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In The Dark

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					                          In The Dark
                                  Teaser
                   Story by Zahir al-Daoud and CN Winters
      Written by Zahir al-Daoud (with additional writing by CN Winters)
         Produced and Directed by Zahir al-Daoud and CN Winters
                          Edited by DragonWriter17
                                Sound by CSR
               Art Direction by Chris Cook and Zahir al-Daoud
            Artists – Chris Cook, Zahir al-Daoud and CN Winters


 (Note: Due to the uniqueness of WaTchers we ask that you use these for your
personal use only. Please do not post them to other sites on the web. Thanks!)

Fade In:
Int.
Watchers Council – Game Room – Day

A young woman's finger hesitated above the nipple-like tip, which was the top
of a bishop. Less than half a second
later her finger moved elsewhere.
Instead of the bishop she reached to
the figure of a horse—a knight. Her
forefinger came to rest behind the
wooden creature's ears, and then a
thumb and another finger grasped
the chess piece on either side. She
lifted him into the air. Over a castle
he moved, coming to rest on a black
square that matched the ebony color
of the knight himself. Before letting
go, the young woman's forefinger stroked the carved mane of the horse. Then
she sighed, examining the move.

The knight shook almost imperceptibly as she released it.

She looked across at her opponent, who watched with bright eyes. Now that the
move was chosen and made, she breathed again. She nodded in approval
before whispering the word "Check."

"You're a quick study," Skye spoke quietly, but with pride.
Vi shrugged. "Well, I was the brainy one."

Skye raised her eyebrows. "Been meaning to ask you about that."

"What?" Vi asked.

"You and your sister. It’s like you're not twins at all."

"We get that a lot," Vi said with a sigh. "Not usually from other twins, though.
They know how different their siblings can be."

"Oh, I'm sorry. If you'd rather not talk about..." Skye apologized.

"No, no—it’s fine."

Even so, Skye hesitated. Then, she blurted, "So do you two ever feel things
from each other?"

"What do you mean?" Vi asked.

"Well, I saw this show once where one twin was in labor and the other felt it
too. Another story was about a twin who was in a car accident and hit the
windshield and his brother felt it from across town. Ever have anything like
that? Like flashes of panic or pain? Excitement?" She grinned and waggled her
eyebrows.

Vi laughed. "Sometimes."

"Really?"

"Well...it’s kinda odd." Vi took a deep
breath, a smile hovering in her face.
"It used to go both ways. When we
were nine, I broke my leg, and Angie
cried too. Plus, there was this time
when Angie wasn't ready for a test,
but I started sweating, even though it
was my favorite subject and I aced it."

"Really," Skye said, amazed. "So it’s not just all talk."

"Nope," Vi answered. "But by the time we got to high school, we didn't feel each
other so much. I could still feel her sometimes, but it’s been a real long time
since she felt me."

Skye tilted her head a little. "Huh. I wonder why?"
"No time, I guess. Angie was the one with all the hot dates. She was a
cheerleader!"

"And did you...feel...any of those hot dates?"

Vi blushed. "Some. It was..." She seemed to be trying to find the right word.

"Distracting?"

"Yeah," Vi said firmly. "Very distracting."

The two of them giggled, then a sound interrupted as the doors opened and
three more people entered the game room. In the lead was Dawn, followed by a
girl physically identical to Vi but with more of a strut to her walk. Bringing up
the rear was a grinning Xander, who was clearly trying his best to be charming
and pretty much succeeding.

"Everybody uses the game room," Dawn was saying, "like most things around
here, really. There used to be this big separation between Slayers and Watchers
with the Old Council, but not any more."

She stopped suddenly, her mouth dropping open and her eyes growing larger
as she took in the image before her. Skye and Vi looked back at her, definitely
no longer giggling. Dawn approached.

"Skye?" Dawn said in a voice that sounded younger than she was. "You...you're
playing chess? With...Vi?"

Vi finally answered the awkward
silence. "I was curious," she said
quietly.

Dawn looked at Vi. "Curious? So you
asked Skye?" Dawn accused.

"Well, she was the one who didn't
seem to have a partner..." Vi
explained.

Now Dawn shot a look at Skye, who
murmured, "You've been busy lately.
We haven't had a game in weeks."

"And you turned to Vi."
"She asked me some questions," Skye answered carefully, "and I tried to
answer them as truthfully as I could. But after awhile, a demonstration was
really the only way....so..." She let her voice fade and tried to shrug.

"Just for curiosity's sake," said Vi.

"Did you like it?" Dawn's voice trembled.

"Well...yes. Skye is a really good teacher."

"I know," Dawn sniffed.

"And Vi is a really good student. I mean, she just checked me for the very first
time, and..." Skye stopped speaking at the look Dawn was giving her.

"What the hell are you talking about?" demanded Angie, the Slayer's twin, in a
tone that broke the mood. She even had one eyebrow almost touching her
hairline and blinked in puzzlement. "It’s chess for God's sake!"

"Now, now," Xander said soothingly. Around him, Angie continued to look
puzzled, Dawn withdrawn and hurt, Skye a little guilty, and Vi embarrassed.
"Different things mean different...things...for different people is all. But let’s all
calm down, and like Angie said, let’s remember that this is really just a game.
Right?" Dawn said nothing. He looked at Vi. "Right?"

"Yeah!" Vi replied. "A game."

Xander nodded. "Just a pleasant way to pass the time, give the old brain cells a
bit of a workout, test your wits against a worthy opponent, enjoy each other's
company..." He stopped himself as Dawn glared at him. Coughing, he turned to
Angie. "So--Angie. Do you play chess?"

She shrugged. "I've played a couple of times."

"Really? Okay, well maybe if you do become a Watcher, then you and Vi can be
chess partners, leaving Skye and Dawn to play each other." He stopped
abruptly as he caught the look on Dawn's face.

Dawn's arms were folded, head was bowed slightly, and one eyebrow was
raised. Her mouth had formed a straight line. She wasn't blinking.

"What?"

Her reply was a single word. "Pig."

Cut to:
Ext.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Late Afternoon

The decrepit brick building was spattered with graffiti. On the very top arose a
clock tower, with arms not moving. Vines grew out of control along several
sides of the square structure, and one large tree reached to the third of four
stories.

There were surprisingly few windows, and most of those were barred.

Cut to:
Int.
Barlow College – Old Hospital Library – Staircase – Same Time

Dust lay everywhere, and the only source of light—apart from a few narrow
windows—was the flashlight in the security guard's hand.

The security guard himself was looking up the stairs, where he aimed the
flashlight. On his ill-fitting uniform was a nametag that read, "Carpenter." He
looked skinny, in his mid-thirties, with a walrus moustache of impressive size.

"Hey!" he called up into the shadows. "Anybody up there?"

No sound came back. Still, the security guard hesitated. When he spoke again,
his voice had a gruff humor in it. "Look, I know this is a cool place to hang out
and maybe get high and all, but nobody's supposed to be here. Ya know?" He
began to gradually ascend the stairs. "Come on! You don't really want to hang
around bunches of rats, do you?" He
muttered to himself, "Not that I've
seen any rats, but this place must be
full of ’em."

He stopped, peering up. "Anyone?"

Nothing.

Carpenter paused, staring up into the
gloom and trying to use his flashlight
to see more. He succeeded in casting
bizarre shadows.

"Oh, man," he grumbled, "if I didn't need this job..."

Again he mounted the stairs, and slowly but surely, he approached the landing
above. Each and every footstep echoed in the dim stillness. Sweat beaded on
his forehead.
When he finally reached the landing, he took a deep breath. The flashlight
swept over the cluttered room, illuminating boxes and rusty wheelchairs as
well as broken bookshelves and a few pieces of furniture. Nothing moved.

"Okay," he called out. "Anybody here? Anybody?"

Still, nothing. At last he turned around to head back down the stairs.

With frenzied speed, a shape emerged from behind the pile of boxes nearest the
stairs. In the darkness, its details remained hidden. Some kind of light gray
cloth, perhaps white once upon a time, draped its upper body. The head
was...strange. But most visible were its hands. They were gnarled, with tips
more like claws than nails. It was these almost-hands that reached for
Carpenter, grabbing his throat and face from behind.

The flashlight fell. It rolled and bounced down the stairs, shooting beams of
light in random directions as it fell.

But above, from the struggle between Shape and security guard came the
sound of scraping and hard breathing. Carpenter tried to scream, but his
panicked voice was muffled by the Shape’s powerful grip.

Then, with a grunt, the Shape made a wrenching movement. Bone crunched,
and Carpenter went slack.

At nearly the same moment, the security guard’s fallen flashlight reached the
bottom of the stairs and broke. Complete darkness returned to the stairwell.

But not silence. The sound of a body being dragged across a floor continued to
echo slightly. Minutes later, other sounds were audible, or would have been if
anyone had been present to listen. First came the ripping of cloth, then the
wet, slick sound of a predator slitting open its prey's once-living flesh.

And then--chewing.

Fade Out

                                 End of Teaser

                                  Act One


With Felicia Day as Vi and Angie, Norika Fujiwara as Mia, Rhona Mitra as Alex
                       Neel and Lindsay Felton as Skye.
Guest staring - Catherine O'Hara, Michael J. Fox, Renee Zellweger, Brian Cox,
                        Jeff Conaway and Peter Boyle.


Fade In:
Int.
Watchers Council – Lounge – Day

Giles poured the tea into four cups. After returning the teapot to its place on
the tray, he picked up each cup and saucer. The first two cups went to Angie
and her sister, Vi, while the third went to Xander. Giles kept the last for
himself.

"I'm afraid you may have the wrong idea of exactly what we do here," Giles said
to Angie. His tone was friendly, but firm.

"You help out slayers like my little sis, right?"

"Little sis?" asked Xander. He looked at both twins. Since he had managed to
seat himself in between them, this meant a rather quick turning of his head.
The gesture was really too quick to avoid being comic, and Giles raised an
eyebrow but said nothing.

"Angie was born first," Vi explained.

"Which makes her my little sister," Angie finished, grinning. She loaded her tea
with cream and sugar.

"Huh," said Xander. "Vi takes her tea...well, not black, but straight anyway."

"Twins," murmured Vi, "not clones."

"Yeah, right. Twins." Xander nodded. Then he swung his head back and forth
again, grinning once more. He
grinned so much that Giles had to
clean his glasses.

"As I was saying," Giles continued,
"mostly our efforts are limited to
acquiring and organizing knowledge.
We are, if I may say so, rather akin to
librarians in many ways."

"But, you're doing it to help out
slayers like my sis," Angie said.
"Right?"

"Correct."

"Well, hey—that’s what I'm here to do." She nodded firmly, not a flicker of
doubt in her eyes. "Sign me up!"

Giles sipped his tea. "It’s not that simple," he told her.

"I don't see what the problem is, Giles," Xander piped in. "We are definitely
understaffed in the watcher’s area these days."

"Yes," Giles agreed, "and I'm not sure there is a problem. But might I suggest a
period of apprenticeship first? That
way, Angela, you can…"

"Angie."

"Excuse me?" Giles asked.

"People call me Angie."

"Oh. Yes. Sorry. Well, as I was
saying, Angie, perhaps we should
begin with your taking part in
various activities, helping full
watchers in their duties. This will allow you to discover for yourself whether
this is the sort of work for which you’re genuinely suited. When classes
resume, you may then enroll at the Academy, should you still wish to." He
smiled.

Angie looked bemused. "Giving me a get-out-of-jail-free card? Just in case?"

"Now, now," Xander said, patting Angie’s hand, "Giles is just trying to do his
job. Me, I have no doubts you'll do great."

"Really?" Vi asked.

She was leaning back on the sofa, with her arms crossed, listening to every
word. She looked nearly amused, but mostly annoyed, and quite simply
suspicious.

"Yeah," Xander said with a deliberate shrug and laugh. "I'm sure it'll be great
having both of you. Around…having both you around. You know?"
Unlike her twin, Angie was clearly
amused, and her snort showed it.

"This is gonna sound just too weird
for words, but the fact is I was a twin
myself for a little while," Xander
announced.

"For a little while?" Angie repeated,
her expression doubtful.

"Actually," Giles said, "that is
essentially true."

Angie nodded. "Okay. This I gotta hear."

"Me, too," muttered Vi.

"Can't wait to hear this one myself," said a female voice from behind Giles.
Everyone looked and saw Alex striding towards the party of four.

"Alex! Hi!" Xander's voice rose half an octave.

"Hello," she said, her head coolly
turning from one girl to the other at
Xander's side. "Aren't you going to
introduce me?"

Xander hesitated just long enough for
Giles to speak first. "Vi's twin sister is
applying to join the Watchers
Council."

"Twins. Obviously." She barely looked
at Giles; instead, she continued to
gaze at the two identical girls on
either side of Xander, then at Xander himself, who tried not to smile. Then she
offered her hand to Angie. "I’m Alex Neel."

"Angie," Vi’s sister replied as she took Alex’s hand and shook it.

Now Alex turned to Giles. "I was looking for Rowena’s help but this place seems
almost deserted."

"Oh," said Giles, "Rowena and Willow went to Nova Scotia on holiday for New
Years. Rowena has family there."
"Ah. Meeting the parents? That kind of thing?"

"Something of the sort. They left late last night and should be back Monday at
the latest. Possibly sooner."

"Depending on whether the Allisters like their daughter's girlfriend?" Alex
inquired.

"And...whether they even figure out that's what Willow is," Xander added.

Comprehension lit Alex's face, while Vi gave Xander a tiny kick.

"Ow! What?"

Cut to:
Ext.
Nova Scotia – Thornkirk Ferry – Day

Willow leaned on the railing as the ferry approached land. The sky was a
patchwork of bright blue and mottled gray. Gulls flew overhead. Rowena
winced a little as she leaned on the
rail beside Willow, her still-healing
gun-shot wound making itself known.

When she saw Willow exhale a misty
breath and shiver in her coat,
Rowena asked, "Cold?"

"Yeah," admitted Willow. "Southern
California gal here."

"You're in luck, actually. This is
relatively warm for January."

At this news, Willow made a mock sound of fear.

Rowena giggled then sighed. "I hope we're ready for this."

"We are." Willow grinned at her, then leaned over to touch forehead to temple.
"We are," she repeated.

Rowena leaned against her weight slightly. "I love you," she whispered.

"I know." At Rowena's snort, Willow asked, "What?"
"You were channeling Andrew just now. When Princess Leia says 'I love you' to
Han Solo for the first time, he says back..."

"I get it. And since when are you a Star Wars fan, missy?"

"Andrew insisted on watching the entire DVD trilogy with me when I was
recuperating."

"A captive audience, huh?"

"Yeah, but I have to admit…it wasn’t bad."

Smiling, Rowena kissed Willow gently on the lips.

"I love you, too," said Willow.

Grinning, Rowena replied. "I know."

Cut to:
Ext.
Nova Scotia – Ferry Landing – Later

A simple wooden sign read "Welcome to Thornkirk." Willow and Rowena passed
it as they came off the ramp, each carrying one large piece of luggage. Their left
and right hands, respectively, were entwined.

Rowena sighed again and gestured with her head. Before them, right at the car
park, stood a middle-aged woman waving with a big grin on her face.

"Mom," was all Rowena said.

"It’ll be fine," Willow murmured as she released Rowena’s hand and took her
bag from her.

The woman came directly up to them,
smiling so much it looked as if her
face would break.

"There you are! I was so worried you
might have missed the last ferry! But
here you are! Merry Christmas and
Happy New Year, Sweetheart! Oh!"
She blinked at Willow. "And of
course...HAPPY HANUKAH!" She
pronounced it "hah-noo-kah," but
Willow only smiled as the older
woman prattled on. "I'm Mrs. Allister. I suppose you guessed that already, eh?
Oh, do get in the car. I've left it running because Rowena mentioned you were
from down south. California was it?" Mrs. Allister didn’t wait for an answer.
Instead she grabbed one of the luggage bags and hurried it to the trunk of her
car as Willow put in the second one. "Get in, get in!" she insisted as she shooed
Willow away with her hands.

Willow eyes were bulging a little as she obeyed. Once inside the car, she found
the interior quite warm. She slipped into the back seat, with Rowena beside
her, holding gloved hands and sitting as close as possible without actually
sitting on each other.

Mrs. Allister blinked as she got into the driver's seat.

"Why ever are you in the back? You are, after all, our special guest!"

"I...I didn’t want to take the front..." Willow said.

"Besides, we wanted to sit together," Rowena said suddenly, unblinking.

"Oh," Mrs. Allister replied, saying it in such a way that it became "Aw" at the
end. Her smile twisted into a new shape, as if she were seeing a kitten trying to
leap inside a mirror for the first time. "It’s good to know you're finally making
some special friends, dear. I know it can be lonely when you're the bright one.
Don't you think?" She addressed the question to Willow from the rearview
mirror.

"Uh...yeah, sometimes?"

With a firm nod, Mrs. Allister put the car into drive. "Only Mary Grace and
Joseph are with us this year, I'm afraid. Even so, we still don't have a bedroom
for everyone. Willow—it is Willow, yes?—I’m afraid you'll have to share a room
with Rowena. Her old room, as a matter of fact. You two work together, though,
right? Go on expeditions and things? You must have bunked together before
now?" Her relentless cheerfulness was now tinged with apology.

"That's fine."

"We prefer it, actually," was Rowena's reply. She didn't say it loud, but neither
did she whisper. Willow held onto her hand tighter.

"Oh good, then it’s all for the best! I know our little town must seem like such a
backwater place to you after coming from L.A."

"Well, I’m not from L.A.," Willow answered. "My hometown wasn’t a booming
metropolis. Cleveland’s the biggest place I’ve been to next to London."
"Did you study at the Academy too?" Mrs. Allister asked.

Willow paused as if unsure how to answer. "I, uh, I trained in California, but I
spent a summer in England…honing my skills, you could say."

"Well, even though we’re small here, there're all kinds of little dramas
happening all the time, let me tell you. Joseph actually bought out the boat
dealership. Did you know?"

"Really?" Rowena asked, surprised.

"Yep, he's self-employed! It was such a piece of good fortune. He was able to get
your father a good deal on his new fishing boat. And I do know your Dad will
want to thank you in person for helping out, dear. Oh speaking of which..."

Rowena gave Willow a look of apology, but the witch only smiled and patted
Rowena’s hand in support.

Cut to:
Int.
Watchers Council – Giles’s Office – Later

Vi and Angie knocked and then
entered Giles’s office. He was at his
desk, with Alex seated before him.
They both looked up as the twins
came in.

"Ah! Angie!" Giles said in a pleased
voice. "As it happens, something's
come up which may interest you. It’s
something in which you can indeed
be of considerable help while 'getting
your feet wet,' I believe is the phrase."

"Really?" Angie tilted her head. "Got an assignment for me already?"

"Not so much an assignment as an interesting errand."

"Isn't that what they said to Clarice Starling when she went to meet Hannibal
Lecter?"

Giles blinked. "Perhaps." He looked at Alex.

"Yes," was her amused reply. "It was. But this shouldn't involve interviewing
any serial-killer cannibals."
At this, Giles blinked again. "No, it certainly should not. Well, one hopes, at
any rate. Alex, could you explain?"

With a nod, Alex gestured to the other chairs in the office. Both sisters sat.
"Barlow College is just outside Cleveland, and it wants to give away one of its
library collections for tax purposes. It has a lot of obscure stuff that's been
sitting around forever. As it happens, they are clients of my firm, and I
recommended the Council as a good recipient."

"Uh-huh," Angie said. "And what do I do?"

"The fact is," Giles said, "no one has ever actually catalogued this library's
contents. We need someone to go over there and conduct a preliminary
examination so that we'll have some idea of what to do with it—the books and
papers and things."

"So, you want me to write down the contents of a library?" Angie did not sound
thrilled.

"Not just you. There's one other person here who is both qualified and
available. He would be spending New Year's with...well, the fact is he's
available. So it would be the two of you. Vi tells me you almost have your
associate's degree in library science."

Angie looked skeptical, ready to pass if she had any choice, but before she
could say a word, another knock came at the door. Everyone turned as Robin
entered the room. He wore gym shorts and a sleeve-less t-shirt, with a towel in
one hand.

"Giles? You needed to see me?"

"Ah, Robin, yes. I didn't mean to interrupt..."

Robin waved away any objections. "Just getting a workout is all."

"Well, I was hoping you'd take Angie to a library at Barlow College. There's a
collection they're giving away. That is, if Angie agrees to go?"

"Sure!" Angie replied instantly, having not taken her eyes off Robin since he
came in.

"Uh...Angie," Vi began.

"What?"

"Just tell me when," Robin said amiably.
"Tomorrow, if possible," was Giles’s reply.

"How big is the collection?" Robin asked.

Alex answered. "A least a couple of cases, but I think Giles just wants a simple
overview. Something so he'll know how to handle it, how many trucks to hire,
any special circumstances, that kinda thing."

"I don't have to tell you," Giles continued, "how important it is that we explore
every avenue for further knowledge. And what's at stake."

Robin nodded again then addressed Angie. "You be here for dinner?"

"Bet on it." Angie replied enthusiastically.

"We'll talk then and make a plan," Robin said to Angie before turning to Giles.
"Okay?""

"Eminently."

"Good." Robin left the room, with Angie continuing to stare after him.

"I knew it'd be a good idea to come here," Angie murmured appreciatively.

Alex laughed. "Or not," she said, almost under her breath.

Vi looked at her twin sister and shook her head.

"What?" Angie asked. "Lemme guess. He’s gay?"

"No," Vi answered. "But I would suggest not getting on his girlfriend’s bad side."

"How tough can she be?"

"She’s a slayer," Vi answered.

"So? You’re a slayer, and you’re not that tough," Angie jabbed.

"Fine then. Go for it," Vi said with a shrug. "Just don’t come crying to me when
you need dentures because she’s knocked every tooth out of your stubborn
head."

Alex and Giles both tried not to laugh.

Cut to:
Int.
Nova Scotia – Allister Home – Dining Room – Night

Willow and Rowena sat beside each other. At the head of the table sat Rowena’s
father, a tall man with graying hair and a barrel chest. To his left was Mrs.
Allister's chair, currently unoccupied. Beside it sat a thin young man, close to
Rowena's age, who had introduced himself with a grin as Joseph Allister,
professional salesman of high quality watercraft.

At the foot of the table, beside Willow, sat Mary Grace, a somewhat heavyset
blonde woman who looked tired. She
looked a few years older than her
sister, Rowena.

"You keep looking at me," said Mary
Grace to Willow at her left. "Is there
something wrong?"

"No!" was Willow's instant reply. "It’s
just…I saw an old picture of you
once. When you were a teenager. I'm
making an adjustment in my head
that you're not that girl any more."

Mary Grace paused before replying. "No one is." Then she fell silent.

"Well!" Mrs. Allister said, as she entered from the kitchen and put the last of
the dinner dishes onto the table. "Here we are—and Willow, dear, I made a
special effort. Everything you see is indeed kosher, so feel free to dig in!" She
smiled with the same determination as ever.

"Oh." Willow managed to smile back. "Thank you. That's very kind. But you
shouldn’t have. I really don’t practice Judaism anymore. I’m a Wiccan,
actually."

"A Wiccan?" Mrs. Allister asked. "Does that mean you don’t believe in God?"

Willow looked to Rowena, who suddenly looked concerned. "I believe in Gods
and Goddesses. I just don’t believe there’s one entity that controls everything."

Rowena quickly spoke up. "It’s not much different than the fishermen that Dad
knows who pray to Poseidon or the patron saints. Not really," she added.

Mary Grace let out a long exhalation, but her face remained still. Mrs. Allister
cleared her throat. "I suppose so…Anyway, Mary Grace, will you lead us as we
say grace?" Mrs. Alllister looked pointedly at her eldest daughter, and then
oddly enough, winked at Willow.
Mary Grace took a breath. "Our Father," she intoned, with all the enthusiasm
of a child forced to recite a memorized speech, "in all your various names and
forms of worship, we thank thee for thy generosity, and we shall strive to do
your will as we best understand it, based upon whatever holy books with which
we have been raised. Amen."

Joseph echoed his mother's cheerful 'Amen' while everyone else pretty much
emulated the almost-whisper of Mr. Allister. Dinner itself was a pot roast with
mashed potatoes and gravy as well as several different kinds of vegetables. It
wasn’t elaborate fare, but good, and cooked to simple perfection. Willow ate
with increasing gusto.

"This is really good, Mrs. Allister,"
Willow said after just a few bites.

"Well, thank you, Willow dear. Every
cook likes to hear a compliment!"

"You should try Mary Grace's
cooking, too," Joseph said. "She
doesn't boast much, but her baking is
nothing less than spectacular!"

"I taught her everything she knows," Mrs. Allister interjected with a laugh.
Mary Grace remained silent.

After nearly a full minute of silence, Mr. Allister suddenly spoke. "Willow."

"Uh...yes, sir?"

"Do you drink?"

"Do I...? Sometimes. Not much. Not often."

"I have some Guinness from last week if you'd like some."

"Oh! Well, thank you! But that's all right. I don't want to deprive you of what
you like. Besides, I hardly ever drink at mealtime. Just socially." She said this
with a shrug and what was designed to be a winning smile.

"I wouldn't mind a Guinness, Dad," said Joseph.

"We'll help ourselves after dinner. Mary Grace?"
"Thanks."

Mr. Allister again turned to Willow.
She stopped chewing.

"Do you like to fish?"

Willow tried to process the question.
"I, uh, I've never really gone fishing
before." She paused and then nodded.
"Well, last fall I did but it was
more...work related than sport you could say."

"I was going to go out tomorrow," Mr. Allister began, "see if I can catch
something special. Go out, relax, listen to the football game. You're welcome to
come."

Willow blinked. She finished chewing quickly, then swallowed. "Thanks, but
Rowena was going to teach me to ice skate." She sounded apologetic.

He hardly reacted. "Enjoy yourself." His tone was totally neutral.

"That is such a good idea," Mrs. Allister piped in, "especially if you're someone
who hasn’t tried it. Rowena is an excellent skater. Right, Joseph?"

"Righteo, Mom!"

Mary Grace stabbed at her pot roast with a scowl as Rowena and Willow bent
over their dinner and ate quietly.

Cut to:
Int.
Watchers Council – Library – Later

"Okay," Andrew said to Jeff, "let’s just
go over this again, okay?"

Jeff leaned back. Andrew looked over
the table and studied the cards. They
were laid out in a pattern, and most
were face up. One card only—the
topmost in a four-card column at the
right—was face down.

"Do you think The Chariot was the right significator?" Andrew muttered for the
second time in twenty minutes.
"You agreed with the choice, remember?"

"I know, but still..." He touched the two cards laid atop The Chariot. One
showed a man in motley stepping off a sheer cliff. "I really wish that wasn't
there."

"The Fool is not a bad card, Andrew," Jeff insisted. "It just indicates a journey
whose exact nature is unknown and unsuspected by the traveler. In other
words, something is up, and we don't know all there is. What's new about
that?"

"But look at this one!" The card that crossed the first showed a man and
woman embracing. Yet the card was upside-down. "The Lovers, reversed!
Romance gone wrong, love giving way to lust, broken hearts. Betrayal.
Jealousy. Don't tell me that's what you wanted to see there!"

"It could be worse." Jeff didn't sound completely convinced. Then he spoke
forcefully. "There," he said, pointing to the cards directly above and to the right
of the three they'd been discussing. "That’s worse. The Mage reversed and The
Five of Cauldrons." The former showed someone who seemed to be a mighty
wizard, but since the card was upside down, there was something sinister
about the figure. And the latter, which was above the first three, portrayed a
cloaked figure staring at three spilled cups, his back to two upright vessels
directly behind him.

"Don't cry over spilt milk," said Andrew. "Yeah, I get that. And odds are The
Mage refers to the Presidium, don't you think?"

"Or one of us."

He considered this. "Nah. The Presidium. But this one I just don't get at all." He
pointed to the card directly to the left of the first three. This card portrayed a
man tossing two large coins in the air. This card was also upside down. "Our
money is out of balance? Our physical needs are out of whack?"

"Some kind of duality that's unstable, or could be," offered Jeff. "Unresolved
tensions between paired opposites." He paused. "When you consider The Lovers
and The Five of Cauldrons, don't you think this might mean the end of a love
affair? And that someone might take the wrong direction because of it?
Maybe?"

For a few moments, Andrew turned away. Then he looked back at the cards.
"Let’s cut to the chase," he said suddenly. Pointing to the four cards in vertical
column to the right, he began to say their names. "What we fear. Ten of
Swords."
"Kinda too obvious for words."

"Yeah. What others feel. The Knight of Swords."

"Heroic youth going out to fight the good fight."

"Then what we hope for." He tapped the next-to-last card. It showed an angel
standing astride a river, pouring liquid from one cup to another.

Jeff said the card's name. "Temperance. All things in their proper place. The
natural order working as it should."

"God is in heaven, all's right with the world," agreed Andrew. He hesitated
before revealing the last card, the only card that was face down. "And the
solution," he said as he turned it over.

They both leaned in to stare.

This card portrayed a tall structure rising against a storm-filled night sky.
From the heavens a bolt of lightning was striking the side of the building like a
laser beam. Cracks were appearing in
the stone where the lightning bolt
struck. Bits of masonry were falling
away, thrown aside by the impact. It
looked like the start of some horrible
cataclysm, an apocalypse beginning
with the fall of this tall and proud
structure, struck down by the
heavens themselves.

"The Tower," breathed Jeff, worry
creeping into his voice.

"Oh darn," said Andrew. "Just...darn.



Fade Out

                                 End of Act One

                                    Act Two

Fade In:
Int.
Robin’s Car – Morning

"So," Angie was saying from the passenger side of the front seat, "where is this
girlfriend of yours, anyway?" Outside
the car, other vehicles were passing
by or, in some cases, were being
passed by.

"Lewiston, Maine," Robin replied.

"And what's she doing there, slaying
vampires?"

"Nope," said Robin. "She’s
investigating reports of a spectral
beast lurking around a hospital. It’s
kinda like an anteater, but not quite. Or so they say."

Angie hesitated nearly half a second. "You're kidding, right?"

"Not even a little bit."

With a short laugh, Angie shook her head. "Well, lucky for me then!"

Robin gave her a glance. "Mind if I ask you something?"

She snickered. "Not even a little bit."

He almost ignored this. "Why are you here?"

"Not my idea. Mr. Giles said he wanted this done right away and—"

"I didn't mean in this car. Why are you joining the Council?"

"Don't think I've got what it takes?"

"Honestly? I have no idea. You might be a disaster or the second coming, but
either way—what’s motivating you?"

Angie didn't answer for a while. She waited until Robin took the exit that read
'Barlow College' before saying a word.

"You got any brothers or sisters?" she asked.

"Nope."
"Let’s just say I gotta look out for Violet."

"You think she needs looking after?"

"She always has."

Robin gave a small grin. "I don’t think Vi’s the same girl you knew before. She
holds her own just fine."

"She seems the same to me. Same boring clothes, same boring shoes. Hell,
she’s even still got that same old ratty hat," Angie countered with a chuckle.

"Well, exteriors can be fooling," Robin answered.

Cut to:
Ext.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Later

The building appeared almost abandoned. What looked like a clock tower, the
arms frozen at eleven o'clock, rose from the top. Many barred windows were
broken, while at least two doors
were nailed shut. Above the edifice,
the skies were gray, swarming with
clouds.

Robin peered out the driver side
window at the structure. "Wonder
where Uncle Fester is," he joked,
which made Angie grin.

"It does have that lived-in look," she
agreed.

After parking the car, Robin got out, followed by Angie, as a balding old man
with glasses stood up from the stoop in front of the building and approached
them. He waved in a cheery manner.

"Mister Wood, is it?" he asked.

"That's me."

"Glad to meet yer," said the old man. "I'm Wiggins, the caretaker."

"I'm Angie."
"Hello, Miss." He nodded at her, then followed her gaze at the building behind
them. "Yeah, it shure do look spooky, huh? Used to be a private hospital way
back."

"Really?" asked Robin. "When was that?"

"I dunno. Hundred years ago or something. College got the land, didn't know
what to do with the building. Just used it for storage." He shrugged.

Angie meanwhile was looking around the area, at the other college buildings,
which were at least a hundred yards away. "Isolated."

"Yep," agreed Mr. Wiggins.

"Students probably think this is a good make-out spot." She waggled her
eyebrows.

"Actually no," was his instant answer. "Not with what folks say."

"What's that?" Robin inquired. When he got no reply, he said, "What do folks
say?"

Still, Wiggins said nothing but simply headed back to the building. "This way,"
he called after them. And they followed, sharing a look—Robin’s cautious and
Angie’s amused.

"The good news is," Wiggins went on, "there's power, and despite what you
might think, the place don't have rats. You prob’ly don't believe me. No one
does. But true, no rats. Here's a key." He took something out of his pocket and
handed it to Robin without meeting the other man's eyes. "Yer gonna be alone
up here, suppose you know that? Can't even get any good security for this
place."

"And why’s that exactly?" Robin asked.

"They get spooked. Don't come back here," the caretaker continued, grumbling
to himself as he led them.

"Lovely," Angie muttered as she looked around the grounds again.

Cut to:
Int.
Nova Scotia – Allister Home – Rowena's Bedroom – Same Time
With a flicker, Rowena's eyes finally opened. She took a moment to let them
focus, glancing around at the small room. It was a bare place, with piles of old
books in odd little corners here and there.

Sitting beside the single window was Willow, the morning light illuminating
her.

For several long moments Rowena said nothing but continued to gaze at
Willow, who in turn looked out the
window. Eventually, Willow turned
and smiled. "Good morning,
sleepyhead."

"Hi."

"I was watching the dawn."

"That's a good place to do it," Rowena
said, wiping the sleep from her eyes.

Willow looked out the window again. "Wow. You grew up here, with the ocean
right outside your window. Not right outside, not like you could jump out a-and
do a dive or anything, but still—it’s there. Right there. And watching the sun
come up, it was like this swarm of firey-colored glass beads."

"I missed it."

"What?"

"My window. When I went to the Academy. It was what I really missed."

They said nothing for what seemed like the longest time, enjoying the morning
and doing little else but breathing. Eyes met eyes, unhurried, and almost in
unison they knew when Rowena was going to rise. Willow helped her up,
watching her face and listening carefully to her breath.

"I'm all right," Rowena reassured her.

"Not yet," Willow chided.

"Okay," the blonde said with a smile. "But I'm much better."

Cut to:
Int.
Nova Scotia – Allister Home – Dining Room – Later
As Rowena and Willow entered the room, Mary Grace looked up from her coffee
and newspaper.

"You missed everything," Mary Grace told Rowena. "Breakfast. Dad leaving."

"I needed to catch up on my sleep."

Mary Grace simply nodded. She didn't look at her sister, so she saw neither the
expression of puzzlement on Willow's face nor Rowena shaking her head as if
she were thinking 'Not now.'

"We’re going to the lake," Rowena told Mary Grace. "I promised to teach Willow
how to ice skate, so let Mom know." She gestured slightly with the two pairs of
ice skates she had in hand.

"Sure," mumbled Mary Grace.

"We'll be back later," Rowena said as she took Willow's hand and led her
towards the front door. They stopped at the closet long enough to remove some
winter coats. On the way out, the front door opened before them, and Joseph
stepped inside.

"Hey there!"

"Morning, Joseph," Rowena greeted him.

"Slept in, huh? Good for you!"

Rowena gave a very tiny shrug. "It’s our vacation."

He grinned and winked.

"Enjoy it while you can, kiddo! You too, Wilma!" He stopped himself. "That was
wrong, wasn't it? No, don’t tell me." He made a great show of concentrating,
tapping a finger to his lips and staring at Willow with intensity. "Winifred?
Wanda? Starts with a 'W' that I know..." He snapped his fingers. "Wilhelmina!"

"Willow," said Rowena, annoyed, while the witch just grinned.

"Damn it," he said with mock anger. "I would've guessed it!"

"Later, Joseph."

Rowena led Willow by the hand out of the room and towards the front door. He
watched a moment as they left, one eyebrow fractionally higher than the other.
"Hmmmmm."
Now Mary Grace looked up. "Hmmm what?"

"Oh, nothing...just thinking."

Cut to:
Ext.
Nova Scotia – Allister Home – Moments Later

Rowena was breathing hard as she
made strides as long as she could
across the snow.

"Hey, are we in a rush?" Willow
asked. "I don’t think the ice will melt
anytime soon."

"I'm sorry, we just needed to get out."

"Well, slow down already." At Willow's
words, Rowena did. Her panting made
wisps of mist in the cold air. Willow stared at her. "What was all that about?"

"Do you want to buy a boat?"

"Huh?"

"Do you want to buy a boat?" she repeated.

"Of course not..."

"Well," interrupted Rowena in a firm tone, "Joseph was in that gear. Believe me.
He was in salesman mode and I—I just don't want to be around that right
now." She looked uncomfortable, but then met Willow's eyes. "Besides, I’ve
been thinking about this for a long time. I want to show you the lake. Teach
you how to skate. Just you and me. Okay?"

At that, Willow reached up and touched her on the cheek. "You know it’s okay,"
she said. "I'm just not getting what's going on is all."

"Sometimes," Rowena said, after a moment, "my family drives me nuts. Mary
Grace is being surly, Mom is control freaking, and Joseph has that look he gets
when he thinks somebody just might be willing to fork over loads of cash for a
yacht or something. He knows I paid for Dad's new boat last year. He knows we
work together. Trust me, if he was a killer whale, you'd be a cuddly, baby seal
in his eyes."
Willow giggled a little at this image. "Aren’t I always cuddly?"

"Very much so, but not with Joseph," Rowena said in mock warning as she
waved her finger.

That got Willow grinning. "Then let’s go to the lake."

Rowena smiled, and they headed away, hand in hand. Neither of them saw the
curtain of the window in the front of the Allister house move. It seemed as if
someone had pushed it aside and then released the curtain, setting it in slight
motion.

Cut to:
Int.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Library Main Room – Same Time

As Wiggins flipped a switch in the main area of the library, bare light bulbs
flickered and illuminated the room. The windows were both barred and
boarded up. All along one length of
the room were desks, five in all. Piles
of boxes were everywhere.

Robin entered, followed by Angie. The
latter turned up one side of her lip.

"Who’s your decorator? I love what
you’ve done with the place," she said.

"Yep," sighed the custodian, "not
much ta look at. A right mess, I tell
ya." He shot his glance through the room exactly like someone looking for
something. Or someone.

Robin pointed at a bare section of wall. "What's that?"

On the wall was a piece of graffiti, a spray-painted message in bright orange
that read 'The Creeper Is Gonna Get You.'

"That?" snorted Wiggins. "Local boogeyman. Creeper’s supposed ta be the last
poor soul admitted ta this place when it were a hospital. Asylum, really. Story
goes, the man got forgot when they closed the asylum, so he's still here,
hauntin’ the building, eatin’ children, that kinda thing." He shrugged and
shook his head. "Nonsense, if ya ask me."

"Is this it?" Angie asked, gesturing about the room. "The whole collection we're
supposed to check up on?"
"Yep. This is all of it." Wiggins hesitated. "Ya take my advice. Just stay here
while ya work. Top two floors not too safe anymore. Nobody goes up there. With
good reason, too."

"The Creeper?" Angie asked with a skeptical grin.

"Nah, the floorboards. This ain’t the most sturdy building around," he
answered but didn't meet the eyes of either Robin or Angie.

"Infested with rats, most likely," Robin whispered to Angie.

"No rats. No, no rats," Wiggins mumbled. Then he blinked, looked up at the two
of them. "Things to do. Lots of things. But I'll check up on ya later, I will. I will."
At that, he turned and headed out. He didn't so much walk as scuttle, albeit in
slow motion. He didn't say anything more, but went out exactly the way he had
come in minutes before.

Angie turned to Robin. "This can’t be typical. Please, tell me that meeting up
with guys like that is not typical. Even if you have to lie, tell me."

"No, he's not typical."

"You're lying, aren't you?"

"Yeeeah, a little bit."

She winced, and he laughed.

"No," Robin began, "actually that guy
is about as weird as you get, among
humans anyway. Come to think of it,
he'd be called odd among some
demons. Let's get started with the
desks," he said, pointing to them
lined against the wall. "Once they're checked out, we can work from them."

"Right." Angie went to the desk nearest her, a battered antique with rolled top.
Robin went to the more modern model next to it and began opening drawers. It
took several tries for Angie to succeed at rolling open her desk, and even then,
the cover stopped an inch or two short of the top. She peered inside. "A whole
lot of papers."

"Give them a once over, see if there's anything interesting." Robin had already
begun taking out papers and notebooks from the first drawer he'd found.

"And what constitutes ‘interesting,’ Professor Wood?" Angie asked.
As he turned the pages of what looked like a bookkeeper's account book, he
continued, "Just pretend you're a historian looking for details."

"Why?" Angie pulled out a collection of letters tied with a ribbon. Examining the
stack, she saw that they were all stuck together with some kind of dark,
viscous liquid. She dropped the packet of letters with a grimace. "Most of this
stuff is bound to be junk, right?"

"Most of it," Robin agreed. "Maybe all of it. But…you never know."

Angie sighed, nodding. "Historian. Right."

Maybe half a minute later, both she and Robin looked up when a sound came
through the ceiling from the floor above. It had been some kind of thud, or
maybe a footfall. Whichever the sound had been, the ceiling had muffled it.

"Wiggins said no rats," Angie noted.

"And he seemed like he had his act so together, too." Robin grinned. "I didn't
want to go upstairs anyway."

"Fine by me!" Angie said. She began unfolding a yellowed newspaper that
nearly crumbled at her touch. "Huh," she said, "did you know that the Titanic
sank?"

"I'd heard a rumor."

"Banner headline," she noted. Then she bent over the paper, reading.
"President Taft expresses hope that most if not all passengers survived the
event." She clucked her tongue. "Some things never change. Politicians still
don't want to give any bad news."

"Who does?"

"Good point." After another moment or two, she looked up and cocked her
head. "Have you met a lot of demons?"

"Fought more than I've met," was Robin's answer, as he continued flipping
through pages. "But some of them are nice enough. They just look different is
all."

"Okay, well that's actually good news when you think about it."

"You don't sound too thrilled."

"It...just...takes some getting used to."
Above them, another bumping noise came from the second floor. Angie jumped.

"Rats, just rats," she muttered to herself as she reached down and pulled open
a drawer. "That's all that's here, just a bunch of—" Angie jumped back in
alarm. "What the hell?!"

Not only had the front of the drawer come off in her hand, but something had
tumbled out onto the floor, rolling towards her as it landed.

It was a human skull.

Fade Out

                                End of Act Two

                               Act Three

Fade In
Int.
Citadel – Same Time

Two of the Lover's silent minions preceded the Flayer into a darkened chamber,
then stood aside and left. He glanced around, noting the dim shapes moving
among the shadows, then took a few
paces forward to stand by the Lover,
just visible in the gloom.

"Highness," he said after a pause in
which she did not acknowledge his
presence.

"Let there be light," she murmured,
glancing sidelong to see the Flayer's
reaction as the chamber lit to reveal
that they stood on the central
walkway of a perfect replica of the Engineer's machine. Dull-eyed demons
clambered here and there at its edges, carrying about rune-carved stones and
fleshy cables. The Flayer's eyes widened in surprise, then he let out an
exasperated sigh.

"Another whim of yours, Highness?" he asked with exaggerated civility. "It is
purposeless, is it not? Our late comrade said—"

"I remember," the Lover nodded, "'At one time and place, only, can such a thing
be done, to snare a world, and reel it in as does a trapper with his prey.' Pretty
words."

"Arrogant words," the Flayer snorted. "I said so then, and now the Engineer is
dead."

"You don't find that fascinating?" the Lover asked. "That one of us could
die? Mortality," she gestured at the sphere at the machine's heart, "right there,
even to the likes of us, mortality." She fell silent, tracing a clawed fingertip
across the arcane patterns etched into the sphere's surface.

"I have no wish to experience mortality," the Flayer said flatly.

"Nor I," the Lover said idly, "nor I. Yet it is…instructive to be this close to death
and to recall that the human—the one on whom I waste my time, according to
you—she wielded just such a construct and killed one of our kind."

"Provided you do not propose to give her this," the Engineer replied tartly, "I fail
to see the problem."

"Of course not," the Lover sighed. "You are a warlord, you understand might.
And to master a realm, even a world, might is enough. But to master creation,
fate itself must be bent to our will, and there are rules, shall we say. This
human you so despise…Willow…she has shown us to be weak."

"She had done no such thing!" the Flayer argued hotly. "The Engineer's death
was—"

"Remain silent," the Lover interrupted. "I have a higher understanding. One of
our kind has fallen, and yet she lives. In the workings of fate, she has claimed
power over us, and only by reclaiming this power can we master her. Not
merely murder, as assassins or soldiers or warlords do, but master. As higher
beings, inviolate to those beneath us."

"Then destroy the machine," the Flayer said.

"It will be dismantled, in due course," the Lover replied, "as will she. Her home
shall be laid low, her loved ones slaughtered, her body broken, and her soul
chained and bled dry. Then we shall have undone her and bent fate back to
our will."

"And you will do this?" the Flayer asked dubiously.

"I find her fascinating," the Lover smiled. "Such a tiny creature, yet with our
very blood on her hands. Such an unlikely creature. I would allow no other to
do it. You may go."
The Flayer nodded and departed, leaving the Lover to return to the machine. A
change came over the chamber, an attenuation of the light, a thinning of the
air. A towering form wreathed in shadow approached the Lover from the far
side of the chamber. Neither it nor the Lover paid any attention to the demonic
servants as they collapsed and writhed briefly as ichor bubbled out of their
skins.

The dark figure stood before the Lover as she bowed. Its eyes – visible only as
pure blackness, among the shifting shadows clinging to it – were fixed on her.
She looked up at its shrouded face.

"I am to be the one, my Lord?" she asked in a whisper. "I am to master her?"

The terrible creature raised a shadowed claw and gently stroked the Lover's
cheek. A smile crossed her leathery lips.

"Thank you, my love," she murmured.

Cut to:
Int.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Library Main Room – Resume

Angie stared at the skull, her eyes huge. "Is it real?"

Robin gazed at the object with hardly a blink. "This used to be a hospital,
remember? Probably a teaching aid." He reached over and picked it up,
examining the skull from several angles. "Sticky," he murmured.

"Oh god," Angie said, wrinkling her nose.

"Who knows how long it’s been in there," he noted. "Probably just grime."

"Yeah. Grime. Just plain old grime. I like that. Grime."

He raised an eyebrow. "Want to switch desks?"

"That'd be great!"

He got up and gestured to Angie, who wasted no time heading for the second
desk. Robin passed her and then took her place at the old roll-top. While Angie
continued flipping through pages of ledgers, he knelt and took a look inside the
broken drawer where the skull had fallen out. Then, he reached inside. What
he pulled out was a dusty book with a tiny lock mechanism.

"What's that?"
"Diary maybe," Robin said, giving a quick tug at the lock. It snapped open
easily. Actually, the lock disintegrated with the tug. Several tiny pieces of metal
fell to the floor with an almost-inaudible series of pings. Robin opened the book
to the first inside page and read aloud, "The journal of Dr. Howard Phillips,
M.D. 1897."

Cut to:
Ext.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Clock Tower Ledge – Same Time

A guano-stained ledge surrounded the
nonfunctioning tower clock. Like
many of the details of the building,
the features of the tower echoed those
of battlements and keeps. In
particular, there were various
openings along the perimeter of the
ledge that looked like the slots for
archers in castles.

A lone pigeon landed near one of
these openings. The pigeon took a few
jerky steps, cooing and trilling, along the ledge. As it neared the slot in the wall,
a hand shot out and grabbed the bird. It flapped its wings frantically in an
attempt to wriggle away, but it was all in vain. In a fraction of a second, the
bird was snatched out of the sunlight and into the shadows. A crunching
sound followed, as if teeth were breaking tiny bones.

Cut to:
Ext.
Frozen Lake – Later

Willow sat on the bench adjusting her skates as she looked out over the small
lake to see Rowena doing laps. As she finished tying the second lace, she
watched Rowena flip her entire body around in mid-air and start skating
backward. As she came back around to where Willow was seated, she came to
an abrupt stop, the steel blades of her skates scratching across the ice like
nails on a chalkboard, making Willow flinch.

"You ready?" Rowena asked.

"For that? No," Willow answered honestly.

Rowena laughed and opened her arms to Willow, and the witch seemed drawn
from the bench. "We’ll take it slow to start," Rowena assured her.
Willow made her way over with a penguin-like shuffle. Once she hit the ice, she
grabbed Rowena’s arms in a terrified grip. Her eyes had never been so wide
open. Both of them wore ice skates,
but while Rowena balanced easily
upon hers, Willow shuddered as she
barely stayed erect.

"You just be patient and it will
come to you. I promise. You're
doing fine," Rowena soothed her.

"Fine is kinda relative."

"Above average then."

"That's even more relative!"

"Shhhh...Look at me."

Willow did as she was told, making eye contact and keeping it.

"Now," continued Rowena, "just keep doing what I told you. You won't fall. I
won't let you."

"You know, Buffy tried to convince me to do this once, but I put on my resolve
face."

Rowena laughed. "Then I guess it must be luvvvv, eh?"

Willow grinned and slowly repeated the movements Rowena had practiced with
her. Together, they inched across the ice.

"See?" Rowena said proudly. "You're doing it."

Another tiny smile crossed Willow's lips. They picked up speed, slowly but
surely. What began as maybe a foot per minute eventually became a yard, then
two, then three. After a time, the two of them were moving in unison at a rate
that forced them to turn, having gone from one end of the lake to the other.
Heading back again, Willow was more confident. Her eyes went from the size of
dinner plates to that of tea saucers. By their third trip, Willow's grip had
relaxed.

For most of an hour, Rowena coached her, eventually letting Willow move on
her own for seconds at a time, yet always taking hold of Willow again.
Amid much nervous laughter, Rowena led Willow into a slow, mutual spin.
Eventually, they came to a stop and just looked at each other. Each wore a
smile, and their eyes shone.

"Guess what?" murmured Rowena.

"What?"

"You probably have some idea what kinds of big surprises I've had in my life. In
fact, we've probably had a lot of the same. Finding out about demons and
vampires, for a start."

"Yeah, that was a biggie," Willow said with a mock sigh. Still, she smiled at
Rowena.

"But the biggest surprise, the best surprise, the most wonderful—was this. Was
you." Although smiling, Rowena looked as if she might cry. "Thank you,
Willow," she whispered.

"Thank you, Rowena."

Their lips met for a long, lingering exchange. And even when the kiss ended,
neither one moved for what seemed like minutes.

"Interesting," said a voice from shore.

Rowena and Willow turned. Mary Grace, wrapped up in warm clothes, stood
less than ten yards away. She was staring at the two women in each others'
arms. With the surprise of seeing Mary Grace, Rowena lost her grip on Willow,
and the witch tumbled to the ice.

Mary Grace just turned and walked away. Instead of going after her sister,
Rowena reacted to seeing Willow fall and reached down for her. Rowena
groaned in pain, and Willow shook her head.

"I’m okay," she told the blonde. "Don’t hurt yourself."

Rowena offered her arm, but Willow got to her feet on her own.

"This is bad, isn’t it?" Willow asked, nodding in Mary Grace’s direction.

Rowena watched her sister’s retreating form. "With Mary, it usually is," she
answered with a sigh.

Cut to:
Int.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Library Main Room – Later

" ‘Our tragedy is double’," read Robin aloud. " ‘For Josette my daughter has
died giving birth to her shame, without once breathing the name of he who has
disgraced her. More, the child is deformed in ways unrecorded by medical
science. Not even in the ravings of...’ I'm not sure, but I think the name he
mentions is Charles Darwin. No, the rest of that passage is illegible." He flipped
through the next few pages.

"Wow," muttered Angie, "makes you real glad to be born in the twentieth
century, huh? Locking away your daughter just 'cause she got preggers."

"It was a different time."

"A lousy time, if you ask me."

Robin looked up for a moment. "No
argument here. Although sad to say,
it still happens." He stared at a few
more pages, then read aloud again. "
‘Eyes not of nature nor heaven but
rather the infernal regions’." Turning
a page, he continued. " ‘...refuses all
food save meat, preferably raw. Were I
not a Christian, this spawn should
not survive one hour in my presence.
Yet I shall not set it loose upon the
world to wreak what mischief might
enter its dark heart’."

"Un-frigging-believable," said Angie in disgust. "Just 'cause the poor kid is
deformed, this s.o.b. treats him like a monster!"

"I'm wondering…" Robin quickly skimmed the next few pages. "According to
this, the child grew very quickly. Like it was standing and walking around
within six months. Maybe Dr. Phillips got it right…infernal."

"As in...what?" Angie asked in confusion.

"Well, a fair number of demonic species are fertile with humans. In fact, most
demons now on Earth supposedly have some human ancestry. Or so we've
been told."

"I know I'm going to regret asking this, but...told by who?"

"A demon. Or, ex-demon."
Angie blinked. "How do you get to be an ex-demon? Wait! Before you
answer…is it gross?"

"No."

"Okay. How do you get to be an ex-demon?"

"Sometimes humans can be transformed, and if they are, then the potential is
there to un-transform them. Doesn't happen too often, though." He held up the
diary. "Anyway, the eating of raw meat and the growing up too fast could be
signs of a demon/human hybrid." He started skimming the pages again. "And
there's a very good reason for needing to find out."

Above them, another sound—something like a thud—came from the ceiling. It
made Angie jump. Robin merely
stared up, then continued his
skimming.

"What is the very good reason?"

"Some demons live a very long time.
Centuries even."

Reluctantly, Angie turned her head to
the wall, her eyes searching out one of
the several pieces of graffiti that
marred the surface. The nearest one
read, ‘Beware The Creeper.’

"You mean like around a hundred and three years or so?"

"Possibly," Robin said, looking at the ceiling above them.

"Oh, hell," she sighed.

Cut to:
Int.
Watchers Council – Rec Room – Later

Faith entered the rec room with confident strides. She still had her coat over
one arm as she looked across the seemingly-empty room and made a circuit.
Not making much noise as she moved, Faith got a reaction once reaching the
far side of a particular sofa.

"Oops! Sorry."
With a scramble, Kennedy and Mia each managed to close each other's shirts
in less than a second. Faith managed not to smirk too broadly.

"Hey, happy new year and all that," Faith cheerfully greeted the amorous
slayers.

"Um...thanks," said Kennedy.

"We didn't hear you," said Mia.

"Apparently. Anyway," Faith said, looking around, "this place seems deserted.
Dawn and Skye are playing chess in the library, but didn't want to talk for
some reason. What's up with them?"

Mia shrugged. "Don't know."

Kennedy added, "Xander took Vi out for Italian. Giles is with Becca. Jeff and
Andrew decided they wanted to play some kind of card game."

"Tarot," noted Mia. "Seeing if they
could read the future."

"Whatever," shrugged Kennedy.

"And I see what you two are up to,"
said Faith. "Which gives me an idea.
Where's my guy?"

"Out with another girl," said Kennedy.

"Excuse me?" Faith asked.

Mia smacked Kennedy’s arm. "It’s not
like that," she told Faith.

"He’s on an errand with some newbie," Kennedy answered.

"With Vi's sister," added Mia.

"Vi has a sister?" Faith asked. "Man, I just left for one weekend. Things didn't
change this much when I was in prison for years."

"Yeah, she's a twin," said Mia. "Identical, but they sure don’t act the same." Mia
looked as though she was going to say more but stopped.
"Really," said Faith, eyeing the two young women. "And what's the deal with
that? Spill it."

Mia looked at Kennedy, who finally looked at Faith. "Angie—that’s Vi’s twin—
she’s interested in maybe enrolling at the Academy." She paused.

"And?"

"She's not much like Vi," Kennedy told her.

"Not at all," agreed Mia.

Faith waited.

Reluctantly Mia spoke. "Angie is a smartass. And she flirts. A lot. And Giles
sent her with Robin to check up on a library some college wants to donate the
Council. So that's where he is right now."

During all this, Mia observed Faith's reaction, watching as the elder slayer
crossed her arms and began tapping one foot.

"Uh-huh," was all Faith had to say.

"What was up with that hospital in Maine?" Mia asked, trying to change the
subject.

"Place seemed haunted," Faith said. "But some old lady, a psychic or medium
or somethin', seemed to have it covered. Makes sense that a hospital would
have ghosts, I guess."

"And the anteater?" Kennedy could not keep the skepticism out of her voice.

"Spirit guide, the old lady said. I checked her credentials. Anyway, no demons
or vampires or anything, not in Lewiston anyway. There were rumors about a
whole nest of vamps in a town up the road, but I wanted to check that over
with Giles. R and R get back yet?"

"Huh?" Kennedy asked.

"Red and Ro?" Faith asked again.

"Oh, not that we’ve heard," she replied.

"And where did you say my guy was?" Faith asked.

"Abandoned building at Barlow College," Mia answered.
Faith nodded, and then she turned around and strode out of the room.

Kennedy looked at Mia. "Trouble. Maker."

"Me? You started it."

"You don't think Vi's gonna get upset if Faith twists her twin sister into a
pretzel?"

Mia sighed, then cocked her head. "Actually, that has some possibilities." She
waggled her eyebrows until Kennedy laughed. She was still giggling when they
resumed kissing.

Cut to:
Int.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Library Main Room – Later

"Here's more," said Robin, still hunched over the diary. "It says: ‘The regular
restraints are of little use in controlling the creature, hence my decision to use
chains. More, around its head I have had fashioned a kind of cage. The power
of its limbs is far beyond that of any two men, so I make certain to drug its
food.’ That entry is dated 1912."

"Year of the Titanic."

"And by then, his grandson would have been fifteen years old. In chains."

"Well, if he was a demon..."

"All the more reason to treat him well," Robin said, simply. "Abuse a cow, and
you have trouble. Abuse a tiger, and you've got a lot more trouble. I don't see
how this poor creature could have been anything other than insane the way his
grandfather acted."

For a moment, neither of them said anything. Then, there was another sound
from above.

"The security guards," said Angie.

"Kept deserting their posts," said Robin. "Or at least disappearing."

"Let’s get out of here."

Robin stood up. "Good idea."

Cut to:
Int.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Corridor – Same Time

The corridor was in poor condition, with hardly any lights at all. Robin and
Angie left the main room and headed
down the corridor towards the front
entrance.

But then, they stopped. Ahead was a
Shape. Manlike. As it stepped forward
from the shadows, they saw that it
wore the ragged remains of a straight
jacket. An iron cage was set around
its head, but the bars directly in front
of its face had been bent back. Nearly
six feet tall, it showed no trace of a
beard, but it had a mane of matted hair.

More, its eyes burned a feral red.

Cut to:
Int.
Watchers Council – Lounge – Same Time

Faith was seated with her feet up on the coffee table. "Sounds like your sis is
just a little bit of tart." She had a cup of coffee in her hand.

Vi let out a long sigh, sipping at her own coffee from a lotus position on the
sofa next to Faith. "She pretends to be. The truth is, most of her behavior is
really just an act. Behind all that—" Suddenly, Vi’s face went slack, and she
began to gasp repeatedly.

"Hey, you okay? Vi?"

Vi dropped the cup in her hand and shot to her feet.

"Something’s wrong," she croaked and wheezed. "Very, very wrong!"

Fade Out

                               End of Act Three

                                 Act Four
Fade In:
Int.
Barlow College – Old Hospital –
Corridor – Resume

The shape—the Creeper,
presumably—snarled at them.

Angie began to hyperventilate. "Oh
god," she whispered, "oh god…"

Robin looked around. Off in the
corner was a staircase. He gestured
with a nod of his head. "There. Run
when I say. Ready?"

Angie seemed to fight to get her breathing under control. "Oh, yeah."

The Creeper, its unblinking red eyes riveted on them, began to step forward.

"RUN!"

Angie wasted not one second. She sprinted for the stairs. The Creeper turned to
her instantly, but Robin distracted the creature by waving his arms. "Hey! Over
here! Here!" The Creeper looked his way, giving Angie more time to head up the
steps.

Robin followed behind her.

Cut to:
Int.
Robin’s Car – Same Time

In the car, almost exactly below the driver’s seat, a cell phone lay on the floor.
It was ringing.

The name ‘Robin Wood’ was stenciled in tiny letters on the side of the device.

Cut to:
Int.
Watchers Council – Library – Same Time

Vi paced, the phone to her ear. She looked up at Faith, who was watching.
"No answer?"

"Nothing."

Faith nodded, grabbed her discarded
jacket from the sofa, then headed for
the door. "Good enough for me. You
coming?"

"Try and stop me."

Both slayers left the library very, very fast.

Cut to:
Int.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Staircase – Same Time

Robin easily caught up with the much-smaller Angie. Neither looked back,
trying to ignore the echoing sounds behind them—the scurrying of limbs,
coupled with a hungry panting.

They didn’t stop at the first landing, but kept going. Behind, the sounds of
pursuit followed. Both redoubled their efforts. At the second landing, Angie
looked back and gaped at what she saw.

The Creeper was running on all fours like an animal, despite having the
manlike shape of a biped. It was making a sound halfway between a growl and
a cackle. And it leapt up suddenly, covering several steps at a time. Before
Angie could do more than begin to react, the Creeper was on the landing with
her. It leapt again. The impact knocked Angie to the floor, and with a howl of
snarls and pants, the Creeper made for her.

Cut to:
Ext.
Nova Scotia – Allister Home – Same Time

Looking anything but happy, Rowena and Willow approached the house. All the
windows were closed, and the
curtains were drawn. No one came
out to greet them.

"Just what do you think will
happen?" asked Willow.

"Depends."
"On what?"

With a sigh, Rowena answered, "On about a dozen or more things. Mary’s
mood. Mom’s mood. What else has been going on today."

"In other words…"

"No way to tell."

Willow nodded. "Ready?"

"As much as I can be."

Together, they walked to the front door.

Cut to:
Int.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Staircase – Same Time

Robin grabbed a half-collapsed chair.
He reared it back as much as he
could, then swung at the Creeper. It
connected, and the Creeper
staggered, hissing.

Angie squirmed away across the floor
faster than seemed possible.

The broken chair came swinging
again, once more connecting with the
metal cage around the Creeper’s
head. It made a sound like a vibrating tuning fork, and the Creeper howled
in response.

With one hand, Robin pulled Angie to her feet. They ran a short ways before
they both slammed into a door. Pushing it open, they wasted no time stepping
inside and shutting the door behind them.

Cut to:
Int.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Storage Room – Same Time

Robin and Angie grabbed a wooden filing cabinet that was nearby and braced it
against the door. The blows of powerful fists began raining on the other side of
the door, accompanied by sounds combining animalistic growling with human
screams of frustration.
Both held the cabinet against the door as the pounding continued. After the
first dozen or so blows, it became clear that the creature simply would not be
able to overcome this particular barrier—not anytime soon, anyway. The snarls
gave way to howls and then to a series of blows that were clearly intended to
vent. They were too feeble and too numerous to be anything other than a
tantrum.

Moments later, the scuttling sound of the Creeper’s exit was audible through
the door.

"Don’t know about you," said Angie in a shaky voice, "but I’m not willing to just
go out there."

"Right with you," agreed Robin. "It may be uncivilized, but that doesn’t mean
it’s stupid. Apart from anything else, we’re talking about the cunning of a
hunter—a hunter that’s likely been successfully tracking humans for decades.
Plus, we’re in its home. It must know this building a thousand times better
than we ever could."

"Right," Angie nodded. "So, in other words, we’re doomed, then. I feel better.
Thanks."

"Don’t worry too much," said Robin, checking his pockets. "We’ve got slayers
and witches and lots of firepower just a phone call away." He started double-
checking the pockets he’d already searched. "All we have to do is…is…uh, we’ve
got a problem."

"I noticed!"

"No, not that one."

She stared at him. "What now?"

"Did you bring a cell phone by any chance?"

Angie blinked. Then she said, "Oh, sh—"

Cut to:
Int.
Nova Scotia – Allister Home – Living Room – A little later
Mary Grace Allister sat in the corner of the room, watching the scene with a
smirk but saying nothing. Willow and Rowena were in the center, with Mrs.
Allister circling angrily, her voice barely managing to stay a few decibels below
actual shouting.

"And to think, when you got that
scholarship, I was happy for you!
Happy you’d be able to make
something of your life!"

"Which is exactly what I have done,"
answered Rowena steadily.

"Oh? Is it really?" Mrs. Allister’s eyes
were laser-like, and her mouth had
become a thin line of lipstick across the bottom of her face. "You’ve made
yourself a pervert, is that what you mean? And a liar!" She made a stabbing
gesture at Willow. "A friend, you said! God forgive me, I was actually happy to
hear about you bringing a friend home. Even if she was a Jew! What did that
matter if my little girl had finally made a friend! HA!" She trembled, looking
ready to spit in Willow’s face as she turned to the witch. "Friend! I know now
what you are and what kind of so-called ‘friends’ Rowena has fallen in with!"

"Mrs. Allister, whatever you…" began Willow.

"Shut up! How dare you speak to me, you evil corrupter!" Mrs. Allister’s voice
sank an octave. "You probably couldn’t believe your luck, could you? A lovely
girl, lonely, naïve, right where you could get your claws into her. Where you
could lure her into the kind of filth you enjoy!"

Willow stared, dumbstruck, at the woman’s tirade.

"How dare you come here, among
decent people…" Mrs. Allister started.

"How dare you!" Rowena’s voice cut
like ice.

Mrs. Allister stopped, staring at her
daughter.

"Willow is a magnificent person,"
Rowena continued. "You have no
right to treat her this way."

"This is my house, young lady!"
"I don’t care if this was your palace," said Rowena, her voice still low but
powerful. "Do you have any idea how horrible the world really can be, Mom?
How vicious and cruel and dangerous? There is real evil, Mom, horrible things
that happen every day, crimes that destroy human lives and wreck childhoods
and torture families. Monsters, real monsters. And what gets you angry? What
gets you so upset you want to
scream?" For a moment, no one said
anything. "I’ll tell you what—the
shape of my lover’s genitals."

Another long silence. A very long one.
Then Mrs. Allister sat down and
spoke. "I don’t want either one of you
polluting my home one more hour."

"Works out well. I don’t like to hang
out with hypocrites," Rowena told her
mother. "Come on, Will," she said, motioning the witch to follow.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Mrs. Allister asked.

"I sat through catechism, Mom. I sat through church. I’ve even read the bible
cover to cover, many times. It’s not our place to judge our fellow man. Our job’s
to love them. God will be the one to judge. So why don’t you shut your trap and
practice what Father Paul tells you?"

With Mrs. Allister’s jaw slacked in shock, Rowena took Willow’s hand and
marched her from the living room.

Cut to:
Int.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Corridors – Later

"Tell me again why we’re heading up, not down?" Even though she whispered,
Angie managed to keep an edge of panic in her voice.

"Basic tactics," Robin whispered back. "It’ll expect us to try and leave that way.
If something hunting you expects you somewhere, be somewhere else." He took
a few more steps, eyes scanning the space around—an action Angie copied. "Of
course, I did forget one other important tactic."

"Which one?"

"Never go anywhere without lots and lots of weapons."

"In hindsight, that does seem like a mistake."
"Not one I’m likely to repeat."

"Yeah…’cause we’ll be dead!" Angie complained.

They peaked into a room whose door was missing. At the far end, past piles of
junk, was a window. Outside the window were the branches of a tree.

"Bingo," said Robin.

Cut to:
Int.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Upper Level Room – Same Time

They tried crossing the room as quietly as possible. Given the amount of debris
cluttering the space, it proved a daunting task.

"Oh god," whispered Angie.

"What?"

She pointed. Next to a box of papers and a wheelchair rusted into immobility
lay a pile of bones. Mostly, the bones were small, probably those of rats. Some
were even smaller. Others, though, were bigger.

"All the more reason to hurry," Robin whispered.

"Right behind you."

They reached the window slowly, but making very little noise.

"I wish I knew where that thing was right now," murmured Angie. "Then again,
I really don’t want to find out."

Robin tried to open the window but failed. "Looks painted shut."

"Damn it!"

"Wait. I’ve got an idea." At this, Robin began to look around. Spotting what he
wanted, he reached down to pick up a paint can, rusted with the label long-
gone. He carefully positioned himself to the side of the window. Then he looked
at Angie. "Step back."

Grasping the wire handle, he swung the paint can into the glass. The first
blow, although monstrous in sound, only opened large cracks in the glass.
Robin swung the can even harder, then again, and again. Soon, big chunks of
glass were breaking free.
From elsewhere in the building, a muffled howling could be heard.

"I think it knows where we are!"

"I think you’re right," said Robin, giving the window one more strike. Finally, an
opening appeared, one large enough for a human being, albeit surrounded by
jagged pieces of broken glass. "We need to move. Now!"

From the interior of the hospital, more sounds were becoming audible. Like
scuttling, but louder.

Angie was sweating, but began to make her way through the broken glass of
the window.

"Come on," Robin urged, "you can do it."

Sounds from the hallway grew in volume as well as clarity. Then came a howl—
much louder and closer than before.

"Hurry!"

More than a few shards cut into Angie as she moved shakily through the
broken glass. At each cut, she winced. Once, she even cried out. But she did
not stop. Soon, her foot was the last body part to exit through the window and
make it onto the branch of the tree outside. She scrambled over to allow room
for Robin.

"Now you!"

Robin started through, ignoring the sounds of the Creeper closing in.

Cut to:
Ext.
Nova Scotia – Thornkirk Ferry – Same Time

Rowena took a seat on the bench outside the ferry building. Willow sat beside
her, slipping an arm through hers and then entwining their gloved hands.

Mr. Allister came from the car, carrying their luggage. He set it on the sidewalk
beside his daughter, then quietly sat on the bench beside her.

"You should let her redesign your apartment." The words seemed to come out
of nowhere. "Your mother, I mean."

"I don’t think that’s a good idea," Rowena breathed, sounding very tired.
"She really wanted to stay in college, you know," he replied almost
conversationally. Oblivious to the stare Willow aimed at him, he continued.
"But the scholarship to keep going ran out. She had so many plans." He
sighed. "I let her make every single decision about the wedding. That suit I
wore looked stupid. And I didn’t even know the priest back then. But it made
her feel better." He paused again.
"Just let her redesign your
apartment. Or buy all your clothes.
Both would be good."

Willow shot a look at Rowena, who
was looking at her father with great
tenderness. "Thanks, Da."

"Do wonders. I’m telling you."

"I’ll think about it," she told him.
"After she’s had a chance to calm down, though…Okay, after we’ve both had a
chance to calm down," she admitted.

He leaned over to look at Willow. "She’s her mother’s daughter. You ready for
that temper?"

"I can handle it," Willow said with a
bashful grin.

"You better be," he said, shaking his
finger. "Of course, the up side to that
temper is her passionate side when it
comes to what she loves." He turned
back to Rowena. "And your Mom does
love you, Blanche. She just wants
what’s best for you."

"Willow is what’s best for me," Rowena answered.

Mr. Allister looked at the two women and their locked hands.

"I see that...Just give her time, and she will too. She should be okay by Easter.
Well, then again, that depends. Does Easter fall early this year?" A ghost of a
smile played across his lips, and Rowena slapped his leg, making him give her
a slight grin.

"And what if she’s not?" Rowena asked.
Her father shrugged. "Live your own life," he said, turning serious again. "Truth
is, Grandpa Morris didn’t much care for me, but your Mom did. That was all
that mattered. After thirty plus years, it’s still all that matters." The big-chested
man then shifted to look Willow right in the eyes. "So, you’re my son-in-law? Or
something like that? Is there a word I should use?"

"Uh…" Willow considered. "Partner is good."

Mr. Allister nodded again. "Makes sense."

And with those two words, he fell silent and sat back to wait for the ferry.

Rowena leaned against Willow.

Cut to:
Int.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Upper Level Room – Same Time

Robin was halfway through the broken window when the snarling grew much
louder, and he turned to see the Creeper burst into the room. Robin braced
himself. As the Creeper ran towards the window, Robin lashed out with one
foot and managed to kick the creature in the side of his cage. The blow delayed
its movements long enough for Robin to scurry out of the window and onto the
branch.

Cut to:
Ext.
Barlow College – Old Hospital – Tree Outside – Same Time

Robin moved as fast as he could through the branches of the tree. "Head
down!" he called out, noting that Angie was halfway to the tree base by now. He
also looked behind him.

The Creeper was tearing the glass shards from the broken window with a
furious abandon. Its snarls and howls
were enraged.

Wasting no time, Robin climbed down.
"Angie," he called out. "Angie?"

She was frozen, balanced trickily upon a
limb a couple of yards from the ground.
Worse, she was staring up at the twisted
figure of the Creeper as it scrambled into
the tree branches.
Moving with more-than-human speed, the Creeper began to climb down. Like a
lizard, it grasped the sides and toeholds of the tree as it headed towards her.

Robin yelled. "Hey! You! Ugly!"

The Creeper continued to scuttle towards Angie. She made a sound almost like
a whimper.

Robin reached into his pocket and took out his keys. He threw them hard at
the Creeper. They hit the cage around its head, making a jangling sound and
succeeding in distracting the creature. Its baleful eyes now focused on Robin.
Its mouth hissed. And it moved away from Angie, towards Robin.

Not willing to simply wait, Robin moved so that branches were in between him
and the Creeper. The creature reacted to this with frustrated howls.

"Angie! Go down! Go down now, while you can!"

Shaking in fear, Angie managed to make her limbs act. She began to lower
herself to the ground.

The Creeper, meanwhile, circled Robin’s position in the tree. It made a
gurgling, hungry sound that had never come out of any natural beast. Robin
continued to move as quickly as he could around the branches. He swung from
a y-shaped tree limb to another, barely in time. The Creeper sniffed the
branches Robin had vacated, seemingly attracted to the drops of blood from the
nicks given by the broken window. At one point, it licked the bark and made a
sound that was almost a giggle.

Finally, Angie reached the ground. She took several steps from the tree, then
looked up to watch the weird chase above, with both horror and fascination.

By now, the Creeper was gaining ground. Robin was losing some of his speed,
just when he needed every bit of it. The Creeper seemed to realize this on some
level. It smiled in a hideous way, again making the almost-giggle sound.

Angie was so engrossed that she didn’t hear the car pull up or notice the two
young women run to either side of her. When she did notice, she saw the
brunette to her left throw something into the tree.

Angie grimaced when she saw the hatchet embed itself in the Creeper’s back.
Screaming, it fell from the tree to the ground—a distance of at least twenty feet.
Yet despite that, the Creeper still got up, unsteadily perhaps, but definitely up.
With its eyes blazing, it looked directly at Angie and at those on either side of
her. Then, it ran towards them. Angie gasped and started to back up, falling
over her own feet in the process.
From Angie’s right, Vi ran forward. She met the Creeper with a running kick to
its chest that sent it stumbling backwards. Vi then rolled down to the ground,
and from that position used a scissor-cut to knock the Creeper down. It
toppled with a snarling gasp. Vi swung herself back upright in one smooth
move, then drove the short sword in her hand deeply into the chest of the
Creeper, all the way through and into the ground.

The Creeper writhed, snarling. Then, it shuddered. Finally, it fell quiet and
evaporated into a greenish mist.

Vi did a take. She looked at Robin, who was now approaching from the base of
the tree. In a conversational tone, she said, "Wow. He went poof like a vamp."

"I noticed," Robin said, trying to catch his breath.

"Makes clean-up a snap."

"Agreed," Robin said. "Most of the time you’ve got this big weird carcass to
dispose of."

"Except with vampires," Faith said as she moved away and towards Angie.

"Yeah, but then you’ve got all that dust," Robin retorted.

Vi nodded, conceding the point. She then turned to Angie, who was staring at
her. Faith was helping her stand, but her eyes were on Vi. "You okay, Angie?"
Vi asked her sister.

"I…I think…I’d like to go home now,"
was her twin’s reply. "Okay?"

"Sure." Vi nodded.

"So," said Faith suddenly. "You’re Vi’s
twin sister?"

"Uh…yeah."

"The one who was flirting with my
boyfriend?" Faith said this as
ominously as she could, with a heavy
tone and crossed arms. She looked very dangerous. "Believe me when I say I'm
scarier and harder to kill than that thing," she said pointing to the place the
creature had vaporized.

Angie fainted.
Cut to:
Ext.
Watchers Council HQ – Next Day

A cab pulled up, and Willow and Rowena disembarked, dragging their luggage
with them. Rowena paid the fare, but looked surprised when a familiar-looking
young redhead called out from the front door.

"Taxi! Can you take me to the airport?" The girl looked like Vi.

The driver looked up and nodded.

Willow, meanwhile, blinked. "Vi? You’re going somewhere?"

The girl looked at Willow as she dragged her bag towards the waiting vehicle.
"No, and yes," the girl answered. "No, I’m not Vi. But yes, I’m going home."
Without another word, she tossed her bag into the taxi, got in, and slammed
the door. Within seconds, the taxi screeched away.

Willow and Rowena looked at each other and shrugged.

Cut to:
Int.
Watchers Council – Dining Room – Later

Rowena and Willow were seated across from Jeff and Andrew. Elsewhere at the
table were Giles and Becca, Dawn and Skye, Kennedy and Mia, Faith and
Robin. Four other couples, each engaged in their own conversations.

"We were just wondering," Jeff was saying to Willow, "if either of you were
making any kinds of investments lately. You know, like juggling your funds?"
He said this with an odd emphasis that made Willow blink.

"I think I avoided buying a boat. Maybe," she offered.

Jeff and Andrew looked at each other, as if considering whether this might
qualify for whatever-it-was they were thinking about regarding the recent Tarot
card reading.

"Why?" asked Rowena.

Rather than answer directly, Andrew gave her an inquisitive glance. "Did you
encounter any swords on your trip? Or some kind of cup? Maybe a wooden
staff or wand?"
Rowena stared back at them. Then, a sound came from her pocket. "Excuse
me," she said as she took out her cell phone. "Hello?

Cut to:
Int.
Nova Scotia – Joseph Allister’s Home – Dining Room – Same Time

Joseph Allister grinned at hearing his sister’s voice. "Hey Blanche!"

From hundreds of miles away, Rowena’s voice answered, "Hey yourself." She
had a very neutral tone to her
voice.

"I…uh…I missed the fireworks.
Don’t know exactly what
happened either ’cause nobody’s
giving too many details."

"I’d really rather not go into that
now…" Rowena sounded weary.

"No! I’m not asking about that! I
just wanted to know…well, to ask…" He faltered.

"What?"

"This girl. Willow. She treat you right?"

Cut to:
Int.
Watchers Council – Dining Room –
Same

Rowena, cell phone in hand, looked at
Willow, who was trying to answer
another mysterious question from Jeff
and Andrew—something about spilled
cups and knights. When Rowena
spoke into the phone, her voice was
soft, and a grin played on her lips.

"Yes. She does."

Fade to Black
End of In The Dark

				
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