Watchers Council – Hallway – Resume
Liz ran as fast as her feet could carry her while holding the baby, with Nikki matching her stride for stride. Jen continued to pull on the door, preventing all inside from escaping the Coven Room.
“Open this door,” Shannon ordered from the other side, her voice slightly muffled.
“No hablo inglés.”
Everyone on the other side of the door seemed to start to talk at once.
“Help her,” Rowena said to Skye, with a motion toward Shannon.
Skye grinned and said, “Where’s the fun in that? Besides, I can see, you got this, Little Sis!”
“Quit being a smart ass,” Shannon growled, while at the same time, Kadin yelled, “Where did they take my daughter?” and Willow shouted, “Open this door now.”
“I will,” Jen said. “Just not yet.”
Jen watched as Liz and Nikki ran into another room down the hall. A few moments after that, she released the door, sending Shannon onto her backside. Jen took the opportunity and raced after Liz and Nikki using her slayer speed, so she was literally there in a flash.
Watchers Council – Slayer Locker Room – Same Time
Sophie waved for Liz, Nikki and Jen to meet her inside the slayer locker room. She stood next to a medical whirlpool tub filled with still water. Breathing hard, all three young women ran over to her. Liz immediately forced the child under the surface, while Nikki began to yell a countdown.
“One thousand and one, One thousand and two, One thousand and three…”
Seeing that things were well in hand, Jen ran the short distance back to the door and grabbed the handle again, not allowing Shannon access when the older slayer arrived seconds later. She tugged on the door, but Jen refused to move. The next thing Jen saw through the small window was her mother.
“Jennifer Rosenberg,” Willow began, “so help any God or Goddess you name, if you do not open that door immediately, you are not going to have a social life until you reach retirement age. Open the door now.”
“One thousand and fifteen, One thousand and sixteen,” Nikki shouted over the splashes caused by the baby struggling in the water, so Liz and Jen in the next room could both hear her.
“Don’t open the door!” Liz screamed at Jen as she struggled with the thrashing baby. “Don’t open the door!!”
“It’s one baby,” Sophie asked. “How strong can it be?”
“It’s not a baby!” Liz yelled.
“Sorry, Mother,” Jen told Willow. “Liz says I can’t do that yet, and you know slayers always have to listen to their watchers.”
“You’re not funny,” Willow told her.
Jen pulled on the door with all her might and said, “I’m a little funny.”
On the opposite side, Shannon was doing the same. The brackets surrounding each of their handles began to strain and rattle under the constant pull from both sides. Jen shouted over her shoulder, “We about done yet?!”
Hearing her sister’s nervous call, Sophie left the whirlpool area and watched as her sister used all of her might to keep the door closed. She took a spot directly behind Jen and saw her mother begin to raise her hand on the other side of the door. A light began to form above Willow’s hand.
Before Willow could release any energy toward the door, Sophie took a deep breath, extended her arms out and closed her eyes. She kept her chin level with the door and her nose in the air. Arms outstretched in a redeemer pose, she suddenly clenched her outstretched palms into fists.
The magical energy that Willow was holding on the other side of the door dissipated immediately and completely, much to everyone’s amazement. In addition, the door, which had been beginning to open as Shannon won the tug-of-war, slammed shut with such force it surprised both Shannon and Jen, to the point that they both let go at the same time. Sophie continued to maintain her pose, her fists clenched tight.
Jen regrouped first and quickly reached back to hold the door closed. She shouted back, “We got it, but hurry up already!”
“Ha!” Skye barked. “Don’t mess with tween Rosenberg over there.”
“Why aren’t you helping?” Rowena complained.
“Duh. It’s much more entertaining to watch,” Skye remarked matter-of-factly. “You got this, Shanny,” she added again. “I can offer a little moral support,” she told Rowena.
“Don’t open the door!” Liz yelled again from the pool.
“Hurry! The door’s breaking!” Jen grunted.
Nikki did not let Jen break her concentration as she continued to count “One thousand and thirty eight, One thousand and thirty nine, One thousand and forty …One thousand and forty one….forty two…forty three?” Nikki trailed off and crept closer to Liz and the now-still body in the pool.
Liz shook her head as she stood up. “It should have worked. I…Jesus, I just killed a kid.” Liz began to reach into the pool to pull the baby out. “We–”
Before she could finish her next sentence, a loud grumbling noise began and the water started to bubble intensely. Vanessa sat up and quickly began to grow in size. What started as a baby’s cry gurgled and churned into a low growl.
Liz tumbled her way back from the pool and was helped up by Nikki.
“Open the door!” Liz screamed as she and Nikki raced toward Jen and Sophie. “Open the door!!”
Sophie let her arms fall with a large sigh, as Jen did as she was instructed. When she released the knob, the entire team from the hallway piled inside the locker room. Willow’s eyes blazed and she looked like she was going to read the sisters the riot act. But anything she was going to say was forgotten when she saw Liz and Nikki running toward them with looks of terror on their faces.
Vanessa was hot on their heels, now about five times her normal size. Everyone took in the sight of a giant, growling baby, now the height of a full adult, with wonder on their faces. Then Vanessa’s flesh groaned and shifted, soon molding itself into another shape. The Changeling now looked something like a huge octopus, its long, suckered tentacles thrashing and grasping at them. A deep, dark smoke poured from its fanged mouth.
“Not saying I told ya so, but that ain’t your baby, Aunt Kadin,” Nikki pleaded with her.
Before she could respond, one of the creature’s tentacles grabbed Kadin and began to pull her closer. Her flesh began to turn blue, and her eyes took on a feral glare. With a quick slash of Kadin’s still-growing claws, her attacker let her go.
Kadin rose to her full height, her skin now a deep blue, her feral eyes containing only rage. She opened her mouth, fangs dripping, and let loose with an unearthly bellow. Then she charged ahead, slashing left and right with her claws.
Willow reared back her arm and extended it forward, shouting “Athiná se parakaló na mou dóseis dýnami!“…but nothing happened. Wilton tried the exact same spell, to the same effect.
“Magic won’t work!” Liz shouted at the pair. “Get back!”
All they could do was watch Kadin slice and dice her way through. A second later, Jen came tearing through with a sword and began to hack away at the creature’s coiling arms. Shannon shrugged, as if she wasn’t sure what was happening, then pulled a knife from her ankle holster and jumped into the fray.
“Kadin,” Jen shouted. “Only you, as a parent, can destroy the beast by wielding this iron sword.”
Jen threw the sword in the air, and Kadin leapt upward. She grabbed the weapon easily in one clawed hand, then landed directly in the center of the writhing mass of tentacles. She stabbed the sword directly into the center of the Changeling’s ever-shifting torso.
The monster let out an ear-piercing scream that seemed to come from everywhere at once. Sophie covered her ears, wincing.
A moment later, the monster’s mass flopped to the floor, then evaporated before their eyes. Kadin slowly began to lose the blue hue from her skin as bits of the creature floated into mid-air and disappeared around her.
She stood in the center of the room for a long moment, breathing hard. Then she dropped the sword to the floor with a clatter and said, in a hollow voice, “Ken was right. I have to find her. I have to find Vanessa. I don’t know where to begin.”
“Let’s start with finding Ken,” Willow suggested. She watched as Liz and Nikki looked at each other, wide-eyed, for a moment. “You two,” Willow said as she began to walk over. “You know where she is.”
Liz shrugged. “I didn’t hear a question in there.”
Willow repeated herself, sounding increasingly annoyed. “The two of you know where Kennedy is. The question is… where is she?”
“Probably over the Atlantic Ocean right about now?” Nikki offered. She looked to Liz for a moment for confirmation.
Liz seemed to consider it and then nodded. “Yeah, maybe. Maybe further, actually.”
“Why is she over the Atlantic?” Willow asked, her voice remaining dangerously level.
“Oh no,” Liz said. “That’s not how the game works. Now it’s my chance to ask a question. And my question is…why didn’t you take us seriously about this?”
Willow took a deep, unsettled breath. “I thought of you as children.”
Liz’s jaw tightened at first, then she nodded. “I appreciate your honesty.”
Willow didn’t react, just asked again, “Why is she over the Atlantic?”
Liz answered, “You didn’t read the file. I can tell. She’s headed to Europe.”
“What part–?” Kadin jumped in and asked.
“Nah nah nah…” Liz tisked her with a wag of her finger. She turned back to face the witch. “What would seventeen-year-old Willow Rosenberg have done in our shoes when the Council didn’t read the file? What would Buffy Summers or Rupert Giles do?”
Willow’s stony demeanor began to change. Slowly, she smiled and looked at Liz and her daughters. With a reluctant sense of pride, she said, “I would’ve done the same damn thing.”
Sophie elbowed her sister, and Jen said, “Oh yeah. And Sophie mentioned that she didn’t do magic against you, Ma. She was only defending from magic being used on us, so don’t get too mad.” Jen then turned to Sophie in a softer voice and asked, “Did I say that right?”
“Close enough,” Sophie whispered back.
Jen and Sophie gave Willow a small grin and then glanced at each other. Jen put her arm around Sophie, and the younger girl rested her head on her sister’s shoulder.
“My question now,” Willow said to Liz and Nikki. “Can we please end this game so we can help Kennedy?”
“You’ll really help her? Right?” Nikki asked. “You guys finally believe her for real?”
“Yes,” Kadin, Willow and Rowena answered at the same time. Willow added, “W-We’ll help her for real…How’s Kennedy going to figure all this out without a watcher?”
Council Jet – Earlier that Morning
“Hey Tabitha,” Kennedy said, “what’s our ETA to Ireland?”
Thin indicator lines pulsed under a Council Coat of Arms on her phone. “At our current speed, we should arrive in approximately forty-five minutes.”
Kennedy grinned. “Cool. I like you.”
“I like you too,” Tabitha replied.
Kennedy’s smile widened.
Watchers Council – Slayer Rec Room – Resume
Willow kept questioning Liz and Nikki. “Do you have any idea where she’s going?”
The two teenagers looked at each other. Liz turned to Willow and said, “We don’t have an idea of where she’s going.”
Then she pointed to Nikki, who said, “We know exactly where she’s going. To get her daughter back.”
Watchers Council – Hallway – Minutes Later
Jen and Sophie stood still and practically at “attention” as Rowena paced in front of them. Willow stood nearby, watching the three of them.
Rowena sighed. “At this point, we don’t know what the Council is going to do as far as punishment. But I can tell you right now, you’re both grounded.”
Jen shot Willow a look, as if waiting for her response.
Without hesitation, Willow said to Rowena in a calm voice, “No, they’re not.”
“Excuse me?” Rowena said, her head shooting in her wife’s direction. “You’re not gonna undermine me in front of the kids.”
“And you’re not going to punish them for saving the day on their own, without support, because the Council was so far up its ass that it wouldn’t listen. Present company included.”
“Hey, I listened. I went with Kennedy to Dr. Tamara to help ease her mind.”
“I was talking about me,” Willow replied. “But now that I think about it, you too. We should’ve known better. We both should’ve listened to them. Instead, we acted like know-it-all Travers.”
“Can I speak to you over here?” Rowena asked through her teeth, pointing to a corner in the room.
“Anything you say to me you can say in front of them. I’m not changing my mind on this. You’re wrong. I was wrong. They were right.” Willow turned to her daughters. “You were right. I apologize.”
“I don’t think you’re looking at this very clearly,” Rowena told her edgily.
“If these two hadn’t done what they did, along with Elizabeth and Nikki, that thing would still be destroying Kennedy and Kadin’s life. The old Council did the same thing. It never took the Scoobies seriously, but we were always the one who ended up saving the day. You understood that, too, once upon a time when you first got to Cleveland. But lately you second-guess yourself so much on everything, it’s staggering.”
“You should talk. You keep thinking you’re a has-been.”
“Our seven-year-old, witch in training daughter did disarm me, somehow, so, you know, there’s that. But we can argue later.” Willow then turned to Jen and Sophie and asked, “How much do you know about where Kennedy is and what’s going on?”
“Honest?” Jen replied. “We’re just the muscle and the worker bee. Liz and Nikki were the brains behind all this.”
“OK,” Willow told them. “You two go back to class. If I need you further, I’ll get you. Go.”
Not needing to be told twice, the two kids scurried away. Kadin walked past them, coming the opposite way down the hall. She stepped up to Willow and Rowena and announced, “Liz says she’s in Ireland, and I believe her. I’d like to requisition a Council jet to follow her. She’s almost a day ahead of us.”
“Done,” Rowena said immediately. “I’m making the decision to go with you, and she can stay here for magical support,” she added, waving toward Willow. “Get packed and meet me at the airfield in a half hour?” Kadin nodded and immediately began to walk away. Rowena turned back to Willow. “How about that for a decision?”
“That’s great. Now just don’t second-guess yourself in the field, or it might cost Kennedy her life.” Willow leaned in and kissed her wife on the cheek. “I love you. Truly. Please text me when you land and come home in one piece.”
Willow didn’t wait for her to reply. She turned her back and walked away.
“Willow,” Rowena called out. The witch stopped and turned to face her. The watcher seemed to be trying to formulate what she wanted to say. Willow patiently waited. Finally, after a few moments, Rowena said, “I love you too.”
Willow didn’t press. She simply nodded. Then Rowena watched her leave for a moment before walking in the opposite direction.
Council Jet – Day
“Hey Tabitha,” Kennedy said, “any chance you can think of another way back from the Fairy Realm that the kids couldn’t come up with?”
She sat on her own in the cabin of the Council jet. The familiar Coat of Arms hung above a single open window, casting the bright rays of the sun on a road map of Ireland spread out on a table in front of her.
Thin indicator lines again pulsed under another Coat of Arms on her phone, also sitting on the table. “Unfortunately, while many are claimed to have been lost to the Fairy Realm, there is only one living person who is known to have traveled to the Realm and returned. His current whereabouts are–”
“–unknown,” Kennedy finished. She ran two hands over her hair. “OK, did the Council try to find out what happened to him?”
“In the year 1987,” Tabitha intoned, “the watcher Victoria Burgess conducted an inquiry in which…”
Car – Irish Countryside – Day
“…how the metal referred to as ‘cold iron’ is distinguished from simple iron varies depending on the source, but today most scholars believe this to be simply a reference to the fact that, at room temperature, iron is cold to the touch, and not that the metal is emotionally distant in some way.”
Raindrops pounded on the windshield of Kennedy’s rental car. Sitting on the right side of the vehicle, she steered down the left side of a long, two-lane country road, which would likely have been particularly bucolic and picturesque had it not been pouring. Her wipers thunked rhythmically.
She did a double-take at her phone where it hung on the dash. “Tabitha, did you just make a joke?”
“I am an AI language model, and as such–”
The car shuddered suddenly, and Kennedy jerked awkwardly at the gearshift with her left hand. “Why do they make these things backwards?” she growled.
“There are many theories as to why some countries travel on specific sides of the road,” Tabitha piped up, “but no consensus among scholars as to–”
“I wasn’t asking you!” Kennedy growled. “Look, just tell me where the turn-off is for Ballykillen.”
“Would you like to share your location with Google Maps?”
Kennedy hesitated. “Do I hafta?”
“You did fly the Council jet to Ireland,” Tabitha pointed out. “Though I will not share your location without your permission, it is unlikely the Council will not be able to follow you, if that is your intention. And I would advise against all rogue actions.”
“Good to know,” Kennedy replied through grit teeth, as she struggled with the gearshift again.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Day
Grace gave two quick knocks to the door and walked inside of the Coven Room to see Willow and Liz cleaning up supplies.
“Any luck with Ken?” Grace asked.
“Unfortunately, no,” Willow replied as Liz shook her head. “Did you get her phone tracked?” Willow prompted.
“Kennedy’s turned off locations,” Grace said.
“So?” Willow answered. “She’s on the app – you should be able to trace her there.”
Willow could see Grace was reluctant. “Actually what?” she asked, annoyed.
“She’s on the trial version. We don’t have that feature on the trial.”
Willow shook her head in disbelief. “She’s the former Lead Slayer and you gave her a trial version? Just upgrade her and then track her.”
Grace paused. “Ken needs to download the update from the store,” she said quickly.
“Oh, Athena above,” Willow sighed. “Who’s getting fired for this one?”
“Don’t worry about that. I’ve got the engineers working on getting things squared away. They’re trying to find a work around to get her the full version without a download. They’re hopeful.”
“Hopeful? Before or after Kennedy takes a header off a cliff?” Willow asked caustically. “Tick tock, Chairwoman.”
“What would you suggest?” Grace said shortly.
“Hack Kennedy’s device and apps. If you can’t track her through the Council app, maybe you can get a hit via her socials.”
“Like I said, the engineers-”
“Are a joke,” Willow chuckled as she cut her off. “You need an expert hacker, or a few.”
“You?” Grace asked incredulously.
“Thank you, but no. I’m not above admitting when the students have surpassed the teacher.” Willow walked over to the phone on the Coven Room wall and hit some numbers to activate the PA. “Jake Rosenberg and Jennifer Rosenberg, report to the Coven Room immediately.”
Grace groaned. “So we have no idea where Kennedy is going?”
“If she’s doing exactly what Nikki and Liz told her to do, that means she’s in Ireland somewhere. Dublin Branch and the local outposts are already on alert. I’m going to have Althenea do a locator spell, but I’m also going to have Jeff do one in Chicago.”
“While Al is closer to Ireland, and that might help, I’m not sure if using Jeff would be helpful,” Grace said.
“And why is that, exactly?” Willow crossed her arms, as Liz took a step closer to the redhead.
“Well, he’s further away, and I’m not sure how close of a relationship he has with Kennedy.”
“Prior to his departure to Chicago, Jeff and Kennedy were very close. In fact, he was more instrumental in having Kennedy come over to the Coven than me. He may succeed where I failed.”
“Still, I think, contacting him–”
“—has nothing to do with you,” Willow said, cutting her off.
“Excuse me?” Grace took a step forward, crossing her arms over her chest. “He’s my husband.”
“And I am the High Priestess of the entire Council, so I will contact the High Priest or Priestess of any branch that I damn well please, even your possibly soon-to-be-ex-husband.”
Grace and Liz’s mouths both dropped open. For her part, Liz quickly shut it and turned away, trying to make herself busy with the candles at the altar. Grace, however, frowned and muttered, “I-I trusted Rowena.”
“Please,” Willow said derisively, “she didn’t break any confidences. Besides, it doesn’t take a squealer or a mage to see that you and Jeff are living different lives now. Why he puts up with it is beyond me, but he must know something that none of us do.” She noticed the other woman cross her arms against her chest, her right elbow resting atop the back of her left hand, her right hand fiddling with her necklace. “And that’s OK. What you do or don’t do isn’t any of my business, Grace. What is my business is helping Kennedy right now. And if that means making you feel uncomfortable with me talking to Jeff, so be it. Let me say it loud and clear, I don’t care what you say about this.”
“You know what, Willow?!” Grace began, pointing a finger in the witch’s face.
“What?” Willow asked, her hands going on her hips.
Grace took a breath like she was about to speak, but Liz spoke up and said loudly, “Ladies! Time may be of the essence here.” The eyes of the two angry women now fell on her. “Just sayin’,” she added in a softer, almost meek voice.
“Why are you even here?” Grace asked her, the level of anger only slightly dialed down.
“She’s with me today,” Willow replied before Liz could answer.
“Hasn’t she done enough?” Grace asked.
“Yes, she’s gone above and beyond.”
Watchers Council – Shannon’s Office – Earlier that Day
Willow knocked on Shannon’s door, but only opened it after she heard Shannon say, “Come in.”
She walked inside and placed a folder on Shannon’s desk, then took a seat across from her. Shannon looked down at the folder and saw the label at the top, which read “Elizabeth W. Giles.” She opened it and looked at the first page.
“After the events of today, do I have your support for this action regarding Ms. Giles?” Willow asked.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Resume
“Way above and beyond,” Willow said firmly, “and as of today, she is an official Junior Watcher.”
“You don’t get to make that call on your own,” Grace insisted.
“I’m not alone.”
Watchers Council – Shannon’s Office – Earlier that Day
Shannon examined the piece of paper in front of her as Willow said, “I need another Division Head to sign off to approve her transition.”
“So,” Shannon’s face showed no emotion, “you want to reward the young lady who stole a baby, fled from several highly-ranked Council members, the two of us included, drowned said baby and nearly got everyone killed.”
Willow paused for just a moment, as if collecting her thoughts. “I want to promote the young lady who was working with Nikki Wood, a fellow watcher-in-training, who had a theory. She helped Ms. Wood research the theory, and then asked for advice from a Division Head, me. She’s also the young lady who took that research, generated a plan, put that plan into action, consequences be damned, and, if we can find Kennedy and Vanessa, also saved a family.”
“Well, I heard about New York last May,” Shannon said. “Ro said she did fantastic, but again, that was because she disobeyed orders.”
“She followed her gut instinct.”
“She’s a loose cannon.”
“She’s a cannon we need in our arsenal,” Willow insisted, “but I don’t think that she’s loose. Okay, that sounded better in my head. My point is, I would like to see these abilities nurtured by giving her more freedom and responsibility. She can handle it. If this recent case she worked with Nikki on is an indication, I’m certain of it.”
“You are correct. She was right.”
“She came to me a-and I didn’t take her seriously. If I had, we would’ve been better prepared, so I apologize to you, Shannon. You had to go into a battle without warning because I didn’t take her seriously enough, but I am now. So, will you help?”
For the first time since Willow sat down, the veneer began to crack, and Shannon began to smile. She picked up a pen and signed the form in the folder. Then she closed it and handed it back to Willow.
“I know how much she likes to be a part of things like this, but fuck it. Let the wrath of Hatherley rain down upon us,” Shannon said with a smirk.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Resume
“Shannon Matthewson signed off on her.”
Grace snickered unhappily. “Of course she did. She’s just looking for ways to stick it to me.”
“It’s not personal. Liz earned this. And as we mentioned, I need to get the ball rolling on this. Liz, you’re with me.”
Willow was already making her way out of the Coven Room. Liz gave Grace a small apologetic shrug and then followed along after the witch, leaving the Chairwoman. Before she could cross the threshold, Jake and Jen both arrived at the same time.
“Both of us huh?” Jake asked. “Whatever it is…I didn’t do it.”
Willow grinned. “Not yet, you haven’t. We need to find your Aunt Ken, so get your laptops.”
Jen raised her messenger bag slightly. “Step two?”
“Nah,” Willow told her. “Your real laptops.”
Jen and Jake shared a look. “These are our laptops,” Jen said with some trepidation, as if not entirely convinced Willow would believe her response.
“Your mom and Aunt Kadin are trying to stop Aunt Ken, who’s about to literally jump off an Irish cliff. So get your hardware you think I don’t know about and meet me in the Coven computer room pronto. We’re hacking Ken’s phone and the new WatchR app.”
Jen smiled. “Why didn’t you just lead with that?” she asked.
“Go,” Willow said as she gently pushed them out the door.
Irish Countryside – Day
Kennedy stood outside her car, now wearing a hoodie against the cold and rain, jumping up and down to try to shoo away at least three sheep from in front of her car on the road. They remained stationary. With a heavy sigh that rolled from her lips, Kennedy opened the door and got back inside, slamming it shut.
“Hey Tabitha,” she said. “How do I get sheep to move off the road?”
“The recommended method is to wait for the sheep to leave,” her phone supplied.
Kennedy groaned in frustration and sat still for a moment, water dripping from the rim of her hoodie. Then she sighed, got out and started her jumping jacks again.
Irish Village – Day
The rain had let up somewhat, but Kennedy’s still-dripping rental car continued to sit beneath a gray, foreboding sky. She had parked across the road from a line of colorfully-painted buildings clinging to the black seaside rocks. A low stone wall stretched beside her car along the road. Not far beyond this, the waves crashed below.
Kennedy’s eyes were on the pub across the street, denoted by the sign of a fish hanging above the door.
“Would you like me to remain available during your operation?” Tabitha’s voice asked.
“It’s not an ‘operation’.” Kennedy hesitated a moment longer, then turned off her car and grabbed her phone from the dash, stuffing it in the back pocket of her jeans. “But sure, yeah.” She opened the door and climbed out of the car.
Pub – Moments Later
Kennedy opened the door of the village pub to find seven or eight large men of various ages staring at her, along with a couple of women. The barkeep, a young, lanky man with sunken eyes, only looked at her for a moment, then went back to rinsing out the glasses. Vintage memorabilia hung on the walls, mostly black and white photos and newspapers. One wall near the bar displayed two crossed longswords, above a surprisingly lengthy explanation regarding the Spanish Armada.
She took a deep breath, then a few steps forward. “Hi everyone,” she said in a slightly raised voice, one hand giving a cursory wave. “I’m with the Watchers Council.” She pulled out a badge and flashed it briefly before returning it to her pocket. “I, um, I’m looking for Robert O’Shaughnessy. He’s not in trouble, I just want to ask him a couple questions. So, um, if anyone’s seen him…” She saw most of the denizens of the bar returning to their pints, preparing to completely ignore her. “Look, I know he used to live here, like, a bunch of years ago. All I’m looking for is somebody to point me in the right direction, that’s all.”
Only one man, a tired middle-aged man with short brown cropped hair wearing an enormous knit wool sweater, spoke up in a very thick accent. “Lass, if you’re lookin’ fer Crazy Bobby, you can feck on off. He left us long ago, and he don’t bother us none, and we dinna bother him.”
Kennedy nodded. “Thanks.” She turned back toward the door and licked her lips.
“The gentleman’s phrasing indicates he has knowledge of the whereabouts of Robert O’Shaughnessy, though he may require substantial persuasion to divulge such knowledge,” Tabitha piped into the small white earbud in Kennedy’s ear.
“Yeah, I got that,” Kennedy said quietly. She quickly reached out and pulled a small brass latch on the door into the locked position, then took one more deep breath.
Then she turned around and walked casually back toward the bar. She pulled herself onto one of the open stools next to the world-weary man with a sigh. He eyed her with open suspicion.
“I’ve never been to Ireland before,” she commented. “You all are really into sheep here, y’know that?” Catching the bartender’s eyes, she nodded again briefly and said, “I figure I should try the whiskey while I’m here, right? Give me the local stuff.”
He nodded back his assent, and a moment later poured a dram of single-malt in front of her from a bottle labeled “Man of Aran.” She looked at it for a second, swirling the glass in front of her. Then she turned to the man.
“I had a daughter, y’know. Then I was nursing…I haven’t had a drink in a while.” She took a quick sip, then a deep breath in. “Wow, OK.” A few moments of rummaging later, she was waving several twenty euro bills at the bartender. “Leave the bottle.”
The young man behind the bar hesitated, then shrugged, took the money, and left the bottle of Man of Aran in front of Kennedy.
“Not the cheap stuff,” remarked the man next to her.
Kennedy shrugged. “I’m on vacation.”
“An’ the wee one?” he asked, keeping his eyes straight ahead. “Where’s she?”
“They took her,” Kennedy said. She downed another sip of the whiskey. “I’m trying to find her. I think your Crazy Bobby can help me.”
The man harrumphed and downed several sips’ worth of his pint of Guinness. “I wish I could help you,” he finally said. “A good man, Bobby, if a bit…well, he’d have to be, wouldn’t he? And I reckon he prefers his privacy, if you know what I mean.”
Kennedy sighed and downed the rest of her glass of whiskey. She picked up the bottle. “Sorry,” she said.
“Fer what?” the man asked.
“Wasting this really good whiskey,” she told him.
She took the bottle and slammed it into his temple, and a split-second later, grabbed the back of his head with her other hand and ground his face into the bar.
As he began to wail, bleeding from his nose and his scalp, she calmly said, “Now, I need you to tell me where Robert O’Shaughnessy is.”
End of Act Three