Watchers Council – Library – Night
Robin found Willow alone in the library. The light at her table was the only one left on in the library. She growled in frustration and pushed her book off the side of the table, where it hit the floor with a thud. After a brief moment’s hesitation, she picked up the next book on her pile.
Robin lightly rested his hands on her shoulders. “You should call it a night. See your children. Your wife…”
“Everyone else left,” Willow told him without looking up. “I just…I feel like we’re missing something. We have to be, right? We can’t just…not do anything. Just sit here.”
“They all left because they all worked a thirty-hour shift,” Robin told her. He sat down in the chair next to her. “We all want to help Faith, believe me…but I’m starting to think this isn’t the way.”
“I think maybe you’re right,” Willow said softly. “I think maybe Andrew’s right.”
“That’s the spirit.”
“But he can’t be right!” Willow almost shouted. “If not magic, then what? How the heck do you put something back in somebody’s head without using magic?”
“If anybody can figure it out, we can,” Robin told her.
“Why aren’t you worrying?!” Willow sounded exasperated.
Robin sighed. “I only have so much worry in me, it turns out. I love Faith, and I’ve come to believe that everything works out exactly as it’s supposed to.” He tapped his artificial leg. “Even this. So if it takes a while, it takes a while. We’ll figure it out.”
She shook her head. “I have Ethan calling in favors. I have Giles checking the Guardian records. I even called my mother to talk about memory disorders, and that’s probably the scariest part of this whole thing –”
“Willow,” Robin interrupted with a grin on his face, “were you even listening to me?”
Willow blinked a few times. “I’m not sure…I’m really tired.”
“Go see your wife.”
Watchers Council – Slayer Rec Room – Same Time
“There you are,” Kennedy called.
Faith looked up from her solo game of pool and smiled. “Oh, hey. I was just gonna come looking for you. Turns out I’m pretty decent at this game.” She motioned towards the table with her cue.
“Probably not as decent as me,” Kadin said from behind Kennedy. She had a wicked smile on her face.
Faith stood up straight and put a hand on her hip. “I haven’t met you yet, have I? Sorry if I have…there’s been a lot of names and faces at once.”
“So it’s true,” Kadin commented as she sized Faith up with her eyes. “The queen slayer’s lost her marbles.”
“Or forgot where I left ’em, at any rate.” Faith nodded. “So, Ace, you wanna introduce me?”
Kennedy looked around before she realized there was no one there, but the three of them. “You mean me?”
“Nicknames, just something I’m tryin’,” Faith shrugged. “You seem like the top slayer here now.”
“Right, um, okay.” Kennedy shook her head. “This is Kadin Van Helsing.”
“Like Drac –”
“Yes, that Van Helsing,” Kadin put in preemptively.
“You don’t look Dutch,” Faith told her.
Kadin grinned. “My father was Dutch. My mother was Spanish.”
“Ah,” Faith nodded. “So you’re a slayer too then?”
“No, she’s my girlfriend,” Kennedy explained.
“Hey, I fight monsters too, y’know?” Kadin teased Kennedy as she put her arm around her.
Faith stood still for a moment, leaning on her pool cue, looking at both of them and their pose together. “Oh. So you’re…”
“I’m what?” Kennedy asked, trying to keep from cracking a grin.
“Nothing,” Faith covered. “Just…that’s cool. Did I know this?”
“Yeah, I can say pretty emphatically that you did,” Kadin told her.
The awkward moment still lingered for a few seconds, until Faith totally switched gears. “Do you wanna sword fight?”
Kennedy shook her head, giggling. “I’m sorry, what?”
Faith put down her pool cue. “I just hear I kind of rule at it, and I’ve been itching to try it out…”
“I’d love to,” Kennedy said, “but I have to patrol. We just wanted to check in. Everything okay?”
“Yeah, great!” Faith told her with a wide smile. “So, you’re looking for evil dudes? Can I come?”
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” Kennedy told her regretfully.
“‘Cause of the memories?” Faith asked, throwing herself down on a nearby chair. “Really, I’m fine. Super, even.”
Kennedy nodded. “That might be the case, but it’s probably best if you sit things out for a while. I, on the other hand, really have to go. I hear the devil is ringing doorbells in the city while wearing a winter coat and galoshes. Gotta get to work, so I’ll leave you two gals to it.”
Then she walked out of the room, leaving Kadin and Faith staring at each other.
“I could use a sword fight,” Kadin offered after a long moment.
“Cool,” Faith answered, hopping to her feet.
Watchers Council – Willow & Rowena’s Apartment – Night
Sitting at her dressing table, Willow sighed wearily and ran her fingers through her hair. She could hear Rowena in the bathroom, preparing for bed. She looked in the mirror and picked up her brush. Allowing her mind to wander, she began to absently work out the snarls and tangles left from the usual bedtime bout with the twins, who now slumbered peacefully.
Rowena emerged from the bathroom and saw the seated witch brushing her hair. She walked up quietly behind Willow and gently took the brush from her.
“Umm…thanks baby…” Willow said, as Rowena began to brush the red locks. “That feels sooooo… gooooood…”
Rowena said nothing, but merely smiled and stroked Willow’s hair with her other hand following each brush stroke. Willow opened her eyes and, seeing Rowena smiling at her in the mirror, she gave back a smile of her own. But her smile faded as her own image began to change before her eyes.
She blinked, then closed her eyes. “I must be tired…” she said, as she opened her eyes again. There in the mirror, she saw her red hair turning black, her starting from the roots as Rowena ran the brush through it. Willow gaped at her own reflection and saw her eyes grow wide and turn black. Veins began to show in her face, dark and spidery.
“Ro! Ro, do you –?” She stopped in mid-sentence as she looked upward and saw not Rowena, but Warren Meers – skinned but very much alive – standing behind her and smoothly gliding the brush through her raven-black hair. He smiled, white teeth in a raw-flesh mouth.
Rowena dropped the brush on the table and took Willow by the shoulders. Willow was trembling, her eyes squeezed shut. “Will, honey, what is it? What’s wrong? Will? Will, answer me! Willow!”
Willow turned her face towards the sound of Rowena’s voice and forced herself to open her eyes. There beside her was Rowena, her face full of worry and fear. Willow heaved loud breaths and turned shakily back to the mirror. Her reflection – red hair, frightened green eyes and pale skin, with a slight pink blush in the cheeks – stared back at her.
“I-I’m all right. I-I must be…tired…” She looked into Rowena’s worried face and smiled. “I just need some rest,” she said reassuringly.
“It’s been a little rough, hasn’t it?” Rowena asked. “The Council and twins…”
Willow opened her mouth to say what had really happened, but then she merely smiled and nodded. Rowena smiled back and reached for the brush once more.
“Uh…no, baby,” Willow said, laying her hand atop Rowena’s wrist. “Let’s go to bed.”
Rowena smiled. “Yeah. You’re beautiful enough for one night.”
They got silently under the covers and snuggled close together. Willow shut her eyes and sighed, finally relaxing against Rowena. Just then, a cry rose from the baby monitor on the nightstand.
“I’ll go,” Rowena said. “You close your eyes and get some rest.” Willow smiled as Rowena kissed her lightly on the lips. “I want you sound asleep by the time I get back!” Rowena said, as she got up and padded from the room.
Willow watched Rowena leave, and then her smile faded as her eyes traveled from the doorway to the brush on top of the dressing table.
Top of Tres Rios Dam – Evening
Jeff grunted as he sat down in his sacred circle, perched on the sidewalk above Tres Rios Dam. Mia’s back was turned to him as she leaned over the railing and watched the river below. She didn’t see Amira come up silently next to her.
“Lindquist is prepared?” Amira asked, slightly mangling Jeff’s last name.
“Yeah, he’s ready,” Mia said without looking up.
“You will be taking the overnight sentry shift?” Amira stated. It wasn’t really a question.
“You are wondering whether you should have come back to the Council.”
“Yeah-huh.” Mia pulled a double take, finally tearing her eyes away from the water. “Wait. What?”
Amira leaned herself over the railing, her hijab fluttering a little in the desert wind. “It is a strange thing. I look at you, and I see pieces of myself. You think I have never wanted to throw a quarterstaff at a student?”
“Technically,” Mia pointed out, “I didn’t really throw it at the student. Does Lorinda Sheparton count as a student?”
Behind them, Jeff chanted, his eyes closed. In the distance, the army was closing off the bridge over the dam.
“I served the suspension for that,” Mia continued. “It was a while ago.” Her eyes drifted back to the river.
“That was only a symptom,” Amira told her. “Is that the right word, symptom?”
“Probably,” Mia replied softly.
“You are fighting because it is all you have done. The only thing that was ever between you and nothing – between you and the gutter – was the fighting.” Amira worked the air with her fingers, as if trying to snatch the words out of the ether. “But there is no one, no friends, no lover, and it is only you and the evil, and sometimes there is no evil, and it is only you, and you are fighting yourself.”
Mia stared at Amira for a long moment. Finally, she shook her head. “Well, I mean, yeah, when you say it all insightful like that.”
“When I was in Paris, there was a time when I did things. There was even a hearing, they said that I was a danger to myself, that I took too many risks.” Amira looked directly into Mia’s eyes. “They were right. I want you to know that you are needed here. There is something in the tunnel…or in front of the tunnel…”
“A light at the end of the tunnel?” Mia ventured.
“Yes,” Amira smiled. “And I want you to know that it is never just you. We are all part of a chain, and we need each other.”
“There’s no magic,” Jeff said from behind them. The moment broken, both slayers turned to look as the witch got to his feet. “At least, nothing very specific. No weapons, bombs, spells, anything like that, as far as I can tell. There’s a sort of strange background…” He waved his hand vaguely in the air, shrugged. “I’ll look into it. I think I’ll try this again downstairs in the turbine room and see if I get anything different.”
“Good, go ahead,” Amira told him. She turned back to Mia as Jeff walked the distance to the nearest entrance. “Are you sensing anything?”
“Demons, you mean?” Amira nodded. Mia bit her lip. “Not…in the way that I’m used to. There’s only, like, flickers, flashes. On the edges.”
“I have the same,” Amira said. “I do not like it. It makes my nose twitch.”
“Yeah,” Mia agreed. She stuffed her hands in her pockets and turned her eyes skyward. “A storm is definitely coming.”
Watchers Council – Lobby – Later That Night
Kennedy walked in from patrol, an axe resting on one shoulder, whistling a tune that might have been a Kanye West song but was a little too sharp or flat to be recognizable. She stopped in surprise when she saw Faith sitting in a chair in the otherwise empty waiting area, watching a news report on one of the televisions.
“What’s up?” Kennedy asked.
“I’m on TV.” Faith pointed. “Or at least, my picture is. Apparently I’m becoming a recluse in response to allegations regarding my past. It’s interesting stuff.”
Kennedy sighed and awkwardly scratched the back of her neck. “Yeah.”
Faith looked up at her, a grin on her face. “Don’t worry, I’m not gonna ask. Not yet, anyway. I mean, you all are working night and day to restore everything up here to full working order.” She tapped the side of her head. “Seems like a lot of work to catch up on all that when I’m sure I’ll be remembering it all on my own soon enough.”
“That’s a good way to look at it,” a relieved Kennedy nodded. “Um…it’s like two in the morning.”
Faith nodded. “Yeah?”
Kennedy rested her axe on the floor of the lobby with a clank. “And you haven’t slept in…I’m actually not sure, but it wasn’t yesterday or today, so…why are you here?”
Faith looked down at her hands. “Well, it turns out that I, uh, actually don’t have my own room. The me I don’t remember usually shares a bed with –”
“Robin,” Kennedy finished. “Well, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind sleeping on the couch for now.”
“No,” Faith said a little too quickly. “No, that whole thing kinda falls under what I said before about not dealing. And is also really, really awkward. He offered the place but…”
Kennedy nodded. “Well, you could stay with me, since it’s probably a little too late to get you set up in a guest suite. But we can do that tomorrow if you want.”
Faith managed a wan smile. “Kadin won’t mind?”
“Hell no, you’re my…” Kennedy trailed off and looked away.
“I’m your what?” Faith asked.
Kennedy looked unsure for a moment. “You’re my best friend,” she finally replied. Faith didn’t seem surprised or unsettled by the revelation, so Kennedy went on. “We’ve shared a lot of good times…and some really crappy ones, too,” she confessed. “But…you’re really the first person who ever liked me for me.”
“Why? You seem pretty cool.”
“And pretty rich. I found out early that a true friend is tough to come by when people love your money more than you,” Kennedy answered. A small silence passed between them.
“This is tough on me right now,” Faith told her, “but I guess it’s tough on you guys too, huh?”
Kennedy nodded sadly for a few seconds, but then perked up. “But who knows?” she said optimistically. “You might wake up tomorrow, and the watcher types will have worked all this out.”
Faith nodded once. “Right.”
Fade to Black
Watchers Council – Buffy’s Office – Day
One Week Later
Faith sat up in one of the visitor chairs, listening attentively, her hands folded across her lap, as she listened to Lori speak from the chair next to her. Buffy watched from behind her desk.
“Miss Lehane, I know we haven’t had a lot of updates lately concerning your…problem,” Lori was saying, “but we felt that you deserved to know what the situation is. You’ve done a lot of good here, and we don’t want you to feel that we’re holding anything back. It’s just that we really weren’t sure how to…and then we drew straws, and I got the short one, so…”
“I’m sorry,” Faith said, holding up a hand, “but please…just tell me what’s going on.”
Lori glanced at Buffy, who gave a short nod. Lori took a deep breath.
“We don’t think we can help you. With the memories.”
Faith nodded, without really changing her expression. A flicker of something passed through her eyes, then disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. “Okay then,” she said with a striking sense of finality.
“We’re not giving up here, but even with the Oversight Committee, there’re only so many resources we have. If your memories were…trapped somewhere, we might have a chance, but we don’t think that’s what happened.”
“What did happen?” Buffy asked.
“The current theory,” Lori replied, “is that Fa – Miss Lehane’s memories were…eaten.”
Faith raised an eyebrow.
“Eaten?” Buffy asked. “Like…with food?”
Lori shrugged. “It’s very possible some kind of demon was responsible, but we have no leads as to what its identity might have been. For all we know, the slayers might already have gone and earned their name with it.”
“So, what now?” Faith asked.
“I’m sorry?” Lori asked.
Faith wiped her face with the back of her hand. “Where do we go from here? I’m supposed to be all important and everything, and I personally feel I’ve been really extra understanding with you guys keeping me cooped up here, but when do I actually get to start doing this job I hear so much about?”
“Well, um, there are many issues to consider,” Lori replied. “We’re going to have to review your position as leader of the slayer division. And we’re going to have to address this scandal at some point. Jim’s out there playing word games with the press, and it’s starting not to be funny anymore. As far as I know, there haven’t been any subpoenas…yet, but –”
Faith cut her off. “I can do this. I used to do it. I can still do it. I’m interested in learning whatever I need to know. Maybe we need a bigger meeting to address your concerns. I think the more people who get involved, the more everyone will be on the same page. Last thing I want is to step on somebody’s toes.”
She looked over at Buffy, who appeared a little dumbfounded, but nodded. “Yeah, okay, we can do that.”
Faith plowed right on without really slowing down. “Then after I learn everything, if you still don’t want me on the street, I was thinking about getting started teaching again. I don’t know my prior experience, but I think I might work really well with children.”
“Well –” Lori began, but she couldn’t get a word in edgewise.
“I think I might actually have some interesting ideas for this place. I mean, don’t get me wrong, you guys seem to be doing a bang-up job, but I think it might be helpful to come at things from a different perspective. Like –”
“Faith, this all sounds great,” Buffy began, “but I think first we should slow down for a second here.”
“Okay,” Faith said, taking a deep breath. She hesitated, then said, “It’s Miss Lehane. Please.”
“Right,” Buffy nodded. “I forgot. Sorry.”
Watchers Council – Hallway Outside Buffy’s Office – Same Time
“Hey Mr. Harris!” Faith waved as she walked past him.
“Hey!” Xander replied. “And it’s…Xander…” But Faith was already gone. A moment later, he turned to see Lori exiting Buffy’s office. When she saw him, she sighed and crossed her arms.
“Seemed like she took it okay,” Xander commented.
“Is this the part where you ask me if I’m glad that I was somehow able to rob one of the Council chiefs of her identity?” Lori asked tiredly. “Where you congratulate me on my successful conspiracy? Because I’m not in the mood.”
Xander shook his head. “It really isn’t.”
“Then why are you here?”
“I just wanted to be here in case you…needed backup,” he said.
Lori scoffed and began to walk past him. “I can handle myself. I’m the Condi Rice of the demon world, remember?”
She came up short, a look of surprise on her face, when Xander put out a hand and placed it on her shoulder as she went past.
“Look,” he said softly, “I just want to say I’m sorry.”
She turned, cleared a lock of hair out of her eyes. “About what?”
“You know what,” he replied. “Everything. Us. The way I’ve treated you and everyone else from the Bureau. Everything went Alfred Hitchcock for a while there, and it was mostly my fault. And then Hope dies saving everybody, and you all work your butts off trying to help Faith…”
“But we didn’t,” Lori reminded him sadly. “She’s not gonna be the way she was.”
“You tried,” Xander said. “So, yeah, I just wanted to say I’m sorry.”
Lori smiled at him. He smiled back. Then she said, “I’m seeing someone.”
Xander bit his lip. “That’s good. Good for you.”
“His name is Eric Mulroney; he’s a demonologist. You’d like him.”
“Yeah,” Xander said. “I’m sure I would.”
Watchers Council – Slayer Gym – Later
Kennedy found Faith doing chin-ups, Shannon spotting for her from beneath.
“You’re really good at this,” Shannon said, “especially considering you don’t remember ever doing it before.”
“It’s weird, I know,” Faith replied as she hopped down. She reached out a hand and tousled Shannon’s hair. “You’re a cute kid. We should do this again.” She flicked her head over her shoulder in Kennedy’s general direction. “I think the boss lady and I’ve got things to discuss.”
Shannon gave Faith a bemused look but headed for the door all the same.
Kennedy watched her go. “So, I guess this means you approve of her and Norman?”
“Whoops,” Kennedy said under her breath. She opened her mouth, hesitating.
Faith took a swig of water from a bottle then made a face. “What is it with bottled water? It tastes weird, and you can get normal water out of a faucet for free. It’s like people –”
“He’s your son,” Kennedy said suddenly. “Norman’s the name of your kid.”
The ensuing spit-take from Faith was really something spectacular. Kennedy recoiled and then wiped something from her cheek.
“I have a son?” Faith asked. “But…it’s been a week! Where is he? Nobody told me…”
Kennedy reached out a hand toward Faith in an attempt to calm her down. “No, it’s okay.”
“What if he needed me? I can do mom stuff! Why did you guys –?”
“Because it’s complicated,” Kennedy explained. “He doesn’t live here. You gave him up for adoption because you were a kid yourself. You guys are in touch, but it’s not all the time, okay?”
Faith took a deep breath. “Okay. Okay, I’m sorry. Just kinda outta nowhere, is all.” She took another swig of her water and made another face. “Does he hate me?”
“No, far from it.” Kennedy answered truthfully. “He’s got a wonderful adopted family in Georgia that come for visits when they can. Everyone is…fine with it all.”
“I guess I haven’t really asked about those things much. What I did before I forgot…what I did.”
Kennedy sat down on the bench press, grimacing a little. “This might sound a little off, but do you want my advice?”
“Yeah,” Faith nodded. “You’re the wise one.”
“If you say so,” Kennedy sighed. “Look, I get why you’d want to know about your past, but…just consider that maybe you’re better off without it. Maybe this whole thing has been a blessing in disguise?”
Faith grinned. “That bad, huh?”
A ghost of a rueful smile was on Kennedy’s face. “I see you smile now, and I…sometimes I think I’d trade places with you in a second.”
“What about Kadin?” Faith asked.
“What about Robin?” Kennedy replied.
Faith sighed and put her hands on her hips. “So, that Shannon girl’s dating my kid?”
“I hope they use protection.”
First, it was a chuckle. Then Kennedy cracked up. Then she had a brief moment of waving her arms for balance. Then she fell off the bench with a crash. Faith covered her mouth, trying unsuccessfully to not look too amused.
Above Tres Rios Dam – Day
Mia sighed as she twirled a sword over her shoulder. The river below roared low in the distance. Cars and semis flashed past behind her. She was suddenly overtaken by a surprisingly large yawn. “Wow.”
She walked a short distance along the top of the dam, toward where Valentine stood near the middle, a short battle axe held lightly in one hand. Clouds drifted lazily across a far, uneven desert horizon.
“What are you thinking about?” Mia asked, obviously desperate for conversation.
“My birthday,” Valentine said, a little spacey. She looked over at Mia. “It’s tomorrow. Didn’t really occur to me we’d still be here.” She gestured to the road. “They’ve re-opened the highway. Jeff and the L.A. Coven can’t really give us specifics…”
“But there’s still something,” Mia pointed out. “We all feel it. You feel it, right?”
“So, how old are you gonna be?”
“Oh,” Valentine said.
“Sorry, I know it’s rude to ask –”
“Thirty. I’m turning thirty.”
Mia raised an eyebrow. “Wow. So…you kickin’ or stickin’?”
Valentine laughed. Once. “You know, you may be the fiftieth person to ask me that. Exactly like that.”
Mia smiled. “Yeah, with all of us slayers cooped up together we had to have our own slang eventually.”
“I actually haven’t decided yet,” Valentine said. “About the kickin’ or stickin’. The Council’s been really good, though, about giving me different options.”
“But…your birthday’s tomorrow,” Mia pointed out.
“Yeah,” Valentine sighed. She looked down at the river then up at Mia. “You asked what I was thinking about. So, what are you –?”
Mia watched the piece of concrete Valentine was standing on rise up ten feet in a quarter of a second. A pick-up truck flew off the edge, clipped the edge of the roadway and tumbled into the reservoir. Then, with a grinding noise that consumed all other sounds, Valentine, along with her section of the roadway, began to plummet.
Mia was knocked off her feet this time, slamming her jaw into the pavement. She watched in a daze as a crack a foot wide opened up and snaked across the roadway.
Explosions continued. Somewhere. Underneath her, maybe. Machine guns had opened up on the bluffs, firing at phantoms. A helicopter circled helplessly overhead.
She looked back at where Valentine had been. She didn’t look like she could quite comprehend the empty space and dust she found.
As more explosions rang out, large slabs of the dam fell crashing to the rocks below. A wall of water sprayed through the openings, obliterating all in its path.
End of Act Three