Withdrawal

Act Two

Flashback To Four Years Ago:
Int.
San Francisco – Fisherman's Wharf – Evening

Dawn and Skye walked down a long wooden pier, happy looks on their faces. The Pacific Ocean glittered beyond the railing, stretching out into eternity.

"So, did ya like the restaurant?" Skye asked.

"Yes, of course," Dawn told her. "I always like the restaurant."

"That's the idea," Skye agreed.

"I think we've officially been to every restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf."

Skye scoffed. "Hardly. There's a few dozen. You've only been here, what, a couple months?"

"Longer than that, thank you." Dawn leaned on the rough wooden railing at the end of the pier. "I was here for a while before I met you. I just didn't…y'know, have a life."

"I'm glad you did," Skye said quietly, watching the waves.

"Did what?"

"Meet me," Skye said. "Everybody at school's such a…I dunno, I don't want to say asshole, but…or maybe I do."

Dawn nodded emphatically. "Who does Bridget think she is, queen of the world?"

"She might be," Skye said, "after her parents buy it for her. I mean, I'm not little miss poor girl myself, but excuse me if I don't care about your stupid horse-riding competition."

Dawn looked at her friend, her expression a little more sober. "You want to do something important."

"I think I'm supposed to," Skye said, her eyes fixed on the gray horizon. Then she turned her head to look Dawn directly in the eye. "I think we're supposed to."

When Dawn spoke, she did so very slowly. "I think we might have a lot in common."

Cut To:
Int.
Skye's Room – Day

Skye's door opened slowly, just long enough for Grace to poke her head through.

"Miss Talisker?" Grace called tentatively. Getting no response, she opened the door all the way and entered the room. "I tried knocking, but there wasn't any –"

Grace's foot ran up against something on the floor, almost making her trip. "What the…" was all that she had time for before Skye shot to her feet with vampire speed and grabbed Grace by her shirt. Skye held the surprised watcher almost completely off the ground, the tips of Grace's shoes barely grazing the floor.

"Something's happening to me," Skye said, urgency in her voice.

"Okay," Grace managed. "What…what were you doing on the floor?"

Skye considered this for a moment. "I don't know." Slowly, she lowered Grace to the floor and released her grip. "I don't know what's happening!" Suddenly, Skye cocked her head, looking confused. "Who are you?"

Grace looked like she was checking to see if all her limbs were still attached before she answered. "I…um, okay, my name is Grace Hatherley. I'm a watcher here. I'm helping Rowena Allister with her research."

She offered her hand, but Skye turned away in exasperation. She stared directly at the wall. "Research! Right, research. Of course!"

"You caused a big scene in the lobby," Grace said. "I figured it'd be interesting to come and check on you. Y'know, more so than doing actual work. Ms. Allister said I should meet you."

"Well, you've met me," Skye said, a hint of anger in her tone. "Happy?"

"Not particularly," Grace replied. "Are those scratch marks on your arm?"

Skye hurriedly pulled down her sleeve to cover the red marks on her forearm. "No."

"Right," Grace nodded, not convinced. "Hey, I've been wanting to ask you something."

"It's why they keep me here. What?"

"Why?"

Skye, having pulled herself together a little, sat down on her bed. "You're gonna have to be more specific there, Hatherley. Don't they teach you that at the Academy?"

"Why are you here, a captive? You were scot-free, a whole world to hide in, but you come back here? That makes no sense."

"Have you ever been in love, Hatherley?"

Grace shook her head. "Can't say that I have, no."

"Well, that's not a surprise," Skye said bluntly. "Let me guess, you were always too busy with your books to worry about that sort of thing?"

"Oh, God no," Grace said, waving a hand in dismissal. "Give me TV, any day of the week."

"Huh." Skye shrugged. "You seem the type. Frigid, stick wedged up your…Anyway, I'll bet you and Rowena have hit it off."

"I don't know," Grace said. "I mean, she's sort of…focused."

"Hey, has anybody ever called you 'Ice Queen'?"

"I don't know if that's…"

"When's the last time you had an orgasm? I bet it was, like, four years ago. And you didn't enjoy it."

"Okay, this has been great," Grace announced, suddenly heading for the door. "I'd love to stay and chat, but, um, you're a bitch, so I'm just gonna go."

After Grace slammed the door behind her, a small smile spread across Skye's face.

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Library – Day

Dawn was perched on the top rung of a ladder that leaned against a tall bookcase in the Council library. She paged through the volume she held in her hands, then replaced it, shaking her head in frustration. She ran her fingers over the spines of the other books on the shelf, searching for another relevant text.

"Whatcha doin'?" Jeff called from below. Hope stood next to him.

Dawn did not reply or even glance over her shoulder. She pulled out another book from the shelf.

"Lindholm's Properties of Mystical Energy," Jeff noted.

"Yeah," Hope said awkwardly. "That's, uh, that's a good one."

Jeff tried again. "Dawn, what are you doing?"

Dawn gave in with a sigh. She balanced the book on her knee and looked back over her shoulder. "Look, I'm just trying to figure some stuff out."

"Some stuff about you, you mean," Hope clarified. "So what's that, The What's Happening To My Body Book For Mystical Keys?"

"Maybe," Dawn replied. "Hey, you guys can help if you want."

"Help with what?" Jeff sounded skeptical.

"Mystical energy's still energy, right? I mean, there's gotta be some way to, y'know, cancel it out or nullify it or whatever." Dawn looked back at her book.

Jeff got very quiet, and his brow furrowed in worry. Hope, however, looked like she was giving this some serious thought.

"What about electricity?" Hope asked. Dawn looked up from her text. Jeff looked surprised. "I mean, I'm not exactly the go-to gal when it comes to rocket science or rocket magic or whatever, but when I think of energy…"

"That might work. That definitely might work." Dawn sounded a little excited. "Now if I can just figure out whether I'm a positive or a negative current…" She wedged the book she had been holding between shelves and turned back to the shelf. Finding nothing of interest, she rolled the ladder over to the next set of shelves with a gentle push and began the search anew.

"Dawn, I think maybe we all just need to take a step back here," Jeff called. "I'm not sure you're thinking clearly."

But Dawn had returned to her own little world, ignoring the pair on the floor.

Exasperated, Jeff grabbed Hope by the wrist. "Can I talk to you for a moment?"

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Hallway Outside Library – Moments Later

Jeff still had his hand around Hope's wrist when he dragged her out of the library. As soon as the door shut behind them, Hope pulled her hand away.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" she asked.

Jeff spun to face her. "What is wrong with…" He shook his head. "Hope, what were you doing in there?"

"Jesus, I was just trying to help."

Jeff threw up his hands. "I noticed! Hope, Dawn is in there looking for ways to cancel out mystical energy."

"Yeah, so?"

"Dawn is mystical energy!" Jeff shouted. "She's looking for ways to kill herself!"

"Yeah, but…" Hope's eyes widened. "Wait, you mean she's…How? What? Who? Why?"

"I don't know," Jeff said, "but I intend to find out." He walked back toward the library doors. Hope moved to follow him, but he held up a hand. "No, you…just stay here. Trust me, she doesn't need any help."

Hope sullenly watched the door slide back into place after him.

"Wow, that was quite a brush-off."

Surprised, Hope spun around to see Lorinda standing behind her. "What?"

Lorinda shrugged. "Can't say I'm surprised. Those two have been friends for years now. Probably not easy to get between that."

"Jeff and Dawn?" Hope asked. "I guess it's good that he cares about her, right?"

"Maybe," Lorinda said. She had begun to walk around Hope in a tight circle. "Still, he came down on you pretty hard. It's not like you can help it. You're new around here."

Hope's brow furrowed. "Hey! I'm not –"

Lorinda smiled condescendingly. "Sweetie, we both know you're not the sharpest crayon in the box. I mean, you're not smart enough to be a watcher. You're too weak to be a slayer. And it's not like you can do magic." Hope said nothing, just staring at the girl. "So what are you doing here?"

"I…have to go." Before Hope could even get the sentence out, she had taken off running down the hall. Lorinda watched her go, the same sickly-sweet smile on her face.

Cut To:

Int.

Watchers Council – Faith’s Office – Later

Faith stared intently at her computer screen as she slowly typed a web address into an Internet Explorer window. With a quick tap of the enter key, her image appeared on screen above a web article titled “The Physics of Resurrection.” Without taking her eyes off the window, Faith moved her right hand over the mouse and scrolled down the page, scanning the text.

Without warning the door to the office swung open, and Hope strolled in. “Hey, you got a minute?”

“For you, no,” Faith answered, not bothering to look up. “And have you ever heard of knocking?”

Ignoring Faith’s annoyed tone, Hope entered the office and stood in front of her sister’s cluttered desk. “Yeah, well too bad. I need to talk to you.”

“Kind of busy right now,” the older sibling replied. “Shouldn’t you be trailing after Jeff like a lost puppy or something?”

Hope stared angrily. “Here’s a fun idea. How about you forego the snarky comments for a whole minute while I tell you something important? If you think that’s too hard, let me know. I wouldn’t want you to strain yourself.”

Faith declined to respond, her gaze still fixed on the computer screen.

Hope sighed audibly. “Come on, Faith.” The younger girl leaned across the desk to see what the slayer was looking at. “What’s so important that you can’t give me a minute of your time?”

With a swift click of the mouse, Faith closed the browser window, revealing a half-completed patrol schedule on the desktop. She flashed an annoyed glance in her sister’s direction and said, “Do you mind? I’m trying to work here?”

“Jeez, what put you in such a bad mood?” Hope barked as she backed away. Moving to sit in the chair opposite the desk, the younger girl paused when she spotted a shining silver object hanging from Faith’s neck.  

After a few seconds Faith registered her sister’s odd gaze and commented. “What are you staring at?”

Snapped out of her momentary reverie, Hope sat down. “Sorry, I was looking at your cross.” She resumed staring at the religious symbol with a distant expression. “I haven’t seen you wear one since we were kids and you—”

“What do you want, Hope?” Faith asked wearily as she tucked the cross underneath her shirt collar.  

The younger Lehane paused for a moment, taken aback by her sister’s sudden interruption. After a few seconds she answered, “There’s something you should know about Dawn.”

Cut To:
Int.
Hallway Outside Skye's Dorm Room – Day

Skye sighed as she approached the door to her dorm room. "Great."

"Where've you been?" Kennedy asked flatly. She had been leaning against the wall next to Skye's door.

Skye wiped her mouth on the back of her sleeve. "Bathroom."

"Right, well, next time someone's going with you."

"I don't need to drink blood to pee, thanks," Skye said sarcastically. She opened the door, went into her room, and tried to close it behind her. Kennedy stuck a foot into the opening to stop the door, then followed Skye into the room.

Cut To:
Int.
Skye's Dorm Room – Continuous

"Maybe I should tell that to Rowena," Kennedy said. "Bet she'd love to analyze some vampire urine."

Skye made an exasperated noise as she sat down on her bed. "Why are you here?"

"You've been put back under guard," Kennedy said.

Unable to sit still, Skye stood back up. "What? Why? The protection spell…"

"Is still in effect, yeah." Kennedy shrugged. "You freaked out in the lobby, and then you attacked one of the new watchers. Spell or no spell, you seriously think you should be tra-la-la-ing around the Council right now?"

"So you're just here to baby-sit?" As Skye spoke, she paced nervously across the room's tiny floor space. "Why not send one of the eager, nubile slayerettes?"

"I volunteered for the first shift," Kennedy told her. "Had to see this for myself. How ya feeling, Skye?"

"Just dandy," Skye told her, but she didn't even come close to making it sound convincing. She compulsively rubbed her nose with both hands.

"I'll bet," Kennedy said. "Still, it'll all be over soon."

Skye looked hard at the slayer. "You've talked to Rowena?"

"What? Oh, no. I was just…you know what comes next, once you can't take it anymore?"

"I, um –" Skye ran her fingers through her hair, grabbing and pulling.

"Look, every slayer in this place hates you. When Rowena's done with you, they'll have a big lottery."

Skye tried to lean on the wall, but couldn't keep it up for very long before she began to pace again. "Lottery?"

"You know, to see who gets to do it," Kennedy smiled. "Vi says I can have her ticket."

"Dawn won't let you," Skye shook her head several more times than was necessary, her arms now held close at her chest.

Kennedy ignored her. "I can't wait to see the look in your eyes when I slip that stake into your heart. That realization that it's over. Your soul is gone. Your body is gone." Kennedy managed to catch Skye directly in the eyes. "And you'll just be nothing. Empty space. Forever."

Skye suddenly released all that tense energy she had been holding in and leapt onto Kennedy with a growl. Both girls hit the floor, with Skye on top. Kennedy struggled, but found herself pinned down, staring up into Skye's animal eyes. Skye's face morphed into that of a demon, and she tore into the side of Kennedy's neck.

The starved vampire drank deep from the slayer, who was only able to manage a pathetic gurgle of protest. After several seconds, Kennedy stopped struggling. A moment later, Skye rolled off the body, a contented, fanged smile on her twisted face.

"Kennedy?"

At the sound of Vi's voice, Skye morphed back into her human face. She now looked completely stunned. She shot to her feet and saw Vi standing open-mouthed in the doorway.

Vi rushed to Kennedy's side, feeling the side of her friend's neck for a pulse.

"I don't know what happened," Skye said. "I thought the spell was supposed to –"

"She's dead," Vi said, her voice strangely hollow.

Skye watched Vi slowly get to her feet. The slayer turned around and held out her hands, both completely covered in Kennedy's blood.

"It's on all our hands now," Vi said calmly. Then she reached into her back pocket and pulled out a wooden stake. Skye screamed as the slayer lunged forward.

Skye stumbled backwards onto her bed and raised her hands protectively in front of her. When no attack came, she slowly lowered her hands to find that the room was once again empty. Neither Vi nor Kennedy was anywhere to be found.

Someone knocked on the door. "Skye Talisker?" called a female voice. "I'm supposed to stand guard."

Skye looked warily at the door, her fingernails digging deep into her bed sheets.

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Gym – Later

Kennedy was performing precision push-ups. "98, 99, 100." With a long outgoing breath, she leaned back onto her knees and grabbed her water bottle from a nearby chair.

"So, has Kadin gotten in yet?" Vi asked. She leaned on a barre attached the wall of the gym, one hand grabbing her foot and stretching the muscles in her leg.

Kennedy shook her head as she took a large swig of water. "Should be any time."

"Well, don't wear yourself out," Vi told her. "I don't want to be blamed for your sweatiness." A beat. "That came out wrong."

A woman's voice came over the intercom system. "Kennedy, please report to the lobby, there's a visitor here for you."

"There she is now," Kennedy said happily, getting to her feet.

"I'll walk ya there," Vi said. She dropped her foot. "Never hurts to have back-up."

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Elevator – Moments Later

Kennedy and Vi stood side-by-side in the elevator as it descended to the lobby.

"Is Kadin gonna be happy to see you in your workout clothes?" Vi asked.

"She's used to it," Kennedy replied. She noticed the look Vi was giving her. "What? We're both busy being, y'know, warrior women. It's not like she expects me to buy her dinner first."

"Whoa, okay," Vi giggled. "You know what? You two are perfect for each other."

"I'm not sure I like the sound of that," Kennedy said, but she was smiling.

Then the elevator doors opened onto the bustling lobby, and Kennedy's smile faded.

Mia stood by the reception desk. She wore a beaten-up backpack and a small suitcase sat at her feet.

"Hey." Mia gave a half-hearted wave.

 

Cut To:
Int.
Dawn's Apartment – Kitchen – Day

Dawn was rummaging around for something in her fridge when she heard a knock on the door.

"Come in," she called. She looked over her shoulder to see Faith enter the room. "Oh, hey Faith. You want a root beer? 'Cause I have root beer. Nothing with alcohol, sorry. Hey, I heard maybe they were gonna change that rule, did you hear anything?"

"I'm good, and, yeah, apparently we're going to stay dry," Faith said. "And you're underage anyway, so…"

"Right." Dawn closed the fridge. Her root beer sounded off with an exceptionally loud hiss when she opened it. "So, gosh, you've been busy. What brings you to the underage side of town?"

Faith raised an eyebrow. "You seem unusually chipper."

"Five by five," Dawn grinned. Faith gave her a baleful look. "What, you can use it but nobody else can? I just think I might have figured some stuff out."

"Yeah…stuff." Faith put a hand against the wall, looking uncomfortable. "Look, Dawn, I just had a discussion with my little sis. She seems to think you might try to kill yourself."

"Does she know about the whole no-dying thing? Because she wasn't around when that all…"

"She said you were looking for a way around it," Faith said pointedly, crossing her arms. "Dawn, did something happen that we should know about?"

Dawn took a sip from her root beer. "No, nothing." However, she did appear to be able to look Faith in the eye. "I don't get it. If you really think I need help or whatever, why didn't you just tell my sister?"

"Because B doesn't see straight when it comes to you," Faith said. "You can bet your pert little ass that if I'd went to her, neither of you would get anything done for the next week." Faith sighed. "Dawn, do you have any idea what you mean to her? If you did something stupid, how do you think she'd feel?"

"I'm not the one who tried to kill her," Dawn said quietly.

Faith snorted and uncrossed her arms so that she could do a better job of talking with her hands. "Whatever. Y'know what, I came down here to try and help you out. I didn't run and tell big sis. This whole offing yourself concept? I advise against it. That's what I came to say." She began to open the door to leave.

"Faith!" Dawn called.

Faith looked over her shoulder, annoyed. "What?"

Dawn took a moment, choosing her words carefully. "Back in the spring, when you…"

"When I died?"

"Right…do you remember any of it at all?"

Faith sighed, turning back towards the room. "Dawn, you've read the interviews."

Dawn nodded quickly. "I know. I know you said that you didn't remember any of it. I just thought…I dunno. I guess my real question is, do you remember the part before?"

"You mean the dying?" Faith asked. Dawn nodded. Faith licked her lips for a moment before replying. "It sucked major ass, that's what I remember. Why are we talking about this?"

Dawn seemed nervous. "I'm sorry, I just…so you didn't feel anything?"

"What would I have felt?"

"I dunno, maybe…" When Dawn finally found the words, they came out in a rush. "Maybe like elation? Like you weren't really alive until that moment when you weren't anymore? This sort of feeling like you finally understood your purpose in life, not in words but just this knowing, y'know?"

Faith looked confused. "No. I felt scared, alone, and in a great deal of pain after having my guts splattered." Dawn looked disappointed and confused all at once. "I can't say dying felt wonderful and I'm thinking maybe we need to get you some counseling if you do."

"Maybe," Dawn said.

Faith checked her watch. "Oh God, I have to go. Look, we can talk about this later, right?"

Dawn nodded. In seconds, Faith was out the door.

A moment later she poked her head back in and said, "Don't kill yourself," and then was gone for good.

Dawn waited for a short time to make sure Faith was gone. Then she finished off her root beer and walked over to a small table with various kitchen-related items on it. She bent down and unplugged her small, silver toaster from the wall.

Cut To:
Int.
Dawn's Apartment – Hallway – Moments Later

Dawn walked down the short hall with a blank expression on her face, the toaster under her arm.

Cut To:
Int.
Dawn's Apartment – Bathroom – Moments Later

Dawn walked purposefully across the tile floor to her sink where she plugged in the toaster. She stood directly under the showerhead of her tub and took a deep breath.

She held the toaster in one arm while she reached out with the other and turned on the water.

"Here goes nothing," she said as she pushed down the sliding button of the toaster.

Black Out

End of Act Two
On to Act Three