Act 6

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Ladies’ Restroom – Night

Grace and Rowena stood at a row of sinks in front of the long mirror in the stadium ladies’ room. Grace was in the middle of carefully applying some further touches to the makeup around her eyes.

“I’m serious, Grace, you look fine,” Rowena assured her.

“Of course you think I look fine,” Grace said, without moving her eyes. “You’re not the one who is about to go on national TV and has to look good. And I’m not talking about standing behind a podium looking good. I mean moving around and doing shit looking good. That is a whole other level of looking good to which I do not usually aspire.” She pulled down the makeup brush and rubbed lightly with her finger where she had just been applying it.

“Nobody’s asking you to be perfect, Grace.”

Grace stopped what she was doing and looked up at Rowena. “Seriously, Ro? Where have you been? Everyone is asking that.” Her voice took on a whole other edge as she screwed a cap back on the makeup brush with perhaps a little more urgency than necessary. “You know what’s going on. This, tonight, this is the gimme. If we can’t get this right, I swear to God, or the Goddess, or whoever is listening…Ro, if this doesn’t go perfect, I might as well quit right now.”

It was then that a loud crashing sound drew the two women’s attention to the door of the restroom. A moment later, Faith appeared in the doorway. She wiped several stray hairs over her shoulder, then gave them two of them a small wave. “Hi guys.”

Both watchers just stared at her for a long beat. Grace recovered first.

“Faith, where are the ballpark guards?” She looked over at Rowena for confirmation, but the blonde watcher wore an expression a little like a deer about to be hit by a car. “Wait. Where are the slayer guards?”

Faith sighed and scratched the back of her neck. “They, uh, they got kinda sleepy…all of a sudden.” At Rowena’s raised eyebrow, she explained further. “Experience trumps slayer powers.”

Both of Grace’s hands clenched into fists, and she took a step forward. Rowena reached out a restraining hand for her shoulder, but dropped it when Grace stopped moving forward and spoke in as even a tone as she could manage.

“Faith, a couple weeks ago when you came back and said you wanted to join back up, I want you to know, I went to bat for you. I thought it was a good idea when nobody else did.”

“I didn’t say it was a bad idea”,” Rowena protested. “I just thought maybe there were some kinks to be–”

“Oh, there have been some kinks,” Grace said icily, staring directly at Faith. She took another step forward. “There have been more kinks than a furry convention. From that moment, Faith, you couldn’t have done a better job of actively working against the Council if you’d been trying. On top of that, I’ve noticed, little things keep going wrong. An informant shuts up here, a couple things go missing there. And now, we’ve added actually attacking guards to the list, and you know what? I’m pretty sure you have been trying.”

She took another step forward and pointed a finger inches from Faith’s face. Faith looked Grace up and down but didn’t move.

“I want you to tell me right now…Are you evil again? Because I’m pretty sure that if you are, you have to tell me. Isn’t that a rule? It’s like if I ask if you’re a cop.”

“Neither of those is a real thing…” Rowena put in.

Grace’s head whirled around. “I swear to God, Ro, if you watchersplain this to me, I will demote you to cleaning out the holding cells.”

Rowena’s mouth closed with a snap.

Faith took a deep breath and held up her hands defensively. “Look, I know how this looks, but I’m asking you to trust me. I’m still me. And I’m here to tell you, we don’t have time for this.”

Grace had spun back around, her eyebrows sky high. “Yes Faith, you’re you. And maybe you’ve forgotten what that actually means when it comes to trust, but nobody else has.”

“I need you to believe me when I tell you that nothing else I have ever said to you has been more important,” Faith said. “Nothing.”

Grace set her arms over her chest, her face clearly skeptical, and waited. Faith took a deep breath.

“I need you to delay this whole thing by fifteen minutes.” Grace scoffed and looked at the ceiling, hands open, as if to say, “See what I’m dealing with?” Faith pushed forward, undeterred. “Fifteen minutes, that’s all I need, I swear.”

Grace spun on her. “Faith, this isn’t…I’m not in charge here! This game is on TV! They’re not going to…” She stopped and brought one hand to lightly touch her forehead, her voice going very quiet. “What are you going to do in fifteen minutes?”

Faith opened her mouth then closed it. “I…” She sighed. “I can’t tell you.” When she saw the murderous look that came into Grace’s eyes, she very quickly kept talking. “But, oh, there was something…”

She turned and looked into the mirror. She put one hand on the edge of the nearest sink and ran the other through her hair. “C’mon, dumbass, what was it?” she growled, barely under her breath. “Think, goddammit!”

“Faith, are you…OK?” Rowena said softly. Grace shot her a look. Rowena shrugged in response.

“Oh!” Faith suddenly almost shouted. “Oh, I remember! They told me something that I should say if I needed you to trust me, something that only you would understand.”

Grace took a deep breath. “Faith, who is ‘they’?” She sounded very tired.

Faith looked directly into Grace’s eyes and spoke slowly and deliberately. “Jake said, and I quote, ‘Tell Aunt Grace this is just like Days of Future Past‘.”

Grace blinked once. Twice. She took a few steps back and ran a hand through her own hair, thoughts of disturbing the styling temporarily forgotten.

Rowena looked between the two other women. “What am I missing?”

“Hell if I know,” Faith said with a shrug.

Grace took several deep breaths. Then she kicked one of the stall doors as hard as she could. “Fuck!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. “Fucking bloody arsehole shit fucking fuck!” She kicked the door several more times.

On the fifth try, the lock broke and the door swung wildly inwards. Grace almost fell over, but caught herself against the sides of the stall. Her breathing came in labored, quick gasps. She turned after several seconds to find Rowena and Faith both staring at her, wide-eyed.

Grace licked her lips, then said, so quiet that it was almost inaudible, “I’ll get you your fifteen minutes.”

Faith nodded and said, “Thank you.” Then she disappeared out the door again.

This left Rowena and Grace still in the restroom, the stall door now hanging awkwardly by a single hinge. Grace pointed at it.

“It was already like that.”

Cut To:


Baseball Stadium – Concourse – Evening

Faith moved as fast as she could, but she was pushing against the grain through a sea of humanity in Cleveland Slayers gear, dotted with the occasional stubborn Chief Wahoo. She slid between people in a line for beer and hot dogs, then ran for about four steps, then pushed aside a middle-aged lady in a Jose Ramirez jersey with slightly more force than she might have meant.

“Sorry! I’m sorry! It’s an emergency!” she called over her shoulder to the woman and her concerned family.

Somewhere in the background, the stadium announcer disclaimed liability in the case of foul balls hit into the stands. Faced with a barrier of a beer vendor hawking his wares in the middle of the concourse, Faith veered sideways and vaulted over a trash can before speeding on her way, her edges blurring a little.

A man in a Cleveland throwback jersey stopped in the middle of handing the vendor a ten dollar bill to do a double take. “Was that…?” Then he shook his head and turned back to the vendor. “Nah.”

After a few minutes’ effort, Faith pushed through the heavy door of a concrete stadium stairwell, finding it considerably more deserted than the concourse. She powered up the stairs full speed, taking them two or three at a time.

“C’mon, c’mon,” she gasped under her breath.

As she passed the landing for the Mezzanine level, the door blasted open and a figure shot through and plowed into her side. The two of them rammed up against the railing and Faith groaned in pain. She just had time to make out the features of her assailant, Slaygirl, before a fist slammed, hard into her jaw.

Faith stumbled down a few stairs and held up her hands defensively. “Wait! You don’t–”

But Slaygirl pressed her advantage and kicked Faith in the chest, sending her sprawling down on the landing below.

“I know there are people who hate the Council,” Slaygirl growled. “But this isn’t the way. I’ll stop you.”

Faith looked at the girl in the costume incredulously. She wiped her mouth off with the back of her hand as she rose to her feet. “Y’know what, I don’t have time for you and your fetish gear so…”

She let out a wordless yell as she jumped and flew up the flight of stairs. Slaygirl seemed too stunned to get her guard up, and took Faith’s punch full in the face. She slammed back into the nearest concrete wall, cracks spider-webbing away from the impact.

Slaygirl blinked a few times as if desperately trying to clear her head. “You… still have your powers. How…?”

“Long story,” Faith said, as she swiftly strode toward the other slayer.

She pulled back her fist to deliver a knockout blow, but Slaygirl pulled her head down at the last moment, leaving Faith’s punch to slam directly into the wall. She yelled in pain, and more cracks appeared in the concrete. Slaygirl rolled away, then pulled a device from her belt and fired. A bolo on the end of a wire shot out and wrapped around the older slayer’s wrist. Slaygirl then pressed a button on her device, and Faith was quickly dragged by her wrist across the floor, kicking uselessly.

In a moment, she found herself in a Slaygirl headlock.

“Why do you want to kill Hatherley?” Slaygirl growled.

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Outside Ladies’ Restroom – Same Time

There was a knock on the door to the ‘ladies’ room and a man called out, “Ms. Hatherley? Did you need help?”

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Ladies’ Restroom – Same Time

Inside the bathroom, Rowena and Grace looked at each other, wide-eyed.

“What now?” Grace whispered.

Suddenly, Rowena held up her finger and motioned for Grace to stay put as she walked outside.

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Outside Ladies’ Restroom – Moments Later

When she exited, she was met by two men in the uniforms of stadium security guards.

“We’re here to take Ms. Hatherley to the field, since she hasn’t arrived yet,” one of the men told her.

“Thank you,” Rowena said. “But see, here’s the thing…we have a small issue.”

“Is she okay?'” he asked.

“Yes, she’s okay, but…umm…how do I put this delicately? Her…monthly visitor decided to show up, unannounced and early. Honestly, she thought of every possible scenario she might face tonight, but this one wasn’t on her list…a-and the machine inside isn’t working so…Gosh, I hate to ask this but…could you maybe find out if anyone has a tampon she could have?”

The two men blushed slightly. “Oh, yeah!” the guy said. “I was worried it was something huge. Okay, stay put. We’ll get right back with you.”

“Thank you.” Rowena smiled in approval and, once the guards scurried away, she quickly ducked back inside the door.

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Ladies’ Restroom – Moments Later

“Monthly visitor?” Grace sighed in annoyance.

“Men get squeamish and don’t ask a ton of questions about that. Plus, I was trying to be discreet and use lots of words to buy us more time,” Rowena said as she reentered. “You know,” she continued. “I…I trust Faith. I do.”

Grace ran her hands over her face. “I feel like I don’t have much of a choice here. I haven’t felt like that since…”

She didn’t say anything more. She just started to leave the room and Rowena followed after her.

“Wait. Where are you going?” Rowena asked.

Flash To:


Waiting Room – Day

The second hand of the wall clock struck loud. Sitting small in her seat, purse on her lap, shoulders hunched, mask over her mouth, Grace’s eyes were cast upward to the tiled ceiling, tracing the grout joints. At the sound of a sob, they fell to a woman who sat opposite her, in the corner, her hands shakily gripping a clipboard and pen.

Grace closed her eyes and sat forward, doubled over. She placed a firm hand on her chest. She exhaled as long and slow as the minute hand of the clock seemed to move.

“‘ere are, budge up.”

Grace threw her head up to the left to see Casey, also wearing a mask over her mouth, plop herself down beside her, sidling up as close as possible and clearing her throat.

Aghast, Grace didn’t know where to look. “Wha-what? What are you doing here?!” Not giving her a chance to reply, Grace grabbed her purse and went to stand up, but Casey put her arm out to block her.

“Nah-nah-nah. Got my good eye on you.”

Grace blinked. “You’re sitting on the wrong side.”

Casey pointed ahead of her, to their reflection in the glass of a watercolor painting of a sunset overlooking a cliff.

“You-you can’t…you can’t be here,” Grace bleated quietly.

“Yes, I can.”

Softly at first, then through gritted teeth, Grace said. “I don’t want you here.”

“Yes,” Casey reached out and took Grace’s begrudging hand in hers, “you do.”

The sound stifled by her mask, Casey cleared her throat followed by a sigh. “Christ, I’m surprised they let me in ‘ere. Between the patch and the mask, I look like I’m ‘ere to rob ’em.” Casey’s words grew more coarse as she spoke, ending in the punctuation of a small, dry cough.

Grace sat forward and put her hand on Casey’s knee, “Hey, you okay?”

Gulping, she nodded. “Oh…oh, don’t worry about me.”

“You know I do.”

Their eyes shared a small smile and they relaxed back into their seats, staring at the painting.

A silence almost descended, but not quite. The faint sound of typing, distant telephones, the thrum of the air conditioner, and the heavy breathing of those others waiting could all clearly be heard. In the corner of the room, a woman cast her head back and yawned.

Within seconds, Casey yawned too, bringing her balled up fist up to meet her mask and garnering a side eye from Grace. “Uuhhhh…you’d think I’d be used to waiting room yawning by now.”

Grace shifted her weight and gripped her purse.

Noticing, Casey sighed. “Sorry. Levity not quite appropriate, yeah?”

“And has being appropriate ever stopped you?”

“Nah, suppose not. Look, I get you think you have to keep it together and have an upper lip stiffer than an old diving board, but…you don’t have to. It’s all right not to.”

“Is it?”

“Of course it is. For me? You’ve gotta laugh.” Casey shuffled her shoulders. “All right, not too much laughing ’cause, you know, lungs, but what’s the alternative? Cry? Nah mate, I get phantom crying pain.”


“No, you muppet, I can still cry.”

Grace laughed for a moment, but the light in her eyes faded. “I don’t know how you do it.”

Casey turned to her, “Things can always be worse, but y’ask me what really matter’s how we play the cards we’re dealt.” She took Grace’s hand in hers. “And all right, there’s no joy in this, absolutely no joy, relief maybe and that is fine, but we have to….”

“Don’t say it.”

“…keep calm…”


“… and carry on.”


Casey chuckled, her chest rattling once again. “Th-there’s always an after, and if that after is more of the same, quiet, brooding, tense, nah…no, there’s gotta be laughter. Even if it’s in time.”

“Yeah. In time,” Grace replied, almost a whisper.

Grace squeezed Casey’s hand and nodded. Casey did, too.

Still holding hands, they both returned to looking forward, at the painting. The wheels of a medical trolly clacked as it passed, pushed by an orderly.

“God, that painting is awful,” Casey groaned.

“The worst,” Grace added right away.

A click sounded and a few seats down from them, a door opened and a nurse stepped out into the waiting room.


Grace closed her eyes, turned to Casey, visibly gulped and opened her eyes with a drawn out sigh. Casey winked and Grace stood up, passing her purse to her. She brushed down her trousers and looked at the nurse, then she looked back at Casey.

“Go on, luv, you’ll be okay,” Casey said. “I ain’t going nowhere.”

With a deep breath, Grace made for the door. The nurse entered and, as she went to follow, she stopped and looked at Casey one more time. Then she went inside the room.

Smash Cut To:


Progressive Field – Tunnel to Field – Moments Later

Rowena hurriedly trailed Grace as she marched toward the exit to the field and the roar of the crowd.

“Grace…Grace! Wait!”

She fixed her hair with one hand, while in the other a Cleveland Slayers baseball cap swung by her side. “Not the time, Ro. Huh, time. There’s that word again. We haven’t got the time to talk about time.”

Not accepting that, Rowena stepped out and grabbed Grace’s arm, forcing her to turn toward her and garnering an incredulous glare. “Faith asked you to stall, you not going out there for another minute is, what do you know, stalling. Talk to me, please, about you. Talk to me about you and what you’re going through.”


“No? Seriously? You haven’t been right since…”


“Casey? Yeah, but there’s something else. Jeff? More stuff with your mom? Work? Willow? All of the above? Okay, it’s your business, sure, but we’re friends, right? I am worried about you. You’re not you, and that scares me.”

“Look around, Ro, none of us are us anymore!”

“Please, why can’t you just let me in? Why do you keep closing yourself off? Why can’t you just let yourself be loved?”

Grace blinked.

Flash To:

Watchers: Revamped, Episode One, “Things Fall Apart”


Casey’s Bedroom – New Year’s Eve

“Let yourself be loved, ’cause you are.” Casey squeezed her hand with as much strength as she could muster.

Smash Cut To:


Progressive Field – Tunnel to Field – Resume

Grace swallowed, straightening her shoulders as her face hardened.

With a long, drawn-out sigh, Rowena raised a hand to her forehead. “Grace, c’mon, please. Whatever this is, you really have to talk to somebody, sometime, or else you’ll never be able to let it go. If it is Willow, maybe the three of us can find a way to sort this out?”

Flash To:

Watchers: Revamped, Episode One, “Things Fall Apart”


Casey’s Bedroom – New Year’s Eve

“…when you…you are ready, Grace, be kind to yourself. Let it go, all right?” Casey’s eyes were heavy.

Grace gulped, but no words passed her lips.

Smash Cut To:


Progressive Field – Tunnel to Field – Resume

Grace opened her mouth. Her free hand lightly reached up to her chest. She winced.

Her forehead creased, her eyes pleading, as Rowena’s fingertips compassionately traced her friend’s face before intently settling on her lips. After a moment, when she didn’t speak, Rowena turned away with a loud sigh and threw her hand down to her side. Grace looked at her and her expression hardened slightly, as if she had made a decision.

“I-I had…an abortion.”

Immediately Rowena spun back around, surprise in her eyes.

Grace let out a long exhale and blinked back the tears. As the color returned to her face, she took a deep breath and dropped her hand from her chest.

“I thought we were being careful, but I got pregnant, and I just…I just couldn’t picture doing this job and having a kid at the same time. Maybe other people could, but I can’t. My mother couldn’t. Not really.”

“It’s not…many, many women have been where you are, Grace,” Rowena said. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

“Yeah,” Grace nodded. “But those women didn’t have their husband tell them all about his visions of their daughter in the future.” Rowena closed her mouth quickly, forehead wrinkling. “He told me he could see her, it was like he’d already met her, and it made him so happy, and so I…I had to decide, could I take that away from him, even if…even if it meant the world would be less safe, if I couldn’t do this job anymore, and I…” She swallowed, as if the words were stuck in her throat. “I decided the job was more important…we didn’t decide, I decided, so I went ahead and did it.”

“And Jeff, is he…is he angry at you about it?” Rowena asked slowly, the roar of the crowd in the background. “That you didn’t include him in the decision? Is that why he left?”

Grace shook her head. “It’s worse than that. He told me he understood. Now I can’t look him in the eyes, much less sleep in the same bed with him.”

Grace let out a single long breath, then nodded and turned toward the tunnel exit. As she walked on, gradually consumed by the light until she disappeared, she put on the baseball cap. The crowd erupted.

Agape, Rowena watched her go. After a few seconds, she took off after Grace.

Cut To:


Baseball Stadium – Roof – Same Time

The Pulut demon lay down on its stomach on the roof of the stadium’s upper deck beyond right field. Slowly, it extended its arm in front of it, pointing directly at the pitcher’s mound. The demon squinted, aiming.

Cut To:


Baseball Stadium – Stairwell – Same Time

“Fuck this shit,” Faith gasped, and then she kicked off the floor of the landing and flipped backward over Slaygirl’s head. Since the two of them were still attached by the wire, Slaygirl was lifted off her feet and thrown hard into the wall.

Before she could get her bearings, Slaygirl found herself in Faith’s headlock, their positions completely reversed. She struggled in Faith’s arms, but couldn’t find any purchase.

“Y’know, I always wondered, in those superhero movies, why nobody doesn’t just do this.” Faith freed a hand and reached up toward Slaygirl’s mask.

“No, wait…” the other girl pleaded, but it was too late. Faith pulled off the girl’s mask and dropped it to the ground, revealing Kelly’s face. But she didn’t turn the other woman around to look at her, not yet.

“Now,” Faith hissed in her ear, “listen…I’m here to save Grace Hatherley, not kill her. Either help me stop the demon or get the fuck outta my way.”

“But I saw you sneak in,” Kelly hissed back. “And word on the street is that something very bad is going down here. If you kill Hatherley, you’ll start a Slayer War.”

Faith shook her head ruefully. “Was everyone following me? I thought I was stealthier than that. If you want to keep fighting me, do it later. Right now, I’m saving Grace. Join me if you want.”

Faith released her with a shove, and Kelly pulled away quickly. She rubbed at her neck with one hand and stared at Faith warily, but she did not move to continue their fight.

Faith’s eyes narrowed. “Wait, you’re that girl from the news.” Then she shook her head again. “No time, we have to get to the roof. Come on.”

Kelly hesitated, just for a second, as Faith took off up the stairs again at full speed. Then she reached down and picked her mask up off the floor before sprinting after her.

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Tunnel to Field – Same Time

“Ms. Hatherley?” a man in a Cleveland Slayers polo shirt called to Grace from the end of the tunnel. “Are you ready? The TV folks are saying either you go on now or we cancel the first pitch and just start the game.”

Rowena hustled to come to a stop at Grace’s shoulder. Grace looked at her and quietly said, “I said fifteen minutes. It’s been more than that. If Faith hasn’t done what she has to do by now…”

“You don’t have to do this!” Rowena urged her in a whisper. “It’s just a dumb baseball game.”

Grace looked at her and sighed. “You know me, not a sports person, but it’s much more than that. The Council needs this. We need the public’s confidence to face what’s coming. Let me do the PR stuff, OK?” she said. “I’ve gotta go.”

Grace began to walk away, but Rowena turned her around and pulled her into her arms, giving her a tight hug.

“I love you,” Rowena told her.

“I love you, too,” Grace said as she felt Rowena kiss her on the cheek. She pulled away and made her way toward the field without a backward glance.

Rowena looked like she might cry as she heard the crowd roar. She could hear some jeers and boos, but it was mostly cheers. She made the sign of the cross and then held her hands in prayer against her lips as she closed her eyes.

Black Out

“And now, to throw out tonight’s ceremonial first pitch, please welcome the Chairwoman of the Watchers Council…”

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Field – Same Time

…Grace Hatherley!

As the stadium announcer’s voice still reverberated, Grace took a few steps up to the field. The deafening crowd rose in a standing ovation. She waved, a practiced smile on her face, as she walked across foul territory.

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Upper Deck Roof – Same Time

The demon lay on the roof, its arm outstretched, as Grace walked across the field. It squinted, aiming for her destination, the pitcher’s mound.

Cut To:


Giles House – Living Room – Same Time

“There’s Aunt Grace!” Sophie said excitedly as she pointed to the television.

Jake looked up briefly from the baseball that was rolling back to him across the floor.

“Hatherley better hope she doesn’t tank this,” Jen said. “She’ll never hear the end of it.”

“She’ll get baseballs on her desk every day for the rest of her life,” Alex teased. All the Gileses laughed as Jen just nodded.

“I’m sending her the first one,” Jen said as she bumped shoulders with her twin.

Nikki laughed and said, “You might have to get in line.”

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Stairwell – Same Time

Faith clung to Slaygirl as the two of them rose straight up the center of the stairway, pulled upward by the latter’s grappling hook.

“Never tell anyone about this,” Faith said to the slayer in the superhero costume, while nervously tightening her grip around the girl’s waist.

“Keep my secrets, I’ll keep yours,” Slaygirl retorted.

“Deal,” Faith told her as they came to a stop.

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Field – Same Time

Grace stopped near first base, where the managers of two teams, middle-aged men wearing ill-fitting baseball uniforms, waited for her. The Slayers manager handed her a ball, and then the three stopped to pose for a photo.

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Upper Deck Roof – Same Time

The demon flexed its fingers, waiting. Its eyes narrowed in concentration.

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Field – Same Time

Grace reached the mound, ball in hand. She waved again to the crowd, this time slowly turning in a circle in order to face each part of the stadium. Then she turned toward home plate, where a large, athletic member of the Cleveland Slayers waited, holding his glove expectantly. She let out a long, slow breath and brought the ball to her chest with both hands.

Cut To:


Baseball Stadium – Upper Deck Roof – Same Time

The demon took a deep breath in, as well, preparing to unleash its projectile. At that moment, the metal door to the roof slammed open with a crash. Faith ran through the opening, Slaygirl right behind her.

Stop!!!” Faith screamed.

Seconds after she yelled, Faith gripped her head and swayed for a moment as the noise of a loud boom only seemed to affect her.

“Lehane?” Slaygirl asked, resting a hand on her back to steady her.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Coven Room – Same Time

Kennedy, Sophie and Jake stood around Faith’s prone body in the future Coven Room that they had retrofitted into a sort of bunker. A loud boom shook the fortified door, even making the gurney that Faith lay upon shake. Sophie and Jake shared a nervous glance at the sounds of creatures on the other side pounding and clawing at the door. Kennedy didn’t take her eyes from the door as she waved to Faith’s motionless body on the gurney behind them.

“Defend her with your life. Whatever it takes. Got it?”

“Got it!” they answered. The tweens nodded as they stood on either side of Kennedy. The door gave way and three demons fought their way inside. One threw an ax at Kennedy. Sophie raised her arm and opened her palm. The ax spun but then suddenly turned into a group of butterflies just before it could hit its target.

All three witches opened fire and sent fireballs at their attackers. When each fireball struck a demon, they combusted into dust almost instantly. Unfortunately, three more immediately took their place, with more behind them.

Cut To:


Baseball Stadium – Field – Same Time

Grace reached the ‘table’ portion of the delivery, then, grunting with the effort, turned and released her throw. It glided through the air and, to Grace, seemed almost to be in slow motion. Although it wasn’t a strike, it did reach the intended target – the catcher’s mitt. He only had to partly stand up and move his glove about a foot to the left to snag the ball. The catcher gave her a smile and a big thumbs up as the stadium roared in approval. Grace released the breath she’d been holding, but then cried out in sudden pain. She teetered, just for a second, then stumbled forward, collapsing face-first in the well-manicured grass just in front of the dirt pitcher’s mound.

Grace!” Rowena screamed from the mouth of the tunnel as her smile at Grace’s triumph dashed from her face. She took off running onto the field.

Grace!” Jeff yelled from his seat in the front row down the third base line. He tried to jump onto the field, but was immediately held back by a security guard. “Hey, that’s my wife out there!” he desperately tried to explain. “She’s my wife!”

The security guards looked at each other, as if unsure what to do. Jeff took the time to touch them both on the arm as he muttered, “Somnum.”

The guards began to sway and Jeff waved a hand, softening their descent to the ground. He then used the distraction to jump the fence and run toward the mound.

Cut To:


Giles House – Living Room – Same Time

“What happened?” Martin asked as everyone leaned closer to the large television.

Great first pitch,” one of the announcers could be heard saying from the television, “but unfortunately Councilwoman Hatherley appears to have fallen.

“Did she faint?” Liz wondered aloud.

“Mom!” Jen and Alex both exclaimed at the same time, as they watched Rowena running out to the mound.

Giles and Becca shared a concerned look, but said nothing.

Cut To:


University – Lab – Same Time

Dr. Goldman and Willow watched the events unfolding on a computer and looked at each other as Grace fell.

“What happened?” Tamara asked.

Willow shook her head at first, but then her eyes widened in fear.

“Someone shot Grace,” she muttered as they turned back to the monitor.

Seconds later, they watched Rowena race into view, heading toward the stricken watcher who was now prone on the ground.

“Is that–?” Tamara began to say.

“Rowena, no!” Willow told the screen.

Suddenly, the screen went black, and the announcer said, “Sorry folks. We seem to be having technical difficulties, so why don’t we throw to some commercials for a few minutes?

Willow immediately got out her phone and turned to Tamara. She motioned around them and said, “Can you…?”

“Go. I got this,” Tamara said. “Wait. Can I drive you? Are you able to–?”

“No,” Willow answered. “I-I-I’ll be okay.”

“Please call, as soon as you can.”

Willow nodded, then put the phone to her ear as she quickly walked from the room.

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Field – Same Time

A growing circle of dark blood had begun to stain Grace’s slacks just above the ankle of her plant foot, her right. She pulled her head up to see a small, bony projectile, about two inches long and now covered in blood, lying in the grass just in front of her. She reached out and picked it up, then held it in front of her face, trying to focus her eyes. Her forehead creased in confusion, then her head collapsed again.

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Upper Deck Roof – Same Time

Faith recovered her equilibrium, and she and and Slaygirl each ran forward to attack the demon as it rose to its feet with a roar.

“He can’t fire again!” Faith yelled.

The demon swung one large arm, sheathed in a heavy carapace, and struck Slaygirl hard in the face. She reeled at the punch.

“But, uh, he’s still pretty tough,” Faith clarified lamely, a little too late. She avoided another swing from the demon, then aimed a kick at its mid-section. It did not seem particularly fazed by the blow.

Cut To:


Giles House – Living Room – Same Time

“What happened to the screen?” Jake asked.

“Where’s Mom?” Sophie asked no one in particular.

Liz and Martin shared a concerned look with their parents, as if hoping they’d field the question.

“Television feeds break sometimes. Big problem with live TV,” Becca offered. Liz, Martin and Giles all relaxed for a moment.

Giles added, “Right, and it looks like Aunt Grace just lost her balance and your mom was going to help.”

“Yeah,” Jen said, though a tad of nervously. “That’s probably it.”

“Why don’t we get more popcorn while we wait?” Liz offered as a diversion.

“Great!” Alex and Nikki said at the same time with, probably more gusto than needed. They looked at each other sheepishly.

Liz and Martin shared a worried look with each other, before Liz turned to the kids with a grin. “How about you guys give me a hand?”

They didn’t seem entirely convinced, but Jake and Sophie got up as Liz motioned them to follow her. Once they were out of ear shot, Martin whispered to the remaining room’s occupants.

“What now?” he asked in concern.

Giles was scrolling through the favorites on his phone and selected “Willow R” before making his way to the staircase. 

Becca thought for a moment and then suggested, “Band practice downstairs until the game is back?”

Martin snapped his fingers and then pointed at his mom in support. “Perfect,” he told her.

Cut To:


Baseball Stadium – Field – Same Time

Rowena, at full sprint, made it to Grace at around the same time as several other bystanders, including the catcher.

“Where are the paramedics?” she yelled. “She needs a doctor.” Several of the bystanders ran off to get help.

“It was this thing,” Grace gasped out. She held up the bone fragment, while continuing to bleed heavily from her leg.

Without a second thought, the catcher quickly pulled off his shirt and tied it around Grace’s wound.

Rowena took the object and looked at it briefly. “The Gunslinger,” she said softly, and put the projectile in her pocket. Then her eyes scanned the crowd frantically. “Where is it?” At this point, dozens of people were streaming onto the field, including players and coaches from both teams, along with security guards, grounds crew, a handful of Council slayers on security duty, and a somewhat traumatized ballgirl. Jeff was also one of the people making his way through the crowd. “Did anyone see where the shot came from?” Rowena called, but no one was listening.

“Hey, there’s something going on up there!” said a security guard standing nearby. Rowena’s gaze followed his pointing arm up to the roof of the upper deck beyond right field, where she could just make out a couple of figures moving.

“C’mon, Faith,” she whispered. Then she raised her voice to maximum volume. “Where the hell are the paramedics?!?

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Coven Room – Same Time

Faith’s body still lay undisturbed along a wall to the west. The witches made up the other points of the compass, with Kennedy front and center and the kids at either side.

“I don’t know how much more I can keep this up,” Kennedy admitted, breathing hard.

Sophie used a fireball to knock one of the advancing demons from their feet. The other attackers were starting to circle and outnumber them. Jake managed to stop two of the three knives flying his way in mid-air, but the third one planted into his leg. He yelped and went down to one knee, but kept his arms raised in a defensive pose.

“Jake!” Sophie yelled upon seeing him fall.

“Hold the line!” Kennedy warned her.

Sophie didn’t listen. She ran to her brother and Kennedy suddenly had to defend both her spot and the area Sophie had vacated.

“Stand up!” Sophie yelled at him. He gave her a defeated look and she pulled him by his shirt. “Tag team!”she ordered.

He looked unsure for only a second and then nodded. She helped him get to his feet. He stood behind her, gripping her shoulders. Once he had a firm hold, Sophie said, “Hold your ears, Aunt Ken!” Then, almost before Kennedy could comply, she opened her mouth as wide as she could.

The primeval sound that escaped Sophie’s mouth was loud, so loud that wood splintered and glass shattered around them. Kennedy covered her ears as Sophie continued to bellow, the sound a mix of rage and heartbreak. Even the demons who were advancing began to take a step back as the wind came next, making it difficult to stay on their feet. Sophie used the wind like a water hose, knocking anyone in the room off their feet with the force of her voice. When she was spent, she collapsed on the ground, first to her knees and then her hands. Her chest heaved at her effort. The demons began to regroup and come to their feet.

That’s when Jake smiled.

As they stood up, Jake raised his hands in time with their ascent. Before they could take a step forward, Jake slammed his hands together, and every piece of glass and splintered wood in the Council came hurling at the demons. They looked like pincushions before they fell to the ground, dead.

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Upper Deck Roof – Same Time

Faith danced around the demon, avoiding its attacks. After dodging a particularly wild swing, she turned and ran a short distance to the nearest light pole protruding from the stadium roof. She didn’t slow down when she reached it, instead running about three steps straight up before launching herself in a flying backward flip. She caught the demon in the face with both feet on the way to the ground. She sprung back to her feet in a single motion, her fists clenching as she assumed a fighting stance.

“You’re going down, asshole,” she told it from between her gritted teeth.

She attacked in a flurry of punches and kicks, but the demon barely staggered. A few seconds later, it got in a strike that sent her flying back into the light pole with a clang. The demon had no time to press its advantage, however, instead stumbling at a blow to the back of its head.

Slaygirl landed from her kick, then rolled to the side to avoid the demon’s stomping foot.

“Not in my city,” she growled in her deep voice.

From her crouch, she jumped into a handspring, her cape flying around her. Somehow, she landed on top of the demon’s shoulders, her legs straddling its neck. She tried to wrench it to the ground, but it was large enough that she couldn’t shift its balance. She settled for repeatedly punching it in the head.

Faith looked back to the field to see the large group gathered around Grace. The Chairwoman was on the ground, but Faith could see her speaking to Rowena. She grinned for the briefest of moments.

Cut To:


Progressive FIeld – Field – Same Time

Jeff arrived and slid to a stop next to Grace. He looked at her leg and the bloody shirt. He put a hand over the top and said, “Festina lente sanguis.” Then he looked over at Rowena. “I can’t stop the bleeding,” Jeff told her, “but I’m slowing it down.” The watcher nodded, and Jeff turned back to his wife. “You might feel sleepy, but you need to stay awake, OK?”

Grace nodded, but then grinned through her pain at the sight of him. “You’re here,” she managed softly.

“I’m here,” he told her with a smile that matched hers, but his expression hardened as he turned to Rowena. “Why is she on the field? You didn’t tell her!?”

Rowena didn’t answer. Instead she stepped back as a team of paramedics arrived in a cart from the tunnel beyond the outfield and rushed to Grace’s side.

“OK, Chairwoman,” said one of them, “we’re going to turn you over.”

“It’s my leg,” Grace said, “it hit me in the– Shit!” Any remaining dignity fled her as the paramedics turned her over onto her back without further warning.

“Is she–?” Rowena pushed.

“Ma’am, just give us some space,” the paramedic told her brusquely, without looking up. “OK, we’re gonna need to stop this bleeding,” he said to the others.

Rowena took another step back and ran a nervous hand through her hair, then glanced up at the right field roof again.

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Upper Deck Roof – Same Time

Slaygirl flipped off of the demon to land next to Faith, and both slayers now stood in a fighting stance.

“You’re done,” Faith said. “You missed.”

“I don’t miss,” the demon growled, and Faith looked away just long enough to see the milling crowd in the distance around the pitcher’s mound as they positioned a very conscious Grace on a stretcher. She smiled and turned to the masked girl next to her.

“Together?” Faith asked. Slaygirl nodded, once.

The two of them attacked. The demon blocked Faith’s first attack, leaving it open to Slaygirl’s counter. The blow caused it to lean to the left, directly into Faith’s hard kick to its side, which sent the demon to one knee. Slaygirl put everything into her next punch, jumping to slam a fist into its eye-socket. The two slayers pushed forward, pummeling their opponent.

Just as the demon looked like it might be defeated, it let out a roar and rose to its feet like a shot. Both slayers went flying in opposite directions.

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Field – Same Time

The roar was loud enough for Rowena to hear down on the field, and she winced. Then she raised an eyebrow.

“Who else is up there with her?”

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Upper Deck Roof – Same Time

The demon stalked over toward Faith, who now lay groaning on the roof, bleeding from a cut above one eye.

“Slayer,” it pronounced in a very deep voice, its mouth full of sharp teeth. “Human. Your time is over. The time of the Empress is here.”

She coughed painfully. “Yeah,” she managed. “Been there. Done that. Not gonna do it again.”

“You won’t win,” the demon growled, and it raised a claw-toed foot to stomp on her head.

Faith winced in anticipation of the blow, but it never came. Instead, an ear-splitting, high-pitched noise caused the demon to let out a scream of pain and put both of its hands over its ears.

The prone Faith looked over in time to see Slaygirl throw what looked like a tube of lip balm down on the roof and run forward. The demon stumbled backward several steps, coming close to the edge of the roof.

I said, not in my city!” Slaygirl shouted over the noise, continuing to run forward full-speed at the demon.

Faith’s eyes went wide when she realized what was about to happen. “Wait!” she screamed.

Slaygirl ran into the demon without slowing down, sending both of them right over the edge of the roof.

Cut To:


Progressive Field – Field – Same Time

Rowena and most of the rest of the stadium gasped as they saw the two figures plummet together from the roof. Her mouth dropped open.

Cut To:


Above Field – Same Time

Slaygirl grabbed at the demon, the two falling together.

“Your sacrifice is meaningless, human,” it growled. “My death will not stop what’s coming.”

Slaygirl looked it in the eyes and asked, “What sacrifice?”

The demon’s eyes widened just before Slaygirl pressed a button on her suit. Two large, black glider wings instantly popped out from either side of a small pack on her back. Immediately, the pair’s fall slowed substantially.

Still holding onto her opponent, Slaygirl swooped out over the outfield. Once safely away from the crowd in the seats, she released her grip on the demon, and it fell with a wordless scream. The scream cut off abruptly when it hit the ground with a splat.

“Fuck yeah!” Faith shouted, having rushed to the edge of the roof in concern. She pumped a celebratory fist.

Cut To:


Baseball Stadium – Field – Same Time

Rowena watched, her eyebrow raised once again, as Slaygirl flew in a slow, wide lap over the field with her glider wings. So did much of the rest of the crowd.

“What’s going on?” Grace asked from her prone position. “What’s happening!?”

“Just relax,” a paramedic told her.

Cut To:


Above Field – Same Time

As Slaygirl flew above the field, the sell-out crowd broke into a standing ovation. She seemed for a moment to be kept airborne by the noise alone. A quick-thinking soundboard operator started playing the music from the climax of The Natural over the stadium loudspeakers.

Just for a second, a ghost of a smile might have appeared on Slaygirl’s face.

Then she swooped down toward the left field gate. She coasted just beyond the fence, her feet scrambling as she touched down on the ground. She quickly and neatly folded her wings back into their pack, then, somehow, disappeared into the night.

Fade In:


Giles House – Foyer – Later that Night

Headlights pulling into the driveway was the first thing that alerted the household that someone was there. The twins raced to the window and at the same time said excitedly, over their shoulder, “It’s Mom!”

“Stay here,” Willow gently ordered them. Then she took a deep breath and walked outside.

Cut To:


Giles House – Driveway – Continuous

Rowena was closing the car door and turning to walk towards the house when she was bombarded by Willow putting her arms around her. The watcher smiled for just a moment and returned the gesture by wrapping her arms around the witch.

“I was so scared,” Willow said, still holding on to her. “All I saw was you running on the field after Grace fell a-and the screen went black. It’s been years since I felt that kind of fear. Whoever shot her might have shot you too. A-and then I started thinking about our last conversation. W-when you walk away from someone, you don’t ever think it’s the last time that you’re going to see them. A-and the things I said…” Willow began to tear up and Rowena hugged her even harder. “Mid-life crisis…onset of menopause…I just…Everything feels off…” Willow gave a small cry and rested her head on Rowena’s shoulder.

“Shhh,” the watcher said. “It’s been a long day with mistakes all around.” Rowena closed her eyes as she held her tight. “We’ll talk…just not now, okay?”

“Of course,” Willow said as she pulled away. “Besides, you’ve got a houseful who want to see that you’re okay.” She pointed to the window, where everyone was standing watching them. “A-are you okay?” she added in concern as she wiped her eyes.

“Like I said, it’s been a long day,” she replied as they started to walk toward the house hand-in-hand.

Cut To:


Watcher’s Council – Hallway – Later that Night

Faith and Robin walked side-by-side down the hallway from the Council parking garage. Neither of them said anything, and their faces held similar expressions of exhaustion.

“Do you think it worked? Did we save the future?” Robin asked.

“Can’t say,” Faith replied. “Actually, after all the secrecy, the better answer is, I don’t know. What I do know is that there’s now just the one Faith inside here,” she said, tapping her temple. “The other one started to disappear when the demon went splat on the field.”

“Your powers too?” he asked.

“Hard to say,” she told him. She made a muscle pose with her arm and said, “I’m naturally buff,” as she playfully elbowed him with her other arm.

Robin grinned and then asked, “Which Faith remains?”

They came to the stop outside his apartment door. She took his hands in hers and got no resistance.

“The one who wants you to be happy,” she replied. She paused for a moment and then asked, “Does she make you happy? FYI: I already told Blondie after Karaoke that I approve.”

“Faith,” he sighed.

Faith grinned. “She’d be a great step-mom for Nikki.” Robin turned away awkwardly, but didn’t say anything. “Look Ace– Robin,” she corrected herself. “I’m not trying to pry.”

“Good, because I don’t have all the answers right now.”

“Like I’ve said, I don’t wanna make your life difficult. But I need to be in Cleveland. I just have a feeling that whatever this thing is…it’s still comin’, and I’m still needed. For you and for Nikki. Maybe for everybody. And I mean what I said. I want you to be happy, whether it’s her or someone else. But I’ll be honest, I’m Team Rollow.” They both chuckled slightly. “Really…as much as I wish I could be the person to make you happy, I know that I’m not. So if we make it through this, just promise me you’ll try to find happiness, wherever it might lead you.”

Robin considered her words and then grinned. “I promise,” he told her. “If you promise the same.”

“Hey, I’m always on the lookout for another ex,” she teased.

He leaned down and kissed her gently on the cheek. “It’s been a long day. Go get some rest.”

“I will,” she told him. “I’ve got one more stop to make, and then I’m calling it a night.”

She released his hands, and he unlocked his door.

“Goodnight, Faith.”

“Goodnight, Ace,” she said with a wink before she walked away.

Robin just shook his head and then walked inside his apartment.

Cut To:


Slaygirl’s Apartment – Later that Night

Anisha and Kelly sat on Kelly’s sofa, eating ramen noodles and laughing. The television was playing absently in the background.

“I have to admit,” Kelly began. “It was pretty cool fighting side-by-side with the original slayer. She’s…still in shape, and still a helluva fighter.”

“I wish they didn’t cut away,” Anisha said. “I would have loved to see the suit in action.”

“There are plenty of uploads of it on the socials,” she told her. “I’m just glad the pack worked.”

“You have great faith in me,” Anisha said. “I’m slightly humbled.”

“Slightly.” Kelly nodded sagely, receiving a playful elbow from the other slayer.

“I’m serious! Not everyone would have made that jump.”

“It’s safe to say I trust you with my life,” Kelly said as she held her bowl toward Anisha. The other slayer clinked hers against it, and they each took a bite of noodles. Kelly looked back at the TV. Her eyes went wide as she watched Jim Pollan standing in front of a press conference.

“Oh, shit,” Kelly said. “I hope Lehane didn’t say anything,” she said as she turned up the volume. “She promised she wouldn’t.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Press Room – Same Time

Several reporters shouted questions all at the same time.

“Who is Slaygirl?” one shouted, while another asked, “How long has Faith known the Slaygirl?” Yet another asked, “Have they been working together long?”

Jim held up a hand and replied, “It’s our understanding that Faith Lehane and Slaygirl both received anonymous tips that Ms. Hatherley was in danger and worked independently until their paths crossed.”

“Who is Slaygirl?” someone asked again.

“Slaygirl’s identity is not known to the Council at this time.”

A reporter asked, “Is the Council actively seeking to uncover her identity?”

“We are not,” Jim replied. “She has no affiliation with the Watchers Council; she is merely a citizen just like any other, free to make any choices she sees fit. It’s up to local law enforcement to decide if she’s criminally liable for any of those actions.”

“Where is Grace Hatherley?” another asked. “What does she think about the Council’s stance on this issue?”

“Ms. Hatherley is grateful to everyone who played a part in her care and safety today, including Slaygirl. Tonight, she’s more focused on resting at home with her husband than the whereabouts of a caped crusader,” he said with a smile.

Cut To:


Slaygirl’s Apartment – Same Time

Anisha turned to Kelly and said, “Lehane kept her word.”

“She did,” Kelly said with a growing smile. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe the Council’s not that bad.”

“So what’s next?” Anisha asked.

Kelly stood up with a proud look. “I’ll be all around in the dark. I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look. Wherever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy. I’ll be there.”

“That’s Tom Joad from The Grapes of Wrath, not Batman,” Anisha corrected her.

Kelly smiled. “Just testin’ ya. You really do know everything.”

Anisha just shrugged and then grinned.

Cut To:


Grace’s Apartment– That Same Night

“Ms. Hatherley is grateful to everyone who played a part in her care and safety today, including Slaygirl. Tonight she’s more focused on resting at home with her husband than the whereabouts of a caped crusader.”

Grace and Jeff sat next to each other as they watched Jim give his conference. They heard one of the reporters say, “So Jeff Lindquist is here in Cleveland tonight? There are rumors that they are estranged.”

Jim firmly stated, “You haven’t heard that from this office. You need to spend less time on Reddit, Nancy.”

They both smiled as some reporters at the conference chuckled for a few seconds.

“Regardless,” another reporter said, “Ms. Hatherley lives in Cleveland while Mr. Lindquist is in Chicago. Doesn’t that make it hard to sustain a marriage?”

“For some, it might,” Jim replied, nodding. “For them, it works, and unless we hear otherwise, we have nothing salacious to report.”

Grace turned off the television. “Jim’s worth every penny we pay him,” she said with a grin.

Jeff was silent for a moment. “Was he lying? Are we…estranged?”

Grace considered the question. “No,” she answered. “And as for Jim he tells the truth…just never more than the truth, so… No, we’re not estranged. Whatever that means. More than the truth… Are we the picture of marital bliss? No. Our relationship status is ‘It’s Complicated.'”

“Maybe the decomplicating starts by you letting me in,” Jeff told her. Grace looked away but said nothing.

“It’s not you,” she said, still not meeting his eyes.

“I know,” he said with conviction. “It’s you.”

Grace grinned for a moment and said, “This is supposed to be the part where you reassure me that I’m not the problem. What are you, new at this?”

“You’re not the only problem. It’s me, too,” Jeff replied. “I can’t find a way to talk with you that works…yet.” He then gave her a smile. It seemed that the longer she looked at him, the less she resisted.

But then she sighed and blew out a breath, before she looked him in the eyes and said,”Why won’t you divorce me? Rip the Band-Aid off and get on with your life.”

Jeff looked thoroughly confused. “Why would I do that, when it’s going to be you?”

“Going to be me? What?” It was Grace’s turn to look bewildered.

“You’re Mercy’s mom,” he told her in a resolute tone.

Grace shook her head. “Jeff, you know what happened,” she told him gently.

“Yes, I know what happened,” he replied. “But you’re not listening…You’re Mercy’s mom. She doesn’t exist yet, she never has…but she will.”

“You know how I feel about parenthood right now,” she told him. “I don’t want to…damage someone.”

“Who said anything about right now?” he replied. “Certainly not me. And yeah, you didn’t always have a great relationship with your mother. It doesn’t mean you’ll become her.”

Grace looked as if she might cry. “You don’t know that.”

“Again. Mage. I do know…” He reached over and took her hands in his. “So please stop beating yourself up.”

She squeezed his hands in return. “I want to be…better…before even entertaining the idea of parenthood. A-and I know that starts with letting go of things, but I don’t even know where to begin.”

“Maybe start with the one thing you can’t change, no matter what,” he offered.

She thought about his comment and then asked, “Casey?”

He nodded. “She’s gone. Nothing will change that. But letting her go doesn’t mean forgetting her. It’s about acceptance. Again, you know she’s gone…but you haven’t accepted it yet.”

“And if I accept it…” she replied, “then “she’s really gone.”

“And that really hurts,” Jeff agreed. “But we can talk about her whenever we want. We keep her in our memory. So don’t think you shouldn’t mention her, especially in my presence. I loved her too, ya know?”

“I do,” Grace replied. “She loved you, too. One of the last things she made me promise is that we’d talk.”

“See?” Jeff smiled. “She’s still out here impacting the world.” Grace smiled in response.

There was a knock on the door. At first, neither moved. Finally, Jeff stood up and said, “I’ll get it. You rest.”

“Like I’m racing anywhere right now,” she chuckled as she pointed to her bandaged leg.

Jeff opened the door to see Faith standing in the hallway. “Hey, come on in,” he welcomed her.

“I don’t want to intrude,” she explained. “Just want to make sure she’s okay.”

“Nonsense,” he told her. He reached out and physically pulled her inside. “Faith’s here,” he called over to Grace, still on the sofa.

“My great protector,” she said as Faith stood at the end of the sofa, smiling. “Sincerely. Thank you,” she continued heartily.

Faith nodded, “You’re welcome, but it was a group effort. Really. A lot of people knew about the Days of Future Past thing, seems like. Maybe it wasn’t a niche enough reference.”

“So does this mean we’ve won?” Grace asked hopefully.

Faith considered her question. “No.”

“Figured as much,” she replied.

“You’ll need everyone, Grace. And I mean everyone, because there’s an attack coming…sooner, rather than later. And I gotta tell ya, Zorgy won’t quit. One way or another the invasion’s comin’, and if we don’t stop it, the world is gonna end. And I don’t mean ‘the end of the world as we know it.’ I mean…the actual end.”

“How soon?” Grace asked.

Faith rolled her shoulders. “That’s the thing about the future. It’s not written.” She paused, considering. “Not anymore, anyway.”

“Can I count on you again?”

Faith nodded. “This is big, and I need to be here when it arrives.”

Fade Out

Fade In:


Street – Alley – Night

A glut of steam listlessly bellowed out of an extractor fan, rising to, but never quite meeting, the night sky above. The door beside the fan wheezed as it opened in a single push, clattering back against the damp brick wall.

Under his arm, a young Asian man carried a large plastic container. He set it down beside the dumpster with a rattling thud, then easily flipped open the top of the receptacle.

The dampened thrum of a rhythmic bass filled his ears from the earbuds he wore, so much so that he did not hear, nor see, the can of Pepsi that slipped from the container when he reached down to pick it up and empty the contents into the dumpster. The can rolled unevenly along the hodgepodge paving of the alley, clanging against the bricks, pinging off of a rusted waste pipe and skipping over the rest of the alley’s well-trodden detritus.

It kept rolling. Exiting the alley and on to the street, the can emerged onto the empty sidewalk. It bore down on the curb and tipped over the edge into the road, where its roll almost immediately stopped under the wheel of a passing car. The vehicle’s tail lights streaked into the night, bleeding into the glow of the towering glass building on the other side of the road.

The sign out front backlit the name of the building: “Watchers Council: D.C. Branch.”

From where the flattened can lay, the silhouettes of figures milling about in the lobby could be seen, not just on the ground floor of the building, but on the mezzanine, third and fourth floors and above. At the top of the building, on the corner, the Council’s coat of arms was printed across the glass. The cacophony of the city echoed through the street, making the nightlife seem to be but a lingering memory.

From the highest point of the building, thick gunmetal shutters began to descend on each floor, muting the soft warm glow from its interior, garnering no fanfare.

Then, a thud rang out in the night. And another. And another. And another.

It was only when the shutters on the third floor were half shut that the figures inside began to stop, question and wave their arms about in confusion. As the final ground floor shutter began to close, the lights in the lobby suddenly went out, filling the atrium with darkness. With a flicker, emergency lighting bathed the area with an eerie red glow.

Then, stifled shouts from behind the glass and the descending shutters sliced through the silence. Some of the figures ran for the entrance, but the shutters met the floor and sealed the building tight.

The shouts gave way to screams, terrible, terrible screams. Through the slits in the shutters, a series of lights exploded, preceded by gunshots and the sound of crashing against the heavy sheet metal. A series of explosions wracked the building, a wide variety of colors only possible through magic.

The screams did not stop.

Black Out

End of Recursion

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