Act 2



Cut To:


Cleveland Street – Night

SlayBae walked with Anisha down the sidewalk, having just exited the Stake and Crossbow pub. In her hands, Anisha held a first-place ribbon.

“Do you ever get tired of winning those?” SlayBae asked.

Anisha seemed to consider the question seriously, then shook her head and said, “No.”

SlayBae smiled. “How many of those do you have?”

“This one makes one hundred ninety-seven,” she answered.

SlayBae laughed. “You actually remember how many you have?”

“Why wouldn’t I? It’s not very complicated.”

“You’re right…yet again.”

“Does that bother you?” Anisha asked with a sense of genuine curiosity.

“Heck no,” she said, “the world needs brainiacs. But I am interested in where you’ve been keeping yourself lately. You should be on ribbon two hundred and five. You’ve missed a few nights.”

Anisha hesitated and then said, “I’ve been working on a few side projects.”

“What kind?”

“The secret kind,” Anisha answered.

“So I guess that means you won’t tell me.”

“You are correct.”

After a few seconds of silence, SlayBae stomped a foot like a child and whined, “Come on and tell me. What am I gonna do? Blab to everybody?”

“You engage with hundreds of thousands of people every week on your social media platforms. I think a reasonable conclusion would be that what I tell you may be heard by a large number of people around the world should you say something.”

“I won’t,” SlayBae said. She offered her pinky finger. “Come on, pinky swear.”

Anisha took the offered pinky with her own and simply said, “Weapons.”


“I’m building weapons.”

There was silence for a moment and then SlayBae said, “I know we don’t love the Council but you’re not gonna do something…bad. Right?”

“No,” Anisha said, offended. “I have neither the intention of joining the Council nor destroying it. Simply put, it’s something to perhaps help slayers who do freelance work. It’s nothing I’m willing to share at this point, though.”

“Fair enough,” SlayBae replied. “And thank you for confiding in me. I know most slayers in there don’t take me seriously.” She pitched a thumb back toward the bar. “So, thank you for trusting me.”

“I take you seriously. I believe most of them do. I think many are jealous of you.”

“Jealous? How come?”

“You’re doing something that they wish they had thought of doing, but you beat them to it. You have many imitators, but you are the originator. Women should be able to slay however they feel most useful, and this is something you are passionate about, so I support you.”

“The Council would never approve.”

“They would not.” Anisha giggled for a moment and then looked serious. “They do serve a purpose, though.”

“Getting in our way?” SlayBae asked.

Anisha grinned. “No. They are tactical. Organized. Sometimes that’s needed in the fight against demons. True, I’m not looking to join their ranks, but I’m not anti-Council, like some lancers.”

“Yeah, it’s not really an option for me because of…all the things, but I’m not sure where I fall with them, to be honest,” SlayBae answered. “I saw that Faith Lehane went back to them. Is that real, you think, or just PR?”

“Given that she shares a teen child with Robin Wood, one of the founders, I could see why she might be back. She also has an adult son who works for the Council in profiling. His artwork is superb, by the way. You should check it out.”

“You know a lot about the Council,” SlayBae remarked.

“I know a lot about everything,” Anisha answered and then held up her ribbon.

SlayBae laughed and put a loving arm around Anisha.

Cut to:


Alley – Moments Later

SlayBae walked straight down the street and waved as Anisha turned down an alley alone. After only a few feet inside, Anisha was nearly to the parking area where her car was located. She clicked her key fob and the vehicle’s lights went on. At that moment, three vampires appeared from behind two nearby dumpsters.

“Look at what we have here,” the tallest one said as he casually walked closer to her in the small alleyway.

Anisha looked at her surroundings and instantly everything around her seemed to have geometry equations transposed over it. She pointed a finger at one equation and moved it to one side, then drew an arc in the air, leaving a bright line in its wake. She cocked her head, considering, and then drew a small circle off to her left.

“Excuse me,” the vamp said, annoyed. “I was threatening you. Pay attention.”

“Oh, I am,” Anisha answered, still not looking at him. She continued to move her fingers in the air as if she was working on a dry erase board, solving an equation. “I’m just not paying attention to you. I’m figuring out how I’m going to kill each one of you.”

The three of them looked at each other and then burst out laughing.

“Get her!” the lead vampire snarled.

The two other vampires charged and, without a millisecond’s hesitation, Anisha jumped straight in the air and kicked them both in the face simultaneously, knocking them off their feet.

“The first will be decapitation,” Anisha told them as she casually walked over to a rope that someone had tied to a cinder block like a make-shift dog lead. She picked up a broken glass bottle and snapped the rope free.

The first vampire to his feet charged her, and Anisha quickly tossed the rope around his neck and ducked away from his swing. She was behind him, her rope wrapped around his neck, as he looked at his friends in shock. With all her might, Anisha pulled the rope and took his head clean off his body, turning him to dust.

Anisha still held onto the rope and gave it a flick, making the remaining two vampires jump.

“I-I-I don’t want any trouble, okay?” the second vampire said, as it started to back away.

“Of course you wanted trouble,” Anisha told him as she walked toward him. “Don’t lie in your final seconds in this world. It’s unbecoming.” As she continued to move closer to him, he backed away. Anisha turned slightly to steer him toward the dumpster he’d hid behind. “The second will be blunt force trauma.”

“T-trauma? W-What?”

The vampire held his hands in front of him and Anisha kicked him with all her might. He flew back toward the dumpster, where a piece of lumber just stuck out from beneath the lid. It sliced directly through his heart and he too exploded into dust.

One vampire, the leader, remained. For every step Anisha took closer, he took one back. Not looking to be the hero, he turned and began to run down the alley. Anisha pulled the lumber out of the dumpster and used all her strength to throw it. The wood flew faster than the vampire’s feet could carry him. He was almost at the end of the alley when the wood connected with his back and he too became a pile of dust. The wood clattered to the ground.

“The third will be javelin practice,” she said to no one. Without another word, she calmly and quietly made her way to her car.

“Impressive,” a voice said from behind her.

She turned quickly, surprised to find someone else there. It was a Brell demon.

“You are slayer,” she said. “I mean no harm. I have news about Council.”

“I’m not with the Council,” she told her.

“Slaygirl not with Council either, but she is slayer. Maybe you know her and give message? Maybe she help, if you won’t?”

Anisha cocked her head in curiosity.

Cut To:


Kelly’s House – Basement – Night

Kelly sat at one of the computer screens in her basement slash superhero headquarters, squinting as she reviewed a series of spreadsheets. 

“What are you hiding, Tanner?” she said to herself under her breath.

A moment later, the familiar tones of a new Zoom call startled her out of her concentration. The Caller ID just read “Q.” Kelly clicked to accept the call, and the face of Anisha Kaur Kasal popped up on her screen.

“Ani,” Kelly answered. “I’m kind of in the middle of something, can this wait?”

“How did the grappling gun hold up in the field?” the other slayer asked.

“That’s what you called me about?”

“No,” Anisha stated calmly, “but I’d like to know. Data is the first step to improvement.”

Kelly sighed. “It worked great. All your stuff works great.” She paused. “I can’t thank you enough for all of your help. With the technical side of things, I mean. You…you haven’t really said why, though. You have a decent lancer gig going.”

“And you have a job where you generally don’t have to risk your life or kill anything,” Anisha replied. “You still keep the fact that you’re even a slayer at all a secret, as far as I can tell from your online presence.”

“You’re stalking me?” Kelly raised an eyebrow.

“I only reviewed the information you willingly provided to several corporations,” Anisha said. “I’m not asking you to tell me your true motivations for this. But I would be remiss if I didn’t do as thorough a background check as any employer.”

“You’re not my boss,” Kelly said flatly.

“I agree. Perhaps…partner would be a better description of our relationship.”

Another sigh. “You said you had another reason for calling.”

Anisha looked down briefly, then back up at the camera. “I have turned up information during my own peregrinations this evening. A Brell demon, who was reluctant to be seen going into the Council, came to me. She claims that there’s going to be an attack at the baseball game on Saturday night.”

Kelly blinked. “On Council Appreciation Night? That seems like the one time you wouldn’t want to try something.”

“It would stand to reason that any violence at the event would be meant as a statement,” Anisha told her in a calm voice. “Either political, by Earthbound demons, or…well, it may not be worth getting into the alternative, because it’s much, much worse. She mentioned she is from Vor.”

“Our conversations always cheer me up,” Kelly chirped. She sobered quickly, however. “Well, I’m against it, sure, but I don’t know if that’s really my…”

“Bailiwick?” Anisha supplied.

“Sure. The Council fights demons. They’ve got that pretty well covered. In fact, I ran into Buffy Summers and her slayer tonight.”

“Where?” Anisha asked.

“After the report, some vamps tried to make a snack out of me and ended up dusty. So the Council is doing their part – I say let them. And the police are supposed to protect us from people like Tanner, but it turns out they suck at it. So Slaygirl has to do it.”

“Interesting. I would argue that the purpose of Slaygirl is to protect this city,” Anisha argued. “That’s what you said to me when we started this. I would argue that the nature of the threat to the city is not a part of those parameters. But more than that, I’d like to think that, if I made the right choice getting into this adventure with you, you will not stand by while innocent baseball fans are hurt.”

Kelly sighed, “How much do we know?”

“She said, ‘The Dark One arrived in town to harm the Director, and may hurt others.’ That was her direct quote, by the way. So this may be a demon threat. It may be a human threat. I don’t know who the Dark One is.”

“Voldemort?” Kelly teased.

Anisha simply shrugged.

Kelly looked over at her cork board and the complex diagram of Tanner’s criminal enterprises she had been making there. Then she turned back to her camera, shaking her head. “I knew I shouldn’t have gotten into bed with a genius.”

“I never said anything about being a genius,” Anisha replied. “Or getting into bed.”

Kelly grinned.

Cut To:


Abandoned House – Night

Two demon teenage boys sat on a dilapidated couch, watching a flickering black and white TV playing an old movie. On the screen, a leather-clad Arnold Schwarzenegger walked into a building. The boys would have looked entirely human, had it not been for the pointed ears and several bony wrinkles on their foreheads. One had dyed his hair blue at some point, though it was now so faded it was closer to green. The front window of the living room had long since been replaced with cheap wood paneling.

They both looked up at the sound of a knock on the house’s front door, then looked at each other.

“They’re early, right?” the one with the blue hair asked. The other shrugged.

With a sigh, the first demon got up and walked toward the front door. “Sorry, one sec,” he called.

He opened the door to see Faith standing on the broken boards of the front porch, smiling widely at him. “Hey,” she said brightly.

“Um, hi?” the boy replied. “I, uh, know the Council was supposed to send somebody, but I didn’t think–”

“I’m not from the Council. Mind if I come in?” Without waiting for a reply, Faith pushed past him and into the house. She looked over and saw the second teenage demon sitting on the couch, a stunned look on his face. “Which one of you is Jopec?”

The boy on the couch slowly raised his hand.

“Great!” She walked over to him, hands in her pockets. “So, I hear you had some info for the Council. I need to know it.”

“I…” Jopec hesitated. “I don’t know. I know who you are, sure, but if you’re not with the Council, I don’t know if I…”

“I really think you should tell me,” Faith said. “It’s actually really fucking important that you tell me, so…” She took a step forward. It seemed like a distinctly threatening move, despite her hands both remaining stuffed in her pockets. “I’d rather not hurt you, you seem like a decent guy, but–”

“He said no,” the teenager with the blue hair said, grabbing Faith’s arm with one hand. She looked down at his hand, then back up at him, one eyebrow raised. “We’re not stupid, and we’re not afraid of you. We know you’re way too old to have slayer powers.”

Faith sighed, then grabbed the demon’s wrist with her free arm and, before he could protest, easily flipped him over her head. The startled boy flew about fifteen feet in the air and, just after Arnold intoned “I’ll be back,” landed on the old TV set, which broke beneath him with a crash. He groaned and rolled onto his back before passing out.

“Wanna bet?” she asked, before turning back to Jopec. “So, here’s what’s gonna happen. You’re gonna tell me what you know. Then, when Buffy Summers and her pet slayer show up here in a bit, you’re gonna say it was all a misunderstanding and that you can’t talk just now because your buddy here hurt himself tripping over the TV. Ya got me?”

The teenaged demon, his eyes wide as saucers, nodded vigorously.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Training Center – Day

Buffy held up a pair of sparring mitts, providing moving targets for a series of punches by Emma. From the sweat on Emma’s forehead, it was obvious that they had been practicing for a while.

“You’re not focused,” Buffy told her.

“I am—” Emma started to say until Buffy backhanded her across the face. “—too,” she finished, rubbing her chin and frowning.

“Focus up, Em,” Buffy warned again.

“Are you trying to—”

This time Buffy hit her in the opposite direction with her other gloved hand. For a full three seconds, neither moved or spoke.

“You’re lucky I like you,” Emma finally said.

“Your head’s not here right now,” Buffy told her. “What’s up?”

“This Slaygirl.” Emma dropped her defensive stance and took a step back so that Buffy couldn’t hit her again.

“What about her?”

Emma paused, as if formulating her thoughts. “Why does she get to live the dream?”

Buffy’s brow scrunched. “Who’s livin’ what now?”

“Slaygirl. She’s using her powers to be a superhero, but she keeps her identity a secret. All the glory. None of the consequences.”

“Ha,” Shannon said from the doorway, making both women look in her direction. “Speaking of consequences…” Both Buffy and Emma simultaneously put their hands on their hips as they waited for her to continue. “The Cleveland Museum of Art is requesting the Council return prior to the opening of their new exhibit that we, the Council, most graciously financed. You’ve both been named as the ambassadors.”

Buffy looked from Shannon to Emma and back to Shannon again. “Us? Are you sure?”

“No. I’m not sure. So try not to burn anything down this time. Meeting is this afternoon. Just sent the details.  Oh, and take my mother-in-law. We’re not sure what to do with her yet, and this way it gets her out of my hair.”

Shannon began to walk away, and Emma turned to Buffy. “For the record, Alex burned down the museum.”

“Yeah, but we were not-so-innocent bystanders,” Buffy offered.

Emma shrugged begrudgingly.

Just before Shannon reached the door, she turned back to the pair and asked, “Hey, I never heard how it went last night. When you checked in on that demon with the tip?”

“Oh yeah, it was a dud,” Buffy replied.

“Yeah,” Emma agreed, nodding. “Kid clammed up, claimed he was wrong. But the place was trashed. I think somebody might’ve gotten there before us.”

Shannon gave a resigned sigh. “OK, thanks. I’ll tell Grace about it when we meet later.”

“Cool,” Emma said. “What’s the meeting about?”

Shannon stared at her then said, “That’s on a need-to-know basis, Slayer,” and left.

Cut To:


Cleveland Museum of Art – Atrium – Day

Faith, Buffy and Emma walked through the wide, glass-roofed atrium connecting the new and old buildings of the Cleveland Museum of Art, trailing a curator in the sort of brown suit that only a certain kind of bohemian professor type can pull off.

“I’m glad you’re here,” he said. “After what happened in December, well, it seems far better to be safe than sorry.”

“Glad you finally figured that out,” Buffy sniped. “If you’d just worked with us then, nothing would have gotten burned down.”

“I saw the footage, B,” Faith put in. “I feel like the biggest reason things got burned down was Alex Rosenberg started throwing fireballs indoors.”

Buffy and Emma both shot over looks that Faith tried not to notice.

“Mistakes were made on all sides,” the curator noted tersely. “But like a phoenix, we will rise again. I’m excited to show you some of our renovations.”

“Or you could show us why we’re here?” Buffy suggested as the group reached the far end of the atrium.

Cut To:


Cleveland Museum of Art – Hall of Armor – Day

The curator led the three of them into the refurbished hall of armor. Even the tapestries were back in place, all except for one conspicuously missing. The doors at the far end of the room, however, were now walled off. The wall was emblazoned with an advertisement, reading, “Coming Soon: Your Museum’s New Hall of Extra-Dimensional Art. It’s Out of This World!

“Extra…” Buffy started to read. “Wait, is this demon art? Since when do demons art?” She turned to her slayer, clearly expecting agreement, but Emma had stepped forward to talk to the Curator with a big smile on her face.

“Really? This is so cool! Do you have anything by Gra’Pal?”

The curator smiled back. “Not yet, though there may be things in the works I can’t talk about just yet. But we do have a full, original series of Pravari Death Masks, and, well, see for yourself.” He opened a door in the temporary wall to let the group through.

Cut To:


Cleveland Museum of Art – Hall of Extra-Dimensional Art – Day

Buffy warily eyed several stone-hewn sculptures depicting grimacing faces with large teeth as she and the curator walked between them.

“So, after everything that happened, you figured the solution was more demon stuff?” she ventured.

“That’s where you come in,” the curator replied. “We want to make sure we represent the artistic viewpoints of all parts of our community, including immigrants from other dimensions. But we also, well, want to make sure there aren’t any more surprises. So we want to make sure every piece here is cleared by the Council. For safety.”

Buffy looked around. “So this is more of a witch deal, right?”

“That’s all your area of expertise,” he told her, holding his hands up as if absolving himself of responsibility. “Whatever personnel you need is your call.”

Buffy sighed. “Can you guys believe this?” Getting no response, she looked over both shoulders. Nobody else was there. “Guys?”

Instead of behind her, Faith and Emma were standing in front of a large painting. It might have been by a Renaissance Master, except for the subject matter, which was of a large group of horned figures with bright purple skin surrounding a large symbol drawn in what might have been blood.

Faith cocked her head and muttered, “The painting.”

“Do you recognize the demons in this?” Emma asked.

“Nope,” Faith said. “Don’t think I’ve ever seen one that color.”

Buffy walked up beside the two of them, the curator behind her.

“It could be a choice by the painter,” Emma guessed. “Y’know, artistic license.”

Faith stepped forward, leaned toward the painting, and squinted. “The brushstrokes do have a certain fluidity that would suggest the artist was capturing their own impression of a scene rather than attempting to recreate it accurately.” She straightened up. “And the figures, they have a…primitive, almost fauvist quality. I wonder if the artist had seen Cezanne’s work in Tahiti.”

She looked over her shoulder to see Buffy staring at her, wide-eyed. “Who are you, and what did you do with Faith?” the blonde asked.

“You know, B, it’s typical,” Faith replied. “You never thought to ask me what my doctorate was in.”

“I didn’t know it was real. I figured it was one of those fake degrees they give celebrities.”

Faith grinned. “You figured wrong.”

Emma turned to the curator. “Can you tell us anything about this one?” She pointed to the canvas.

“Striking, isn’t it?” he said. “It came to us from a Horvalak collector, but they claimed not to know the name of the artist or anything about the provenance. They were far more concerned with the asking price.”

“Probably knew this was their ticket to sending the spawn to a real college, if you paid the real value of this thing,” Faith said. She turned to the curator. “You did, right?”

He shrugged, looking slightly guilty. Faith sighed and turned back to the painting. “Has anybody run the radiocarbon dating?”

“We-we tried,” he said, “but it doesn’t use any paint we could identify. It doesn’t oxidize the way the lead white we usually use for dating does.”

“Is the frame original?” she pressed. “What about dendrochronology?”

Buffy stood, mouth agape.

“Yes, but…it’s not wood. Or at least, not any wood from Earth. So the usual methods…”

Buffy remained mute, looking at Faith like she had grown an extra head.

“Summers, do you know what kind of demon that is?” Emma suddenly asked loudly, cutting through the conversation.

Buffy took a closer look, then shook her head. “I don’t recognize them. What do you think, they might be some new species?”

“Or old,” Faith offered. “Very old.”

Faith held up a finger and then went to her phone. She opened it and hit the screen a few times. Then her microphone came on, “Can you identify this demon?” Faith asked and then took a picture.

After a few seconds, Helen Mirren’s Tabitha said, “Sorry, World’s Greatest Slayer. It’s not recognized by my program. Consider consulting a human watcher.”

“World’s Greatest Slayer?” Buffy asked, one eyebrow raised.

Faith shrugged, “If you screw around with the options, you can have her call you anything. It seemed fitting.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“True. And still stumped. AI can’t figure it out, so despite how Allister thinks Tabby will put her out of business, Ro’s still needed. What’s next?” Faith asked as she looked at Emma.

“Rowena or not, I’d just like to look into it too, if that’s OK?” Emma replied. “Maybe…maybe I can figure it out.”

“You know I’m the watcher, right?” Buffy asked.

“Yes, but art is my thing. Maybe Faith can help?” the slayer suggested hopefully. “You know, like, all of the things about this art stuff apparently.”

It took Faith a moment to realize she was being addressed and turn from the painting, blinking. “Oh, uh, yeah, I mean, if I have time. I’ve got a lot going on these days.”

“Anything you could do would be great,” Emma told her sincerely. “You’re, like, who I want to be when I grow up.”

“I thought that was me,” Buffy complained.

The other two women just looked at her balefully.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Exercise Field – Day

Grace stood still, the spring breeze blowing in her hair and a very pensive look on her face. Slowly and purposefully, she nodded.

Then, with all the force of a wet noodle, Grace awkwardly brought her right arm forward, slinging a baseball a few feet forward. It fell to the grass with a thud almost immediately, rolled a couple more yards, then came to a stop well short of where Shannon stood some distance away on the Council exercise field. She had both hands on her hips, one of them wearing a well-worn mitt.

“Respectfully, Chairwoman,” she said evenly as she walked forward to pick up the ball, “what the fuck was that?”

“I told you,” Grace said defensively, “I’ve never done this before.”

“Sure, but, like…” Shannon picked up the ball and tossed it lightly into her glove as she straightened up, “Haven’t you seen it on TV? Or, I dunno, played cricket? Or something?”

“I don’t even play sports video games,” Grace replied. “I have successfully avoided sports until now.”

Shannon sighed. “OK, I’m gonna teach you the same way they taught me in elementary school gym class in Nebraska. Table-T-Turn.”

Grace’s forehead creased. “Table what now?”

Shannon stood a few feet in front of Grace, her right side toward the Chairwoman. “Look at me, right? We’re both right-handed, so we do this the same way. You stand like this, then the first thing you do is pick up your left knee, OK? You want to make this part of your leg flat like a table, like you were gonna balance a tray on a tray on it.” She demonstrated, patting her left leg as she balanced on her right.

Behind her, Grace tried to emulate the slayer’s movements. Almost as soon as she picked up her left leg, she teetered on her right and stumbled backward, nearly falling.

“Next you make a T-shape with your arms, right?” Shannon said, again demonstrating, while still remaining on one leg.

“That’s easy for you to say,” Grace groused as she shakily tried again. “You’ve still got slayer powers.”

“It’s easier at regular speed. I’m just showing you so you can see,” Shannon replied, without putting her foot down. “Anyway, lots of people without powers can do this. Including children. Millions and millions of children every–”

“What’s next?” Grace almost shouted as she started to fall over again.

“Then you turn to your left, and, as you do, you put that left foot down in front of you and you let go of the ball.” Shannon then smoothly did all three steps in succession and released the baseball. It sailed away in a straight line into the distance. It would have been a perfect fastball had anyone been there to catch it.

“Um, we kind of need the ball,” Grace pointed out.

“Sorry, one sec.”

The Chairwoman watched as the slayer sprinted off in the direction she had just thrown the ball at nearly a blur, then returned a few seconds later to hold it out to her. “Now you try.” Grace looked tired just watching this, but she reached out and took the ball.

Shannon ran some distance away again and raised her mitt to wait for Grace’s pitch. After a second, she lowered it. “Wait,” she said then, “do you even have a glove?”

“Why would I have a baseball glove?” Grace called back, annoyance increasingly entering her voice.

“OK, we’ll get you one. And some gear, too. The crowd’ll be into it, trust me.”

“Can I just wear a baseball t-shirt and call it good?”

Shannon sighed and then said, “Raglan.”


“In baseball, it’s called a raglan shirt and, yes, gear will help.”

“Can we just do this?”

Shannon nodded and raised her glove again. Grace then turned her side to the slayer and raised the ball to her chest, actually looking the part, almost, just for a moment.

Just as quickly, the illusion was gone, and she became a tangle of arms and legs. She whipped her right arm forward and spiked the ball almost directly in the ground, such that it bounced back and flew about an inch past her ear before landing behind her.

“Goddammit!” Grace shouted, kicking at the grass. “That was even worse. I hate this. I hate baseball. It’s the stupidest fucking… aaauggh!

As she ran out of words, the Chairwoman sat down on the grass of the exercise field, head in her hands. Without saying anything, Shannon walked over and put a comforting hand on Grace’s back.

Grace looked up at the slayer, a mix of surprise and confusion on her face. “Sorry,” she said, wiping something from her glistening cheek. “You’re just trying to help. It’s not your fault I’m such a klutz. I just…don’t get it.”

“The thing about baseball is…” Shannon hesitated, searching for the right words. “OK. I love baseball. It’s maybe my favorite thing. But it’s not because there’s some mystical trick to throwing the ball, right? You can do it. Anybody can. Baseball isn’t the physical movements. It’s…it’s a fight to the death, right? The game’s nine innings long, twenty-seven outs, and you stay there until you get those twenty-seven outs, one way or another. It doesn’t matter if the apocalypse comes or the left fielder starves to death, you’ve gotta get those outs. Baseball is a game you have to throw to the ground and then stab through the heart. There’s no clock or whistle or bell to save you. There’s no giving up. There’s no mercy. It’s a lot like life that way.” She noticed Grace staring at her, eyes still wet. “And there’s no crying in baseball.”

Grace sniffed and ran a hand under her nose. “I’m not crying.”

“Sure.” Shannon reached out a hand to help her up, which Grace looked at for a moment and then took. As Shannon hauled the Chairwoman back to her feet, she said, “Let’s try this again.”

Grace paused for a moment and asked, “They won’t stop for an apocalypse but they do when it rains? They can’t get a little wet?”

Shannon just shook her head and began to walk away. “Let’s take it from the top again.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Meeting Room – Morning

Alex Neel, attorney at Ouroboros Law Firm, entered the room with another woman behind her. Rowena and Willow sat at one end of a long conference table, along with the twins. At the other end sat Joe Sterling, Liz and Martin, along with Becca and Giles. Upon seeing Alex enter, Giles rose and walked over to extend his hand.

“Alex Neel! We didn’t expect you, but it’s a wonderful surprise,” he told her as they shook hands.

“Although we’re not dealing with the devil, as we have in times past, I know that record contracts can be quite devilish. I always try to make time for friends, especially for something this big.”

“Yes, we appreciate you being here today,” Becca said.

“I’m not the best one for this venture. Yes, I know a little entertainment law, but not near enough to help you myself. So, I’d like to officially introduce you to Kylie McGillicutty.” She motioned to the woman standing by her side.

The woman nodded. “It’s a pleasure to meet all of you face-to-face. I’ve enjoyed talking to you on the phone.”

“Thank you,” Liz said. “Speaking on behalf of S.P., we’re very grateful for your insight.”

“Yes,” Joe added. “I understand music contracts, but I want a legal eagle to take a look. Y’know? Dot my ‘i’s and cross my ‘t’s’? You come highly recommended.”

“I appreciate that,” she replied as she and Neel set their messenger bags on the table and began removing documents. “And the notes you provided Mr. Sterling are very straightforward and appreciated. I can see you’re looking out for them, which is good. I don’t always see that in management and your requests for compensation for your time is on par with others.” She looked around the table and told them. “You’re in good hands with him,” she said, with a motion to Joe.

Liz took the opportunity to bump shoulders with Joe, who smiled.

“Did they send the contract with our revisions?” Jen asked.

McGillicutty sighed. “Money-wise, for a first album, it’s solid; respectable, even. So they did agree on that. As for the other things you’re requesting, well, no. That’s something that we’ll have to talk with them about today – especially streaming, which I think you should reconsider.”

“Spotify is a rip off,” Jen sighed.

“It’s more about exposure,” McGillicutty countered. “Now, it would help if we had one person speaking for the band, so do you know who that would be?”

Simultaneously, Martin, Jen and Alex pointed to Liz, who shrugged in acceptance.

“She says things much better than I can,” Martin admitted.

“I won’t say she’s more articulate than me,” Jen offered. “But she is a lot more kind and patient.”

“No argument here,” her brother replied. Jen just grinned at him in response, while her mothers nodded in agreement. Becca and Rowena shared a knowing smile.

“Hey, go easy on Jen,” Becca put in. “Every band needs a rabble rouser.”

The door opened again, and a Council attendant escorted another woman inside.

“Hello,” she announced to the room, “I’m Paula Sinclair with Visage Moon Entertainment.”

“Welcome,” Neel said. She motioned to the seat at the end of the table, opposite Liz. “I’m Alex Neel, partner at Ouroboros Law. This is attorney Kylie McGillicutty, representing Stoned Platypus. I believe you know everyone else.”

“Yes,” Sinclair said politely as she rested her own briefcase on the table. “How’s everyone doing today?”

Jen spoke up first. “Ms. McGillicutty says the money’s good, but what about the rest?”

“Right down to business, eh?” Sinclair said, keeping her cool. “Are you speaking for the band today, Ms. Rosenberg?”

“No. She is,” Jen said, pointing to Liz. “I’m just curious by nature.”

Sinclair had a tight-lipped grin. “I see. Well, Ms. Giles, what are your issues?”

Liz opened the leather-covered notebook on the table in front of her. “First, let me say thank you for the consideration of partnering with us as our possible label. We appreciate that. The band is looking forward to building a mutually beneficial relationship for all of us that can last for years or even decades. So again, thank you for reaching out.”

“You’re very welcome,” Sinclair said honestly.

“Articulate,” Martin whispered to Jen, who rolled her eyes at him.

Liz cleared her throat. “We appreciate the advance. As our attorney mentioned before you arrived, it’s reasonable. One of our concerns with revenue is streaming.”

“Yes, streaming is part of the contract. Seventy percent is standard.”

“That’s seventy percent to the label; not us. You’ve got us at five percent here.”

“You are a new, untested band,” Sinclair countered.

Liz held up a finger. “Most artists get ten percent for themselves, or twenty percent, if they’re lucky. Even at ten percent for the band, that’s less than three percent for each band member. At twenty percent, that would give us each five percent, which is more acceptable.”

“Well, there are several streaming options today and–”

“Speaking of that… hell to the no when it comes to Spotify and their ‘let’s all share with every-artist-under-the-sun’ nonsense. It’s why Swift left — she was literally making less than a penny per stream.”

“But she came back,” Sinclair countered.

“We do not want to be part of Spotify. We need to make music and eat.”

Sinclair thought for a moment and then nodded. “I understand your reluctance. But it’s important to get more ears listening. Touring is where you really earn.”

“We’d like to talk more and then revisit it later, if that’s all right,” Liz replied.

“Okay. Anything else?”

“Yes. It’s important that we protect our sound. We’ve been producing our own work for years, and we don’t see the need of having someone else come in to do that for us.”

The band members all nodded in agreement, while the parents simply watched.

Sinclair paused for a moment. “Let’s be honest. No one in the band is even an adult here.”

“I will be next month,” Liz countered. “Besides, Prince was offered a record contract at fifteen.”

“Actually, he was eighteen.”

“No, he was fifteen, but he turned down that label when they wouldn’t let him produce because he was ‘too young’. Three years later, Warner Brothers wanted him.”

“Yes, but then he wrote ‘slave’ on his face, because even Warner Brothers wasn’t good enough for him. Are you saying you’re a musical genius, too?”

“I’m saying, it’s our music and our vision. We don’t need outsiders.”

Sinclair thought for a moment. “We need an experienced producer to help guide a first album. You’re primarily a cover band.”

“So was the Talking Heads…oh, and Van Halen too, actually.”

“Even the best work with producers,” Sinclair stressed.

Liz paused and then made a note on her pad. “How about a compromise? We will hear your choices, but we have final say on who will produce and final say on any tracks produced? I don’t want to seem completely unreasonable here.”

Sinclair took a deep breath. “I can’t answer that now, but I can consider it. Any other big ‘asks’?”

“The biggest…ownership of the masters and no restrictions on re-records. We want to own our work, like Prince eventually did, and most recently Taylor Swift.”

“You’re not Taylor Swift.”

“Not yet,” Liz said with a coy smile, “but you’ve got the chance of a lifetime. So the question is this: are you willing to take that chance and walk away?”

“Are you?” Sinclair shot back bluntly.

“We are,” Liz said, firmly and without hesitation.

The room fell silent.

When she finally spoke, Sinclair said, “I was hoping we’d have this wrapped up today.”

“Us too,” Liz answered. “But you have some questions to research and we’ve got a few things to discuss as well.”

“If I leave here without a signed contract, can I assume we can do this virtually, providing of course that a deal can be made?” Sinclair asked McGillicutty.

“I don’t see that being an issue. And truthfully, what they are asking for isn’t outside of what other acts have asked for in the past. I think if you can make those things happen, Stoned Platypus will be happy to sign.”

Sinclair closed her notebook and nodded. “I’ll be in touch this week with news.”

She rose and, with a respectful nod to the table, collected her things and left.

“Did we just blow it?” Martin asked after the door closed behind her.

“No,” Mcgillicutty and Joe both said at the same time. She motioned for Joe to continue.

“You shouldn’t take any deal that doesn’t meet your reasonable demands,” he explained.

“He said it,” Becca added. “A decent label will offer what you need, or at the very least come back with ideas to make things work.”

“Yep,” Joe told them. “If they can’t come back to the table, then walk. Like Liz said, Prince could have taken his first deal, but he held out. Yeah, it took three more years, and when you’re young three years can seem like a lifetime, but believe us old timers here, it’s just a drop in a well.”

“He’s not lying,” Giles offered.

“Well,” Rowena began, “I just want to thank you all for looking out for the kids.”

“Yes, this isn’t our area at all,” Willow put in.

“So I guess we wait then?” Jen asked knowingly.

“We wait,” Liz said, “But you’ll keep looking for other options until we’re signed, right, Joe?”

“You know it, Sweetie!”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Coven Room – Morning

“Anybody home?” Faith called out into the empty Coven Room. Slowly and carefully, she crept inside the door. “Willow? Ken? Anybody here?”

Realizing she was alone, Faith moved quicker through the open area until she reached a small office just beyond the larger space. Inside the office, she found a caged area. She walked up to the door of the cage and tried the handle, but found it was locked. She then looked around the room until she saw a bookcase in one corner. She walked over and scanned the shelves until she found a book called Magic for Dummies, which she pulled out and opened. She found the center of the book had been hollowed out and a left key inside, which she removed.

“Just like the girl said,” she said as she held it up. “Let’s give it a try.” She held her breath, put the key into the lock and turned. It clicked and Faith smiled. “Now let’s see if Red’s as predictable as you think she is.”

Faith walked inside the small cage and looked immediately to her right at the very top row of herbs, potions and other assorted magical items. She took down the first bottle on that shelf and reached behind to find a very small box that was marked ‘Dangerous’. Quickly, she opened it and once again, she smiled. “Jackpot,” she muttered as she put the box and its contents into her pocket.

As she left the office area, she stopped when she saw Kennedy standing in the doorway to the hall. Slowly, she closed the distance between them.

“Hey Slick,” Faith greeted her, her tone neutral.

At first, Kennedy said nothing. She just observed her. Then she asked, “What are you doing here?”

“I thought I might find Willow.”

“No,” Kennedy said, shaking her head. “I mean why are you back?”

Faith took a deep breath and then hesitated. “If I told you why, chances are you wouldn’t believe me, and I wouldn’t blame you….I know I hurt you and I’m sorry.”

Kennedy paused, considering her next words. “You did hurt me. But why don’t we start with answering my question. Why are you here?”

Once more Faith paused, her eyes looked upward as if thinking of the right answer. “I’m here because something big is coming and I wanna protect everyone that I love. That does include you by the way, Slick. And your wife and your daughter.”

“We’ve been doing fine with you gone all these years.”

“You have,” Faith agreed. “But this time is different. You’ve tapped into your magical side more than ever since your deactivation. What’s your spidey sense tell you about what’s happening lately?”

Kennedy rolled her shoulders. “You’re not wrong. There is something about to go down. I do feel it. I think everybody here that has the smallest inkling of magical ability knows something is seriously off. It’s one of the reasons I’m trying real hard to make this work.” She motioned a finger between them.

“I appreciate that. And, you don’t have to believe me right now, but whatever happens, just realize I have the best intentions at heart for you and for everybody here. Nikki talks a lot about you and Kadin, and I know I haven’t said it enough, but thank you for looking after her.”

“What she really needs is her mom, not her aunts,” Kennedy countered. “I’m an adult. I can handle you coming and going. But for her it’s a lot different. Don’t hurt her again by trying to be something that you’re just not.”

“Again, you may not believe it, but I’m doing this for her too.”

Kennedy just nodded and said, “Willow is probably at the university working on the virus vaccine with Doctor Goldman. That’s where she is most days. But I’ll let her know that you were looking for her next time I see her.”

Without saying anything more, Kennedy turned her back and walked out of the door. Once she was gone, Faith’s shoulders and head slumped toward the floor.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Security Room – Same Time

On a single screen out of a bank of security monitors, one of the guards watched Kennedy and then Faith leave the Coven Room. She then turned back to Robin, who was standing above her, also watching the screen.

“Would you like me to do anything, Sir?”

“No…keep this private for now,” he said. “Keep tabs on her movements and report anything else unusual directly to me, and me alone. Understood?”

“Yes, Sir,” she nodded.

Robin took an unsettled breath and left the room.

Cut To:


Rosenberg-Allister House – Living Room – Evening

Kneeling in front of the TV, controller in his hand, Alex watched the screen as his game faded to black to reveal the main menu.

“‘Yo, c’mon, son, hurry it up,” Jen said. She stood behind the couch, her eyes down on her phone and thumbs moving a mile a minute.

“Just wait, jeez,” he sighed and pressed the console. With a mechanical creak and a soft whoosh, the disc ejected.

“Why can’t you just play that in your room?”

Alex rolled his eyes as he carefully placed the disc inside the case and pressed it shut. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh, ’cause I’m a girl?!” she snapped back, eyes still down.

He looked back over his shoulder as he got up, “No, ’cause you’re not a videophile…”

Jen looked up, her brow creased at Alex’s back as he put away his game and controller beside the console. “Isn’t your TV the same size as this TV?”

He sighed again as he took the remote in hand and changed the source. “Again with the not understanding, Jen. And, hey, couldn’t you watch your show in, oh, your room?”

“You wouldn’t—”

Slowly, wide eyed, Alex craned his head back toward her as the TV changed to live programming.

Jen coughed, moved around the couch and plopped down as the audio came on.

“Strike up the band, it’s time to—”

“What the…?!” Jen stood up again, aghast.

Alex blinked. “What?” Seeing Jen’s mouth agape, he turned and looked behind him. Then he stumbled back, shocked.

“—right now it’s Wisteria’s day!”

Both their bottom lips quivered and, in unison, “M-M-M…!”

On the TV, Wisteria danced around the edge of a volcano, arms wide, as terrible CGI molten skeletons danced around her.

“Which one?” both Rowena and Willow called from what sounded like different rooms.

Magic Mom!” they called out, a little too loudly. “Ma!!!

Transfixed, their eyes horrified, they did not turn at the sound of Willow approaching, or at her turning into the living room.

“What is it, kiddo– Oh Good Goddess!!” Willow dropped her phone as she saw Wisteria, with her black hair and black veins, shooting purple beams of magic writhing with black lightning into the lava as she maniacally laughed.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Conference Room – Next Day

“What in the actual fuck!” Willow sat forward, slamming her fists on the table, as she looked up at the monitor.

On the screen, sitting beside a wincing Andrew, June spoke up, her tone deadpan. “Hey, bite your tongue, witchypoo, you do not get to speak to Mr. Wells like that, it’s slanderous.”

Willow glared. “Slanderous?! Have you watched your show?!” her voice reached octaves that could make glass shatter.

Watchers Council Black Ops: San Diego is currently number one in the Nielsen Top Ten and we’re not even halfway through the season, Sabrina.”

“I’m not sorry, but who are you?” Xander asked.

“I am June.”

There was a beat of silence.

Xander shook his head and silently laughed as he looked at Dawn and Buffy.

“Andrew,” Buffy said, her voice flat but deadly, “talk.”

He sighed and had opened his mouth to speak when June leaned into him and whispered, “You don’t have to—”

“Andrew!” Dawn barked.

“Okay, okay, I-I’m sorry!”

June rolled her eyes.

“You’re sorry?!” Buffy’s eye bulged out of her head, her voice shrill.

“It’s an homage, all right? We paint you all in good, glamorous lights!” he bleated.

“I have yet to see me,” Xander said quietly out the side of his mouth.

“We tested your character, but the focus group found you dated in line with modern views,” June delivered smoothly.

Xander’s mouth moved, trying to find the words, but nothing came out.

“And you made me a lock! Only to be opened by a penis!” The veins on Dawn’s forehead popped.

“Oh, are you not bisexual anymore, sweetie?” Andrew asked, his forehead knit and his tone genuinely confused.

Dawn looked like she was about to launch from her seat.

“So you guys haven’t been watching at all until now? Some friends you are,” June chastised, pursing her lips and shaking her head.

“Been kinda busy saving the, you know, everything, lady!” Dawn shouted at the screen, her eyebrows trying to escape her forehead.

“You took my literally darkest moment and turned it into a singing and dancing show,” Willow said solemnly.

“We made it fun.” June leaned across the screen.

“You made light of it. My pain. Andrew, I am…I am so upset.” Willow cast her eyes down.

Andrew took a long, deep inhale. “Willow, I’m…I really am sorry.”

“How could you do this, man?” Xander asked, shaking his head and throwing up his hands. “Like, seriously, what were you thinking?”

“Th-they got me drunk. The writers. We went out for writing-brunch to brainstorm the new spinoff and one of them got me this fancy pants white linen suit and they kept giving me mimosas and asking about the good ol’ days—”

“I died in those good ol’ days,” Buffy piped up. “But, Annie Murphy, you know, good casting.”

Everyone around the table shot her a look.

“What? I like Schitt’s Creek! And she is a little bit Buffy…” She flicked her hair to the side. “Much better than the last time you tried to cast someone as me.”

“—and I told them everything. How we got to know each other. How we became family. How we saved the world. How you saved me. How you made me. Then when the scripts came in and I was locked into the contract…I had to steer it, make it as tasteful as possible and change the names and make it, you know, extra, so no one would think it was anything other than fiction.”

“Except us?” Willow asked, quietly.

“Except you, Samantha.” June’s eyes narrowed.

“They just ran out of ideas, okay? The Watcher Council Black Ops franchise has been running nonstop with multiple spin-offs an-and our story is wild and kinda…booming honestly,” Andrew added, his eyes misty, his face pleading.

“So what’s in the next half season?” Buffy raised a brow. “Do you make a hot appearance?”

“W-well not as hot as Andrew Lincoln’s Miles,” Andrew replied meekly.

“Wow.” Dawn snorted and slapped her palms on the table.

“I’ll make it up to you guys, I swear. June can arrange tickets to the mid-season premiere, ‘kay?”

“Can I?” June asked sarcastically, turning to him.

Xander shook his head in disbelief. “Seriously, are you a Vengeance Demon?” he asked June. “‘Cause I’ve known Vengeance Demons. You can tell me, I won’t freak out.”

“No, I’m a personal assistant to the stars and this man right here,” she pointed to Andrew. “This beautiful man and soul is a goddamn star, and I will not let you extinguish his talent.”

Xander and Willow exchanged an eye roll with one another after the comment.

“Yeah, okay, we’re done here and so are you, Andrew,” Willow reached forward and pressed a button on her iPad. The screen went black. As it did, Andrew opened his mouth with his finger raised.

Their stares shifted between each other as silence fell on the conference room.

Dawn clearing her throat broke the silence of the room. “Okay, this does not leave this room, but Andrew Lincoln as Miles, sorry, Giles is…it’s…sexy, right?” Dawn then added, quickly, “Do not tell him and do not tell Skye.”

“And don’t tell my husband,” Buffy added.

“Hey right here and eww!” Xander shifted in his seat towards her.

“I’m just saying, you’ve got your Hollywood pass in Margot Robbie,” Buffy shot back.

“But it’s Giles. In what bizarro world do you get with him?” Xander screwed up his face in disgust.

Buffy’s eyes glazed over and then, after a long beat, she shuddered.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Exercise Field – Day

Carefully, Grace pulled up one leg, pulled back one arm and, with a grunt, slung the baseball as hard as she could. Shannon had to lunge to her left, but she caught the throw on the fly.

“Ha!” Shannon shouted. “You did it!”

Grace, sweaty and breathing hard, regarded her skeptically. “I did?”

The slayer considered for a moment. “I mean… it wasn’t a strike. But do that on Saturday night, and you will have successfully not become a meme. Which honestly is what I’m hoping for here.”

“Yay,” Grace replied unenthusiastically.

Shannon grinned at her. “Maybe we should take a break.”

A few moments later, the two women sat on the nearby metal bleachers, each drinking out of her own water bottle as they watched a group of younger slayers jogging the track around the field.

Grace wiped sweat from her brow with a hand, then stared balefully at her now-wet palm. “So, you’re telling me that people do this on purpose? For fun?”

Shannon looked at her. “I’m guessing there’s nothing I can say here that will get you to where I am on that, so…OK, think of it like this. There’s a girl walking around in this city right now who thought ‘You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna put on a superhero costume so I can punch accountants.’ I personally would never have thought to do that, and I definitely do not want to do that, and if you made me do that, I would hate it. But I’m pretty sure that girl is having the time of her life in that costume. This is like that.”

The Chairwoman stared at her then said, “Y’know, since I asked you to help me with this, I think you’ve said more words than I’ve heard you say in, like, the past year.”

Shannon shrugged. “I like baseball.”

“And don’t even talk to me about this Slaygirl person,” Grace said. “Because with the slayers all threatening to quit and Willow at my throat and the AI rollout and the Guild and the seventy other things going wrong at any given moment, what I really needed was comic books to bleed into the real world. I like comic books. I know all the stuff, OK? I have opinions about which Robin is the best.”

“I mean…pretty sure it’s Robin Wood.”

“Point is, I like stuff with superheroes, or spaceships, or hobbits, or whatever, because it’s not my life. I have my life to be my life. And when that non-life stuff starts happening in my life, it’s a very bad sign that my world is about to dissolve.”

Shannon took another sip of her water then said, “I just think the cape would get in the way.”

Grace chuckled. “Like Miss Edna in The Incredibles. No capes!”

The two of them laughed.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Parking Garage Exit – Same Time

Willow pulled her car out of the Council Garage, putting on a pair of sunglasses as she did so. She drove around the looping driveway leading off the grounds, which happened to run right past the Council Exercise Field. She noticed Grace and Shannon sitting next to each other in athletic gear on the bleachers. As she drove past, Grace laughed at something Shannon had said. The slayer began to laugh as well. Willow’s eyes narrowed at the sight.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Exercise Field – Same Time

“So, wanna give it another shot?” Shannon asked. “Or do you think you’ve got it down now?

“Definitely not the second one,” Grace told her.

Before long, she found herself again staring at Shannon about fifty feet away, holding her glove up to her chest.

“OK,” she told herself under her breath, “Table, T, Turn.” The Council Chairwoman raised her left leg, pulled her right arm back with the baseball, then turned.

Shannon watched the ball fly ten feet over her head and sail directly into the group of slayers still jogging around the track. “Watch out!” she yelled, but before she could finish getting the phrase out, the ball struck a blond pre-teen in the back of the head with an audible ‘thunk.’ The girl pitched over forward onto the track as her squadmates looked on with open mouths.

Shannon watched the stricken slayer’s friends help her sit up on the track as she cradled the back of her head. Then she turned back to Grace and called, “Maybe just take a little off the next one.”

Cut To:


Rebol Urban Café – Late Morning

As Willow and Rowena walked up to the restaurant, the witch offered her hand to the watcher. Rowena gave her a reserved grin and then took it as they walked toward the front door.

“We haven’t done this in a while,” Rowena remarked.

“Yeah, we should do brunch more often,” Willow agreed.

Rowena raised their arms slightly. “I meant holding hands.”

“Let’s do that, too,” Willow said cheerfully.

Once inside, Willow and Rowena continued to hold hands. Inside, the space was ultra-modern, mostly glass with an ornate wooden sculpture in place of a chandelier. They both looked around and Rowena nodded to the corner, where she saw Tamara with a large smile, waving them over. Rowena began to loosen her grip, but Willow held on tighter in response.

“Hey, lady,” Willow said warmly to Tamara. “How goes it?”

Tamara stood up from her spot and came over to them. She gave Willow a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Rowena took an unsteady breath, but her unease turned into confusion when Tamara came over and did the same to her.

“Look at you two,” she said, motioning to their joined hands. “You still act like newlyweds. That’s great.”

Willow smiled as Rowena blushed at the compliment, yet didn’t say anything.

“Oh, I’ve got exciting news,” Tamara told her. “I’ve invited some guests for later.”

“Who?” Willow asked.

“It’s a surprise,” Tamara told her mischievously.  She turned to Rowena. “Did she tell you how I fan-girled the rest of the day you signed my book? I think she got bored of me gushing.”

Rowena grinned. “She did mention something.”

“And I never get bored,” Willow corrected. “I love to hear people sing her praises.”

“I’ll try to keep myself in check today,” Tamara promised. “Seriously, though, when she asked if we could have brunch together, I was speechless.”

“She was,” Willow giggled. “At first, I thought I-I broke her. She babbled.”

“Did not!” Tamara said. “Okay, I did a little,” she admitted and then chuckled. “I thought the only chance we’d all have to hang out would be in the lab, but I love the thought of the three of us together, breaking bread, maybe some mischief if we have time,” she added and wiggled her eyebrows. “First, I thought we could grab something to eat. It’s one of our favorite places for lunch. Have you been here before?” she asked Rowena.

Rowena just shook her head, as if not trusting her voice. Tamara hooked her arm around Rowena’s and began to lead the pair to the counter.

“Stick by me,” Tamara told her, “I’ll walk you through the choices. Vegan, keto and everything in between. They really do have a little bit of everything. Personally, if you like it, their red pepper falafel is fantastic.”

“I do. My potential slayer Ipek taught me her wonderful family recipe…and how to belly dance, too,” Rowena remarked in afterthought.

“Now, I would pay real money to see that,” Tamara remarked.

Willow grinned as she watched her wife and friend walk, arms linked, toward the counter.

Cut To:


Rebol Urban Café – Minutes Later

Each woman had their chosen bowls in front of them as they sat around the hightop table.

“Oh,” Tamara said, as if remembering something. “Willow tells me that you’ve been selected to train Rupert Giles’s daughter. That must be exciting.”

“It’s complicated,” Rowena explained. “We’ve known the family for decades and her mom is one of my closest non-Council friends. Besides, not all senior watchers changed the diapers of their junior charges. So there’s history there.”

“But she can do it,” Willow added, giving Rowena a confident smile. “She’s got a lot of wisdom she can impart to Liz, even if she feels unsure right now.”

“Truth is,” Rowena said, “I’m not sure if I’m going to take the position. It would put me in the field again and it’s risky. In fact, my last adventure with Liz ended up in millions paid out in museum renovations. Willow thinks it was a fluke and I shouldn’t worry, but I have to admit, it had me doubting my talents.”

Tamara gave her a sympathetic expression. “Well, I have to admit I think it’s wonderful that you two have such a nurturing, open relationship. You connect. It would be great to be a part of something like that.” Willow and Rowena both grinned as Tamara looked at her binging phone. “Oh, our guests arrived. I’ll be right back,” she said excitedly, excusing herself.

Once she was out of earshot, Willow asked, “So what do you think of her? Really?”

“I like her,” Rowena confessed. “I like her a lot. I see why you do too.” Willow grinned but said nothing. Rowena continued, “And I’ll admit some things she said are heavy on the innuendo. I don’t want to say anything to her just yet. I-I still need to process all this.”

“Certainly,” Willow replied. “You know I’d never force you to do something you weren’t okay with, right?”

“I do,” Rowena answered sincerely.

They both turned to see Tamara walking with two biped demons, their faces covered in gray scales and framed by small horns. It was obvious they were the same species, a male and a female. They all conversed as they moved toward the two seated women. Once they arrived. Tamara motioned her hand toward the pair.

“Let me introduce you,” she began.”This is Accda and Sunest.”

Willow began to grin. “So that means…?” she began to say hopefully.

Tamara nodded. “They have successfully completed the first trial. We’ve got the green light to expand.”

“Congratulations, everybody,” Rowena said sincerely.

“This is a celebration!” Willow proclaimed. She called over to the waitress and asked, “Excuse me. Do you have champagne?” She shook her head no. “Okay then. Lattes for everyone!” Willow proclaimed to the restaurant. A small cheer rippled through the gathering, making the table occupants smile.

Cut To:


Public Park – Same Time

Faith sat on a park bench overlooking Lake Erie, looking at her iPad. The image was of the painting she saw earlier at the museum. Using her fingers, she made the image expand so she could focus on one area. She took a snapshot of it. Then, using two fingers, she blew the image up even further. 

She began to count the fingers on the demon’s hand that appeared in the photo. She looked upward, concentrating, when a figure came and sat beside her. She did not immediately turn in their direction, although the park was not crowded.

“Sorry, pal,” Faith began, “I’m saving that spot for a friend. Runs a pizza parlor. Maybe you’ve met him?”

“Fiznark sent me,” the stranger said.

At that point, Faith grinned and turned in their direction. She offered her hand.

“Faith Lehane,” she said to the human-looking woman seated next to her.

The stranger took her hand out of her pocket and extended it to Faith. When she did, she palmed something into Faith’s hand, which the slayer took and placed under the cover of her now-closed iPad.

“Friend of Fiznark. We’ll leave it at that,” she said in response. “You will leave him be now?”

“Depends,” Faith said.

“Depends?” the woman repeated.

“If what you gave me works out. If so, he and I will be square. And if not, then…Fizzy and you will both have problems.”

“It is what you asked for,” the woman promised her.

Cut To:


Surveillance Vehicle – Same Time

A small, flickering surveillance monitor showed Faith and her companion from behind. On the screen, Faith quickly picked up her iPad and shot a picture of the woman, then said, her voice tinny and far away, “Better be. You don’t want me to find you later. It won’t be pretty if we meet again.”

Robin released a deep breath and took off the headphones he’d been wearing. He immediately rubbed his eyes and his temples.

Black Out

End of Act Two

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