Giles House – Study – Day
Two Weeks Before
“Knock, knock,” a voice said from the doorway.
Giles turned toward the sound and smiled. “Hello, Sweetheart. I have something for you.” He motioned Liz over to his desk.
“What is it?” she asked, as she made her way over and pulled a seat up next to his. She looked at the datapad in front of her father.
“Here.” He pushed a button and a small one-inch disc came out. “All the Guardian knowledge I have up here,” he pointed to his temple, “is now in this device. I must say, I still prefer writing this material than trusting it to sit in…this,” he said as he handed over the small round disc. “Do they realize how easy it is to lose something this small?”
Liz grinned and leaned over conspiratorially. “I make a hard copy backup,” she whispered.
“Excuse me?” Giles asked.
“I’ve been printing everything you’ve written or said. It’s all in a bound codex in my office.”
Giles grinned. “Good girl.”
“You know, we should animate you,” Liz said.
“I’m not animated enough?” he teased.
“Nooo,” Liz chuckled. “I mean, like we have with Willow. Then if people pull up your file, they’ll see you provide your information. Willow’s been doing it for years now. You can even ‘pick your own Willow’ – like the young version or the older version. It’s really kinda cool.”
“It sounds rather…creepy, if you ask me,” Giles replied.
Liz paused. “Yeah, I guess if it were me, it might creep me out, too,” she conceded. “So this is it, huh?” she asked as she examined the disc.
“Yes, I’m officially done,” he told her.
There seemed to be a finality in his words that made Liz look over at him. For a long moment, neither Liz nor Giles said anything. Liz then simply nodded.
“Of course, you might want to check that to be sure I did everything correctly,” he told her.
“I will, but I’m sure it’s fine like the others you’ve done. It never hurts to check, though.”
“Precisely,” he replied.
“I have to thank you, Dad. These have come in pretty handy over the years…saved a few lives, even.”
Giles grinned. “I was more than happy to help.”
“Guess it’s true, the Council is like the mob. Once you’re in, then you’re pretty much in for life. You retired when?” Liz asked teasingly.
Giles smiled. “Hush,” he told her. “I didn’t mind doing this, not at all.”
“Well, I’m still grateful. We all are.”
“I’m grateful, too.”
“For what? You did all the work.”
“Because you’re continuing that work. I feel secure knowing the Council has someone bright and resourceful at the helm.”
Liz smiled, embarrassed. “Well, what’s next? Anything else you plan to tackle?”
“Yes, getting my Internet in proper sync with our holo-vision system. I’m not very technically inclined.”
“You don’t say?” Liz mocked playfully. “How about I have a look?”
“Oh, you’re busy,” he said, waving her off. “You’ve got the Council and Nathan to look after.”
“Today I’m officially ‘off,’ and my pre-teen son is at a birthday party at his friend’s house. And even if he didn’t have that to do, he’s beginning to feel spending time with Mom isn’t as cool as it once was. So believe me, I’m going crazy not having anything to do today. You’d be doing me a favor, too.”
Giles grinned. “He’ll come around again someday,” he said as he rose and motioned her to follow him.
“Are you sure?” Liz asked as she joined her father. “‘Cause some days I can’t reason with him at all…”
Giles put his arm around Liz, giving her a squeeze. “Oh, I’m sure.”
Watchers Council – Auditorium – Present Day
Liz sat in a chair, looking straight ahead, but she didn’t seem to be focusing on anything in particular. Instead, she seemed lost in one of the last memories of her father.
Giles’s casket sat center stage as mourners gathered in large and small groups, all talking to each other in hushed voices. Liz didn’t notice the woman who walked to the casket and made the sign of the cross before the casket.
But the quiet sob that came from that direction made Liz look over. When she saw who it was, she rose to her feet, making her way over.
Faith leaned over the casket, looking at Giles through glassy eyes, when she felt a hand on her shoulder.
“I’m glad you’re here,” Liz told her.
Faith turned and hugged Liz. “Of course I’m here,” she replied. “How’s the gang holding up?”
“We’re doing all right,” she told her.
“You’re not being the typical, stoic Giles, are you?” Faith asked.
Liz gave a guilty grin. “Maybe a little,” she confessed. “Aunt Buffy, though…she’s taking it pretty hard.”
Faith looked around. “Speaking of…?”
“Most of them are in the lounge, actually. Come on,” Liz said.
Faith seemed reluctant. “Maybe I should just…”
“Keep running?” Liz asked in a playful tone. “Come on, Faith,” she said again.
Watchers Council – Lounge – Moments Later
Xander looked over at the pair in the doorway, and his jaw literally dropped. The surprise on his face made Buffy turn from her conversation with Willow to look in the direction of his stare.
“Look who made it,” Liz said, putting her arm around Faith’s shoulder.
Faith gave a meek wave, but Willow was the only one to rise from her seat and make her way over. Kennedy and Robin both watched, but neither said a word as Willow pulled Faith into a hug.
“How have you been, Faith?” Willow asked.
“Okay, I guess,” she replied as she pulled back. “I’m sorry about Giles,” she added, her eyes darting around to everyone in the room. “How are you guys doing?” she asked, focusing on Willow again.
“We’re doing,” she replied with a comforting grin. “The gang’s almost all here. Andrew and Tracey are on their way from the L.A. Branch today. Jeff and Grace were on vacation, but caught an earlier flight, and they got in last night. And kids, of course. You can’t walk far before running into them.” She grinned.
“Speaking of, how’s your brood doing?” Faith asked. “Didn’t have any more since last year, did you?” she teased.
“Six kids and a step-daughter? I think I’m good,” Willow said.
“Actually, I noticed that Nikki isn’t here,” Faith said.
Willow turned back to Robin.
He said, “She’s looking after things while Liz is here, but she’ll be by later. Norm and Shannon are here someplace, though.”
Faith nodded her thanks, but didn’t reply.
“You are gonna stick around, aren’t you?” Willow asked.
“Yeah, I think I’ll try to find Norm and then maybe head up to the Council offices to see Nikki.”
“She’ll like that,” Willow said.
“Yeah, we’ll see,” Faith said half-heartedly. “Anyway, I’m sorry to interrupt, guys, and again…condolences.”
Liz led Faith away, talking about finding Norman, but no one in the room said anything. They just all looked at one another.
Finally, Robin said, “I’m surprised she came.”
“She and Giles got close over the years,” Willow replied. “I figured she would. I mean, she came to our wedding last year,” she added with a motion toward Kennedy. Kennedy grumbled something unintelligible. “Oh, stop,” Willow sighed.
Buffy snorted and shook her head. “So she shows up every now and then, big deal. She can’t be that close to us. Look at what happened? She lost her powers, spazzed about it and then hightailed it out of Cleveland, with sporadic visits to her kids?” Buffy asked.
“Actually,” Robin corrected, “the spazzing, as you call it, started before then. I thought it was pregnancy hormones but…” He sighed.
“Would you like me to ask her to leave, Robin? I will.” Buffy offered.
“No,” he said. “I stopped being angry years ago. The best you can do is let it go like I did.”
“I can’t help it,” Buffy said. “She had a good thing – a great thing – a wonderful husband, a beautiful daughter, and she just…threw it all away. And for what?”
“Doesn’t make much sense, I know,” Xander put in.
“It’s hard having that much power and then losing it, Buffy,” Willow said. “Everyone reacts differently. I know because I’ve lost my powers before, too. It’s not easy, to say the least. You doubt your entire existence. Faith just…”
“Went loopy,” Dawn said, finishing the sentence.
“In less articulate terms” Willow said with a nod, “exactly.”
For a long moment, no one said anything.
“I’m gonna get a drink,” Kennedy announced, sounding a bit annoyed. “Anyone want a drink?”
Everyone, in various ways and spoken phrases, refused, and Kennedy left. Willow watched her leave and then looked at Buffy.
Watchers Council – Auditorium – Night
Buffy sat alone, across from Giles’s casket, not looking at anything in particular. The area was completely vacant now, and the large room had only a few lights still on. She heard two sets of footsteps echo through the room, and she called out without turning around toward them.
“Sorry, but the showing’s over for tonight. You’ll have to…”
A look of surprise captured her features as Angel and Spike came over, walking side by side. Slowly, she rose to meet them.
“Sorry to come late,” Angel began, “but…you know…sunlight and all that.”
She opened her arms to both vampires, and they accepted her invitation.
“I have to say I’m…a little shocked,” Buffy stuttered as she pulled back. “I haven’t seen you guys since…” She let the sentence hang, as if trying to recall.
“Joyce,” Spike said. “You’d just had Joyce.”
“Yeah, it’s been a while then.”
“You look just as beautiful,” Spike told her.
Buffy blushed and self-consciously played with her hair. “You’re still an awful liar, Spike.”
Spike’s only response was an affectionate grin. “Not a lie at all,” he assured her.
“We saw the television reports about Giles,” Angel explained. “I’m sorry, Buffy. He was a good man.”
“Gave me a home when I bloody well needed it,” Spike said. “Tried to kill me, too, but…I can’t say it wasn’t without reason. Still, must be tough on you.”
“Thanks,” Buffy replied. “It means a lot to see you guys here.”
“How’s Li’l Bit?” Spike asked as he looked around. “We didn’t see her.”
“Now she looks beautiful. Immortality has its advantages,” Buffy said playfully. “But, really, she’s doing okay. If you guys aren’t doing anything, maybe we can pick up Xander and stop over at her place. She left about a half hour ago.”
“Still with the boy, eh?” Spike teased.
“Spike,” Angel chastised, “don’t start. Besides, I was the one who was promised cookies, and I didn’t get any cookies.”
“Oh, bloody hell,” Spike sighed, sounding bored. “Here we go with the cookies again.”
“Guys?” Buffy interrupted, making a time out signal. “I appreciate you coming, but can we not do this? I’m not up to playing ref at the moment, okay?”
“I’m sorry,” Angel said, while at the exact time, Spike said, “I’ll behave.”
“Good,” Buffy said, sounding relieved. “Now, let’s go to Dawn’s…”
As they began to walk away, Spike called out, “Shotgun.”
“I’m not riding in the back,” Angel said.
“Too late,” Spike replied.
“Over thirty years and nothing’s changed,” Buffy sighed as they walked along.
Watchers Council – Liz’s Office – Later that Night
Liz sat at her desk with the box that contained the Loathestone. She studied the stone inside the clear case, still not touching it.
“Are you sure you’re not a vampire?” a voice called out from Liz’s doorway. The watcher looked up to see Willow standing there with a grin. Automatically, Liz smiled, too. “The blinds are closed during the day and open at night. I have my suspicions.” The witch walked deeper into the room, stopping just short of Liz’s desk.
“The top office is a little too top for me,” Liz said. “I can’t tell how high I am at night.”
“You could always move your office. What’s the point of a great view if you can’t enjoy it?” Willow asked.
Liz didn’t reply to the question. Instead, she asked, “What are you doing here? It’s late.”
“I could say the same thing,” Willow said. “It’s been a long day for you, for all of us.”
Again, Liz didn’t reply directly to Willow’s comment. “Do you know Belizet?” she asked. Willow seemed to consider the name. “Brell’s son,” Liz added to remind her.
“Oh yeah, did you talk to him recently? How’s he doing?”
“He’s been better. He’s in a containment cell downstairs.”
“Yeah, I’m in the process of trying to get the state to drop the felony charges against him and the family from filing a civil lawsuit,” Liz answered.
“For what?” Willow replied, flabbergasted.
“He had this thing,” Liz said, holding up the magic containment box slightly. “He was holding a family hostage in their house, demanding to speak to me. He was rambling, but he said something interesting: ‘Nothing is really real except suffering.’ Does that sound familiar to you?”
Willow shrugged as she walked around the desk and looked inside the box. “Can’t say that it does.”
“I talked to him earlier tonight, after my Dad’s showing, and he was making a bit more sense, but not much. Says he got this from a homeless guy who handed it to him, and he still insisted that no one touch it.”
“What does it do?” Willow asked.
“I don’t know,” Liz replied. She acted like she was going to reach inside. “I could touch it and find out,” she teased.
Willow slapped her hand away. “Damn it, you’re like your father sometimes.” Liz grinned, as did Willow, but almost as quickly, they both took on a slight air of sadness. “Look,” the witch went on. “Why don’t you call it a night? You’ve got a lot to deal with right now. Take some time off.”
“Does evil take time off?” Liz asked. “I’ve got reports to finish and–”
“Liz.” Willow cut her off. “Get some rest.”
Liz looked up at Willow. “If I rest, then I think. And if I think, then…this is what’s helping me right now. This is what’s getting me through, okay?”
“Burying yourself in work?” Willow asked.
“Quite frankly, yes. I can’t help my dad…but I can help Belizet, but only if I can figure out what this thing is.”
Willow took the box gently from Liz and placed it in the middle of her desk. She then took a seat on the edge, her knee touching the arm of Liz’s chair.
“I love your father. I won’t say loved, because that’s past tense. He might be gone physically from us, but my love for him will always be there. That said,” she said, as she reached down and stroked Liz’s cheek, “I need to look out for his little girl…even if she is a half-foot taller than me. Go home. Try to get some sleep.”
Unseen by both of them, Rowena’s ghostly apparition stood behind Liz’s chair. “To solve this, you’ll need rest, Liz. You’ll need to be fully alert. Listen to Willow.”
Liz looked as if she was considering Rowena’s words as she looked up at Willow.
“I guess being more alert couldn’t hurt,” she said. “It’s just…” Liz trailed off, and her bottom lip began to quiver.
Willow didn’t say anything other than, “I know.”
Liz began to cry softly. “I’m not sure if you do,” she said, as she began to compose herself slightly. “I know I have you and Alex and everyone, but…the two people who taught me what I know, who got me here,” she said, motioning around the office, “they’re gone now. I feel…utterly alone. So who do I turn to for advice now? What do I do when I get stuck on a problem like Belizet and I need a sounding board?”
“Sweetheart,” Willow said softly, “you haven’t needed them for those things in years. They both knew that, and the reason is that they did their jobs so well. You’ve got nothing to worry about.”
“It’s more than that, though. It’s…” Liz trailed off again and started to cry. “He was my dad.” Liz continued to cry for a moment longer, and Willow let her. Then Liz began to chuckle, and she slapped Willow’s knee. “And damn you for making me cry. I’ve done really well until you came in.”
Willow smiled slightly. “I’d say I was sorry, but it would be a lie. I’m glad to see you let some of that out. It’s not good to hold in grief, or any strong emotion, for that matter. Speaking of which, my son and your son are both at home waiting for you, I’m sure.”
Liz continued to grin, and she wiped her eyes with a tissue. “You’re not leaving until I leave, are you?” she asked, annoyed.
“Not a chance,” Willow told her. She offered her hand to Liz as she stood up, and the watcher took it.
“Good job, Will,” Rowena said with a small smile, before disappearing.
Willow picked up the box and handed it to Liz. “But let’s make sure to take this with us, okay?”
Liz accepted it with a smile.
Willow and Kennedy’s House – Calendar’s Bedroom – Moments Later
“Maybe I should just cancel this date tonight,” Calendar said as she primped in a mirror. Joyce came behind her and took her by both arms, also looking in the mirror.
“You look too damn good to call it off.”
Both young women smiled for a moment. “That’s nothing new. I always look damn good,” Calendar replied.
“Although I am not a follower of the Sapphic arts like you, my friend, I would have to agree with your assessment. Well, except for that time when you killed that Twender demon,” Joyce said in afterthought. “Purple goo is not your color.”
Calendar chuckled, and Joyce walked away. She began to look through Calendar’s closet and tossed out various shoes.
“You are going to put them back, right?” Calendar asked.
“Oh, absolutely,” Joyce replied, as shoes continued to fly around. “Ah ha!” she said, emerging with a pair of leather shoes. “Here you go, Cinderella.” She held the first shoe out for Calendar. The other girl rolled her eyes and then watched Joyce help put her foot inside. Calendar licked her lips, almost nervously, as she watched the blonde slayer kneeling below her.
“Seriously, though, maybe I should stay home,” Calendar said once both shoes were on. “My mom’s taking Giles’s death kinda hard. So’s Willow. I just…I feel guilty a little. There are so many people right now who are sad, and I’m not exactly happy myself, so…should I be going out? I mean, he’s the closest thing to a grandpa I ever had and…”
“You’re looking for an excuse to stand up Natalie…is that it?” Joyce prompted her.
“And you’re just perfectly fine right now? Not a care in the world?” Calendar challenged.
“No, of course not. Giles was like my grandpa too. Heck, he was my grandpa. And things aren’t much better at my house either, just so you know,” Joyce told her. “But…what would Giles say? Would he say, ‘Stop living because I’m gone?’ Seriously, what would he do?”
Calendar sighed in frustration. Instead of answering the questions, she said, “I’ve never even met this girl. It’s a blind date.”
“More excuses,” Joyce muttered.
“Van?” they both heard Kennedy announce. “Natalie’s here.”
“I’ll be right down, Mom,” Calendar shouted back.
“Good luck,” Joyce said, as she turned to leave.
“Hey!” Calendar said, getting her attention and making her turn around again. “Shoes?” She motioned around the room, which was littered with discarded pairs. “You said you’d pick them up.”
Joyce grinned. “I didn’t say when,” she replied, before darting from the room.
Calendar smiled, too, and shook her head.
“Oh brother,” she sighed at the mess around her.
But then she suddenly looked mortified and quickly left the room.
Willow and Kennedy’s House – Foyer – Same Time
Calendar moved quickly down the stairs, but Joyce was already standing there talking to Natalie, as Kennedy stood nearby. “Please Lord, no,” she grumbled.
“Oh, hey. There she is,” Joyce said, turning from her conversation with Natalie to face Calendar. “Calendar’s a hottie, isn’t she?” Joyce asked Natalie, who promptly blushed.
“You don’t have to answer that,” Calendar told Natalie apologetically, as she finished her journey down the stairs.
By this time Joyce, had worked her way behind Natalie.
“She’s not wrong,” Natalie complimented Calendar.
Joyce pointed to the attractive young woman and gave Calendar two thumbs up and a big supportive smile. Kennedy, who could see Joyce’s antics off to the side, tried not to smile.
“Thanks,” Calendar said, growing red. “You’re quite beautiful yourself…” She paused and looked over at Joyce pointing her finger. “Weren’t you leaving?”
“I was going to,” Joyce answered. “But I wanted to see if I could make you two any redder.”
“Out,” Calendar ordered, pointing Joyce to the door. “I will see you tomorrow.”
“Oh, fine. You two have fun,” she said, before turning to Kennedy and giving her a hug. “I’ll see you, too, Aunt Ken.” She turned to leave, but stopped and said, “Oh, my mom said, and I quote, ‘Don’t kill Faith tonight.’ Tootles.”
Calendar grinned sheepishly and gave a nervous laugh. “Long story,” she told Natalie and then quickly added, “Are you ready?”
“Certainly,” Natalie answered, although she still appeared confused. She extended her hand to Kennedy, who shook it. “We’ll be back before midnight,” she told her.
“That’s fine. It was nice to meet you, Natalie,” Kennedy answered. “You girls be careful.”
“We will,” Calendar said. She opened the door, and Natalie walked out. She then whispered to Kennedy, “I’m gonna kill Joyce Harris.”
Kennedy just smiled and shook her head.
Willow and Kennedy’s House – Kitchen – Moments Later
“Sorry about that,” Kennedy said as she entered the kitchen.
Faith looked up from the breakfast nook where she was seated. “That’s okay. Doing the mom thing, huh?”
“Not like you’d know,” Kennedy replied shortly, “but yes.”
Faith sighed. “Look, are we going to keep doing this passive aggressive thing all night? I mean, maybe I should just go to a hotel.”
“Oh, no,” Kennedy told her. “My wife wants you to stay here, so you stay here. We’re all still family, according to her. So since Nikki has only a one bedroom apartment and Norman’s son is home from college, that leaves us.”
“So, not much has changed then, huh?” Faith retorted. “What Willow wants, Willow gets…Tell me, does she let you play with the other dogs, or is your leash too short?”
“Unlike you, playing around isn’t my thing. I don’t treat other people like disposable tissues that I just discard when I’m done using them.”
“All right,” Faith said, putting her hands flat on the table in front of her. “Let’s get this over with. I’ll sit here and listen to you trash me with a laundry list full of sins. So whenever you’re ready, Slick, go for it.”
“For starters, don’t call me Slick, okay? That’s what my best friend called me, and you are not her, got it?”
“Got it. Next point.”
“You abandoned your kid and Robin. Just…left and hit the road.”
“Yes, I did.”
“And you left the Council. You had a place, Faith. Not having slayer powers didn’t mean you didn’t have power. You would have stayed as the Slayer Department Head.”
“You did a fine job until Shannon took over. And Ro’s kid’s doing an excellent job now, from what I hear.”
“That’s not the point,” Kennedy countered.
“Then what is the point, Sl…Ken? What do you want me to say? ‘I’m sorry. I regret it.’ Tell me: What will make you happy?”
Kennedy said nothing for a while. “You left me,” she said in a small voice, unable to look at Faith. “You were my best friend, and you ditched me. I’d ask you if you know how that feels, but I know you don’t. You’re always the one to do the leaving.”
“I didn’t set out to hurt you,” Faith told her. “I didn’t want to hurt anyone but…that’s what I ended up doing. My family, my friends…I’m the first one to admit I’m a screw up. And if I could give you a reason, one that I truly believed, I would…but…I just can’t.”
Willow, still holding her briefcase, stood behind the kitchen door, looking as if she was debating whether to go in. When the voices stopped for a few moments, she pushed the door open and moved inside.
“Hey Ken?” she asked as she opened the door. “There you guys are,” she said, acting as if she didn’t know any better. “How’s it going?”
“It’s late. I’m tired. I’m going to bed,” Kennedy replied. She gave Willow a kiss on the cheek and then moved swiftly out the door.
Neither of the remaining women said anything at first.
“I really should go,” Faith told her. “I know I’m not welcome here.”
“It’s my house, too,” Willow told her. “And you are welcome. Ken’s just…”
“Hurt and angry. I get it,” Faith said. “I can’t fix it, but I get it.”
Willow put the briefcase down and took a seat across from Faith. “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” Faith replied.
“If you had it all to do over again…would you do anything differently?”
Faith grinned. “See? That’s what I always liked about you, Will. You can ask the same question as someone else, but do it in a way that makes it easy to answer.” Willow just waited for her to reply. “Yeah, I would.”
Faith took a steadying breath. “You name it – stayed at the Council, stayed with Robin and Nikki, got to know my grandkids a little better…lots of things.”
“It’s not too late, you know? You can make amends.”
“I’m past that, Red. Ken won’t even give me the time of day. Well, okay, maybe she would, but she’d do it real angry-like.”
Willow grinned slightly at the same time Faith did. “How about I grab some ice cream and see where we might start?” Willow offered. “I suggest with Robin since, one, he seems to be less angry than most people and, two, he’s still single.” Willow wiggled her eyebrows.
Faith chuckled. “I don’t think playing matchmaker with my ex-husband is a great place to start.”
“I couldn’t disagree more. He can say what he wants, but I know better. He still loves you. He always has.”
Faith looked hopeful for about three seconds, but then the expression fell into one of melancholy.
“So, where’s that ice cream?”
Willow patted her hand and motioned her to follow her.
Pool Hall – Later that Night
Calendar lined up the eight ball as Natalie stood nearby, watching.
“I told Joyce she was crazy, but I think she already knows that fact,” she said with a slight chuckle, before sinking the eight ball. “That’s game,” she said, pointing the stick on the table.
“Does she know?” Natalie asked.
“Does who know what?” Calendar asked, confused.
“Does Joyce know you’re in love with her?”
Calendar chuckled. “She’s my best friend.”
“Who you’re in love with,” Natalie told her. “Whether you realize it or not, she’s all you’ve talked about all night.”
Calendar cleared her throat. “So…no second date then? That’s okay.”
Natalie walked over and put an arm on her shoulder.
“Listen, I’m not making excuses. You’re a beautiful woman who, judging by your mother’s appearance, will age quite gracefully…but in all that time, you’d still be in love with Joyce Harris. So, although I really like you,” Natalie said, “I don’t want to compete for your attention.”
Calendar said nothing for a short while. Then she said, “She’s not gay.”
“So? You can fall in love with a straight girl. It’s happened to me before,” Natalie answered. “The question, though, is…what are you going to do about it? When you finally decide, Vanessa, let me know. Like I said, I do like you. I just don’t want the baggage.”
Calendar didn’t seem to know how to reply.
Fade to Black
End of Act Two