Story by Drew and Zahir al Daoud
Written by Drew and Zahir al Daoud
Produced and Directed by CN Winters and Susan Carr
Edited by Susan Carr
Sounds by CSR
Art Direction by Robert Kidman
Artists – Robert Kidman, CN Winters, Zahir al Daoud, Isis, Mattxxx, and Humaira
Watchers Council Hallway – Night
"Me," Tracey was saying, "I'd be thrilled to be making out with Orlando Bloom, even if it was just an actor playing me."
"Even if you were Katie Holmes?" Faith shot back, cocking her head.
"Well, but I'm not. Not really."
"And I'm not making out with Orlando Bloom."
"I guess." Tracey sighed. "Sorry."
"S'alright. I got me a better honey."
The two of them turned a corner and took three steps before Faith stopped. She put out her hand and stopped Tracey. "Listen."
Behind the door to the kitchen, something was growling. And it kept on growling, with a few predatory snarls along with the same and another vocalization that resembled a hiss.
"No, no, no, no…!" young woman's voice could be heard exclaiming.
Faith hurled herself at the door.
Watchers Kitchen – Continuous
Faith landed in a controlled roll. Momentum carried her towards the table, where she hopped up into a crouch and grabbed a chair. She'd put it over her shoulder in a smooth motion, ready to use it as a weapon, before she actually looked in the direction of the growling.
On the counter, Marsha the dragon blinked at Faith. She had in her snout a long piece of meat. Holding the other end was Lorinda, who also blinked at Faith.
"What's up?" Lorinda asked after a pair of seconds that seemed to last decades.
Tracey by now had stuck her head into the kitchen. "Marsha lets you feed her dragon treats?"
Faith hadn't moved, but her face was a vision of confusion. "Dragon treats?"
"Yeah," Tracey went on. "Raw beefsteak smeared in wasabi. She loves it."
"But this piece," Lorinda said to the little dragon, "is too big for you." Marsha growled and pulled again at the meat with her mouth. "No!" said Lorinda, holding fast. Marsha growled some more, still tugging. Lorinda reached over with her free hand, pulled out a large knife from a wooden block and then sliced through the beefsteak in one motion.
The dragon lifted her head and gobbled the meat she had. It took her all of three quarters of a second. Then she looked at Lorinda, wagging her tail. A forked tongue licked wasabi from around her snout.
"Here you go, pretty girl," Lorinda held the second piece of meat to Marsha, who snatched it from her hand with a purring snarl.
"Don't give her too much," Tracey warned.
"Andrew told me," Lorinda said. She reached over and stroked Marsha's throat. "Pretty girl – such a pretty girl, aren't you?"
Marsha craned her head forward against Lorinda's fingers. And burped.
"Dragon treats?" repeated Faith, still crouched with a chair in her hand. She put the chair down and shook her head. "I'm late to meet Hadley. The kitchen's your domain Tracey so please…clean up the dragon spit before you guys leave," Faith told them as she left the room.
Cleveland – Street
The young woman stumbled out of the front door of the bar, barely maintaining her balance atop a pair of impossibly tall stiletto heels. Her hands windmilled as she stumbled to a signpost and leaned heavily on it. She gripped it tightly as she took a series of ragged breaths, staring at the concrete sidewalk under her feet.
A second woman stepped out of the bar, her legs wobbling slightly as brushed her straight brown hair away from her eyes. "Jesus, Janna." She walked shakily over to her friend. "You know you need to watch how many margaritas you have. They go down a little too easy for you; and frankly, you go down a little too easy when you've had a few."
"Right, Klara." Janna straightened slightly, still holding onto the signpost for balance. Then she flung herself into Klara's arms, wrapping her own around the brunette's neck. Klara stumbled back from the sudden weight around her neck, barely staying upright. "And who was matching me drink for drink in there?"
"Big difference," Klara told her. "I can hold 'em." Klara stumbled backwards and the two fell to the pavement, giggling childishly.
"Yeah, you can hold 'em alright," Janna told her between fits of giggles.
Two more women stepped out of the bar, slightly steadier on their feet than their companions had been. "Jesus, guys, how much did you have to drink?" The tall redhead pulled her denim jacket around her barely-there dress.
"'sokay, Tiff," Janna slurred. "I think Klara's done for the night though."
"You're both done for the night," Tiff countered as she helped Janna up off the ground. She turned to their fourth companion; a rail-thin Vietnamese woman. "Kim, can you help Klara?"
"Margaritas again?" Kim asked.
"They're jus' so good," Janna said, her eyes rolling back in her head.
"Okay, next time, no tequila for you guys," Kim said. "This is the third weekend we've been out in the last two months, and I don't think we've been out past midnight yet."
"Hey, nobody says we have to go home." Janna wobbled slightly in Tiff's grip. "You guys just go ahead and as soon as the world stops spinning, I'll catch up," she added.
"Okay, the fact that you're even suggesting that tells me that your judgment isn't exactly up to snuff tonight," Tiff told her, supporting the brunette as they struggled their way down the street. "C'mon, let's get you home."
Faith stepped out of the bar and looked at the quartet with a derisive snort. "Some chicks really can't hold their liquor," she shook her head. The tiniest of smiles graced her lips.
A younger black-haired woman stepped out of the bar behind her. She brushed her wavy dark hair away from her eyes and adjusted the black halter-top she wore.
"Should someone be helping them?" she asked.
"Looks like they've got it handled," Faith replied. She looked over at the younger woman. "The two mostly sober ones balance out the two mostly drunk ones." She smiled. "The night's still young, Hadley, where to?"
"You sure you don't want to head in?" Hadley gestured at the ring on Faith's left hand. "I mean, you sure that Robin doesn't mind you going out with your latest protégé?"
"Nah, Ace's out with the boys. He knows me well enough to know that I'm not gonna sit around all night waitin' for him to come home. And he trusts me enough to know that I'm not gonna go out to bring someone else home. We got a good arrangement goin' on," Faith told her. The two women shared a smile.
"Well, in that case, there's this club that opened up just a few blocks from here, and I've been just waiting to check it out." Hadley bounced in front of the senior slayer and took her right hand, leading her down the street.
As the two slayers disappeared up the street, the four women they had seen earlier struggled in the opposite direction. Their slow progress ground to a halt as Janna jerked in Tiff's hands. She leaned on the wall of the building next to her as her body heaved.
"Oh-kay," Tiff muttered, quickly scanning the street. She ushered Janna into the space between two buildings and the two women knelt in the alleyway as Tiff held the inebriated woman's hair back.
"Jesus, Janna," Kim muttered, watching the woman's body heave. She looked up, scanning her environment, almost as if she were standing guard. She drew back with a start as she saw a young man standing at the entrance to the alleyway. He wore a full-length black coat his blond hair hung slightly messily in front of his eyes, and his hands were casually stuffed in his pockets. "Who are you?" she asked, her voice wavering slightly.
The man held up his hands defensively. "Easy," he reassured her. "I just wanted to see if you needed any help." He nodded at Janna. "She looks pretty sick."
"She'll be fine," Kim said tightly. "We just need to get her home so she can sleep it off."
"Can I get you a cab, or is there someone I can call?" the man persisted.
"We're only a few blocks from home," Kim explained, "and everybody who lives there is, well, here." She told him. "We're roommates," she added. Behind her back, her right hand curled into a fist and her stance widened slightly. The heels of her shoes lifted a fraction of an inch off of the ground as she shifted her weight onto her toes.
"You sure you're okay?" the man asked again, his gaze again falling on Jenna, kneeling on the rough asphalt.
"Yeah, we're fine," Kim replied, slightly annoyed.
He shrugged. "Suit yourself," he told her. He turned to disappear into the street.
Kim relaxed. The tenseness flowed free of her body and the fist she'd clenched behind her back released.
"Take it easy, Kim," Tiff admonished her. "You know, there is the odd nice guy out there who's just being a nice guy."
"Yeah, well. When you meet one, let me know," Kim countered.
"Honestly, Kim, there are a lot worse things to worry about out there than a guy who, as far as I can tell, was only trying to help," Tiff said. "You've watched the news, right? Creepy-crawlies all over."
"And how do you know he wasn't one of those creepy-crawlies?" Kim asked. "Some of them look pretty normal, or so I hear."
"More normal than you'd think," Janna said, her voice suddenly steady.
"What?" Tiff asked, looking down at the prone woman. "Come on, we need to get you home, Jan."
"No," Janna's voice was soft, like smoke whispering over the surface of a lake. She looked up at them, her eyes suddenly an inhuman yellow. They almost seemed to glow in the darkness formed by the ridges, which had appeared on her brow. "You don't."
End of Teaser
To Act One