New York City – Taxi Cab – Moments Later
Liz looked out the window as they traveled down Greenwich Street to see a building set back from a long stretch of oak trees. She tried to scrunch down in the seat to see the enormous building that towered above the smaller one.
“That’s the Freedom Tower,” the cabbie told her as he watched her in his rearview mirror.
“It’s like impossible to see it all from down here,” she told him, as she continued to crank her neck down.
The cabbie grinned. “Yeah, it’s a big one all right,” he told her. “Some people think it’s a mistake. Ya know, they’re worried someone’ll try to take it down too.”
“What do you think?” Liz asked.
The cabbie smiled. “I like it,” he told her. “Shows we didn’t give up.” After a short silence he added, “My brother’s name is in that building.”
Liz grew somber. “I’m sorry. Was he…?”
“Firefighter,” he replied. “His Ladder didn’t make it out.”
“I’m sorry,” Liz repeated. “I sort of work at the Council,” she added. “It’s horrible when bad things happen to good people. Especially people who are just doing their job.”
“He knew what he signed up for,” the cabbie told her. “Doesn’t make it easier, but…it was the choice he made, and he went out doing what he loved – helping people.”
Liz grinned slightly. “Sounds like a wonderful man,” she told him.
The cabbie grinned too as he looked back at her. “How old are you?”
Liz chuckled slightly. “You have no idea how many times I’ve been asked that in my sixteen years,” she replied.
The cabbie laughed out loud. “You sound a lot older,” he told her. “Oh hey,” he said, pointing at the window. “Looks like they’re stopping.”
“Pull back,” Liz said. “Right over here,” she pointed.
New York City – Outside St. Paul’s Chapel – Seconds Later
Rowena, Dawn and Shannon stepped from the van and walked to the back, where the slayers began to file out.
New York City – Taxi Cab – Resume
“Looks like they’re going into St. Paul’s,” the driver remarked.
“Yeah,” Liz said absently as she watched. “Do you know if that’s a Catholic church?”
“I don’t think so, why? You Catholic?” the cabbie asked.
Giles and Becca’s House (Flashback)
Willow stood on the porch with infant Liz in her arms, as Giles and Becca looked on, along with others in the family. She carefully raised the baby above her head and began her prayer.
“Gods of our home, gods of our hearth,
today we present you with someone new.
Elizabeth is a member of our family,
and this is her new home.
We ask you to welcome her,
we ask you to love her,
we ask you to protect her,
we ask you to bless her.”
New York City – Taxi Cab – Resume Present Day
“No,” Liz replied. “But I’ve been told I was blessed. I just figured since it was a priest…” She trailed off from telling him the story. “Doesn’t matter. Wanna thumb me?” she said, nodding to the cash machine and holding up her thumb.
“Don’t worry about it,” he told her. “Just be careful.”
“Well, here,” she said, leaning forward. “Punch in a hundred at least.” He looked reluctant. “Just do it,” she told him. He shrugged before hitting some digits on the device and sliding it to her. As she put her finger on it, she told him, “For your brother…use that money to buy some flowers or make a donation or…whatever.”
The driver grinned. “I certainly will, young lady. You just take care out there, okay?”
Liz smiled. “I’ll try my best.”
New York City – St. Paul’s Chapel – Seconds Later
Rowena, Dawn, and Shannon walked in ahead of the slayer troops.
“Heads up, girls,” Shannon told them, getting their attention. “Remember, we’re looking for a box, approximately four-by-four inches, with a cross on the cover. We don’t have a color or description other than that. If you find it, do not open it under any circumstances. Bring it to Watcher Allister. Now, I want two slayers in each pew. One sweeps, and the other follows behind to double-check. Once you’ve checked your pew, I’ll advise where you’ll go next. Understood?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” they said in unison. Shannon then began to direct the teams as Rowena and Dawn looked around the pulpit.
Dawn turned to Rowena. “A little box, huh?”
“Yes, the father wouldn’t say what was inside. He gave it to the reverend here at St. Paul’s to hide just before the woman caught up to him.”
“And once we find it?”
“We find a way to destroy it and whatever’s inside,” Rowena answered.
Liz crept behind one of the columns and listened to two slayers who were talking to each other about the box. She began to search, too, as quietly as she could. Seeing the balcony above them, she looked for a set of stairs to take her to the next level.
“And the other murders?” Dawn asked.
“The box is the only link,” Rowena answered. “It’s been moved from person to person, church to church.”
“And now we’re trying to be the lucky recipients, huh?”
“That’s the plan,” Rowena answered, as she looked under some wiring for the pulpit lights.
“Maybe it’s not even here,” Dawn said. “It could be in an office safe or –”
From the balcony, Liz shouted, “I think I found it!” She held it up for everyone to see.
“Or up there with Liz, who’s supposed to be on an airplane,” Dawn finished.
“That was pretty easy,” Liz said, examining the box.
The group looked up silently, but Rowena’s voice was the first to cut the air.
“First, don’t open that, and second, what the hell are you doing here?” she shouted up.
“Watch your language,” Liz scolded her. “You are in a house of God.”
Out of thin air. Gabrielle appeared behind her. “Good advice.”
“Liz!” Rowena shouted and pointed behind her.
Liz shot around to see Gabrielle standing there. “I overheard that priest, so I know you have something I need, little girl. Pretty clever of him to hide it here, I must say,” the angel told her.
“You mean this?” Liz said, acting like she was showing her the box before casually tossing it over her shoulder. It cleared the railing and began falling below.
Shannon broke into a run to catch the falling box, while Gabrielle rushed Liz. When she knocked Liz aside, the young watcher slipped over the edge, but caught one of the banners adorning the railing. As she teetered on the edge, Rowena took off into a run toward the stairs, grabbing one of the slayers to take with her.
Liz hung on tightly. “Don’t look down, don’t look down,” she muttered to herself. As the fabric gave way a little, she looked below her for a second and quickly looked back up again. “Bloody hell! You had to look, didn’t you, Liz!”
Gabrielle flew down to catch the box, but she collided with Shannon, who jumped up to meet the container. Both of them came up empty, and the box fell to the ground.
Dawn reached out a hand, and the box magically shot in her direction. Just before it arrived in her hand, a demon ran in from the side and intercepted it. He took off running.
“Stop him!” Shannon yelled to the slayers. She heard the sound of a sword being drawn, and she immediately went into a roll as Gabrielle’s sword came down, narrowly missing her.
On the balcony, the slayer Rowena had tapped arrived first, grabbed the banner and began to pull Liz up. Rowena caught up and told Liz, “Hold on tight. You’re almost up here.”
When she was close enough, Rowena took hold of the banner and used her feet and legs to steady the girl. “Get her,” she told the slayer.
The slayer reached over and grabbed Liz by her waistband, pulling her over the railing to safety. The three of them, all breathing hard, collapsed on the floor.
As the slayers below gave chase to the demon, they watched about thirty more demons enter the church and come running toward them. The demon with the box tried to make his escape while the opposing forces met each other in a series of clashes.
On the second level, Liz told Rowena, “I really hate heights.”
Shannon continued to roll and crawl as Gabrielle kept swinging. Getting frustrated, the angel yelled, “Die, mortal!”
“Sword!” Shannon shouted. “Someone get me a sword, for Pete’s sake!”
A nearby slayer heard the cry and rushed over to meet Gabrielle. The angel easily took the girl down with a slice in the stomach. Shannon scrambled over and took the fallen girl’s sword. Gabrielle tried to advance to finish the other girl off, only to find Shannon, sword in hand, successfully blocking the blows.
“Impressive,” Gabrielle told her.
Shannon didn’t reply. She simply readied her sword for another attack.
Seeing the melee below, Rowena said, “We need backup, fast.” She reached to her belt and pushed a button. “Justin! Send another squad to St. Paul’s immediately!”
Liz watched the battle nervously, but at Rowena’s words, she started to grin. “You’re right. We do need backup,” she said to no one in particular. She got to her feet and cupped her hands around her mouth.
“Raphael!” she shouted as loud as she could. “Hear my prayer!” She closed her eyes for a moment, as if trying to remember something. The sudden sound of a blade striking the wall beside her made her reopen her eyes. She looked over to see a sword buried in the wall, still swaying, just a few inches from her head. “Uh oh,” she said.
Rowena pulled her down to the ground. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Saving our collective asses,” Liz told her.
Dawn was muttering softly with her eyes closed. When she opened them up, there was one demon among the crowd that had a glow around him. “He’s got the box!” Dawn shouted, pointing. “Stop him!”
On the balcony, Rowena was trying to reason with Liz. “You’re not –”
“I know what we have to do!” Liz argued. “Just trust me!”
The plea, followed by the matching look in Liz’s eyes, made Rowena pause a moment. She then gave a short nod.
Liz closed her eyes briefly again, gathering herself, but then shot back up to her feet. This time she kept her eyes open.
“Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the Throne of God, hear my prayer! Heal the sick and fallen before you! In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen!”
When nothing happened, Rowena asked, “What are you doing?”
“That book I read on the way here, Factual and Mythical Creatures, says Raphael can heal anyone of anything with his touch. The nurse gave a description of Raphael that matched one in that text. I think he was looking for Gabby, so that means, if he can get close enough to her –”
“– he might be able to heal what’s made her evil.”
Liz just made a motion with her hands that said, “You’ve got it!”
At that moment, a burst of light made Liz drop back to the floor and everyone around her shield their eyes. When it subsided, three angels, Michael, Raphael and Uriel, stood there.
Below them, the spell on the demon carrying the box began to wear off. Dawn tried to follow him as best she could, ducking blows and dodging the punches of the fight, but the light eventually went out, and all she could see was a tide of demons and slayers in battle.
“Son of a bitch,” she swore.
Back on the balcony, Rowena and Liz looked at each other before Liz turned back to the angels.
“Which one of you is Raphael?” she asked. None of them seemed to want to answer. “Come on!” she insisted. “We can help save Gabrielle by getting her on the ropes, but we need to know who’s the one with the special touch here. If we can work her toward you –”
“I am Raphael,” he said, stepping forward, stopping her.
“Good,” Liz sighed.
“Our Lord has also given Michael access to my powers in this task,” he added.
“Good to know,” Liz remarked. She thought for a moment, watching the slayer/demon battle below. “I’ve got something for each of you to do, so here’s the plan…”
On the ground level, Dawn continued to search in vain for the demon with the box. Getting frustrated, she picked up a dropped sword and began to expertly cut her way through the demon masses. She stopped when she heard Liz over her comlink asking, “Dawn, are you there?”
At the same time, Gabrielle delivered such a powerful blow that it broke Shannon’s sword in half. Shannon tried to advance, but Gabrielle grabbed her arm with her free hand and moved it back, snapping the appendage with a sickening sound. Shannon screamed and dropped to her knees. Gabrielle gave an evil smile and moved in to deliver the deathblow, but before she could, she was suddenly spun around.
“We didn’t finish our discussion,” Uriel told her. Then he punched her square in the face.
“God, I hope this works,” Rowena said, as she and Liz watched the conflict below them.
“It’ll work. It’s gotta work,” Liz told her, sounding almost eager.
As Gabrielle stumbled backward, she saw Michael helping the slayers push back the advancing demons. She put her arms tightly to her side and closed her eyes, but then she opened them and looked around, as if surprised she was still there.
Dawn was now focusing on Gabrielle. She chanted something under her breath and pointed to the angel.
Uriel advanced again, and this time Gabrielle had nowhere to run and was forced to fight.
Liz turned around to face Raphael, who was standing at the edge of the staircase. “Now,” she said, “go by the pillar. She’ll never see you coming. But no zapping – you guys broke Dawn’s energy before, and we don’t need that happening again. She’s the only one keeping Gabrielle here now. So no magic until you’ve got a hold on Gabby, okay?”
Raphael nodded and took off down the stairs. Liz turned back to the battle with a look of hope and anticipation, and Rowena slowly began to smile as she focused on the young woman rather than the conflict below.
As Uriel and Gabrielle continued to do battle, Michael kept the demons at bay, and in between he’d reach down to a fallen slayer, touching her. As he did, each slayer began to slowly rise, as if groggily waking up.
A demon finally called out “Retreat!” to the ones still trying to fight. But as they ran toward the door, they were met with the second wave of slayers, who had finally arrived. Seeing their arrival, Michael grinned and looked over to see Uriel battling Gabrielle.
Above, Liz nodded silently and watched as Michael took on Gabrielle from the east, while Uriel pressed his advantage from the south. Gabrielle was completely unaware that only feet away stood Raphael, just waiting for her to clear the pillar.
Once she did, he came out of his hiding place and locked his hands around her shoulders, holding her in place. She screamed out in pain as blue light shimmered around both of them. Finally, her screams subsided, and she slumped to the floor, with Raphael steadying her descent.
Michael rushed over and collected the quivering angel in his arms. She slowly opened her eyes to see him staring down at her with a slight grin.
“Michael?” she asked, confused. She closed her eyes slowly and then opened them again, as if trying to focus on him. “What’s going on?” she asked. “Where am I?”
“Rest,” he told her. “I have my orders. We’re going home.” Michael gave Uriel and Raphael an appreciative look before he and Gabrielle disappeared.
Uriel and Raphael looked up toward Rowena and Liz and sent them grateful looks as well. Raphael gave Liz a nod before he and Uriel also disappeared from sight.
Rowena put her arm around Liz’s shoulder and kissed her on the temple.
“Good work, Miss Giles,” she told her. “Now, let’s go check on the team.”
Liz put her arm around Rowena’s waist and followed her lead.
Council Jet – Late Afternoon
Dawn and Shannon sat across from each other on the jet.
“How’s the arm?” Dawn asked, motioning to the sling that Shannon wore.
“Two hundred and ninety-nine days,” Shannon replied.
“Excuse me?” Dawn asked.
“That’s how many days I have left on active slayer duty. The arm will heal, and after two hundred and ninety-nine days, I won’t have to worry about something like this ever again,” she replied with a grin. “But you know what?”
“What?” Dawn asked.
“I’m still glad I’ve got my watcher with me…especially on special assignments.” She said the last two words extra loud so that Rowena would hear them.
The older watcher turned and shot her a quirked eyebrow before she shook her head.
“I’m never going to hear the end of this,” she told Liz, who sat beside her. The younger woman smiled.
Rowena looked out the window of the jet. The people and buildings below them looked smaller as they moved higher, gaining altitude.
“I should warn you now,” Rowena said, turning to Liz again. “You’ll be put on suspension.”
“Suspension?” Liz remarked. “I save the world, and I get suspended?”
“You disobeyed a direct Council order.”
“And I saved the world.”
“You didn’t do as you were told.”
“And I saved the world!” Liz repeated more firmly. “In fact, if I hadn’t been there, you guys would probably still be fighting Gabrielle or be dead. Not to mention the fact that all those people walking around down there, who are none the wiser to everything we did today, could be dead.” She motioned out the window.
Rowena could tell that Liz was thinking hard about what she had just said and rhetorically asked, “Yes, being a watcher is sooooo boring, isn’t it?”
Liz gave her a guilty grin, before looking serious again and continuing, “I mean, really, if we hadn’t helped them cure her and if she had found that box o’ doom and whatever was in it, there’s no telling what she might have done to the city – heck, the entire world, and maybe Heaven itself. This is like a big deal – like a huge deal.”
“Yes, I only wish we had found what she was after. But New York is a fine Branch. I’m sure Justin and his team can take it from here.”
“One would hope,” Liz replied. “He just seems kinda…green, ya know?”
“Pot calling the kettle, dear,” Rowena replied. “But think about this: someday another watcher will read about it in your journal. They’ll either look at it as another boring assignment or see the possibility that might lay ahead for them. It’s really a matter of perspective.”
“If I hadn’t been there…”
“Exactly,” Rowena told her. “Chances are, we wouldn’t have won.” She paused a beat and then added, “But I still have to suspend you.”
Liz smiled. “I can honestly say this is one trouble I’d get into all over again.”
“That’s a good way to look at it,” Rowena agreed with a grin. “Like I said, Liz, pick your battles wisely.” She then leaned over conspiratorially and whispered, “If you contest the suspension, chances are you’ll win.”
Liz turned her body slightly to face Rowena. “Can you teach me?”
“I already do. You’ll just have to try to stay awake in class more often,” Rowena retorted.
Liz snorted. “No, I mean teach me, like, everything you know, how everything works at the Council…just…everything.”
“If you’re serious about this path, yes. But keep in mind, every day isn’t like today. You’re right when you say there’s a lot of studying and indexing days. But all that work pays off when you can help people like we did. I mean, you said it yourself. Those people down there,” she said, with a motion out the window, “they don’t have a clue as to how close they came to having their worlds altered forever. So all the indexing, all the reading…”
“Makes it all worthwhile,” Liz finished with a smile.
“And here endeth the lesson for today,” Rowena told her, patting her hand in support.
Liz looked sheepish. “I’m sorry for all the trouble lately.”
“Thanks for the apology,” Rowena told her. “But I’m not the only one you should apologize to. There’s a nerd in Cleveland,” she added with a growing smile, “one who’s helped save the world many times, like you did today. He’s the one who needs to hear it the most.”
Liz let out a sigh and looked out the window.
Giles House – Early Evening
Liz held her thumb up to the security pad, and the front door to the house unlocked. She turned the knob, and she and Rowena walked inside.
When they entered the foyer , the two women saw Giles walking toward them up the hallway.
“So how did the trip – oomph!” Giles’s words were cut off as Liz pulled him into a tight embrace. He looked at Rowena first and saw her quietly waiting with a smile.
“I’m sorry, and…I do love you, Dad,” Liz told him, her face crushed against his chest.
Giles grinned and returned the hug. “I love you too, dear. Why don’t you girls tell me all about your adventure this weekend?”
“Let Daddy’s Little Cutie tell it,” Rowena teased. “I’m gonna scoot.”
“You sure you don’t want to stay?” Liz asked, her arm still around Giles’s waist.
“Nah, I’m taking your advice, so there’s something I need to do before I go home.”
Liz looked confused, but Rowena just waved to them and walked back toward the door.
“Aunt Ro?” she called out, making the watcher turn. “I want to keep looking into that Shadowmen theory over the summer. Think you might get me clearance on some of the older works in the library? After my suspension, of course.”
“Of course,” she answered with a grin. “I think I can pull a few strings…I’ll see you guys later.” Rowena walked out the door.
Giles House – Moments Later
Rowena was well down the walkway when she heard Giles call out from behind her and move to meet her. She helped close the distance between them by turning around and heading back toward the house.
“What happened out there?” he asked in amazement.
“Let’s just say that Liz got a real taste of saving the world…and she liked it.”
Giles pulled Rowena into a hug. “Thank you,” he said sincerely.
“No, Giles, thank you for hanging in there. I think things will be different now, but we’ll see.”
“Go on,” he told her as he pulled back. “Give your wife my love.”
“You got it,” she told him. “Maybe if you’re not busy, we can have a cook-out tomorrow at our place.”
“We’ll be there,” Giles told her.
Rowena smiled and gave him a wave.
Giles House – Living Room – Moments Later
Giles walked back inside to see that Liz was in the living room, waving him over. Two guitars sat in the corner by the fireplace – one electric Les Paul and one electric acoustic. Liz switched on the amp and picked up the electric acoustic before sitting down on the nearby sofa. She began to play the opening of “Daydream” by The Lovin’ Spoonful, but she stopped. Instead of continuing, she turned to Giles.
“I gotta deal for ya,” she told him.
“What’s that?” he asked with a smile.
“I’ll do one of yours if you do one of mine, agreed?”
Giles reached down and picked up his electric guitar as he said, “You’re on.”
Liz smiled and righted her guitar, then started to play again.
Rosenberg-Allister House – Later that Day
The sound of the front door opening made Willow turn her head sharply.
“Hey,” Rowena said as she rolled her suitcase past the threshold, fighting with the door at the same time.
Willow was already on her way over, and she captured the blonde before she could finish righting her suitcase. Rowena omitted a small oomph that turned into a moan as Willow captured her lips. The suitcase thumped to the floor. A moment later, they both pulled away, grinning at each other.
“Damn,” Rowena told her. “I should go away for the night more often.”
“Do you know how much I love you?” Willow asked.
“Yeah, but refresh me some more,” Rowena said. She motioned playfully to her lips.
Willow returned the kiss and began to take off Rowena’s jacket in the process. Rowena pulled back slightly. “The kids…?”
“Not home,” Willow told her. “Gone until tomorrow afternoon.”
“Really?” Rowena said mischievously, as Willow tried to return to her lips. Rowena, however, held up a finger, making her stop. “These might come in handy, then.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out two pieces of paper. Willow looked at them and began to grin. “Gift certificates to Le Canard Doré,” Rowena continued. “I’ve got connections there. Turns out one of my students is a busboy at the restaurant. We don’t need a reservation. We can go anytime and they’ll squeeze us in, proving it’s not always what you know, but rather who you know.”
“You did this for me?” Willow asked.
“Of course! You’ve been wanting to go, and I’ve been too busy, but Liz made me realize something.”
“Liz? As in Liz Giles?” Willow asked. “What did she say, exactly?” she asked nervously.
Rowena chuckled at Willow’s demeanor. “She said that maybe I take you and the kids for granted sometimes…okay, maybe most of the time, to be more accurate. So this is one step on the road to greater change, you might say. She suggested we do something together, just you and me.” Willow looked like she was going to cry. “Hey, this is a good thing, right?” Rowena asked her.
“This is…this is a wonderful thing,” Willow answered. “A-A-And maybe you are right about Liz.”
“I think you’ll see a difference in her. I really do. Oh, and don’t worry if the certificates won’t cover what we order. I’ll spring for the rest, so you won’t have to wash dishes.”
Willow gave her a chuckle and pulled her back into another passionate embrace.
“That’s awfully big of you, but it’s playtime now,” Willow told her as they broke apart. “Food later.”
Rowena smiled as Willow, walking backward with both hands in hers, led her out of the room.
“You won’t hear me arguing.”
Fade to Black
Special Guest Starring:
Gillian Anderson as Gabrielle, James Callis as Michael, Viggo Mortensen as Rafael, Christopher Eccleston as Uriel and Kate Mulgrew
End of Divination
Next on Watchers…
A Council team heads to the Caribbean to check out reports of ghost pirates, and gets more than they bargained for. Luckily, they brought the inimitable Lorinda Sheparton along.