Movie Theater Lobby – Later that Night
Xander, Andrew, Vi and Tracey stood in a movie theater lobby, next to the concession stand.
“Can I ask you a question?” Tracey began in a soft voice to Xander.
“Privately,” she added.
Xander seemed confused, but the attendant asked for his order and distracted him.
“Large cola,” he told the attendant, and handed him a twenty-dollar bill. A moment later, he had his drink and his change. He leaned down to Vi for a moment, giving her the change. “Get what you want. Be right back,” he said, giving her a kiss on the cheek.
He nonchalantly nodded for Tracey to follow him, and they moved out of the way of the other moviegoers.
“What’s up?” Xander asked, taking a drink of his soda.
Tracey seemed to hesitate a moment, but then said, in a quiet voice, “You might not know the answer, but…am I Andrew’s first physical relationship?”
Xander choked on his soda pop, and Tracey patted his back.
“Sorry,” Xander croaked.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Xander finally managed to answer. “Sorry. Anyway…rumor has it you kinda took care of that during the wacky May Day celebration a while back.”
Tracey blushed. “Well, Kennedy kinda interrupted the moment…eventually. And now, because of that spell it feels like he and I have never really…I mean does it count if you’re under a spell?”
“Ahh, I see,” was all Xander could say. “It was real…but maybe not?”
“YES!” she looked around to see if anyone else noticed the change in her voice and then proceeded in a normal volume again. “The thing is…whenever we’re alone and things get…intense…he always finds some kind of distraction. I don’t know if it’s him or if it’s me or…I’m just confused.”
“To answer in a word, yes, he isn’t skilled in this area.”
“Okay, I’m gonna stop you there. Not to tell secrets and yes, it might have been the spell, but the guys’ got skills.”
“Andrew?” Xander asked incredulously.
Tracey nodded. “I just figured he didn’t want anything real because after May Day he never brought it up. So I started dating Steve the disaster but finally I figured I’d just go for it, ya know? Ask Andrew out and I love being with him but he… seems almost afraid to touch me. He shouldn’t because we… you know…but it’s…it’s just weird, okay?”
Xander considered her words. “Well, maybe you could just try to ease him into a more physical relationship. Some guys feel threatened by a woman with more experience.” Xander suddenly looked concerned. “Not myself, of course. And I’m not saying you’re a tramp or anything. Do you see what I’m saying?”
“Not really,” Tracey answered.
Xander paused for a moment, as if calculating his response. “I’m sure you’ve got a larger résumé than he does on the romantic front, and the closest he’s gotten to seeing a naked woman aside from Princess Leia in a slave outfit is the coven witches. Follow me here?”
Tracey smiled broadly. “Yeah, I get it.”
“How many times has he seen this movie so far? Ten times? Fifteen? And he’s here again tonight.”
“He does have a child-like view of life sometimes, but I like that,” Tracey answered.
“And that’s all well and good, but Andrew has always been this way. He’s a sci-fi nut with an overactive imagination and, how can I say this…interpersonal relationships just aren’t his thing, at least not when it comes to romance. But I think he really is trying with you, Tracey. He just can’t take the lead. That’s gonna have to be your department if you want it to work out.”
Tracey nodded. “Thanks Xander.”
Xander gave a slight bow. “That’s what I’m here for. Well that and to keep Andrew from talking along with the dialogue the entire movie,” he teased.
Vi bounced up with a bucket of popcorn tucked in her forearm and a drink in her hand.
“Ready?” she asked. Xander nodded, taking a drink from his cup.
Andrew followed too, juggling a tub of corn and two drinks with candy sticking out of his pockets.
“Episode III is soooo cool,” he said. “You guys are gonna love this one!” he added excitedly.
Xander snatched the mints from Andrew’s pocket.
“Hey!” the blond man complained. “It’s just a fundamental lack of respect.”
“Whatcha gonna do? Your hands are full,” Xander taunted. He and Vi started to walk together in the theater, with Andrew and Tracey following along.
“Gimme those back. Or I’m gonna…” Andrew argued.
“What?” Xander teased. “Beat me up? Try it and I’ll have my girlfriend kick your butt.”
Vi playfully slapped Xander on the arm and grabbed the candy. She dropped it back in Andrew’s bucket of popcorn. “There you go, Andrew.”
“Thank you, Vi,” Andrew said smugly, while looking at Xander. “You’re a sweet girl, but you have lousy taste in men.”
Xander just chuckled as he held the door for all of them to enter the theater. Andrew made sure to keep an eye on his candy as he slipped past Xander, and the taller man just shook his head with a slight grin.
Cleveland Street – Night
Buffy and Faith walked side by side down a quiet street, neither saying a word.
“Okay, I can’t take it anymore. Spill it,” Buffy said after a few more moments.
“Spill what?” Faith answered.
“Whatever it is that’s got your tongue,” Buffy answered. “This isn’t quite what I imagined when you asked me to go on patrol.”
“Not quite what I imagined, either…Remember when life was simpler, B? When all you had to deal with was the end of the world?” Faith asked.
“Ahh,” Buffy nodded. “Robin troubles. Go on.”
Faith shrugged. “The love ’em and leave ’em attitude is starting to have a brand new appeal, lemme tell ya.”
Buffy shrugged. “Things will get better. He’ll need time to adjust. It just happened, Faith.”
“You mean I just did it,” Faith answered.
Buffy cast a sidelong glance at her fellow slayer. “What?”
“It was me. I cut off his leg. I did that. And…Look, this isn’t helping, so can we just drop it?” Faith asked, annoyed.
Buffy held her hands up. “Fine by me.”
“Good,” Faith answered. “Let’s just go kill something.”
Faith began to walk again, and Buffy let her go a few paces ahead, watching her cautiously.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Night
Without paying much attention, Jeff walked into the coven room and turned on the overhead light, only to hear a sudden “Argh.” He jumped and looked across the room to see Dawn sitting by a small desk in the corner, with its own smaller lamp turned on.
“Blind me, why don’t ya?” Dawn said, rubbing her eyes.
“Well, you gotta tell someone when you’re lurking in the shadows,” Jeff retorted as he made his way over. “What are you doing here in the dark anyway?”
“I had light, very soft, dim light…” Dawn countered.
“Where’s Skye?” he asked, looking around the room.
“Went home to visit her family, now that classes are over,” Dawn replied.
“I thought she was going to do the summer thing too?”
“Those classes don’t start until next week,” Dawn answered.
Jeff nodded. After a brief pause he asked, “So…are you nervous?”
“Getting out there. Getting your own slayer,” he replied.
“I’ve had to deal with a slayer my entire life, so no, not really…well that’s not true. Most of my memories of Buffy are fake…Let’s face it. I’m not normal.”
“Name one person here who is,” Jeff countered.
“Okay…you’ve got me there…” Dawn said, giving him a slight grin. “But you know what I mean. What happened in Vor, the things I was able to do…I’m not like everyone else. Even considering the wacky of the wackiest here, I rate pretty damn high on the list.”
Jeff looked at the book she was reading and read the cover out loud.
“Principles of Energy…Not what you’d call light midnight reading,” he said.
“Just looking for answers…maybe,” Dawn remarked with a shrug.
Jeff gave her a sympathetic nod.
“Okay,” he conceded, “but instead of spending too much time wondering about your existence, why don’t you come up to the Watcher Rec Room and live. Play cards? Pool? Chess? You name it,” Jeff offered.
“Thanks, but I’ll pass,” Dawn replied.
“So you think you’ll find your answers in that book tonight?” Jeff asked.
“Well, no,” Dawn answered honestly.
Jeff bent the page and carefully closed the book. “Then let it go for tonight. It’s late. And I think the Sci-Fi channel is having a Godzilla marathon. We can watch and make Mystery Science Theater 3000 comments.”
Dawn smiled and motioned to the door. “Okay, I give up. Lead the way.”
Watchers Council – Willow’s Apartment – Night
“You’re picking,” Willow said. She and Rowena were sitting at their dining room table, plates of pasta in front of them. Willow’s plate was mostly eaten, but Rowena’s was still mostly full.
“Huh?” Rowena said, looking up from her plate.
“Your food. You’re picking at it, and you’ve been pretty quiet. Still upset over the Kennedy thing?” Willow asked.
“Oh no,” Rowena answered. “I just…I’ve been thinking about something from my conversation with Giles.”
Rowena looked hesitant. “If I could tell you I would, but…I can’t.”
“Why not?” Willow asked, concerned.
“I promised Giles I wouldn’t say anything to anyone right now. So, please don’t push, Will. Please,” Rowena answered.
“Is he sick?” she asked.
“No,” Rowena replied, not adding more.
“Is it Becca or Elizabeth?”
“Willow,” Rowena sighed. “Please stop.”
Willow simply looked at Rowena for a moment, biting her lower lip. Without another word, she went back to eating. Rowena, however, put her fork back on her plate.
“I’ll be back,” Rowena said, as she started to rise from the table.
“Can you tell me where you’re going, or is that a secret too?” she asked.
“Willow,” Rowena sighed again.
“I’m sorry. You’re being all cloak and dagger-y here, and I’m concerned.”
Rowena smiled softly and leaned down, kissing her gently on the lips.
“Don’t be. Everything’s fine. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Watchers Council – Giles’s Apartment – Night
Giles opened his front door to find Rowena, who smiled when she heard the baby crying.
“Bad time to visit?” she asked.
“No, almost dinner time…again,” he said with a grin. “Come in.”
“I’ve decided to take the position, if the Council approves,” she told him. “But there is one thing…I want you to make the announcement tomorrow morning. Willow knows I’ve been distracted and, well, you know Willow.” She grinned fondly.
“Yes, she can be quite tenacious at times.”
“That’s an understatement,” Rowena answered. “She wants to know what’s going on, and I don’t want to break confidence or keep her at arm’s length. So, will that be a problem, making the announcement tomorrow, I mean?”
“Not at all,” Giles replied. “Nine o’ clock then?”
“We’ll be there,” Rowena said firmly. “‘Night Giles.”
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Morning
Giles stood before the Council Board – Rowena, Willow, Faith, Robin and Xander. As he moved around the table, he stopped behind Rowena. He put his hands on her shoulders.
“I’ve spoken to Rowena, and I’ve asked if she would oversee Council business as the new Chairwoman,” he told the group.
“For how long?” Willow asked.
“Well, as long as she plans to stay. I’ve decided to retire,” Giles replied. With that, he headed back to his chair at the head of the table.
“Woo-hoo!” Xander shouted from his seat, and everyone shot him a dirty glare. “Oh! No! I mean…sorry to hear that,” he added quickly.
“Congratulations on winning the pool,” Giles replied dryly, and Xander blushed. “Anyway, getting back to serious business, the other Council branches will have to vote, but I’m issuing my support to Rowena.”
Willow and Faith looked surprised. Robin appeared ready to say something, but stopped himself.
“You’re really leaving? For good?” Faith asked.
“Not immediately,” Giles answered. “I still will oversee things until the votes come in here and from the overseas branches. Once I’ve briefed Rowena, then she’ll be able to take over duties.”
“So Becca finally talked you into it, huh?” Xander asked.
“No,” Giles said firmly. “This was my decision, which, incidentally, even surprised her. But the first matter is to vote here. So…all those in favor of appointing Rowena to the Chair of the Council, say ‘aye’.”
Everyone paused for a moment, but with the exception of Willow, they all said “aye.” Her abstention didn’t go unnoticed by Rowena.
Giles looked at Willow a moment, but when she said nothing, he stated, “Motion passed. I’ll inform the rest of the Council of our decision here and request that they do the same. Any further questions?”
“Damn Giles,” Faith sighed. “I don’t want to see you go. Not yet, anyway.”
“I think it’s time,” he replied.
“You’ve got my support, Mr. Giles,” Robin told him. “Like Faith said, I hate to see you go, but you’ve earned it.”
“Thank you, Robin. And thank you for attending today, in light of your injury.”
“Don’t mention it. No, really, please, don’t mention it,” he replied, as he grabbed his crutches and began to stand up.
“Yes, well,” Giles said uneasily, “the meeting is adjourned.” He banged his gavel, and the group began to pull away from the table.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Moments Later
The conference room door crashed open, and Willow immediately started down the hallway.
“Will,” Rowena called after her. “Wait up.”
Willow stopped and swiftly turned to face Rowena. “You could have told me.”
“I made a promise…Giles wanted to make the announcement to everyone all at once.”
“Everyone except you, obviously,” she countered. “I’m not sure who I’m more pissed at right now – you, for not feeling you could talk to me, or him, for not letting me in on his plan.”
“He told me first because he didn’t want to offer me a position I didn’t want to take. If I said no, then he could make other arrangements.”
“This isn’t about arrangements,” Willow argued. “It’s about trust, or lack thereof. You couldn’t trust me to tell me what was going on. You’re my girlfriend, Rowena.”
“I’m also a watcher at this Council, and you are the High Priestess of its Coven,” she pointed out. “This wasn’t personal, Will – not for me or for Giles. It was about business.”
Willow continued to walk away. “You keep telling yourself that, Ro, and eventually you’ll believe it.”
Rowena didn’t give chase. She pinched the bridge of her nose for a quick moment before she walked in the opposite direction.
Waterfront – Later That Day
Buffy and Willow walked along a path beside Lake Erie, the Cleveland skyline in the distance.
“Just like that, huh? I figured Giles would stick around a lot longer,” Buffy said.
“Yeah, well, you can’t always depend on people for the long haul. It seems pretty easy to just walk away from it for some. After all, you oughta know,” Willow replied.
Buffy stopped walking, while Willow continued. When she noticed Buffy wasn’t at her side, Willow stopped and turned around.
“If you’ve got something to say –” Buffy warned.
Willow cut her short. “Yeah, maybe you can suggest some nice retirement places for him…You know all the great areas, don’t you? Look, I’ve got work to do.”
Buffy bit her lip as she watched Willow continue to walk away. She jogged to catch up and gently grabbed Willow’s shoulder.
“What’s really going on here?” Buffy asked.
“Whatever do you mean?” Willow said sarcastically.
“Don’t cop a ‘tude, Will. I’m trying to help.”
“We’ve been doing just fine without you, and I’m sure with Giles gone now too, we’ll be just peachy with Ro in charge. So don’t worry about it. Maybe if you guys have time, you can send me a postcard from wherever you’re sunning.”
“So who exactly are you upset with here? Me? Ro? Giles? Because the way I see it –”
“I really don’t give a damn how you see it,” Willow said, waving her finger at her friend. “You haven’t seen anything for a long time now. Sure, you slay a little here, slay a little there, but you’re not in it anymore, Buffy. Not really.”
“That’s not fair, Will.”
“You want to know what’s not fair? I turned down every school in the world to go to UC Sunnydale. And why? So I could help you. So I could make a difference. Now, everyone that felt the same way is dropping off like flies, and here I am, the schmuck, still sticking it out. A-And for what? So you can sit on the Riviera in some café someplace?”
“Okay, stop right there,” Buffy began. “You’re treading on dangerous ground here.”
“Why? Gonna finally use that slayer strength to kick my ass? You sure aren’t using it for anything else.”
“Willow,” Buffy sighed, trying to stay diplomatic.
“Come on, Buff,” Willow said, taking a few steps back and motioning Buffy toward her with her hands. “Lemme test my powers out a bit more. I might not be all black veiny right now, but give me your best shot. Let’s see how much The Lover juiced me up.”
“I’m not gonna try to hurt you,” Buffy said firmly.
“Yeah. You’re my best friend, and I love you, AND I’m trying to stop you from saying anything more you’ll regret. So just listen, okay?”
Willow’s shoulders slumped down and she looked away. Buffy didn’t wait for a response.
“I needed to take a break,” the slayer told her. “I never stopped caring about the world, or you, for that matter. But I was empty.”
“Yeah, well maybe I’m just about empty now too,” Willow replied. “But if I leave…then what?”
Buffy paused for a moment.
“You know what Giles once said about you?” the slayer began. “She was truly the finest among us,” she said with a British accent. She paused for a moment, and Willow looked confused. “We thought you’d been vamped when your dopper stopped by for a visit. Remember?” Recognition took hold, and Willow tried not to grin. “He meant it, Willow. So think real hard about what has you so angry. Are you really upset because I don’t slay, because Rowena didn’t say anything, or because Giles didn’t tell you he was leaving?”
Willow still didn’t say anything.
“Personally, I don’t think it’s any of those things. I think you miss him already, and it’s easier to be mad at him. But realize this, Willow: He wouldn’t be leaving now if he didn’t think you guys could handle it on your own, baby or no baby.”
Willow took a sudden interest in her shoes. “Still…Rowena should have told me,” she muttered.
“Rowena made a promise to Giles and kept it. If anything, you now know she’s trustworthy. It just wasn’t something that fell in your favor this time…and with her maybe being the Head Watcher, it might happen again someday. Are you prepared for that? Because if you aren’t, call it quits with her now.”
Willow shook her head. “I don’t want to do that…I love her, Buffy.”
“Then – and I say this in love – grow up, Will. Apologize to Ro for behaving like an ass and go talk to Giles. Tell him the truth. Tell him you’ll miss him, and don’t hold it against him for speaking to Rowena first.”
Willow began to grin slightly. “Are you sure you don’t want to stay here full-time? I promise I won’t be an ass to you too.”
Buffy smiled. “Yes, I’m sure, but as always I’m just a…”
“Phone call away,” they both said at the same time.
Buffy slipped her arm around Willow’s waist, and Willow rested hers on Buffy’s shoulder, as they began to walk on again, together.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Morning
A man in a military uniform walked into the Council lobby and paused for a moment before walking up to the desk.
“I’d like to see Rowena Allister. Is she in, by chance?”
“May I ask who’s calling?” the receptionist asked.
“General Roger Boeing, U.S. Army,” he answered.
The receptionist picked up the phone as the general began to stroll around the lobby, taking in the scenery. Shortly, both Faith and Rowena rounded the corner.
“General,” Rowena said, walking over and extending her hand. “I’m Miss Allister. This is my associate, Faith. What can we help you with?”
He looked around at the other people moving around them. In a quiet voice, he asked, “Can we speak privately?”
End of Act Two