Dr. Miller’s Home – Night
Dr. Miller opened the door to his home to find a group of people from the Watchers Council clustered outside. He quickly assessed the situation and beckoned them inside. As Lorinda and Shannon carried Reteesk inside, he pressed a hand underneath the demon’s ribs. “He’s going into shock,” he declared. “Quickly…follow me.”
Jeff followed them and said, “You’ve got to save him, Doctor. Everything depends on it.”
Giles and Becca’s House – Kitchen – Night
Buffy hung up the phone and turned to the group sitting at the table. “Dr. Miller says that Reteesk is critical, but he managed to stop the bleeding. It’s up to Reteesk now.”
“Is he conscious?” Giles asked. He was dressed in a suit and was still adjusting his tie. Becca rolled her eyes at his effort and came over to help him. He smiled his thanks.
“No,” Buffy replied. “Jeff is hovering over him like a worried hen, so I’m sure we’ll find out the minute Reteesk wakes up.” She turned to Skye and handed the vampire her cell phone; a photograph from the shattered apartment was displayed on its screen. “You recognize the demons that attacked him?”
Skye’s eyes flicked over the image of a dead demon. “Yeah, the goon squad she uses for those special tasks. The Voice of Hell’s version of Black Ops.”
“Why attack Reteesk?” Buffy asked.
Skye shrugged. “Beats me,” she answered.
“You ready for your meeting?” Buffy asked Giles, dismissing Skye with a nod.
“Yes,” Giles replied. “Lori will be here shortly to pick me up.”
Oversight Committee Headquarters – Night
Lori and Giles stepped out of the elevator onto the top floor of a Cleveland high rise. Giles was carrying a worn, brown satchel, and Lori was limping on her cane.
“Are you all right?” he asked, as they approached the receptionist in the vacant and eerily quiet lobby.
Lori nodded. “Just tired,” she replied. “My Vicodins wear off earlier and earlier, and it’s rather late.”
Giles looked concerned, but didn’t say anything.
The receptionist looked up as they approached. “Mr. Giles? Ms. Carew?” he asked. At their nods he pressed a button on the console. “Just one moment, please.”
Lori leaned on her cane as Giles looked around the reception area. “Looks like a law office,” he commented softly.
Lori didn’t answer. A moment later, Miss Sanger entered. “Thank you for coming at this late hour, Mr. Giles. Ms. Carew,” she greeted. “Please come with me.”
As Sanger led the way down a long corridor, Lori struggled to keep up with the pace. Giles cleared his throat, and Sanger turned around. She glanced at Lori and then adjusted her pace. Lori’s jaw hardened and, despite her obvious pain, she sped up.
Sanger opened a door and led them into a large, lushly appointed office. A slender, bald-headed man sat behind the dark mahogany desk. He didn’t rise to greet them.
“Chairman Spaulding, may I present Rupert Giles and his associate Lori Carew.” After her introduction, Sanger moved off to the side of the office.
“Thank you, Miss Sanger,” the man said.
Giles approached the desk and held out his hand. Spaulding ignored it.
“Please, sit,” Spaulding said, looking at Lori and waving them to chairs in front of his desk. “I thought your wound was healing, Miss Carew?”
Lori sat in the indicated chair and leaned her cane between her legs. “I’m fine, Chairman.” Lori looked like she wanted to say more, but instead, she said, “Thank you for your concern.”
“So, what can I do for you, Mr. Giles?” Spaulding said, as if dismissing Lori.
Giles removed a folder from his briefcase and handed it over the desk to the chairman. “We have intelligence indicating the Voice of Hell may be trying to take over a military vessel. We need to know what its capabilities are, number of personnel, armaments, etc.”
“And…?” Spaulding asked, raising an eyebrow.
Giles and Lori looked at each other, and then Giles turned back to Spaulding. “Chairman, if you can provide this information, it would make our job that much easier.”
“I believe your Ms. Summers told Miss Sanger that you no longer needed the committee’s assistance,” he replied.
Lori was growing agitated. “Forget about what Buffy said,” her voice was growing louder. “What kind of ship is the Erie?”
Spaulding turned to her. “Your witch has escaped,” he pointed out. “Can’t she just wiggle her nose and get you all you need?”
“Mr. Spaulding…” Giles started calmly but was interrupted again.
“Look, Spaulding, just tell us what we need to know,” Lori barked. “I don’t think you’d actually allow people to die just to be petty.”
Spaulding’s calm reserve finally snapped, and he turned to her and said, “I don’t have to answer your questions…and I don’t give a damn what you think.”
“Enough!” Giles said forcefully. “Stop it, Lori. We don’t have time for temper tantrums. Mr. Spaulding, I truly regret this unfortunate rift between our two organizations, but we cannot allow it to keep us from doing what we must, and that’s protecting the innocent. We’re not trying to protect the Council for its own interests; we’re just trying to save lives. The Voice of Hell has escalated this conflict to the level of a war. They’re using conventional weapons against us, and we need to know what we’re up against. We can find nothing on this vessel. I believe you could help us.”
Spaulding looked at Giles with his lips pursed. Finally he said, “Very well. The Erie, currently designated SSNX-24, is an experimental, nuclear-powered Seawolf-class submarine. It’s armed with Harpoon and Tomahawk missiles and Mk-48 torpedoes, and it can lay mines. It has a compliment of one hundred and forty, crew and support staff.” Spaulding handed Giles a thick binder that had been lying on his desk. “Here are her specs.”
Giles took the binder, his face growing pale. “So it truly is nuclear,” he muttered.
“Yes,” Spaulding confirmed. “She is the state-of-the-art in United States attack submarines.”
“Dear Lord,” Giles said.
Lori looked at Spaulding. “Our mole inside the Voice of Hell said they’ve already turned one of the Erie’s mariners. By now, he could have turned more, if not all of her crew, and they’ve got the perfect protection from the sun. Why didn’t you tell us right away? You had that information ready even before we walked into your office. What’s your angle?”
Spaulding ignored her and asked Giles, “Does that help you?”
Giles pulled off his glasses and looked at Spaulding. “It does, Chairman,” he answered. “But Lori is correct, I’m afraid. Getting this information to us sooner would have helped.”
“The committee does not have to explain our actions to you or your Council, Mr. Giles,” Spaulding said, and then nodded to the binder. “The Erie sets sail for her shakedown cruise in the morning. I suggest you start making your plans.”
“Our Lead Slayer is set to go before the Congressional Committee in Washington. She can’t be two places at once. How are we–?” Giles replied.
“Your schedule conflict is not our concern,” Spaulding said straight-forwardly, cutting Giles off.
Giles stood up and said, “Very well. Come, Lori.” Without a glance at Spaulding or Sanger, they walked out of the office.
Wilderness Cabin Resort – Porch – Same Time
“Isn’t this so nice?” Harmony said. “Two lesbian couples, on the run from the law, drinking together and gossiping. I haven’t felt this kind of camaraderie since high school.”
“Are you saying we’re like the Cordettes?” Willow asked in horror.
“Well, in a way,” Harmony agreed. “But we’re so much more wiser and worldly than we were then.”
“I’m enjoying this, too,” Rowena said. “When I was in high school…well, the Watchers Academy’s version of it, I didn’t have friends like this to share gossip with.”
“I did,” Luna said. “Of course that was before I met Skye. I kinda just focused on her after that and forgot all about school. I mean, why bother? I had plenty of money – I could buy anything I needed.”
“I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all come a long way since those days,” Rowena said, taking a sip of her drink. “I guess life in the Twenty-First Century will mean more tolerance of people – and demons – of different backgrounds. The world is truly becoming a smaller place, and we need to do everything we can to bring down those old-fashioned barriers.”
Willow looked at her and then leaned over to whisper in Rowena’s ear. “I did it. I swore I never would, but I had to go and do it anyway.”
“Did what?” Rowena whispered back.
“Married my mother,” Willow replied with a smirk.
Rowena rolled her eyes and turned back to Harmony.
“Hey, it’s getting late,” Rowena said after a few minutes of silence. “I’m really tired, and we need our rest. Okay if we wrap this up for now, ladies?”
“Yeah,” Luna agreed. “Thanks for the drinks, Rowena. Let’s do lunch!”
“Bye, Willow,” Harmony said. “Don’t worry…I’m not hungry, so you don’t have to worry about me biting you again.”
“I’m not worried, Harm,” Willow replied. “This may be a public room, but I have more than one trick up my sleeve to keep bloodsuckers out.”
Harmony and Willow smiled at one another.
Luna pulled Rowena into a double-cheeked air-kiss and said, “It’s been lovely…really. I hate to end this, but the night is still young, and Harm and I have a new ‘thing,’ if you know what I mean.” She looked at Rowena expectantly.
The watcher stared back blankly and then nodded. “Right…your new ‘thing.’ Have…uh, have fun with that.”
“Oh, we will!” Luna replied, and blithely left the porch to head back to their cabin. A moment later, Harmony followed.
Willow turned to her wife and asked, in an incredulous tone, “What the hell was that all about?”
“What?” Rowena asked innocently. “Never hurts to be nice to people.”
“People, yeah!” Willow said, waving her arms. “But they’re not people…they’re a homicidal maniac and a vampire. I’ve had the fang marks to prove it.” Willow pointed at her neck.
“Hey, right now we need all the allies we can get,” Rowena said, pulling her wife into her arms and nuzzling Willow’s neck. “Will? Do you really want to spend the rest of the night talking about other people?”
Willow pouted stubbornly for a moment, but then her eyes started to close as Rowena continued to pay attention to her neck. However, she petulantly said, “I don’t know…just the thought of them and their ‘thing’ is enough to put me off of sex for life.”
Rowena smirked and said, “Wanna bet?” With that, she pulled Willow into the cabin and firmly shut the door.
Giles and Becca’s House – Bedroom – Same Time
Buffy was packing a duffle bag. “I said no, and that’s final,” she told Xander, who was pacing around the room.
“No, it’s not final,” he said, throwing his hands up in the air. “You can’t just order me around.”
“Yes, I can!” Buffy said. “I can so order! I’m the order girl. Me Chairperson, you employee, remember?”
“Right, exactly,” Xander argued. “And as the chairperson, it’s your responsibility to make sure you assign the best people to the team.”
“Your military man memories faded years ago, Xander,” she said. “And besides, you were an army guy, not navy, so that knowledge would be useless.” She paused, as if remembering, and then gave a small smile. “But you looked really, really good in uniform.”
Xander rolled his eyes. “Focus on the present, Buffy,” he said. “Yeah, soldier guy is gone, but ever since the Initiative and working with the Black Ops, I’m up to date on current armaments. These guys like to play with guns, Buffy. You’re going to need more than just stakes for this one.”
“I just…” Buffy threw down the sweater she was holding and turned to him. “I don’t want you in danger,” she finally admitted.
Xander moved forward and took her in his arms. He held her for a long moment.
“Buffy, I’ve been fighting alongside you for years…I’ve always been there with you, in every fight, even the ones you tried to get me to sit out.”
“Well, things are different now,” she pouted. “You’re different…we’re different.”
“No, I’m still Xander, and you’re still Buffy, and we’ll still fight the good fight. We just happen to look at each other in new ways these days. Don’t you think I want to protect you from harm?”
“But I’m the slayer,” she said. “Well, a slayer.”
“Yes, but slayers do need help,” he said and then paused. “You’ve fought beside other boyfriends…pretty much all of them, in fact. So what makes me different?”
Buffy slowly grinned. “Lots of things,” she said.
Xander smiled brightly. “I’ll take that as a compliment…a really big compliment.”
“Goof,” Buffy chided. “Yeah, you are way different, in lots of good ways, and I don’t want to lose that…I don’t want to lose you.”
“Look,” he said. “You don’t have a choice about me going or not, but you do have another choice…are you going to be support-o girlfriend or pouty girlfriend?”
“Can you just stop arguing and kiss me already?” she demanded.
“God, I love aggressive women,” he answered, but before he could kiss her, Gwen entered the room.
“Hey guys,” she said, ignoring their embrace. “You needed me?”
“Hi,” Buffy said, turning around in Xander’s arms so that he was holding her from behind. “Yeah…do you like boats?”
Gwen looked confused, but then shrugged.
Brell Family Home – Living Room – Later that Night
Brell’s mate entered the crowded living room where the Council meeting was taking place. She pushed a cart loaded with snacks and drinks. Andrew jumped up to help her in serving the food.
“Andrew, we need you over here,” Kennedy said. She was sitting in a circle with Jeff and Dawn.
Andrew joined them, and the four members began to chant.
“How long should it take to make a connection?” Buffy asked, leaning over to Grace.
“Not long,” she answered. “Althenea and her group are already waiting on us to establish the connection.”
As Grace spoke, a gray mist began to form in the air in the center of the circle. After a moment, the mist cleared, and a three-dimensional image of Althenea appeared.
“Hello, gang,” she said. “It’s awfully late for you folk, isn’t it?”
“Duty calls,” Kennedy replied, and Althenea grinned. “And thanks for sticking it out now that London’s closed, too.”
Althenea seemed to shrug. “It was only a matter of time, but at least we had more warning to get materials out before our shut down.”
A second cloud began to form, dissipating a moment later to reveal Willow.
“Hey everyone,” she said. “Are we all here?”
“Willow, are you okay?” Buffy asked. “You don’t look so good.”
Willow gave a small smile. “Just using the magics a bit much lately,” she answered.
“Be careful,” Althenea warned. “You don’t want to burn yourself out.” She then seemed to turn to someone at her location. “Let’s try to increase the power from here.”
“Let’s get on with this,” Willow told them. “I don’t know how long I’ll be able to hang on.”
“Oh, okay,” Buffy said. “Well, I think the Congresswoman is a demon. Actually, Kadin thought of it.”
“It’s highly likely,” Willow agreed. “There are no public records whatsoever on her – no birth certificate, no accurate social security card, nothing.”
“How is this possible?” Grace asked. “I’ve helped a lot of the slayers and watchers we’ve immigrated here, and they had to provide every document they had, up to and including their year one report card. How can someone make it to Congress with nothing on file?”
“According to what I found out, the Social Security number she’s using is registered…to an Agnes Julliet – date of birth, get this, 1913. I figure she either found the fountain of youth, or it’s not her. After closer examination, I learned that Agnes is real and alive…living in Washington – not D.C., like O’Mara, but like the state named Washington. She’s a resident at the Sunny Valley Rest Home. I’m trying to get into the records right now at Sunny Valley to establish that.”
“Wait a second,” Kennedy jumped in. “Grace is right. How is it the government doesn’t know about this screw-up?”
Willow smiled. “Ha! You mean the same government that’s put millions into New Orleans while people are still living in formaldehyde contaminated trailers, because they haven’t gotten a check for their destroyed homes. The same government that can’t find an account for millions of dollars sent to no-bid contractors in Iraq. The same government that thinks if I marry my Canadian wife here, it’ll destroy marriages, but it’s really a bad economy that puts extra strains on relationships. The same government that–”
“We get it,” Kennedy said, cutting her off. “Get off the soapbox, Will. You hate the government right now, and rightfully so.”
“The point is, no one has caught this clerical error, and I’m surprised the press has yet to pick up on it. But it could be because O’Mara hasn’t been anyone special in Congress until recently. I mean, aside from a few big names, can anyone here name all the Congress folks from, like…the middle of Iowa, Nebraska or, say, Kansas? All great places, I’m sure, but I wouldn’t recognize a single one of their reps if you showed me a picture of them.”
“Point taken,” Buffy said.
“But this mix-up is something that we could use to our advantage,” Willow continued. “How about contacting Mr. Devlin with the scoop?” she said. “Have him do a little digging into the good Congresswoman’s life. I’ll email what I have so far, so you have something to give him. Without evidence of a screw-up, he’ll probably brush you off, but the reporter in him might find this to be something worth investigating. That will free me up to look into other areas.”
“I’ll get Jim on it ASAP,” Buffy replied.
“I think Kadin is right, though,” Willow said. “In fact, I haven’t seen this kind of a lack of records since the Mayor of Sunnydale…and we all know how that turned out.”
“Well, she looks human,” Dawn pointed out. “We need to find out which demons can masquerade as humans and start from there.”
“Andrew,” Willow started. “Ro wants to know if you managed to secure the Aloysius Collection in your heist. If so, you can start there in your research.”
Andrew nodded. “Yes, all of the books are here at Brell’s,” he answered. “The guards at the warehouse got a good look at us…well, me. There’s an APB out, so I’m laying low.” He sighed dramatically. “It’s not easy being on the run again, and Cleveland becoming a big hole and my former arrest record being lost forever doesn’t seem like an option. I just hope I don’t end up down Mejico way again.”
“Let’s hope neither of those things happen,” Buffy said. “We’ve got a new sketch artist with Skye to try to get a more accurate picture of the Voice of Hell.”
“Why?” Willow asked. “I thought we had one – a few, actually.”
“Skye always says something is missing in all the designs,” Dawn offered. “But she can’t put her finger on what it is. So we’ve got someone else doing another one.”
“Who’d you get that’s willing to help us?” Willow asked. “Friends are pretty scarce right now.”
“Not friends, family.” Dawn grinned. “She’s on the phone with Norm right now,” she added.
“Yeah,” Buffy agreed. “He’s great at portraits, so we decided to give him a try, especially since our regular artist didn’t come up with anything solid that Skye liked.”
“Have Norm email a scan to our secure email account, and we’ll see if Ro has any ideas,” Willow said. “I can’t…”
The image of Willow flickered.
“Will?” Buffy asked.
“I’ve gotta go,” Willow said, and the connection broke.
“Althenea?” Buffy appeared concerned and turned to the other witch.
“She’ll be all right,” she answered. “As long as she takes time to rest.”
“Okay, you go, too,” Buffy said. “We need our witches in top form. I’ll send you a copy of Norm’s picture, as well, so that you can check the sources at your end.”
“Absolutely,” Althenea said, and then her image faded out.
“Dawn, are you guys okay?” Buffy asked.
The circle of witches slowly broke up. Dawn stood and approached her sister. “We’re fine. We shared our energy…poor Willow’s on her own. That’s why she’s so exhausted.”
“I’m sure Rowena will take care of her,” Grace said.
Wilderness Cabin Resort – Same Time
Willow was leaning forward on the bed, holding herself up by her palms with her head hanging down. Rowena stood up from where she was sitting next to Willow on the bed and grabbed the box of tissues. She pulled a tissue and handed it to Willow, who looked at it.
“What’s that for?” she asked.
“Your nose is bleeding,” Rowena replied.
Willow touched the tissue to her nose and looked at the red stains on it.
“Wow, been years since that’s happened,” she said, putting the tissue to her nose again. She lay back against the cheap headboard.
Rowena sat next to Willow. “I think it’s time you got some sleep,” she said.
“I want to wait for Norman’s scan,” she said. “But uh…we’ve got some time to kill.” She tossed the tissue in the trash and, with a smooth move, tugged Rowena down to the bed.
“Willow!” Rowena protested. “You need to rest.”
Willow smirked. “I need to recharge my batteries,” she said. “And you can help me with that.”
“Are you making that up?” Rowena asked.
Willow shook her head. “Not at all,” she replied. “The Wicca religion does have its benefits,” she smirked.
Rowena appeared to be considering it for a moment. “Well, if it’s for the greater good,” she said, giving in, “who am I to argue?”
Willow rolled them over and lowered her head to passionately kiss her wife.
Kadin and Kennedy’s Cabin – Living Room – Later that Night
Jim and Kadin were sitting on the small couch in the main room of the cabin. Robin was sitting in the lounge chair, while Faith paced back and forth between the bedroom and the living room.
Kennedy walked into the room and said, “I’m back.”
“You’re in time for the fashion show,” Kadin told her.
Kennedy looked confused at first. Then Faith disappeared back into the bedroom for a moment and then walked back out, carrying hangers in both hands.
“Okay, which one?” Faith asked, holding two suits up for display.
“They’re both nice,” Kadin said, looking bored.
“I mean, which pantsuit makes me look less like Hillary Clinton?” Faith told the hunter. Robin smothered a smirk.
“Um…” Kadin stammered, at a loss for words.
“Faith, either one is fine,” Robin said, rushing to Kadin’s aid. “You would look hot in a potato sack.”
“That’s not helping…you’re biased,” Faith said. She turned to Kennedy. “You’re my best friend…tell me the truth.”
“Hey, this is cool,” Kennedy remarked instead of answering. “We’re finally doing girly stuff together. Maybe next time I can braid your hair, and we’ll make popcorn.”
Faith rolled her eyes. “Come on!”
“Just wear the black one,” Kadin finally said. “It looks very…politician-y.”
“You’re really getting that Scooby-speak down, babe,” Kennedy said, leaning over and kissing Kadin’s cheek.
“Thanks,” Kadin said with a small blush.
“Are you sure?” Faith asked, ignoring their display. “I mean, it’s not too funeral? Well actually, it might mean a funeral for the Council if I bomb out.”
“Definitely the black,” Jim finally put in. “Just make sure you wear the Prada shoes with it. They’ll look fabulous with your legs.”
Everyone paused and looked at Jim. He gave a small smile and said, “That sounded really gay, didn’t it?”
Faith burst into laughter.
“Thanks, I needed that.” She paused and grew serious again as she looked over the suit. “Jeez, B should be doing this; she’s the chairperson, not me. High school dropout Faith? Addressing the United States frikking Congress? What kind of sick joke is that?”
“You’ll be fine, baby,” Robin said. He stood up, took the two suits from her and laid them over a chair. He drew Faith into his arms. “The world is more in love with you than Buffy, anyway. Just don’t tell her I said that.”
Faith laughed again. “What irony, huh? For years, I wanted the admiration she had. Now I got it, I don’t want it. Talk about being careful what you wish for.”
“You earned the world’s respect, Faith,” Kennedy said. Then she turned to Kadin. “Come on, babe. Help me pack…I promise I won’t make you pick out my pantsuit.”
“If you even own a pantsuit, the wedding’s off,” Kadin replied, following Kennedy into the bedroom.
Kadin and Kennedy’s Cabin – Bedroom – Minutes Later
Kennedy zipped up the suitcase and put it neatly by the closed bedroom door. “There…all packed,” she said, turning back to Kadin.
“C’mere” Kadin said, and Kennedy joined her on the bed. “I wish I was going with you guys.”
“I know,” Kennedy said. “You’re always a big help in a crisis, but I need you to stay. Giles is…well, he’s more of a father than my father at times. I need you to take care of his family.”
“I will, you know that,” Kadin said. “But I don’t like me not being there to watch your back.”
“Watch their backs for me,” Kennedy insisted. “That way, I’ll know they’re safe, and I can focus on the mission. That’s honestly how you can help. And that’s not some cock-and-bull story.” Kennedy paused a moment and then pulled out a small, round and opaque plastic ball from her pocket. She handed it to Kadin.
“What’s this?” Kadin asked, holding up the ball.
“Open it,” Kennedy urged.
Kadin pried the two halves apart, and a cheap plastic ring fell out onto the bed. Kennedy picked it up and held it up between them.
“I picked it up from one of those machines at the grocery store,” Kennedy said. “It’s all I can afford, since I’m broke at the moment, but once things get settled, I’ll buy you a real one.”
Kadin’s eyes watered. “No, this one will do just fine,” she said, and made Kennedy slip it on her finger. Kadin looked at it. “It’ll always remind me of the ‘poorer’ part of our vows.”
Kennedy smiled and ran the back of her fingers over Kadin’s cheek.
“I love you,” she said, and pulled Kadin into a kiss.
Wilderness Cabin Resort – Bedroom – Same Time
Rowena leaned back against the headboard, her body covered by the sheet, while Willow rested on her stomach, typing away on her laptop.
“Ah, at last!” Willow said. She turned her screen to show Rowena. On it, a drawing of a demon appeared.
“That’s not the same,” Rowena said.
Willow turned around to look at her. “What do you mean?” she asked.
“The demon,” Rowena replied. “We had an artist who spent twenty years with the Cleveland Police Department do a sketch from Skye’s description, but this is different.”
“According to Dawn’s email, Skye said Norm nailed it.”
Rowena leaned closer to the computer and pointed at the screen. “Here, look…see the tattoo on the forehead? And this stone around the neck? That wasn’t in the last drawing.”
“Well, score one for Normie,” Willow said. “We could use him in the future…provided we have a future.”
“I’ll definitely be signing his sponsor request when things get back to normal.” Rowena said with a broad smile.
“He asked you to sponsor his application?” Willow asked. “When did this happen? And why you and not Faith?”
“I’m sorry, hon,” Rowena said with an apologetic smile. “He asked me a few weeks ago when he came to visit. He wanted me to sponsor him instead, so it’s not viewed as any special treatment.”
“Anyone check to see if he’s Chosen?” Willow asked.
“No time with everything going on, but that really doesn’t matter,” Rowena said. She pointed her chin at Norman’s drawing. “I’d say he’ll make an excellent addition to the Council regardless.”
“I’ll bet Faith will be proud,” Willow turned back to look at the screen. “Do you recognize the species?”
“Yes,” Rowena said immediately. “And they’re known to be very passive. I can’t remember what they call themselves, though. It’s one of the friendlier species around – like Brell’s.”
“Grace should check the Junitic Codex to confirm,” Willow said. “Too bad we can’t phone Brell’s house.”
Rowena nodded. “I know,” she agreed, her eyebrows furrowed in thought. “I hate to ask this, but do you think you’ve got one more in you?”
Willow waggled her eyes suggestively.
“I meant,” Rowena continued, “can you send Grace a message telepathically?”
“Never tried it from this distance with anyone,” Willow answered. “But I’ll give it a try.”
Wilderness Cabin Resort – Bedroom – Minutes Later
Willow sat in a lotus position, her eyes closed. Beads of sweat dotted her forehead. With a sigh, she opened her eyes and looked at Rowena. “No go,” she said. “Grace isn’t picking up.”
“Damn,” Rowena swore.
“What about you?” Willow asked. “You’re a lot closer to Grace than I am.”
“I’m sitting right here, too,” Rowena remarked.
Willow grinned. “I mean emotionally. I have a connection to certain people – Buffy, Xander, yeah, but maybe you might connect with Grace better than I can.”
“I’m not exactly the witchy one here, Will,” Rowena said.
“Nonsense. Magic is in everything and everyone, after all,” Willow said. She patted the bed in front of her. “And you’ve done it before. I’ll be a conduit…supply the juice, if you will, but you make the call.”
Rowena looked doubtful. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I’ll be fine,” Willow promised, as she motioned Rowena to sit and join hands.
Brell Family Home – Same Time
Grace, Jeff, and Andrew were sitting around Brell’s dining room table, which was covered in books and notepads. Suddenly, Grace jumped in her chair and yelled, “What the–?!”
“What?” Andrew jumped up, holding his pencil up in front of him as if it were a stake.
“What?” Jeff asked, much more calmly.
“Rowena!” Grace said. “She’s in my head. Okay, am I going crazy?”
“No,” Andrew said, taking a deep breath. “Willow’s probably sending her message.”
“Right,” Jeff agreed. “What’s she saying?”
Grace’s face went blank for a moment, and she nodded, listening to the voice in her head. “Okay,” she said out loud, and then turned to the group. “Ro says the information on the type of demon that the Voice of Hell is can probably be found in the Junitic Codex, but she can’t remember an exact name.” She looked at Jeff. “I know we have it because I made Shannon grab it. The front has a footer that says Friendly Species of the Underground.”
“Yeah,” Jeff said, looking around the table. He pulled a large, dusty tome that was hidden beneath a pile of others. “Here it is.”
Grace got the faraway look again on her face, then shook her head and said, “Okay, she’s gone…That was creepy.”
Wilderness Cabin Resort – Same Time
Willow’s nose started bleeding again, and Rowena pulled her hands out of Willow’s to grab some more tissues. Willow lay back against the pillows and started to hyperventilate.
“Okay, hon,” Rowena said, putting a hand to Willow’s chest and leaning over her. “That’s it…breathe…just relax.”
Willow closed her eyes as she concentrated on her breathing. After what seemed to be endless minutes later, she finally calmed down.
Rowena checked to make sure Willow’s nose had stopped bleeding and then threw the tissues away.
“That’s it,” she said firmly, and got up to remove the laptop from the bed. She put it away and started to turn off all of the lights. “I’m putting my foot down. No more studying, no more magic, no more making love.”
“You’re no fun,” Willow murmured, her voice strained as she clutched her temples. Finally, she nodded, wincing at the pain. “Okay.”
Rowena crawled into the bed next to Willow and turned off the final light.
End of Act Three