Act 7

Cut To:


Giles House – Foyer – Day of the Dance – Afternoon

Following the ring of the doorbell, Becca opened the door to find a smiling, formally dressed Belizet holding a flower corsage.

“Hello Ms. Giles,” he said politely.

“Hey Belizet,” she replied warmly. “Come in.”

She opened the door wider as Giles and Martin, who was already dressed in his suit, made their way into the foyer. Belizet crossed the threshold and waved to the pair as they walked over.

“Are you ready to have fun tonight?” Martin asked. He punctuated the question with a little dance move.

“Absolutely!” Belizet replied.

When he was close enough, Martin grabbed the demon’s lapels, giving Belizet a little shake, and then stuck a finger in his face.

“You better not try anything with my sister.” Belizet’s eyes went wide, and he didn’t seem to know what to do or say. Martin started to chuckle and then added, “Anything she wants you to do is fine by me. It’s her life.”

Belizet seemed to release the breath he was holding and grinned.

“Leave him alone,” Liz said from the top of the stairs before making her way down. She was wearing a black spaghetti strapped dress with a floral bodice.

Martin put his arm around Belizet’s shoulder and said, “She cleans up real nice, doesn’t she?”

All Belizet could do was stare and nod in agreement.

“You too, Marty,” Liz shot back. As she made her way down, she said, “You look handsome tonight, Belizet.”

Becca and Giles both smiled at their daughter as she carefully descended the stairs. For his part, Belizet seemed tongue-tied. “Y-you too,” he finally muttered.

“You look beautiful,” Giles told her once she was at the landing. “Have fun tonight.”

Liz looked away and pulled a few hairs behind her ear. “We’ll try. There’s just a lot going on,” she said.

“True. But there will always be something going on,” her dad told her. “That doesn’t mean you should stop living. Learn now how to find joy, especially in moments of unrest.”

“Easier said than done,” Liz sighed.

“Didn’t say it was easy,” Giles told her and then kissed her on her temple, making her grin.

“Okay,” Becca told them, “we need pictures.”

The three of them stood next to each other, with Liz in the middle. As soon as Becca began to take the shots, Martin put rabbit ears behind Liz’s head and the junior watcher elbowed him in the side, not too forcefully, but still enough to make him lurch to the side. They both grinned.

Cut To:


Rosenberg-Allister House – Bathroom – Same Time

Willow leaned against the door frame of the bathroom, watching her wife putting on mascara. She smiled softly, just admiring her. Rowena noticed her stare and turned in her direction. Upon seeing Willow grin, she began to grin too.

“What?” she asked, adjusting her wig.

Willow pushed herself off the door frame and took a few steps closer. “You’re very beautiful – inside and out. Not everyone would walk away from everything they’ve known like that.”

“I-I-I appreciate that,” Rowena stuttered, “but Grace was wrong. She was my friend…she is my friend. But she didn’t leave me much choice.”

Willow closed the rest of the distance and let the back of her fingers trace Rowena’s jaw line. “If I was back in high school and you were my prom date, I’d feel quite proud to have you as the beauty on my arm.”

Rowena paused. “Weren’t you straight and dating a werewolf?”

Willow snorted. “This is true. But if I knew more about myself then and I knew you, it wouldn’t be a contest.” Rowena grinned at first, but then the smile disappeared and gloom overtook her features. “Why the mood shift?”

Rowena flashed her a wan smile. “You caught that, huh?” Willow nodded. Rowena turned back toward the mirror and began to put some powder on a brush. She looked pensive again. “I think if it was your college formal, I wouldn’t stand a chance.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Because Tamara is the spitting image of Tara. And she’s what you really want.”

Willow shook her head. “That’s not true.”

Rowena continued to powder her nose. “Yes, it is. You’re settling for me. Maybe you always have.”

Willow grabbed hold of Rowena’s hand, making her stop. “That’s definitely not true,” she countered.

Rowena closed her makeup case, then turned back to Willow and said, “Okay. Then why don’t you come with me tonight? I have to do this chaperone thing. It could be fun. It could be our chance to go to prom together.” Willow bit her lip and took a step back, and Rowena immediately said, “I shouldn’t have asked.”

“It’s not you.” Willow told her. Rowena just nodded. “It’s not. I’d love to go with you,” she continued. “Yeah, I don’t have the support of the Council–”

“You’re still my wife, and I am still employed there for at least the next fourteen days. I can bring a plus one.”

Willow smiled. “You didn’t let me finish. I was going to say, I don’t have the support of the Council, but that’s not what’s stopping me. I don’t give a damn what Grace or anyone else there thinks of me. I need to do my homework to figure out Zorgy’s plans, so I’ll be hitting the books.”

“I’m sure Grace has removed all of your clearances.”

“Yeah, when I said hitting the books, I-I meant searching the darkest of the dark web.”

“Breaking out the Guy Fawkes mask tonight?” Rowena asked.

“If I keep hitting dead ends, maybe. I have friends in high places a-and low ones. Someone, somewhere must have heard about Zorgy, or know what the hell that Faith-Karaoke amulet does. I can’t shake the feeling that it’s tied to Zorgy somehow.”

“The Vor connection?” Rowena offered.

“Yeah, but coming from Vor doesn’t make it special. There’re lots of things in Vor, but this necklace just feels different the longer I’m around it. I can’t explain it.”

“Have you put it on?” Rowena asked.

“I’m not that desperate yet. Remember when Spike put on a random mystical necklace? He burst into flames and buried Sunnydale. Not in a rush to take that risk, but…I’ll be honest, I’m getting there.”

Rowena grinned slightly. “Still, you must like hanging with the Scoobies again.”

Willow smiled. “It does feel like old times.” She snorted and added, “When I told Buffy I was going to search the dark web tonight, she asked, ‘2Chains?'”

Rowena chuckled, “Did you correct her that the message board is 4chan?”

“Gently. I told her she was two numbers off and one vowel too many,” Willow replied. Rowena grinned as her wife continued, “So, I’m having Buffy and Xander go over the Council information, while I check with my…other sources.”

“Again, I’m sure Grace locked you out, and…” She trailed off as she noticed the skeptical look on Willow’s face. “Like that’s gonna stop the Rosenbergs,” she finished instead. “The things you teach our children.”

Willow gave a non-apologetic shrug that made Rowena laugh.

“Better they learn it at home than on the streets. And despite what Zorgy says,” Willow countered, “I do trust our kids to pick up the baton. That’s why I teach them. Some parents let their kids drink at home. I let ’em hack and do magic. That’s why I’m the cool mom and not a square.”

Rowena giggled and pulled back to look more intently at Willow. “Are you high right now?” she asked, playfully.

“A little,” Willow giggled. “And that’s because Giles is the cool dad and gave me extra gummies.”

They both began to laugh. 

Cut To:


Warehouse – Evening

The heels of her boots clicked on the pavement as Crystal headed to a single door flanked by two men in suits, bathed in the light of a single bulb hanging above.

“Hey,” one of the men called to Crystal as she approached. “Hey, he’s not expecting you tonight.”

“Kinda the point,” Crystal said, now mere feet from the door.

“You can’t–” was all the second man got off before Crystal headbutted him.

She immediately spun and punched the other man square in the throat. He recoiled, gargling and clambering at his collar. She thrust her boot into his knee and then backhanded him to the ground.

Then she opened the door. As it swung closed behind her with a metallic thud, the man she headbutted rolled onto his back and squeezed the trigger on the radio on his belt three times before passing out.

Cut To:


Warehouse – Corridor – Same Time

Stepping over another body, Crystal turned into the next corridor and came to a slow stop.

Ahead of her stood a group of twelve men, illuminated by the shafts of light through the window that stretched between them. Each bore arms, such as baseball bats, guns and knives.

She kept her narrow eyes on them.

“You fucking stupid, Crystal?” one of the men called.

“‘Ya boy’s dead,” another added.

“Bitch comes in here thinking she can take us on alone,” the other replied.

She balled her hand into a fist. Her breathing intensified. Her nose flared and crinkled.

“Who said she’s alone, dumbfuck?”

Crystal blinked. Almost shivering, she turned her head slightly to the left to see Maddie walk up beside her, wearing an earpiece.

“She’s never alone.”

Now looking to her right, SlayBae sidled up wearing a branded hoodie and her own earpiece.

“Nope, never,” Lexi said, walking up to Maddie’s left. She wore a crash helmet with a camera attached to the top, and quickly pushed up her glasses after they slid down her nose. “We’re in an upside down check mark.” The goons looked at each other, confused. “That means you’re in for a world of hurt.”

Crunching and creasing leather could be heard as Slaygirl emerged from the darkness behind Crystal. “You, and then your boss,” she said in the deeper tone she used to disguise her voice. “Tanner has no idea what’s coming for him.”

Cut To:


Warehouse – Generator Room – Same Time

Her face lit by her laptop, Anisha leaned forward watching the corridor on the security feed. She smiled. “She’s our girl.”

Cut To:


Warehouse – Corridor – Same Time

“And we have had enough of your shit,” Maddie sneered.

“So, boys,” SlayBae stepped forward, unzipping her hoodie and throwing it to the floor. “Where d’ya want it?”

The goons looked at each other in confusion, and one parroted, “Where do we want it?”

“The ass kicking we’re about to drop on you. Is right here good?” SlayBae answered.

Cut To:


Warehouse – Generator Room – Same Time

On the word “good” from SlayBae, Anisha made a few keystrokes on her laptop and then smiled as she hit enter.

Cut To:


Warehouse – Corridor – Same Time

With that, the lights in the corridor suddenly shut off. Then there was an audible clink, something metallic striking the floor. A small cylinder rolled toward the men, a stylized 3D printed “SG” embossed on the front. A flash bang.

It exploded.

As it did, right off the mark, the girls leaped ahead. Time seemed to slow. Maddie rushed forward, her face steeled as hard as her balled fists. SlayBae launched herself into a cartwheel. Crystal stalked forward, while Lexi slid between her legs, on her back, the wheels on her backpack scuffing the dirty floor. Slaygirl kicked herself into the air and off the corridor wall.

Then time resumed.

Crystal effortlessly grabbed the crowbar held by the first man to reach them, snatching it from his grasp and swinging it into his face. A henchman with a gun began to take aim on Crystal, but Lexi skated between them, saying “On your right.” Crystal looked over to see Lexi throw a water balloon. It hit the man in the face and instantly started to burn him. A few feet away, Maddie went toe-to-toe, ducking and diving, and delivering an almighty uppercut that sent the goon nearly to the ceiling.

Continuing to cartwheel down the hallway, SlayBae barreled end over end toward one of the henchmen. He took a wild swing at her and missed before she wrapped her thighs around his neck, taking him on her next cartwheel and slamming him down to the ground.

Lexi zoomed and dodged on the ground between legs, swerving between bodies, all the while laughing maniacally. Once she was clear, she raised her selfie stick, showing that it had been strapped with bottle rockets. Still cackling, she pressed a button on the grip, letting the rockets loose at the men with guns as they raised to fire. The whirling gave way to a fizz, which gave way to a cacophony of bangs that sent the armed men recoiling, some firing blindly. She gulped.

“Back up!” she said to anyone who might hear her.

Moving at a blur, Slaygirl planted herself in front of Lexi. She put her leg out to stop her roll and pulled up her cape to absorb the bullets, sending the casings clattering to the floor. Then she lowered it and threw out her hands, flinging two shurikens at the hands of the nearest men holding guns, causing them to drop the weapons. She sprinted forward and brought her left knee up to one of their chests, using the momentum to spin and strike the other down hard.

“Lexi,” Slaygirl instructed, “start frisking and cuffing.”

“Roger that,” Lexi said, and she moved to the nearest fallen guard.

“Anyone have eyes on Tanner or Dylan?” Slaygirl asked. When no one replied, she asked, “Ani? Where are you? Copy that?”

As Crystal advanced, dispatching and disarming more men, a shadow passed the opaque block glass window. The shadow grew darker and then crashed through the glass.

Anisha let go of a rope, diving into a forward roll. She used her momentum to get back to her feet and deliver a twisting flurry of punches and jujitsu elbow blows, avoiding all the glass she just broke. Within seconds, she kneeled atop one of the men on the ground.

“Just dropping in,” Anisha said.

“Show off.” SlayBae smirked.

“Cut the chatter,” Slaygirl warned. “Ani, cover Maddie.”

“Maddie, watch your six,” Anisha said as she got to her feet and began to run.

“Copy that.” Maddie nodded and turned behind her, her face steeled. She marched towards the last remaining goon, who fumbled as he raised his weapon, trembling. Then she crouched, allowing Crystal to jump from behind her, roll over her flat back and thrust her hard heel into the goon’s chest. He went flying backward, slamming into the metal sliding door with a distinct clang.

Then, silence.

The men lay on the floor, some unconscious, some writhing in pain. One tried to get up, but SlayBae raised her leg high, holding it straight up, her foot above her eye level, then released it square down onto the man’s head, knocking him out.

More silence ensued.

“I didn’t know y’all cared enough to–” Crystal began, as she looked around at the women who’d gathered there.

“You should have, but thankfully Lisa and this costumed boss-lady over here did. We got you,” SlayBae reassured her, with a shrug of her shoulders and a small smile.

“We gotta move before Tanner runs or–” Crystal’s voice quivered.

“He won’t,” Maddie bluntly supplied.

“How d’ya know?” Crystal asked, as she bent down and retrieved a metal baseball bat.

“Trust us,” Slaygirl told her, her voice full of gravel. “We came with a battle plan.”

Crystal stopped for a moment. “Girls, I…”

“Yeah, yeah, see what asking for help does? It gets shit done,” Maddie barked, and as she turned away she smiled.

Just barely, so did Crystal.

Cut To:


Warehouse – Tanner’s Office – Moments Later

You fucked up, Crystal! You fucked up big time!” Tanner screamed, his arm wrapped around a bleating Dylan.

Flanked by the others, Crystal strode into a well-decorated office, or at least it was well-decorated compared to the rest of the warehouse.

“Eyes on me, baby, eyes on me,” Crystal smiled softly at her son.

“You’re mistaken,” Anisha said matter-of-factly. “Your password strength is, well, since there is a young man here, let’s say it’s crappy. Sheesh. My, all those shady transactions…”

What?!” Tanner curled the corner of his lip.

“My Q would know,” Slaygirl replied.

“That’s Q as in Bond Q, not as in Star Trek Q, FYI,” SlayBae said, hands on her hips.

Anisha blinked. “I-I’m impressed,” she said as she looked at SlayBae, who gave her a wink with a small grin.

Lexi snapped her fingers in affirmation.

Tanner pointed at Slaygirl. “And you! What did I do to you to get you to put on that stupid fucking outfit?”

Slaygirl took a deep breath and stepped forward. “My parents…”

“Oh my God, he killed your parents?” Lexi squeaked. “You really are like Batman.” She noticed the others staring at her. “I mean, that’s terrible, I’m sorry for your loss, but you are such a badass I can’t even right now.”

“I’ve killed a lot of people’s parents,” Tanner said. “What makes you think I’d remember yours?”

Slaygirl’s head swiveled between them. “What? No, I…My parents are fine. I talked to my mom on the phone an hour ago. No, they were just bilked out of their retirement savings by one of your scam call centers.”

“That’s…less badass,” Lexi commented. Slaygirl turned to glare at her. “I’m glad your parents aren’t dead, though!”

“As superhero origin stories go, it is missing that certain…oomph,” SlayBae put in apologetically.

“It was a lot of money!” Slaygirl said defensively, her voice almost losing its gravelly tone. “My dad had to sell his boat.” She blinked, then turned back to Tanner. “Wait, how many people’s parents have you killed?”

“Just give me my boy. It’s over. This is over,” Crystal said quietly, motioning between her and Tanner.

It’s not fucking over, you stupid bitch!

“‘Yo, small dick, can we wrap this up? I gotta get ready for a date.” Maddie tapped her wrist with a finger.

I still own you! I run this town!” Tanner’s eyes nearly bulged out of his head.

“Like fuck you do,” a voice echoed from behind him.

Tanner spun around sharply to see the handle of a crossbow connect with his face. He fell backward with a groan. Dylan screamed, but Lisa grabbed him with one hand and spun him into her embrace.

“It’s all right, son, it’s all right. Go t’ya mummy. There’s a good lad.” Lisa let him go and then stood over Tanner and aimed her crossbow with both hands. “You’re nothing but a small pricked dickhead who thinks he’s a big man, but bollocks? You ain’t fuckin’ got none, mate.”

“No, he ain’t,” Faith stepped out from behind Lisa to stand beside her garnering looks of disbelief and steps backward from the others. “And you think that thing ain’t loaded? It’s not kept behind the bar for show.”

“What the shit?” Maddie exclaimed, as Crystal bent down so Dylan could run into her arms.

“It’s… Faith? You came tonight?!” Lexi said through a wide grin. Her selfie stick somehow came loose from her holster and began to slowly extend.

“She’s even hotter when she’s threatening people,” SlayBae said, to absolutely no one but herself.

Bringing her head up from nuzzling Dylan’s shoulder, Crystal looked at Tanner squirming on the floor. She kissed her son on the top of his head and then stalked toward him.

Lisa’s glance met Crystal’s, her eyes warm and glinting in the half light. They shared a nod and Lisa stepped back. Faith placed a hand on her shoulder and gave her a look, her eyes flitting briefly to the others. Lisa caught this and replied with a crestfallen smile.

“I…I will get you, bitch. I will fucking end you…” Tanner screamed.

“No, no you won’t,” Crystal bent down beside him. She smiled, “We’re free.”

Cut To:


Watcher’s Council – Auditorium – Night

“How much do you want to bet that she won’t be here?” Jen asked the people gathered around her. Wearing a long, slim-fitting white dress, she stood in a circle with two young men on either side of her, along with Liz, Belizet, Marty, another young lady and Alex. She turned to her brother and said, “I can’t believe you really thought she would show up on her own.”

“Why not?” Alex countered. “I trust her. Besides, who are you to judge? You showed up with two dates,” he added, pointing to the two teenage boys on either side of her. Both of the boys shrugged in agreement.

“They both asked,” she replied defensively.

“You didn’t have to say yes.”

“Why should I have to say no?” Jen countered. “I like them both. I’m not looking to marry them. I’m not looking to sleep with them. I just like hanging out with them.” The two boys nodded in agreement, but didn’t say anything. “Just stop poly shaming me.”

“Then stop taking bets on my love life,” he shot back.

Liz nodded her head in agreement. “Betting on your brother’s love life is tacky…Speaking of, what base do you think Marty will get to with Susan tonight?” Everybody in the circle began to laugh, including Martin and the blond girl standing next to him, Susan. “I can be just as tacky as Jen!”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Auditorium Entrance – Moments Later

At a small table by the entrance sat Rowena, Dawn and Skye. They collected tickets and checked off the numbers from their database in front of them. Maddie stood in line with the other students, looking around at the crowded auditorium. She appeared to be nervous and out of her element, dressed in a short black sleeveless dress with a puffy silk skirt. When she came up to the desk, she was met with a smiling Rowena, her hand gently extended.

“Do you have your ticket?” the watcher asked politely.

Maddie handed it over without comment, and Rowena typed the number inside on the laptop in front of her. Once it was input, she began to smile and looked up.

“I’m glad you made it, Maddie,” she said sincerely, as she handed the stub back to the young woman. “He’s inside.”

Maddie took the ticket and put it back into a small purse, while a look of realization began on her face at the same time. “You’re Rowena Alister…erh…Rosenberg.”

“Yes, I’m Alex’s mom. He’s looking forward to seeing you tonight.”

Skye did a double take, and her eyes got wide, “This is the lancer, isn’t it!?”

Maddie seemed to blush in embarrassment, and Rowena dismissively shook her head.

“We’ve actually met before,” Maddie pointed out.

“We have?” Skye sat back in her chair, resting her hands behind her head. “You gotta keep in mind, I’m immortal. I can’t remember all the walking smoothies that cross my path.”

“Please ignore my quasi-sister-in-law,” Rowena sighed.

“She’s more like a big sister,” Skye remarked, with a thumb pitched in Rowena’s direction. “…that used to do scientific experiments on me.”

“And like a little sister, she often tries to cause problems on purpose,” the watcher explained. She then turned to Skye and said, “Yes, she’s the freelance slayer.” She then turned back to Maddie and said, “Have a good time tonight.”

“Thank you,” Maddie said quickly and made her escape. She headed directly towards the dance floor, where she could hear Elton John and Dua Lipa’s “Cold Heart” playing.

Cut To:


Watcher’s Council – Auditorium – Continuous

The ‘Gileses and Rosenbergs were already on the dance floor, along with their dates for the evening, doing the electric slide as other students began to join in. When the line of dancers turned in unison, that’s when Alex saw Maddie and began to make his way over.

Maddie was scanning the partygoers when her eyes finally fixed on Martin strolling toward her. He appeared to move in slow motion as he pushed some hair back from his forehead.

In her mind, Salt-N-Pepa’s “Whatta Man” began playing as she kept watching him in appreciation. As he began to smile and straighten out his tie, Maddie could feel her mouth open in wonder. With his outstretched hand toward her, she began to smile as well and reached for him. He closed the distance between them and planted a soft kiss on her cheek. Only then was the spell broken.

“I knew you would make it,” he complimented her. “You look beautiful.”

Maddie fumbled for what to say at first, and then just muttered, “You too.” In a louder voice, she said, “I mean, you’re handsome and…taller, too, somehow.” She chuckled, which made him smile.

He took her by the hand, and she didn’t resist. As they walked, he leaned over to her ear above the music. 

“I can assume your operation tonight went okay?” he asked.

“Better than okay,” she answered. “Thanks for asking.”

He gave her hand a squeeze and then pulled her toward his friends as they began to dance in formation. Maddie didn’t seem quite sure what to do, so Alex took the lead, putting himself between her and Jen, and showed her how to step. This put Maddie next to Liz who looked over her shoulder.

“Like this,” the watcher said as she moved. Maddie watched, sandwiched between Liz and Alex, and followed suit.

“Yay,” Jen said in a bored, yet annoyed, tone to Martin. “She made it.”

Martin grinned. “Aren’t you glad he didn’t take that bet?”

Jen shook her head and walked off the dance floor, motioning the two guys with her to follow. “I need a drink,” she proclaimed as she left.

Cut To:


Detention Center – Same Time

“So I guess it’s just us girls, huh? The only ones without a date to the dance.”

Shannon’s head was leaned back against the wall across from Zorgy’s cage. The Empress had her hands around two of the metal bars, each glowing lightly green.

“It is kind of weird, though,” Zorgy continued. “World’s gonna end any time now, and you guys throw a party.” She shook her head. “Not to mention that this place is falling apart. Does Willow Rosenberg even still work here?”

Shannon did not move. Emma said nothing, but she did look at Shannon for her reaction.

“So that’s a no, huh? Who could have predicted this surprising turn of events.” She grinned like a Cheshire cat.

At that, Shannon leveled her eyes at the demon. She blinked twice. “What did you do?”

“Little old me?” Zorgy batted her eyes. “What could I have done? I’ve been in here.”

Shannon took a couple steps forward. “What’s the endgame here?”

Zorgy looked her in the eye. “I mean, I told you that. But before that? You know, the usual. You know, you’re right, I spend a lot of time studying humans. Know your enemy and all that. And it’s not a coincidence that pretty much the oldest story is Cain and Abel. Siblings who betray each other. Every bond you have is made to be broken. All it takes is somebody to come along and break ’em.” She shrugged. “As Shakespeare wrote, that’s the Circle of Life.”

“I don’t think Shakespeare wrote that,” Emma said.

“Well, he should have.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Auditorium – Moments Later

With the exception of Jen and her two dates by the punch bowl, the partygoers were out on the dance floor, singing and dancing to Lizzo’s “About Damn Time.”

Liz jumped in the middle of their circle and sang.

In a minute, I’ma need a sentimental man or woman to pump me up.

Then she pointed at Maddie, who, after only the very briefest of hesitations, sang, “Feelin’ fussy, walkin’ in my Balenci-ussys tryna bring out the fabulous.

Maddie pointed to Alex who sang, ”Cause I give a fuck way too much. I’ma need like two shots in my cup.

He pointed to Martin, who crooned, “One to get up, One to get down. Mm, that’s how I feel right now.

He pointed over to his date Susan, who sang, “Oh, I’ve been so down and under pressure. I’m way too fine to be this stressed, yeah.

Susan pointed to Belizet, who put his locked fingers under his chin and sang, “Oh, I’m not the girl I was or used to be, uh.”

They all smiled and then shouted, “Bitch, I might be better!” and started to all sing the chorus. A few seconds later, Liz looked at her watch. She pulled out her phone from her small purse before walking away from the dancing group.

From a distance, Rowena watched them. As the friends kept dancing, Liz had one finger in her ear and the other on the phone. She was nodding with her eyes closed and a pained expression on her face. She hung up and stood looking at her friends dancing, still not joining them. As the flute solo in the bridge began, Rowena closed the distance between them.

Without any pretense, she asked Liz, “What’s wrong?”

The junior watcher seemed caught off guard and jumped slightly. “Oh, I…nothing…” she trailed off and then turned to fully face Rowena. “Why does life suck so bad? Aunt Willow’s gone. You’re leaving. I don’t know if I even want to be a part of the Council now, with my family dropping like flies around here, and I can’t close a freakin’ record deal.”

Rowena heard what she said and then took a moment to process it. “That was Joe?” she asked, motioning toward the phone.

Liz nodded. “They’re passing. I-I wanted too much and I let them all down,” she said as she inclined her head toward her bandmates.

Rowena looked at her kids, who were dancing for the moment, and then back to Liz. “I can’t speak for Marty or Jen, but Alex was firm that a bad deal was worse than no deal. So what did Joe say?”

Liz grinned slightly. “Same thing. He still wants to be our manager – thinks we should get on the road, but my vehicle is on its last legs and…Again, why does life suck? Can’t something, anything, go right?”

“Sometimes adulting really really sucks, but just like good times, bad times don’t last forever. Sometimes you find help when you least expect it.”

“It’s really bad right now, Rowena,” Liz told her.

“It is,” she replied. “And it’s scary, huh?”

Liz nodded and looked back at her friends, who were still laughing and dancing. “Do I tell them now, or wait?” Her eyes never left them as she spoke.

Rowena rolled her shoulders. “It’s not easy being a leader.”

“I don’t think I’m a leader.”

“You are,” Rowena insisted. “And not because you’re a chosen Watcher or a Giles. It’s just who you are. So, what’s the leader say?”

“Let them enjoy tonight, while I suck it up,” Liz answered immediately. “I can carry this info for the next twelve hours.”

“There you go,” Rowena replied. “Yes, misery loves company, but I also understand why you want to protect them, if only for one more night. That’s why you’re a leader. You can all be miserable and have a pity party tomorrow together. Just don’t make it too long a party, since it sounds like you and Joe have a tour to plan.”

“Sure you don’t want to still stick around the Council and be my Mr. Miyagi?”

“No promises,” Rowena said coyly. “I still have hope that we can get everyone to just calm the hell down. But Grace needs to know that if Willow’s not welcome here, then neither am I.”

“And neither am I,” Liz countered. Rowena looked like she was going to issue an objection. “No, Aunt Ro, listen. I’ve never faced any battle like this. But you have, several times. Willow even more so. Grace can’t just toss all that experience aside. So if you’re not welcome here, I’m not either.”

Rowena just smiled and then sang, “Okay (Okay), alright. It’s about damn time!” They both grinned. “Seriously, go have fun tonight. Stop and smell the flowers now and then.”

Liz looked over and watched the friend group waving her over as Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” played. Rowena motioned for her to go back over to them. Liz took the invitation and began to dance as she made her way back to them.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Public Restroom – Minutes Later

Liz washed her hands, then looked up into the mirror at herself. She wriggled uncomfortably in her dress. The music from the dance blared in the background, muffled by a few walls. Then her phone buzzed in her purse. She pulled it out and looked at the message: “You have 427 Twitter notifications.” She groaned.

As Liz walked out of the bathroom, she almost ran smack into Trina walking in. The girls both jumped out of each other’s way, glaring daggers at each other.

“Shit, Giles, it’s not enough you take all my assignments, you gotta run me over, too?” the redhead snapped. “Get the hell out of my way.”

When Liz didn’t say anything back, Trina just shook her head and kept walking into the ‘ladies’ room. Liz watched her go, biting her lower lip and breathing hard out through her nose. Then, to herself, she said, “You know what, fuck this.” Then she turned around and briskly walked back into the restroom, her shoes clacking on the tile as she did.

Trina barely had time to turn and scowl before Liz shoved her phone in front of her face. “What the hell is this?” Liz growled at her.

Trina blinked, her eyes flicking down to the screen only briefly. Then her expression hardened again, and she said, “Get out of my face.”

“You know what?” Liz’s voice grew louder. “No. I want you to read this bullshit and explain it to me.”

“Yeah, I’m not gonna do that.”

Liz made an extremely annoyed sound in the back of her throat and pulled back the phone to read it aloud herself. “@WatcherTrina on Twitter writes: ‘Turns out Rowena Allister is resigning from the Council along with her wife because they don’t like following orders. I guess Liz Giles didn’t see that coming when she had her daddy get her the watcher assignment of her dreams.‘ And then there’s an emoji that looks like it’s crying that I’m pretty sure is supposed to mean laughing, even though it looks nothing like someone laughing. You want to bitch about me online, go for it, I don’t care. But now you’re coming after Rowena Allister, and not just that, you’re doing it with info that’s not supposed to be public yet. I don’t even know where you heard this. What the hell are you playing at, Trina?”

The other girl scoffed and said, “Giles, what are you talking about? I didn’t write that. Just…” She shook her head. “Just leave me alone.”

“I’m sorry, what are you saying?” Liz sighed, leaning back against a nearby wall next to a hand dryer. “Are you…are you saying your Twitter account was hacked? You know how lame that excuse always sounds, right?”

“No, I’m saying that I have never had a Twitter account, dumbass, because I’m not remotely lame enough to consider getting one. Unlike some people, apparently.”

Liz stared at her for a moment, then zoomed in on her phone screen with two fingers. “No, look. It has your photo.” She held up the screen to show a close-up of Trina’s avatar, which was indeed of her own face. “This is your Twitter account. I know you hate me, but please don’t lie to my face.”

“I’m not! I’m–” Trina ran a hand over her face, turned to the bathroom mirror and put both hands down on the counter. “I would never…shit!” She slammed both hands down on the row of sinks.

She struggled to control herself for a second, then turned back to Liz. “I’m gonna tell you something, and I hope you won’t spread it around, but I can’t stop you if you do.”

“See, I won’t do that, because I’m not you,” Liz replied edgily. “I’m not constantly seeking attention.”

Trina shook her head and looked at the ceiling for a moment. “No, you’re not, are you? That’s kind of the problem.” She looked back at Liz. “Anyway, look, I…I grew up in Wheeling, West Virginia, OK, and to say I hated it there with the fire of ten thousand suns is a truly incalculable understatement. I’ve got two brothers. One of ’em’s a mechanic who has exactly three topics of conversation: cars, Call of Duty and Herbalife supplements. And he’s the cool brother, because the other one is in prison for runnin’ a meth lab outta my Great Uncle’s garage.” Liz blinked at the realization that the redhead’s voice had suddenly taken on a distinct Appalachian twang that it had never had before. “My momma told me she didn’t know who my daddy was. I think she does, but doesn’t wanna tell me on account of he’s too much of a sleazebag. Point is, I got out. I’m the first member of my family in a hundred years, maybe longer, who’s escaped. And I did it ’cause I worked hard, really, really hard, and also, I’m fuckin’ Chosen. By the goddamn universe or whatever you want, and so, yeah, when I see somebody jump the line who didn’t work as hard as me, I see red, but I’m never going back to Wheeling. And I sure as hell wouldn’t jeopardize any of that for a stupid Twitter post, because, regardless of what you think, I’m not an idiot, and I really am really, really good at this.”

Liz stared at her, mouth open slightly. Trina ran a hand over the back of her hair, reality seeming to set in.

“They’re gonna think it was me, aren’t they?” Her tone sounded bleak. “And why not? I know you’ve been looking for an excuse to get rid of me for years now.”

“Trina, no.” Liz held up a hand. “Believe me when I say that you don’t live rent free in my head like that, and you shouldn’t let me live in yours, either.”

“Gee, thanks, your highness,” Trina snapped. Her accent had disappeared once again. “Great advice.”

“And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I believe you. And, despite the fact that you refuse to see that I work just as hard as you, I want to help.”

Trina looked at her, then leaned back on the sinks in a way that made it seem like her legs weren’t quite working. “Why?” she finally asked.

“Because I’m not a bitch like you,” Liz replied with a grin.

Trina gave her a look that would have melted lead, but it lasted only a moment before she sighed again and leaned her head back. “Giles, what the fuck is happening?” she finally asked.

“I don’t know.” Then Liz got a far-off look in her eyes and said, “But maybe I know where to start.”

“Oh good!” Trina did not sound like she meant it.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Auditorium – Moments Later

Liz walked back into the dance, Trina just behind her, as “Left and Right,” by Charlie Puth and Jungkook blared over the speakers. Just inside the door, she found Belizet waiting for her. He eagerly walked over and handed her a disposable cup of punch.

“Hey,” she greeted him warmly. She leaned down and sniffed the cup, then noticed the concerned look on her date’s face. “No, it’s not that I don’t like it, I’m just checking to make sure Jen didn’t spike it.”

“Alcohol doesn’t smell, dumbass,” Trina looked up from her phone long enough to say.

“Vodka doesn’t smell,” Liz corrected. “But if somebody put in, say, Schnapps or…never mind,” Liz sighed, then motioned from Belizet to Trina and back again. “Bel, this is Trina. We’re…coworkers. Trina, this is Belizet.”

The redheaded watcher-in-training raised an eyebrow. “You’re surprisingly cute.” She motioned with her head toward Liz. “So what are you doing with this one? Gold digging? I guess I can respect that.”

Liz grabbed the bridge of her nose, then jumped in before Belizet could form a response. “I told you, my parents aren’t…” She blinked a few times. “Wait, you think he’s cute?”

Trina rolled her eyes. “You don’t know me, Giles, obviously, and you definitely don’t know what guys I’m into.”

“No, I mean, in your tweet you said…but you never had a Twitter account, right, which means that was fake, too. How long has this been going on?”

Trina held her phone up for the others to see it. “Uh, kind of a long time. I knew I should’ve had a google alert on my name. So can we stop flirting with the boytoy and do whatever your plan was before I get kicked out?”

Liz just turned back to Belizet and asked, “Have you seen Jen?”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Lobby – Minutes Later

Seated a chair in a far-flung corner of the Council lobby, Jen typed furiously on her souped-up laptop.

“Can we hurry this up, Slayer?” Trina asked edgily. She was pacing behind Jen. Liz and Belizet sat across from them in a single large chair, her on his lap. “It’s only my whole career and reputation on the line here. No biggie.”

“I’m not doing this for you,” Jen replied without looking up from the laptop. “I don’t care if you said those particular terrible things or not. You are a massive bitch who can go die in a fire.”

“Ouch,” Belizet muttered.

Jen continued, “I’m doing this because Liz told me it was important. But if you keep bothering me, I’m going to stop and go back to the two hot boys waiting for me, and your career can go fuck itself.”

Trina made an offended noise and looked over at Liz, who just grinned back.

“Hey, have you seen the girl Alex brought?” Belizet asked, in a tone that gave away how desperate he was to make conversation on a different topic. Liz’s head swiveled, and she gave him a look indicating that he had chosen the wrong topic. “I don’t think I’ve seen her around before,” he finished lamely. Silently, Liz made a slashing motion across her throat with her finger in the attempt to get Belizet to stop.

Jen still did not glance up from the laptop screen, but the clacking of the keys grew louder. “Don’t get me started on that lancer slu– Hey, this shit is weird.”

Trina hunched over Jen’s shoulder, causing the slayer to side-eye her suspiciously. “What’s weird?” she asked.

“So, you’re right,” Jen continued after a moment’s hesitation. “Somebody in…I guess this is Kazakhstan? Somebody with a Kazakhstan IP address set up a fake account using your name and photo and made a bunch of posts saying mean stuff about Liz, for some reason.”

“That is weird,” Belizet commented, trying to sound authoritative. Liz rolled her eyes at him. “Hey, I understand computer science and IP’s,” he countered. “I run my parents’ auto dealership website too.”

Liz shrugged and gave a polite nod of approval and then turned back to Jen. “OK, but I’m missing something here. Why would somebody in Kazakhstan want to troll me?”

“Your reputation’s worldwide, congrats.” Trina smirked.

“I don’t think they’re in Kazakhstan,” Jen explained, shaking her head. “Hmm, lemma try something,” she said as she began typing again. “It looks like they’re relaying from somewhere else. I might be able to find out where, but it would take me a while. But actually, that’s not the weird part. It’s not just you.”

Liz unfolded herself from Belizet’s lap and stood up, walking over to look over the slayer’s other shoulder. “What do you mean?”

Jen did a little more typing, then turned the laptop to show Liz. “See? When I search ‘Rowena Allister leaving Council,’ it comes up with hundreds of hits. These are all different accounts. I recognize a couple of these people. Junior slayers, that kind of thing. I thought these were all like Trina’s account, fakes, and I was right. Check out the IP addresses.”

Trina squinted. “Senegal, Fiji, the Cayman Islands…these are all different.”

“And they’re not all on the same side, either,” the slayer said. “Some of them think my mom’s a traitor, others are mad at Grace. A bunch of them are yelling at each other about it. If you go back, all these same accounts get into Twitter beefs about Faith coming back, about the new AI app…about us at the Doublemeat Palace shooting…There are hundreds of them.”

Liz cocked her head pensively. “So, OK, what we’re saying is that somebody somewhere went to a lot of trouble to make hundreds of bots that all seem like real people to…to get in fights with each other online? Who would do that? And why?”

“As Uncle Reteesk would say, that’s a long way to go for a plate of goat eyes,” Belizet commented.

“Oh come on, you guys aren’t that stupid, right?” Trina had her hands on her hips. “It’s obvious.”

Jen glowered at her. “I meant what I said, you know. Both my parents are leaving, so I probably am, too. Which means the part of my brain that’s worried about getting in trouble with the Council if I carve out your spleen with a butter knife and feed it to you is suffering from a severe bout of senioritis.”

“No, she’s right,” Liz said.

“You’re taking her side!?!” Jen almost yelled.

“There are no sides, except maybe the side that doesn’t want you to get arrested for pointless spleen-related violence,” Liz replied. “It’s Zorgy. She’s spreading chaos, pitting us all against each other.”

“Or in other words,” Trina put in, “I am so important that the Empress of all of Vor spent a bunch of time pretending to be me.”

Liz ignored her, a far-off look in her eyes. “She wants us all to hate each other, everybody who can get in her way.”

“Seems like she’s pretty much gotten her wish,” Belizet pointed out.

Liz’s eyes got bigger. “We’ve gotta report this.”

“To who?” Jen asked, “Half the Council’s quit.”

“Not all of them, not yet.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Auditorium – Minutes Later

Liz and Belizet walked back into the dance with her arm through the crook of his elbow. Trina trailed a few steps behind them. “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals blasted in the background.

Liz leaned in to her date and said, “I like this one, but we have to find Ro. Sorry for, uh…doing watcher stuff during all this. Apparently I can’t turn it off.”

“It’s OK,” he said. “I hear about all this a lot, it’s good to see it in action.”

“Enjoy it while you can,” Liz said. “It kind of feels like it’s all falling apart right now. But…it helps to try to do stuff to help, y’know?”

“What?” he asked, ruefully pointing to one ear as the music kept blasting.

Liz ignored this, instead pointing off to her left. “There she is!”

Rowena stood next to the buffet table, wearing a dark crimson, crushed velvet blouse, with a pig-in-a-blanket a few inches from her open mouth. Before it got there, however…

“Rowena!” Liz called from right behind her, startling the watcher enough to almost cause her to drop the hors d’oeuvre into her cleavage.

“Yes, Liz,” she said as she spun around to face the trio of Liz, Belizet and Trina, sounding more than a little put upon. She tried to smile. “Are you guys having a good time?” Her eyes strayed momentarily to Trina’s scowling face. “Liz, I really don’t have time to deal with whatever–”

“No, look,” Liz told her, “we’ve figured something out. Can we maybe talk in the hallway for a sec?”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Hallway Outside Auditorium – Moments Later

“…so it’s not just Trina, Jen found hundreds of these accounts in just a few minutes. It’s an army of bots that are just arguing with each other.”

Liz finished her explanation to Rowena in the hallway just outside the auditorium. The combination of the music and the loud conversations of a large number of teens was barely quieter than it had been inside. The elder watcher sighed at Liz’s expectant look.

“Liz, I understand this is significant, I do. Some kind of…cyber attack. Or…catfishing?”

“Actually, catfishing is when–” Trina began. She had her head leaned back against a nearby wall, her arms crossed over her chest.

“Yes, thank you, Trina, I’m aware I am not completely up with the terms, thank you,” Rowena cut her off with a forced smile. Trina held up both hands in a casual defensive gesture. Rowena turned back to Liz and said, “But compared to what’s going on right now, I’m not sure this is going to be a high priority. Not to mention, I’m probably not the person to come to with this, given…how things are.”

Liz chucked a thumb at her rival leaning against the wall. “If she and I can bury the hatchet long enough to get help, you can too.” Rowena ran a few fingers over the bridge of her nose as she listened. “Come on, you can’t leave. None of you can. Grace and you are friends. Go talk to her.”

“Elizabeth, don’t you think I’ve tried that?” Rowena said, her eyes hardening. “I’ve spent half the dance tonight fielding that woman’s phone calls. This…this isn’t a teenage spat that’s just going to work out. We are…were…are friends, but sometimes things are more complicated than that. I appreciate you’re just trying to help, but I don’t need your advice on how to live my life.”

“But what about my life?” Liz insisted. “How are you supposed to be my Senior if you’re off somewhere that’s not here?”

“I am sure that you will do perfectly with another–”

“Oh my God!” Trina wailed, and both of them snapped their heads in her direction. “I am so fucking sick of everybody here being so insanely extra! Has it always been like this, and I’m just noticing now? It’s like being on a reality show, I keep waiting for somebody to flip a table.”

“Trina–” Rowena began sternly.

“No, she’s right!” Liz argued. “Again! I keep saying it and it doesn’t sound any better in my mouth.”

Trina looked at her in genuine surprise. “Wait, I am?”

“I was so busy being a delinquent last year that I didn’t notice at first,” Liz continued.

“Notice what?” Trina and Rowena both asked.

“I think it’s been this way for a while. Zorgy’s whole M.O. is to divide people, and here we are, divided! That didn’t happen overnight.”

“What are you saying?” Rowena asked.

“I’m saying that all of this stuff online is a big plan by Zorgy to spread chaos. And it’s working! She’s done the division and now she’s moving on to the conquered part of her plan.”

“But I haven’t been on social media,” Rowena pointed out, “and I don’t think Willow has, either. So even if Zorgy is behind what you’re describing, I don’t think you can blame her for what’s going on right now.” She reached out to put a hand on her mentee’s shoulder. “This is just us crappy humans, all on our own. So please, go enjoy the dance. For me, OK?”

After a moment’s silence, Trina cut in, “So, just to be clear, I’m not getting punished for somebody stealing my identity or whatever?”

Rowena sighed. “No, it seems fairly conclusive that it wasn’t you.”

“Cool,” she said, pushing off from the wall. “Then I am tired of caring about this, and I’m going to see if the punch is spiked yet.”

She pushed through the nearby doors, back into the dance.

“Hey, I did this!” Liz called after her. “I’m the reason your ass is saved!” There was no response. Rowena patted her twice on the shoulder in consolation.

Cut To:


Watcher’s Council – Auditorium Dance Floor – Night

“The Joker and the Queen” by Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift played. Maddie had her hands joined together as her forearms rested on Alex’s shoulders. For his part, Alex had his hands on her hips as they swayed back and forth.

“This song reminds me of us,” he whispered to her.

Maddie grinned. “Me too,” she said in almost a confession. His eyes scrunched for a moment as he looked at her cheek. Although she was wearing makeup, she had a bruise starting to appear on her left side that looked more mystical than natural. It showed up as a deep red, almost throbbing. “I’m sorry I had to ditch on the Olive Garden tonight,” she added.

“Duty calls sometimes,” he told her. He reached up and caressed the glowing bruise with the back of his fingers.

“I thought I covered that better,” she said, sounding almost self-conscious.

“It’s hidden,” he assured her. “No one can see it.”

“Right. Then how can you?”

Alex just grinned. “My magics are mostly earth based, but I’ve been looking into healing magic this year. I’m more in tune when things are out of place, physically. Sometimes they give off a glow in certain areas. So even when I can’t physically see a bruise, I can…see it, magically? That’s the best way to describe it. May I?” he asked as he held his hand up.

Maddie nodded her consent, and Alex gave her three light strokes. A look of surprise began to form on Maddie’s face and then delight as Alex continued to stroke her face gently. “I don’t believe it,” she muttered.

“It’s going away, isn’t it?” Alex asked knowingly.

“Yeah,” Maddie said in astonishment. “How’d you do that?”

“Healing magic. It always works best with people you’re close to – it’s got a better success rate.”

“So you can heal my bruises?” she asked, amazed.

“Maybe not all of them you’ve ever had, but this one, yeah. And while I’m not a slayer myself, I’ve been around them my whole life. Slaying isn’t something that you ‘do’ – it’s literally a part of who you are.”

Maddie smiled. “That’s what’s cool about you. Other guys I’ve been with would have pouted or figured I wouldn’t show tonight, but you didn’t.”

“I’m not like other guys,” Alex replied.

“You’re not,” Maddie complimented him. “It’s not like I’m a ho or anything, but I’m not a virgin. Still, I can’t say I trusted them like I trust you.” Maddie motioned toward the DJ and said, “I’m showing you my cards,” referring to the song.

“Okay,” Alex said, nodding. “Here’s mine. Although I could lie and boast a long list of lovers, I am, in fact, a virgin. Not by choice…more by lack of opportunity.”

As he smiled, Maddie laughed. “Well, you did kinda look twelve until, like, now,” she said earnestly. “I’m still down for Olive Garden some night. And I really am sorry I had to cancel dinner and change the plans.”

“Are you kidding?” he asked incredulously. “We did everything I wanted to do tonight – it’s perfect. I got to drink some punch and dance with you and my friends.”

“You are a man of simple pleasures, Alex Rosenberg, and you’ve got some cool friends. Wish I could say the same for your sis, but…”

Maddie let the sentence hang, and Alex picked it up, “For what it’s worth, she’s not usually like this. We’ve always been super close, but this past year things have…shifted, so I apologize for her.”

“That’s okay,” Maddie told him. “I’m not here for her. I’m here for you, and I gotta say you are fire tonight in this suit, boy. For real.”

“You look gorgeous. When you walked in, I felt like the luckiest guy here. That’s corny, eh?”

“No, but saying corny is. Also, that word eh isn’t far behind. Where’d you pick up that last century lingo?” she teased.

Alex chuckled. “My moms, and don’t judge. I didn’t even break out ‘nifty’ yet,” he replied. “I will say, though…I feel pretty nifty dancing this close.”

Maddie giggled. “You know, Al, I find it hard to believe that the only things you wanted were fruit punch and a dance tonight.”

Alex smiled. “You know what?”

Maddie smiled back. “What?”

“I’m still feeling pretty lucky. I’m goin’ for it.”

He closed the distance between them and their lips met. His movements weren’t urgent, but they weren’t lazy either. When they pulled back briefly, this time Maddie put her hand behind Alex’s head and brought him closer as they began to kiss again. Soon, though, her eyes shot open as she felt Alex being ripped away from her embrace.

They turned to see an infuriated Jen Rosenberg.

“What the hell?” Alex complained.

Jen still had a hold of Alex by the blazer and gave him a slight shake. “What’s wrong with you?”

Maddie pulled Alex toward her, freeing him from Jen’s grasp. By this time, a small circle around them started to notice the confrontation. Jen pointed to Maddie while she looked at Alex. “This is the bitch who destroyed the museum, which not only cost millions of dollars, but almost got both of us killed. Have you forgotten that? I’m honestly not clear why she’s not in frickin’ jail, but I definitely am not going to put up with her making out with my brother.”

Maddie stepped forward, putting Alex behind her and motioning toward herself. “This bitch is gonna destroy you if you keep yankin’ my boyfriend around.”

“Boyfriend?” Jen and Alex both exclaimed. Alex wore a big smile, while Jen’s jaw was set as she pointed a finger and growled, “You need to go now. This is a Council event, not a lancer event. Go back to your dive bar, Skank.”

Maddie looked like she was going to step closer, but Alex stood between them, while Martin put a hand on Jen’s shoulder. “Let’s all take a breather here?” he suggested.

Jen pushed his hand off of her. “No one asked your opinion, Marty.” She turned her attention back to Alex and said, “Get her out of here,” as she pushed him into Maddie, who easily caught him. “Or I will.”

For her part, once Alex was fully upright, Maddie sidestepped him and pushed Jen, making her stumble backward several feet. That’s when the small crowd around them started to yell, “Fight! Fight! Fight!” Jen reared her arm back and released it, but Alex’s glowing hand appeared in front of Maddie’s face, blocking the blow and catching Jen’s fist.

Cut To:


Rosenberg-Allister House – Bedroom – Same Time

Willow wore a Guy Fawkes mask that was identical to that worn by the person on the monitor in front of her.

The voice on the other end sounded distorted, and the gender was indistinguishable. “I’ve learned the purpose of your amulet.”

“Wonderful,” Willow replied cheerfully.

The person on the other side of the monitor said, “I’ll be happy to share this information.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Auditorium Dance Floor – Same Time

Jen’s fist continued to push forward, and Alex appeared to be using all his strength in his magically enhanced hand that looked turquoise and appeared to be twice its normal size. The two of them were now at a stalemate, with neither gaining ground.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Alex demanded through gritted teeth.

Jen didn’t seem to be working up a sweat just yet and, with a final push, she shoved Alex’s hand away. They both moved to stand face to face, with only inches between them.

“She’s not like us,” Jen hissed. “She uses her gifts for selfish reasons.”

“You don’t know me, Bitch,” Maddie shot off from behind Alex.

For his part, Alex talked over Maddie and told his sister, “Stop acting like the jealous girlfriend. It’s creepy.”

Jen ignored his remark. She pushed Alex to the side and turned to face Maddie. “What’d you call me, Skank?”

Maddie stepped up but before she or Jen could make another move, Alex created what looked like a glowing lasso and used it to snag Jen’s legs. With a tug of the mystical rope, he brought his sister to the floor with a thud. The gathering crowd voiced their surprise in jeers and gasps.  He wasn’t able to sustain the rope, however, and when it vanished, he fell on his backside, his nose beginning to bleed.

Both siblings were on the ground now. They stared at one another for a few seconds and then charged at each other, going into a roll across the floor.

“Oh shit,” Martin said, as he took Susan’s hand. He gave up their front row seat to the melee and quickly pushed his way through the growing crowd of onlookers, with Susan in tow. “We need help,” he told her.

The twins continued to roll along the ground, grabbing and clawing at each other as they went.

V.O. (the masked figure from Willow’s computer):  “Just know that there may come a day when your skills will be called upon.”

Jen came up on top when they finally came to stop in front of the DJ booth.  She threw a fist aimed at Alex’s face. He moved his head at the last moment and she struck the ground with such force that the floor cracked slightly. Alex took a deep breath and blew it out. The sheer force of the gale he created made Jen turn away.

V.O.: “If that day comes, you cannot refuse the request.”

Alex took the opportunity caused by the diversion to push Jen to the side and rise to his feet. For her part, Jen rolled with the wind gust and tumbled twice before arriving at her feet again. Maddie looked like she was going to rush forward, but three other slayers formed a wall between her and the twins.

“Stay outta this, Lancer,” one of them warned.

Before Maddie could say anything, she heard a voice approaching from behind her.

“Or what?” Matthew said, coming to stand behind the freelancer.

The slayer snorted. “What are you gonna do to us? You can’t even pass an exam without turning your instructor into a bird.” The two other slayers snickered.

Matthew didn’t look amused, and seconds later he was flanked by two more witches – a tall Asian boy and a slender Caucasian teen girl.

“It’s not just them you need to worry about,” Ned, Matthew’s boyfriend, said as he joined the group. He adjusted his glasses and cracked his knuckles.

“So masc,” Matthew side-eyed as Ned stood beside him. “Love that for you.”

The three slayers stood shoulder to shoulder, and now three magic students and a lone watcher-in-training stood behind Maddie. She watched as the magic students began to slowly step between her and the slayers who seemed undeterred.

V.O.: “By refusing, you will forfeit your life and the lives of those you love.”

The first slayer shook her head and then threw a punch. Matthew held up his hands and a shield formed.

V.O.: “Be warned. Accepting this information is an acceptance of these terms. Do you still want this information?”

The slayer’s punch ricocheted, and immediately the other two slayers charged ahead. Likewise, the young man and woman conjured fireballs that they hurled toward the slayers. Ned moved to rush forward, but Maddie pulled him back by the scruff of his shirt. She shook her head and rolled her eyes.

Cut To:


Rosenberg-Allister House – Bedroom – Same Time

Willow paused and then asked, “Is the info worth it?”

“I don’t know how much your loved ones mean to you. Only you would know that answer,” the masked voice replied.

Willow still seemed reluctant. Then she asked, “If you were in my shoes, would you agree?”

“Again, only you would know the best decision in your circumstance.”

Willow groaned. “I know it’s from Vor, and I can feel the magic surrounding it. I need the information, but I don’t want to be called upon to take a life someday.”

“If that is your concern, I can assure you that inflicting physical harm or death will never be asked of our members…ever. We’re not killers, you know that,” the voice said.

Willow was quiet again, then nodded. “Okay then, I agree to your terms. What is it?”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time

Marty continued to hold Susan by the hand as his head swiveled frantically. Finally, he pointed and pulled Susan along with him. Swiftly, he approached Liz and Rowena, who were standing together in the hallway.

He arrived next to them, sounding worried and out of breath. “There’s trouble. Inside,” he panted.

“What’s wrong?” Rowena asked.

Without delay, Rowena and Liz started forward with the couple leading the way, but before Marty could reply, the auditorium doors crashed open. Jen and Alex grappled with each other, falling to the ground in front of them.

“That!” Marty said, as he pointed to the siblings who were rolling around on the floor.

“Stop it!” Rowena yelled immediately, while Liz yelled, “Guys!”

Neither seemed to pay them any mind. Once on their feet again, Jen was literally rolling with the punches, while Alex used magic to deflect every blow she tried to inflict. They continued to work their way down the hall away from the auditorium.

V.O. (masked figure): “The amulet is a totem detector.”

Dawn and Skye rounded the corner upon hearing the commotion and watched as the two siblings sparred with each other. They weren’t the only ones that filed into the hallway, though. Some of the students had gravitated outside to watch the fight. It was then that Dawn looked over into the auditorium to see six students inside, also fighting.

“I’ll deal with them,” Dawn told Skye, pointing inside the auditorium. “Get these students back inside.”

Seeing a fire alarm on the wall, Rowena pulled it down and the noise began blaring instantly.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Detention Area – Same Time

Shannon and Zorgy both heard the alarm go off, and Zorgy smiled.

“Sounds like trouble’s afoot at the Watchers Council,” Zorgy teased. “As Head Slayer, shouldn’t you check that out?”

Shannon shifted uneasily, but didn’t move or take her eyes off Zorgy.

After a few moments of waiting for Shannon to say or do anything, Zorgy released a heavy sigh and said, “Fuck this. I’m outta here.”

She stood up, looked Shannon directly in the eye, and then clicked the heels of her red sneakers together three times. “There’s no place like home,” she intoned with a smirk.

V.O. (Willow): “How does it work?”

A split second later, a swirling portal of blue energy sprang into existence inside of the cell. Shannon sprang forward, but could do nothing as Zorgy gave them a small wave, then stepped inside the portal and disappeared.

Shannon turned to Emma. “Get back up! Now!”

Emma nodded and raced from the room.

V.O. (masked figure): “That’s for you to discover. But I can tell you, the totems it finds are amplifier totems.”

V.O. (Willow): “Amplifiers?”

Shannon banged her hands against the metal bars of the cage in frustration and yelled wordlessly. Then, without the first portal closing, another, identical portal popped up behind her. Zorgy sprang out from the portal and kicked Shannon face-first into the bars.

V.O. (masked figure): “Yes. My source says that it finds a person’s insecurities and amplifies them – it will continue to do so until the infected person is a shell of their former self.”

Zorgy smiled deviously at Shannon as the slayer desperately crawled away backward on her hands and knees, now bleeding from her forehead. Reaching the nearest wall, Shannon scrambled to her feet. Her hand searched blindly behind her for the intercom button as she kept her eyes on the demon Empress stalking toward her. On the second try, she found it.  “Gwen Raiden. Containment area two immediately. Code Red.”

Zorgy began to chuckle. A bead of sweat began to roll down Shannon’s temple as her hands gripped her taser.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Auditorium – Same Time

Dawn ran to where the two camps of witches and slayers were fighting each other. She stood between them and clapped her hands together once, which created a vibration strong enough that anyone in her general vicinity got knocked off their feet.

“Enough!” she yelled at the two groups of warring students, who were now scattered around the floor. “Slayers to your dorms now!” she ordered as she pointed to the combatants. She turned and pointed again as she said, “Witches to the Coven Room now!

With that conflict well in hand, Maddie took the opportunity to race toward the hallway where Alex and Jen were last seen. Dawn watched her leave, but didn’t give chase. Instead, she continued to point at the fighting students, ordering them to go to their prospective spaces.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time

“Okay everyone,” Skye told the partygoers. “Everybody back inside. Nothing to see out here.”

Of course, behind her, Jen and Alex continued to brawl with all eyes on them. Getting frustrated at the crowd’s lack of movement, she all at once turned into vamp face and snarled at the students.

“Inside now!” she growled.

The majority of the students appeared shocked and started to move quickly back inside the auditorium, with the exception of Martin. Although his date seemed concerned and hid behind him, he grinned at Skye.

“You’re so scary,” he teased.

“Hey, sometimes you kids need tough love.”

Their conversation was interrupted when they saw Rowena and Liz running toward the gym and also gave chase. Liz got there first. As Jen pulled her fist back to hit Alex, Liz reached up and grabbed her arm.

“Stop!” Liz yelled as she pulled on Jen’s arm.

Not bothering to see who grabbed her, Jen shot her fist back and hit Liz square in the face, sending her flying about ten feet back. She would have hit the ground hard if not for Rowena catching her as she fell, with the two of them tumbling to the ground together.

Upon seeing Jen hurt Liz, Alex snarled and threw a lightning bolt that slammed Jen into the display case by the gym. It shattered apart, framed pictures and trophies flying in several directions. He didn’t wait for her to stand. Alex charged toward her, his arms glowing. He picked her up by an arm and a leg and threw her toward a full-size picture window looking into a courtyard.

“Nooo!” Rowena cried out as she held on to Liz, who was shaking her head in an attempt to stay conscious. Her plea to stop was either too late or went unheeded. Helpless, she watched as Jen sailed through the air and hit the window with such force that it shattered and sent her out into the courtyard.

“Liz? Stay awake, okay?” Rowena told her. “Stay here. I gotta stop them.”

“Go on.” Liz nodded and moved to her elbows. She watched helplessly as Alex floated off the floor and flew through the broken window. Martin, Susan and now Maddie arrived at Liz’s side.

“He can fly?” Maddie asked.

Liz just shrugged, as if she was seeing it for the first time.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Outside broken window – Continuous

Alex continued to sail through the air with great speed and accuracy. He had Jen in his sights.

V.O. (masked figure): “I have a question…why did someone from Vor, the invaders, want the Council to have a talisman?”

Jen was on the ground, face down, as Alex stood over her, both of them looking bloody and matted. As she rolled over, she was faced with Alex’s legs on either side of her, with a fireball in his hand ready to strike. He raised his hand and the genuine fear in Jen’s eyes made him hesitate. He looked at the fireball and then back at her.

“Alexander!” Rowena screamed as she ran toward them. “Stop! This isn’t you or Jen. Please!”

He glanced back again at his sister with the ball still in his hand. A look washed over his face, a mix of wonder and concern.

“Oh my gods,” he said, and then shook his hand to be rid of the flaming projectile. “I get it…”

Nearby, Liz hobbled out the broken window, with Martin, Susan and Maddie holding her upright. She pointed at Rowena. “She’s right. This isn’t us…”

Her legs buckled, and she fell to her knees, with Martin and Maddie catching her descent.

Cut To:

Three Different Locations Simultaneously – Continuous

In a three-way split screen…

Willow, with her mask removed, paced in her bedroom, deep in thought about the question her online informant had asked.

Back at the Council, Liz was on the ground outside, flanked by Martin, Maddie, Susan and now Belizet, who ran up to the group and knelt next to her.

Several feet away, Alex continued to stand over his sister, looking down at her.

Simultaneously, they all wore a look of awareness as they spoke the same two words at the same time from their respective locations…

“We’re cursed.”

Black Out


End of Schism

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