City Park – Minutes Later
Faith was walking back to their hiding spot when Robin peeked out to greet her.
“Any luck?” he asked.
“There’s a cave of some kind down there,” she said, pitching a thumb behind her. “Cavalry’s here,” she nodded behind him.
He turned to see Vi and Rona making their way over. “Where’s Giles?” he asked.
“Had to take Becca to that party to get ready,” she answered as she finished the journey over.
“Heard you got an elf problem,” Rona chuckled softly.
“No, no, no – that’s jolly little people,” Vi told her. “We have to be politically correct, after all.”
“Are you two finished?” Faith asked with her hands on her hips. Vi and Rona looked at each other and grinned before nodding. “Good. Now Ace, stay here,” she told him.
“You might need help,” he told her. “You don’t know how many of those things are down there.”
“Exactly,” she told him. “So if we’re not back in fifteen minutes, it’s up to you to get Ken and Giles. Follow me?”
He sighed. “So I stand and wait,” he said despondently.
“Hey,” Faith told him. “You could be all that stands between the world and utter destruction,” she told him. “Don’t take the job lightly.”
“Be careful,” he told her.
“Hey, it’s me,” she smiled and nodded to the girls to follow her.
Ginoette’s Restaurant – Same Time
Silence washed over the table until Kennedy cleared her throat. “You wanna break up?”
Willow just nodded.
“Well, if it’s that big of an issue, I could get the chicken,” Kennedy replied.
Willow sighed shakily. “I’m serious.”
“I figured as much, but I’m trying to use levity here so I don’t go ballistic in a public place. Look, I know things have been tense lately, Will, but that’s no reason to call things off.”
“It’s not just lately, Kennedy. Yeah, recent events have been a real stressor but…it’s more than that.”
“Lemme guess,” Kennedy offered. “After the sexcapade with Xander, you’ve switched sides again?”
Willow ran her fingers through her hair, as if willing herself to stay calm. “No,” she finally answered after taking a deep breath.
“You found somebody new?” Kennedy then asked.
Willow shook her head. “No.”
“Somebody old maybe?” Kennedy asked, folding her arms across her chest.
Willow took a deep breath, as if to steady her nerves. “No, nobody old either,” Willow said, keeping her reply short.
“Well, this is comforting,” Kennedy snorted. “You’d rather be totally alone than have me in your life. That makes a helluva lotta sense, Will.”
“But it does,” Willow insisted. “We have very little in common, Kennedy. I’m sitting in an Italian restaurant and I hate Italian food.”
“So this is the reason you’re breaking up?”
“Not just this…everything. We don’t have the same taste in movies or music. I’m up at the crack of dawn, when some days you’re just getting home. We can’t agree on anything to do. Hell, we can’t even play chess together.”
“Jesus, Will, if it’s that important, I’ll learn.”
“That’s my point,” Willow told her firmly. “You shouldn’t have to learn, or change who you are just to please me…or anyone else. They should love you for you.”
“So, you don’t love me then?”
“I do love you, but…”
“God, here comes the but…” Kennedy muttered.
City Park – Cave Entrance – Same Time
Vi, Faith and Rona arrived at a group of boulders and limestone. “Here,” Faith said, “Give me a hand.”
Together, three of them pushed one of the rocks on top aside. One by one, they slipped inside the cleft.
City Park – Same Time
Robin watched the horizon where Faith, Rona and Vi had disappeared and noticed five extraordinarily large figures making their way to the same area. Without delay he started to dial his phone.
Giles’s Car – Moments later
Giles had just started his car and began to pull away from the VFW Hall when his phone rang. “Giles here,” he answered. “Robin, slow down. Where are you? Alright, call Kennedy. I’m on the way,” he said, putting the phone down and tromping the gas.
Ginoette’s Restaurant – Same Time
“You’re never gonna be happy with me,” Willow explained. “And you’re never gonna be what I want.”
“No, what you want is dead,” Kennedy spat.
Willow broke eye contact as her fingers began to play with the end of her menu.
“Damn it,” Kennedy sighed with a look of regret. “I’m sorry. That was outta line. I’m mad right now, okay, and…God, no wonder you hate me.”
Willow looked up again. “I don’t hate you, Ken. I don’t. If anything, I love you more than you realize…but…we just don’t fit together. I wish we did, but the truth is…we don’t connect.”
“Oh yeah,” Kennedy challenged. “We sure did some connecting the other night.”
“In the bedroom? Absolutely. But in other places? I don’t think we do,” Willow replied, her voice shaking on the verge of a sob.
Suddenly Kennedy’s phone began to vibrate on the table.
“Are you going to get that?” Willow asked.
“No, this is more important. Whoever it is can wait,” Kennedy retorted.
“But it might bev–”
“It can wait,” she repeated, more firmly stressing each word. Willow licked her lips nervously and nodded. The sound of the humming phone was the only noise at the table until Kennedy spoke again. “If there’s no connection here, then tell me why am I so crazy about you, huh?”
Willow swallowed hard. “Because I’m the first, I think.”
“I’ve had other women, Willow. We’ve discussed this.”
“Yeah, but not like this…Not for more than a semester and not shrouded in boarding school secrecy. A-And I know that you might not believe it now, but you’re gonna find a woman someday a-and you’ll understand exactly what I’m saying.”
“You lost me, Will,” Kennedy remarked, rubbing her temples.
“I’m saying you deserve more – more than I’ll ever be able to give you. A-and when you meet her, you’ll know.”
“I thought I did,” Kennedy said sarcastically. “But obviously I was wrong.”
Willow took another deep breath. “Look, if we stay together I’m just going to end up hurting you even more. I don’t wanna do that. I want both of us to be happy. I love you, Kennedy and I still want you in my life a-and with the Council. But I need to let you go before we start to resent each other.”
“What resentment? What are you talking about?” Kennedy demanded.
Willow released another shaky sigh. “I’ve been in love before, Kennedy. I know what that feels like. I-It feels wonderful. A-And I do love you. But something’s missing here a-and no matter how much I try to make it fit, it’s not happening for me. And sooner or later the more you push, the more I’m gonna pull away. You’ll feel lonelier. You’ll grow angrier. Then when it’s all said and done we probably won’t even be speaking to each other…I don’t want that to happen, so I have to let go now.”
“Well, what if I don’t wanna be let go,” Kennedy replied, her voice full of defiance. “Don’t I have a say here?”
“I’m gonna be honest…I got involved with you for selfish reasons. I can see that. I did it because I enjoyed the way you made me feel…at first. I thought maybe it might grow into something more, but I was wrong. So I can’t continue to see you a-and hurt you, whether it’s because of my religion or the fact my time is too occupied with the Coven and the Council.”
“Listen to me, please,” Willow said with a slight sob. “You don’t want to be second best, right? If you stay with me, I can guarantee that’s what you’ll be. Yeah, a hot girlfriend on my arm who’s great in bed is a wonderful thing a-and with us that will be the only thing…it’s not enough. You need somebody you connect with, someone that will put you on a pedestal. I know I can’t be that somebody.”
“So you mean you’re breaking up with me for my sake, even though this is something I don’t want?”
“I am,” Willow nodded.
“That is the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard,” Kennedy spat.
“Well, that’s me,” Willow answered defeated. “The big ass…a-and even if you don’t believe me now I know someday, when you’re happy, you’ll realize exactly what I’m saying.”
Kennedy gave a sarcastic chuckle. “So calling things off will make you happy?”
“For the moment, no. But in the end, yeah, I think it will. Because I know it will make you happy too,” Willow answered with a nod.
“God, I gotta watch who I make promises to,” Kennedy mumbled.
“What?” Willow asked.
Kennedy wore a sad grin as she stood up from the table and reached inside her coat. She threw forty dollars on the table and put her coat on.
“Have dinner,” she told Willow. “I’m gonna go back to the apartment and start moving some stuff.”
“Kennedy, you don’t have to do that right now,” Willow insisted.
“I think I do,” Kennedy told her. “I’ll see you around the Council.”
“Ken, wait,” Willow begged. “Please don’t walk out of here mad.”
“I’m not mad,” Kennedy told her. “Well yeah, I am a little, but, more than that…I don’t wanna have a breakdown here in the middle of a restaurant. So like I said, I’ll see ya around.” Kennedy reached inside her pocket again and pulled out a ring box, setting it on the table. “Merry Christmas,” she said softly.
The brunette didn’t stop again. She continued walking until she left the restaurant. Willow watched her leave and only then did she reach over. Gingerly she opened the box to reveal a marquee cut diamond ring. She pursed her lips to hold back a sob, but suddenly looked up. The waiter was standing there.
“Did you need more time before you decide?” he asked.
Willow sniffed dramatically and swallowed noticeably. She stood up and handed him the menus with an apology as she closed the box and put it in her coat pocket. “Sorry. Maybe some other night.”
Bewildered, the waiter watched Willow leave the restaurant.
City Park Cave – Same Time
Faith shined the flashlight ahead and saw the reflection of metal. She ran the light up and down. A cage.
“Hey!” someone shouted, “Over here!”
She moved the light in the direction of the voice and saw a man inside one of the cages in a Santa suit. She had begun to step forward when suddenly she was tackled from behind. She fell face first, but rolled as soon as she hit the ground. The light from a flashlight showed the reflection of a sword sticking in the ground where she fell only seconds before.
She heard a commotion behind her and reached for the sword’s hilt. A pair of small hands wrapped around hers and before she could pull away a pair of teeth clamped down on her hand.
“Ahhh,” she groaned. She swung with her free hand, knocking away her attacker.
“Are you okay?” Vi asked as she tried to kick the four creatures that had surrounded her and Rona.
“Little sucker bit me!”
“There’s a lantern on the wall!” One of the men called over to Faith.
With sword in hand she ran toward him and smashed the lock open. “Where?” she asked.
He pointed to the wall and she motioned with her head. “Turn it up,” she ordered. “And get the hell out of here.”
Soon a warm light filled the cavern. Cage by cage, Faith smashed their locks. Santa after Santa ran out. As she raised the sword to smash the last lock, she felt an attacker leap on her back. Instinctively, she punched him in the face. Still, he held on, trying to bite her on the neck.
“Come on lady!” Fred, the last trapped Santa, yelled frantically. “Get me outta here!”
“Hey, I’m trying!” Faith shouted back sarcastically.
Suddenly, the weight was gone. Faith turned to thank Vi and Rona. What she saw was a naked demon in her direct line of sight. Slowly, she looked higher and higher to see his full height.
“Um, thanks?” she said cautiously.
“Why not leave me in here for now,” Fred offered from inside the cage, taking a few steps away from the door.
She tightened her grasp on her sword, waiting for the demon’s next move. Nervously, she watched him turn his back and take five long strides to the unconscious elf against the wall. With ease, the huge demon picked him up, tucking him under his arm and starting toward the exit.
Faith noticed Vi and Rona near the entrance. Both young women were standing with their backs pressed against the cave wall as four other similar looking demons carried the other elves away.
“Okay,” Vi asked nervously once they were out of sight. “Do we chase ’em?”
“Only if we means you and Faith. I ain’t taking on those big ones. The squirts were hard enough.”
“Uh,” Fred said from the cage. “Could you…uhh?” he asked as he pointed to the lock.
Faith shook her head to regroup. “Oh yeah, sure.”
With a mighty clash, the lock broke free and the last Santa scurried from the alcove. Faith soon followed along. “Come on gals,” she nodded outside. “Done with the slay, time to go play. I got a party to get to.”
Presidium Cavern – Later that Night
“Ms. Madison,” Bonnie said, getting her attention. “Any time you’re ready.”
Amy’s eyes went black and she began chanting. A portal of swirling energy opened up in front of her. Santra and all his helpers stood in front of it, shackled together.
“We’ll find a way to return again,” Santra told Bonnie. She looked unimpressed. “And there’ll be nothing you can do to stop us.”
Bonnie gave a bored sigh. “Enough uber-villain drivel,” she told him, before turning to the demons that had captured his helpers. “Boys?” she said with a wave of her arms, stepping out of their way.
With a heave, the demons picked up Santra and all of his helpers and collectively tossed them into the vortex. A moment later, it snapped shut and the room appeared undisturbed.
“Good,” Bonnie said, as if dusting her hands off. “Still enough time to go wrap presents,” she told the demon standing closest to her.
VFW Hall – Later that Night
Giles, Faith and Robin stood by watching as Becca sang on stage, doing a cover of Darlene Love’s “All Alone on Christmas.”
“She’s damn good, Giles,” Robin complimented. Faith crept up to Robin’s side.
“Told ya she’s a keeper,” Faith added, giving him a light poke in the side.
He tried his best to ignore her teasing, Giles just watched Becca on stage.
“Okay,” Rowena said, coming over and looking at her watch. “I think it’s safe to tell you all this now,” she added.
“Tell us what?” Giles asked concerned.
“Willow’s calling it off with Kennedy tonight,” she told them. Giles and Robin looked a bit surprised, but Faith simply shrugged. “She didn’t want everyone to know before Kennedy,” Rowena added. “So she asked me to mention it, so she didn’t have to explain it to everyone over and over again. She was pretty torn up when she came to see me.”
“So I take it she’s not coming here tonight?” Giles asked.
Rowena shook her head. “I tried to convince her she’d probably feel better around her friends, but she didn’t think she’d be up for it.”
Watchers Council – Kennedy’s Apartment – Same Time
Kennedy put the box of clothes down in the chair and turned on the radio before heading out to the kitchen. Disgusted by the song, she picked up a remote, changing the station. Not faring any better, she switched it again.
As if realizing that fate was against her this evening, she threw her hands up in the air and simply sighed, letting the music play.
Watchers Council – Willow’s Apartment – Same Time
Willow turned the lights on dim in the vacant apartment and turned to put her coat on the hook. She didn’t move the garment past her shoulders when she noticed that Kennedy’s leather jacket and boots were already gone from the coat rack.
She broke down and started to cry, putting her face in her hands, sobbing. After a few moments she pulled herself together and wiped her tears away. She stared at the door for a few moments before briskly leaving the apartment.
Watchers Council – Slayer Rec Room – Same Time
“So that’s it?” Rona asked. “Just like that?”
Kennedy sat at the end of the pool table and simply nodded.
“Damn, that’s harsh,” Rona told her.
“Well, you’ve still got us,” Vi offered from the sofa. “I know it’s not the same but…you know, you got us,” she repeated nervously, unsure if her words would have any meaning to Kennedy.
Kennedy stood up. “Thanks,” she told Vi, unable to look at her, as if not wanting them to see her cry.
VFW Hall – Later that Night
“I might not have said it yet,” Andrew started, “But that really is a lovely dress. Is it silk?”
“The red is satin,” Tracey answered. “And the black is crushed velvet.”
Andrew simply nodded, looking like he wanted to say more but wasn’t sure what to say, exactly.
“Would you like to dance?” Andrew blurted nervously. “You don’t have to, but everyone else seems to be having fun doing it.”
“I dance like I have two left feet,” she told him.
“Well, I dance like I have two right feet, so would that even us out?”
Tracey gave a sincere laugh and took a drink of her soda before setting it down.
“Come on,” she said, tugging him out to the dance floor.
VFW Hall – Same Time
Giles saw the shift in light by the door and looked over. He saw Willow standing there alone looking around at the crowd and a sad smile crossed his lips.
Robin and Faith were closer and made their way over. “Hey,” he started. “Rowena told us the news.”
Faith gave her a disgruntled look.
“Well, not good about what she had to say, good that she told you, I mean. I asked if she would.”
“And I did,” Rowena said, coming up to the group. “How’re you holding up?” she added.
“Didn’t go well, did it Red?” Faith asked.
Willow just shook her head. “But I think it’s for the best. I think she’ll see that…eventually…I hope.”
Willow turned and saw Giles. His sad grin was firmly in place. He didn’t say a single word. He just pulled her into his arms giving her a hug. Willow gave a long sigh and held back her tears. After a few moments, Giles moved away and kissed her softly on the forehead. He pulled back and gave her a supportive smile.
“If you need us, we’re here for you. Both of you, actually. You understand that, right?”
“Absolutely,” Willow told him with a firm nod. “A-And thank you, Giles,” she added sincerely.
From up on the stage, Becca addressed the audience. “We’re gonna take ten, but Roger and his fellas are gonna take the stage for a while, so give ’em a hand everybody.”
The crowd hooted and hollered for the next set of musicians as she made her way over to Giles and the group.
“Hey, I’m glad you decided to come after all,” she said, taking Willow’s elbow.
“I wanted to stop by, since I said I would.”
Becca paused for a moment and looked into Willow’s bloodshot eyes. “If you need anything you let me know, okay?” she offered.
Willow nodded her thanks and Becca began to pull her along with one hand while hooking Giles’s arm with the other. “Let’s go get a drink. What do you say?”
Watchers Council – Slayer Rec Room – Same Time
“We could play pool?” Vi offered.
“Or cards?” Rona added.
Both women nodded enthusiastically, as if hoping it would be contagious.
“Nah, I’m not really in the mood,” Kennedy said, taking off her jacket.
“I got an idea,” Vi offered as she put on her ‘battle hat.’ “Let’s do a sweep by the stores. I’m sure there’s a vamp or two out looking for a last minute shopper snack. We’ll even let you get all the slays in tonight.”
Kennedy considered it for a moment and then put her jacket back on, giving Vi a smirk. “Now you’re talking.”
VFW Hall – Same Time
“You know what you need?” Rowena said as she slapped the bar.
“What?” Willow asked disinterested.
“A drinking game,” she nodded firmly and leaned over to the bartender. “Two shots of whiskey,” she told him.
“Sorry, but I didn’t bring any change to play quarters,” Willow told her.
“Not quarters. The alphabet game,” she explained. “Start with A and name something Wiccan. Then the next person takes the next letter and so on.” Rowena took the shot the bartender had put down and then held it out, asking for another.
“You’re not driving home, right?” he asked.
“Nope,” she told him. “So fill me up.”
Willow cracked a smile for the first time since arriving as the bartender did as Rowena asked.
“So, any other rules?” she asked.
“What rules?” Rowena asked.
“The game?” Willow prompted.
“Oh yeah, there are, ” Rowena remembered. “You know, maybe to even things up a bit, you oughta have these two shots now. I had a head start on you already,” she began to laugh.
Despite her melancholy, Willow had to laugh too. She shook her head and said, “What the hell?” as she took one shot.
As soon as it went down, Willow clutched her throat and began to cough. All Rowena could do was point and laugh.
“What is that? Gasoline?” Willow asked when she finally caught her breath. Rowena still hadn’t stopped laughing and Willow found herself beginning to giggle.
Becca was getting ready to go back on stage and stood by her amp, examining it, when Giles walked up.
“Hey,” she told him with a smile, giving him her undivided attention.
Giles took both of her hands in his. “The offer t-to Willow that you made, it was quite compassionate. Thank you.”
She blushed at the compliment and looked down, slightly embarrassed. Giles released one of her hands and lifted her chin up to meet his eyes.
“And I think you’re quite extraordinary,” he added sincerely.
Slowly, he closed the distance between them and their lips met.
Fade to Black
End of Blue Christmas
The watchers realize that a new killer haunting the streets of Cleveland may, in fact, be a very old killer.
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