Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers, Elisabeth Harnois as Jocelyn O’Hara, Thora Birch as Tracey Hausser, Lacey Chabert as Skye Talisker and Elijah Wood as Jeff Lindquist
Watchers Council – Lobby – Early Morning
Two Weeks Later
Dawn wasn’t really hiding. She simply stood where Jeff would be very unlikely to see her. Jeff himself was pulling his luggage out of the back of the taxicab, then heading for the front door. Dawn peeked from behind one of the pillars.
Jeff had barely made it more than a yard inside the lobby when Dawn gave herself away.
“What is that?”
He paused and with a sigh answered, “Go ahead. What does it look like? Knock yourself out.”
Giggling, Dawn approached, eyes fixed on Jeff’s chin and the small patch of hair he seemed to be trying to grow. “A tiny mouse, maybe, that decided this was a good place to die?”
“Or – or – you were chewing on a pen. It started to leak, and you didn’t notice!”
The smile on Jeff’s face was painted there. “Ha. Ha. Ha.”
“Enough, please. It’s a work in progress.”
“But…! No, I haven’t got another good one. Besides, everybody else has to have their chance.”
“And I am so looking forward to that.”
Dawn snickered. “Was this,” she pointed at Jeff’s tiny beard, “her idea?”
“She suggested it, yes. Hope mentioned how young I look and suggested I try growing one.”
“You had quite a trip.”
Jeff nodded. “Yeah.” He hesitated. “And you might as well be the first to know. Hope is in Cleveland.” Dawn went silent. Even her face was still. “She’s got a hotel room a few blocks from here. With the money she made demon-hunting, the idea is for her to get her GED, then go to college.” He paused. “You can close your mouth now.”
“Oh! Sorry.” Now Dawn just blinked. “This sounds serious.”
He didn’t answer for a moment. “Yeah. How serious we’ll see. But…yeah.”
“Faith is so gonna freak.”
“Well,” he said with a shrug, “she and Buffy can trade notes.”
“Makes sense.” Dawn reached over and took one of Jeff’s pieces of luggage. They headed for the elevator.
“Where is Faith, anyway?”
Dawn grinned. “On her way to Hollywood.”
“Yep. Along with Robin, Buffy, Xander and Willow. Oh, and Andrew. It’s his movie, after all.”
“Whoa! That’s getting made?”
“Evidently. Andrew wrangled a visit to the set for himself and the principals. The cast wanted to meet them anyway. Giles was invited, too, but he’s busy. Besides, he’s kinda miffed at who they got playing him. Too old, he says.”
“Who is it?”
“Really? That is so cool! So who’s playing you?”
“Never mind. It’s not important. Really.”
Council Private Jet – Same Time
“Well,” said Rowena’s voice from a speakerphone on the equivalent of a coffee table, “this might not be the strangest daily briefing we’ve ever had, but it’s likely to be in the running.”
A chuckle answered her, from Robin at least. He sat next to Faith on a curving sofa on the Council’s well-appointed and very large private jet, with Willow on his other side. Across from them, on a matching sofa, were Buffy and Xander.
“Carry on, Ro,” Buffy’s comment.
“Fortunately,” continued the slightly mechanical voice from the speaker, “today seems fairly mild. We’ve worked out pretty much all the protocols for the testing with Skye. Jeff is back. Haven’t talked to him yet.”
“I’ll want to,” muttered Faith.
“Yes,” Rowena’s voice hesitated. “You do that. Anyway, Dawn says Jocelyn has been skipping her sessions. She said this is a cause for worry?”
“Absolutely!” Willow answered. “Have Jeff and Dawn both track her down, will you?”
“Oh, that’ll make our latest resident demon real happy – teaming up with Jeff and Dawn,” said Xander.
“Tough,” said Buffy.
“Okay,” Rowena continued, “we’re still getting lots and lots of requests for interviews, especially with you, Faith.”
“You didn’t tell them where I was, did you?…Did you?”
“I said you’d be back inside a week.”
Faith visibly relaxed.
“You’re getting a lot better at the interviews, I thought,” offered Robin.
“Practice.” She shrugged.
“Well, if it makes you feel any better, maybe they’ll want to interview me when the movie comes out,” Robin offered.
Now Faith rolled her eyes. “They’re gonna wanna interview Sam Jackson, not you.”
“And how cool is that?” Robin’s grin was ear to ear. “And when you consider who’s playing you…”
“Who is that again?” asked Rowena’s voice.
“Katie Holmes,” Robin snickered.
“Katie Holmes. I know I’ve heard that name…”
“Tom Cruise sofa jumping lady,” Willow offered.
“Ohh, right,” said Rowena. “She had that nude scene you went on about in a movie with a psychic…Hilary Swank was in it, too…”
The plane snickered collectively.
“I never knew you had a thing for Katie Holmes,” Xander said.
“I don’t have a thing, okay? I just liked that movie,” Willow replied defensively. “Can we just move on now?”
“Yes, leaving the trivial stuff aside for a sec,” interrupted Vi’s voice from the speaker. “There’s something important I want to ask of all of you going to Hollywood. Very important.”
“Um, okay. What’s up?” said Buffy. “Got a report of some new demon sighting?”
“Is there someone in Los Angeles who wants our help?” asked Willow.
“Please let it be somebody whose butt I can kick,” said Faith.
“Maybe,” said Vi. “All of you there are to keep an eye on Xander. Lots of starlets out there, and I don’t want him bumping into any.”
“Hey!” Xander looked around for support, but saw nothing but smirks. “I am insulted,” he proclaimed.
“We’ll keep an eye on him, Vi. Promise,” Faith said.
“Are we through now?” Xander asked.
Buffy looked at the speakerphone. “We through?”
“Yep. Enjoy your trip, guys. Miss you, Will.”
“Miss you too, Ro. I’ll call you tonight, sweetie.”
“Sounds good. Take care all.”
An audible click ended the conversation. Xander tried to look indignant, but failed in the face of everyone else’s grins.
“It isn’t fair,” he muttered.
“No comment,” said Willow under her breath.
“Tracey! Andrew!” yelled Buffy.
From the front compartment of the plane, Tracey and Andrew both emerged. “All I’m saying is, they could’ve consulted me. I am the writer!”
“It’s only your first movie, though. The important thing is, we’ll be together when I start at UCLA!”
“Yeah, but…” His voice trailed off, and his eyes fixed on the watchers and slayers watching and listening. “Do you mind?”
“Nah, go for it, Andy,” Faith spoke up. “Unless you wanna explain to me what you were thinking? Katie Holmes?”
“I’m a writer, Faith. Not a casting director. And I’m learning quickly that once you sell a script you pretty much give up all creative control. It’s in the studio’s hands so…it wasn’t up to me!” Andrew parked himself in a seat and crossed his arms. “They didn’t even ask me!”
“Hey,” Robin said with a grin. “Relax, man. Chill…We’re gonna be like three little Fonzies here. And what’s Fonzie like?” he teased.
“Cool,” Andrew replied quietly.
“Correctamundo! And that’s what we’re gonna be. We’re gonna be cool,” Robin replied, making Willow and Xander chuckle.
“You’re an ass sometimes,” Faith muttered with a grin.
“You’re just jealous,” Robin went on. “I’ve got no complaints. I think this makes me almost as cool as Faith.”
“Samuel L. Jackson, honey. Samuel L. Jackson.” Robin blew on his fingernails and then polished them on his shirt.
“Robin’s right, Faith. I mean, there’s no way Katie Holmes out-cools Mace Windu himself,” Andrew added.
Faith glared at him and he fell silent.
“So who’s playing me?” Willow wanted to know.
“And me?” Buffy echoed.
“I don’t know! Some parts were cast last. The whole production is on the fast track, or so they told me. Anyway, none of you are going to like who they choose, so why pick on me?”
“Hey!” Robin objected.
“Robin excluded,” Andrew went on. “And I thought Giles would be thrilled! Sir Ian McKellan is one the best English actors in the world!”
“Yeah but he’s also sixty-something and gay,” Buffy pointed out.
“Again, they didn’t ask me!” Suddenly, Darth Vader’s “Imperial March“ seemed to be coming from Andrew’s inside coat pocket. “Just a sec.” He pulled out a cell phone. “Hello? What? Oh, that’s terrible! But…no, I wasn’t…I said I…that’s fine, that’s totally okay…They won’t. I promise.” He closed his cell phone.
“It is so cool how those things look like communicators from the original Star Trek,” said Tracey with a grin.
“Ahem.” Buffy had her head lowered, her mouth pursed. “What was that?”
“Nothing. Nothing serious. There was an accident on the set. Well, not an accident really, just something…well, a little odd. The studio wanted you to know it was nothing all that odd. Just a little odd. The usual kind of unusual is the way they put it.”
“You know what worries me?” asked Xander. “That last bit just about made sense.”
“What happened, Andrew?” Buffy’s face hadn’t changed.
“A stuntman disappeared. That’s all. Happens all the time.”
Hollywood Soundstage – Same Time
The security guard was middle aged, but only slightly overweight. His uniform was green and included both a gun and a club. But he didn’t look worried. Nor did he look alert. He looked bored.
He glanced at the set pieces around him. Several bleachers of seats for talk shows and game shows. Several dozen varieties of doors. One wall was covered with differently designed staircases. From the look on his face, none of these held the slightest interest.
But then…a sound. The bark and then the whimper of a dog.
“Chester? That you?”
As if in answer, a German Shepherd came running out of a shadowed corner. It didn’t pause, instead keeping on running past the security guard.
“Heel! Chester! Heel!”
The dog paid no attention.
After a moment, the security guard turned to the dark corner from which the dog had come. He reached to his belt and lifted a flashlight. One hand even rested on the butt of his pistol. A beam of light swept the darkness.
“Anyone in there?”
The light came to a face. Or, it looked like a face. Just not a human one. Cadaverous. Hairless. Malformed. The wrong color to be human. And the eyes – a feral yellow. The not-quite-a-face snarled.
Before the flashlight had hit the floor, shattering and returning the shadows to their previous levels, the security guard had halfway caught up with the dog.
End of Act One