Act 2



Fade To:


Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later

“I thought we said X-Men cartoons before bed, Hammer Horror after lunch…I see how it is. Mom’s away, so dad and boy go wild, huh?” Phone to her ear, Gwen smiled and leaned on the railing of a darkened walkway overlooking the Council lobby, looking down at a flurry of activity on the floor far below. The activity extended outside, to a media scrum lit by camera flashes.

“Oh, yeah, I got here okay, totally right on top of Will’s location…the janitor’s closet.” Her once singsong voice suddenly went down an octave or two, more like three. “Your portal opened up in the janitor’s closet, Ethan…oh, janitor’s closets are a mystical nexus hub, huh, mister wizard man? Sure, I’ll take your word for it…”

She fell silent, her eyes tracking the amassing crowds, but not really taking in the bustle. She smiled, though it was short lived as she pushed herself upright and exhaled, shaking her head with a hand on her hip.

“About that, I don’t know…something isn’t quite…” She stopped mid-sentence as a door swung open to her left and several staff members rushed through to the opposite door. “…right,” she continued. “It’s as if something is off, that’s actually why I checked in…Yeah, I get it, and you’re right – they were just hit, but this isn’t them and if you were here you’d see…no, I know, but you know what I mean…”

She sniffed as she eyed both doors once again. “Please can you just, like, use your Giles-y sense…Yes, I will continue to call it that…Ethan…Okay, so he’s fine, but the others? Hone in on me…Please, just indulge me…” She paused for a moment and then said, “Okay, so I’m fine, too. Still, can you keep your feelers out there? Maybe Willow?…Yeah, I know she’s all strong and great at magical defense. I’m not looking for you to curse the woman, dear. Just see if she feels ‘off’ in some way…Okay, thanks for taking a crack at it…Right now, I gotta go see a techno-witch about my voltage, but keep looking?… Love you too…no, I’m gonna hang around after the bitch is brought in. I don’t trust them…Which one? I don’t trust Zorgy or the Council right now.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Grace’s Office – Afternoon

“You know that there’s a decent chance this is a trap, right?” Rowena asked. She sat across from Grace, who sat in her orthopedic chair behind her desk. A pair of crutches had been set against the desk next to the Chairwoman.

“Of course it might be a trap,” Grace replied. “But we can’t just sit here while she murders whole branches of Council personnel.”

“We don’t even know if it was her,” Rowena pointed out. “She hasn’t claimed responsibility or anything like that for D.C. Did they get the I.D. back yet on the primary attacker? I know they were running an analysis on the corpse.”

Grace looked at her and sighed. “Ro, c’mon. It was her. And we did get a result, kind of. It’s not a known species of demon. I’ve got Jackson coming in after you to give a presentation on his theory that the attacker was something called a…” She glanced at her computer screen. “…Leviathan. Do you know what that is?”

Rowena blinked. “I know the word, but…wait, this is Old Ones lore, isn’t it? That was never my specialty.”

“I’m just gonna read his email.” The Chairwoman spoke quickly and tonelessly as she recited, “‘Leviathans were created by the Old Ones as a sort of slave race, incredibly strong and unstoppable in battle. But the Leviathans rebelled, possibly leading to the final destruction of both the Old Ones and the Leviathans. There is no previous record of one being found alive, at least not by anyone who lived to tell the tale.’ Well, good thing he’s dead now.”

“I’m serious,” Rowena pressed. “You said it yourself that Zorgy is smarter than us. What do we do if it turns out we’re walking into a trap?”

“I don’t know, fight our way out of the trap?” Grace said, her tone growing increasingly exasperated. “You’re right, she is smarter, but I can’t just sit here and let her keep attacking us. Shannon is battle tested. She’s gotten past everything and anybody thrown at her so far. And Willow will be there, too. If she actually does her part and doesn’t decide she knows better than everybody else, I think we have a good shot.”

Rowena sighed. “I am also on Team Do Something. But Grace, I…I’m still not sure what Willow’s done to make you so angry.”

“I didn’t start this!” Grace threw up her hands in frustration. “I just need her to be civil and listen to me, and lately she hasn’t even done that. Everything is a struggle, everything needs a bitchy comeback…I’m over it.”

“I think both of you would say the other one started it…whatever it is ,” Rowena said diplomatically. She bit her lip, considering whether to continue, before taking the plunge. “Look Grace, don’t let Willow be your Bitch Eating Crackers.”

The Chairwoman blinked. “My what now?”

“It’s this thing online some of my kids were…it doesn’t matter, the point is, sometimes people get so obsessed with hating someone else that, no matter what the other person does, they’ll get mad. I worry that Willow could just be sitting there, eating crackers, and you would go ‘Look at that bitch over there, eating crackers.’ And she’s the same way. No matter what you both do, the other one will find fault in it. Beyond my personal feelings, it’s not sustainable for two Council heads. You know that, I’m sure.”

“Then why mention it?” Grace snapped back. Upon seeing Rowena’s hurt expression, she quickly added, “I’m sorry.” She then seemed to genuinely think about this for a moment, her eyes focused off in the distance. She leaned back in her chair, then winced and reached for her leg. “If she just does her job, we’ll be fine, OK?” she sighed. “Sorry, I just…it hurts, and I can’t take the heavy duty pain meds and be here doing my job.”

“I get it,” Rowena said softly.

Straightening up again, the Chairwoman continued, “So, there was something else. For both practical and PR-related reasons, we need a functioning DC branch. Right now, if at all possible. But almost all of the best personnel are either overwhelmed or…” She sighed again. “This whole thing sucks so much. Look, I need somebody to go to D.C. and run the place, and I need it to be somebody I trust and who the public will see as a ‘big gun.’ I need you.”

Rowena’s eyes got a little wider. “I appreciate the vote of confidence, but…Four kids, remember? How long are we talking here?”

Grace grimaced. “I mean, ideally, permanently?” When Rowena’s eyebrows shot up, Grace backpedaled. “I’m kinda desperate here. Several months, hopefully? At the outside, a couple years?”

“A couple years? Grace, I can’t do that. You know I can’t. Plus, I was just named Liz’s Senior.”

Rubbing the arm of her chair, Grace licked her lips. She found herself not quite able to look her friend in the eye. “We’re all going to need to make some sacrifices here. It wouldn’t just be you. I’m going to be asking for a pretty decent number of volunteers, especially from this branch. And…” Her eyes finally found Rowena’s. “…I know things with Willow are up in the air right now. Jeff and I took some time apart, and maybe it all worked out in the end? I’m still figuring that out.”

Rowena grabbed the bridge of her nose and remained silent for a few seconds. Then she took a deep breath and opened her eyes. “Is this an order?” she asked quietly.

“No.” Grace looked away. “No, I wouldn’t do that to you.”

“Then I’m staying,” Rowena said.

Cut To:


TV Studio – Evening – Later that Night

“Welcome back to our live finale episode of Dancing with the Stars!” an unsettlingly attractive host proclaimed into a microphone, while a studio audience applauded behind him. “We’re counting down to the showdown between former NBA star Iman Shumpert and celebrity slayer Lorinda Sheparton, which will be decided by your votes, America!” More applause. The host’s tone grew incongruously serious. “But we can’t celebrate tonight without acknowledging the tragic events that occurred early this morning in our nation’s capital. As a former member of the Watchers Council, one of our contestants tonight has a unique insight on how these events have touched that organization, and we’ve asked her to speak briefly tonight. Lorinda?”

The crowd came to its feet and cheered as Lorinda Sheparton took the stage alone wearing a slinky, shimmering gold dress. She waited several seconds for the cheers to ebb just slightly before she began speaking.

“Thank you,” she said into her own microphone. When the cheers didn’t quite die down enough, she tried again. “Thank you. The tragic events in Washington, D.C., as well as the attempt in Cleveland on the life of Watchers Council Chairwoman Grace Hatherley, have touched us all deeply in the past twenty-four hours. I know from personal experience the sacrifices made by members of the Watchers Council every day to keep us all safe. Today, too many made the ultimate sacrifice.”

She blinked a few times, as if keeping back tears, and put a hand on her chest, just above her cleavage in the low-cut dress. “I just want to express the thoughts and prayers of myself, Pasha, the rest of the cast and crew and, I’m sure, everyone voting at home for everyone at the Council tonight, as well as to Chairwoman Hatherley for a speedy recovery.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Grace & Jeff’s Apartment – Same Time

“Gee, thanks, Lorinda,” Grace said un-enthusiastically from her spot on the couch. She had her injured leg propped up and the coffee table covered in papers and folders. She raised her voice to call to another room. “Can we change this? To…literally anything else? They’ve been going for an hour and nobody’s done so much as a soft-shoe.”

“I want to see how Lorinda does,” Jeff said as he came in from the kitchen carrying a steaming mug of tea. He slid over a pile of documents on the coffee table to clear a spot and put it down on a coaster with Grace’s arm’s reach. “You know, she’s worked really hard for this.”

Grace snorted derisively as she picked up the mug.

On the TV, Lorinda was still talking. “…That’s why I established my charity, Slayers Helping Slayers, for my fellow slayers transitioning to an unpowered life. And I’m thrilled to announce that ABC has agreed to donate ten cents for every call tonight during the vote, no matter who that vote is for, to Slayers Helping Slayers.” At this, the crowd erupted in cheers and applause. “Hashtag Councilstrong!” Lorinda called into the microphone, before moving back behind the curtain.

“She has a spectacular talent for making everything about herself,” Grace noted before she took a sip of her tea. “Her stupid charity has fuck all to do with what happened in D.C.”

Jeff looked at his wife and sat down on the floor at the end of the couch next to her head, facing the screen. “I thought you liked her? And she’s saying all the right things, isn’t she?”

“If she really wanted to help, she could always come back to the Council,” Grace grumbled. “Then again, if she did that, we wouldn’t have her thoughts and prayers. And…saying I like her isn’t quite right. I feel like Lorinda and I understand each other.” She groaned and rubbed the center of her forehead. “God, this D.C. thing…there’s just nobody left.”

“I know it’s bad, but…what do you mean?” Jeff asked, running a comforting hand over her arm. “We announced there were some survivors. Several of the department chairs in fact, and up and comers, like the Blooms, for example.”

Grace shook her head. “There were…a few. But not… Look, all of the top watchers and slayers there last night are gone. All of them. Asher Bloom is the only person there with any leadership experience, and I’d trust him to do a locator spell, sure, but not to run a whole branch.” She idly ran a hand through her husband’s hair, almost protectively. “But we have to get things back up and running there, without slacking off anywhere else. If we don’t, if we don’t roll with the punches…” Her eyes flicked to the TV. “Lorinda’s gonna be the last winner of this show. Among other problems.”

“Oh, she’s not going to win,” Jeff said. “I already know that. She loses to the basketball guy.”

Grace laughed suddenly at this. “God, she’s gonna be so pissed.”

He grinned. “Right?”

Her smile fading, Grace ran a finger lightly over his cheek. “Thanks.”

“For what?”

“Pretty much everything. For…” She looked down at her lap. “For coming back.” She cleared her throat and looked back at him. “So, I guess we should talk about…are you? Back, I mean? You have a job to do in Chicago.”

“We’ll figure it out,” Jeff said. “And in the meantime…my wife just got shot. I think Chicago will understand if I take a few days.” He moved onto his knees, facing her, then leaned in and kissed her. Just for a second, then he pulled back.

Grace ran her tongue over her lips. “Yeah, uh, sorry, I just realized I haven’t brushed my teeth since…it’s been kind of a long day. I should probably do that at some point.”

“I’m thinking yes,” Jeff agreed with a nod. He grabbed her tea and took a quick sip.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Robin’s Apartment – Dining Area – Same Night

Nikki took care of the place settings while Robin brought over a casserole dish. As she set the silverware on the napkins, she asked, “Eating my favorite food in the dining room? What’s the occasion?”

“It’s a special night.”

“You’ve got a new girlfriend,” she said. “Is that it?”

“What? No,” Robin giggled almost nervously. “W-Why’d you think that?”

Nikki shrugged. “You seem happier. You smile more. I just thought you might have a special lady.”

“I, uh, no. I don’t have a lady. I did, however, have a conversation with Grace,” Robin said as he began to serve the lasagna on the plates. She didn’t say anything, just waited for him to continue. “She’s given me a very special assignment, which I wanted to discuss with you.”

“Oookay,” Nikki said apprehensively.

“She’s rebuilding the D.C. branch, and she wants me to be the Head of Security there.”

“But our home is here,” Nikki replied.

“Well, that’s what I wanted to discuss with you. What would you think about moving?”

“To D.C.? To the branch that just got destroyed?”

“My job would be to oversee that it does not get destroyed again,” he remarked.

“Did you tell her yes already?”

“I wanted to discuss it with you first before I said anything to anyone.”

Nikki was quiet and didn’t say anything. Instead, she opted to push the flat noodles around on her plate with her fork.

“What are you thinking, Nikki?”

For a long moment, she didn’t answer. “It feels like Mom all over again,” she finally muttered, her eyes looking glassy with unshed tears.

“What do you mean?”

“Mom left us, and now you’re leaving. Is it me? Am I the reason no one wants to stick around?”

“No, sweetheart,” Robin said immediately and empathetically. “I have no intention of leaving you. Quite the opposite. I wanna take you with me. It just seems like it’d be a good time for us to start a new adventure in a new city.”

Another long silence ensued between them, then Nikki said, “I don’t want a new life. I like this one.”

“It’s not like we would leave Cleveland and not look back. I have friends who are family here, too. But the Council needs us in Washington right now.”

“Daddy’s gotta work the mission, huh? Isn’t that what you always say?”

“It is,” he agreed. “And now more than ever, we’re needed.”

“You’re needed,” she corrected. “I’m not.”

“That’s ridiculous. You’re one of the brightest W.I.T.s here.”

“If that’s true, shouldn’t I stay in Cleveland? The best of the best come out of here. Besides, do they even have a school in Washington anymore?”

“They do,” he told her confidently. “And they do have an excellent program similar to Cleveland.”

“Similar? But not the same?”

A silence fell between them, until Nikki asked, “If I want to stay here, would you still go? Be honest.” She looked at him closely. When Robin didn’t answer immediately, Nikki shook her head. She tossed the napkin that was in her lap on the table with a thud. “I’ve lost my appetite,” she said as she started to rise.

“Please, sit,” he told her. “There’s a lot I still need to work out.” Gingerly, she returned to her seat as he continued, “Listen, if you really want to stay in Cleveland, perhaps your Mom might be an option, since she’s back, and if not her, there are the dorms during the school year. And if I did take the D.C. job, who knows these days, maybe it can be telecommuting. I-I need to think about all of this and work it out. Just realize, you are a part of the decision-making process here. So do you understand why I’m talking to you about this and not just announcing we’re leaving?”

Nikki nodded silently. She picked up her fork and began to slice into the pasta. “It sounds like you still have a lot of things to figure out about this.”

“Yes, there are. And I meant what I said. This is not a decision that either one of us can go into lightly. This dinner tonight is for two reasons: number one, enjoying good food, and number two, an introduction to the idea of moving East.”

Nikki swallowed her bite and then asked, “Is this really important to you?”

Robin made sure she glanced up to see him looking at her and said, “It is. The people there need protection, now more than ever. I know I can do that for them.”

Nikki waved her fork. “That’s providing we haven’t been destroyed by the Vor bitch.”

“Nikki, language.”

“Fine. Vor female dog.”

Robin had to chuckle. “Yes, that notwithstanding.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Grace’s Office – Next Morning

“Faith? Really?” Giles asked. Willow and Buffy looked equally confused and surprised.

“Yes,” Grace told them. “She has a rapport with these young lancers, so I want her to work with you on this project.” When he didn’t say anything, she continued, “She is the on-point person for this, but if you’re uncomfortable–”

“Not at all,” Giles assured her. “I-I was surprised that Faith was being assigned to this operation since I didn’t know she’d planned on staying. But, n-no, I have no qualms about it.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Buffy asked. “It’s a pretty important mission. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for Giles, since he already knows Lisa, but can we trust Faith to stick around?”

“Long haul?” Grace pondered. “Maybe not. But in the short term? She has a stake in what happens here. Regardless of how you feel about her or how you think she feels about her family, I believe she loves Nikki, and yes, even Robin.”

“A-all right,” Giles said. “What do you need from me in the short term?”

“Work on Lisa. I saw her file – she was a watcher. While she was rather unconventional for her time, she’s not so unconventional for today’s Council.”

Giles snorted. “She still doesn’t think very highly of us. Of that, I can assure you.”

“Then win her over personally. Play up to how much her methods are like the ones in place now. And if that doesn’t work, find out what her weaknesses are and use them to our advantage,” Grace instructed.

“Yeah,” Willow quipped, “that doesn’t sound all dark and sinister.”

“Why are you here?” Grace asked, annoyed. “You can’t find yourself any work with the Coven today? Or are you leaving it all for my husband to do? Wait. Shouldn’t you be prepping for your big press announcement with your doctor friend?”

“You know, Grace,” Willow began. Quickly, before she could say anything further, Buffy hooked her arm around Willow’s and started to lead the witch away from the conversation.

“So, sleepover at the Rosenbergs?” Buffy said. “Ha! Rosenbergs. Sounds like we’re staying at your parents house. And yes, I realize the end of the world may be coming soon, but that sounds fun.”

Giles turned back to Grace and asked, “Does Faith have an office here?”

“No, but she does have an apartment on-site, which has a study. So she is working from home, essentially. Walk with me and we’ll share more information…or, you know, hobble,” Grace said. She motioned Giles to move with her.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Willow’s Office – Later that Day

In one hand, Willow held her cell phone, and in the other she held the amulet Faith had brought to Karaoke months before. She held it up and examined it while she spoke.

“I looked through the archives, and I can’t find any connection to anything.”

Willow listened for a moment and then said, “That’s the thing, Ethan. I really don’t know much. When I-I spoke to Angel, all he told me was that a Brell demon claiming to be from Vor brought it to him at his agency. The demon asked that it be brought to the High Priestess of the Council. So he put Faith on a jet to hand deliver it to me, but I-I can’t figure out what it is.”

Willow listened again, chuckled slightly and said, “Yes, you’re right. It’s not ugly and it would accessorize with just about any outfit. But I’ll be honest, I’d only wear it if I was desperate enough, because I have no idea what it will do once it’s around my neck.” Willow paused and listened again. Then a look of realization crossed her face. “You’re right. Dark magic. That’s not a bad idea. I’ll try that to see what I come up with…Will do… Thanks Ethan a-and let me know if you find anything…You too.”

As Willow hung up, she turned to her laptop and started to type at a furious pace.

Fade To:


Apartment – Late Afternoon

“…and I had this big hotdog called a gargantu-dog and it was huge!” Without a breath, a young boy’s voice echoed around the room.

“Really? Wow, that’s amazing, Crystal said, trying to match his excitement.

“Yeah and it had ketchup and mustard and it was SO good; Kieran couldn’t eat all his so…”

Eyes narrowed, her head listlessly resting back against a dented wardrobe door, Crystal sat on the faux wood floor with her cellphone held up to her ear. Her hand and face were streaked with blue blood from what appeared to be another job for her loan shark boss.

“…I finished his too and then we went for a drive and I felt sick and was sick and then Paulie got mad and…”

Something ignited behind the slayers’ eyes and, with a blink, Crystal shifted her weight to sit straight up from her slump.

“Mad? Did he hur—”

“…I said I was sorry and then his face went super red and…”

“Dylan…baby… did Paulie…” she rolled her eyes shut and swallowed hard. “Did he hurt you—”

“…he did shout but said it was cool and we went to the park…”

Her mouth fell open as she collapsed forward, releasing a breath that could have been mistaken for having been held for far longer and deeper. The glinting relief visible in her eyes quickly gave way to a dimness as they focused on the pair of legs sticking out from behind the bed. The jeans clung to the calves, soaked in the same blue blood.

“…and he said that if I did a chore for him we’d be all good so I did and we were all good!”

Her brow crinkled, her eyes still on the legs. “Chore?”

“Yeah! I played mailman and gave this man his package and he gave me a tip but I had to give the tip to Paulie ‘cus I messed his car.”

Jaw set, Crystal’s head fell back against the wardrobe.

“Baby boy, you do not ever play mailman aga—”

“He’ll do whatever the fuck Paulie or I say. You got it, Crystal?” a man’s voice now rang over the phone.

She sat back up. “I fuckin’ swear, Tanner, if you make him mule again, I will—”

“Do Jack shit. Hey, Dylan, buddy, Judy’s got ice cream…”

“Ice cream!”

“He’s a good kid. He listens. Now, you fuckin’ listen. You talking to him was a courtesy of your ’employment agreement’. You telling him what not to do when I tell him otherwise, nuh-uh. You don’t get that say until you’re done, and you ain’t done. Yet.

Crystal’s eyes narrowed.

Cut To:


Giles House – Kitchen – Evening

Liz walked into the kitchen carrying a tablet, which she placed next to her as she took a seat at the table. “What smells good?”

“Shrimp tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw,” her brother replied. He nearly dropped the plate he was holding when his dad came into the room.

“Your face is naked!” he said in surprise.

Giles smiled at the comment and said, “Or as any other human on earth might say, I shaved.”

Liz nodded in approval. “I like it. Makes you look younger.”

“Not complaining,” Becca said, “but what brought this on?”

Giles shrugged. “Just bored with the way I looked, I suppose, and wanted a change.”

Liz pointed to the side of his head. “And his earring is back. You haven’t worn that in years. Are you having a midlife crisis?” she teased.

Giles smiled at his daughter while Martin laughed. “Ha! Midlife? That ship sailed decades ago.”

Liz threw a napkin at her brother, but grinned nonetheless at the comment.

“Why do you insist on making fun of my age?” Giles asked.

“Because I can,” Martin said. “Besides, what are you gonna do? Try to beat me up? Come on, old man.” He playfully raised his fists. “I can take ya.”

“You could,” Giles agreed. “And then I’d have Aunt Willow turn you into a dachshund so Frank has a friend,” he countered.

Martin lowered his arms, “That’s true.”

“Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know,” Giles remarked.

Everyone at the table smiled. Everyone except Becca.

Cut To:


Neighborhood Park – Same Night

“I barely touched the referee! How is that worth a red card? Eugh!” Jen gestured emphatically with two hands, one of which held a wooden stake. “And you know that if one of the other girls did it, no one would even bat an eye.”

“As a slayer, you are held to a different standard. And I personally think you should be,” said the tall man, maybe thirty years old, walking down the path next to her. “What do you think?”

The two of them were walking along a lit path in a small neighborhood path, past empty sets of swings and monkey bars. Jen looked up at the man and frowned. “You’re my watcher, Parton. Aren’t you supposed to tell me?”

“I’ve told you many times that you can call me Darryl.”

“Yeah, but I’m not gonna.”

He sighed. “As a slayer, the stakes when you get angry are higher. I doubt any of the other girls could seriously injure that referee, but you could have, if you had really lost your temper.” He hesitated. “I know things haven’t been easy for you, lately…”

“Why do you say that?” Jen asked. “Is it ’cause of the part where I was in a mass shooting or the part where my parents are splitting up?” She stopped, putting one hand on a nearby light pole, then casually swung all the way around it, once. “I guess all of it will just be a footnote one day in Stoned Platypus’s Behind the Music episode.”

“That’s…one way to look at it,” Parton said. “But you…you know you can always talk to me, right?”

The two of them walked silently along the path, crickets chirping in the background. Finally, Parton said, “Though I would have thought Behind the Music was more a reference from my era than yours.”

“Your era?” Jen asked with a half-grin. “Was that before or after the Industrial Revolution?”

“I’m not even thirty-five, if you need to know.”

“I’ll bet you saw Nirvana live,” Jen teased. “But anyway, I’ll have you know they’re doing a reboot now.”

“Of Nirvana?” Parton sounded confused.

“Of Behind the–” Jen stopped short, holding up a hand. “Hey, uh, Parton? You know how we’ve been working on sensing when vampires are nearby?”

“You’re getting a positive now?” Parton asked. “Can you describe it?”

Jen considered this for a long moment, then she said, “Kinda itchy?”

Cut To:


Graveyard – Same Night

“You know,” Alex said, “I’d ask you to the Spring Formal if I didn’t think you’d be a chicken and not show up.”

Maddie walked with Alex beside her. She held a stake in her hand. He was walking his bike rather than riding it. 

“I’m no chicken, and I see what you’re tryin’ to do,” she said coyly.

Alex grinned. “What do you think I’m doing?”

“Tryin’ to play my ego against me.”

“Is it working?” Alex grinned.

“Not yet,” she replied, with a slight grin of her own.

Alex snapped his fingers in disappointment. “Damn it.” He quickly smiled afterward.

Maddie bumped shoulders with him and said, “Besides, what’re you gonna do? Pick me up on your bicycle?”

“Hey, it’s a vehicle, and it gets me where I need to be in a hurry,” he argued.

“Somehow I doubt that,” Maddie replied.

“That statement is more proof that, while you do know a lot, ya don’t know everything. Riding this bike is very similar to motocross.”

“Except the whole not being motorized part.”

“Very true.” Alex shot her a toothy smile, which she returned. “But this way I can come on patrol without waking up the entire house.”

“I’m still your dirty little secret?” Maddie asked.

Alex snorted. “Please. I’ve been trying to bring you out of the shadows,” he said as he motioned around the graveyard. “Maybe a Big Mac or some Chicken Nuggets at Mickey’s in the daylight?”

“Chick-fil-A’s got the best chicken,” Maddie countered.

“I wouldn’t know,” Alex said. “They have a long history of funding anti-LGBTQ plus organizations. I don’t spend my money on places that hate my family.”

Maddie grinned. “Look at you, little social justice warrior.”

“Not really. Would you eat somewhere that wanted to say you couldn’t get married to who you want because you’re black? I wouldn’t eat there. Would you?”

Maddie paused. “Would the place in question have really good chicken sauce?”

They chuckled slightly as Alex just shook his head. Suddenly, Maddie stopped moving and put her finger over her lips. Alex ceased all movement and sound and waited for her. She seemed to be listening to something that only she could hear.

“Three voices,” she finally whispered. “One of the crypts over there,” she said as she motioned. As quietly as possible, they made their way in the direction she pointed.

Cut To:


Crypt – Moments Later

A vampire was laughing as he was talking. “So then, get this, Eddie over here asks if he can–”

A voice from the doorway interrupted him. “Is this a private party, or can anyone join?” Maddie asked.

The three vampires all turned to face her. As she readied her stake, three more vampires appeared from the shadows on the right and then three more from the shadows on the left.

“Shit,” she muttered.

The vampire who’d been interrupted walked slowly toward her. “Hey, gang. I hear that slayer’s blood is the best you’ll ever taste…I got first dibs.”

He moved so fast that he was practically a blur. The two of them tumbled out of the crypt and rolled to a stop about ten feet from the entrance. The vampire started to bore down on Maddie’s neck, while the others began to filter out of the crypt, laughing.

Just as the vampire was inches from her jugular, he stopped with a look of sheer panic. He straddled her, looking at his arms as they seemed to petrify. Maddie took the opportunity to push him aside with all her might and he shattered into various pieces of rock. All the vampires looked at each other in confusion until one looked up and over his shoulder.

Alex stood at the top of the crypt, mumbling with his hand outstretched and his nose bleeding.

“Get him,” another vampire said, as he charged toward the top of the crypt with a second following behind him. Maddie was already on her feet and quickly stabbed two distracted vampires, turning them to dust.

“Six left,” she shouted to Alex. For her part, Maddie was now trading blows with the four vampires still on the ground. She wasn’t losing. In fact she was successfully keeping them at bay.

The nearest vampire was almost to the top of the crypt. Alex yelled, “Glaci!” and the demon suddenly turned to ice, frozen in his position halfway up the crypt. Seeing this, the next vampire hesitated to advance toward Alex.

“We’ve done Earth and Water,” Alex told him. “Fire and Air are left. Pick your poison.”

“Ah–ah–ah,” the vamp stuttered unsure what to say.

“Air it is,” Alex said.

The witch took in a big breath and blew it out toward him. This sent the vampire over Maddie and his remaining comrades. As the vampires looked up at him, Maddie took the chance to dust one, leaving three of them left. The other three kept watching as the vampire in the air flailed his arms, heading toward a small wooded area. Alex reached out and moved his arm in a controlled arc, seeming to guide the vampire toward a tree. He then outstretched his palm and the vampire raced toward the tree, becoming impaled on one of the branches. A moment later, he turned to dust.

The remaining three vampires looked at each other and then began to run. Alex jumped from the top of the crypt, slowing his fall with magic.

“They’re getting away,” Maddie said, frustrated.

Alex jumped on his bike and said, “Stand on the rear pegs and hold tight.”  She just stared at him. “Come on!” With a sigh, she put her stake in her boot, then stood on the rear tire pegs and held on to Alex’s jacket as he took off.

“Oh shit!” she exclaimed as he began to race through the graveyard, first on the vehicle path and then between the tombstones.

“I’m gonna get you on top of her!” Alex huffed as he continued to pedal for all he was worth trying to catch the vampire. “When I say jump, you jump! I’ll delay the other ones for you.”

“Got it!”

The pair continued to dodge gravestones as they raced to catch up. At first, they could see one of them about a hundred yards away, then ninety, then eighty. Maddie steadied herself, and when they were twenty yards away, Alex yelled, “Jump!”

Maddie sprang from the rear pegs and sailed toward the vampire as she tried to escape. The slayer came down on top of the demon, and they both rolled to a stop, with Maddie freeing her stake from her boot.

“You can run, lil lady, but you can’t hide,” Maddie told her before they began a brief combat. The vampire swung, but Maddie sidestepped her, using her momentum against her, and she fell into Maddie’s stake, dusting on impact.

Alex was already headed toward the remaining two vampires, moving as fast as his bike could carry him. When they worked their way over a small wall, they figured it would stop him. The vampires began to point and laugh at Alex, but it didn’t last long. Maddie watched with growing appreciation as Alex used a nearby hill, park bench and gravestones to his advantage as she ran toward him.

With a series of jumps and hops Alex and his bike ‘climbed’ the nearby tombstones to get to the two remaining vamps.  For their part, the vamps watched the witch catapult the bike, jumping from one tombstone to another bench to another tombstone until he cleared the wall. Within seconds, their mockery transformed into looks of concern.

“Who the hell is this kid?” one of the vamps said.

They began to run, while still trying to keep their sight on Alex. But they instantly slammed into someone with such force that they both fell to the ground. They looked up briefly and then at each other in surprise. Before either of them could rise, one of them instantly turned to dust, followed by the sound of a stake clattering to the ground. Seeing his friend turn to dust, the vampire looked up to see another stake flying. This time it was aimed at him. He reached to catch it, but he was too late and turned to dust seconds later.

Alex rested his bike on the far side of the wall and hopped on top of it on his way back over toward Maddie. However, when he stood on top of it, he noticed his twin sister Jen standing there, looking annoyed. Her watcher was hustling to catch up through the gravestones nearby. With a sigh, Alex gave Jen a short wave and hopped down.

Jen’s annoyance grew into anger as she watched Maddie jogging toward them. Not waiting for him to arrive, Jen marched up to her brother. She grabbed him by the coat sleeve and walked him several feet away from her watcher and the approaching Maddie.

“What are you doing here?” she asked in a displeased whisper.

“It’s not your business,” he countered.

“The hell it’s not. Who is with Jake and Sophie? You were supposed to be watching them tonight since I’m on patrol.”

“Liz said she would do it. And since Liz’ll never give me the time of day romantically, I figured I’d hang out with a girl who might.”

“Liz is helping you?” Jen started to pace. “You’re both gonna be in so much trouble.”

“If you rat us out, yeah. But if you keep your mouth shut, you don’t have to say you saw me.”

Jen motioned to her watcher and explained, “I dusted two vamps.”

“Ha! I got three,” he said proudly. 

“Moron. It’s not a competition. You know Parton’s going to report this, right?” Jen sighed.

“Five, vampires?” Parton asked, overhearing them.

“Nine, actually,” Alex told the watcher.

Parton’s eyes went wide, and he muttered, “Nine.”

“It could be a hundred. Doesn’t matter!” Jen said. She walked her brother further away and whispered, “If I don’t say something first to Mom, then it looks like I’m covering for your dumb ass. You’ve put me in a shitty situation, and I’m pretty pissed about it.”

“Fine,” Alex said, tugging his arm away from her. “Do whatever you’re gonna do, Jen. It’s not your job to protect me. At this point, I really don’t care what you do.”

Without saying anything further, Alex began to walk back towards Maddie, pulling his bike down from the wall before leaving. For her part, Jen began to walk back to Parton, but rather than stop to talk to the watcher, she walked past him, and he began to follow her.

“Patrolling is fine for her, but not you?” Maddie asked Alex. “Seriously, dude, what’s up her ass?”

Alex ignored the question and then looked at Maddie and sincerely asked, “Will you go to the dance with me?” She started to look everywhere except at him. “Forget I asked,” he said and started to walk away.

Maddie sighed and holstered her stake as she began to follow him.

“Come on. Don’t be like that. It’s a good night. The nest is gone, so why don’t we celebrate?”

Alex stopped and turned to face her. “You keep me at arm’s length, even after all these weeks. Hell, months, at this point. Even after what we just went through tonight, you won’t let me in. Why?”

He paused, but Maddie didn’t seem like she knew what to say. “It’s…not easy to get close, okay?” she finally muttered.

“Okay,” Alex said. “Here’s the thing, though. If I haven’t earned your trust by now, it’s not gonna happen. So you’ll be happy to know, finally, message received. Yeah, I would like you to go to the dance, but I’m not gonna beg.”

Alex threw his leg over the bike and pumped the pedal just once before he heard Maddie say, “Yes!”

He stopped and looked over his shoulder. “I don’t want a pity date,” he told her.

“It’s not pity,” she told him, closing the distance between them. The pair began walking. Maddie played with her fingernail somewhat nervously while Alex pushed his bike. “I want to go. For real. I just don’t know how it’s gonna be with that…sibling of yours there, too,” Maddie said, as if she was censoring herself.

“I can lie and say it’ll be fine, but I don’t know either,” he confessed. “But you don’t strike me as someone who’s afraid to stand up for what she believes in. It’s one of your better qualities.”

“Look, Al, we make a good team out here,” she said, motioning around them. “Maybe we make a good team in other places, so I’ll go to the dance, but how ’bout, before the dance, we get dinner at Olive Garden? I can live without Chick-fil-A. But I do love me some endless breadsticks and soup, because I’m a slayer ‘n we can pack it away.”

“Deal!” Alex chuckled. In the slight distance, the beep of a car horn on the other side of the cemetery gate got their attention. Maddie waved to the driver.

“Hop on,” Alex told her. She stood on the rear wheel pegs again and took hold of his shoulders as he rode them up to the cemetery front gate.

“Will you be OK to get home?” Maddie asked. Alex smiled and nodded. “Text me when you get there,” she added as they came to a stop.

Alex nodded again and then said, “I’ll send you the deets on the dance.”

The car horn beeped again, and Maddie quickly gave Alex a peck on the cheek and then ran toward the waiting vehicle. He waved when she turned back to look at him before she climbed inside. As he began to peddle, he muttered, “What do you know? Acting uninterested and walking away worked…Xander and Ma were both right.”

Fade Out





End of Act Two

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