Kate wonders how she can function at all, let alone sit behind
a desk in a bright classroom, listening to her teacher drone on about
the Pythagorean Theorem.
Tired as hell and hopped up on coffee and adrenaline, she has one recurring
thought: tonight, tonight, tonight. At some point during the all-nighter
in the library, a decision was made. Tonight is the night. The resouling
spell is a go.
This time tomorrow, Faith might be Faith again. Kate tries not to fall
into fantasy, what could be. There are so many variables, so many potential
pitfalls. If it doesn't work, she can't be crushed. She has to soldier
on, as her dad would say.
The classroom door opens. Kate looks up to see an old woman in a cloak
enter, pause beside the teacher's desk and point directly at Kate, croaking
out, "Midnight. Dixon Crypt. To the death," and bursting into
flames, and into nothing.
The students gasp. Kate wonders if she's fallen asleep and is dreaming,
but they're all hyperventilating, staring at her and the place the
woman stood. Not a dream.
A message from Faith.
* * *
"Tara," Anya soothes. "We can do this. We will do this."
"I-I know. It's not that. It's Riley," she frets, looking
across the library at the double doors. "I haven't seen him since
last night and he's never late for anything."
Riley rushes in through the doors, panting. "Hey. Sorry I'm late."
"First time for everything," Anya says.
"Ri," Tara sighs in relief. "You almost had me worried."
"Don't worry about me," he assures her. "It's you I'm worried
Kate enters from the office, William following. "I'm going."
"And is there anything at all I can say to stop you?" He tries
one last time, jumping in front of her to square her shoulders and look
her in the eye. "Other than the obvious fact that you're walking
headlong into a trap?"
Her expression is one of absolute resolve. "No."
"Alright then. Be careful, will you?"
"I will," she says, and approaches Tara and Anya. "If
it takes too much out of you, or if it doesn't work, don't worry, okay?
I'm not expecting anything."
Tara nods. "Just... don't die."
"Noted." As she walks out, she says, "Big honkin' trap,
here I come."
* * *
"Is everyone ready?" Anya asks the group, sitting around her
on the floor, save for Riley, who's been elected to be the lookout.
Holding a heavy baseball bat, Riley paces at the doorway and watches them
Tara takes a deep breath. "I think so."
William takes her hand and holds it tight. Anya clasps her hand over his.
He smiles at her tenderly and inhales, eyes returning to the Orb of Thessula. "Let's begin, shall we?"
Tara initiates the chant, and they slowly join in.
* * *
Kate steps cautiously through the cemetery, checking her watch (11:59,
one minute, one minute) calling out, "I'm here! Just like you
asked. You can come out now and reveal your diabolical plan..."
Faith rounds the crypt before her, shoulder-leans against it, hip jutting
out. "You're early."
"Yeah, well, punctuality... virtue." Stymied, she looks around,
and looks back at Faith, who is still staring, still smiling, still standing
there. "This is it? It's just you?"
She laughs. "Yeah. It's just me. Who'd you expect?"
"I don't..." She straightens. "So... Which is it, standing
around talking or fighting to the death? 'Cause I don't have a lot of
"No," Faith smiles. "You really don't." She turns
away, then shoots back with a surprise kick to Kate's stomach.
Kate buckles slightly before recovering with a punch-kick combination,
catapulting Faith to the ground. She stands and regards the fallen vampire. "Wow, Faith, that kick really sucked. You're not going easy on me,
"You like it hard, don't you?" She flips up, elbows Kate
in the face before she can duck.
"Okay, that was hard," she acknowledges as she snaps Faith's
head backward with the heel of her palm.
And suddenly, the vampire stumbles, looks lost and afraid. She falls
to her knees, clutching her stomach.
Kate stands back with a gasp.
Faith bellows in pain. A gold light flashes in her eyes. She blinks, three
times, tears falling, seeing Kate as if for the first time. "Katie?"
Kate trembles. "F... Faith?"
"Katie? What -- what happened? What's going on? I, I feel like I haven't
seen you in weeks..."
"Faith?" She steps closer.