Caroline Dhavernas as Grace Hatherley, Lucy Lawless as Elizabeth Giles, Marsha Thomason as Nikki Wood, Mischa Barton as Shannon Matthewson, Sean Astin as Alex Rosenberg, Carey Mulligan as Jen Rosenberg, Jamie Bamber as Jake Allister, Scarlett Johansson as Sophie Allister, Gabrielle Christian as Joyce Harris, Deanna Casaluce as Calendar and T.R. Knight as Jackson App
Watchers Council – Grace’s Office – Morning
“You wanted to see me?” Liz asked, as she poked her head inside Grace’s office door.
“Yes. Please come in, Liz,” she said, motioning her inside. “I was just looking over your record. Very impressive.”
Liz grinned slightly. “Thank you.”
“But there is a problem,” she told her.
“Yes, I want to nominate you as my replacement as Council Chair. I’m planning my retirement next year, so we have to move fast.”
“Really?” Liz asked, arching an eyebrow. “Wow…so what’s the problem?”
“You’ve never had the minimum of twelve months of being or overseeing a slayer. That has to happen for me to even consider you for the nomination.”
“Most of my work has been in research and field support. I don’t see why this ridiculous rule is in place anyway.”
“You can thank Willow and Rowena for including it in the charter. In any case, that’s about to change,” Grace told her.
“You’re overriding that rule?”
“No, I’ve assigned you someone.” Grace then turned and hit a button on her desk. “Barb, please send her in.”
Liz turned at the sound of the side door opening to see Joyce Harris enter the room. Liz began to grin nervously and wave her hands in objection.
“Oh, no,” she began. “You’ve got the wrong watcher, okay?”
“Gee, love you too, Liz,” Joyce replied.
“You know I love you. Hell, I used to baby-sit you, for God’s sake.” She then turned to Grace. “This is a mistake, all right? O-our families are too close to each other to have a working relationship like this.”
“You see it as a problem, but I see it as perfection,” Grace told her. “Your father had an excellent relationship with Joyce’s parents, did he not?”
Liz’s jaw set. “Although she’s remarkably like her father, I’m not like mine, and I’m telling you this won’t work.”
“Says who?” Joyce argued.
“Says me,” Liz said, turning to Joyce for a moment before looking back pleadingly with Grace. “I don’t have the patience. She-she’s argumentative and never listens to me, or anyone, for that matter.”
“That is entirely not true,” Joyce butted in.
“You’re doing it now,” Liz countered.
“I am not.”
“Am not,” Joyce said more forcefully.
Liz stopped and just waved her hand in Joyce’s direction, her eyes continuing to plead with Grace. Grace, however, just smiled.
“Look, ladies,” Grace told them. “I’ve made my decision. It’s only one year out of your lives. Joyce will learn some valuable lessons from you, Liz.”
Liz rolled her eyes. “If she listens,” she muttered.
“And,” Grace continued, ignoring her, “by having Joyce as your slayer for one year, you’ll make your requirement. You have to have that minimum, and I can’t risk pairing you with someone else who might not fit and request a transfer.”
“Who’s to say I won’t request one?” Joyce added. Both women looked in her direction. “I’m not saying I will. I’m just…saying…”
“Bloody hell,” Liz sighed.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Moments Later
Liz walked casually down the hallway, while Joyce bounced beside her like an excited puppy.
“So what’s up first?” Joyce asked. “Unspeakable evil, defeating a doomsday prophecy –?”
“This,” Liz said as she reached into her briefcase and handed her a book.
“Ancient text of some sort?” Joyce asked, taking it.
“No, the Slayer Handbook. Read it, memorize it and follow it. I’ll be giving you a quiz tomorrow. We’ll start physical training after the test.”
Liz continued to walk down the hall as Joyce looked at the book, disappointed. Although Liz was already rounding the corner, Joyce called out, “Is there a Cliffs Notes version, by chance?”
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Moments Later
“Sorry I’m late,” Liz said as she walked in. She then pointed at Rowena. “…but you’re the reason why.”
“Excuse me?” Rowena said, looking around herself to make sure Liz was pointing at her. “What did I do?”
“That ridiculous rule you and Aunt Will enacted about the Council Chair needing experience overseeing a slayer. A-and do you know who Grace picked for me?”
“That’s right, Joyce Har –. Wait. How did you know?”
“Grace asked and I recommended her.”
Liz seemed speechless at first. “Oh, thanks a lot, Aunt Ro.”
“It’s a good fit,” Rowena said defensively.
Again, Liz seemed flabbergasted. “What did I ever do to you to deserve this?” she finally asked. Rowena began to open her mouth and held up her hand like she was going to start counting. “Don’t answer that,” she said quickly. “Anyway, let’s get down to it…where are we?”
“As you know, I’m retiring next month,” Shannon told them.
“Yaaaayyyy,” Jen said giving a little clap. When the eyes in the room turned coldly toward her, she quickly added. “No! Not that I want to see you go, Shannon. Just that you made it, y’know? That’s all I meant.”
The sound of a piece of paper being crumpled was quickly followed by said paper hitting Jen on the side of the head. Jen looked across the desk to see Liz trying to look away casually as Rowena slapped Liz’s arm.
“Cut it out,” the older watcher warned Liz. Although she wasn’t looking in Jen’s direction, Rowena pointed and told the slayer, “Drop it.” Rowena and Liz then turned back to Jen and watched her drop the crumpled paper in her hand, letting it fall to the desk.
Shannon smiled and shook her head. “You think they’d be past this by now.”
“She started it,” Jen muttered to no one in particular.
“And how old are you?” Liz teased.
“You know I’m gonna be twenty-nine,” Jen replied. She then added, “…and far more mature than you, obviously.”
Liz smiled and then stuck out her tongue and chuckled.
“Anyway,” Shannon continued, clearly trying to return to some semblance of a serious meeting. “Jen has been briefed on everything she needs for the transition. But as with everyone who’s come and gone, and survived their time in office, I’ll be available should she have any questions. Or at least I will be, after my two weeks in Bermuda.”
“A little fun in the sun, huh?” Liz asked.
“Well, you’ve certainly earned it.”
“Brown noser,” Jen grumbled toward Liz. “No, seriously, Shannon. Congrats. I know we can get goofy here, but really, the shop’s in good hands. You can relax in peace.”
“I get it. Humor breaks tension,” Shannon told them. “And speaking of tension, we’re still getting these odd reports. People saying demons are coming out of nowhere, attacking, then disappearing again.”
“I’ve got Nikki running a task force,” Rowena told the group. “But no news yet.”
“The Coven?” Shannon asked.
“Nothing there either when I asked Will this morning.”
Shannon nodded. “I’ve got the patrols on high alert, so if anyone turns up anything let them know.”
“Where is Aunt Will, anyway?” Liz asked.
Watchers Council – Weapons Lab – Same Time
“Ready?” Xander asked.
Willow nodded, and Xander pressed a button on the device he held. It began to smoke and he dropped it, shaking his hands.
“Sorry, but I don’t think that’s it, Xan.”
“Ya think?” he asked, as he blew on his hands to try to cool them off.
Willow grinned, but soon looked serious again. “Maybe we should just forget this. It seems like we’ve tried every combination.”
“No. Grace wants an anti-magical gun. I build an anti-magical gun. That’s the rules.”
“Just don’t forget, you have to help me plan Ro’s birthday party for next month, so make sure you know your priorities and don’t spend all your time down here in the basement.”
Before Xander could reply, the door to the lab burst open. Joyce entered, waving the slayer handbook.
“Do you know who they paired me with?”
“Liz Giles,” Xander and Willow both replied absently, as they returned to working on the gun.
“That’s right,” she replied. “They couldn’t find anyone else?”
“We thought it’d be best,” Willow answered.
“We?” Joyce asked.
Willow nodded. “Ro suggested it, and your dad and I agreed.”
Joyce sat dejectedly on a nearby stool. “Yeah, well, she doesn’t have me slaying anything. She’s got me studying this…waste of natural resources,” she said, waving the Slayer Handbook.
“Hey, I helped write that, thank you very much,” Willow pointed out.
Joyce brightened. “Really? Well…maybe you can –”
“Read the book yourself,” Willow said knowingly.
Joyce’s shoulders slumped and she frowned.
Watchers Council – Research Center – Later Same Day
Nikki had her holo-computer on and was pointing at the screen when Liz plopped down beside her. She accidentally hit Nikki’s shoulder, making the image flicker.
“Hey, I’m working here,” Nikki complained in a soft, but demanding, voice.
“Guess what?” Liz whispered in an excited, conspiratorial tone, totally ignoring the barb. She looked right and left around her as if to check who else in the room might be listening.
“Shhh,” one of the nearby researching watchers told them.
“What?” Nikki asked. Liz cupped her hands around Nikki’s ear and said something unheard. “You’re kidding!” Nikki exclaimed loudly. Liz motioned with her hands to keep it down, but it was too late. Everyone in the silent room turned and hurled a nasty stare in their direction. “Sorry,” Nikki told them. “We’ll leave.”
Nikki then turned off the computer and took off the controller on her finger. She motioned for Liz to follow her.
Watchers Council – Hallway Outside Research Center – Continuous
“So I guess with you in charge, I’ll finally make Senior Watcher?” Nikki asked hopefully, still keeping her voice low.
“Heck, no.” Liz told her. Nikki looked defeated. “It wouldn’t be right to give promotions to friends who are practically relatives.”
“Oh, please,” Nikki began. “Name one person here who’s not somehow related to someone else?”
Liz thought for a moment. “Jackson,” she replied.
“Fine, name another.”
Liz thought again, her eyes moving left and right, before settling on Nikki again. Finally, she said, “I answered your original question, all right?” Nikki smiled and shook her head. “Seriously, we’ve got lots of newbies here, but that’s not the point,” Liz continued. “Your promotion will happen…and before mine, actually.”
Suddenly hopeful again, Nikki asked, “Are you yankin’ my chain?”
Liz shook her head. “Yours’ll probably be in the next quarter but Grace isn’t leaving until next year…” Nikki looked like she might start jumping up and down but Liz held her in place adding, “but you didn’t hear that from me. Got it?”
“How do you know?” Nikki asked.
Liz looked deadly serious and said, “I know all. I see all. I am all.” Nikki just gave her a stern, unimpressed look. Liz couldn’t hold it any longer and started to smile. “I saw your file in Grace’s office, okay?” Nikki giggled. “The point is, you’ll be there sooner than you think…and rightfully so,” Liz added.
Nikki gave her a genuine smile. “Well, friend or not, I am glad Grace has the good sense to pick someone with the guts to lead this crazy group.”
Liz returned the gesture. “Thanks, but I have to survive Harris first.”
“You’ll do fine, I’m sure,” Nikki told her, but Liz got a peculiar look suddenly. “What is it?”
“I just thought of something. If this is a crazy group…and I become their leader…what does that make me?”
“The nuttiest one of all, of course,” Nikki laughed as she slapped Liz’s shoulder.
“Pain in my ass,” Liz grumbled, but then grinned.
Watchers Council – Slayer Locker Room – Same Time
Teenage girls walked around the locker room in various states of dress. Some were fully clothed, while others wore towels or robes. Still others just had on undergarments.
Joyce was already dressed, although her hair was still damp as she stood by her locker. She suddenly looked down to see a damp towel wrapped around her upper body, pinning her arms. She was thrust backward into someone else.
“Gettin’ slow already, huh Harris?” a voice said behind her.
Joyce grinned for a brief second and let her shoed foot quickly work its way behind the intruder before snapping it forward. This put her attacker off balance. As the towel began to slip away, Joyce reached out and grabbed it before she spun around.
She reacted just in time as Calendar almost crashed hard to the ground. Not letting that happen, Joyce gave the towel a pull so Calendar landed on her bottom with a soft thud, instead.
“Still not as slow as you,” Joyce quipped as she tossed her end of the towel at her friend.
Sitting in her robe on the ground, a damp towel in her hand, Calendar began to make her way to her feet again. “Someday I’ll get ya,” she replied.
“In your dreams…maybe,” Joyce retorted. Soon, however, an odd expression took shape on her face.
Recognizing the look, Calendar asked, “What?”
“Have you ever had weird dreams?”
“Like slayer dreams?” Calendar asked.
Joyce shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean how do I know if something’s a slayer dream or just a dream dream?”
It was Calendar’s turn to shrug. Then she smiled. “Why not ask your new watcher? Ha!”
Joyce rolled her eyes. “Thanks for reminding me.”
Calendar wore a broad grin. “That’s what I’m here for.”
“No, I’m serious,” Joyce continued. “Do you know?”
“Not really,” she replied honestly. “My mom had a few when she was active, she said. Maybe you can talk to her.”
“Maybe,” Joyce said, although she didn’t sound totally convinced.
“I know I was teasin’, but really, if anyone would know it would probably be Giles. The woman’s like a walking wikipedia, but, y’know, accurate. It’s kinda scary, actually.”
Joyce grinned. “Yeah, but she’s never been a slayer, so she wouldn’t know…not exactly.”
“Well, like I said, I’m sure my mom would talk to you. What was the dream about, anyway?”
Joyce seemed reluctant to say anything. “It was…kind of a nightmare.”
“Oooh, do tell,” Calendar prodded.
Joyce just waved her hand dismissively. “Not as exciting as you might think, but it scared me.”
“Was I in it?” she asked.
“Yeah,” she replied. “Rosenberg, too – Jen, I mean. We were all there.”
Joyce grabbed her coat from the locker. “Like I said, there’s not much to tell.” She put the jacket on. “Besides you should be working on your footing more than worrying about my dreams,” she jibed as she started to leave.
“Oh, ha, ha,” Calendar called after her.
Joyce just continued to walk away with a smile.
Watchers Council – Weapons Lab – Same Time
“Okay,” Xander sighed. “Take three.”
“Technically, it’s take twenty-three,” Willow replied. Xander just gave her a callous look. “Okay, it’s number three for today, but the other twenty times…” Before she could say more, Rowena walked into the room. “Hey, look, it’s Ro!” she said, sounding thankful for the distraction.
They met each other halfway into the room, giving each other a solid kiss.
“How goes it?” Rowena asked.
Willow said, “Not good,” while Xander said, “Just fine,” at the same time.
Rowena paused a beat and said, “I’m sensing a conflict.”
Xander gently tossed his screwdriver to the table. “Who am I kidding? Put a fork in me, I’m done.”
“Not a bad idea,” Willow told him. “Let’s try again tomorrow – clearer heads and all that.”
“I don’t understand why this one is giving me such a problem? I think I’m slipping,” Xander replied.
“I think you’re tired,” Willow answered. “Go home. Besides, I’m sure the Missus misses you, so take off.”
“What are you gonna do?” Xander asked.
Willow shrugged. “Maybe get frisky with my Missus here in the lab once you leave.”
“Well, if that’s the case, I’ll stay,” Xander replied with a sly grin.
Rowena took them both by the hand and started walking them out. “Come on guys, we’ll all leave. How’s that?”
Willow and Xander both groaned in annoyance.
Liz’s House – Foyer – Later that Evening
As soon as Liz crossed the threshold she heard someone call out, “Mom!” and she smiled. She turned to see her seven-year-old son running toward her.
She tousled his hair upon his arrival. “Nathan! What did you and Aunt Dawn do tonight?”
“Lots of stuff!” he informed her.
“Well, tell me all about it,” she said, as she walked into the living room.
Dawn rose from her place on the sofa and handed Nathan a piece of paper, which he promptly took over to his mom. “See?”
The paper had different kinds of autumn leaves on it, with names written underneath. “That’s pretty cool,” Liz complimented. “Can I put it in my office at work?”
“Sure,” he said happily, going back to the colored pencils on the coffee table.
“Thanks, Aunt Dawn,” Liz told her, as Dawn made her way over and grabbed her coat.
“For what?” Dawn asked.
“For doing more than just watching him,” she said as she waved the picture. “Most babysitters I’ve had don’t do much more than make sure he doesn’t burn down the house.”
Dawn shrugged. “It was nothing, besides it’s more fun than just sitting around. In fact, tomorrow we might go look for different rocks,” she added with a smile.
“Well, I appreciate it greatly. It helps me knowing he’s in good hands.”
Dawn leaned over and got to her tiptoes to give Liz a kiss on the cheek. “Don’t mention it.” She then turned to the living room. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Nate,” she called out.
“Bye, Aunt Dawn,” he replied with a wave.
Liz let Dawn out and closed the door behind her, locking it. She took off her shoes and walked deeper inside.
Liz’s House – Living Room – Moments Later
Liz plopped down on the sofa and let out a relaxed sigh.
“TVs on,” she said. Several monitors came on in several different rooms at the same time. “Did you eat?” she asked Nathan.
“Yep, Aunt Dawn made tacos,” he replied. “She put some away for you in the fridge.”
“Okay, let’s get you a bath. I’ll run the water and you get your PJs.”
“Okay.” The boy darted away, saying, “Make extra bubbles, okay?”
Liz smiled and pulled herself from the sofa.
Liz’s House – Bathroom – Moments Later
As Liz kept her finger under the water, testing its temperature as the bubbly water filled the tub, she watched, with great interest, the TV news report on a screen embedded in the wall.
“And as we promised earlier, shocking video tonight,” the newscaster announced. “It seems that there is finally video of a victim in the latest rash of demon attacks that have gone unexplained by the Watchers Council. Taylor Michelle offers his report.”
“Sound up,” Liz commanded, and the sound automatically went up on the screen.
“Thank you, Mara,” Taylor said before he continued, “First let me say that, due to the intense nature of this video, viewer discretion is advised…” The film began to roll as Nathan came back into the room.
“Huh, mom?” he said, pointing to the tub.
Liz looked over to see the water approaching the edge. “Shoot!” she said as she turned off the water and then released the seal, letting it drain.
“TV off,” Liz said, making Nathan grumble. “Nothing you wanted to see anyway, buddy. Got your pajamas?” she asked.
“I’m not going to have any water,” he told her as he put his clothes on the closed toilet seat.
She let it drain a moment longer before resealing it. “There’s still water – don’t worry.” She then motioned to the tub and said, “Hop in.”
“Mom,” he whined and then motioned for her to go.
“Sorry, I forgot, you’re getting modest now.” She grinned. “Just make sure you dry off before you put the pajamas on, okay? Last night you looked like a deep sea diver.”
“I know,” he replied with annoyance. “Can I watch cartoons?” he asked.
“Sorry,” Liz told him, as she checked the sink for wetness and moved his clothes there. “I feel better when I can hear you splashing. Maybe later after your bath, you can.” She closed the door behind her, but didn’t let it close completely. “Yell if you need me,” she told him. “I’ll be in the living room,” she added as he pulled off his shirt.
Liz’s House – Living Room – Moments Later
As soon as Liz walked in she said, “Living Room TV,” and it came back on.
“Thanks, Taylor, for that special report,” the newswoman said.
“Rewind segment,” Liz said, and the report started over. She watched the screen again.
“Thank you, Mara,” Taylor said again, “First, let me say that due to the intense nature of this video, viewer discretion is advised…It was two weeks ago today that a slayer patrol found the first victim, Francis DeMarco. Tonight, however, a camera near an ATM caught this shocking footage…”
Liz watched intensely for a few moments, then said, “Rewind ten seconds.”
Again Taylor said, “Tonight, however, a camera near an ATM caught this shocking footage…”
Immediately after the lead-in, Liz said, “Slow Mo.”
She moved in closer and watched for a few moments before her eyes went wide. She then pressed a button on the end table.
“Hey, Liz,” Nikki said on the other end.
“Hey, Nik. Call Action News 7 and tell them they have footage we want…”
Watchers Council – Media Room – Next Morning
“Stop! See? Right there!” Liz told those gathered in the room, as she pulled the glasses from her face.
All those around the room had a monitor in front of them, all showing the same screen: a circle appeared around a fire hydrant, as Liz drew with an electronic pen. She then spoke into a microphone. “Slow mo – five frames.” The frames clicked off, and when they got to the third frame she said, “Pause.” She then addressed the others again. “Look at the circle,” she told them.
“It’s gone,” Rowena said. “The hydrant disappeared.”
“Now, wait,” Liz told her. Then she spoke into the microphone. “Advance one frame.” As the frame changed, a demon was in view.
“It’s a demon fire hydrant?” Nikki asked, disbelieving.
“It could be a shadow,” Shannon offered. “Something blocking the hydrant.”
Liz shook her head. “No, but I thought that too, at first. If you look at the lighting…here…” she said, pointing, “…and here…”
“It’s not lighting,” Willow added.
“Magic?” Rowena asked.
Willow shrugged. “Can’t say just based on the footage, but it is pretty weird. I’ll give you that.”
“But in a way it makes sense,” Liz told them. “The witnesses who’ve survived said the demons came out of nowhere. Maybe the fact of the matter is, they didn’t come out. Instead, the demons were there all along.”
“Do you realize what you’re saying Liz?” Shannon asked her. “That these demons could be anywhere, at any time, in plain sight?”
“I do,” Liz replied.
“Beautiful,” Jen sighed sarcastically. “Then how do we even look for them? How do we stop them?”
“I don’t know,” Liz replied.
All eyes then fell on Willow. “What? Like I’m supposed to know? I’m as baffled as all of you.”
“Aunt Ro, have you ever seen a demon species that can do this?” Liz asked.
“Well, there are certainly shape-shifters, but usually they can’t maintain a shape except for a few moments; half an hour, at the very most. You said this video was over an hour long, and the hydrant was there, right?”
Liz nodded. “Yes, and it was a very boring hour, so you’re getting the abridged version. But the hydrant was always there until the demon showed up.”
Rowena then shrugged, too. “Well, put me in the baffled camp with Willow.”
“Nikki?” Shannon said, turning to her.
“I’ll have the teams keep looking,” she replied without Shannon having to finish. “Now that we’ve got a better lead, it might help us narrow our search.”
“I’d help,” Liz told her, “but I’ve got a new assignment now.”
Nikki grinned. “Nah, you’ve done plenty here, Liz. This’ll help, I’m sure.”
Watchers Council – Training Room – Later that Day
Joyce waited impatiently, hands on hips, next to a worn, chalk-covered pommel horse in the center of the training room.
“C’mon,” she urged. “Let’s get going already.”
Liz sat in the corner of the room, at a glass table that doubled as a computer screen. She ran her hands over columns of information, quickly scrolling through a database.
“I’m still looking over your exam,” she said without looking up.
“Didn’t W.I.L.L.O.W. the computer already do that?” Joyce asked. “What, you didn’t believe it?”
“Something like that…”
Joyce sighed and hopped up on the horse. “Fine.” Legs spread, she began to swing around on the pommels.
After a moment, Liz looked up to see Joyce upside-down, doing a handstand on the horse.
“Joyce, I need you to be honest with me. Did you get Aunt Willow to help with this?”
“Nope,” Joyce replied. “But don’t think I didn’t try.” She let go of one of the pommels and remained upright, supported only by a single hand. “Check this out. Isn’t this positively fuchsia?”
Liz sighed. “Yet another word that has been co-opted by the young and the blonde.” She got to her feet, gesturing to the computer table. “I’m serious, Joyce. These scores are…extraordinary.”
“Don’t sound so shocked,” Joyce replied. She dismounted the horse, taking an exaggerated bow upon landing. “What?” she asked. “You didn’t think I was smart?”
“No!” Liz replied automatically. Joyce raised an eyebrow. “All right, that’s a fib – I didn’t think you were this smart,” she said, waving to the computer.
“No, what I mean is …you said you’d never read the handbook before, right?”
“And you studied it last night?”
“And you got 99%.”
“If you say so.”
“And you didn’t have Aunt Will give you the answers?”
“Didn’t we cover that already? If you keep asking the same questions then this is gonna be a very long and boring conversation, Liz.”
“I’m just…I’m in awe.”
“Oh, I get it,” Joyce chuckled. “Slayers – all brawn, no brain. Is that it?”
“No!” Liz answered automatically again. Once more Joyce waited with an arched eyebrow. “And this time I’m not changing my answer. I know slayers can be smart – both Shannon and Jen, in particular. That’s not it.”
“So you think it’s just me who’s dumb then?”
“Not dumb. It’s just…it was one night of studying. How did you memorize an entire book in one night?”
Joyce shrugged. “Don’t know, just be happy that I did, okay?” She grinned. “Hey, did you know that, as a slayer, I have the right to challenge your training schedules, your choice of weapons, your orders? That’s pretty cool.”
“True,” Liz nodded. “You have the right to appeal to the Head of the Slayer Branch…who happens to be my close personal friend.”
“Well, the new one taking over is technically my half-sister. And blood is thicker than water,” Joyce said, crossing her arms.
“Hey, I grew up with Jen – footie PJ sleepovers and everything,” Liz shot back.
“Oh yeah, well…she adored me so much, I hear she was willing to change my diapers.”
Liz sighed. “Look, did you bring the equipment?”
Joyce scoffed. “Hey, I am a slayer. I’m always ready.”
“Fine. Let’s go, Slayer.”
Watchers Council – Training Room – Moments Later
Liz and Joyce circled each other on a cushioned mat. Each wore a pair of what looked like wrap-around sunglasses, with black gloves on each hand.
“You’re putting too much weight on your back foot,” Liz told her charge. “You’re giving away the initiative.”
“What am I supposed to do?” Joyce asked. “You’re a twenty-foot-tall Talax demon!”
“But remember,” Liz pointed out, “it’s the mouse that scares the elephant, not the other way around.”
“That’s a myth, y’know?” Joyce replied, dropping her defensive stance. “Elephants have really bad eyesight. They can’t even see the mouse.”
“Just attack me already,” Liz said, annoyed. She raised her hands in a claw-like gesture.
Joyce jumped up and delivered a roundhouse kick that caught Liz in the stomach. Both of them fell to the mat and Joyce ripped off her glasses.
“Are you okay? I didn’t mean to do that. I was going for your tree trunk legs,” she explained to Liz.
Liz pulled the training equipment off her body, starting with the glasses.
“Remember, we’re doing virtual demons here. I’m really not twenty feet tall…and, for the record, I don’t have tree trunk legs.”
“In the suit you do. Besides, you’re pretty close to that height anyway, right?” Joyce teased. Liz tried to look stern for a moment, but then began to grin.
“Nearly six feet is nowhere close to twenty, thank you.”
“Six feet? Damn.”
“Well, yeah, my dad’s six-one and my mom’s five-eight…and why am I telling you this?”
Joyce paused. “To prove I’m really short?” she offered.
“As I keep telling you, and my stomach can attest to, height doesn’t matter. It’s skill,” Liz told her. Joyce looked as if she was thinking of something serious for a moment. “What is it?” Liz asked.
“Huh,” Joyce said, coming out of her distraction. “Oh, just thinking. Actually, I asked Calendar something, and she said to ask you.”
“Well, you said skill is what matters but…I had a dream about me, Calendar and Jen. They both tried to take on this huge demon, but he was too much and…”
“What?” Liz asked.
“He killed them,” Joyce said, obviously still upset by the dream. “I didn’t tell Calendar about it. Don’t know why, since it was just a dream after all, but still…it seemed real. Like I was really there and not watching a movie, like most dreams. I could feel things, like almost smell them too. Anyway, it gave me the wiggins.”
Liz now looked concerned. “What happened in this dream exactly?”
“The weird part, well, besides the laser squirrels…this bench just changed into a demon. It started to eat this homeless guy and –”
“You mean the bench suddenly became a demon?” Liz asked, cutting her off.
“Yeah! I told you it was freaky.”
Liz was already making her way to the door. “Come with me,” she yelled.
“What did I say?” Joyce asked, before giving chase.
End of Act One