Elijah Wood as Jeffrey Lindquist, Jennifer Connelly as Althenea, Carly Schroeder as Marsha, Stephanie March as Bonnie, Thora Birch as Tracey, Norika Fujiwara as Mia, Felicia Day as Vi, Indigo as Rona, Christopher Lee as Reverend Gottlieb, David Ogden Stiers as Rabbi Shermann, and Dennis Hopper as Father Dugan.
Adult Education School Hallway – Next Morning
Willow and Robin strolled through the hallway looking at the various bulletins on the wall of the high school.
"I wonder what's taking so long?" Robin posed.
"I'm not sure if that's good or bad to be honest," Willow remarked. "But I'm sure it's good, right? I mean Faith did great for the most part so I'm sure she –."
Willow didn't finish. She and Robin noticed Faith slip from a nearby room with a piece of paper in her hand and a maudlin expression on her face. Robin and Willow's hopeful expressions fell as Faith came closer.
"That bad?" Robin asked.
"Hey, we can try again in the fall Faith," Willow quickly answered optimistically. "You've been out of practice for awhile now with the school gig but now you've…"
Faith began to grin slowly and turned the paper around to show 89% marked at the top of it. She handed it over to Willow as Robin looked over the witch's shoulder. "I got 80% total for the degree program."
"You passed!" Robin said excitedly.
Faith nodded firmly with a broad smile. "I passed. I am officially an educated woman."
Robin beamed and picked Faith up in his arms spinning her around as Willow looked at the paper. "Just a B?" the witch asked.
"Hey," Faith said as Robin set her back down on her feet. "A B is 'above average,' right?"
"Well, yeah," Willow answered. "But you did so well with the studying."
"I've never been 'above average' my whole career. Hell, I was lucky if I got a C-minus in all my classes. And to tell the truth, I bombed a couple of tests before I came to see you and I didn't know if I could pick the grades up but…as this proves, the help paid off. So don't rain on my parade here, Red."
"Of course not," Willow told her with an apologetic smile. "I'm proud of you Faith. You've done a great job."
"No, we did a great job," Faith told the pair. "I wouldn't have passed without you guys helping me."
"You're very welcome. But don't forget you did the work, Faith," Willow explained. "Oh, and now, we can go get those college brochures!"
"Whoa," Faith said putting her hands up. "No one said anything about college."
"What's stopping you?" Willow challenged.
Faith considered the question for the moment. "Nothing now, huh?"
Willow nodded with a grin and handed back the paper.
"I'll think about it. No promises though," Faith told them.
"Absolutely," Robin answered as the trio began to walk from the building. "So, does this mean we can tell everyone else now?" he added.
"Are you proud of your girl? Gonna hang this on the fridge?" Faith quipped as she shook the test paper.
"You betcha," Robin said putting his hand around her shoulder.
"Then yeah, feel free to gloat," Faith wisecracked as Robin and Willow chuckled.
Presidium Cave Lair Device Room – Later that day
Bonnie entered the lair and handed a lesser minion her briefcase as she approached Larmin. As usual, the Engineer was busily working on the device, with Larmin's two counterparts directing the enforced laborers on his silent orders. Bonnie and Larmin watched a moment.
"It's nearly finished," Bonnie commented as if in awe of the nefarious machine.
"Yes," Larmin said proudly. "Perfect timing as well. The witch will soon reach the height of her power and then we'll be ready to fully activate it. You know what to do?"
"Eliminate as many Slayers as possible," Bonnie nodded.
"Exactly," Larmin replied. "Most of your attempts thus far have proved fruitless."
"Luck seems to favor the Council," Bonnie said ruefully. "However, I think I've figured a way to get some of the Slayers killed or arrested. Either way, they'll be out of our hair."
"Spare me the boring details," Larmin said dryly. "Just make sure the witch is unharmed."
"Of course," Bonnie replied.
Ginoette's Restaurant – Later that afternoon
Bonnie entered the warm and cozy restaurant and handed her coat to the hostess. After the woman hung the expensive Italian leather coat on the rack, she led the real estate agent to a corner booth where an elderly, stern-faced man was nursing a soft drink.
"Reverend Gottlieb!" she exclaimed as the gentleman rose from his seat. "I'm terribly sorry if I'm late."
"Not at all, my dear," the Reverend proclaimed sitting again after Bonnie took her seat across from him. "I'm always a bit early. It's so nice to see you! It's been much, much too long."
Bonnie turned to the waitress who had appeared after the hostess left. "Hot tea with lemon, please," she said and then smiled warmly at the Reverend. "I know it has, but I've been so very busy."
"Too busy to come to church?" he said as he looked at her with mock sternness and Bonnie laughed softly.
"Yes, Reverend," Bonnie said. "Although I have faith, I haven't been able to faithfully attend church. Business is booming. It seems that Cleveland is the place to be this year."
"Excellent!" Gottlieb replied. "And have you found a nice piece of property for our planned Homeless Outreach Center?"
"Not yet, Reverend," Bonnie said, her eyes forlorn. "I do wish you had been interested in that lakefront location."
"Where the new private school is?" Gottlieb asked, surprised. "That place was too big and too expensive for our budget. Besides, I hear the school has done an excellent job restoring the property."
"Oh, they have!" Bonnie said quickly, but then added. "However, I'm not exactly sure the education those students are getting is worth the pretty face on those old buildings."
The Reverend opened his mouth as if to ask the blonde woman to elaborate, but the waitress arrived to deliver Bonnie's teapot and take their order. After she left, Gottlieb turned to Bonnie and asked, "What do you mean by that?"
Bonnie paused and Gottlieb nodded for her to continue. "I saw something very disturbing this morning when I passed by that so-called 'magic shop' over on Seventh."
"You mean that one named after the bird?" Gottlieb frowned.
"That's the one," Bonnie nodded. "In the window was a poster advertising a…a pagan festival to be held at the school." Bonnie's voice grew lower as she leaned over the table to get closer to the Reverend. "I went inside to ask about it and the salesgirl gave me this."
Gottlieb took the flyer and looked at it. A slight glimmer unseen by human eyes seemed to exude from it for a moment. His body went still and his face completely blank as Bonnie's eyes closely watched him. As the Reverend seemed to come back to Earth, Bonnie gave a sinister smile but pushed it down before he looked her way.
"This…this is outrageous!" Gottlieb cried, his face suffusing with red as his indignation mounted. "It says here that they will be celebrating ancient fertility rites. Fertility! What are they teaching those innocent students?"
"I have no idea, Reverend," Bonnie said, a note of sympathy in her voice.
"We must do something about this," Gottlieb said.
"Indeed," Bonnie said. "Reverend…I was thinking. Perhaps this would be an excellent time to unite the community under a common cause? I have a meeting this afternoon with Rabbi Shermann and I could bring this to his attention also if that's all right. I think your parishioners might want to be aware, too."
"Hmm," the Reverend pondered.
"I have more of these flyers in the car that I can give you to show them, Reverend," Bonnie said. "I think when the members of the churches, synagogues and mosques realize what's been going on right under their noses they'll want to put a stop to this right away. God goes by many names, as you know – Allah, Jehovah – but the thing is: no matter what type of holy place you enter, He's still the only one true God and not some pagan invention."
"You're right, Bonnie!" the Reverend said finally tearing his eyes away from the brochure in his hand. "This is an excellent opportunity to unite the people of this community. We can't allow this to happen. What about the local government? I could speak with the commissioners."
Bonnie shook her head. "I already made a trip to City Hall before I came here," she said. "They've issued a permit allowing the gathering on the school grounds. I believe they're afraid of getting involved in a 'religious' matter. They started spouting rhetoric about the separation of church and state."
"Cowards!" Gottlieb fumed. "We'll just have to do it ourselves then!"
"I'll make the conference room at my offices available for the leaders to meet and discuss strategy," Bonnie offered. "Say, seven p.m. tonight? In the mean time, perhaps I should get a permit as well to protest the site. If they work within the law, there's nothing that says we can't work within it as well."
"Excellent," Gottlieb signaled the waitress for the check.
"Let me get it, Reverend," Bonnie said, indicating the bill.
"Nonsense," he said. "You have done us a valuable service by bringing this to our attention, my dear, a valuable service."
"Thank you, Reverend," she said, the sincerity in her voice clear. "It's up to the people to protect their community. Especially against degenerate newcomers."
"Indeed, my dear," the Reverend agreed. "Indeed."
Temple Beth El – Afternoon
The bright spring sun shown down on the couple standing near a long silver Cadillac. Bonnie's BMW was parked nearby with the trunk open. A tall man in a dark suit with a neatly trimmed beard was reading a flyer.
"This is true?" the Rabbi asked the blonde woman. "They wish to revive these old practices?"
"Yes, Rabbi," Bonnie said.
"Barbarous!" he exclaimed, the fury in his eyes blazing. "To subject such young children to this kind of profanity! We must do something!"
"We will, Rabbi," Bonnie soothed. "There's a seven o'clock meeting tonight in my offices to discuss this."
"Good, good!" he exclaimed. "I will talk with the other area rabbis and bring them as well."
"Then take some more flyers," Bonnie said reaching into the trunk and pulling out a ream-sized box of papers. "And Rabbi…I'm terribly sorry for disturbing you on the Shabbat."
"That's quite all right, child," Shermann said, tucking the box under one arm while patting Bonnie soothingly on the shoulder with the other hand. "The Creator of the universe understands these things and makes allowances…especially when children are threatened."
"Thank you, Rabbi," Bonnie said as she closed her trunk. "I'll see you tonight, then."
St. Mark's Catholic Church Rectory – Same time
Gottlieb entered Father Dugan's warm office and placed a box on the dark cherry wood desk. The two men were dressed similarly, both wore black suits with the white clerical collars, but Father Dugan was short and compact, while Gottlieb's lean stature reflected his German heritage.
"Frank!" Gottlieb boomed, holding out his hand to the priest.
"Werner," Dugan replied, shaking the thin-fingered hand of the Reverend. "This is a nice surprise. To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"A matter of some urgency has come up," Gottlieb said reaching into the box and pulling out a flyer.
Dugan took the flyer and froze for a moment as he glanced at it. "This is that new school near the lake?" he asked.
"It is!" Gottlieb answered. "We had no idea this is the sort of profanity they were going to be teaching their students. Disgusting rites and practices! What is this world coming to when a…a…depraved cult such as this can just move into a decent neighborhood? We're meeting at the real estate offices this evening. Will you join us?"
"I shall!" Dugan said. "And Heaven help those poor young souls if we can't put a stop to this."
Cleveland Lakeside Mosque – Later
Bonnie intercepted the bearded man walking out the door of the mosque. He looked at her a moment and then took the flyer she was handing him. After a moment, the blank expression on his face cleared and turned to indignation, and he began spouting in a foreign language. Bonnie spoke a few words and then handed him her business card. He took the card and nodded agreeably. Bonnie smiled as he turned around and hurried back into the building.
Watchers Council Library – Late afternoon
Willow wistfully watched Rowena as the blonde Watcher scanned the shelf of late fifteenth century books. Rowena didn't appear to notice Willow's gaze, but her attention to the books seemed to be distracted. After she finally chose a book, she squared her shoulders and appeared to come to a decision. Before Willow could look away, Rowena turned to her and smiled at Willow's blush at getting caught staring.
"Hey," Rowena said softly.
"Hey," Willow repeated, then scowled at herself as if wishing she could have said something more coherent. "Umm, look Ro…I was talking to Becca…about what happened when we were playing the piano the other night and about…that thing that almost happened. A-and I wanted to –."
"No, hey, it's okay," Rowena said. "Don't worry about it."
"I'm not, but I wanted to –."
"Really," Rowena interrupted. "It's okay. Just forget about it. Say, are you up for a match of chess tonight?"
Willow's eyes darkened in disappointment as she noticed the blonde quickly changing the subject. Instead of pushing, she replied, "I would love to play chess, but I promised Marsha I'd take her to the movies tonight, kind of a celebration of her first solo patrol."
"Yes," Rowena said happily. "I saw the report. She really took down a vampire on her own?"
"You forget it's not her first, though," Willow answered. "Although I don't know if Eemia can be considered a vampire, but still a demon."
"True. I think you're going to have your hands full a few years from now."
"Are you kidding?" Willow grinned. "I have my hands full now. Anyway, Andrew was going to take her to see that new teen flick, but he's busy planning the Beltaine celebration with Jeff so I volunteered."
"What's the movie?" Rowena asked.
"Mean Girls," Willow shrugged. "Apparently about a girl who starts at a new school and has a run in with the popular crowd. Sounds like my entire high school career."
"Not so sexy when you're pouting," Rowena laughed. "I'm sure it wasn't that bad," she said, moving closer to where Willow was sitting.
"Oh no," Willow agreed. "It was worse. Anyway, wanna come along? I could always do with some adult type company." Rowena arched an eyebrow at the word 'adult' and Willow's eyes widened. "I mean like grown-up time, not just kid stuff. So, you up for it?"
"Sure," Rowena said. "Not my kind of flick, but I'm sure we'll manage."
"Yeah," Willow said. "Give me a big tub of popcorn, a large soda and someone to share it with and I'm one happy witch." Willow paused, looking as if she was embarrassed by her enthusiasm. "Um, well, you know what I mean," she lamely concluded.
Rowena smiled warmly. "See you after dinner then."
Willow nodded and watched as Rowena took her book and left. With a small smile on her face, she went back to work.
High-rise Office Building – Evening
Bonnie nodded at a bearded man in traditional Islamic garb as he walked past her into the almost full conference room. She glanced at the figure standing on the other side of the door from her and narrowed her eyes at his sneering expression.
"Watch that," she warned. "Make sure you and your crew keep your control. I see one bumpy face and you'll all end up in some dimension where there's permanent daylight."
The vampire looked uncomfortable. "Sorry," he said. "It's just that with so many holy men in one place…perfect time for a slaughter."
"I know," Bonnie said, looking at the crowd inside. Many of them were either talking or getting food from the buffet. "But right now those men…and a few women in case you didn't notice…are useful to the Presidium."
Without another word, Bonnie turned and entered the room. The vampire slowly closed the door behind her.
Sandy's Ice Cream Parlor – Evening
"So then Andrew said that the Haskin's house three blocks away from the Council had a tree knocked down in that storm last week, so him and Jeff offered to cart it away for them and Mr. Haskin was happy to let them do it. Andrew said it'd be perfect for the maypole dance once they trim it. And guess what kind of tree it is?"
"What?" Willow asked Marsha with a small smile at Rowena. The trio was sitting at a glass-topped iron table waiting for their order to arrive.
"A willow tree!" Marsha answered excitedly and Rowena laughed.
"Not bad," Willow said, nodding thoughtfully. "And since it was knocked down in the storm, it's an extra special gift. I should save some of the branches to make a few wands."
"But aren't willows associated with the goddess?" Rowena asked.
"True," Willow said. "But traditions can be bent to suit the need." In a shy look to Rowena she added. "No pun intended."
Rowena and Marsha both chuckled and Willow turned to the Slayer.
"Don't tell me you got that joke."
"Hey, I'm fourteen. I live with teenagers who are years older than me. We don't need to have the birds and the bees talk. I know how these things work…no pun intended," she mocked. "But if you'd like to have the Human Sexuality 101 chat then –."
"No," Willow answered firmly. "Not right this second, but someday soon, maybe. Well, probably. Okay most definitely. Anyway," Willow sighed trying to get back on topic, "Xander says the Council definitely has a strong feminine presence so I don't think using a willow tree for the maypole will anger the gods."
The waiter arrived with their order…a chocolate egg cream for Rowena, a banana split for Willow and a huge Sandy's Special consisting of four kinds of ice cream layered with four kinds of syrup and topped with a variety of nuts, sprinkles and whipped cream for the Slayer.
"Are you sure you can eat all that, little girl?" the waiter asked Marsha as she picked up her spoon.
"Watch me," the teen challenged and dug in.
The waiter blushed as Willow and Rowena laughed. "If you ladies need anything more, just ask," he said and moved away.
"So what kind of willow tree is it?" Rowena asked the Slayer as she unwrapped a straw and took a sip of her drink.
Marsha shrugged. "How many kinds are there?"
"Lots," Willow answered, licking the hot fudge off of her spoon. "There's white willow, black willow, red willow –."
"That'd be your kind," Marsha interrupted.
"Funny," Willow said. "But actually the red willow is more of a bushy plant than a tree."
"Oh, and don't forget the weeping willow and the ever popular pussy willow," Rowena added with a smirk and laughed at Willow's face turning the same color as her hair.
Marsha laughed and Willow turned to her with a stern eye, but it didn't stop Marsha from continuing, "Hey! That's your kind, too, Will!"
"Okay enough," Willow warned her Slayer and then said to Rowena, "And stop encouraging her! She's only fourteen."
"Says who?" Rowena asked innocently.
Willow rolled her eyes and nodded toward Rowena's glass. "How's your egg cream?" she asked the blonde Watcher.
"Yummy," Rowena said, finishing the last of her drink with an audible slurp from the straw. "Almost as good as they make back home. How about yours? I don't think I've ever seen anyone eat a banana split with so much topping."
"You can never have too much chocolate sauce," Willow said and then loaded her spoon with ice cream, a piece of banana and some of the syrup. "Here, taste," she offered holding out the spoon to Rowena.
Rowena paused a moment. Then she leaned forward and took the spoon into her mouth, her eyes closing in pleasure. "Mmmm," she said pulling back and licking her pouty lips. "That is good."
"Oh yeah," Willow whispered, also licking her lips. "Very good."
Rowena opened her eyes and looked deeply into Willow's.
"Willow?" Marsha said and the two Watchers seemed to return to reality.
"Hmm?" Willow said, reluctantly turning to her Slayer.
"You've known Andrew a long time, right?" Marsha asked.
Willow's eyebrows scrunched together. "Uh, a few years now," she answered.
"But you went to school with him," Marsha pointed out.
"Yeah, but he was a couple of grades behind the Scoobies," Willow said. "Why?"
"I was just wondering if he had a girlfriend in high school," Marsha asked, scooping up the last of her ice cream.
"Um, well, I don't think he likes…that is, no…not that I know of," Willow stammered.
"Oh," Marsha said and then finally put down her spoon and wiped her mouth. "I'm gonna go play a game," she announced and headed for the video machines.
"What was that about Andrew?" Rowena asked.
"I'm not sure, but I think I'm starting to get an idea," Willow said. "I'll talk to her later about it. Maybe after she comes off of her ice cream high."
The waiter arrived and looked at Marsha's empty dish. "I guess she wasn't kidding," he said placing the check on the table. Willow glanced at it and then handed it back to him along with her credit card.
"She never jokes about serious stuff like ice cream." Willow smiled.
"I could have gotten that," Rowena said after the waiter left.
"Not a problem," Willow shrugged.
"But you paid for the movie tickets," Rowena protested.
"Ro, it's okay," Willow said and reached out to place her hand on Rowena's arm. "It's not like you have to be obligated or anything. I mean…not like this is a da –."
"I know," Rowena cut in and placed her hand on top of Willow's, gently stroking the redhead's soft skin. "But if it were, aren't there certain rules?"
"Rules?" Willow parroted.
"Yeah, like picking up the tab and opening doors and all that? I wouldn't want to step on any butch or femme toes. I just…I don't know how these things work."
Willow blinked in surprise and opened her mouth to answer when the waiter reappeared with the credit receipt. Rowena pulled back and stood up.
"I'm gonna go check on Marsha," she said and left the table.
Willow sighed and picked up the pen to sign the receipt.
High-rise Office Building – Same time
Bonnie sat back with a satisfied smirk. The conference room was disheveled, with empty soft drink cans and bottles, leftover plates and the scattered remains of the buffet table on the side. Her vampire minion entered the room.
"They all get home safely?" Bonnie asked and the vampire nodded. "Good. I'd say that was a productive meeting."
"Are you joining their 'delegation party'?" he asked.
"No," Bonnie said, shaking her head. "They'll do quite well on their own tomorrow without me. And after the Council rejects their request, we'll get to work on the faithful."
"Think your plan will succeed?" he asked.
"It has to," she said darkly. "Now get out there and see if you can make yourself useful by taking down a few Slayers."
The vampire looked doubtful, but he turned to obey her orders.
Watchers Council Lobby – Next day
Andrew unlocked the lobby doors and opened them to find three imposing men standing in the bright morning sunlight.
"Can I help you gentlemen?" he asked, placing his slender body in the doorway.
"You may," Gottlieb said, forcefully pushing past Andrew into the lobby. Rabbi Shermann and Father Dugan followed and looked around. "I wish to speak with whomever is in charge at this so-called school," Gottlieb continued.
"Um, okay," Andrew said and hurried over to the intercom near the reception desk. "Attention…code 616…repeat…616." Andrew clicked off the device and slowly walked back to the men.
"Secret code?" Dugan asked. "What's 616?"
"Trouble," Giles answered coming down the stairs with Becca at his side. They were followed a moment later by Willow, Rowena and Robin. Xander, Faith and Kennedy arrived from the Slayer's entrance and even Tracey appeared from the kitchen.
"I'm Rupert Giles, the headmaster," Giles said holding his hand out to Reverend Gottlieb who was standing at the fore. "I trust Andrew is exaggerating."
"Don't be so sure of that, Mr. Giles," Gottlieb replied, taking Giles's hand after a moment. "I'm Reverend Gottlieb and these are my colleagues Rabbi Shermann and Father Dugan. We have come here on behalf of the members of the community."
"Indeed?" Giles asked. "And how may we assist you gentlemen?"
"Is it true that you plan on holding a pagan ritual in two days time?" Gottlieb asked.
"It's more of a outdoor celebration," Giles said warily. "Sort of a glorified picnic, if you will."
"But will you not have such practices as the maypole dance and fire jumping?" Dugan queried.
"Again, a chance for our students to enjoy themselves and display their athletic prowess," Giles explained.
"But is it not true that the maypole represents the…" Shermann coughed uncomfortably, "…the male 'member' and by wrapping ribbons around it during the dance, the dancers are simulating the sexual act?"
"At one time, yes, that was true, but these days maypole dances are a simple expression of –."
"And is it not true that fire jumping is usually done…naked!" Gottlieb accused as he interrupted Giles.
"I certainly hope so," a voice with a warm British accent said with amusement. Everyone turned to the newcomer standing at the entrance. "It's much too dangerous to jump through the fire with your clothes on."
"Althenea!" Willow said in a happily surprised tone.
End of Act One
Onto Act Two