Watchers Council – Cafeteria – Same Time
“Special assignment,” Shannon muttered. “You know she jinxed it right then and there,” she told Dawn and Norman.
“You could always back out,” Norman offered. “Tell her I’ve got plans and we don’t have a sitter.”
“Rowena’s such a dimwit. I’m sure she’d buy that excuse,” Dawn joked, before starting to chuckle. She waved around the filled room. “Pick a sitter, any sitter,” she added.
“Dawn’s right,” Shannon told Norman. “And Rowena did specifically ask for my help.”
“I’ll hitch, if you want,” Dawn told her. “I’ve got no plans this weekend.”
“You’re not officially my watcher anymore,” Shannon told her.
“True, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop caring…I’ll keep ya out of trouble,” Dawn replied. “And if there’s a bullet or something to be taken – hey!” she said, motioning to herself up and down. “Immortality has its advantages.”
Watchers Council – Willow’s Office – Same Time
“How could you?” Liz repeated as she began to pace. “I-I-I can’t believe what I just saw.”
“And what did you see, Liz?” Willow asked. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“That slint,” Liz said, sounding flustered. “She’s a-a snake. She’s worse than a snake, she’s…she’s…I don’t know what she is, but she’s bad news. And Rowena! Have you forgotten you’ve got a great lady already? She loves you, Willow, so you better not hurt her, or I swear I’ll –”
“You’re a fine one to talk,” Willow countered.
“I haven’t done anything wrong,” Willow went on. “I don’t make a habit of hurting Rowena, or those I love. But you – you, on the other hand – constantly make the lives around you ultra difficult.”
“That’s the truth, and you know it! Your parents and brother have done nothing but support you! Hell, Ro and I have supported you, and how do you pay us all back? By giving us the pleasure of picking you up from jail once a month?”
“It’s not the same thing!”
“You’re right, it’s not,” Willow agreed. Liz got a smug look on her face. “I don’t hurt them. Unlike you, Liz. So until you straighten up and realize you’re acting like a juvie-hall, punk-ass bitch, you don’t have a valid opinion.” Liz recoiled at the comment. “Besides, what the hell are you doing here anyway?” Willow said, looking at her watch. “Aren’t you supposed to be in Rowena’s class?” Liz muttered something unintelligible. “What?” Willow asked.
“I said, I got kicked out,” Liz said louder.
Willow just raised her hands in a ‘there you go’ fashion. “What a shock,” she said out loud.
“Gee, I’m sorry to interrupt your kiss-fest with t-that scuzzo,” Liz shot back.
“For the record,” Willow began, “she kissed me, so don’t you dare go running back to Rowena to try to score points with her just ’cause you’re pissed at me for telling it like it is.”
“Speaking of telling, are you going to let her know what happened, or am I?” Liz replied.
Willow stepped within a foot of Liz, and for a brief flash, Liz looked truly scared. But she seemed to push it aside and met Willow eye-to-eye.
“If you want to hurt her for no good reason…if you wanna try to undermine the relationship that she and I have…then you go right ahead and tell her. I, however, have enough sense to avoid worrying her unnecessarily about something that’s pointless. Besides, you cause her enough worry for both of us.”
Willow pushed Liz’s forehead slightly.
“Did you not hear what I just said?” Willow asked. “She loves you, Liz. I love you. And your brother and parents love you. She sees greatness in you – lately all I see is a selfish, arrogant snot whose diapers I used to change.”
“Well…I never asked you to,” Liz said meekly.
Willow continued, ignoring the comment. “Don’t you think it’s about time you grew up and took some responsibility in your life and proved me wrong? Hell, when I was your age…” Willow trailed off. “Thank you, Liz, thank you. On top of everything else, you officially made me old by making me start a sentence with ‘when I was your age’.” Willow sighed. “Anyway, when I was your age,” she began again, her anger returning, “I was fighting demons and monsters, helping one single slayer fight the forces of darkness.”
“Well, I’m not you,” Liz replied.
“True, I used my talents for the greater good. I still do. You’re just behaving like a spoiled brat and pissing your skills away…” Liz avoided Willow’s gaze. “Get out of here, and don’t bother coming back until you’re serious about practicing what you preach. Go. Get out.” Willow motioned to the door.
Watchers Council – Classroom – Minutes Later
Rowena was looking at some papers in her classroom, which was now empty. Liz appeared in the doorway as students shuffled between classes in the hallway behind her. The young watcher tapped lightly on the doorframe.
Rowena glanced over for a second and then lowered her head to look back at her papers. She didn’t bother to raise it again as she spoke.
“I told you to wait out there.”
“I went to see Willow,” Liz replied.
“She had a lunch meeting with a student today,” Rowena replied, as she made a note on one paper and flipped it over.
“I know. When I got there…” Liz trailed off, and Rowena looked up at her.
“What?” Rowena asked when Liz said nothing.
Liz seemed undecided about what to say. Finally, she blurted out, “She was busy, so I came back here.”
Rowena put down the pen she was holding and gave Liz her full attention.
“Well, first of all, it’s not your place to correct Trina. I wouldn’t let her get away with the comment and accusation she was making, whether it was you or any other student in my class.” Rowena took a breath. “Second, it’s wrong to be disrespectful of another student.” Liz acted like she was going to say something, but Rowena held up a finger. “Even if she’s being disrespectful of you. Learn now to take the high road, Liz. She baited you, and like a total schmuck, you took it. You’ll find life is filled with many battles. Only take on the ones worth fighting.” Liz gave her a slight nod and lowered her head. “And third, Trina was right…to an extent.” Liz’s head shot up again. “I did want you on this assignment because your father is a dear friend of mine. But the truth is, you’ve got more talent in your pinky than Trina has in her entire body.” Liz began to grin. “But your ego and attitude get in the way of your ability.” Liz’s grin fell instantly. “So while I’ll continue to work with Trina to make her a skilled watcher, for this assignment, I want someone who can think on her feet.”
“Think on her feet, huh?” Liz replied. “I’ll have you know your wife thinks I’m a punk-ass bitch.”
“I’d say she’s right, since you are a punk-ass bitch.”
“Gee. Thanks,” Liz said indignantly before showing a guilty grin.
“But I also see the underlying talent you have. You’ll show Trina, and everyone else, including my wife, that you’re much more…but only if you make the choice.”
Liz looked around the room. “Do I have to decide right now?”
Rowena chuckled. “No, just sometime before I’m dead would be nice.”
Council Jet – Night
“So any luck?” Dawn asked Liz, as the Council plane taxied to a stop.
Liz looked up to see if Dawn was talking to her. On the table in front of her sat three different books and a notepad. “Not so far. Go figure…I’m not sure I’m cut out for this stuff, although other people keep telling me otherwise.”
Rowena looked up from a device that resembled a Palm Pilot, but much thinner. She grinned. “Am I ever wrong, Dawn?” she asked.
“All the time,” Dawn replied deadpan.
Rowena chuckled. “Okay, am I ever wrong about watcher recruits?”
“Not once,” Dawn conceded in the same tone.
“See?” Rowena replied, waving her hand in Dawn’s direction.
Liz gave her a small grin.
“What are you doing, exactly?” Shannon asked.
“Looking for a connection to the Shadowmen and demon fusion stuff as it relates to watchers,” Liz answered. “We know where you got your talent as a Chosen slayer. But as for Chosen watchers, we don’t know much.” Liz closed one of the books, titled Factual and Mythical Creatures. “I think I’ll have better luck trying to figure out this recent problem,” she said, with a motion outside the window.
Rosenberg-Allister House – Kitchen – Night
Willow stood by the stove, stirring something in a pot, as she spoke into a phone. Jake Allister came running in and held a toy jet with the Council crest on it, while Sophie tagged along behind him with a toy plane of her own. He made an engine noise as he ran around the table.
“Hold on,” Willow said into the phone. “Guys,” she told her son and daughter, “go to the living room. I’m cooking in here.”
They ran back out again, flying the airplanes as they went. Further into the living room, Alex and Jen both had on silver-looking helmets with face shields that covered their eyes and black gloves. Jen looked like she was swinging a bat, while Alex had his hands in the air, as if catching a pop fly.
“Anyway…yes, right there in my office. I couldn’t believe it,” Willow replied just above a whisper. She listened to the person on the other end and rolled her eyes. “Oh, thanks. I’m glad you find this funny.” She listened again. “No, nothing will happen, I’m sure. But to make matters worse, Liz walked in. Yes! Well, that’s the thing. Should I say something? Should I keep my mouth shut? If I say something, will that make me look guilty, and if I don’t say anything, and she finds out, will that make me look even more guilty? I don’t think I can win here.” Willow put her hand over the receiver. “Kids, go wash up. Dinner’s almost done.” She looked back into the living room to see that no one was making any attempt to discontinue what they were doing. “Now!” she yelled, which put them into motion.
Willow turned off the stove and began to take down bowls from the cabinet. “What does that have to do with anything? Okay, the truth is, she’s gorgeous. And I have to admit…” She cast a quick glance to the living room before adding in a low voice, “In a way, it felt really good…Don’t ‘uh oh’ me here. I’m human, not dead, okay?…I know I’ve got a great thing going, but sometimes…I miss that rush, y’know? I miss being special to someone…You’re right. I know you’re right.”
The kids began to make their way into the kitchen, each picking up a bowl and going to the pot. Jen helped Jake by putting some food in his bowl.
“Look, dinner’s done, but I’ll give you a call tomorrow. Okay, bye.”
Willow closed the phone and looked over to see the kids standing around the stove. She let out a small sigh as she picked up her bowl, too.
New York City – JFK Airport – Moments Later
Rowena, Shannon, Dawn and Liz were walking outside the airport with their bags in hand when they saw a man approaching them with a wave. He and Rowena both extended their hands as they came closer.
“Ms. Allister,” he said formally, with a nod to her companions.
“Rowena,” she insisted. “What have you got here, Justin?”
“Maybe just a rogue demon? Maybe the end of the world?”
“Maybe you can provide more specifics?” Liz replied.
Rowena turned to her. “He’s one of the good guys, on our side. Let’s lighten up a little, okay?” Rowena turned back to Justin. “Sorry, you were saying?”
“These,” he told her as he handed her a folder. “I just got these today, so I thought I’d hold them until you got here.”
Rowena opened the folder and looked inside, flipping through some pictures.
“An acid-spitter species?” she asked.
“That’s what we thought at first. But look at the last surveillance pictures from the warehouse. We’ve never seen anything like that. She looks human but…with bat wings.” Rowena looked closely at the picture, her eyebrows scrunched. Slowly, a look of realization washed over her. “You know her?” Justin asked, seeing her reaction.
Quickly, Rowena reached into her pocket and pulled out a device. She opened a panel on it, and it lit up. She ran it down the photo before pushing some buttons and putting the device back to her ear.
“Yeah, it’s Ro. I’m in New York. You’re getting a file that I need you to pull up and look at. Tell me who you think it is.” She paused as she listened to the other side. “I don’t want to say anything. I want you to see it first.” After a few moments, Rowena released an unsettling sigh. “That’s what I thought too, but I was hoping I was wrong…I don’t know, but I’ve got to figure it out fast. I’ll call back when I’ve got more details. Thanks.”
“So…?” Justin asked.
Rowena closed the phone and turned to him.
“Get us to that warehouse, now.”
The Archangel Michael walked through what appeared to be a temple.
A woman turned to face him. “What news do you bring, Michael?” He took an unsteady sigh. “You realize the threat she poses.” At first, Michael hesitated, seemingly unsure of what to say. “Speak your mind,” she told him gently.
“Allow me the chance to reason with her, to uncover what’s truly happening. The will of an archangel is…this goes beyond my comprehension, my lady. You said yourself, this isn’t the work of opposing forces, it’s something…”
“…darker,” the woman answered.
“Yes, my lady. But Gabrielle is strong. She’s served you well. She’s fought shoulder to shoulder with me in valor. All I’m asking for is a chance.”
“The fate of two kingdoms rests upon your shoulders if I provide you this chance,” she told him.
“I realize that, my lady. But I also realize what an impact losing Gabrielle might be – to all worlds.”
The woman took a deep breath and blew it out slowly.
“Just one,” she told Michael. “Fail, and she will be eliminated. Earth isn’t ready for the vengeance she might create.”
“Thank you, my lady,” he said with a nod. He began to move swiftly away.
“Michael?” she called out, making him abruptly stop. She waved her hand in his direction, and a glittering light fell over him. “I grant you all powers in this task. Bring her home to us…one way or another.”
Michael gave her another nod and left the room.
New York City – Warehouse – Later that Night
Rowena stood silently, looking at the chair and the acid spill.
“I told them not to touch anything,” Justin explained. “This is just how we found the scene.”
“Did you test the acid?” she asked.
“Hydrochloric,” he told her. “The witness, Father Russell, he’s still alive.”
“Really?” Dawn and Shannon both asked in amazement.
Justin nodded. “He’s sedated because of the extent of his burns, but he is alive.”
“Call his family, next of kin,” Rowena told him, still not taking her eyes off the chair. “Ask them if we can stop the sedatives long enough to get information from him. He’s our only witness. I’m assuming he’s under slayer and coven guard.”
“Of course,” Justin said. “But I’d really like to know…what’s that creature in the pictures? Why did they pour acid on a priest, and who’s the woman with the wings? I heard you tell someone on your comlink that you know who it is.”
“That’s classified,” Rowena answered, turning to face him.
He seemed taken aback by the answer at first. “I think a little de-classification is needed here,” he told her.
“Just make the call, Mr. Moore,” Rowena said formally, in a tone that denoted the discussion was over. Without saying anything else, she walked over to Liz, who was by the far wall.
Justin turned his back and began to dial his phone.
Dawn was shaking her head as she looked at the chair and the acid spill.
“Even in my darkest days,”she said, “when I wanted to find an escape, I wouldn’t have thought of doing something like this to myself. I mean…can you imagine what he went through?”
“He might have deserved it,” Shannon replied.
“How can you say that?” Dawn asked. “He’s a holy man.”
“We don’t know anything about him, or who’s in that picture. All I’m saying is, be careful who your friends are. You fall in with the wrong crowd, bad things happen.”
“He could be innocent,” Dawn pointed out.
“He could be. But he could also be guilty as sin. No pun intended.”
“Thanks, Faith,” Dawn remarked. “It’s like listening to your mother-in-law all over again. I mean, jeez, cynical much?”
Shannon just shrugged.
“So,” Rowena began, as she took a slow seat next to Liz on the floor, her knees cracking as she moved, “what do you think?”
“About the holy father who looks like a campfire weenie who’s been cooked too long, or the bat-winged gal?”
“All of it,” Rowena replied. “Where do we start?”
Liz scratched her head. “Well, first we find out who’s in the pictures. I heard Justin say the victim is alive so, yes, we need to talk to him.”
“Good,” Rowena replied.
“The demons look like Dennitts.”
“Close,” Rowena complimented. “They’re Vernarr, but both are part of the Choont species. The only thing that really separates them are those two ridges by the eyes. Good call, though, but go on.”
“Vernarr, okay,” Liz answered, and then started to think for a moment. “Wait, that only leads to more questions, because a single Vernarr could have just ripped this guy to shreds. Plus, they produce their own acid through an enzyme. They wouldn’t need a bucket of hydrochloric acid. All they had to do was spit on him. It’s like…an unneeded step, if you ask me.”
“I tend to agree, so why would they want acid in a bucket?”
Liz paused. “Maybe to scare the victim,” she replied. “Which might also explain why they didn’t rip him to shreds. He knows something or has something they want.”
“But you’re not telling us the whole story,” Liz whispered. “You know the other person in this shot,” she said, holding up the picture. “That’s got to be one of the keys here.”
At first, Rowena said nothing. “Can I trust you?” she finally asked.
“Well, yeah,” Liz told her.
“Not ‘well, yeah’,” Rowena mimicked her carefree attitude. “Do I have your word that what I tell you goes no further? Not even Dawn or Shannon?”
Liz straightened up and she looked over at the pair still inspecting the acid. “Yes,” she answered, facing Rowena again. “Now, who is she?”
Rowena leaned closer to Liz’s ear. “The woman in that picture is the Archangel Gabriel.”
“I thought Gabriel was a man,” Liz whispered back.
Rowena shook her head. “Only a handful of people know the truth of her identity. Her name is actually Gabrielle, former slayer too, but she let the error stand to keep her anonymity. In fact, many years ago Shannon’s husband drew a picture of her based on his mom’s description. Two pictures, actually – one with and one without her fluffy white wings. Although there was never a name assigned to the pictures, they still aren’t readily available to all watchers.”
“But you’ve seen her?” Liz asked.
“In pictures and in person. I’m one of the few people in recent years to speak with her,” she replied. Liz seemed impressed, but Rowena paid no attention to the admiration. “That’s why it’s important you tell no one. Understand?”
Liz nodded. “Okay…now I’m confused again.”
“Welcome to my world,” Rowena said, rubbing her temple with a grin. “It doesn’t make sense, so where do we go from here? Break it down for me.”
Liz closed the folder in front of her and took a deep breath. “Let’s see…who is the victim, and what’s his connection to the creatures in this photo? He’s a priest, so…maybe he’s got a connection with the angel? But why does said archangel now have bat wings and spend her time with Vernarrs? And what are they after, if anything?” Liz paused, as if considering all the questions. “The victim is the key right now,” Liz said firmly. “He’s the only one who can shed light on any of this.”
Rowena held up a finger. “If he’s honest enough to be straight with us, then yes.”
Liz stood up and looked down at Rowena. “We need to get to the hospital.”
“In the morning. Moore needs to make his connections and get approval first, and we all need some rest. Give the old lady a lift?” Rowena asked, holding out her hand.
Liz smiled. She placed her toes against Rowena’s and easily pulled her to the feet.
New York City – Dawn and Shannon’s Hotel Room – Later
Shannon smiled as she looked at the monitor in front of her. On the screen were Norm and their young son.
“Wave nighty-night to Mommy,” Norm told the boy, then helped to raise his hand.
As he did, Shannon smiled and waved back. “Nighty-night,” she told them. “You keep Daddy out of trouble, okay?”
“Okay,” the young boy said, as he slipped from Norm’s lap and scampered away.
Norm watched him go and then turned back to the screen. “Be careful out there,” he told her.
“I’ll be fine. I’ve got my human shield over here,” she teased.
“I heard that,” Dawn called from across the room.
Shannon and Norm both chuckled. “Night, Sweetheart. I’ll call tomorrow, if we’re not home,” she told him.
They each blew a kiss and waved, before both reached out to touch the screen to disconnect.
“You’ve got a good thing, Shannon,” Dawn told her.
“Yeah,” she told her. “And to think I spent so much time fighting it.” She grinned.
“Well, he was younger, and it made sense. You wanted him to see who else was out there before settling down,” Dawn said. “But I’m glad you came to your senses. So is Norm, it seems.”
“Yeah, but it’s scary sometimes,” she confessed. “Being a mom, being a slayer, knowing I might not live to see his fifth birthday. Then again, I survived the Lorinda years, I can survive anything, right?”
Dawn let out a chuckle, and Shannon smiled.
New York City – Rowena and Liz’s Hotel Room – Same Time
Liz sat in her bed, holding a coffee mug. Across from her at the workstation, Rowena sat in front of two monitors. Her head turned from one to the other, her fingers moving across the screens of each one. Liz grinned for a moment as she watched her.
“Any luck?” Liz called over, before taking a sip from her mug.
“Three murders in Central Park, four in Times Square and five in Soho,” Rowena told her. “All with markings consistent with Vernarr Demons – no connections to the victims of each scene. To answer your question in a word…no.”
“So is this how my dad spent his days? Sitting in front of a computer?” Liz asked.
Rowena grinned, but didn’t look away from her screens.
“No, he hated computers. I think, in all the years we worked together, I saw him in front of an electronic database for only two hours total. He’d rather look for the text in the physical library than use W.I.L.L.O.W. The computer program, not…”
“…your wife,” Liz finished in a bored tone, as if she’d heard the phrase a million times. She grinned immediately afterward.
“Besides,” Rowena continued, as she touched the screen three times in a row, making it change rapidly, “he never had anything this advanced. I’m sure this would have made his head plode, as you say.”
“Then again,” Rowena went on, “this is somewhat easier to use. He might be a bit more open to it. I wouldn’t be willing to put money on that, though.”
Liz watched Rowena for a few moments as the watcher read something on the screen.
“Are you happy, Aunt Ro?” she asked.
“At the moment, I’m confused,” she replied, not looking over.
“No,” Liz redirected. “In general, are you happy with your life?”
That got Rowena’s attention, and she turned to face Liz as she picked up her mug.
“I suppose,” she answered. “I don’t really think about it.”
“Taking things for granted?” Liz asked. “Stuff like Aunt Will and the kids?”
Rowena grinned. “Where is this coming from?”
Liz quickly took a drink before answering. “Nowhere, really. I’m just curious, I guess. You know me, always with the questions, right?”
Rowena shrugged. “Well, I tell my kids I love them, give them a hug when they’ll let me, because it’s not cool to hug your parents right now, huh?” Liz gave a guilty shrug, and Rowena grinned. “As for Aunt Will…I love her more now than the day I married her. But, really, why all the questions? Found the guy of your dreams or something?”
“Are you kidding?” Liz chuckled. “There’s a few dotting around the map but…”
“Nobody strikes your fancy, I take it?”
“No, not really…I was just curious, like I said. You’ve got a job and a wife and kids and…my dad didn’t do it all until…well, late. I can’t wait as long as he did, and I’m not even sure if it’s something I’d want to do someday. I mean, I hear some girls talk, and it’s like they know everything they’re going to do. And then there’s me…”
“What about you?”
“I’m not sure about anything and…I mean, how do you balance it all? Not in the cosmic sense but you, Rowena Allister-Rosenberg. How do you do it all?”
Rowena shrugged and took a deep breath. “By keeping tabs, I guess,” she replied.
“Well,” Rowena began, “we do things, as a family. Doesn’t always go as planned, but we take time out to do things as a group.”
“What about Aunt Will?”
“She’s there, too,” Rowena said with a grin.
“No,” Liz chuckled. “I mean what about ‘just the two of you’ stuff?” Rowena arched an eyebrow. “Not that stuff,” Liz said. “Pleeeash, like I want to know that…I just mean, coupley kinda stuff. Don’t you ever do things on your own, like before the kids?”
“We’re usually pretty busy.”
Liz nervously licked her lips. “I’m not an expert or anything, but maybe doing that stuff helps people stay connected.” Liz waved her hand and took another drink. “But what the heck do I know, right?”
Rowena considered her words. “Actually, that’s not a bad idea,” she told her.
“Well, my folks still do stuff together. Usually it’s playing guitars,” Liz added. “I used to play with them, too, but it’s…well, it’s been a few years since I sat in…I kinda miss it sometimes.”
“Well, why don’t you? Sit in, I mean?” Rowena asked. Liz just shrugged. “Ah, I forgot. Sixteen going on seventeen. Can’t be caught dead with the parents. Am I close?”
“It’s not so much that. I like new music. Stuff like Wolfgang Van Halen, Taylor Swift – oh, Britney Spears, she’s pretty good.”
“Talk about your comebacks of the century,” Rowena muttered.
“Huh?” Liz asked.
“Never mind – you were saying…?”
“Oh yeah, I like new music, and they like…”
“More like ancient,” Liz replied. Rowena chuckled. “I’m like the only one in music class who can play ‘Behind Blue Eyes.’ Don’t get me wrong, good song, but the other kids have never even heard it. At least my mom likes some music from the last twenty years. So…my mom, she’s sweet. My dad, um, he’s like a total nerd.”
Rowena smiled. “I remember a gig your dad was playing years ago – sheesh, I think it was before you were born, or not long after. Anyway, the group did a cover of ‘Rag Doll’ by Aerosmith. I think your Aunt Will went into shock since he knew something beyond 1974.”
Liz chuckled before she started to sing. “Rag Doll. Livin’ in a movie. Hot tramp. Daddy’s little cutie.”
“That’s the one,” Rowena told her. “And I will say, in his defense, it was pretty damn good.”
“Yeah, at least mom was able to bring him into the Eighties and Nineties,” she giggled.
Rowena laughed, but then said, “Why don’t you do that?”
“Do what?” Liz asked.
“Well, you said it yourself. Your mom got him into the Eighties and Nineties – why not finish the journey of the last twenty-some years for them both? Teach them the newer stuff?”
Liz looked like she was considering it. “Well, no promises,” she replied. Rowena turned back to her data-center and turned off the devices. “Calling it a night?” Liz asked.
“Yeah,” Rowena told her. “There comes a point when sleep is more helpful than looking at a screen. I’ll give it another go in the morning, if we’ve got time.” She got up and walked over to her bed, turning the sheets down. “You better call it a night, too. We might be up in two hours interrogating a witness.”
“You think it’ll be that soon?” Liz asked.
“Maybe. Either way, it’s best to get what sleep you can. We might be in for a long day,” she said with a yawn.
Liz held her fingertips on the light at the nightstand, and it slowly turned down, until it was dim. She lay back against the mattress and looked at the ceiling. “Aunt Ro?” she called.
“Hmm?” Rowena mumbled sleepily.
Liz opened her mouth and then shut it before saying, “I’m sorry I caused you and Aunt Will problems.”
Rowena yawned. “Don’t be sorry. Just –”
“Improve,” Liz finished with a smile. “I’m trying. I really am.”
“I know you are. And as for Aunt Will, she’ll be fine. Try to get some sleep, okay Liz?”
“Goodnight,” Rowena answered, as she closed her eyes and snuggled into her pillow.
Liz continued to stare at the ceiling, her eyes wide-open.
New York City – Harbor Docks – Same Time
A group of Vernarr demons conversed quietly. Gabrielle stood with a foot against the guardrail in front of her, resting her hands on the hilt of her sword as she looked out toward the darkened horizon. One of the demons nodded reluctantly before walking over to the angel.
He moved slowly, then stopped, taking a spot next to her. “Ma’am, I’m sorry but…we’re unable to eliminate the threat,” the Vernarr told her. “There are slayers guarding him and –”
“Slayers don’t concern me. You told me he would be disposed of,” she replied evenly, although one could tell there was anger beneath the words.
“We thought he was, Ma’am.”
“Obviously you were wrong,” she replied. Before the Vernarr could move, Gabrielle’s sword swung so fast at his neckline that he didn’t have time to react.
The remaining Vernarrs watched nervously as the unmistakable sound of a head being separated from a body followed. They cowered as she moved to stand in front of them. “Clean that up,” she told them, as she casually nodded her head backward toward the body. “You and you,” she said, pointing to two of the Vernarrs. “With me. You others, wait here.”
She walked away as the two demons she pointed to followed her.
End of Act Two