Act 6



Cut To:


Watchers Council – Willow’s Office – Late Afternoon

Willow sat at her desk. Behind her were Kennedy, Skye, Dawn and Wilton. Her monitor was divided into eight different screens, each one filled with the image of someone. There was a mix of men and women dressed in day clothing, while others were in nighttime apparel.

Gobsmacked isn’t strong enough a word for how I feel right now,” Althenea said from her square on the Zoom call.

That makes at least two of us,” Andrew added.

Willow gave Andrew’s square a momentary side eye.

“At the very least,” Kennedy offered.

No doubt. What do you need from Devon?” Althenea asked.

Willow paused and considered what she wanted to say next. “Grace may ask that you perform the spell I refused, a-and while I can’t stop you from doing it, as the Council’s High Pri– former High Priestess, I would ask you not to do it. But you all need to do what your conscience tells you to do.”

Easy enough. That’s a no from me,” Althenea replied.

Again, that makes at least two of us,” Andrew provided. “Anyone else?

The other six coven leaders held up their hands.

Looks like it’s unanimous,” Althenea offered.

Seriously, Grace can’t do this,” Andrew said angrily.

Willow pursed her lips and shot Andrew a brief glance.

“My fucking point,” Skye threw in from behind Willow.

Right?” Andrew continued, “She can’t just fire an entire branch of the Council. She doesn’t have that power IRL. She doesn’t even have that power in our WoW guild. Which has also been torn asunder, by the way.

“In all fairness,” Willow said, “I was the only one fired.”

“We left,” Dawn supplied. 

As you should,” Andrew replied. “But, like, not defending her in any way, FYI, but isn’t this all just a little bit…I dunno, dramatic?

Willow snapped her glare directly to Andrew’s square, her jaw set. “Oh, and you’d know all about the drama, huh? And now you’ve got my back? Our backs? Where was the concern when you were creating your asinine soap opera?”

Andrew raised a hand, his fingers seemingly trying to pluck his words from the ether, when another voice echoed from behind him.

Hey, watch that tone, Elphaba,” June added from offscreen.

Willow sat forward in her chair, eyes burning, when Andrew jumped and looked back over his shoulder. “Umm, hey, all this… this is making me kinda…”

“Diet Pepsi?”

“Oh, my God, life saver…” He waited a moment, his eyes tracking her, and then he turned back to the camera and cleared his throat. “Umm, yeah, sorry. Sorry. Sh-Shannon?! Like, where the hell is Shannon? Did s-she approve this?” he blinked several times and visibly gulped.

Willow took a breath and shook her head. “Shannon wasn’t there. Grace figured the slayers would side with her since we lost Cindy and Caitlyn. Honestly I wouldn’t doubt it, they’ve been palling around a lot lately. I saw Grace doing baseball stuff with her. She hates sports! Anyway, basically, Grace fired me when I refused my duty, so I said I quit and…here we are.”

The reaction from the others on the monitors was telling. Some shook their heads in disgust. Others waved their hands, as if the thought of Grace giving the Coven orders was a major faux pas.

That was her reasoning?” Althenea asked.

“Yes,” Willow said as she nodded. “Dereliction of duty and insubordination. She gave me an order and I refused to follow it. Funny, I don’t remember signing up for the Army. But really, I just think this thing with the spell is an excuse. Grace has had a grudge against me for a while now. Maybe ever since Casey. She came up at some point in our yelling at each other, I’m pretty sure.”

Andrew paused for a moment and then said, “I’ll notify Grace shortly, but West Coast intends to tender its resignation from the Council, effective immediately.

Western Europe is leaving too,” Althenea added after Andrew’s comment.

“Guys,” Willow began to protest.

“Aus! East Europe to leave,” a woman with a heavy German accent said before Willow could continue.

A Japanese woman added, “Soto! Asia is leaving.

Crikey, Hana. Ya beat me to it,” a Caucasian young man said with a slight chuckle. The Japanese woman smiled. “Oceania is out,” he said firmly.

Count Africa gone as well,” a Black man said with a nod.

All eyes then fell on the last person.

Do I have to say it, too, because I will?” the woman with the thick Brazilian accent replied. “Estamos fora!”

“I’m touched by the support. Really,” Willow told them. “But there’s a huge threat coming. The world will need you.”

Luv, stop right there,” Althenea began. “The reason you have an army of slayers isn’t because of a Council. We did that you, me and Rowena,” she stressed. “I’m hoping saner minds prevail soon in Cleveland, particularly in the Watchers’ Division Chair, but I digress. While I can’t speak for everyone here, you have our help in Devon with any magical support you need against this threat.

Willow and her coven watched as all the heads on the screen bobbed up and down in full support.

Looks like Grace won’t get her way, so that’s good,” Althenea said.

“Well,” Willow sighed. “There’s one person I haven’t been able to reach. My Chicago high priest.”

There was a short pause, and Althenea said, “Shit.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Grace’s Office – Same Time

“No.” It was the only word that Jeff said as he sat on the other side of Grace’s desk.

“Jeff, extreme situations call for–”

“I said no. Why don’t you ask Willow?” he interrupted. “She’s much more powerful than me.”

Grace cleared her throat and then softly said, “I did.”

Jeff let that comment sink in. “She said no, so you figured you’d ask me to go behind my high priestess’s back?”

“You are a high priest of your own coven,” Grace pointed out. “You don’t have to defer to her.”

“Yeah, actually, I do,” he replied. “She oversees all the covens worldwide – including mine in Chicago.”

“Not anymore,” Grace told him.

Jeff paused again to figure out what she was alluding to. “What?” he asked when she didn’t elaborate.

“She quit.”

At this, Jeff’s eyes went wide. “With an apocalypse coming our way, she quit?”

Grace said nothing at first. Then she muttered, “After I fired her.”

“What?!” he exclaimed, lurching forward from his seat.

“You keep saying ‘What’.” Grace sounded annoyed.

Jeff’s mouth continued to hang open. “It’s called shock. Are you being serious right now?”

“She threatened to get violent, and I-I dealt with it.”


“Say ‘What‘ one more time, Jeffrey, and I swear, I’ll fire you, too.”

Jeff’s eyes widened still further, just for a moment. Then he shook his head and ran a hand over his mouth, then rose from the chair.

“That won’t be necessary. I quit, too.”

He began to walk away, and Grace called out, “So that’s it? You’re just going to take her side? I’m your wife.”

“And I’m your husband. How dare you pit Willow and me against each other. That’s fucked up. We’re all on the same side, Grace, or did you forget?” he challenged her. “And just because you’re my wife doesn’t mean I’m going to toss out my moral compass to make you happy.”

“Lives are at stake here,” she stressed. “The world is at risk.”

“Without principles, the world’s already lost.”

He didn’t wait for her reply. He simply left and closed the door behind him.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Hallway – Continuous

As soon as Jeff left the office, he had his phone in his hand, placing a call. The recipient picked up on the second ring.

“Hey, Bestie,” Jeff chirped, in a clear attempt at a lighter mood.

Thank God it’s you,” Andrew began. “Willow has been trying to reach you. Grace might ask you to do a spell–

“Too late. She already did. But I refused.”

So I assume you heard about Willow leaving.

“I did.”

Andrew paused. “You should know, L.A. quit, as well.


Yeah, all the other branches, too. But we understand if you want to stay, since Grace–

“I quit, too,” Jeff said, cutting him off. “Chicago is out, if I have anything to say about it.”

Wow, okay. How did she take it? Or maybe the first question should be, does she know?

“She knows. I just left her office.”

Andrew didn’t seem to know what to say at first. “Uhh, so what happens next for you guys – you and Grace, I mean?

“Hell if I know,” Jeff sighed. “I just know I’m not gonna mind rape someone, regardless of who it is.”

There was a silence on the other end for the moment. “Does something seem off to you…in Cleveland, I mean?” Andrew asked. “Neither one of us are there full-time, but it just seems like the interactions I’m getting are…

“Weirder and angrier?” Jeff supplied.


“Yeah, you’re not the only one who noticed. I see it, too. In fact…”


“We are currently holding Zorgy, right?” Jeff started.


“And everything has escalated. Willow and Grace have been at it for months now, but since Zorgy’s physically been here, it’s just off the chart.”

She’s in a magical containment center, correct?” Andrew asked.

“Yeah, but rumor has it she beat the hell out of Willow before they got her here, so this woman is toting some serious magic.”

Hmm,” Andrew considered. “How about if you get Chicago researching the whole angst-a-palooza that’s going on right now, and I’ll have L.A. search for ways she might be able to do magic even though she’s currently trapped in the Pandorica.

“I didn’t think we were with the Council anymore,” Jeff remarked.

I’m not. I’m with Willow, and I’ve got some major making up to do. There’s still a world that needs saving.

Although Andrew couldn’t see it, Jeff smiled.

“‘…and there’s…still a world that…needs…saving’…how do you do it, this shit is gold. We’re totally getting an Emmy,” June said in the background, followed by what sounded like a hard period on paper.

Oh, my God, June, enough already!” Andrew snapped.

Jeff bit his lip, and his eyes grew bigger as he stifled a laugh.

This isn’t like you, Andrew. Do you see now that they’re a bad influence on your light? I’ll call the masseur, you’re stressed,” her voice trailed off, as if she left the room.

Ooof, you’d better ask Chicago if the angst is catching, ’cause even I’m snapping,” Andrew said with a sigh.

“No, Andrew, I just think she’s a pain.”

Mind your own business, Harry Potter,” June shot back almost immediately, making Jeff jump on the spot.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – High Security Detention Area – Same Time

“You don’t say much, do you?” Zorgy observed.

Shannon shrugged. “You do enough talking for the both of us.”

Zorgy chuckled. “I have to admit, the more time we spend together, the more you remind me of Krog. He’s my second-in-command. I think you guys would get along like gangbusters. Do people still say gangbusters? Anyway, you remind me a lot of him.”

Shannon still said nothing. Zorgy went on. “You remind me of my father, too. He hardly ever got upset, but when he did, look out. I remember a time when we were trying to build a life in Vor. Y’know, after you guys pulled your glorious and triumphant invasion…”

Cut To:


Construction Site – Day  


October 2005

Two demons with pronounced jowls and teeth seemed to be gossiping with one another. They pointed to the horned demon who was trying to pick up a piece of what looked like scaffolding in the midst of an active construction site. His first couple tries were unsuccessful, as the object was too heavy for him to lift.

“Hey, magic boy,” one of them shouted over. “Why not use some of your…” he wiggled his fingers in a hocus-pocus fashion.

The other demon added, “Please. His lack of magical skill is what got us rebuildin’ our lives here.”

“Yeah, life wasn’t too bad ’til you mages durted it all up.”

Durt you!” the horned man turned and yelled at them.

The two other demons’ eyes went wide for a moment at the unexpected outburst. Then they started to point and laugh.

Durt us?! Durt you!” one of them said. “You helped the Presidium for years and their ‘single cause to end evil – not just in our time, but forever, for all souls and for all time’.” He recited the phrase as if he had heard it a hundred times. “Wasn’t that their durtin‘ sales pitch? Did you help put that one together?”

“That wasn’t our fault,” the horned demon replied. “The invaders took that dream.”

The two demons closed the distance. One of them would have gotten nearly nose-to-nose with the horned man…if he wasn’t so much taller than the horned fellow.

“And it was your job to guard the Presidium, right? So from where I’m standing, you’re the failure here.”

The sound of a slight cough made both demons turn in the direction of the sound. They saw a young Zorgy standing there, giving a short wave.

“What are you doing here?” her father, the horned demon asked. “You’re supposed to be at school.”

“The building got hit with mortar fire – teachers said they think it was two of the new factions, fighting for dominance. Either way, they told us all to go home.”

“Are you okay?”

“I don’t know,” she answered blankly. “I didn’t get hurt, if that’s what you mean. But my friends in Class Three are gone. The mortar blew them all up. There’s nothing left. If I was a year younger, I would be there, and now I’d be dead too.”

The two demons who were harassing the horned man looked at one another and then looked back at the mage sympathetically. One of them turned to Zorgy and said, “But you’re not dead, Kid. So don’t ever forget to grab life by the hodicas.”

Cut To:


Rosenberg-Allister House – Living Room – Late Afternoon

“I…I’ve got something to tell you. Just between us,” Willow warned Xander. The pair sat next to one another on the sofa. Each of them in pajamas and fleece blankets. Xander didn’t say anything in response to Willow’s request. He just paused for her to continue, his brow furrowed in concern as he waited. “A few times recently, I’ve…I’ve been Black-Eyed Girl. I’ve been controlling it for so long, and now…now, it’s like I can’t.”

He was quiet for a moment. “When?” he finally asked.

Willow didn’t reply immediately. “When I’ve been upset…I saw Robin and Ro leaving the lunch room together. You came to my office that day. Remember?” He only nodded. “Ginny, in catering, said she thought my eyes changed color…A-and after the D.C. attack, when we watched the video, I got…veiny, too…I haven’t told anyone. Not Buffy, not Ro. I’m…embarrassed I don’t have better control. I don’t understand why I could control it before but not now. A-and I’m scared, Xander…It started to happen with Grace during our fight, too. No, that’s not right. It did happen. I went full-on Dark Willow, hair, eyes, veins, the whole shebang; started threatening her. No wonder she freaked.”

“But you pulled it back, right?” Xander said gently. “I mean, Grace was still around to fire you, so…”

“Well, it was more like she smacked me upside the head, and I was so startled I snapped out of it.” She pointed to a red lump above one eye. “That’s how I got this. So, maybe it is best if I’m not around. Maybe quitting, or getting fired, or whatever, is best for everyone.”

Xander was quiet for another long beat. After a moment, he scratched his beard and said, “If you want to leave the Council for real, then you should go.”

“Really?” Willow asked. “Is that what I should do?”

“Willow, you don’t owe anyone anything,” he told her. “But if you want to go back, then go back. Grace would probably be willing to eat some crow if you returned.”

Willow wrinkled her brow in confusion. “So what should I do? Go or stay?”

“Do whatever you want to do. That’s my point.”

“But I quit the Council…o-or if you ask Grace, she fired me…Good Goddess, I got fired from the place I helped found.”

“On second thought, fuck ’em,” Xander offered. Willow’s eyes widened in surprise. “No. Really. You don’t need them. They need you, like they always did. The old guard and the new one. Go do your own thing. Maybe the truth is, the Council didn’t kick you out – maybe you just outgrew them.”

“So…just leave?”

“If that’s what you want.”

“Easier said than done.”

“How come?”

“Seriously? Oh, I don’t know. My daughter is a slayer, for starters.”

“Lots of lancers are doing just fine without the Council. Hey, look at the gal in D.C. who plowed through a wall. Jen could do that. Get her mad enough and she wouldn’t even need a truck.”

Willow grinned slightly. “What about Alex, Jake and Sophie?”

Xander shrugged. “You’re their mom and their High Priestess. The Coven goes where you go. What else ya got?”

“The big one. My wife – the walking watcher encyclopedia. She’s training a Giles, for Pete’s sake.”

“I say Rowena and Liz love you more than the Council.”

“Hmm, not so sure about that right now.” Willow let out a long groan and said, “I know what’s gonna happen. Provided we all survive, of course, I can see the writing on the wall here.”

“And what’s it say?”

“It says I’m gonna divorce my wife, leave my kids and not look back…I hear it’s mighty pretty in Idaho. Maybe I’ll go there.”

“We both know that’s not going to happen.”

“Which part?”

“All of it,” he assured her. “Plus, besides potatoes, what does Idaho have?”

“Beautiful rugged landscapes, skiing and trout fishing,” she said in a monotone.

“And how much do you ski and trout fish? Try none. Trust me. You’ll be fine in Ohio.”

“Wish I could share your optimism.”

“Serious question now, and an honest answer is what I’m expecting…I won’t judge if the answer is yes…Do you want to leave your wife and kids?”

“No,” Willow answered without hesitation. “With them all at the Council, though, I’m not sure they’d have a place for me.”

“Next honest answer…You really think they’d pick the Council over you if they had to choose?”

Before she could answer, they both turned at the sound of the front door opening to see Buffy walk into the house and immediately punch in the security code as she said, “Hi honeys, I’m home.”

Seeing how solemn they both seemed, Buffy walked over and took a seat next to Willow.

“So…what’s new and exciting? Heard any good gossip lately?” Buffy asked them knowingly and with a mischievous tone as she rubbed her hands together in a conspiratorial fashion.

Willow, seated next to Buffy, looked annoyed, while Xander grinned for just a flash at the other end of the sofa.

“Planning her next move,” he offered. “We’re still brainstorming, but so far we have runnin’ away from everything and headin’ to Idaho.”

“I hear it’s mighty pretty,” Buffy replied. “But that sounds kinda extreme.”

After a moment, Willow asked no one in particular, “What am I gonna do without the Council?”

Buffy shrugged. “Same thing we always do. Save the world.”


“Well, yeah,” Buffy replied. “As Oz once told me, ‘Where Willow goes, so goes my nation’. It’s really a no brainer for me. We didn’t need the Council then, and we don’t need them now. Because honestly, Travers was an ass, and now Grace is an ass.”

“What about Emma?” Willow asked.

“She’s an adult,” Buffy replied. “Honestly, I can’t say for sure, but I’ve got a strong feeling Grace is gonna peg Emma for the Lead Slayer position in D.C.”

“See?” Willow said, her tone growing angrier. “That bitch is taking your slayer now, too.”

“Will, look at me,” Buffy said. Willow continued to keep her head down. When she didn’t turn to face her, Buffy gently put a finger under Willow’s chin and turned her toward her. Buffy’s eyes widened slightly.

Willow’s eyes were black.

“I know,” was all Willow said. She closed her eyes as she spoke, “I’m having a hard time controlling it.” She took a series of deep breaths and then re-opened her eyes to their usual green. “I’m sorry. I really wish you both…that everyone would just get as far away from me as possible. If I don’t get a handle on this, I’m not going to be safe to be around.”

“Well, if wishes were horses…there would be a horse in your living room and it would be a problem, but they’re not, so…the point is, we’re not leaving, case closed,” Buffy told her. Xander nodded, with a small smile at his wife. “Look, I get it. Kinda. It’s been a really rough day. But getting back to the point, Emma can do what she wants. And I know what I wanna do. I wanna do you…” The entire room was quiet for three seconds as the wall clock ticked. The three of them erupted into laughter at the same time. Buffy laughed, “That sounded waaaaay more lesbian than I intended.”

“Ya think?” Willow and Xander both said at the same time in the same tone before chuckling again.

The three of them began to settle down and Willow had a long sigh. “You guys are trying to make it sound real simple, but it’s not. My life is so intertwined with the Council.”

Buffy held up a finger. “No, the Council is intertwined with you, Will. You didn’t see what happened after you left.”

Willow and Xander both waited for her to continue. When she only continued to smile and didn’t say anything, the pair both said, “What?!” with more force than probably necessarily.

“Grace asked Jeff to do the spell and then, when he wouldn’t, he quit before Grace could fire him. So,” Buffy sighed, “what do you think? Scooby night? Eating chocolate chip cookie dough. Braiding each other’s hair. Cheesy movie night. The works, right?”

They all turned at the sound of the door opening again. This time, Giles walked in and, immediately upon entry, punched the key code.

“Giles!” the trio said with great affection. Willow turned to Buffy and Xander. “Does everyone in Cleveland know the code to my house?”

“Pretty much,” Xander and Buffy both said at the same time. “Well,” Buffy added. “All the people who matter, anyway.”

Willow and Buffy grinned fondly at each other.

“I heard about what happened,” Giles began as he took a seat in the chair across from the three of them on the sofa. “Liz called.”

“How is she?” Willow asked.

Giles scratched the back of his head. “Upset,” he told her.

Willow frowned. “I didn’t mean to upset her.”

“Oh no, she’s upset with Grace. The reason is that the Senior Watcher she’d been assigned told her that she’s leaving the Council after the Spring Formal and won’t be able to train her.”

“What?!” all three asked. Buffy added, “I didn’t hear Rowena quit!”

Giles just nodded. “She put in her two weeks. She’s staying since she promised to chaperone, but Liz says Rowena told her she’s leaving after that…So, hairstyling and cookie dough tonight?” he asked. “Becca is taking the kids, so I brought gummies,” he added, holding up a small plastic bag.

“All the kids? And gummies too?” Xander asked excitedly.

“All the kids,” Giles repeated. “And gummies too. None for Buffy, though.”

“I’m good,” Buffy said, holding her palms up defensively.  “Current breastfeeding aside, I have no interest after the last time.”

“You took drugs with Giles?” Willow admonished.

“Don’t get on a high horse, Will,” Buffy told her.

“No pun intended,” Xander muttered.

“Hey,” Willow said, “I’m not mad, and there’s no horse here. I’m hurt. I wanna know why we weren’t invited,” she added, pointing to her and Xander.

“It was a slayer-watcher thing,” Buffy told them.

“Have you shared gummies with Emma?” Xander asked.

“I’ll never tell. But I will say that Giles got me so stoned the last time that I had to lay on his sofa and have Becca bring me water until I could no longer feel the rotation of the earth. I’m telling ya, that woman’s a saint, Giles,” Buffy remarked. “Hang on to her.”

“So far, so good,” he said. But then he added, “It hasn’t been easy recently. She thought I-I was having an affair.”

All three of them on the sofa chuckled. Buffy said, “Come on, you’re like how many years ol–…of-of loving her in marital bliss.”

The chuckles died down, and Xander said to his wife, “You almost turned it around at the last second…almost.”

Willow resituated herself under her fleece blanket. “Y’know, as much as I’d love to get high and hear y’all make geriatric jokes about Giles, I really need to figure out my next move. For Goddess’s sake, Liz knows more about what’s going on with Ro than me? That’s so messed up. A-And can we really save the world on our own, if it comes to that?”

Giles shrugged. “One could argue that we did it repeatedly, with a single slayer rather than an army.” Xander motioned his hands toward Giles in a ‘He agrees!’ motion directed at Willow. “This time, I’m sure you could convince a few slayers to help, if it came to that.”

“Giles is right,” Buffy added. “Some of our best work was Council-free.”

“And let’s be honest,” Xander chimed in, “when they were ‘involved’ it never amounted to much. I mean they show up after putting us through a bunch of Q and As and trials for Buffy just to say ‘Glory is a god. Good luck!'”

“For once,” Giles said slyly, “Xander is not wrong.”

“Hey,” he said indignantly. “I’m right at least twice a day, like a broken clock.”

Everyone in the circle, including Xander, chuckled.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – High Security Detention Area – Late Afternoon

Grace walked into the detention area and Zorgy looked over at her. She began to grin.

The demon rose from her cot. “Ah, alone at last. I thought you had to be here in teams. Did your teammate leave you?”

Grace said nothing, keeping her face as immobile as possible as Zorgy studied it intensely. Then, without warning, the demon cackled loudly. “OMG, she did! Look, if it’s any consolation, she’s not all that powerful…well, compared to me.”

“You must have been a very insecure spawn,” Grace muttered. Zorgy blinked twice, and Grace grinned. “It’s there in your bravado. Hey, I admit, I was too, but I’m sure you know that. Difference is, when I found something that mattered to me, I used my talents for good. You only survive on death and destruction…So, Empress Zorgy, and I can’t believe I’m gonna ask this, but…who hurt you?”

Zorgy kept her eyes on the Chairwoman’s for a long few seconds, examining her cagily. Then, like a dam bursting, she also smiled. “It’s a funny story, actually.”

“What, the demon spawn in the hell dimension you grew up in didn’t want to be friends?” Grace put on a fake pout. “So sad.”

“Actually, no. My life in Vor was pretty wonderful until your Council ruined it and forced me into this shitty dimension.”

“So you lived here?” Grace replied.

Zorgy considered the question. “I got to see what this world had to offer and lemme tell ya… I’m not impressed.”

Cut To:


High School Classroom – Morning

Miccosukee Springs, Florida


An overly enthusiastic teacher stood at the front of a bored class of high school students, next to a girl who clearly did not want to be there. Her dirty blond hair spilled out from under a well-worn denim bucket hat, the knees of her jeans were torn and her skinny shoulders hunched.

“This is Abby,” the teacher said. “She just moved to town and she’ll be joining our class, so please, make her feel welcome.”

Abby stole a glance from under the brim of her hat at the class. Several pretty girls with impeccable makeup sat in a clump near the back of the room. One, wearing a cheerleading outfit, sat back in her chair, chewing gum as she looked at Abby about the same way a tiger looks at a deer. Abby’s eyes moved to the front corner, where a tall, sandy-haired boy slumped down in his desk as far as he could, twirling a pencil in his fingertips. She quickly cut her eyes away.

“Abby, could you introduce yourself to the class?”

Abby’s voice came out in a murmur. “My, uh, my dad and I just moved–”

“We can’t hear you!” the girl in the cheerleading outfit called from the back. Several of the girls around her laughed.

“My dad and I just moved here!” Abby said, now a little too loud. She looked around quickly, eyes wide. She quieted down again. “That’s…that’s pretty much it.”

She shot a desperate look at the teacher, who, with an understanding smile, gestured to a desk next to the window. Abby slunk into her seat as quickly as she could.

“OK, so, please open your textbooks to page two thirty seven, where we were discussing proofs of…”

The teacher’s voice faded for Abby as she looked out the window. A vacant lot sat next to the school, gravel pocked with clumps of weeds and strewn with cardboard and plastic litter. A few unkempt palm trees waved against a too-bright blue sky.

Cut To:


High School Cafeteria – Afternoon

Abby walked into the busy school cafeteria, balancing a tray containing a small milk carton and a somewhat sad-looking grilled cheese sandwich. She looked around from beneath the bill of her cap at the circular tables around the room, nearly all of which were occupied by one similarly-dressed clique or another. Jocks, nerds and stoners each spared her passing glances before turning their backs again.

At her table nearby, the blonde in the cheerleading outfit pointed her out to the several girls at her table. “Oh look, it’s the new girl. What do we think her deal is?”

“Her deal?” The brunette next to her scoffed derisively. “She’s a tragedy. Look at her. I’m thinking…meth, maybe?”

Another girl asked, “What’s with the hat?”

“I heard she wears it to hide, like, a huge bald spot,” replied a fourth.

“How would you know that?” the brunette needled. “She’s been here like three hours, Kayla.”

All this time, the blonde cheerleader studied Abby as the girl slouched past several lunch tables. Finally, she turned to the others. “I think we should find out. It’ll be fun.”

“You’re the worst, Britney,” the brunette next to her said.

“I know,” Britney replied, taking the compliment. She plastered a wide smile on her face and waved enthusiastically to Abby.

Once the girl noticed, she looked briefly over her shoulder, thinking the wave was for someone else. She turned back to the table of girls to see Britney gesturing to her to come over. Slowly and cautiously, Abby made her way toward them.

When she reached the table, she looked around at the group of girls, who all stared back at her. “Is it…is it OK if I sit here?”

“Go for it! I’m Britney,” said the blonde. She pointed a thumb at the brunette next to her. “This is Christina. Not that Britney and Christina. The cool ones.” She laughed at her own joke, closely followed by laughter from the rest of the table. Trying to fit in, Abby forced a laugh a second later as she sat down.

“So, where did you move here from?” Christina asked, just before taking a long, slurpy drag on a straw.

“Uh, well, lots of places,” Abby said. “But…Alaska.”

“Did you know any polar bears?” Kayla said. “I’ve heard the polar bears are dying.” Her face was very serious. Around the table, several other girls nodded soberly in agreement.

Looking around at this, Abby laughed mirthlessly, once. “Ha. Um, no, it wasn’t that part of…part of Alaska, but I-I have heard that, yeah.”

“So, tell us about yourself,” Britney prompted.

“I-I’m just normal, really,” Abby said. She seemed to be trying to make herself as small as possible as she took a bite of her sandwich.

“C’mon,” Christina pressed. “What music do you like? What do you look for in a boy? Or a girl, we’re cool with lesbos. Haley’s a lesbo.” She nodded over at one of the other girls at the table, who responded by throwing a French fry at her.

As this was going on, Abby’s eyes involuntarily moved over to a nearby table to find the sandy-haired boy, sitting and talking with his own friends. It was just for a split-second, but Britney, watching her like a hawk, definitely noticed.

The blonde grinned briefly, then hid it before asking, “Hey, there’s a party at Christina’s house Saturday night. Her parents are in, I dunno, the Bahamas? You should come.”

Abby’s eyes brightened ever so slightly. “Really?”

“Definitely,” Christina agreed. “First, though…” She sighed, looking her up and down. Abby squirmed under the attention. “Can I give you a makeover? You could be so pretty, but I feel like you’re not using what you’ve got.”

“I-I…” Abby tugged on the bill of her cap. “I can’t. I’m sorry. My dad won’t let me, he’s really–”

“Hey, we get it,” Britney said quickly. “Just trying to help.”

“Most girls would kill to get a makeover from me,” Christina commented, faux hurt in her voice. “Kayla killed that one homeless guy, right?”

“He jumped right in front of me, and he was fine!” Kayla protested. “Like you guys have never hit anybody with your cars.”

“Sorry,” Abby murmured.

“You should definitely come to the party, though,” Britney said. She leaned in conspiratorially. “Josh Fleischman will be there.”

Abby’s eyes widened as the girl inclined her head toward the boy at the next table. She shook her head vigorously. “No, I–I mean, he’s probably got plenty of…” She trailed off and studiously turned back to her sandwich.

“Trust me,” Britney said. “Stick with us, you can have whatever boy you want.”

Abby looked at her, then finally smiled and relaxed just a little. The conversation around the table turned to other topics.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Hallway – Late Afternoon

“As I said yesterday, like a cat, remember?” Gwen said, phone to her ear, as she pushed open the door and continued down the hall. “E-Eth-E-Ethan, no, seriously, I am fine…are you okay, though? Can’t imagine it was great feeling me getting yeeted and not…”

Her eyes shifted as she strode ahead to the various staff members milling about.

“…I know, I know…as long as you’re square.” A small smile curled from the corner of her mouth. With a blink, the smile was gone as she slowed her approach to an ajar door just ahead. The closer she came, the louder the bickering voices inside grew.

When she reached the door, she peered inside with a frown and then kept walking. “Anything? I get Bad’s can be Big, but Will got served. Sure, she’s not unstoppable, and I know you said she was fine, but something isn’t…” Gwen came to a stop again. “… right…” her eyes moved between nothing as she listened intently to Ethan. “…A what?”

Cut To:


Coffee Shop – Later

“A cloud?” Jeff said with an arched brow, as both he and Gwen turned from the barista, cups in hand.

“Yuh-huh, like a dark, heavy cloud,” she replied before taking a sip. “Ethan put emphasis on the dark and the…”

“…heavy?” Jeff filled in, cocking his head to the side. “And you noticed this when you came back?”

“Mmm-hmm,” Gwen nodded. “I asked him to hone in on Will, and he did and got nothing, but he tried again, after the brewery, and he said it’s like she’s depressed but…not.”

“I know she and Ro are having issues…Like everyone else…” Jeff trailed off as he stopped. His eyes moved from the space between the floor tiles back to Gwen as she turned to him. “I’ve noticed it too, with Grace, but I thought…but the others…something isn’t…”

“…right?” She finished his sentence.

He took a deep sigh. “Andrew’s noticed it too, and we’re both looking into it, which is weird, since, now that you’ve mentioned it, that makes it three for three. And not, you know, to further the weird, but we aren’t exactly coffee buds? Or buds at all? Nothing personal, but…I’m not sure we’ve ever spoken before. So…what made you reach out to me?”

Gwen smirked as she lowered her head momentarily and then looked back up at him, flicking her ponytail back behind her shoulder. “I think there was an exchange about roast beef once at a wedding? Ethan said to specifically talk to you, and to do it away from…”

“…the cloud?”

She raised her coffee cup and tipped it toward him. “Ethan’s gonna keep an eye on this. Put some feelers out.”

“Thanks, Gwen. I’ll call my coven, and Andrew. Maybe everyone’s just acting crazy because of everything going on with Zorgy?”

“The horned bitch in Cell Block H certainly doesn’t help. Whatever the deal, this isn’t the Council I remember, and this atmosphere we’re picking up…”

“Stick around, yeah?” Jeff began as he and Gwen started towards the exit. “We may need you?”

“Hey, where there’re clouds, there’s usually a storm, right?”

“Goddess, do not say that around Andrew. His PA will ninja that line.” He pushed and held the door open for Gwen, who looked decidedly puzzled as she left ahead of him.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – High Security Detention Area – Late Afternoon

Grace turned when she heard the door open. Shannon waved her over.

“I thought we agreed to go in pairs?” Shannon motioned to the slayer standing behind Emma.

Grace shrugged. “I couldn’t wait. The clock is ticking.”

Shannon nodded. “Let us take over here.”

“Oh goody,” Zorgy said. “A new one. We haven’t finished our conversation, Ms. Hatherley. I was just getting to the good part.”

Grace smirked at her. “Don’t worry, I’ll watch the feed later, so feel free to lament about your crappy childhood to Shannon. You two can compare notes,” she replied as she left the room.

“Oh, that sounds fun,” Zorgy told Shannon. “But I go first…where was I? Oh yeah…”

Flash To:


Miccosukee Springs, Florida – Evening

Miccosukee Springs, Florida


Out of the way, motherfuckers!” screamed Christina.

She ran the last few steps down the driving board, wearing a bathing suit that wasn’t quite large enough. Then she grabbed her knees and cannonballed into the center of her parents’ swimming pool. The several other occupants all dove out of the way of the splash. Their joyous shouts strained to be heard over a blaring hip hop track by T-Pain.

Around them, dozens of high schoolers partied, smoked questionable substances and drank alcohol out of red plastic cups. Abby sat at the far end of the pool from the diving board, the cuffs of her jeans rolled up, trailing her feet in the water. She wore the same bucket hat over her mop of dirty blond hair.

“You guys have a lot of parties like this in Alaska?” asked Britney. She sat down next to Abby in her own bathing suit, holding a red plastic cup out to her.

Abby accepted the cup and said, “Not enough people. Or swimming pools.” She took a sip of the drink and immediately made a noise halfway between a cough and a gag, her face turning red.

“Or booze, I guess,” Britney commented with a half smile.

“I’ve had alcohol, but not…” Abby took another sip and was able to keep her reaction contained this time. “…whatever this is.”

“I made it up,” Britney told her proudly. “Vodka, Jäger, some other shit that was lying around. I call it a Fuzzy Asshole.”

“I can see why,” Abby rasped.

The other girl looked at her with genuine surprise and laughed. “I like you,” she said, slapping her on the back. Abby returned a genuine smile.

Britney bumped shoulders with her conspiratorially and pointed over to a group of boys standing nearby. “Hey, Josh is here.”

Abby’s smile vanished. “No, I-I-I…I can’t. I mean, he’d never go for me.”

“Ah,” Britney raised a finger. “That’s where you’re wrong. You just gotta know how people work.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, first off, no offense, but most guys have zero standards. Some guys talk about their ‘type,’ but most high school boys…you’re breathing, you have girl parts and you’re into it, that’s kind of all it takes. Or, to simplify, he’s a boy, you’re a girl…”

…could I make it any more obvious!” Kayla sang from the pool.

“Shut up!” Britney playfully reached down and splashed water in the general direction of Kayla, who squealed.

Abby smiled briefly, then nervously adjusted her hair under her cap. “I heard he maybe was, um, into Marisol Lindor?”

Christina popped up from under the water in front of them, pulling her hair out of her face. “Who cares what Josh wants? This is about what you want, girl! People think that they’re so special and different, but it’s easy to get them to do what you want.”

“What is that, from a Nickelback song?” Britney chided.

“Fuck off, they’re good and you know it,” Christina replied. She turned back to Abby. “Allow me to demonstrate. Lately I’ve been having some pretty great dreams about Jason and his abs, but for some bizarre reason he’s going out with Lauren. Ryan, meanwhile, would crawl across broken glass to kiss my feet, but he doesn’t have a car, and he always smells like Patchouli for some reason.” She gestured to two boys chatting in the far end of the pool, cups in hand. “Observe.”

She paddled over toward the pair. Abby watched as Christina smiled at Ryan and spoke with him briefly while Jason looked on. Christina reached out a manicured nail and ran it down Ryan’s damp chest. Abby saw her say, “I could use a drink,” followed by Ryan nodding enthusiastically and scrambling out of the pool.

Christina then turned back to Jason and smiled at him. Abby’s eyes widened a few moments later when the pair started kissing. Before long, she watched Christina leading Jason across the pool deck and into the house by one hand. Just as they disappeared inside, Ryan returned with a wine cooler in hand.

“So she made Jason jealous?” Abby asked. “And that got him to cheat on his girlfriend?”

“People are not complicated,” Britney said. “They want stuff or they don’t want stuff. Now. What do you want?”

Abby’s cheeks were red now from the alcohol. She looked over her shoulder at Josh, with his tallness and cheekbones and sandy hair. She then took another, much deeper swig of her drink.

Cut To:


Miccosukee Springs, Florida – Bedroom – Evening

Abby kissed Josh again as he closed the door to Christina’s parents’ bedroom behind them.

“Wow,” he said in between smooches. “In this light, you’re…not bad.”

“Thanks,” she said, with a surprising amount of sincerity. She nervously tugged down on the brim of her hat with one hand.

Abby sat down on the foot of Christina’s parents’ bed and looked up at him, her cheeks flushed. He leaned down and kissed her again, sitting down on the bed next to her. The two of them fumbled for a moment, giggling.

Then her eyes widened when she realized both his hands were on her head, his fingertips in her hair. She pushed his hands apart with her arms.

“What?” Josh asked.

“I just…let’s slow down for a sec, OK?”

“This was your idea,” he pointed out incredulously.

“Yeah, I know, I just…I just don’t like it when people touch my head, OK?”

“What, like this?” He reached up and grabbed her by the back of the head.

She immediately pulled his hand off, growling, “Stop!”

“Or what, bitch?” Josh’s tone had gotten very serious, very quickly. “You can’t lead me on and then–”

While he said this, he had reached up to grab the hat off her head. Abby tried to grab his hand and got out a “Wait–!” but it was too late.

“What the fuck is this?” Josh stared at the two bony stumps on her forehead. The spots where her two horns had been filed down.

“Wait, I can explain!” she said desperately. “Look, it’s just, like a…I can explain!”

“What…what are you?” he shouted, flailing his hands as he stepped back.

“It’s OK, it’s OK.” She held up her hands and sounded like she was trying not to freak out. She pointed to her hat, which he was still holding. “Maybe give me that back, and then I’ll tell you, OK?”

“Fuck, I kissed you!” He ran one hand through his hair. She winced. “Is your name even Abby?”

“I mean, it’s my human name. Most people can’t pronounce my real one, so–”

“I’m out!” He opened the bedroom door and stormed off into the hallway.

“Wait, give me back my hat!” she scrambled to her feet and followed him. When she got to the doorway, though, she saw several others there, including Britney and Christina, staring at her.

From the end of the hallway, Josh called back, “She’s got, I don’t know, horns or some shit! She’s a freak!”

Abby stopped in the hall, flat-footed. Then all of the girls from lunch were surrounding her laughing at her.

“Oh my God,” Christina cackled. “Your face!”

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Kayla asked. “Did your mom bang, like, a walrus up in Alaska?”

“Walruses, have tusks, not horns, dumbass,” Britney said, wiping tears from her eyes as she tried to calm her laughter.

“Oh.” Kayla blinked, confused. “What am I thinking of?”

“And she’s not from Alaska.” Britney leveled her eyes at Abby. “Are you?”

The horned girl’s mouth moved for a minute, her eyes glistening. Then she said, “No. My family comes from a place called Vor. We can’t go back there because the Presidium…it doesn’t matter. My real name is…long, but my parents call me Zorgy.”

“I wouldn’t name my sister’s chihuahua Zorgy,” Christina commented. “And I hate that thing.”

“What are you?” Britney asked flatly, still staring. “Are you even a girl?”

“Yes!” Zorgy took a step forward. Her tone was desperate. “I-I thought we were friends. We can still be friends. Right?”

Britney crossed her arms. “You’re a bigger idiot than I thought. We were never friends, freak. We were fucking with you.” She laughed, but it was a different laugh, self-satisfied. “And it was so easy.”

Zorgy pushed Britney with both hands, and the girl flew back into the wall with unexpected force. The wall cracked. Britney slid to the floor.

“Ow,” she said softly.

Zorgy took off running down the hall.

“Yeah, get the fuck out of my house, freak!” Christina screamed. Along with several of the other girls, she knelt down next to Britney. “Are you OK?”

“She punched me in the boob!” Britney wheezed.

Flash To:


Containment Center – Present Day – Later Afternoon

Zorgy sat on her cot, not really focusing her eyes on any particular area of the room when she said, “I didn’t belong in Vor anymore. I didn’t belong here, fer-shur…But those girls…they showed me what I needed. Power. Real power, not physical strength, the power to actually move things. I could see…how to make a difference.” Zorgy then blinked, as if snapping back into her surroundings. “Bet you never had that problem, though, huh? You’ve got a whole sisterhood of slayers. I’m sure you’re all like peas and carrots.”

Shannon said nothing at first. “You know all of our histories, mine included. What do you think?”

Zorgy grinned. “I think you and I have a lot in common…but we dealt with our mean girls differently.”

“How’s that?”

Zorgy bit her lip, considering her answer. “You did the work. You earned the promotions to get where you are. So, rather than kill Lorinda with kindness, or you know, just kill her, you buried yourself in your work. You outshined her and, when she realized she’d never be as snazzy a slayer as you, she left. And you flourished then, didn’t you? You got that albatross off your neck and you soared.”

Shannon said nothing.

“Really,” Zorgy continued, “I mean this in all sincerity. You were a part of a great run around here – one with tons of peace, order, and the Council Way. I mean, that’s about to change, obviously, but nothing lasts forever.”

“Says the lady in the cage,” Emma said dryly.

Zorgy chuckled. “I do say. You’ll see soon enough.”

Shannon grinned and shook her head, but she didn’t say anything.

“What?” Zorgy asked in curiosity.

“Doesn’t matter,” Shannon told her. Zorgy motioned for her to continue. “You’re all talk.”

“Oh yeah?” Zorgy taunted. “Let me tell you how I handled my mean girl problem.”

Cut To:


High School Gymnasium – Day

Miccosukee Springs, Florida


Christina walked carefully behind the wooden bleachers. They were the type of bleachers that sprang out from the walls in segments when needed, leaving a shadowed, open space behind. Shafts of light poured in from the gaps in the seating. The floor was strewn with discarded plastic bottles and other assorted detritus.

“Hello?” she called tentatively.

A hand suddenly closed around her mouth, muffling Christina’s yelp.

“Shut up, she’ll hear us,” Britney hissed into her ear.

Christina elbowed her in the mid-section and pulled away. “What the fuck!” she stage whispered back, as the other girl doubled over. “I thought I was meeting Ryan back here. I wouldn’t have come if I knew it was you. I’m not talking to you!”

“That’s why I lied, Einstein!” Britney shot back as she attempted to straighten up again. “Look, just give me five minutes, OK? We’re the last two left!”

Christina blinked. “The last two what?”

“The last two girls from that lunch table!” The blonde nearly raised her voice, but caught herself. “You haven’t noticed that everybody else that we used to hang out with is dead?”

“Oh, yeah, I mean…I knew that there had been a lot of crazy accidents lately. And it sucks because there are so few cute guys at funerals, not to mention black is not my color, but…what does that have to do with anything?”

Britney shot a furtive look over her shoulder, found nothing, and then stepped forward. “I don’t think they are accidents. I think she’s Final Destination-ing us.”

Christina crossed her arms over her chest. “I don’t get it.”

The blonde rolled her eyes. “It’s like in the movie Final Destination, where all these people die because–”

“I saw the stupid movie, dumbass, duh, I meant I don’t get who you’re talking about, or what gave you this stupid idea?”

Britney held up a hand and started ticking off her fingers. “OK, so, Hayley’s tanning bed fritzed out and crispy fried her. Selena got chopped up into little pieces by the rotor on her dad’s boat after it went out of control at the beach. Amara’s GPS told her to drive into the swamp, and she got eaten by alligators. I could go on. What about the bowling ball from that Rube Goldberg machine in science class falling right on Kayla’s head?”

Christina sighed ruefully. “I haven’t been able to eat watermelon since that day.”

“Everybody’s death goes back to some machine thing going wrong. So somebody could’ve sabotaged them all. And we couldn’t talk about it to each other to figure it out, because we all hate each other now. Speaking of, I forget, why aren’t you talking to me again?”

The brunette stepped forward, her jaw set, and pointed a finger to the floor in emphasis. “You called me fat. On MySpace. MySpace is forever, Britney!”

“But I didn’t!” Britney shook her head vigorously. “I swear. You know that if I was going to call you fat, I’d do it to your face.”

“Oh yeah?” Christina threw her hands up in frustration. “Then who did?”

“I did.”

Both girls spun around at the words. Christina squinted at the figure silhouetted at the end of the row of bleachers. “Abby?” she asked, sounding completely confused.

“Actually, no.” Zorgy slowly began to walk toward the pair through the alternating light and shadows. “My name is Zorgrafilloraxtragor, Twelfth Scion of the Thirty-Eighth House of Ralkess, Heiress to the Black Scimitar and Backup Shortstop of the McKinley High Matadors. And you guys have really, really pissed me off.”

Christina’s brow knit. “Do you even still go here?”

“I do, actually. You know, I had my problems, growing up in Vor, but overall, things were pretty decent. I had a life. Friends. Dreams.” She stepped out into the light a few yards from the two other girls. Her horns had partially grown back since she had stopped filing them down. “Then, humans came. Now I’m stuck here with you. In Florida.”

Britney, meanwhile, frantically swiveled her head around, looking for some way, any way, to escape this situation. She saw none. “Ohshitohshitohshitohshit,” she panicked under her breath.

Christina looked at her former friend, then back at Zorgy. “Wait.” She put her hands on her hips, arms akimbo. “Did you…did you murder all our friends? That’s…pretty uncool.”

“I dunno,” Zorgy said casually, “I thought it was pretty cool. I mean, how dumb do you have to be to drive right into an alligator-infested swamp just because your GPS says so? We’re all better off, honestly.”

“What the fuck is wrong with you?!?” Britney wailed. “I know we…we were just joking around, OK? It was just…fun. It didn’t mean anything, I swear.”

“Oh, I know. That’s just what you do. That’s how humans work. They think causing pain is fun, and then they act sanctimonious when anybody else does it. You just thought that you’d get me drunk, probably sexually assaulted, nothing too crazy, right?”

“Not if you put out,” Christina argued. “Honestly, I kind of just thought you would put out.”

Zorgy turned and stared at her. “Wow. No matter how low I think they can go, humans keep surprising me.”

“OK, maybe what we did was bad,” Britney argued. “I’m sorry. I-I’ll do anything you want. But we didn’t actually…it was Josh. Josh is the bad guy!” Just then, a large drop of viscous red liquid dripped onto her head from above. “I don’t think it’s fair for you to blame us when it was Josh who–” Another drop fell on her cheek. “Please don’t–” Another drop. She put a hand to her cheek, then pulled away to see her red-stained fingertips. “What the–?”

Britney and Christina both looked straight up. Josh was there, hung between the taut ropes and pulleys used to fold out the bleachers. His chest had been cut open, his ribs pulled out sideways. His organs had been removed, leaving a gaping cavity where they should have been. Several of them now hung like decorations on the ropes around him.

Christina screamed. Britney’s cheeks bulged, and she put her forearm to her mouth before hunching over and vomiting.

“Yeah, Josh and I already had some quality time,” Zorgy said, not changing her tone. She looked over the two girls, one eyebrow raised. “What, one eviscerated corpse and you lose your shit? Where I come from, it’s considered polite for dinner guests to bring their own eviscerated corpse.” She shook her head, then turned and started walking away back down the row of bleachers.

“Wait!” yelled Britney. She wiped her mouth with her sleeve. “I said I’ll do anything! Please! I don’t wanna die!” Tears poured down her face. “Please don’t kill me! I-I won’t tell anyone, I swear. I’ll do whatever you want!”

Zorgy spared her a brief glance over her shoulder. “Don’t worry, you whiny baby, I’m not gonna kill you.”

Christina struggled to get her breathing under control and tore her eyes away from Josh’s macabre form for the first time. “That’s…that’s good, right? I really appreciate it, Abby!”

Zorgy kept walking until she reached the end of the bleachers, where a small box with a hand crank was attached to the wall. Next to the box on the wall were a series of warnings in large print, like “Do Not Operate While Anyone Is Under the Bleachers” and “Crank Slowly”.

“But, tragically, there was an accident.” She shrugged. Britney’s eyes widened even further. “Just one of those things.”

What the fuck is wrong with you?!” Christina yelled.

“That’s the thing,” Zorgy said. “Absolutely nothing.” She walked over to a nearby pile of gym equipment and picked up a metal baseball bat. “But people aren’t that complicated. They want stuff, or they don’t want stuff. I want to snuff out both of your petty, pointless little lives, and I can.  So I’m gonna. Bye!”

She swung the bat and easily smashed the mechanism on the wall. For a moment, nothing happened. In that moment, Britney took off running in Zorgy’s direction, but Christina remained in place, flat-footed. Then, with a series of snaps and groans, the apparatus keeping the bleachers from sliding back into the wall gave way suddenly, and the segment of the stands behind which Christina stood, and Josh had been strung for display, slammed back into place against the gym wall with a crash. A careful listener might also have discerned the sound of the snapping of bones, along with a sickening squish.

Britney sprinted for her life, staying just ahead of the bleachers as segment after segment crashed back into the wall just behind her. Zorgy watched her dispassionately. Britney reached out an arm as she drew closer to the demon, straining toward her.

Then the final segment of the wooden stands snapped backward into the wall. The only part of Britney that had made it was the end of her arm, still reaching for Zorgy. A second later, Britney’s severed hand and wrist fell to the floor of the gym. It twitched for a moment, spurting blood on the parquet, then stilled.

Zorgy looked down at Britney’s arm for a second. She shook her head. “Such drama queens.” Nonchalantly, she held the bat parallel to the floor, then casually dropped it with a clatter. Then she turned and walked away without any further glance behind her.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Grace’s Office – Evening 

“What the hell, Hatherley?”

Faith’s voice boomed as she pushed her way into Grace’s office where the watcher was seated behind her desk.

Grace instinctively tried to shoot to her feet, then gasped at the pain in her injured leg and fell back down in her orthopedic desk chair. “You can’t just barge into–”

“I didn’t save your ass for this! You were the chosen one. You’re supposed to bring the Council together, not tear it apart! And now you’ve got me talkin’ like fucking Obi-Wan Kenobi. And if you tell Andrew I just said that, I’ll strangle you myself! Again, what the hell, Grace?”

“This is not your business.”

“The hell it’s not! The life of my family and, y’know, literally everyone else, depends on you doing the right thing and bringing everybody together. Firing your highly skilled High Priestess is extremely fucking dumb.”

“You weren’t there!”

“You’re damn right I wasn’t, because I would have stopped you. You don’t toss away your biggest gun before the battle.”

A voice from the doorway called out and asked, “Is this woman bothering you?”

They both turned to see Shannon standing in the doorway.

“Yeah, she is,” Faith answered, her tone indicating she was fully aware Shannon was addressing Grace and not her. “This twit just cost us our chance at winning this war with the hell bitch.” She then turned back to Grace and said, “Unfortunately, all this hinges on Willow being willing to forgive you, and I know that Red can hold a grudge. So you better beg. You better plead. You better grovel.”

“Yeah, I’m not gonna do any of those things,” Grace said. “And you can leave now.”

Shannon stepped further into the room, and Faith looked her way. “Are you really gonna throw me out of here?” she asked her daughter-in-law.

“No,” Shannon replied. “I’m going to ask you politely to excuse yourself so I may talk to the Chairwoman of the Watchers Division on behalf of the Slayers Division.”

Faith looked back and forth between both women, then sighed and walked toward the door. As she passed Shannon,  she looked at her and said, “You need to figure this out, sooner rather than later.”

Once the door was closed, Shannon turned back to Grace. “We need to figure this out, sooner rather than later.”

Grace released a ragged breath and leaned back in her seat. She rested her head on the back of her chair and closed her eyes for a moment.

“Aren’t you supposed to be with Zorgy now?” Grace asked.

“Emma and Charlotte are there now.”

“Do you think it’s wise to have someone hearing impaired to stand guard?”

Shannon showed no reaction. “All she needs are eyes on Zorgy. She’s got those.”

Grace took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “You realize,” she said quietly, “we are in a war unlike anything we’ve ever seen before?”

Shannon didn’t say anything at first. “Respectfully, no. We have seen this.”

“When?” Grace raised her head.

“I was here during the 2006 crisis and when the crazy congresswoman got us shut down. Sure, it’s been a minute since that happened, but it did. Neither of us were in these chairs yet, but still, we were there.”

“And how did we survive those times?” Grace countered. “I’ll tell you. Everybody put aside their personal bullshit and fell in line. Nobody said ‘No, I don’t want to go on a suicide mission on a submarine.’ Nobody went dark magic crazy and started threatening people. We saved the world because everybody pulled in the same direction.” Shannon licked her lips and then kept them tight. “Out with it,” Grace muttered.

“What can I say?” Shannon answered with a shrug. “You want everyone to do as you say, because…?” She let the sentence hang and made a sweeping motion with her hand.

“Because it’s up to me.”

“Is it, though?”

“I have to be the one to save the world. Faith said it.”

“I’m not sure why my mother-in-law is the authority on saving the world; she hasn’t even been here.” Grace said nothing in response, so Shannon kept going. “And anyway, she didn’t actually say that. She said you had to stay alive,” Shannon countered. “She never said you have to be The One or that everyone had to do what you say.”

Grace shook her head. “She might not have said I was the Lisan al Gaib or whatever, but she said it’s my job to bring everyone together.”

“Okay. So how’s that workin’ out, now that an entire branch of the Council has up and quit?”

“God, not you too,” Grace sighed.

“Sorry,” Shannon groaned. “That was a cheap shot. But this isn’t. It’s just a cold, hard truth you need to hear: No one – not me, not the slayers, not Willow, hell, not even your husband – will follow you just because you give an order.”

“Then what am I supposed to do?” Grace asked.

“Inspire,” Shannon said immediately. “Because it’s up to you to be that person who deserves to sit in that chair. You got a big watcher brain, so I’m sure you’ll figure it out. But, circling back to where we started here and why I stopped in… figuring it out sooner rather than later would be good.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Buffy’s Office – Evening

Buffy was in the midst of loading some folders and binders into a cardboard box when she was interrupted by a light knock on her door. She turned to see Emma standing there and gave her a slight smile. Emma moved just inside the office to lean against the wall next to the door frame.

“I wasn’t sure I’d catch you here,” she said.

“Just packing up a few things so I can work from home, or technically work from the Rosenbergs’ home.” Buffy continued to put some items in the box. “Is there something you needed in particular?”

Emma seemed hesitant at first, so much so that Buffy stopped what she was doing to look in her direction when she hadn’t replied.

“Grace Hatherley called me into her office today.”

“Is that so?”

“It is.”

Buffy grinned slightly. “For the record, I’m trying my best to sound neutral at the mention of Grace’s name. Did it work?”

Emma grinned. “Almost.” They both giggled slightly, and Emma continued. “Anyway, she asked me to be Lead Slayer in D.C. She needs help running the division there since…you know.”

Buffy didn’t say anything right away, but, when she did, she made sure to look at Emma. “You’ve talked about making the Council your career, so this would be a wonderful opportunity for you.”

Emma nodded. “I mean, yeah. That’s why I plan to tell her yes. Here’s the thing…I think my watcher should come too.”

“Did Grace put you up to that?”

“What? No,” Emma said immediately. “I just thought that, as a slayer, I would want my watcher with me,” she added, sounding slightly insecure with the revelation.

Buffy paused again. She reached into the box she was packing and pulled out a picture of her and Emma together. “The frame’s newer, but the picture isn’t. I love this shot,” she said. She turned it around to show Emma, who grinned. “Grace has enough faith in you to lead an entire branch. While I can’t say I agree with many of her choices lately,” Buffy said knowingly, “this is one choice that I can agree with. You’re ready.”

“My bruises tell a different story,” Emma said, motioning first to her face and then to her body.

“I would give anything to keep you from getting hurt, but that is the slayer life,” Buffy said. “Thankfully, you’re healing as we speak. The key is to always make sure you walk away from it…or hobble.”

“I almost didn’t. All the more reason I still need my watcher…so, does that mean you’ll come with me?”

Buffy then picked up another picture frame. “When we figured Sunnydale would be destroyed, everybody was allowed one duffle bag to bring all their worldly possessions. I had some bitchin’ clothes, Mr. Gordo, the world’s most awesome stuffed pig, and some pictures – my mom and Dawn, me with Giles and this one.” She turned the frame to show an image of her, Willow and Xander together. “It goes everywhere I go.”

Emma grinned. “Judging by the Nineties threads, you’ve all been friends for a long time.”

Buffy looked at the image. “More than that.” She then looked back at Emma. “Point is, Em, you don’t need me.”

“But you’re my watcher. You mean to tell me, after all these years, that you don’t need Giles anymore?”

“Of course I do,” Buffy said. “And he’s just a phone call away. Just like I’ll be there for you. But I don’t need him to do this job. Just like you don’t need me to do yours.”

“That sounds so sad,” Emma remarked.

“But it’s not,” Buffy stressed. “That is my purpose – to become obsolete and unnecessary for your slayer-ness. And someday if you decide to follow my path – be a department head or a one-on-one watcher, you’ll see that the greatest compliment is you’re no longer needed, too. It means you’ve done your job. So, again, I think Grace picked the right person, and you can go to D.C. if you want. I support you completely. But my family is in Cleveland and my loyalty is to Willow, so although I didn’t officially tender my resignation, I won’t stay with the Council if she’s fired.”

Emma blinked and then asked, “You’re leaving too?” Buffy shrugged as her fingers traced the picture for a moment. Then she put the photo back in her box and resumed putting other items inside. “W-What are you gonna do?” Emma pressed. “W-where are you going to live?”

“Great questions,” Buffy replied. “No clue yet. What I do know is my millionaire friends have a giganimous house where my family can stay until we figure out our next move. In the short term? There’s a hell goddess to stop.”

“How are you going to do that without the Council?” Emma asked pointedly, sounding very concerned.

Buffy slowly began to grin. “We’ve never needed the Council to save the world.”

Emma looked flabbergasted.

Black Out


End of Act Six. Onto the Final Act…

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