Outside Poppy’s Restaurant – Morning
“You scared the hell out of me!” Rowena said, holding the now half-empty cup out in front of herself. Some of the coffee dripped off the back of her hand.
Brell looked back at her openly. “Not mean to scare,” he said. “Very wet. Brell like coffee better to drink than to wear.”
“Yes,” she said. “Sorry.” She skimmed her free hand over his jacket, attempting to brush away some of the excess liquid.
“You drink coffee and stay up too long,” Brell said. “Look tired, need sleep. No sleep when you drink coffee.”
Rowena smiled and shook her head at him. “No, Brell. No sleep. Not since yesterday. I’m looking for someone – someone who’s done something to Willow, Xander and Faith. A witch put a spell on them, a spell that makes them regress in age.”
“Spell make Willow go back to past age? How many ages past? Do you know what time Willow in now?”
“Time…? No, no. Not back in time. Well, sort of. I mean, Willow is getting younger. She’s turning into a girl again and –”
Brell had tilted his head to one side and gave her a puzzled look.
Rowena frowned. “How can I explain this…” she wondered aloud. Suddenly she put her hand on Brell’s arm. “A witch has cast a spell to turn them back into spawns, Brell.”
Brell’s eyes widened and he opened his mouth then shut it again. “You mean Willow become spawn again?” he asked, holding his hand down below his knees.
Rowena took in the sight for a moment, holding back a smile. “Uh, no, more like this…” Then she took his hand and raised it to about her shoulder.
“But could go here?” Brell asked, lowering his hand.
Rowena sighed and nodded. “Maybe she will disappear forever…I can’t let that happen,” Rowena told him, her voice cracking.
“Brell help Rowena. Help find witch. Know good demon bars, ask there. What witch look like?”
Rowena reached into her coat pocket and pulled out the picture of Amy Madison.
“Hmph!” Brell said. “Pretty witch have ugly heart?”
“Yes,” Rowena agreed.
“We make copy this picture and Brell help look.”
“Well,” Rowena smiled, “that sounds like a plan.”
Rowena reached into her back pocket and pulled out her walkie-talkie. “Slayer-one, this is Watcher-one, do you read?”
“I hear ya, Watcher-one. Over.”
“Ken, do you and Robin have anything on Madison yet? Over.”
“Nothing. What about you?”
“Nothing. But I do have another helper. Brell is here and he’s gonna hit some spots, too.”
“Copy that. Welcome aboard, Brell! Kennedy out.”
Rowena smiled and motioned a happy Brell to follow her to a nearby office store to make a photocopy.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later
“What’s goin’ on?” Xander came out from the kitchen munching on some potato chips. “Hey, Giles. It’s Ethan! Oh man, why didn’t we think of this sooner?”
“Yes,” Giles said sarcastically. “Interesting how Ethan shows up just at the moment we’re having a cri –”
“Neat dog, though!” Xander said brightly, acting exactly like the young child he appeared to be and totally distracted by the canine’s presence. He joined Willow at the dog’s side. “Hey boy!” He tousled the dog’s long hair. “Who’s a good boy, huh? Who’s a good dog?”
“Rooh!” The dog answered, its tail swishing to and fro on the floor.
Ethan looked coyly from the two youngsters and happy dog to the simmering Rupert Giles.
“Ethan…” Giles hissed behind clenched teeth. “You’d better have a damn good expla –”
“Hey…” Faith sauntered up, “cool dog.” With that, she got down on the floor with Willow and Xander. “And who’s this old guy?”
Ethan’s roguish expression soured at once.
Giles smiled, grimly. “Yes,” he said darkly, “tell her who you are while you still have life and breath to do it, eh?”
A slow smile curved the corners of Ethan’s mouth, but he matched Giles stare for stare. “Hallo, Ripper,” his voice was so cold it made everyone look at him.
“Ethan Rayne?” Becca asked. “THE Ethan Rayne?” she asked, turning to Giles. “Rupert, I didn’t know. He said he was a friend from college and…”
“I didn’t lie, my dear,” Ethan told her, “but obviously my reputation precedes me.”
Ethan’s eyes shifted to her and back to Giles again.
“Becca,” Giles said, not looking at her, “take the children, Jeffrey and Andrew up to the library,” he said coolly. “And don’t come down. I’ll come for you when Ethan and I are finished…speaking.”
Becca reached her arms out to the three children, though she kept staring at Giles. “Willow, Xander, please,” she said. “Come with me now. Come on. Faith…”
Willow stood up. She stepped in front of Ethan and Becca took hold of her hand. Willow yanked it away.
“No,” she said. Her voice was firm and steady as all eyes fixed on her.
The Gravel Pit Demon Bar – Day
“No. Ain’t seen no witch like that. Just lots o’ these guys,” the bartender motioned with his tentacle out across the sea of drunken and sundry demons.
“Look close,” Brell said, pulling the bartender by what seemed to be a gill until its ‘nose’ was merely an inch from the photo of Amy Madison.
“Um, Brell…” Rowena patted Brell’s arm and Brell let the bartender go. “Are you sure you haven’t seen her?” Rowena asked, procuring a twenty-dollar bill in one hand.
The bartender looked at Brell, then at the twenty. “Mebbe. Don’t know for sure…”
Rowena, sighed impatiently and produced another twenty.
The bartender reached his tentacle forward. “Mind?” he asked Brellc then suctioned the picture on one of a row of suckers. He held it up in front of his ‘face.’
“Well?” Rowena asked.
“Yeh. I seen her in here.”
“Mebbe ten minutes ago. She went that way – business district. She asked about Bonnie.”
“Yeah, one of the regulars here. Hangs out – talks to lots of demon types. That girl wanted to know her office in the city, so I told her what I knew.”
Rowena snatched the picture back from the bartender. “Thanks,” she muttered and ripped the two twenties in half, tossing one set to him.
“Hey!” the bartender complained.
Rowena showed him the bills. “If your lead pays off, you’ll get the other half then.”
Frustrated, the bartender took the bills and stuffed them in a tip jar by the register.
Rowena pressed the call button, but got no response from the walkie-talkie. “Damn it,” she sighed. “I’m going to keep trying, but I need you to get to the Council.”
“I stay with you,” Brell insisted.
“She’s dangerous,” Rowena told him. “If I want to catch her, I have to move now, but I need you to contact the slayers, okay?” Rowena darted through the front door and Brell raced after her.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later
“Willow, I want you to go with Becca. Right now. I know who cast this spell. We all do, finally.”
“No! Giles, no. Ethan didn’t cast the spell. You don’t get what’s happening.”
“I think it’s very clear what’s happening here,” Giles told her. “And I want everyone out, now!”
“I’m not leaving,” Willow said and folded her arms in front of herself. She straightened and adopted her best Buffy-stance, even glaring back at Giles.
“Willow, get out of the way,” Giles said dangerously. He took a step forward.
“Hey, G-Man, take it easy,” Xander said slowly and stood up.
“Rupert?” Becca called uncertainly.
Giles took another step forward, his eyes on Ethan.
The dog stood up too, then, alert to no one but Giles.
Giles’s eyes flickered to the dog for a split second and then came back to Ethan’s.
The Sorcerer smirked back at him.
“Willow. For the last time. Step away,” Giles said.
Willow saw Giles slowly make a fist with his left hand. She swallowed.
“No, he didn’t do this,” her voice faltered. She drew a breath, set herself again, looked into Ripper’s cold eyes and shook her head.
Giles took another step forward. The dog moved forward one step. “Back,” Ethan said quietly. The dog, mouth open and ears forward, looked up at Ethan. “Heel.”
The dog obeyed, turning full around and sitting attentively at Ethan’s left side.
Becca saw Giles’s balled fist tighten and begin to shake. She looked at his face, his light eyes somehow darkened.
“Rupert…?” she called, but there was no reaction from him. “Willow,” she said firmly, “come with me now.” She reached out and grabbed Willow’s hand tightly. With one good yank, she pulled Willow out from in front of Ethan.
Willow cried out, surprised.
Giles was already moving. He rushed forward, reaching for Ethan’s throat with his right hand, bringing his left back for the punch.
Willow wrested herself from Becca’s grip just as the dog stood up, baring its teeth and growling at Giles.
“Down!” Ethan commanded. The dog turned and looked at him, confused.
“No, no, no!” Willow cried, slip-sliding back between Giles and Ethan.
“DOWN!” Ethan’s voice boomed as the animal turned his head, snarling at Giles’s swift approach.
Ethan saw the punch coming, but there was no time to cover. He quickly grabbed Willow by the shoulders and flung her away toward Becca and out of harm’s way.
In one motion, he turned away from the punch to reach out and grab the dog by the long-haired scruff of its neck. He pulled the animal back as Ripper’s fist connected with the side of his jaw and sent him spinning further left. Ethan crashed down onto the dog, who yelped and scrambled to get out from under him.
The dog almost broke free, but Ethan caught him with both arms, holding him back as the animal barked, snapped and snarled at his master’s attacker.
“Remove this spell, Ethan! Remove it and I may let you leave here alive.”
“That’s why I’m here,” Ethan shouted back. “Willow, tell him!”
“I’m trying!” she yelled back at Ethan before coming back to step between the two men. “I called him here! He came because I asked him to.”
“You asked…why did you call the likes of him?” Giles said, turning his anger now on Willow.
Willow caught her breath for a moment, but quickly regrouped. “I don’t have any powers, Giles,” she said evenly. “All I do have are a whole lot of memories that are starting to get more and more confusing. That and a-a good knowledge of white magic that I can’t use and a fear of black magic that I won’t use.” She looked around for some support and her eyes met Xander’s. She steeled herself and went on. “So I called Ethan. I called him because he’s a master of the black arts. And he’s…my friend.”
Giles’s eyes widened in rage at her last words.
“You should have come to me! We could have brought in someone from Althenea’s Coven like we discussed –”
“This isn’t something they can help with any more here than over in England,” Willow said, her tone that of an experienced adult witch. “This is all about black magic, Giles. And so is Ethan.”
“You should have told me!”
“So you could say no? Look, don’t you think I wanted to?” her lips trembled and her eyes filled up with tears. “I knew what your answer would be! And I can’t go on like this…this is so not who I am anymore, Giles. It’s…it’s a nightmare, only no one’s asleep and we’re not getting any sleep and there’s no other answer and – and you – you’d’ve said no. You woulda just said no.”
Tears ran down her face, but she paid them no mind.
“Is this what you’ve come to, Ripper, old mate?” Ethan asked humorlessly as he rose to his feet. “Making little girls tremble and cry? You usually wait until you’ve had a go with them, fir –”
“Hey!” Becca snapped. “I get the feeling you’d be better off not speaking right now. Don’t you?”
“Pretty and smart,” Ethan smirked to Giles as he stood. “You always did have fine taste in women…and I’m sure she tastes fine as well. Or maybe you don’t know that as of yet.”
“Ethan,” Giles growled.
“We need his help,” Willow told him, now slightly calmer. “Now, you c-can kick me outta the Council if you want. But not before Ethan has a chance to help us.”
Xander moved to Willow’s side and looked openly at Giles. “Yeah. Me, too,” he said. “Kick me out with Will if you –”
Giles shook his head in aggravation. “Right! Bloody priceless. I’m not kicking anyone out, yet.” He looked at the dog, “Except for tha-tha-that beast!”
“Sorry.” Ethan said. “If Rupert goes, I go. And I’ll expect the full agreed-upon fee. My time is, well, your money, after all.”
“Rupert?” Xander grinned at Ethan. “You named the dog Ru –”
“Be quiet, Xander! Becca, ” Giles said, looking over at her. “Please take everyone to the library now and –”
“No,” Becca told him.
“What?” Giles said, shocked.
“Promise you’ll do what Willow is asking and we’ll leave.”
“Becca,” Giles sighed.
“Promise me,” she repeated.
With a heavy sigh, Giles ran his hand over his face. “All right, I promise.”
Ethan looked down at the dog by his feet. “Seems like you’re not the only Rupert on a short leash,” he told the animal.
“I promised you could help. I didn’t promise I wouldn’t thrash you in the process,” Giles reminded him.
“You’re so manly when you’re angry, Rupert,” Ethan teased.
“Let’s all go to the kitchen,” Becca said quickly, “and maybe Andrew’ll help me put together my specialty ice cream sundaes. You haven’t had one until you’ve had one of mine.”
With that she smiled at them all, including a very vexed Rupert Giles, and slowly they began to follow her to the kitchen.
“I like gummy bears on mine,” Andrew told her as she led the rag-tag troupe out of the lobby.
Ethan’s hand still lay on Willow’s shoulder; Xander still stood by her side.
“Go on, now,” Ethan told her, quietly. “And take Rupert along with you. He’s taken a shine to you both, I can tell.”
Willow looked back over her shoulder to see him grinning playfully down at her.
“Thanks,” she said, as one last tear dribbled down her cheek.
“My dear, little witch,” he said and brushed the tear aside with his thumb.
Xander gave Ethan a half-warning look, “C’mon, Will,” he said, putting a protective arm around her, leading her away.
“Go on,” he told the dog, pointing to the kids. The dog looked up at him. “Go on,” he said. “Stay with them.” The dog’s jaw moved up and down soundlessly before he huffed a little ‘Ruh!’ Ethan looked over at Giles and smirked. “I’ll be fine,” he cooed.
The dog regarded him a moment more, then walked calmly in the wake of Becca and her charges.
Andrew came bounding back into the lobby at that moment, holding the amulet in the flat of his hand. “Uh, Mr. Giles? I almost forgot, um…what should I do with this?”
Ethan’s eyes twinkled as he flashed a lecherous grin. “Well, my dear boy,” he addressed Andrew, “you have a magic amulet of a lovely shape and size, and a beautiful blonde woman in need of ‘assistance.’ And from the looks of things, you’re the only real man –” his grin widened as he saw Giles stiffen at his words – “in her life right now. I’d suggest you –”
“Andrew,” Giles said patiently, “call the slayers and take it to where Kennedy is heading. Perhaps they can use it out there.”
“Right,” Andrew said, and walked from the room.
“Quite a nice setup you have here, old mate. Let’s see, since I was here on Thanksgiving, it seems you’ve added another mount to the stable. A rather hot-blooded one –”
Giles’s fist shot out so fast that Ethan never saw it coming. He stood blinking, as though he hadn’t realized he’d been hit. Then blood flowed from his nose and he shook his head and swayed.
“Shut Up. Pay attention,” Giles told him. “I’m only going to say this once. You helped us the last time you were here. And now you say you’re here to help again.”
“No, the Little Red Witch said that,” Ethan said, trying to stem the flow of blood from his nose. “I said I was here to collect a fee for services rendered.”
Giles grabbed him by the front of the shirt and Ethan, a little woozy, leaned in.
“Don’t interrupt me again,” Giles warned. “You’ll help and you’ll get your fee. And then you’ll leave. I urge you NOT to consort with anyone while you’re here. You’ll work with me – me alone.”
“Oh, be still my bea –, uh, sorry,” Ethan smiled.
Giles looked evenly at him for a long moment. Ethan only continued to smile at him.
“Stay here,” Giles ordered him. “I’ll send two of our senior slayers around to fetch you and bring you to the guest quarters. Get unpacked, then follow them up to the Library. I’ll be waiting there.”
“I count the minutes,” Ethan taunted.
Giles’s eyes narrowed. Then he simply let go of Ethan, turned, and walked away. In the corridor, Giles heard his sudden, hard laugh.
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Moments Later
“Well,” Becca said, “I think that was enough to spoil everyone’s appetite, wasn’t it?” She laughed as a last dollop of ice cream fell from her spoon just as it reached her mouth, landing on the table with a plop.
Xander bent down to give Ethan’s dog, lying quietly on the floor, the empty ice cream dish to lick clean. The delighted animal thumped his tail.
“Hey, whadya know, Will? I think the Scoobies finally found a Scooby Doo.”
“Rooh!” the dog barked up at him.
“See? He even says so, don’t ya, boy?”
“Gimme a break,” Faith rolled her eyes.
“Yeah,” Jeff snorted. “Get real.”
“Well, it looks like Scooby Doo needs to go outside,” Becca said, noticing the dog had gone to the door.
“I’ll take him,” Jeff said.
“I’ll go with ya,” Xander offered.
“I could use a smoke,” Faith said.
“I-I’ll just stay here and finish this,” Willow said. Her spoon plopped into her melted ice cream.
From outside came the clear sound of Xander, Faith and Jeff laughing at the dog’s antics.
Becca sighed, watching Willow play with her ice cream again. “What is it?” she asked the young girl.
“I don’t think it’s as good as Faith said it’d be,” Willow sulked.
“What’s not as good?”
“The other night – at the bar – Faith said how it’d be great to be young like this again. But I don’t like it, Becca. I mean, I did this already a-and it wasn’t much fun the first time. I don’t know why anyone would think it’d be more fun a second time. Even knowing everything I know as an adult, it’s just not helping. It’s kinda making it worse, even. A lot worse, because I can’t really control a lot of what’s happening to me. It’s like I have all this knowledge and understanding, but I can’t really do anything with it inside this body!”
“You’re not in control,” Becca said. “Lots of independent thought and no real independence, physical or otherwise.”
“Yeah. Yeah, like I can’t even go out looking for Amy or anything. Ro, Ken and Robin have been out all night looking for her. Ken’s faced Amy before, she knows what to expect. And Robin’s a strong guy. He lives with Faith, for one thing, but more than that, he’s physically strong…I’m really worried about Ro though, y’know? She seems, I don’t know…”
“Well, she’s very worried about you.”
Willow humphed. “Yeah, right. Why would she be worried about me?”
“Because she loves you, Willow. You must know that on some level.”
“Does she really, because…” Willow looked down and trailed off.
“What?” Becca asked.
Willow looked reluctant, but began to speak. “Well, that night when the vamp attacked you and Giles out in front of the Council…we almost kissed.”
Becca’s eyes widened slightly. “What happened after that?”
“Nothing,” Willow said, disappointed. “She went back inside the Council and never said anything about it. And I never pushed and, well, here we are in a big state of nothingness. So, if anything, she’s freaked by me.”
“Willow…Rowena’s in love with you.”
“Now, see here,” Willow looked seriously at Becca. “Love is a pretty big word, mister, uh, I mean Becca. And on what, may I ask, do you base this a-a-assumption? Because y’know, darting away like you’re on fire isn’t what I would call a sign of attraction.”
“I’ve seen it, Willow. It’s easy to spot love in the things others do and say.”
“I just hope Rowena doesn’t find Amy first,” Willow answered, growing concerned. “Amy would do nasty things to Ro if she ever finds her,” Willow recovered quickly. “She is no match for Amy.” Willow furrowed her brow. “A couple of well-chanted words from Amy and Ro becomes short for rodent.”
“Willow, calm down, you’re getting all worked up for –”
“We have to go – we have to find them, Becca! We have to! Ohmygod! We have to get her back here before –”
“Willow!” Becca took Willow’s hands in her own. The pre-teen looked at her. “Ro’s one of the most self-sufficient and resourceful people I’ve ever met and I’m sure she knows the watcher/slayer procedure manual backward and forward.”
“Yeah,” Willow agreed, “she’s a sort of by-the-book gal.”
Becca laughed lightly. “Yes, she is. And she’s also smart. She’ll call for back-up when and if she needs it. I’ve never seen her do anything rash or impetuous, have you?”
“No. No, you’re right. She’ll be fine. It’s just…”
“I know, Sweetie,” Becca said understandingly as she stroked the back of Willow’s hand. “I understand.”
Cleveland Street – Same Time
Rowena quickly pulled the Jeep off to the side of the road and watched as a woman got out of a cab and started to walk down the street. It was Amy. With a determined expression, Rowena exited the vehicle swiftly, slamming the door shut.
Taking a deep breath and putting a smile in place, she closed the distance between her and Amy swiftly.
“Amy? Amy Madison? Is that you?”
Amy turned, giving her intruder a suspicious eye.
End of Act Three