Lindsay Felton as Skye, Elizabeth Anne Allen as Amy Madison, and Thora Birch as Tracey
Special Guest Stars:
Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn Summers, Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris, and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers.
Willow and Kennedy’s bedroom – Early morning
Willow rolled over in bed to find Kennedy still deeply asleep. With a perplexed look on her face, she brushed a lock of hair behind Kennedy’s ear. The slayer didn’t even stir. After taking a few more moments to examine her sleeping lover, Willow slipped from the bed.
After she finished pulling the long-sleeved shirt over her head, she picked up the forgotten milk glass and grimaced as she looked inside at the milk-soaked cookie at the bottom. She then went to the kitchen and tossed it down the sink, rinsing the glass before she started the coffeemaker. Grabbing a new cookie on the way out, she headed to her small home office and moved the mouse slightly to cause her computer screen to flicker on. After a few clicks, the printer began to run and she returned to the kitchen.
She was reaching for her coffee mug when she felt two arms snake around her waist, making her jump.
“Little jittery this morning?” Kennedy asked, resting her head between Willow’s shoulder blades.
“Yeah, I guess I’m a little on edge,” Willow answered.
“Mmm, if you come back to bed,” Kennedy offered, “I’ve got a cure for that.”
“Uh, yeah, thanks but…no. I got a feeling I’m gonna be swamped today. Wanna get a jump on it.”
“You’re too much of an early bird, Will,” Kennedy said with a smile as she pulled her orange juice from the refrigerator.
“Yeah well, you’re too much of a night owl,” Willow countered.
“Occupational hazard as a vamp slayer. Maybe I can transfer to the daytime demons department. We got one of those?”
Willow grinned. “No, unfortunately. Demons don’t punch a time clock.”
“Well if this Presidium is as organized as we think it is, then they very well might,” she joked, taking another drink. “Speaking of which, how’s your Harry Potter doing?”
“Good, all things considered. In fact, it might have been a good wake up call for him. Not that I wished anything bad on him but…when you’re sixteen you think you’re gonna live forever until you get faced with your mortality. I think he’s got a greater respect now, for lots of stuff.”
“And how’s his mom? Did she chill at all?”
“Lily’s doing better.” Willow nodded. “I think she sees that staying is the best thing for Jeff, so we’ll see. But so far, all’s right in the Watchers Council.”
“Cool, but what I really wanna know –”
“You’re awfully talkative today,” Willow cut in.
“What? I can’t talk?” Kennedy challenged.
“You didn’t talk much last night,” Willow countered.
“No. More moaning and groaning than anything else…actually, if you remember there was some talking…or would that be considered begging?” Kennedy paused in thought with a satisfied grin.
Willow just sighed and shook her head.
“Anyway,” Kennedy continued, “What’s the story on Giles? He got a honey now or what?”
“Three times this week they went out,” Willow countered with a smirk. “Of course, he said he was just making sure she was okay with the recent vampire attacks at her store,” Willow added knowingly.
Kennedy just laughed.
“He really likes her,” Willow said with a smile as she poured herself a cup of coffee.
“What gave it away? The fact he constantly smiles now or that he whistles every chance he gets?”
It was Willow’s turn to laugh. “Actually, it’s the way he babbles when you mention Becca’s name.”
“He does not,” Kennedy disputed.
“Oh yeah? You watch today. I’ll bring her up and you see what happens. Betcha five bucks,” she said, offering her hand.
“Deal,” Kennedy said, shaking it.
Willow tried to let go, but Kennedy refused and pulled her closer, giving her a kiss on the lips.
“Mmm, sure you don’t wanna blow off watcher training this morning?”
“I can’t,” Willow told her, pulling away. “Rowena and Giles are gonna crash course me again while the troops are home for the holidays. And I’ve got the rest of the things I want to get together for the Yule celebration tonight.”
Kennedy shrugged. “Well, can’t say I didn’t try,” she answered, sounding defeated.
“I’m sorry,” Willow told her. “But I –.”
“Got stuff that needs done. I know…Since you’re not coming back to bed, I’m gonna sleep a couple more hours. Will you get me up before you head off to breakfast?”
“Sure, Sweetie. I promise to type quietly,” she replied with a soft grin.
“‘K. Night or…morning…whatever.” Kennedy smiled. “I’ll see you in a few.”
Willow watched Kennedy return to the bedroom. Once the door was closed, she released a heavy sigh and picked up her coffee mug, heading back to her computer.
Watchers Council – Watchers Rec Room – Later that Morning
Willow walked into the room and saw Rowena watching a police press conference on the television.
“What happened?” Willow asked.
Rowena pointed to the screen. “Another worker from the Santas-4-Rent Company disappeared last night.”
“Gee,” Willow said sarcastically. “Do they suspect a connection?”
Rowena gave a light chuckle, “Well, the press asked if we have a Santa Killer on the loose and the police, of course, were quick to point out that no bodies have been recovered. They’re just missing.”
“So we have a Santa-napper, technically?”
Rowena grinned. “It would appear so.”
Willow shook her head, “And what will all those poor gentile children do on Christmas day? Maybe get presents from people that love them instead of fictitious mystical figures?”
“Ouch!” Rowena chuckled. “Did someone leave coal in your stocking one year or what? You’ve got Santa issues.”
“I was born Jewish. I have Santa envy. There’s a difference,” she said with a raised finger.
Rowena chuckled but then got a far off look in her eyes. “You know, I always wondered…”
“You don’t hear any good Hanukkah songs. I mean there’s no ‘White Hanukkah’ or ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Hanukkah’. Why is that?”
Willow shrugged. “Couldn’t tell ya. But in defense of the Jews, there is that dreidel song, and we got presents for eight nights instead of all at once, so that was kinda cool.”
“Well, I was raised Christian, so we did the mistletoe and eggnog and tree trimming. But we never went to church or mass or anything.”
“So you celebrate Jesus’ birthday?” Willow asked with a playful smirk.
“Yeah but I’m really a student of all religions. I think anything that brings people together for the greater good, be it Christians, Jews, Muslims or, say…Wiccans…” Rowena paused with a knowing smirk. “It’s a good thing. It’s just the fanatics you gotta look out for. Every religious sect has them.”
“Speaking of that,” Willow told her. “Well, not the fanatic part but the Wiccan part. We’ve having a Yule celebration tonight.”
“Oh, that’s right. It’s Winter Solstice.”
Willow did a double take and began to grin. “Yeah, I was going to invite everyone tonight to the study, or maybe see if Giles wants to hold it at his apartment. Both have the fireplaces…So you do know all about Jewish and Wiccan traditions.”
Rowena chuckled. “I wouldn’t go that far. But like I said, I’ve studied many religions. True, our slayers fight with crosses most of all, well, that and pointy pieces of wood, but it helps to know a little bit of everything.”
“Jack of all trades and master of none?”
Rowena paused. “Yeah, that about sums me up,” she chuckled.
Upon hearing someone enter the room, they looked and saw Robin walking over.
“Hey Robin,” Willow called over to him.
“There you guys are. Everyone’s upstairs and ready to start the meeting.”
The two women began to walk toward him. “Oh shoot!” Willow said, handing the morning report to Rowena. “I forgot to wake Kennedy. Can you –?”
“Got it covered,” Rowena said, waving the folder.
“Thanks.” Willow smiled and walked in the opposite direction.
Watchers Council Meeting Room – Moments Later
Willow and a half-asleep Kennedy entered the room as Robin was speaking.
“Sorry,” Willow said meekly, trying not to interrupt.
“Woulda been here sooner, but someone forgot to wake me,” Kennedy added.
“Ya know, Brat,” Faith said with a grin. “They have this wonderful invention – it’s called the alarm clock. You set it to what time you want it to go off and it makes a buzzing noise so you get up! Amazing, huh?”
“I’ll look into that,” Kennedy told her. “Smart ass,” she muttered as she and Willow took a seat. Faith just beamed across from her.
“We were just discussing the missing Santas,” Robin told them.
“Yes,” Giles added. “It doesn’t appear to be mystical in nature, but we’ll continue to keep tabs on it should it continue.”
“Any connections other than employer?” Rowena asked as she went through the folder.
“Just one,” Willow offered. “From what I read this morning, every man left the business in his uniform.”
“So they looked like Santa?” Kennedy asked.
“Right,” Willow nodded.
“Boy, this time of year these missing guys will stick out like a sore thumb, huh?” Faith remarked sardonically. “So what should we do, question every Santa on every corner?”
Kennedy gave a light chuckle. “Maybe we can get a photo from Miracle on 34th St. and ask ‘Have you seen this man’?”
“Yeah,” Faith joined in the laughing too and put on a masculine voice. ‘”Sure, I seen him – at the department store, at the charity kettle, at the –”
“Okay, enough,” Giles said with a smile. “Now, we know it will be difficult at best, but let’s just keep our eyes open for anything unusual…Well, more unusual than average.” When no one said anything more, Giles asked, “Any other business this morning?”
“Yeah,” Willow said, lightly nudging Kennedy, “What are you and Becca doing today?”
Giles blushed and grinned. “Well, I-I…T-To be honest, we-we–.”
Willow began to chuckle and held out her palm to Kennedy.
“Damn it, Giles,” Kennedy said, reaching into her pocket pulling out some singles.
“What is this about?” he motioned to them.
“I had a bet you don’t get flustered when you talk about Becca,” she replied as she slapped the greenbacks into Willow’s hand.
“I most certainly do not,” Giles answered.
“Yeah, you do,” Willow argued. “And it’s cute.”
“Yeah, what’s up with that?” Faith asked. “You’re with that woman constantly.”
“I’m not supposed to have a private life?” Giles asked.
“So you two are officially dating, then?” Rowena asked.
Giles hesitated. “Well, I’m not sure if I’d say officially but yes, we’ve gone out a few times.”
“Geez, everyone’s paired now,” Rowena muttered. “Maybe I oughta look into getting a life so I’m not the third wheel,” she added to Robin. She then paused and pointed to everyone in the room in turn, as if counting. “Okay, correction, seventh wheel.”
“You’re allowed to be our extra wheel any day,” Robin said, patting her hand in support. Then he turned toward Giles. “So, when do we all get to meet her?” Robin asked Giles.
“Yeah, really,” Willow prompted. “What, are you embarrassed by us?”
“Not at all,” Giles insisted, “but I don’t want to bombard the woman with…”
“Countless questions and gawking stares,” Robin added.
Giles paused, as if considering his reply, but finally gave up, throwing his hands in the air. “Yes, that’s exactly it.”
“Oh, come on Giles,” Willow prompted. “We can be nice and very well behaved when we want. You guys are going out to lunch, right?” Willow stopped and leaned over to Kennedy. “They always go out for lunch,” she whispered.
“Am I under surveillance here?” Giles asked with a grin.
“So did ya get to first base yet?” Faith countered.
“First ba –?…I don’t think t-that’s any of your business,” Giles stuttered.
“Come on, Babe, lighten up on the poor guy,” Robin remarked to Faith.
“Thank you Robin.”
“You’re very welcome,” he told him before addressing the room. “I’ll find out all the details later when I have a man-to-man talk with him.”
Giles sighed and took the folder from Rowena as the room chuckled.
“Thank you for laughing at my expense,” he said as he stood up.
“Okay, everyone,” Willow told them. “Let’s leave him alone. But seriously, Giles, bring her by today after lunch. We all promise to be good.”
Hearing the sincerity in Willow’s voice, Giles nodded. “I’ll consider it.”
“Good, after the in-depth psychological profile and Q & A, we’ll let you know if she’s Giles worthy,” the witch replied.
Giles gave Willow an exhausted expression.
“Kidding. Kidding,” she insisted. “Oh, and make sure to invite her to the Yule celebration tonight. If she can handle the vampire thing, I’m sure she can handle the witch thing.”
Giles nodded. “I certainly will and, well, now that everyone’s had fun discussing my love life, are there any other pressing matters?”
“No,” Faith replied. “But where the hell’s Andrew today?”
“Interviewing for the kitchen help position,” Willow replied.
Watchers Council Kitchen – Same Time
“So, umm…What would you consider to be your biggest strength?” Andrew asked the person across from him at the kitchen island as he read word for word from the questionnaire in front of him.
A big muscle bound man straightened his shoulders before flexing his arm muscles. “I can bench press 220,” he replied.
“Oh well, yes, that might come in handy,” Andrew said trying to sound optimistic although his face conveyed uncertainty.
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Later
“Well during my work with the state correctional facility, I could cook for over a thousand people at once,” a burly looking woman replied .
Andrew looked down at his paper. “Oh, I didn’t see here that you were employed by the state.”
“Not employed, incarcerated. You don’t have a problem with ex-cons do you?” she asked in a demanding voice.
The tone appeared to frighten Andrew and he backed away from the table slightly. “Oh no, not at all,” he replied and nervously swallowed. “At least not ones we know anyway,” he said with a shake of his head. “Moving on…What would you consider to be your greatest weakness?”
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Later
A man in a polyester leisure suit with five gold chains around his neck winked at Andrew. “The laaaaadies,” he said, trying to sound smooth.
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Later
“I have a tendency to rush things and then I forget what I was doing and then I have to go back and say, ummm, what did I forget, and then if I remember what I forgot I have to go back and fix it, but to be honest sometimes it’s too late but…” babbled a woman who bore a resemblance to June Cleaver.
Andrew stared straight through the female interviewee, as if he had given up listening to what she was saying.
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Later
“Video games,” a girl in her late teens, early twenties answered.
Andrew seemed to perk up in his seat.
“I know that’s not what you’re looking for,” she added with a grin. “But whenever a new game comes out I have to try it. I always rent them before I buy them but…I’m sorry. I know that didn’t answer your real question. My biggest weakness work-wise would be sometimes I take on too much. I wanna help. but I kinda spread myself a bit too thin… but I’m learning to delegate things to coworkers when I can, so I don’t get overburdened, and my work is better as a result.”
“Really?” Andrew asked.
“Yeah, I find that if a coworker –”
“No,” he stopped her. “I mean, you rent the games first? I just wondered where you go and if they have a good selection. There really isn’t much out this way and you have to go further into town. And by the time I get the game back I could have bought it already with the late charges.”
“Oh no, have you heard of RJ’s Video?” Andrew shook his head but appeared enthralled. “It’s probably about three blocks from here. They have one near campus too, but they’ve got a great selection. They even have a program where they bill you a flat fee each month and you can get as many games as you want. Well, not all at once but if you want to take it back the next day and get another one, you can. And if you don’t get it back that week it doesn’t matter – you can keep it as long as you want.”
“You don’t say?”
“Yeah, it works for me because I’m a student and I can’t always get them back on a due date. But the good thing is, if I get the job it’s just down the street,” she teased. “Gosh I hope that wasn’t too forward. I know you’ve probably got lots of qualified candidates lined up.”
“Not really. When could you start, Tracey?” he asked in a rush.
“Well if it helps me get the job, today,” she grinned.
“You’re hired,” Andrew beamed as he handed her an apron and shook her hand.
Dungeon – Same time
Four elf creatures were dragging Fred, still dressed in his Santa suit, to a cage. The man appeared to be unconscious as the elves dropped him and walked out, locking the door.
“Psst! Hey Buddy! You awake?”
Fred tried to open his eyes to see where the voice was coming from as moved to his elbows.
“Where am I?” he asked.
A man in the cage next to him handed over his canteen. “Here, have a drink,” he said.
Fred looked reluctant and the man nodded.
“It’s just water,” he told him. “I’ve been down in this place for three days now. I can tell by the small amount of light that shows up there,” he said as he pointed to an opening in the rock wall above them.
“Who are these guys?”
The other Santa shrugged. “Beats me. I heard them talking about finding the worthy one, whoever that is.”
Cell – Presidium Lair – Same Time
“You can’t hold me here forever. They’ll come for me.”
Bonnie walked over to the man behind bars. He wore a red coat and pants, trimmed in fur.
“Oh, don’t worry. You won’t be here forever,” she smirked. “In fact, I’d say your days are numbered.”
End of Act One