Council Jet – Evening
Later that evening, Faith and the others were settled in onboard the Council jet, on their way to New York City.
Buffy and Faith were sitting next to each other in the back row, while Kate sat alone at the front. Willow and Kennedy were in the middle, on the padded, sofa-like bench that paralleled the fuselage and faced the rows of paired seats.
Faith hadn’t said much so far, and Buffy hadn’t pressed her for conversation, so she looked a little surprised when Faith finally spoke up.
“So…why’d ya let me take this trip?” she asked, without looking in Buffy’s direction.
“I think it might help for the Council to do some detecting on its own,” Buffy replied. “If the killer does have magical or supernatural powers, then we’re the best folks to investigate that.”
“But why let me come along? It’s not the best plan, security-wise.”
Buffy turned to face her fellow slayer, and Faith met her eyes. “I could see how important it was to you, and I know what it feels like to need to do something. As for security-wise, you’ve got Willow, Kennedy and me. We’ll protect you.”
“Thanks,” Faith said simply, before facing the front once again and returning to her silence.
Further up the plane, Willow and Kennedy were reviewing some spells when Kennedy excused herself to go to the bathroom.
When Kate saw Kennedy pass by her, she took the opportunity to turn in her aisle seat and speak to Willow.
“You did a good job of covering Faith’s tracks,” Kate told her somewhat snidely. “There’s no proof whatsoever that your Faith Lehane is the same Faith Lehane convicted of murder in California. You should be proud of yourself.”
“I am proud,” Willow answered. “I’ve given a vampire a soul. I’ve activated all the potential slayers. And this world would be demon-invasion-central several times over if it weren’t for me…and Faith. But here’s the deal…if California didn’t do their job properly, that’s on them.”
“She’s not above the law,” Kate pointed out.
“We’re told that jail isn’t about imprisonment as much as it is reform, correct? We put people in jail so they’ll make society a better, safer place, do we not? Incarceration is not some cash cow, independently owned money grab, right? So I would say, in general and not any particular case, the purpose and desired outcome of jail means creating someone who makes the world a better place, is it not? Please, don’t answer. All the questions are rhetorical because we both know the answer.”
In the small confines of the passenger compartment, it wasn’t difficult for Faith and Buffy to overhear Kate and Willow’s conversation. Buffy looked over at Faith to gauge her reaction, but Faith just continued to stare forward, her only movement being the clenching of her jaw.
After a long moment, though, Faith said, in a dejected voice, “Lockley’s right.”
Buffy turned in her seat. “No, she’s not,” she stated quite firmly.
Faith looked at Buffy in surprise, then narrowed her eyes. “Who are you, and what have you done with the real Buffy Summers?”
Buffy rolled her eyes in response.
“No, seriously,” Faith said. “What happened to the ‘No. No Chance. Jail.’ Buffy I saw in L.A.?”
Buffy hung her head a bit and then said, “Hopefully more evolved.”
Faith gave a disbelieving huff. “I tried that whole ‘look at the big equation and who’s in the plus column’ argument on you back in Sunny D, and you sure as hell didn’t buy it then.”
“Things have changed.”
“How?” Faith asked, her voice rising and drawing the attention of both Kate and Willow. “Did Allan Finch somehow miraculously come back to his family? Or Professor Wirth to his classes? Did that delivery guy ever get back to whatever it is he did with his life? No, they didn’t. ‘Cause I killed ’em.”
Buffy raised her hand to object. “Finch was an accident, a-a-and you were just a kid, a messed-up kid who –”
“Stop tryin’ to sugarcoat it, B,” Faith said, cutting her off. “Three men are gone. The first one, yeah, I didn’t mean to do that, but the other two…” She shook her head. “…they were no accident.”
Watchers Council – Same Time
V.O., Faith: “I staked out a spot, I waited, and then I killed ’em.”
Christabel walked along a sidewalk in Cleveland. When she came to a certain spot, she stopped, turned and looked. Before her were the front grounds of the Council Headquarters. She examined the large sign, then turned her eyes toward the entrance.
V.O., Faith: “I’m no better than the killer who’s after me.”
Christabel’s lips curled into another of her wicked smiles.
Watchers Council – Dawn and Skye’s Apartment – Night
“Okay, all set,” Jackson said, as he put the finishing touches on the microphone.
Skye began to re-button her shirt and turned to Dawn. “I want you to be careful tonight, okay?”
“I’m immortal,” Dawn replied dryly.
Skye paused. “Yeah, right. Okay, I’ll be careful then.” Skye began to grin and then leaned over, giving Dawn a light kiss.
“Ready?” Jackson asked.
“Let’s do it,” Skye said, motioning to the door.
Surveillance Vehicle – Later that Night
Jackson and Hadley sat side by side with headphones on, listening to Skye.
“It’ll be fine,” they heard her say. “Fooled people at the Council for months when I was turned. I’m sure these guys will be a cakewalk.”
City Street – Same Time
Skye and Dawn walked next to each other.
“I realize how dangerous this is, but I’m not sure you do,” Dawn said, an earpiece in her ear.
“Well, let’s make it less dangerous for me. Stop here and just hang back. I’m not far from the entrance.”
Both women stopped walking. Dawn moved forward to hug Skye, but the vampire kept her at arm’s length. “You might break me,” she said, motioning down to her chest.
“Right, just be careful, okay? Get out of there as soon as you can.”
Skye did lean over and give her a kiss. “I’ll be back. I promise.”
Skye then walked around the corner, heading down the street alone.
Abandoned Warehouse – Moments Later
As Skye passed an alley, she saw one demon frisking another one by a doorway of an abandoned warehouse.
“Damn it,” she swore under her breath. She quickly turned around and unbuttoned the top of her shirt as she cut back into the alley. “Change of plans, guys,” she said. “They’re checking for weapons and wires. I’m in an alley right next to the warehouse.”
Surveillance Vehicle – Same Time
“Dawn,” Jackson said into his microphone, “get over to that alley. We’re closing this down. We’ll find another way in.”
City Street – Same Time
“On my way,” Dawn replied into her mouthpiece.
Alley – Moments Later
Dawn rounded the far corner of the alley, but she didn’t find Skye there. She raced to the other side, but instead of her lover, she found the microphone and small battery pack lying on the ground.
“Son of a bitch,” she swore.
She raced to the edge to see Skye being frisked by a demon at the entrance, while Jackson repeatedly called to her for an update.
“She’s pulled the wire and gone in,” she told him. “Have all the slayers on stand-by.”
Abandoned Warehouse – Moments Later
Skye entered the meeting in vampire face, looking around. Another vampire approached her with a greeting of a casual, “Hey.”
“Hey,” she replied. “Looks like a good turnout.”
“Yeah, more keep coming each week,” he said as he motioned to the nearly a hundred and fifty demons that filled the small area. Some sat on folding chairs, while others, too big, hung around the walls. “I see you’re a newbie,” he mentioned, referring to a sticker that had been placed on her chest.
“Yeah,” she replied. “Wanted to check things out. It’s getting harder to feed lately.”
“You ain’t kiddin’,” he snorted. “Things were great before the Council got here.”
“Well, I don’t have any great love for the Council either. In fact, I’m looking forward to the day they’re gone.”
“All in good time,” he told her cheerfully. “Why don’t we have a seat over here?” He motioned to a chair.
Skye took her seat with her vampire persona still in place as the Voice of Hell entered the room.
“Sorry, I’m late,” she said, taking her place behind a podium. “Let’s start as usual. Who’re our newest members tonight? Stand up.”
Skye seemed reluctant, but she finally stood, along with three other demons who were scattered through the room.
“Ah, a vampire,” the Voice of Hell said, nodding toward Skye. She left the podium and walked toward Skye, keeping her eyes fixed on the newcomer. “What brings you here tonight?”
“Simply put,” she replied. “A better life…or…death, I should say.”
The Voice of Hell smiled. “Yes, Cleveland seems to be in a recession, doesn’t it? Your Happy Meals with legs are leaving Ohio for greener pastures more and more each day, aren’t they?”
A few vampires in the audience nodded in agreement.
“For me, it’s a little more personal than that,” Skye said. She distorted her face back to its human form. “Anyone recognize me, by chance?”
A few demons with human-like faces scrunched them as they examined her.
“Hey,” the vampire that had befriended her said in realization, “you’re that vamp from the Council TV show.”
Skye nodded and then looked directly at the Voice of Hell. “You want to take down the Council. Well, now you’ve got someone on the inside if you want her.”
The meeting soon became a mix of voices and sounds. Comments like “Stake her” and “Hear her out” filled the room. But despite all the commotion, Skye kept her eyes trained on the Voice of Hell.
“Aren’t you scared, Vampire?” the Voice of Hell asked.
“I’m terrified, but I’m out of options,” she told her. “I’ve been their guinea pig long enough. So I’ve got two choices: I come here and try to find the help I need to wipe them off the face of the Earth once and for all. Or you stake me and put me out of my misery. Either way, it’s win/win for me.”
The group was speechless, and no one made a sound until the Voice of Hell suddenly began to laugh.
“What’s your name, beautiful?” she asked.
“Skye,” she replied. “AKA the Council’s alleged lap dog,” she added for good measure. “I’m just hoping I survive long enough to see the looks on their faces when they realize I played a hand in their demise.”
“No one touch her,” the Voice of Hell warned the group. She then leaned closer to Skye and said, “Come see me after the meeting.”
Skye nodded and watched as the Voice of Hell walked over to another demon newcomer standing nearby. Quietly, she took her seat again.
New York City – Apartment Building – Top Floor – Night
Kate led the way into Mr. Vassar’s apartment building, taking the Council team up to the penthouse floor. All were wearing the charms that the Coven had prepared, just in case the killer was still in the area.
When they exited the elevator, they saw that the apartment had a guard outside and the door was still crossed with crime scene tape.
Kate flashed her badge at the officer, who nodded and stepped aside. Kate pulled down the tape and opened the door. Resting her hand on her gun holster, she stepped warily inside. After a few seconds, the others followed, with Faith being the last to go in.
Buffy, Kennedy and Willow grimaced in horror and disgust as they took in the scene from the foyer. Faith merely began clenching her jaw again. After a few moments of appalled staring, Willow clicked into gear and began moving around the room, conducting a magical scan. Kate turned her attention to the others.
“The lobby surveillance video shows the killer talking to the doorman and then moving to the elevator, but the doorman has no memory of ever seeing her at all.” Kate pointed at the front door they had just come through. “The hallway surveillance shows her knocking at the door and being let in by Mr. Vassar. Unfortunately, none of the recordings got a clear picture of her face.”
She led them further into the apartment, where a large bloodstain soaked the carpet. “This is where the body was found, but we believe the attack started here.”
She gestured at the mahogany table with the mirror on the wall above it, and Buffy and Kennedy walked over. Faith, however, stayed at the bloody spot on the carpet as Kate went on with her narrative.
“This is where the first sprays of blood appear.” She pointed at the spatters on the wall, mirror and ceiling. “We think the initial blow occurred here. She got in at least one, maybe two, stabs or slices, which caused the splatters you see here. He probably didn’t even know what hit him until it was too late. They struggled briefly before he finally went down. She continued to stab him multiple times as he lay on the floor.”
Kate moved back to where the body had been found, where Faith was still staring at the blood. The agent knelt near the top of the stained area.
“He didn’t die immediately,” she said. “There was aspirated blood on both his face and clothing, and on the carpet here.” She shook her head and frowned. “Not a pleasant way to die, no doubt about that.”
As Kate made her final comments, Faith’s mind retreated into memory.
Cleveland Waterfront 2006
Series of Shots:
– Faith twirling a sword in each hand, as she squares off against ten of Lucifer’s demons
– Faith fighting the demons furiously, before being skewered by one of the demons
– The demon wrenching his sword up through Faith’s torso, then kicking her off the blade and to the ground
– Faith groaning in pain, then lifting her hand and seeing it covered in blood
– Faith crying desperately to the Archangel Gabrielle, “I’m not ready, I’m not ready…”
New York City – Apartment Building – Penthouse – Resume
Faith had closed her eyes and was shaking her head, causing both Buffy and Kennedy to step beside her. When they tried to reach out to her, she raised her arms and backed away, out of their grasp.
“I have to get out of here…” she said, panic evident in her voice. At that, she took off for the front door.
Buffy and Kennedy both followed, but at the doorway, Buffy raised her hand to stop Kennedy, as if to say “I’ve got it.” Kennedy reluctantly complied, but hovered nearby to keep watch.
New York City – Apartment Building – Top Floor – Same Time
As soon as Faith left the apartment, she headed straight for the elevator. By the time Buffy arrived, Faith was punching the call button.
“Faith…” Buffy began.
“Just leave me alone, B,” Faith warned.
Buffy persisted. “Faith, I know this is difficult for you, bu –”
“Did you hear what I just said? Or do you not understand English?” Faith barked, whipping around to confront Buffy. “I said leave. Me. Alone! You got that?” When it looked like Buffy was going to speak again, Faith turned nasty, punching the call button several more times. “Look, I’m not interested in being the Chosen Two Best Pals, okay? I got over the need to be your friend a long time ago.”
A hurt expression came over Buffy’s face, and she dropped her gaze to her hands. Faith looked up at the floor location lights above the elevator and growled when the elevator still wasn’t there. She walked over to the stairwell door, flung it open and began stomping her way down.
Buffy glanced over at Kennedy, who was already headed over. When the elevator door opened, Buffy said, “Keep an eye on her.”
Kennedy nodded, got inside the elevator and pushed the lobby button.
New York City – Apartment Building – Lobby – Moments Later
As Faith came bursting out of the stairwell, she found Kennedy already there waiting for her.
“Shoulda waited for the elevator,” Kennedy noted with a slight smirk.
“Listen, Slick, I don’t need a baby-sitter, all right?” Faith said as she pushed past her. “I just need some air and some space.”
“Hey, have all the air and space you want,” Kennedy replied, trailing right beside her. “But I’m not lettin’ you outta my sight.”
Faith just growled again and stomped out of the lobby.
Kennedy followed, but kept a short distance between herself and her friend.
Abandoned Warehouse – Voice of Hell Meeting – Same Time
“Meeting adjourned,” the Voice of Hell said, banging a gavel.
As demons began to make their way out of the room, Skye made her way forward.
“Okay,” she said as she approached. “Is this it?”
“Excuse me?” the Voice of Hell asked.
“Is this the time that you try to stake me? No witnesses.”
“No, if I wanted you dead, then you’d be dead, Skye,” the Voice of Hell replied. “I don’t trust you, but my mistrust isn’t enough to kill you…yet.”
“So, what do you want then?”
“I want you to kill a Council member,” the Voice of Hell told her.
“While nothing would bring me greater pleasure, it would be pointless. At least for me, anyway.”
“Meaning?” the Voice of Hell asked.
“I can’t kill humans. Allister’s bitch has a spell on me. I harm humans, and I automatically go poof. Don’t know if that’s entirely true, but I do know that Rosenberg is one of the greatest witches in the world, if not the greatest. I’d really not like to find out if you catch my drift.”
“I see,” the Voice of Hell replied, thinking for a moment. “Then do something else. Something that won’t involve killing a human.”
“Besides your adoration, what’s in it for me?” Skye asked.
The Voice of Hell laughed. “You are a card, my dear. How about I don’t stake you, for one?”
Skye grinned. “That’s a good start,” she said, and started to walk away. Then, however, she stopped. “But…not good enough. I’m not trading one lap dog position for another.”
“What if I told you Willow Rosenberg isn’t the most powerful mage in the world? What if I told you I could lift that spell?”
Skye stopped and turned around with a larger grin on her face.
“Now you’ve got my interest. Let’s talk,” she said.
New York City – Sidewalk Bench – Minutes Later
After walking around the block a couple of times, Faith finally plopped down on a bench near the apartment. Kennedy approached, paused for a moment, then sat down at the far end of the bench.
Faith let out a disgusted exhale and said, “You gonna give me the sappy, ‘I know it’s tough, but everything’s gonna be okay’ speech, too?”
The terse reply drew a curious glance from Faith. “Why not?”
“‘Cause I like my head right where it is,” Kennedy said with a grin.
Faith gave a quick snort and briefly returned Kennedy’s grin before settling into silence once again.
Council Jet – Later that Night
Kate and the Council team were now on their way back to Cleveland. Given the late hour, they were all trying to get some sleep. Kate was in the inside seat in the front row, propped against the window. Willow and Kennedy were sharing the bench seat and had inadvertently ended up leaning against one another as they slept. Only Buffy and Faith were left awake.
Faith was hunkered down in the last row, while Buffy fidgeted in her window seat in one of the middle rows. As soon as Buffy had gotten into a comfortable position and closed her eyes, she heard someone ease into the seat beside her. She looked up and saw Faith sitting there, a bottle of water in her hand. Buffy blinked her eyes and sat up in her seat.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hey,” Faith replied.
Buffy looked at Faith and waited, figuring the dark slayer had something to say. But it was a long, awkward minute before Faith finally spoke.
“I’m sorry for going off on you earlier,” she said, keeping her voice low so as not to disturb the others.
Buffy gave an understanding nod, though a look in her eyes made clear that Faith’s earlier words still stung. “That’s okay.”
“I didn’t mean what I said about not wanting to be your friend. I do. I just…” Faith trailed off, not knowing what else to say.
“You were upset. I get it.”
Faith nodded back, and the two slayers were quiet for a while. Faith took a few drinks from her bottle of water, while Buffy gazed out of the window.
“Actually, us hanging out…it’s been pretty cool,” Faith commented.
Buffy turned to Faith and smiled. “I think so, too.”
A tiny smirk graced Faith’s mouth as she said, “Great minds think alike.”
Buffy chuckled lightly then glanced at her hands. After a moment of thinking, she looked back up, her expression serious.
“I know we each have our own way of doing things, and I know we’re always gonna butt heads over something,” she told Faith, “but I think we have a lot more in common than we care to admit.”
Faith didn’t say a word. She merely raised a skeptical eyebrow in Buffy’s direction, daring the blonde to make her case. Buffy took up the challenge.
“Well, for starters,” she said, “we’re both slayers.”
“Original slayers,” Faith corrected.
“True, good point,” Buffy noted before continuing. “We’re both strong and stubborn and –”
“–sexy and utterly irresistible to men and women alike,” Faith finished playfully.
It was Buffy’s turn to raise an eyebrow.
“Well, we are,” Faith insisted.
“Speak for yourself,” Buffy said with a groan. “I don’t appear to be irresistible to anyone.”
“Ah, just give it time,” Faith said, before lifting her bottle of water to take another drink.
“Time? Time? How much time?” Buffy said in an urgent whisper. “I’m getting so desperate I’m actually considering logging on to eHarmony!”
Faith nearly snorted water through her nose.
“I’m serious,” Buffy said, annoyed, as Faith struggled not to choke on her water. “And stop getting me off my topic.” Buffy took a deep breath and went on. “We’ve both made mistakes, done things we wish we hadn’t.”
Faith gave a rueful laugh. “I think I’ve got ya beat in that department.”
“Let’s not have a competition in that area, okay?” Buffy suggested. Then she resumed her speech. “We’ve both fought in multiple apocalypses.”
“Too many,” Faith said wearily.
Buffy paused before saying, “We’ve both lost people we love.”
Faith frowned, but nodded.
“All I’m saying is…if we could just get past some of our old Sunnydale baggage, I think we could be good friends. Maybe even very good friends.”
Buffy looked over at Faith. The brunette hadn’t seemed to register her last statement. Instead, she was staring off, deep in thought.
“We both died,” Faith finally said. “And came back.”
“Yeah, we did.”
There was another long pause in the conversation. Faith stared at her hands and picked at the plastic label on her bottle of water. Buffy merely waited.
“What was it like?” Faith asked, without looking over. “When you died?”
Buffy grinned and said, “Which time?”
Faith gave her a mock glare and said, “You know which time.”
Buffy sobered and answered, “It was…strange…as if time had slowed down. When I hit the portal, I mean. It seemed to take minutes instead of seconds to pass through it.” She swallowed hard and glanced down at her lap. “Inside it, I was, like, ripped apart – only, not in a physical way, though it sure felt like it.” Buffy’s forehead creased as she continued. “I remember landing hard on something, but I barely felt anything by then. I saw the sky and closed my eyes and. ” She trailed off and shrugged, as if to say “that was it.”
“And after?” Faith asked.
“You mean when I was dead?”
“I don’t remember details,” Buffy said. “I just remember being…content, at peace. It felt good.” Buffy looked over at Faith and found her thinking deeply. “What about you?” she asked.
“The dying part or the after part?”
“Well, the after part…I don’t have a clue about that.”
“You still don’t remember anything?”
“Nope,” Faith said, shaking her head. “And the dying part. Got sliced up, bled out, cried like a baby when I knew I wasn’t gonna make it.”
“But Gabrielle was there, right?”
“Yeah.” She didn’t say this affirmation with much sense of consolation, though. “Next thing I know, I’m waking up in the morgue.”
Buffy groaned. “God, I wish I had.” When Faith gave her a puzzled look, she explained, “I woke up inside my coffin. My buried coffin.”
“Damn! I didn’t know that. How did you get out?”
“The old-fashioned vampire way.”
“You dug yourself out?” Faith asked in alarm.
Buffy nodded. “And when I got out, the town was being ransacked by some kind of biker gang of demons. There was fire and smoke and people screaming…I thought I was in hell…”
Faith frowned and looked away, fear in her eyes. Buffy just sighed and lightened her tone, or tried to, anyway.
“But I wasn’t,” she said, “and life went on. Eventually.”
After a long pause, Faith turned back and said, “I felt it, you know…when you died.”
As Buffy’s eyes widened in surprise, Faith continued.
“I was in prison. Some new chica had tried to earn some creds by taking me on. She ended up in the infirmary, and I ended up in solitary. All of a sudden, I felt like I was having a heart attack. I almost called the guard, but then I knew…I just knew. A few days later, Angel came and told me.”
Buffy put on a fake grin and forced herself to chuckle. “Bet you were glad to be rid of me.” When Faith didn’t chime in in agreement, Buffy went on. “Besides, you finally got to be the one and only ‘one girl in all the world.'”
Faith shook her head. “No, I just felt…alone.”
After thinking for a moment, Buffy said sadly, “I know what you mean.”
“Yeah, I know you do. Taking over for you in Sunnydale…that was the first time I had a clue what you –”
“No,” Buffy said, cutting her off. “I don’t mean that. I mean when you died. God, Faith, I saw you on that slab in the morgue, I just…I felt like I had lost a part of myself.”
Faith couldn’t do anything but look at Buffy in shock.
“I don’t wanna go through that again, okay?” Buffy said softly.
Faith turned away, and when she turned back, she was smirking – back to her usual joking self. “Guess you better die first, then,” she teased.
Buffy grinned and glared at the same time, and then gave Faith a punch in the arm. “Smart ass.”
Council Jet – A Short Time Later
Faith was now the only one left awake, Buffy having dozed off some time before. Faith tried sleeping, but with each attempt her troubled eyes popped right back open. She sat leaning forward, with her elbows on her knees and her fingers buried in her hair.
Cleveland December 2005 – Warehouse – Night
“Do you know what hell is?” Gregor asked his two captives. “Hell is where your worst nightmares are made flesh, your worst fears become real.”
“Why us?” Faith asked.
“Because I am desperate,” he replied. “But I am not a monster.”
“Says you,” Willow retorted.
Gregor ignored her comment and went on. “I would never send someone to hell who wasn’t already destined to go there anyway.”
Ronda, Spain 2006 – Cliff’s Edge – Sunset
Faith crossed her arms tightly and turned to face Gabrielle – or who she thought was Gabrielle. “W-W-What happened to me after I died?”
“You want to know why you can’t remember?” The archangel’s eyes dropped sadly when Faith nodded. Gabrielle took a moment before answering. “Because I didn’t want you to remember,” she said. “Not after what you had sacrificed.”
Faith could only stare as the meaning behind the words hit her. “I was in hell.”
Texas 2007 – Supercollider Complex – Collision Chamber – Day
“Isn’t…anyone…going to say…goodbye to me?” Heli sneered from her place on the floor.
Faith moved to stand over the dying slayer. “Go to hell!”
Heli indulged in a laugh that turned into a short but racking cough. When it subsided, she looked into Faith’s eyes and said, “Been there, done that. Just like you…or so I hear.”
Council Jet – Resume
Faith dropped her hands, lifted her head, and leaned back into her seat. Her expression was pained as she let out a hopeless sigh and closed her eyes.
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Early the Next Morning
Buffy, Faith and the others had just gotten back from the airport and were now in a meeting with the other Council leaders. Unusually, Skye was also present.
“First things first,” Buffy said as she addressed the group. “How did our little Skye the Spy mission go?” she asked Dawn.
“It went very well,” Dawn said, smiling at her lover. “Skye was able to infiltrate the Voice of Hell group without any problems. They totally bought her ‘I hate the Council’ story.”
“It’s not a story,” Jeff interjected. “She does hate the Council.”
“Not all of it,” Dawn countered, with a bit of a whine.
“Well, what happened? What did you find out?” Kennedy asked Skye.
“They told us nothing, really,” Skye reported. “It wasn’t much more than a ‘rah-rah, we’re great’ pep talk. Kinda like what Buffy does from time to time, only not as boring and self-righteous.”
Despite her somber mood, Faith couldn’t help grinning at Skye’s comment. She quickly covered it up when Buffy glared in her direction.
“So really, nothing to report,” Skye finished, “but I do need to know if I can have what she wants.”
“What does she want?” Kennedy inquired.
“Council building layouts,” Skye answered.
“Why would she want the building layouts?” Buffy asked. “We’ve got protection in place – it’s not like they can just storm in here.”
Skye shrugged. “Just telling you what she told me. If I do that, I’m officially in and can be trusted. So…?”
Buffy looked at Willow. “What do you think?”
“I say give her the plans. They won’t do her much good, and if that gets Skye into the group so that we can learn more, then it’s worth it. We can even send fake plans – nothing too radical, just move a few areas around.”
“Okay,” Buffy agreed. “We’ll get something drawn up to give to Skye.”
Xander held up his hand. “I can do that.”
“Great.” Buffy turned back to Skye. “Anything else we should know?”
Skye paused for a moment and then grinned. “Nope, that’s all that’s worth mentioning.”
“So, what about your trip?” Xander asked, making brief eye contact with Buffy and then Willow. “Did you find anything useful, discover any clues?” He cast a hopeful glance at Faith, who was back to her stony facade.
“Not really,” Buffy answered.
“It was pretty gruesome,” Kennedy admitted. “This killer…she means business.”
“We did confirm Agent Lockley’s suspicion that the killer used magic, though,” Willow said, gesturing at Kate. “I could sense the after-presence of a very powerful witch. So at least we know what we’re up against.”
“Speaking of magic and what we’re up against,” Buffy said, “how goes the warding?”
“All done,” Andrew replied. “We’ve set special wards around the entire headquarters, with extra measures taken around the main entrances.”
“We’ve also made more of these,” Jeff reported, as he held up the charm that he and all of those present were now wearing.
“And we’ve increased our traditional security, as well,” Felix added.
“Good,” Buffy said. She glanced around the table. “Is there anything else we can do about this serial killer woman that we’re not already doing?” When no one spoke up, Buffy said, “Okay then, that’s it for now. Keep up the good work. Hey, Kennedy!” she called out, motioning the slayer over. “Do me a favor and get Agent Lockley set up in a guest suite?”
Kennedy rolled her eyes and grumbled, “Fine.”
Watchers Council – Guest Suite – Minutes Later
Kennedy was carrying a box of files, while Kate had the straps of two bags slung over each shoulder, as the slayer led them inside the guest suite. Kennedy set the box on the coffee table, and Kate did the same with her two bags.
“This is it,” Kennedy said, gesturing at the room. “There’s food and drinks in the kitchen, towels in the bathroom, and ya got high-speed internet over there at the desk. You oughta be all set up.”
Her duty fulfilled, Kennedy then headed for the door. Kate’s voice stopped her, and she turned around.
“It’s not personal,” Kate said. “I know you all think it is, but it’s not. I never even met Faith until the day I arrested her.”
“Well…it’s personal to us,” Kennedy said coldly. Then she opened the door and walked away.
Watchers Council – Faith and Robin’s Apartment – Same Time
“We’re back in the Council, with wards and guards everywhere, and two slayers outside my door…you don’t have to baby-sit me anymore,” Faith insisted, as Buffy followed her into the apartment.
Buffy went into each room and flicked on the lights. “I know, I know…”
“Look, everything’s fine. I’m just gonna shower and crash, and I don’t need a chaperone for that.”
“Just checking things out.”
When Buffy returned to the living room, Faith grabbed her by the arm. “Well, check this out,” she said, pointing to her own face. “Go. Home.” She intentionally overemphasized each word.
Buffy gave her a knowing nod that had a hint of a tease in it. “You need some alone time. I get that.”
“You’re gonna get my shoe up your ass if you’re not out that door in ten seconds,” Faith threatened.
Buffy just laughed and held up her hands in surrender. “Okay. Fine. I’m going.” When she reached the door, she turned back to Faith and said, “But you stay put.”
Faith just glared and crossed her arms. At that, Buffy left the apartment. Once Buffy had gone, Faith dropped the tough-gal act and let out an exhausted sigh as she ran her hands through her hair. Then she trudged off toward the bedroom.
Watchers Council – Faith and Robin’s Apartment – Noon
Now freshly showered and in a new change of clothes, Faith sat slumped on her sofa, just brooding. Reluctantly, she picked up the remote and switched on the television.
She flicked through the channels, not really paying much attention to what was on, until something caught her eye.
A reporter was at a local junior high school, interviewing several young teenage girls, all of whom were wearing identical ‘Faith’ fan shirts.
“We know Faith didn’t do this,” one of the girls proclaimed.
“Yeah, John Harriman is full of crap,” another said.
“Faith is a hero,” a third girl insisted. “And nobody’s gonna tell us different.”
Faith switched off the television and let her head fall back against the sofa. She thought for a moment, then got up and walked around the room, mentally debating something. When she stopped, her expression was determined, as if she had come to a decision.
She picked up the phone and started to punch the buttons, but stopped before she got very far. She looked at her watch and did some mental calculating.
“Damn, it’s like 3:00 a.m. there,” she said before hanging up.
She walked toward the door, but stopped before touching the doorknob, remembering that there were slayer guards outside. Instead, she turned and headed for the window.
Watchers Council – Public Relations Office – Moments Later
Frequently looking over her shoulder, Faith walked down a hallway until she reached the Council’s Public Relations Office. She opened the door and went inside.
When she entered the reception area, she saw that the walls were covered with enlarged and framed newspaper stories and magazine articles, many of which featured Faith as their star. She paused before the very first issue of Watchers Monthly.
The cover headline read, “Faith Lehane: Beantown Girl Makes Good.” She scanned the pages until she saw the article itself. Her eyes fell on a particular line she’d spoken during the interview: “I can’t change what I’ve done, but I know I can try to make things good today, so…I try to do the right thing with the second chance I’ve been given.”
“Do the right thing,” she whispered to herself, before taking a deep breath and walking over to the reception desk.
“Miss Lehane,” the secretary said when she approached. “What can I do for you?”
“Is Jim in?”
“No, I’m afraid not. He’s in a meeting downtown. Do you want to make an appointment?”
“No, that’s okay,” Faith said. “Thanks anyway.”
She left the office and stopped outside to think. After a moment, she headed off once again.
Watchers Council – Willow and Rowena’s Apartment – Moments Later
Willow stumbled to the front door, frowning and rubbing her eyes as if she had been awakened. She perked up in surprise when she saw Faith on the other side of the door.
“Faith, what are you doing here?” She glanced outside into the hallway. “Shouldn’t you be under guard or something?”
“House arrest is more like it,” Faith grumbled. “I slipped out the window. Had to take care of some things.”
Willow gave her a puzzled look. “I don’t under –”
“Anybody else here?” Faith asked, cutting Willow off.
“Um, no…Ro took the twins for a play date with Elizabeth and Martin so that I could catch up on some sleep. What’s up?”
Faith pointed to the couch. “Let’s sit down.”
Willow got a worried expression, but complied. When they sat down, she asked, “Faith, what is it?”
“Look, there’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just gonna say it. I’m gonna come clean about California…go public with the whole thing.”
Willow jumped to her feet. “What?”
Faith stood up to face Willow. “Look, I really appreciate what you’ve done to protect me – bailing me outta jail in Toledo, fixing the records and all that – but this is something I need to do. And I swear I’ll keep you out of it.”
“I don’t care about me,” Willow said, outraged. “It’s you I’m worried about!” She reached out and grabbed Faith’s arm. “You don’t belong in jail, Faith. You have more than made up for your past.”
“It doesn’t work that way,” Faith countered. “Gregor taught us that.”
“Gregor was full of crap, and you know it!” Willow snapped as she released Faith’s arm. Then she took a deep breath and softened her tone. “You died saving the world, and an angel brought you back. Why would she do that if she thought you were irredeemable?”
“Because I’m not done making things right here,” Faith said.
“If you think you’re going straight to hell, then why would ‘making things right’ even matter?” Willow asked pointedly.
“Because it matters to me!” Faith said, her voice rising as she took a step back. “I had a chance to do that with Hope, and I never did, and now she’s gone!”
Willow didn’t know what to say at that point. She just tried to give Faith a sympathetic look.
Faith paused to calm herself and then moved on. “I’m supposed to be a hero, a role model, a fighter of evil. How can I do that if I’m lying to the whole world, living my life as if I’m above the law?”
“The better question is. How can you do that if you’re locked away for life?” Willow argued.
“I could do good in prison,” Faith insisted. “There’re a lot of girls that I could help, girls who have had a life like mine. Maybe I can steer them in the right direction, get’em out of jail and keep ’em out.”
“I don’t doubt that you could have a positive influence in prison, but that doesn’t come close to the kind of good you could do out here – what you’re already doing out here, what you have been doing for five years and counting.” Willow held out her hands in a pleading gesture. “We need you, Faith. The world needs you.”
“There are plenty of Chosen Ones now,” Faith said. “The world won’t miss me. ‘Sides, I’ve only got a couple of years before I stop being a slayer. It’s not like I’ll be much good after that.”
“Is that all you think you bring to the Council? The fact that you’re a slayer?” Willow asked gently. “You are so much more than that. You bring strength, leadership, courage…and that has nothing to do with your slayer powers. That’s you – all you.”
Faith met Willow’s eyes. “Look, I’ve made up my mind. I’m just givin’ you a heads up. And like I said, I’ll keep you out of it.”
“It’s not that simple! You’re not the only one being affected here. I have a stake, too.”
“I thought you didn’t care about you,” Faith shot back.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Same Time
Wearing business gray and carrying a small leather attaché, Christabel walked casually through the front entrance of the Council and up to the reception desk that dominated the lobby. She gave the receptionist a polite smile.
“Where can I find Miss Faith Lehane?” Christabel asked.
“I’m sorry, but Miss Lehane is unavailable at the moment,” the receptionist answered, keeping a bland expression while pressing the silent alarm under her counter. “Is there someone else who could help you?”
The civil smile drained from Christabel’s face, and she narrowed her eyes, focusing them on the receptionist. “Where is Faith Lehane?” she demanded in a low but urgent voice.
The receptionist blinked under Christabel’s stare. “Umm, I’m not really supposed to give that information out…” she said uncertainly.
Christabel took a step closer, never allowing the woman to look away from her gaze. She started to repeat her order once again, but stopped when she saw the receptionist involuntarily dart her eyes to the left, where two slayer guards with tranquilizer guns were listening intently to their earpieces.
As soon as the guards glanced up and looked her way, Christabel bolted. She took off in a flash for the front entrance.
“That’s her!” the receptionist screamed. “Get her!”
The slayers instantly followed.
Watchers Council – Front Grounds – Moments Later
The slayer guards were closing on Christabel as she dashed for the city street out front. When she curled around the large Watchers Council sign, they momentarily lost sight of her, but they quickly caught up and made the turn themselves, drawing their weapons as they did so.
When they got there, though, Christabel had vanished.
“What the hell?” one slayer said to the other. The two girls looked around everywhere, but could find no trace of Christabel.
Watchers Council – Willow and Rowena’s Apartment – Same Time
“Okay. Fine. I do care about me,” Willow answered. “Of course I care about me. I have a family now, a wife and two kids, who need me and who I want to be with. And I can’t do that if I’m sitting in federal prison!”
“You told me there was absolutely no evidence, no way to prove anything.”
“There’s not, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make a case,” Willow said. “Lockley already knows that I tampered with the records. And when it comes to the kind of magical disappearing act I pulled with the records, there are only a few of us witches that can pull something like that off, and there’s only one who had a motive, and that’s me.”
Faith seemed to consider Willow’s argument.
“Please, I’m begging you. Give yourself time to think about this and talk to the Council lawyers. I mean, have you even talked to Robin? Just don’t make a rash decision.”
Right when Faith appeared to be close to agreeing, the phone rang. Willow stepped over to it and answered.
“Hello?” Alarm came over Willow’s face. “What?” Faith drew near as Willow listened, shaking her head. “Don’t worry…she’s with me. We’ll be right there.”
“What is it?” Faith asked. “What happened?”
End of Act Three