Watchers Council – Observation Room – Night
“Am I in trouble?” Faith called out. “‘Cause this is a weird police station. Don’t I get, like, a lawyer…or at least some donuts?”
Those in the antechamber of the Council’s Interrogation Room could hear her through the one-way tinted glass. Faith was alone in the room, but several people were crammed into the small area on the other side of the glass. Rowena and Willow were there, along with Kennedy, Xander and Lori. And Robin.
“I’m sorry to wake you up,” Rowena said to Robin. “It just…it seemed like you would want to know.”
He nodded, but said nothing.
“It’s the same as Mr. Zatopek,” Willow offered. “The non-magic of it, that is. Is there a demon…?”
“Not that I know of off the top of my head,” Rowena said. “We’ve woken up the whole crew and we have them drinking the coffee and researching down in the library, but there’s nothing yet.”
“If you think about it,” Xander put in, “if there is an amnesia demon, then everybody who saw it probably forgot what it looks like, so…” He caught the look Kennedy was shooting him. “Not to be negative or anything.”
“Well,” Lori sighed, scratching the back of her head, “this kinda throws a wrench in things. We need to start on contingencies. Obviously, Kennedy’ll be Head Slayer until we can –”
“It’s okay,” Robin said suddenly. “I’m sure she just got knocked on the head. If I just go in there and she sees me, I’m sure this will all clear up for her like that.” He snapped his fingers.
Willow pursed her lips. “Robin, I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t want you to…”
Robin cut her off. “Really, it’s fine. Let me take care of this.”
Watchers Council – Interrogation Room – Moments Later
There was no look of recognition on Faith’s face when Robin entered the room, and he knew it right away. He looked sad, but not really surprised.
“Oh, hey, another one,” Faith cajoled. “Look, you need to go back out there and tell them that if I don’t start getting some answers here, there’s going to be some kind of lawsuit.”
Robin sighed and sat down across from her. He set a folder on the table and deftly fished his cell phone out of his pocket. “Sure. If you can tell me the name of your attorney, I’ll call him right now.”
Watchers Council – Observation Room – Same Time
“What’s he doing?” Kennedy asked. “This wasn’t the plan!”
Xander put out an arm. “Let him go.”
Watchers Council – Interrogation Room – Same Time
Faith opened her mouth, but couldn’t come up with anything. She seemed surprised.
“Can you tell me your name?” Robin asked.
There was a long pause, and Faith looked genuinely, openly scared. Robin blinked a few times, not used to seeing her like this. Finally, Faith closed her mouth tightly and shook her head. Robin nodded.
“Your name is Faith,” he said softly. Then he cleared his throat. “Faith Lehane. You appear to have some kind of amnesia, but I can assure you, you’re among friends here. No one is going to harm you.”
“Yeah, okay, amnesia,” Faith nodded hurriedly. “That makes sense, a kinda sense, right? Why?”
“I’m sorry?” Robin was surprised when she tacked the last question on the end.
“Why do I have amnesia?” Faith pressed. “Was I in a car crash? Was there, like, a chemical spill?”
“We’re still working on that,” Robin said. Faith did not seem comforted.
He leaned forward across the table, toward Faith. “Again, you have no reason to be afraid. We’re all your friends here. You are completely safe, and we will fix this. You have my word on that. You – the you with your memories, that is – feel completely at home here. You live here.”
“I live in a police station?”
Robin opened the folder on the desk. “Faith, I think that maybe you’ll feel better if you take a few moments and –”
“We know each other, right?” Faith asked. Robin looked up to see her big brown eyes giving him the once-over. “You think it’s weird, seeing me like this,” she said. “It’s okay. It’s weird for me, too.”
Robin tried to force a smile. “Yes, we know each other.”
He nodded, avoiding Faith’s eyes.
Faith snorted. “We’re not, like, involved, are we? ‘Cause that would just be awkward.” She waited, but received only meaningful silence from Robin. When she continued, she sounded much more serious. “Look, I’m sorry, I’m sure you’re great, I just, y’know, don’t go jumping into bed with guys I just met. It’s not my style.”
Robin couldn’t help laughing at that one.
“What?” Faith asked. When he couldn’t stop laughing, she asked again, more serious this time. “What?”
Robin just couldn’t control himself and eventually doubled over. He attempted an “I’m sorry,” but it didn’t really come out right.
“I don’t see what’s so funny!” Faith yelled. She slammed a hand down on the table in protest. This silenced Robin immediately. There was a loud cracking noise, and all of a sudden the table fell into two halves. Faith jumped out of her chair and ended up with her back to the wall, while Robin stayed where he was, one shin caught under the fallen table.
“Oh God, your leg is crushed” she noticed, her voice hollow.
“That’s okay,” Robin told her. “I have spares.”
“Right,” Faith nodded. A beat. Then, “What?”
Rowena opened the door to the interrogation room. Both Robin and Faith turned to look at her.
“Is everything okay in here?” she asked.
“Yes,” Robin said.
“No,” Faith said. “Who the hell are you?”
Rowena bit her lip and stayed in the doorway.
“And what just happened?” Faith pointed to the two halves of the table.
Robin sighed. “Yeah. That kinda brings us to the other thing.”
Watchers Council – Kennedy’s Apartment – Later that Night
“So, um…any questions?” Kennedy asked nervously. She and Faith sat sitting on opposite ends of her overstuffed couch, Marsha curled up lazily between them. Kennedy absent-mindedly scratched Marsha under her chin, drawing long, slow purrs from the dragon. Faith occasionally stole nervous glances in the creature’s direction.
At Kennedy’s question, Faith furrowed her brow and licked her lips. “Okay,” she said, “I’m just gonna sum up here, to make sure I have this straight. I’m a superhero.”
Kennedy nodded. “Yeah, basically.”
“And so are you.”
“And we fight bad guys and monsters with magic and swords and attitude.”
“And I’m famous.”
“And smoking hot.”
“And that’s a dragon.”
Both Kennedy and Marsha nodded.
“So I have to ask…is there going to be a catch at some point?” Faith had a huge grin on her face.
Kennedy looked down at Marsha as she continued to scratch under the dragon’s chin. “Well, there’s the life and death stuff. Every day, all the time. It can get stressful.”
“I get that,” Faith said, her tone more serious. “I do. It doesn’t quite explain all the dire around here, though.”
“You noticed that, huh?” There was a ghost of a smile on Kennedy’s face. She looked up at the clock. “It’s nearly morning. Your next tests aren’t scheduled for a while. Why don’t you try and get some sleep?”
Faith shook her head vigorously. “I couldn’t. I’m too wired. Are you hungry? You seem nice. If you’re hungry, we could get some food and you could tell me all about…me.”
Kennedy shrugged. “I could eat.”
Faith ran her hands through her hair and did a little shiver, a bundle of energy. “I kinda feel like I just woke up, y’know, after pulling a Rip van Winkle. Does that make sense?”
Kennedy looked at her, something different in her eyes. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“You know what’s weird?” Faith continued. “Rip van Winkle seems normal to me, but my own name sounds weird. Faith. That’s an idea, not a name.” Kennedy saw the light bulb go off above Faith’s head. “Hey, I sound smart. Am I smart, too? I bet I am.”
Kennedy couldn’t help but grin.
California – Tres Rios Dam – Morning
The pink rays of sunrise reflected double in the wide, calm reservoir, but the calm was disturbed by a thumping sound, growing ever louder. After a moment, the source of the noise came into view, first its reflection, then the helicopter itself. It swept over the reservoir and hovered briefly above the tall, tan concrete expanse of the massive Tres Rios Dam. A dizzying drop below, a wild-looking river poured from the dam.
The helicopter set down on a helipad carved into one of the tall red bluffs on either side of the dam, its blades beginning to slow. A mustachioed man wearing a white collared shirt, red tie and yellow hard hat waited on the pad.
The door to the helicopter slid open and Amira hopped out, followed by Mia, Valentine, Hadley and Siobhan.
“Slayer Aziz?” the man called as he walked over.
“Yes,” she said. “We are here to make sure this place does not explode.”
The man glanced over at Mia. “Hey,” she said with a shrug, “you gotta admire the direct approach.
“I’m Joe Ringman,” the man said, shaking Amira’s hand. “We’re thrilled you girls are here.”
Top of Tres Rios Dam – Morning
Ringman led the Council group along the upper edge of the dam, next to the state highway that used the dam as a bridge.
“This place is big,” Hadley said. “Surprisingly big. I wasn’t briefed on the whole bigness factor.”
“It’s twice as tall as Niagara Falls, actually,” Ringman said. “The dam contains more material than all of the Pyramids at Giza combined. It’s the largest power generation facility in the United States and the largest concrete structure in this hemisphere.” He grinned. “I never get tired of giving that speech.”
“The electricity part is what makes it a target, right?” Mia asked. She trailed a hand along the chipped black paint of the safety railing that lined the edge.
“Possibly,” Ringman said. “They say we’re under threat, I listen, but that’s all they really said. Look, Tres Rios is the nerve center of the basic infrastructure in this part of the country. We provide the power for most Southern California, Las Vegas, Arizona…and it’s not just the electricity. Lake Truman, our reservoir, provides the water for all those desert places that don’t have their own. Los Angeles can sprawl as much as it wants because of Tres Rios.”
“Worst case scenario, what happens?” Valentine asked.
“We’re trying to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Ringman replied. He pointed to the nearest bluff. “Missile batteries on either side, sentries 24/7, military patrolling the reservoir and the river, aerial patrols…”
Amira cut him off sternly. “You did not answer her question.” Cars speeding past and the river flowing beneath were the only sounds.
“If Tres Rios fails, it will be impossible for us to provide the basic necessities for cities like L.A., Vegas, Phoenix,” he explained. “It would require a federal relief effort that would make the aftermath of Katrina look like a tea party, and you know how well that worked out. Mass chaos, basically, and not getting better anytime soon. There’s no replacement ready if Tres Rios fails. And that’s taking the wide view. In the short term, a huge area west of here will flood if the dam fails. It’s sparsely populated, but…”
“That doesn’t mean unpopulated,” Siobhan finished.
Mia stared hundreds of feet down to the whitecaps on the churning river beneath. “We should get started, then.” Her voice seemed to come from a thousand miles away.
Meat Packing Plant – Same Time
Huge slabs of meat kept a hulking watch like gargoyles. Among them was arranged a circle of simple of wooden chairs, filled with demons and vampires of every stripe. Sunlight leaked into the room through thick block windows, hastily painted black.
“It’s my belief that the operation is compromised,” said a demon with an incredibly deep voice and completely black skin. “Tres Rios is receiving protection from both the United States military and the Watchers Council.”
“Maybe we should slow things down,” said a demon with leopard spots and fangs. “The Council is divided, the government is chasing its tail, but if we go through with this and it fails, we give them a victory…and if we succeed, we will have only united the enemy against us, nothing else.”
“We will have made the humans suffer,” came a female voice from the shadows. Gold eyes glinted in the dark. “That is our only goal. That is all that is real.”
“With respect, your magnificence,” the leopard-spotted demon continued, “we are making progress. The situation will become destabilized if we continue this escalation at this pace…”
“I wish the situation to become destabilized. I wish to take back from the humans what is rightfully ours!” The woman rose to her feet and out of the shadows. She was beautiful, olive-skinned with black hair. Her eyes glowed gold, she had an ornate black mark on her forehead and around her neck she wore a deep black stone. She turned her attention to the demon with jet black skin. “Pollux, are the Meroi still prepared for their sacrifice?”
He inclined his head. “Yes, your magnificence.”
“Then we proceed as scheduled.”
The leopard-skinned demon opened his mouth to protest. “But –”
“Are you wavering, Jerel?” She slunk towards him, her movements cat-like. Jerel’s eyes darted nervously as she crossed behind him, leaning down and twining her arms sensuously around his neck. Her voice took on a melodic quality, like a dark phantom orchestra.
Her lips were inches from his ear. “Tell me,” she cooed, “who am I?”
“The Voice of Hell,” he replied reverently.
“That is correct,” she told him softly, her fingers caressing his spotted cheeks. The other members of the circle sat in rapt silence. “I am the call in the night. I am the darkness inside your soul, screaming to rip and slash and tear.”
“But the Council –”
“The Council is distracted,” the Voice of Hell said. “They’re too busy running around after a band of politicians to send a real force. The humans do so much of our work for us. Now, Jerel, tell me…do you submit to my will?”
“Yes,” Jerel whispered.
“Do you think of nothing but my desire?”
“Yes.” He choked out the word.
“Excellent,” the Voice of Hell purred, as her fingers closed around Jerel’s neck. She squeezed, and the other demons winced at the squishing and popping sounds that ensued.
A moment later, Jerel’s head rolled across the floor, just another piece of meat. The Voice of Hell stood in the center of the circle. She looked around at the other members of the circle, her voice considerably more chipper. “I hope that concern has been addressed.”
“Your magnificence,” the deep-voiced demon ventured, “how do you know that the politicians will continue to keep the Council distracted?”
She smiled. “It is the nature of the beast. What else can they do?”
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Day
Faith stared at the claustrophobic interior of a CAT scan machine, while Dr. Miller analyzed the read-outs on a computer screen. Robin leaned over his shoulder.
“Anything?” he pressed.
“Well, we’re going to have to do some additional analysis of the data,” Dr. Miller said, “but I’m not seeing anything particularly unusual here.”
“Please, Dr. Miller,” Robin pleaded, “can you give me a little more than that?”
“Her patterns are the same as always…for a slayer, that is. This level of activity would denote a possible problem for an ordinary human, but Faith’s fine.”
“She’s not fine,” Robin told him. “She can’t remember my face!”
“I understand that, Mr. Wood…but I can’t find anything physically wrong with her. But as I said, I’ll confer with an expert to be certain.”
Robin sighed and rubbed his head with one hand. “Okay. I’m sorry. I –”
“I understand,” the doctor replied, cutting him short. “If it was my wife, I’d be scared as hell too right now.”
Robin managed a semi-grin and patted Dr. Miller on the shoulder.
“I’m going to go and check on the watchers,” Robin said, before making his way toward the door.
Watchers Council – Library – Minutes Later
“Anything?” Robin asked Rowena, as she walked past him carrying a huge book. The library was full of watchers hard at work, and decidedly not quiet.
“Not yet,” she said. She sat down at one of the research tables, already piled high with various tomes. “Almost everything we have that is related to memory has to do with magic. Spells. And Willow insists that’s not what happened. Which doesn’t mean I’m ruling it out, but don’t tell her that.”
“You said almost,” Robin pointed out.
Rowena sighed. “Yeah. Markham found one description in a pre-Reformation illuminated manuscript of something that eats people alive…not literally, but figuratively. But I think it might be another metaphor for Satan…that’s pretty much what the rest of the book is, at any rate.”
“But we can’t assume that…I mean, you’re looking into it, right?”
Rowena looked up at Robin and cracked a smile. “Yes. I’ve got Grace scouring the Internet for anything additional on that right now. Look, Robin, this has to be hard for you. We all understand that. We’ll get Faith back.”
Robin let out a long breath. “I know. Thanks for everything…”
“Don’t mention it,” she replied.
“So, what’s next?” he asked. “Where’s your wife?”
“Willow’s on twins duty at the moment,” Rowena said. “We just couldn’t bring ourselves to make Xander change another diaper today. We’re going to have Andrew do another reading on Faith, give us another opinion.”
“Okay. When’s that happening?”
“Right after Faith gets out of her meeting,” Rowena replied.
Robin raised an eyebrow. “What meeting?”
Watchers Council – Buffy’s Office – Day
Buffy shook her head and leaned back in her big official chair. “What am I going to do with you?”
Faith shrugged from the visitor’s seat. “I dunno. I don’t want to be rude or anything, but you seem to be a little young to be the head superhero. And a little blonde.”
“Right,” Buffy sighed. “Look, Faith –”
“Call me Miss Lehane,” Faith said. “Especially since we don’t really know each other that well, or at least I don’t know you. If I’m a superhero, I deserve a little respect.”
Buffy sat up, finally exasperated. “Okay, first of all, you’re Faith. I haven’t called you Miss Lehane since…never. Second of all, we don’t call ourselves superheroes, okay? We’re slayers. That’s what we are. Some of us have done some heroic things, yes, but slayers is less, I don’t know, cocky, I guess, and…easier to say. Plus, it doesn’t bring up images of capes and spandex outfits with large letters on them.”
Faith regarded this woman for a moment. “Fine.”
“What I was going to say was, Faith, you’re a really important part of our whole thing here at the Council, and we need you, and we’re going to work our hardest to get you back,” Buffy nodded hard, once. “That’s what I was going to say.”
“I’m right here,” Faith said. “You don’t need to get me ‘back’.”
“You know what I mean,” Buffy told her, her tone aggravated.
Faith paused. “We really don’t like each other very much, do we?”
Buffy released a sigh. “You want the truth?”
“Not that I’d know if you were lying, but sure.”
“The truth…” Buffy began and then hesitated. “I respect you very much, now…but I did fail you.” Faith’s eyebrows knitted for a moment, questioning. “When we first met, I saw you as a threat, so I kept you at arm’s length…like I did with most people, really. But what you needed at the time was a good friend, a family, like you have now. And if I had done that, if I had included you more, rather than making you feel like an outsider…well, your life might have been different.”
“Uh, interesting…but I’m still not sure if I like you,” Faith said.
Buffy banged her head down onto her desk.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Later that Day
Faith and Andrew sat cross-legged on mats in the center of the Coven Room. He reached out to place his hands on her temples.
“Try to relax,” Andrew told her.
Faith squirmed in place. “I’m not sure I can. This feels weird.”
“Try to think of the nicest place you’ve ever been,” he said.
“But I haven’t been anywhere!” Faith protested. “I don’t remember anything before yesterday.” She looked like she might cry.
Andrew hurriedly reached out a hand and rested it on Faith’s arm. “Okay, okay, that’s fine. Um…where would you like to go?”
“I dunno,” Faith stammered, wiping her nose with the back of her hand. “How about Boston?”
Andrew blinked once, then twice. “Boston?”
“Yeah, I mean, I bet it’s all pretty and historical, aaaand you think I’m the lamest person alive, don’t you?”
“No!” Andrew exclaimed. “That’s great. Let’s go with that.” He reached out again and placed his hands over Faith’s temples. “You’re in Boston, in this nice, pretty historical park, feeding the ducks, and everyone around you’s dropping their r‘s…”
Faith smiled, took a deep breath, and closed her eyes. Knock, Knock. They burst open again.
“What?” Andrew asked, annoyed.
Jeff stood in the doorway, looking sheepish. “Sorry to interrupt,” he said.
“Oh, hey,” Andrew replied more softly. “I didn’t know it was you. I thought you were on bereavement leave.”
“So did I, but they’re shipping me out to California for some top-secret mission. They want a magic sweep, and the L.A. Coven doesn’t have the right skill set, I guess.”
“I’m sorry,” Andrew said sincerely.
“It’s okay,” Jeff replied. “Actually it’s better than just sitting around…thinking. Anyway, I thought you’d want to know, so you don’t…yeah.” He glanced nervously over at Faith.
“Okay, take care Jeff,” Andrew said.
“Yeah, right,” he sighed. He left the doorway and walked on down the hall.
Faith stared after him. Andrew noticed. “What is it?” he asked.
“Who was that?”
“Oh, that’s Jeff,” Andrew explained. “He can see the future. Sometimes. It’s a thing.”
“Bereavement, huh? Who died?”
Andrew squirmed. “Someone he was close to,” he said nervously.
“Someone I knew too, based on that reaction?” Faith asked.
“Yeah,” was all Andrew said.
“Mmm, he’s really cute. You don’t think he’d be interested in me, do you?”
Andrew nearly choked on his tongue. “I don’t think so. That would be…weird.”
“Why would it be weird?” Faith looked at him with wide, sincere eyes.
At first Andrew was silent. His eyes darted around, as if he were thinking of the right response. “The person who died was his fiancée,” he finally said solemnly.
“Oh, wow,” Faith replied. “Open mouth, insert foot, huh?”
“No, you had no idea…literally. Look, let’s just try this again, okay?”
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Evening
“Mr. Wells, I’m not sure what you’re saying,” Jason Felix sighed and removed his glasses. “Why can’t we –”
“Is this a private meeting, or can Little Miss Memoryless join in?”
All the eyes in the conference room turned to see Faith standing in the doorway. In addition to Felix, Buffy, Kennedy, Willow, Rowena, Robin and Lori were all there. Andrew stood at the front of the room, hands gripping a lectern.
“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea,” Buffy said after a long moment.
“C’mon, guys,” Kennedy said. “It’s not like she’s a stranger. She’s Faith. And I think she has a right.”
“If you’re talking about where all my memories went,” Faith nodded. “I want to be in on it.”
Buffy rolled her eyes and sat back in her seat. “Sure, why not.”
Faith grinned. Felix pulled out a seat for her at the end of the table, and she hopped over and sat down.
Willow leaned over to whisper in Rowena’s ear. “That girl is way too chipper, considering everything.” Rowena just nodded.
“Anyway, Andrew,” Robin said, “I agree with Felix. How is this something new?”
“I don’t think I’m explaining it very well,” he said. “Yes, the memories are gone. And no, there’s no magic residue or physical signs, but there’s still…scars. A space in her subconscious where they used to be that’s empty now.”
“Andy,” Willow began, “I don’t want to denigrate your skills as a witch, but why were you able to see this when I wasn’t?”
“I was able to get her to relax,” he said with a shrug.
Willow looked over at Faith, who shrugged, too. “Hey, he’s a pretty cool guy.”
“Why thank you, Faith. The point is,” Andrew pressed on, “that it’s as if someone reached in and amputated Faith’s previous self, her life.”
Rowena shook her head. “So…what does that mean?”
“It means that the memories aren’t just gone,” he said. “They’ve been taken…by force, it appears. Which means magic may not work. And unless we can find the thing that took them, and then find some way to put them back in, Faith’s never going to get those memories back. Clean slate. Reboot.”
“Well, we’re superheroes, right?” Faith asked. She looked toward Buffy, and then added, “Oh, sorry, slaaaayers. Anyway, it can’t be too hard, right?”
Kennedy sighed nervously. “Right. Not too hard.”
End of Act Two