Alley Near Warehouse – Continuous
Skye looked at the bloody dagger in her hand as she stood over Brell. She moved to the ground where he lay still, getting close to his face.
“Play dead,” she told him before the other demons approached. Brell obediently closed his eyes.
“Great work,” Jotas told Skye. “Let’s get this loser out of here.”
“I got it, guys,” Skye told them. “My kill, I should be the one to handle it.”
“You sure?” Roger asked. “It’s no trouble.”
“Yeah,” she said. “Can you do me a favor, though?”
“Sure,” Roger answered.
Skye handed them the dagger. “Take this back to the boss and tell her it’s done? I don’t know if she wants it back or not. She didn’t say. If not, you guys can get rid of it.”
“You got it,” Jotas said. He took the dagger and motioned Roger to follow him back to the warehouse.
Using her vampire strength, Skye picked up Brell with relative ease and began to carry him in the opposite direction. Once she rounded the corner, she put him on his feet, and the two of them raced down the street together.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Skye asked as they jogged. “You nearly ruined my cover. And when she mentioned the Council had an insider there, I nearly ruined my underwear.”
“Mr. Giles asked that I come. So I come,” Brell replied.
“You’re lucky she picked me and a dagger as the weapon of choice,” Skye told him as they came to a stop. She looked around them.
“So you know stabbing doesn’t kill Brell?” he asked.
“Yeah, of course. I wouldn’t kill you,” Skye said.
“But you’re a vampire,” he replied.
“I’ve got a Chia Soul,” Skye answered. Brell looked bewildered. “A soul, kind of growing…sort of…I don’t know what the hell it is.”
They both began walking.
“Look, I don’t know why he sent you –” Skye began.
“He said the reports you make don’t say much,” Brell replied, cutting her off.
Skye stopped walking again, causing Brell to do the same. “Do you have a car?” she asked.
“Good,” she said. “We’re getting Giles, and all three of us are going back to the Council…tonight.”
Watchers Council – Hallway – Later that Night
Rowena answered her door in her pajamas to see Skye, Giles, and Brell standing in the hallway.
“Wha…What’s going on?” she asked.
Skye pitched a thumb behind her. “These two almost got me killed tonight. Call Xander to watch your spawn. There’s a Council meeting right now, private party of five.”
With that, Skye walked away.
“We’ll be in the meeting room,” Giles told her sheepishly, and then he and Brell moved to catch up.
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Minutes Later
Still in her pajamas, Rowena sat at a table with Buffy, Giles, Brell and Skye.
“I don’t appreciate being undermined here,” Skye told them. “So I’m out. Find another way, because I’m done.”
“Like I told everyone today, Skye,” Rowena said, “you’re our best shot, all right?”
“No, not all right. If I had a beating heart, it probably would have attacked me tonight. When the head honcho grabs you and says there’s a traitor in her midst, it kinda scares you to death…if I wasn’t already dead, that is. So forget it. If you think I can’t be trusted, what’s the point?”
“Dawn’s the point,” Buffy replied. Everyone looked her way. “Sure, saving the world is great, but I’ll be honest…I’m biased. I want to save everyone in this room, everyone I love, first and foremost.”
“Gee,” Skye said sarcastically, “even me?”
“Yes,” Buffy replied sincerely, much to everyone’s surprise. “Dawn loves you. Only God above knows why, but she does. If anything were to happen to you, it would devastate her. So for her sake, yes, even you. By the way, after you left, you didn’t see what happened in the meeting.”
“Oh god,” Rowena buried her face in her hands.
“Rowena made some cutting comments. Some weren’t true.”
“I had no idea you and Xander were dating, Buffy. I didn’t,” Rowena said.
“You and Xander?” Skye asked.
“Really?” Giles asked with a proud smile. “Why that-that’s wonderful, Buffy. Really.”
“I’m happy you approve,” Buffy replied. “But the point is, she mentioned that my judgment in the vamp love department isn’t the best. And she’s right. I can’t say that what happened to me will happen to Dawn. So you’ve got a chance to prove me wrong. Of course, right now, listening to you give up, it makes me wonder if my assumption isn’t correct, that all you really do care about is yourself. Because the work you’re doing could help the world, sure, but most of all, it would help Dawn and the other people I love.”
Skye let out a sigh. “I’m trying, guys. I really am. Ask Brell. I even asked to take part in the blood bank heist to try to get info, but no go.”
“That is true,” Brell said. “She did ask.”
“Right,” Skye replied. “Like I said earlier, they’re not letting me close, and it seems like this thing is just…it’s so well planned, like it’s been masterminded for decades, maybe centuries, and this bitch has got a role for each and every demon.”
“What’s your role?” Buffy asked.
“That’s just it, I don’t know,” Skye replied. “I sit and listen to boring speeches and parts of plans, but as for my part…I don’t know yet.” She then turned to Giles. “But sending in someone to spy on me isn’t going to fly. We got lucky tonight, damn lucky. And Little Boy Blue over there needs to stay away from now on. And you guys have to help me come up with a convincing story of what I did with his body.”
“So does that mean you’re still in?” Rowena asked.
“Do you think it’s doing any good?” Skye asked sincerely. “Be honest. I know I’m not reporting much, but they’re not telling me much. Everything is on a need-to-know basis with them. They’re like the damn Watchers Council, only they’re demons. The Demon Council, that’s it. They’re the Demon Council.”
Buffy sighed. “I’ve got the other branches on stand-by right now, stepping up patrols in other cities around other blood banks, just in case. But we’re spread thin. I just…”
“…wish you had more,” Skye finished. “You and me both.”
“If you stay at this,” Buffy said, “You have my word that we won’t authorize anyone else to tail you or try to get into this group.”
Skye looked over at Rowena. “Did you know about Brell?”
“No,” Buffy answered for Rowena, as the watcher shook her head. “She’s been busy with…other things lately.” Buffy turned to Rowena. “We didn’t want to put one more thing on your plate, Rowena. That’s the only reason why we didn’t say anything about Brell.”
“As long as Skye agrees to go back…I won’t be upset,” Rowena replied.
All eyes then looked to Skye.
“So, I’ve got your word, then – no more cooks in the Voice of Hell’s kitchen?” the vampire asked.
Buffy grinned slightly. “I swear.”
“All right, I’m still in,” Skye said.
Voice of Hell Office – Same Time
The Voice of Hell seemed to glide across the floor as she inspected the five demons standing at attention in front of her.
“Yes,” she said, nodding her head in approval. “Realize that what you’ll do tonight is significant in our fight for domination. You’ll be helping your fellow demons, should you succeed in your task. And should you fail in your goal, realize that your spawn and the spawn of your spawn will understand all you’ve sacrificed to make their world – this world – a better place for them. A new world order is coming, and you all have the honor of seeing it from the front line. I expect you back here tomorrow. Understood?”
“Yes, ma’am,” they all replied in a strong voice.
“Go then and make your final preparations.”
As they exited, another demon standing by the door handed each one of them something from a box. After they had all left, he approached the Voice.
“Do you honestly believe this will do anything substantial to the Council?” he asked.
“While it’s true I have friends in low places…I also have friends in high ones,” she replied.
“O’Mara,” he muttered.
The Voice of Hell smiled slightly. “And others,” she assured him. “You’ll realize soon enough that not all battles are fought on a field, or even on a city street. Some battles, my dear, are political ones…and those can be the most crushing of all.”
“How can you be sure?” he asked.
She walked him back toward the door.
“Image might not be everything,” she told him. “But it sure means a hell of a lot.”
She smiled before turning out the light and putting the room into blackness.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Next Morning
Andrew walked in, moving swiftly, making Dawn and Jeff turn their heads.
“Sorry I’m late,” he replied. “I’m kind of pulling double duty – the new cook is…” He seemed to be searching for the right term.
“Terrible?” Dawn offered.
“What makes you say that?” Andrew asked.
“I ordered eggs, and they practically clucked. They weren’t cooked at all,” she replied.
“Yeah,” Andrew sighed knowingly. “I’m going to move Steff to the fruit and veggie line as soon as I can get another cook in place. You have no idea how hard it is to find someone who’s cooked for hundreds of people at once. Anyway, have we been practicing?” He ended on an optimistic tone.
“Yeah,” Jeff replied reluctantly.
“But?” Andrew asked.
“But we’re a bit off. Two guys, one girl – the natural balance isn’t there anymore.”
“Well, there’s not a whole lot we can do about that,” Andrew answered. “Our other balance is, ya know, in the big house.”
Jeff and Dawn looked at each other.
“You tell him,” Dawn prodded Jeff.
“No, you,” Jeff replied.
The two began to talk at the same time, each of them trying to prompt the other to talk.
Andrew whistled loudly, getting both of their attention.
“Guys? Someone talk.”
“Well,” Jeff sighed. “You know we’ve tried Skye, but the whole vamp thing just throws us off and…let me preface what I’m going to say by adding, I love Willow. You guys know that, right?” Andrew and Dawn both nodded. “She’s been there for me whenever I needed her, like a mom slash big sister, but all the attempts to help her get out have been…well, fruitless. Bottom line, Andrew, we need another female here.”
“You want to replace Willow?” Andrew asked.
“Not full-time,” Dawn quickly added.
“Right,” Jeff agreed just as quickly. “Only until things get back to normal.”
“Where are we going to find a part-time witch?” Andrew asked.
Dawn and Jeff looked at each other again for a moment.
“We have an idea,” Dawn replied.
Watchers Council – Cafeteria – Later that Morning
“Excuse me?” Kennedy asked, as she looked at Andrew, Dawn, and Jeff on the other side of the table. She took a bite of her eggs and then promptly spit them on her plate. She wiped her mouth with a paper towel. “Oh, that’s just nasty…” she said, before taking a long drink of orange juice. “Sorry…you were saying.”
“We need you,” Andrew told her. Dawn and Jeff both nodded.
“To run the Coven?” Kennedy asked.
“No,” Andrew corrected. “I’m the high priest, so I run the Coven, but magic works best with boy/girl human combos, and as you know, we’re a girl – well, woman – short in that area. You know magic, and you’re naturally inclined so…will you be my woman?”
Jeff and Dawn both grinned and nodded excitedly.
Kennedy smiled just a little bit. “That’s a question I never would have expected to hear from you, ever, in a million years.”
Andrew sighed. “You know what I mean.”
“How about this?” Kennedy suggested. “If I say yes, do you promise to do the cooking again, at least until you find someone who knows how to cook?”
“Deal,” Andrew said as he held out his hand.
Kennedy shook it. “Good, now get back in the kitchen before the Council starves or dies of salmonella. And you guys help him find a cook today so that we can start the Coven stuff tomorrow. Agreed?”
Nods went all around the table.
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Later that Day
Faith walked in to see Andrew in an apron.
“I thought you hired someone?” she asked.
“I did,” he replied, “but I let her go to make a deal. Speaking of which, I’m stealing Ken for the Coven.”
“I’m sorry. Did you say you’re taking my second-in-command?”
“Yeah,” Andrew replied. “Can you hand me –?” Faith was already out the door. “Sheesh, what’s her problem?” he sighed.
Watchers Council – Buffy’s Office – Moments Later
“He can’t just take her,” Faith said. “She’s mine!”
“Awfully possessive, aren’t we?” Buffy teased. “My god, you make her sound like a piece of property, like she’s a crossbow.”
“You know what I mean,” Faith sighed.
“With Willow gone, we all have to make adjustments,” Buffy told her.
“It’s not fair,” Faith grumbled.
“Life isn’t fair. See this?” Buffy asked, holding up a few papers. “Do you have any idea what these are?” she asked as she fanned them out.
“The beginning of your tell-all book?” Faith offered.
“They’re job postings – all things Willow used to do that we just can’t wait on anymore.” She looked at each one and began flipping them over. “This one is for an IT position. This one is for a purchaser. This one is…” Buffy stopped to read it. “…I don’t even understand this job to be honest.” She put the stack down. “Faith, we can’t just ‘hire’ a female witch. If Andrew believes in Kennedy and Kennedy has agreed to the switch, I’m siding with Andrew on this one. Majority rules – Ken goes to the coven.”
“Why not use someone from another city to sit in, just for now?” Faith asked.
“Why not use Mia, or Siobhan, or Hadley, or hell, even Lori. She’s done rotations, even if she can’t be in the field. Do I have to keep going? We’ve got skilled girls for the slot.”
“I want Ken,” Faith grumbled under her breath.
“Oh for…” Buffy sighed. She closed her eyes and held her temples. “Alex and Jen don’t cry as much as you.”
“I’m not crying,” Faith countered. “I’m whining…there’s a difference.”
Buffy opened her eyes. “Fine. Go whine somewhere else. But I’ll make a deal – if Ken wants to do something slayer-related, that’s fine, but for now her priority is the Coven. Got it?”
Buffy’s intercom buzzed. “Ms. Summers, Mr. Pollan is here to see you.”
“Send him in,” Buffy replied. She turned to Faith. “You can stay, but you can’t sulk.”
“Fine, I’ll sulk elsewhere,” she said. With this. Faith left, passing Jim as he entered.
Autumn O’Mara’s Cleveland Office – Day
Rock Cartwright, wearing a microphone, sat across from Autumn O’Mara in her local office. His cameraman was positioned in between, so that he could focus in on either or both of the speakers.
“So in other words,” the reporter asked. “you’re saying the Watchers Council is a terrorist organization?”
“I’m asking the public to consider the facts,” O’Mara replied. “They endanger human life under the guise of helping fight demonic forces.”
“The list is long,” O’Mara replied. “But I’ll start with something that happened nearly a year ago in my own city of Cleveland. The Council responded to a threat from one of their own Coven members, and it ended in millions’ worth of damage to both public and private property. If you ask me, they should have locked up Willow Rosenberg years ago.”
“Speaking of which, she’s being held on federal charges of tampering with evidence and has been in prison for over three months now without a hearing even being scheduled.”
“Your point?” O’Mara asked.
“Don’t you find that to be a bit unusual?” Rock asked.
“As I said, this Watchers Council is not your average criminal group. They have resources and skills unlike any type of gang or organized crime ring the world has ever known. Simply releasing Willow Rosenberg could be a threat to national security. She’s erased one woman’s records magically. What’s to say she won’t do the same again, or worse, uncover important government information to use against the U.S. and other superpowers in the world.”
“To play devil’s advocate, no pun intended,” Rock replied, “at this point, she hasn’t been convicted of anything, and according to the law she’s innocent until proven guilty.” O’Mara tried to speak again, but Rock cut her off. “And,” he stressed, “she is entitled to a speedy trial with a jury of her peers, which doesn’t seem to be happening.”
Watchers Council – Kennedy’s Living Room – Same Time
“That’s telling her!” Kennedy cheered, as she watched the television interview with Rock and O’Mara. Kadin, seated next to her, physically jumped in surprise at Kennedy’s outburst.
Autumn O’Mara’s Cleveland Office – Resume
“Jury of her peers?” O’Mara chuckled sarcastically. “These people at the Council have no peers. They believe they are above everyone else, including the law,” O’Mara answered. “We’re dealing with a group that operates in secret, blows up buildings and injures innocent civilians. What does that sound like to you?”
Watchers Council – Kennedy’s Living Room – Same Time
“Sounds like you’re a bitch!” Kennedy yelled at the screen. Kadin pushed the button on the remote, turning off the television. “Hey!” Kennedy objected.
“What’s the point?” Kadin asked. “Watching this stuff only gets you mad, and it’s the same B.S. in every interview – stupid talking point after stupid talking point.”
Kennedy let out a heavy sigh. “I know. You’re right. I watch because…I can’t figure out what her beef is with us, and maybe if I watch close enough, I’ll catch something.”
“Yeah, she’s pissed about Faith getting off. It’s that simple.”
Kennedy shook her head. “I don’t think so. This started before then, though that certainly gave the snowball more momentum.”
“If I could help, I would,” Kadin offered.
“Well, you have, in a way,” Kennedy replied. “You offered to postpone the move.”
“And I meant it. We don’t have to do this, Kennedy.”
“Getting cold feet, are we?” Kennedy asked.
Kadin grinned. “I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life,” she replied. “But I know with you doing the witch thing, commuting is going to be a bitch. It’s not like you can just show up in the afternoon, do some rotations and then patrol. You’ll have a lot more things to handle now.”
“I didn’t plan it that way.”
“I know that,” Kadin said sympathetically. “That’s why I’m saying, if you want to wait, at least until the pinheads give Willow a trial, that’s fine by me.”
“We’ll see how it goes. Where we live isn’t as important to me as how we live. And I want to live with you no matter where that might be.”
“So…you wouldn’t be opposed to staying here during the week and then using the cabin as a weekend getaway? It would make things easier on me, but I –”
“Done,” Kadin said.
Kennedy paused. “Just like that?”
“Yeah,” Kadin said with a casual shrug. “You don’t realize…it’s not every day you find a smart, talented, brave woman who’ll look danger straight in the eye to save the woman she loves. So anything you want, Ken, you got it – I’m there, a hundred and ten percent.”
Watchers Council – Buffy’s Office – Same Time
Jim and Buffy sat in her office, looking at the television interview with O’Mara wrapping up. Jim switched it off.
“Ideas? Suggestions?” he asked. “I’m open to any and all possibilities.”
Buffy pinched the bridge of her nose and was silent for a long moment.
“Now I know why Giles always did this. It relieves tension…slightly.” She dropped her hand and opened her eyes. “How do we fight a congresswoman who’s calling us terrorists? Particularly when she’s using facts we can’t dispute. Sure, we destroyed Public Square – that’s one way to look at it. But we also saved the world from Jocelyn’s total devastation…”
“We could fight fire with fire, in a way.”
“Well, you, Faith and Willow saved a baby that day. I’m not sure how Mr. Giles would feel about it, but the public goes wild for ‘kid in jeopardy’ stories with a happy ending…Elizabeth’s story is one of those.”
“That’s good. Maybe we could do a feature on how Lizzie’s doing today after her ordeal and…my God, have we really reduced ourselves to pimping out our kids?”
“Sometimes you have to get in the mud to win the fight,” Jim replied.
“No,” Buffy said, shaking her head. “I don’t mind tooting our horn, but I’m not going to exploit Giles’s family like that. Can you maybe come up with some other ideas kind of like that? You know, about how we’re great, but…in a less sleazy way?”
Jim grinned and rose. “I’ll see what I come up with and run them past you.”
“Great! Thanks, Jim.”
Autumn O’Mara’s Cleveland Office – Same Time
O’Mara took off her microphone and handed it to the cameraman. Then she shook hands with Rock before getting up and leaving the room. Her assistant followed along.
“Your mother called again, ma’am,” she told her as she walked. “She said it’s important that she speak to you. In fact, she accused me of not giving you her messages.”
O’Mara didn’t break stride. “I’ll deal with her when I have time.”
“Okay,” the assistant said, as they both walked down a set of stairs. “Should I give her a message if she calls again?”
“I’ll deal with it when I’m not so busy,” O’Mara replied more forcefully. “Head back to the office and make sure the reporters clear out without any problems.”
The assistant nodded and then made her way back up the stairs.
Autumn O’Mara’s Cleveland Office – Moments Later
A man leaned against a waiting Mercedes outside the building. He stood at attention as he opened the back door for O’Mara.
“That’s okay,” she told him, closing the door. “I’ll drive myself. Take the night off.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” he said gratefully.
Parking Garage – Later that Evening
O’Mara pulled into a parking space. She exited the vehicle and locked it.
City Street – Moments Later
The Congresswoman looked at a building across the street. Rather than walk to the entrance, she took the side alley alongside the structure. She looked behind her, and not seeing anyone, she changed her form into that of the Voice of Hell.
Using a side door, she walked inside the building.
As she entered, the five demons from the previous night rose from the table they were sitting at.
She gave them a proud grin. “Are we ready to make history?”
They all answered, “Yes, ma’am.”
The Voice of Hell’s smile grew even larger.
Fade to Black
End of Act Two