Thora Birch at Tracey, Felicia Day as Vi, Lindsay Felton as Skye, Norika Fujiwara as Mia and Elijah Wood as Jeff Lindquist
Adam Busch as Warren Meers, Kimberly J. Brown as Mary Allister, Louise Fletcher as Evelyn Manor, Rhona Mitra as Alex Neel, Andrew Robinson as the Librarian, Sam Waterston as Ira Rosenberg and Peter Woodward as Jordon Tyrell
Special Guest Appearances:
Amber Benson as Tara Maclay and Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Morning
“I knew if you weren’t in my bed, you’d be near the coffee maker,” Mia said with a grin as she walked up behind Kennedy, hugged her from behind and gently squeezed her hips.
“Mornings suck,” Kennedy grumbled.
Mia laughed. “I guess you haven’t actually had any coffee yet.”
“Hey!” Andrew shouted as he walked, bleary-eyed, into the kitchen to see Kennedy fiddling with the coffeemaker. “You get away from Mr. Coffee. The last time you tried this, it took me an hour to clean up all the coffee grinds and water.” Andrew forcefully interposed his body between Kennedy and the coffee maker.
“It’s not my fault. You should’ve bought a bigger Mr. Coffee,” Kennedy shot back.
“Casting aspersions on Mr. Coffee’s manhood will not get you your coffee any quicker. Now, step away from the machine and let me do what I do best – breakfast,” Andrew said with a regal air. He turned around and began filling the black appliance with water and coffee grounds.
“It’s too early in the morning for this…” Kennedy sighed, but Mia interrupted her by nibbling on her ear.
“C’mon tiger, let’s let the nice man do his job and we can talk about this special event you have planned for me.” Mia tugged Kennedy’s waist and Kennedy reluctantly turned away from Andrew and the coffee machine and sat down at the table.
Willow walked into the kitchen, her nose buried in the morning’s edition of the newspaper, and bumped into Andrew in front of the coffee pot. “Oof. Sorry. I didn’t see ya there. Still kinda sleepy, since I haven’t had my morning coffee goodness,” Willow said.
“Join the club,” Kennedy groused from the kitchen table, head held between her hands.
“I’m working on it,” Andrew retorted in an irritated singsong voice. “You know, there is a Starbucks like a block away,” he added as the coffee started to brew.
“But Andrew, why should we pay the evil corporate empire two dollars for a venti whatchmacallit when we can get you to slave for free?” Willow replied with a grin.
“Hear, hear,” Kennedy applauded from the table. “Can we get our slave to move any faster?”
Willow, Kennedy and Mia snickered.
Skye and Dawn walked into the room in their pajamas, holding hands. “Mornin’, Andrew,” Dawn said sleepily.
“It’s brewing!” Andrew yelled before he stormed out of the kitchen.
“Wow…I’ve never seen a guy premenstrual before,” Kennedy sniped from the table, where she was unceremoniously dumping cereal into a large bowl.
“Don’t mind him, we were all just kind of up late last night,” Dawn said as she stretched her arms above her head.
“Oh yeah? And what were you crazy kids doing?” Willow asked.
Dawn paused in mid-stretch and traded a somewhat guilty look with Skye. “Oh, nothing much, watching Tron,” Skye said quickly. She and Dawn moved to join Kennedy and Mia at the table.
Willow looked back and forth between Skye and Dawn, both of whom were refusing to meet her eyes. “Uh huh. I had no idea that Tron could be so naughty,” Willow said, crossing her arms over her chest.
“It wasn’t the Tron that was naughty, it was the post-Tron party that was naughty,” Skye said with a devious grin as she sat down at the kitchen table, drawing Dawn along with her. “We can give you a play-by-play, if you really want.”
Willow’s eyebrows rose practically to her hairline.
“Nooo, just kidding,” Dawn told her. “Kinda,” she added in a quieter voice.
Willow released a ragged sigh as she went to pour herself a cup of coffee from the now quarter-full coffee pot, her back to the rest of the room. The maker splattered and hissed as she filled her cup quickly.
As soon as Willow turned her back, Dawn’s eyebrows rose as well and she looked at her girlfriend incredulously. Skye gave Dawn a knowing smile and patted her knee.
“I’ll pass, thanks,” Willow said as she turned back to them, coffee cup in hand.
“Hey!” Kennedy protested from the table, noticing the cup in Willow’s hand. “We were here first,” she said through a mouthful of Wheaties.
“That’s true, but the early bird gets the worm only when there’s not another, more awake and devious bird around.” Willow winked as she took herself, newspaper, and coffee out of the kitchen.
Dawn giggled, but then saw that Kennedy was not amused. She stifled her delight as best she could while she poured her own bowl of cereal.
Watchers Council – Library – Moments Later
“I just don’t get it – we followed the spell exactly,” Andrew said with a furrowed brow. “When I follow the chocolate chip cookie recipe exactly, I get yummy cookies. This…” Andrew said, indicating the inert chessboard, “…is not yummy.”
Jeff folded his arms across his chest and shrugged. “Well…we could try to eat the pieces.” Jeff picked one up and acted as if he were going to put it in his mouth but Andrew batted his hand away. Jeff grinned and returned the piece to the board.
“You know what I mean. We did the spell and tried playing chess and nothing – no virtual chessmaster, not even a little wiggle from one of the pawns.” Andrew sighed as he slumped into one of the library chairs.
“Yeah…but magic isn’t like a recipe, Andrew. You know that. I don’t understand what we did wrong, though. I mean, the subconscious spell was pretty straightforward, just a direct link between one’s subconscious and the chessboard, but any number of things coulda been missing. I’d say we should ask Willow what went wrong, but…”
“Ask me what?” Willow said, as she entered the library with a mug of coffee in her hand and a newspaper tucked underneath her arm.
Andrew and Jeff looked at each other nervously.
“Oh, nothing,” Andrew began, “We were just playing chess last night and Jeff beat me and since you’re such a good chess player Jeff said that maybe I should ask you what I did wrong but I really want to learn myself so I just think that perhaps I should try it again because practice makes perfect and all, I mean, it’s not like I got that bundt cake right the first time and…” Andrew paused and drew in some much-needed air. Jeff smiled and shook his head, while Willow frowned suspiciously.
“You guys look like you were up pretty late, too,” Willow said, noticing the dark circles under both Andrew’s and Jeff’s eyes.
“Yeah, we watched Tron and then played some chess until late,” Jeff said nonchalantly.
“In here?” Willow asked, noticing that the chessboard was on the library table.
“Yeah, well, you know, Skye and Dawn were kinda getting close in the game room,” Jeff said. Andrew nodded emphatically, and Willow chuckled in understanding.
“Yeah, I could see where that would be distracting from chess, not that, I mean you two were looking or anything or that you were those types of guys, you know, but just, well, you know.”
“Uh, yeah, sure,” Jeff replied with an uncomfortable look.
Suddenly, Willow, Jeff and Andrew heard Tracey’s voice over the intercom, “Jeff, could you come downstairs, please? There’s a visitor here for you.”
Jeff’s eyes grew wide and he slapped himself on the forehead.
“Damn…I forgot she was coming today. That’s just great,” he said as he quickly left the room.
“Um. Who’s coming today?” Willow asked Andrew quizzically.
“Search me,” Andrew replied as he stood up.
“Huh,” Willow replied. “Well, while you’re here, do you want to help me with some spell research?”
“Maybe after lunch? I should really start in on some sandwiches for that feisty Slayer mob downstairs,” Andrew replied, as he started to gather up the chess pieces from the chessboard.
“Sounds good. Actually, Andrew, go ahead and leave the chessboard. I haven’t played in a while and maybe I can con Giles into a game later,” Willow said over her shoulder. She set down her coffee and started perusing the books on the library walls.
Andrew hesitated, looking at the board for a moment, but then shrugged. He turned to leave the library only to nearly collide with Rowena. She jumped back in order to avoid spilling her cup of Starbucks coffee all over herself.
“Oh jeez…sorry Ro,” Andrew said as he backed up. When he noticed the cup of Starbucks coffee in her hand, Andrew gave Ro a self-satisfied smile. “Well, at least someone here doesn’t think I’m a caffeine-producing slave,” he said as he left the room.
“What was that all about?” Rowena asked Willow. She sat down at the table and began to casually flip through the newspaper Willow had left there.
“Oh, Andrew woke up late and didn’t have the coffee ready by the time most of the house was going through caffeine withdrawals. I think we were kinda hard on him,” Willow said, as she spread out a couple of books on the table.
“Ahh…that would explain the mass of slayers around the kitchen door this morning. I took one look at them and figured I’d rather face corporate greed than cranky, sleepy superheroes,” Rowena said, gesturing to her cup.
Willow’s mouth curled into a smirk. “Probably a good call.”
Watchers Council – Gym – Morning
Kennedy and Giles were standing toe-to-toe in the training gym. He wore his leather punching gloves as Kennedy faced off with her hands taped. Her strikes seemed to get more and more powerful as she spoke.
“And THEN she cuts in front of the line. Can you believe that?” the slayer asked as she delivered another forceful blow.
“Incredible,” Giles answered, sounding winded, with a slight line of perspiration on his forehead.
Kennedy stopped. “Are you okay?”
Giles began to rub his arm with his opposite wrist. “Just trying to get the feeling back,” he answered with a slight grin.
“I’m sorry. Damn Giles. Sit down before you fall down. I didn’t mean to rough you up. Sometimes I forget the slayer strength.”
“I’m quite alright,” he said, taking a deep breath and raising his hands.
Kennedy looked unsure. “Actually, Vi asked me for help with the girls last night and I forgot,” she said nervously.
“Kennedy,” Giles sighed.
“Okay, so it’s a lie, but jeez Giles, let’s take a breather at least. Okay?”
Giles pulled the gloves from his hands and motioned her over to the water cooler, taking a drink. “I’m rather proud of you, Kennedy,” he said, still trying to catch his breath.
“You’ve come so far, so fast.”
“Having a good teacher helps,” she answered with a smile. “But really, don’t you have other things you should be doing today?”
“I have a full schedule, yes,” he replied.
“Then I hereby order this training session concluded.”
“You’ll do no such thing.”
“Okay, then you do it and we’ll say it was your idea. Really, Giles, there are other things I need to do before patrol tonight. My head’s just not into this right now.”
“Fine,” Giles said, finally relenting. “But I want to spend an extra half hour this week sometime. Agreed?”
“You’re on,” Kennedy told him with a grin.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Same Time
“Sorry, I forgot today was the day,” Jeff said as he descended the last few steps on the stairs.
The woman he spoke to turned around. She was tall, dressed in a navy blue skirt suit with muted pinstripes. A pair of navy pumps completed her outfit. The brunette haired woman had a large attaché-like black purse hanging underneath her left arm. Tracey waited next to the woman, by the front desk.
“Good to see you again, Jeff,” she said, extending her hand in greeting.
Jeff took her hand and shook it. “Um…hey, Alex, since I kinda forgot, I didn’t really tell anyone you were coming.”
The woman nodded her head in understanding.
“It’s probably better that way. Social Services probably won’t be so kind as to make an appointment, so it’s good that I have a look at everything the way they’ll see it. That way, I can address with your Headmaster anything that should be straightened out before we file these papers with the court.”
“Headmaster?” Tracey said with a giggle, as she looked between Jeff and the tall woman.
“Yes?” the woman answered quizzically. “This is a boarding and vocational school, isn’t it?”
“Oh yes, yes, of course,” Tracey said nervously. “We just call Mr. Giles the Director, is all.”
“Sorry, Tracey, this is Alex Neel, my, um, lawyer,” Jeff said sheepishly. “And Alex, this is Tracey, she’s our, um, housekeeper.”
“Pleased to meet you Ms. Neel, although I’m a housekeeping assistant. Andrew is our top mother hen,” Tracey said with a wink in Jeff’s direction.
“You can call me Alex. So, would it be possible to get the Director to show us around? I want to do a full inspection and prep Jeff on what Social Services is likely to ask him when they do the emancipation inspection,” Alex said matter-of-factly.
“Emancipated, huh?” Tracey said, looking in Jeff’s direction with a raised eyebrow. She then picked up the phone and dialed a few numbers on the touchpad. Tracey began speaking into the phone receiver, her voice echoing over the intercom, “Mr. Giles, please report to the lobby immediately. You have an important visitor, sir. Thank you.” Tracy hung up the phone, looking pleased with herself.
Alex stood there and looked from Jeff to Tracey, both of whom were trying to stifle giggles.
Watchers Council – Library – Same Time
“So, what kind of research are you doing?” Ro asked casually.
“Oh, nothing much. I just figured some more in-depth study of water elementals would be prudent, given our recent run-in with Necksa. It’s not really a subject that I’m well-versed in, you know,” Willow said, as she sat down with her books and coffee.
Rowena smiled to herself.
Willow noticed Rowena’s expression. “What’s that for?”
Rowena shook her head. “You just used the term ‘prudent.’ Maybe I’m starting to rub off on you,” she replied with a hopeful smile.
“Great,” Willow muttered, leafing through one of her books. “Just what I need, for uptight, priggish, and panicky to become me,” she continued before she could stop herself.
Rowena lowered her eyes, blew out a sigh, and frowned.
“You know,” she said, kicking at a nub of carpet with her toes, “just because I deserve this doesn’t mean I’ll be able to take it for much longer.”
Willow looked up and saw the hurt on Rowena’s face.
“Sorry, you’re right, we agreed to be civil. Seems my brain to mouth barrier is non-operational today. I just…well, I guess I just got used to you not being here.”
“Uptight and priggish, huh?”
“Don’t forget panicky,” Willow said with a slight grin.
“So, that’s how you spoke of me while I was away, hmm?” Rowena said, with some humor in her voice.
“There might have been more expletives strung between the adjectives,” Willow admitted reluctantly.
“I doubt it was anything worse than what I was calling myself,” Rowena replied sincerely.
An uncomfortable moment passed as Willow and Rowena looked at each other. Willow finally dropped her gaze back to her books and swallowed the lump in her throat. “Water under the bridge,” she said, without looking back up.
Rowena sighed again, visibly upset at Willow’s retreat back into her books. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the chessboard.
“What’s the chess set doing up here?”
“Oh, Andrew and Jeff brought it in here to avoid Skye and Dawn’s public display of kissies in the rec room last night,” Willow replied, without looking up.
Rowena’s eyebrows raised and she shook her head and grinned. “Ahh…young love. How ’bout a match?”
“What?” Willow looked up, startled, from her books.
“The chess, not the young love. I think we’re both a bit old for that kind of naughtiness,” Rowena teased.
“Oh. Right. Of course. Umm…well, I won’t have much time to research this stuff later in the week,” Willow said as she gestured to her books.
“C’mon, I doubt you’ve had a decent match all summer. In fact, I know you haven’t, with me gone,” Rowena challenged.
“Oh, you think you’re that good, do ya?” Willow said, taking the bait.
“At some things,” Ro replied. “Kicking your ass at chess just happens to be one of them.” She winked.
“You know, I think it would be prudent right now for you to drop that little chess ego of yours down a few notches,” Willow said. She closed the book she had been reading and moved her chair so that she was positioned behind the tan pieces on the chessboard.
“Prudent, perhaps. Possible? Never,” Rowena teased back, as she moved a chair behind the black chess pieces on the chessboard and sat down.
“Using my ego against me is clever,” Willow observed as she tried to concentrate on the chessboard.
“And working,” Rowena teased.
Willow rolled her eyes and shook her head, still focused on the board. She bit her lip in concentration and reached her hand out to move one of her pawns. As her hand made contact with the pawn, the room began to ripple like water around her. The ripples erased the books from the library and replaced them with a starry expanse of sky. She withdrew her hand quickly as the chessboard in front of her began to grow, the chess pieces stretching and elongating into ogre-sized shapes, as the chessboard itself expanded to ten times its size. Willow looked across the wide expanse of board to find Rowena on the other side of it, dwarfed by the larger-than-life black king and queen chess pieces in front of her, obviously confused.
“Um, was it something I said?” Willow asked no one in particular.
Watchers Council – Library – Same Time
Andrew walked inside and saw Willow and Rowena staring at the chessboard, as if deep in thought.
“Now there’s a sight I never thought I’d see again – two friends at the chessboard,” he told them with a smile. He frowned when neither of them looked in his direction or acknowledged his presence. He took a few steps closer. “Game’s not that intense. No one’s even moved yet.” Still the two women said nothing. “Hey guys?” he said, trying to get their attention. Still nothing. Panic suddenly filled Andrew’s face. “Hey guys?” he repeated. He waved his hand in front of their faces and got no reaction. Andrew began to look left to right nervously, unsure of what to do. “Oh God,” he muttered. Then he yelled out, “Jeff!”
Watchers Council – Lobby – Same Time
“Hello, Mr. Giles, nice to see you,” Alex responded with a slight grin as she shook Giles’s hand with a firm grip. “Jeff told me that he forgot to inform anyone that I would be stopping by, so I’m sorry for the interruption.”
“Oh, right. You’re doing the pre-inspection, yes?” Giles said, pulling his cloth from his pocket and idly beginning to clean his glasses.
“That’s right. Just want to go through everything before Social Services comes by, which should be in the next day or two. I want to make sure Jeff’s got the best possible chance for his petition,” Alex said, lightly clasping Jeff’s shoulder.
“Hey Giles! We need to go over the roster,” Kennedy yelled from the hallway, where a group of slayers, including Kennedy, Faith, Mia and Vi, had turned out.
“We have a visitor here to the school, so I’m afraid I can’t at the moment,” Giles answered, nodding slightly toward Alex.
“Whatever, Teach,” Faith said with a smirk, as she winked and made a gun gesture in Giles’s direction with her hand. The slayers slowly turned and headed back down the hallway.
“Roster?” Alex asked.
“Um, softball team,” Giles said quickly. “We believe in training the body as well as the mind here.”
Alex looked back and forth between the retreating women in the hallway and Giles. “I’m sorry, but you are the Headmaster or Director, and not the Athletic Director, correct? There seemed to be a bit of confusion earlier at my use of the term Headmaster.”
Giles smiled nervously. “Yes, I am the headmaster. It’s just that, well, no one really refers to me that way here. Everyone just calls me Giles, and I coach the team in my off hours.”
“I see,” Alex said. She took out a pad of yellow, legal-sized paper and began taking notes.
“Uh, is that a problem?” Jeff asked, taken aback by the appearance of the legal pad.
“Not necessarily, I just want to make sure I get everything down, Jeff. That’s what I get paid for.” Alex finished what she was writing and then looked up at Giles. “So, shall we start the preliminary inspection?”
“Um. Yes, yes, of course. Jeff, would you be so kind…”
“Actually, doesn’t Jeff have to be in class, Mr. Giles? It would be more appropriate for you to show the Social Services person, and hence me, around,” Alex said matter-of-factly.
“Of course. I just thought that Jeff’s future might be slightly more important than an hour or two of class he can make up after school hours. He might have questions for you, too. We realize he has a special circumstance at the moment, so we’ll make special arrangements for him, if need be,” Giles replied.
Jeff looked uncertainly from Alex to Giles as they sized each other up. They were distracted by Andrew’s yell from the top of the stairway.
“Jeff! There you are!” he said. Andrew started to run down the stairs toward Jeff and Giles, then noticed the stranger. “You’ve got company?” Andrew asked, trying to recover nonchalantly.
“Yeah,” Jeff told him. “This is my attorney Alex. Alex, this is the housekeeper that Tracey mentioned, Andrew.”
“Nice to meet you,” Alex said, extending her hand.
“You too,” Andrew said politely, taking it. “I can tell you’re probably busy, but I really need to have a word with Jeff. It will only take a minute,” Andrew said, placing an arm over Jeff’s shoulder and guiding him away before he could protest.
Picking up on Andrew’s nervous demeanor Jeff waited until they were a safe distance away before asking in a hushed voice, “What’s wrong?”
“The board,” Andrew whispered. “I think it worked.”
Jeff looked confused. “Well, that’s good, isn’t it?”
“No, because Willow and Rowena are playing and now they look…catatonic. I can’t get any reaction and they’re both just sitting there in the library and what do we do?”
“Oh man,” Jeff sighed. “This is bad. My attorney is here to do an inspection for my case.”
“Well, let’s not make it worse, okay? Uh, just keep her out of the library,” Andrew told him.
“How am I supposed to do that?!” Jeff lowered his voice and continued, “Giles is gonna be taking her on a tour. We should tell him what happened.”
“No!” Andrew insisted. “We’ve got to figure this one out on our own. Just steer them away from the area. A brief, ‘this is the library, NEXT!’ oughta do it.”
“Yeah, but what if…” Jeff trailed off as a new woman entered the foyer and approached Giles.
“Can I help you?” they heard Giles ask.
“Evelyn Manor,” she told him. “I’m with Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services. I’m here to conduct an inspection for Jeffrey Lindquist.”
“Beautiful. It just got worse,” Jeffrey sighed. “Now what?” he asked Andrew, who just grimaced and shrugged.
End of Act One