Story by Chris Cook
Written by Chris Cook and CN Winters
Produced and Directed by Chris Cook and CN Winters
Edited by DragonWriter17
Sound by CSR
Art Direction by Chris Cook
Artists - Chris Cook and CN Winters
Council Meeting Room – Day
Willow quickly slid inside the door and tried to be quiet as Giles stood addressing the group, which consisted of Faith, Robin, and Rowena.
"Nice of you to join us," Giles remarked dryly as the redhead took a seat next to Faith and across from Rowena.
"Sorry," she muttered apologetically.
"Anyway," he continued. "As I was saying, I think we need to ban Jeff from the coven, effective immediately. All in favor, say aye."
"Hold up," Willow said to the group. "Yeah, sure, it was his bad messing with stuff he wasn’t ready for, but he’s a powerful young man, Giles."
"We’ve already discussed this, Willow. If you wanted to issue an opinion, then you should have been here on time."
"Gee, I’m sorry. I was trying to catch up on my sleep after the wacko weekend I had," she said sarcastically.
"In any event," Giles said, brushing her off, "Let’s vote."
"Damn it, Giles!" Willow said as she slammed her hands down on the table. "You can’t expect him to learn his lesson and then just toss him out. That kid is strong – very strong. And he’s better off as an ally than an enemy." When no one around the table said anything or even looked at her, she asked, "Can’t any of you see that? Rowena?"
Rowena looked away, and an uncomfortable silence filled the room.
Willow turned to Giles. "You of all people should know what can happen if powerful magic is left unchecked. You’re lucky to be alive, no thanks to me."
Giles refused to discuss the remark and turned to the group. "All in favor, say aye."
Collectively everyone voiced their agreement with Giles, except for Willow. She began shaking her head in disgust, and she looked down at her hands to find them beginning to tremble. The purplish-green veins began to turn pitch black, and she closed her eyes tightly then opened them, only to see her skin still changing.
From across the table Rowena’s mouth began to widen as if she was going to say something but couldn’t. To Willow’s left, Faith rolled her chair away.
"What the hell’s happening?" the slayer asked Giles, looking back toward him from over her shoulder.
Giles was speechless as Willow slowly stood up. Raven locks replaced her red hair, and the dark veins now spread across her forehead and face. Her eyes were as black and cold as onyx.
"I say we take a recount," she said in a slow, merciless voice.
"Willow," Giles began diplomatically for the first time. "Listen to me."
"I’ve listened to you for too many years," she answered and waved a careless hand in his direction, instantly setting him ablaze.
Once the initial shock wore off, Faith charged toward Willow as Robin leapt over the table. Rowena reached out to stop Robin, but it was no use. The man was quicker and stronger than she was.
Willow made a pushing motion with her hand which threw Faith into the back wall before she too combusted into flames. Although it was hopeless, Robin raced over as if to help Faith, but with another wave of Willow’s hand he met the same fate.
During the commotion Rowena had worked behind Willow and tried to slip out the door. She was only a few feet away when Willow turned to face her, stopping her in her tracks.
"Where do you think you’re going...lover?" Willow asked.
Rowena covered her mouth as if she were trying to hold back the urge to get sick.
"You said you knew what you were getting into, remember?" Willow taunted her. With the wave of the dark witch’s hand, the door slammed shut.
Willow’s Living Room – Same Time
The sound of Willow’s front door shutting made the witch bolt up from her sofa and look around in confusion. She glanced over to the entryway to see Rowena hanging up her coat. Rowena turned and saw Willow peering over the sofa, looking confused and frightened.
"I’m sorry," the blonde apologized. "I didn’t mean to wake you up." She walked over to the sofa as Willow righted herself.
"Don’t be sorry. I’m glad you did," Willow replied.
Carefully, the blonde took a seat next to her. "Having another bad dream, weren’t you?" she asked rhetorically. When Willow simply nodded, Rowena asked, "Who was it this time?"
"Giles, Faith, and Robin," Willow answered softly.
Rowena put her hand around Willow’s shoulder, and the redhead rested against the crook of her neck. "It was just a dream," Rowena reminded her. "Dr. Hegedus said this was to be expected after what happened."
"I can’t help but think it’s something more," Willow told her. "If I go back to that—"
"You won’t," Rowena assured her.
"How can you be so sure? Shadow loaded me up with goddess knows what."
"Because you’re stronger than anything she could dish out. That’s why," Rowena told her with great certainty. Willow however still appeared unconvinced. "Come on," she said, rising from the sofa and offering Willow her hand. "Giles needs to speak with you and Jeff."
Willow released a heavy sigh and took Rowena’s hand.
Infirmary – Moments Later
Willow and Rowena walked to the entrance, then Rowena nodded Willow inside. "I’ll be out here after you’re done," she told her, letting Willow go ahead.
Upon hearing Willow approach, Giles glanced at her briefly before turning back to Jeff.
"I’ll allow you and your mentor a few moments," he told the young man before acknowledging Willow with a grin and walking toward the exit.
"So," Willow began, "How are you feeling?"
"Better," he told her with a short nod.
Willow released a sigh and pulled the chair next to the bed a bit closer before taking a seat.
"Is this the part where you tell me I went over the line, stepped out of bounds?" he asked.
Willow shook her head. "No, I’m sure everyone else has already told you that. And I know that you know that I agree with them." Willow sighed again and then continued. "I’m honored that you felt the need to save me, but the means you used—"
"Could have been better. I know."
Willow paused a moment. "If something like this comes up again and I’m not here, will you promise to ask Rowena first before going through the restricted area?"
"She would have said no," Jeff countered.
"Giles would have said no…probably. But Rowena would have kept watch to make sure nothing was taken except for what was needed. She probably would have even helped you research, and I can tell you first hand she’s pretty good at it. So...promise me?"
Jeff gave Willow a committed nod. "I promise. It’s just—"
"You’ve got a lot a power, and you want to push yourself to do bigger and better things."
"Yeah!" he said enthusiastically.
"So did I, Jeff, but I didn’t have anyone to catch my fall. Not when it came to magic. I want to see you do bigger and better things, too. I do. But you have to go in steps, not leaps and bounds ’cause that’s the mistake that I made. So starting next week, I want us to do some tutoring, privately. Just you and me, okay?"
"So...instead of barring me from magic, you’re going to train me?" he asked skeptically.
"Absolutely. I know you’re going to continue this, so I have two choices. One, I can look the other way and hope your desire for power goes away. Or two, I can stay at your side and help guide you from making some potentially hazardous or fatal mistakes. I’m going with number two," she ended in a chipper voice.
"Thanks Willow. I—" Jeff’s words died in his throat when the sound of gunshots from above them rang out. "What was that?" he asked, concerned.
"Upstairs," Willow muttered before she raced from the room.
Watchers Lobby – Same Time
Giles and Rowena were already heading toward the staircase to go to the second floor when Willow ran to catch up. When they got to the top, they heard another shot ring out from Bonnie’s apartment. As all three of them ran to the door, Giles took Willow and Rowena by the arm and pulled them behind him.
"Stay here," he ordered as he approached the door. He gave it a firm knock and called out. "Bonnie! Bonnie, open the door!"
When Bonnie pulled the door open, he looked inside and saw her holding a smoking gun that she quickly turned toward him. In the middle of her floor, Faith lay unmoving, bleeding from her chest and forehead.
"Bloody hell," Giles said in a trembling voice.
End of Teaser
Onto Act One