Act 6

Cut To:


Kennedy and Kadin’s Cabin – Living Area – Day

We have everything ready here for Marsha’s arrival,” Althenea said over the video call. “She’ll be quite happy at the farm in Devon, I’m sure. Plenty of room to fly around. I assure you, she will be well taken care of.”

Kennedy sat on the couch with the laptop open in front of her, her face completely slack. Kadin sat next to her, holding Vanessa and leaning over so her face was in the video feed.

“We can’t thank you enough, Al,” Kadin said. “I really thought it would work with Marsha and the baby, but…obviously I was wrong. I was really hoping, since Marsha seems to have an almost magical connection to Kennedy, that she would be more of a protector than be jealous. But that doesn’t seem to be the case, unfortunately.”

Well, as I said, I will oversee her transfer personally. You have my word.”

“Okay,” Kennedy said, her voice raspy. “Thanks.”

Cut To:


Outside Kennedy and Kadin’s Cabin – Minutes Later

Kennedy opened the door to her large backyard and walked outside alone. An area with several chairs surrounding a firepit opened onto a much larger area of woods. Wind rustled in the branches.

She ran two hands through her hair and looked around. Her eyes fell on an empty kiddie pool, sitting next to the firepit. She stared at it for a long moment.

The dam broke, and she started to sob. She put a hand to her mouth, as large tears flowed down her cheeks. Her knees seemed to collapse, and she fell back into a lawn chair. Her breath came in heaves, her face screwed up in agony. Uncontrolled tears continued to fall.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Library – Day

“No!” Liz hissed.

“C’mon,” Jen insisted, “just think about it. You can’t let her control the narrative!”

Liz, Jen and Nikki walked through the library stacks. Nikki carried several books, piled high enough in her arms that they teetered slightly as she walked. Jen gestured wildly with her phone as she spoke, though they all kept their voices low.

“There is no narrative,” Liz replied. “She is a bitch, so she is on Twitter saying bitch things. I’m only on Twitter for Stoned Platypus tweets, so why should I care?”

The group walked out of the stacks and toward a nearby table. This time of day, there were only a smattering of people in the library. From her desk, Ms. Washington cast a dubious eye at the trio, but said nothing. They made their way to the nearest table, where Nikki set down her pile of books with a thud.

“Look, nobody’s on Twitter,” Jen continued, keeping her voice soft to avoid drawing the librarian’s attention.

“If our lack of followers is any indication, I would say you’re correct.”

“My point is, you gotta hit back. I’m thinking…Instagram Story? You just talk into the camera about how we shouldn’t take Trina’s slut-shaming seriously, because of that time I caught her under the running track bleachers with Eric Hoberman’s hand up her shirt.”

Liz ran a hand over her face in frustration. “I’m not posting a video about Trina Cunningham going to second base where my parents and teachers could see it.”

Nikki pulled the top book off her pile and opened it. “More like Trina Cuntingham,” she said, without looking up.

“Hell yes!” Jen held up a hand for Nikki to high five. Nikki did so, almost absent-mindedly, before going back to her book. Jen turned back to Liz. “OK, other idea, the Spring Formal’s coming up, right? We change out the envelopes and trick Trina into thinking she’s been elected Spring Queen, but when she goes up on stage, we dump a bucket of, I dunno, red paint on her. It’d be better if it was blood or something. Do you think Talisker would let us have some blood?”

“Don’t Carrie anyone,” another voice cut in. All three girls turned around to see Kennedy sitting at the table behind them, several large, ancient-looking books of her own scattered over its surface. “Beyond, you know, the obvious,” she continued, “there are way too many witches around here to make pissing anyone off that much a good idea. Not to mention I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as a ‘Spring Queen’. This is the Watchers Council, not a bad high school TV show where there’s a dance every other week.”

The three girls stared at her for a long beat. Then Jen turned to Liz and said, “She’s right, we’ll have to get her up on stage some other way.”

Liz sighed and turned to Nikki. “Jen and I’ve gotta get to this field briefing. Are you good here?”

Nikki nodded. “Yeah.” She held up a book. “I’ve got plenty of company.”

“What did she mean, don’t Carrie her?” Jen asked Liz as the pair walked away. “What’s Carrie?”

After the two older girls had left, Nikki turned around and looked at Kennedy again. She had returned to her books, but her eyes seemed tired and her forehead was wrinkled in frustration.

Nikki stood up briefly in order to sit back down across from Kennedy. “Are you OK?” she asked.

Kennedy looked up in surprise. “Yes? Why…why do you ask?”

Nikki shrugged sheepishly. “I dunno, I just…you were always there for me, especially after…after Mom left. You and Kadin were always like my cool aunts. And I haven’t gotten the chance to see you that much lately, what with you having your own kid and all.”

“I know, Nik.” Kennedy rubbed her face in both hands. “I’m sorry. You’re important to me, too. Just one extra thing I can’t fix.”

The teenager reached out a hand. “No! No, I just meant, well, do you need some help?” Kennedy looked at her, and Nikki clarified, “With babysitting. With your research here? I have to do an independent research report on a topic I pick for Ms. Muhammad’s class, and I was going to do ‘Remaining Artifacts of the Old Ones’, but, um…” She glanced over her shoulder at the leaning tower now formed by the books she had gathered. “That seems like a lot of work. Maybe I could help you, instead?”

Kennedy hesitated, just for a second, then nodded.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Cafeteria – Lunchtime

Robin picked up his tray and turned to see Rowena sitting at a table by herself, her head cast down and picking at her food, shuffling it around with her fork.  He watched her a few seconds longer as he filled up his glass with some ice and iced tea. When she still hadn’t looked up or moved after he was finished, he made his way towards her.

Once he arrived at her table, she still didn’t look up. He cleared his throat. Still, she did not seem to notice his presence.

“Is this spot taken?” he asked, finally getting her attention.

She looked up and gave him a grin that seemed to be more out of politeness than joy. “Oh, yeah, go right ahead,” she told him warmly, as if suddenly realizing she needed to speak.

He put down his tray and took a seat across from her. “You don’t seem very hungry,” he mentioned to her, motioning to her plate of barely touched food.

“Guess my eyes are bigger than my stomach today,” she remarked.

Robin motioned his head towards her plate. “I know how small the portions are here, and judging by that plate it looks like you haven’t touched it very much at all.”

“You noticed that, did you?”

“I did,” he said gently with a smile. When she didn’t add more, he motioned between their trays and added, “Why don’t we take our food up to my office and away from the hustle and bustle of the cafeteria?”

Rowena simply nodded in response, and the two of them started to rise with their trays in hand.

Unseen by them on the other side of the cafeteria, Willow waited in another of the food lines. She watched as the two of them departed. Robin balanced his tray with one hand, while his other hand rested on the small of Rowena’s back as they walked out of the cafeteria together. Her eyes instantly darkened. Willow was pulled from her observation of the pair by the lunch attendant saying, “Here’s your salad, Ms. Rosenberg.”

Willow turned sharply back to the person speaking to her. The attendant’s eyes widened, and they nearly dropped the offered food, though Willow managed to catch it. The attendant still seemed to be taken aback, and Willow asked, “Are you OK?”

The attendant watched as Willow’s black eyes turned blue-green again as she asked the question.

“Yes, I’m okay,” they replied and added, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, is something the matter?” Willow asked, clearly confused by the workers’ demeanor.

“No, everything’s fine.” The attendant started to smile and chuckle a little bit. “I’m sorry. I just thought your eyes turned black there for a second and it threw me, but I must be seeing things. Is there anything else I can get you?”

Willow blinked nervously several times at hearing this news, but then she pushed down whatever reaction she had and gave the attendant a broad smile.. “Everything’s good. Thank you.”

Willow glanced back at the now-vacant table where Rowena and Robin had been sitting.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Robin’s Office – Moments Later

“Cleats!” Rowena exclaimed, as she waved a piece of chicken from her Caesar salad on her fork toward Robin. “I’m always fighting that battle because they leave them everywhere, and I always trip on them every single time,” she said before taking her bite. “I’m so glad when soccer season ends.”

Robin chuckled. “With Nikki, it’s hair ties. I find them everywhere. I even found one in the refrigerator last week.”

They both laughed.

“At least if you step on a hair tie you won’t stub your toe or break your neck,” Rowena offered.

“This is true,” he mentioned as he took a bite of his goulash.

Rowena took a drink and then said, “Thank you for inviting me here.”

“Well, it looked like you could just use an escape for a little while.”

Rowena shrugged. “Things feel a little topsy turvy right now.”

“I could make an assumption here…” He let the sentence hang.

“Yes, it’s about Willow.” She took a small bite and swallowed, then asked. “Have you ever fallen in water at night?”

“Can’t say I have. Why?”

“That’s how I feel right now. When you fall in the water at night, and your feet can’t touch bottom, you don’t know where you are. You can’t tell up from down. So all you can really do is relax and let your body dictate what direction you should be going by which direction you float. But your first impulse is usually fear, because you don’t know where to go. The waiting is the scariest, hardest part…”

“And that’s where you’re at right now?”

“Yes, I just hit the water and I’m drowning. I’m not floating yet. And I don’t know which way is up.” She looked back down at her food and began pushing it around again. “And if you would indulge me in mixing my metaphors, I always saw Will as my north star. If I can keep that in my sight, I know where I’m supposed to be. Right now, I can’t see that light.”

Robin paused for a moment and then said, “That’s understandable. But just because you can’t see the north star right now doesn’t mean it’s gone. Right now, things are just…a little cloudy, is all.”

“Gray skies are gonna clear up. Put on a happy face?” Rowena asked with a slight grin.

“Something like that.” He returned her smile.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Hallway Outside Rowena’s Office – Same Time

Willow was standing in the hallway, trying to peek through Rowena’s office window. Not seeing anyone inside, she tried the knob, but it was locked. With a sigh, she made her way down the hallway, food tray still in hand.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Robin’s Office – Same Time

“I’m really frustrated, too, because I thought we were above this. I thought we were, I don’t know, solid. You know what I mean?” Rowena replied. Robin didn’t say anything at first. He just had a slight grin. “Of course, you do,” Rowena added. “That was a stupid question to ask. I apologize.”

Robin laughed. “That’s fine. It was different with Faith and me,” he answered. “First, we weren’t together as long as you and Will have been.”

“Granted, but I’m not sure time has anything to do with the strength of a relationship. I thought you guys were stronger than most.”

“We were and…I believe she did love me. But people change. I think she felt boxed in and had to get away. But again, I can’t say for sure. You’d have to ask her. All I know is that the longer she stayed, the angrier she seemed to get, and I wasn’t able to help. And by all means, tell me to mind my own business here… but with Willow it seems different.”

“It is. For one, I’m competing with a ghost – it’s a relationship she had decades ago, and now she wants to live vicariously through someone who looks like the dead love of her life. How can I compete with that?”

“Again, tell me to get lost, but I think you’re wrong. I don’t think that Tara was the love of her life. That’s you.”

“Not sure I agree.”

“Look, Tara was probably the first adult love she ever experienced, yes? And it was cut short. So maybe she wants to rekindle that in some fashion; a sort of closure.”

“Or a new beginning?”

“Possibly,” Robin admitted, “but I’ve seen the way that Willow looks at you, even to this day. She does love you. I’m not saying this to be glib, but maybe it’s just an itch she needs to scratch. She needs to get it out of her system so she can get back to her life and what really matters. Maybe you’re not the only one drowning right now. Maybe she needs to find which way is up too.”

“I hope it’s soon, because this is…so not fun.”

“We’re all still here for you, either way,” Robin offered.

“Thank you. Really.” A small silence passed between them and Rowena motioned to Robin’s plate. “So how is the goulash? I’m curious, but I’ve never tried it.”

Robin grinned and put some on his fork, then held it out to Rowena. In an over-exaggerated suave, sexy voice he said, “Allow me to satisfy your curiosity.”

Rowena giggled, as did Robin, as she leaned forward and opened her mouth. He fed her from his fork and she began to make a yummy noise.

“Not bad, but I have to admit…Andrew was always the best cook here.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Hallway Outside Robin’s Office – Same Time

Willow stood with her lunch tray, looking through the office window to see Robin feeding her wife. She watched as the two smiled at each other. Rowena then picked up her fork with her salad and offered it to Robin, who also took it with amusement.

Willow sighed yet again, but rather than knock on the door, she turned with her lunch tray and started walking towards the end of the hallway. At the corner, there was a large garbage can where she unceremoniously dumped the tray, contents and all, into the can and turned the corner.

She didn’t notice Xander quietly watching her departure from the other end of the hallway.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Willow’s Office – Minutes Later

“Room for one more?”

Willow looked up from her tablet to see Xander in her doorway with a tray. It contained two drinks, a burger with fries and a salad. He didn’t wait for an invite. He started to make himself at home, placing the food items on Willow’s desk.

“Don’t worry,” he told her. “This is a new salad; not your trash salad.” She shot him an annoyed look, but her cheeks reddened in shame at the same time.. “Oh stop. Yes, I saw what happened, and I’m not sure what that salad ever did to you. Regardless, I thought maybe we could talk about it.”

“You’re not taking no for an answer are you?”

“Not even a little.”

Willow hesitated a moment. “Your wife said I probably should not talk to you.”

“That sounds like something I’ll have to take up with her. For now, why don’t you just talk to me? You’ve been acting wonky. Robin’s playing with Ro’s tonsils at Karaoke, and you’re condemning salads to live at the bottom of the trash uneaten. Seriously, what’s up, Willow?”

Willow took a deep breath and leaned back in her seat. “I feel…restless. It seems like my good days are more behind me than in front of me.” She paused, as if unsure if she should go on. Xander didn’t say anything. He simply listened. “It’s true I’ve developed feelings for Doctor Tamara that go…beyond friendship, and I suggested to Rowena that we…open the marriage to include other people.” Again, Willow paused and waited, but Xander didn’t say anything. He merely listened. “Isn’t this the place where you’re supposed to tell me I’m crazy and hightail it out of here?”

Xander shook his head. “No. Like I said, I’m just here to listen. I do have a question, for clarity’s sake. Based on what I saw at Karaoke night, Rowena knows?”

Willow nodded. “I talked to her about it a few days ago because I didn’t want to hide anything from her. We’ve always been honest and open about everything. I didn’t want this to be any different. It felt like holding on to it would hurt her more. And the truth… it’s nothing that she’s said or done or hasn’t done that made me feel this way.”

“Where does Rowena fit into all of this?” he asked.

“I love her. I don’t wanna leave, and I don’t want her to make me leave. It just feels like this attraction is something that connects me to what I used to be and I really love that feeling of being useful and needed.”

“I can relate,” Xander answered. “We reach a certain point and we think we’ve done all we’re going to do in this life, so we try to find new ways to matter. I’m not sure if a new ‘friend’ would work for me and Buffy, but who am I to judge what would work for you and Rowena”?”

“What are you saying?”

“Will, I was willing to stand by you when you decided to literally blow up the entire world. Why wouldn’t I stand by you when you might blow up your decades-long marriage?”

Willow sighed and rolled her shoulders in discomfort.

“I’m sorry. That was harsh. But the way I see it, maybe this isn’t the end. Maybe it’s a way to come back better, stronger than you two ever were before.”

“You don’t know that. She and Robin are getting very familiar.” Willow sounded defeated, but then attempted an air of cheeriness. “But that’s what I suggested, so I can’t complain, right?”

“But you want to complain, don’tcha?” Xander asked knowingly.

“Yeah, you don’t have to say it. I’m a hypocrite.”

Xander grinned. “Hey, nobody’s perfect. And let’s be completely honest here. Most people, when faced with your situation, would do one of two things: either cheat on their spouse with the new person, or completely shut themselves off from the new person and try to act like they’re not unhappy.”

“But I’m not ‘unhappy’,” Willow clarified.

“Okay. Poor choice of words. Let’s say…restless…instead. People in that situation are still longing for something and probably take out that frustration on their loved ones in other ways. But not you.”

“Not me, huh?”

“No, you refused to do either of those things because you’re a good person. And sure, it might turn out that the marriage isn’t working for you and Ro anymore. And no matter what Ro says, in the present or the future…it’s not because you took this step and communicated your feelings. And if you survive, it could be because you’re still talking to her, trying different things to make it work. And like I said before, this might help shine a brighter light on what you both really want out of life.”

Willow let out a ragged sigh. “What if we find out that what we want isn’t each other anymore? What about the kids a-and the Council a-and–”

“Look. You guys might discover that,” he conceded, “and that’s okay. The kids will be okay if you’re not a couple. As someone who watched firsthand how parents stay together despite both being miserable because they feel like they never had any better options, it’s terrible. I don’t want that for you, Ro or the kids, because I care about all of you.”

“Everything feels so up in the air right now. I haven’t even talked to her about what happened at Karaoke because she always finds a way to avoid being alone with me a-and…I don’t know what to do.”

“If nothing else, I know you,” Xander told her. “I know that the Willow who came to Cleveland was a lot stronger than the Willow I met on that bluff above Sunnydale, because of all her experiences – good and bad. Maybe this is something you two have to experience now so you can be a better version of yourselves. It’s not my place to judge. I’m just here to love you, no matter what.”

Willow gave him a genuine grin.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Large Briefing Room – Afternoon

Willow walked into the briefing room to find a smattering of attendees sitting all around the room, with just as many attending via video on the screen behind the podium. She briefly nodded to Faith, who she noticed sitting off to the far side of the room. Then her eyes fixed on Rowena, who sat by herself near the front of the room, reading through a document on her tablet. Willow took a deep breath and walked over.

“Hi,” she said quietly.

Rowena looked up at her wife, as if noticing her for the first time, her face a mask. “Hi,” she replied.

“I missed you at lunch today,” Willow said. “We haven’t had a moment to just ourselves in days. I just wanted to check and see if you were, um, OK?”

The blond watcher sighed. “I don’t think OK is the word I would use. But I’m surviving.”

Willow shifted her bag on her shoulder nervously. “Jen’s got her soccer game this weekend. Will I see you there? Y’know, barring…monsters and stuff?”

“I’ll be there,” Rowena nodded. She took a swig of coffee out of a yellow thermos with a small sticker of a cat face on the side. “Look, Will….this isn’t a quick conversation. Can we maybe–?”

That was when Grace walked into the room and put her shoulder bag down next to the podium. She turned around briefly and glanced at the screen behind her, then said, “Sorry, I had a werewolf thing. Are we all good to go?”

Her eyes caught Willow’s, and the witch, sparing a brief glance for Rowena, moved away to sit about as far from the podium as she could get. Xander watched her all the way from his seat across the room.

“Thanks to everyone for making the time,” Grace said. “I know you’re all very busy.”

“You know,” Willow piped up, “for someone who’s trying not to have a lot of meetings, you sure do call a lot of meetings.”

Grace ignored her. “I guess I should start with–”

Can you, I dunno, turn up the volume, or move the mic closer or something?” Buffy asked on the screen. She could be seen at her desk in her apartment, holding Joyce in her arms. “I can’t hear you.

Grace sighed and fiddled with a dial on the podium. “Is that better?” She saw a couple of scattered thumbs up and pressed on. “OK, so I would like to give out a couple assignments about this amulet Faith brought, which is why I asked her to be here, but the reason I wanted to call a wider meeting is because we have a pretty big announcement. Back in the days of the Original Recipe Council, there were way more watchers than slayers. Now, we have the opposite problem, more slayers than watchers.”

She looked up at one corner of the room, where Shannon, Cindy, Emma and several other slayers sat, many of them with their arms crossed defensively over their chests. In fact, the only one who didn’t was Faith. She appeared rather impassive toward everything going on in the room. Grace sighed, then looked back down at her notes.

“But at the Council, we all, of course, know knowledge is power, and every slayer deserves to be as powerful as she can be, whether employed by the Council or not. Which is why today I’m excited to welcome to our Council family our newest watcher, Tabitha.” Several people, including Rowena, looked around the room in confusion. Then Grace shared her screen, replacing the faces on the wall with a blank text interface.

“Hi, Tabitha, can you introduce yourself to everyone?” Grace asked. As she spoke, the words appeared on the screen.

A moment later, a female voice with an upper-class English accent replied. “Hello, I’m Tabitha, your Virtual Watcher. I have access to all digitized information in the Watchers Council database, which I bring to you through the latest artificial intelligence interface in order to assist slayers, both during training and in the field.” The text appeared on the screen as the words were spoken aloud, in a different color from Grace’s initial query.

“Oh,” Willow said, a small smile on her face, “I forgot about this. I didn’t know they were still working on it.”

In his seat, Xander blinked several times at the sound of the voice. “Is…Is that Helen Mirren?” He started when it wasn’t Grace that answered, but Tabitha.

My initial vocal matrix was provided by Dame Helen Mirren, yes,” the voice replied. “We are hopeful that in the near future we will be able to provide several different voice options, in as many different languages as possible.

“Tabitha,” Grace prompted, “what is the best way to fight a Grapthar beast?”

A Grapthar beast is armored over more than ninety percent of its body,” Tabitha immediately answered. “However, there are small soft areas under the neck and around the eyes. I would suggest piercing these areas with a sharp blade, but when doing so, be sure to stay clear of the creature’s blood, as it is highly corrosive. Are you fighting a Grapthar beast now?

“No, Tabitha, thanks, that was just an example,” Grace said. She looked around the room before continuing. “Starting today, Tabitha will be available on phone or tablet for all Council personnel through our new ‘WatchR’ app. She can be downloaded to your device for use in areas where signal is spotty or nonexistent. Our goal within the next few months is to roll out a subscription service for all registered slayers not working with the Council to access Tabitha for a monthly fee. Because every slayer deserves a watcher.”

Rowena stared at Grace’s words on the screen, her mouth hanging open.

Grace noticed Emma holding her hand up. “Yes, is there a question?”

“We, uh, we can still keep our normal watchers, though, right? We don’t all have to…” She gestured vaguely at the screen. “Do…this?”

“No, it’s a completely optional program,” Grace said. “But your watcher can’t always be in the field with you. Or you might become separated on a mission, or…worse. Tabitha can only help in those situations.”

“Can she?” Rowena asked incredulously. Grace looked over at her with one eyebrow raised. “I-I’m sorry, Grace, but…I agree, every slayer deserves a watcher. I just don’t agree that this…thing counts as a watcher. When did we decide to do this? Who…who authorized this?”

“We all did,” Willow said. “All three branches voted yes. Me, Grace and Kennedy, over a year ago.”

Kennedy briefly unmuted herself over the videoconferencing, and the sound of a baby screaming caused wincing throughout the briefing room. “Uh, yeah, that’s right. We all thought it made sense.” Grace flicked off her screen-sharing to very briefly show Kennedy and her baby, though Kennedy re-muted herself as quickly as she could.

“I wish you’d all consulted me on this,” Rowena said with a sigh. “I’m not a department head anymore, but I teach future watchers every day. And what I have to emphasize to them, over and over, is that the job isn’t about just knowing what’s in the books and following the rules. I used to think that, and you all were the ones who taught me otherwise. That’s part of it, yes, but it’s much more important to have a personal relationship with your slayer, and to react to the situation as it’s happening.”

In other words,” Skye said from the video screen, “you guys just found the only way possible to make your average watcher even more of an emotionless automaton. Congrats, Hatherley.

“Nobody’s saying we should replace watchers,” Grace said, “but they can’t be everywhere at once.”

“But why would a lancer want to join the Council if she can just pay ten bucks a month–”

“Eight ninety-nine, actually…” Grace put in.

“–to find out demon weaknesses and set training schedules?” Rowena pressed on.

“Why would they join anyway?” Willow said. Both Rowena and Grace spun to look at her. “Clearly this place doesn’t think much of them. We send them in to fight invulnerable ancient vampires when we’re clearly not ready. We tell them when to talk and when to sit down and shut up. We tell them which medical treatments they can take and which they can’t, apparently. And in the end, we say, thanks but no thanks for your input, we know better than you.”

“Beyond how…” Rowena searched the air for a word that wouldn’t end her marriage right then and there. “…misguided that all is, we can’t put this out there in the world without sticking around to make sure it’s used correctly. If it has our whole database in it, it’s not just restricted to how to kill bad demons. We’re opening Pandora’s Box.”

“You just don’t like it because you want to keep doing things the same way you’ve always been doing them,” Willow argued.

“The world’s still here,” Rowena shot back. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

“It’s not broken for you,” Willow immediately replied. “For the watchers. When was the last time you asked the slayers what they wanted?”

“Guys,” Xander jumped in. “Maybe we should all take a deep breath–”

“This thing is like your perfect watcher, isn’t it?” Rowena ignored him, her voice growing more and more heated. “You can just press a button and turn it off when you don’t want it around anymore.”

I-I’m sorry,” Dawn said from the video screen. “What are we talking about now?

“Maybe I wouldn’t need a button if you would just listen to me,” Willow said. “Maybe we’re not all cut out to just do one thing for the rest of our lives. Did you think of that?”

Everyone else, both on the video and in the room, was quiet now, watching the two women, except for Faith, who was trying to look anywhere else except them. Grace had sat back down behind her podium, head resting on one hand and a bleak look on her face.

“I’m literally just– everything is fine, Will! Or it was fine. And now you want to blow it all up.”

“I never said we should blow it all up. I don’t want to blow it up. Do you want to blow it up? It looked that way at karaoke!”

Guys!” Buffy tried again from the video screen. “Stop! Just–

“No, I liked it the way it was,” Rowena pushed on. “I loved it, in fact. But it sounds like you’re telling me that’s not an option. I’ve just gotta get on the train or get off the tracks.”

Willow threw her hands up in frustration. “Do you want an ultimatum, Ro? I can do an ultimatum! You’ve got to help me out here, or you really are gonna blow things up.”

“You know what?” Rowena said, her face a deepening red from anger. “Go for it. You want to sleep with other people, go ahead and sleep with other people.” She pointed a shaking finger in her wife’s direction. “But you don’t get to just throw me away. Don’t think you can just fuck around without finding out.”

She stopped at the sight of Willow’s eyes going even wider. She looked around and saw everyone in the room staring at her. Then she turned a different shade of red, gradually realizing what she had just said.

Xander blinked several times, but said nothing. Faith winced in sympathy for Rowena. Grace had a small smile on her face, but it wasn’t mirthful. It was more of a defense mechanism.

From the screen, Skye said, “And here I thought this meeting was gonna be boring.

Grace got back to her feet. “OK, uh, if we can get back to–”

Rowena got to her feet, quickly gathering her thermos and tablet in her arms, and rushed out of the room. “I have to get to class,” she said as she passed by Grace. The Chairwoman watched as Willow hurriedly followed her wife, with one small apologetic, or possibly embarrassed, look back at the room right before she went out the door. She then closed it behind her with what seemed like a very loud click.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time

By the time Willow made it out into the hall, Rowena’s back was already retreating down the hall.

“Ro, wait!” she called out, but Rowena just kept walking.

Willow ran a hand through her hair in frustration. Then she stomped her foot, once. “Shit!”

Black Out


End of Act Six. Onto the final act…

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