EPILOGUE

The next day was an extremely busy one for Sarah Reynolds. There was a lot of trauma and confusion to deal with among the inmates.

Stories about what had happened were myriad. Most of the prisoners who didn't actually see the demons believed that the incident was simply a prison riot that had been exaggerated in the retelling. Others, those who had caught at least a glimpse of the creatures that savaged the cafeteria, were convinced that someone had put hallucinogenic drugs in the chili. Others opined that the monsters were escaped lab animals, products of some secret government experiment. Reynolds did nothing either to encourage or to dispel any of these rumors, knowing that they would create a convenient fog around the truth.

Despite her packed schedule that day, Sarah still managed to make some time to see Faith. She walked into Sarah's office with a casualness that was obviously too practiced to be genuine.

"So," Faith said as she sat down, "what's up with the warden and Doctor Derange-O?"

"Dr. Pugacheva was taken into custody by the FBI. Apparently, she has committed a great many offenses since she entered this country illegally ten years ago. Though I rather wonder whether they plan to punish her or give her a job.

"Andrew Teague has been arrested for manslaughter and misappropriation of prison funds. I imagine he will soon gain a rather new perspective on the corrections system."

"God," Faith said. "I really thought he was a good guy. But he was just Mayor Wilkins all over again."

"I don't believe so," Reynolds responded. "I think he convinced himself he was doing the right thing. As you no doubt learned in Sunnydale, human beings are capable of almost limitless rationalization. In any case, I'm certain that his successor will be far better; Mr. Barnes has accepted a promotion to the position."

Faith smiled.

"Now," Sarah continued, "on another topic, are you still planning to kill me?"

"I think I'm all killed out," Faith said. "Those demons were some of the toughest I've ever seen."

"The Ulyaro is vicious, and its body is mostly cartilage -- nearly impossible to kill without a sharp weapon. Though you might have been able to deal with the Vorpic unarmed. The articulations in the exoskeleton around its neck make it relatively easy to break."

"You Watchers know your demons," Faith said. "But how come you talk like an American? I thought you were all Brits."

"As am I. I earned my undergraduate degree at Stanford, and learned the American accent while I was at it."

"Huh."

"Well, in any case," Reynolds said, "my report to the Council will be favorable. They will send your new Watcher within the month."

Faith's brow furrowed. "Wait a minute. I thought you were my Watcher," she said.

"I'm merely a specialist. Now that I have finished my evaluation, I will return to England, and a properly-trained Watcher will be permanently assigned to you."

Faith looked at the floor for a moment, then raised her eyes to meet Sarah's.

"No deal," Faith said.

"Excuse me?"

"No new Watcher. You."

"Faith, as I said, I am not properly trained to-"

"You know lots about demons," Faith cut in, "you've got a brain like Miss Marple, and you're some kind of jujitsu expert. How much more training do you need?"

"Aikido."

"What?"

"Aikido, not jujitsu. And I know far less about demons than a conventionally-trained Watcher."

"So buy the Time-Life series," Faith said. "I hear it's good. My point is, it's you or nobody. I know you, and, Jesus help me, I trust you. So either you be my Watcher, or you can send the Three Stooges to take another shot at me. 'Cause assassination attempts are pretty much part of my lifestyle these days."

Sarah said nothing for several moments. Then she looked up with what Faith thought might have been a tiny smile.

"It will take some convincing of the Board of Directors," Sarah said, "but I believe I can arrange it. If that's what you really want."

"Yeah," Faith said, leaning back in her chair.

"Then sit up straight," Sarah ordered.

Faith did so, more out of surprise than obedience.

"Now," Sarah said, "you've done well in your psychotherapy, so I believe we can begin to use some of our session time for your training. Your handling of the Frankish hand axe involved far too much unnecessary movement for my liking; we'll begin with that. Then we will try to shape up your kicking combinations and add to your far-too-small repertoire of grappling techniques."

"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" Faith said.

"Immensely," Sara replied, deadpan. "Now, since it appears that the old solitary unit will be unoccupied for some time yet, we will use it as our training facility, starting tomorrow. I am too busy to work with you today, so I want you to spend some time at the gymnasium. Warm up with one hundred each of front and roundhouse kicks -- one hundred per leg, mind you -- then two-, three-, and four-kick combinations, after which you should practice your boxing techniques..."

Great, Faith thought. Here I am in prison, and I just ordered up an extra helping of punishment. I should have asked for the Stooges.

And yet, despite all the surprises and disappointments of the past few days, Faith had the odd sense that things were starting to come together. She had a best friend, who was still alive thanks to Kelly and Gloria, she had her gang, and now she had a Watcher. It all made her future at Fuller seem a little less like a life sentence.

And more like a life.

END