Act 5



Fade In:


Case Western Reserve University – Science Building – Day

Vanessa slept peacefully in Rowena’s arms, making only the occasional gurgle. For her part, Rowena looked down at the baby with something just short of rapture. The pair sat next to Kennedy on a bench in the hallway of the university science building.

“Of course, she quiets down for you,” Kennedy said quietly, more than a hint of bitterness in her voice. “Right when I need her to keep doing it so I can show the doctor.”

Rowena looked up at Kennedy with concern in her eyes. “Take a breath, Ken. I get that you’re worried, but everything’s going to be OK.”

Kennedy looked down at Vanessa and sighed. “I just…Kadin and I saw you and Willow, and Buffy and Xander, and everyone else, and it all seemed so perfect.”

“It was never perfect,” Rowena said quietly. “Trust me. And the older they get…grr argh. But in light of all that, I wouldn’t trade a second of it. My kids are the best thing that’s ever happened to me, next to Willow.”

Kennedy opened her mouth to reply, then looked away. Her hands clasped nervously. “Do you ever feel like…like they’re not really yours?”

Rowena looked at the former slayer. “What do you mean? Is she turning blue and fangy, like Kadin?”

Before Kennedy could answer, the nearest door opened, and Dr. Tamara Goldman stood in the opening, wearing a white lab coat. “Sorry for the wait, I just had to get the exam room ready.” She strode quickly toward them. “It’s so good to see you, Kennedy.” Then she turned toward Rowena, whose face was a mask. “And you must be Rowena Allister.”

“Or Mrs. Rosenberg,” Rowena replied pointedly.

“Of course! I can’t tell you how excited I am to meet you.”

Rowena raised one eyebrow. “Really?”

“Oh yes,” Tamara said. “I’d shake your hand, but it looks like you’ve got them full right now.” She looked down at Vanessa, who had opened her eyes and smiled at the doctor. “She takes my breath away every time I see her.”

Both Kennedy and Rowena looked at this woman with a high degree of wariness, though for very different reasons.

It was then that Rowena’s eyes landed on Willow, who seconds earlier had appeared in the doorway. Initially, Willow smiled at seeing the trio, but it faded almost immediately, replaced by a look of concern. Rowena just seemed to tighten her hold on Vanessa, while avoiding looking at her wife.

“Bring her in, bring her in,” Tamara said, gesturing expansively back toward the door. “Let’s see what’s up with our girl.”

Cut To:


Case Western Reserve University – Exam Room – Minutes Later

Tamara pulled her stethoscope off the chest of a gurgling Vanessa, who was playfully blowing spit bubbles.

“Her lungs sound normal,” she said, lifting the earpieces away from her head.

“She never cried before,” Kennedy insisted, standing near the exam table. “Never. And now, it’s all the time. Except, y’know, right now.”

Tamara shook her head. “Vanessa is, well, uncharted territory. So, I’m on board with being better safe than sorry, but…” She put her hands on Kennedy’s shoulders. “All babies cry. Mine sure as hell did.”

“You have kids?” Rowena asked. She stood nearby, her arms folded over her chest. Willow’s eyes nervously darted between the two women.

“One. A daughter,” the doctor said.

“We have four,” Rowena offered.

“And they’re gorgeous and talented like their mothers.”

“You’ve met them?” Rowena asked, with a hint of suspicion in her voice.

“Pictures,” Dr. Goldman said. “And your daughter is a spitting image of you.”

“She has her mom’s temper, too,” Willow chimed in, wearing a playful grin.

Rowena’s head pivoted in Willow’s direction so quickly that Willow jumped slightly.

“You would know, wouldn’t you, Dear?” Although the sentence ended on an endearment, the tone wasn’t anywhere near affectionate.

Dr. Goldman then turned back to Kennedy. “Just realize, it’s normal to worry, but we’re all in this together, right?” She flashed a small, warm smile, which Kennedy returned half-heartedly.

“Oh!” Tamara said, suddenly turning toward Rowena. “Don’t let me forget. I have to get you to sign your book. Willow said you wouldn’t mind.”

“Did she now?” Rowena said casually, though she couldn’t quite hide a touch of acidity.

The short tone seemed to go over Tamara’s head, but the noise Willow made, a mix of a cough and an anxious giggle, showed she definitely picked it up. “She said she’s a fan, a-and I didn’t think it would be a big deal.”

Rowena uncrossed her arms in surprise. “You’ve…read one of my books?”

“More like all of them,” Tamara replied with a sheepish shrug. “Communicating complex, specialist ideas to the lay audience is one of those skills I’m absolutely fascinated by, even if I don’t have it myself. I think my favorite might be A People’s History of the Watchers Council. The way it explains the, well, the craziest things so clearly, it’s kind of…comforting? Like the world’s in good hands.”

Rowena just looked at her for a long second, then shook her head and said, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll sign one of them for you. Honestly, I only wrote that one because I wasn’t happy with the textbooks we had for my class at the Academy, so I figured, if nobody was gonna make one, I’d do it myself.”

“That’s the whole thing, isn’t it?” Tamara said excitedly. “We need to fix what we can now, we can’t wait for everyone else to do it for us. I know that the…legal framework isn’t there yet for Vanessa here, but that doesn’t mean I can just sit back and wait for everyone else to let progress happen.” She gestured widely with her hands as she spoke.

“Doc?” Kennedy put in, drawing Tamara’s attention back to the exam table.

“I’m so sorry,” Tamara said as she walked back over. “I always get carried away. So, we’ll run a few tests, but I don’t see anything wrong physically. As your pediatrician already explained, colic can be caused by all kinds of things. Undiscovered food allergies are common, actually. If you’ve been eating cheese and Vanessa here’s lactose intolerant, of course she wouldn’t be happy. She may have developed a milk allergy, so maybe she’d be better with soy formula. There are times when breast milk or milk-based formula might not be the best solution. My suggestion is to try cutting out different foods from your diet, one at a time, and see if there’s any difference.”

Kennedy’s hands balled into fists. “It’s not…cheese!” she said, suddenly on the verge of tears. “You don’t understand. She’s not latching. I’ve been pumping so we can bottle feed her because she won’t take it from me anymore.” She glanced around to see Willow, Rowena and Tamara looking at her with wide eyes. “She just…” Kennedy fully burst out into tears. “She feels wrong. Something is wrong!”

Tamara immediately walked over and wrapped her arms around Kennedy. “Oh, easy now. It’s OK,” she said soothingly. “Everything’s gonna be fine. We’ve all been there. Right?” She looked up at Willow and Rowena for affirmation.

“Yes, yes,” Rowena agreed hurriedly. All Willow could do was nod.

“I’m so tired,” Kennedy said between sobs, her voice hoarse.

On the exam table, Vanessa burst into screams again. Kennedy buried her face in Tamara’s shoulder for a moment, then pulled away, sniffing back her tears. She walked over and picked up the baby, but the cries continued unabated.

Cut To:


Case Western Reserve University – Dr. Goldman’s Office – Minutes Later

Kennedy paced up and down the carpet in the middle of Tamara’s office, somewhat desperately rocking a crying Vanessa. Willow’s eyes continued to shift between her wife and Dr. Goldman. Over at the desk, Rowena scribbled a signature on the interior of the cover of A People’s History.

“There you go,” she said, closing the book.

“Thanks,” Dr. Goldman said, pushing her hair behind her ear nervously. “It’s silly, I know, but when I got the call from Willow months ago about this virus project, I was hoping I’d meet you someday, too.”

“Is that so?” Rowena asked the doctor, although her gaze was fixated on her nervous wife.

“Oh yes. I’ve loved your work ever since your published study on Skye Talisker.”

“You don’t say,” Rowena said, turning back to the doctor.

“Are you kidding? It was riveting and fascinating and unlike anything I’d ever read about the study of vampires.” Dr. Goldman gave a bashful chuckle. “I must sound like such a fangirl. I’m sorry…and that lady over there,” she added, pointing at Willow. “I don’t think I’ve met anyone as intelligent, sharp-witted and, I mean, beautiful. But I’m sure you’re quite proud of her.”

Rowena shifted her eyes back to Willow and said, “I am.” Her gaze held for a few more moments. “I just wish she’d realize that more often when I tell her.”

“She’s far too humble to believe us,” Tamara agreed. “Again, thank you for this.” The doctor held the book to her chest for a moment, then looked over at Kennedy and said, “Right, so we’ll wait for the blood results to come back. But in the meantime, I’m going to give you some literature. Check it out when you have the chance, OK?”

Kennedy hesitated, then nodded. She walked over and took the small folder of pamphlets Tamara held out to her while still holding the crying Vanessa in one arm, then walked away again.

Tamara and Rowena exchanged a look at Kennedy’s demeanor. Rowena said, “Well, it’s been nice to meet you.” She held out a hand.

Tamara looked at it for a moment, then quickly walked around the desk, put her arms wide, and said, “Oh, come on now!”

Then she embraced Rowena. For a long moment, Rowena’s eyes were wide, and she didn’t seem to know what to do with her hands. Then she slowly brought up one arm and patted Tamara on the back, exactly twice.

Rowena then turned to Willow, “Will I see you at home tonight?”

“I was just going to ask you the same thing. We seem to be missing each other a bit lately.”

“I haven’t decided yet. All I know is, I’m going to help Kennedy get settled in at her place, and I’ll take it from there.”

“Okay, then text me later, please.”

“You got it.”

With that, Rowena left the room with Kennedy following behind her.

Cut To:


Case Western Reserve University – Science Building – Moments Later

Rowena closed the door to Tamara’s office behind her, then turned to Kennedy, who still held both Vanessa and the folder given to her by the doctor.

“Well, everything seems OK”,” Rowena said. She caught Kennedy’s look and continued, “That’s good, right?”

Kennedy looked down. “It just means I still don’t know what’s wrong.” She took a deep breath and looked back at the office door. “So, what did you think of Dr. Goldman?”

“She actually seems really great, y’know,” Rowena replied. “Goddammit. Honestly, now I’m kind of wondering if I can have sex with her, too.”

Kennedy’s forehead creased. “Wait, what?”

“Nothing, nothing.” Rowena said hurriedly.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Cafeteria – Day

Jen unceremoniously plopped herself into the chair next to Liz, her book bag making the cafeteria table rattle.

“Soooo?” Jen said conspiratorially.

Liz appeared dumbfounded, her fork frozen halfway up to her mouth.

“Tell me,” Jen insisted.

For a full three seconds Liz didn’t say anything or move a muscle. “Tell you what?” she asked, totally confused.

“About how last night went?”

Liz shrugged. “He did okay,” she replied, although she didn’t sound very confident in her answer. It was obvious she didn’t know what was going on. Jen motioned with her hands like she wanted more info, so Liz continued. “He caught on quicker than I thought he would. And for somebody his age, he’s got good fingers.”

“Eww. I don’t wanna hear about my brothers’ fingers.”

“I was talking about my dad.”

“Double eww. Wait. What are you talking about?” Jen asked.

“What are you talking about?” Liz asked.

“Your date with Alex last night,” Jen said in a frustrated whisper. “How did it go?”

Liz chuckled. “I was at home last night teaching my dad how to play ‘Circles’ by Post Malone on acoustic. And yes, the song’s a couple years old, but at least it’s in this decade. I gotta give him points for that. But we never saw your brother.”

Jen looked thoroughly confused. “Alex asked me to babysit so he could go on a date, but he wouldn’t tell me who it was. That’s why I thought it was you.”

“Sure, Alex is cute and all, but why would you think that?” Liz giggled.

“You both seem chummy lately. Especially at Sterling’s.”

“That was a stage performance. That’s when you do a…a performance…on a stage.”

“Thank you, condescending smart ass,” Jen replied. Liz just smiled in response. “But if Alex didn’t go out with you, then where did he go?”

“Sounds like that’s a question for him.”

“Or we can follow him?”

“Now it’s my turn. Eww. You want to stalk your twin brother? Do you know how creepy that sounds?”

“Duh. When you say it that way, it does sound creepy.”

“Just talk to him,” Liz insisted again. “Or better yet go on TikTok and put in ‘GoPro Slayer Crystalized Vamp’.”

Jen opened her mouth, then closed it again in confusion. “What?”

“You obviously have not been online in the last 24 hours,” Liz chuckled. “But look it up while you’re here, because I want to see the meltdown.”

Jen looked at Liz for a few moments and then started to type quickly on her phone. At the same time, Nikki walked over with her tray and asked, “Can I sit here?”

“Of course,” Liz replied. “You won’t want to miss this.”

“Miss what?” Nikki asked innocently.

Liz just pointed at the slayer.

Jen’s eyes got wide and she yelled, “Alexander!”

“That,” Liz told her.

“What the hell am I looking at?!” Jen asked.

“Alex Rosenberg – vampire slayer,” Liz teased.

“I thought he was sneaking out to see you, and he goes and gets caught on video with these…lancers….what the hell? I covered for him so he could meet you, not…not…”

“Did he tell you he was meeting me?”

“Not in so many words, I just…assumed and don’t you say it.”

“Fine,” Liz said and then turned to Nikki. “When one assumes, Nikki, the end result usually involves making an ass out of you and me. This is an important lesson in your watcher training.”

“Damn it, Liz,” Jen muttered. Nikki chuckled in response.

“What?” Liz complained. “I didn’t say anything to you. I’m talking to Nikki.”

“Alex is so dead,” Jen said, shaking her head. “If I don’t kill him, one of my moms will for sure.” As the video went on, her eyes got even wider. “Now he’s on top of this girl, wait…is he there on a date…with a lancer?” She brought an arm protectively up to her mouth. “Oh God, I think I’m gonna hurl.”

“Be careful, you might end up with a lancer sister-in-law,” Liz chided. “What will you tell your future nieces and nephews about your reaction to their parents getting together?”

“Just think of how beautiful the half-Council-half-lancer children will be,” Nikki said with a grin.

Jen buried her face in her hands. “Shut up, guys. Please, just shut up.”

Liz and Nikki exchanged looks, shrugged, and went back to their lunches.

Cut To:


Old Stone Chapel – Night


“Do you know how freakin’ dumb you look right now?” 14-year-old Kennedy commented. She had her arms crossed over her black Alkaline Trio t-shirt.

Jacobs, once again wearing his tweed jacket, sat cross-legged in the center of a white circle of salt before the altar of a small stone chapel that seemed hundreds of years old. A lone stained glass window behind the altar was missing half of its pieces. Kennedy leaned casually nearby against one of the few undamaged pews.

“I specifically told you that you need not appear,” he noted. “The ritual requires no assistance.”

“And miss a bunch of real-ass ghosts?” Kennedy scoffed. “Not likely.”

Jacobs sighed. “I have no idea if any of the supposed ghosts are, in fact, ‘real-ass,’ as you so colorfully put it. All I can do is perform the ritual and we shall see what we shall see.”

Kennedy expectantly motioned Jacobs to continue, and he adjusted himself within the circle. Then he intoned, “I call to all restless spirits present here. I call to you in the name of Anubis, in the name of Hades and in the name of the Witch of Endor. Spirits, come unto us.”

Kennedy raised an eyebrow and looked around the room, but nothing particularly unusual seemed to be happening.

“We implore you to find your rest,” Jacobs continued. “Be healed from wrongs that were done to you, and move on to the other side. Forget your pain and move on to the next world. Forget. Forget!

After yelling his final word, Jacobs opened his eyes. Nothing discernible to the naked eye had occurred.

Kennedy wrinkled her nose. “Is that it?” she asked, with all the skepticism she could manage.

“That is, indeed, it,” Jacobs said.

Kennedy stood up straight. “Well, that sucked.”

Cut To:


Mansion – Later that Night

Between the uneven brickwork and the vines clinging to those bricks, Kennedy was able to easily and quickly scramble up the exterior wall of her father’s mansion. Before long, she reached a windowsill, which she grabbed and, with a strained groan, managed to pull herself up toward the open window.

She stopped halfway, however, at the sight of her father sitting on her bed, watching the window and waiting for her. Their eyes met. Then she fell back, almost losing her grip before she caught herself on a vine. A split second later, she hauled herself back through the window.

“Kennedy,” her father said shortly. “Dare I ask what you were doing out at this hour?”

She stared at him, not unlike a rabbit on a track watching a train approach. Then she managed, “Uh, I was, y’know, going for a walk. In the moonlight. All the girls are doing it.”

Her father sighed. “Mariposa, I…I just wish you would tell me the truth sometimes.”

He gestured with one hand to a chest next to his feet. Its lid lay open, revealing its contents: wooden stakes, holy water and a large crossbow, amongst other assorted medieval paraphernalia.

Kennedy hurriedly rushed over and closed the chest, then turned to her father. “Yeah, huh, see, all of that stuff is…” she stammered. Then a light bulb seemed to go off over her head, and she continued, “It’s for self-defense. Mr. Jacobs has been helping me with it. You can’t be too careful these days.”

Her father regarded her levelly. “I hired Mr. Jacobs as your athletics coach, because I understand you have talent in that area. Is that not what he’s been coaching you in?”

“Hah, well, this-this is like…cross-training. That’s what we call it when–”

“I know what cross-training is, Kennedy,” her father said. “You forget I was quite the football player in my Yale days. In my experience it does not usually involve…holy water?”

He patted the bed next to him, indicating that Kennedy should sit. She did so, but couldn’t meet his eyes. She looked down at her wringing hands, instead.

“So, Mariposa, what’s really going on? What could be so terrible that you can’t tell me, hmm?”

Kennedy swallowed, took a deep breath, and looked up at her father. Then she said, “Daddy, I…I might be a vampire slayer.”

Her father’s facial expression did not change for about three seconds. Then he said, “I…see.”

“There’s only one slayer in the whole world,” Kennedy began to explain, her words coming out in a rush, “and it turns out it might be me! I just…I know it sounds pretty weird, but I know it’s true. I know it. I’ve been dreaming about it my whole life, but for a long time I didn’t realize what I was dreaming about. And then–”

“Kennedy,” her father said. He didn’t raise his voice, but it could not have been clearer that he wanted her to stop talking.

She looked at him briefly, then back down at her hands. “Are you mad at me?”

Her father smiled at her. “No, I’m not mad at you. I suppose I should have known.”


He nodded. “I always knew you were…different, Kennedy. I just didn’t know you were this disturbed.”

Kennedy’s mouth dropped open. “I’m not…Daddy, you have to believe me.”

He held up a hand. “Clearly I’ve been too indulgent with you. I’ve always wanted to give you everything I didn’t have growing up, but…obviously I made a mistake.”

“No, I…vampires are real! I’m real! I have powers! Well, not yet, because some girl in California has to die first, I’m not real clear on that, but–”

“In the morning,” her father continued, without skipping a beat, “I’m going to call St. Barbara’s. It’s late for enrollment, but I have a feeling they’ll make an exception.”

Kennedy shot to her feet. “Boarding school? No, Daddy, you can’t.”

“I think you’ll find,” her father said as he rose to his feet as well, “that I very much can.” He put a hand on her shoulder. “Just take a step back and listen to yourself. You sound crazy.”

“I’m not crazy, Daddy,” Kennedy insisted. “You…” her voice broke. “I trusted you.”

Her father sighed again, deeply, and pulled his hand away. “We’ll talk more in the morning.”

Kennedy watched him as he walked out of her bedroom, tears staining her cheeks. “Fine!” she called after him, a moment after he had left. “I don’t need you! I don’t need anybody!”

Cut To:


Kennedy & Kadin’s Cabin – Living Area – Evening


Kadin walked into her and Kennedy’s living room and found her wife sitting on the couch, head resting on one hand, the other slowly stroking Marsha’s head in her lap. She sat down next to them and said, “Penny for your thoughts?”

“In this economy?” Kennedy said softly. A very small smile ghosted across her lips, just for a moment, but when she looked up at Kadin, it disappeared. “I…I can’t right now.”

Kadin looked down at Marsha for a second, then back up at Kennedy. “I heard you took Vanessa to see the Doc today.”

Kennedy’s head snapped to attention. “Ro told you?”

“No, Dr. Goldman told me,” Kadin chuckled. “She called to follow up on the appointment a few hours after, the way she always does. We gave her my number, remember?”

Kennedy looked down again. “I’m so stupid.”

“What?” Kadin blinked several times, then waved her hands in front of her. “No, Ken, I…I just don’t get why you didn’t tell me. Did you think I was going to say, ‘No, don’t take our experimentally genetically engineered daughter to see the doctor’?”

“You said that you didn’t think there was anything wrong with her,” Kennedy argued quietly.

“And what did Dr. Goldman say, huh?” Kadin pushed.

Kennedy said nothing in response to this.

“Look, I have good news, actually,” Kadin told her. “I think this case I’ve been working on with the werewolf clan wrapped up pretty good today. I know you’ve been having…having a hard time. So maybe tomorrow I’ll stay home with Vanessa and you can, y’know, go to the office. Have some time on your own. Get some shit done. How’s that sound?”

“I shouldn’t need time off from my own daughter,” Kennedy said, without looking up.

As if on cue, Vanessa started to cry in the next room. As crying went, it was very loud.

“Well, we all need what we need, right?” Kadin said as she got to her feet. “I’ll deal with her. Marsha’ll stay and help you out. Right, girl?”

She didn’t wait for the dragon to respond, just walking into the next room to check on the baby. Just after she left, Marsha lifted her head slightly and growled in the direction of the nursery. Kennedy looked at her dragon, then up at the doorway. A focus came into her eyes.

Cut To:


Dr. Goldman’s Office – Day

“So what we need to figure out is how to nucleoside-modify the mRNA in order to encode the viral spike into the host cells.” Tamara sighed and leaned back in her chair. “Easy, right?”

She looked over at Willow, sitting across from her, and noticed that she was glancing absent-mindedly out the window, her mind seemingly elsewhere.

“Sorry,” the doctor said with a small giggle. “I forget that not everyone’s quite as excited by glycoproteins as I am.”

“What?” Willow asked, focusing back on the other woman. “Oh, no. I’m excited. I’m pro-protein, you might say.”

“But you’re tired,” Tamara said. She got to her feet and started to walk around the desk. “It’s understandable. We’ve been working day and night on this thing, and I know it feels like we’re–”

“No, I’m not tired,” Willow said suddenly, making the doctor turn to look at her. “I just, um, I was trying to figure out how to say something, so I’m just gonna say it, uh…do you want to maybe get coffee sometime?”

Dr. Goldman gave her a very small, knowing smile. “Coffee? We literally got coffee together this morning.”

Willow’s mouth opened, then closed again. “I-I know, I just mean, when I say coffee, what I mean is…well, I feel like the two of us have really worked well together, and that we really complement each other’s strengths, and when I’m near you, I…when I say coffee…where are you going?”

Dr. Goldman was walking over toward the closed door of her office. “I get it,” she said, “and I feel the same way.”

“Y-you do?” Willow ventured. “I mean, I thought there were, y’know, signals…”

The doctor reached the closed door of her office, quickly locked it, then turned around to face Willow. “And I think maybe we’re past coffee, don’t you?”

Willow made a gulping noise in her throat, her eyes fixed on Tamara as she walked slowly back toward her. “I, uh…I mean…oh, screw it.”

She took a few steps forward at the same time Tamara did, and their lips met. The two of them kissed each other, hard, searchingly, for several seconds before Willow pulled back briefly, her eyes still on the other woman’s.

“Oh Goddess,” she said softly.

Dr. Goldman’s lips quirked upward. “I told you to call me Tamara.”

Willow licked her lips and took a step back. “And this is, this is…you are married, right?”

“Yes,” Dr. Goldman said, the small smile still on her lips. Her fingers reached out to play softly over the edges of Willow’s collarbone. “So are you, if I remember right.”

“A-and this is…OK?”

The doctor’s fingers drifted lower, searching down Willow’s creamy skin until they reached the strings at the front of her blouse. “Absolutely,” she said. “I just have to go back and tell them every…” She pulled at one of the strings. “…single…” And another. “…little…” And another. “…detail.” With a final tug, Willow’s blouse fell open, and Dr. Goldman’s fingers drifted inside. Willow’s breath caught and her eyes closed briefly. The doctor’s lips were now inches from her ear. “So is this all…OK on your end?”

Willow’s lips trembled, just for a moment, and then she whispered, “Yes.”

Then the two of them were clasped together again, fumbling at each other’s clothing. Whenever their lips parted, they hungrily found each other again just a moment later. Willow collapsed backward onto the couch at one end of the office and found herself helping Dr. Goldman finish pulling off her jeans.

Dr. Goldman, her own blouse now open and fly unzipped, knelt between Willow’s legs. She leaned up and kissed Willow once more, hard, their tongues dancing, then moved down to her neck, then further. A few seconds later, Willow leaned her head back in ecstasy. Her mouth opened.

“Oh wow,” she breathed. “Wow.”

Dr. Goldman, a wicked grin now on her face, looked up at her and meowed.

Cut To:


Rosenberg-Allister House – Bedroom – Night

Willow’s eyes shot open. She lay back on her bed and pulled her hand out of the waistband of her pajama bottoms, her eyes scanning the room furtively.

A split-second later, a large black cat jumped onto her chest. She yelped. The cat meowed again. She frantically pushed the offending cat off of her. It fell to the side of the bed with a hiss, darting away and out the door, which was open only a crack.

Willow scrambled to her feet, hurriedly adjusting her pajamas. She peered out through the crack in the door, but saw no one there. A moment later, she pulled the door the rest of the way closed.

She sank into the chair next to the nightstand, breathing hard. Then she dropped her head into her hands and ran her fingers through her hair.

Cut To:


Choi House – Evening

Rain still pounded on the windows. Emma sat on one side of a square dining room table, her parents in two of the other chairs. No one spoke. She poked unenthusiastically at the reddish broth of her bowl of kimchi-jjigae with a pair of chopsticks.

Her mother glanced up at her between mouthfuls. “You should eat,” she said. “You’re too skinny.”

“My metabolism is different,” Emma replied, without looking up. Her mother did not act as if she had heard. Silence ensued for several more seconds. Emma picked up a cube of tofu and put it in her mouth. After a few chews, she mustered a small smile and told her father, “It’s good. I miss this in Cleveland.”

He looked over and gave her a small smile back.

“It was such a long day at work,” her mother said, “so thank you for cooking.”

“Well, the accounting business is all remote now, so I have to do something to feel useful,” her father said.

“You’re doing fine.” Emma’s mother looked over at her. “Your father’s brought in several new clients lately, I’m sure they’ll be giving him a raise soon.”

He tucked back into his steaming bowl, the smile fading.

“That’s good,” Emma said. She leaned forward. “You know, they’ve been giving me more responsibility, too, having me train some of the younger girls. With Shannon turning thirty–”

“I’m not sure that’s the most appropriate topic of conversation for the dinner table,” her mother interrupted.

Emma dropped her chopsticks with a small clang. “You were just talking about Dad’s work. Why can’t I talk about mine?”

“Because your father’s job doesn’t involve killing anything,” her mother said matter-of-factly. She picked up a plate from the table and held it out to Emma. “Here, try the tteokbokki.”

Omma–!” Emma began to protest, but her father cut her off.

“So, how are your classes going?” he asked. “At the college?”

Emma looked between him and her mother a few times, then said, “Um, they’re fine. I, uh, actually have a show with a few of the other girls there in a few weeks.”

“So you’re still doing those art classes, then?” her mother commented, her voice carefully neutral. She took a bite out of one of the orange tteokbokki rice cakes as she waited for the answer.

“Yes,” Emma said stoically.

Her mother swallowed, then continued, seemingly casual. “You know, I heard Kelly Yun was just accepted to medical school at Stanford. You two were friends, right?”

“In, like, little kid Sunday School, yes,” Emma said, gesturing widely with her napkin in one hand. “And good for her. But I’m not her, Omma. And I’m not you. It doesn’t make what I do any less important. You and I both save lives.”

“We only want what’s best for you,” her father said. “Slaying only lasts so long, and then what? You think we could have bought this house if I was an artist?”

Emma growled in frustration and threw her napkin back on the table. “You guys don’t want what’s best for me, you want what’s best for you,” Emma said. She pushed back her chair with a loud screeching sound and stood up. “I’ll be in my room,” she announced, before stomping off.

Her mother sighed, and her two parents shared a brief look. Then her father reached over to Emma’s bowl and started spooning the contents into his own.

Cut To:


Kennedy and Kadin’s Cabin – Living Area – Night

Kennedy stared up at the ceiling. She lay back on the couch, her feet up on one end. In the background, the TV played a nature program. A cuckoo snuck into another bird’s nest, but she wasn’t watching.

Nearby, Kadin moved around the kitchen. Vanessa lay nearby, in her wooden cradle next to the kitchen table, apparently happy for the moment. Kadin put a whole onion on the chopping board. Then she pulled out a large knife from the block.

A moment later, Marsha came in through the canvas flap of the dragon door to the backyard and padded across the living room toward the kitchen.

“Are you hungry, girl?” Kadin called without looking over. “I’m making dinner.” She started to swiftly and expertly wield the knife, chopping the onion into small pieces.

Marsha’s reptilian eyes regarded Vanessa in her cradle. The baby seemed to turn her head toward the dragon. Marsha turned her head back toward Kennedy for a moment, then back toward the cradle. Then a growling sound came from deep in her throat. At the noise, Kennedy’s eyes focused and she sat up, turning to put her feet on the floor.

“No, Marsha,” Kadin said, a friendly warning in her voice. “Bad girl.” She kept chopping the onion.

Marsha seemed to listen, as she stopped growling. But Kennedy saw the dragon rear her neck back, like a coiling serpent. She shot to her feet and ran.

Marsha, no!” she shouted at the top of her lungs.

Startled, Kadin spun, knife poised in her hand, just in time to see Kennedy sprint past her at top speed. She grabbed Vanessa from her cradle as she went past, diving the other way while protecting the baby with her body. A split-second later, Marsha let loose a blast of flame directly at the cradle. The wood fully caught fire immediately. The kitchen smoke alarm started to go off.

Marsha!” Kadin growled, pure fury in her voice. She held her knife defensively and took two steps toward the dragon, who slunk back and put her head down in submission.

“She’s OK!” Kennedy called out, sounding desperate. Kadin looked over, across the burning cradle, and saw her wife sprawled on the tile floor of the kitchen, cradling their bawling daughter. “Vanessa’s OK.”

Kadin looked back at Marsha, who continued to hold her head down and look pathetic, while the smoke alarm kept blaring and the baby kept screaming. A moment later, she slowly lowered her arm and placed the knife on the counter.

“I’ll get the fire extinguisher,” she said.

Kennedy and Marsha’s eyes caught each other between the flames. After a moment, she tore her eyes away and looked down at her daughter’s face. Her mouth dropped open in surprise at what she saw. She blinked several times. Then Kennedy shook her head to clear it, as if not believing her eyes. When she looked down again, she saw Vanessa bawling, her small hands clenched into fists. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary. Kennedy looked back up into the fire, but Marsha had moved away.

Black Out



End of Act Five

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