Watchers Council – Willow & Rowena’s Apartment – Day
“Okay,” said Hope, after a long silence, “the thing is…I’m scared. And it’s a kind of scared I’m not real used to. Not that I’m some kind of hero or anything. But I can do stuff. Fact is, right now I can do things I never even dreamed of, what with the magic and all. But even that…I mean…” She sighed. “I’m babbling. Sorry. Fact is, I don’t even know why I’m going on like this to you. It’s about Jeff. All about Jeff. And you…you don’t like Jeff.”
“Sure I do,” said Skye. “Didn’t used to, I admit it. But things change. I sure as hell did. So did he, for that matter.” She shrugged, then went absolutely still for almost one complete second. “We change,” she said with a tiny shake.
“Yeah,” agreed Hope. “Look at me.”
“Look at anybody.”
That got a little laugh. But Hope’s grin faded. “I never really loved anyone before.” Her voice was low.
Skye nodded. “Speaking of changes, great big gi-normous changes.”
“I can’t help thinking…”
“What if something happens to him?”
When Skye spoke, which wasn’t for nearly a minute, her lips didn’t curl. Neither eyebrow rose above the other. She didn’t even blink. “Here is what I think. There is love, and there is desire. Not quite the same thing, but, as you know, not exactly mutually exclusive either. When we desire, all we want to do is possess. To own. You look at Jeff, just like I look at Dawn, and say ‘Mine,’ right? But isn’t there more to it? Don’t we also try to make them proud of us, try to shine in their eyes?”
“I guess so.”
“And does it matter whether they actually know it or not?”
“Does it? Do you act differently when Jeff isn’t around to see?”
“Have you ever done something and said to yourself, ‘He’d want me to do this?’ Have you?”
“Maybe.” Hope’s eyes had gone inward, contemplating something. “I’m not sure.”
“Well, for what it’s worth,” said Skye, “the difference is important. Because then you’ll know what it is that really scares you.”
Hope said nothing.
St. David Hotel Room – Day
“Déjà vu,” muttered Dawn, as she entered the room with Shannon and Lorinda.
“What?” asked Shannon, bringing in her luggage. She deposited her bag on the far end of the room, next to one of two double beds.
“This is a better dive than that dump in Dragontown, USA,” said Lorinda. She put her luggage next to the small table by the window.
“But why do I always have to share a double with two other girls?” complained Dawn.
“Instead of the one girl you want to share it with?” Lorinda grinned as she said it.
“A watcher’s life is so hard,” said Lorinda. “So do we bother to unpack, or should we just hit the streets? Look for clues? Get the lay of the land? Ask folks if they’ve seen any eighteenth century pirates sneaking around?”
“In this burg? In case you haven’t noticed, that’d be like looking for one particular person wearing Mickey Mouse ears in Disney World! Did you see the mailman?” Shannon asked.
“The one with the gold earring and the fake hook?” Lorinda asked. “I hadn’t noticed.”
“I rest my case,” Shannon replied.
“Let’s go next door and ask Jeff,” Lorinda said.
Dawn counted to ten. “Hey, I am just as much a watcher as Jeff. Fact is, I’ve had more field time.”
“But you’re not the Council’s seer,” Lorinda told her. “We don’t know what to do, not exactly, right? So let’s make like Leonidas and summon the Oracle. Or ask Jeff to whip out his Tarot cards. Same diff. Doesn’t that make sense, Shannon?” Lorinda looked across the room and saw the other slayer, curled up on the bed. “Is she asleep?”
“Not like she’s been getting enough of it lately,” said Dawn, lowering her voice.
“Because she keeps dreaming about me.” Lorinda shuddered a little.
“More like your ancestor, actually.”
“I don’t care, it is still creepy.”
“Next door. Let Shannon sleep and we’ll ask Jeff what the cards say.” Dawn opened the door. “After you.”
Lorinda hesitated for barely a split second. Then she left the hotel room. Dawn followed, dimming the lights before shutting the door.
Another Hotel Room – Minutes Later
Jeff looked up from the spread of his Tarot cards. “According to this, something will come to us.”
“Really?” Xander almost blinked. “No offense, but when you make with the fortune-telling mojo, I expected something a little less…” He searched for the word.
“Lame?” offered Dawn with a dazzling smile.
“Thank you so very much,” said Jeff with a raised eyebrow.
“You’re so very welcome.”
“Actually,” continued Jeff, “what the cards say is that the answer to what we seek is already on its way to us. If we go looking, we’ll find it. If we don’t, it will – eventually – find us.” He put down another three cards. “Okay,” he said, after a few moments of study, “the King of Wands reversed would indicate an older man, probably with light hair and/or blue eyes. He has the Wheel of Fortune on one side, and Judgment Day on the other, so he seems to be at the center of everything. Whoever this guy is, that is who we need to find.”
“Anybody else remember that Captain Fitz-Wolf, demon pirate captain and maiden seducer, is supposed to have been a blonde?” asked Lorinda.
“Plus,” agreed Jeff, “he was supposed to be a magic user. That ties in with the wands.”
“But I’m still not getting much by way of detail here,” said Xander.
“Let’s find out more about Captain Fitz-Wolf,” said Dawn. “There should be plenty of resources around here.”
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Same
Kadin Van Helsing opened the door.
A giggling Willow and Kennedy looked up from the desk they both stood over. Their laughter didn’t quite sputter out. Almost. But not quite.
“So,” said Kadin, leaning against the door, “what’s the joke?”
Willow said, “Kennedy just had a breakthrough!”
“A little bit,” said Kennedy.
“Not so little,” said Willow.
“Really?” Kadin’s expression didn’t change.
“Look,” said Willow. She picked up an envelope with an index card. Written on the card was a single word: Onyx. She held it up. “Come here.”
After a moment, Kadin strode over to the desk. “I think we all agree Kennedy is quite a lady,” she said, “but shouldn’t she have mastered spelling a long way back?”
Kennedy gave Kadin a mock punch on the arm.
“I wrote this out before Kennedy came for our session,” said Willow. “Wrote it and hid it. Then I concentrated on this one word to see if Kennedy could pick up my thoughts.”
“Picking up your thoughts is hard, is it?”
“Well, it depends. If I want to, I can send messages, but this time I wasn’t doing that. The idea was to see if Kennedy could develop her magic. Remember, her birth mom was pretty talented in that direction.”
“Plus, it has proven handy now and then. Like fighting a certain Eastern Euro-shifting bitch in black leather a couple of years ago. Remember?” Kennedy stepped closer to Kadin. “That’s the reason you dragged me to Budapest that time. Remember?” she repeated.
“I seem to recall something about that…,” said Kadin.
Kennedy leaned in closer and said in a lower tone. “You’d better remember Budapest.”
“Okay,” grinned Kadin. “I remember.”
She met her eyes. “Every single detail.”
“Good.” Kennedy wiggled her eyebrows.
“Uh…guys?” Willow waved one hand. “The point I was making was that Kennedy managed to pick up the image of a black stone. And she did it without my having to really send her anything, so it was all on her, her powers and stuff. “Her voice trailed off, noticing how the other two were looking at each other. She sighed. “You two gonna go somewhere, or rip each others’ clothes off right here? ‘Cause, if it’s the latter, I think it’d be best if I got out of your way.”
One eyebrow cocked, Kadin looked back at her. “Better if we go somewhere we can lock the door.”
“That’s got my vote,” said Kennedy, grabbing her hand and heading for the door. “See you later, Will!”
“Right,” said Willow. “Later.”
After the door shut behind Kadin and Kennedy, Willow waited in the now-silent room. She waited, putting away her things. The envelope. The card. A couple of books. A crystal and two candles. Then, she sighed.
“Okay,” she said abruptly, “I don’t care if Oversight is watching. I’m finding Rowena!” She left her things and headed for the door.
Hotel Lobby – Later
Jeff, Lorinda, Dawn and Xander were reaching the bottom of the stairs when the man at the front desk called out.
“Excuse me? You are the people from the Watchers Council, yes?”
Xander stepped forward. “That’s us. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing at all,” smiled the man. He held out an envelope. “But someone just left this note for you.”
All four hesitated, but in the end, Dawn grabbed the envelope. “Hey, even if it kills me, so what?” She pushed back the flap and took out a single sheet of paper. “To representatives of the Council,” she read aloud, “My name is Underwood. I believe I am in danger. Please, please, please come and hear my story. I’m at the tavern called Davey Jones’s Locker Room, at the corner of High and Third Streets. Hurry. I know something about the pirate attacks.”
Xander spoke first. “When did this get left?”
The man at the front desk thought for a few moments. “No more than ten minutes ago. Perhaps less. A distinguished-looking man, tall, with gray hair.”
“Davey Jones’s Locker Room, can you tell us how to get there?”
“Just turn right as you go out the front door. It’s maybe six or seven blocks from here. To be honest, it is not the best establishment in town. Not a dive, really, but…well.”
“Thanks.” Xander looked at Jeff. “A guy with light hair and blue eyes, huh?”
“Who will find us, or we’ll find him,” Jeff nodded.
“So,” said Lorinda, “that’s where we go?”
“Yep,” said Dawn.
“What about Shannon?” Xander asked.
“Let’s leave her a message,” Dawn said. “She needs her sleep.”
“Besides,” said Lorinda, almost under her breath, “we can’t interfere with any of her dreams about a dashing pirate captain.”
“Demon Pirate Captain,” pointed out Jeff.
Lorinda pointed to Dawn and Xander. “Look at their love lives and tell me that is necessarily a bad thing.”
“Uh…” Jeff looked at the pair. “No comment.”
“And your girlfriend was possessed by a demon once.”
“Again, no comment.”
“Plus, if half of what I’ve heard about Buffy Summers’ love life is true…”
“Let’s go. Now.”
Davey Jones’s Locker Room – Later
Xander looked around. Amid the shadows, a cheap nautical theme made up much of the décor. Pseudo-ship’s rigging. Mounted fish. Posters for different pirate movies. “Well, it isn’t exactly a dive.”
“Close enough,” muttered Lorinda.
“Okay, where did you get the expertise to rate bars?” asked Dawn.
Lorinda snorted. “How much do I need? Look at this place.”
“Good point,” said Jeff. “Let’s look and try to find Underwood.”
“May I help you?” A tall man with gray hair approached them. Unusual for the venue, which could kindly be described as bohemian, he wore a suit and tie. “Forgive me, but I thought I heard a name mentioned. Underwood?”
“You wouldn’t be Underwood, by any chance?” asked Xander.
“I? No. But I am someone who knows the poor chap. His nerves, they aren’t what they were.” He looked pointedly at a booth in the corner. There, a man with several days’ growth of beard stared at a bottle, then used it to fill the glass in front of him. “As a rule, he isn’t sober by this time of day. In another hour or so, he might not even be coherent.”
“Then we’d better talk to him now,” said Dawn. “Thanks, Mr…?”
“Percival. Brian Percival, at your service.”
“Thanks again,” said Dawn, who tugged at Xander’s sleeve and headed for the booth in the corner.
“That’s the guy who left the note,” whispered Xander.
“I know,” she whispered back.
Jeff and Lorinda stayed behind. “Mr. Percival?”
“Yes? And you are?”
“Sorry. Jeff Lindquist. This is Lorinda Sheparton.”
Percival bowed. “A genuine pleasure, my dear.”
“Thank you very much, sir.”
“Mr. Percival?” asked Jeff.
“What happened to your friend? Do you know?”
“Not precisely, no. Last summer, he and some friends came to St. David to do some scuba diving in local waters.” He shrugged indulgently. “Treasure hunters, most likely. The lure of gold and jewels.”
“And you already knew him?”
“Heavens, no. I merely rented him a boat. Then, one evening, he and his companions returned quite upset. Insisting upon a most extraordinary tale.”
“Really?” Jeff tilted his head. “How extraordinary?”
Countryside – Dawn
The red-haired Lorinda was riding a horse. She wore the clothes of a man and beside her, riding his own horse, was the young blonde man with the short beard. As they topped a hill in the growing light, he stopped and dismounted. She followed suit.
“There,” he said, pointing. Perhaps a mile away, off a stretch of beach a few yards from where they stood, a ship lay in anchor. “I renamed her.”
“What was it before?”
“She was the Acheron. At least, that’s what the royal navy named her when she was theirs. After that, she was the Jagged Bay. From today on, she’s Lorinda’s Kiss.” He beamed at her.
With a grin, she leaned over and pressed her lips against his.
Then both of them looked at Shannon.
“You’d better wake up and check your cell phone. Now,” said Lorinda.
Hotel Room – Day
Shannon woke up. With a shake of her head, she sat up in bed. “This is getting weirder and weirder.”
On a small table across the room lay her cell phone. Hesitating for just a second or two, she walked over. Opened it. After a glance at the display, she pressed a button and put the phone to her ear.
“Shannon,” said Dawn’s voice, “I know you need your sleep. And also I’m kinda hoping that you get another slayer dream that’ll point us in a specific direction. But meanwhile, the rest of us are on the way to a bar…”
Her eyes got a little wider at that.
Davey Jones’s Locker Room – Later
Underwood looked at the four of them – Jeff, Lorinda, Dawn and Xander – with bloodshot eyes. He licked his lips. “We were trying to get away from all the hype.”
“Hype?” asked Dawn.
“Yeah.” Underwood nodded. “Wedding of the Century and all. So we went diving. Little island west of here. Looks like a Pac-Man on the map. You ever play Pac-Man? That’s a fun game. Scary, though.”
“So,” prodded Xander, “you were diving. And…?”
He nodded again. “We thought we found a ship. Only we couldn’t have. It was in too good condition. Pristine, like. Just there, a few hundred yards off the mouth. Well, two hundred. Maybe a hundred fifty. But more than a hundred, I’m sure of that!” He paused. “I think.”
“Can I threaten him?” whispered Lorinda to Jeff. “Please?”
“Keep your eye on Percival,” was his whispered answer. Obediently, but reluctantly, she turned her gaze over to the bar. The older man sat there, a fluted glass in his hand, and looked right back at her. He lifted the glass to her in a salute.
“So, what about this ship you found?” Dawn asked.
“I mean,” Underwood said, shaking his head, “it looked like it’d sunk a couple of minutes ago. A big old frigate-sized sailing ship – perfect condition! Not even any holes or stuff. And then…then…” He looked off into nowhere. His lip trembled.
“And then?” Dawn managed to sound desperate and gentle at the same time.
“It…rose up.” Underwood blinked as he said it. “Like a freakin’ submarine! That’s not possible, is it? Is it?”
From outside, on the street, there came screams. All five of the people in the booth looked at the door. Near it, Percival just sipped his drink.
“Yep,” said Lorinda, “it’s a trap.” She said it in a fairly loud voice, and slipped out of the booth. Dawn and Jeff followed suit.
Percival smiled. “When did you know?”
“The name was a giveaway,” said Jeff. “People have been calling me Harry Potter for years. Since you took a couple of Dumbledore’s names, you’re a magic-user, right?”
He nodded. “Robert Merrick, at your service.” His eyes focused on Lorinda. “This has turned out so much better than I’d hoped. The Council was sure to send a team, and my plan was to simply kill them. They’d send another, then another, until finally someone would put the clues together.” He smiled. “But they did it right off. How marvelous!”
“Slayers aren’t that easy to kill,” said Lorinda.
“Very true,” said Merrick-Percival. “But then, you’re the one person I don’t want to kill. Oh, no, not for all the world.”
With a bang, the door to the street burst open. Several figures strode in. The flesh on their bones looked rotten, as if each had been dead for years and imperfectly preserved. Each wore antique clothes, and carried a cutlass. Not surprisingly the other customers, who had followed the exchange until now with puzzlement, started to panic. Most headed for the back door. Some got under their tables.
“Zombie pirates,” said Xander. “When was the last time we faced zombie pirates?”
“You never did,” said Lorinda.
“No,” he admitted. “But I’m trying to sound blasé, do you mind?”
Merrick-Percival pointed to Lorinda. The zombie pirates advanced. Behind them, he made a gesture and a glowing ball appeared in each hand.
“Oh god, not again! Not again!” screamed Underwood, covering his head.
End of Act Three