Felicia Day as Vi, Carly Schroeder as Marsha, Norika Fujiwara as Mia, Elijah Wood as Jeff and Stephanie March as Bonnie.
Christy Carlson Romano as Hope, Frank Langella as John, Paul Sorvino as Mr. Palmer and Chazz Palminteri as Jimmy Volano.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later
“Pretty nice set up ya guys got here,” the young woman commented.
“It’s not bad,” Rowena remarked, clearly uncomfortable. She glanced toward the walkway from the Slayer Dorm, as if wishing Faith would enter soon.
Suddenly, the double doors opened and both women saw Faith walking in with a smile.
“Hey, Blondie,” she said, making her way over to Rowena first. She opened her arms and Rowena accepted the short hug, giving one of her own. “If we’d known you were comin’ we’d’ve baked a cake. Well, Andrew would have, probably something huge with dainty little flowers all over it in rainbow colors.” They both chuckled and Faith asked, “Have you seen any of the gang?”
Rowena nodded. “Yeah, I, uh, I did.”
Faith pulled back and asked, “Why do I get the feeling you ran into one person in particular?” Rowena blushed, but didn’t say anything. “So, you in town full time?” Rowena looked hesitant again. “Too many questions too soon, huh? I’ll just shut up, but if you still got your key, your apartment’s still upstairs. No one’s moved in, and the stuff you didn’t have shipped over is there.”
“Yes, I do have my key, actually,” she answered. “I forgot to give it to Giles.” Rowena glanced at the young woman who still stood near the entrance, looking nervous. “Think I’ll go up and give you two some privacy.”
“Okay, I’ll catch ya later,” Faith replied. The watcher nodded and picked up her flight bag, then turned toward the stairs. “For what it’s worth,” Faith called, “I’m glad you’re back.”
Rowena gave her a genuine smile. “Thanks, Faith. I’ll see you later.”
Faith gave Rowena a nod and watched as she started up the stairs, before finally turning to the young woman at the door. “So…” Faith began. She rubbed the back of her neck uncomfortably, taking a few steps closer. “What brings you here, Hope?”
“What? No hug for me?” the young woman remarked, opening her arms briefly before letting them fall to her side.
Faith disregarded the gesture and asked again, “What do you want?”
“Cuttin’ to the chase as always, huh, Faith?”
“I’ve found the less we see of each other,” Faith said, motioning a finger between them, “the better for both of us.”
“It’s Dad,” Hope answered quickly, overlooking the jab.
“What about him?” Faith asked, folding her arms across her chest.
“He’s dying, Faith. He’s terminal.”
“That’s what happens when ya keep picklin’ yourself for over twenty years. What do ya want me to do about it?”
Hope took a breath and a step closer. “I’m not gonna dredge up all the old stuff.”
“Like how you two tried to have me committed to a nuthouse?” the Slayer asked sarcastically.
“Like I said,” Hope repeated firmly, “what’s done is done. Dad’s asking for you. Now I know you’re not goin’ do anything to help him, but…”
“But what?” Faith asked impatiently.
“This’ll probably be the last chance you’ll have to speak to him, and I’m not gonna let anything between us stop you from knowin’ what’s goin’ on. He’s your father, too. You should know the score.”
Faith harrumphed. “How noble of you.” Faith put her hands in her pockets and stared down at the floor. “I’ll think about it.”
“Really?” Hope answered sarcastically.
Faith looked up. “Yeah. I’m not sayin’ yes or no, but I’ll think about it.”
“Oh my God. You’re bein’ honest, aren’t ya?” Hope replied.
“Uh, yeah,” Faith answered condescendingly.
“Hey, I’m not criticizin’,” Hope added. “Just shocked. I expected more of a battle about it. That’s all.”
“Well, I’m not the same person you used to know,” Faith answered. “Ya got an address?”
Hope reached into her pocket. “Here’s my hotel info. I’ve got a noon flight back tomorrow. The address and phone number in Boston are on the bottom, if I don’t hear from ya before I leave –”
Faith took the note with a nod. “I’ll call ya tomorrow morning before nine, if that’s okay.”
“Sure.” Her sister smiled for a moment before looking serious again. “I know how you feel, Faith, about both of us, but I’m not expecting any great amends here. Just some kind of closure, some peace, for everybody.”
Faith nodded and then watched as Hope turned and quietly walked out.
Watchers Council Grounds – Rear Yard – Moments later
Faith came out of the backdoor of the Council building and reached into her pocket, pulling out her cigarette pack. She pulled out a single cigarette and popped it into her mouth. She examined the pack to find it now empty and with a sigh, she crushed it in her hand.
As she tried to light the cigarette perched in her lips, the flame of her lighter kept going out.
“Here,” she heard a voice say to her left. She looked over and noticed Rowena motioning to toss her lucky lighter over, while holding a lit cigarette in her other hand.
Faith caught it with a grin of thanks and lit the cigarette, then made her way over to return the lighter. “Didn’t know you smoked.”
“I quit five years ago,” Rowena told her.
“And now you’re smoking again?” Faith asked.
Rowena nodded. “Picked it up again this summer. Althenea tried to get me to quit before I came back, but I told her I wasn’t ready.”
“I’m not sure if I am either,” Faith confessed. She held up the wrinkled pack wrapper. “But I promised Robin I’d try.”
“Last one?” Rowena asked.
“Last one,” Faith sighed before taking a hit. “I better enjoy this, huh?”
Rowena grinned. “The first two weeks are the hardest. Of course, some people can just quit, no problem. Others can even casually smoke from time to time without ever buying a pack again, like Giles.”
“I take it you’re not one of those people.”
Rowena grinned and laid a finger alongside her nose. “No, once I start down my destructive path, it’s a long way home again.”
“I think I might be destructo girl too. One puff will be the end of my resolve…Hey, why don’t we both quit, together?” Faith offered. “We can be like each other’s sponsors. Robin’s been supportive, but I don’t think he gets it since he never smoked, ya know?”
“Yeah, I know,” Rowena answered with an understanding smile. “And maybe you’re right – it would help to have a bitch buddy.”
Faith laughed but started to cough. When she finally caught her breath, she admitted, “Okay, maybe I’m not just quitting for him, but for me, too. So, what do you say?”
“You’re on. But let’s do this,” Rowena said, pulling out two cigarettes from her case and handing them to Faith. She emptied the rest in the trash can behind her. When she returned, she took one from Faith and placed it back in her case. “If it’s easier for you to do without it, throw it away. For me though, I keep one ‘in case of emergency’ cigarette. The goal is to never smoke it, but keep it on hand so you don’t feel so…helpless.”
“Did you ever throw your last one away? Before, I mean?” Faith asked.
“Yep, after a year of being nicotine-free.”
“Five years total, huh? That’s a long time. So what’s the real reason you started again?”
“I left Willow.” Rowena looked out across the lake and took another hit.
Faith looked a bit unsure of what to say. “She’s comin’ off all mad, I’m sure, but…she really fell hard for you, and she’s still fallen, even if it doesn’t seem like it.”
“The feeling is quite mutual, I assure you,” Rowena said, finally looking at Faith with a sad grin. “I just…”
“Screwed things up big time?”
Rowena gave a snort. “Not sure if I’d be that blunt, but yeah, that’s exactly what I did. In fact, I’m shocked you’re talking to me. Giles welcomed me back too, but the others…”
“There’s always two sides to every story. For as open-minded as this staff claims to be, most of ’em are pretty pig-headed and see things the way they wanna see ’em. But like I said – two sides. I’m sure you’ve got your reasons for what happened.”
At first Rowena said nothing. “Thank you, Faith…I just hope it’s not too late.” She quickly wiped her eyes and cleared her throat slightly. “I know I hurt her and that hurts me, because I honestly love her, Faith. I didn’t plan for it to happen. It just did.”
“Love’s goofy that way,” Faith said offhandedly. The Slayer studied Rowena for a moment. “Give her some time to adjust to you being here, and make sure you tell her that before you decide to take off again. I think she really needs to hear it.”
“I’m not sure she’d listen,” Rowena answered. “Okay, I know she won’t listen. Not yet anyway.”
“You know the great thing about life?” Faith asked. Rowena simply waited for her to continue. “As long as you’re still alive, you can set things right. It might not be perfect, or even have a storybook ending, but you can always try.”
“That’s true,” Rowena agreed.
Faith’s thoughts seemed to drift for a moment, but she shook it off and said, “I think Red believes that, too, so give it time, and you’ll both be okay.”
Rowena grinned and nodded.
“Good, and with that in mind, I’m gonna be leavin’. I gotta talk to Giles,” Faith added. Seeing Rowena’s concerned look, Faith hurried to provide further explanation. “Oh no, not for good. Just for now. My dad’s in pretty rough shape and we haven’t spoken for years. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna go, but maybe I should practice what I preach.”
“Well if you need your bitch buddy…” Rowena offered as she reached into her pocket and pulled out her cell phone to show it to Faith.
“Oh, believe me, you might be getting lots of frantic calls this weekend,” the Slayer chuckled, holding up her last cigarette.
Watchers Council – Xander’s Workshop – Day
Giles aimed what looked like a water gun across the room and pulled the trigger, emitting a hard, steady stream. “Jet propulsion?” he asked with a grin.
“Battery operated,” Xander answered. “The size is nice because it’s not too heavy, the slayerettes with smaller fingers can handle them easier than a stake and we’ve got a resident priestess who can bless gallons of water.”
“Good,” Giles nodded. “I’ll see that Vi and her team help with assembly.”
“Works for me. I was…”
Xander trailed off and looked toward the vacant door. Giles’s line of sight had just followed where Xander was looking when suddenly Willow appeared. She stopped and stood in the doorway, her arms at her side and her fingers linked together in front of her. Without saying anything, she turned to leave, but Xander made his way over to the witch.
“Are you okay, Will?” he asked as he came within a few feet of her.
Willow’s resolve suddenly fell and she started to cry hard, burying her face in her hands. Xander closed the distance between them and pulled her into his arms.
Watchers Council – Classroom – Moments Later
“A watcher’s primary role is to observe,” Robin said. He addressed a room full of people of various nationalities and ages ranging from early twenties to early forties. “But today we’re going to head to the gym and do some self defense, in case you become part of the action.”
“I didn’t bring my gym clothes,” a younger, female watcher-in-training remarked as she held up her hand.
“That’s the point. We’ll do a few stretches of course, but it’s important that you learn to fight in the attire you’re used to wearing.”
Robin caught an image out of the corner of his eye and turned to see Faith give him a short wave from the hallway.
“So why don’t we all head down to the main gymnasium,” he told the class. “Start out with a few light exercises to loosen up and I’ll follow along shortly.”
As the class rose, Faith walked inside and watched as Robin stopped the younger woman who had asked the question earlier.
“Nancy,” he began. “Lead everyone down to gym #2 on the north end. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
“No problem, Mr. Wood.”
“Thanks, Hon,” he said, as she filed out with everyone else.
After the room had cleared, Faith took a seat on one of the tables. “Keepin’ them future watchers in line I see?” she teased.
“Someone’s gotta do it,” he said with a grin. “Wanna go rough a few of them up? We can always use an extra slayer to toss them around.”
“I’ll take a raincheck,” she replied as she reached out and played with his tie.
“Passing on the offer to show up a watcher?”
“My sister came by,” Faith told him.
“Here? At the Council?” he asked, surprised. “How did she know where to find you?”
“I’m not sure. We didn’t talk for very long. She just came to tell me that our father’s dying and asked that I go see him one last time.”
“Are you gonna do it?” Wood asked as he reached out and pushed her hair behind her ear.
“I wasn’t sure, but after I spoke with Rowena, I decided maybe I should.”
“Oh yeah, she’s back too,” Faith added as an afterthought.
“Jeez, I come to class for an hour and I miss all the action,” he quipped.
Faith gave him a small chuckle. “Anyway, my sister’s catching a flight tomorrow, and I’ll probably go along with her.”
“Want me to come?” he asked.
“Nah, that’s okay. You’ve got classes.”
“Kennedy could take over for a few days, I’m sure,” he offered.
“Her and Vi have got their hands full with all those new recruits. Besides, I won’t be there that long. It’s not a huge deal.”
“Now, this isn’t loner Faith rearing her ugly head again, is it?” he asked.
Faith smiled and took his hands in hers. “No. I’ll be alright, and we can talk when I get back. It’s no big.”
Robin appeared slightly unconvinced, but gave her a firm nod. “But if you need me…”
“I know where to find ya,” Faith said, as she stood up and gave him a soft kiss on the lips. “Go look after your class before those watchers start spraining themselves,” she teased.
Watchers Council – Library – Later that Night
Willow looked up as Dawn entered the library. The young watcher-in-training dumped a heavy load of books on the table across from her. Willow tilted her head to the side to look at the titles printed on the spines.
“The Medieval Sourcebook on Vampires and The Pre-History of Vampires,” she read aloud. “Doing a little light reading, Dawnie?”
The young brunette sighed as she slumped into her chair. “Giles’s Demonic History course. The slayers only have to write an essay, but we have to do a twenty-page research paper.”
“Knowledge is Power,” Willow said with a sympathetic smile.
“I know, but it’s killing my social life,” Dawn pouted and reluctantly opened the first book on the pile and began taking notes, while Willow returned to her own work. After a few minutes, Dawn looked up thoughtfully. “Willow? Can I ask you something?”
“About vampires?” Willow asked without looking up, the ghost of a smile playing across her lips.
“Did you miss her?” Dawn asked, biting her lower lip nervously.
Willow finally looked up, and her teasing expression grew serious. “Rowena?”
Dawn shrugged. “Yeah, I guess, but I was thinking more along the lines of Tara…I mean, after you came back from England you never mentioned her, and even now it’s…it’s like the subject is taboo or something.”
“Absolutely I missed her. In lots of ways, I always will,” she said. “But I gotta ask, what brought all this on. Did you have a fight with Skye?”
“No!” Dawn said. “Things with her are peachy with an extra helping of keen…well, except for the having to be sneaky part.”
“Dawn…” Willow said with warning in her voice as she rose and walked to the bookshelf.
“I know, I know. Only a couple more weeks.” Dawn laughed, holding up a hand to stop Willow. “No, it’s just, I guess I’m missing Tara and Mom and even Anya…we’ve lost so many people.”
“And Buffy?” Willow asked suspiciously. She pulled a book from the shelf and turned around.
Dawn gave a guilty grin. “I know she calls constantly, and I complain about it, but now that summer’s over and I’m back into school full-time, it just feels like Buffy should be around, you know?”
“I know,” Willow nodded as she walked back over. “And without Buffy here, you’re thinking about the people you’ve lost.”
“Yeah,” Dawn said. “Got a cure for that?”
Willow thumped her hand on Dawn’s open book. “Research and lots of it. But Dawnie, I want you to know…”
“You can talk to me about anything, okay?”
“Anything?” Dawn asked, a slight twinkle in her eye.
“Against my better judgment and sanity, yes,” Willow teased.
“Thanks,” Dawn said. “So…can you recommend a good lesbian toy store online?”
“Argh!” Willow blushed furiously and walked back to her chair.
Dawn chuckled and said, “Teasing. I just love that face you make.”
Willow waved her finger. “You just remember, turnabout is fair play, and revenge is a dish best served cold, Miss Summers.”
Willow gave her a wicked grin. “Your time’s a comin’, girl.”
Dawn ignored the threat and instead said, “Actually, since you brought it up…how are you and Rowena doing?”
“Great! We haven’t argued at all since the lobby incident.” Willow carefully avoided Dawn’s eyes.
“Well, that’s good,” Dawn said hopefully. “When did you see her again?”
“I didn’t,” Willow confessed, “Which is why things are going great.”
Dawn shook her head. “You can’t keep hiding from her.”
“I’m not hiding. I’m researching. I’ve got one week to save Cleveland from the flood of the century, but, no pressure.”
“You know, there’s a certain blonde watcher here now who could be helpful and save you some time maybe?” Dawn prompted.
Willow nodded. “Nice try. Just remember, I can always ask Giles to up the page count,” she added, tapping on the book Dawn was reading.
Dawn’s eyes grew wide. “You’re right. Bad idea. Think I’ll mind my own business.” She turned quickly back to her book.
“Now you’re learnin’.” Willow smiled. She turned back to her own work.
Dawn caught a motion behind Willow and grinned. “Hey, Ro,” she called out. “Long time, no see.”
Willow tensed up, but didn’t turn to look back.
“Hi Dawn. Enjoying watcher academics?” Rowena asked as she entered the room.
“It’s my teenage right to complain, but it’s really not too bad,” she confessed. She rose up from the table and pointed toward the door. “Think I’m gonna take a break, though,” she said.
“You just got here,” Willow countered.
“Yeah, but I’m thirsty,” Dawn answered.
Willow pointed to the far wall. “Coffee’s right there.”
“I, uh, I want something cold. Excuse me.” Before Willow could issue another argument, Dawn left the room in haste and reluctantly Willow turned to face Rowena.
An uncomfortable silence passed between them until Rowena asked, “Researching anything in particular?” She tried to sound conversational, but failed.
Willow simply answered the question. “Necksa and his undines are in town, gunning for a land developer. The city approved something Necksa doesn’t like very much, so I’m looking for a way to appease him.”
“Neptunic gods aren’t easily pacified.”
“So I’m learning,” Willow said, pointing to the array of books in front of her. “I’ve given up on that route. Right now I’m trying to find a loophole to stop the company. Appealing to their decent nature to stop their expansion into the water fell on deaf ears earlier today.”
Rowena glanced at her watch, which read 6:35. “I’m on my way out to dinner, but… maybe I can help?”
“That’s okay,” Willow answered indifferently. “We’ve done all right this summer without you around.” Rowena tried to hold back a smile by pursing her lips and gave a light nod. “Something funny?” Willow asked.
“You’re still the same,” she said affectionately. “All with the passive aggressive.”
“I think I have a right to be aggressive here,” Willow remarked, her face showing no amusement.
“You do,” Rowena conceded. “Just don’t hold it against me that I still find it annoying and adorable at the same time.” Rowena took a deep breath and walked to the edge of the doorway. “I’ll swing by later and see if you’re around,” she replied before she left.
Willow sat still for a moment before she dropped her pen to the table and ran her fingers through her hair. “Son of a bitch,” she sighed quietly.
Hotel Hallway – Night
Faith looked at the note in her hand and then at the room number before knocking. As her sister opened the door with a surprised expression, Faith nodded toward the interior of the room. “Can I come in?” she asked.
“Sure,” Hope answered, allowing her to enter. She closed the door behind them, “So…?” she prompted.
“The Council has its own jet, so I wanted to see if you’d like to fly back to Boston together tomorrow. Giles gave us permission to use it if we want.”
“Wow,” Hope said, impressed. “You’re a big time monster fighter now, huh?”
“So you believe in monsters now?” Faith asked skeptically.
“How do you think we found ya? Well, not with monsters, but with magic. We tried to get a message out to California, but I didn’t believe it when they said you were dead.”
“You found a coven in Boston?”
“Salem actually. Clichéd, but true,” Hope answered. Faith snorted in response and gave her a small grin. “They traced your essence or whatever to the Council, so yeah, we realize there are things in this world that just can’t be explained.”
“Better late than never I guess,” Faith answered. Neither woman added more and Faith cleared her throat. “Well I’m gonna go catch some sleep tonight. I’ll come by tomorrow around nine to pick ya up, if that’s okay.”
“Sounds good…I’m glad you decided to come home. I don’t think you’ll regret it.”
Faith just gave a nod and, without saying anything else, left the room.
Gigi’s Restaurant – Later that Night
The maître d’ escorted Rowena through the restaurant to a table in the corner. She thanked him and took a seat.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” Rowena apologized. “I saw Willow in the library and stopped to talk to her.”
Becca smiled warmly. “That’s okay…but I am concerned here, Sweetie. You say you need my help, and asked to meet me privately. So I’ve gotta wonder, what’s going on?”
“Did you tell Giles you were coming here?” Rowena asked.
She looked reluctant. “He asked me to dinner after we spoke and I turned him down, saying I had plans with an old friend. I left it at that.”
“I’m sorry to put you on the spot,” Rowena apologized again. “I just don’t want anyone else to know about this meeting.”
Rowena’s hands were shaking and Becca reached across the table, putting her hands on top of Rowena’s. “It’s all right, Rowena. I told you I’d help, so why don’t you tell me why I’m here.”
Rowena took a ragged breath and nodded. “I, uh, I need you to talk to Willow for me. I could do it, but…I, I think it would be easier coming from you. Easier on her. Easier on me. Just…easier. I don’t want you to say anything right now. I’ll let you know when…I just…God, this is harder than I thought. No, um… it’s not that. I mean, I just… I can’t. I can’t. Maybe I should just forget it. I’ll wait a few weeks and see how things are going and –”
“Rowena,” Becca said, firmly but compassionately. “Tell me.”
Fade to Black
End of Act One