Act 4

Fade In:
Watchers Council – Lounge – Afternoon

Andrew sat in the corner of the lounge working on the computer, while Faith, Kennedy and Marsha watched television. The junior slayer was sitting between the other two and every once in a while she would try to sneak the remote control away from Faith. Faith would simply slap her hand away and continue her channel surfing.

Rowena and Giles sat at the work table, going over patrol reports.

“Score!” Andrew proclaimed from the computer.

Giles sighed. “Andrew, I thought you were supposed to be researching for Willow. That does not sound like research to me.”

“Well, she’s not here, so she won’t know,” he defended.

“She will when I tell her,” Faith said, clicking the remote.

Andrew pouted, closed the computer game he was playing and reloaded the database.

“Faith, will you just pick something to watch, already!” Kennedy exclaimed.

“Hey! I have to know what’s on before I decide, you know,” Faith pointed out.

“We’ve got 400 frikkin’ channels,” Kennedy said. “Use the guide.”

“The guide is for wimps,” Faith said. Marsha tried to steal the remote again, and finally Faith tossed it to Kennedy. “Here, better you than the squirt.” She leaned forward and picked up the newspaper lying on the table in front of the couch.

Kennedy continued where Faith had left off, flipping channels. Marsha looked at her and said, “I thought you wanted to watch something.”

Kennedy glanced at her from the corner of her eye. “Just because you got a day off doesn’t mean I won’t make you scrub the dorm bathrooms again.”

Marsha mimicked Andrew’s pout perfectly and slumped back into the couch. Kennedy continued to click the remote.

A few moments later, Willow and Xander walked into the room. Kennedy turned off the television. Everyone else gathered around Xander, but when they saw he was still wearing the eye patch they were silent. 

“What happened?” Andrew finally burst out. “It didn’t work?”

“Stupid magic,” Kennedy muttered softly, but loud enough to be heard. “Knew it wouldn’t work.”

Willow looked at her sadly.

Giles cocked his head to one side and a grin slowly made its way to his face. “Oh, Xander, for god’s sake!” Giles exclaimed. He turned to the rest of the gathering. “He’s got the patch on the good eye!”

Xander laughed joyfully. He pulled the eye patch off and tossed it into the fireplace. “I can see again!”

Willow rolled her eyes and smiled happily at her best friend, while Kennedy’s scowl deepened. Giles peered closely into Xander’s healed eye. “Good lord!” he exclaimed. “They’re different colors!”

“Yeah, how about that?” Xander said. “But beggars can’t be choosers, right? Good thing it’s only a different shade of brown or I’d really stand out.”

“You stand out anyway, dude,” Faith said, clapping him on the back. “Congratulations. And Will, great job,” Faith drawled while looking at Willow’s work.

“Thanks,” Willow said.

“Yes, Willow,” Rowena said. “It’s…a miracle.”

“Indeed,” Giles said. “Xander, if you wouldn’t mind, I have an optometrist here in Cleveland that I’d like to have a look at your eye. Just to make sure everything’s fine.”

Xander shrugged. “Okay. Can I drive your car?” he asked.

“Er…no, not just yet,” Giles said, then gave him a small smile. “But I’ll let you play with the radio.”


“Hey guys,” Faith said, retrieving her newspaper from the couch. “I think we have extra cause for celebration tonight. Will’s birthday. Xander’s complete set of baby browns. Whadya say? There’s a new place opening tonight that looks promising.” She pointed to an ad in the newspaper.

“I don’t know…” Willow said doubtfully, casting a glance at her girlfriend, but then suddenly Kennedy stood up and moved forward.

“Sure!” she said, with false cheer. “That sounds great. Dinner, drinks, maybe we can even get in a bit of dancing.”

Willow hesitated a moment longer. “Alright,” she finally said.

“Wow! Great!” Marsha exclaimed, bouncing on her feet.

“Oh, not you, little girl!” Andrew said. “You and the rest of the Barbie patrol are staying home with me tonight.”

“But why?” she whined. “It sounds like fun!”

“Fun for adults,” he pointed out. “Not growing slayers. Besides, I have a new cookie recipe you can help me with.”

Marsha seemed disappointed, but then brightened. “Okay, but you have to let me wear your favorite apron. You know, the one with the Martha Stewart and Emeril LaGasse dueling spatulas cartoon on it.”

“Okay!” Andrew interrupted. “Sure, no problem. Now let’s go.” Andrew shooed the young girl out of the lounge, to the amusement of the others.

“You guys in?” Faith asked Rowena and Giles, who both nodded. “Cool,” Faith said. “I’ll go tell Vi and Rona. Later!”

Faith left the lounge and Giles clapped a hand on Xander’s back. “Come on, Xander,” he said. “Let’s go check out the eye.”

“Okay, sure,” he said, then paused and turned to Willow. “Thanks, Will,” he said.

Willow shrugged. “I owed you, Xander.”

“No, never. But thank you,” he whispered and reached out to gently touch her cheek for a moment before turning and following Giles.

“I’m gonna go work out,” Kennedy said, then left before Willow could say anything.

“I’m really impressed, Willow,” Rowena said. “I…I know that technically your spell was flawless, but to actually see the result…amazing.”

“Thanks Ro,” Will said. “You shoulda been there when the slayers were activated. Talk about pyrotechnic-y.”

“I’ll bet,” Rowena said. “Um, do you want to continue work on the Fluxus manuscript? We still have to translate it from the Latin, and while that’s easy, the magical permutations are a complete mystery to me.”

Willow glanced at the door Kennedy had left through before turning back to Rowena. “Okay, sure,” Willow said. She sat down at the table.

Fade In:
Watchers Council – Computer Room – Late Afternoon

Giles walked into the computer room and saw Willow slumped over her keyboard. As he approached, he saw that she had fallen asleep. He smiled proudly and ran a gentle hand over her head. The touch stirred her and she slowly came awake.

“Oh…oh, Giles,” she said. “I’m sorry! I must have fallen asleep.” She turned a bleary eye to the computer screen. “Oh…heh…looks like I’ve got about ten thousand pages of the letter Z in my journal. Kinda appropriate, I guess.”

“I’m sure you can fix it,” he said, pulling up a chair and sitting down next to her. “In fact, I don’t think there’s much in this world you can’t do.”

“Oh please, Giles,” she said, rolling her eyes. “We both know that’s not true.” She wiped a hand over her face to help her wake up. “How’d it go at the optometrist?”

“Excellent,” he said. “His eyesight is perfect. There’s no sign of any abnormalities or even scarring from the original injury. Other than the odd color variation, it seems perfectly normal.”

“Good,” she said. “How…how did he seem? More Xandery?”

“Better than he has,” Giles said thoughtfully. “But he’ll need time. He still has his grief to deal with. He t-told me he’s spent the last few months seeking a way to bring back Anya. I shudder to think of the risks he’s been taking.”

Willow nodded. “He mentioned something to me, too,” she said. “I don’t even want to know what he intended to do with D’Hoffryn’s amulet, but I’m sure it would not have been pleasant.”

Giles paused for a moment as he watched her fiddle with the computer. “Willow?” He waited until she turned her attention back to him. “I’m so very proud of you. For what you did. Not…not only for Xander, but for yourself.”

“Everyone seems to think it’s something so spectacular,” she said. “But, it’s just something I had to do.”

“I know,” he said. “But most importantly it’s the way you did it, Willow. You could have taken the easy way out a-and simply used dark magic to conjure Xander a new eye.”

“Humph,” Willow snorted. “Not so easy. That would have required shedding innocent blood, a-and I’m not going that way again.”

“I know,” he said. “So rather than using an outside source, you took it upon yourself. You put aside your own personal preferences and took a tremendous risk with your relationships with both Xander and Kennedy. It was a hard thing to do and that’s why I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks Giles,” Willow said, finally accepting his praise. “I…I should go get ready for tonight.”

They both stood up and began to leave the room. “So should I,” he said. “I need to prepare myself for all the trouble I’m sure all of you will get in tonight.”

Fade In:
Jimmy’s Tavern – Evening

The group had appropriated a large table in the back of the tavern. It was now littered with dinner dishes, the remains of a huge birthday cake and many, many empty beer bottles and cocktail glasses. Only Willow, Giles, Xander and Rowena were present to survey the damage. Faith, Vi and Rona could be seen happily dancing to the music from the live band on the stage. Kennedy had excused herself to go to the bathroom a while before, but instead of returning to the table, she was playing a video game at the bar.

“Not exactly your style of music, huh?” Xander joked.

“I’m, I’m down…with the new music,” Giles said, taking a sip from his drink. Willow leaned over and plucked the umbrella-skewered maraschino cherry from his glass and popped it in her mouth. 

“Oh, yeah, down is right,” she said with a wicked grin as she chewed. “Every time you hear the stereo in the rec room, you look down your tweedy British nose at it.”

“That’s not true,” he said. “A-and stop stealing my cherries!”

Willow chuckled. “I’m stealing Giles’s cherries. Hehehe.”

“Gotta admit, Giles. Music’s come a long way from Seals and Croft. And see?” Xander said as he pointed to the female lead singer of the group, which was doing a cover of “Going Under” by Evanescence. “Even people your age can appreciate music from the last TWENTY years,” he stressed.

“Xander, I never listened to Seals and Croft,” he said. “Cream and The Who are more my style.”

“Wow, Giles,” Rowena said, stirring the ice in her glass with her straw. “I would have taken you more for a classic Baroque man rather than a classic rock man. Wonders never cease, eh?” She sucked the last of the alcohol from the glass with a noisy slurp.

They all looked at her in astonishment. 

“What?” she asked.

“Eh?” Willow laughed. “You really are Canadian!” The rest of the table, including Rowena, joined in the laughter.

“Okay. You caught me. I’m drunk,” she confessed after everyone began to calm down.

“In that case, let’s dance,” Giles said, standing up and pulling Rowena to her feet. “You won’t remember in the morning and, despite the beat, this band is not that bad.” Before the blonde had a chance to protest, he dragged her away.

“Oh gods, Will,” Xander said, hiding behind his hands. “I can’t watch Giles’s midlife crisis in action. The shiny sports car, dancing with women half his age – it’s very disturbing.”

“Stop,” Willow admonished with a laugh. She paused before changing the subject. “Did you talk to Buffy again?”

“Yeah,” he nodded. “Her and Dawn. They were a little…overwhelmed at the news.”

“How much did you tell them?” Willow asked.

“Well, I could hear Dawn jumping up and down until Buffy sent her out of the room. Buffy was concerned about, you know…”

“The color of magic,” Willow said with a wry grin.

“Yeah,” he said. “So I explained without going into too much detail, but she got the idea. That was okay, right? I mean, it’s Buffy.”

“Oh, no Xander,” Willow assured. “That’s fine. I’m not ashamed of anything. A-and you shouldn’t be either.”

“I’m not,” he said. “Uh, Will…I think, I mean… I’m going to head out tomorrow.”

Willow got a frightened look on her face. “You’re not leaving cause of any…weirdness, right?” she asked as she waved her hand between the two of them.

“No weirdness, Will,” Xander assured her with a sincere smile.

“But…but you just got here,” Willow protested. “Why would you…?”

“I know,” he interrupted before she could get into drunken babble mode. “But I want to see Niagara Falls and then I’m going to meet up with the Summers women for the holidays. I kinda promised Dawn. She begged me to come and meet her girlfriend.”

“Awww,” Willow cried. “How come she tells everyone else about her girlfriend? I mean, I thought she could talk to me, but no! She can tell everyone except me!”

“Hey, Will, calm down!” Xander hastily said. “I kinda got the idea she didn’t think it was that big a deal and was afraid you would make one out of it. Besides, I don’t think Dawn is as firmly planted on your side as you are. She asked if I had seen that cute guy she met when she was here and whether my new eye was as dreamy as his?”

Willow stubbornly grumbled to herself, but then moved the subject back on track.

“Well, okay then. As long as you’re with people who love you. That’s the important thing. But you tell Little Miss Dawnie that she better hook up that web cam I sent her because I am not enduring a Snoopy dance-free Christmas. I’ll expect a heart-warming rendition from both of you.”

“Okay, you got it,” he laughed.

“Come on,” Willow said. “Let’s go show those slayers that we know how to move, too.”

“In a minute,” he said.

“Okay!” Willow said, leaving the table and beginning to weave her way through the crowd.

Xander headed for the bar and asked the bartender for another beer. Kennedy stiffened as he looked over her shoulder at the video screen.

“Looks like fun,” he said. “Can I join in?

“It’s a free country,” Kennedy shrugged. “Got a quarter?”

“Yep,” he said, putting a handful of change down on the bar and taking the stool next to her. They played for a few minutes.

“You’re good at that,” Kennedy said, watching his hands fly over the touch screen.

“All those years of video-game geekdom finally paid off,” he smiled. “Good thing, too, or I’d never keep up with your slayer dexterity.”

“It’s more than that.” Kennedy shook her head as she missed a move and the game finally came to an end. The points on his side more than doubled hers and he quickly keyed in ALH for best score. “Yeah, I got the speed, but you’ve obviously had lots of practice on bar games.”

Xander shrugged it off and took a sip of his beer.

“Ken, I wanted to tell you that I’m leaving tomorrow. Gonna see a few more sights and then go meet up with Buffy for Christmas.”

Kennedy swiveled around on her stool until she was facing the dance floor. “Oh,” she said. “You coming back after?”

“I don’t know,” he said, turning around as well. “To visit for sure. My family’s here.”

“Especially Willow,” she said.

“Especially Willow,” he repeated. “But that’s just it. Willow is my family. I don’t want anything more. Neither does she.”

“Then what does she want, Xander?” Kennedy asked. “I’m not sure it’s me.”

“Has she ever said she doesn’t want you?” he asked.

“No,” she admitted, then jerked her head at the dance floor. “But judging from her and Faith’s Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey impersonation out there, I think she might be looking elsewhere.”

Xander peered over to where Willow and Faith were indeed dancing closely and enjoyably together. He smiled sadly. “I’ve seen it before. That, my dear Kennedy, is the dance of the brave little toaster.”

“Huh?” she said, turning to him in confusion.

“One thing I know about Willow,” he said seriously but with a glint in his eyes. “The only time she can dance like that is when she drinks. And the only time she drinks like that is when she’s feeling sad. And I’m betting if she had her choice it would be you she’d be dancing with. Get what I’m saying?”

“Oh,” she said. “So I…I guess I should go dance with her,” Kennedy said.

“Tell you what,” he said. “It’s been a while, but I’m sure I can distract Faith long enough for you to spirit the Willster away. Sound like a plan?”

Kennedy smiled and was just about to answer when her eyes narrowed. She watched a group of at least a half dozen figures walk past them towards the dance floor. She put out an arm to stop Xander from moving from his barstool.

“What?” he asked.

“Got uninvited company,” she said.

Xander followed her eye movements as they tracked the newcomers. He lifted himself up a bit and looked over the heads of the dancers. “If I’m not mistaken, there’s more coming in the back way. Looks like it’s chow time in vamp town. Gee, thought I’d left this all behind in Sunnydale.”

“They’re blocking off the exits,” Kennedy said, looking around the room. “Five in the front. Five in the back and at least ten inside already. I’ll grab Faith, Rona and Vi. You gather up the others. We’ve gotta make a move before they do.”

“Right,” he said and they headed off.

By the time Kennedy reached Faith, Vi and Rona, they had already sensed the intruders. The four of them broke off in different directions to cover as much of the room as possible.

Staggering to a stop, Willow finally seemed to realize her dancing partner had abandoned her at the same moment Xander reached her, Giles and Rowena. He pulled them all away from the crowd and back toward the table.

“What…what’s going on?” Giles asked.

“There’s about to be a feeding frenzy and we’re all on the menu,” Xander explained to the watchers. He overturned one of the chairs and started kicking it apart.

“Oh dear,” Giles slurred. “Now see! This is why it’s not safe to drink outside the safety of your own home.”

“Save the lecture for later, Giles,” Xander told him as he continued to kick.

“Hey!” a waitress ran over, interrupting them. “What do you think you’re doing, pal?” she said facing Xander.

“You’re about to be…” Rowena stopped herself from continuing and seemed to strain with an explanation the young woman would buy. “Robbed!” she said suddenly, quite proud of herself. “That’s it. You’re gonna be robbed by those guys over there. We need weapons,” Rowena told her in a slightly inebriated voice. “So get the manager, ‘k?”

As the waitress ran away, Xander handed them all stakes. He turned to Willow. “Will, do you think you can clear the exit?”

“Oh,” Willow said, not sounding much more astute than Rowena. She looked over at the group of vampires blocking the front entrance. “Uh…sure.”

“Good,” Xander said. “Let’s get as many folks out as we can before these guys get hungry.”

“And knowing vamps, that’s not going to take long,” Rowena pointed out, waving her finger. “I’m a watcher. I know these things.”

“Riiiiiight,” Xander patronized. “And a drunk one at that,” he added softly under his breath.

Suddenly a scream came from the dance floor. The group watched as the vampires began to grab the victims closest to them.

“Too late,” Rowena said offhandedly. “What’s plan B?”

They watched as all the slayers bolted into action, whipping out their stakes and dusting the vampires, who seemed oblivious to them in the tide of people. The rest of the undead realized quickly what was happening and began to engage the slayers. As the fight started to escalate, people started to run. A few of the drunker patrons, not knowing the real danger began to join in, fighting each other.

“Plan B is utter chaos,” Xander jibed, taking in the scene.

“Okay,” Willow began, holding her head as if trying to concentrate. “Work your way to the back. Help the people who ran.” She raced through the various melees to get to the front door.

When Willow arrived at the entrance, she found the five vampires snickering at their trapped prey. She looked around and saw the pieces of a chair broken in the brawl at her feet. She concentrated by closing her eyes and wobbling on her feet for just a moment as the wood flew through the air. She opened her eyes and scrunched her face when the makeshift stakes embedded themselves into the wall next to their waitress’s head.

“Oops!” she said to the girl with a slight chuckle and a small apologetic grin. “Sorry, it’s the booze,” she added, trying to sound serious.

Terrified, the girl ran for the kitchen. The other patrons followed her leaving Willow with five hungry, agitated vampires gnashing their teeth in her direction. “Oh boy, this isn’t good,” Willow sighed.

“She a witch, Gretz?” one of the vamps asked his companion.

“That…that’s right!” Willow proclaimed. “I am a witch. A-a very powerful she-witch, so don’t think you can trifle with me!”

Gretz laughed. “Whatcha gonna do, she-witch?” he sneered. “Turn me into a frog?”

Willow frowned in confusion. “Ewww! No frogs! Um…gimme a minute and I…I’ll think of something just as hideous!”

As Xander, Rowena and Giles tried to dodge their way to the back, Giles suddenly felt himself blitzed from the side. He tried to keep his footing, but the vampire that had run into him managed to catch him, then gave him a shove, sending Giles sliding face first toward the musical group’s drum set. With a crash into the bass drum he came to a stop.

The musicians looked on in fear, huddling behind their lead singer, who still had her guitar strapped around her. 

“I don’t like this, this is not good.”

She gasped at the disfigured face of Giles’s attacker as he lunged toward the watcher.

“Come on, Becca,” one of her younger band mates said, “Time to book.”

Becca pulled the guitar from her shoulder and slammed it into the attacker’s back. The guitar shattered, the body flying away from the neck.The vampires seemed unfazed and turned to Becca with a growl.

“That’s it,” her bandmate yelled, pulling her away and running with her toward the kitchen.

The pause was enough for Giles to get his footing. He tapped the distracted vampire on the shoulder, burying a discarded drum stick in his chest.

Becca watched from the kitchen entrance as the man instantly turned to dust. “What the hell?” she muttered.

“Come on!” her bandmate yelled again, before dragging her from the room.

Giles jumped from the stage, picking up a broken leg from a chair and began swinging at the next vampire closest to him. 

With makeshift stakes in hand, Xander and Rowena tried to move through the tide of humans and vampires. One reached out to grab Rowena, thinking they’d found a free lunch, but she fought back, surprising the vampire.

“Brave one you are,” he taunted.

Rowena swung her stake around, burying it in his heart. “Bed one you are,” she retorted, then stopped for a moment to concentrate on what she just said. “I mean dead one you…oh hell, you get the point,” she said, talking to the pile of dust on the floor. “Hehehe, you really did get the point, eh?”

She shook her drunken head in an attempt to focus and looked around. She saw Xander only a few yards ahead of her and she moved to catch up.

Xander diverted from his course to the rear exit in order to pull a vampire off of Vi.

“Thanks,” the petite redhead said. She lunged past him and plunged a broken cue stick into the vampire’s chest.

“Uh oh,” Xander said as another group of vampires walked into the bar from the rear, this time led by Seward. His western clothing made Xander do a double take.

“Chaps?” Xander said, pointing to the vampire’s attire as the demon came closer. “And who are you supposed to be? Cleveland’s version of Josey Wales?”

Seward stopped in his assessment of the room and focused on Xander.

“I’m going to enjoy killing you,” he said calmly.

“Is that right?” Xander said, amused. “And what makes you think you can do that?”

“I’m a lot older than I look, boy.”

“You may be old,” Xander said. “But after all I’ve seen, the scariest thing about you, buddy, is your wardrobe.”

Enraged, Seward moved in and swung a right hook at Xander’s head haphazardly. The vampire was quick, but before his fist could connect, Xander ducked to the left and slammed the stake into his chest. Seward fell back with a look of surprise on his face, an instant before exploding into dust.

“Just like ridin’ a bicycle,” Xander sneered.

From the other side of the bar, the vampires began to close in on Willow.

“Stand down,” she said, raising her hand, “You’re about to…”

Gretz and the other vamps looked over Willow’s shoulder and suddenly began to dart from the establishment upon seeing Seward’s demise. As they scurried away, Willow called out after them.

“That’s right you blood tuckers, er, suckers. You better run,” she called out, before she smugly muttering, “Guess they know what’s good for ’em.”

Oblivious to the real reason they ran, she triumphantly turned and went back into the main room.

“Well, that was fun!” Faith said, hopping up on a billiard table and lighting a cigarette as she surveyed the ruined scene.

“Just like old times, eh Xander?” Willow said, nudging her friend.

“Yeah. Reminds me exactly why I want out of this business,” he said, throwing down his stake.

Rowena leaned against a table. “That was sloppy,” she remarked.

“Yeah,” Rona said. “But no one got hurt. That’s what counts.”

“Then I say we take this party home,” Faith said. “Hey Brat, since you’re driving, let’s swing by that all-night liquor store on the way. Will can buy for us seeing as how she’s legal now. And once we get home, if you wanna have a little nip, I promise not to tell.”

“Didn’t you learn anything from this evening, Faith?” Giles said.

“Yeah!” Faith said, hopping up and grabbing his and Xander’s arms to lead them out of the tavern. “To drink at home, like you said! Everyone, to the Council!”

Fade In:
Watchers Council – Dining Room – Morning

Willow dragged herself to the coffee urn and accepted her mug from Andrew.

“You okay, Willow?” Andrew asked.

“Uh huh,” she mumbled, taking a sip. She looked up and saw Giles and Rowena slowly coming into the dining room and joining the senior slayers at their table. “Andrew, could you go make some more of that headache remedy, please? I have a feeling we’re gonna need extra this morning.”

“Oh, sure!” Andrew said, then out of the dining room.

“You realize this is a terrible waste of resources,” Giles moaned as Willow joined them. “No one will get any work done today a-and…”

“Speak for yourself, dude,” Faith said. “I feel great.”

“Bloody slayers and their recuperative powers,” he mumbled under his breath.

“All part of the perks,” Faith laughed. “By the way, nice earring.”

Giles looked at her with bloodshot eyes. “What are you…?” He grabbed his ear with one hand and exclaimed, “Dear lord!”

“Uh, yeah,” Ro said. “Mind if I have my stud back?”

Giles blushed furiously as he handed the blonde watcher her earring.

Despite her hangover, Willow chuckled. “You should wear one all the time, Giles. It looks good on you. Very sexy.”

“Yeah,” Faith agreed. “But not as sexy as that naked lady tattooed on your back, Will.”

“What?” Willow said, her eyes widening in panic. “What?”

“Just kidding, Red,” Faith laughed. “No tattoo.”

“Goddess,” she said, glaring at Faith. “Don’t do that to me!”

“Well, gonna round up the troops and get to work,” Faith said. “At least some of us can today.”

The three of them sat silently for a moment as Andrew returned and poured them each a steaming cup of his infusion.

“Ack, bitter,” Giles complained.

“Yeah, but a lot better than your hangover,” Andrew admonished. “You guys should have stuck with the cookies.”

“How’re things with Kennedy?” Rowena asked as Andrew walked away.

“Okay,” Willow said. “I…I think. We talked a bit last night after we got back and she seemed a little more at ease. She left me a note saying she was going for a run this morning.”

“Good,” Rowena said. “Well, I’m going to go thank Andrew for this concoction and then get a few more hours of sleep.”

“Good idea,” Giles said. “Just enough time to get some rest in before Xander leaves.”

Willow drained her tea as the other two left the dining hall.

Fade In:
Watchers Council – Street Level – Late Afternoon

Xander’s camper was parked at the curb. Rona, Vi and the other slayers from Sunnydale had already said goodbye to him and had headed back inside for supper. Andrew looked sad as he shook Xander’s hand, then turned quickly and ran into the building.

Rowena blushed shyly as Xander pulled her into a big bear hug. “Thanks so much for your help,” he said. “Keep knocking on Giles and next time I visit we can gang up on him.”

“Okay,” she said, pulling away. “Good luck, Xander.”

“Faith,” Xander said. “Tell Robin I’m sorry I missed him, but I’ll give you a call next week to make it up to him.”

“Okay, dude,” she replied. “Make sure you tell Buffy all about the fun she’s missing out on here in Cleveland.”

“Right,” he smiled before turning to Giles. He offered his hand, but Giles grinned and lightly batted it away before pulling him into a hug.

“Take care,” Giles told him. “If you need anything…”

“Believe me,” Xander said as they pulled away from each other. “I know where to come.”

They looked at each other a moment before he turned to Kennedy.

“Can I give you a hug, too?” he asked tentatively.

Kennedy looked at him a moment, then pulled her hands from her back pockets and stiffly hugged him. Willow met Xander’s eyes and smiled sadly for a moment.

“Thank you,” he said, refusing to let Kennedy go for a long moment. “Do me a favor, okay?” he asked.

“Um, what?” she said, finally pulling away.

“Take care of Will, okay?” he said. “There’s nothing I want more in this world than for her to be happy.”

Kennedy nodded. “Okay. Be…be careful, Xander,” she said. “You do pretty good in a fight, but it’s still a rough world out there.” With that she turned and walked away with the group, finally leaving Xander and Willow alone on the street.

“So,” Willow said, rocking on her heels, looking a bit unsure of what to do.

“C’mere you,” he said and she embraced him tightly.

“I don’t want you to go, you know,” she said with a slight sob, her voice muffled by her face buried in his coat.

“I know,” he said. “But I promised Buffy. Besides, you need time to reconnect with Ken and I need more time to, you know, think about stuff.”

“I know,” she said, wiping her eyes. “I’m just gonna miss you.”

“Me too,” he said, then kissed the top of her head. “Catch ya later, Will.”

He pulled away as his own eyes began to shine in the quickening gloom. He jumped into the camper and a moment later its engine roared to life. He adjusted the mirror to see Willow standing on the sidewalk, wiping her eyes. He hesitated a moment longer, but finally put the RV in gear.

Xander pulled out into traffic. Willow continued to stand there long after his RV disappeared down the street.

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

Kennedy walked into the bedroom and threw her coat onto the chair.

“Hey,” Willow said. “Any problems tonight?”

“Nope,” Kennedy said. “I think after last night’s vamp slaughter things will probably be quiet for a few days.”

“Well, t-that’s good,” Willow said, putting her hairbrush down on the dresser. “You okay?” she asked.

“Yeah, fine,” Kennedy said, sitting down on the bed to unlace her boots.

“Good,” Willow smiled, watching her lover. She moved closer to Kennedy and sat next to her. “Not too tired, I hope,” she said, playing with a lock of Kennedy’s dark hair.

Kennedy leaned slightly away and said, “Actually, I am kinda. I think…I’m just gonna shower and then hit the sack.”

“Oh,” Willow said and watched as Kennedy disappeared into the bathroom. With a sigh she stood up and walked over to the dark window facing the lake. Her lips trembled a bit as she ran a finger over the indecipherable patterns of frost tracing the glass.

Fade to Black


End of Another Year Older


On the next episode of Watchers

Kennedy and Willow grapple with the fallout from Xander’s successful spell, while an underappreciated Andrew finds help in unexpected places.


Click here to read “Love Hurts” now!