his arm. “I’m sorry, Xander,” she said sincerely. “I wish I knew a way to somehow…” She stopped and looked down for a moment. She swallowed hard and then looked back up. “There was a time,” she said in a slightly hoarse voice, “when I would have jumped at the chance to bring Tara back, no matter what the cost.” She glanced briefly at Daryn, then cleared her throat and continued. “But things changed, and they can change for you, too. Your life can and will get better, Xander. But it definitely won’t, for you or for anyone else in this reality, if we don’t send everyone back and make this repair.”
“I just…” he whispered.
“I know,” Willow replied in understanding.
Another lengthy silence ensued before Vi finally broke it. With a mixture of sympathy, guilt and reluctance in her eyes, she hesitantly announced, “Well, that settles it then. Everything must go.”
“I don’t think so!” said a snide voice.
Everyone whipped around to see Heli standing before them once again. She wore a malicious grin, but then her expression grew cold and dangerous.
“‘Cause I am not going back there,” she announced.
“Oh, you’re goin’ back there, all right,” Xander said, hefting his battle-axe. “If I have to send you there myself.”
Heli just looked at him and laughed.
Faith and Vi began to move in Heli’s direction. When Kennedy tried to do the same, Willow grabbed her by the arm.
“Keep Heli busy,” Willow instructed. “Andrew and I will set everything up. But when I call for you, you get over here! Clear?” The slayer nodded, but Willow still didn’t let her go. “Remember who you are, Kennedy. You’re a Kalderash. Magic is in your blood. Don’t let some reject from hell bring you down. You know what to do.”
Kennedy grinned and then dashed away.
While Andrew and Douglas began programming a stack of electronic modules, Willow then turned to the youngest member of the group.
“Daryn, sweetie,” Willow said, “I need you to just stay out of the way. Someplace safe, all right?”
When Daryn nodded, Willow led her to a small space between two pieces of demolished wall. “Crawl in there, and don’t come out till it’s safe, okay?”
“But what if weird stuff happens and I get lost again?” Daryn asked in a frightened voice.
Willow pulled her into a warm hug. When she separated them, she gave Daryn a kiss on the forehead and told her reassuringly, “Don’t worry…I’ll find you. I promise.”
Supercollider Complex – Near Collision Chamber – Same Time
When Kennedy arrived, she found Heli giving Vi a magical shove into a cluster of destroyed machinery. Nearby, Xander and Faith were already down. Although Xander appeared to be out cold, Faith was sitting up and shaking her head groggily.
Kennedy raised her hand, spoke an incantation, and sent a magical burst directly into Heli’s back. The blonde slayer went sprawling to the floor, but was quickly up again. She turned and grinned.
“Well, it looks like you have learned some things, after all,” Heli said coolly.
“Enough to deal with you,” Kennedy replied.
With a sudden screech of fury, Heli rushed forward, her hands beginning to glow as she drew upon her magic.
Kennedy whispered her mother’s name and then steeled herself to meet Heli’s attack.
Supercollider Complex – Collision Chamber – Same Time
As Willow returned to the site where the techno-spell would be performed, she found Douglas and Andrew finishing their preparations. They had laid out the programmed modules in a ring of cable connections around the anomaly’s glowing bubble. Now they dragged two lines from the ring in opposite directions from one another. About ten feet away from the ring, they fed the lines into two consoles and booted them up. Willow walked over to Douglas’s console to observe.
One by one, the indicator bars for each module filled and turned green. When the last one lit up, a 3-D model of the setup appeared on the screen. In the interior was an image of the anomaly itself, with its pulsing center and its corresponding bubble. Completely encasing this image was another bubble, one that was more net-like than it was solid.
“Encasement sphere ready,” Douglas announced.
Willow took a deep breath. “My turn now.”
She went to her supplies and picked up a large coil of soft rope. She held it in her hands and bowed her head. After saying a prayer of blessing, she began a chant-like incantation, causing the rope to glow.
Starting at a point equidistant from Andrew and Douglas, she continued to chant and began laying the rope in a circular pattern around the ring of modules. When she reached the first line leading into Andrew’s console, she slipped the coil around the line and did a one-half tie. After continuing around the perimeter, she did the same for Douglas’s line.
When she returned to her starting point, she measured off enough rope to complete the circle and then sliced it with a dagger. She set aside the unused portion, and it instantly stopped glowing. She set the cut ends of the encircling rope on the floor, near one another but not touching.
Then she turned toward the nearby battle.
“Kennedy! ” she called out telepathically.
Supercollider Complex – Near Collision Chamber – Same Time
By the time Heli reached her, Kennedy’s hands were glowing as well, and the two slayers met in a clash that exploded in sparks and flashes of magic. Practically nose-to-nose, they gripped each other’s hands and grappled for dominance.
At first, the match seemed fairly even, leaning in Heli’s favor one moment, then Kennedy’s in the next, and then back again.
“You can’t beat me,” Heli growled. “No one can.”
“I beat you before,” Kennedy disagreed. “I can do it again.”
Heli laughed. “You only beat me because I wanted you to. And you played right into my hands.”
“So, let me beat you again.”
Heli smiled and shook her head. “Different game now.”
Heli twisted Kennedy’s arms down to her sides and gave her a vicious head butt. After releasing their hands, she blasted Kennedy with a magical bolt that sent her slamming into a vertical pipe. Kennedy went down hard.
When Faith and Vi tried to rejoin the fight, Heli cast a spell that wrapped magical cords around their wrists and ankles, locking them in place. No matter how hard they tried to move, they could not break the bonds holding them.
“Stay put,” Heli told them with a smile. “I’ll get to you soon enough.”
Heli turned and walked calmly over to Kennedy, who was just getting to her feet. When Kennedy raised her hand to cast, Heli grabbed her by the arm, picked her up, and swung her several yards away, past the frozen Faith and Vi, where she crashed into a partially demolished concrete wall. Kennedy’s impact cracked the wall further, and she slipped onto the rubble, barely moving.
Heli walked over to where Kennedy lay dazed and groaning on the concrete. She leaned over Kennedy and grinned wickedly as she called up a crackling ball of magic in her right hand.
“He who is skilled in attack flashes forth from the topmost heights of heaven!” Heli cried, quoting her favorite Sun Tzu. Then she brought the magic down on Kennedy.
At the last second, Kennedy snapped out of her daze, deflected Heli’s attack, kicked the blonde in the face and then jumped to her feet. While Heli was still reeling from the kick, Kennedy curled her right hand like a claw, called up her own magic and sank her fingers against Heli’s chest.
The touch of Kennedy’s spell made Heli’s body begin to jerk as if she were being electrocuted. Total surprise filled Heli’s eyes as she met Kennedy’s determined gaze.
“All warfare is based on deception,” Kennedy told her, doing some quoting of her own. “When able to attack, we must seem unable…we must pretend to be weak so that our opponent may grow arrogant.”
Heli screamed in agony as Kennedy shocked her some more and then shoved her aside. Heli’s screaming stopped when she hit the floor. The magical bonds holding Faith and Vi instantly dissipated, freeing them. They ran to Kennedy’s side.
“Holy crap, Ken,” Vi said. “When did you learn to do that?”
“Those magic lessons with Willow are really payin’ off,” Faith added.
She grimaced at Willow’s telepathic yell. “Speaking of,” she said, reaching up to gingerly touch her temple. “I heard ya the first time, Will! I’m coming!”
Kennedy turned back to Faith and Vi. Heli could be heard groaning in the background.
“Look,” Kennedy told them, “I gotta go. What I did to Heli…it’s only temporary. So work fast!” At that, Kennedy dashed away.
“Oh, you’re gonna pay for that,” Heli said as she got to her feet.
Then she lifted her hand to cast. But nothing happened. Heli shook her hand out and tried again. Still nothing. As she stared at her hand, puzzlement, then rage entered Heli’s eyes. Her head shot up and she pointed a furious finger in Kennedy’s direction.
“You bitch! What did you do to me?” Heli shrieked.
Faith and Vi looked at each other and grinned.
Supercollider Complex – Collision Chamber – Same Time
When Kennedy arrived, Willow asked, “Are you ready?”
Kennedy nodded and said, “Let’s do this.”
With their left hands, they each picked up an end of the rope that Willow had laid. As the two women began a call and response, Andrew and Douglas made adjustments to the console settings on the fly. Slowly, Willow and Kennedy joined their left hands, overlapping the two ends of the rope between their palms. Then they each rested their right hand over the other’s left in a reinforced handshake.
As they spoke the last words of the incantation, the rope’s glow began to pulse, but it was out of synch with the anomaly. The rope’s rate was slower and dimmer.
Douglas let his fingers fly over the keys of the console. With concern, he watched an indicator bar on his screen. “It’s not enough!” he shouted.
Willow and Kennedy intensified their concentration until they were breathing hard. The rope’s pulsing became brighter and faster.
“Yes, yes! Just like that!” Andrew called from his side.
Willow and Kennedy continued, but it was clear that they were quickly becoming exhausted. Their arms were beginning to sag between them.
“No, don’t stop!” Douglas warned when the levels started dipping. “We’re getting close!”
Willow and Kennedy looked at each other worriedly.
Suddenly, they felt a jolt of extra energy, and when they looked down, they found Daryn clasping their hands with hers. For a second of amazement, they stared at her, but then just as quickly, they turned back to each other. Now rejuvenated and with twin looks of resolve, they grrrr-ed their way to the spell’s conclusion.
When their hands flashed with a bright light, the three released the rope and stepped back. The rope, the ring of cable, the electronic modules and the consoles were now melded into one single entity, pulsing in perfect time with the anomaly.
Willow and Kennedy smiled at each other, and then, especially, at Daryn. Willow knelt in front of Daryn and gave her a chiding glance. “I thought I told you to stay put,” she teased.
Daryn smirked and shrugged, and not the least bit apologetically, either. “Good thing I didn’t, huh?”
Willow shook her index finger at the girl as she stood. “Well, we’re not done yet. We’ve got one more thing to do.”
Supercollider Complex – Near Collision Chamber – Same Time
As Xander finally came to and struggled to his feet, he saw Faith and Vi fighting with Heli just a few yards from the collision chamber. Heli was like an enraged beast, and through pure fury alone, she beat her way past the exhausted and injured slayers.
Her path now clear, Heli ran screaming for the spell site.
Supercollider Complex – Collision Chamber – Same Time
Just as Willow was turning toward Andrew and Douglas, she heard Heli’s screeching approach. Willow turned back around and pulled Daryn protectively aside.
As Kennedy stepped forward to block the blonde slayer’s attack, Heli suddenly lurched and stopped. Scrunching her face in pain, she coughed, bringing up blood. She reached behind herself, grasped something, and gave it a yank. Xander’s axe fell clattering to the floor. Then she turned, barely able to stay on her feet, and saw Vi in the distance, just now straightening from her throw of the axe. Heli gurgled and went down, alive but struggling to breath.
Willow turned back to Andrew and Douglas. “Do it!” she told them.
The two men rapidly entered a series of keystrokes on their consoles. When they were ready, they locked eyes. As one, they hit their Enter keys and initiated the final sequence. They looked through the strengthening encasement sphere at the anomaly and waited. After several long seconds, the pulsing center began to slow. They let out the breath they had been holding and smiled.
As Faith, Xander and Vi stumbled over to join the group, the whole mission team glanced around the cavernous room. Everywhere, the spatial-temporal distortions and the energy tendrils were starting to weaken and dissolve. Relieved and amazed smiles appeared, as the team finally relaxed.
“It worked,” Willow stated breathlessly.
At the exact same moment, Vi and Xander looked at each other, their smiles fading.
Supercollider Complex – Collision Chamber – Moments Later
“I guess this is it,” Vi said lamely.
“I guess so,” Xander replied.
“Xander…” she whispered, reaching out with her hand.
“No. Don’t.” He pulled away before she could touch him. “It’s hard enough without…” He trailed off and looked away.
Vi dropped her gaze to the floor. “I’m sorry. I-I-I shouldn’t have assumed that you’d – Oomph!”
Vi was surprised when Xander suddenly scooped her up in a bone-crushing hug. She didn’t seem to mind the change in decision, however. She wrapped her arms around him and tried to pour all of her love into that one embrace. When they separated, she looked him in the eyes.
“I’m really sorry about your Vi,” she said softly. “But if I were her – and I kinda am in a way, which makes my head hurt when I think about it, but back on point now – if I were her, I’d want you to find happiness again.”
“Well, tell me where to find it, and I’ll go pick some up,” he answered bitterly.
Vi didn’t let his tone deter her. “It’s where I’m not,” she said simply. When Xander looked confused, she said, “It’s time to let go.”
Tears filled Xander’s eyes, and he nodded silently. Before Vi could pull away, though, he stopped her. “Don’t forget!” he said in a panicked voice. “A-A-About Heli! She spent months preparing that fun house, drugged you, booby-trapped the phone and –”
Vi covered Xander’s mouth with her hand. “I know, I know. You told me. I’ve got it.” Then she gave him a rueful smile. “You know…as many sci-fi shows as we’ve seen, we oughta know better than to tamper with the timelines…”
Xander reached out and touched her cheek. “I don’t care,” he said. He gave her one final kiss.
As Xander made his good-byes to Vi, Willow knelt in front of Daryn. “Well, it’s almost time for you to go,” she told the girl.
Daryn didn’t say anything. She just nodded.
“Daryn, you have a very special gift. You know that now, right?”
Once again, Daryn just nodded.
“But it’s the kind of gift that requires very special training. When I started out, I basically taught myself, but…that ended up getting me in a lot of trouble later.”
“Like…what kinda trouble?” Daryn asked worriedly.
“Like almost destroying the world kinda trouble.” She gave the girl’s arm a reassuring squeeze. “What I needed was someone to show me the way. When you get back home, look up Wicca.” She spelled it out for Daryn. “And find someone who can teach you the Wiccan way. Maybe somebody in the EDA. But until then, no experimenting. Okay?”
“Okay.” When Willow tried to stand, Daryn reached out to her and stopped her. Then in a plaintive voice, she asked, “But…will I ever see you again?”
Willow smiled and touched her cheek. “I have a feeling you will.”
As soon as Xander stepped away, Kennedy walked over to Vi.
“It’s been good to see you,” she told the redhead. She had to clear her throat before saying in a choked voice, “I’ve missed you.”
Vi instantly wrapped her in a warm hug and didn’t let her go. “I know what you did,” she whispered in her ear. “Xander told me.” She pulled them apart and looked into Kennedy’s eyes. “I don’t know if it was wrong or right. It’s not my place to say. All I know is…if the situation had been reversed, I’d’ve done the same thing.”
“Thanks,” Kennedy said, stepping away and wiping at the tears rolling down her cheeks.
“Is this a private blubber-fest, or can anyone join?” Faith said, as she walked up and stood next to Kennedy.
“Shut up,” Kennedy said, giving Faith an elbow in the ribs.
“Owww,” Faith said, grimacing in true pain.
“Sorry,” Kennedy said.
“No, you’re not,” Faith shot back. Kennedy just gave her a mischievous smirk. Faith turned to Vi. “It was good to have you back, Vi…even if for a short time.” She gave her a brief hug, then said, “Take care back home.”
“I will,” Vi promised.
After hugs and good-byes from Andrew and Willow and nice-to-meet-yous from Douglas and Daryn, Vi stepped away with her own eyes a bit watery.
The teary moment was broken when a rasping voice intruded.
“Isn’t…anyone…going to say…good-bye to me?” Heli sneered from her place on the floor.
Faith moved to stand over the dying slayer. “Go to hell!”
Heli indulged in a laugh that turned into a short but racking cough. When it subsided, she looked into Faith’s eyes and said, “Been there, done that. Just like you…or so I hear.” As Heli returned to laughing, she began to slowly fade away. Within seconds, she had disappeared entirely.
Faith’s expression was shocked and anguished, but only for a moment. Then it went cold and hard.
Everyone turned toward Daryn’s frightened voice. The girl’s eyes were wide with alarm as she watched her own hands start to fade away.
“It’s okay,” Willow assured her. “You’re going home.” They exchanged smiles. Willow called out, “And don’t forget what I said about bullies!” Daryn grinned and then was gone.
This time, everyone turned to Vi. She was looking in amazement at her own disappearing body.
“It sure didn’t feel like this when I got zapped here,” she said.
“Yes, here at the Watchers Council, we strive for a kinder, gentler restoration of the space-time continuum,” Willow quipped.
With a goofy wave and a final smile, Vi faded from sight.
For a long moment, the group just stood there, staring at the spot where Vi had disappeared. By the time they tore their eyes away, they found the rest of the anomaly’s effects gone, as well. The damage to the building remained, as did their own injuries.
“Come on,” Faith said, breaking the silence. “Our turn to go home.”
Cleveland – Lakefront House – Early Evening
The lake was awash with crimson and gold as the sun started its slow descent. The trees swayed ever so slightly in the cool breeze that blew through the empty street. The sounds of gentle waters lapping against the quay were drowned out by those of an approaching car’s engine. The mod-red mini pulled to rest, the tires dragging on the gravel of the driveway.
Wearing a somber expression, Grace got out of the mini and slammed the car door behind her, then slowly walked up to the front door of the house. She shivered slightly as she was caught by the impending night’s moisture-filled air.
At the door, she rang the bell and waited a moment before it opened, revealing Dianna standing inside.
Her daughter’s eyes looked down to the ground. “I’m…I’m sorry.”
Dianna drew in a short breath then released a heavy sigh. She smiled softly before reaching out and taking Grace by the arm, bringing her inside and closing the door.
Cleveland – Lakefront House Deck – Moments Later
Dianna placed a mug of steaming tea on the wooden table beside Grace, who sat on a bench overlooking the lake.
“The decision was unanimous,” Grace continued, her own mug clasped between her hands.
“I’m not surprised,” Dianna said, sitting down next to her daughter and taking a sip of her tea.
She shook her head. “No.”
“So you thought I’d fail?”
Dianna smiled and rested her mug on her lap. “It’s not about failing…it’s about trying. Trust is a paradox, something that you garner over time, but that can be taken away in an instant.”
“You said you thought you were doing the right thing. Trust be damned! You had to do what you felt was right.”
Dianna gave an unconvinced shrug. “When the first reports came in, I realized that what I had done was wrong. How dare we play God!” She paused and took a deep breath. “I’d had second thoughts earlier, when I couldn’t crack the Sphere. But I did nothing! I’ve been a watcher all my life, and for me not to read the signs and anticipate and view all angles…”
“You couldn’t have known that all magic would go away.”
“Maybe some part of me did,” she sighed.
Grace put her mug down. “So, what now?”
Dianna took another sip of her tea and then set her mug on the deck. “It seems that I’m well and truly retired now. Or I will be, when I plead guilty to the charges.”
“You have the right to a trial,” Grace objected. “You can fight this.”
Dianna shook her head. “I know, but I’m not going to.” She gave a heavy sigh. “Looks like I’ll have to take up knitting or making preserves. I like preserves.”
Grace and Dianna shared a quiet smirk.
“I’ll be fine,” Dianna said. “I’m really missing London. It’ll be nice to go back and see Polly and Peggy, and to go out with Patsy and the girls again.”
Grace nodded, and then conversation stalled for a few moments.
“Mum,” Grace said quietly. That single word that Dianna had longed to hear for years commanded all of her attention. “I know we’re good now, but…I’m…I’m sorry…for everything. For cutting you out, for being a bitch, for failing you now when you needed me most.” Her voice became hoarse as she started to cry. “I am so sorry,” she sobbed.
“Oh…oh, Grace, come here.” Dianna scooted up to her daughter and wrapped her arms around her. Grace clung to her mother, burying her head in her chest. “Shh,” Dianna said, rocking Grace gently. “Please darling, stop.” Her own eyes were beginning to well.
Dianna carefully pulled Grace away from her, lifting her chin up so that her daughter’s red eyes met with hers.
“You could never fail me, and I’m the one who should be sorry, not you. It was all my fault. I was selfish and jealous. I don’t know what I was thinking.”
Grace sniffed and began to wipe her eyes with her hands. “If I can’t even save my own mum, then how can I be a watcher?”
Dianna swallowed the lump in her throat and gave her daughter a warm smile. “You’ll do fine.” She stared back at her for a moment, her smile still shining brightly. Then she leaned forward and kissed her gently on the forehead.
With her arm wrapped around her daughter, Dianna turned her gaze back to the sparkling lake. Grace did the same, tucking her legs under herself on the bench and resting her head on her mother’s shoulder.
Andrew’s Apartment – Bedroom – Later That Night
Andrew lay on his bed, typing on his laptop. A focused expression was on his face as his fingers flew over the keys.
EXT. COUNCIL GROUNDS – DAY
As Andrew turns to join the group going to Vor, Tracey reaches
out and stops him.
Don’t do this! If you go there,
you’ll die. You don’t stand a chance
against the Presidium.
I know, but we have to try.
This is all about your ‘quest for
redemption,’ isn’t it? Become a martyr
and save your soul?
It’s not about redemption. It’s about
saving the world.
Andrew stopped and read the last line. He closed his eyes, made a growl of self-disgust and slammed his laptop shut. When he lifted his gaze, a frightened look was on his face.
Watchers Council – Faith and Robin’s Apartment – Same Time
Dressed in her favorite tattered sleep shirt, Faith stood at the window, looking out at the night. Her brow was furrowed as if she were deep in thought, and not very pleasant thought at that. She fingered the small gold cross around her neck.
“You okay, babe?” she heard Robin call from the bed. She turned around to face him.
“Yeah, I’m fi –” She stopped and chuckled to herself for a second before looking back at Robin. “Yeah, I’m okay,” she said with a small smile, as she walked back to the bed and got in. “Been better, been worse. But…I’m okay.”
Something in Faith’s tone made Robin sit up. He rested his hand on her shoulder and said gently, “Talk to me.”
At first, it seemed like she would just blow off the request, but she didn’t and began to talk.
“I still don’t know where I’m going…”
Slayer Memorial Grounds – Same Time
Kennedy stood in somber silence before Vi’s white, angelic headstone. She had been there for some time when footsteps approached her. She didn’t turn around.
A few seconds later, Xander stepped up beside her. They glanced at one another and gave a small smile, then turned their eyes back to the headstone. After standing quietly for a time, Xander eventually spoke up.
“It’s hard,” he said. “Letting go.”
“Yeah, it is,” she agreed.
Xander let out a deep breath. “Sometimes I feel like I’m actually beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But then something happens, and bang, it’s gone, and I’m lost in the dark again.”
Kennedy hung her head and looked at the ground. “I feel that way, too,” she admitted.
For a time, they returned to their quiet contemplations. Then, once again, Xander was the one who broke the silence.
“Be my flashlight?” he suggested with a forced smile. He held out his hand and said, “I’ll be yours.”
Kennedy shot Xander a strange look, and for a long moment, she just stared at the outstretched hand and the man who was offering it. Finally, she smiled, nodded and put her hand in his. He gave her hand a squeeze, and the two went back to their perusal of Vi’s headstone, still holding hands.
“Of course, if you tell anybody about this, I’ll have to hurt you,” Kennedy commented nonchalantly, without looking in Xander’s direction.
“Duuuuly noted,” Xander replied in a similar tone, also without making eye contact.
But both faces were lit with the smallest of grins.
Watchers Council – Willow and Rowena’s Apartment – Same Time
Rowena was propped up against her pillows. Willow was curled up next to her, resting her head on the blonde’s shoulder.
“Vi, Heli, Lucifer’s demons,” Willow said quietly. “Pyramid Head…Daryn. It was just…freaky.”
Rowena kissed the top of Willow’s head. “I’m just glad you’re home safe and sound.” Then she added, “And that home is safe and sound too.”
Willow frowned, as if she weren’t too convinced of that prospect. Rowena seemed to sense this and sat up so that she could look into Willow’s eyes.
“I mean, the repair worked, right?” Rowena asked. “Reality is safe?”
“I think so. It seemed to work.” Willow sighed heavily. “Time will tell, I guess,” she said. She lay back down against Rowena’s shoulder. “Time will tell.”
Fade to Black
Special Guest Starring:
Alicia Silverstone as Heil Hamalainen, Felicia Day as Violet Joston, Adam Busch as Warren Meers and Roberto Campanella as Pyramid Head
End of Time and Again
Next on Watchers…
The newest set of watchers, slayers and witches has arrived at the Watchers Council, and they have a lot to learn.