Brad Dourif as Brell, Jordan Baker as Sheila Rosenberg, Sam Waterston as Ira Rosenberg, Thora Birch as Tracey, Lexa Doig as Greet, and Brent Spiner as Tram
Special Guest Star:
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Becca’s Books – Late Afternoon
Giles carefully climbed the snow-covered exterior stairs leading up to Becca’s apartment above the bookstore. He frowned when the doorbell produced no sound, then rapped his leather-gloved fist against the wooden door. A moment later, a bundled and rosy-cheeked Becca opened the door and admitted him inside.
“Good afternoon,” Giles said, leaning in to give her a gentle kiss. “Rather nippy out, wouldn’t you say?” He looked around the small kitchen and shivered. He moved over to the gas oven, with all of its burners turned up full blast. “Rather nippy inside, too. Becca, what’s going on? It’s freezing in here. Is your electricity out?”
“Uh huh,” Becca nodded, rubbing her mittened hands together in an attempt to generate warmth. “Good old Cleveland Public Power… black us out in the middle of summer to roast us and now freeze us in the middle of winter. Wonderful service – I’ll have to send them a thank you note.”
“Well, you certainly can’t remain here,” Giles said. “Pack a bag and come stay with me back at the Council. We have generators and a wonderful invention called heat. I can even offer a cozy evening in front of the fireplace, complete with a nip of brandy.”
“Oh, that’s very generous, Rupert, but I’d better not,” Becca said.
Giles frowned in confusion. “Why ever not? It makes no sense for you to stay in this cold apartment with only the gas jets from an oven to keep you warm. The bookstore is closed and I’m sure it’ll be safe.”
“Oh that’s not it,” Becca said. “I just… I just don’t feel comfortable staying with you. Things are still kinda new between us and…”
“Becca…” Giles protested, his ears turning red from embarrassment rather than cold. “I assure you I will be a complete gentleman.”
“Oh, I know that!” Becca hastened to reassure him. “It’s not you I’m worried about… it’s me.” Giles blinked in confusion and Becca continued. “I have a tendency to… let my passions get the best of me, and I don’t want to screw things up by moving too fast too soon. I like what we have here, Rupert. I want us to take the time to build a solid foundation. Do you understand?”
The glow from Giles’s face seemed to warm the entire kitchen far more effectively than the stove. He smiled down at her and drew her in for a gentle hug. “Of course I understand,” he said. “Let’s compromise. You can stay in the guest suite and when the power returns, then, and only then, can you come home. Agreed?”
Becca burrowed into his coat, breathing in deeply his warm, masculine scent. “Okay,” she finally said in a small voice. “But promise you’ll make sure I go easy on the brandy. More than a nip might be dangerous.”
“I promise,” he said solemnly, although a satisfied smile graced his face. “Now, go pack so we can move to someplace warm.”
Becca gave him one final squeeze in gratitude and then hurried to her bedroom.
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Afternoon
Willow pulled another container out of the refrigerator and threw it into the trash bin.
“Willow!” Andrew protested, reaching in and pulling the container out. “What are you doing?”
“Ham,” she said shortly.
“I’m aware of that. I just bought it at the deli yesterday and do you have to throw out my Tupperware with it?” he said, reaching around her and returning the container to the refrigerator.
“It’s ham!” Willow said, pulling it out again.
Andrew grabbed the opposite end of the plastic container and a tug-of-war ensued.
“Let go, Andrew!” Willow warned.
“No!” he said, yanking on the container, but the witch refused to yield. “This is my kitchen, non-kosher and all! I don’t invade your coven room and try to take over.”
“Actually, yes, you do!” Willow said sarcastically, and pulled.
“Well, sure, maybe, okay, that one time yes… and may I point out total catastrophic events resulted. And I learned my lesson. I’m saving you from a similar fate,” he said as he began to pull on the plastic container again.
“If ya wanna save me, you’ll get rid of it,” Willow challenged as she continued to pull.
Andrew wouldn’t budge an inch. He let go with one hand while the other gripped the counter, trying to pull Willow and the bowl closer to the refrigerator. Faith and Rowena entered the kitchen and looked at each other before turning back to the warring pair.
“But I’ve already cleared out the guest suite’s kitchen for your parents,” he argued. “They’re just going to have to deal with the rest of us heathens and our unclean appetites. I promise not to serve them bacon or sausage for breakfast, but I will not have my kitchen turned upside down!” With a mighty heave, he wrestled the container away from Willow. She started to lunge at him but stopped when she heard a voice behind her.
“Hey!” Faith called out. “Knock it off before someone gets hurt.”
“That someone is gonna be you,” Willow hissed the threat at Andrew. Timidly, Andrew wrapped both arms around the container. Willow sighed and turned to the two women at the doorway. “Are they here yet?”
“No, but chill,” Faith said. “Besides, Robin said he’d call when they were almost home. He has no idea how long it’ll take him to get to the airport and back in the storm. But he’s an East Coast boy with a four by four, which means he’s experienced with good equipment.” Faith began to smirk, as if her mind went in another direction. “Speaking of which –”
“Oh don’t even go there,” Rowena warned before Faith could add anything more.
Willow sighed. “I know, I just…” She turned back and stuck her head in the refrigerator again. Andrew hovered protectively.
“Willow,” Rowena began. “Your parents can’t be that bad.”
“Well, actually…” Giles said, overhearing the last remark as he and Becca arrived. “Your mother can be quite intimidating. Of course I only met the woman three times in seven years, but still… what’s going on?” Giles asked Willow.
“My folks are stranded at the airport. Robin’s on his way to get them so they can stay here until flight service resumes,” Willow explained.
“Oh,” Becca said. “Then perhaps you should run me back home before the streets begin to close, Rupert.”
“I will do no such thing,” Giles emphasized and then explained to the others. “Becca’s power is out. Her apartment has no heat.”
“Oh!” Willow said. “We’ve got plenty of room, Becca. You’re welcome to my bed…um, I mean I can sleep on my couch, not that I meant anything by that…um…” Willow turned back to the refrigerator and tossed another container into the trash, which Andrew promptly retrieved.
“Mr. Giles!” Andrew whined. “Tell her to stop!”
“Ah ha!” Willow said, pulling a box from its carefully hidden place in the freezer. “Meatballs and cheese – big no-no, you know!”
Faith slid over and pulled the box from the bin. “Hey! So that’s where you’ve been hiding the Hot Pockets, Andy. Thanks, Red!”
Andrew growled at Faith as she popped two pastries in the microwave. The slayer ignored him as she pressed the buttons on the appliance, before finally noticing his glare.
“What?” she finally said with a shrug. “Go buy some more, okay?”
“In case you hadn’t noticed,” he began. “There’s a blizzard outside and it’s almost dinnertime and you’re going to ruin your appetite!”
“Not my appetite, dude,” Faith grinned. “Slayer metabolism, remember?” She patted her flat stomach as the microwave’s bell went off. “Okay, fine, here,” she said, handing him one of the hot pastries. He juggled it as she effortlessly bit into the other steaming treat.
Becca grabbed a paper towel and caught Andrew’s flying hot pocket before it could hit the floor. She wrapped it in the towel and handed it to him before turning to Giles. “Are they always like this?” she asked.
“Oh no,” Giles assured. “They’re usually much, much worse.”
Willow rolled her eyes and then her look of sheer panic returned as the sound of the front entrance’s buzzer went off. “Oh Gods! They’re here!”
“Relax, Red,” Faith said. “Robin will bring them in through the garage.”
“Oh, right,” Willow breathed, relieved. “Then who…?”
“Let’s go see, shall we?” Giles said, leading the way out to the reception area.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later
The gang from the kitchen was met by Kennedy, Rona and Vi from the Slayer Dorm. Kennedy had a crossbow casually resting on her shoulder as she watched the warmly bundled figure stomping snow from its boots. Willow let out a gasp as the figure finally unwound the long scarf and pushed back the parka’s hood.
“Xander!” she cried, rushing over to embrace her friend.
“Hey, pretty lady!” Xander said. “Got shelter from the storm?”
“For you, always,” she said, letting him go and helping him take his coat off.
“Thanks,” he said and turned to Andrew. “Hey Andy, can you move the camper off the street? I saw the plow headed this way and if it catches me I’ll be stuck here ’til spring.”
“You say that as if it’s a bad thing,” Andrew laughed as he caught the key ring Xander tossed at him. He quickly pulled on his coat and headed into the storm.
“No one better be parked in my spot!” Xander warned, squinting his eyes at Giles. “Especially your penis-mobile, G-man.”
“Ah, no, of course not,” Giles said. “I’ve got my own spot, thank you. And please, don’t call me that.”
Xander noticed Becca standing next to Giles. “You must be Rebecca,” he said, moving closer. Becca held out her hand and he gave it a soft shake. “Willow told me you’re the one causing our favorite tweedy-guy to get all stuttery.”
Becca laughed at Giles’s embarrassment. “Please… call me Becca. It’s so nice to meet you, Xander. I’ve heard many wonderful things about you from Rupert.”
Xander blinked in surprise. “Giles must be in love.”
Giles’s face turned even redder. He had just opened his mouth to speak when the front entrance opened again and a mass of figures rushed inside.
“Brell!” Willow exclaimed, the panic again rushing over her face. “Oh Gods, I forgot.”
Brell’s face mirrored Willow’s panic. “Is still okay for brother and family to stay with watchers?” he asked.
“Oh!” Willow said. “Absolutely! With all the excitement, it just slipped my mind. Of course, your family is welcome.”
“Thank you, Red Witch,” Brell said, relieved and then made introductions. “Brother Tram, wife Greet and their spawns Kher and Shaznay. Tram say that evil woman still after them, but he will tell you all he knows.”
Willow was about to speak again when Faith’s cell rang. “Yeah?” Faith said. “Okay, walk slow, real slow.” She flipped the phone closed. “That was Robin. They’re here.”
“Here? Where?” Willow asked.
Vi strained to look out the nearly snow-covered window. “I’d say about 40 to 50…”
“Yards?” Willow squeaked.
“Oh Gods! He was supposed to use the garage! Why didn’t he use the garage?” Willow grabbed Faith, who just shrugged, before the witch turned to Kennedy and said, “You and Rona, take Brell and company to the Slayer Dorm.”
“A please would be nice,” Kennedy remarked, folding her arms across her chest.
Willow looked shocked before quickly brushing it off. “Fine. Pretty please with sugar on top. Now move!”
“Sure, no problem.” Kennedy grinned teasingly and turned to the demon family. “Come on, folks. Let’s go find you someplace to sleep. You come too, Brell.”
Rona led the way and Kennedy brought up the very rear, with the family nestled in between the slayers.
Xander sidled up to Rowena. “What’s going on?” he asked, pointing to Willow.
“Wait,” she replied. “This ought to be good.”
Kennedy had just hustled the guests out of the lobby when Robin and the Rosenbergs walked in from the curb.
“Willow!” Sheila exclaimed, moving forward to embrace her daughter. Her husband followed her, leaving Robin to struggle with the baggage. Faith rushed over to help him.
“Hi Mom,” Willow said, as awkward with the hug as Sheila seemed to be. After a brief moment, the two pulled away from each other. Willow looked at her father. “Dad,” she said simply.
“Willow,” he replied with a nod, then looked around the lobby as if inspecting the décor. His eyes lingered on the ornate crest hanging over the reception desk, but he refrained from commenting.
“It’s so good to see you, dear,” Sheila continued, as if used to her husband and daughter’s interactions. “Even if it is a little unexpected. We didn’t think our layover would last more than an hour.”
“I’m glad we’re here to help you out,” Willow said.
“So, where’s Kennedy?” Sheila asked. “You rushed us out of Sunnydale before that terrible earthquake so quickly we never had a chance to meet her. She’s here?”
“Uh, yeah, she’s here,” Willow said. “But, um…well, we’re no longer together. We broke up.”
Rowena turned towards Xander at the soft gasp he made. The young man was staring intently at his best friend. Rowena reached out and gently took his arm in her hand. At her touch, he turned to her and she mouthed ‘It’s okay.’ He looked doubtful, but just nodded at her kindness.
“Oh, that’s too bad,” Sheila commiserated. “From what you told us about her, she sounded like such a nice girl. Just like your friend Bunny…er, Buffy.”
“So,” Ira said, finally speaking. “Are you still gay then?”
Willow gave a small smile and a shrug. “I’m still just Willow,” she said.
Sheila looked around and noticed Xander.
“Xander, how nice to see you!” she said. “Willow said you were wandering around the country, looking for adventure. I recently read a paper that showed more and more young men are delaying entering college for the chance to wander a bit…a total reversal of the trend to make as much money as possible before the age of thirty. But you had already begun a successful career in Sunnydale, hadn’t you? Have you moved to Cleveland, too?”
“I got here just before you, actually,” he said, giving Sheila a small peck on the cheek, as if used to her ramblings. “It’s good to see you, Mrs. Rosenberg. And you, sir.” He shook Ira’s hand.
“Mr. Harris,” Ira said gravely. “Perhaps it’s time you finally settled down and married my daughter, now that she’s single again.”
Xander chuckled. “That’s a lovely offer, Mr. Rosenberg, but I think Will’s got better taste than to hang out with me. Besides, I’d really like to find a straight girl,” he said, in a failed attempt to keep things light.
Ira scowled, but before he could say something else, Robin broke the tension. “Why don’t we show you both to the guest suite,” he offered. “You must be exhausted after your long flight.”
“Thank you,” Ira said. He followed Robin and Faith up the stairs. Sheila lingered a moment.
“I’ll come by to make sure you’re settled in, Mom,” Willow said.
“Thank you, dear,” Sheila said, then lowered her voice. “Do we have to tip him?” she asked, nodding her head at Robin.
“Mom!” Willow said. “He used to be the principal of Sunnydale High. He’s a colleague, not a bellhop.”
“Oh!” Sheila said. “Oh, very well. I’ll see you later, dear. Xander, it’s lovely to see you again. You too, Mr. Giles.”
“Mrs. Rosenberg,” Giles said with a half bow. They all watched as she disappeared up the stairs.
“Oh, this is like a nightmare,” Willow groaned, holding her head in her hands.
“Guess I came at a bad time,” Xander said.
“Me too,” Becca piped in.
“No!” Willow said, looking at her friends. “I’m sorry. It’s just you have no idea how crazy those people make me!”
“I think we just got a pretty good idea,” Rowena chuckled.
“I’m glad my pain amuses you,” Willow snorted.
“You are such a drama queen. How bad can they be? Really?” Rowena asked.
Willow paused for a moment. “You know, maybe you should take them on a tour tomorrow and find out? Giles and I have that inventory list to go over, so it would be the perfect opportunity.”
“Okay,” Rowena agreed without delay.
“Dear Gods, no,” Willow said, gripping Rowena’s forearm. “I wouldn’t do that to my worst enemy let alone someone I consider a friend and would like to keep as one.”
Rowena chuckled. “Honestly, I don’t mind. Of course, I’m sure they’ll wonder why their own daughter isn’t taking them, but I’d like to get the chance to meet them.”
“Are you sure?” Willow asked. Rowena simply nodded and slowly Willow gave her a full-toothed grin.
Andrew returned from the garage and handed Xander his keys. “There you go, Xander. All settled.”
“Thanks, Andy,” he replied, pocketing his keys. “So, seeing as you guys have a full house, should I bunk out in the camper? Well, that and the fact my best friend’s ex might kill me in my sleep over the breakup I was never told about,” he chastised playfully.
“I’m sorry, Xander,” Willow began, “I wasn’t keeping secrets. I just didn’t want you to feel guilty. It really had nothing to do with you, honest. A-and once things settle down here, we’ll talk about everything. I swear.”
“Ooh! You can stay with me, Xander,” Andrew offered quickly. “The couch in my media room is a pullout and I just got Underworld on DVD and we could watch it tonight.”
Xander just smiled at Andrew’s enthusiasm at first. “Lead the way,” he said, grabbing the duffel bag at his feet.
“Have you tried the new Warlords game, Battlecry III?” Andrew said. “My friend Edgar got a hacked copy from his email friend in Australia. It’s not supposed to be out until June and we can’t play with others online, but the game is good to go if you’d like to do that instead.”
“Oh, Andrew,” Willow said before he could get too into it. “Can you help me prepare a shielding spell to keep Brell’s kin hidden from any uninvited guests?”
“Sure Willow,” Andrew said. “I think I just copied that spell into my Book of Shadows last week.”
“Right,” Willow agreed. “Go get everything ready and call me when it’s set up. And make sure that Tracey and my parents go nowhere near the demons.”
“Okee doke!” he said and led Xander to his rooms.
With a sigh, the witch turned back to others. “Okay, I can do this,” she muttered to herself.
“It’s not that bad,” Rowena said as she put a hand on Willow’s upper arm.
“No, it’s probably worse,” she replied and then turned to Giles’s girlfriend. “Becca, I apologize, let’s see about getting you set up for the night first.”
“A pillow and a blanket is all I really need,” Becca replied. “Go check in with your family, Hon. In the meantime, I’ll have Rupert play host and make me some tea.” She weaved her arm around his and cleared her throat with an ‘ah um’ to get his attention.
“Oh yes, one cup coming right up,” he said, escorting her from the area.
“Thanks,” she said. “I’d better go make sure they really don’t tip Robin.”
They laughed as she ran up the stairs.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Moments Later
Willow entered the suite just as Robin and Faith were leaving, shaking their heads. Robin gave her a wry look and in return Willow rolled her eyes as she approached.
“They didn’t try to tip you, did they?” Willow asked.
“No, but I thought for a moment I might be expected to sing ‘Camp Town Ladies’ or ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen’.”
Willow looked mortified but Faith chuckled and lightly slapped Willow’s arm. “And get this. I’m more of a minority than you. I’m 2% of the population.”
“Huh?” Willow asked, totally confused.
“Yeah, 10% of the population is gay but only 2% are involved in an interracial relationship. Turns out, I’m a rebel.”
“We’re rebels,” Robin corrected.
“Right. We’re rebels,” Faith remarked, dryly pitching a thumb to Robin.
“Oh dear Gods.” Willow sighed and rubbed her temples.
“Don’t sweat it, Red. It’s a couple days, tops. You’ve survived worse, so hang in there,” Faith told her.
The slayer then nodded her lover down the hall and they left. With a heavy sigh, Willow squared her shoulders, walked over to the guest door and knocked.
“Come in,” her mother’s voice called out.
Willow opened the door and stepped inside. “So, is everything okay in here?” she asked.
“Is your place this small?” Ira asked.
“Oh Ira,” Sheila said, waving him off. “It’s fine, Willow.”
“Well these are the guest quarters after all. You know just a place for a few days kinda thing, not an extended stay,” their daughter explained with a pained expression.
Ira shrugged. “If only you’d gone to a better college, you’d be more accustomed to nicer things.”
“Maybe,” Willow said, trying to stay diplomatic. “But I like the things I have.”
Ira looked at Willow for a long moment and began to loosen his tie. “Think I’ll go take a nap,” he said, heading toward the bedroom. After the door closed, Sheila stepped closer to her daughter.
“Don’t mind him,” she whispered. “Ever since that filmmaker contacted him about that documentary about the Rosenbergs…” Sheila shook her head. “Let’s just say he hasn’t been too pleasant lately.”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed, to be honest,” Willow remarked. She looked as if she might say more, but just gave her mother a shrug instead.
“Why don’t we go into the kitchen and I can make us some matzoh brie. I found eggs in the refrigerator and matzoh in the cupboard. You still eat matzoh brie don’t you? I mean there’s no witch law against –”
“No mother,” Willow sighed. “That will be fine,” she said, waving toward the kitchen.
“So tell me, dear,” Sheila said as they walked along. “What do you do here?”
“I teach. I help Giles run the school.”
“Hmm what?” Willow asked defensively.
“Oh, nothing,” Sheila said as she went to the refrigerator. “Your father…he just…he feels that you haven’t done enough to help restore the family name. Instead of proving yourself through your achievements, you’re living in obscurity.”
“But I’m helping people. I am making a difference. In my own way.”
“As long as you’re happy,” Sheila told her, not looking back from the counter where she was scrambling the eggs.
“I am happy,” Willow insisted.
“Well, you don’t have to be defensive, dear,” her mother retorted.
Willow ran her fingers through her hair and sighed. “Look, Mom, I like what I do. I like who I work with and even if you and Dad can’t see it, I am helping the world.”
“How exactly?” Sheila paused in her preparations and looked closely at Willow.
“What?” Willow asked.
“How exactly are you helping the world?”
“I’m educating more and more people everyday,” Willow explained. “They’ll take the knowledge I give them a-and they’ll make the world a better place.”
“Oh…so I guess it’s really them changing the world then, wouldn’t you say?” Sheila added the scrambled eggs and broken matzoh mixture to the skillet and then turned to find Willow rubbing her forehead. “I’m not trying to be argumentative,” she added.
“Coulda fooled me,” Willow muttered.
“Now Willow, I don’t claim to understand everything about your life, but my main priority is your happiness,” Sheila stirred the eggs with a spatula as they cooked.
“Yeah, I get that, so can we just say I love my job and move on then?”
“Okay, point taken,” Sheila said. She split the food evenly between two dishes. Willow grabbed a couple of forks and glasses and set the table. They each took a seat at the table and Willow poured boiling water over the teabags in the glasses.
“So, tell me about Xander?” Sheila asked, sprinkling some sugar over her eggs before taking a bite.
“What about him?”
“Well you did mention you were single,” Sheila pointed out.
“Oh brother,” Willow sighed. “He’s my best friend, Mother. That’s it.”
“Maybe now, yes, but you never know…”
Willow quickly stuffed her mouth with matzoh brie before she could say anything.
Watchers Council – Kennedy’s Apartment – Slayer’s Dorms – Day
Kennedy was cleaning her crossbow when she heard a knock at the door. She walked over and opened it to find Xander on her doorstep.
“We need to talk,” he told her. “I know about the breakup –”
“Yeah, well, I’m really not in the mood to discuss that. Besides, I’m getting over it. I’d not like to bring it up,” Kennedy stood blocking the doorway.
“Okay, fair enough,” Xander nodded. “But I’d still like a few minutes of your time.”
With a curious expression, Kennedy opened the door and let him in, before closing the door behind him.
End of Act One