Act 3



Cut To:


Rosenberg-Allister House – Kitchen – Late Morning

Breakfast was nothing short of a well-orchestrated maneuver in kitchen agility, one that was obviously built upon many mornings of repetition. The Rosenbergs all manned their stations. Jen cracked what looked to be the twelfth egg into a mixing bowl and began to whisk it with some milk before dumping it into a skillet. For his part, Alex was pulling out bacon strips from the oven, while Jake dumped cooked diced potatoes from one air fryer and then a second fryer into a single casserole dish. Sophie was busy buttering pieces of toast and then stacking them on top of each other.

Rowena and Willow both walked into the room, already in the midst of a conversation that seemed to be growing heated.

“I told you, I haven’t decided,” Rowena said firmly. “What don’t you understand?”

Willow already had her nose buried in her tablet and was scrolling.

“About what?” Willow asked as she absently pulled out a coffee pod and started the Keurig.

“About what I’ve been saying for the last ten minutes!” Rowena replied.

“Oh for Gaia’s sake,” Willow sighed. “Still with this? You know how I feel. You need to pee or get off the pot, because the train’s leavin’. If it’s not you, it’s gonna be someone else.”

“Just to be clear, I’m talking about Elizabeth Giles and not genius doctors.”

“Yes, I’m talking about Liz,” Willow groaned. “And for the record, you seemed just fine with my genius doctor friend yesterday, so what happened between then and now?”

By this time, the kids had all stopped working and turned to watch their parents. A growing silence began to fill the room until the next set of toast popped up, the sound making everyone jump slightly. Willow poured her cream into the coffee and then transferred it into a thermos.

“I have to leave,” Willow said.

“Of course you do,” Rowena countered in frustration.

“What do you want from me?” Willow asked.

“I don’t know. Have the breakfast the kids made for starters?”

Wordlessly, Jen turned away and began to move the eggs around the hot skillet with a wooden spoon. Slowly, the other kids began to get back to work too, without saying anything.

Willow leaned down to talk into Rowena’s ear. “Stop trying to pull the kids into this.”

“How is asking you to eat breakfast with us viewed as manipulation?” the blonde countered.

“You don’t get it. You go to class. In your free time, you write books. I, however, have a coven to run, not to mention, oversee all the covens world-wide. There’s also a pesky vaccine I need to fast track so we can mend demon/human relations before some bitch starts Vor Apocalypse Part Three. So forgive me if scrambled eggs aren’t high on my list,” Willow practically hissed.

“Gimme this,” Jen said angrily, roughly taking two pieces of toast from her sister. She placed some of the eggs on one piece and grabbed a piece of bacon, ripping it in two. Alex winced, knowing how hot it was, but Jen didn’t seem to notice at all. Then she covered the sandwich with a second toast before cutting it in half. She reached into the cabinet and pulled out a baggy, placing the egg sandwich inside.

She tossed it on the table in front of Willow and said, “You forget. Slayer hearing. Go ‘head. We won’t keep you.” When Willow didn’t move, Jen motioned to the bag again. “You got better places to be than here. Go on.”

Jen walked back and politely asked Sophie, “One more toast, please.”

Sophie nodded and took out a bread slice as her brothers looked on in stunned silence. Willow slid the sandwich from the counter and left the room without another word or backward glance.

“Jen,” Rowena called over.

“Mom. Don’t,” she said, her voice cracking like she might cry. “The boys are gonna set up, right?”

“Sure,” Alex said not only without argument but with slight empathy. He motioned Jake to help him get plates and silverware.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Hallway – Later that Morning

“Hey, Red!” Faith called out. She jogged over from the top of the stairs toward the witch, who had been walking toward a nearby hallway. Willow made her way over as Faith closed the distance between them.

“I’m running a little bit behind, so what did you need?”

Faith walked next to Willow and showed her her iPad. It displayed the painting from the museum. “Something about this is off,” Faith told her. “I’m focusing on the demons, but there’s something else that I’m missing here, and I thought maybe it might have something to do with the coven that appears in this picture.”

Willow stopped walking for a moment and looked at the screen. “It appears to be a depiction of an origin story. Like Venus on the clamshell. A-and I’m totally guessing here, but it appears that the coven is calling forth a God slash demon, but it has not manifested itself in the painting. Not sure what the lady in the tower means, with the two warriors fighting below her.”

“Remember when Giles bought that goofy painting for his birthday? This was years ago, when we first started the Council.”

“Yes, do you think this is the same thing?”

“I don’t know if this painting is mystical, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a mojo specialist look at it, if you catch my drift. I know you’ve got lots of things going on, but I just can’t shake the feeling that this is mega important.”

“I didn’t know you’d been assigned a case yet?”

Faith seemed reluctant. “This is more like a pet project. Buffy and Emma are working on it, too. I thought maybe I could pick Rowena’s brain since she knows lots of demonology.”

Willow rolled her shoulders. “Yeah, I don’t think she’s really speaking to me at the moment. But if you would like to talk to her, you’re more than welcome to.”

“OK, I’m gonna shelve that comment for now and we can revisit it later,” Faith said. “But you would be willing to go with me to the museum?”

“Call and see if we’re able to go this evening, after hours. Let’s shoot for six.”

“Don’t want to try breaking in again?” Faith teased.

“I wasn’t part of that debacle, thank you very much.” Willow smiled. “Text me if you get the all clear.”

“Thanks, Will,” Faith said, before they walked in opposite directions.

Cut To:


The Stake & Crossbow – Day

With a thud and the rattling of glass bottles, Lisa set down a plastic crate on the counter behind the bar.

Her face strained a little as she bent down and opened a mini-fridge. A groan followed. Reaching up, she began removing the bottles and placing them inside.

The sound of a jingle signaled the front door opening, and a beam of sunlight cut through the intentional neon murk inside, particles dancing in the air. The beam broke as a figure entered. As the door began to swing to a close, a tortoiseshell cat made a quick exit with a soft chortle.

“Be right with ya,” Lisa called out the corner of her mouth.

The last bottle placed, she closed the mini-fridge, gripped the counter and pulled herself up with similar effort.

“Oof, right, so what can I–” she turned and her face immediately fell, her eyes rolling into the back of her skull. “Oh, here we go…” she muttered under her breath.

Standing in the doorway, framed by the diminishing natural light, was Giles. The door shut with a click.

“Good grief, I don’t believe it. When I heard the reports, I had to come and see it for myself…Lisa Fanshawe.”

She gave the meekest of fleeting grins, if it indeed was a grin. “Ah, Mr. Giles, how do? Years been treating ‘ya kind, I see.” She turned away, grabbed a towel and slung it back over her shoulder, “So, what it’ll be? Half a shandy is it these days?”

Giles took tentative steps towards the bar. “Why don’t we dispense with the pleasantries?”

“Yes, let’s.” Lisa pivoted, cocking her head to the side. “Frankly, I haven’t the want or the time for ’em, so if there’s a chase, cut to it then, lad.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Why, don’t you see? I’m running a bar. I mean, let’s be honest, it is a pub. You know it, I know it, but Americans, ‘ay? It’s all legit, if you’re wondering, which you are. I have all the papers. Invoices, taxes, you name ’em. Doing nowt wrong ‘ere.”

“It’s a slayers bar,” Giles’s eyes narrowed, his words deliberately drawn out.

“Is it?!” her voice pitched as high as her eyebrows as she looked around the empty establishment. “Blimey, they kept that quiet.”

“And you would know quiet, clearly,” he gestured generally to the venue.

“Oh, don’t be sore, it’s just that we keep different circles, don’t we? Old dives like this aren’t a place you’d frequent anymore.”

Now at the bar, Giles placed a considered hand on the well shined mahogany surface. “Quite.” He glanced up to meet Lisa’s eyes and, neither of them breaking their stare, he perched on a barstool.

Lisa peered at him for the longest moment, then she planted herself behind the bar and slowly leaned forward. Then, softly, she said, “Who am I talking to, really? Boy Scout Rupert or…Ripper?”

With a stifled chuckle, Giles grinned. “Well, really that all depends on you.”

She slowly nodded and puckered her lips. “Suppose it does.”

Then she smirked and leaned back upright. She sidled along to the beer-tap, taking a pint glass from the side and carefully pulling back on the handle. With a spurt, the beer flowed. Giles watched her. Lisa returned and placed the pint before him, expertly poured with an even head.

“I ain’t your enemy, never have been.” Her eyes moved from the drink to his, both their expressions unreadable.

Reaching out, Giles wrapped his hand around the cool glass and brought it up to his lips. “Nor am I your enemy, but are you a potential problem?” He took a sip.

Lisa grinned. “Well, really that all depends on you,” she repeated.

With an audible “ah, Giles put the glass back down. “If you–”

“No, no.” She raised a finger and pointed it squarely in front of his face. “You do not get to traipse in ‘ere and even dare to intimidate me. I will not have it. D’you understand?”

Giles sat forward, bringing his hands together on the counter. “I assure you that’s not the case…Do they know who you are? Your history?”

Lisa scoffed as she threw a towel over her shoulder. “Like fuck they do.”

He smirked. “Didn’t think so.”

“They hear that word ‘Council,’ backs are up immediately. And why’s that, ‘ay? Why don’t they trust this new guard of yours?”

Giles snorted. “They should have met the old guard. We give them autonomy, a sense of self.”

“That’s the problem. You don’t give ’em anything ’cause it’s not yours to give. They already know themselves. They don’t need ya moldin’ ’em. Could that be why they don’t join, ‘ay? There’s no place for them in your ivory tower.”

“We don’t have a tower,” Giles replied dryly.

“No, got a fucking statue, though, int’ya? Size of the fucking thing. Audacious. Vile. And there’s some of these girls living hand to mouth. The front of it, I ask ‘ya.”

“For someone who wants to be rid of the Council, you are remarkably close.”

“Gotta be t’keep eye. Plus, this is the place I’m needed. More Lancers here than most places. If I can help them in any way…”

“Don’t you think they have a right to know who’s serving them?” Giles’s right eyebrow notched ever so slightly up.

Lisa furiously shook her head. “The trust, the ear, the hearts and mind I have, gone, just like that if I… it’d pain me, yeah, but I am thinking of them. Always them.”

“For someone who spouts trust, how can you not return it in kind?” He raised the glass again, went to take a sip and then added, coolly, “Hypocrite.”

“The difference is, they don’t need to know. It changes nothing about me.”

“It would change everything. You said it yourself.”

“I give ’em guidance, shelter, direct ’em t’Guild if need be, fuck, I even advised one to you! The difference is, I don’t order them about like toy soldiers.” She began to walk away and then doubled back. “You know, out of all them back then, I really thought you’d get it? Back me up. But no, you fell in line like good Little Lord Fauntleroy.”

His pint glass met the counter with restrained force. “You were advocating the potentials go off-piste.”

Her eyes bulged as she rested her elbow on the bar and her jaw slackened. “Off-piste. Still got that dictionary stuck down your throat, then?”

“You were reckless. They weren’t empowered. The drills you ran could have killed them.”

“The training courses the Council put on were fake. There’s a whole real world out there, and they were doing nothing to prepare them for it. Nothing.”

“And you were?”

“Yeah, yeah, I was.” She hung her head. “Until I wasn’t,” she said as she looked back up. “Any of them get killed? No. The old bastards just didn’t like a woman, a lowly northerner at that, to dare rock the boat. The Council was broken then, and you put pieces back t’gether since, but the cracks are still obvious.”

Giles shifted in his seat and glanced away uncomfortably. Then his eyes landed on the photo of Lisa and Faith. His brow creased.

“How on earth do you know Faith?”

Lisa looked over her shoulder and smiled. “Lovely lass. She’s in my circle, let’s put it that way. Once yours, but things change. Sad…for you.”

“You’ll be unhappy to hear Faith’s returned to the Council,” Giles informed her.

“Which is her choice,” Lisa rebutted but didn’t turn around from her task of stacking glasses. “Like I said, you put the Council together again, Rupert. But you didn’t make it better. You made it different – tech-savvy… militaristic. Your one girl is now an army that you point wherever you feel like. These lancers – no, these women – they have freedom.” She turned back to Giles and shook out her shoulders. “Do you doubt I care for ’em?”

He gave pause and, then, “No, but your past methods…I can’t say that some of your curriculum hasn’t woven its way into how things are done now, truth be told. But that said, Lisa–”

She cut him off, swallowing hard. “We all change. Time’ll do that. I won’t apologize, I wasn’t wrong. But I will accept that I shouldn’t have done it on my own. These women are on their own, through choice, and that’s what matters. Their choice. Not conscripted. And I’m telling you now, if there comes a time that they need to know who I was, it won’t be from you. You’ll afford me that kindness, at the very least?”

He sat back and regarded her, then he slowly shut his eyes and nodded.

Cut To:


Robin’s Office – Afternoon

Robin and Rowena both sat in his office, looking across his desk at each other with food in front of them.

“You’ve barely touched your lunch,” Robin noted.

“I can say the same about you,” Rowena countered.

Robin began to stand and said, “Let’s get some air, since neither one of us seems to be hungry.”

Cut To:


Slayer Memorial Grounds – Moments Later

Robin and Rowena walked side-by-side in the cool spring air.

“How bad is it? Robin asked.

“Will and I have always bantered…squabbled… now and then. But it’s different lately, and now the kids are getting involved. Jen was so mad at Willow. It’s so hard some days.”

“Like this morning?” he asked knowingly.

“Like this morning,” she sighed in frustration. “But enough about my ennui. Let’s talk about your despair for a little while.”

Robin chuckled slightly. “It’s nothing like yours. You still have a relationship with Willow.”

“For how much longer, I’m not sure,” Rowena replied. “And yes, you and Faith may have broken up, but it probably feels different with her around again.”

“I’ve talked to her a few times since she’s been back and it’s…difficult.”

“How so?”

Robin thought of the question and, after a few moments, he said, “Little things, actually.”

“Like what?”

“You’re prying an awful lot today.”

“Sorry. I don’t mean to,” Rowena said. “I just know sometimes when you talk about things, they lose their power over you. But I can shut up now.”

There was a small silence between them, before Robin said, “I notice small things that I haven’t thought about in what seems like forever.”

“Such as?”

“She still licks her lips before she comes on to me.”

“She’s hitting on you?”

“She hits on everyone.” He then began to chuckle.

“Sounds like we have the same kind of woman problems.” Rowena laughed too.

They bumped shoulders and Robin took Rowena’s hand in his. “We are a pair, aren’t we?” he asked.

She curled her other hand around his arm that was holding her hand. “Yeah, but we’ve got each other. And I could tell something is off with you. Is it hard when she makes a pass?”

Robin grinned. “I’m sure there’s an erection joke in there somewhere, but yes, it’s hard…not all the time, just…sometimes.”


“Can’t say,” Robin replied. “Logically, what she does shouldn’t bother me, right?”

“But it does,” Rowena replied knowingly.

They had another small silence and then Rowena asked, “How’s Nikki doing with her back?”

“Good,” Robin replied with a nod. “She’s living with Faith, actually, so the house is pretty quiet right now.”

“What’s that like? Sharing custody?”

“Asking for a friend?” he gently prodded.

“Maybe,” she admitted.

“It’s not terrible. I miss her when she’s not with me, but I’m glad Faith is taking an interest in her this time around.”

“Think Faith’ll stick around?”

“For Nikki’s sake, I hope so,” Robin replied.

“Then I hope so too,” Rowena said, and squeezed his arm for emphasis.

Robin grinned at her as they continued their way along the path. When they got to the huge slayer statue, Robin nodded skyward and said, “To think, the Hellmouth is guarded by the biggest slayer ever.”

“It always amazed me,” Rowena began.


“That right under all of these park-goer’s feet is a closed abyss to Hell. Do they even know how close they came to having their entire existence turned upside down, if not for the Council?”

“There are land markers,” Robin pointed out with a short wave. “I can’t say anyone reads them, but they are there,” he teased.

Rowena smiled. “Thank you,” she said sincerely. “I needed this.”

“Anytime,” he happily agreed.

Cut To:


Kelly Kinnie’s Basement – Evening

Anisha put a large backpack down on a workbench in Kelly’s basement and began to unpack while Kelly watched her uneasily.

“Are you sure we shouldn’t have done this someplace else?” Kelly asked. “What if somebody followed you?”

“Nobody followed me,” Anisha said, without looking up.

“How can you be so sure?”

Anisha turned and looked Kelly in the eye, but said nothing for a long beat.

“Fine,” Kelly relented.

Anisha nodded to the bulletin board tacked up on the wall, which now had several more post-it notes and blurry photographs added. “Anything new on our villain Tanner?”

“More of the same,” the other girl replied, uncrossing her arms with a sigh. “All these people just know a little bit, nobody knows the whole thing.” She turned to look at the board herself and shook her head. “I could burst in on him and take him out now, if I wanted to. But what good would that do? Somebody just as bad, or worse, would take his place. The whole thing’s gotta be pulled up by the roots.”

“Well, in service of that project…” Anisha turned back to the workbench, and Kelly came over to look over her shoulder.

“New toys,” she commented. “Nice job.”

“While I understand the temptation to describe them as such, these are not toys. This is state-of-the-art tactical gear.” Kelly gave her a small smile. Anisha held up a slim, black device, designed to fit around a wearer’s wrist. “You’ve made good use of my grappling gun prototype, so I thought I’d try to see if I could put the same functionality into something less bulky, in an effort to increase the utility in combat.” She slipped the device onto her own arm, then pointed her arm toward one of the computer desks. “It fires prehensile wiring which wraps around a target object and then, at your command, retracts.”

With a light press of her finger, Anisha fired the weapon. A wire shot out and wrapped around a coffee cup on Kelly’s desk. It then rebounded just as fast as it had shot out, returning the cup to her hand. She held it up. It had a picture of Nicolas Cage on it, above the words “You’re My National Treasure.”

“Interesting,” Anisha commented.

“Shut up,” Kelly said, snatching the cup out of her hands. “But…you made me a webshooter?”

“Well, to be clear, it does not shoot spiderwebs, but rather prehensile wire that–”

“Yeah, I got that part. Still a webshooter.”

“I would also emphasize that it probably couldn’t take full human weight for more than a few seconds,” Anisha pressed on, “so I would advise against attempts to swing from skyscraper to skyscraper.”

“You’re no fun,” Kelly said with a grin.

“I think you will find, Miss Kinnie, that I am, in fact, a great deal of fun.” Anisha now held up what appeared to be a normal, pocket-size stick of lip balm.

“Well, now that I know that you’re Chapstick fun, I take back everything I–”

Anisha twisted the bottom of the lip balm, and an earsplitting, high-pitched ringing noise filled the basement. She stood, her face expressionless, while Kelly cringed and put her hands over her ears. Then she twisted the bottom back into place and the ringing stopped.

“Temporarily incapacitates an opponent in a pinch, even in situations where carrying weapons may be prohibited or impractical,” she explained. “Or if a distraction is called for.”

“I definitely feel distracted,” Kelly said, making a face as she stuck a finger in one of her ringing ears. “And here I was hoping it was, like, lipstick that knocked out anybody you kissed.”

Anisha blinked at her. “I could prepare soporific lipstick if you require, but I was not under the impression you did a great deal of kissing in the field.”

“Well, never say never,” Kelly replied.

Shaking her head, the other slayer said, “I’ve got something else for you, but it didn’t seem practical to transport it down here. Would you accompany me to my car?”

Cut To:


Street Outside Kelly’s House – Evening

Anisha opened the trunk of her car to reveal her newest project.

“Holy shit, is that what I think it is?” Kelly breathed, excitement showing through her tone.

“I have no idea what you think it is,” Anisha replied, “but I’m guessing the answer to the question is yes.”


Cut To:


Museum Office – Evening

The office wasn’t large, but the painting Faith and Emma had examined earlier was on an easel. Willow set her purse on the nearby table as she, Kennedy and Faith walked up to the painting, with the curator behind them.

Still looking at the painting, Willow gently tapped Kennedy on the arm and asked, “Being this close to it, what do you feel?”

“Well, this field trip feels contrived – like it’s a way to put Faith and me together?”

Faith, who was standing behind the pair, just closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead.

Willow grinned, but still didn’t look her way. She continued to stay focused on the painting. “Yes, aside from that. Magically, what are you feeling?”

Kennedy closed her eyes, as if in deep concentration. After about five seconds, she shook her head. “I suck at this, because I’m not feeling anything.”

Willow turned to her and smiled. “Neither do I. And you don’t suck at this. You’ve been taking your first serious steps into the magical world. That’s the reason why you’re here. Not for a field trip with Faith. It’s for Coven experience.”

“She has the makings of being a kick-ass witch,” Faith said, which made the pair turn to face her.

“How would you know?” Kennedy asked. “You’re not here to see it. And if you do decide to stick around now, you’re just gonna get bored and then leave again.” Kennedy didn’t wait for a reply, instead turning back towards the painting as Willow gave Faith a sympathetic look. Faith nodded in acceptance.

Willow and Kennedy both studied the painting intensely. Willow’s purse then began to vibrate slightly, but only Faith seemed to notice. She peeked into the purse and saw Willow’s phone vibrating and displaying the name “Jeff.” Faith mouthed “shit,” but didn’t say the word out loud. As discreetly as possible, she pulled out the phone’ and then slid it open to answer the call.

Cut To:


Museum Hallway – Continuous

Faith crept out of the room and, once she was out of the office completely, she said in a hushed tone, “Hey, Jeff. Red can’t come to the phone now.”



Grace is in danger,” he told her. “I don’t have all the details. I’m still working on it, but you’ve got to make sure Grace doesn’t go to the ballgame.” At first Faith said nothing, but her face held a sense of fear as he said, “Can you hear me?

“Yes, I’m here,” she said quickly. “What do you know?”

Very little – but someone wants her dead. A dark slayer, a fight between two women, maybe both slayers. None of it’s giving me a clear picture yet, and I’m worried that if she walks into the stadium, she won’t walk out.

“Have you told Grace?” Faith asked.

He hesitated. “No. I’m not sure she’d believe me, or maybe she would go just for spite. Things with us are…complicated right now. But she might listen to Rowena, who I can’t reach. It says her phone is out of service, for some reason. I figured if I told Will, she’d have Ro talk to Grace.

“Makes sense. I’ll let her know you called. Oh hey, if you get any info, can you contact me about it too?”

Yeah, your number still the same?

“Yep,” she replied.

Again, let Willow know I need to talk to her ASAP.

“Will do,” she told him. After they hung up, Faith went into the call history, deleted the call and blocked his number.

Cut To:


Museum Office – Moments Later

When she walked back into the room, she held up Willow’s phone and said, “Phone rang,” she told her. “Just someone concerned about your car warranty,” she added as she put the phone back into Willow’s purse. 

As Kennedy began to reach her hand up to the painting, the curator called out, “Please be careful. We’re not sure how old or fragile this piece might be.”

“I’ll be real delicate,” Kennedy said harshly. The witch-in-training raised her hand and, with the lightest touch of fingertips, put them on the painting. Almost immediately, her arm recoiled, as if from an electric shock.

“You felt something?” Willow asked.

Kennedy simply nodded and reached up again, moving even slower than before. When she touched it again, she held her fingers to the painting and grimaced. When she brought her hand back down, she turned to Willow and said, “I don’t understand what’s happening.”

Everyone in the party took a few steps closer to the painting. When she was within arm’s reach, Willow put her palm flat and pressed it against the painting, ignoring the gasp of the curator.

With her palm still planted on the painting, she turned toward the museum curator.

“We’re taking this painting,” Willow said decisively.

“Is that necessary? The museum paid handsomely for this piece, and to have it–”

Willow cut him off. “I’m trying to avoid a debacle like we had this past December. This painting needs to come with us. Besides, I think you got ripped off.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s not what you think it is, but I’m taking it with me to confirm my suspicion. So I’m asking nicely. Pretty please, with sugar on top, can we keep hundreds, possibly thousands, of people safe by bringing this back to the Council? Last time, our request fell on deaf ears. And last time people died. I don’t want that to happen again. Do you?”

Faith and Kennedy looked at the curator as he simply shook his head. Willow then motioned to Kennedy and Faith to take the painting.

“You’ve made the right choice,” Willow told him as she handed him one of her business cards. “I can’t say how long we’ll have this piece, but if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. I’ll be happy to speak with you.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Magic Clean Room – Day

The painting from the Museum now stood propped on a white easel, in a small, square room with all white-painted walls. Willow paced back and forth in front of it, while Kennedy sat nearby in a white plastic chair. The faces of Asher and Hannah Bloom filled a large, flat video screen built into one of the walls.

You broke out the full clean room for this one, huh?” Asher said. “You must be worried.

“I am,” Willow said quietly.

Kennedy leaned forward in her chair. “It seems…normal. Well, as normal as a demon painting gets. But if you could feel it, Ash, it’s…the field coming off this thing is strong, and it’s constantly changing. I touched it and I felt…kinda dizzy.”

You should take some dramamine,” Asher commented, while his wife Hannah could be heard quickly typing something just off-screen, her blonde hair bouncing at the edge of camera range.

“I did,” Kennedy replied. “Didn’t help.”

Hannah pushed back into camera range, pushing her glasses up on her nose as she did so. “The dynamic field readings you’re giving us are off the scale. Are you sure it’s not…doing anything?

“What would it do, it’s a painting?” Kennedy asked. “But…you would know better than I would, Will, but the signature on that magic, it’s different, I don’t know, there’s more oomph?”

“Older,” Willow said, speaking for the first time from her spot, now standing parked in front of the picture. “And deeper. That’s what you’re feeling. The magic on this painting is the stuff that comes out of the rocks.”

“I haven’t felt anything like it before,” Kennedy said. “Have you?”

“Yeah, once.” Willow spoke quietly, keeping her eyes on the painting. “In Vor.” Then she took a step back and looked at the screen, her tone changing entirely. “It would help if I knew what kind of demons we were looking at. I was hoping you could help with that, Hannah, you always had a better brain for that stuff.”

The bespectacled, younger woman shook her head. “I-I mean I can work on it. I don’t know offhand. Ro is better than I am. Is she–”

“I-I’d rather not bother her right now,” Willow interrupted unconvincingly. “I tried Jeff in Chicago, but he’s not answering my calls lately, either.”

So glad we’re at the top of your list,” Asher commented. Willow gave him a very unimpressed look.

Hannah sighed and adjusted her glasses again. “Well, I can look. Allie and I are supposed to patrol tonight in Old Town Alexandria, vamps love it there for some reason. But, um…I can back out for work stuff.

Willow’s eyes were back on the painting. “Yeah, do that,” she said quietly. She looked up at the screen again. “How come we always get possessed paintings or whatever? I never get reports from DC on this stuff. Are you guys just not telling us, or what?”

Asher shook his head and shrugged. “Hey, I’m doing all my paperwork. But I’ll tell ya, we’ve got enough on our hands, we don’t need to deal with your Vor nonsense, too.

“If we don’t get a handle on it, it’ll be all our nonsense soon enough,” Kennedy said darkly. She looked up at Willow, who hesitated for a moment before nodding.

Cut To:


Dilapidated House – Late Afternoon

The Victorian-style home did not appear to have had any hands-on care for years, possibly decades, given the state of disrepair. Faith looked at the piece of paper in her hand, then at the address of the location, and shrugged. She walked up the steps of the rickety porch, the timber beneath her feet shifting slightly.

She rang the doorbell, but when she heard no noise, she began to knock on the door. After a few moments, when no one arrived, she tried the door knob, but it appeared to be locked. She knocked again, then moved to peer into the windows, which hadn’t been cleaned in some time. Not seeing any movement inside, she went back to the door.

“Fuck it,” she whispered.

Her leg kicked with all her might. Immediately, the door flew open, with wood shards going in several directions.

Cut To:


Dilapidated Cleveland House – Continous

When she crossed the threshold, the inside of the house didn’t look any better than the outside. Based on the amount of litter and debris in the living room, such as discarded fast food bags and cups, squatters could have been living there. She saw a few articles of clothing, along with makeshift beds on the floor and rumpled blankets.

She continued farther into the house, stopping when she saw a door by a staircase. She seemed to deliberate for a moment. After a few seconds, she decided to ascend the staircase.

She found three doors at the top. Behind door number one was the bathroom. Behind door number two was a vacant bedroom with a hole in the roof. She paused a moment before she opened door number three, which she did quickly. She was met with another vacant bedroom. Her shoulders slumped and her brown creased as she muttered, “I hope that bitch didn’t lie to me.”

It was then that she heard a noise downstairs. She raced down at lightning speed. Someone ran toward the front door, and she dove from the staircase, tackling them and bringing them to the floor. She grabbed the man she had tackled and pushed him against the wall. Then she cocked her head at sounds coming from behind her and turned slightly, still holding him against the wall, to see five others standing behind her, two men and three women. The group all looked like they had found their clothes in a dumpster, with ripped jeans and faded, ratty t-shirts.

“Make a move,” Faith growled, “and I will pop his head off from his shoulders without a second thought.”

The man she held yelled out, “We have a right to practice magic! We are allowed to be Wiccan without the Council interfering.”

Faith grinned. “Guess what? It’s your lucky day. I don’t want the Council interfering, either. In fact, you never saw me.” She released him and straightened out his shirt. “Agreed?”

The man and his friends gaped at her, speechless.

“Now, let’s talk about a reverse Stuenus Focula spell with what’s in this box.” She pulled the item she had procured from the Coven backroom from her pocket and held it up to them.

The expressions of the house’s residence changed from shock to confusion. They glanced at one another uneasily.

“Where did you find that?” the man asked in astonishment.

“The ‘Council’s good for somethin’ now and then.” Faith grinned slyly.

Cut To:


Giles Residence –  Kitchen/Den Area – Late Afternoon

Jen pulled out her cell phone and opened the screen to check the time. “I don’t get it,” she said absently.

“What?” Liz asked.

“I asked Trina to come, but she’s not here yet. I hope she’s okay,” she replied dryly.

“You’re such a smart ass,” Liz chuckled. Jen gave her a ghost of a smile.

Above the archway, separating the two rooms, there was a homemade sign of construction paper that said, “Congrats Jr. Watcher Giles”.

Jen put her phone back in her pocket. “I’m sure she’ll be the first one at lunch tomorrow to toast your new promotion, unlike all these stuffy people around here,” she said, motioning with her glass of sparkling grape juice, then holding it up. “And really, this stuff? Do they think we haven’t tasted alcohol? You’re endangering your life, now more than ever. That doesn’t warrant a glass of champagne?”

“You’re in a mood today,” Liz observed.

“And what’s with the hat? Isn’t that your ‘car stealing’ hat?” Jen asked, ignoring her comment.

Flash To:


Tower City Center –  Parking Area – Day

“Don’t be a bunch of babies,” Liz told the twins in an annoyed tone as she was half out of a car, positioned under the driver side dashboard. “You complained we don’t hang out anymore. We’re hanging out, aren’t we?”

“This is NOT what we had in mind,” Jen told her from outside the car as she looked around them.

“Yeah, this is like, big BIG trouble,” Alex added nervously.

“You’re acting like kids,” Liz groaned. “I don’t know why I invited you out today.” Just then the ‘car’s engine roared to life and Liz motioned them to get inside as she came to her feet. “Come on. When are you going to get another chance to ride in a 1968 canary yellow Corvette? Let’s go.”

Alex said nothing. He looked to Jen for her reaction.

“You can’t possibly be serious,” the slayer said.

Liz seemed to consider the question as she turned around to get into the car. “Hmm…yeah I am.”

Jen seemed to ponder her options. Liz turned back and opened the door wider in invitation. Instead of moving forward, Jen turned from the car, pulling her brother by the sleeve. He obeyed but not before looking back at Liz, as if torn about what to do.

“Fine. Go be simps together,” Liz called out as they continued to walk away.

“Stop being so thirsty that you do stupid shit,” Jen shot back but kept walking with her brother.

“What if she gets caught?” Alex asked with a concerned hushed voice. “We should stop her.”

“Not our problem,” Jen told him. “We’re just kids after all. She can take her stolen car to her new friends. They can have her.”

Cut To:


Giles Residence –  Kitchen/Den Area – Late Afternoon

“The hat’s a fedora,” Liz explained. “I’m going for a classic Sinatra swing style. Besides, I don’t do that cray-cray stuff anymore. That was over a year ago.” She pointed to the banner. “Junior Watcher now, thank-you-very-much.”

Jen shook her head and rolled her eyes at the same time.

“I don’t do that now,” Liz stressed again.

Jen paused for a moment. “You hotwired a bus in January.”

“That was Council business, not joyriding. Trust me. There was no joy to be had that night.”

“Fine,” Jen admitted. “I’m glad you got your shit together. But the hat? For real? You look like you should be in Boca playing shuffleboard at the senior center.”

“You are in a mood,” Liz repeated.

“I can’t help it, Frank. I’m nervous. We still haven’t heard anything from Sterling about the record deal, which is probably a dead deal now.”

“The deal is dead?” Martin asked from nearby.

“You heard from Joe?” Alex then asked.

The brothers made their way over to their sisters.

“No,” Liz replied. “I haven’t heard from anyone.”

“That’s bad, huh?” Alex said.

“I think it’s good,” Liz countered. “Means they’re really considering it. If the answer was a straight up ‘no,’ we’d have heard something by now.”

“Take it from her. She’s smart,” Martin teased. “She’s a junior watcher.”

“And you’re a smart ass, too, I see,” Liz remarked.

“Who’s the first?” Martin pouted.

Jen smiled and waved her hand dramatically, making Martin chuckle.

“Still,” Liz said. “We made the right call, right? Producing ourselves. Owning our music. Others have done it; they still do it, actually, so…we made the right call…right?”

At first, no one spoke, but Jen downed the rest of her glass and said, “You’re right. I don’t want some blowhard telling me how we should sound. And I don’t want our music to be sold out from under us someday. I’d rather stay indy, if that’s the case.”

“Jen’s not wrong,” Alex said. “I rarely agree with her these days, but she’s right. A bad contract is worse than no contract.”

All eyes fell on Martin. At first, he said nothing, but then he slumped his shoulders. “But I want to be in a popular band and have girls like me at any cost!” he whined. When no one seemed pleased with that response, he began to grin. “I’m teasing…well, about the ‘at any cost’ part…I still want a huge band and the girls.” Again, when no one said anything, he added, “You all want the same thing, too, even if you don’t have the guts to admit it.”

“Hmm,” Liz thought. “Not into the girls thing, but having fans who do my bidding wouldn’t suck.”

Nearby, Emma sat cross-legged on the floor in front of Joyce, who was propped up in a baby bouncer, utterly amazed at the game of peek-a-boo happening. Giles stood with Buffy, watching the slayer with the baby. Buffy looked toward the kitchen to see the teens all talking and laughing with each other and then back at her own daughter.

“They grow up fast, don’t they?” she said.

Giles grinned and looked at her. “Yes, and before you know it, they have kids of their own to name after their mother.”

“I meant Liz,” Buffy said gently, nodding toward the kitchen. “She’s so grown up now…but not an adult yet…It’s…sweet…and…weird… And suddenly I’m speaking like a robot.”

Giles grinned. “You know why she’s named Elizabeth, right?”

“Yeah, you named her after an actress you fancied,” Buffy teased, with a British accent on the word ‘fancied.’

“Well, I did like Elizabeth Hurley, but that’s not why. It’s a formal name for someone named Buffy.”

“I won’t lie. I assumed that might be why, but you never said for sure until now,” she said as she playfully smacked his arm. Buffy called over to Liz and said, “Did you know you were named after me?”

Liz nodded. “Buffy is short for Elizabeth, like Liz and Lizzie. We don’t use Buffy because it would be hella-confusing and chances are you don’t want to be known as ‘Big Buffy’…especially since I’m like, you know, about a half foot taller than you.”

At the same time, Becca and Xander walked past the teens with their plates and drinks, heading out to the patio.

Cut To:


Giles Residence – Backyard Patio – Continuous

Once the patio door had closed behind them, they sat down in a pair of reclining lawn chairs around a lit fire pit.

“I have to be honest,” Xander said, “I’m not sure how I feel about our daughter’s name.”

“Why’s that?” Becca asked.

“It’s Joyce Willow. So the only time she’ll hear Will’s name is when she’s in trouble. At least, that’s what my parents did. ‘Alexander Lavelle Harris, get your ass over here now!’… I want to do things differently.”

“You can always use it to praise her,” Becca offered. “Something like, ‘Joyce Willow Harris, that’s the best coloring I’ve ever seen!’ Just flip the script.”

“I just worry,” he sighed.

“About?” Becca coaxed.

He paused for a moment. “I don’t want to fall back into Harris family habits of corporal punishment.”

“The great thing about being a parent is you can be any kind of parent you like. You don’t have to do what’s familiar. You can forge your own path.”

“I want her to love me, not fear me,” Xander said softly. “I want her to…have more than I had when it comes to parents.”

“She does. There’s an advantage to having kids later, like we did. You’re still young enough to chase them around now,” Becca said, with a motion toward Joyce and Emma, who were still playing inside. “But you’re old enough to make better choices about the kind of parent you want to be. You’ve seen more, experienced more.”

“I guess. I just don’t know if Buffy and I see eye to eye on this.”

“Well, with age, you learn to pick your battles better than in your youth – with your kids and your partner. Trust me…you and Buffy will do just fine,” she assured him. “For those times in between, you’ve got parents like me, Rupert, Ro and Will to hear you out. Like it or not, you’ll never be alone in this journey called parenthood. Someone alllllways has an opinion on what you’re doing, or what they think you should be doing.”

“I know all that,” Xander replied. “And any advice is appreciated. I just can’t shake this…dread.”

“Of parenthood?”

“Of bad parenthood,” he replied. “Joyce is gorgeous and sweet and fun and…I don’t want to mess that up.”

“You won’t,” Becca assured him.

“How can you be sure?”

“Because I’m a pushy broad. Now that I know you’re concerned, I’ll call you out if I see it.”

They both grinned at each other. Then Becca looked over his shoulder to see Dawn and Skye approaching. Dawn held her own plate full of food, while Skye held a suspiciously nondescript beverage in a red plastic cup in one hand and a black umbrella in the other.

“Glad you could make it,” Becca told them. “I do have to ask, though…what’s with the umbrella? I thought you could walk in daylight?”

Skye pitched a thumb at Dawn. “She gets nervous if I’m out too long, so I promised I’d walk under it. I look like a freak,” she said to Becca, but then she turned toward Dawn for a moment. “But I gave my word.”

“You started to smoke!” Dawn argued.

“Whaaaat?” Xander and Becca both said.

“It was nothing,” Skye said, waving her girlfriend off as the two of them sat down around the fire pit. “We were in Rio last year at the beach, and it’s hot there. I was trying to sunbathe, you know, to avoid that ‘I’m so depressed I’m going to drink you’ look, and I guess I was out too long because…”

“She started to smoke,” Dawn repeated in the same tone.

“I survived.”

“After you had to ’emergency feed’ on me at the beach. And I can’t even tell you how many people that scared away.”

Skye giggled. “A lot. But it became a private beach real quick. You gotta admit that was nice. Brazilian beach all to ourselves.”

Dawn’s stern expression faded slowly. “She’s not wrong. But just to be safe, I want her out of the sunlight as much as possible.”

Cut To:


Giles Residence – Kitchen – Same Time

The Stoned Platypus bandmates opened the door from the kitchen to the basement, and a few had started to make their way down the stairs, when Liz noticed Rowena entering the kitchen behind them.

“I’ll be there in a minute,” Liz told Jen, before turning to walk back to Rowena.

The watcher was pouring soda pop into a cup when Liz came to stand next to her.

“Hey, Watcher Lady,” Liz began. “Rumor mill is spitting out a lot about you being my senior watcher.”

“Did Aunt Will say something?” she asked.

“No,” Liz replied. “No one did. I just wanted to see your reaction to the news. So it’s true, then?”

Rowena grinned in spite of herself. “You’re sneaky.”

“Some would say resourceful,” she countered.

Rowena relented. “There is talk in that direction.”

“For what it’s worth, I hope it’s true,” Liz told her sincerely.

“You want me to be your senior?” Rowena asked.

“Yeah. We had this conversation nearly a year ago, coming home from New York.”

“Where you refused to listen to me and, instead of going home. you walked into trouble.”

“Or I walked in and saved the day.”

“And nearly got killed in the process.”

“And yet I’m alive to tell the tale,” Liz countered.

Flash To:
New York City – St. Paul’s Chapel (‘Divination’ S5 E6)

Rowena, Dawn and Shannon walked in ahead of the slayer troops.

“Heads up, girls,” Shannon told them, getting their attention. “Remember, we’re looking for a box, approximately four-by-four inches, with a cross on the cover. We don’t have a color or description other than that. If you find it, do not open it under any circumstances. Bring it to Watcher Allister.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” they said in unison. Shannon then began to direct the teams as Rowena and Dawn looked around the pulpit.

Liz crept behind one of the columns and listened to two slayers who were talking to each other about the box. She began to search, too, as quietly as she could. Seeing the balcony above them, she looked for a set of stairs to take her to the next level.

“Maybe it’s not even here,” Dawn said. “It could be in an office safe or–”

From the balcony, Liz shouted, “I think I found it!” She held it up for everyone to see.

“Or up there with Liz, who’s supposed to be on an airplane headed home,” Dawn finished.

“That was pretty easy,” Liz said, examining the box.

The group looked up silently, but Rowena’s voice was the first to cut the air.

“First, don’t open that, and second, what the hell are you doing here?” she shouted up.

“Watch your language,” Liz scolded her. “You are in a house of God.”

Out of thin air, the Archangel Gabrielle appeared behind her, looking angry and sickly. “Good advice.”

“Liz!” Rowena shouted, pointing behind her.

Liz shot around to see Gabrielle standing there. “I overheard that priest, so I know you have something I need, little girl. Pretty clever of him to hide it here, I must say,” the angel told her.

“You mean this?” Liz said, acting like she was showing her the box before casually tossing it over her shoulder. It cleared the railing and began falling below.

Shannon broke into a run to catch the falling box, while Gabrielle rushed Liz. When she knocked Liz aside, the necklace around Liz’s neck snapped, falling down to the pews. At the same time the young watcher slipped over the edge. But she caught one of the banners adorning the railing at the last moment. As she teetered on the edge, Rowena took off into a run toward the stairs, grabbing one of the slayers to take with her.

Gabrielle flew down to catch the box, but she collided with Shannon, who jumped up to meet the container. Both of them came up empty, and the box fell to the ground.

Dawn reached out a hand, and the box magically shot in her direction. Just before it arrived in her hand, a demon ran in from the side and intercepted it. He took off running.

“Stop him!” Shannon yelled at the slayers. She heard a sword being drawn, and she immediately went into a roll as Gabrielle’s sword came down, narrowly missing her.

On the balcony, the slayer Rowena had tapped arrived first, grabbed the banner, and began to pull Liz up. Rowena caught up and told Liz, “Hold on tight. You’re almost up here.”

When she was close enough, Rowena took hold of the banner and used her feet and legs to steady the girl. “Get her,” she told the slayer.

The slayer reached over and grabbed Liz by her waistband, pulling her over the railing to safety. The three of them, all breathing hard, collapsed on the floor.

As the slayers below gave chase to the demon, they watched about thirty more demons enter the church and come running toward them. The demon with the box tried to make his escape while the opposing forces met each other in a series of clashes.

On the second level, Liz told Rowena, “I really hate heights.”

Cut To:


Giles Residence – Kitchen – Present Day

“You’re not wrong. That day you saved an archangel and, as a result, the world,” Rowena told her.

We did,” Liz corrected. “The Council working together saved the day. Just wish I could have saved my pick necklace.” Rowena gave her a questioning look. “It was a locket shaped like a guitar pick and it could hold special picks. Which it did. From Prince. Who’s dead now. And if my mom ever found out I lost it, I’ll be dead, too, so between us, it’s still in my jewelry box…Asking you to lie for me isn’t a good way to start things, huh? I can do better. Really.”

Rowena chuckled. “What can I possibly teach you, Liz?”

“Lots, and I meant what I said last year. It’s a good fight and I want in.”

“How serious are you about this?”

“As Aunt Buffy says, serious to the amount of ten.”

“And what about your record deal?”

Liz shrugged. “Hadley managed to be a slayer and an entertainer. It’s not like it hasn’t been done before. She donated a slayer statue the size of her ego. Maybe Stoned Platypus will donate a new wing to the library someday.”

Rowena nodded. “This is true.”

Liz began to look serious again. “Here’s the thing. I’m not gonna beg, but I really hope you consider being my senior. And if I say so myself, we did a great job in New York. Stopping an archangel from destroying the world is,  you know, hard to top. But uncovering and battling an octo-baby was a close second.”

Rowena smiled, but said nothing.

“Point is,” Liz continued. “I think you have a lot to teach me. I trust you. So consider this my one and only plea…I believe in you, and if you believe in me, please help me be the best I can be.” Liz didn’t wait for an answer. She began to walk away, but then called over her shoulder, “Think it over and I’ll try not to take it personally if you say no.”

Liz glided through the door and closed it behind her as Rowena watched, sipping her drink. She turned as Xander came into the room and took out two more glasses.

“Sisters-in-law have arrived,” he told her. “You should come say ‘hi’.”

“I’m not sure if the Coven members are speaking to me right now.”

“Let me guess. You’ve got problems with their high priestess?”

Rowena shrugged. “I can’t explain it, but I feel weird talking to them. Like talking to you, actually.” She gave him a nervous grin.

He paused for a moment and then asked, “Does it feel like we’re picking sides here by talking to you? I’m not dumb. I know what’s up with you and Will.”

“I’m not asking anyone to pick sides.”

“Good, because I’m not. Not hers. Not yours. I just want you both to be happy. With each other is preferred, I won’t lie. But without is sometimes better. I know my parents should have divorced decades ago.”

“I don’t want to divorce Willow. I want my life back.”

“Then go get it,” Xander urged her as he filled up the drink glasses. “Seriously, what brought you two together? Was it always about the Council, or did you have other interests? Maybe reconnect that way. Or don’t. It’s your call. All I know is that I’m sure Dawn and Skye would love to see you and the offer is there.”

Xander leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek before he walked back outside with two drinks in hand.

Cut To:


Dilapidated Cleveland House – Basement – Night

Faith stood in the middle of the pentagram drawn on the basement floor, surrounded by the three men and three women holding hands. The head priestess of the coven nodded to Faith, and the slayer opened the box she held. Inside was the crystal from the coven room, about three inches long and a half inch in width. At that point, she began to speak…

Continua tempus itinerantur!

Abeona and Adiona, we plead to you.

As goddesses of the outward journey and safe returns,

Protect this warrior and keep them safe from harm.

See that they destroy the plans created by the council of evil.

Bring upon its destruction and let her fulfill her task.”

The gathering then all finished together and said, “Goddesses, hear our prayer.”

Now that she was done, the head priest began his incantation…

Continua tempus itinerantur!

Chronos and Hermes, we beseech you to look upon this warrior.

Grant her the power to see your will is done.

Stand against those who stand against her.

Enchant the crystal as she moves along her journey.

This is what we ask of you. Hear our prayer.”

The gathering then all finished together and again said, “Gods, hear our prayer.”

Faith muttered, “Am I back at Crown of Thorns School for Girls?” The high priest gave Faith a stern look. “Sorry. Flashback. Recovering Catholic.”

Instantly, the crystal began to glow violet and Faith looked to the high priest and priestess, who smiled.

“The Council aren’t the only ones who can work magic,” the man said.

Faith and the witches smiled at each other.

Cut To:


Dilapidated Cleveland House – Moments Later

Faith crept down the porch stairs. Not so much in secrecy, but more in concern that the wood might give way. Once she hit the sidewalk, she started to walk towards her vehicle, but when she heard a voice behind her, it stopped her in her tracks.

“What are you up to, Faith?”

She turned around to face Robin, who was walking towards her wearing a scowl.

“Thought I’d make some new friends while I was back in town.”

“Cut the bullshit.”

“I don’t know what you mean. I was–”

“Just stop! I know about the coven robbery. I know about the park meeting. I know there’s nobody in this house who’s a friend of yours. So what is going on?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. And even if I told you, there’s a chance that it could destroy the entire universe.” She held up two fingers and said, “Scout’s honor.”

“You were never a Scout.”

“Fair enough. Slayer’s honor, then. I was a Slayer.”

“Was? Are you sure you don’t have your powers? Because I just watched you kick in that door like it was nothing.”

“Son of a bitch,” she swore under her breath.

“So it’s true? You have your powers back? How? Did you go to–?”

“Listen, Ace. You–”

“No pet names. You don’t get to call me that anymore,” he interrupted. 

Faith nodded in acknowledgement. “Fair enough. But you have to trust me. The less you know, the better. I have a secret mission to complete, one that will help everyone, especially you and Nikki. Please don’t make me explain more.” As more of an aside to herself, she added, “Unless I’m supposed to tell you. In which case, maybe I should.”

“That’s it,” Robin said, as he brought out a pair of handcuffs. “I’m placing you in custody of the Watchers Council.”

She took several steps backward. “You have to believe me. I’m here to help.”

Robin was suddenly thrown into the nearby bushes by an unseen force. Faith saw the high priest she had tackled standing on the porch with his arm extended.

“Run!” he yelled to her.

Without a backward glance, she began to run to her vehicle. She reached into her pocket and pulled out her keys, releasing the lock. She opened the door and then stopped. Slowly, she turned back and saw Robin trying to get out of the bush and back on his feet. She released a heavy sigh.

“Go back inside,” she shouted to the witch, who still stood on the porch. Though he had a confused look on his face, he slowly nodded and turned to go back inside the house. She did a light jog back toward Robin, who was still struggling with the branches.

She reached out to him and offered her hand. “We need to talk.”

“You came back,” he said, surprised as she easily pulled him to his feet.

“Let’s try this again, but without the handcuffs. Okay?”

Robin nodded, and they walked toward her car.

Faith grinned. “Of course, if you want to play with the handcuffs later, I’m game.”

“Faith,” he admonished. “Seriously. In ten words or less, what’s going on?”

Faith turned away. She took a deep breath and blew it out fast. Quickly, she said, “I’ve come back from the future to save the Earth.” She cringed, eyes closed tight, and braced herself, as if she was waiting for an explosion. When none came, she opened one eye and then the other, and then her shoulders relaxed. “Huh. You must be part of the plan that she didn’t see.”

Robin looked utterly confused.

Black Out


End of Act Three

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