act 3



Fade In:
Willow and Kennedy’s House
– Calendar’s Room – Same Time

Calendar had just finished putting an earring in her ear when she turned to reach for her jacket. She stopped in mid-grab.

“Hello, Vanessa,” Kadin said with a gentle smile.

Calendar looked positively terrified as she yelled out, “Mommmmmm!” in a blood-curdling scream.

Kadin held up her hands. “It’s all right. I’m not going to hurt you, or anybody. I just came to say…I’m sorry I couldn’t be the one giving you advice, at least not advice I’d be sure you’d hear, and…I’m really proud of you, Sweetie.”

Willow came to a quick halt in the doorframe. 

“Are you hurt?” she asked, concerned.

Calendar just shook her head and then motioned toward Kadin. Willow looked over and immediately entered the room, putting herself between Calendar and Kadin.

“Stay behind me,” Willow warned the young woman.

She then waved her hand sharply to the left, and one of Calendar’s baseball trophies flew from the shelf, striking Kadin in the arm.

“Son of a bitch,” Kadin swore, as she gripped where the projectile had hit her. Then she cast Willow a nasty expression of disgust.

“She’s not the First,” Willow muttered.

“What?” Calendar asked.

“Go get your mother,” Willow said in a louder voice. “She’s in the backyard.”

Calendar raced from the room as Kadin and Willow continued to watch each other, saying nothing.

Cut To:
Buffy & Xander’s House
– Kitchen – Same Time

“Hey,” Buffy said, looking up from the heating unit as Xander came in. “Want to set the table?”

“For how many?” Xander asked.

Buffy turned around at the strange tone in his voice and frowned. “Uh, just three – you, me and Dawn. Joyce is training today.”

Xander stared at her until Buffy grew alarmed.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. “Is it Joyce…?”

“No!” Xander said, holding up a hand. “It’s just…practically every woman I’ve ever slept with, sans three, are sitting in my workshop – present company excluded. We might have to put out a few more settings.”

Buffy stared back and seemed to compute that information. “Faith and Willow are here?”

“Those are the ‘sans’ I spoke of,” Xander said through his teeth.

Buffy considered his comment again. “There’re only three of us alive, right?” she asked. “Well, there better only be three of us – the rest are dead.”

“Exactly. And I think they’re comparing notes!”

“What?” Buffy asked, truly baffled.

“Just come with me,” Xander said, pulling her by the arm.

Cut To:
Buffy & Xander’s House
– Workshop – Moments Later

Xander opened the door, and Buffy walked inside while still talking.

“I’m not following your…” Buffy’s face reflected Xander’s shock as they both looked at the three women calmly playing cards. “…logic,” she said, finally ending her sentence. Buffy walked up to them and placed a hand on Anya. She poked the woman a few times before Anya shrugged her off.

“Please stop that, it’s very annoying,” Anya said in a bothered tone. “I’m not the First. See? I can hold cards – totally corporeal,” she said, showing her. “And I’m finally winning. Look!” She seemed very proud.

Lori and Vi looked at each other, and both sighed in unison before they tossed in their hands.

“Take a seat,” Lori offered as she collected the cards. “We’ll deal you in.”

“What are you doing here?” Buffy asked bluntly.

“Playing cards,” Anya said.

“Hanging out,” Vi said.

“Comparing notes,” Lori said.

Xander squeaked. “On me?” he asked.

“Well, you gotta admit, you’re the one thing we have in common.” Vi grinned.

“I told you about the notes,” Xander hissed at Buffy.

“And really, Anya,” Lori said, “you’ve got nothing to be embarrassed about, no matter how much the jerks in the Afterlife tease you. Faith might have broken him in, but you obviously taught him everything he knows.”

Anya beamed, while Xander looked smugly proud. Buffy turned to him and glared until he gave a sheepish smile and a shrug to his wife.

“Uh, this is awkward,” he said, rubbing his neck.

Lori shrugged. “Why? I always liked Vi, and now that I’ve met Anya, I like her too. I can see why you did. You should have married her, though.”

“No kidding,” Anya snorted. “He left me and then ended up with you,” she said, giving Buffy a hard look. “And here I was worried about Willow.”

“He slept with her, too,” Vi added as she started to shuffle. “At least twice.”

“Oh, I wanted to ask,” Anya said, as if she had remembered something. “Did you have to fill that little jar at the lab every time Willow and that Rowena woman wanted a kid, or did they just save it like individual Popsicles?”

“You mean dad-sicles,” Vi teased.

“Ha!” Lori laughed.

“Maybe they’re all au natural,” Anya suggested. “I can’t see everything that goes on, and if it was natural, Xander, you’ve got a pretty understanding wife.” She pitched a thumb at Buffy. “I never would have let you–”

For the first time, Buffy didn’t look shocked or angry. “I am understanding, Anya,” she interrupted. “They’re my best friends, and they wanted all the kids to have a genetic link to one another.”

“Why didn’t they do what Kennedy and that demon hunter lady did?” Anya asked. “They merged their DNA or something like that.”

“It’s called SFC – synthetic female conception – and it wasn’t available at the time they started their family. They needed Xander’s help so…” Buffy shook her head, stopping herself from continuing. “Why are we talking about this when we should really be finding out why you’re here?”

“Gee,” Anya said. “No ‘thanks for giving your life to my cause?’”

“I’m sorry you got killed,” Buffy told her. “You did a brave and wonderful thing that day. I know Andrew never forgot it.”

“Speaking of, how is the little geek?” she asked. “Did he ever find Mr. Right?”

Buffy smiled. “No, Ms. Right,” she answered. “He and Tracey have been together a very long time.”

“What?” Anya said, surprised. “He was totally crushing on Xander and Spike all the time back in Sunnydale.”

“And you, too,” Buffy said softly.

Anya looked pleased. “Well, at least I did something right, then.” She turned back to Xander and scowled. “You should have stayed with Lori.”

Lori laughed. “Nah,” she said. “We would have ended up killing each other after a while. I’m glad I’m here, though. It proves that you loved me, even if it was just a little bit, right Xander?”

Xander mutely nodded.

“And I loved you back,” Lori continued. “Just a little bit.”

“Wait,” Buffy said, holding up a hand. “Is that why you’re here? Xander’s loved ones?”

“Oh god, all we’re missing now is Cordelia,” Xander muttered.

“Sorry I’m late!” Cordelia, looking like she did in high school, walked into the room.

“You just had to say that, didn’t you?” Buffy growled, looking at him.

“Buffy!” Dawn’s ragged voice cried.

“Oh god, what now?” Buffy said. 

Xander was still looking at Cordelia in shock.

Buffy raced to the workshop opening to see Dawn running down the stairs, followed by Skye.

“Where are all these dead people coming from?” Buffy muttered to herself.

Cut To:
Willow and Kennedy’s House
– Calendar’s Room – Same Time

Kennedy stopped in the doorway. Her first question was, “Is it the First?”

“No, s-she’s solid,” Willow replied.

Kadin smiled as Kennedy walked over to stand within a few feet of her. The former slayer reached out tentatively, and Kadin took her hands in hers.

“I don’t believe it,” Kennedy muttered, beginning to smile. “How is this possible?” For the time being, Kadin happily returned the loving gesture.

A look of worry and insecurity washed over Willow’s face, but she said nothing regarding the reunion as she quietly slipped from the room.

Cut To:
Watchers Council
– Liz’s Office – Moments Later

“I tried to stop her,” Janice said, fast on Faith’s heels as they both entered the room.

“She’s allowed here anytime,” Liz informed her assistant, who nodded and closed the door behind her as she left.

“I just saw my sister,” Faith told her.

“Your dead sister?” Liz asked.

“Yeah, the only sister I have,” Faith said, irritated.

“I’m sorry. I thought maybe you had another sister we didn’t know about…where is she now?”

“She said she had to go rally the troops or something.”

“What does that mean? Rally the–” Liz’s comlink went off, and she looked down to see it read, “Marty calling.” She pressed a button. “Hey, Marty,” Liz said, looking at the large picture phone on her wall that displayed Martin’s image.

“Get over to Mom and Dad’s fast,” he told her with great concern.

“Oh God. What’s wrong?” Liz asked.

At first, he seemed to struggle for what to say. Then he appeared to just give up and say, “Dad’s home. He’s on the back porch talking to Mom right now.”

No one spoke for a moment, until Faith said, “Willow’s spell worked too well.”

“Bloody hell,” Liz sighed.

Cut To:
Buffy & Xander’s House
– Kitchen – Minutes Later

Skye perched on a stool at the kitchen island with a huge bowl of ice cream in front of her. She shoveled large scoops into her mouth as Dawn, Buffy and Xander stared at her.

“Man, this is good!” Skye moaned around a mouthful of ice cream. “I haven’t tasted anything this good in over forty years. Then she winked at Dawn. “Except for you, Sweetie.”

“You’re human?” Buffy asked.

Skye nodded. “So anyway, after Shannon’s little snit fit, I was kinda just wandering around, you know? Next thing I knew, I was walking down the Council’s corridor. I turned a corner, and guess who was standing there? None other than old crazy Dana herself. I’m sure you guys remember her.”

“The slayer you killed,” Xander said, when it appeared that Buffy wasn’t going to say anything. Dawn’s face was pale white.

“Bingo!” Skye confirmed. “Well, she smiled at me, and I asked her if she could maybe postpone the vengeance a while so I could stick around to help you guys. Dana just kissed me on the cheek and said ‘thank you.’”

Thank you?” Buffy scoffed. “She must still be insane.”

“I thought the same thing, and said as much. But she said I set her free, and this was supposed to happen to her during this turnaround – she, to experience madness, and me, to become a murderer. And it all went according to plan. Talk about a major mindf—”

Dawn breathed in and interjected. “So what? I’m just your plaything while you wait for your next turn? Stick around for your next incarnation, waiting for you to grow up enough so that we can have sex again? What kind of plan is it when all I have is the pain of watching you and everyone else I love die?”

Skye finally put down her spoon and reached out a hand to cup Dawn’s cheek. “Sweetie,” she said. “I stayed around for as long as I could. I even tried to stay out of things that might be dangerous, just so you wouldn’t be alone.”


“Stay away from Shannon,” Buffy growled. “It wasn’t her fault.”

“I don’t blame Shannon,” Skye said. “That’s what I’m saying – it was just my time.” Skye turned back to Dawn. “And you shouldn’t either. If it wasn’t Lil Sis…I still would have died some other way.”

Dawn’s eyes glared. “So, what? I’m supposed to spend eternity alone?”

“You won’t,” Skye answered. “I can’t say more than that. The Powers That Be can be right bastards sometimes, but you will make the best of it, no matter what they throw at you.”


“She’s right, honey,” a new voice said. Skye smiled as the other three turned in shock to see another woman enter the kitchen.

“Mom?” Buffy said, collapsing onto another counter stool, her whole body shaking.

Joyce Summers moved over to her daughters and kissed each one on the cheek.

“Oh please. Get a hold of yourselves, girls,” she said with a smile. “We have work to do.”

Cut To:
CNN News Report
– Later that Day

The young, sharply-dressed man sitting in front of the CNN news desk had a stunned look on his face.

“CNN has breaking news, ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “We turn now to former CNN reporter…um, late CNN reporter Robert Devlin for an exclusive…a really exclusive report.”

The screen cut to the reporter. The caption under his image read, “Robert Devlin, 1967 – 2025.” The ticker underneath scrolled, “Robert Devlin, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for CNN, was killed while reporting on the Ouagadougou revolt in Burkina Faso in 2025.”

“This is Robert Devlin reporting from Cleveland,” said the reporter, looking as he did when he made his award-winning documentary on the Watchers Council. “Reports from all over the city are indicating that dead loved ones are coming back to life. Yes, I said the dead are coming back to life.”

The ticker moved along to, “Radical separatists in Burkina Faso, responding to growing climate change pressure, attempted to force famine relief aid from developed countries by holding the democratically-elected government hostage in the capital of Ouagadougou. Devlin, along with millions of others in West Africa, was killed in the resulting explosion of a pure fission nuclear device, which rendered that area of the continent uninhabitable to this day.”

“The Watchers Council has not yet responded to requests from this reporter for an explanation of this amazing phenomenon, a phenomenon of which I am…living…proof,” Robert Devlin said from the screen.

Cut To:
Buffy & Xander’s House
– Kitchen – Same Time

“Mom?” Dawn echoed Buffy’s question.

“Yes, honey…it’s me,” Joyce confirmed, as she turned to Xander and leaned in to kiss his cheek, as well. “I couldn’t have hoped for a better choice for Buffy. Thank you for treating her the way she deserved all these years.”

Xander smiled, his warm eyes reflecting love and respect. “It’s been my pleasure, Joyce,” he said. “She makes me happy.”

“Likewise, I know,” Joyce replied. “And I’m happy with all of the choices you two have made. Best of all, I’ve got a granddaughter named after me.”

“Wait until you meet her, Mom. I mean, you will meet her, right? I can call her now. Actually, I should,” Buffy said excitedly, her shock finally wearing off. “She’s…quite a handful,” she continued, as she hit some numbers on a keypad on the armband she wore.

“She’s not a handful, dear. It’s just the mother’s curse at work.” Joyce chuckled softly.

Cut To:
Watchers Council
– Lobby – Moments Later

Liz and Faith rushed into the huge lobby and stared around at the confusion. Some of the people, both living and dead, were crying, while others were laughing.

“This place is a madhouse!” Faith said.

Liz pointed to the wall showing all of the world’s major news feeds. All of the reports were similar.

“Looks like it’s not just us,” she said.

Faith turned and looked at the feeds for a moment, until a loud voice cut through the throng.

“You bastard!” a woman yelled. “I can’t believe you’re here! I poisoned you years ago, and now you’re back?”

A man snarled at her and jumped at her. “Time to return the favor, bitch!” he yelled.

Liz and Faith both rushed forward and separated the two. Liz grabbed the woman and looked at her in shock. “You killed him?” she asked. “How’d you get away with it?”

The woman sneered. “Us watchers have a few tricks up our sleeves,” she admitted. “An untraceable poison, a few misfiled reports, and I rid myself of this abusive louse.”

The man tried to break free of Faith’s grasp, but she held him in a position that rendered him immobile. 

Liz motioned to a pair of security guards that had just run in. “Take her to the lockup,” she ordered. 

The woman broke free and, with all her might, shoved her Council-issued stake deep into his heart before Faith or Liz had a chance to react. 

Liz hooked the woman around both arms, pulling her away. Faith let the dead man slump to the floor. 

The guards finally managed to wrangle the woman away from Liz, as Faith asked, “What do we do with him?” She pointed toward the man. 

Liz’s eyes widened and she pushed Faith out of the way as the deceased man sprang to his feet and charged toward his wife, with the stake now bearing down on her. Liz knocked the stake away, but the man still tried to throw a punch at Liz. She caught the blow in her hand and twisted his arm until he was prone. 

“I don’t have time to deal with them right now,” Liz told the guard. “Lock them both up and keep him away from her. Be sure he goes to a magic containment cell, just in case.”

One of the guards nodded, then both security men led the couple away.

“Dead people aren’t dying…This is bad,” Faith said, breathing heavy.

“Now what?” Liz groaned, as she saw Nikki approaching quickly.

“Mom!” Nikki said, rushing up to Faith. “Dad just called me, but he was crying like a baby. All he’d say was that he was at home, and then he hung up.”

Faith grabbed the phone in Nikki’s hands and pressed a button. She held it up to her ear. “Ace, quick yes or no – are you hurt? Is your mom there?”

She paused as she listened. “It’s okay. I’ll explain later. Nikki and I are on the way.”

Faith keyed off the phone and said to Nikki, “Come with me. I’m about to meet my former mother-in-law.”

Liz moved to break up another fight as the other pair left. On the way, she passed by Andrew staring at a dark-haired man.

“Jonathan?” Andrew squealed. Liz winced at the volume.

Cut To:
Willow and Kennedy’s House
– Living Room – Same Time

Alex and Jen both rushed inside the house without knocking.

They looked around and saw Willow sitting alone on the loveseat.

“Do you know what’s happening?” Jen asked.

“Well, that depends,” Willow replied.

“The dead seem to be coming back,” her daughter said.

“Right,” Alex added. “The spell worked – the doors have been opened, obviously.”

“I know,” Willow said. “Ken is upstairs with Kadin right now. Calendar’s pacing on the back porch, afraid to come into the house again.”

Willow licked her lips nervously and then cleared her throat. “You two haven’t seen anyone who’s passed, have you?”

The twins looked at each other briefly. “You mean Mom?” Jen clarified.

Willow only nodded.

They both shook their heads, but Alex added, “We have no idea at this point what any of this means.”

“It sure is making a lot of folks happy, though,” Jen pointed out. “Freaked at first, yeah, but, you know…happy.”

Willow turned her head slightly and said, “I’m not so sure about that.”

Alex and Jen immediately looked at each other again.

“Mom, Ken’s not going to leave you for Kadin,” Jen told her.

“None of us know that for sure, but still, that’s not what I meant.”

“I’m confused then,” Alex confessed.

Willow leaned forward. “If all the souls are coming back from their place of eternal reward, then what about the souls that weren’t so lucky…or so pure.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” Jen admitted.

Willow looked over at Alex. “We need to make sure that door is closed.”

Her son nodded in agreement.

Fade To:
Giles House – Back Porch – Minutes Later

Liz came to an abrupt stop at the open patio door of her parents’ home.

She looked over to see her mother sitting in one of the patio chairs and her brother standing beside her. Then she turned to stare at her father, who stood by the railing.

He was no longer the frail senior citizen she’d known for years, but she could still recognize him beyond a shadow of a doubt. This was Rupert Giles in his prime; his hair receding, but mostly still dark carriage erect, his skin relatively smooth and un-sagging.

“Are you…?” Liz trailed off. Giles opened his arms, and she raced over and pulled him into a tight hug. “I can’t believe it,” she said when she pulled back slightly. “I always knew Willow was powerful, but…”

“Things have come full circle,” he said. “The end is at the beginning.”

She said nothing for several seconds. She didn’t even move.

“You look young…a-and good.” Her voice caught.

“And so do you.” His eyes twinkled.

“Especially, considering you’re…well…”


“Yeah.” She took a deep breath and pulled away. “You were saying?”

“Things have come full circle. The end is the beginning.”

Liz nodded, considering. “And what does that mean?”

Giles sighed, looking over at the yard, his eyes taking in the flowers and trees. “I’m afraid there are limits to what I can say. But you already have the answers you seek.”

“Fine. Since we’ve got a surplus of dead people this week, maybe one of them can tell me…” She stopped, seeing the shake of his head. “I can be pretty persuasive.”

“Oh, believe me, I know,” he turned back to her, smiling. “I daresay were there any choice in the matter I’d be explaining, well, everything…right this instant. The fact is, I want to…” He took a step closer. “…were there any choice in the matter.”

“Come on, Dad!” she said, her tone intense. “Riddle time is over. People are dying. Worse, people are suffering, and it isn’t going to stop! If you know anything…”

Giles reached over and touched the side of her face.

“I know vastly more than I ever thought possible now. There is an amazing perspective one achieves after passing on – or at least, one can have such. It depends. But I cannot explain further than that. The words simply will not come. And they shouldn’t – anything I say might upset the balance. A safety measure to protect eternity, as it were.” His other hand came up, now cupping her face. “I will tell you all I can. And I will help you all I can. But know this – it’s something I always suspected, and now I know it to be true. My dear Elizabeth, you are equal to all that you face. And more. I had few enough doubts about that while I breathed, but now even those are gone.”

Liz blinked, trying not to cry and failing. “If I solve this,” she said, voice low, “chances are, I’m not going to see you ever again, am I?”

He didn’t answer at first, but then he smiled.

“The future is not yet written,” said Giles. “We’ll both have to find out.”

Cut To:
– Same Time

Nikki drummed her fingers against the steering wheel, her eyes fixed on the autopilot display.

“We should’ve taken the hover,” she said. “Be faster.”

Beside her, in the driver seat, Faith spoke up. “Maybe.”


“Yeah, maybe. Anyway, water under the bridge.” She fell silent, and the two of them said nothing for several seconds. “Don’t worry about your dad,” Faith said finally. “He got a big shock, sure, but he’ll be okay. He’s one strong and steady guy.”

At that, Nikki raised an eyebrow. “So what’s going on? Do you know?”

“Got a good idea.” Faith hesitated for a second. “Red’s spell, it worked too well. Door between life and death – open. Souls inside the Loathestone – sucked out and sent to wherever they were supposed to go in the first place. So far, so good.”


Faith smiled. “Smart girl. There’s always a but. Turns out the door goes both ways. Yeah, all those trapped souls in the rock should be gone, but other dead people – well, some others anyway…” She looked out the window a split second more than usual. “They showed up. Are showing up.”

“Which is bad.”

“In some ways.”

Something about the way Faith said that made Nikki do a take.

After an awkward silence, Nikki asked, “So the other day…”

“Which one?”

“Those escaping demons from lockup…you zonked them good. But you’re not a slayer anymore. Well, you are, but you don’t have the perks, the super strength and stuff. How’d you do it?”

“Well…” Faith managed to shrug and preen at the same time. “I still work out, y’know.”

Cut To:
Giles House
– Back Porch – Same Time

Martin faced his sister and his resurrected father, looking anything but happy.

“You can’t do what you’re thinking. He’ll be gone again.”

Liz opened her mouth, then shut it, looking toward Giles.

“That is how it should be,” Giles said. Before Martin could say anything else, Giles raised his hand. “I can give you a thousand reasons, Martin, each as compelling as the last, as to why things must be set right. But of course, I don’t need to, because you yourself can think of them as well as I can. Plus, you are far too intelligent and too honest not to realize what they are.”

For several moments, Martin stared at his dead father, not blinking. Then he said, “The dead’ll outnumber the living.” He paused. “And it’ll be as if time has stopped. No one going forward, everybody trying to settle scores from the past. Plus, humanity will stagnate. There’ll be no motivation, no innovation, if tomorrow always comes.”

“You are correct, Martin. Look at Dawn. She always dreaded the entire idea of unending life. Quite rightfully, too. Life without change is ultimately life without hope.”

“That isn’t what Dawn said,” said Liz. “She said how much she hated the idea of watching everyone she knows grow old and die.”

“And not changing herself,” added Martin.

Giles nodded. “If no one changes, no one grows.” He took off his glasses and began to clean them. “Quite apart from the fact that you’re looking at every single serial killer in history coming back.”

Liz looked at his glasses. “Why are you doing that? You don’t need them anymore, do you?”

With a laugh, Giles put them back on. “Habit. Takes a while to break, I’m afraid. Which brings up another point. The cycle of life and death is much more complex than you believe. Souls migrate, from existence to existence, through different realities and even time cycles. Disrupt those forces, and you threaten the whole of creation, across all aspects of religion.”

“Like El Niño, but on a much bigger scale,” said Martin.

“Exactly right.” Giles looked proud. “Summerland merging with Hades…”

“Heaven colliding with Valhalla,” Liz offered.

“Hell coming to Earth,” Becca said, finally speaking up.

After a moment, Liz looked at her mother. “So…you’re okay with this?”

“No, I have him back again,” she whimpered. “But I know you gotta do it.”

“Yeah.” Liz waited, then looked back at her father. “I’ve gotta go. Will you come with me?”

Giles gently shook his head. “Not yet. I have some unfinished business.” He looked over at Becca and smiled. Then he looked back at Liz. “But I will be there when you’re ready. You have my word.”

Liz nodded.

Cut To:
Willow & Kennedy’s House
– Calendar’s Room – Same Time

“What I should’ve done,” Kennedy was saying to Kadin, “was stayed down there in the battle.”

Kadin shook her head. “Nah. Then Vanessa wouldn’t have had any moms.”

“Or she’d have had two. Together, we might have won that day.”

“Maybe, but what are the odds?”

“How many times did we beat the odds?”

“And how many times did they beat us?”

“Hey – we were ahead, last time I looked!”

“Exactly. We were pushing our luck!”

Silence ensued.

The two of them said nothing, but still looked at each other. For several seconds that stretched into a minute, there was silence and more silence, pregnant silence, Intense silence. One of them didn’t have to breathe, but it seemed as if neither were doing it.

Kadin started giggling.

Kennedy’s eyes went huge, almost insulted. Then, she grinned. And laughed. Kadin laughed back, a big, braying sound that set Kennedy off again. Neither one of them tried to control it, but just sat back and guffawed.

“What are we laughing about?” asked Kennedy, wiping tears from her eyes.

“Dunno about you,” said Kadin, “but I just couldn’t take you looking all serious and stuff.”


“You’re doing it again!” Kadin snorted.

“No, but…”

Kadin roared. Kennedy went bright pink and finally grinned from ear to ear.

“No more buts,” Kadin said, catching her breath, “There’s a reason I’m here.” She stifled a giggle. “Details are fuzzy – sorry, they just are – but it’ll be for something important. Something really, really, really important. There’s some big stuff going down right now.”

“Ya think? I’m talking to my dead wife!”

They both collapsed into giggles again.

Cut To:
– Hallway – Same Time

“Yes,” a teenage girl’s voice echoed down the stairs, along with heavy footsteps.

“No,” a teenage boy answered.



A petite brunette girl, around sixteen, with long shiny straight hair turned off the stairs and into the hallway. “Yes!”

Behind her, the boy, a year or so younger, rolled his eyes. “No!”

The girl suddenly stopped and turned back to the boy, who barely avoided colliding with her.

“Michael, I don’t care how much you whine, but this Balthier statue is mine!” She slammed a figurine of a man toting a shotgun over his shoulder, dressed in medieval garb, onto the table under the hallway mirror. “Mom gave it to me!”

“She did not, Mercy!” Michael leapt onto her, slamming his hand down over her mouth. She struggled free and started to grapple with Michael. He gave her the slip and got behind her, but she turned around and locked her arm around his neck, then proceeded to furiously grate her knuckles over his head. Balthier looked on.

“You two! Enough!” a deep voice rang from behind.

Their mortal combat halted, the pair shuffled around to see their not too pleased dad, Jeff Lindquist, standing in the doorway of the kitchen.

“Both of you, cut it out!”

In unison, the pair slipped out of each other’s hold. They shared a quick glance, and then she grabbed the Balthier statue. “It’s mine.”

“Mercy, there are more important things in this world than a piece of plastic.” Jeff marched forward, took the statue from her, walked between them and down the other end of the hall, turning into a room and slamming the door shut.

“It’s die-cast metal…” Mercy curled her raised finger back into her fist.

“Nice going,” Michael sighed.

The sound of the front door broke the pair out of their discussion.

“‘Sup, kiddies?” Grace said, closing the door behind her and throwing her hair back behind her shoulder. “Where’s your dad?”

“In his Bat Cave,” Mercy said. This received a nod from Grace, who then walked back up the hall to the closed door.

“Tell Dad we’re sorry,” Michael called out.

“You’re such an ass kisser,” Mercy said, before heading to her room.

Grace paused, her hand on the doorknob, and smiled before opening the door.

“Hey,” was all she said upon entering. She stopped and looked down to see the Balthier statue lying on the floor. Looking back up, she noticed Jeff standing with an expression of shock. She then looked off to the right to see two women seated on his office sofa, and she opened her mouth to speak.

 “Hello Grace,” said Dianna, seated next to Lily.

Jeff cleared his throat. “Apparently our moms just popped in for a quick visit.”

Grace’s mouth was still open, yet no words came out.

Cut To:
Wood House – Living Room – Same Time

Robin and his mother rose as the front door opened and Nikki and Faith entered.

“Hey, uh, this is my mom,” Robin said, motioning to the woman with an afro. “Your namesake,” he told Nikki.

“Nice to meet you,” she said, as she came over and shook the elder Nikki’s hand. “Really, a pleasure.”

“She’s always been a polite girl,” Robin’s mother complimented him.

“You’ve been watching me?” Nikki asked.

“Always,” she said. “All of you, actually.” She turned her attention to Faith. “And thank you for letting him name her.”

Faith shrugged. “You didn’t have much time with him, but you were important to him.”

“I could say the same about you too, dear,” Robin’s mother replied.

Faith didn’t seem to know what to say, so Robin spoke up.

“Does the Council have any idea what’s happening?” he asked.

“We have a few theories,” Faith said. “You still wired into the Council Archives?”

“Faith, you know I’m retired. That would be unethical.”

She looked at him. After a moment, so did his mother and daughter with the same expression.

He sighed.

Cut To:
ood House – Robin’s Office – Moments Later

“So Willow did this spell,” Robin clarified. “But why?”

All four of them – Robin, his mother, Nikki and Faith – all stood around his computer.

“Nikki,” Faith told her daughter, directing her to sit at the keyboard. “Call up that file.”

Nikki did just that, and a picture of O’Mara filled the screen.

Faith asked, “Remember how we always wondered what happened to O’Mara and why she went evil?”

Robin nodded. “That bothered Jason for years.”

“I know.”

He gave her a look. “You did? I thought you and he…”

Faith shrugged. “We got together a bunch of times after his stroke.”

“Wait a minute,” said Nikki. “Jason? As in Jason Felix? The Chairman of Oversight Felix? The Old Man in the Mountain himself? You and he…?”

“The guy I thought was gonna kill Willow.” Faith nodded. Her daughter blinked a couple of times. “Long story. Stupid story. I’ll tell ya sometime.”

But Robin held up a hand. “You and Jason Felix got along like oil and water.”

“We…changed.” Faith took a deep breath. “After the stroke, he went and retired. And then after a few months he gave me call.”

“Not an easy thing to manage,” Robin said, pointedly.

“The guy got things done, remember? Anyway, we talked. Then he called again, and we talked again. And then he came for a visit, super-duper wheelchair and everything. Spent the whole day together, just talking about stuff, about – well, not everything, but a lot.” She looked at the three people listening to her and almost didn’t continue. Then she shook her head. “Anyway, you’re right, it bothered him. Why did Autumn O’Mara do a one eighty? Her whole life was going in one direction. She had chosen her path, chosen what she was going to do. Spent years working at it. Then, just like that,” she snapped her fingers, “she goes all dark. She dies crying, after betraying everything she’d ever worked for. Why? What could have happened?” She almost bared her teeth as she asked those questions, her eyes not quite focused. Her voice went low. “It really gnawed at him. A lot.” She blinked.

“Well,” she continued suddenly, after a long pause, “we finally know – it’s that Stone.” She pointed to the photo. “We think it has a name. The Loathestone. Liz has it right now, and she showed it to me. From what we gather, anyone that touches it comes under its power. It traps souls, corrupts them, uses them as fuel. Long story short, Willow did a spell that opened the ‘doorway to heaven’ to release all those souls. But it turned out a bunch of others figured out how to sneak through the same door. Some real badasses, emphasis on bad.”

“Liz didn’t touch it, did she?” Nikki looked frightened.

“No,” Faith told her.

“That’s good, at least no one did.”

Faith took a steadying breath. “I did.”

“Why?” Robin almost gasped the word. “When?”

“Back when I was trying to save O’Mara at the Capitol Building. Just a touch. One touch.” She didn’t add more, and the implication seemed to set in, based on Robin’s pained expression.

“What’s done is done, Ace, okay?” she said, trying not to whimper. “And while everyone’s overjoyed to see people like your mom here, what’s to say that everyone isn’t coming back who’s dead…I mean everyone.”

Nikki looked up at Faith. “That’s true – Hitler could be starting to form the Fourth Reich.”

“I don’t think he’s a threat right this instant without an industrial society behind him,” Robin offered, voice low. “But your point is well taken.”

His mother spoke up. “But with all of his friends, he could still cause a lot of trouble. Plus, think about every single lowlife and sicko the world is better without…” She looked at every single one of them in turn.

“We need to get back to the Council,” Nikki said. “Fast.”

Cut To:
Watchers Council
– Science Lab – Later that Day

“What do you have for me, Mr. Rayne?” Liz asked, as she, Janice and Nikki came into the lab.

“The satellite scan’s complete. The anomaly at Waxahachie hasn’t breached the shield,” Vaughn said, datapad in hand, as he examined an image on the central monitor.

“It definitely is the ritual, then,” Gwen called from behind them. She was perched on a stool, with her own datapad in front of her.

“It would seem so,” he sighed. “Which means it’s out of our hands. Science department folds. This was, and still is, the Coven’s problem. Bloody magic. More trouble than it’s worth.”

Liz smiled. “Don’t let your godmother Willow hear you say that. Besides, we don’t know enough to say for certain that it was the ritual we tried, but it is looking that way.”

A beep sounded from Gwen’s datapad. “Internal sensors aren’t detecting any variants in the measurable EM bands, which means our ghosts aren’t, well, ghosts. Least not the ones we’re familiar with. You know, the rattling chains, Casper kind.”

“No…” Vaughn trailed off, then he frowned, looking down at his datapad. “This is interesting. I’m detecting strange energy readings in the areas of the Council where the dead have been sighted.”

“A result of crossing over, maybe?” Nikki asked.

“Umm…if I can clean up the readings, isolate the actual energy profile, we might have a viable way of detecting and monitoring their locations, perhaps even predict where the dead might pop up.” He immediately looked down and began to press his datapad’s touch screen. “I’m expanding the search parameters to city-wide. I’ll pull up the local P.D.’s sensor grid for a little while.”

“Access their grid by proxy if you can’t get in,” Gwen told him as she typed. “We don’t need the red tape hassle right now.”

“Yes, mum, I know,” he sniggered slightly, still focused.

“Yes, mum, he knows,” an English man’s voice said.

Together, they both turned to find Ethan leaning up against a counter with his arms folded, a smug look on his face.

“Dad!” Vaughn gasped.

“‘allo Son.”

His face lit up, tears burning in his eyes. “I…umm…I…spectral analysis.”

Ethan blinked, and after a moment, he mumbled, “Come again?”

“I need…stay there, don’t move!” Vaughn said, pointing to Ethan. Then he turned and ran toward the door. He stopped for a moment as the door slid open and looked back at Ethan. “I love you, Dad.” His smile widened, and he sprinted out of the lab.

Through the glass windows, Ethan’s eyes followed his son as he raced down the corridor. He snorted and looked back at Gwen. “Well, he’s certainly your son. You can only tell he’s mine from his stunning good looks. That and his wicked tongue. And you, Elizabeth,” he said, turning toward her, “you’re looking…well, old actually.”

Liz smiled. “Old is better than dead, Uncle Ethan,” she countered.

“My boy’s not the only offspring with a wicked tongue that matches their father. Touché,” he replied with a nod.

With a bright smile on her face, Gwen went to get up, but fell back onto the seat of the stool and grimaced. She pressed her hand firmly against her side.

Ethan’s smile vanished, and he pushed off the counter and walked over to her. “It’s getting worse, isn’t it?”

She didn’t say anything, but she nodded, eyes closed as she controlled her breathing.

“You haven’t told him?”

“N-n-no,” she managed. She blew out a sigh and looked at him, eyes red but the pained expression on her face lessening. “Some days are better than others, you know?”

“How long?” Ethan said, crestfallen.

She didn’t answer at first, but then she swallowed and cocked her head. “Willow figures about a year at best. The nanites are deteriorating at a much faster rate. My charge is getting weaker by the day, and when it’s gone…well, time for this little Energizer Bunny to hang up her battery.”

“I’m sorry.” Ethan placed a gentle hand on her shoulder and then cupped her face.

“I’ve missed you,” she said sincerely, leaning into his hand. “Not long now. Wait for me a little longer.”

Ethan took in a deep breath and squeezed her. “That might be a problem.” Gwen looked at him, perplexed. “Not exactly sitting on a cloud, strumming a harp, Luv.” He gazed longingly into her eyes.

Realization suddenly dawned on her. “Oh no. Ethan, no…” She began to whimper.

He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close against his chest. “Shush. It’s all right. I wanted…just know that I love you, and Vaughn, always, and perhaps when the time comes…next life I’ll do much better.” Gwen buried her sobbing face closer against Ethan. “But listen to me now,” he said, holding her tighter, “that chance might never come. I’m here to warn you, since I have nothing to lose. You have a Stone that needs to be destroyed. Hell will stop at noth–”

“I’ve got it!” Vaughn exclaimed, as he skid to a halt just over the threshold of the lab. In his hand he held a scanning device, shaped like a gun with a monitor attached. His smile fell as he saw Gwen pressing herself against thin air where Ethan had stood a moment before. “Mum…where’d Dad go?”

Gwen opened her eyes and found Ethan gone. She sniffed and looked at Vaughn standing opposite her. She opened her mouth, words poised, but nothing came out.

“If Ethan was here,” Nikki began, “and he was in–”

Liz gripped her arm to silence her from going any further. “Vaughn,” she said, “keep researching please. If you uncover anything, tell me at once, all right?”

“Sure, Liz,” the young man answered, before Liz, Nikki and Janice left again.

Cut To:
Watchers Council
– Hallway – Moments Later

“You heard what Ethan said,” Nikki told Liz as they walked along. “He didn’t meet St. Peter.”

“It seems like it’s starting with all dimensions,” Janice added. “Heaven or Hell, it doesn’t matter. These worlds are opening up.”

“It might even be other worlds too,” Nikki provided.

“Which means Willow was right,” Liz concluded. “And as my slayer would say, this is soooo not fuschia.”

Black Out



End of Act Three

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