Giles’s Terrace – Moments Later
“Is it the wedding?” Becca asked, as she played with the black onyx ring on her large finger.
Giles stood next to his taller lover, both of them resting against the outer railing of his terrace. He shook his head, his blonde hair falling over his shoulder. “No, I-I want to get married,” he insisted. “But maybe you don’t feel the same.”
Becca shook her head and took the smaller hand next to her reassuringly. “That’s not it. I want my life to be with you.”
Giles stopped and Becca now took both his hands.
“Even what?” she asked.
“Even if it means your death someday?”
“Becca, I’ve loved a woman, only to watch her die because of her involvement with me. I don’t think I could bear losing you. It would be too much.”
“I realize the risk of loving you, and of being loved by you, but I won’t walk away from everything because of fear. Monsters aside, I still might meet an early end. None of us knows for sure, not really.”
Giles waited, looking around expectantly for a moment, but nothing happened. He made an exasperated sound. “Obviously this isn’t the problem. We’re still trapped, and t-to be quite frank, I’m at a loss.”
Watchers Council – Faith and Robin’s Apartment – Same Time
“Oh yeah,” Faith challenged as she and Robin sat in their living room. “You know what annoys me about you? The way you look at me when I eat a steak or a hamburger.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You know what I mean. You get that holier than thou look on your veggie face. Like I killed Bossie the cow myself – and it bugs the hell outta me,” she answered. She stood up and he rose to meet her.
“Maybe it’s not that, maybe it’s the way you chew your food,” Robin countered.
“I close my mouth,” Faith replied, towering over him.
“Yeah, but it’s two chews and then you swallow. I don’t think you even bother to taste it.”
“Hey,” Faith said, poking Robin’s chest, “when you’ve done time in the pen and you don’t have much time to eat, see what happens to you? It’s a habit.”
“Habits can be broken,” Robin said. “You should know that.”
“Is this about the cigarettes again? I quit nearly two weeks ago, but have you offered the least bit of support?”
“No, I avoid you when I can. The mood swings from lovey dovey to super bitch. I’m left wondering if I’m coming or going.”
“Maybe I wouldn’t be so bitchy if you showed a little support here.”
Robin threw his hands up in the air. “I haven’t said anything because you told me not to remind you of it. Would you like a daily affirmation now?”
“That was before, when I first started, or quit, or whatever. You know,” Faith continued, waving her dark finger in his face, “a little support from you would be good now and then. Not much, just a little pat on the back. Oh, and while I’m at it, smoking is not a habit, damn it, so stop saying that. It’s an addiction – as addictive as smack, actually. If I was on heroin, I bet you’d have lots of praise for me quitting.”
“Maybe I’d be more supportive if you didn’t take offense at everything I said!”
“I do not!”
“Oh really,” Robin said, his alto voice growling sarcastically. “Need I remind you how this whole asinine argument started? I mentioned, just casually, that it bothers me to find hair in the tub drain.”
“That’s another thing – need I remind you,” Faith mimicked. “You always act like you’re smarter than me. Sure, big guy with a higher education degree. Just remember that not everyone’s watcher was able to put them through college. In fact, some of our watchers never lived to see us graduate high school.”
Robin’s infuriated expression fell.
“I don’t think I’m smarter than you Faith,” he said, lowering his voice, his anger slipping away into concern. “Do you really think that?”
Faith looked away. “Yeah, sometimes I do. I’ll say something wrong or not understand some kinda reference you made and…I feel dumb. Makes me wonder why you stick around. There’re tons of girls out there that would love to have a guy like you – patient, smart…generous and yes, pretty.”
They both grinned at each other for a moment.
“I guess…” Faith stopped and let out a sigh. “I just feel, sometimes, like I’ll never be smart enough for ya.”
Faith and Robin simultaneously clutched their stomachs and winced before looking back at each other.
“So that’s it?” Robin asked, his deep voice once again sounding in his own mouth. “You think that I think you’re dumb?”
Faith just tried to shrug it off.
“Faith, I have nothing but respect for you. So you don’t know certain books or quotes. So what? I know how quick you think in a fight.”
“Oh wow, beating things up. That takes smarts,” she sighed.
“Consider this: you knew to strike the wings of those bats in the Presidium cave to stop them. You knew to play dead with a water demon so you didn’t drown. You took on ten demons single handedly.”
“I used a gun there. That doesn’t really count,” she mumbled.
“Yeah, but you stayed alive long enough to get the gun, because you had the smarts to outwit them, just as much as you had the physical power. Resourceful people aren’t stupid, Faith, and you’re the most resourceful person I know.”
Faith began to crack a smile. “So, I’m smart. Just a different kind of smart. Is that what you’re saying?” she asked. She looked self-conscious, just sparing a glance or two in Robin’s direction as she spoke.
“See? That’s exactly what I’m saying.” Robin replied with a grin. “You’re brighter than you give yourself credit for.”
“Yeah, but what about all that other stuff we said?”
“You mean the nit-picky stuff? Well, no one’s perfect. But I think I can live with a woman who eats a three-course meal in five minutes. And I promise to be more supportive of your quitting. I really am very proud of you, and if you need me to show that now, I will.”
“So you’re sticking around then?”
“As long as you want me, I’m in. We’ve stood on the mouth of hell together, Faith – not once, but twice. We’re still here. We’re still strong. We’re still together. I think that means something, despite all the little stuff. Well, it means something to me, anyway.”
“Me too, Ace,” she said. She ran her hand over the top of his head to grab the back of his neck. “And you have no idea how wonderful it is to feel that pretty bald head under my fingertips instead of yours,” she joked.
Robin smiled and captured her chin. “Just don’t let things fester. If something bothers you, tell me, okay?”
“You got a deal,” Faith said, offering her hand.
Robin shook it in truce, but quickly pulled her into a kiss. Faith chuckled behind her snared lips.
Watchers Council – Library – Same Time
“Okay,” Dawn sighed. “I’m not sure where to start.”
“Why?” Jeff asked.
“Because I don’t have a problem with you,” Dawn answered, as she took a seat across from him at the table. “Sure, you’re moody and brooding sometimes.”
“Thanks a lot,” he muttered under his breath.
“But I figured, hey, that’s just the testosterone,” Dawn went on, giving him a grin.
“You know, women have testosterone too,” Jeff countered.
Dawn smirked. “Yes I know. I was just teasing about the hormones. But seriously, Jeff, you’re one of my best friends here. I do worry about you, though. Just losing your mother, having people from the state examining your well-being…I’ve been there, so I know what it’s like. And no judgment when I say this, but…I think it’s you. Or me, I should say…You’ve got a problem with me. So, any ideas?”
Jeff nervously looked away and muttered something unintelligible.
“What was that?” Dawn asked.
Jeff cleared his throat. “I said…I’m in love with you.”
Dawn blinked a few times in surprise. “You told me the other day that I annoy the hell out of you,” she said, finally finding her voice.
“And you do!” Jeff said. He stood up quickly and started to pace, his long brown hair flowing as he walked. “When I wake up you’re my first thought, and when I go to bed you’re my last. I see you sitting here researching and I, I just want to reach out and touch you and tell you how beautiful you are and how, if given the chance, I’d do everything I could to make you happy. But right around that time Skye walks in and…” Jeff started to shake his head.
Dawn continued to listen, motionless, in her seat.
“Skye is cool, don’t get me wrong. But…she’s not for you, Dawn.” He paused and looked at his body. “And apparently this isn’t the real heart of the problem because…” He held up Dawn’s long hair in both hands, to demonstrate in frustration that no change had occurred. He slumped back down in his seat. “I’m sorry I said anything now. You probably think I’m an ass and I feel like an ass and…Gods, I wish I could just crawl in a hole somewhere.”
Jeff closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, as if hiding behind his hand.
In a soft voice, Dawn spoke. “I’m attracted to you, too,” she confessed.
Immediately, they both clutched their midsections and stared at one another. After the short silence, Jeff asked, his voice cracking in its familiar way once again, “So, now what?”
Dawn didn’t answer him and looked away.
Watchers Council – Workshop – Same Time
“Oh! Another thing!” Andrew announced from his own body, looking up from his list. “You always borrow my Stargate SG-1 collection without telling me, and then when I need my Richard Dean Anderson fix, it’s not there.”
Xander raised his hand. “We’ve switched back, Andrew. You can stop any time now.”
“No! I have more and you’re going to hear them all! Which leads me to point twenty-three,” Andrew said, waving his paper as Xander sighed in boredom and frustration. “Two words: graphic novels! The books on the right side of my shelf in the media room are graphic novels and not comic books. There is a distinction, and it would be best if you learned it. With that said, point twenty-four…”
“Oh, somebody shoot me,” Xander moaned, as he leaned his head back and slid down in his chair.
Watchers Council – Giles’s Apartment – Same Time
“Anything else we might guess at?” Becca asked.
Giles rubbed his temples. “My head hurts from thinking and I’ve run out of ideas. In fact, I feel more nauseated now than when we first made the jump.”
“You feel sick?” Becca asked, her masculine voice suddenly gentle with concern.
“You don’t?” Giles countered irritably.
“No, I feel pretty good. Better than I have the last few weeks, now that I think about it…Maybe that’s the problem – maybe I’m sick.”
“If you haven’t been feeling well, Becca, why didn’t you say anything?” Giles asked.
“I figured I was just tired. Well, that and I think the change is finally happening.”
“Change?” Giles managed a very good imitation of his own most bewildered expression, even using Becca’s face for it.
“The big M…” She paused, looking down at his still confused face, then added, “You know, menopause.”
“Oh,” Giles said bashfully. “That change.”
“Yeah, I’m cranky. I’m tired. And Mother Nature’s monthly visitor? Well, let’s just say she’s not really in full force like she used to be. I figured it was my time.”
“And you have yet to see a doctor?” Giles asked, looking up somewhat disapprovingly.
Becca grinned and nodded. “Okay, I get the point. Once we get this straightened out, I’ll get it looked into.”
“You should have told me, Becca,” Giles insisted.
“I realize that…now. And from this day forward, if I so much as cough, I’ll tell you, okay?”
At once, the couple doubled over and grabbed their stomachs.
“Well, now,” Becca said as she tried to stand upright again, “that was simple.”
Immediately Giles, back in his own body again, pointed to the phone. “Now, go make that call.”
“Right this second?” Becca asked.
He picked up his phone and handed it to her. “I’ll get the phone book if you need it. Just call.”
“Oh fine,” she replied, rolling her eyes as she took the phone from his hand and dialed the number. Then she put it to her ear.
Watchers Council – Holding Cell – Same Time
“Tokyo, huh?” Skye said as she entered the room, still in Bonnie’s body, keeping one hand behind her back. “I can’t stand sushi. You would have hated it there.”
“Think so?” Bonnie said, sitting on the bed with her teenage back against the wall. “I happen to love Japanese food. It’s one of the things that’s kept that gorgeous body you’re walking around in so fit and trim.”
Skye chuckled. “Careful there, Bonnie,” she said. “You might just start to like the view through my eyes. Pretty soon you’ll be the one with a subscription to Playboy instead of Newsweek.”
Bonnie simply rolled her eyes and turned back to the magazine she had been reading. After a moment’s uncomfortable silence, she looked up again. “What? Don’t you and your little girlfriend have some sneaking off to do?”
“Dawn’s an adult now,” Skye said. “We don’t have to sneak around anymore.”
“Fine!” Bonnie said, turning her back to Skye and pretending to read. “Then go off and do it in the middle of the lobby, for all I care. As you can see, I have countless hours to waste here,” she said, flipping the pages of the periodical noisily.
Skye walked forward and pulled her hand out from behind her back. “I brought you something,” she said.
“A Coke and a smile? How thoughtful.”
“I shouldn’t have tormented you earlier,” Skye answered. “I can kinda see why life here wouldn’t be too peachy for you and why you get grumpy. So, go ahead and take it,” she said, pushing the can forward. “Sling any zingers that you like if it makes you feel better. I can take it.”
Bonnie half turned and looked at the can of soda Skye held out to her. Her eyes softened almost reluctantly, and after a moment she reached out to take it.
“Thanks,” Bonnie said. Suddenly, her hand gripped around the can and she appeared to be in pain.
“You’re welcome. And thank you,” Skye said from inside the cell before handing the can through the bars, back to her.
“What in the world…” Bonnie said, obviously bewildered to be back in her body again as she absently took the offered can.
Skye stood up and reached under the metal frame of the cell mattress to pull out a key.
“Willow said you could go back to your room,” Skye told her as she reached around, unlocked the cell and stepped out. “She’s renewed the sanctuary spell, same conditions as before. Only she’s going to lift the ban she has in place on me right this minute.”
“The key was there the entire time?” Bonnie exclaimed.
Skye just nodded. “I needed some way to get out when the switch happened.” She headed for the door, but paused, as if remembering something. “I needed your forgiveness to break the spell. When you accepted the drink that happened,” Skye explained. “But still, I meant what I said. If you ever need anything, come see me. I’ll lend you a hand. Just not the rest of my body.” Skye smiled.
With that, she walked out of the room, leaving the door open behind her. Bonnie just stared at the departing redhead, then popped the tab on the can and took a long drink.
Watchers Council – Willow’s Apartment – Same Time
“I keep thinking about what Faith said about Europe and luggage. That and…my bas mitzvah,” Rowena said, sounding baffled and shaking her head. She picked up a strand of her red hair and twisted it around her finger.
“I didn’t know you were Jewish. You celebrate Christmas and…oh…I get it. The switch is getting worse,” Willow said, slightly embarrassed.
“The clock is ticking here, Will. We need to find out what’s stopping us from switching back.”
“No kidding,” Willow answered. “I have an overwhelming urge for a cigarette. What’s that about?”
Rowena looked away. “I started again this summer,” she confessed softly.
“But I quit again!” she threw in quickly. “Faith and I did it together. So far, so good, so don’t go blowing my record…Hey, did Xander’s dad really drink a fifth by himself?” she asked, in disbelief and totally off topic.
Willow did a double take but then caught Rowena’s train of thought. “Ah, yeah, the bas mitzvah thing.” She nodded, remembering it herself. “Shoulda seen him at Xander’s wedding. Buffy said he hit on her, which if you ask me is just eww.” She shuddered.
Rowena grinned, but soon turned serious again. “I’m not sure what more I can do here. I don’t know what else I can say.”
“I think I know what it is,” Willow answered with Rowena’s soft voice.
Rowena waited for Willow to continue, but she didn’t. Finally, she prompted, “Well time’s a-wastin’ here, Will.”
“I’m still mad at you,” Willow whispered.
Rowena took a deep breath, as if to steady herself. “I know I shouldn’t have left last May. And I should have called, but –”
“It’s not that,” Willow answered. “I forgave you and I meant it.”
“Then what?” Rowena asked, puzzled.
“You didn’t trust me enough to tell me first, and you compared me to Jordon. And yeah, okay, maybe I am still mad about the four lost months too, but that’s not what worries me now.”
“I can’t take any of it back. I wish I could, but all I can say is I’m sorry for hurting you, and not saying something sooner, but when I told Jordon…”
“I know, you realize now I’m not him, but I have this nagging feeling I can’t shake.”
“I believe you really are sorry, Ro, but…Damn it! I’m scared that at the first sign of trouble you’ll do it again. I could spend my whole life trying, but you’ll never let me inside, not really. A-and as much as I love you, as much as I want you, it will never be enough to break through. I just wish –”
Rowena kissed Willow passionately, silencing her. When Rowena pulled back she captured Willow’s face in her hands. “If I could give you one thing,” she asked softly, with a gentle smile, “What would it be?”
Willow grinned. “My turn, huh?”
“It goes both ways, Will,” Rowena told her. “What would you want?”
“Always be honest with me. I can’t say that I won’t get mad or scared. But just trust me enough to know I won’t stop loving you.”
“I trust you,” Rowena said, kissing her softly. “And I love you.” Another kiss. “And if I need to spend the rest of my life proving that, I will. Oh god, you have no idea how it feels to look at myself when I say that. I love you Willow, but I think I’ve realized something else, too.”
“What?” the witch asked.
“I – me, myself and I – I love me, too. I’ve spent years trying to be perfect at everything I do well, and the stuff I didn’t, I just pushed aside. But I can’t push you aside and I can’t give up love, and yes, sex too. I want to be what you need if you’ll let me. I, I think, if you help, I can do it.”
Rowena’s eyes widened, then she began to blink a few times. She focused again on the face in front of her. Instead of seeing herself, she saw Willow, and felt the redhead holding her cheeks in her hands.
“Shazam,” Willow murmured with a dawning grin.
Rowena gave her a smile and took her hands in hers. “Does this mean we’re better now?” she asked.
“Depends…no more secrets?” Willow countered with her own question.
“No more secrets, no more running, no more excuses. I swear, Willow.” Rowena reached up and stroked Willow’s neck with the back of her fingertips. The witch closed her eyes. “So…you really do have a sensitive neck,” she muttered.
Willow opened her eyes again, a grin slowly coming to her face. “You mean you…”
“Well, you did give me permission,” Rowena said. “But I’m curious if you, you know…”
“I didn’t, Rowena.”
“Not at all?”
“Nope, I was a complete gentleman or…gentlewoman. Anyway, I kept my hands to myself, as difficult as it was. Oh, but I did learn something!”
“You did, eh?”
“You’re not a natural blonde,” Willow said in a hushed, conspiratorial tone.
Rowena began to laugh and hid her face in the crook of Willow’s neck. After a few moments, Rowena hummed against Willow’s throat.
“Hmm?” Willow asked, quirking an eyebrow.
Rowena pulled back to look at the witch. “Oh, nothing. I figured, since I really don’t know my own body all that well, maybe you could give me a hand.”
“I have two,” Willow said softly, wiggling her fingers and making Rowena chuckle. “And to be honest, the reason I didn’t do anything is I’d rather explore together, if that’s okay. Is it – okay, I mean? No full-out strides just yet but, you know, baby steps?”
“Well,” Rowena said as she leaned over and turned out the light by the table. “Maybe I can start by showing you a few things I learned about you.”
Fade to Black
Willow (V.O.): Do tell!
End of Swap Meet
Next on Watchers…
As Willow and Rowena try their hand at physical closeness, Presidium assassins target the Council through one of its own.
Click here to read “True Colors” now!