Kennedy and Willow’s House – The Next Morning
Calendar opened the front door of the house to see Joyce standing on the front step.
“Hey,” Joyce began. She stepped into the foyer nervously. “I’m not sure how to start, except to say that I’m straight. But if I wasn’t, then you’d certainly be tops on my list, a-number one. But I’m not.” She finished and waited for a response.
Calendar nervously licked her lips before speaking. “I’m sorry I said anything.”
“I’m not,” Joyce replied. Calendar looked confused. “Don’t get me wrong. My answer’s still the same, but I know there’s been some…tension…between us, at times. The sexy kind, I mean,” she clarified. Calendar still said nothing, so Joyce found herself starting to ramble. “But now that it’s out there, you know, it’s out there, and we can talk about it…or not. Please say something here, Van.”
“Why do you always find fault with the girls I date?”
“I told you, it’s not because I’m in love with you, okay?” Joyce said, anger entering her voice. “So just drop that crap right now. I’m not a dyke like you.”
Calendar’s eyebrow arched. “Not a dyke like me? When did you become such a homophobe?”
“I’m not a homo anything,” Joyce remarked hotly. “And for the record, the problem I have with the women you do pick is the fact they’re all either losers or spokeswomen for Doc Marten. I mean, damn, Calendar, some of the girls you pick look and act like men. Why not just go with a guy?”
“I’ve dated all kinds of women,” she countered. “I don’t limit myself.”
“Maybe you should!” Joyce shouted.
“What the hell is your problem? You came all the way over here to yell at me and insult me in person? You could have saved yourself the trip and just called,” Calendar growled.
“Just forget it, all right? You’re a friggin’ lost cause,” Joyce said, throwing up her hands and walking back toward the door.
Calendar gave chase and turned Joyce around. “Joyce…” she said softly.
The blonde slayer slapped her hand away. “Don’t touch me, you queer!” she shouted.
Tears welled up in Calendar’s eyes as she watched Joyce walk away down the front walk.
Watchers Council – Holding Cells – Same Time
“We’re sorry to bother you, Ms. Giles. We know you’re busy,” the guard told her. “But we thought maybe you might be able to calm Belizet down.”
“No, that’s okay,” Liz told him. “What’s happening?”
“To be honest,” the guard explained, as he and Liz walked, “we’re not sure what’s going on with him.”
“What’s he been doing?” Liz asked.
“Ranting, mostly. Going on about how the end was near, blah blah, untold suffering, how he didn’t do it the right way. You name it. All night long.”
They cleared another security point, and a door opened. Both of them walked through.
“He was asking, ‘Why did she bring it to the Council? She needs to get it out, or it will consume them all.’ We’re not sure who ‘she’ is, or what he meant.”
Liz began to wear a look of growing concern as they cleared the last door to the holding area.
“Well, let’s move him to…” Liz trailed off as she and the guard looked down the long hallway and into the holding cell at the end. Immediately both of them broke into a run.
There in his cell was Belizet. He had hanged himself with his belt.
“Help me get him down,” Liz told the guard as he opened the cell. Liz held Belizet’s body as the guard cut the belt with his laser weapon. His lifeless body crumpled in her arms, and she gently rested him on the ground.
“There’s a note,” the guard said, motioning toward the paper sticking out of his pocket. Liz opened it up and started to read silently. The guard asked, “What does it say?”
Liz looked back at Belizet for a moment with overwhelming sadness and then turned to the guard.
She said in a quiet voice, “I might have made a mistake.”
Watchers Council – Liz’s Office – Later
Liz looked at her computer screen and muttered the phrase, “Nothing is real except suffering,” as she typed.
An animated version of Willow popped up on the screen. “Ten million results pending,” W.I.L.L.O.W. said. “Analyzing data now.”
Unseen by Liz, Rowena’s ghostly figure stood behind her. “Look in your diary, Liz,” she whispered into Liz’s ear. “Go all the way back to the first case.”
“This is going to take a while,” Liz muttered. She seemed to consider Rowena’s advice and then pushed her intercom button. “Janice, please pull all my diaries – everything. Go all the way back to my first case.”
“It’s in the database,” Janice replied over the intercom.
“I know, but I want the actual hard copies from the library.”
“Why? I’m pretty busy. You could just get off your lazy ass and do it yourself.”
Liz got up from her desk.
Watchers Council – Liz’s Outer Office – Moments Later
Janice was at her computer, typing.
“Get off my lazy ass?” she heard Liz ask from behind her in the doorway. “I don’t pull rank often around here, but let me refresh your memory.” She walked over and stood at the edge of Janice’s desk. “You will get my diaries from the library right now, and they will be at my desk when I return, and if they’re not…consider yourself fired. Got it?”
“I’m sorry, Liz, I’m not sure why I said that,” Janice said, sounding genuinely confused. Liz’s hard expression softened.
“It’s all right. I do…sort of. That’s why I need those diaries, to make sure that nothing was omitted when they were added to the database. Okay?”
“Right away,” Janice said, and swiftly rose.
“Thank you,” Liz said sincerely. “I’ll be back in about half an hour.”
Watchers Council – Slayer Rec Room – Same Time
“I just don’t get it,” Joyce told Nikki and Jen, as the three of them sat around a circular table in the rec room, drinking coffee. “I love your moms, Jen. Aunt Will and Ro? Two of the best folks, hands down. Even Calendar’s moms, too. Aunt Kadin would make us forts by taking all the pillows off the sofa when I’d sleep over. Then Aunt Ken made s’mores. How can you beat that?”
Jen and Nikki both grinned.
“Well, Calendar did catch you off guard,” Jen said.
“But after that, when I went to her house…” Joyce sighed. “something happened.”
“What?” Nikki asked.
“I went to apologize for running away, to tell her I didn’t want to lose my best friend. Next thing I know, all this stuff is coming out of my mouth – hateful, hurtful stuff that I would never say in a million years. It’s not even something I think of, y’know?”
“Like what?” Nikki asked.
“I don’t want to repeat it. The point is, I was angry, and I didn’t know why. It was like I had this growing ball of hate in my stomach, and the longer I looked at her, the angrier I got. I’m angry…and I don’t know why.”
Jen looked confused, but Nikki stopped, clearly thinking something over. Then she said, choosing her words carefully, “You’re angry, and you don’t know why?”
“Yeah,” Joyce said firmly. “Sounds stupid, I know.”
“I need to find my mom,” Nikki said, standing up. “Stay here at the Council until I do,” she told them before she left.
Watchers Council – Cafeteria – Moments Later
Norman, Robin, and Faith sat around a circular table. All three of them were smiling.
“So how’s your son adjusting to parenthood?” Robin asked Norman.
“Kelvin is finding out that it’s a bit harder than he imagined. The odds of him and Ariel staying together are…well, it’s stacked against them since they’re so young, but I hope they can make it work for little Dirk’s sake. Shannon looks after him during the day so they can both finish college and maybe get some decent jobs.”
“Money won’t solve all their problems,” Robin remarked.
“No,” Norman agreed. “But if they’re better off financially, that’s one less fight to have.”
“True,” Robin agreed.
“So how’s Shannon handling being a grandma?” Faith asked.
“At first she was mortified,” Norman chuckled.
Faith snorted. “Tell her to wait until she’s a great-grandma,” she said and then took a sip of her coffee.
Robin smiled at her.
“Not that I’m complaining,” Norman said to Faith, “but why are you still here? I thought you didn’t want to stay too long.”
“Liz,” Faith sighed. “She says she wants to ask me a few questions about a case she’s working on. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to help. I’ve got a meeting with her later today.”
“Hey,” Nikki said, as she arrived at the table, “I’m glad you’re still here.”
“As your half-brother just said, not that I’m complaining…but why? What do you need?”
“Joyce Harris just said something interesting. She’s angry, and she doesn’t know why. And the way she described it, well, it reminded me of our conversation on the way to the wake.”
Robin and Norman looked at each other, appearing confused.
Faith looked at her watch. “I’ve got to meet Liz soon, but will she be here later?”
Nikki nodded. “Yeah, Joyce is scheduled for training this week. We pulled everyone from patrol who personally knew Mr. Giles.”
“Okay.” Faith nodded. “Can you tell her I’d like to speak with her later?”
“Well, I better get going,” Robin said, as he rose from the table.
“Need a lift?” Norman asked. “Shannon’s coming in to have lunch with Jen, so I’ve got to get home for Dirk.”
“That’d be great,” Robin said in a thankful tone. He then turned to Faith. “Are you going to stick around long enough to say goodbye?”
“Actually, I’d like to stop by and see Dirk,” Faith said. “I mean, if that’s okay with you guys,” she said to Norman.
“That’s great,” Norman agreed with a smile.
Faith nodded her thanks.
Watchers Council – Liz’s Office – Minutes Later
Liz walked into her office carrying a container of food and rested it on her desk. To the side, she found several stacks of books piled about two feet high. She smiled and walked over, grabbing the first one nearest to her desk. She looked at the cover.
“I should pull rank more often. She even put them in order for me,” she muttered to herself, before sitting down to start reading.
She had been reading for a few moments when she heard the computer issue an alert.
“Match of ninety-eight percent made,” the automated version of Willow told her. Liz pressed a button, and W.I.L.L.O.W. began to speak in a choppy voice. “Berlin, circa 1941. Slayer Agnes Striker sent to investigate occult activities in Nazi Germany. Last telegram to her watcher stated, ‘Nothing is real, but suffering.’ Two days later, her body was found. Cause of death ruled suicide.”
Liz looked back down at her diary and began reading again. Slowly, her eyes got wider, while her jaw began to drop. She was so engrossed in her reading that she actually jumped slightly when Faith appeared in front of her desk.
“You wanted to see me?” Faith said. Her eyes shifted around the room, as if trying to look for something without seeming too obvious.
“Have a seat,” Liz told her. “Remember years ago, when Rowena shot you a picture while we were in New York and you confirmed it was an image of the Archangel Gabrielle? I was still a teenager at the time.”
“Vaguely,” Faith recalled. “Yeah, why?”
“Are you okay?” Liz asked, picking up on Faith’s demeanor. “You seem…jittery.”
“Something seems…off.” Faith waved her hand dismissively. “Never mind, focusing now. You were talking about Gabby.”
“Come look at this,” Liz said, getting back on topic. She motioned Faith around the desk.
Faith pushed up her sleeves and leaned an arm on the table to look at Liz’s computer.
“Goodness, Faith,” Liz sighed, as she looked at Faith’s arm. “What happened to you?”
Across her skin were several scars in various directions, as if someone had repeatedly slashed her with a razor. Faith quickly put her sleeves back down.
“I’m sorry,” Liz apologized. “I didn’t mean to make you self-conscious. I’ve just never seen a slayer with that much battle damage.”
“This happened after,” Faith admitted. “I, uh, I didn’t adjust to civilian life very easily,” she said guiltily. Liz looked like she was going to say something else, but Faith stopped her short. “Look, it was years ago, so just tell me what you’ve got now.”
“Okay,” Liz replied, sounding somewhat grateful that Faith wanted to drop the issue. “Uh, Gabby,” she said, remembering her place. “She was looking for this magical box, and she looked like death warmed over. I interviewed a nurse at a hospital who saw her. Gabby mentioned, ‘Nothing is real except suffering.’ I’ve got a search still going, as you can see here, but a slayer in Nazi Germany said the same thing just prior to her suicide.”
Liz was wrapped up in her explanation, so much so that she didn’t see the far-off look taking hold on Faith’s face. “A few days ago, Brell’s son held a group of people hostage, demanding that he see me. He said the same phrase. I knew I’d heard it before, but I couldn’t place it. Well, now I have. I think what was in the box that Gabby was looking for is the same thing that Brell’s son had. I was asking everyone if they remembered that phrase, because I did. But now that I’ve got–”
“O’Mara told me the same thing as she was dying,” Faith said, almost absently. “Do you know who Autumn O’Mara was?”
“Hell, yes. Everyone does. She’s the only demon ever successful in shutting down the Council.”
“Well, I heard her say that after I shot her.”
Liz paused. “I want to show you something. Tell me if you’ve seen it. Just don’t touch it.” Liz held up a finger and then opened her drawer with a key. She pulled out the clear magical chamber holding the Loathestone. She opened the lid.
“Brell’s son was ranting and raving about–”
“Close it,” Faith said fearfully. “Close it now!” she ordered.
Liz quickly snapped the lid shut. For a long moment, neither woman said anything.
“Are you all right?” Liz asked.
“That’s what I felt when I came in,” Faith said, pointing and backing away from Liz and the box. “It’s that…thing.”
“That’s impossible,” Liz said. “It’s in a magic-proof chamber, Faith.”
“Then it’s leaking or something, okay?” Faith said hotly. “It’s not working, and I know what I’m talking about. What did Brell’s son tell you about it?”
“Not much really,” Liz replied. “He was just very insistent that nobody touch it.”
“What happens if you do?” Faith asked. “Did you ask him?”
“I couldn’t get an answer out of him.”
“Well, let’s go get one then.”
“I can’t…unfortunately…” Liz trailed off.
“What?” Faith prompted nervously.
“I wasn’t able to help him. I promised him I would and…he hanged himself in the cell where we were holding him.”
“Oh, kiddo, I’m sorry,” Faith said. She let out a heavy sigh. “I’m not sure how to say this but…it looks like the necklace O’Mara wore. I remember because of how damn ugly it was. She was a Congresswoman, for god’s sake – she could afford much nicer things. I, uh…”
“You what?” Liz asked when Faith didn’t go on.
“I think I touched it…or at least, it touched me.”
“When?” Liz asked. “I’ve had it here.”
“Not now, Liz. Years ago. When I shot O’Mara in the chest, I tried to save her. I think I might have touched it when I tried to revive her…”
“Are you sure?” Liz asked.
Faith nodded. “Besides…there’s more.” But again, she didn’t continue right away.
“Faith,” Liz said, frustrated. “You have to talk to me here.”
“It just talked to me. Okay? The stone just talked to me when you opened that case.”
“This stone here?” Liz pointed. “This inanimate object that hasn’t said a word to me in the time I’ve had it?”
“I really am crazy, aren’t I?” Faith asked, as she ran her fingers through her hair.
“No, I’m not saying that…well, okay, maybe a little I am,” Liz finally confessed. “So what did it say?”
“It told me to pick it up, that we’ve got work to finish.” Faith stopped, seeming to be thinking of something. “That’s the day I found out I was pregnant with Nikki.”
“What?” Liz asked.
“The day I found out I was pregnant with Nikki was the day I had the gun duel with O’Mara. They were going to do an x-ray of my wound, but I was late for my period, so they did a blood test and sure enough…after that, everything changed…I changed.”
“Maybe it wasn’t you at all,” Liz offered, as she looked over at the box.
Faith’s eyes narrowed in on the box as well.
“That damn thing stole my life, stole my happiness, my family…” She started to tear up, but then her jaw tightened. “If that thing has ruined my life, think of all the other lives it might have destroyed. All those years…it just floated around from place to place and…” Faith straightened and turned to Liz. “I’m canceling my flight. I’m staying here, and I want payback on that damn thing. So whatever you need, I’m in.”
“Faith, you don’t have slayer strength anymore,” Liz reminded her.
“I don’t need slayer strength. I’m a fifth degree black belt, for God’s sake, and I bet I can do the splits better than you.”
“Is that a challenge?” Liz grinned.
“Bring it on,” Faith said, kicking off her shoes. She went easily into a perfect splits and looked up at Liz. “Your turn.”
Liz laughed. “Okay, you win. I’m not even going to attempt that, because I’ll be in traction.”
“Chicken?” Faith taunted.
“No, just smart,” Liz shot back.
Faith snorted. “That’s the problem with you kids today – you’re out of shape.”
“I’ll give you that,” Liz agreed with a grin, before starting to look serious again. “I have to figure out how to stop this thing, but the worst part is, I don’t even know where to start.”
Faith slid both legs together, but still sat on the floor. “It’s magical, right? I say we go to the experts.”
Watchers Council – Coven Conference Room – Later that Afternoon
Twelve chairs encircled a round table. Seated in nine of them were Kennedy, Faith, Jeff, Willow, Alex, Liz, Dawn, Skye and Andrew.
“I’m so sorry, Faith,” Willow said.
The ex-slayer simply shrugged.
“I know I’m only here to lend a hand, since you’re a bit low on witches but…” Andrew showed a bit of hesitation before finishing his statement. “You should tell Robin and Nikki about this, Faith.”
The table all seemed to nod at once at Andrew’s suggestion.
“No,” Faith said firmly. “It’s…everything was my decision in the end. I have to take responsibility for that. But let’s just figure out how to take this thing out, once and for all – find out what makes it tick.”
“Are you sure this box is…leaking?” Alex asked. “It’s one of the best we’ve got and–”
“Faith ‘felt it’ before I even told her I had it, Hon,” Liz replied. “People here are getting more and more anxious, angry. The best isn’t working, so what are our options?”
“Several,” Willow replied. “But let’s start with a spell that will tell us a bit more about what it is, its origins, things like that. Nothing ultra powerful. Agreed?”
“Aye,” the table all said.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Minutes Later
“I’ve missed this,” Andrew confessed to Willow, as they readied their supplies. Before them were a mix of ingredients, including sea salt, water, a white candle, a silver-blue pouch, jasmine incense and a clear quartz crystal.
“You do this all the time,” Willow told him. “Or at least you should.”
“Oh, purifications, yes, absolutely. I just meant…working with the old Coven. It’s nice being with the ‘gang.'”
Willow smiled. “I agree. I’m glad you decided to stick around, Andrew. Thank you. Can you hand me the power oil?”
Andrew looked on the shelf and saw several bottles. “Petitgrain, clove, and juniper…Ah, there it is,” he said before pulling it down.
“Sorry I’m late,” Calendar said, as she walked over to Liz. “Did I miss anything?”
Liz shook her head. “Not yet, but they’ll be starting soon.”
Kennedy, Jeff, Willow, Alex and Dawn formed a circle around the pentagram, with the box sitting in the middle. Alex held the water bowl, while Willow held the salt. Just behind them, watching, stood Faith, Liz, Calendar and Skye.
Willow began to add pinches of the salt, saying, “Salt and water now combine. Protect our heart, protect our mind. Dark evil forces now fade away. So that Good shall always come our way.”
Alex seemed to be counting as she talked, then softly said, “Nine.”
“What are they doing?” Faith asked softly.
“Purifying the area,” Skye answered, in a low voice as well.
“Why aren’t you in there?” Faith asked.
“When they do these kinds of spells, they make me sit out. My vampness might make things a bit wonky, so better safe than sorry. I don’t mind.”
Willow put the salt down, and Alex picked up the water. He walked to every corner of the room in turn, sprinkling a little bit of the salt water as he went.
When Alex returned from his task, Willow anointed the candle with the power oil and placed it next to the box holding the Loathestone.
Andrew lit the jasmine incense. He picked up the crystal and passed it through the smoke of the incense, calling out, “Goddess of the earth, we call upon thee. For all of your love and blessings, Great Mistress of all magic, protect us. Give us your power in this hour of need.”
After resting the crystal next to the candle, he came to stand between Kennedy and Willow, taking each one of their hands.
“Everyone ready?” Willow asked.
“As we’re gonna be,” Kennedy replied.
Willow broke her connection with the circle to step inside. She knelt down slowly and looked up briefly at Faith, who appeared extremely frightened.
With an easy, fluid movement, Willow opened the box.
Fade to Black
TO BE CONTINUED…
End of Generations Pt. 1
Next on Watchers…
In part two of the epic Watchers series finale, an malevolent force threatens to tear the Council apart forever, and leads Liz to take drastic measures.