Guest starring Michelle Rodriguez, Norika Fujiwara, Felicia Day, Antonio Banderas, Chazz Palminteri, Stephanie March, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Fisher, Avril Lavigne, Richard Burgi and Carlos Bernard
Kennedy’s Bedroom – Late Morning
The sun shone brightly through the window, casting a soft glow over the motionless figure lying wrapped up in the bed sheets.
The bedroom door slowly crept open and Kennedy stepped through into the room. A soft smile spread over her face as she looked over the breakfast tray in her hand to see her still peacefully resting girlfriend.
She quietly walked over and placed the tray on the bedside table, taking the rose from the vase. She sat on the bed gently and lightly touched it to Mia’s lips.
The sleeping slayer started to stir lightly and slowly opened her eyes. "Ken," she said with a sleepy smile.
Kennedy stopped her light teasing and pulled the rose away to replace it with a gentle kiss. "Morning, beautiful," she said and reached back onto the tray. Her hand reappeared holding a small velvet box.
"Happy Valentine’s Day," she said and placed the box on the bed by Mia’s head.
Mia stared at it in a sleepy stupor for a moment before her eyes slowly widened with realization. She looked up at her girlfriend in surprise.
The other slayer only smiled and nodded towards the box. "Open it."
Mia smiled before reaching out to take the box. She sat up slowly and stared down at the black box before gently pulling open the lid. As for Kennedy, she appeared to hold her breath as if unsure of Mia’s reaction.
"Oh Ken," she said in a whispered voice as she pulled the small heart-shaped ring from the box.
"Do you…like it?" Kennedy asked nervously as she awaited Mia’s reaction.
"Do I…" Mia started. She tore her eyes away from the sparkling diamond to meet the deep eyes of her lover. "Ken, it’s beautiful. I love it."
Kennedy visibly relaxed and let out the breath she’d been holding. "Good…cause I was really worried you’d be…" She was suddenly cut off by Mia’s lips covering her own.
They stayed that way for a long moment before Mia slowly pulled away, leaving Kennedy close-eyed and a little stunned. When she finally did open them, she met the smiling face of her girlfriend.
"I said I love it," Mia said placing the ring on her left middle finger, "and…I love you."
Kennedy smiled softly. "I love you too Mi."
The smile on Mia’s face slowly changed from gentle to devious. "Well, I guess this puts me in kind of a fix."
"Why?" Kennedy asked with a creased brow.
"Well," Mia said slowly unbuttoning the top on her pajamas, "I haven’t gotten you anything," she said reaching the last button on her top. She glanced down coyly before meeting the transfixed eyes of her girlfriend.
Kennedy sat completely still staring down at Mia’s torso, her breathing rapidly increasing. "Well ah…you…you’re…" Kennedy tore her eyes away to meet Mia’s lustful gaze.
Mia reached out and pulled Kennedy in close. She stared into her eyes and smirked. "I guess…I’m just gonna have to improvise."
Mia leaned forward and kissed her gently. Never breaking the contact, she slowly started to fall back onto the bed, pulling Kennedy down after her.
OB/GYN Examining Room – Moments Later
"Okay," the attendant began as she coated a paddle with a jellylike substance. "This is gonna be cold," she warned. As the paddle connected with Becca’s bare stomach she sucked in her breath and the attendant grinned. "Told ya."
"You weren’t kidding," Becca replied.
Giles stood at Becca’s side, holding her hand, as the attendant looked at the monitor, moving the paddle back and forth.
"Wanna see, Dad?" the attendant asked as she nodded him over to her.
Becca nodded her okay and Giles walked over and took a spot behind the attendant. She moved the paddle again and asked, "I’ve got a pretty good shot here – do you want to know if it’s a boy or a girl?"
"No," Becca answered before Giles could. "And neither does he."
"Well, I am a bit curious," he confessed.
"Nuh ah," Becca said waving her finger. "You tell Willow, Willow tells Ro, Ro tells Andrew and he slips up and asks me if we’re going to name the baby Rupert Jr. No way."
"You have a point," Giles conceded.
"That’s okay," the attendant nodded. "We can do this without disclosing anything." She moved the paddle again and pointed to the monitor. "See this part right here?" she asked him.
Giles leaned in closer. "It looks like a head," he told her.
"That’s exactly what it is," she told him before pressing the paddle a bit more firmly and letting her fingers trace over the screen. "And right through here-."
Giles chuckled. "Arms! I see arms!"
"I wanna see," Becca complained.
The attendant smiled broadly. "Funny, I usually only get this reaction from first-time parents."
"We are first-time parents," Becca told her.
The attendant looked over her shoulder at Giles with a teasing grin. "Getting a late start I see."
He grinned back. "Better late than never apparently."
Cleveland International Airport – Gate 29 – Moments Later
"Flight 235 now arriving from London. All persons please proceed to gate 29 to meet your parties. Thank you," the receptionist’s voice came over the loud speaker as the many people traversed throughout the busy airport.
Groups of families and single people waited anxiously as the passengers filed out of the gate, each venturing off to meet their respective parties with warm smiles and gentle hugs.
Cleveland International Airport – Gate 29 – Later
The baggage claim line was just dying down as a figure dressed all in black with a long flowing duster approached slowly. A man dressed in an expensive suit turned around suddenly and bumped into her. He quickly stepped back and adjusted the glasses on his face.
"Pardon me," he said clearing his throat with a nervous smile. When his eyes met the woman’s, the smile faded from his face and he shrank back slightly before picking up his briefcase and quickly walking away.
The woman remained still for a moment before reaching out to pick up a small black duffel bag and throwing it over her shoulder. She visibly flinched and placed her hand on her right side.
"I better be right about this," the woman said under her breath as she turned around to reveal the distinct features of Kadin Van Helsing. She had a bandage over her left eye and a slowly healing cut under her right. The whole right side of her face was black and blue and the deep cut on her lip stood out prominently. "Or else I just got my ass severely kicked for nothin’."
Kadin let out a deep sigh and pulled the paper from her vest pocket. She glanced down at the address scrawled on it haphazardly. "Damn. I really gotta work on my penmanship," she said shaking her head with a sigh and placing the paper back into her pocket.
"Then again," she said with a wry smile, "If I get killed after all this…it’ll be one less thing to worry about." The smile slowly faded and her features turned grim. "Well, that’s one helluva silver lining."
Kadin stood in quiet reflection for a moment before pulling the duffel bag up further on her shoulder and leaving the airport with only one destination on her mind.
Watcher’s Council – Front Lobby – Later
"For the last time, Andrew," Willow said pinching her nose with her eyes closed, "Jeff gets to pick the movie for tonight. You got the last two, remember?" she said as she lifted her head from her hands.
The cook folded his arms across his chest and pouted. "That’s just a technicality, and last time doesn’t even count," he said stomping his foot. "I don’t think you can even consider Open Water a movie. They just floated there for an hour and a half!"
"Hey!" Faith shouted as she walked in. "I think you heard Red," she said coming over to stand next to the witch. "It’s not her fault your taste in movies is as bad as your bratwurst brownies."
Andrew looked like he was about to protest, but a stern look from the slayer stopped the rant dead in his throat. He swallowed back hard and smiled. "Right…my mistake. I’ll just be…going then."
Andrew quickly scurried away and Willow turned to Faith with a grateful smile. "Thanks, Faith," she said turning to pick up her folders from the table. "He was driving me insane."
Faith smiled and folded her arms over her chest. "Hey, what kinda hired muscle would I be if I didn’t keep twerps like that off your back?"
Willow turned around with a smile of her own. "Thanks but you do know that’s not all you are to the Council…or to me."
Faith blushed uncharacteristically. "Yeah well…same here, Red."
They both turned as Giles and Becca walked inside. Upon seeing them he darted over with something in his hand and a wide grin on his face.
"You must see this!" he told them.
"Not another creature feature already," Willow sighed.
"No, baby pictures!" he told her as he handed them over.
Willow appeared confused but then looked down at the pictures. She gave an, "Ahhh" in response before saying "…Look, it’s little Giles," as she handed them over to Faith. "Or is that Gileses? Plural?" Willow asked.
"Just one," Becca told her. "We’re waiting on one test but all the others came back okay. Looks like things are moving along nicely."
"Very cool," Faith commended. "So, do we know if it’s going to be a watcher or a slayer yet?" she teased.
"I wanted to know," Giles began.
"But some things should just be a mystery I think," Becca finished.
"Is Robin upstairs?" Giles asked.
"Yeah but his class should be letting out soon," Faith said as she looked at her watch.
"Good, he must see these," he said as he took off up the stairs.
Becca just shook her head and looked at the girls. "You’d think he was the one about to give birth."
"True," Willow said. "I’ve rarely seen Giles this excited. This is new but it’s pretty nifty too."
"Well once he’s done showing the world can you let him know I’ve gone to lie down. My back’s killing me," Becca replied.
"Sure thing," Faith told her. "Want me to have Andy bring something up for you?"
"No thanks Hon, I’ll be fine."
They both nodded and smiled.
Willow turned back to Faith. "Well, I gotta get these folders up to Ro."
"Yes, nothing says romance like research for you watcher types." Faith chuckled as the witch started up the stairs. "And Red?"
Willow stopped in her ascent and looked over at her friend. "Happy Valentine’s."
Willow smiled. "You too, Faith."
The witch continued up the stairs and Faith turned back in the direction of the gym. "Well, nothing like a good workout to get the juices goin’," she said as she started for the gym. "Well, almost nothin’," she said with a coy smile.
Just as she passed the front doors, the sound of the doorbell resounded through the large lobby. She quickly lifted her hands to her ears and winced. "Damn. I gotta talk to Red about that," she said as she walked over to the door. "Just because she doesn’t have slayer hearing doesn’t mean the rest of us can…" Her words trailed off when she opened the door to reveal the beaten and weary looking form of the monster hunter.
"Hey there," Kadin spoke with a smile. "I heard this was the place to come if you’re looking for the next chosen one," she said looking past Faith’s shoulder. "She wouldn’t happen to be in, would she?"
Faith just stared at Kadin with a blank expression.
Kennedy’s Apartment – Kitchen – Moments Later
Mia stood at the sink washing the breakfast dishes. She stared down into the water as she pulled the plate out and placed it into the drying rack. The glint of the ring caught her eye and she smiled softly.
"Glad to see you’re still smiling," Kennedy breathed into her ear huskily as she encircled her waist with her strong arms. She placed a kiss just behind Mia’s ear and breathed in her scent deeply.
Mia closed her eyes and placed her arms over Kennedy’s, leaning back into the brunette with a smile. "After what just happened? I’d have to be dead not to be."
They both softly chuckled and Kennedy kissed her neck gently before pulling away and grabbing a muffin from the basket.
"Well, I’m glad you had such a great time," she said placing the muffin in her mouth as she tied her hair back into a ponytail. She took a bite and smiled. "Cause I got a date with Faith and she’s not known to be the patient type."
Mia mock frowned. "I thought you told me I was your one and only?"
Kennedy smiled and leaned in for a kiss. "You are," she said pulling away and staring deeply into Mia’s eyes. "Faith’s just there to help me with my…physical needs," Kennedy said and received a smack on the arm. "You know what I mean," she said chuckling. "But I just couldn’t resist that one."
"Uh huh," Mia said with a smirk and a raised brow. "You just don’t forget, I’m the only one you turn to with those needs, missy."
"Yes ma’am," Kennedy said and leaned in for another soft kiss. "I’ll see you tonight, okay? I’m sure I’ll be real needy by then."
Mia smiled and watched as Kennedy left the apartment before turning back to the sink. She stared down at the ring on her hand and smiled.
Watcher’s Council – Lobby – Moments Later
Kennedy came bounding down the stairs and walked into the main lobby, taping up her hands.
"Hey Faith?" Kennedy called as she concentrated on her task. "Faith? You in here?"
"Here, Slick," Faith said as she walked in from the waiting area. Kennedy looked up and met her with a smile, but it soon faded when the older slayer didn’t return it.
"What is it?" Kennedy asked as she dropped her hands to her sides and stared at her friend curiously.
Faith smiled nervously and ran a hand through her hair slowly. "Well, I’m not so sure I got the words to explain this one."
"Faith? You’re scaring me," Kennedy said stepping closer. "You not having words for something? Oh god, it’s the apocalypse again, isn’t it? The Kudlak’s back for another can of whoop ass?"
Faith scowled at her and Kennedy just laughed.
"Really, Faith. You need to learn to lighten…" Kennedy’s words faded when she saw the beaten and bruised monster hunter slowly walk in from the next room. "…up."
Kadin placed her hands in the pockets of her pants and smiled. "Hey."
Kitchen – Moments Later
Andrew was passing by Tracey with a fresh tray of bratwurst brownies. He stopped when he noticed the two figures in the kitchen doorway.
"Brell!" The cook said excitedly. "It’s so good to see you. Would you and your…friend…care for a bratwurst brownie? They are très delicious, despite what Faith says."
Brell looked down at the tray, confused. "That brownie? Brell thought that for garden outside. It not to help plant grow?"
Andrew scowled and Tracey tried not to laugh. Trying to lighten the mood Tracey asked, "What brings you by today, Brell?"
"This Brell friend, Reteesk. We come to see Red Witch but she was not downstairs. Brell thought someone always in kitchen. Check here first."
"Oh, yeah, Willow’s upstairs in the library I think," the cook answered. He smiled politely and nodded before reaching out to offer the two demons the tray of bratwurst brownies. "Sure you don’t want to change your mind?" Andrew asked again.
Brell wrinkled his nose. "No thank you. As humans say, ’Me pass.’"
"Oh fine," Andrew said giving up and motioning them to follow him.
Watcher’s Council – Library – Moments Later
"Red Witch!" Brell greeted Willow warmly.
"Hi Brell, what’s up?" she asked, glancing at the other demon with him.
"This Reteesk," he explained, "good friend, good demon. But nervous of Council, remembers old Council. I tell him we are friends, Council changed now."
"Welcome, Reteesk," Willow said. "Brell’s right. You’re safe here so just relax."
"Dear lady," Reteesk said, taking Willow’s hand. Her eyes widened in surprise as he brought it to his face-tentacles and gently touched it, something like a gracious kiss. "I do entreat you to forgive my reticence. I am of a long-lived kind, you see, and we tend to cling to old memories. Rather too much at times, I think. I am honored to be in your company."
"That’s…thanks," Willow said, surprised. "What can we do for you?"
"Video Hut attacked last night," Brell explained. "Vandals broke windows, destroyed stock, very troublesome."
"Was anyone hurt?" the witch asked.
"Fortunately no," Reteesk volunteered. "The proprietor has a lamentable tendency to sleep in, and had not at that time gotten around to opening the store for business. Luckily he has adopted the human notion of providing a drop-box for customers. However, this was not an isolated incident."
"Other shops," Brell said, "all owned and run by demons. All attacked, in same manner, by same people."
"Someone is targeting demon shops?" Willow asked.
"Sure of it," Brell said.
"Those who would speak to Brell or myself," Reteesk put in, "indicated that they had been contacted by those responsible for this cowardly act. They have been told to pay, I believe the phrase is ‘protection money,’ in order to avoid further trouble."
"Most would pay," Brell said, "but this is wrong."
"Yes, it is," Willow nodded. "But…I’m not sure if this is really our area."
"You can not help?" Brell asked.
"I-I wish I could but this sounds like something for the police and not the Council since it’s destruction of business property." Brell looked down at the ground disappointed and Reteesk looked away to the wall in frustration. "Look, guys. Let me do some checking, okay? I think I know someone who might be of some help."
Brell’s head shot up and he had a smile. "Thank you, Red Witch."
"Don’t thank me yet," she said holding up her hands. "I don’t know if we can do anything but we’ll certainly try."
Watcher’s Council – Bonnie’s Quarters – Moments Later
"I’m really tired," Bonnie complained as she opened the door, wearing a short robe. She blinked in surprise to see Willow, flanked by the two demons.
"In case you hadn’t noticed," Willow replied, "it’s been daylight for a few hours now. Excuse me." She and the demons walked past Bonnie into the living room, Brell glaring suspiciously at her.
"Come in, make yourselves at home," Bonnie grumbled.
"We’ve got work for you," Willow said, taking a seat on the couch.
"I didn’t think it was a social visit. Mind if I get changed into something less Paris Hilton?" She disappeared into the bedroom, half-closing the door behind her.
"What’s going on?" she asked from the other room.
"Demon-owned businesses are being attacked," Willow called out. "Someone’s demanding protection money."
"Again," Bonnie said flatly. "Happens all the time. Usually humans responsible. Demons are soft targets – they can hardly go to the authorities for help."
"Nothing like this has been happening since we set up here," Willow said, frowning.
"Unusual circumstances," Bonnie’s disembodied voice explained. "Before you arrived the Engineer’s hierarchy either absorbed or chased off every organized group of demons and those who dealt with them in the city. Once you killed him, it was only a matter of time before someone tried to stake a claim to the territory, so to speak."
"Good gracious!" Reteesk exclaimed, looking at Willow. "Does she mean to say that you, personally, defeated the Engineer? My word!"
"Um, yeah, well, we all helped actually," Willow said, blushing from the attention. "Look," she said to Bonnie, who re-emerged from her bedroom in jeans and a shirt, "we’re not going to just stand by and let this happen."
"Since when does the Watcher’s Council defend demons?" Bonnie asked. "No offense to you guys," she added off-hand to Brell and Reteesk.
"We defend the innocent from the evil," Willow said firmly. "We don’t discriminate based on species. If something is happening to good, hardworking demons we want to help."
"How touching. Sending in the black ops team again to do them in?" Bonnie grinned.
"We don’t have to kill them to put them out of business," Willow replied. "Now are you going to help or not? Bear in mind that ‘not’ isn’t a valid option considering your situation."
"Seeing as you asked so nicely, how can I refuse," Bonnie shrugged. "Brell, right?" He nodded. "You know the details of what’s going on?" The demon nodded. "Okay, you’ll work with me. Miss Rosenberg, if you’d go fetch Mister Wells and tell him I need my laptop’s modem, and a phone line."
"Provided you-" Willow began.
"Yes, yes," Bonnie waved a hand dismissively, "same deal as before, Brell monitors my calls, unless you want to punish Andrew for some reason and have him do it. Oh, and one other thing?"
"I need coffee."
With a sigh and a shake of her head Willow turned and left the room.
Giles’s Apartment – Living Room – Later
Becca and Giles were sitting on the couch watching the latest video that Dr. Abraham had given them.
"Well, I must say," Giles said clearing his throat, "That looks…quite interesting."
"Interesting? Try painful," Becca challenged. "It looks like pushing a cantaloupe through a garden hose."
A loud scream came from the television, causing them both to jump in surprise.
Giles’s Apartment – Front Door – Same Time
Willow had her hand poised at the door to knock when the sound of a scream erupted from the other side. She looked over at Rowena and they shared a worried expression.
Giles’s Apartment – Living Room – Moments Later
Giles looked over at the sound of the knock on the door. He looked back at Becca to see her deeply enthralled with the picture on the screen.
He smiled and left her to answer the door.
Giles’s Apartment – Front Door – Same Time
Giles pulled the door open to meet his two fellow watchers.
"Good morning," he said as he stepped back and motioned for them to come in.
Willow and Rowena crossed the threshold. "Everything okay in here? We thought we heard screaming," Willow asked.
"Oh, just watching a video," he said. "Come in."
Giles’s Apartment – Living Room – Moments Later
Becca was just taking the tape out of the VCR when Willow and Rowena walked in, closely followed by the eldest watcher.
"Hi," she said with a smile. "How you guys doing?"
"I heard there were pictures." Rowena said with a smile as she took a seat next to Willow. "Plus, we just wanted to stop by to see how you’re doing."
Becca held her back as she waddled her way back to her favorite comfy chair.
"Well, my heartburn is killing me. I look like a beached whale, and the only way that I know I still have feet is because they’re killing me," she said as she sat back and placed a hand on her ever growing belly. "Not to mention that I just watched a video scarier than Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
"Oooh," Willow asked excited. "What’s it called?"
"The Miracle of Birth, which if you ask me is a euphemism for pain and suffering."
Rowena looked down at Willow and they shared a nervous smile.
"Well, ah, I’ve heard that every birth is different so maybe it will be easier for you," Willow said optimistically.
Becca smiled appreciatively. "Thanks. At this point though, drugs are looking better than Lamaze."
"No drugs," Giles said absently and then looked down to see Becca staring at him with a clinched jaw. "Unless of course you feel you really need it," he added nervously.
"Good answer," she told him before turning back to the girls on the sofa. "The pictures, however, are in circulation right now."
"Okay, well, if I’m at the right place at the right time then maybe I’ll get lucky today," Rowena said standing up again.
"I can guarantee it," Willow muttered and wiggled her eyebrows, which made Rowena smack her shoulder.
"I meant the ultrasound shots," she sighed. "Anyway, we were just on our way out and we wanted to stop by to see if you guys needed anything."
"We’re good, Sweetie," Becca replied as Giles came over and placed a hand on her shoulder. She reached up and placed one of her own over his. She looked up and smiled at her fiancé, receiving a warm smile in return. "Besides if I do I’ll just put Rupert to work. It keeps him out of trouble."
Watcher’s Council – Lobby – Moments Later
Faith handed Kadin the glass of water and took a step back.
"Thanks," the hunter replied before gulping it down quickly. She placed the glass on the table next to her chair and looked out of the window absently.
Faith walked over to where Kennedy was standing staring at Kadin intently.
"Hey, Slick," Faith said nudging her in the arm, "You five-by-five?"
Kennedy just stared for a moment more before turning her eyes to her best friend. "Who, me? I’m just great," she said as she started to peel the tape from her hands. "Wish I could say the same for her," the slayer said nodding in Kadin’s direction.
Faith looked over at the woman to see her sitting solemnly, running a hand over the bandage on her face and wincing with every touch.
"Yeah," Faith said sighing. "Looks like someone kicked the royal crap out of her."
"Not someone," Kennedy said shaking her head and pulling the last piece of tape from her hand, "something."
Watcher’s Council – Lobby – Same Time
Willow and Rowena came down the stairs hand in hand. The redhead leaned over and whispered something in the blonde’s ear, causing her to blush a deep red.
"Willow," the watcher said shyly as they walked into the main lobby. "You already know you…" Rowena stopped at the sudden look of shock on the witch’s face. She quickly turned her head to follow her line of vision.
Kennedy and Faith were standing awkwardly with a woman sitting directly in front of them, looking rather beaten and worn.
"Oh dear," Rowena said releasing her hold on Willow to walk over. "Ma’am, are you alright? What’s going on?" she asked Faith.
Kadin smiled up at Rowena. "I don’t think we’ve been formally introduced," she said standing painfully and extending her hand. "The name’s Van Helsing…Kadin Van Helsing."
Rowena shook her head to pull herself out of her stupor. She reached out and placed her hand in Kadin’s. "Rowena Allister. Nice to meet you Ms. Van Helsing."
Kadin pulled her hand away and laughed. "Oh no…Kadin’s just fine."
"Right, Kadin," Rowena said staring at the bruises marring the hunter’s face. Kadin looked away awkwardly and Rowena blushed again. "I apologize. I don’t mean to stare."
"No, it’s fine," Kadin said placing her hands in her pockets. "I’d probably stare too. It’s not everyday you see a chick wearing these many bruises without some muscle bound jerk to blame."
Rowena took a step back, smiling apologetically.
"Although…I guess that’s true in this case too," Kadin said after a beat.
"What? You let some scuz tell you he loves you then use your face as his own personal punching bag?" Faith asked amused.
"Hardly," Kadin said smirking. "But come to think of it…you are half right."
"The second, punching bag half I’m assuming?" Willow asked, speaking up for the first time.
Kadin looked over at her with the amused expression now completely gone from her face. "Actually, that’s the reason I’m here."
Kadin stepped around Faith to look at the other slayer who up until this point had remained silent.
"I need your help, Ken," she said after a long moment.
The slayer opened her mouth as if to say something but no sound came out.
"O-of course we’ll help," Willow said to fill the void. "Anything for a-a…mild acquaintance."
"Not you guys," Kadin said turning to face the witch. "Just Kennedy."
"Yeah, I bet," Faith scoffed under her breath.
"There something you wanna say?" Kadin said staring down the slayer.
Faith smiled and took a step closer. "If I did…you’d be the first to hear it."
"Okay," Willow said drawing out the word as she stepped between the two women. "I think we all need to just sit down," she said motioning for Faith to take a seat, "and discuss this like rational, sane adults."
The witch looked at Faith with resolve face and the slayer fell down into the chair with a sigh of, "Whatever."
Watcher’s Council – Library – Same Time
Bonnie replaced the receiver on the phone and tapped her finger impatiently on her laptop’s touch pad, staring at the empty inbox of one of her dozen recently-created email accounts. She saw, out of the corner of her eye, Brell scowling at her.
"Go on, say it," she said wearily.
"Say it?" Brell repeated.
"This is the part where you remind me that I worked for an evil overlord who wanted to subjugate my entire species, and on a more personal note helped him track down and try to enslave members of your family. Then you either storm off, or ask me what I have to say for myself. I’m thinking you’re a what-do-you-have-to-say-for-yourself type."
"All that true," Brell pointed out.
"Yes it is," Bonnie agreed, returning her attention to the laptop as its tiny speaker bing-bonged a "you have mail" notice.
"You are…" Brell paused, searching for the word.
"Mercenary," Bonnie supplied.
"Yes. Mercenary cannot be trusted. Always can be out-bid by enemy."
"I wouldn’t worry if I were you," Bonnie said distantly, reading at the same time. "The Council keeps me alive. So long as I do what they tell me, they keep me comfortable. That trumps what the Presidium offered – they left me on my own, with half the city’s demons hunting me. One time, if I’d been five minutes slower, I’d have been caught by a Vanz demon. A female, whose mate the Engineer had killed." Brell’s eyebrows rose, and he recoiled slightly. Bonnie smiled mirthlessly.
"I gather from your expression you know how they like to exact vengeance," she said dryly. "Compared to living conditions here…well, if she’d caught up with me I’d still be alive, but it wouldn’t be so pleasant." She shrugged. "I’m not saying I don’t see her point, of course." She began typing a reply, with Brell watching over her shoulder.
"Your actions cause this," he pointed out a moment later, when she was done. "You chose to serve Engineer. You knew what he was."
"True," she said philosophically, "I had a choice: serve or die. Not quickly either – not an especially gruesome death by their standards, but when you consider what their standards are…it wouldn’t have been pretty." She saw Brell looking at her skeptically. "Oh, not out of revenge," she added. "They don’t work like that. If they just wanted me dead back then, they’d have broken my neck. Nice and quick. But a suitably grotesque fate for me would have added that little bit of incentive for the next agent they approached, you see. Serve or die."
"You chose to serve evil," Brell said flatly.
"I did," Bonnie agreed. "Frankly, I think that’s what most people would have chosen. What about you – serve or die? If you knew there was no escape?"
"I do not betray," Brell said without hesitating.
"Well, there you go," Bonnie shrugged. "You’re in a minority, of course. If my time with the Engineer taught me anything, it’s that – very few people don’t have a price tag."
Watcher’s Council – Lobby – Moments Later
"Now, Kadin," Willow said turning back to the other woman, "What is it exactly that you want Kennedy’s help with?"
"Well, I was kinda hoping I could talk to Kennedy about that," Kadin replied uncomfortably. "You know…alone."
"No freakin’ way," Faith said jumping to her feet.
"Faith, calm down," Kennedy told her.
"Look, I don’t know what your problem is with me, but…" Kadin started towards Faith, but a sudden jolting pain in her side caused her to stop dead in her tracks. She clutched her right side tightly as the world started to spin.
The pain in her side started to increase rapidly. She reached out blindly for any means of support, but only met air.
"Crap," she said weakly, then fell face first onto the floor.
"Faith!" Willow and Rowena yelled simultaneously as Kennedy rolled her over to begin examining her.
"What? I didn’t touch her," Faith shot back.
Rowena and Willow bent down to Kadin too. "Get Dr. Miller," Kennedy said after placing her hand on the hunter’s neck. "She barely has a pulse."
End of Act One
Onto Act Two