WATCHERS: Dance With Death (1/5)

By Charles Kelly

DISCLAIMER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and the characters indigenous to those series are the legal property of Mutant Enemy Productions, the WB, UPN, FOX, et al. They are used here strictly for non-commercial purposes. Characters indigenous to Watchers belong to Susan Carr and CN Winters.

DISTRIBUTION: Ask and I shall approve.

SPOILERS: Potential spoilers for Part one of my story "Watchers/Restoration: Gone, But . . . Not Forgotten" and the ATS Series Finale.

RATING: R (story includes mature subject matter)

COMMENT: I’m not a great fan of Andrew, but he’s slowly grown on me and I find myself in grave danger of liking him. Naturally, this story (based partly on personal experience) came to mind.

A banshee, by the way, is not a ghost but a fairy (usually Irish but sometimes Scottish or Welsh) that warns of an impending death in the house. Catch the banshee and it will reveal the name of the condemned—perhaps in time to save his or her life.

SUMMARY: Despite the severe limitation of being dead, the late and unlamented Lena Meers (mother of the late and unlamented Warren Meers) manages to unleash a little more grief on Willow. A banshee stalks Willow’s parents. Meanwhile, Andrew finds himself dealing with the banshee, two familiar demons from Sunnydale, a professional killer, a medical crisis—and Willow’s parents too. Call it a rough patch.

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (1/5)

"At the hole where he went in,

Red eye called to wrinkle skin.

Here what little red eye saith:

‘Nag, come up and dance with death!

‘Eye to eye and head to head.

‘(Keep the measure, Nag!)

‘Turn for turn and twist for twist.

‘(Run and hide thee, Nag!)

‘This shall end when one is dead!

‘(At thy pleasure, Nag.)

‘Ha! The hooded death has missed!

‘(Woe betide thee, Nag!)’ "

—Rudyard Kipling, "Rikki Tikki Tavi"


Int., a kitchen in a residential home somewhere in the United States, early morning.

The couple ate microwaved miniburgers as they worked at their kitchen table. The middle-aged man marked up a draft of a "MISSING" flier for Jonathan Levenson. The woman, also middle aged, was updating the website devoted to their missing son.


The couple nearly jumped out of their seats at the sight of the female intruder.

The woman frowned. "Lena Meers?"

Lena Meers smiled. "You remember me! No one remembers me anymore."

The man pointed to the back door. "Get out or we call the police."

Mrs. Meers laughed. "The police can’t arrest me."

"The hell they can’t!" The man reached for the phone—

And Mrs. Meers quite literally walked through their table, turned around and walked back through it.

The couple paled.

"Maybe you two should sit back down, Mr. and Mrs. Levenson."

Quivering, the Levensons sat back down.

"I’m obviously a ghost."

They looked at her, blinking.

"I killed myself," Mrs. Meers said. "To get at the subhuman bitch that murdered my son—and yours. Her name is Willow Rosenberg. With your help, I can get us justice for our little boys."

Cut to:

Ext., a suburban house in Chicago, night, two weeks later.

Outside, a pale, even ethereal, woman moaned and gibbered. She might have been a hebephrenic schizophrenic. She might have been a homeless immigrant. She might have been something . . . else.

A police patrol car pulled up and two cops got out.

"Excuse us, ma’am, but could we talk?" They spoke gently to her.

She suddenly vanished.

The cops stopped dead in their tracks.

The front door of the house opened and slammed shut. Ira Rosenberg stalked over to the perplexed cops.

"Did you arrest her?"

"Um . . . she got away, sir . . . "


One cop said to the other: "Call Cleveland?"

Ira’s already livid face darkened more. "This is Chicago, what in God’s name do you need from Cleveland?"

Cut to:

Ext., a nearby rooftop overlooking the Rosenberg home.

The silhouette of a tall man in a large dark trench coat stood on the roof and looked down on the scene. The silhouette turned to face another being, a bald and wrinkled demon with big floppy ears.

Clem shrugged. "I haven’t a clue."

A familiar voice said: "Make an anonymous call to the Council—tell them a Banshee is stalking Willow’s parents."

"What the hell is a banshee?"

"A prophesy," Angel said. "I hate prophecies."

Cut to:

Int., examination room, Watchers Council Infirmary, the next day.

Andrew muttered, "Stupid way to spend my birthday," as he buttoned his shirt.

Dr. Argentine said: "I don’t want to alarm you, Mr. Wells, but you may have something that is in the process of becoming cancerous."

Andrew stopped buttoning his shirt. Andrew blinked twice. "You don’t want to alarm me?" He seemed to be processing the data . . . if a bit more slowly than usual.

The good doctor, well meaning but oblivious, droned on: "Twenty years ago, when I was just a kid, my next door neighbor had a cancerous growth in his testicle and they were able to save his testicle and he had more kids."

Andrew did not appear to be comforted. "What do we do?"

"We do an ultrasound and schedule a consult with a urologist and we find out what is happening."

"How long will that take?"

"Fortunately, we have the equipment and techs to do the ultrasound here so it can be done today. Unfortunately, we’ll have to subcontract a urologist and that means you’ll probably have to wait a week."

Andrew nodded. He resumed buttoning his shirt.

Cut to:

Int., Watchers Library, a few hours later.

Andrew sat at a computer terminal. He looked as pale as a newborn (newdead?) vampire. His lunch was only partly eaten and the four flies feasting on the burger created the impression he had little appetite.

He was on the Google advanced search page. He typed in the word cancer. Then he deleted the word a letter at a time. Then he retyped the word, quickly. Then his hand hovered over the Enter key. Then he deleted the word a letter at a time.

"Who knew it would be so hard to type a damn word?"

The sixth time around, he hit Enter.

The search engine generated over a million hits.

So Andrew typed in "testicular" along side "Cancer" and "American" along side that.

The search engine delivered more hits and Andrew clicked on the link to the American Cancer Society web page.

He looked around, saw he was alone except for Faith and she was about 10 bookcases away from where he sat. He looked at the page and, softly, read aloud:

"Two kinds of testicular cancers . . . seminomas and nonseminomas . . . two kinds of seminoma tumors . . . classic and spectacular?" Andrew’s lips moved as he read the rest of the words. "OK, you really don’t wanna read the words spectacular and tumor side by side . . . "

"Andy, I—"

Andrew started. He hadn’t seen Faith sidle up to him.

Faith smiled sheepishly. "Didn’t mean to startle you, And. Found this book over there, figured it was homework or somethin’."

She handed him a medical encyclopedia for lay people. Someone (probably Faith) had slipped a community college pamphlet into the book to mark a particular place.

"I didn’t see this, Fai—"

She turned and left before he was finished speaking. Andrew opened the bookmark and read to himself: "Biopsy protocols for testicular cancers . . . " Andrew looked up. "OK, did she really think that was homework or was she trying to help?"

Andrew printed out the pages. He stared at the printer and sighed.

"Gonna be a long week waiting for the results."

Cut to:

Ext., hallway outside the library.

Faith closed her eyes. "Damn Slayer hearing."

She opened her eyes, spied Robin walking toward her and ran to her man.


To be continued in Act One . . .

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (2A/5C)

DISCLAIMER: See the top of this document.

Arnold Devonshire is mine. Not that anyone in their right mind would want him.

DISTRIBUTION: Ask and I shall approve.

SPOILERS: Potential spoilers for Part one of my story "Watchers/Restoration: Gone, But . . . Not Forgotten" (is anyone still reading that beast?) and the ATS Series Finale.

RATING: R (story includes mature subject matter)


SUMMARY: Despite the severe limitation of being dead, the late and unlamented Lena Meers (mother of the late and unlamented Warren Meers) manages to unleash a little more grief on Willow. A banshee stalks Willow’s parents. Meanwhile, Andrew finds himself dealing with the banshee, two familiar demons from Sunnydale, a professional killer, a medical crisis—and Willow’s parents too. Call it a rough patch.

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (2A/5)

Act One, Part One

Scene One


Ext., a restaurant, night.

Cut to:

Int., a booth in the rear of the restaurant.

The 6-foot, dark haired, middle-aged man was dreadfully lean, but that seemed to be his natural state. He sat down with his back to the fire exit. The waitress brought him two mugs and poured him a cup of coffee. The other mug she turned upside down opposite him. She left him without speaking to or even looking at him.

The man glanced around and, seeing that no one was paying him any attention, reached inside his jacket pocket and pulled out a small caliber pistol. Etched into the barrel was the caliber: .22. The most popular caliber in America. The safety mechanism was in the off position.

He placed the gun beside him on the seat and covered it with his right hand. He drank with his left. As he sipped, his eyes scanned the restaurant. He noted every movement. He even watched the foot and automotive traffic on the street.

"Arnold Devonshire?"

His facial expression didn’t change—but the mug was suddenly on the table and the .22 pistol was suddenly pointed in the direction of a lovely 50-something woman who was as tall as Arnold.

"I’m Lena Meers." She didn’t seem the slightest bit disturbed by the gun.

Calmly, casually, he asked: "How did you sneak up on me?"

"It’s a gift," she said. "May I sit down?"

"Hands where I can see them at all times—and no sudden moves."

"I don’t want any innocent bystanders hurt," Mrs. Meers said.

"Then do as I say."

She shrugged, as if he was being too silly for words, and sat down. She rested her hands on the table. She seemed to be concentrating very hard on keeping those hands precisely on top of the table.

"State your business."

"I want to hire you on behalf of some friends of mine."

Arnold Devonshire used his left hand to point at Mrs. Meers’ cup. The waitress rushed over, poured Mrs. Meers a cup and scurried away. Mrs. Meers never did touch the mug.

"Special requests?"

"Excuse me?"

"Do you want the job done in any particular way or is everything up to me?"

"It has to be in Chicago."

"Why there?"

"She has family there—but no friends."

"I’m confused."

"If she thinks her family is in danger, she’ll go to help them—and no one will be able to protect her."

"Do you want her or her entire family?"

"I don’t really care one way or another."

"You understand that as the risk increases, so does the price?"

"Of course."

"$5,000 gets her dead. $5,000 more gets her dead in a particular way—$20,000 if you want me to use a bomb. $5,000 more gets her dead in a particular city. $5,000 more gets her dead in a particular place. $5,000 more gets her dead at a particular time. $15,000 if you specify a particular mode of death—"

She frowned. "Mode?"

"Accident, suicide or murder disguised to look like a street crime or a murder designed to frame an innocent bystander."

"Just kill her."

"OK, so far it’s $25,000—"

"You mean 10, don’t you, Mr. Devonshire?"

"You want it in Chicago—$5,000. You want her dead—$10,000. You want me to stalk her parents—that’s an investment in time and a serious risk of being seen, remembered and described accurately—$25,000."

"That is a great deal of money, Mr. Devonshire."

"Take it or leave it." He raised a finger. "Argue and I’ll have you beaten. Try to stiff me, I’ll have you kidnapped, tortured and killed."

Lena Meers smiled. "You’re a cruel man."

"No, just a criminal. A cruel man would get a rush out of this. I don’t. It’s just that I only have the one talent."

"How much would it cost if she were kidnapped, tortured and killed?"

"Another $20,000 for the snatch plus $5,000 for each day she’s tortured." He raised a finger. "Mutilations are $5,000 each."

"Your employers pay that much?"

"No," Arnold said. "They pay me a flat fee to be available to do whatever they want whenever they want wherever they want however they want to whomever they want. $100,000 a year. And I pay them a 20 percent commission on any freelance income. But outsiders pay the rates I’ve stated."

"How much would you charge to flay her?"

Arnold gagged. "OK, that’s both nasty and time consuming—that’d be $20,000 alone."

"Suppose I arranged for someone to convince her that her parents were in danger?"

"You’d have to let me know so I could hit Chi town and, you’ll pardon the cliché, hit her."

"An extra fee?"

"Each meeting increases the risk of detection, arrest and prosecution. And some cops and DAs are both honest and skilled. Believe me, I deserve the extra fee."

"How much?"

"$15,000. In full, up front."

"Suppose I need to call it off?"

"I have to hire someone to be our intermediary and give you contact info—$5,000 more."

"How do I pay?"

"Same way you paid for this meeting. Your lawyer sends my lawyer a fee for a consult on the case of Office v. Family. My lawyer will send me a formal notice that I was overcharged and a check for the work."

"My lawyers are Wolfram & Hart."

"Lotta their offices are closed."

"I believe they recently opened an office in Iraq."

"All the better," Arnold said. "The greater the confusion, the lower the risk."

Mrs. Meers nodded. "What do you need to know?"

"How much are you willing to pay?"

"$15,000—I warn her that her parents are in danger and you kill her in Chicago. My friends won’t change their mind."

"Name, description photograph."

"Someone will have to bring you the information in writing."

"Another meeting, another $5,000."

Mrs. Meers sighed. "I believe you’ll find a photograph of her in a newspaper article about the Sunnydale, California earthquake. Willow Rosenberg. Five-six, red hair, pretty for a pervert. You could look it up on the Internet."

"That creates a trail that could lead the cops back tome. We’ll figure that part out later. What’s her perversion?"

"What difference does it make?"

"Might make it easier to kill her."

"She’s a lesbian."

"That’s not a perversion. That’s like saying she’s single." He sighed. "She drink? Use drugs? Drug overdoses are easy murders."

Mrs. Meers shrugged. "She likes books, women, thinks she’s a good person. She murdered a man named Jonathan Levenson. His parents want her dead. She murdered my son. I want her dead."

"I don’t really need to know who wants her dead or why unless they need an alibi for the killing."

Mrs. Meers shook her head. "As long as she dies in Chicago that shouldn’t be a problem."

"Have your lawyer contact my lawyer—I’ll schedule an appointment at the nearest W&H office. Mind you, there’s an extra fee if I have to travel out of town to speak with your lawyer."

"I gathered. Your pay will come out of the estate of the late Lena Meers," said the late Lena Meers.

"Just as long as the Levensons aren’t the executors—that could come back to bite all four of us."

Mrs. Meers didn’t say anything.

Arnold said: "I’ll pick up the photo and any information you have from your lawyer. Since he’s with W&H I assume he’s willing to be a co-conspirator?"

"Oh, certainly. We’ve had this back-up plan going since before my last trip to Cleveland."

Arnold shuddered. "I wouldn’t be caught dead in that town."

"I can’t say I’d recommend it," said the ghost of Warren’s mother.

Who had hanged herself in a Council cell.


Scene Two


Ext., a rooftop opposite the home of Ira and Sheila Rosenberg.

The two figures could hear the wailing woman on the street below. They could also hear Ira Rosenberg shouting at her even as Sheila tried to reason with her. Sheila apparently believed you could talk sense into a mental case.

Looking down on the sad spectacle, Angel shook his head. "They need to grab her—fast."

"Why?" Clem asked.

"So she’ll give up the name of whoever’s in trouble." Angel glared at Clem. "You called the Council?"

"They referred me to their Chicago liason officer."

"Liason? What the hell did Giles do to that organization?"

"Maybe we could grab the banshee."

"I’m not sure demons are allowed to capture one," Angel said. "We need the name of the person ASAP if we want to save him or her."

"How long have we got?"

"Roughly a month since she showed up," Angel said. "And that was nine days ago. If our information was right. So maybe 22 days tops. And if the wrong people find out I’m here—"

"The Chicago hellfire," Clem said.

"Go to Cleveland and tell them. Leave my name out of it."

"OK." Clem frowned. "Why is a banshee here, though?"

"Beats me. Maybe Willow has Celtic blood. I thought she was Irish the first time I saw her."

"Maybe it’ll be someone who doesn’t live in the house."

Angel shrugged. "I haven’t seen a banshee since I was, what? 13? I didn’t get a wink of sleep until the servant girl died."

"What happened to her?"

"We never knew. My best guess is it was some sort of malnutrition." Angel suddenly smiled.

Clem shuddered. "Angel? That’s not the best time to flash a smile, after uttering a sentence about—"

"You head to Cleveland, Clem. I’m going to Salt Lake City."

"What for?"

"To visit a human who can help."

Angel suddenly jumped off the rooftop and vanished into the night.

Clem sighed. "I wish I could get down that easy."


Scene Three


Int., lobby, Watchers Council, morning.

Sunlight filtered in through the windows.

Willow cradled a phone between her shoulder and chin as she rummaged through some papers and admired the pretty brunette who was talking to Giles. To herself she whispered: "Seems like a nice girl."

Apparently nice girls like to wear leather pants.

"Hello? Are you there?" Willow asked. "Sorry I had to put you on hold, but according to our records—"

The caller spoke.

Willow frowned. "Who is this?"

The caller spoke again.

Willow paled. "Mrs. Meers?"

The caller spoke a third time.


Her eyes turned pitch black as her friends ran to her.


To be continued in Act One, Part Two

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (2B/5C)

DISCLAIMER: See top of this document.

DISTRIBUTION: Ask and I shall approve.

SPOILERS: Potential spoilers for Part one of my story "Watchers/Restoration: Gone, But . . . Not Forgotten" and the ATS Series Finale.

RATING: R (story includes mature subject matter)

COMMENT: Andrew’s medical crisis is based on personal experience.

SUMMARY: Despite the severe limitation of being dead, the late and unlamented Lena Meers (mother of the late and unlamented Warren Meers) manages to unleash a little more grief on Willow. A banshee stalks Willow’s parents. Meanwhile, Andrew finds himself dealing with the banshee, two familiar demons from Sunnydale, a professional killer, a medical crisis—and Willow’s parents too. Call it a rough patch.

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (2B/5)

Act One, Part Two

Scene Four


Int., Council Conference Room.

Giles, Faith, Robin, Rowena and Andrew all sat at the table. Xander came in.

"I left Kennedy with her," he said.

Rowena frowned.

"She’s calm now—as calm as you can be when a dead woman threatens to murder your parents," Xander added.

Andrew said: "I didn’t think ghosts could kill."

"They have been known to drive people to suicide," Giles said. "That would fit Mrs. Meers’ previous attacks on Willow."

Faith said: "If only the C-word was alive, I could—"

"Slayers don’t kill humans," Rowena said.

Robin put his arm around Faith. "She’s not human anymore. I’d say Mrs. Meers is a legitimate target."

"How the hell do you kill a ghost," Xander asked as he took a chair beside Rowena.

The blonde Canadian shook her head. "I’m afraid Willow will go insane again. If she does . . . "

Faith told her not to finish the sentence. Her tone implied extreme violence if Rowena did finish the sentence.

Robin coughed and said: "What do we know about ghosts?"

"They are usually invisible," Giles said. "A few can manifest themselves, very briefly, in a physical form. Some can move objects. A small minority can also speak. Very few can do all three and perhaps as few as one percent of the known specters are able to interact for significant periods of time."

Andrew said: "And most of them are bound to the place of their deaths." Andrew frowned. "We use that word way too often—death."

Faith reached out and squeezed his hand. Robin looked puzzled. Andrew blushed and pulled his hand off the table. He seemed to shrink in his chair.

Robin asked if they could bind Mrs. Meers to her place of death.

Giles rubbed his eyes. "She would become a permanent guest of the Council."

Everyone but Xander shuddered. He said: "If you can cast a spell her voice can’t escape the cell where she hanged herself, I can wall it up so she couldn’t be seen."

Giles nodded. "That should be possible, but Willow would have to interact with Mrs. Meers’ ghost—"

Andrew said: "I’ll do it. "

"It is a rather advanced spell, Andrew."

He nodded. "Yeah, but I want to help and . . . Mrs. Meers can’t hurt me the way she can hurt Willow." Andrew smiled. "I don’t find her very scary."

Xander looked at him. "OK, what did you do with geeky Andrew? ’Cause this Andrew is kinda new."

"Having a rough week."

Faith said: "Last time Clem was here, he said Mrs. Meers had arranged for her son and herself to be reincarnated so they could torment the Rosenberg bloodline. Then she hanged herself. How come she’s playing the ghost of Mrs. Meers?" Faith frowned. "Why did that sound familiar?"

Andrew said: "One of cinema’s better love stories—‘The Ghost and Mrs. Muir’."

Faith glared at him. "You are a very bad influence on me."

Xander snapped his fingers. "Mrs. Meers can’t be reincarnated until someone’s born. Maybe she’s keeping herself busy until she can rejoin the living."

"So little is known about reincarnation that we cannot be certain," Giles said. "But that is a possibility. It is also likely that Warren would have to be reincarnated before she is reincarnated."

Rowena shook her head sadly. "It’s true—family reunions are creations of the devil."

"The Meers are like Angel and Spike," Xander said. "No matter how often you kill them, they keep coming back."

Robin said: "I so desperately hope that isn’t true."

Giles said: "Rowena, would you be good enough to—"

"Research ghosts, binding spells and reincarnation—got it."

"And Xander—"

"Willow watch, on it." Xander scowled. "Where can I find a yellow crayon?"

Except for Giles, everyone stared at him as though he’d flipped out.

Giles coughed and said: "Andrew, could we speak privately?"

Andrew nodded.

The others got up and left. Faith seemed hesitant to leave, but she left.

Andrew watched as she and Robin were the last to go. When the door shut behind the couple, Andrew sighed. "Does everyone know?"

"Faith overheard you talking to yourself and . . . she’s worried that you may try to deal with the situation alone."

"Not much I can do. I feel depressed and scared and helpless and I try to sleep and I have trouble sleeping."

"I suspect that will last a few days."


"I’ve never experienced what you’re experiencing, Andrew. You have the Council Health Insurance Plan . . . and many sympathetic ears."

"Yeah, but . . . not talking about it makes me feel . . . isolated . . . talking about it makes me feel like a whiner."

"I believe a small amount of self-pity is permitted in these circumstances—provided one does not overindulge."

"If it’s cancer, I want it gone."

"That goes without saying."

"I mean my testicle."

"You don’t want to save it?"

"It’s trying to kill me, Giles, I don’t like it anymore." Andrew frowned. "Did that sound stupid?"

"Far from it."

Cut to:

Ext., hallway outside the conference room.

Robin and Faith were alone in the hall.

Robin asked her what was going on with Andrew.

Faith rolled her eyes. "Please don’t tell me you’re jealous of Andrew!"

"No, never. I’m just confused. I never got the impression you were friends, but—"

"He may have testicular cancer. He’s waiting for some test results."

Robin closed his eyes. "Poor kid. Why did he tell you?"

"He didn’t. I overheard him talking to himself." Faith shook her head. "He ain’t, isn’t, that much older than Dawn."


Scene Five


Ext., Wolfram & Hart office, Akron, Ohio.

Cut to:

Int., a lawyer’s office.

The late Lilah Morgan sat behind a desk. "You look lovely today, Mrs. Meers."

Mrs. Meers glared at the dead lawyer. "Just update me. I don’t like talking to women who screw Watchers."

"Don’t knock it—if Wesley Wyndam-Price was typical, Watchers are really good in the sack."

Mrs. Meers crossed her arms.

Lilah sighed. "Devonshire picked up the information. Once Willow goes to see her parents, his lawyer will call him to remind him about a mythical appointment and he’ll fly to Chicago to murder Willow."

"And if he misses?"

"The reincarnation scheme is still in place. But Devonshire won’t miss. He’s old fashioned—he believes hit men who miss should be hit. I understand he’s killed four colleagues for messing up jobs they were working together."

"If the police find any evidence—"

"All the evidence will lead back to the Levensons."

"All this would be so much easier if I could only move things. Then I could just slip into the Council kitchen, grab a knife and slit Willow’s throat."

"Why do you want to frame the Levensons, anyway?"

"I assume their lawyer would put the victim on trial—and expose Willow and her friends for the murderous scum they are."


Scene Six


Ext., Council headquarters, night.

Clem stood at the door and knocked.

Kennedy answered.

"Hey, Clem."

"I need to see Willow—it’s important."

"This isn’t a good time, Clem."

"A banshee is haunting her parents."

"What the hell is a banshee?"

"It’s a thing that makes awful noise and show up a month before someone in the house dies."

Kennedy grabbed his arm and pulled the wrinkled demon inside.

Cut to:

Ext., a five bedroom house in Salt Lake City, Utah, sunset.

Angel wore a biker’s helmet and leather gloves—protection from the fading sunlight. He held a large spiral notebook in his hands.

A bald, elderly man answered. "Yes?"

"Hello, Elder King."

The man frowned. "Angel?"

"May I please come in? I really hate this time of day."

"Yes, I imagine you do. Consider yourself invited." The man stepped back and Angel passed through the doorway. He took off his helmet.

"I need your help."

"I don’t usually give spiritual advice to vampires . . . "

"I need the resources of the LDS."

"How important is this?"

"At least one life is at stake. I need to know if there is any Irish ancestry in someone’s bloodline." Angel handed notebook to the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

"How’s that werewolf you were seeing?"

"She thinks I’m dead—and I need to keep it that way."


"If my enemies find out I’m alive, they’d be willing to murder hundreds of thousands to get me."

The Mormon shuddered. "This must be very important to you, then."

"Willow . . . the girl I need you to research . . . she’s worth a huge risk."

"I’ll get our best scholars on this."

Cut to:

Int., a house in Boston, night.

Arnold Devonshire tossed a blanket over his wife. She was asleep on the sofa. On the t.v. screen, a Tivo’d episode of All My Children Played. Arnold picked up the remote and pressed a button, switching off the set.

He went upstairs, found his 11-year-old daughter asleep with her face on her math homework. Drool dribbled out of her mouth.

Arnold sighed. He shook the girl, ordered her to get ready for bed. She muttered something about homework. He said she was done. She went into the bathroom. He sat down, scanned the remaining equations and quickly jotted down answers.

"Maybe half of them will be right," he said.

As soon as his little girl was in her bed, he switched off the lights and went back downstairs. He went into the kitchen, poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down at the table. He took three photographs out of his breast pocket. Sheila Rosenberg. Ira Rosenberg. Willow Rosenberg.

He pondered Willow’s picture and strummed his fingers on the table top.

"Doesn’t wear body armor, doesn’t wear leather—a knife would work . . . No, I don’t wanna get close to someone who’s killed. They fight back."

He sighed. "I’m wasting my time. I won’t know how to do it until I’ve had a chance to watch her . . . and her parents. I shoulda been a loan shark."


To be continued in Act One, Part Three

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (2C/5C)

DISCLAIMER: See top of this document.

DISTRIBUTION: Ask and I shall approve.

SPOILERS: Potential spoilers for Part one of my story "Watchers/Restoration: Gone, But . . . Not Forgotten" and the ATS Series Finale.

RATING: R (story includes mature subject matter)

COMMENT: Andrew’s medical crisis is based on personal experience.

SUMMARY: Despite the severe limitation of being dead, the late and unlamented Lena Meers (mother of the late and unlamented Warren Meers) manages to unleash a little more grief on Willow. A banshee stalks Willow’s parents. Meanwhile, Andrew finds himself dealing with the banshee, two familiar demons from Sunnydale, a professional killer, a medical crisis—and Willow’s parents too. Call it a rough patch.

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (2C/5)

Act One, Part Three

Scene Seven


Close up, Andrew’s face.

The blood ran out Andrew’s face as the sweat ran down his face. He shut his eyes tight and gasped and seemed to buckle.

The doctor, a man in his late 50s, stepped back and removed the latex glove from his hand. "I don’t think it’s a tumor, Mr. Wells."

Andrew was still gasping in pain from the doctor’s . . . very hard squeezing of the suspect testicle . . . to express any relief. Assuming he even heard what the doctor said.

"I’ll want to see the results of the ultrasound to be sure, but . . . Have you ever had surgery?"

"When I saw 12," Andrew said, pulling up and zipping his pants.


Andrew blushed. "They lowered my testicles."

"When were you tested?"

The doctor frowned. "Four days ago."

The doctor looked at the thin manila folder with Andrew’s name on it. "Hmmm . . . It should be here by now. I’ll go see where it is."

The doctor left Andrew alone in the office. He picked up a four year old copy of people and tried to read it, but nothing seemed to really interest him. He just . . . turned pages back and forth . . . back and forth. Andrew muttered to himself: "He doesn’t think it’s a tumor . . . he doesn’t think it’s a tumor . . . what if he’s wrong? . . . Shut the hell up, Andrew."

Ten or 15 minutes seemed to pass. Perhaps it wasn’t that long.

The doctor returned and apologized. "They forgot to send us the results. They’re faxing us the ultrasound right now."

"Faxing? My diagnosis depends on the quality of a fax machine?"

The doctor left him alone again.

"Please be something else, please be something else . . ."

Another 10 or 15 or 30 minutes passed.

The doctor came back in with a clipboard in his hands. He turned over several pages and then looked up.

"OK, Mr. Wells, they found what appears to be a mass in your left testicle."

"A mass?"

"A growth. The conventional wisdom is that when you find a mass in a testicle you remove the mass."

Andrew nodded. It wasn’t clear from either his expression or his movements just how much he comprehended.

"You might want to have your sperm stored for future use before we schedule the procedure—and before you begin radiation therapy."

Andrew shook his head. "Remove it now."

"You’re sure?"

"Now." He suddenly seemed more at ease with himself. Perhaps more at ease than he had ever been.

"OK, I’m going to introduce you to our insurance company liaison. She’ll make sure everything is in order so we can have the surgery done tomorrow. You’ll be back to work two days later."

Andrew nodded.

"You’ll also need to give the hospital some of your blood. We’ll test for tumor markers. If the blood test comes back negative it means there aren’t any other tumors or growths that we don’t know about."

Cut to:

Int., Council library, two hours later.

The other Watchers were in deep in research mode when Andrew joined them.

Willow was on a ladder, fetching a large book while Faith held the ladder. She glanced over her shoulder, saw Andrew, and asked how he was doing.

"They operate tomorrow."

Faith said: "Cancer?"

Andrew shrugged. "They’ll find out after they do the biopsy."

Robin said: "Maybe you should get a second opinion."

Andrew shook his head. "The sooner it’s out, the better." He grinned. "I actually feel better than I have in days."

Faith nodded. "Fightin’ is easier than waitin’," she said.

"Any luck with the binding spells?"

"Binding Mrs. Meers won’t be that difficult," Rowena said. "Drawing her here, that could be tricky. And silencing her? Angry spirits are difficult to silence."

Willow climbed down with Faith’s help and carried the giant book (which must have weighed about 30 pounds) over to the table. "I’ll never forgive myself if Mrs. Meers hurts my parents," Willow said.

Andrew said: "We’ll stop her, Willow. If it’s the last thing I do, we’ll stop her." Andrew frowned. "That was really melodramatic of me, wasn’t it?"

Giles smiled gently at him. "Welcome back, Andrew."

Andrew nodded, grabbed a book at random and began researching.


Scene Eight


Ext., home of Sheila and Ira Rosenberg, night.

The banshee stood outside, wailing plaintively.

Cut to:

Int., bathroom.

Ira Rosenberg stepped out of the shower—and found a strange woman standing there.

Lena Meers smirked. "Sheila’s a lucky woman."

Ira grabbed a towel and quickly covered himself with it. "Get out of my home or I’ll have you—"

Outside, the banshee screamed.

"—and your friend arrested."

"I don’t know her."

"You’ll forgive me if I don’t believe two different lunatics would stalk me at the same time."

Mrs. Meers said: "But I do know a friend of hers—Rupert Giles. Are you fam—"

"Get the hell out of my home."

"My name is Lena Meers—"


"—and if you tell Willow I was here, she’ll come to help you."

"What could my daughter possibly do that the police can’t?"

Mrs. Meers smiled. "As a matter of fact, she can make that creature outside go—"

And then Mrs. Meers vanished.

Ira shook his head. "I think I’m going as crazy as my daughter!"

He yanked the bathroom door open, stomped down the hallway and went into the living room.

"Ira! Put on a robe, for—"

Ira grabbed the phone and punched in a series of numbers. He stood there in a towel, dripping water onto his carpet.

"This is Ira Rosenberg. You will put my daughter on the phone right now."


Scene Nine

Int., Council jail, shortly after midnight.

Mrs. Meers suddenly materialized in the very cell in which she had hanged herself with a bra.

"What the—who are you?"

Andrew stood before her. He stood in the center of a circle of multi-colored candles. In his hand he held a book. At his feet, the bra Mrs. Meers had used to hang herself.

Andrew smiled. "Andrew Wells, Watcher, Wiccan and your arch nemesis."

"Do you have any idea what you’re dealing with, little boy?"

"Mrs. Meers, you don’t have the power to frighten me. I know what real fear is and you don’t even come close."

Mrs. Meers tried to walk through the bars of the cell—but was flung back by a flash of white light.

"By the God and the Goddess I control thee, specter, coward, killer and murderous whore—"

Mrs. Meers lunged again. This time, she managed to get one arm between the bars of the cage and she tried to wrap her fingers around Andrew’s throat.

But of course her fingers passed through his neck as if it weren’t really there. More accurately, as if her fingers weren’t really there.

"By the God and the Goddess I bind thee, specter, coward and killer to this place tainted by both your life and your unholy death. Here you shall remain as long as your spirit resides in this dimension. Only passage to the beyond can free thee, I mean you, Mrs. Meers."

"The bitch must have taught you how to do this."

"You won’t hurt Willow’s parents, Mrs. Meers."

"You think you can stop me, boy?"

"Pretty hard for you to do anything if you’re trapped in this cell!"

Mrs. Meers laughed. "I hired a hit man to murder Willow’s parents! If magic could stop bullets her dyke pal would still be breathing!"


Mrs. Meers mouthed the words: Stop talking like a comic book character!

Mrs. Meers frowned. She shook her fist at him.

Andrew laughed. He pulled a cell phone from his pants and hit a button. "Xander? You can come down and drywall the place. Mrs. Meers is held—and so’s her tongue." He hung up.

"I hope you never come back," Andrew said. "But if you do . . . the Council will be waiting."

Andrew turned his back on the ghost and swaggered triumphantly out of sight.

Lilah Morgan materialized. "Who would’ve thought, huh? That same silly kid beat Angel and his pals, Wolfram & Hart—and now you." She looked at Mrs. Meers, who appeared to be shouting—except, of course, for the utter lack of sound.

"Look on the bright side, Mrs. Meers," Lilah’s ghost said. "Your son will be reincarnated as your niece in about, oh, eight months and as soon as she’s old enough to have sex you’ll be reincarnated as her daughter. You’ll only be stuck in this cell for about 18 years."

Mrs. Meers shook her head.

Footsteps fell heavily on the floor and Xander could be heard singing, "What do you do with a drunken sailor?"

Lilah shrugged and said: "Don’t forget, you can always get out of here by accepting your eternal damnation."

Mrs. Meers stuck out her tongue.

Lilah disappeared.

"Well if it isn’t Mrs. Meers," Xander said. "The woman who actually made me thankful for the mother I have."

Behind him stood a small work crew, carrying dryboard.

Cut to:

Int., conference room.

Andrew stuck his head through the door.

The others stood up, all looking as anxious as Andrew had just that morning.

"She’s bound."

Willow sighed. "Thank the Goddess."

"Willow? I hate to bring you bad news, but . . . Mrs. Meers said she hired a professional killer. If she’s telling the truth—"

Willow stood up. "My parents are still in danger."

Andrew walked over to the witch and embraced her. "I’m sorry I couldn’t stop her."

"You did what you could, Andrew."

The very young man nodded and sighed. "Listen, I hate to be selfish but I’ve got a big day tomorrow."

"I’ll keep you in my thoughts."

"I’ll keep your parents in mine." He looked at the others. "I’ll be back to work in three days—so don’t change anything in my kitchen, OK?"

The others nodded and watched as Andrew walked out of the room.

Cut to:

Int., Rowena’s apartment.

"Great texture," Clem said.

"I bought the crunchy variety with you in mind," Rowena said, smiling.

"You want to know—"

"Is Angel sure it’s a banshee?"

Clem nodded. "He saw one when he was human—and he saw a lot of them when he was Angelus."

"They probably foretold his crimes," Rowena said.


"Willow can’t understand what a Celtic fairy is doing foretelling the death of one of her parents."

"Neither can Angel—and I think he’s worried."

"He should be—the Senior Partners want him dead by any means possible," Rowena said.

"He’s worried about Willow—he even went to some church leader for help."

Rowena burst out laughing. "Angel knows a bishop?"

"Wrong church . . . and much higher up than that."

Cut to:

Int., Arnold Devonshire’s kitchen, same time.

Arnold, clad in a terrycloth robe and fuzzy blue slippers, took a beer from his fridge and took a swig.

"Good evening, Mr. Devonshire."

The professional killer dropped his beer, which crashed into the floor, spun around and drew a .22 pistol from the right pocket of his robe.

Lilah Morgan smiled. "Put that away, you’re a married man."

"Get out now or I’ll call the police, Ms. Morgan." He frowned. "How did you get in here?"

"Mrs. Meers told Willow Rosenberg that her parents were in danger and Mrs. Meers is now . . . buried, I guess that’s the best way to put it . . . buried in the basement of Willow’s workplace."

Arnold smiled.

"I take it you weren’t a fan?"

Arnold shrugged. "What’s that got to do with anything? The client’s dead, the job’s cancelled and I keep the money."

"Willow’s on a private jet to Chicago as we speak."

"So? No client, no contract."

"Her partners, the Levensons, the people who put up the money, are still alive."

"Then Ms. Rosenberg’s days are numbered."

"Nice to work with a professional," Lilah said.

"Speaking of professionalism—no one told me the target had access to a private jet. Does she have bodyguards?"

"No, but her friends are nearly as dangerous as my employers."

Arnold frowned. "I should have asked for hazard pay."

"Get to Chicago ASAP. And you better clean up that mess before you cut your foot." She pointed at the floor.

Arnold glanced down. "Yeah, you’re right."

He looked up. Lilah was gone.

"I am going to kill the guy who installed that so-called guaranteed alarm system!"


To be continued in Act Two, Part One

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (3A/5C)

DISCLAIMER: See top of document.

DISTRIBUTION: Ask and I shall approve.

SPOILERS: Potential spoilers for Part one of my story "Watchers/Restoration: Gone, But . . . Not Forgotten" and the ATS Series Finale.

RATING: R (story includes mature subject matter)

COMMENT: The incredulous among you should know that the dialogue in Scene One is as close to the actual event as my memory will allow.

For the few of you who don’t know: "A Study in Scarlet" was the first Sherlock Holmes story ever written.

SUMMARY: See top of thread.

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (3A/5C)

Act Two, Part One

Scene One

The next morning.


Close up, Andrew on his back.

Andrew shivered under the sheet as he waited just outside the operating room.

The nurse looked at his doctor and said: "Why did they give Mr. Wells’ blood a pregnancy test?"

Andrew mouthed the words: Pregnancy test?

The doctor said: "They obviously made a mistake."

Andrew whispered: "Does this mean a delay? I can’t take much more of this."

The doctor said: "It gives me the information I wanted anyway, so it’s fine."

The nurse didn’t appear reassured by that answer, but she nodded as if to say: you’re the boss.

The doctor joined Andrew. "They obviously made a mistake, but it tells us what we needed to know anyway. If your test result had come back positive for pregnancy, it would have meant there was another tumor we didn’t know about. That means it’s probably the only one, it’s probably local and probably seminoma, which is the most desirable tumor to have."

Andrew mouthed the words: Desirable tumor?

The doctor looked at the nurse and two young men, either orderlies or interns, and said: "We’re hear to operate on Mr. Wells’ left testicle. Remember that." He looked down at Andrew and smiled. "We don’t want to operate on the wrong one, do we?"

Again, Andrew mouthed the words: Desirable tumor?

The doctor waved his hands and they rolled Andrew into the operating room.

Where they amputated Andrew’s left testicle.


Scene Two


Int., a house in Salt Lake City, Utah, day.

The curtains were closed. You could see the light that filtered through them, but it was apparently not enough to endanger the vampire. The room was very much like Giles’ old library at Sunnydale High. Books lined every shelf. Every wall was concealed by a bookcase.

Angel sat in a chair, reading a first edition of "A Study in Scarlet."

"I always meant to thank you for that gift," Elder King said.

Angel smiled. "I knew these stories were going to be popular when I read them. I didn’t think they’d last this long . . . but I’m not exactly a literary scholar."

"Speaking of scholarship . . . there’s no evidence of Irish ancestry in the Rosenberg family tree."

"Are you sure? I told you—"

"Yes, the banshee. Do they prophesize a death in the family or the household or the building itself?"

Angel frowned. "Most Irish families couldn’t afford servants, so most people I knew assumed the banshee foretold a death in the family—but I know that’s wrong because a banshee predicted the death of our servant when I was a kid. I always figured the banshee was announcing a death in the household. If the victim isn’t someone living there—"

"It means place is more important than the person."

"Which means a family history might not help me find the person I’m looking for."

"I’ll keep looking," said Elder King. "Meantime . . . do you know, by chance, if this Willow Rosenberg has any enemies? Perhaps one of them—"

"Warren Meers and his mother Lena—but they’re dead."

"Maybe they have living family."

Angel sighed. "Could you research them too?"

Elder King nodded. "Of course."

"You’re a good man," Angel said. "A righteous man."

"I sometimes wonder . . . but I thank God I did not stake you when we met."

"That makes two of us."

Cut to:

Ext., the Rosenberg house, Chicago, day.

The banshee disappeared the moment Willow got out of the cab.

Willow glared angrily at the spot on which the banshee had stood. "I’m going to catch you, banshee."

"Uh, miss?" The cab driver, a pretty Asian woman in her early 40s, extended her hand.

Willow paid the cab driver. The cab driver gave Willow her card. "My numbers are there—the cab co., my cell phone . . . and my personal number."

"Th-thank you."

"Call me while you’re in town." The cab pulled away from the curb and merged with traffic.

"I’ll be damned. No one except Kennedy ever hit on me before." She glanced at the house and frowned. "I really hope dad didn’t see that."

She walked to the door, raised a quivering hand, and rang the doorbell.


Willow sighed and knocked.

Sheila Rosenberg answered. "Willow! Come in!"

Her father stormed to the front of the house and said: "Well, young lady?"

Willow sighed, as if that were the greeting she expected.


Scene Three


Int., hospital lobby, Cleveland, Ohio, day.

It was afternoon when they wheeled Andrew into the lobby.

Where several people waited for him. Xander, Jeff, Giles, Faith, Robin, Becca, Marsha, Tracy and Rowena. The sight of them made his eyes wide. As if he expected to have this experience alone.

"How are you?" Giles asked as Becca leaned over and hugged him. Marsha and Tracy both stepped toward him, shot each other brief but angry looks, and stepped back.

Andrew said: "Tired." He seemed oblivious to the fact two young women were interested in him. Or perhaps he didn’t want to embarrass Marsha, who didn’t stand a chance because she was so young.

Jeff seemed ill at ease. "Are you . . . gonna be OK?"

"We’ll know in a week, when the doctor tells me the biopsy results," Andrew said. "Then we’ll know if it’s cancer . . . if it’s local . . . or if it has spread."

"No, I meant . . . " Jeff blushed.

The women all scowled at the young man. But only Tracy blushed, as if she had been wondering the same thing. Marsha punched Jeff’s arm.


"I’m sure the doctors have all ready discussed that with him," Robin said.

"Give Jeff a break," Andrew said. To Jeff, he said: "I’ll tell you what the doctor told me—in private."

Cut to:

Int., Kennedy’s apartment.

Cut to:

Close up of Kennedy and Mia on the sofa.

Kennedy lay shaky, sweaty and smiling beneath an equally sweaty Mia. The Asian woman kissed Kennedy’s nose.


"Yes, ma’am?"

"First—I’m too damned young to be a ma’am. Second . . . I wanna ask you a serious question."


"When was the last time you examined your breast?"

"You examined my boobs pretty good a few minutes ago."

Mia scowled. "This isn’t funny, Kennedy. I don’t want you getting what Andrew has."

"Trust me, testicular cancer is not gonna get me."

"But breast cancer could."

"You’re really worried about this, aren’t you?"

"Between us? I think everyone’s worried. I heard Becca insist that Giles get a complete physical and Marsha asked Faith to teach her to examine her breasts."

Kennedy said: "OK, I’ll make an appointment to see my doctor to make you feel better. But I don’t think you have to worry, Mia. I’m awful young."

"So’s Andrew."

Cut to:

Int., a passenger plane.

Arnold Devonshire had a window seat. The adjacent seat was empty. He looked over several computer-generated maps. One of the neighborhood surrounding the Chicago Hilton. One of the neighborhood surrounding the Rosenberg house. One of the area surrounding the Chicago airport.

Under his breath, he very softly sang to himself: "’Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free . . . "

"We will be arriving in Chicago in 30 minutes. The temperature is 52 degrees . . . "

Arnold smiled.

Cut to:

Int., Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s livingroom.

"First of all, Willow, there is NO SUCH THING AS A BANSHEE!"

Willow gave her father a taste of Resolve Face—and her mother actually stepped back two paces. Her father responded with his own Resolve Face—a perfect match to Willow’s.

"Secondly, why would an Irish demon—"

"Fairy, actually."

"—be stalking us?"

"It’s a warning, dad. A crazy woman named Mrs. Meers—"

"The other stalker? What does she have to do with this?"

"Her son murdered Tara. He . . . didn’t make it out of Sunnydale. She blames me." Under her breath, she added: "Rightly so."

"Ever since you met those useless people—"

"My friends are not useless people!"

"Bunny Summers was a troublemaker. Xander Harris never went to college—"

"But he’s a skilled and successful contractor."

"—he’s the son of two drunkards—"

"Who I spent more time with than I ever spent with you guys," Willow said.

Sheila said: "Um, how is this arguing solving the problem of that poor hebephrenic schizophrenic?"

"She’s not a mental case, mom, she’s a banshee."

"She speaks gibberish, Willow."

"More likely some ancient form of Irish Gaelic—maybe a 2,000 or 3,000 year old dialect. If you heard someone speaking 15th Century English, you wouldn’t understand a word."

Ira shook his head. "That is the most absurd—"

Sheila said: "To be fair, Ira, there have been cases of immigrants being misdiagnosed as hebephrenic schizophrenics because their therapists didn’t recognize a true language."

"But a banshee? That’s just so much Wiccan nonsense!"

Willow crossed her arms. "You don’t want to believe me, that’s up to you. But Mrs. Meers came to Cleveland and warned me that she hired someone to kill you guys."

Ira’s face darkened. "Then have her arrested—I have much more faith in the ability of the police to do something than I do in my daughter who threw away every advantage I gave her."

"Mrs. Meers hanged herself after she visited the Council," Willow said—not precisely lying, but mixing up the chronological order of the truth.

Ira stared at her. "Why in God’s name would she do that?"

Sheila said: "The police can’t prosecute her if she’s dead—and she can’t be forced to reveal information about the hit man. If she wants revenge badly enough . . ."

"This is insane, I’m calling the police," Ira said.

Sheila said: "We’ve already called them. They only have so much manpower and there are people in lower socio-economic areas of the city who need more police service—"

"I. Don’t. Care," Ira said.

Willow said: "I’ll go to the police—they’ll station a patrol car outside the house and issue you both bullet proof vests."

"I’m afraid there isn’t really much you can do, Willow," Sheila said.

"You’d be very surprised at what I can do," Willow said.

"I would be very surprised if you could accomplish anything," Ira said.

Cut to:

Ext., airport.

Arnold Devonshire waited at the curb. One by one, cabs pulled up and the drivers asked him if he needed a lift. He always shook his head and told them he was waiting for a friend.

Finally, a cab pulled up and the driver said: "Mr. Devonshire?"

Arnold got into the cab without a word and shut the door.

As he pulled away from the curb, the driver said: "We swept this for bugs before I came. That’s why the delay. Sorry."

"No problem," Arnold said. He tossed a fat white envelope onto the front seat. The sealed flap faced up and the time of day was clearly written across the flap. "A tip for your employers’ generous permission to let me work in your city."

"I accept on behalf of my employers." With one hand, the cab driver took out a pen and wrote a date across the sealed envelope flap, below the date. So no one would accuse him of tampering with the envelope. Because his employers would kill him if they even suspected him of theft.

Arnold sighed with obvious relief. If permission had been denied, the cab driver would probably have shot him and kept the cash, less a 20 percent commission to the gangsters who controlled Chicago.

"I’ll need equipment. Pick me up at the hotel day after tomorrow and I’ll tell you what I need."

"I take it there’s no rush."

"The longer I stay here, the greater the risk," Arnold said. "But I want to take the time to do it right."

"Need other people?"

"I don’t know yet. If I do, I’ll need you to help me hire subcontractors."

"It would be an honor. They say you’re the best."

"If I were the best, no one would know I exist," Arnold said. "But I do appreciate the compliment."


To be continued in Act Two, Part two . . .

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (3B/5C)

DISCLAIMER: See top of thread.

DISTRIBUTION: Ask and I shall approve.

SPOILERS: Potential spoilers for Part one of my story "Watchers/Restoration: Gone, But . . . Not Forgotten" and the ATS Series Finale.

RATING: R (story includes mature subject matter)


SUMMARY: See previous installments.

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (3B/5)

Act Two, Part Two

Scene Four

The next day.


Ext., Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s house, Chicago, morning.

Three patrol cars were parked outside. One patrol vehicle was empty, because the officer assigned to it was trying to talk to the banshee, who simply stood there screaming and screaming and screaming. Finally, fed up, the cop lunged at her—and she vanished.

Overhead, a Chicago PD helicopter hovered.

Cut to:

Int., the Rosenberg house.

Sheila shook her head in amazement as she peered out and up through the window.

"Please get away from the window, mom. If that hit man has a rifle . . . "

"How did your boss arrange all this, Willow?"

"The Council has been making friends," Willow said. "All I had to do was say I was with the Council and they gave me what I needed. Well, what they could spare anyway. Of course, the fact that’s a banshee out there helps. A little."

"I realize that a lot of myths represent psychological or sociological truths, but I still find it difficult to believe that banshees really exist."

"Mom, you really need to step away from the window right NOW."

Sheila Rosenberg wasn’t used to taking Willow’s advice, but she took it now.

The banshee shrieked again.

Cut to:

Int., Elder King’s home in Salt Lake City, Utah, day.

"This is all preliminary you understand . . . "

"Yes, Elder King?"

"We’ve traced the Willow Rosenberg and Warren Meers family trees back four generations on both the paternal and maternal sides . . . and we’ve found no trace of Irish ancestry."

"Would you do me a favor?"

"That depends on the favor."

"Call the Watcher’s Council of Cleveland and ask to speak with Clem. If he isn’t available, have Rowena come to the phone. They know I’m alive and they’ll keep my secret. I need to find out if they’ve learned anything more."

"And if they haven’t?"

"I have to get back to Chicago. Someone has to protect Willow’s parents."

"I thought they were under police protection."

"I lived in Chicago when Capone was alive," Angel said. "I don’t trust the Chicago PD."

"Capone died a long time ago, Angel."

"Men die; corruption lives on," Angel said. "A few years back, the Chicago PD got a murder confession from an eight-year-old black kid. They dropped the charges after the Medical Examiner found DNA from a 35-year-old white pedophile on the victim. You’ll forgive me if I don’t trust a police department that confuses a 35-year-old white man with an 8-year-old black boy."

"I’m sorry to say I see your point," said Elder King. "Would you like to use my plane?"

"You’re too kind, sir."

Cut to:

Int., Andrew’s apartment, Cleveland, Ohio.

Andrew frowned, used a finger to bookmark the hardcover edition of Return of the King, and glanced at his watch.

"Same page for two hours? This is stupid—I need to get back to work."

Scene Five

Two nights later.


Int., Arnold Devonshire’s hotel room.

The room was silent. Arnold sat in his robe. He sat at a table near the bed. Scattered over the table were photographs of the Rosenbergs, maps and several computer generated schedules. Schedule Ira Rosenberg; Schedule Sheila Rosenberg; Schedule Willow Rosenberg.

Willow’s schedule was briefest: Stays in house all the time.

All three schedules ended with the same phrase: Always accompanied by armed uniformed members of Chicago PD.

"There has to be a way to get me into that house to kill Willow."

Arnold strummed his fingers on the table.

"Rifle shot would be good, but she won’t go outside and unless she’s an idiot she won’t go near a window. . . . Her father’s wearing a vest; she’s probably wearing the same . . . This was a mob hit, I could ask one of their friends to get me an invite and get me inside." Arnold continued strumming his fingers on the table. "But this isn’t a mob hit."

"Maybe I can help."

Arnold jumped up, knocking over his chair, and pulled a .22 pistol on Lilah Morgan.


"Twenty-twos don’t make much noise—and the walls of luxury hotels absorb sound pretty darn well."

"That’s why you went with the high-end accommodations," Lilah said. "Must eat into your fee."

Arnold shrugged. "If the expenses weren’t so high, I could lower my fees and increase business. Speaking of which—you’re not supposed to be here."

"The client wants you to hurry up."

"Not unless I get more money."

"How much?"

"$5,000 for this uninvited contact, another $5,000 for accelerating the schedule."

"And if you don’t?"

"I’ll continue as if you were never here."

"Are you willing to lie to get more money?"

Arnold rolled his eyes. "No, professional murderers have ethical problems with lying."

"Willow’s parents don’t know she murdered anyone. The Levensons never confr—"

"I really don’t want to know anything about these people."

"If I can get the Levensons to pay the Rosenbergs a visit, they might be able to get you inside the house."

"The police will probably frisk us."

"Is that a problem?"

Arnold scowled. "It’s tricky . . . I’d have to kill them all . . . but it could be done. Kitchens have knives; I could go in unarmed. Or I could strangle people with a tie; I’ve done that before. The trick would be to murder one victim at a time quickly and silently so neither the other people inside the house nor the cops would know the murders were taking place. Then I’d have to slip out the back—"

"They have a cop in the back."

Arnold groaned. "Damnit, this is tough. I need more people—and that will cost extra."

"The budget is limited, Mr. Devonshire."

"Then the job’s off. It isn’t like I can be sued for breach of murder contract."

"Your employers—"

"Don’t care about outsiders," Arnold said. "If this was a mob hit, I’d be in for the duration. But it isn’t—so I’m free to cancel if I want to."

"We could kill your wife and daughter."

"And I’d kill the wives and children of every Wolfram & Hart lawyer I could find until the day you guys killed me," Arnold said. "Don’t try to terrorize a professional killer. If we couldn’t tolerate stress we wouldn’t be in the business."

"Could you at least give it another week?"

"One week—and I still want $5,000 for this unauthorized contact."

"Fair enough."

"Just so we’re clear, counselor. If I haven’t found a way to whack her in one week, and you haven’t come up for a way for me to get in, I’m going back to Boston."

Suddenly, Arnold Devonshire smiled.


"You said Willow’s parents don’t know she’s a killer."

Lilah nodded.

"Maybe we could get word to her that someone videotaped the crime—and that her parents will get a DVD of the murder unless she shows up at a partic—"

Lilah shook her head. "Willow is much too dangerous—you do not want to be near her when you kill her."

"I’ve seen pictures of the young lady and she doesn’t strike me as a physical threat."

"She’s more dangerous than I am," Lilah said.

"You don’t strike me as a physical threat."

Lilah walked up to him and then literally walked through him.

The cool, calculating professional killer fainted.


Scene Six


Int., Giles’ office, night.

"I think you should let him go," Faith said.

Giles shook his head. "Andrew has a great deal on his mind, Faith."

"Yeah, but he wants to help Willow and he needs to do something while he’s waiting for the biopsy results."

"He could be killed, Faith. I don’t fancy sending him to face a professional killer—and his reflexes are dreadfully slow. I doubt he would last long as a field Watcher."

"He handled himself pretty well with Angel, except for telling him that Buffy didn’t trust him anymore."

"Andrew didn’t have to engage in physical combat."

Faith shrugged. "So I’ll go with him."

"Do you really think that’s a good idea?"

Faith smiled. "Wouldn’t hurt to have a Slayer in the neighborhood anyway. I might be able to persuade the hit man to give up some information."

"I suppose it might help Andrew a little . . . but I have another concern. Andrew does not have much experience with women. He might mistake your recent compassion for . . . um, well, er, passion."

"He hits on me, I’ll turn him down quick and gentle as I can," Faith said.

"Nothing is ever that simple."

"No, it isn’t, but I’ll deal with the problem if it comes up. I don’t think it will. But you know something? It wouldn’t hurt Andy any to hit on somebody and get shot down. It’s part of livin’ and he should try livin’ while he’s got the chance. Cancer or not, he’s over do for a little healthy lusting."

Cut to:

Sky above Cleveland, morning.

Cut to:

Ext. of small private plane.

Cut to:

Int., plane.

Clem snored. Faith and Andrew ignored him.

Faith glanced over at Andrew.

"You OK?"

Andrew smiled. "Four by four."

Faith opened her mouth to correct him, then shrugged. "Close enough."

"I’ll be five by five when the biopsy comes back and I know what I’m dealing with."

Faith nodded. "Maybe it’ll be benign."



"Can I tell you something really personal?"


"I don’t want to die a virgin."

Faith grinned, but something in her eyes darkened.

Andrew blushed. "I wasn’t making a pass at you, Faith. I wouldn’t insult you or Robin like that. And . . . I wouldn’t want to be beaten to death by a Slayer . . . "

"Good call, Andy."

"I’m just saying . . . I don’t want to die a virgin." Andrew had apparently forgotten his May Day encounter with Tracey.

Faith nodded. "No one would, And. There’s somebody in this world who wants to boink you. Don’t know . . . that person’s name . . . but they exist. Tracy seems really into you."

"I wish I knew who I was into."

"That’d probably help."

Cut to:

Ext., a Chicago apartment building, night.

Cut to:

Int., a luxury apartment.

The ringing doorbell and pounding fist forced the man out of his bed, away from his two sleeping female companions. From the scars on his torso, it was clear he had survived a multitude of stab and gunshot wounds over the years.

He pulled on a silk robe and tied the sash and went to the door. He peered through the peephole and saw what looked like a search warrant.

He yanked the door open.

There stood a tall, dark haired man in his mid-twenties. He wore a badge and a gun on his hip. He handed the man the search warrant.

"I’m calling my lawyer."

"You wanna cooperate so we can both go back to bed or what?" Angel asked. "This is a huge waste of time for both of us but, and I swear this by almighty God, sir, if you drag this out longer than necessary I will find a way to make your life miserable."

The man in the silk robe looked over the warrant . . . and burst out laughing. "You can’t be serious!"

"Hey, I got bosses to answer to just like you. Now, you wanna cooperate? I’ll make it quick and I won’t mess up your place. Gimme a hard time . . . I’ll treat you like any ordinary citizen."

The man in the silk robe pursed his lips, pondering the question. Then he made the single most dangerous decision of his life.

"Oh, what the hell, you might as well come in and get it over with."

Angel smiled, stepped through the doorway, grabbed the man in the silk robe by his throat and raised him a couple feet off the floor. Angel displayed his vampire face—lumpy forehead and pointy teeth and all.

"Someone’s threatening to kill some people I know," Angel said. "The question is, do I feed on him—or you?"

Cut to:

Int., Rowena’s bedroom, 2 a.m.

The phone rang. A human shape buried beneath sheets, blanket and pillow stirred. The phone rang again. The human shape groaned. The phone rang again. A human arm reached out, groped for the phone and picked it up.

"If this is not a matter of life or death, I’ll will make it a matter of your death," Rowena said.

Angel’s voice said: "The hit man’s name is Arnold Devonshire."


But Angel had already hung up.

Rowena rolled out of bed.

Cut to:

Int., Arnold Devonshire’s hotel room, Chicago, Ill., 4 a.m.

Arnold popped an aspirin before walking back to his bed. He sat down on the foot of the bed and looked up at the late Lilah Morgan.

"OK . . . You’re dead. You say Willow Rosenberg is more dangerous than you are."

"She may be one of the most dangerous people on Earth," Lilah said.

"Are her Cleveland friends dangerous?"


"Who are they?"


"Tell me about Watchers," Arnold said. "Tell me everything there is to know about Watchers and Willow Rosenberg."

"What difference does it make?"

"If you know your enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the result of a thousand battles," Arnold quoted.


"Sun Tsu, The Art of War, 3rd Century B.C."


To be continued in Act Two, Part Three . . .

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (3C/5C)

DISCLAIMER: See top of thread.

DISTRIBUTION: Ask and I shall approve.

SPOILERS: See top of thread.

RATING: R (story includes mature subject matter)

COMMENT: For what little such things are worth, I am dedicating this and all future installments of "Dance" to Russell Miller, the son of a friend, and to Melissa Ethridge. Russell is having a health crisis of his own and Ms. Ethridge is battling breast cancer. I wish them speedy recoveries from their misfortunes.

SUMMARY: See previous installments.

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (3C/5)

Act Two, Part Three

Scene Seven


Int., Council conference room, 7 a.m.

Robin, Giles, Xander, and Rowena sat at the table. Rowena looked up from a notebook.

"If we can believe the guardian of the Deeper Well, and I think we can, the killer’s name is Arnold Devnoshire." Rowena did not mention that the guardian was a certain notorious vampire with a soul. "Devonshire is well known in East Coast crime and law enforcement circles. He is a fourth generation professional killer. His great grandfather was a founding member of Murder, Incorporated—the people who invented murder for hire in America. Some people think his great grandfather coined the terms ‘hit’ and ‘contract’."

"And the police can’t stop him?" Xander asked.

"They have arrested him 12 times—but he’s never been prosecuted. Twice he was picked up before the victim was killed. Both times, the murders took place while he was in police custody. Both times, Devonshire sued for false arrest and both times the cases were settled out of court for undisclosed fees. If my source is correct, Devonshire probably subcontracted the jobs—and eventually turned a neat profit on the lawsuits."

Robin said: "And he won the respect of other criminals by getting the job done."

"He does apparently bring a sense of professionalism to the work," Rowena said. "If he can do the job without putting himself at risk, he will."

"How does he kill?" Giles asked.

"That’s a good question . . . he has been arrested 12 times, he has been questioned 22 times and he has been listed as a suspect in 43 murders. There is an excellent chance that he was involved in other murders that no one even suspects. Based on the 43 murders that the authorities know about . . . "

"In how many years?" Xander asked.

"He’s five years younger than Giles," Rowena said. "Devonshire probably committed his first murder when he was 16 or 17. Statistically, slightly more than one murder per year for 33 years—that we know of. Some of the murders have been organized crime hits; some have been independent contracts. Devonshire has apparently used poison, bombs, knives, rifles, handguns, a toilet tank lid—"

"That’s just embarrassing," Xander said.

"—an acetylene torch, a baseball bat, a necktie . . . whatever best fits the occasion. He will kill innocent bystanders if he has to or if he is paid to. He will spare innocent bystanders if he is paid to or if they pose no threat. He spared a three month old once, after strangling her mother to death beside her crib."

"He any relation to Angel?" Xander asked.

Robin sighed. "Xander? Let it go. A vampire killed my mother and . . . really, you have got to let it go."

"Does he work alone or as part of a team?" Giles asked.

"That varies from job to job," Rowena said. "Unless he is given a deadline, he will take as much time as he needs to plan and accomplish the murder. "

"Could he be bought? Could we pay him to forego the contract on Willow’s parents?" Giles asked.

Rowena shook her head. "I doubt it. He works for organized crime, which means he has no right to refuse or cancel a murder ordered by his employers unless he wants to be murdered. It isn’t clear what the rules are, if there are any rules, about outside contracts . . . but he’s unlikely to do something that would make his employers doubt his loyalty. He knows the price of losing the boss’s trust—he’s imposed that price on too many people. Nearly half his known victims were known or suspected hit men themselves. I doubt he could be bribed."

Robin said: "Any chance the Council could use its influence on his employers? Ask them to make Devonshire back off?"

"I doubt it," Giles said.

Rowena said: "Actually, you might be able to pay THEM to cancel the murder. Devonshire would need permission from both his Boston employers to leave town and from their counterparts in Chicago to carry out the job. In Devonshire’s world, the boss is allowed to do anything he likes—even if it violates the alleged rules. A boss is even allowed to call the police if that’s what he wants to do."

"How do you know all this?" Xander asked.

"I called the Council’s FBI contact and he had their expert on organized crime call me."

"Do we know how much he was paid?" Giles asked.

Rowena shook her head. "The best guess is that someone paid a minimum of $10,000, probably more, to kill one or both of Willow’s parents."

Xander said: "Would the creeps that Devonshire works for get any of that?"

"Boston would get 20 percent just for allowing him to work independently. Chicago would probably want 10 percent—to cover the cost of watching him to make sure he wasn’t in town to murder one of their leaders." Rowena shook her head angrily. "We could easily outbid 30 percent of $10,000. It isn’t like Mrs. Meers could put us into a bidding war."

Robin said: "Unless her Wolfram & Hart friends get into the game."

"Why would they bother?" Xander asked.

"They need to rebuild their credibility, for one thing," Robin said. "Between what Angel did to the Circle of the Black Thorn and what Illyria did to Wolfram & Hart this past summer . . . they’re hurting for both money and credibility. They can’t afford for the hit to fail if they want to continue to be the legal representatives of all evil in this reality."

"People will often do more for pride than for money," Giles said. "Even evil people."

Xander said: "Maybe we ought to remind W&H that Willow put Illyria in space and Willow could bring her back to Earth."

Giles shook his head. "That would only provoke Wolfram & Hart to kill Willow. And we are not yet in a position to challenge the Senior Partners directly."

Robin said: "I don’t think it matters. Mrs. Meers hired one hit man after she died. If we could buy off Devonshire, she’d just hire another killer."

"Dumb question," Xander said. "Wouldn’t Mrs. Meers assets be tied up in probate?"

The others exchanged glances.

"Yes," Rowena said. "Probate courts are generally overburdened—people die much more quickly than courts can liquidate and distribute estates."

"So where did the money come from?" Xander asked.

Giles took off his glasses. "It would appear that Mrs. Meers has living allies."

"Could they cancel the murder?" Xander asked.

Rowena shrugged. "I suppose they could, as long as they didn’t ask for their money back. But we don’t know who they are."

"I’ll call Willow," Giles said. "Her old hacking skills may be more useful to us than her magical abilities."

Rowena said: "I’ll continue my research on banshees."

"Let’s just hope you find an answer before Samhain," Xander said.

Rowena stared at him. "You just gave me an idea, Xander. Giles, I’ll need to pull all Watchers and students off their duties to check this, but . . . I need to review the records of every known banshee sighting outside the British Isles for the past 200 years."

"Consider yourself the general of an army," Giles said.


Scene Eight


Ext., Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s house, day.

A Chicago police officer drove Andrew and Faith to the Rosenberg home. He introduced himself to the cop parked outside the house and that cop in turn radioed for confirmation that the visitors were cleared to go in. Faith carried her own bags and Andrew carried his.

The cop rang the doorbell and announced the visitors.

Willow hugged Andrew and Faith. "Come on in."

Sheila smiled at the new arrivals. Ira glared. Sheila said: "Hello, Andrew, Faith. Are you still in that interracial relationship with the handsome African American educator?"

Willow cringed. Andrew blinked. Faith smiled and said: "Yep, still bangin’ the black teach."

Ira looked like he would faint. Sheila blanched. Andrew blushed . . . and quickly looked away from Faith.

"What brings you guys here?" Willow asked.

"Andy thinks he can snag that banshee and I’m here to kick hit man butt," Faith said.

Ira snorted.

Faith winked at him. Sheila immediately positioned herself beside her husband and took his hand. Marking her territory.

Faith said: "Clem sends his best. He and . . . the Guardian of the Deeper Well . . . they heard about the banshee and they want to help."

Willow nodded, but it was impossible to say if she knew that Faith was talking about Angel. Willow looked at Andrew. "Are you sure you’re up to this?"

Andrew nodded. "I can’t think of a place I’d rather be."

"Giles spoke to our contacts in the Chicago and Illinois state police," Faith said. "They don’t think the hit man comes under Council jurisdiction—but with Wolfram & Hart in the picture, you can’t be sure."

"Mrs. Meers may have just used them as conduits," Willow said. To Andrew, she said: "What about the banshee?"

"It has to be captured by an ordinary human mortal using mortal means," Andrew said. "Which is a problem, because the banshee will retreat into her home dimension if she thinks she’ll be caught."

"So what do we do?"

"One of us will have to distract her while she’s here. She’ll take a physical form to survive in this reality—and someone will have to grab her from behind`."

"Me," said Faith.

Andrew shook his head. "You’re not an ordinary human, Faith, you’re a Sla—you’re not ordinary in the sense we need you to be."

Willow said: "So who? Me?"

"I don’t think you’re all that ordinary any more, Willow. One of your parents—"

Willow shook her head. "The hit man could shoot them."

Andrew coughed. "I might be able to do it . . . "

"After what you did the other day, And, I don’t think you’re all that ordinary any more either," Faith said.

"Riley," Willow said.

Faith said: "He is pretty much as close to boring middle-class white bread anglo-saxon normalcy as you can get."

"I’ve got a contact email for his wife," Willow said. "They’d be willing to help."

"I better call G-man, ask him to pull strings with the Feds," Faith said.

Andrew asked Ira if he had any Irish blood.

"Do I look like Irish to you?"

Andrew said: "I’m trying to figure out why a banshee—"

Ira looked at the ceiling and asked God: "How can so many people share the same delusion?"

Andrew asked if he could use a restroom. Willow showed him the way.

Cut to:

Int., the bathroom.

Andrew took out his cell phone and made a brief call.

"Doctor’s office."

"My name is Andrew Wells, the doctor operated on me a couple days ago?"

"Yes . . . your appointment isn’t until the end of the week, Mr. Wells. Do you need to reschedule?"

"I, um, ahem! I don’t know how to say this politely . . . my testicle hurts."



"The left or the right?"

"The left."

"Just a moment . . . "

You could hear muffled conversation on the other end of the line.

"Mr. Wells? It’s phantom pain."

"Phantom pain?"


"You’re sure?"

"Mr. Wells . . . the doctor amputated your left testicle. It isn’t there anymore. Sometimes . . . we don’t know why . . . sometimes people feel pain in body parts they have lost. I know it seems strange, but it really isn’t anything to be frightened of."

"Thank you. Um . . . sorry to be a bother."

"Not at all," she said. "This must all seem very strange to you. Have a good day."

The nurse (or receptionist or whatever) hung up and so did Andrew.

"Phantom pain. You’d think I’d be used to phantoms by now."

Outside, the banshee screamed.

Under his breath, Andrew whined: "Shut up."

Cut to:

Int., the Rosenberg kitchen.

"How did this happen, Sheila? How did two goyim end up in our house?"

"That’s really a very politically incorrect expre—"

"If you think that’s not PC, don’t ask me what I think of that shiksa!" Ira snapped. "We have a raving lunatic screaming at us outside; an alleged killer—"

"I doubt the police would have gone to all this trouble if they didn’t think the threat was real."

Ira scowled at his wife. "And how did Willow get the police to take her seriously?"

"Her employers are apparently very influential," Sheila said. "I’m actually proud of her."

"Proud? Proud of what? Proud of a daughter who threw away an education to associate with killers? Proud of a daughter who works at a school with an in-house trauma center?"

"What do you want to do, Ira? Give back the bullet-proof vests? Pray that Willow doesn’t know what she’s doing? In case you haven’t noticed, we are in a very dangerous situation—"

"We wouldn’t be in a dangerous situation if our daughter would make something of herself!"

Sheila shook her head. "Ira, I’ve got enough of a headache from hearing that banshee—"



"Don’t you dare—"

"Please feel free to sleep on the sofa tonight, Ira," Sheila said. "I won’t share a bed with a man who verbally abuses me!"

Sheila turned to leave, but stopped.

Faith stood in the kitchen doorway. "Beginnin’ to see why Red preferred spendin’ her time at the Harris’s." To Sheila, Faith said: "How come you never stood up for Willow the way you stood up for yourself?"

Ira snapped: "This is a private conversation, Miss—"

"You wanted it private you shoulda kept the volume down. You actually drowned out the banshee." Faith casually strolled over to Sheila. "I don’t like you or respect you, Sheila. Or you, Ira. I’m only willing to risk my ass for you two major wastes of DNA ’cause Red’s been good to me even when I didn’t deserve it. I realize bein’ nice to someone when there’s nothing in it for you is probably a new concept . . . but you might want to try it out."

"How long do you intend to meddle in our lives?" Ira asked.

"Long as it takes to keep you alive," Faith said. "But just remember that everyone who’s working to protect you is doing it because Willow asked them to. Are you really disappointed that you raised a girl that people would risk their lives for, Ira? ’Cause if you are, then you are a miserable loser."

Ira snorted. "This from some uneducated Boston girl. I doubt you will ever make much more than minimum wage."

"Ira, you’ve mistaken me for someone who thinks your opinions are worth the minimum."

Willow chose that moment to enter the room. "Good news! Riley’s on his way."

"Hope he doesn’t bring the wife," Faith said. "I think she’d have issues with me."

"Riley did mention something about that," Willow said.

Ira said: "Who is this Riley person? What can he do?"

"He’s in the Army Special Forces," Willow said.

"Isn’t that a little extreme, Willow?" Sheila asked.

"Special Anti-Demon Forces," Willow said.

"More nonsense," Ira groaned.

Faith said: "Mr. Finn is supposed to be pretty darn good. He certainly handled me well."

Willow scowled at her. "Sore subject, Faith."


Sheila frowned. "Did you say his last name was Finn?"

Faith nodded. "Yeah."

"What about it?" Willow asked.

"Finn is an Irish name," Sheila said.

Willow’s cell phone rang at that very inopportune moment.

"It’s Giles," she said.


To be continued in Act Three, Part One . . .

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (4A/5)

DISCLAIMER: See top of thread.

DISTRIBUTION: Ask and I shall approve.

SPOILERS: Potential spoilers for Part one of my story "Watchers/Restoration: Gone, But . . . Not Forgotten" and the ATS Series Finale. Also BTVS Season Six.

RATING: R (story includes mature subject matter)


SUMMARY: See previous installments.

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (4A/5)

Act Three, Part One

Scene One


Int., Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s dining room.

Willow’s parents were not present.

Andrew said: "Was Giles able to reach Mr. Finn?"

Willow looked up from her laptop. "He’s unavailable. That means that either he’s on a secret mission and can’t come here yet—"

Faith said: "Good."

"—or he’s on his way here and we won’t be able to warn him until he’s on our doorstep."


"We just have to keep him outside the door," Willow said. "The banshee predicts a death within this house—as long as Riley isn’t inside here, he isn’t going to die. I think." Willow looked at her laptop screen and said: "Mrs. Meers died more or less broke."

"So where’d she get the money to hire Devonshire?" Faith asked.

Willow pointed at the computer screen. "Maybe from the executors," Willow said. "Moira and Morris Levenson."

Andrew gulped. "Jonathan’s parents."

Willow and Faith looked at him.

Faith said: "OK, why would these people help Mrs. Meers?"

"Jonathan was the third member of the triad," Willow explained.

"Maybe they know what I did," Andrew said.

"Ya lost me."

Willow said: "He did to Jonathan what I did to Warren."

Faith stared at Andrew. "You flayed a man? You?"

"I stabbed him, I didn’t—"

"Not to be casting stones, ’cause I don’t have the right to, but . . . why?"

"I thought it would bring Warren back."

"You wanted him back?"

Andrew blushed.

Faith grimaced. "Andy . . . you weren’t in love with the guy, were you?"

Andrew lowered his eyes.

"Oh, Andy . . ." Faith sounded more saddened than revolted.

His blush deepened.

Willow said: "OK, way too much information. I don’t think this has anything to do with you, Andrew. I mean, why would the Levensons want to kill my parents for something you did?"

"Oh, Goddess," Andrew said. "Maybe she told them you killed Jonathan."

"How do you figure that?" Willow asked.

"What’s the best way to bring out the worst in a good person?" Andrew asked.

The two women were silent for several long seconds.

Faith said: "Hurt someone they love."

Willow said: "Or threaten them."

"I think Andy’s got somethin’ there, Red. Moira sounds like an Irish name to me. Could be our banshee connection right there."

"Let’s see what Google has to say about Moira and Morris Levenson."

"And then what?"

Willow said: "Invite the Levensons for dinner with the Rosenbergs."

Andrew coughed. "Willow, wouldn’t that put the Levensons in harm’s way?"

Willow said: "That banshee is a prophecy, Andrew. Someone is already in harm’s way. My parents to name two."

"Like Faith, I have no right to cast stones . . . but I really don’t think that’s a good idea."

Willow said: "I doubt the Levensons would accept the invitation if they were behind the hit man."

"Unless they wanna watch someone suffer," Faith said.

Willow composed and sent an email to the Levensons.

Cut to:

Int., a medical lab in Cleveland, Ohio.

A pathologist began keyboarding a biopsy report.

"Preoperative diagnosis: Left testicular mass.

"Gross description: Received without fixative labeled ‘left testis’ is a orchlectomy specimen consisting of a testis . . . . The cut surface of the testis shows a well-defined tumor measuring 2.0 X 1.9 X 1.5 cm composed of white tissue with a small irregular pink-red area in the center. . . . "

The pathologist paused to shake his head and say: "Good catch, doctor, good catch." He then resumed typing a detailed description of Andrew’s tumor.


Scene Two


Int., luxury apartment in Chicago, same time.

Cut to:

Int., bathroom.

Andrew was right: Danger to a loved one could bring out the worst in a person. Or a vampire with a soul.

The marble walls and tiles were spattered with blood. So, too, the golden faucets.

Clem, a demon who lived on a diet of dead bodies, looked like he was going to throw up.

The gangster was in the bathtub, sobbing. The water in the tub was red.

Angel sat on the edge of the tub. "Well?"

"W-we had some guy greet Devonshire at the airport."


"Pick up our percentage, make sure he had access to whatever he needed, make sure he wasn’t here to kill someone who mattered to us. We always have a local hitter meet out of towners."

"Your ‘guy’ have a way to contact Devonshire?"

The gangster shrugged.

Angel handed the pale, wounded, bleeding man his cell phone. "Call your guy, have him come here. I want to talk to him."

It was difficult for a man with seven broken fingers to use a cell phone, but the gangster managed.

"It’s me," he said. He didn’t give his name; the caller apparently recognized his voice. "Send Aspirin to my place right now." He gave Angel the cell phone and the vampire hung up for him.

"Aspirin?" Angel asked.

"Inside joke," the other man said. "We call a bullet in the head a serious headache, so we call this guy Aspirin."

"Mob humor offends me," said the vampire.

The tortured gangster glanced around his bloody bathroom and shuddered.

Cut to:

Ext., Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s house.

Cut to:

Close up, Arnold Devonshire, walking down the sidewalk opposite.

He ran up the porch and rang the doorbell of the house directly opposite the Rosenberg house. Arnold held an FBI badge in his left hand, a .22 pistol in the other.

As Arnold Devonshire apparently expected, someone opened the door.

"Begging your pardon, ma’am, but I’m with the FBI."

The elderly woman who opened the door started to ask for i.d.—but Arnold calmly and quietly pressed his against her ribs. His body was positioned so that none of the cops parked across the street saw the armed man threatening the civilian woman. He said: "Undo the chain and let me in or I will blow your brains out."

The cops who were assigned to protect the Rosenbergs had no idea.

The woman undid the chain and let him in. She stepped back as Arnold came through the door. He shut it quietly behind him.

Then he shot her in the face. The entrance wound was small. There was no exit wound.

An elderly man, probably her husband, came into the foyer, saw his wife on the floor and bolted. Arnold shot him in the back. He fell down. He tried to get up, couldn’t—the bullet had apparently paralyzed the lower half of his body—so he tried to crawl away. For some reason, he did not scream or yell.

Arnold calmly strode to the man, placed his left foot in the small of the crawling man’s back and pinned the man with his weight. Then Arnold fired two shots into his head.

Arnold returned to the front door and locked it. He holstered the Beretta and pocketed the Council badge and began moving from room to room.

Turning out lights, locking windows, drawing curtains.

He didn’t seem surprised when he went into the kitchen and found Lilah Morgan seated beside a Mr. Coffee that was spewing a fresh pot.

"You want to explain why you’re murdering the wrong people?"

"Phase one," Arnold said. "Since you’ve started the coffee, I can move to phase three." He took out a cell phone and hit a speed dial. "It’s me. Deliver the roses to the preferred address." He switched off the cell phone, used a dishcloth to wipe it of fingerprints and then smashed it under his heal. "Prepaid with cash—untraceable. Ought to be illegal with the war on terror, but Congress will never put national security before corporate profit."


"To the casual observer, a box of long stemmed roses," Arnold said. "In reality, a rifle. For when phase four fails—and from what you told me about Willow Rosenberg, phase four doesn’t stand a prayer."

"What’s phase four?"

"Some small time goons with the badges you provided me will shoo away the cops—and then attack the Rosenberg house with shotguns." Arnold poured himself a cup of coffee. "By the way, thanks for the counterfeit money—I used it to hire a crew of stick up guys for what they think is a home invasion robbery. Willow will think they’re a death squad and make short work of them."

Cut to:

Ext., Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s house.

A man parked outside the Rosenberg house. He wore a toupe’ and fake glasses with clear lenses.

Toupe’ told the man in the passenger seat (the "cab driver" who had greeted Arnold Devonshire at the airport—the one the Chicago mob called "Aspirin.") to wait for him. Then Toupe’ got out, walked over to the nearest of the two patrol cars. He glanced up at the police helicopter overhead and shrugged as if to say: "I can’t control everything."

On both sides of the street, uniformed cops got out of their patrol cars and placed their hands on the butts of their side arms.

Toupe’ held up a badge as he approached the uniformed policeman.

A Watchers Council badge. If it was a forgery, it was a high quality forgery. Between Arnold Devonshire’s connections and Lilah Morgan’s connections it could easily have been a very good forgery . . . or the real thing.

The nearer of the two cops saw it and relaxed. He waved his colleague over.

"We’ll be taking over in a few minutes," Toupe’ said. "Just took us a little while to bring in a team."

"Chicago PD is always happy to serve the Council," the second cop said. "Could I take another look at that?"

"Sure," Toupe’ said.

"Looks legit," the second cop said.

"What about him?" the first cop asked, pointing to the helicopter.

Toupe’ shrugged. "Guess he didn’t get the word yet."

"What’s today’s color?" the second cop asked.

The color of the day, as every fan of NYPD Blue knows, is a code used to make sure that patrol officers and detectives don’t mistake undercover cops for criminals and shoot them. It also provides an additional layer of security against fake identification. The code varies somewhat from city to city, but it is usually a color code.

Of course, the one ghastly flaw in the system is that in spreading the code color of the day to every single cop who is going to be on the street means that it is one of the most widely known "secrets" in any given police department. The more people who know a secret, the greater the likelihood of a leak . . . a leak that might never be traced.

"Purple," said Toupe’.

The two cops relaxed.

"My guys’ll be here in a few minutes. I’d appreciate it if you could stick around until they show."

The cops nodded.

Toupe’ went back to the car and waited.

It didn’t take long for an unmarked black helicopter to arrive.

"Think they’ll buy it?" the Aspirin asked.

"The pilot has the code color," Toupe’ said. "That should at least send them home."

"And the crew?"

"They’ll be here soon. Once the crew’s here and those uniforms satisfy themselves that everyone has a Council badge, they’ll go. By the time the Rosenbergs know something’s wrong, we’ll be going in."

"What about the cop in the back?"

"Damnit! I forgot about him!" Toupe’ opened the car door and went back to the first patrol car. To ask for help.

The patrol officer escorted Toupe’ around and to the rear of the Rosenberg house.

By the time the cop in the back yard saw the Council badge, the Chicago PD helicopter had begun its flight home.


Scene Three


Int., luxury apartment in Chicago, same time.

Cut to:

Int., bathroom.

Clem knelt before the toilet bowel. He looked sick.

The gangster in the tub groaned into the cell phone: "What do you mean he’s not available?"

He cringed as he listened and looked at the vampire beseechingly.

Angel glared back at him.

He gave the cell phone back to Angel.


"Aspirin gathered a crew and all of them are out of contact."


"Devonshire needed back up for the hit and he’s gathered a team to do it."

"What does out of contact mean?"

"Same as radio silence. They’re probably hitting the target as we speak—or preparing to."

Angel grabbed the man’s head and snapped his neck like a twig.

Clem gasped in horror.

"Willow’s cell number—now!"

"My pho—"

Angel was beside Clem, rifling through the wrinkled demon’s pockets before Clem could finish the sentence. He switched on the cell phone and hit the speed dial.

A familiar voice answered: "Hey, Clem."

Angel said: "Get out of the house NOW!"

Cut to:

Ext., Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s house.

Two compact cars, used and dented, appeared. Two men in each. The driver in each car got out, introduced himself to one of the uniformed cops—by displaying Watcher’s Council badges.

The uniformed cops nodded, saluted and got in their cars.

The killers waited for the policemen to start their engines and drive off. Then they went to the trunks of their cars as their partners got out and joined them. The drivers opened their trunks and took out 12 gauge pump shotguns.

Cut to:

Int., Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s dining room.

Andrew and Faith were reading computer printouts as Willow surfed the Net. Then Willow’s cell phone rang. She picked it up, smiled when she saw the call was from Clem’s phone.

She answered the call. "Hey, Clem."

Angel’s voice said: "Get out of the house NOW!"

Willow hung up and looked at Faith: "That was Angel—get my parents out of here NOW!"

Andrew said: "I thought the vampyra Angelus was no more."

Faith said: "Front or back?"

"You take the back, I’ll take the front. Andrew—you stick with me. You’ll be safer."

Andrew looked at Faith, but she was already running up the stairs to fetch Willow’s parents.

You could hear the sound of a shotgun blasting a hole in the front door.


To be continued in Act Three, Part Two

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (4B/5C)

DISCLAIMER: See top of thread.

DISTRIBUTION: Ask and I shall approve.

SPOILERS: Potential spoilers for Part one of my story "Watchers/Restoration: Gone, But . . . Not Forgotten" and the ATS Series Finale. Also BTVS Season Six.

RATING: R (story includes mature subject matter)

COMMENT: The CIA operation described below is established historical fact. The death of a fictional agent is the product of my imagination.

My primary source for the banshee myth and everything related to Celtic mythology is the book "Mythology: Myths, Legends and Fantasies," published by Global Book Publishing.

SUMMARY: See previous installments.

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (4B/5)

Act Three, Part Two

Scene Four


Int., Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s dining room.

You could hear the sound of a shotgun blasting a hole in the front door.

Cut to:

Ext., Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s house.

As one gunman shotgunned the front door, another swept the street with his eyes—and brandished his shotgun at the street. Just in case someone felt a heroic impulse. Shotguns are very good at discouraging heroic impulses.

Two other killers circled the house, one on each side. In case the people inside tried to escape through the windows. They would live long if they did.

From somewhere behind the house came the sound of another shotgun blast. The killer or killers stationed in the back must have been breaking into the rear of the Rosenberg house.

The only place for the people inside the house to run was up the stairs. Where the killers would eventually find and butcher them. Unless something unexpected happened.

Cut to:

Int., foyer of Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s house.

Two men with shotguns came through the door.

And immediately floated rapidly to the ceiling, where they banged their heads hard.

Their shotguns dematerialized from their hands—and then rematerialized moments later, floating just outside their reach.

And every inanimate object in the Rosenberg house that wasn’t nailed down also floated just beyond the reach of the two extremely confused—and frightened—thugs.

Who found themselves looking down on something nearly as astonishing as the apparent suspension of the laws of gravity.

A small, pretty young woman sat in the lotus position. Her hair was red, her eyes were pitch black and without whites. And she sat. Not in midair, like them, but on the floor.

And standing between the seated red head and the open doorway was a pale young man who had just wet his pants. Andrew Wells had actually positioned himself between Willow and an invading death squad.

Cut to:

Int., kitchen of Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s house.

Two more men armed with shotguns also found themselves floating in the air. They might have been more frightened than their two colleagues at the front of the house. The guys up front were only floating with shotguns and furniture. These two were floating in the same air as their shotguns—and a multitude of knives: butter knives; steak knives; butcher knives.

And dinner and wine glasses; ceramic mugs; pots; pans; plates; forks; knives; spoons; measuring cups; salt shakers, etc. ect.

Visible through the open kitchen door, Aspirin himself knelt beside the doorway and peered in on the bizarre spectacle. He quivered and, like Andrew, wet himself. For he was very afraid.

And the professional killer gently put the shotgun down on the ground, put his hands on top of his head with his fingers interlace, then prostrated himself and screamed: "PLEASE DON’T HURT MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE"

Cut to:

Int., Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s bedroom.

Faith, Sheila, Ira and both the beds were floating in air.

Ira responded pretty much the way you’d expect. "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?"

Faith said: "I think your daughter just saved our lives."

Sheila said: "Excuse me, but . . . even if this is really happening . . . even if Willow is somehow responsible . . . how does this protect us?"

"You see goons with guns comin’ in here and killin’ anybody?"

"But how long can Willow keep this up? I mean, she can’t suspend the laws of gravity forever."

Faith frowned. "You got a point there, Sheila."


Faith sighed. "Ira? First time I saw a vamp, I didn’t believe it—until it tried to bite me. What’s it gonna take for you to face reality?" Under her breath she muttered: "Why didn’t Angel kill you when he was evil?"

Outside, the banshee screamed even more loudly than before.

For the first time in a long time, if ever, all three people in that bedroom were of one mind. In perfect unison they yelled at the banshee to "SHUT UP!"

Cut to:

Int., a medical lab in Cleveland, Ohio.

The pathologist continued writing Andrew’s biopsy report:

". . . a well-defined tumor measuring 2.0 X 1.9 X 1.5 cm composed of white tissue with a small irregular pink-red area in the center. The residual normal testicle is yellow-tan, soft and homogeneous. The tumor extends into but not through the tunica albuginea and does not appear to involve epididymis. The spermadic cord shows no abnormalities grossly. . .

"Microscopic Description: The mass described grossly is composed of sheets of polygonal cells with clear cyloplasm and large nuclei featuring prominent nucleoli. These clusters of cells are separated by strands of benign lymphoid tissue. The appearance is that of seminoma. Tumor does not extend through the tunica and is confined to the testis. Surrounding seminiferous tubules show a marked decrease in spermatogenesis with concomitant peritubal fibrosis. Epididymis and spermatic cord are completely benign. . . ."


Scene Five


Int., Arnold Devonshire’s current hide-out: the house directly opposite the Rosenberg house.

From a chair near the window, Arnold watched and shook his head sadly as Toupe’ dropped his shotgun on the Rosenberg porch and ran to his car.

"Gonna have to kill him for abandoning his post," Arnold said. He sighed, much the way Charlie Brown always sighed after Lucy pulled away that damned football. "I hate working for no money."

Lilah Morgan appeared behind him and said: "The one they call Aspirin is freaking out."

"What did Willow do?"

"Suspended gravity inside the house."

"Personally, I don’t blame him. Professionally, I would never work with him again. If his bosses find out, they’ll have him killed. Probably by someone like me."

The banshee screamed again.

Devonshire sighed. "Can’t you do something about her?"

"She’ll go away as soon as you do your job."

"Soon as Willow steps outside, they’ll both be gone."

"What makes you think Willow will step outside?"

"She’ll have to if she wants to take her parents to the one place on Earth where Willow probably thinks they’re safe from attack."

"Which is?"

"Council headquarters in Cleveland."

Cut to:

Int., foyer of Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s house.

The gunmen and their shotguns continued to float just below the ceiling. Furniture slowly floated back down to the floor. Sweat flowed from Willow’s pours. Tears flowed from her eyes. Blood flowed from her nostrils. Her body shook.

Andrew’s voice shook as he said: "Take my strength if you need it, Willow."

A white light suddenly enveloped Andrew’s body—and shot from the young man to the young woman. Andrew’s eyes rolled back and he fell face first to the floor. He was out.

Willow looked up at the floating gunmen and said: "Your turn." Her voice sounded like a chorus of voices—all Willow’s. White lights enveloped both gunmen—and shot from them to the kneeling redhead.

Then they dropped like rocks to the floor.

Cut to:

Int., kitchen of Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s house.

The other two gunmen armed with shotguns were also enveloped by white light—which also shot from their bodies, through a doorway and through a hallway and through the livingroom and to the foyer until the energy from the third and fourth gunmen entered Willow.

Then both the gunmen in the kitchen also dropped, like stones, to the floor.

Outside, Aspirin continued screaming and begging for mercy.

Cut to:

Int., Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s bedroom.

The beds floated gently to the floor. Then Faith, Sheila and Ira also floated to the floor.

Faith said, "Sure, Red," as if Willow had spoken to her. "You two stay here."

Faith ran down the stairs, to and through the kitchen—and kicked Aspirin in the face.

Naturally, she knocked him out.


Scene Six


Int., Council library, same time.

Xander looked up. "OK, this is a strange one. There’s a report from the 1980s . . . A banshee appeared outside the home of a man who used a Welsh surname with his neighbors and friends. In real life, he was a Russian American. He worked for the CIA’s black ops team. At the time the banshee showed up, he was involved on a raid in the Atlantic Ocean. The CIA intercepted a shipment of guns from South African white supremacists to a Protestant terrorist group in Northern Ireland. The Russian American spy died. The weapons were seized before the guns reached Northern Ireland."

Robin woods frowned. "Why would an Irish banshee warn about the death of a Russian American spy?"

Giles said: "Perhaps they did not know his Welsh name was a pseudonym. Or perhaps they were honoring his sacrifice on behalf of Irish civilians."

Rowena nodded. "I think the later, Giles. Here’s another incident from 1994—A banshee terrorized a French Canadian couple in Montreal. Their daughter, a Quebec attorney, was in Montreal to visit her parents and celebrate Beltane with her sister when she was shot to death by a hit man—"

"Arnold Devonhire?" Xander asked.

Rowena shook her had. "No, this gunman was from Belgium. The murder victim was a children’s rights lawyer and the assassin worked for a child pornography ring."

Robin said: "You’ve completely confused me. She wasn’t Irish or Scottish or Welsh and she didn’t have a Celtic name . . . "

Rowena nodded. "That’s right. But Beltane is a feast day in the Celtic calendar."

Xander frowned. "I thought it was a Wiccan holiday."

"Wiccans celebrate it," Rowena said. "But it is part of the Celtic cultural heritage. It is possible that the sidhe—the fairy people—regard anyone who honors their traditions as a Celt—and I suspect the sidhe are particularly predisposed to favoring those they regard as warriors."

Robin said: "How is screaming at someone for the last month of their life a favor?"

Xander said: "A month’s prior warning is a pretty good heads up."

Rowena nodded again. "The word banshee is a corruption of the words bean sidhe—meaning fairy woman. The banshee is always female. Before they became sidhe, they were a Celtic tribe called the Tuatha. They fought and lost a terrible battle in Teltown in County Meath. But their conquerors, the Milesians, were so impressed by their courage and the Tuatha’s skill with magic—"

Everyone else exchanged glances. They were probably thinking that, maybe, the Tuatha were impressed with Willow’s magical skills.

"—that the Milesians allowed the Tuatha to join other mystical races in other dimensions, rather than exterminate the Tuatha"

Xander said: "So is this banshee saying Willow’s going to die or that she’s in danger?"

"All I can say for certain—and not even that, as this is all mere conjecture—but I believe the banshee may have mistaken Willow for an apprentice Druid. It has always been assumed they were exclusively male but what little we know of Celtic culture comes largely from the people who fought them in battle."

Xander shook his head. "A druid?"

Rownea said: "It took 20 years to train—Willow is not old enough to be mistaken for a Druid. But with her powers and her talent, she would be seen as an extremely important potential master of natural forces." Then, smiling, the blonde Canadian held up a finger. "Some people think the Druids were a hereditary priesthood—possibly direct decendants of the Tuatha. They might very well have mistaken Willow for one of their own."

Giles pulled out his cell phone. "I had better share your ‘mere conjecture’ with Willow."

Cut to:

Int., a medical lab in Cleveland, Ohio.

The pathologist finished up Andrew’s biopsy report.

". . . Final Diagnosis: Left testis, orchlectomy: Seminoma confined to testis. No lymphovascular invasion. Spermadic cord margin benign."

The pathologist hit command and save, then command and print. The ink jet began converting the electronic images of words into ink words on white paper. It would be up to the urologist who had performed the orchlectomy (amputation of the testicle) to explain what it all meant.


To be continued in Act Three, Part Three

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (4C/5C)

DISCLAIMER: See top of thread.

DISTRIBUTION: Ask and I shall approve.

SPOILERS: See previous installments.

RATING: R (story includes mature subject matter)

COMMENT: My primary source for the banshee myth and everything related to Celtic mythology is the book "Mythology: Myths, Legends and Fantasies," published by Global Book Publishing.

SUMMARY: See previous installments.

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (4C/5)

Act Three, Part Three

Scene Seven


Int., Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s dining room.

You could hear sirens in the distance.

The five gunmen were bound and gagged and lashed to chairs positioned around the dining table. Five Council badges occupied the center of the dinning table. Sheila speculated out loud about their deprived childhoods; Ira yelled at anyone who would listen—ironically, no one paid him any attention—and Willow, doing a fair imitation of Ira, yelled at the Council’s Chicago PD liaison to find out "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO OUR POLICE PROTECTION?"

Andrew entered the dining room in a clean pair of pants. He was still blushing, apparently ashamed of himself for wetting himself. Faith nudged him with her elbow and whispered: "I’ll tell all the girls at the Council how you were ready to take a shotgun blast for Red. They’ll be impressed."

"Big deal, I did what a Watcher is supposed to do—and I peed my pants doing it."

"You know, you do have a constitutional right to remain silent about stuff that makes you look bad," Faith said, putting a rather unusual spin on the Miranda warning.

Willow hung up. She wiped her still bleeding nose with a napkin. "Internal Affairs will investigate," she said, "but it looks like these creeps flashed very realistic badges."

Faith said: "I think they might be the real thing."

Outside, the banshee continued its incessant screaming.

Andrew shook his head. "We have to catch that thing now."

Willow shook her head. "I don’t want any of us going outside until the police get back here and then I’m going to order them to grab the banshee. Cops are ordinary human beings—they should be able to grab that banshee and shake a name out of her."

Willow’s cell phone beeped at her. She glanced at it. "It’s Giles."

Andrew said: "When you’re done talking to him, may I borrow your phone?"

"Not to be snippy, Andrew, but you’ve got a cell phone."

"Yes, but you have the vampyra Angelus’s phone number."

Ira groaned. "The word, young man, is vampire, not vampyra, and they don’t exist."

Sheila sighed: "Ira, I think we have to accept the evidence of our experience, however difficult it is to reconcile with what we thought we knew."

Willow, Andrew, Faith and Ira all gaped at her.

Sheila spoke to him using the same tone of voice she might have used while lecturing a child. "I don’t believe I am delusional and I don’t believe you could ever be delusional, Ira, and the only alternative to believing that we all shared the identical delusion, yet managed to escape being murdered by a small army, is to believe that our daughter has the unusual ability to manipulate natural forces. Frankly, I prefer believing in the occult to believing that my husband and daughter and I are all insane."

Ira shook his head. "If that’s true it must stop right now, Willow. It is inappropriate, blasphemous, inconsistent with Judaic practice—"

"No longer practicing," Willow said. She then turned her back on her father, literally, and dialed Giles and told him what had happened.

She nodded.

"Not a scratch on any of us."

Willow nodded again.

"They’re fine. . . . He’s as cranky and stubborn as always."

Ira crossed his arms and glared at the back of her head.

Willow, oblivious, shook her head at something Giles was saying.

"I disagree, Giles, we need to find out what the banshee knows—"

Willow paled.

"Me? But I’m not—"

Willow groped for a chair, couldn’t find one, and nearly fell over. Faith grabbed her with one hand. With her free hand, the Slayer shoved one of the hired gunmen out of his chair and onto the floor. Faith then eased Willow into the chair.

"The banshee thinks I’m a Druid? Oh, come on, Giles, that’s kinda wild even for us!"

Willow frowned as Giles spoke.

"But Mrs. Meers said she hired the man to kill my parents." Willow closed her eyes. "What am I saying? Mrs. Meers is a damn liar on top of everything else!"

Andrew whispered to Faith: "How did Angelus know we were in danger?"

"It wasn’t him," Faith said. "Angelus would’ve let us die. Hell, he’d’ve helped kill us."

"But how did he know?"

Faith shrugged.

Cut to:

Int., living room, house opposite the Rosenberg house.

Arnold Devonshire carried what looked like a box for long stemmed roses into the living room. He put it down near one of the windows, opened the box, and took out a .300 Magnum rifle. In the box beside the rifle were two smaller boxes of .300 Magnum bullets.

"Military or police ammunition?" Lilah Morgan asked.

"Hunting ammo, actually," Arnold said. "It’s more commonplace and it’s designed to be more deadly."

"Excuse me?"

"The police want knock-down power and the military would rather wound a man than kill him—wounding the enemy is a much greater drain on enemy resources—but hunters want to kill as quickly as possible. It’s more humane to hunt that way."

Lilah shook her head. "More or less deadly. Tastes great; less filling. The insane things I’ve learned working for Wolfram and Hart."

Arnold shrugged. He examined the rifle. "No time to test it to make sure it’s in working order." He shrugged. "It probably works. Most arms dealers know what I’d do to someone who sold me defective ordnance." He looked at Lilah. "Excuse me a moment."

He left the room and returned a few minutes later with another box. He opened it up and pulled out the contents—the uniform of a Chicago PD patrol officer. Arnold looked at Lilah and said: "Would you excuse me? I don’t care to undress in front of a strange woman."

"You aren’t that cute," Lilah said.

"You know, my wife used to say the same thing. Then she found out what I did for a living and she’s been very flattering ever since."

"I’m already dead, Mr. Devonshire. You don’t really scare me."

Arnold sighed. "Will you please get the hell out of here? I’ve got a very risky hit to carry out and I don’t want to miss my best shot."

Lilah nodded and vanished. The hit man began to undress.


Scene Eight


Int., Sheila and Ira Rosenberg’s dining room.

Willow hung up. "Giles thinks we should stay put."

Ira shook his head. "The killers have attacked us once here already. I vote we find someplace safe."

Faith said: "A Boston hit man came to Chicago to shoot you—"

"Or me," Willow said. "If Giles is right."

"Andy had the same theory, more or less. I think maybe G’s got somethin’."

"It was Rowena’s theory."

"Ro ain’t bright in the romance department, but the girl’s a pretty damn good Watcher. But what I was gettin’ at is that there may not be a safe place to hide. Once Devonshire knows your location, it’s a matter of picking the best way to hit."

Willow said: "Either way, we’ve still got a problem. If the bad guys have Council badges, how can we keep my parents safe?"

Ira said: "Maybe, Willow, if you stopped associating with losers—"

Willow waved her hand and Ira’s mouth disappeared.

Sheila said: "Willow Levi Rosenberg, you will put your father’s mouth back this instant."

Willow sighed and waved her hand again.

Ira finished: "—we wouldn’t need protecting." He frowned. "You can really perform magic? Your grandmother would be so disappointed in you."

Willow flinched. Faith’s hands curled into two tightly clenched fists. Ira was oblivious to the extreme danger in which he had placed himself.

Andrew said: "What did Giles say about the badges?"

Willow said: "He thinks we should all go back to Cleveland. We can control Council headquarters a lot better than this neighborhood and we know enough members of the Cleveland Police Department personally that we won’t have to worry about imposters with fake badges."

Faith said: "It’ll take longer to round up a bunch a cops who know our faces. Maybe we should wait here until it’s all set up."

Andrew said: "I hate to agree with Mr. Rosenberg, but waiting might be dangerous. That spell took a lot out of Willow—"

The dark haired Slayer shrugged. "She can borrow my strength if another team hits the place."

"—and there’s always a chance Devonshire had more than one team in place."

Willow said: "I’ll read their minds, find out what they know about his plans."

Andrew reminded her that he wanted to call "the vampyra Angelus."

Sheila frowned. "Vampires are real?"

Faith nodded. "Real and real nasty—’cept Angel, long as you don’t hurt someone he cares about. He likes Red. I kinda hope he finds Devonshire before we do."

Willow gave Andrew her cell phone. As Andrew took it, he said: "Try to find the Levensons’ address for me, please? I think we need to cut this off at the source. Stopping the hit man won’t stop his employers from hiring another."

Outside, the banshee shrieked again.

Sheila raised a hand. "Excuse me, but what about that thing?"

Faith said: "It’ll stop as soon as we eliminate the threat or the prophecy is fulfilled."

"Doesn’t the legend say that if you capture the banshee, it will reveal the name of the victim?"

Andrew nodded. "But we need ordinary, everyday human beings to capture it. Willow’s a powerful Witch, I have a little talent for magic and Faith is a vampire Slayer."

"I’ll capture it," Sheila said. "I’m quite ordinary—and I think I owe it to my daughter to help her." She blushed. "If only to make up for the time I tried to burn her alive."

Willow sighed. "Now she wants to make amends."

"Red? Take it. Ain’t often you get a chance to make amends for your crimes—and right now, your mom and dad are the only ordinary people we got."

"If Rowena and Giles are wrong—"

"Then Mr. Devonshire will have an excellent opportunity to kill me," Sheila said.


Scene Nine


Ext., the Rosenberg house, an hour later.

Chicago Police Department patrol cars had blocked off the intersections on both ends of the street. Uniformed cops put five handcuffed gunmen into a police van. A SWAT team van parked in the middle of the street and SWAT officers in soft body armor and riot helmets brandished semi-automatic rifles.

Cut to:

Int., the Rosenberg living room.

Willow spoke with a man in a dress police uniform that sported both Chicago PD and Watchers Council insignia. He assured her that, from now on, no one would enter or leave the "perimeter" unless he personally knew them and no one would leave their post unless he personally instructed them to do so.

The banshee screamed again.

The police official said: "I swear, I never thought I’d wanna shoot a homeless woman—"

"Leave her to my mom," Willow said.

"We haven’t been able to deal with . . . whatever that thing is, what makes you think your mom can handle it?"

Willow smiled. "Never underestimate a Rosenberg woman."

Cut to:

Ext., the Rosenberg house.

Flanked by armed (and clearly apprehensive) SWAT cops, Sheila Rosenberg slowly moved toward the wailing and weeping banshee. Her hair was pitch black, her skin was the color of fresh concrete, and her features were as comely as those of any Hollywood actress. Her frame was slight. Tears ran down her face.

Sheila held a plate in her hand. On that plate, a hamburger. Perhaps she still thought the banshee was a homeless woman. Perhaps she thought the banshee was hungry. She had, after all, been weeping and wailing and screaming outdoors day and night without rest.

The banshee started to back away as Sheila and the cops approached. Sheila told the policemen to leave them alone. The cops hesitated, then moved back about 15 feet.

Sheila, trembling, offered the plate to the banshee. As she extended the plate, Sheila muttered a few Irish words Willow had taught her.

The banshee frowned, as if she were confused. Perhaps Sheila had mispronounced the words. Perhaps the language had changed so much from the banshee’s time that no one could have pronounced the words in a way that the fairy woman would have understood.

Sheila got down on one knee before the banshee, as if submitting to her. The banshee stopped wailing and gazed at Sheila with a tilted head. Tears continued to pour down the banshee’s pale cheeks, but she no longer made any noise. Perhaps she understood the implied message behind Sheila’s submissive pose: this woman is no threat.

The banshee reached out and grasped the hamburger. Sheila grabbed the banshee’s wrist and shouted: "WHO? TELL ME!"


Then the banshee . . . exploded?

The blast made no sound, but the flash of light so resembled an explosion that the SWAT cops all belly flopped. The force of the explosion knocked Sheila Rosenberg on her butt.

The banshee was gone.

Cut to:

Int., house opposite the Rosenberg house.

Arnold Devonshire kicked over a chair in frustration. "DAMNIT! It is a lot harder to kill someone who knows they’re the damn target!"

Cut to:

Int., the Rosenberg kitchen.

Andrew sat alone at the table. "Answer the phone, answer the phone, answer . . . "

A voice, Clem’s, said: "Hello?"

"Put the vampyra Angelus on this instant, demon," Andrew said. "Tell him his nemesis from Los Angeles would like to parlay."

A moment later.

Another voice: "I’m not Angelus and will you please, please, for the love of god stop calling us vampyras!"

Andrew smiled and said: "We cross swords again, vampyra."


To be continued in Act Four, Part One

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (5A/5C)

DISCLAIMER: See top of thread.

DISTRIBUTION: Ask and I shall approve.

SPOILERS: See previous installments.

RATING: R (story includes mature subject matter)

COMMENT: If memory serves, "Predator: Race War" was a four part comic book published a few years back by Dark Horse comics and written by writer/attorney/child advocate Andrew Vachss.

SUMMARY: See previous installments.

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (5A/5)

Act Four, Part One

Scene One


Int., the Rosenberg kitchen.

Andrew sat alone at the table.

Another voice said: "I’m not Angelus and will you please, please, for the love of god stop calling us vampyras!"

Andrew smiled and said: "We cross swords again, vampyra."

Angel sighed. "What do you want, kid?"

"How did you know the killers were on their way here?"

"You don’t want to know."

Andrew chuckled. "I knew you were still Angelus."

"Kid, you’ve never met Angelus."

"That’s too bad because I need someone who can think like him."

"That’s easy. Revolting, but easy. Just ignore all thoughts of decency or compassion."

Andrew said: "The killers were paid with cash—in bills with matching serial numbers."

"Devonshire paid them with counterfeit money?"

"What does that mean, Angelus?"

"Angel, the name is Angel . . . and it means he expected Willow to beat them," Angel said. "Which means he knows about Willow’s power."

Andrew nodded, even though the other . . . man . . . couldn’t see the gesture. "That is also my assessment, vampyra. It also makes sense, considering what we know. I assume you have been fully briefed?"

"Don’t assume anything, kid, just get to the damned point."

"Mrs. Meers is dead. Her ghost came to the Council and bragged that she hired a killer. But Probate Court records show she died broke. The Levensons—"


"The parents of someone . . . a friend . . . a friend I murdered for the First Evil—"

"Christ, you are a sorry excuse for a man," Angel said.

"And you were such a fine specimen of humanity when Darla sired you," Andrew said. "The Levensons are the appointed executors of her estate. That doesn’t make sense because I don’t think they knew the Meers when we were all in Sunnydale. In fact, I’m sure they didn’t know the Meers family."

"Is Wolfram & Hart representing the Meers estate in court?"

"We are of one mind, vampyra."

"I swear, kid, if I . . . OK, we have to assume the worst. They know about Willow’s magical abilities."

"And the banshee has revealed the name of the condemned—Willow is prophesized to die unless we can change the course of current events."

"He sent in a team expecting them to fail. How long ago was this?"

Andrew looked at his watch. "I would say it has been about an hour."

"Are the police there?"

"In force."

Silence. Then: "OK, the plan wasn’t to tire Willow out—he would have sent in waves of teams until she was too exhausted to deal with them. There are too many cops around for that to work now. So whatever he was up to, he’s done it. He’s accomplished whatever he set out to do."

"That is what has me confused," Andrew said. "It was not well played. What is the advantage? We know Willow is the intended target and he knows we know. He knows she has power but he hasn’t done anything to take that power away."

"Let me think. How would I do it if I were a human killer?" Angel said. "A human killer without magical abilities?"

Andrew waited in silence for about 10 minutes before the vampire answered his own question.

"A head shot," Angel said. "He has to kill her, instantly, or she could lash out at him with magic. A head shot’s the best bet—even if she doesn’t die, the brain damage should be severe enough to protect him from a magic attack."

"Where will he hide?"

"That depends on the weapons he has," Angel said. "A military sniper can kill from a mile off with the right equipment and under the right conditions. He doesn’t have to be close."

"Devonshire doesn’t have a military record," Andrew said. "I don’t even know if he has a hunting license."

"He might have one under a false identity. But that doesn’t matter. Without military training, he won’t have the experience or the confidence to shoot from that far off. He’s someplace nearby, someplace with a potential for a clear shot at Willow."

"But we’re indoors—he can’t get at us unless he comes in or we leave."

"Any plans to leave?"

"Giles and Willow’s father think it is dangerous to stay."

"That will be Devonshire’s best sho—best chance to kill her. Can Willow protect herself from a bullet? With magic?"

"I honestly don’t know," Andrew said. "Fighting the death squad cost her dearly—her nose is still bleeding an hour after the event. I am not certain she has the strength to use extraordinarily powerful magicks."

"So we have two problems," Angel said. "We have to stop the hit man and we have to make sure Wolfram & Hart don’t hire another one."

"I don’t think they hired this one," Andrew said. "I might be wrong, but I think the Levensons are using their positions as executors of the Meers estate to channel money into Devonshire’s coffers."

"Can you get me into the Levensons’ home?"

"Are you suggesting an alliance?"

"Didn’t Cross team up with rival gangs in Predator: Race War?"

"You read Dark Horse comics? I could learn to like you, vampyra."

A choking sound came over the cell phone. Andrew frowned, as if he felt insulted by Angel’s reaction.


Scene Two


Int., the Rosenberg kitchen, an hour later.

They were gathered together around the kitchen table, except for the two cops. A SWAT officer stood at the back door of the house and another SWAT officer stood at the doorway leading into the dining room.

"I don’t approve of this plan," Ira Rosenberg said.

"Neither do I," Sheila said.

"Never thought I’d say this but I’m with your parents, Willow," Faith said.

Andrew shook his head. "You’re wrong, all of you. What Angelus—"

Willow snapped: "Angel! I’ve met both of them and believe me, Angelus isn’t around any more or we’d all be dead."

"By revealing himself, Angel or Angelus has endangered the entire population of Illinois," Andrew said. "If he isn’t Angelus he is a remarkable simulation."

Willow frowned. Faith shrugged. "Andy’s got a point there, Red. Angel shoulda stayed in hiding—especially with Wolfram & Hart in this game."

Andrew said: "I have a plan that will take him away from Wolfram & Hart’s agents. If they are involved in this, I suspect they would rather see if Devonshire can kill Willow. She is, after all, the most dangerous threat to evil in the world."

"Are you sure you are talking about my daughter?" Ira asked.

Faith looked at Andrew. "Do me a favor? You see Angel, could you ask him how come Angelus never fed on him?" She jerked her thumb at Ira.

Andrew said: "I’m not brave, as much as I used to think of myself as a criminal mastermind or a superhero. I’m just a Wiccan with a dark past who has to live with himself and the terrible things he’s done. But I think this plan has a good chance to work. I can wear a bulletproof vest and you can cast a glamour on me that makes people think I look like you. Devonshire will take his shot—"

"That’s not an expression I like to hear people use casually, Andrew," Willow said. "I’ve seen what a bullet can do to a person."

"You wouldn’t have such knowledge if you hadn’t fallen in with that Bunny and Rupert Giles," Ira said.

Andrew gave Ira the hardest, coldest stare he could manage. Which wasn’t saying much, considering the source. But no one mistook the look for one of respect. Andrew said: "Willow wouldn’t know what a bullet can do if my friends Warren and Jonathan and I hadn’t tried to rob an armored car. Willow wouldn’t know what a bullet can do if my friend Warren hadn’t gotten mad at Buffy—not Bunny, sir, Buffy— for thwarting our evil scheme. Willow wouldn’t know what a bullet can do if my friend Warren hadn’t been such a lousy shot. Willow wouldn’t know what a bullet can do if my friend Jonathan and I had been brave enough to turn Warren into the police and take what we had coming to us when we had the chance."

Willow frowned. "Andrew, you’re not trying to atone for what Warren did are you? ’Cause you really can’t and suicide isn’t—"

Andrew shook his head. "I’m trying to do what I can to accept responsibility for my part in this. If the plan works—"

Faith said: "That’s a huge if there, Andy."

"Devonshire will think you’re dead and that will give us all time to get you and your parents out of the way while Angelu—"

Faith raised her hand.

"—the vampyra and I deal with the Levensons."

"But if something goes wrong, you’ll die," Willow said.

"I recently gave up delusions of immortality, Willow. Please let me do this. It may be our best chance—and I would like to do something to make amends besides cook French toast."

Faith said: "What about the bullet? If it doesn’t hit Andrew, it has to hit something."

Willow said: "A bullet is pretty small. I can cast a generic spell to make a small thing turn toward a specific target. That way, even if he has armor piercing ammunition, no police officers will be killed."

"Isn’t anyone going to listen to me?" Ira asked.

Sheila squeezed her husband’s hand. "No, honey, no one is listening to you anymore."

"Now all we have to do is convince the cops to let a hit man escape," Willow said.

"They’ll obey the Council," Faith said. "They do that more and more these days."


Scene Three


Int., house opposite the Rosenberg house, just before sunset.

Arnold Devonshire sat in a chair near a front window. He was dressed like a Chicago patrol officer, complete with sidearm. He held the .300 Magnum rifle in his two hands. The chair was just a bit back from the window. It would hardly do to thrust the rifle barrel out the window. One of the SWAT officers might notice. That would be unpleasant for Arnold Devonshire.

He smiled as he saw the front door of the house open.

He raised the rifle and positioned his eye so that it was level with the sight. Not pressed against it, as they did in the movies but level with it. Had he fired the rifle with his eye against the sight, the recoil would have driven the sight directly into his eyeball and caused him a great deal of pain—and possibly caused the loss of his eye.

He placed the crosshairs of the sight on the doorknob as a good marking point. The door opened.

He saw what appeared to be Willow Rosenberg.

"Cute little thing," he said.

He watched her walk down the steps.

"She has a rather masculine way of walking," Devnoshire said to himself. "Must be a lesbian thing or something."

It never dawned on him that he was looking at a man who only looked like Willow because of a magic spell. All things considered, that was stupid of him.

He inhaled and exhaled slowly. Centering himself.

He squeezed the trigger.

Willow’s head seemed to split in two. She seemed to stand, then stagger, then drop like a sack.

The rifle shot reverberated in the street.

Arnold placed the rifle on the floor and rushed into the bathroom.

Where the bodies of the two homeowners lay underneath a blanket of flies and maggot eggs and newly hatched maggots.

Arnold drew the "service" pistol from its holster but aimed it toward the floor. From outside, you could hear shouting and the THUD! THUD! of men attempting to bash in a locked door.

With his free hand, Arnold crossed himself over and over again and said, very loudly, "Sweet Jesus, oh, dear, sweet Jesus Christ," over and over again.

This wasn’t as daft was you might think. Arnold wore a police uniform for the same reason a wolf wear’s sheep’s clothing: to blend in with the herd. The big drawback to a huge police presence is that one more man in a uniform might not attract suspicion.

The trick, of course, was to remain cool and calm while everything went to hell around you. If the plan worked, Arnold could walk through the army of cops without being caught. If the plan didn’t work . . . well, the cops might very well just shoot him and then argue that they had "reasonable cause" to fear for their safety because he was armed.

Sure enough, other uniformed cops joined him a minute or so after the door gave way and street cops, joined by SWAT cops, ran into the house.

And one of those cops crossed himself as Arnold was crossing himself and said, "Sweet Jesus," in exactly the same tone that Arnold was using.

Another cop snapped: "For Christ’s sake, you’ve seen bodies before! Call it in and look for the shooter!"

Arnold snapped, "I’ll call it in," and shouldered his way past the real policemen.

He walked outside and yelled for paramedics, which added to the confusion, and then walked briskly down the block. He holstered his gun as he walked.

Four blocks later, he went straight to a car that was parked on the street. He didn’t seem at all irked by the parking citation under the windshield wiper. In fact, he smiled as he took the ticket and looked at it. The citation was clearly marked Boston Police Department—and Boston was quite a distance from Chicago.

"They never ticket a car that’s already been ticketed," he said with a smile. He folded the ticket and slipped it into his pocket. He unlocked the trunk and took out a large dark trench coat. He put it on, effectively concealing the police uniform. Then the hit man got into his car and drove away.

Cut to:

Ext., the Rosenberg house, just after sunset, 10 minutes later.

Faith came walking down the steps.

She looked up and down the street.


"OK, Andy, I think he’s gone."

Both a nearby SWAT van and "Willow" suddenly shimmered—and the glamours covering them collapsed. In their place: a SWAT van with a nasty dent centered by a distinctive bullet hole; Andrew in t-shirt and jeans, prostrate and trembling on the ground. Two SWAT cops rushed to him and helped him stand again. He continued trembling.

Andrew looked down and blushed. "I’m so ashamed. I wet my pants."

One of the cops said: "Kid, you got nothing to be ashamed of. You were willing to risk a bullet in the head for a pal. You’ve got balls, son."

Andrew smiled weakly. "Well, one ball anyway."

"I don’t get it."

Faith chuckled. "And it’s made of brass, Andy, solid brass."


To be continued in Act Four, Part Two

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (5B/5C)

DISCLAIMER: See top of thread.

DISTRIBUTION: Ask and I shall approve.

SPOILERS: See previous installments.

RATING: R (story includes mature subject matter)


SUMMARY: See previous installments.

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (5B/5C)

Act Four, Part Two

Scene Four


Arial view, San Francisco skyline, night.

Cut to:

Airport runway.

The Council jet cruised to a halt and Andrew Wells disembarked alone.

He passed through the baggage section before he spotted Angel. The two glared at one another.

"Are you sure you have the right address?" Angel asked. "I’m not crazy about paying for unnecessary charter flights."

Andrew frowned. "I thought the Scottish were the stereotypical tightwads."

"Let’s just pick up the damned car, OK?"

Cut to:

Ext., a passenger plane in flight, night.

Cut to:

Int. of plane.

Arnold Devonshire sat near the aisle. The seat adjacent to the window was unoccupied. He seemed . . . content. He put on a set of earphones and leaned back, closed his eyes and listened to a Bach composition for violins. His smile spread over his face and his entire body seemed to relax, as if all the stress was just bleeding out of him.

Then a hand touched his and he jerked violently awake. He instantly, instinctively, reached inside his jacket for a gun that wasn’t there.

And froze, eyes wide, at the sight of the person seated by the window.

A person who should not have been there.

Willow Rosenberg.


Scene Five


Int. of plane.

Blood dripped from both of Willow Rosenberg’s nostrils and she looked very pale and sick.

Arnold Devonshire did not, however, seem too terribly comforted by her appearance.

"How did . . . ?"

"Teleportation spell."

They both spoke softly, as if they were flying together. A casual chat between pals. About magic. And murder for hire.

"Takes a lot out of you, right?" His eyes fell on her neck. As if he were contemplating manual strangulation. He quickly glanced around. Most of the other passengers were asleep, but a few were reading. He sighed in resignation.

Willow smiled. "I can take what I need from you if I have to."

Arnold nodded. "Wolfram & Hart should have told me about that."

"Why do they want me dead?"

"I’m not sure they do. I think it is more a case of, if someone else wants her dead we’ll facilitate it but if they don’t we won’t force the issue. My guess is, they’d rather have you alive and on their side but failing that—"

"Mrs. Meers wanted me dead all along, didn’t she?"

Arnold nodded. "She really hates you."

Willow raised her eyebrows. "You don’t?"

"I don’t feel much," Arnold said.

Willow briefly touched his arm.

Arnold gasped and the blood drained from his face.

Willow briefly touched his arm a second time.

Arnold started panting, as if a terrible pain had just subsided.

Willow said: "That was arthritis. I can make it permanent. You’ll never pull a trigger again as long as you live."


"You cancel the contract on me."

"You want me out, fine, I’m out. But that won’t stop Mrs. Meers—"

"We’ve caged her," Willow said.

"The Levensons are still willing to pay for a killer," Arnold said. "They’ll just hire someone else."

"Make sure it isn’t anyone you know," Willow said. "Because if there’s another attempt on my life or another threat against my parents? I’ll come looking for you. And I will find you, Mr. Devonshire."

"That’s not—"

"The name you’re traveling under? No, it isn’t. But I know your real name is Arnold Devonshire. You have a wife, a daughter, you make $100,000 a year just waiting to be ordered to kill people . . . how much is my life worth, anyway?"

"It was supposed to be $15,000 but a couple extra meetings bumped it to $25,000."

"Where did you get those Council badges?"

"I don’t know."

Willow smiled.

Arnold stiffened. "My eyes!"

"Want your vision back?"

"Wolfram & Hart!"

"Did they tell you how they got them?"

"No! You have to believe me—"

"Not really, but I think you’re telling the truth. Look at me."

Arnold turned his head toward her voice.

"Can you see me?"

Arnold nodded.

Willow showed him her Resolve Face. The hit man shuddered.

"Are the badges forgeries?"

"I don’t think so."

"Which means there’s a traitor in the Council."

Arnold shrugged. "A global organization? You’re bound to have a few turncoats."

"Leave me and mine in peace, Mr. Devonshire." And with those words, Willow was gone. Only the dark bloodstains left on the window seat by her bleeding nose gave evidence that she had really been there.

Arnold closed his eyes. "That is one very scary person."


Scene Six


Ext., a house in suburban San Francisco.

Angel and Andrew walked up the sidewalk. The lawn looked perfectly manicured. Andrew commented on it. Angel snorted. "Fake grass."

"How can you tell?"

"The scent."

"Are you sure—?"

Angel sighed. "For the last time, kid, Faith filled me in on your plan. But while you were in the air, she called me with a couple of alterations to your script."

"You can’t do that!"

"Yes, I can."

Andrew said: "I’ll just call Willow—"

Angel said: "Who do you think sent me the changes?"

They froze and glared angrily at each other, perhaps remembering a similar exchange they’d had when Angel was still working for Wolfram & Hart.

Angel smiled maliciously and said: "Look around you, kid. There are no vampire Slayers here. Think you could take me?"

Trembling, Andrew said: "No, but I’d go down fighting."

Angel chuckled. "You might become a good guy yet, kid. We stick with the original opening—but when I take out my prop, you follow MY lead."


"Something Willow teleported to me."

They went up the steps and Angel pounded on the front door with his palm.


Andrew took out his Council badge. If the people in the house knew what a real Homeland Security badge looked like, they were finished before they had even begun.

But Homeland Security was too new an agency. The odds favored the vampire and the Watcher.

The door opened. A middle-aged woman stood there in her robe. "What do you—Andrew Wells?"

Andrew held up the badge. "Hi, Mrs. Levenson."

Angel snapped: "Homeland Security. Do you let us in or do we take you to Cuba?"

"I don’t—"


"Alright, alright, come in!" She stepped back from the door.

The vampire and the Watcher entered her home.

Cut to:

Int., the Levensons’ living room, 4 a.m.

Angel made a point of pulling all the curtains and drapes—a precaution, perhaps, in case the meeting ran longer than expected. When you’re a vampire, you really don’t want to catch an early sunrise.

Andrew spoke first. "We know you hired a gunsel to make his bones on Willow Rosenberg."

Mr. and Mrs. Levenson stared at him for a minute or so, then looked at Angel. Mr. Levenson asked the obvious question: "Is he for real?"

"Yes," Angel said. "Melodramatic and prone to use out of date slang, but he is very real. And so is the danger you two are in if you don’t tell us why you hired someone to murder Willow."

Mr. Levenson stood up and pointed to the door. "Get out of our house, Mister—"

Angel stepped into the man’s personal space, so that their noses actually touched, before the bumps rose on his forehead and his eyes changed into unearthly imitations of human eyes and his fangs became visible. "Call me Varney."

Andrew smiled. "Well played, vampyra."

Mrs. Levenson frowned. "Varney as in Varney the Reluctant Vampire?"

Angel bowed.

Mrs. Levenson shook her head. "Next thing you know, you’ll be telling me Forever Knight was a documentary series."

Angel said: "My reputation for . . . reluctance . . . is exaggerated. I am, in fact, one of the worst mass murderers in history. Now, do I murder you two—very, very slowly over, oh, say, a six month time frame?—or do you tell me why you want Willow Rosenberg killed."

"She murdered our son," Mrs. Levenson said. "She-she f-f-flayed him!"

Andrew shook his head. "Jonathan was stabbed to death, not flayed. And Willow didn’t do it. I—"

Angel suddenly brandished a knife, the very knife that Andrew had used to murder his friend Jonathan. Angel slowly ran the sharp edge of the blade against the front of Mr. Levenson’s throat—pressing just hard enough so that the poor man oozed sweat, but not quite hard enough to make him ooze blood.

Andrew looked like he might faint. He could not take his eyes of the blade that—

"I used this to murder your son," Angel said.

Andrew stared at the vampire. "Why are you saying this?"

Angel ignored him. He continued talking to Mr. Levenson. "Willow had nothing to do with my crimes. I don’t like people who take credit for my work. So if you want to live, you’re going to do a few things for me. First, I want you to tell me who said Willow murdered your son?"

"L-lena Meers."

"One problem solved," Angel said. "She’s dead."

"W-we know. She said—"

"Bored now," Angel sighed, imitating Willow. "Do you have any money left? Money that you could use to hire another killer?"

Mrs. Levenson nodded.

Angel said: "Spend it on a trip; give it to the ACLU. I don’t give a damn. But if one more penny goes to murdering Willow—"

"If you’re her friend, then she’s as evil as you are!" Mrs. Levenson said.

"Do you want to become a vampire, lady? ’Cause I can make it happen. I can come in here anytime—"

"I thought a vampire couldn’t come into a house uninvited."

"You invited me," Angel said. "Once invited, always invited."

"W-why? What do you care . . . ?"

Angel nodded toward Andrew. "This demon hunter spared me—on the condition that I clear the names of anyone accused of my crimes."

The Levensons both glared at him, but it was Mr. Levenson who spoke: "You would let this-this murderer go free?"

Andrew shook his head, as if to clear it of cobwebs. Then he puffed himself up and said: "That is your punishment for the failed attempt on the life of Willow Rosenberg—your son’s killer goes free."

He spoke the line as if he’d rehearsed it for months. But he hadn’t. From the moment Angel brandished the knife, both vampire and Watcher had been ad-libbing.

Angel said: "Well played, Vahtcher."

Andrew glared at him. He apparently didn’t appreciate the way the vampire pronounced the word "Watcher."

"Your choice, Mr. and Mrs. Levenson." Angel glanced at his watch. "Decide quickly. I really don’t plan on going out after sunrise and you really, really do not want me as your houseguest for an entire day."

Cut to:

Ext., the Levensons’ house, 5:30 p.m.

"Think they bought it," Angel asked.

Andrew shrugged. "Does it matter? By sunrise, the IRS will have served court orders freezing their assets. The probate court will appoint someone else to be executor of Mrs. Meers’ estate. I think it’s finally over for Willow. I envy her."

The vampire nodded.

"Angel? Why did you confess to my crime? The plan was—"

"The Levensons would have reported you to the police, even with a vampire bodyguard. Faith doesn’t think you’d last five minutes in prison—and she spent three years there, so I think maybe she knows what she’s talking about."

Andrew nodded. "I’m not sure I should thank you or—"

"Don’t. I didn’t do you any favors. I did it for Faith and for Willow."

"If you really care about Willow, or anyone else, you’ll go back into hiding and stay there forever."

"A friend of Willow’s will give me a book of glamours to cast so I can disguise my identity the next time I have to leave the Dee—my hide out. With any luck, you and I will never have to look at each other again as long as we live."

Andrew nodded.

They returned to the rental car. Angel insisted on driving. Andrew didn’t argue with him.



Andrew smiled. "I have to admit, that Varney reference was cool."

"I had a feeling you’d appreciate the irony."

Cut to:

Int., the Levensons’ living room, same time.

The Levensons sat on the sofa, wrapped in each other’s arms. Weeping.

"We’ll never get justice now, will we?" Mrs. Levenson sniffed.

"We have to think about staying alive," her husband said. "First, we sell the house. That way, that damned vampire can’t come in again."

"Then what?"

"I’m not sure . . . but, somehow, we have to find out the truth about what happened to our son."

"What about Wolfram & Hart?"

"I don’t trust them any more than I trust that vampire or his pal Andrew."


To be continued, and hopefully concluded, in Act Four, Part Three

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (5C/5C)

DISCLAIMER: See top of thread.

DISTRIBUTION: Ask and I shall approve.

SPOILERS: See previous installments.

RATING: R (story includes mature subject matter)


SUMMARY: See previous installments.

WATCHERS: Dance With Death (5C/5C)

Act Four, Part Three

Scene Seven


Int., the Rosenberg house, the following evening.

The doorbell rang. Ira Rosenberg answered it.

A tall, dark man stood in the doorway.

"I’m a friend of your daughter’s," Angel said. "May I come in?"

Ira groaned. "Another of her friends! Are we still in danger or not?"

"May I please come in, sir? I’ve lived in California for a long time now and Chicago weather—"

Ira sighed. "Oh, all right, come in, mister—"

Angel stepped through the doorway, grabbed Ira by his shirt and lifted him up. He showed Ira his vampire face.

"I’d like to tell you why I never killed you, Ira. The main reason? It was the most vicious thing Angelus could imagine doing to your little girl—leaving her trapped in life with you!"

Cut to:

Int., Watchers Council Conference Room, Cleveland, Ohio, the following day.

With the notable exception of Rowena, the gang was all there: Robin, Faith, Willow, Andrew, Giles and Xander.

"How did you guys get the name of the hit man, anyway," Xander asked.

Andrew opened his mouth, but Faith spoke first. "An old friend of mine with a kinda shady past helped us out. Even helped Andy convince the Levensons they should forget about vengeance."

Willow, an anxious look on her face, nodded. "Faith’s got some interesting friends."

Andrew nodded. For whatever reason, he did not share with Giles and the others the truth: That Angel had emerged from hiding, endangering himself and thousands of others, to help Willow.

"In any event, well done, all of you," Giles said. "Faith tells me that your actions were particularly heroic, Andrew."

Andrew blushed. Robin and Xander just stared at Andrew.

Robin mouthed his name: Andrew?

Faith nodded and mouthed his name right back: Andrew.

Giles coughed. "Unfortunately, we still have a mystery on our hands. The Council badges appear to be quite real—and, according to their serial numbers, they were issued to Watchers and Slayers who died during our fight with the Presidium."

"Which means there’s a traitor in the Council," Robin said.

"It does narrow our list of suspects to someone in Cleveland," Giles said.

Faith said: "Shouldn’t somebody have recovered the badges from the bodies after the fight?"

"All personal effects should have been inventoried and stored by our medical people after the wounded were attended to," Giles said. "But I doubt anyone kept a close watch on the dead. Unlike the U.S. military, we have no system in place for dealing with large numbers of our own dead. Historically, the Council has never needed such a system. I am a bloody fool for failing to make certain those badges were secured."

"I’ll supervise a world wide inventory of all Council badges," Robin said.

"We had best notify all government agencies that some of our badges have been stolen," Giles said. "In the wrong hands, those badges could be a license to terrorize the world."

Willow swallowed. "Is there any chance Mrs. Meers would know who the traitor is?"

"I’d put nothing past that dreadful woman, but I fail to see how we could get the information from her. Andrew bound her to the Council jail and took her voice."

Willow said: "We could bribe her."

Xander frowned. "How do you bribe the dead?"

"If she gives us the traitor, we give her back her freedom."

"She’d just lie," Xander said.

"A truth spell would fix that," Willow said.

Giles shook his head. "You have been casting far too many spells lately, Willow. We have no intention of losing you."

Robin said: "And no one wants that woman loosed, dead or alive."

Andrew said: "This is gonna sound kinda crazy, but I think I know who the traitor is."


"Dr. Argentine."

Xander frowned. "Didn’t he detect your cancer?"

"Testicular mass," Andrew corrected. "It isn’t officially cancer until I see the doctor tomorrow," Andrew said. "But here’s the thing . . . I’m awful young to have cancer. How come the doctor thought to look for it?"

"You got lucky?" Xander asked.

"Did the doctor examine your testicle?" Andrew asked him. Andrew looked at Giles and then Robin. "Or yours? Or yours?"

The other three men frowned and exchanged glances. One by one, they each very slowly said "no."

Faith said: "But why—"

"The last person you’d suspect of treason is a hero," Robin said. "A lot of people were reluctant to believe Benedict Arnold was a traitor because he gave up his leg for the American cause."

Giles looked at Willow. "I hate to ask, especially after—"

"Bring him to me, I’ll read him like a book."

Xander said: "This is a really flimsy piece of logic—"

Giles said: "We certainly won’t publicly accuse the man of a crime. We’ll simply—"

Andrew said: "Ask him to come here because I’ve passed out. When he shows up, Willow can read his mind."

Giles picked up his cell phone.


Scene Eight


Int., Dr. Argentine’s office.

The doctor said, "Certainly, Councilor Giles, right away," and hung up.

The doctor frowned. "Why would they call for me, specifically? That cost them time and Watchers don’t waste time in an emergency." He closed his eyes and sighed. "Of course. They know. Time for Plan B."

Cut to:

Int., security monitor center, minutes later.

Kennedy sipped her coffee as she watched the many screens with bored eyes.

Suddenly, those eyes narrowed and the Slayer sat bolt upright.

On the screen she saw Dr. Argentine enter the Council Jail. He knelt in front of the cell that Xander had covered with drywall.

Over the PA system, Giles’ voice suddenly announced: "Please bring Dr. Argentina to the Council chamber immediately! It is an urgent matter!"

Kennedy hit a button and suddenly alarms started blaring and lights started flashing. Kennedy grabbed a walkie-talkie and began barking orders to jail guards to grab the doctor NOW!

Too late.

The doctor had already drawn a large, crude pentagram on the floor. He had already taken out a bra—probably the bra that Mrs. Meers had used to hang herself; the same bra Andrew had used to bind the dead woman’s spirit to the place of her death—and he had already applied a lit cigarette lighter to the bra.

The bra was half gone by the time Faith grabbed the doctor and began beating him to a bloody pulp.

Xander put out the flames with a fire extinguisher. Some of the bra survived the fire.

But, again, they were too late.

Mrs. Meers’ ghost stepped through the dry wall and waved at a security camera.

And vanished.

VO Giles: "Did he say why?"

VO Rowena: "Wolfram & Hart promised him immortality."


Scene Nine


Int., another doctor’s office, the next day.

Andrew sat in an examination room. The clock on the wall said 9:30 a.m.

The nurse said: "The doctor will see you in a few minutes."

Cut to:

Int., same examination room.

The clock on the wall said 10:45 a.m.

Andrew’s urologist came in and apologized. "I’m sorry you had to wait so long. Someone misplaced your file and we had to have them resend it."

Andrew nodded, as if he’d come to expect that sort of thing. Cancer patients all too often do come to expect, if not accept, that sort of thing.

The doctor opened the file, read the contents and nodded. "As I thought. It’s seminoma. It’s good news."

Andrew glared at him murderously.


Finally, the doctor nodded. "Seminoma’s a cancer."

"Finally, a word I recognize! Mass, tumor, seminoma . . . something that is in the process of becoming cancerous! A simple declarative sentence is a blessing!"

The doctor nodded. The rant didn’t seem to bother him.

"So . . . when do I start chemotherapy?"

The doctor smiled gently. "It’s a localized seminoma, Andrew. You won’t need chemotherapy. Maybe if it had spread . . . "

"So what happens now?"

"You make an appointment to speak with a radiation oncologist and then you decide if you want radiation therapy or surveillance."

Cut to:

Int., Council kitchen, an hour later.

Andrew was a little surprised to find that someone had made lunch in his absence.

Becca quipped: "Thank God Giles is almost as good in the kitchen as he is . . . elsewhere."

Giles blushed. And so did several other people.

Faith said: "So what’s the word, Andy?"

"I have cancer," Andrew said. "Or had it. They think they got it all when they operated. I’ve done some research and I’m going to talk to a doctor, but . . . "

They waited. Andrew seemed to be struggling with the words.

"If a microscopic cancer cell broke loose, it could go to any part of my body and start the whole thing over again. Radiation therapy could, at least theoretically, destroy that microscopic cell. But there’s a downside—and I don’t mean the side effects of radiation therapy, although they can sometimes be nasty."

"What are the risks?" Becca asked.

"I could be lowering my risk of a second seminoma and increasing my risk of developing another cancer," Andrew said. "Like pancreatic cancer. The thing is—the odds of my surviving a local seminoma tumor are 97 percent."

Everyone sighed with relief. 97 percent is a pretty damn nice number.

"You sure it’s cancer?" Jeff asked. "’Cause a 97 percent survival rate doesn’t make it sound like a big deal."

Mia and Kennedy simultaneously slapped the back of Jeff’s head. No one scolded them.

Andrew said: "Pancreatic cancer patients have zero percent chances of survival."

Jeff said: "Couldn’t radiation make you sterile?"

Andrew shook his head. "Seminoma makes you sterile—only two percent of survivors can have kids. They protect your testicle during radiation therapy—they cover that part with a thick lead cup."

Everyone, male and female alike, cringed at that bit of information.

"But what’s the alternative?" Willow asked. "To—"

"Surveillance," Andrew said. "Basically, I see a doctor and have a CT scan and have blood tests."

"For how long?" Xander asked.

"Every year for the next five years," Andrew said. "If it doesn’t come back in five years, I’ll be officially cured. Heck, I might be already. We just won’t know for . . . half a decade."

"What if it comes back?" Faith asked.

"The doctor said cancer always comes back worse, but . . . if we catch it while it’s local . . . the survival rate is 97.5 percent among second time seminoma patients," Andrew said. "And there doesn’t seem to be any real difference between seminoma patients who go with the radiation therapy or the ones who just . . . watch and wait. The only thing that scares me . . . well, a lot of things scare me. My tumor was small—the urologist was a little surprised Dr. Argentine caught it. Seminoma usually strikes men between the ages of 20 and 40, but doctors don’t usually start examining men for testicular cancer until they are past 35. And since seminoma is only diagnosed in about 6,500 men a year—"

Xander whistled.

"We’ll support any decision you make," Giles said. "And you need not worry about your job. Getting well is more important than cooking. We’ll . . . muddle through on days when you are in treatment."

Andrew smiled. "Thanks, Giles. The doctor told me . . . some employers object to employees taking time off for radiation therapy or chemo therapy."

"Any idea what you’re gonna do, Andy?" Faith asked.

Andrew shrugged. "I’ll know for sure after I talk to the oncologist, but . . . I’m a Watcher, Faith. I think I’ll Watch. And wait."



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