Act 4

Fade In:
School Hallway – Moments Later

What sounded like thunder and looked like electrical arcs echoed through the hallways of the school. Flashes of green and red lit up the space, while half the electric light fixtures exploded in sparks.

Felix dragged Jeff and Hope around the corner. Less than a second later, Willow followed, with Faith hovering at her side.

“A forbidding! Now!” Willow yelled. Jeff and Hope instantly each took one of Willow’s hands. They raised their arms at the curve of the hallway behind them, and began to chant.

Nellus enim aggredior
Nellus enim aggredior
Nellus enim aggredior”

After a few moments, their words became mist, swirling in counter-clockwise circles from their mouths. The mist was pale blue. It began to join and form what resembled a membrane.

“Nellus enim aggredior
Nellus enim aggredior
Nellus enim aggredior”

The spider creature, nearly ten feet tall and fifteen wide, turned the corner. Six hairy legs moved in a slow undulation that nevertheless brought her quickly forward. She drew up short at the membrane, less than a yard from the three witches, still chanting. The demon tilted her head, lifting one long leg and tapping the membrane.

“Nellus enim aggredior”

She jumped back when tiny sparks jumped at the spot where the tip of her leg had touched the membrane. Willow, Jeff and Hope continued chanting. Their eyes, focused on the spider creature towering above them, didn’t blink. But sweat poured from their faces.

“Nellus enim aggredior
Nellus enim aggredior
Nellus enim aggredior
Nellus enim aggredior
Nellus enim aggredior”

Behind them, Felix and Faith watched and waited. Both had started to breathe deeply and loudly.

“Nellus enim aggredior”

The spider demon smiled at the five facing her. The smile was the shape of a human smile, with a few additional details, such as the gleaming fangs. But behind the smile, behind the eyes, there was nothing even remotely human. Or mortal. Her eyes glimmered, not in fierceness, but in something like amusement. Something like it, but not. It was too alien and ancient. She laughed, or a sound akin to laughter, and began to turn around. The non-laughter continued as she made her way back the way she came.

“Nellus enim aggredior
Nellus enim aggredior
Nellus enim aggredior”

The chant continued for several seconds after the Creature turned back along the corridor. All three faltered and stopped within a few seconds of each other. With that, the membrane flickered. Hope shuddered, closing her eyes. Jeff sank to his knees. Willow started taking deep breaths.

“Those forbiddings,” she wheezed, “take a lot out of ya’.”

“That was Abaddon, I take it?” Faith asked after several moments.

Felix nodded. “The Devourer of Nations, according to some accounts. Odd how it seemed to know your name.”

Faith shrugged. “I’ve got a rep.”

“But that thing’s been sealed in amber for like a thousand years,” Willow said.

“My rep is that good? Maybe?”

“I think it more likely,” said Felix, “that whoever has been converted into Abaddon’s host knows you. A Fallen Angel is bound to flesh, or at least this one was, but has none of its own. Originally, it was made a spider, and that governs its form. But to be more than a spider, albeit an immortal one, Abaddon must consume some other host.”

“You are so channeling Giles right now,” Faith muttered.

“Jeff?” Hope was kneeling beside him. He was still on his knees and shuddering. Suddenly, he vomited onto the floor.

“What’s wrong?” Willow, ashen-faced, turned to him.

“Got a glimpse,” said Jeff, “…what it might do, what it wants” He sounded weak. At his side, Hope held his shoulders. “I saw webs…” he continued, “covering the city. Then all cities. People wrapped in them, in the webs, writhing, trying to get free. Thousands. Millions. Then…some of them started to change. Sprouting legs like, well, like it. And eating the others. Everyone screamed. Everyone. And it laughed.”

The five of them looked at each other.

“Devourer,” Felix whispered. “Literally. And if anyone is interested, I just checked – my cell phone is no longer working.”

Faith pulled out hers and pressed a button. After listening for a moment, she cursed.

“Presumably, Abaddon would rather we remain incommunicado,” Felix said.

“What about the scroll?” Hope asked.

“Back in the classroom,” said Jeff. He’d taken out a handkerchief to wipe his mouth. “Should have thought to grab it…I’m sorry.”

“Not your fault,” said Willow. “That thing moved so fast. And the magicks, not exactly minor league.”

“We need to get that scroll,” Felix said.

“Yeah? And then what?” Faith demanded.

“Then one of us says Abaddon’s true name, destroying its mortal frame and trapping it again. Hopefully forever.” Felix did not blink.

“And who says the name? Huh? Because whoever does is history. Right?”

“Respectfully, Miss Lehane, that is not the point. We need to prevent the future Jeff saw, by whatever means necessary. Whatever means at all!”

“We can go around,” Hope suggested, “out the far exit, and then to the window of the classroom.”

“The windows were sealed shut,” Felix said.

“Then we break them!”

“No,” said Faith. “Forward. We go the way we came.”

“Uh, Faith?” Willow’s eyes were huge. “Are you, kinda sorta, nuts?”

“That’ll be the one way it won’t expect us to go!”

“Good thinking,” Felix said.

“Really?” Hope blinked.

“Or we could split up, each going a different route. Then one of us is bound to make it to the scroll. Or at least many times more likely,” Felix said.

Everyone considered this for a split second.

“I’m going with Felix,” said Willow. “Faith, you go with Jeff and Hope.”

“Hey!” said Faith.

“Two groups. Two magical backups. No offense, but I’m worth both of them in a magic fight.”

“Yeah, that’s true,” Jeff said, getting to his feet.

“Okay,” said Faith, “then I’m going with you.”

“Will you stop arguing!”

“Faith,” Hope hissed, “for God’s sake, let’s go. We haven’t got that much time!”

“Jason?” said Willow. “Come on.”

With a nod, Felix followed Willow the way Abaddon had gone. Faith stared after them with burning eyes for a full second. Then, she turned around and started sprinting in the opposite direction. “Come on!”

Cut To:
Another School Hallway – Moments Later

Felix held his taser in one hand, and had pulled out a pistol with the other. As he advanced, he looked in each direction with each step. Willow, at his side, lifted an eyebrow.

“Ya think either one of those is gonna do much good?”

He shrugged. “If bee stings are the only weapon at hand, and flight is not an option –”

“I thought I was supposed to be the weapon.”

“And, if need be, perhaps I can help with these. To distract, if nothing else. Hopefully, the need won’t arise.”

“I hope you’re right.”

They advanced in the darkened hall.

Cut To:
School – Later that Night

For blocks around, lights were out. Even the streetlamps no longer gave any hint of illumination, having become shadows. Above, the full moon shone. Stars glittered, but for dozens of yards in every direction, no other light could be seen. A few sirens wailed in the distance.

Faith was already sprinting around the side of the school when she turned around to see Jeff and Hope trying to catch up. She slowed down.

“Jeez, hurry!”

“We’re not Slayers!” panted Hope. Jeff was gasping for breath beside her.

“Catch up when you can,” Faith said, running forward. She was soon out of sight.

“Get your breath,” Jeff said.

“Is there…” said Hope, between gasps, “any other way to get rid of Abaddon?”

He sighed. “Maybe. But we’re running out of time.”

“You see that?”

Jeff nodded. “Those webs…I can see them clearer and clearer. And the screams are getting louder.” He shook his head, blinking hard. “Don’t worry.”

“Why not? Jeff? Why not?”

Gunshots rang out from a few yards away, in the direction Faith had run.

“Dammit,” Jeff swore. He grabbed Hope’s hand and they both ran as fast as they could.

Cut To:
School – Same Time

Faith didn’t actually fly. She fell in an arc out the broken window, landing on the soft grass between the school and sidewalk. Slowly, she began to rise from the ground.

As Jeff and Hope ran up, they could see Felix through the broken window. Pistol in hand, he was firing it at a moving shape, something much too large to be human.

“Enflame!” Jeff waved a fist at the shape through the window. As he opened his fist, a ball of fire shot from his palm. It headed directly into the window, and a tiny shriek was heard from inside.

“Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael…” intoned Hope. “Grant us your protect –” She didn’t finish, because what looked like a green bolt of lightning shot from inside the school at both of them. Jeff and Hope screamed in pain as they were hurled backwards.

Meanwhile, Faith managed to get to her feet. She crouched, then jumped up to the window again.

Immediately, another green bolt knocked her backwards.

Cut To:
Classroom – Same Time

Abaddon chuckled, her taloned hand still glowing an eldritch green.

She looked to her right. Felix was on the ground, wrapping a belt around his forearm, from which blood flowed like a fountain. The sleeve of his coat and shirt were ripped. His gun lay on the floor yards away.

Then she looked down.

In her front two legs was a figure, wrapped in the beginning of a silk cocoon. Willow was trying to move, to speak, but nothing came out of her mouth. Her eyes looked unfocused, and her face was pale in the dim light.

“You will do,” said Abaddon, in a voice halfway between a cackle and a hiss. She hurled another green lightning bolt into the ceiling. A gaping hole appeared with a crash, creating a cloud of plaster. With a great leap, the spider demon left the room, Willow still in her grasp. The clatter of her legs faded.

Felix finished tying his tourniquet, using his teeth to tighten it. Sweat gleamed across his forehead with the effort. Taking deep, fast breaths, he examined the mangled flesh of his arm and watched as the blood flow eased after the initial spurt caused by his tightening. A large chair lay upended two yards from him. He got on his knees, and managed to fall and crawl over to the chair. He used it as an aid to rise. Almost standing, he looked around the room. He reached with his left hand for a penlight in his inside pocket, then began sweeping the room with his tiny flashlight’s beam.

He didn’t stop, even as the sound of Faith coming through the broken window came from behind him.

“Where’s Willow? And where’s the demon?” Faith’s voice was ragged.

“Somewhere on the second floor, both of them,” answered Felix, still searching with his tiny light.

Faith considered for a moment. “There are axes next to the fire extinguishers.”

“Won’t work,” said Felix. “Abaddon shrugged off armor-piercing rounds. An axe would be equally ineffective. We need the scroll.”

“She would have destroyed that!”

He shook his head. “She didn’t even know what it was. How could she? No, she got what she wanted.”

By now, Hope was crawling up through the broken window, helped by Jeff. “What happened?”

“That thing…took Willow,” Faith almost snarled, eyes fixed on Felix. “Got what she wanted? Which means what?”

Felix sagged. Grimacing, he spoke in a low voice. “Hope, take my light. Find the scroll.”

She obediently took the tiny flashlight from his hand.

“Jeff, you help,” Faith ordered. She still stared at Felix, who was sinking into a chair. “And what did you mean, she got what she wanted?”

Felix looked up at her, then at both Jeff and Hope. When he spoke, a tiny fleck of blood appeared on his lips. 

“Abaddon is limited by its flesh. That is why it wasn’t content to remain a spider. It needed a human form, the stronger the better. Odds are it simply infected the first suitable person it could find. But Miss Rosenberg, she would be a much better host, a more powerful one. We never had much time. Now Willow has even less.” His face was pale and his eyes shone. “Faith, lure it back here. That is vital. Absolutely vital. Any means necessary. I’ll be waiting with the scroll, as soon as we find it.”

Hope audibly gasped. “Jason, no.”

Felix almost smiled. “I am the eldest here. My wife and child are gone. It is logical.” He looked at Jeff. “Haven’t you found it yet?”

“No,” Jeff said, poring over the debris in the room.

“I suggest you hurry,” said Felix.

All the while Faith stared at Felix, her face a mask. Both hands had become fists. Her mouth was set.

“We can’t wait,” declared Hope, standing absolutely still, but not looking at anyone. And then she met Faith’s eyes. “You and me. We need to go together and lure Abaddon back here.”

“I’ll bite,” Faith said, expressionless. “Why us?”

“You’re a slayer. I have magic. Jeff has the best chance of finding the scroll.” Faith hesitated. “We don’t have time!” yelled Hope, after a second or two. “I think I can find Willow. I can sense magic sometimes, and I can feel something in that direction.” She pointed up and to the left. “The old bell tower? Somewhere dark, secluded. Perfect lair for a giant spider demon looking to work a ritual. But we have to go! Now!”

Faith waited a fraction of a second, then nodded.

Hope handed Jeff her flashlight. Then she put both hands on his face to pull him into a kiss.

“Come on!” Faith yelled.

As she broke the kiss, Hope said, “Love you.” Then she hurried out the door after her sister.

Jeff stared after them for several moments. Felix spoke, “We still need the scroll.”

With a nod, Jeff swept the floor with the beam of light. “I should be able to ‘see’ something like that. But the future of Abaddon’s victory pushes everything out of the way.” He said this in a low, intense voice. “It’s like trying to find a song someone’s singing with a Beethoven symphony playing at full blast.” He shook his head, as if to clear it. “If I can just concentrate, filter it out…”

Jeff took a very deep breath. Standing with feet apart, hands at the side, he closed his eyes. He leaned his head back, exhaled, took a deeper, slower breath and let it out. Then he raised his hands, palms out.

“Show me,” he whispered, to nothing and everything. “I beg. Show me.”

Cut To:
School Hallway – Moments Later

“This way,” said Hope. She walked at a fair clip, headed for the staircase at the far end.

“Just follow my lead,” Faith almost snarled. Hope gave a laugh. “What?”

“Nothing. Just thinking about stuff.”

“Don’t think, just hurry.”

“Can’t help it,” said Hope, almost without taking a breath. “I keep running through all that’s happened, y’know? Book reports. Ravens games. You running away, and me getting a job at the Doublemeat Palace when Dad got sick. I hated that job. But I liked some of the people I worked with. You like the people at the Council, don’t you Faith?”

“Yeah, whatever.”

“Me, too. The ones I got to know, anyway. Some of them. ‘Course I’m a lot closer to Lori. You know what’s really funny? I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to like Lorinda.” She laughed again. “Never thought either one of us would ever come back here. Especially like this. I think God must have a pretty weird sense of humor. Guess that would go with the job, huh? I wish…well, never mind.”

Faith stopped and grabbed Hope by the arms. “For God’s sake” Faith hissed, “come apart on your own time! Just get me to where Willow is, and I’ll let you hide, okay? Hold it together until then – just until then! You hear me?” Her eyes almost blazed.

And Hope just looked back into them, calm. “I hear you,” she said, voice faint.




“I’m sorry.”

There was a slight flash, a buzzing sound and the faint smell of ozone. Faith shuddered violently and fell to the floor. Her head even bounced as she struck. Lying there, gasping for breath, she looked up.

Hope’s hand, at waist level, still held the taser.

Faith stared and tried to move her mouth. She managed to strangle out a word. “What…?”

“I’m sorry, Faith.” Hope’s face held almost no expression at all. “I’m sorry.”

On the floor, Faith started to move her arms and legs. She couldn’t quite manage to coordinate them yet. But Hope knelt and applied the taser again to Faith on the leg, and Faith spasmed, her back arching and jaw clenching.

Then Hope turned and ran.

Cut To:
Bell Tower – Night

The room had been filled with dust and refuse. It still held all those things, but webs obscured them now. They were huge, almost rope-like webs that covered the walls and coated the ceiling.

Abaddon inched forward on her six legs, arms still weaving in sympathetic motion. The human torso rising from the hairy, black spider body was much too pale to be human. She – or it – smiled.

Hanging from the ceiling was something like a cocoon. Composed entirely of the same webbing that cluttered the room, it was easily big enough to hold an adult human being. That it did so was obvious. Willow’s face had been left uncovered, and her moving eyes testified to the fact she was still conscious and aware of everything that was happening.

“You will be a fine host,” purred Abaddon, approaching Willow. “My current host knows so much about you. She read so many things, so many interesting things.” The fanged mouth smiled as she neared Willow. From within the web, Willow twitched. “Your power will be added to my own. And I believe I will allow a part of you to remain, enough to feel, to perceive what I am doing. You should thank me. How many mothers, after all, have the exquisite pleasure of tasting their children’s flesh? Of hearing their screams as our fangs rend into them?” Now Abaddon leaned even closer. Willow’s eyes had gone huge. “As a special treat, I will make sure your lover is present to watch. My venom can keep her alive a long time, a very long time. Time enough to witness many a feast. All your friends. All your loved ones. Ohhhh!” Abaddon seemed delighted. “Tears!”

Sure enough, Willow’s eyes had become wet. As a single tear began to fall from her eye, Abaddon reached forward and licked it off her cheek.

“The wine of suffering,” said Abaddon. “The only wine, as you soon will know. Go ahead, deny it all you like. Believe me…” and now her face went strangely still, and even more strangely sad. “I know. I know very, very well.”

But her reverie ended. From the far end of the room, an echo of footsteps could be heard. Abaddon spun around with surprising speed.

“Now, who could this be?”

In another few moments, Hope appeared. She trembled as she reached the top of the stairs and saw the contents of the room.

“Oh, how sweet,” said Abaddon. “The Slayer’s sister. Poor little girl. Such a sad family. And such a cruel name.”

“I used to think that,” Hope said, not taking another step. “Not anymore.”

“Maybe we can change your mind.” Abaddon’s smile held millennia of hatred and suffering. She began to advance toward Hope.

Hope pulled something from her pocket.

Cut To:
School Hallway – Same Time

Faith staggered in the direction of the staircase. She was leaning against the wall, but still managed to move forward. Each ragged breath seemed to give her a tiny boost of strength.

“Faith!” She looked behind her.

Jeff was running towards her. “Hope…where is she?”

“Ran…away…” Faith managed to say. “Gotta…”

But he interrupted her. “She has the scroll!” he yelled. “Where did she go?

At that, Faith stopped short. Her jaw dropped and she stared at Jeff.

“Where is she?” Jeff looked terrified.

Before Faith could say a word, the building rocked. For a moment, it was as if a gigantic hammer had struck the school on one side. Faith and Jeff fell to the floor. It was followed by a high-pitched scream. The scream was like that of a whale, or maybe some kind of huge cat, or perhaps a titanic bird. Or maybe all of these. It hardly mattered, as the scream grew louder than any voice could possibly achieve. Jeff and Faith both covered their ears. Glass from a nearby trophy case shattered, spraying the hallway with tiny shards. Faith covered her head and curled up into a ball.

From the staircase a few yards away, a green glow emanated from somewhere on a higher floor. It looked anything but natural, casting bizarre shadows that resembled humans writhing in agony, as well as various animals running or rearing up. The glow subsided in less than two seconds.

At the same time, the scream faded. Within a few more seconds, it had become little more than an echo.

Faith looked up. Fresh debris littered the hallway. Bits of glass fell from her hair. She looked over at Jeff, who was raising his head. Little cuts dotted his face. His eyes held nothing but fear.

Cut To:
Watchers Council – Days Later

“I stand before the Headquarters of the Watchers Council,” a man said into a microphone, “on the day when they bury one of their own. Sadly, this is far from the first time the Council has had to do so, and no one believes it will be the last. But this death is perhaps more painful than some, or at least the pain is of a different order. For one thing, the young lady being laid to rest today feels something like family. Hope Lehane was not only the sister of Faith Lehane, arguably the most famous slayer in the world, but she was also, in a sense, one of us. Unlike her sibling, Hope had no official calling to defend the world. She was no slayer, or even a watcher per se. Rather she was a volunteer, bound to this group of heroes, not by destiny, but by choice, and by ties of love. And like many who, for one reason or another, offer to defend the rest of us, she walked into harm’s way once too often.”

The cameraman kept his lens aimed at the reporter, but made a thumb’s up gesture.

“And amid all the personal tragedy is controversy. The Archdiocese of Boston is demanding answers in the wake of the near-destruction of Crown of Thorns Catholic Girls’ School. More, it and the Catholic Church in general have united in condemning the decision by Faith Lehane to take her sister off life support, arguing that this amounted to legalized murder. Of course, Hope Lehane’s doctor, as well as a team of physicians, testified that she had suffered massive, irreversible brain damage, as evidenced by the fact Hope reportedly lived less than two minutes once the machines were disconnected. Despite this, Congresswoman Autumn O’Mara has promised to hold hearings to look into the policies of the Watchers Council, especially regarding the fact that so many teenage girls continue to suffer violent deaths on missions organized by the Council.”

Cut To:
Watchers Council – Hallway – Day

Dr. Miller walked with Rowena, wearing all black. “The venom is still having a few side effects,” he said in a low whisper, “but nothing threatening, as far as I can tell. The hair growth is a little startling, but that seems to have reached an equilibrium.”

Rowena nodded. “And she can eat cheese again.”

“Good. I’d like to give her another transfusion tomorrow, just to be on the safe side.”

“Do you mind if we wait until later to tell her that?”

“Not at all.”

From a nearby door, Willow emerged, a somber Xander at her side. Both wore dark, formal clothes. Rowena parted from Dr. Miller with a smile, then went up to Willow, winding their arms together. All three nodded to the doctor, then headed down the hall to the elevator.

“Can we talk?” Dr. Miller turned around. Faith, also in dark clothes, stood a few feet away.

“Of course,” he answered. He didn’t quite bow, but his eyes remained veiled. “We don’t have a great deal of time. If you would rather wait until after the service…”

Faith stepped toward him, drawing up to within six inches, but not meeting his eyes. Several seconds passed. “Thanks for testifying.”

“It was my duty.”

“Yeah. Well, thanks anyway.” Faith didn’t move. “You wanted to talk to me?” she asked, seconds later. “About Hope? At least, that’s what it seemed like.”

“That was probably inappropriate, actually,” he said. “There were some issues involving her medical history. It…” He hesitated. “It’s perhaps better that I not ask.”

Faith remained where she was, but now looked directly into his face. Her face looked pale. “Her fingers?”

Dr. Miller’s mouth twisted. “Since you mention it.”

She nodded, but said nothing. She only licked her dry lips.

“It is rare,” the doctor said, voice low, “to see a broken ring finger. Of all the fingers, it is least likely to be broken, just because of its location. Multiple fractures of both ring fingers, in precisely the same place, is more than rare. The fractures, they must have happened within months of one another, when Hope was in her pre or early teens.”

“We both were,” said Faith. Her lips hardly moved.

“Yet your bones show no such damage. And while your healing does indeed speed recovery, it does not hide trauma, nor remove scars, nor take away the signs of broken bones.” He spoke in a near-monotone, his eyes on Faith’s face. When she didn’t say anything more, he asked, “Did your father torture Hope?”

Faith shook her head. “No, well, yeah, but not that time.” It took a few moments for her to speak again. “It was me. I hurt her. I was twelve.”

“And how old was she?”

She shook her head. “Younger. She was my kid sister. I was supposed to protect her. Our dad, he…” Her voice caught. “I was supposed to protect her, but I ended up doing the opposite,” she finished.

“Did you have your powers then?”

“Not yet. That didn’t happen ’til just later. After that slayer Kendra died.”

“But still, you were a potential. Even if you didn’t understand that at the time, you must now. That carried with it a predisposition for violence.”

“All I knew was, I was angry all the time. My watcher, Rosa, she…didn’t know, not about everything. But she tried to help. Too late.” Faith bowed her head. When she raised it again, her eyes were wet. “I should have done it to him. But he was so big. It was us against him. He was the one who…” She stopped herself. Tossed her head slightly. “I got mad. She was being real bratty and I…it felt good.” Her voice sounded far, far away. “At least for a few minutes.”

“I’m assuming it didn’t stop there?” Dr. Miller said this gently.

“I went on to bigger and badder things,” she answered. The words flowed, but not smoothly. Instead, they sputtered. “One mess after another. After our mom died, it was the two of us against the world. Then it was just the two of us in the same place. Alone, except for our dad. Everybody snarling at everybody else. Then – after – it got a lot worse. A lot. But then it stopped.”

“What changed?” Miller asked.

“Rosa, for one. After my mom died, I didn’t think I’d ever have someone like that in my life – y’know, a mom figure. It’s kinda like B and Giles. Her dad bolted and didn’t look back, but Giles was there, giving advice, being a surrogate dad, well, kinda…I had that with Rosa – someone stable, who really did care about what happened to me…But then I lost her, too…” Faith then got quiet again.

Miller cleared his throat. “You said ‘for one.’ What’s the other reason?”

“Norman,” Faith answered firmly. “Just minutes after I had him, I remembered Hope as a baby. My mom put her in my arms and told me I was the big sister and she needed me to look out for her. Funny. That’s one of the earliest memories I have. But I lost sight of that somewhere when I…” Faith gave a little snort. “No wonder she tried to kill me.”

“Most abusers don’t stop, you know,” said the doctor. “I’m not excusing what you did, Faith, but the fact is you were extremely young, dealing with issues many adults would find unbearable. You made a choice, a terrible choice, but then you made another, a wise and compassionate one.”

Moments later, she looked directly into Dr. Miller’s eyes again. “She said…she said she was sorry. I didn’t. I never said it.”

The silence stretched on.

“I never said it,” was all Faith said as she turned to go.

Fade to Black

End of Webs We Weave


Next on Watchers…

Still reeling from the death of her sister, Faith received another blow when a tell-all book about her life tops the best-seller lists. But then things get even more complicated…