Dedicated to TheBear for loaning us his favorite redhead’s nickname

Originally broadcasted 5/4/04

Fade In:
Watchers Council – Classroom – Afternoon

The redheaded watcher stood in front of the white dry-erase board. On the board were various runes and symbols.

“So to recap: the Ogham alphabet was used in the British Isles between the 4th and 7th centuries C.E.; the Runic ‘futhark’ alphabet was first used in southern Europe in the 1st century C.E., but migrated with the Germanic tribes to Germany, the Balkans and the British Isles; and the Orkhon alphabet, dating from the 8th century C.E., is very similar to the Runic alphabet of Western Europe, but is the earliest known example of writing in the Turkish language and reached as far east as Siberia and Mongolia. If you need help with your assignment for the Orkhon section, I suggest you see Miss Allister, who is fluent in both modern and ancient Turkish.” Willow paused for a moment. “Although, make sure you catch her on a good day or she’ll tell you siktir, and I don’t think that’s a very nice word. Any questions?”

Willow faced the multi-age class, which contained mostly slayers. Marsha was sitting next to Andrew and Jeff Lindquist, who sat looking out the classroom’s window. Andrew raised his hand and Willow pointed to him.

“Umm, isn’t the 8th century a bit recent?” Andrew asked. “I mean, Turkey’s been around longer than that, hasn’t it?”

“Research your history, Andrew,” Willow said firmly, but not unkindly. “We’re talking about the Turkish language and not the geographical area now known as Turkey. I’ll expect you to include that in your report.”

Andrew nodded and made a note on the paper in front of him as Willow looked to see if there were any more questions. “All right, then,” she said, glancing at the clock and smiling widely. “Class dismissed and enjoy your weekend.”

All of the energetic slayers jumped from their seats and rushed from the room, but Willow managed to snag Marsha before she could fly past her. Marsha dramatically rolled her eyes at her Watcher.

“Come on, Willow!” the young blonde girl whined. “I’ve only got a free hour before I have to start kitchen duty.”

Willow sighed. “Far be it for me to interfere with your world-shaking discussions of boys with your peers,” she said.

“She sounds like Mr. Giles,” Andrew said to Jeff, who grinned but didn’t reply. Willow shot them both a look to quiet them.

Marsha giggled. “It’s okay, Willow,” the slayer said. “I won’t hold it against you. Can I go now?”

“Yeah,” Willow said, “but meet me after supper. You and I are on patrol tonight.”

“Who with this time?” Marsha asked. “Kennedy or Vi?”

“Neither,” Willow smiled, bouncing on her toes. “Just you and me.”

“Really?” Marsha said excitedly. “Cool! I’ll be there!”

With that, the slayer bounded from the room. Willow began to gather her notes into her briefcase, looking up momentarily at Andrew talking softly with Jeff.

“You boys have any more questions about the lecture?” Willow asked.

“Um, no,” Andrew said. “But I was wondering if we were going to do something special tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow?” Willow asked, confused.

“Yeah,” Andrew said. “You know, for Beltaine?”

“Tomorrow isn’t Beltaine, Andrew,” Willow said.

“But…” Andrew began. “I thought it fell on May 1st.”

“We did the Sabbats three months ago, Andrew,” Willow said with a frown. “May Day is a fixed holiday, but when does Beltaine happen?”

Andrew looked panicked for a second, as if trying to remember. After a moment Jeff spoke up, “When the sun enters fifteen degrees of Taurus.”

“Right,” Willow nodded. “So when is that, Andrew?”

“Umm,” Andrew began to squirm. “Umm, not…tomorrow?”

“Tuesday at midnight our time,” Jeff helped.

“Right again,” Willow smiled at the young man.

“Sorry,” Andrew said, then thought for a moment. “Hey! That’s the night of the full moon. Won’t that make it extra special?”

“Any magic performed that night should be extra powerful,” Willow said as she nodded thoughtfully. “It is perfect timing when you think about it…the power of the goddess and the god coming together at the same exact time right at Beltaine. Should prove to be interesting. I’m afraid, though, that other than the regular Esbat, we haven’t had time to plan anything.”

“Why don’t we do something anyway?” Jeff suggested and Willow looked at him surprised. “I mean, doesn’t have to be any heavy ritual thing, but maybe we can just have a big picnic and throw in a few of the fun pagan practices, like the maypole and fire jumping?”

Andrew smiled at the idea, but Willow looked doubtful. “I don’t know,” Willow said. “It seems like a lot of work and a short time to do it in. I already feel worn down from the Coven classes, the watcher classes –.”

“Jeff and I can get everything set up and recruit slayers to help us,” Andrew put in.

“Is that what you want to do, Jeff?” Willow asked, looking closely at the young man.

Jeff looked back, meeting Willow’s eyes. Finally he nodded. “Yeah,” he said. “It’ll be fun.”

“Okay,” Willow said. “As long as you clear it with Giles.”

“Clear what with me?” a voice asked from the doorway. The trio looked to see the tall watcher enter the classroom.

“Jeff and Andrew want to have a Beltaine celebration in a few days,” Willow said.

Giles looked over at the young men. “On the school grounds?” he asked.

“Yes,” Andrew said. “We’ll have food and games and lots of fun stuff. Everyone at the Council is invited. It’ll be great. Willow said it was okay if it was all right with you.”

“We’ll do our best, Mr. Giles,” Jeff said, more calmly than his friend, though Giles still gave the boy a look that suggested he noticed his excitement.

“Very well, then,” Giles said. “Provided you obtain the necessary permits for us to hold it, I’ll give everyone the day off.”

The boys jumped to their feet. “Come on!” Andrew said to Jeff. “We’ve got just enough time to get to city hall.”

They rushed from the classroom and Giles had just turned to Willow when Andrew ran back in. “Oh, Mr. Giles!” he said. “Can we borrow your car?”

Giles rolled his eyes, but then reached into his pocket and pulled out his keys.

“Thanks!” Andrew said, grabbing the keys and running from the room again.

“Do be careful! I want it back in one piece,” he yelled. “AND undamaged,” he added in afterthought. “Practical advice never hurts with those two,” he told Willow, making her chuckle.

“They seemed awfully excited,” Giles remarked to his colleague as she finally snapped her briefcase closed.

“The boys want to party,” she explained as she led him to the door, reaching around to turn off the overhead lights as he preceded her. “And frankly, I think it’s a great idea. Did you notice Jeff’s enthusiasm? This is the first interest he’s taken in anything Wiccan for a while now. Plus, I think it’ll be great for morale…a chance to get outside and enjoy the spring weather. I’ll tell ya, this is one California gal who’ll be happy for the return of the sun.”

“Ah yes.” Giles grinned. “I look forward to your rich bronze skin tone. That is, of course, after you burn and peel and burn and peel.”

“Ha ha,” she said sarcastically. “I meant the warmth. At times this past winter, Cleveland reminded me of Cocytus, but I don’t quite think we’re at the ninth circle of Hell just yet.”

“And while Cleveland does lack the burning sands of the seventh circle, the stench of the city in the summertime bears a remarkable resemblance to the Malebolge,” Giles retorted with concealed glee.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Dante lived on top of a Hellmouth, too,” Willow chuckled.

“You’re right about young Jeff,” Giles said, putting their banter aside. “He does seem much better lately. And he and Andrew are correct, this planned celebration should be good for everyone’s morale.”

“I’ll talk to Robin about arranging some extra security,” Willow said thoughtfully. “We’ll give the slayers and staff the day off. A-and I’m sure Becca will enjoy a good old-fashioned pagan love fest,” Willow added playfully.

“I’m warning you now, Willow,” Giles said, sternly holding up a stiff finger, “if I hear one joke comparing Beltaine to a good shag then I’ll…well, I’ll skip out and leave you to supervise the kiddies.”

Willow’s eyes grew wide at the threat. “I promise,” she said, crossing her heart with a finger. “No shag jokes.”

Giles’s stern expression turned amused. “Well, then,” he said. “Shall we complete the week’s business before supper?”

“Lead the way,” she said, and followed him down the hall.

Fade In:
Cuyahoga County Clerk’s Office – Day

Andrew fidgeted as the clerk worked at his computer terminal. Jeff stood calmly next to him, only moving to pick up Giles’s set of keys from the floor where Andrew hadn’t noticed he’d dropped them.

“So Willow said we could if Giles said it was okay and Giles said it was okay if you said it was okay,” he rambled at the clerk. “So is it okay?”

“I already said it was, Andrew,” replied the clerk, whose name badge read “Timothy Slater.” “I’m always willing to help the school out. Now, you said you’d be having the celebration on the grounds itself, correct? Will it just be the students and faculty?”

“Pretty much, except for a few invited guests, like Mr. Giles’s girlfriend. Oh, and we should probably invite Brell and his family,” he added, turning to Jeff.

“Good idea,” Jeff said. “I’d say no more than three hundred at most. Is that okay?”

“Sure,” Slater said. “You have the room for it.” He looked at Jeff’s hastily written notes. “So you’ll have games and activities. Gee, I haven’t seen a maypole dance since I was a kid.” He finished filling in the online form and, after a moment, the laser printer activated. He handed one copy to Andrew and stuck the other in the large paper file on his desk. “Here you go, Andrew. Tell Faith thanks again for saving our butts that night. I don’t think my wife and I would have been able to fight off that weird-looking mugger if she hadn’t come along. I’m glad she’s helping to make Cleveland a safer place.”

“It already is, Mr. Slater,” Jeff said sincerely.

“Thanks, Tim,” Andrew said, folding the paper and slipping it into his shirt pocket. “Bring your wife by after work and grab a hamburger or two. We’ll have plenty.”

“I just might at that. Bye boys,” Slater said. “Have a great time.”

Cut To:
Cuyahoga County Clerk’s Office – Moments Later

Timothy Slater passed by one of his co-workers on his way outside the building for a cigarette. The co-worker carefully waited until the pleasant man was gone and then picked up the telephone. He paused and then spoke, “Let me speak with Bonnie, please.”

Fade Out




End of Teaser