From the Bottom Up

Act One

Starring:

Lacey Chabert as Skye, Gale Harold as Jim Pollan, Caroline Dhavernas as Grace Hatherley, Alexis Bledel as Denise, T.R. Knight as Jackson, Callum Blue as Niven, Laura Pyper as Casey, Asia Argento as Marie, Tessa Thompson as Chamique and Elizabeth Harnois as Jocelyn O’Hara

Guest Starring:

Alicia Silverstone as Heli Hamalainen, Gary Oldman as Mr. Felix, Evangeline Lilly as Marissa, Laura Prepon as Lori and Christy Carlson Romano as Hope Lehane

 

 

Fade In:

Int.

Dorm Room – Resume

"The Watchers Council has grown lazy," Heli’s voice spoke from the television, "so certain of their own moral, magical, and ethical superiority that they didn’t even notice me, right in front of them."

"Crap," Hope muttered. "Faith is really not gonna like this."

"Someone needed to send them a message, and nobody else was stepping up," Heli continued, oblivious to the slayer’s comments.

"Jackson, will you please shut that off?" Denise asked, frustrated. "The last thing I need right now is a psycho slayer-rant."

"Like most people in this sad little world, the Watchers Council is in denial," Heli said. "They show the world one face, but it’s not the real one. I helped those people figure out who they really were."

"Shutting it off won’t make it go away," Jackson said softly.

"I know!" Denise yelled. She closed her eyes for a moment and composed herself. "I know," she said more softly this time. "But I spend every waking hour of my life around super-strong women who are suffering the ultimate in frustration because some crazy’s…"

"Denise…" Hope said softly.

Heli was still speaking on the television. "And that’s all I do: show people who they really are. And as for who the Council really is…it is ugly."

Denise took a few deep breaths. "You’re right, I’m sorry." She turned to Jackson. "You didn’t deserve that," she said apologetically. "It’s just this," she gestured at the card table behind her, "this is the one place where my life isn’t about her, lately." She looked over at Niven, "Is that too much to ask for? To have one night every week when my life isn’t about her?" She shook her head in frustration. "Christ, you’d think she’d planned it this way."

"Would it surprise you that much if she had?" Jackson asked.

"No," Denise admitted, "I guess it wouldn’t."

"I know things that could put the Watchers Council out of business," Heli said. "Stay tuned, because maybe next time I’ll tell you."

"Look, if you let her get…" Hope started.

"Look, guys, I’m really not up for this," Denise said. "Could you deal me out?" She turned to Niven. "Could you walk me home please?"

"That’s rich, a slayer who needs me to walk…"

"Niven!" Hope said sharply.

"But I’m winning," he countered.

"You can win next week," Hope told him. "You’re a half-demon. Do you really want to say ‘no’ to a slayer?"

Niven’s eyebrows arched slightly. "Okay, good point," he admitted.

Cut To:

Int.

Watchers Council – Conference Room – Evening

Rowena hit the pause button on the recorder, freezing Heli’s image on the screen. Denise pinched the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger.

"Opinions?" Rowena asked.

"Opinions!?" Kennedy barked, causing Denise to face her. "She’s taunting us, plain and simple."

"I need more than that, Ken," Rowena said.

"Ro, she’s a freak, and she’s crazy. Not necessarily in that order," Kennedy told her.

"She’s a crazy freak who claims she has information that could potentially damage this Council," Rowena said. "And I, for one, don’t doubt for a second that she does and that she could." She looked around the room. "Can any one of us claim that they’re proud of their behavior on Halloween? I know I sure can’t." She absentmindedly ran her fingers through the still-short hair on the side of her head. A shudder ran through her entire body before she spoke again. "She’s already sent us a video of Vi’s last moments. Who knows what else she has on us? And frankly, I’m not sure I want to find out." She shook her head. "She has an endgame planned. I just wish I knew what it was." She looked up at Faith. "Faith, it’s your turn."

Faith stood and walked to the front of the room where she turned to face the men and women looking at her. She chewed on her lower lip for a moment before she took a deep breath and spoke. "Look, I know that this isn’t something any of us want to talk about. I know it’s not something I want to talk about. But we need someone to take Vi’s place as our number three slayer. Plus with Heli…gone and Marly…" She stopped, rubbing her fingertips against her right temple. "Bottom line is that we’re going to have to fill in the gaps that have been made in our ranks. Vi is," Faith winced as if in pain, "was in charge of the third shift every night. She scheduled a lot of the patrols, and when Kennedy and I weren’t around, she…was in charge. Marie, Casey, you’ll be leading the patrols tonight. Each of you will get a chance to run a patrol, and you should consider this an evaluation." She turned to Kennedy. "Ken, you set up the teams." Faith quickly left or retreated from the podium and took a seat. She rested her elbows on the table in front of her and pressed the heels of her hands against her eyes; her body trembled slightly as she took a series of deep breaths to steady herself.

Denise looked across at the senior slayer, concerned. Then her attention snapped back to the podium as Kennedy began to speak. "Denise, Chamique, Kat, you’re with Marie. You’ll be watching West Park. Everybody else is with Casey tonight. You’re on the East Side. I want you on station at sundown."

"Done," Marie said.

"And be careful, guys. We’ve seen an increase in demon activity in the last few weeks. I think they’re smelling blood in the water after the whole Heli affair," Kennedy told them.

Cut To:

Int.

Jeff’s Apartment – Later

"Hey," Hope said softly as she stood in the doorway to the apartment.

"Hi," Jeff said.

"Um, look, if you’re busy…"

"No, no. It’s okay. Just…keeping busy, I guess," he said with a wry chuckle. "I guess it keeps me from thinking too much about… everything."

Hope offered a thin smile as she stepped into the room and softly closed it behind her. "I guess I can’t hold that against you," she said. "We took…you took a big hit."

"Hey, you’re one of us too," Jeff said as he closed the book in front of him and pushed it away from him. He stood and crossed the room to stand in front of her, resting his hands on her shoulders.

Hope turned her head, unable to look him in the eyes. "Doesn’t seem that way sometimes," she said softly.

"Just give them a little time," Jeff reassured her. He gently lifted her chin with the tip of his index finger. "To be fair, you didn’t exactly show up when we were at our best," he told her.

Hope finally relented, resting her head on his shoulder. "I really timed that one perfectly, didn’t I?"

Jeff smiled. "Just give us a little time. This’ll pass, sooner or later."

"Look, don’t take this the wrong way, but would you mind if I stayed here tonight?" Hope said. "I really need to be somewhere where nobody will think to look for me for a little while."

"No problem," Jeff told her. "I’ll sleep on the couch."

Hope looked up at him with a slight smirk. "Come on. We’re both adults here, and you have a really big bed."

Jeff frowned in mock confusion. "What, exactly, was the wrong way for me to take this?" he asked.

Hope glanced downward shyly. "Look, I’m not offering anything or promising anything. But…let’s just see what happens, okay?"

"Let’s just see what happens, huh?" Jeff offered a kind smile. "I think I can work with that."

Cut To:

Ext.

West 110th St. – Later

"So, think you’re going to step into the number three position, do you?" Denise asked.

"Well, not to be too crass," Marie countered, "but look at my competition. We’ve got Casey, who is about the only one out there who knows the pointy end of a stake, and Mia, who has been out of the game for over a year. Call me crazy, but I like my chances."

"Okay, gotta give you that point," Denise admitted. "My day’ll come, but not today."

"Seriously, though," Chamique said to Denise, "do you really want that responsibility?"

Denise shrugged. "Someday, it’d be nice."

"But for now…" Chamique started.

"I can deal with being ‘just a slayer,’ if there really is such a thing," Denise said with a smile.

"Cut the chatter," Marie muttered. "I’m not losing out to Casey’s girls ’cause you guys didn’t have your minds on the job."

"All work and no play makes Marie…" Denise started.

"Shush," Marie snapped.

"Okay, so your sense of humor hasn’t improved much," Denise said.

"Hey!"

"Easy, Lizzie Borden," Denise gestured at the axe in Marie’s hand. "You take yourself too seriously."

"Hey, just because I take things…"

Marie never had the chance to finish her statement. She was hit from her right side by a small, fast-moving shape, and slammed into the brick wall on her left. Her breath was knocked out of her, and she dropped to the ground gasping for air.

A second creature attacked Denise, pinning her against another wall. She twisted in his grip, trying to gain enough leverage to free herself. "Chamique!" she tried to yell through the vice-like grip the demon had around her throat.

Chamique was in no position to help. A third demon had tackled her to the ground, face-down. She clawed at the ground around her, unable to lift the weight pressing down on her.

Denise frantically looked over at Kat, who was herself engaged with a fourth demon. The much larger demon was slowly, but unmistakably forcing the slayer backwards with a series of powerful strikes.

Denise’s eyes widened in panic as the demon gripping her snarled angrily. She glanced over to her right just in time to see Kat receive a hard right hook, which almost knocked the smaller slayer flat. Kat’s knees buckled, and she dropped to one knee in the middle of the alleyway, stunned.

Denise looked back at the demon holding her. Her eyes narrowed and, still pinned against the wall, her right foot lashed out, colliding with titanic force with the creature’s groin.

A groan, partly of pain but mostly of embarrassment, escaped the demon’s lips as he released Denise. She slid to the ground, gasping for air. With a single convulsive motion, she drove her forehead into the demon’s. A loud clank sounded out. The slayer stumbled back against the wall behind her, holding her forehead. "Owwww," she said, her features scrunched in pain.

The demon took advantage of her momentary distraction to attack her. Instinctively, Denise charged into the demon’s attack, closing the distance between them before the demon could strike. Her elbow slammed generously into his unprotected midsection. She ducked as a strike whistled through the space once occupied by her head. She rose behind the demon’s strike, catching the demon’s right elbow with the outside edge of her left hand. She pressed down, forcing the demon’s arm against his own body as her right fist drove upwards to catch him under the chin. The demon’s head snapped backwards with the force of the blow.

Denise maneuvered around behind the demon as he dropped to his knees. Her features showed no emotion as she pressed the edge of her hand against base of the demon’s neck. Her right hand gripped the creature under the chin, and with a single, brutal motion, she forced her left hand down and outward as her right pulled up and backwards. With a sound similar to wringing a celery stalk in her hands, the demon’s head snapped backwards, and his lifeless body flopped sideways onto the asphalt.

She quickly glanced at Marie, who was still struggling against the demon who held her. Then she turned away from her squad leader to help Kat. The demon was completely focused upon Kat and didn’t notice the slayer approaching him from behind. Denise struck him from behind. Together, the two slayers easily dispatched the much larger demon.

Denise winced as she saw the beginning of a large, angry bruise forming on the right side of Kat’s face. "Help Marie," she said tightly, "I’ll get Chamique."

Kat leapt on the demon who was holding Marie against the wall while Denise tackled the demon who was holding Chamique on the ground.

Kat’s weight pulled the demon backwards, and he stumbled away from the wall, releasing Marie. Her hands now free, Marie buried the head of the axe in the center of the demon’s chest. The demon fell backwards, the axe handle pointed motionlessly at the dark night sky.

While Denise locked her arm around the demon’s neck, Chamique rolled over on the ground. She reached into her vest pocket and produced a long, wavy-bladed knife, which she sank in between two of the demon’s ribs. The demon gasped for breath as his eyes rolled backwards, and he dropped to the ground. Dark blue blood spilled liberally from the single wound. His body convulsed once, then was motionless.

Denise dropped to a seated position in the middle of the alleyway. Her body sat limply on the ground, and she gripped her throat. Her face twisted in pain. "That’s gonna leave a mark," she muttered.

"Everybody okay?" Marie asked.

"Yeah," Denise said. The other slayers echoed the sentiment.

"Good, now," she turned to Denise, "why the hell did you help Kat? We were a lot worse off than she was."

"But…"

"You know the rules," Marie charged through Denise’s objection. "In a situation like that, you help the strongest fighter first. In this case, me."

"Look, Kat needed help, and I thought that stepping out of protocol just this once wouldn’t…" Denise started.

"Was there anything particularly special about this case that made you think that the rules didn’t apply?" Marie demanded.

"Well, no, but…" Denise started.

"Good. Don’t let it happen again," Marie snapped. She turned away and lifted her two-way radio to her lips. Behind her, Denise was striding towards her, fists clenched. "Hi, this is slayer team zed-one; we need a cleanup team at West 110th and Madison." Behind her, Chamique and Kat were forcibly restraining Denise as she inched her way towards the team leader. "No, we’re fine," Marie added. "We have four demons down, four slayers bruised, but okay."

She turned around. Denise was pinned on the ground by the other two slayers. She struggled to free herself from their grip. Marie looked down at the three women, who froze as they looked up at the older slayer, guilty expressions on each of their faces.

"Guys, we don’t have time for a wrestling match," she said dismissively. She walked towards the intersection of the alleyway with the street. Over her shoulder, Denise could be seen standing up and was immediately tackled to the ground by Chamique.

Cut To:

Ext.

Alleyway — Night

A large black van rolled up to the sidewalk, and four men stepped out wearing dark coveralls.

"Hey, Denise," Niven said as he looked at the slayer. "I didn’t know that you had this route tonight."

"Yeah, they’re shuffling us around tonight," Denise replied, self-consciously brushing the hair out of her eyes. "I guess they’re re-balancing the teams after…you know."

Niven walked over to the body of the demon who had attacked Denise. He rolled the body over and recoiled when he saw the demon’s face. "Aw, man. It’s Oscar."

"Grouchy?" said one of the other members of the cleanup crew. "What did he do?"

Kat snickered.

"What?" Niven asked, hurt.

"It’s just…his name’s Oscar, and you call him Grouchy. He get that name ’cause his skin’s green?" Kat asked.

The cleanup crewmember looked at her blankly.

"You know like Oscar the…" Kat’s voice tapered off at the look from Niven. "Well, why do you call him ‘Grouchy?’"

"Because he’s grouchy?" the clean-up crewmember replied.

"Didn’t watch a lot of TV as kids, did you?" Denise asked.

"Kids?" the crewmember asked, confused, as he continued his work.

"What did he do to deserve this?" Niven demanded.

"He attacked a team of slayers," Denise said defensively.

"Oscar? No way. Sure, he was grouchy, but he wasn’t a bad guy. I mean, he wasn’t exactly pleasant to be around, a little hardheaded maybe, but he wasn’t violent. No way," Niven insisted.

"All evidence to the contrary," Denise said, idly rubbing her throat.

Cut To:

Int.

Denise’s Dorm Room — Later

Denise flopped down on her bed, laying her right forearm across her eyes.

"You’re getting home late," her roommate said, her face illuminated by the dim bedside lamp.

"Jaye, I don’t have time for your abrasive, I-hate-the-world-ness tonight," Denise said tiredly.

"Rough night?" Jaye asked.

"You have no idea," Denise replied.

"Need something to take the edge off?" Jaye asked as she reached for the drawer in her bedside table.

Denise let out an exasperated breath. "Jaye, you said you were going to stop using that stuff."

"It’s a proven medical fact. Slayers get hungry and horny after a night out slaying," Jaye said as she began rolling a paper.

"So you light up a joint and give yourself sexual dysfunction, bloodshot eyes, and the munchies?" Denise asked. "Speaking for logicians everywhere, good job."

"The kitchen is closed, and you’re not my type," Jaye countered.

"Straight?" Denise asked, rolling over in her bed.

"Female," Jaye replied. She brought the joint to her lips and inhaled deeply. She sat back in her bed, her body relaxing.

"If they find that stuff in our room, I’m taking no responsibility for it whatsoever," Denise said.

"God, you’re saying it like I’m cooking meth here or something. We’re talking about marijuana. Only the third most popular recreational drug in the United States, the only one that’s actually illegal, and the only one that’s never actually killed anyone," Jaye said.

"Yeah, I’ll keep your moral relativism in mind when they’re booting us out on our asses," Denise told her.

Cut To:

Int.

Jackson’s Dorm Room — The Next Morning

The phone on Jackson’s bedside table began ringing loudly. Jackson’s hand slapped the bedside table next to the phone, then crept its way to the left, the opposite direction in which the phone actually lay. His hand reversed its progress, felt its way up onto the top of the phone, and lifted the handset from its cradle.

Jackson’s hand pressed the phone against the pillow. "H’mo?" his muffled voice called through the pillow.

"Jackson?" Rowena’s voice called over the phone.

"Ro?" Jackson moved the pillow out of the way and spoke into the phone.

"Jackson, it’s ten o’clock in the morning, where are you?" Rowena asked.

"Oh, sorry, Ro," Jackson said sleepily, "I’ve been trying to put together a party for everyone. I guess I thought that we needed…"

"Jackson, what you do in your free time is your own business, but I will expect you to be on the job, on time. Am I clear?" Rowena’s voice was angry.

"Yes ma’am," Jackson replied.

"Good, then get your butt to the infirmary," Rowena commanded. "We have a sudden increase in demon violence, and I want to know where it’s coming from."

Cut To:

Int.

Coffee Shop – Later that Morning

"Coffee?" Felix asked politely as he held the carafe out to Hope.

"Please," Hope replied, holding her cup out for him.

"Cream, sugar?" he asked.

"Just cream," she told him. She looked down intensely at her cup as she stirred it. An uncomfortable silence fell over the table.

"Is there anything else I can…?"

"Why me?" Hope interrupted.

"I’m sorry?" Felix asked, genuinely confused.

"You’re a security firm. I’m just…Hope. I’m not particularly smart or strong. I’m not a slayer, I don’t have any particular talents that set me apart from anyone else, certainly none that would be of interest to you. So why me?" Hope asked. She took a sip of her coffee.

"My dear, I think you underestimate your importance. Bureau Nine and the Council should be working together. We need a liaison between the two. Someone who can keep the lines of communication open," Felix told her. "We need you, and perhaps the Council doesn’t realize it yet, but they need you too."

"I’m not sure that I have much to offer here. I mean, most of it is stuff you already know. Heli’s been blasted all over the news. I mean, yeah, she’s been taunting us, sending us messages, sending videos just to annoy us. But that’s all, really. It’s like she’s trying to get us angry," Hope said.

"Really?" Felix said. "That’s interesting."

The two looked down at their individual cups.

Cut To:

Int.

Smoke-Filled Bar – Night

Niven was half-carried, half-dragged through the bar. Demons of all varieties sat at the tables, consuming drinks, which looked as if they had various pieces of living things sticking out of them. He was brought into a back room where a large, fat demon sat, occupying the far half of the large round table he sat at. Two large, muscular demons sat on either side of him, eyeing Niven suspiciously.

"Niven," the large demon growled at him. "You here to balance your account?"

"Not this time, Volek" Niven told him. "I need infor—"

"You owe me…" He paused, then glanced over his large shoulder at a wiry, tiny demon behind him, who stepped forward, carrying a large ledger in is hands. "What does he owe me?" Volek asked.

"With interest, you owe two Siamese, eleven European Burmese, four Persian, two oriental, a Balinese, a calico Abyssinian, four Maine coon, one Norwegian forest cat, five American shorthairs, an Egyptian Mau, a Turkish Angora, and a Japanese bobtail—all under twelve weeks of age," the demon rattled off the numbers.

"Look, Vol, you’ll get your cats. You know I’m good for them. I’ve got a really sweet gig working for the Council, I’ll get them," Niven insisted.

"Will you? Because this isn’t just about you, you know. I have thousands of demons who owe me, but how is it going to look to them if I let one of my biggest debtors off the hook? Word gets out that I’ve gone soft, and then it’s all work, work, work," Volek told him. "I hate work, so you’re going to come up with those kittens, and soon. If not, I’m going to have to make an example of you, and I think you’d find that to be thoroughly unpleasant."

"You’ll get them, I just need time to visit a pound. You’ll have them soon," Niven insisted. "But I’m sure you heard about Oscar. He’s one of your information-gatherers. A team of slayers took him out tonight."

"Ah yes, Grouchy," Volek replied. "I heard about that. A shame, really. He was truly one of my better gatherers of information."

"How can you be so calm about this? You know Oscar. He wouldn’t hurt a fly, and now he’s off beating up slayers?" Niven demanded. "Something about this doesn’t add up."

"Well, we all slip every once in a while. Are you telling me that you’ve never considered getting a taste of that slayer you play cards with every Friday night?" Volek asked. At Niven’s expression he nodded in confirmation. "Yes, I have eyes everywhere," he told him. He plucked out his right eye and held it out, pointing it at Niven as a second eye grew in to replace it.

"Not Oscar, no way. I thought you liked the guy," Niven told him.

"I do, or did, I should say, but that’s business. Sometimes people get hurt or eaten; or these days, slayed. What happened was truly unfortunate, but business is business."

"What’s that supposed to mean?" Niven demanded.

"It means that while I would hate to lose the…" He looked back, prompting his accountant.

"Thirty-four," the accountant cheerfully provided.

"…thirty-four cats that you owe me, if you don’t get those kittens to me in the next two days, Oscar won’t be the only one lying dead in an alleyway."

Fade To Black.

End of Act One
To Act
Two