|Though This Be Madness|
(April 9, 2007)
Written by: Masquerade
Previously on The Destroyer...
EXT. GREEN, SUNNY PARK - DAY
SWEEPING PAN - Birds twitter; leaves rustle lightly in the breeze.
TIGHT SHOT - BUFFY SUMMERS sits on a flowered quilt, legs tucked to one side, wearing a yellow checked dress. She twirls her gold "class protector" parasol above her head.
In the end, it's all about protection--
protecting the world from evil,
not to mention odor and wetness.
And unsightly stains.
TIGHT PAN past a picnic basket. Faith sits opposite her in black denim and leather.
Exactly. That's what I'm always saying.
You have to protect yourself first.
If you can't protect yourself,
how can you protect anyone else?
Buffy gives her a side-long glance. She reaches down for something lying at her side. LOW CLOSE-UP - her hand tightens around Faith's MULTI-BLADE DAGGER.
(voice deeply distorted)
You can't protect yourself from this.
Buffy heaves herself up, snarling, and DIVES AT FAITH over the picnic basket.
CUT TO - EXT. PATIO OF FAITH'S SUNNYDALE PENTHOUSE APARTMENT - NIGHT
Faith and Buffy face off before the broken, high arched window. The dagger is PROTRUDING FROM FAITH'S BELLY. Blood stains her shirt. One determined foot at a time, Faith clambers up on the patio ledge. She glances over the side of the building, then takes one final, cool look at Buffy.
I always protect myself.
TIGHT SHOT - Faith AWAKES WITH A START, her head pressed against her pillow.
INT. FAITH'S APARTMENT - LATE AFTERNOON
Her shoulders are bare. Thin streaks of daylight cross her face. She exhales.
Shouldn't we be getting up?
Faith glances in the direction of the voice, then over at the opposite side of the bed. The DIGITAL CLOCK on the end table reads 3:45. Faith's voice is husky from sleep.
Depends on what you mean.
She rises up on one elbow.
CUT TO - CHARLES GUNN smiles lazily as Faith leans in over him. She kisses his bare chest, the tips of her hair tickling his skin, then trails her lips up to his collar bone, neck, chin, and lips. After a long, slow kiss, she rises and straddles his hips. Gunn caresses her arms. She leans back in.
CONNOR REILLY walking to classes, swinging a SWORD in a street fight,
FAITH THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, taking aim with her CROSSBOW at a multi-armed, blade-swinging DEMON,
and AIDEN WALSH, sitting at a TABLE with a BOOK opened in front of him.
J. August Richards
Rachel Leigh Cook
Catalina Sandino Moreno
EXT. JOHN WOODEN RECREATION CENTER - UCLA - LATE AFTERNOON - ESTABLISHING
INT. INDOOR HANDBALL COURT
A tiny blue ball strikes a high white wall. Connor tracks it, crouched, his face a mask of concentration. He lunges to one side and -
SMACKS THE BALL HARD off the wall again. It SAILS THROUGH THE AIR. He skitters back and -
REVERSE ANGLE, BEHIND GLASS - AIDEN seats himself on a short rise of BLEACHERS next to a stack of folded towels. He brings his book bag around.
His POV - Connor dodges this way, then that, GRIMACING WITH EFFORT, slamming the ball against the wall over and over as if it has committed some grievous sin against him.
CLOSE-UP on Connor's grim expression. JUMBLED QUICK-CUT -
Holtz; Angelus; Darla; Yorkshire alleyways and meadows; a dozen moments from "Twisted", including those Connor wasn't present at but could only imagine--the murder of Holtz's family.THWACK!
Connor finally pivots, breathing hard. He sees who is waiting there and lets the ball rebound around on its own.
CUT TO - INT. SPECTATOR AREA
Connor grabs a towel and wipes the sweat from his forehead.
What are you doing here?
Aiden raises a sheaf of papers.
I got that information you wanted.
(off Connor's distracted frown)
About burning deaths in the L.A. area?
Connor takes them. Aiden scrutinizes him as he reads the top page.
So where've you been all week?
With a flicker of exasperation, Aiden gestures at the report.
It's all there--names, dates...
circumstances, if they were available.
I went back five years.
(Connor flips the page over)
After weeding out the victims who died from
known causes--house fires, car fires--
I found some weird coincidences.
This nets him only a grunt of acknowledgement. Connor steps around the front of the bleachers. Aiden continues as he climbs.
First, witness statements in more than one
of the "unknown causes" said the burnings happened in
a matter of seconds instead of minutes.
Connor seats himself on the other side of Aiden's bag.
And another thing?
The victims were mostly "down-and-out" types--
suicides, crazies, homeless, or people with major problems,
like huge gambling debts...
(a significant look)
or terminal diseases.
Aiden nods. Connor contemplates this for a moment. Then he breaks into a confounded grin.
How do you find out this stuff?
I mean, isn't it private?
Aiden grins back.
Hey, I may be a Watcher now,
but I'm still a trained investigative reporter.
I have my sources.
Wasn't easy, though.
The stories in the paper were disconnected and scattered over months.
I got the feeling the police have connected the deaths,
but they don't know a whole lot more than that.
Connor nods, returning to Aiden's report.
That guy Danny said the man who owns Sekhmet
kept the deaths of his customers quiet somehow.
Aiden chuckles giddily.
Man. There's probably some...whacko out there burning people alive.
I'm half tempted to write it all up
and submit it to the Times or something.
This gets Connor's attention. Aiden shakes his head in all seriousness.
But I'm not going to.
Faith'd kill me long before
the Watchers got around to a reprimand.
(off Connor's puzzled look)
I'm not supposed to let anything supernatural
become public. I took a "sacred oath."
That's what they call it.
Speaking of Faith, have you seen her in the past week?
Connor shakes his head. DISSOLVE TO -
INT. FAITH'S APARTMENT - LATE AFTERNOON
A very naked FAITH snatches up the clothes strewn across her tiny apartment floor. Strategically-placed camera angles reveal a bent shoulder here, a slender shin and knee there, and her beleaguered expression.
I talked her on the phone once, but only for a minute.
Gunn watches Faith scurry around from the bed. His head is propped up on one hand and the sheet is draped loosely over his hips.
I can't believe I've spent the past week
doing nothing but patrolling and screwing.
Isn't that your ideal lifestyle?
Faith rises and walks the clothes to the end of the bed.
Which is why I've gotta get back to work.
She tosses them on her desk and heads around to the wardrobe.
Aiden's got a whole stack of baddies he wants to check out....
She opens the wardrobe and pulls out her red terrycloth robe.
A demon "Fight Club" in Hollywood;
unspeakable evil rising in the San Fernando Valley....
She slips on the robe, pivots, and heads towards the kitchen.
Faith passes through, continues into the bathroom, and re-emerges a moment later with a toothbrush protruding from her mouth. She opens a cupboard and reaches inside for a can of coffee and a bag of filters.
(pulling out the brush)
Some freaks trying to raise a big scary
from "the demon world below" or something.
Gunn rises to sitting, bringing his feet around to the floor. He rubs his face with one hand.
Yeah, I've got to get back to work myself.
(he frowns thoughtfully)
I've been thinking about the Shanshu prophecy
ever since your boy Aiden mentioned it.
Faith pours coffee grounds into the machine, glancing over at him.
That Angel-becomes-human thing?
Gunn nods, standing. LOW SHOT - We follow the progress of his feet over to Faith's desk.
That prophecy's the reason for everything
Wolfram and Hart did when it came to Angel.
It's got to be the key to what they want from him now.
He gathers up his shirt, pants, and shorts.
So I found someone to talk us through it.
Wes was the leading expert, before....
He tosses the shirt and pants on the bed and brings up his boxer shorts. We hear the sound of running water in the kitchen.
(stepping into them)
Since this guy's gonna be in the country anyway,
I asked him if he might consider making a pit stop in L.A.
Faith brushes her teeth over one side of the sink while the coffee pot fills up from the tap on the other.
Who is it?
Gunn grabs up his pants.
Think you know him. Rupert Giles?
TIGHT SHOT - the water splashes over the top of the pot.
Faith gapes at Gunn.
You asked Giles to come to L.A.?
She tosses her toothbrush into the sink and stalks over to him. Gunn is hunched over, stepping into his pants. LOW SHOT - his foot misses and hits the floor, hard.
Yeah. He came to New York for a Cream reunion concert.
(face to face with her)
Stayed on to do some research at Columbia.
When's he coming?!
Gunn tries his pant legs again, this time succeeding.
Today. Which is why I've got to--
He's gonna be in L.A. today?
Faith dodges around him and heads back over to her wardrobe. Gunn tracks her, puzzled. He yanks up his pants.
His flight back to England leaves tomorrow morning.
Today's all the time he had.
What's the matter?
Faith throws open the wardrobe doors and tugs a shirt off a hanger.
What time is his plane getting in?
Gunn brings up his wrist watch.
Uh...four-thir.... Just about now.
(his eyes widen)
Damn, I've got to get to the airport.
He quickly reaches for his shirt. We hear the scuffling of Faith getting dressed.
Shit! Fuck! Why didn't you tell me this before!?
I donno. I was distracted.
An off-camera zriiiip.
Faith rushes past him in jeans and a shirt, shoes dangling from her fingers, jacket slung over her arm. She reaches for the front door knob.
A muffled telephone ring sounds as we CUT TO -
EXT. AN ENCLOSED PARKING STRUCTURE
Aiden weaves through a packed lot, phone up to his ear.
You know, I really think we should tell Connor
about those Nyazian prophecy notes.
I know he's all in a mood lately,
but if they're about him--
CLOSE-UP on his PHONE.
Get your ass over to the Council office, stat.
We are in deep shit.
A JET ENGINE ROARS as we DISSOLVE TO -
EXT. LOS ANGELES AIRPORT - JUST BEFORE SUNSET
AERIAL SHOT - The sky is streaked in red and orange. A passenger jet comes in for a landing over the urban sprawl.
EXT. SLAYER COUNCIL BUILDING - EARLY EVENING - ESTABLISHING
A teenaged girl enters the foyer, a gym bag slung over her shoulder.
So what are we supposed to do?
Aiden and Faith face off across the table, their foreheads moist with sweat. The window is wide open and the blinds raised. From the hallway, we hear fans blowing over a subdued version of the usual squeaking shoes, chatter, and slamming locker doors of arriving Slayers. Books and plastic tubes line the shelves behind Faith.
Haul everything down to that storage closet in the basement.
Boxes and file cabinets line the walls behind Aiden.
Just the two of us? Right now?
Faith throws her arms out with frustration.
Or "magic" them down there somehow! I don't know!
(then, with irritation)
And why's is so fucking hot in here!?
The boiler's broken and the guy won't be here
to fix it 'til tomorrow.
Faith scowls. Then, with a look of determination, she digs her cell phone out of her back pants pocket.
I don't think a phone call's gonna help. It's after six.
She taps a button and brings the phone up. We hear a soft ringing on the other end. A look of realization comes to Aiden's face.
Maybe they can do a glamour.
Faith peers at him.
Just a sec.
She brings down the phone.
Where you make something look like something else
We could make the library look like it did
before we brought all this stuff over here.
Faith points a finger at him.
She turns and exits into the hall.
INT. TRAINING ROOM
A circulating fan sweeps the room. The windows are wide open and the blinds up. The Slayers enter and position themselves across the mat, where RONA is waiting for them. Suddenly -
The girls startle and whirl around. Rona gestures them to stay put and steps towards the training room door with a look of concern.
INT. FAITH'S OFFICE
Aiden stumbles into the doorway, wide-eyed. His POV - Faith's cell phone is IN PIECES on the floor. She is half-sitting on the desk, fuming. We can hear traffic sounds from the open window.
They won't use magic to
"deceive the good."
(her eyes blaze)
All I wanted was for them to buy me some fucking time!
She BASHES THE DESKTOP with the heel of her hand. Aiden tenses uneasily, then throws a wary glance back out the door. The Slayers sounds have quieted.
Maybe...we should just leave it be.
Act like nothing's weird, hide it in plain sight.
He's not going to fall for that.
Aiden licks his lips anxiously.
Knock, knock, knock. Faith and Aiden both stare towards the sound simultaneously. A few seconds later, a soft squeak is followed by the distinctive rumble of MALE VOICES.
Plan "B" it is.
EXT. DYKSTRA HALL DORMITORY - EARLY EVENING - ESTABLISHING
INT. CONNOR'S DORM ROOM
Light cuts in the darkened room as the door opens. Connor enters, his work-out clothes traded for cargo pants and a long-sleeved T-shirt. He reaches for the light switch, then pauses as his eye catches -
His ANSWERING MACHINE, blinking.
INT. TRAINING ROOM - EARLY EVENING
Rona leads a rank-and-file mat of Slayers through a tai-chi-like series of positioning drills--stances to deliver punches and kicks. We can see the girls' expressions of concentration in the wall-to-wall mirror as they follow her instructions and movements. Behind the Slayers near the door, Faith, Aiden, Gunn, and RUPERT GILES look on.
CUT TO a DIRECT SHOT of the four of them. Giles has his sweater sleeves rolled up and a canvas bag hanging from his shoulder. His suede suit-jacket hangs over his arm.
Thanks for taking the time to stop over.
(inspecting the room)
It's no problem.
This office was due for a courtesy call.
We got the training equipment off a Carnyss demon.
Giles gives Faith an encouraging smile.
Indeed. You're very resourceful.
He turns towards the exit. Faith follows, nearly running into Gunn. She dodges around him with an agitated glare. He stares after her with bewilderment and takes up the rear behind Aiden.
Rona's voice continues her drill instructions as the four of them step out into the hall. Faith veers immediately to WEAPONS CLOSET, digging in her front jeans pocket for the key.
Here, let me show you the weapons.
She unlocks the closet door and opens it, then stands aside to let Giles see the L.A. Slayers' slicey, pointy, blugdeony, and flingy ARSENAL.
Also, you know, collected off a lot of different bad guys.
Rona inventoried it last month, and we're gonna need
a new cabinet soon just for the swords and axes.
Yes, I see.
He checks his watch.
I'm afraid we're going to have to cut the tour short.
I only have four hours before my connecting flight
back to New York.
Shouldn't we wait for Connor?
Faith reaches for the cell phone that's no longer there.
I left a message on his machine.
Aiden holds out his cell. Faith takes it.
I saw him at the university gym earlier.
She pecks in a number. LOW SHOT - her knee bounces anxiously.
Giles glances down the hall.
Is that the library?
(an uneasy glance at Faith, then Giles)
You wanna get started?
Giles nods. Aiden smiles stiffly, then starts down the hall. Giles and Gunn follow. Faith looks after them, on the phone.
CUT TO - INT. LIBRARY - A MOMENT LATER
Faith enters, a six-pack of water bottles dangling from one finger. Apprehensively, she scans the room. Aiden is at his computer; Gunn is seated on the far side of the table. Giles is opposite him on the bookshelf side, thumbing through a notebook, intent in his preparations. Faith starts to shut the door, then thinks twice and leaves it open. She saunters over to the table giving Aiden a QUESTIONING LOOK.
Let's get down to business.
Aiden catches it and shrugs discreetly. Faith sits down between him and Giles.
Mr. Gunn asked me here to discuss the Shanshu prophecy--
It's just Gunn.
Giles acknowledges him with a nod. Faith begins tugging the water bottles free one by one.
--Specifically, the Wolfram and Hart Senior Partner's
understanding of it which has guided their policies
toward Angel for the past six years.
Aiden helps himself to a water bottle, eyes intent on Giles.
All of us here, with the exception of Aiden,
knew Wesley Wyndam-Pryce.
After Wesley died, I came into possession of his research,
including his notebook on the Scroll of Aberjian,
which I've studied off and on over the past two years.
He looks up at all of them over his glasses.
Now, let me preface this by stating that any text purporting
to contain "prophecy" is open to multiple interpretations;
the Scroll of Aberjian even more so.
The references in it to the "Vampire with a Soul"
were written by multiple authors in dozens of languages
over hundreds of years.
Aiden nods avidly. As Giles continues, we see Aiden slowly sit forward.
Wesley's translation, put succinctly, states that Angel would be
a pivotal figure in a series of battles between the forces
of good and evil, which one might think of as an "Apocalypse."
It then implies that when these battles were finally won,
he'd be rewarded by the Powers that Be--
he'd "shanshu," which in Proto-Bantu means--
Both "to live" and "to die".
Giles nods politely.
--An apparent contradiction which Wesley reconciled
as meaning Angel would become a creature that both
lives and dies.
Become mortal. Human.
Giles' eyes dart to him again. Aiden smiles timidly and sits back.
Now, the scholars at Wolfram and Hart were aware
of Wesley's interpretation,
But naturally, they had their own understanding of the prophecy.
Most significantly, they did not see the "Apocalypse"
as having an end point--a final "win" or "loss"--
An ironic chuckle from Gunn.
Took us long enough to get that through our heads.
He reaches for his water bottle. Giles pauses expectantly. After a beat, Gunn shrugs.
I just mean, Angel once tried to go down to hell and take on
the Senior Partners face-to-face,
thinking that's what was in the cards for him anyway--
(he gazes around at the others)
offing them for good before they offed all of us.
(beat; he opens the bottle)
But the Senior Partners don't want to destroy the world;
they're playing for a draw, not to win.
They want to keep the world as it is--
war, crime, disease, poverty.
Encourage the worst in human nature so they could profit from it,
but never make it so bad things cave in all together.
He takes a sip.
That's my understanding as well.
Which is why we finally had to bail from Wolfram and Hart.
The Senior Partners didn't want us dead;
they didn't even want our cooperation--
they wanted our complacency.
Fat and happy and not making waves.
Compromising instead of fighting them.
BRIEF CUT to FAITH, who is taking this all in thoughtfully.
But that's not what champions do.
They fight that sort of crap, and they keep fighting it.
"Our time is never up. We pay for everything."
Faith glances up to see -
everybody gazing at her. Giles' scrutiny of her is appreciative.
I'm just saying. The last time I talked to Angel,
he didn't believe Good could win over Evil--
not in the end, anyway. All we can do is keep fighting.
(then, quietly, more to herself)
Same thing with redemption.
CLOSE-UP on Gunn as a connection clicks in his head.
Which is why he stopped believing in the Shanshu.
Giles removes his glasses, looking somewhat taken aback.
Well, there isn't anything in the original text
of the prophecy stating unequivocally that the battles
Angel would participate in would culminate
in any sort of decisive win.
I believe that Wesley assumed they had to because
he believed the Shanshu was Angel's reward.
You read the scroll?
No. I've been working off transcripts he made of
the original passages.
(Giles digs a handkerchief from his pants pocket, looking troubled)
Which, by the way, went missing several weeks ago,
along with the rest of his notebooks.
Faith and Aiden exchange an alert, perplexed glance.
What do you mean?
Well, either they were misplaced,
or they were stolen by someone with access to our library.
Which is a disturbing possibility.
QUICK-CUT to Gunn, who does, indeed, look disturbed by this.
Giles wipes at his lenses.
There's no evidence either way, however, and
we've been quite flummoxed to explain how it happened.
CLOSE-UP on Faith as her expression grows thoughtful again. Giles dabs his forehead with the handkerchief, then lays it on the table and slips his glasses back on. He finally reaches for his water.
Er, at any rate, I can only imagine that Angel must have
concluded that if there was no ultimate "win,"
there could be no reward for the warrior fighting the battles.
(a pensive beat; he sips)
However, there's nothing in the text which unequivocally
rules out Wesley's interpretation, either.
Which is why the Circle wanted Angel to sign away
the Shanshu reward.
Giles nods at him.
I believe so.
They wanted to be certain Angel wasn't clinging to
the hope that he could defeat them and earn the reward.
Gunn shakes his head cynically.
'Cause in their way of looking at things,
if there's no reward,
Angel's got no reason to fight for the forces of Good.
While they, on the other hand,
offered him all the privileges of being a member of
the Circle of the Black Thorn if he joined their side.
Yeah, but why have Angel on their side at all?
Seems like a lot of trouble to go to for one vamp.
'Cause according to the prophecy, he's pivotal somehow.
Might as well make sure it's in your favor.
Gunn sits forward, looking puzzled.
How can you be pivotal in a battle that goes on forever?
It's possible that what we're seeing right now--
the apparent defeat of the Senior Partners--
is a just temporary set-back, a "blip," if you will,
in their on-going plans for humanity.
Makes sense to me.
I stood by Angel when he decided to take
down the Circle,
but I never thought that was the end of the Senior Partners.
From what I know about them,
they're sitting back in their cozy little hell,
biding their time.
And if that is, indeed, what they're up to,
they must believe they can restore themselves
to their former position,
and that Angel will somehow play a pivotal role in that.
And not just restoring it--solidifying it in a way that
it cannot be brought down again.
INT. LIBRARY - CONTINUOUS
CLOSE-UP on the dark expression on Faith's face.
Angel would never do that.
Well, perhaps not intentionally.
But our best-intended deeds sometimes
have unforeseen consequences.
A PRICKLY GLANCE from Faith. She crosses her arms and slumps back in her chair. With quiet frustration, Gunn turns his attention back to Giles.
Okay, so what we need to figure out is how the Senior Partners
think Angel is key to restoring their power back on Earth.
(an overwhelmed sigh)
A topic of protracted discussion, I'm afraid,
and I think that in the time we have left,
we should to return to the Shanshu passage itself--
"the Vampire with a Soul will shanshu."
(he glances over towards the door)
I was rather hoping Angel's son would be here....
Aiden and Faith exchange a knowing look.
He must've had a class or something.
I see. Well.
His eyes return briefly to his notes.
The reason I want to discuss that passage
is that I believe, based on my study
of Wesley's notebooks,
that the interpretations which are perplexing us here
might be misguided, if not entirely moot.
Now Giles has everyone's undivided attention.
(looking at them over his glasses)
Well, specifically, both Wesley and the scholars
of Wolfram and Hart believed the word "Shanshu"
referred to the mortality of one individual--
Angel's life followed by his death.
But my own understanding of Proto-Bantu suggests that
the term actually refers to a more universal cycle
of life and death.
(he holds up his hands as he struggles to explain)
You see, life and death are integral parts of a
single, on-going natural process.
Each generation is born, grows to maturity, reproduces,
and passes on--
Leaving their children to do it all over again.
Giles nods and lowers his hands to the table.
A process which, like the Senior Partner's "Apocalypse,"
has no fixed end point.
Each and every human being is a part of that cycle,
or has the potential to be.
But vampires, as creatures who are essentially dead,
are not--they can't grow, they can't die...
and they most assuredly can't parent children.
But Angel did.
So what you're saying is--
What I believe the prophecy is saying
that the Vampire with a Soul will,
in the course of his participation in
the eternal struggle between good and evil,
become part of another eternal process--
the human cycle of life, birth, and death.
CLOSE-UP on Faith as she struggles to absorb this. Then something in the doorway CATCHES HER EYE.
So Connor is Angel's Shanshu?
LONG SHOT down the table, her POV - CONNOR is standing just outside the door, jacket dangling from one hand.
Wouldn't that mean the prophecy had already came true?
Faith glances around discreetly. No one else has noticed him. Not even Aiden, whose eyes are intent on Giles.
(with a hint of frustration)
No. And yes! The Shanshu isn't one singular event
that happens, and then is completed. It's an on-going process.
CUT BACK TO Connor.
Angel will father a child,
who will grow up to father his own children,
who will in turn have children of their own.
Giles glances at Faith, whose attention is on the door. He looks over. TIGHT SHOT of Connor as everyone else does the same. Giles whips off his glasses with surprise. Faith scoots an unopened bottle of water down the table.
Hey. Have a seat.
In near slow motion, Connor enters. Giles leaps to his feet, approaching him with a hand extended. He gives Connor a giddy grin.
Hello. Rupert Giles.
Connor's answering smile understated and polite.
I've heard all about you, of course.
They shake briefly, then Giles returns to his chair. He taps at the bridge of his glasses and thumbs through a few pages of his notebook.
Er...perhaps I should back up a bit.
Gunn pushes the bottle Faith intended for Connor down toward him.
You gonna sit?
Connor doesn't. He scrutinizes Gunn ODDLY, his nostrils flaring slightly, then turns a visibly hurt glance over at Faith.
No, I got most of it.
Connor returns his gaze to Giles.
I'm Angel's "Shanshu."
Angel said the same thing to me last Spring before he left.
Giles takes this in, non-plussed. Gunn regards him with bewilderment. Aiden looks stunned.
That's what Angel said?
He gestures towards a chair on Gunn's side of the table.
Connor glances down at it, then over at Faith, awkwardly.
I'm sorry, I--I can't.
QUICK-CUT to Faith, who is scrutinizing him skeptically.
I remembered on the way over here that
I'm scheduled to work tonight.
Plus, I have a big test tomorrow to study for.
I just wanted to come in and tell you.
With an apologetic frown, he takes a step back towards the door.
So I'm gonna--
Mr. Reilly, a question or two, if I might--
What did Angel say, exactly?
That's it. That's all.
Another CUT TO Faith.
And had he ever mentioned the word "shanshu" to you before?
Giles looks around at the others.
Did he ever mention this connection between Connor
and the Shanshu prophecy to any of you?
They each shake their heads.
(continuing with the non-plussed)
I see. Well, this, er...if it's true,
would certainly shed a different light on Angel's actions.
(Aiden nods, looking puzzled)
And if the Senior Partners were to--
A harsh screech. Everyone's attention turns to Faith as she leaps from her chair. Hers is on the door.
She scrambles after him.
Giles stares after her. His POV, LONG SHOT down the hall - Connor, then Faith, disappear into the front hallway leading to the suite door. Giles blinks. He hand extends to his notebook. Slowly, he closes it.
Well, this is an awkward point to stop, however....
Gunn nods and grips the edge of the table. He stands.
CUT BACK TO Aiden, who is still frowning, deep in thought. His expression turns to trepidation as Giles pushes back his chair, rises, and takes in the room with distracted interest.
CUT TO - INT. FRONT HALLWAY
Faith's hand settles on his shoulder, stopping him in the doorway. He stiffens and stares down it. Faith draws it away.
All that "Shanshu" crap...
(he looks at her)
that's just the geeks talking.
Angel told me he doesn't believe it.
He probably just said that to you to--
He didn't say it to me. He said it to himself.
(a beat; his eyes dip)
Sorry. I really do have to go.
He heads out into the corridor. Faith catches the door and follows.
INT. SECOND FLOOR CORRIDOR
Connor pauses at the top of the staircase, bringing her to a halt.
When this Giles guy is done figuring out
how my life's gonna go, tell him to send me a memo.
CLOSE-UP on Faith's dismayed look. With a steady clomp of shoes, Connor is gone.
CUT TO - INT. LIBRARY
Faith re-enters and heads towards her chair, her dismay still evident.
He took off, which, big surprise....
Then she stops. Aiden's eyes are huge with distress. Giles is standing facing the bookshelves, hands in his pants pockets. Gunn is gone. Faith exchanges a look of dread realization with Aiden.
Shut the door, Faith. And have a seat.
Faith does as Giles says. All is quiet as she slumps defensively in a chair at the near end of the table. A moment ticks by. Sweat accumulates on her forehead. Finally -
The Abra-Melin Papyrus.
Le Grand Grimoire.
Powerful texts. Dangerous texts.
Sitting right on your bookshelf,
along with dozens of other rare and obscure works
the likes of which I'd expect to see only in
a dark sorcerer's library.
Faith opens her mouth to speak. Giles turns, cutting her off. His voice is tensed with controlled anger.
And don't tell me you've accumulated two tall file
cabinets' full of "case folders" in less than two years, either.
And from a cursory view of what's in those boxes....
Faith looks away.
I am astounded and appalled that you didn't inform
the Council you had these materials.
It's just stuff we picked up from bad guys--
You got it from the Syndicate,
who got much of it from Wolfram and Hart.
If an unscrupulous individual or organization knew
you had even one of these items,
you'd likely be dead right now.
Faith says nothing. Giles continues, his tone heavy with disappointment and anxiety.
You put yourself and your charges in extreme danger,
and for what?
Faith, in an attempt not to betray any emotion on her face, is betraying all of them.
We gave you responsibility for this office, Faith,
because we felt you were capable,
and supported your decision to take on the Syndicate
for the same reason.
Your history gave us sufficient reason to be wary,
but you seemed to have grown beyond that.
(QUICK-CUT to Faith; Giles bristles again)
I can see now, however, that you have absolutely no
corresponding faith in us, no pun intended.
So what are you gonna do?
Giles scrutinizes her circumspectly for a long moment, his expression troubled. When he finally speaks again, his tone is clipped and hasty.
Well, I see no alternative but to dismiss Mr. Walsh, permanently.
Aiden's sudden look of surprise melts almost immediately into devastation. Faith gapes.
What? You can't--!
As for you, Faith, I'm going to recommend to the other
senior Council members that you be suspended
of your responsibilities pending a hearing--
Faith leaps to her feet, stunned.
That's totally fucked!
She steps towards Giles, shoving a chair between them out of her way. Giles stands firm, raising his jaw.
....Where both the gravity and consequences of this incident
will be decided.
(in his face)
I've been busting my ass for the Council for three years,
doing everything you expected and more!
(she stabs a finger at Aiden)
(Aiden sits up with a resigned, but grateful expression)
You just now sat here spilling everything you know about
Angel to him, and you're letting him go?
Aiden gawks at her, offended.
(not backing down)
In the meantime,
Rona will be given full responsibility for training,
and I will cancel my flights and take over as head of
North American operations.
Oh, yeah, well, why the hell not.
You've been micromanaging everything I do long-distance anyway,
both you and "B"!
You want to just move in and take over, be my guest.
(she turns for the door)
She throws the door open and STORMS OUT. Aiden rises in slow motion to follow her, looking shell-shocked. Giles' expression is stony.
You're not dismissed yet, Mr. Walsh.
Aiden sinks back down.
Gunn watches Faith stalk by from the doorway of the training room.
He heads after her, wide-eyed. Several Slayers poke their heads out of the door after him.
Aiden hangs his head in shame.
You will remain for the duration of the evening
and tell me about each and every item that's in here.
Aiden nods and stands.
I'll--I'll get the inventory.
EXT. SLAYER COUNCIL OFFICE BUILDING - EVENING
Gunn races outside and comes to a halt on the sidewalk.
Where're you going? What'd Giles say?
Faith stands behind her Impala, unlocking the driver's side door. Her look is burning accusation.
You know damned well.
You saw the library and brought him here!
You set me up!
(stunned and baffled)
What are you talking about?
With a dismissive scowl, Faith throws open her car door and dives inside. Gunn steps down into the street. We hear the door slam and the engine start up. The steady beat of A Perfect Circle's "Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums" begins as Faith's car squeals off. Gunn turns and sprints down the sidewalk. The song's vicious beat and counter-beat continue as we segue to -
INT. CONNOR'S CAMRY
Connor's face is blank and broody.
His POV, through the windshield - A HIGHWAY MARKER on the freeway shoulder which reads
POV shift - the car changes lanes and exits onto another freeway.
The song transitions into the first verse as we CUT TO -
EXT. FAITH'S APARTMENT - EVENING
Gunn gets out of a truck we recognize as his OLD TRICKED-OUT FORD, only with a few less tricks and the words "East Hills Teen Center" painted on the side. He stares with frustration at -
Faith's dark, blinded APARTMENT WINDOW,
then heads up the front walk towards the building. The music continues, primitive and hostile.
EXT. SEEDY BACK STREET - HOLLYWOOD - EVENING
Boarded-up windows, piled trash, scratched and dented cars. Faith comes at the camera, ROUND-HOUSE KICK FLYING. Her hair is mussed and a bruise darkens the corner of her scowling mouth. Her eyes are stormy.
WIDE CRANE SHOT - she's taking on FIVE CIRCLING, KNIFE-WEILDING GRAY DEMONS all at once, pivoting and dodging almost in synchrony with the beat.
REVERSE ANGLE, high on a nearby rooftop - THREE INDISTINCT FIGURES look on.
CONTINUED CRANE SHOT, their POV - A demon gets Faith in a rear arm-lock. Using it for leverage, she raises her legs and KICKS AT another, advancing demon. It stumbles back. Faith twists free of her captor and punches it, hard. It strikes back, SNAPPING her head to one side.
GROUND-LEVEL SHOT - A third demon comes up behind her. With a determined gritting of her teeth, she THROWS HER HEAD BACK, nailing the demon on the chin. It staggers. The previously kicked demon comes at her from the side. She grabs it by one arm and swings it around into a fourth. The fifth demon stands looking at her, brandishing its KNIFE maliciously. Faith glares back. It THROWS THE KNIFE. Faith catches it and sends it HURTLING BACK. It pierces the demon's chest.
CUT TO THE ROOF as the demon's groan dies. In a SLOW PAN of the watching figures, we see that they are the same three STREET BOYS who tried to mug Connor in episode 202. They share a glance and sink out of the frame.
CLOSE-UP on Faith's FEVERED SCOWL. The background music SEGUES into a slower, pensive denouement and lingers for a moment -
before DISSOLVING into Depeche Mode's "Blasphemous Rumours," and a tarnished-framed DAGUERREOTYPE of DARLA in nineteenth-century finery mounted on a wall of black brick.
INT. CLUB SEKHMET - LONG BEACH - EVENING
The music is diffuse and echoing. MEDIUM SHOT of the daguerreotype among other macabre portraits and paintings. Just then, CONNOR strides past them, eyes set on -
ALIX, who is paused at the entrance to the back hallway just under the "EXIT" sign. She is dressed in a black velvet long-sleeved blouse, a plum leather miniskirt, and black knee-high boots with black lace stockings and gloves.
Suddenly, Connor stops in his tracks, brows knit, and turns back.
Vexed, Alix saunters after him.
IN FRAME - DARLA again. Connor takes in her image, his expression harsh, tender, and bitter.
Modern Darla, bed-ridden and ill; Eighteenth-century Darla with a look of astonished curiosity; Eighteenth-century Darla in vamp-face, killing.
I did what you wanted.
Connor turns. The battle is still there in his face as he gives Alix a preoccupied once-over.
I stayed away from you and your friends.
(her eyebrows rise, mocking)
And now look, you're back.
She notes his distraction with dismay and tilts her head to glance at the wall behind him. A knowing expression comes to her face. Connor stands awkwardly, looking at her and trying not to at the same time.
I'm here to talk about those Sekhmet people that died.
Alix brings up one lace-covered hand.
Depeche Mode fades and the opening beats of Placebo's sensual but impetuous "Pure Morning" start up. Alix closes her fingers around Connor's hand and steps backwards. Connor resists for a beat, then relents as she draws him out onto the nearly empty dance floor. The camera slowly DOLLIES IN on the daguerreotype of Darla before returning to -
TWO SHOT - Alix gyrates against him to the slow, steady beat, her hands caressing his arms, chest, and back. He clasps her hips loosely. CLOSE-UP - his gaze drops to her face. His POV - brown eyes, rosebud lips. A dainty silver chain around her neck disappears with her cleavage into her blouse.
TWO-SHOT - The music plays. After a moment - CLOSE-UP on Connor - BLACK-LACED FINGERS caress his jaw. Alix raises her chin and draws his lips towards hers. Connor makes no protest as SHE KISSES HIM.
TIGHT SHOT - His hands slide over her hips to her waist. He GRIPS HER close. The kiss heats up, callous and devouring. Then, almost as quickly as it began, Connor SHOVES HER AWAY. He wipes his lips with the back his hand.
Who did you kill?!
Was it a guy? A girl? Short, skinny, tall, fat?
(beat; a look of disgust)
There's blood on your breath.
Alix's hand flies reflexively to her lips. Then the slinky seductress is back. She scrutinizes him curiously and smirks.
I knew I should have had that peppermint.
Who did you kill?
Her eyes narrow. The smirk remains.
Now how would you know how blood smells
on someone's breath?
Then she tosses her hair back off his continuing scowl.
Believe it or not, I didn't kill anyone.
You think I'm an idiot, don't you?
I didn't. And I can prove it.
She reaches out for his hand again. Connor snaps it away.
I want to show you something.
Alix takes him by the wrist and strolls past him, forcing him around in a circle after her. She leads him over to the UNMARKED DOOR between the wall of portraits and the back hallway. Connor eyes it warily.
What's in there?
Alix releases him, then reaches up behind her neck and unclasps her chain. She draws a KEY out from her blouse.
My alibi, Officer.
She unlocks and opens the door. The room beyond is dimly-lit. Connor hangs back. With a tiny smile, Alix takes his hand. "Pure Morning" swells up as she leads him inside.
CONTINUOUS - Aiden passes through the door of
holding a stack of file folders. "Pure Morning" continues as he walks them across the room. Giles is ensconced at the desk with scattered books and scrolls. Aiden sets the folders down. INSERT - clipped to the top folder of the stack is a REPORT written on WOLFRAM AND HART letterhead paper, along with a drawing of SNAKE-LIKE DEMONS and a business card, also from Wolfram and Hart.
Aiden turns and leaves.
Part 2 (click here)