Felicia Day as Vi, Norika Fujiwara as Mia, Stephanie March as Bonnie, Lindsay Felton as Skye Talisker, Alicia Silverstone as Heli, Brad Dourif as Brell and Elijah Wood as Jeff Lindquist
Rose McGowan as Dorian and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Dorian
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Morning
Willow peeked into Faith’s room and quietly approached the bed, looking fondly at the sleeping woman. She jumped at a sound from behind her, whirled around, then relaxed at seeing Robin stirring in the room’s single chair, blinking the sleep from his eyes.
“Hey,” she said softly, crouching beside his chair. “Been here all night?”
“Yuh,” he slurred, shaking his head to wake himself up. “Didn’t…seem like much point in going back to the apartment. I wouldn’t have slept well anyway.” He got slowly to his feet and stretched, wincing.
“Though maybe fewer sore muscles?” Willow suggested with a faint grin.
“Hindsight, huh?” Robin agreed. He looked at Faith and seemed lost in thought.
“I’ll come back later,” Willow decided.
“No, it’s no trouble,” Robin protested, keeping his voice down. “What were you after?”
“Oh, nothing much,” Willow said. She and Robin moved to the corner of the room to converse without risking disturbing Faith. “I was just going to ask you if it’d be okay to do a quick ritual, while she’s asleep. I’ve got the Coven working on a detection spell for the…things like the one that replaced her. It’s not practical to x-ray everyone who comes into the building. A-And some people, like Becca, we can’t, with the baby and all I mean.”
“I suppose so,” Robin answered.
“It won’t affect her at all,” Willow reassured him. “It’s just a sensor spell. I thought it might be better to do it while she’s sound asleep, rather than later. She was a-a bit on edge, so having spells done next to her might be a bit uncomfortable. Given what she’s been through,” she finished nervously, glancing hesitantly at Robin.
“Yeah,” Robin agreed. “That’s probably a good idea. How are things going with you guys?”
“Oh, so-so,” Willow waved a hand vaguely. “Jeff’s a bit distracted. He, um…what happened last night, when she came back, as it turned out, that was pretty close to something he foresaw when we tried a seer spell earlier in the day. It wasn’t enough to help, but he’s all enthused.”
“Kids these days,” Robin mused, with the ghost of a smile.
“No respect for their elders,” Willow added in a grandmotherish voice. “Actually, he’s okay. It’s good enthusiasm, not scary I-gotta-master-this-right-now enthusiasm.”
“So…we could have a bona fide fortune teller on our hands?” Robin asked.
“He’s got the power. And the aptitude, by the looks of things. This spell he did when I w-was missing…it’s something he’s been interested in for a while.” Willow paused and stared gloomily at Faith.
“So what’s the problem?”
“I worry about him,” she admitted. “Seer magic’s powerful, not in a blow-stuff-up way, but in a subtle way. Knowing what’s about to happen, being able to prepare for bad stuff, or even stop it from happening – there have been plenty of witches and sorcerers who’ve gotten, well, lost in it. Trying to know the future one hundred percent…it’s dangerous. Sometimes people spend so much time watching for things to happen that they stop living. Sorry, I’m geeking out.”
“It’s okay,” Robin smiled. “I could do with something else to think about at the moment.”
“It’s all probabilities,” Willow explained. “I mean, if you pick up a-a vase of flowers,” she decided, as her eye lit on the vase on the table near Faith’s bed, “and let go of it, you can reasonably surmise that it’s going to drop. That’s the simplest example. But seer magic is just that kind of prediction on a massive scale. You spread your awareness of things as far as you can until you…sort of see the patterns, the trends, what’s likely versus what’s unlikely. But being right all the time, well, that’s next to impossible. There are just too many variables. There’re records of mages literally driving themselves insane trying. And you know Jeff…whatever he fixates on, it’s like the only thing in the universe for him.”
“Well, I was a teenager with a fixation myself once,” Robin admitted. “But I had the helping hand of a watcher. And Jeff’s got you to guide him. Sounds like you know your stuff with this seer magic.”
“Oh, well, I did some pretty extensive research on prescience, after what happened with Xander’s eye. I wanted to make sure –” She stopped, as Robin frowned. “What?”
“Xander,” he replied. “He and I…yesterday, before we found out that that thing wasn’t Faith, I…I was upset, and he was trying to calm me down, and…I blew up pretty badly.”
“Xander’s a pretty forgiving guy,” Willow said gently.
“He deserves an apology,” Robin said guiltily. “Do you know where he is?”
“Out. I saw him at breakfast. He said he was going shopping. Something about a penguin costume,” she frowned in confusion.
Connery Formal Wear – Day
Almost a dozen male mannequins stood posed around the store. In between them, scattered like flowers in a field, were coat racks and displays of tie and cummerbund combinations, samples of linings and a rather wide variety of suspenders. Along one wall were hats, bowlers and top hats mostly, in a range of subdued but vibrant hues.
Vi grinned slightly at the displays as she entered. At her side, Xander moved his eyebrows into an inverted V. “Wow,” he half-breathed.
“These are gorgeous!” Vi offered, immediately looking at the nearest mannequin. The suit was basic black, but the vest and tie were a burgundy paisley.
“Uh, not exactly me, I think,” said Xander. “Unless ‘me’ turned into Hercule Poirot while my back was turned. Which is possible, I suppose.”
“Stranger things have happened,” she said.
He nodded. “This week, for sure.”
At that, Vi grinned. Then she began browsing along the wall, Xander in tow. She reached a full-length mirror next to a coat rack. A young man held a coat with lavender lapels up to himself as he looked into the mirror. Vi raised an eyebrow.
“Bold,” she chuckled.
The young man turned to her and smiled. He was tall, with dark hair. His features were strong, almost feline, yet oddly delicate.
Vi blinked as his eyes rested on her. “But…it matches your eyes.”
“True enough,” he agreed, smiling. His tenor voice had a husky quality.
“So, Vi,” Xander called out. He was at another mirror a few feet away, practically nose against the glass. “You think I should grow a mustache? Go the whole Belgian detective route? Ze leetle gray cells?” His French accent sounded suspiciously like Pepe Le Pew.
Giggling, Vi stepped to Xander’s side. She looked into the mirror at his face and tilted her head. “You know, if you did grow a cookie duster…”
“I think you’d kinda look like…oh, who was it?”
“Magnum, P.I.? Doc Holliday? Fu Manchu?”
“No. Somebody real.”
“Clark Gable? Vincent Price? David Niven, maybe? Just don’t say John Waters, that’s all I ask, because then my whole sense of myself as a masculine organism…”
She slapped his arm.
“Ow! Watch it! Slayer strength!” he exclaimed in a hushed tone.
“Don’t be a baby.”
From a few yards away, the young man with violet eyes did a small take. He looked at Vi and Xander, his gaze traveling up and down their forms. From his expression, he liked what he saw.
“There was a movie about him,” Vi was saying, “and Eric Roberts played him.”
Xander considered this, looking in the mirror. “I could live with Eric Roberts.”
“The Star80 movie about that Playboy playmate? And her ex-husband killed her with a shotgun? That guy.”
He looked at her. “You’re saying I look like a guy who got so obsessed with his girlfriend that he killed her rather than let her go?”
“Well, with a mustache…”
She slapped him.
“And again – Ow!”
The young man with violet eyes stifled a grin.
Xander headed to another part of the store. “Actually, it isn’t a tux I’m after. Just a really nice suit.”
“I was gonna say, don’t you have a tux from Giles’s wedding?”
“What? I’m not the kind of guy to maybe have more than one tuxedo in his closet? Okay, don’t answer that. The fact is, what I’m after is less James Bond and more…I dunno…”
“Lord Peter Whimsy?”
“Um…a little less gay.”
“He was not gay!”
“Maybe, but his tailor was. I’ll bet money. Besides, I’d look silly in a monocle.”
“Doesn’t everyone? Although, Giles could probably carry it off.”
“True enough. And maybe Willow.”
Vi nodded in agreement. “Maybe.”
With a deep breath, Xander continued down the rows of suits. Vi followed. “According to my sister,” Vi said, “people are either blue or red. They look good in either shades of blue or shades of red. Grays are blue. Browns are red.”
“So, am I a sad and mopey kinda guy? Or some kind of fashion communist?”
He snickered, continuing to walk down the aisle. “I’ll have to mention that to Alex. This thing she wants me to escort her to is nothing but high-priced lawyers and their clients. The spiritual brethren of Daddy Warbucks and Ebeneezer Scrooge.” He adopted a mock Russian accent. “But I shall be agitating for the glorious people’s revolution within their midst!” Xander turned and noticed for the first time Vi had stopped following. “What?”
“Yeah. What about her?”
“You asked me out to help you shop for something to wear when you take her out?” Vi’s voice had dropped over twenty degrees. Her eyebrows nearly touched her hairline.
“Well…I wanted your advice.”
She opened her mouth to say something, then didn’t. “No, you don’t. Trust me.” She turned and headed out the door.
“Vi! Look, I’m sorry! Vi?”
The young man with violet eyes watched all this from behind another rack of suits. Now, he slipped into a changing room as swiftly as a cat.
Connery Formal Wear – Changing Room – Moments Later
The young man looked into the mirror. He concentrated. Then…he changed.
His jaw line softened. Nose narrowed. Lips reshaped themselves, while the brow retreated further into his head. Short dark hair swelled and became long dark hair. Bones under the skin assumed a more delicate shape, while the texture of that skin smoothed.
Nor were these changes reserved to the face. His hands became narrower, as did his waist. The hips expanded, while both breasts grew.
It hardly took more than three seconds at the most. The young woman with violet eyes looked into the mirror, seemingly satisfied, then slipped out of the changing room once more.
Connery Formal Wear – Same Time
“Hey! Vi!” Xander could see her storm away from where he now stood at the front of the shop. Vi’s shape was making a beeline through the milling shoppers of the mall, not hesitating for a moment. “Damn.”
“No offense,” said a sultry contralto behind him, “but that did look a little unsubtle.”
Xander turned, and the sharp retort on his lips – whatever it might have been – died when he saw who was speaking.
She was tall, although shorter than he was. Long dark hair. A figure with the kind of curves even a vaguely androgynous shirt and trousers could not hide. She was attractive. Very much so. She was also smiling at him, and her violet eyes twinkled.
“Yeah, I guess,” he muttered.
“If you’re gonna have two or more girlfriends,” she offered, “make sure they get along. Or don’t mention them in front of each other.”
“But she’s not…actually, they‘re not. My girlfriends, I mean. I don’t have…well, the point is, we’re just friends.”
The young woman tilted her head to one side, an inviting hint of a smile on her face. “You don’t have a girlfriend? Why?” This last part was accompanied by an appreciative sweep of her eyes down then up Xander’s frame.
He didn’t answer at first. “Long story,” he finally said.
She stepped closer. “All the interesting stories are,” she didn’t-quite-purr. “My name’s Dorian.”
“Short for Alexander.”
“I figured you figured. I was just figuring on confirming your figuring.”
She laughed. “So, Xander, still want some help shopping for a suit?”
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Later
“I distinctly remember you saying ‘I hope nothing else crops up’,” Willow said, glaring at Giles. “You know, if there was a tempting fate spell, that would be the verbal component of it.”
“Very well,” Giles sighed. “I take full responsibility for causing this event, through some bizarre quirk of fate. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear to be world-threatening.”
“What is it?” Ro asked.
“We’ve received reports near Youngstown of a creature of some kind attacking other animals. There hasn’t been a visual sighting as of yet, but claw and bite marks on the remains, as well as traces of claw marks in the ground, suggest that the attacker might not be of natural origin. A small team should suffice to investigate.”
“You want us to, what? Track a coyote?” Kennedy asked incredulously. “This sounds like a city animal control problem, Giles,” she added.
“Perhaps,” he agreed, “but this could be a good exercise for some of our trainees. Except that, under present circumstances, I believe we should limit active duty to those people who have been conclusively proved to be who they appear to be. That being…us.” He glanced around the room at the assembled watchers and slayers – Willow, Rowena, Kennedy, Heli, Andrew and Dawn.
“I’ve got Jeff at work on the Changeling rituals,” Willow said. “We should have something better than x-rays in a couple of days, like a spot test and a standing spell to cover the building and grounds. But I really can’t spare him while we’re working. Dawnie, are you happy to go?”
“Huh? You bet,” Dawn recovered from her surprise quickly. “Point me at the critter, and I’ll spell the heck out of it.”
“This looks like it’ll be more along the lines of forensic rituals,” Rowena commented, flipping through the files on the conference table. She turned to Giles. “I’m happy to lead. Sorry,” she added to Willow.
“Duty calls,” Willow said with a shrug. “I’m busy anyway. It’s not like I have time to go out.”
“Heli will be our slayer?” Rowena asked Giles.
“Actually, I’d like Kennedy to accompany you,” he replied, earning surprised looks from both slayers. “I believe she’ll offer the best chance to resolve this matter quickly, if force is required. And if you’re comfortable with the duty,” he added to Heli, “I’d like you to get some experience at being patrol leader while Kennedy’s away. Vi will remain in charge as strike leader, and Mia’s team is available in case of emergency.”
“I’m game,” Heli said brightly.
“This latest crisis has shown the need to have as many slayers command-qualified as possible,” Giles went on. “Best to get experience now, when the local demon population seems fairly quiet.”
“Ah!” Willow warned, waving a finger at him.
“Yes, knocking wood,” Giles added quickly, tapping his knuckles on the table. “Are there any other matters?”
“Um, one,” Willow raised her hand. “Brell brought something with him from Vor, which I think is a demon-made variation on a gizmo the books call Van Horstmann’s Mirror. I’m splitting my time between working on it and helping Jeff with the Changeling spells.”
“It’s a communicator,” Dawn supplied.
“In essence,” Willow clarified. “It’s being temperamental, probably because of being here rather than in a hell dimension – the background magical presences are different. But the principle is sound. Two mirrors are bonded, and then no matter where they are, if you look into one, you can see and hear what’s in front of the other.”
“And the other is…?” Giles asked.
“In Vor,” Willow said, “with the demons Brell’s been working with. At present, to get a message to them means sending someone, or doing a trans-dimensional spell, which you guys know takes time to get right, and it has to be redone from scratch each time. If this pans out, we could have real-time communication with whichever hell dimension the rebel demons are in, twenty-four hours a day.”
“That would certainly facilitate matters,” Giles nodded. “Well, keep at it. Meeting adjourned. I’ll be in my office.”
“More paperwork from the Volano operation?” Rowena asked.
“You’d think the police wouldn’t mind having a crime syndicate dismantled,” Heli commented.
“Practically speaking, they don’t,” Giles said, “but various people, including some of our most high-ranking allies, are wary of the slayer-power we put into play. If they’re going to share the city with a group such as the Council, having seen how quickly we can overcome a force like Volano’s men, they would like to at least have very thorough reports on our procedures and activities. I can’t say as I blame them.”
Watchers Council – Willow’s Apartment – Day
Willow had parked herself quite comfortably on her sofa. A catalog was open on her lap, her eyes roaming over its contents. One picture in particular seemed to hold her interest. She even turned the catalog to the side, one way, then the other. “I get it,” she muttered, with a little smile. Then, a bigger one. A more wicked smile. “Has possibilities.”
She turned the page. “Woah,” she muttered to herself, looking at another picture. “That’s just too big. Way too big.” She turned a page. “Way too small,” she said, shaking her head. Before another page could be turned, someone knocked on the door.
At the sound of the knock, Willow’s eyes grew huge. She stared at the door as whoever was there knocked again.
“Willow?” It was Vi’s voice.
“Just…just a second,” called Willow, as she pushed the catalog under the pillow of the sofa, hiding it from view. She stood up and rearranged the pillows, hiding the catalog further. “Be right there!”
After unlocking the door and opening it, Willow then stepped out of the way as Vi stormed into the room.
“Uh…what can I do for you?”
“What the hell is wrong with Xander? You checked him out, right? X-rayed him? Made sure he wasn’t some stupid-ass demon replica?”
Willow paused for a moment to catch up to Vi’s tirade. “Xander?” She considered this for a moment. Then another. And another. “Yeah, he’s Xander but…here. Sit down. On the chair.”
Vi did as she was asked, her brow furrowed in anger and her arms crossed. She didn’t even notice as Willow seated herself with some precision, back on the sofa.
“I cannot believe him!”
“Okay,” Willow said, “calm down and tell me what he did this time. He did do something, right?”
“Yeah. He took me shopping.”
Willow blinked. “That’s kinda not what I was expecting…”
“To get a suit for a date with Alex!”
“Ah!” Willow said, as if that cleared up her confusion. Then “Oh,” as the implications sank in. “Arghhh, Xander,” she said with a cringe.
“So, what the hell is the matter with him?”
At this, Willow sighed. “Would you believe it if I just told you he’s a guy?”
“No.” Vi didn’t even blink.
“Okay,” Willow paused, “this is really awkward, ’cause Xander’s my oldest friend…”
“Does he really think he can treat people like this?” Vi asked.
“No!” Willow said instantly. “Not at all! But, well…it’s complicated.”
“Just –” Vi hung her head a moment, then looked back up. “Just tell me what’s going on.”
At first, Willow said nothing. Then, she began. “You know how in school everybody tells you who you are?” Vi nodded. “And they don’t do it up front all the time? They tell you ‘Do this’ and ‘Do that’ and ‘Don’t even think about doing that.’ It’s like they know you’ll catch on if they just come out and say they’ve already decided on your whole identity. So, they do it in other ways. You know?”
“No,” Vi answered with a confused look. “I didn’t understand a word you just said.”
“Okay,” Willow said, starting over. “Xander’s…well, for years he saw himself as a loser. Said he would never have a girlfriend, or even a friend. And frankly, at home it was worse. Basically, all his life he’s had some pretty horrible examples when it came to relationships. So, it’s not like he got around to learning any real skills in that direction.” Now Willow took a deep breath. “Plus, there was Anya. And Cordelia, come to think of it.”
“Wait,” said Vi. “Who’s Cordelia?”
“Oh. The Queen Bee at our high school. Mean, really. Well, not all the time. Just most of it. And when she got involved with the Scoobies, she did kinda treat us better. Again, sometimes. But she and Xander, they ended up having a thing.”
“Yeah, and Xander did something bad. Well, we did something bad…together.”
Now it was Vi who blinked. “You dated Xander? But…you’re gay.”
“We didn’t exactly date. A-And the gay thing happened later, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.”
“So, what exactly is the point here?” Vi asked.
“My point is, Xander gets dumb sometimes and can’t make up his mind. He’s afraid of making the wrong choice, and in the end, it backfires on him. So just try to stick it out. I mean…you do really like him, don’t you?”
Willow got no immediate answer. Instead, Vi chewed on her lip in thought.
Watchers Council – Giles’s Office – Day
Giles looked up at the sound of a knock. At the open door to Giles’s office stood Dr. Miller, file in hand.
“Yes? Is Faith –”
“I’m sorry, no. She’s still asleep, but I do expect a full recovery. Am I disturbing you?”
“No, just lots of paperwork, really. I could use a break.” He gestured. “Have a seat.”
The doctor strode inside, his face grim but uncertain. “I have a problem. Not myself, personally, but something that was brought to my attention by some colleagues. Quite frankly, two years ago I’d’ve called it a ghastly coincidence. Today, however…well, it might still be just that. But maybe not.”
Leaning back, Giles slipped off his glasses and polished them with a handkerchief. “Sounds fairly mysterious so far.”
Before saying anything further, the doctor sat down and fingered the file in his hands. “This,” he said, indicating the file, “was compiled from three different hospitals here in Cleveland. Maybe it is nothing, or it might go back further. Much further, perhaps. All these happened within the past year. Three pregnancies, all premature, all physically traumatic. One mother died. Another recovered, eventually, but is now unable to bear any children. The third, from just last week, is still in the ICU. Each mother suffered massive hemorrhaging and a kind of infection no one has been able to pinpoint. Certainly, it resists antibiotics. And then…then, there were the babies.” He fidgeted, again fingering the file.
Giles had by now donned his glasses again. “Tell me.” Although kindly said, it was an order.
The doctor continued. “In all three cases, the baby was much larger than one would expect at seven months. Truthfully, they’d’ve been on the large side if carried to full term. All three were stillborn. But more than that, they were deformed. Rather extraordinarily.”
He passed the file across the desk to Giles, who opened it. Within were photographs, paper-clipped to forms. Giles stared at the photographs.
“Good lord! Could this be the effects of radiation of some kind? Were any of these women employed in a place of high exposure, like a hospital or perhaps a-a nuclear plant?” Giles asked.
“That was my first guess,” continued the doctor, “but they were a waitress, a bank teller, and a midwife, respectively. When I found no connection to radiation, I did some digging and found another interesting fact.”
“Contrary to popular opinion, human infants can be born with vestigial tails. Not often, but it happens. And while far less common, but also possible, some of them have teeth at birth.”
“Your point being, Doctor?” Giles prompted.
“Look closer at that one photo in particular,” the doctor prompted.
Giles picked up a magnifying glass and examined the pictures closely. “These aren’t simply teeth.”
“Exactly,” the doctor replied. “The bicuspids are unusually…well-developed.” He took a deep breath.
“These babies were born with fangs,” Giles answered.
“And that’s the least of it,” the doctor went on. “Further records show that these babies were completely hermaphroditic – again, not unheard of, but extremely rare. And for three such infants to possess identical deformities, all born within a year of each other, and in the same city…Let’s just say the odds are less than astronomical.”
The watcher looked up at him. “Yes, these…” He looked again at the photographs of small corpses. “These don’t appear to be human. At least not completely.” He stared at them. “Hybrids, most likely. Half human, from the mothers, presumably, and half…” He paused.
“Some kind of demon. Most likely trying to reproduce, and so far, failing.”
“Which means…” the doctor prompted.
“It will try again,” Giles said grimly.
Dorian‘s Apartment – Later
Dorian and Xander swept inside the apartment, each with their arms full of groceries. “I’m telling you,” the raven-haired woman with violet eyes was saying, “they’ll have your new suit ready in less than a week. Plenty of time!”
“Well, I bow to your expertise in such things.”
“You’d better,” she said with a cocked eyebrow.
“And where do I put these?”
She headed for the dining room table with Xander on her heels. The apartment consisted of one large room – doubling as living room and dining room – but with plenty of doors leading to side-rooms. From the dining room table, a kitchen was plainly visible. Dorian planted her grocery bags onto the table, and Xander placed his next to hers.
“But,” he said, “you really don’t have to make me brunch and all. I’m perfectly willing to take you out.”
“That’s nice, but right now I want to make something for you.” She began to pull things from her bag – a dozen eggs plus milk, for starters. “I make the most fantastic omelets, just you see. And I love to show off! So park it, and get ready to be amazed.”
Obediently, with a grin, Xander sat at the table. He couldn’t help but look at some of the ingredients now piling up beside him as Dorian emptied her own bag. A couple were small packs of crushed herbs.
“Hecate’s crown,” he read from one small package. “Moonslips?” He looked at Dorian, who smiled slightly. “I’m, uh, not trying to be rude or anything, but these kinda seem like the stuff you might use to…” He trailed off.
Xander shrugged in a too-nonchalant way. “Turn me into a bat, maybe? Or a lizard?”
With a smile, Dorian reached over to pick up the herbs. In a low voice she said, “Actually, they’re supposed to be an aphrodisiac.” She remained leaning over, meeting Xander’s eyes. He blushed a little.
“Are they?” he managed to say calmly.
Dorian grinned. “We’ll have to find out, won’t we?”
With that, she straightened and walked into the kitchen, swinging her shapely hips with each step in a way that certainly had Xander’s full and undivided attention. From the way Dorian glanced back with a playful grin, this did not seem to displease her.
Dorian‘s Apartment – Kitchen – Moments Later
The kitchen was fairly large as well, although not as much as the main room. An island, with cutting board and hanging pots, lay in the center, and it was here that Dorian placed her ingredients.
“You just relax,” she called out to Xander in the next room, “and I’ll take care of everything.”
Next she opened a cabinet, removing two mixing bowls and a colander. Once these were on the island, she stepped up to what looked like a closet or cabinet. She stopped, then glanced at the door to the dining room. “You comfy in there?”
“I am the Zen of snugness right now!” came Xander’s reply.
Dorian giggled and opened the closet. Inside, pinned to the inside of both doors and to a large message board, were pictures. Dozens of them. Some were of men, others of women. Many were faded, having lost what color they once possessed. Others had always been black and white, but were now a faded yellow. Two were actual daguerreotypes, from a hundred years before. Dorian’s violet eyes swept over the little gallery, her face suddenly serious. She stared and stared and stared some more. A single tear began to gather in one eye.
“Dorian? You okay?”
Instantly, she turned towards the door and wiped a tear from her cheek.
“Dorian?” Xander’s voice came from beyond the door.
Clearing her throat, she answered, “Fine. Just…cutting some onions is all.” There was a catch in her voice. Then she picked up the Polaroid camera from just inside the cabinet. “Can I ask you a favor? Is it okay if I take your picture?”
“If my mug doesn’t break the lens!”
“Don’t say that,” she replied, smiling. “I think you’re actually quite handsome.” Closing the closet door, she headed for the dining room, camera in hand.
End of Act One