Lacey Chabert as Skye, Gale Harold as Jim Pollan, Caroline Dhavernas as Grace Hatherley, Rachel Hurd-Wood as Lorinda, Robert Picardo as Dr. Miller, and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Gary Oldman as Mr. Jason Felix, Elisabeth Sladen as Dianna Earl, Mandy Musgrave as Hadley, Sasha Alexander as Janna, and Hudson Leick as the Mayor Justine Hegwell
Watchers Council – Foyer – Later
Faith and Hadley were laughing as they stepped into the foyer of the council. Faith's right arm was stretched across the younger slayer's shoulders. Hadley's left hand clung to Faith's opposite hip as the duo pranced cheerfully into the council building.
"Faith, thank God," Willow strode up to her, bringing their revelry to a rather prompt halt. Rowena was adjusting her coat as she walked up behind Willow.
"Yeah, what is it?" Faith asked.
"I need you to check out a vampire attack. Three victims, it looks like a new hive is in town," Willow explained.
"Can't someone else cover it?" Faith asked. "I mean, this is the first night I've had off in months, and not to put too fine a point on it, I've had a coupla drinks tonight, I'm not exactly at my best."
"Nobody else is close enough," Rowena told her. "Kennedy and Mia are still…jetlagged from Tokyo. I want someone with some experience on this one. The cops found three bodies in an alley behind Flannery's on Prospect. They think that it's vamps and they want us to check it out."
"Flannery's? But we were –" Hadley's response was abruptly cut off by a quick jab from Faith's elbow to her ribs.
"We'll look into it," Faith told the witch. "Give me five minutes to get ready."
Willow's forehead creased. "That's a bit gear-shift-y," she told Faith. "What changed your mind?"
"Nothing," Faith said quickly. "You just said that we're the only ones who can do it, so we'll do it."
"Uh huh," Rowena said, unconvinced. "Look, Faith…"
"Ro," Faith indicated herself. "Gift horse, mouth. You know what I'm sayin'?"
Rowena held up her hands in supplication. "Okay. Flannery's; corner of Prospect and West Third."
"I can find it," Faith said tightly.
"The cops will be waiting for you when you get there," Rowena yelled at Faith's retreating back.
Watchers Council – Faith and Robin's bedroom – Moments later
The door flung opened and Faith strode into the room. She walked to the dresser and slid the top drawer opened. She swept socks and undergarments out of the way, revealing, arrayed in an organized manner, a large variety of deadly, pointy weapons. She dropped the short jacket she was wearing on the bed and slid out of her T-shirt, changing into a tighter, black tank top. She picked a wooden stake from the top drawer and wriggled out of the tight, confining black leather pants she was wearing, choosing a pair of more functional, loose-fitting pants that didn't impede her movement.
"Where's the fire?" a deep voice called from behind her.
Faith jumped, startled, and whirled around, her jeans still hanging around her thighs. "Jesus, Ace!" she yelled. "Give a girl a little warning next time you decide to scare the living daylights out of her."
"What's up?" he asked.
"Nothing big," Faith said. "Just a vampire attack downtown."
"It's your night off, Faith. Why are you getting ready as if you're terrified that someone will walk in here the next five minutes and scoop 'nothing big' out from under you?" Robin asked her.
"I thought you were goin' out tonight," Faith told him.
"We came back early," he dismissed her comment. "Stop changing the subject."
Faith cocked her head slightly. "It's nothin'," she insisted. "The club scene's kinda slow tonight, so I think a good slay would ease the boredom a little." She offered a sultry smile. "I didn't think you'd mind," she added, teasingly.
Robin's jaw tensed. His voice was hard, but quiet when he spoke again. "I'll make you a deal," he said, "I'm going to ask you again when you come back, and next time take a long, hard look at the ring on your finger and then ask yourself if you should be lying to the man who gave it to you."
Faith's expression softened as she watched him turn around to leave. "Ace – Robin…" she said softly.
"I'll see you when you get back," he told her, without turning around. "Be careful," he added.
Faith took a shaky breath than bent over to pull her jeans up around her waist. She slid her jacket on and tucked the stake into the waistband of her pants and stepped into the living room.
Robin was leaning against the kitchen counter, his back to her. Faith opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a sharp knock at the door.
"Goddammit," she muttered and walked to answer the door.
Hadley stood in the hallway, changed and ready.
"We going?" she asked. She looked more intently into Faith's eyes. "You okay?" She asked, a little more gently.
"Yeah, on both counts," Faith replied. She turned to face Robin's back again. "We'll talk when I get back," she reassured him.
He offered no response before she closed the door behind her.
Cleveland – Prospect Street – Later
"Crap," Faith murmured under her breath. "That didn't take long." Already photographers and news reporters were lining the sidewalk trying to snap a shot of the massacre. "God, I miss the days when nobody knew about us," she added in Hadley's direction. "A year ago, this would barely have got a mention on the six o'clock news."
"Um, yeah, it's after midnight. The six o'clock news has been over for hours," Hadley pointed out.
"Not the point," Faith snapped at her. "A year ago, this woulda been basically a non-story."
"It's a big story now," Hadley replied. "I mean, you got hotties with superpowers, violence, lesbians, even religion all mixed up in one big package." She offered a small smile to the older slayer. "I hear you single-handedly managed to make the Rapture Index triple during last year's apocalypse, and it hasn't stopped climbing since."
Faith rolled her eyes. "Please tell me you don't buy into all that the end is nigh crap. I mean, the end has been nigh every year for the past ten years, and we've managed to un-nigh it every time."
"Nope," Hadley replied, "I don't. But clearly there are lots of people out there who do. At the end of the day, news is just entertainment. Kinda like reality TV, except that it actually is reality."
"It's sensationalism," Faith spat out.
Hadley, looked at her, her eyes widening.
"What? I read a book on the odd occasion, so sue me. The point is that if these people knew what was really huntin' them, what we hold back every single day, they'd never leave the house," Faith told her. "The news is makin' it that much harder for people to go about their normal day-to-day lives." The duo pushed their way through the crowd, which had accumulated at the entrance to the alleyway and ducked under the yellow police tape, which had been strung up. "Not to mention makin' it that much harder for us to do our jobs."
Hadley looked over at her, a slight air of suspicion appearing on her face. "Speaking of our jobs, when did lying to our boss get added to the job description?"
"You want to tell Ro that we were ten feet away from the most recent vampire massacre?" Faith told her.
Hadley's eyes narrowed slightly. "It's not just that, is it?"
"What do you mean?" Faith asked, her body stiffening.
"You have another reason," Hadley told her, conviction thick in her voice.
"You're a mind reader now?" Faith asked.
"Nope, just a keen observer of you," Hadley told her.
"Hadley, you've been with us, what, six months?" Faith asked.
"Eight," Hadley countered, indignantly.
"Eight, fine. You're not allowed to read my mind until you've known me for at least two years," Faith told her. She turned to one of the police officers standing at the scene. "What happened here?" She asked.
"This conversation isn't over," Hadley muttered from behind her.
"Three victims all female between 20 and 24," the officer told them. "Bitten in the neck and we found almost no blood at the scene. We called you."
"Any ID on the victims?" Hadley asked. At Faith's look she shrugged. "What? That's what they always ask on CSI."
"Tiffany Byrne, Kimberly Noi and Klara Franzik," The police officer listed the names from his notepad. "All of them still had their wallets on them, and combined just shy of three hundred dollars cash. We ruled out a robbery."
Faith visibly stiffened at the names. "How long have they been dead?"
"The medical examiner's still on his way, but they were just off the sidewalk, in plain sight. They can't have been there more than a half-hour before someone noticed them," the officer replied.
Faith looked over the officer's shoulder at the three bodies lying in the alley, covered in white sheets. "I want to see the bodies," she told him.
"Ma'am, I can't let you back there until…" the officer started.
Faith whirled to glare at him. "Do I look even remotely old enough to be called 'ma'am?'" she snapped. She took a calming breath and apologized, her tone significantly calmer. "I'm sorry. I'm not trying to get in the way of the investigation. All I want is to see their faces. It'll take five seconds."
The officer turned and nodded to one of the cops standing beside one of the bodies. Faith strode up beside him and looked down as he pulled the white sheet down enough to uncover the young woman's face. The young Korean woman looked lifelessly up at the night sky her expression her lips drawn from her teeth in an expression of anguish.
"Twenty minutes," Faith said softly.
"What's that?" The officer asked.
"Twenty minutes ago, they were still alive," Faith told him. "There's your timeline. I want these bodies transported to the Watchers Council Morgue within the hour," she said.
"Ma'am," the officer winced at the glare Faith shot him, but he continued anyway. "We can't just sidestep procedure like that. We have reasons for these procedures."
"Yeah, I know," Faith told him. "But whoever did this isn't gonna show up in court, you can't try him for murder, even throwin' him in jail won't do anything 'cause he doesn't care if he spends a hundred years behind bars. This is our turf. Make it happen."
"Faith, ease up, will ya?" Hadley said softly. "The guy's just doing his job."
"I need a minute," Faith said abruptly. She walked down the alleyway and turned the corner, leaving Hadley with a somewhat stunned expression on her face.
Hadley looked at the police officer. "Um, she…gets like this sometimes. Don't take it personal."
Cleveland – Back alley – Moments later
Faith gritted her teeth as the knuckles of her right hand collided with titanic force with the unyielding brick wall. "Dammit, dammit, dammit," she muttered with each impact.
"Are you okay?" a foreign voice echoed in the alleyway.
Faith started slightly, then looked at the wall. Then she looked down at her hand. All the knuckles were burst and bleeding. "I'll be fine in a coupla hours," she said. "I heal quick."
"Bad day at work?" the woman asked.
"You could say that," Faith told her.
"Well, whatever it is, I'm sure it'll work out," the woman told her.
"What are you doing back here?" Faith gestured at the walls around her. "You're not exactly dressed for a soiree with the rats."
"It's not every day that you see a world-famous slayer trying to beat the crap out of a wall," she took a step forward, extending her hand. "My name's Janna," she introduced herself.
"Faith," Faith replied taking the woman's hand. "World famous?" She offered a thin smile.
"'Lazarus in leather?' Yeah, you've got a little press lately. I read the article, very interesting," Janna told her.
"Thanks," Faith said. She looked down at her hand and flexed her fingers a few times. Already the bleeding had stopped. She looked at the woman. "Look, is there somewhere we can take you? I mean, there's a new team of vamps out tonight."
"Me? Nah, I'll be fine," Janna told her. "And for what it's worth, whatever is bothering you, I hope you sort it out okay."
"I'll be fine," Faith echoed her sentiment. "I'll find the vamps that did this. I'll track 'em down, and I'll kill them. That'll make things just fine as far as I'm concerned."
"Well, I hope you find her," Janna replied.
"We will," Faith said. "Nine times out of ten, it's just a rag-tag group of everyday vamps who think they can handle a team of slayers. Ten times out of ten, they're wrong."
"Still, good luck, and be careful," Janna told her.
Faith nodded. "Thanks. You sure you're okay getting home?"
"Yeah. I have a couple of friends just around the corner, we'll stick to well-lit roads," Janna told her.
Faith's eyes quickly scanned the shadows alleyway. "Yeah, there's nothing back here. Stick to high-traffic roads and you'll be fine. Vamps are dumb, but not that dumb."
Faith watched the young woman until she was safely on the well-lit sidewalk, then turned to walk back towards the crime scene.
Cleveland – Street – Same time
Janna stopped just out of view from the alleyway and turned back to look at its entrance for a moment. A thin smile appeared on her face.
"Finally," she whispered to herself, "a slayer worth killing."
Watchers Council – Xander's room – Later
Xander opened the door to reveal Kennedy standing in the hallway, her arms crossed defensively across her chest. Large circles hung under her eyes as she looked up at him. A single strand of hair hung down over her forehead.
"Kennedy? Are you okay?" Xander asked.
"It's over," Kennedy said simply. "I –" her words caught in her throat, and she coughed uncomfortably. "Heli's gone. It's over. I just wanted you to know." Her hands shook slightly as she held a knitted wool hat out to the taller man. She started to back away from the doorway.
"Hey," Xander said softly, grabbing her forearms and gently leading her into the room. "Ken, what did you do to her?"
"Nothing," Kennedy said softly. "Nothing that I haven't dreamed of doing since Halloween."
"Then why are you treating this as if you got your ass kicked?" Xander asked.
"It's nothing. I'm tired, I'm jetlagged, and it's been a long year. I'm sorry to bother you," Kennedy started towards the door again, but Xander kept a firm grip on her forearm.
"Kennedy, I've loved two slayers in my life, so that isolationist slayer crap isn't going to work on me," Xander told her softly. "Tell me what happened."
"We fought, I won, she died," Kennedy snapped. "You want a blow-by-blow, or is that good enough?" she asked sharply. "I'm sure someone's sent you the report by now."
"Kennedy," Xander gently pulled her closer. Kennedy jerked away, but her attempt to free herself was half-hearted at best. The older man drew the slayer into his arms. The dark haired woman resisted at first, then sagged into his embrace, pressing her eyes against his shoulder. She sniffed slightly as her arms snaked up behind him. Her body shook in his arms as she tried to muffle her sobs against his shirt.
"It wasn't self-defense, was it?" Xander asked quietly.
Kennedy shook her head against his shoulder, but did not speak.
Xander released her and gently guided her into a comfortable armchair as he sat on the ottoman across from it. "Talk to me," he said simply.
"We'd fought, and I'd won. I had a gun, and she was kneeling on the floor. And I knew it was over. She wasn't going to make any threatening move, she wasn't going to do anything to make me hurt her. She was too smart for that. She was just going to wait there and let us cart her off to jail, or wherever they'd throw someone like her." Kennedy stopped, ostensibly to dry the moisture from her cheeks.
"Keep going," Xander prodded her gently.
"An' I could feel myself breathing, and I thought Vi can't feel that anymore. I was angry, and I knew that Vi couldn't feel that either. Neither could Chao-Ahn, or Marly. How could someone like Heli still be sitting in front of me, her heart beating, still breathing when none of them could anymore? What right did she have to be kneeling there, smirking at me when none of them could?" She took a long shaking breath. "I swear, for a second I could see every single molecule of air going in and out of her lungs, and in that second, I swore that not one more molecule would be wasted on that…on her. She didn't deserve to take even one more breath. So I stopped her from taking one."
"And I couldn't just shoot her in the head, could I?" Kennedy said, her voice almost inaudible. "No, I shot her once, then I hesitated; just for a second, though; not because I thought life was sacred or that taking any life was horrible. I hesitated because I wanted Heli to know that she was gonna die, and I wanted her to know that I knew that she was gonna die. I hesitated because I wanted her to get a nice, long look at her life when it flashed before her eyes."
A long silence hung between them before Kennedy spoke again.
"Willow, Mia, Faith; when I found out that they…did what they did, I always comforted myself believing that I could never do something like that. I'd always thought nothing would ever drive me to that point. I was wrong, and Heli knew it." Kennedy paused for a moment. "That's what this was all about from the beginning. Halloween, the terrorist attack, the taunts, the threats, the cat-and-mouse games we've played for the last nine months, Chao-Ahn, those Japanese slayers; all of it was to push me to do something I swore I'd never do." The slayer swallowed hard. "I only hesitated for a second, but in that second, I disgraced everything that Vi, Marly, Chao-Ahn, and all the others believed in. They dedicated their lives to protecting life, and in their memory, I wiped one out, in the most cruel, inhumane and painful way I could think of on the spot."
"But you beat her," Xander said softly.
"Did I? 'Cause this sure doesn't feel like winning," Kennedy said.
"Who knows how many more people Heli would've killed if you hadn't stopped her. She might have gone to prison or mental hospital, but then what? Getting a chance to escape, do more damage, take more lives. And you said it yourself, you're breathing, she's not. I say this one goes in the 'win' column," Xander said optimistically. He smiled kindly, "nobody said that winning was always easy."
Kennedy said nothing at first. Instead she produced Vi's two stakes and held them out to him. "Here, I thought you might want these back."
Xander's hand reached for them, then halted in mid-air and he withdrew it. "Keep them," he said.
Kennedy shook her head. "She'd want you to have them," she insisted.
Xander looked at them for a moment, considering. "She'd want a slayer to have them," he said finally.
Cleveland – Alleyway – Later
Hadley faced the reporters around her and spoke into the microphones. "I want to say to the people of Cleveland, you have nothing to be afraid of. I swear to you that I will hunt down the vampires that did this and take them out. That's our job, and we're very good at it."
She backed away as the reporters began to disperse. Faith was just approaching from behind her, looking decidedly angry.
"Just what the hell do you think you're doing?" Faith demanded.
"Killing two birds with one stone," Hadley countered.
"How do you figure?" Faith's tone was condescending.
"You said it yourself, they're making it hard for us to do a job, so I gave them a sound byte that they can put on the news tonight; and you said that they make the people terrified of going out of the house, so I gave the people a reason not to be scared," Hadley rationalized.
"Yeah, and it sure didn't hurt that you managed to snatch your fifteen minutes in the spotlight, did it?" Faith accused her.
"Hey, look, if you'd been here, I woulda let you get on camera for the record, but you weren't. I made a choice, and honestly, I think it was the right one," Hadley insisted.
"You've been here eight months, and you think you can be the Council's spokesperson already?" Faith scoffed.
"Frankly, sometimes I think you might've been here too long," Hadley snapped.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Faith's jaw clenched and her tone was soft and threatening.
Hadley, to her credit, refused to back off. "Faith, you've done a good job, and I'm impressed, but at some point you're gonna have to accept that you just can't do this job anymore. Slaying isn't about one person, it's about the lineage, or that's what Willow said. Sooner or later, you're gonna have to let the next generation take over, and maybe it's sooner."
"Christ, first you're our spokesperson, next you're plannin' on takin' over? Sure as hell didn't take you long to work your way up the ladder, did it?" Faith demanded.
"Who do you think is gonna carry on the council when you're done?" Hadley demanded. "You plan on slaying until you're old and gray? No, it's people like me, and Casey and Denise who are going to keep this place going, so yeah, I'm learning everything I can. Slaying's a game for the young, you said it yourself; and there are a lot of people younger than you here."
"Yeah, well, we'll see how much youth is helpin' you out when I take out this hive before you do," Faith challenged.
The corners of Hadley's mouth turned upwards. "Bring it on," she said softly.
End of Act One
On to Act Two