act 3




Fade In:
Giles’s Car – Evening

Xander stared out the window at the passing scenery. Giles eased the car into a higher gear, then downshifted as he came to another stop light.

“I-I’m afraid the city streets are not really a good place to show off what this finely crafted automobile can do,” Giles said, glancing at the silent young man. “Sometimes on my days off I take it out for a long drive, but it’s not like in California. No wineries to motor through.”

Xander gave a muttered “uh huh” as the light turned green. Giles sighed. “Oh, for God’s sake Xander, at least play with the radio.”

“Radio?” Xander asked, finally looking at the older man.

“I can’t believe you’re sitting in this car a-and not playing with a single gadget,” he said.

Xander shrugged. “Anyplace around here we can go for a beer, Giles?” he asked. “It’s a great car, but I’m in the mood for a…less confining environment.”

Giles nodded and made a quick left turn at the next intersection.

Fade In:
The Oak Room Pub – Minutes Later

The pub was dark and quiet. A couple of patrons sat at the bar, silently watching a cricket match on the television in the corner. In the back room, the local dart league was holding its weekly game, the occasional cheer filtering out to where Giles was sitting across from Xander in the small booth in the corner. A large Union Jack over the entrance clearly marked the pub as a sanctuary for British expatriates. After the waitress laid two mugs on the table, Xander picked up his frosted glass and drained nearly a third with one gulp. Giles simply gave the waitress a silent nod and sipped at his Guinness.

“Don’t know how you can stand that warm stuff,” Xander said.

“It’s an acquired taste,” Giles said, then paused a moment. “Did Willow explain the ritual to you?” he asked.

Xander nodded. “The general idea, yeah,” he replied. “I’m sure it’s more complicated than how she’d explain to a magical moron like myself.”

“You’re hardly that, Xander,” Giles said. “You have a surprising amount of innate abilities, and a small bit of experience.”

“Will it work, Giles?” he asked, ignoring Giles’s compliment. “Can Willow really restore the eye? I mean, that’s some heavy mojo. She said it’s not black magic, but how do we know…?”

“There are no guarantees, but with Willow’s ability today,” Giles answered with a slight pause, “I’d be more alarmed if it didn’t work. And you’re right, it is very serious magic, but it is not black magic. I’ve studied it, and it’s the most natural healing ritual I’ve ever seen.”

“Doesn’t seem natural,” Xander snorted. “Sex and worship just don’t go together, Giles. I mean, what kind of religion advocates sex like this? And why didn’t I find it sooner?”

Giles tried to hold back a grin. “Well you can’t practice just for the…perks…as you might say. Wicca has its roots in traditions and practices in older forms of worship; far older than the Judeo-Christian religions you’re familiar with, Xander,” he explained. “And as such, its practitioners are not constrained by the…the negative association of sex with original sin.”

“So sex is a part of the religion?” Xander asked.

“Very much so,” Giles said. “Wiccans celebrate nature, life and all the wonderful joys and pleasures they have to offer. The Wiccan holiday of Beltaine in May is a joyous time for sensuality and sexuality revitalized, the reawakening of nature after the long winter.”

“How come we never had holidays like that when I was growing up?” Xander chuckled.

“We do,” Giles said. “It’s called May Day. Xander, the point is that Wiccans are not bound up in guilt and sin, but rather they take pleasure in the expression of human passions.”

“And this is what Willow is a part of now?” Xander asked, a bit bewildered.

“It’s what she’s growing into,” Giles declared, sipping his stout. “Willow is trying so very hard to follow the right path now. She’s recognized that her quest for power led her farther into a darkness than most people can ever hope to return from, but because she is so incredibly strong, she has come back from it. She’ll always have that darkness within her, but by following the Wiccan ways she can learn to balance it with light. You’ll be helping her with her growth as much as she’ll be helping you, Xander.”

Xander absently looked towards the back room as the sounds of celebration filled the pub.

“She seems so different now, Giles,” he finally said, turning back to the older man. “So confident and self-assured.” Xander looked almost panicked. “I mean, what if…what if once we cross that line, I won’t be able to go back to the way we were before? I’m not saying I will but…I don’t want to mess things up, Giles.”

“You won’t, Xander,” Giles said sadly. “This will change your relationship with Willow forever, but I think you’re underestimating yourself, a-and Willow as well. Can I ask you something?” Giles did not wait for a reply. “Do you ever remember a time when Willow was not a part of your life?”

Xander gave a slight grin. “No.”

“And can you ever imagine not having Willow as a part of your life?”

Xander shook his head.

“Then why should that change?” Giles asked.

Xander silently thought about that for a long minute, then finally chuckled. “No, I guess you’re right, Giles,” he said.

“You will deal with things as you both always have. You know deep in your heart that you love Willow, but your love doesn’t transcend the bonds of the deep friendship you have. Remember this – lovers come and go in our lives, but a friendship such as yours can remain intact for a lifetime. You know Willow will always be there. You know because you’ll always be there for her, won’t you?”

Xander nodded.

“It’s a valid concern, Xander,” Giles said. “But I don’t think it’s something that will happen. I’ve known you two for a very long time, a-and I’ve seen you through both hard times and…well, in Sunnydale…harder times. I know you’ll be alright.”

Silence fell over the table again. Xander stared into his nearly empty mug, the frost long melted. “What am I supposed to do, Giles?” he asked. “I mean, during the ritual?”

Giles took a deep breath. “I’ll review the ritual with you tonight and coach you on what you’ll have to say. There’s not much. And tomorrow I’ll tell you how to take a ritual bath and meditate, but it’s more to calm yourself than anything else.”

Xander laughed bitterly. “Calm, right. Good one,” Xander said. “I meant, what am I supposed to do during the ritual?”

Xander looked pointedly at Giles, who coughed uncomfortably. Giles opened his mouth, closed it and then seemed to realize that he was not making things better. With a sigh, he smiled warmly. “You simply do what is natural, Xander.”

“You said I don’t have to say much, but what should I not say? And…and am I just supposed to just lie there while…” Xander tapered off.

“Xander, after we leave you and Willow alone…”

“We?” Xander asked, his good eye widening. “Who’s we? You’ll be there? Look Giles, it’s bad enough I have to get naked in front of my best friend, but you, too?”

Giles sighed, pulled his glasses off and rubbed a hand over his face. “No, Xander, we’ll only be there for the first part of the ritual. Willow will probably ask Rowena to assist her, since none of her coven members are as proficient. She’ll help Willow cast the circle, then you’ll enter the circle and Rowena and I will leave the room. And everyone will be robed.”

“Oh,” Xander said, thoughtfully. “So you’re kinda like my second, right? Like in those old movies where the one guy was challenged to a duel, and he asked his best friend to be his second to help him with the sword or the pistols and in case of any blood spillage. Right?”

“Well, despite the Xanderspeak, that’s a fairly accurate definition,” Giles grinned. “But…to get back to your original concern, once you’re alone with Willow you should feel free to talk, and even joke. Don’t be afraid of saying the wrong thing. Like I said, Wiccans take joy in everything they do…even ritual.”

“And…and the other part?”

Giles took a deep breath. “She’ll guide you, Xander,” he finally answered. “But no, it’s not a one-sided thing. You can t-touch and feel and… do what’s natural.”

“And what about…? I mean…” Xander stopped, unsure of how to address his next question. “Do I have to make a stop at the drugstore on the way back to the Council tonight? No prospects of a dashingly handsome son with brown eyes, red hair and wicked computer skills, I hope?” Xander joked nervously.

“Willow will take care of everything. A-and I can assure you, it will be perfectly safe,” Giles answered.

Xander nodded and looked down at his hands for a minute. Giles simply watched him, silently giving the young man time. Xander unconsciously scratched his cheek under the eye patch.

“And afterwards I’ll have both eyes again?” Xander said and Giles nodded. “What difference will it make, Giles? Anya will still be gone. My hometown is still a big hole in the ground. My friends are scattered around the globe. What am I supposed to do then?”

Giles looked at him sadly. “That will be up to you, Xander,” he said quietly. “Willow wants to give you a chance to be able to do what you love. What you decide after that point is entirely on you.” Giles paused and then asked, “Are you willing to accept that gift, Xander?”

Xander looked at him and then rubbed a hand over his mouth.

Fade In:
The Alcove – Evening

Kennedy sat slumped deep into the worn red leather couch set against the black painted wall, occasionally sipping from a bottle of water. The large bar was dark and smoke-filled, with bass-heavy music pounding the beat for the women writhing in sync with the strobe lights flashing overhead. Kennedy glanced over as a voluptuous figure dressed in leather pants and a denim jacket, half-buttoned over her tight t-shirt, threw herself onto the couch next to her.

“Not interested,” Kennedy mumbled.

“Yeah, like I was offerin’,” Faith snorted. “Got a sweet reunion with my own honey this weekend to look forward to. I can wait.” Kennedy watched as Faith rubbed her hands together, as if in anticipation.

“Patrol okay?” Kennedy asked, ignoring the other slayer’s comment.

“Average,” Faith shrugged. “Rachel got cornered by three newbies, but she kept her head and got two of ’em while I staked the last.”

“Cool,” Kennedy absently commented, turning her attention again to the action on the dance floor. After a moment she turned back to Faith. “How’d you know where to find me?”

“Where else would a heart-sick dyke go on a Tuesday night in Cleveland?” Faith laughed. “At least you’re only drowning your sorrows in France’s finest mineral water.”

Kennedy sighed. “What have I got to be heart-sick about?” she asked sarcastically. “I mean, my lover is just trying to do the right thing for her friend. That’s what matters most, right? Saving Xander…why should I stand in the way of that?”

“You shouldn’t,” Faith agreed. “Willow couldn’t do less for anyone she loves, and that includes you, too. She risked her soul to bring Buffy back from the dead, but I know she doesn’t want to lose you over helping Xander.”

“She’ll do it no matter what I say,” Kennedy sneered.

“You’re right,” Faith nodded. “She will. So what happens between you two is up to you. But before you decide to throw away your relationship with her, remember this…I was there that night Xander got hurt. He stuck around to save your ass. If he hadn’t, he’d still have an eye. And where would you be right now?”

Kennedy opened her mouth to argue, then closed it again. Faith smiled kindly as she watched Kennedy’s face.

“Come on, Ken,” she finally said, slapping the younger woman on the leg and standing up. “Let’s go home.”

Kennedy shook off her dazed expression and followed Faith out of the club.

Fade In:
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Evening

Willow sat at a long work table which stood along one wall. A cabinet above held jars filled with various herbs, powders and resins, as well as an assortment of tools and books.

“Come in,” she called, hearing a knock, and watched as the heavy door opened and Xander walked in.

She smiled warmly at him. “Hey,” she said.

“Hi,” he replied, moving closer to the table and pointing his chin at the mortar and pestle she was using. “Whatcha working on? Another chemistry experiment?”

She chuckled. “No, just making some incense. Normally Andrew takes care of this, but sometimes I find the work relaxes me.”

“Andrew’s part of your coven?” he asked, shaking his head in amazement.

“He asked to learn,” Willow shrugged. “How could I deny him that?”

“Giles mentioned that you would probably ask your friend Rowena to assist you,” Xander said after a moment.

Willow nodded. “I did and she will,” she replied. “Andrew will prepare the room and the altar for me, but she’ll help cast the circle…if that’s okay with you?”

“What?” he said, distracted. “Oh sure.”

“So does this mean…” she asked hopefully. He smiled at her, his eye meeting her own.

“Yeah, Will,” he said. “Let’s give it a shot. What have we got to lose?”

“No guarantees, Xander,” she said, happy tears coming to her eyes. “But we’ll do our best.” She pulled him into her arms and quietly said, “Thank you.”

“Hey, hey!” he said as he hugged her close. “I’m the one who needs to give out the thanks here, Will.”

“No, I’m sorry,” Willow said, pulling away and wiping her eyes. “It’s just that I’ve been so worried about you for a long time now, and ever since I spoke with Anya I’ve been trying to find you.”

“You spoke with Anya?” he asked, his expression shocked. “When?”

“Oh…oh yeah…oops,” Willow said with a worried grin. “Uh…a month ago at Samhain…er, Halloween. The veil between this world and the next is thinnest then, s-so she asked me to find you because…”

“Why didn’t she talk to me?” he asked, his voice anguished.

“Oh Xander,” she breathed. “She…she said you were cut off from her a-and I did a ritual because I felt someone from the other side trying to contact me, but I…I thought it was someone…other than her.”

Willow shrugged sheepishly.

“Oh,” he said, his face softening. “I get it.”

“If I had known there was any way for you to speak to her I would have let you know, Xander. You know that, right? I didn’t mention it before because I didn’t want to hurt you,” Willow confessed. “If it’s any consolation, I wasn’t her first choice to talk to, ya know?”

Willow ran her hand up Xander’s arm in support. He paused for a moment, then asked. “She’s okay? She’s in a better place now?”

Willow smiled. “Yeah. Same ol’ Anya – pissed she can’t spend money, but really worried about you. It’s…it’s different there, Xander. I guess the pain stays on this side but she could sense you were upset.”

“So that’s why you wouldn’t listen to my crazy idea to bring her back,” Xander said. “She’s happy?”

“Yeah, for the most part,” Willow nodded. “But like I said, she was concerned for you, like the rest of us.”

“I didn’t mean to worry you, Will. It’s just been tough this year.”

“I get it,” Willow nodded. “Really, I do.”

Xander gave her a sad smile and cupped her cheek in his hand.

Willow took his hand away gently and gave it a squeeze. “It’s late, so go get some rest. Big day tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” he said, giving her a peck on the cheek. “Night, Will.”

“Hey,” she stopped him before he could reach the door. He turned around. “I love you, Xander,” she said. 

“Love you, too, Will.” He gave her a genuine smile and her own widened in response.

She watched him leave the room and then returned to her work.

Fade In:
Watchers Council – Willow’s Suite – Late Evening

Willow walked through the door into her darkened apartment and reached a hand out to turn on the light. A warm glow filled the living room. She walked through the hallway, peered into the darkened bedroom and sighed. A soft knock sounded on the door and she moved to answer it.

“Hey Will,” Faith said, her hands buried deep in the pockets of her jacket.

“Faith, come in,” Willow said.

Faith walked into the room a few steps and then swung around to face Willow. “Um, Kennedy’s bunking down in the dorm tonight. She…she wanted me to tell you.”

“I need to go see her,” Willow said, moving toward the door.

Faith put a hand out. “I’ll look after her. She just needs some space tonight.”

Willow nodded. “O-okay, thanks…Did she tell you about Xander?”

“The spell?” Faith said. “Yeah, we talked about it and…talked about it. And talked some more after that.” Faith gave her a small grin.

“I’m sorry you got dragged into this.”

“Nah, it’s cool,” Faith told her. “Robin likes to talk too, so I’ve got the practice…I just…I wanted to come up and tell you where she was and to say I think you’re doing the right thing here.”

“Wish Kennedy thought so,” Willow said, an ironic smile on her face.

“She’ll come around, but she needs some time,” Faith said. “I pointed out a few things she’s too stubborn to think of on her own, but…I’m afraid I kinda made things worse at one point.”

“What do you mean?”

“I…I…oh hell,” Faith said, a guilty look on her face. “I kinda told her about you and Xander playing footsies behind Oz’s back in high school. I’m sorry Willow, I thought she knew about all…that.”

Willow sighed as she absorbed the information. “Oh…well, it’s okay Faith, don’t blame yourself,” Willow said. “I should have told her myself long before this came up, but…well, infidelity’s not usually something you bring up while basking in the afterglow.”

“Yeah, but still,” Faith said. “I’m really sorry.”

“No, don’t…” Willow said. “It’ll be alright.”

“Like I said, let her be tonight, Will,” Faith advised. “Talk to her in the morning…gotta admit, it’s not easy on her.”

Willow sighed again and nodded her assent. “Okay…just, just for tonight.”

Faith turned to the door again. “I’m gonna go. Robin’s expecting a call, and it’s already late.”

“Yeah. Good night, Faith,” Willow said, closing the door behind the slayer. With another sigh, she turned off the living room lights and headed into the empty bedroom.

Fade In:
Watchers Council – Willow’s Suite – Bathroom – Morning

Willow sat on the edge of the large sunken tub. She was dressed in a peach-colored silk robe and her long red hair was held back in a bun. She silently watched as the hot, steaming water filled the tub, but turned around at the soft knock on the open bathroom door.

“Hey,” Kennedy whispered, taking a tentative step into the room.

“Hi,” Willow smiled.

“What are you gonna do?” Ken asked, indicating the various herbs resting near the tub.

“Ritual bath,” Willow said briefly, as if trying to read her lover’s mood.

“Like…like during the full moon?”

Willow nodded.

“So…so this means you’re gonna do the spell,” Kennedy moved closer to Willow and turned down the lid of the toilet seat, then sat down.

“Yes,” Willow answered.

“Oh,” Ken said, watching the water flow into the tub. “Kinda hot, ain’t it?” she asked, indicating the water.

“Yeah,” Willow said, making an adjustment on the tap. “I like it that way, when I’m getting ready for ritual. Makes…well, makes the blood move. Helps me get in tune with my body.”

Kennedy nodded. “I get it,” she said. “Kinda like warming up before heavy exercise.”

“Ken? Sweetie? I…I missed you last night,” Willow said, her face suddenly looking vulnerable.

“Me too,” Ken said, a small pout on her face. “I mean, I missed you, too. Didn’t get a whole lotta sleep with all those junior slayers running around. You wouldn’t believe how much noise a bunch of teenage girls with superpowers can make.”

Willow gave a cautious smile. “I can imagine. I used to sleep with Buffy and she was noisy enough…oh, not that we…I mean slumber party sleep, just you know, the high school, best friend, talk all night about clothes and boys thing…well, in Buffy’s case, talk about a certain vampire before he got all evil thing, but…”

Kennedy suppressed a laugh. “I know what you meant, Will.”

“Okay,” Willow said, relieved. “Um, Faith told me she…she said…” Willow took a breath. “I’m sorry I never told you the whole story about Oz and Xander. It’s just that it was something I wasn’t very proud of, b-but I knew it’s something that would never, ever happen again. I’d never cheat on you, Ken. I…I couldn’t, you know? I mean, when Oz…when it happened to me, I could never inflict that kind of pain on anyone else.”

“I know you couldn’t,” Kennedy said, finally looking up into Willow’s eyes. “You…you’ve got a good heart, Willow. That’s why I know you have to do this. With Xander,” she said.

“I do,” Willow agreed, tears coming to her eyes. “I just wish…”

“I know,” Kennedy said, brushing Willow’s face with her thumb. “I’m sorry I’m being such a jerk about it. Intellectually, I know…I understand, it’s just I’m…” Kennedy shook her head as if to clear it. “It’s just that you’re always so damn right all the time. When it comes to giving orders as a watcher or doing things I can’t understand because it’s a part of your religion, you always seem to push me aside. As if those things come first and us last.”

“Kennedy, I have a lot of responsibility –”

“No!” Kennedy interrupted. “I know you do. So do I, but it just seems like we can’t ever meet in the middle.”

Kennedy paused as she continued to softly stroke Willow’s face. “I’m proud of you, Willow,” she finally said. “You’re doing a good thing for Xander. You’re right. Faith’s right. I mean, even bullheaded me can see he needs help. So, you do what you have to do to help him. I’ll be alright. And we…we’ll be alright, too, I hope.”

“Really?” Willow asked, pressing the brunette’s hand closer to her face.

“Really,” Ken repeated. “I love you.”

Kennedy leaned forward and gently kissed Willow on the lips. “Now, take your bath and I’ll see you this afternoon. Okay?”

Willow winced at the hollow tone in Kennedy’s voice, but she simply replied, “Okay.”

Kennedy stood and quickly left the bathroom. Willow turned off the tap before the water could overflow the tub. With a sigh, she stood and began to untie her robe.

Fade In:
Vampire’s Lair – Late Morning

Gretz directed the nervous delivery man pushing the heavy handcart ahead of him to the back room and through the walk-in freezer door. The middle-aged man tried not to look at the drained and frozen corpses hanging from hooks as he unloaded the styrofoam containers from the cart. Gretz pushed the lid of one aside and grabbed one of the bags, his face morphing before his fangs tore through the heavy plastic. The delivery man whimpered slightly and pretended to ignore the loud slurping sounds.

“Ah!” Gretz said with a satisfied belch. He looked at the human. “You done yet?”

“Y-yes,” the man said, straightening up and retrieving his handcart.

“Good. Let’s go,” Gretz said, then led the way out of the freezer.

Seward was waiting for them near the entrance. The human whimpered again when he saw the tall vampire.

“Everything as promised?” he asked Gretz.

“Yes, Master,” Gretz said.

Seward paused and licked his lips as he looked at the delivery man. The man physically began to shake and nervously looked from Seward to the door. Finally, Seward nodded and said, “Tip him, then.”

Gretz pulled out a large wad of cash and handed it to the human, who blindly stuffed it into his jacket pocket as he rushed from the lair.

Seward absently watched as the heavy door closed and gave a long, wanton sigh. “Gretz?”

“Yes, Master?”

“We’re going out tonight. I don’t care what the Presidium has planned. I need fresh produce,” he said, taking the empty bag from Gretz. “And not frozen dinners.”

“But Master…”

“Gretz,” Seward began. short of patience. “I own this town. It’s mine, not theirs. We deserve a night out. Round up the crew.”

Gretz opened his mouth as if to ask a question, but when Seward narrowed his eyes on him, he closed it with a snap. “Yes, Master,” he finally said, his voice low and fearful.

“Good boy,” Seward said with a smile.

Fade In:
Watchers Council – Hallway Outside Coven Room – Noon

Xander and Giles walked down the hallway. Both men were barefoot and dressed in simple green robes.

“A little chilly in here,” Xander said.

“Willow had her coven room specially climate controlled, Xander,” Giles replied. “I think the system is even hooked up to that infernal computer of hers. You’ll be warm enough.”

“Oh, good,” Xander replied absently, his nervousness apparent. He half-turned to the Watcher. “That robe looks good on you Giles. Much better than that silly wizard’s robe you wore that one Halloween.”

“Yes,” Giles said. “Thankfully, that part of my wardrobe was consumed with the rest of Sunnydale.”

The two men stopped when they saw Kennedy talking with Andrew by the door to the coven room.

“They’re…um, they’re waiting for you inside,” Andrew said to the two men.

Giles nodded, but remained silent as Kennedy and Xander looked at each other.

“Good luck, Xander,” Kennedy finally said. “I hope it works.”

“Thank you, Ken,” he replied, his voice breaking with emotion. He turned to Giles. “Feel like I’m going in for surgery.”

Giles gave him a ghost of a smile and motioned to Andrew, who opened the door. The pair quickly walked through the door and Andrew closed it behind them.

“Two men enter. One man leaves,” Andrew muttered to himself. 

“Why don’t you grow up, moron?” Kennedy snarled, then quickly walked away down the corridor.

Andrew blinked at her retreating figure, then crossed his arms and began to chant under his breath. “The Goddess is alive, magic is afoot. The Goddess is alive…”

Cut To:
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Noon

Giles gently took Xander’s elbow and led him to the side of the room. In the center, Willow and Rowena stood in front of the altar. They were both similarly robed.

Willow nodded to Rowena and the blonde watcher picked up the smoking censer from the altar. Moving clockwise, she traced a large circle with the altar in the middle. In a strong voice, she declared, “Let the circle be drawn with the power of fire and air.”

Moving again to the altar, Rowena added a pinch of salt to the bowl of water and said, “As water purifies the body, so salt purifies the soul.”

Picking up the bowl, she again moved around the circle defining the space with the salt water. “Let the circle be drawn with the power of earth and water.”

Finally, Rowena picked up her athame from the altar and moved a third time around the circle. “Let the circle be drawn with the power of spirit.”

Rowena returned to the altar and gave Willow a small bow. “My lady, the circle is cast.”

“Thank you,” Willow smiled. She handed Rowena her own athame, following the blonde as she moved to the eastern side of the circle. Rowena used the daggers to open a passage, leaving them on the floor to mark the boundary. She stepped back as Willow waited in front of it.

Giles led Xander forward until he stood across from Willow.

“How shall you enter?” Willow asked.

Xander cleared his throat nervously. “In perfect love and perfect trust,” he answered.

“You are welcome in the sacred circle,” Willow said, then moved aside as he stepped forward.

Rowena stepped through to stand next to Giles, and Willow bent down to pick up the athames and seal the magical door. She smiled at Giles and Rowena. They both bowed to her and then turned and left the room. Willow looked at the heavy door a moment and the click of the lock turning softly filled the room.

Willow turned to Xander and gently took his hand to lead him to the altar. She set the two athames aside and picked up a small, lit, white taper candle and handed it to him. He looked at her a moment and she gave him a small nod of encouragement.

“Lord…lord of the forest,” he began as he touched the flame of the candle to the wick of a tall, gold pillar candle resting on the altar. “Um…uh…King of mirth and merriment. Join us within our sacred circle and…and lend your blessing to our endeavor. So mote it be.” He gave a soft sigh of relief when he finished.

Willow took the taper from him and repeated his action, this time lighting the tall silver candle next to the golden one. “Lady of the night with three faces,” she said, her voice strong and sure. “Guardian of all eternal life. Join us within our sacred circle and lend us your blessing. So mote it be.”

She placed the taper back in its holder and turned to Xander. “Would you like something to drink?” she asked. “There’s wine for later, but I have ice water in case we get thirsty.”

“No,” he said, taking a deep breath. “I…I…no.”

“Are you nervous?” she asked, her eyebrows rising up in concern.

“Um, I don’t think nervous is the exact term I’d use here, Will,” he said. “In fact, my nervousness has transcended rational thought. To be perfectly frank, my nervousness has taken on a life of its own. So…so why don’t you just do that door thingie and I’ll go, ’cause honestly I don’t think I’m gonna be able to rise to the…uh, occasion and…and oh God –”

Xander broke off as Willow, with a slight shrug of her shoulders, allowed her robe to fall to the floor.

“Oh…” Xander said, his eye widening. “Oh…oh boy. Okay, just…just scratch that last comment.”

Willow smiled.

Fade to Black


End of Act Three

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