Lucy Lawless as Elizabeth Giles, Caroline Dhavernas as Grace Hatherley, Elijah Wood as Jeff Lindquist, Lacey Chabert as Skye Talisker, Helen Shaver as Becca Giles, Alexa Davalos as Gwen Raiden-Rayne, Burn Gorman as Vaughn Rayne, Thora Birch as Tracey Wells, T.R. Knight as Jackson App, Alan Tudyk as Martin Giles, Mischa Barton as Shannon Matthewson, Zach Braff as Norman Hansen, Sean Astin as Alex Rosenberg, Carey Mulligan as Jen Rosenberg, Jamie Bamber as Jake Allister, Scarlett Johansson as Sophie Allister, Marsha Thomason as Nikki Wood, Gabrielle Christian as Joyce Harris, Deanna Casaluce as Vanessa Calendar, Kimberly J. Brown as Mercy Lindquist, Daniel Radcliffe as Michael Lindquist and Renee O’Connor as Janice Weaver
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Moments Later
“Let me go! Hrrrh! Get your hands off me, you slint!”
Nikki continued to struggle, but she wasn’t going anywhere. Calendar had both her arms locked behind her back with one arm, the other forming a bar across Nikki’s chest.
“Yeah,” Calendar deadpanned. “That’s definitely going to happen. Because you are totally sane, right n– Ow! Lay off the shins, girl!”
While this was going on, Liz huddled furtively with the members of the Coven.
“Okay, anybody wanna help me here?” Dawn asked. “What’s wrong with her? And, oh yeah, what the frick is going on?”
“Oh God!” Faith exclaimed, her eyes widening. “Liz, remember what I said? How I’d just found out I was pregnant with Nikki? What if, when I touched it, it was like she…Oh God.” She put a hand over her mouth and looked like she might be about to cry.
“No,” Liz said, taking Faith by the shoulders. “That’s not it. I don’t think she was infected as an embryo. She said everybody was fighting, so it’s not just her. It’s the entire Council.”
“And that’s somehow better?” Andrew asked.
“Actually, yeah,” Kennedy said. She put an arm around Faith’s shoulders, and Faith looked surprised for a split second but did nothing to shrug her off.
“Can I just knock her out?” Calendar called as she continued to struggle with Nikki.
“No,” four people replied at once. Calendar made a pouty face. Nikki was trying to brace against a chair with her feet, but she only succeeded in knocking it over.
“It’s obviously the spell,” Liz continued. “I just don’t understand how this happened.” She turned to Willow. “You’re the expert here.”
Willow sighed. “Whatever power this thing has, it must have breached the protective barrier around this room. But everyone here in a close radius of the protection spell was protected. I mean, I feel fine. How about you guys?”
Everyone nodded and voiced their agreement.
“So everyone here is safe then, in this room,” Alex said. “Thank the Gods you came to watch,” he added to Liz.
“Right,” Willow agreed. “But…beyond these for walls…” She shook her head to clear it. “I need more info. There’re too many questions and not enough answers yet. I don’t want to speculate…”
“Please, speculate,” Liz prompted.
“Well, we placed it under threat. Maybe it…reacted.”
“So, we ploded it,” Alex proclaimed.
“As a friend of mine used to say,” Willow replied, “precisely.”
Skye looked over her shoulder, watching as Calendar tried her best to prevent Nikki from biting her. “So…what do we do with her?”
“Something else that’s a mystery,” Liz sighed. “I don’t even know where to start on this one, and my top researcher isn’t quite…available.” She glanced meaningfully over at Nikki.
Jeff wasn’t standing with the rest of the group. He was seated at a table, in the center of which was the clear box with the Loathestone inside. He cocked his head and wrinkled his brow. Then he announced, “I’ve got a hunch on what this thing is.”
Everyone turned to stare at him. Even Nikki quieted down a little.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Moments Later
As it turned out, the table Jeff had been sitting at was also a touchscreen computer. Everyone clustered around as he typed in passwords on a flat keyboard that had appeared on the glass surface.
“Welcome, Jeff Lindquist!” chirped the 3-D animated version of Willow that suddenly was standing in the center of the table. She looked like an anime character who had wandered onto the set of Toy Story, with wide eyes blinking expectantly.
“Okay, explain again why the computer system looks like you?” Alex asked. Willow rolled her eyes.
“Actually,” Andrew began, “it’s a funny story…”
Calendar walked back into the room from the hallway. Faith turned to speak to her.
“So, what did you end up doing with her?”
“I locked her in the ingredients storage room,” Calendar replied. “She’ll be fine for now.”
“Unless she uses what’s there to blow up the world,” Faith replied.
“She’s not trained in magicks,” Liz told her. “She’ll be okay.”
“She was actually already calming down,” Calendar added. “I think as long as she’s not within five feet of that thing, she’ll be okay.”
Jeff was still tapping on the tabletop.
“Your information has been found!” W.I.L.L.O.W. proclaimed happily. “Enjoy!”
“So, what are we gonna see here?” Alex asked.
“Actually,” Jeff said, “it’s an audio-only recording. This was back in the day, y’know.”
He tapped the tabletop once again, and the file began to play.
“Well, I do have some idea about what the Loathestone might be, at any rate,” Reteesk’s voice said.
“I’m all ears!” said Jeff’s voice.
“The Loathestone I’m thinking of was a central tenet in the religion of the Sisters of the Glow, an ancient, but now sadly extinct, species of demons devoted to natural order. According to them, it was a crystal that fell to earth in the age when the Old Ones still roamed. You know of the Old Ones, don’t you?”
“The demons who controlled the earth before man, yes,” Jeff’s voice said.
As the sound played, images of the conversation’s participants, Reteesk and a much younger Jeff, began to float above the table courtesy of W.I.L.L.O.W.
“Which one are you?” Calendar deadpanned. Kennedy elbowed her in the side. Calendar just smiled.
“Well, soon enough, it became obvious the stone was a mystical artifact of great power, and wars began over its possession. Not for centuries did anyone learn the truth.” Reteesk paused. “As you recall, the very worst of demons had held sway at this point for uncounted eons, and their victims were beyond number. Somehow, the blood of all those innocents and not-so-innocents shed across the millennia gathered to that stone. Gave to it their accumulated power, and more, gave it life.”
“Wait, it’s a stone that’s alive?”
Dawn raised a significant eyebrow at that. Faith nodded.
“Alas, they also bestowed upon that life their own rage, their own horror at what they’d suffered, their immortal lust for revenge. The Old Ones believed the Loathestone was a tool to be used. In fact, they were its tools to sow suffering and destruction.”
“So, it is some kind of anti-demonic force?”
“Oh no. Nothing that relatively benign. The Loathestone is well named, for it feels nothing but seething hatred for every single thing. It longs for its own death but refuses to die until each other living being feels as it does. Demons, humans, even animals are its prey. It does not want power. It does not want pleasure. It desires only to cause suffering. The Sisters claimed that it was because of the Loathestone that the Old Ones lost their purchase upon this reality – weakened by internecine warfare.”
“What happened to it? Or do I want to know?”
“The Sisters of the Glow claimed to have hidden it away somewhere, surrounded by wards in hopes no one would ever find it again.”
“Assuming their tale is the right one, I think I’d agree with that.”
“Wouldn’t we all, dear boy? Wouldn’t we all?”
“File playback completed!” W.I.L.L.O.W. announced. “Would you like to play the file again?”
Watchers Council – Library – Day
The current Library at the Watchers Council was emptier than one might think. There were books, to be sure, but they were mostly arranged on a few shelves around the edges of a large open central space dotted with computer tables. The wide windows along one edge gave a spectacular view of the city, while the other looked out over the water and its wind fields.
Right now, Liz was leading Willow, Alex, Jeff, Calendar and a fleet of watchers of various ages.
“As far as I can tell, the key is to free the souls that formed the Loathestone in the first place,” she said. “The way I understand it, they’re trapped there somehow, like mosquitoes in amber. What we have to do is crack open the amber. If we can do that, logically speaking…”
“…the Loathestone would lose whatever power it has,” Willow finished. “Good thinking.”
“What kind of name is ‘Loathestone,’ anyway?” Calendar asked. “This is the first ancient primeval force I’ve ever run into that sounded like it was branded by Madison Avenue.”
Alex ignored the remark as he sat down at one of the tables. “I’ll start looking in the database for some kind of spell, but I don’t know of anything offhand.”
“I might know a source,” Willow put in, “but it’s not in the database.”
Alex blinked at her, confused. So did several of the younger watchers.
“But…everything’s in the database,” he said.
Willow grinned. “Not everything.” She pointed at Liz and Calendar. “You two, come with me. Everyone else, get started here and…try not to kill each other, ‘kay?”
Several of the watchers exchanged uneasy glances.
Watchers Council – Underground – Later
Three sets of shoes exited an elevator in a deep, gray, underground area of the Council, a sort of concrete bunker motif dominating the architecture. They walked across the floor to another door and began to descend a long metal stairway.
Watchers Council – High Security Area – Moments Later
Willow put her eye to a scanner and waited for it to take its reading.
“Retinal identification complete,” said a female computerized voice. “Please input vocal identification.”
“Willow Rosenberg. Password: Blanche.”
“Vocal identification accepted.”
Whirring and clanking of gears ensued, and Willow, Liz, and Calendar watched as a heavily reinforced door rose into the ceiling. Willow stepped through the opening and was followed by the other two women.
Watchers Council – Vault – Moments Later
This was where the books were. Books stretched to a ceiling so distant that if there had been clouds it wouldn’t have been a surprise. And not just books. Rows and rows of clear plastic storage cells, each individually sealed with their own key code, held artifacts and other trinkets of every imaginable shape, size and description.
Willow led Liz and Calendar past several towering sets of shelves before reaching the one she was looking for.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been down here,” Liz remarked.
“Gives me the Helies,” Calendar remarked. Willow turned momentarily from going over the shelves to look at her. “What?”
Willow shook her head and glanced at Liz. “You live long enough, and are famous enough, they start making slang out of your life. Here it is. Van, give me a hand Sweetie.”
Calendar stepped forward and helped Willow haul a particularly thick tome off of the high shelf.
Watchers Council – Vault – Moments Later
With an audible thud, the large book, bound in ragged-edged red leather, was laid down on a table that glowed with its own white light. On the front was an intricate design in faded gold leaf, mixing religious symbols, pentagrams and depictions of flora.
“The Opus Obscuram,” Willow announced. The three women were standing in a particularly sterile-looking alcove amidst more of the plastic storage cells.
“It’s really thick,” Calendar said.
“I noticed that, too,” Liz put in.
“So it’s, what, like a Bible of evil?” Calendar asked.
“It’s not evil,” Willow sighed, and the three of them sat down at the table in clear plastic chairs. “At least, in the right hands it’s not. Van, this book is the reason you’re a slayer.”
Calendar eyed the text with a new appreciation. Willow snapped on white gloves and carefully opened the cover.
“Geez, they wrote small back in…when was this written?” Calendar asked.
“We don’t know,” Willow admitted. “Some stories seem to date back to prehistory. It’s been added to over the millennia, that’s for sure. At least until Liz’s dad completed his Guardian scriptures.”
“It’s beautiful,” Liz breathed, running her own gloved hand over one illuminated illustration.
“The information in here is dangerous,” Willow said, “but it’s also saved our cute little butts more than once.”
“If it’s as important as you’re saying,” Liz asked, “why wasn’t it ever categorized into W.I.L.L.O.W.?”
“We didn’t computerize it because it’s so important,” Willow said. “Technology is great, nobody’s a bigger fan than yours truly, but your dad was right. It has flaws. If it didn’t, I would have had to find a different way to contribute to the Scoobies other than hacking into the Coroner’s office.”
“You did anyway,” Calendar pointed out. Willow gave her a small smile.
“This is going to need more study than we can do here,” Liz said.
“I agree,” Willow nodded. “We’ll take it back to my place. And Van, while we have it out, I’m going to need you to stay with me at all times. You’re the only slayer who was with us in the Coven Room, so you’re the only one I know hasn’t been affected by the Stone. I’ve got magic, but muscle doesn’t hurt either.”
“Sure,” Calendar agreed right away. “Whatever it takes.”
Willow & Kennedy’s House – Living Room – That Night
Willow leaned close to the text of the Opus Obscuram on her reading desk. She squinted her eyes and sighed.
“I actually need glasses to read,” she said. “This is depressing.” She turned around. “You know, when Rowena found out she needed glasses, she locked herself in the bathroom with her cats for three hours. It wasn’t one of her better moments.”
“That’s interesting,” Calendar said. She was sitting on Willow’s couch, staring blankly at the muted images of a news program that were playing out across an otherwise empty expanse of the living room wall. Marsha’s head sat in her lap. The dragon purred as the slayer absently stroked her head and back.
“I only got her out by dancing the hula naked while singing ‘Free Bird.’” Willow deadpanned.
“Uh-huh,” Calendar replied.
Willow grinned. “After that, we sacrificed some babies and drank their blood.”
Calendar nodded, but then blinked and turned toward Willow. “Wait. What did you just say?”
Willow’s grin became a full smile. “I didn’t think you were listening.”
“I’m sorry,” Calendar said with a sigh.
Willow got up and walked over to the couch, plopping herself down next to Calendar. “What’s wrong?”
“Hmm?” Calendar looked up as if she was, again, noticing Willow’s presence for the first time. “Oh, nothing. You wouldn’t understand.”
“Says who?” Willow asked.
“Says me,” Calendar shot back.
“I can tell, okay?” Willow said with a certain degree of resignation. “When you’re worried about something, you start sitting and staring. The week before your slayer qualification exams, well, Ken and I were starting to worry someone had cast some kind of statue spell on you.”
A ghost of a smile appeared on Calendar’s face, but then she sobered. “It’s Joyce,” she said.
“You guys have a fight?” Willow asked. “Was this pre or post our spell having its wacky unintended consequences?”
“Definitely pre,” Calendar told her. “That’s what worries me.”
“Well, it seems the box was leaking before our mojo”
“So what happened?” Willow asked
“I kissed her.” Willow raised an eyebrow. Calendar gulped. “Yeah. For me, it’s been that way for a while now. It’s like, when I’m with another girl, I start imagining she’s Joyce.”
“I guess it didn’t go quite like you imagined it.”
“We yelled at each other…She called me a dyke.” Willow’s eyes widened in surprise at this last comment. “So, yeah,” Calendar continued. “My life is just fuchsia right now. I’m in love with a straight girl who’s avoiding me. So, like I said, I don’t think you’d understand.”
Willow smiled. “Actually, I understand more than you realize. When I told Rowena I loved her, she didn’t just avoid me, she went to a different continent.”
Calendar looked shocked. “That’s…extreme.”
“She came around, eventually,” Willow said. “Though, in hindsight, she didn’t flat-out reject me or call me names, so…I can’t say that your situation will end the same.”
“That’s comforting,” Calendar sighed. “You know, when I was little, I watched all those old Disney movies about true love and Prince Charming and all that bullcrap.”
“I remember,” Willow said.
“They never said how much it hurt,” Calendar said. She sniffed and ran a hand under her nose, her eyes filling with tears. Willow put an arm around her shoulders, and Calendar buried her face in Willow’s sweater.
“Shh…” Willow soothed. “It’s okay. Listen, my point is, I know how much it does hurt, to love someone you also consider to be one of your best friends, and for them to reject that.”
“But what if…what if she never comes around?” Calendar asked. “I’ll deal if she doesn’t want more, but…what if I’ve completely skunked it?”
“Then maybe she doesn’t,” Willow said reasonably. “You can’t control how she feels. But I can tell you one thing. It’s her loss – either way.”
Calendar looked up, a little less sad-looking. “You think so?”
“I know so. You are a fantastic girl who would treat her right – lover or not – and, from the sound of it, could teach her a thing or two about manners. I mean, seriously, dyke? What is this, the oughts?”
Calendar grinned. “Thanks, Willow.” She kissed the redhead on the cheek, then tried to wipe some of the moisture off her own cheeks. “Do we still have that fudge ripple ice cream in the freezer?”
At the words ‘ice cream’ Marsha raced her head hopefully and scampered toward the kitchen.
Willow smiled back. “Unless your mom finished it off in an act of Loathestone-induced kitchen terrorism, yes.”
Both women got to their feet. Willow went back to the Opus, while Calendar headed off toward the kitchen.
Willow & Kennedy’s House – Kitchen – Moments Later
Calendar entered the kitchen and opened one of the cupboards, selecting two small bowls. Marsha waited impatiently, dancing around Calendar’s feet. The slayer walked over and placed the bowl in a slot in the front of the tall, chrome refrigerator. She pressed a few buttons on a key panel, eliciting a whirring noise, followed by a stream of ice cream poured from somewhere inside the refrigerator into her bowl.
“Easy Marsha,” she told the dragon as she lowered the bowl. She sat it down on the ground, where Marsha greedily began licking.
When the second bowl was full, Calendar pulled it out and stuck a spoon in. She hesitated momentarily when she noticed Faith and Kennedy having an intense conversation outside, on the other side of the double glass kitchen door. Then she sighed and headed back toward the living room.
Willow & Kennedy’s House – Back Porch – Same Time
“It’s just a lot to wrap my head around, I guess,” Faith was saying. “I mean, on one level, I wonder if it really changed anything. Maybe I really am just destined to just hurt everybody I get close to. Like Edward Scissorhands.”
Kennedy snorted, but then grew serious. “I don’t think so. I knew you, and it seemed like as soon as things got serious with Nikki and the wedding, it was like I didn’t know you anymore. And I just wanted to…apologize, I guess.”
“For what?” Faith asked. “I’m the one who totally screwed you over, not to mention–”
“It’s my fault for not noticing more,” Kennedy told her. She sighed and stuck her hands in her pockets and leaned back against the wooden railing of her porch. “I was your friend, and you were acting different, and I didn’t do anything. If you’d been on drugs or something, it would’ve been my job to stage the intervention. This is the same kinda thing.”
“Only without the part where I get high,” Faith said, sounding a little depressed. “But really, Ken–”
“Call me Slick.”
Faith looked like she was on the verge of tears for a moment, but she pushed it down.
“Point is, it’s too late to worry about that. What we need to do right now is focus on keeping this thing from hurting anyone else and making the same brain-dead decisions that I did. With or without slayer strength, I will find away to kick its ass.”
“It’s a rock,” Kennedy pointed out in deadpan. “It doesn’t have an ass.”
Faith just stared at her. Then, simultaneously, both women began to giggle. Soon they were genuinely laughing with each other. Faith shook her head and put her hands on her hips, trying to regain control.
“I really missed you,” Kennedy said to Faith, a smile now on her face.
“Yeah, me too.” Faith nodded. “I mean, I missed you. I was with me the whole time.” She sighed. “I just feel like I’ve missed everything. Like, some people aren’t here, and I don’t even know what happened to them…”
“So, ask,” Kennedy prompted. “There are no stupid questions. I mean, you probably know about the big stuff. Althenea. Ro and Kadin obviously.”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here for that…” Faith said quietly. “But that’s not really what I mean. Like…where’s Mia?”
“She’s teaching now, actually,” Kennedy told her. “She’ll retire soon.”
Faith wrinkled her nose. “Really?”
“Yeah, some high school in the wilds of Indiana,” Kennedy said. “Phys Ed and Japanese.”
“Okay, um…what about Hadley?”
“You mean after the music career?” Kennedy asked.
“Well, yeah,” Faith nodded.
Kennedy thought a moment. “You know, I really haven’t thought about it. She donated a bunch of money to help build the new headquarters, but it wasn’t like she didn’t have any left over. She’s probably off in a mansion in Malibu with her feet up. Remember that song?”
Faith nodded. “It was pretty much impossible to avoid.”
Kennedy put both hands over her heart in an exaggerated music video pose and then proceeded to burst into her version of a sugar-coated pop ditty. “It’s like a stake to my heart, when you say you you don’t want me.”
Faith joined in for the next line. “It’s like a stake to my heart, when you say you don’t neeeed me.”
Both girls broke down laughing again before they could continue.
“You know,” Faith said, composing herself, “when you end up with a bunch of people in an infirmary fighting for your lives with machine guns, you never think you’re gonna lose touch.”
“It’s like high school,” Kennedy agreed. “With bullets.” The two of them nodded sagely at each other, smiles on their faces. Kennedy thought for a moment, and her grin grew more sly. “You know, maybe it’s not too late.”
“What do you mean?” Faith asked.
“There’s still time for you to reconnect…with everyone.” Kennedy playfully raised an eyebrow.
Faith’s eyes widened, and she raised her hands defensively. “Oh no. No. You’re crazy.”
Kennedy put her hands on her hips. “Faith, we both know you’re gonna end up doing it anyway, so why do we have to do this dance first?”
Faith dropped her hands. “You sound like your wife.”
“My wife’s a smart lady,” Kennedy said. “You should listen to her.”
“I don’t even know where to begin,” Faith protested.
Kennedy just smiled.
Liz’s Office – Same Time
Liz heard her office door open and she looked over.
“Hey,” she greeted as Janice entered, giving the door a light knock. “How you holding up?” she asked.
“Better now that the damn Stone is triple magical lockdown,” Janice replied. “Plus, Tony’s nose stopped bleeding – he doesn’t think I broke it.”
“Teach him to criticize your engineering reports, huh?” Liz teased.
Janice grinned for just a flash. “I just don’t know what happened, Liz. It was like the other ‘lazy ass’ day. I just…snapped.”
“I’m going to get to the bottom of this,” Liz told her. “Of course, all I have to really go on are Faith’s babblings about water, wildflowers and lava.”
“That’s an odd combination.”
“Everything about this is odd,” Liz sighed.
Janice paused. “Do you need me to stick around awhile longer?”
“No,” Liz told her. “Go home. In fact, I’m going to take off soon too, I think. Alex has promised his world famous spaghetti, so I figure a little pasta, maybe some brainstorming about everything today…”
“Maybe some romance?” Janice teased.
“Maaaaaybeeee,” Liz replied.
“I’ve never asked, but what’s it like dating your cousin?” Janice smirked.
Liz chuckled. “He’s not my cousin. The three of us just grew up around each other. But to answer your question, it’s wonderful. He’s the best man I ever had…and I don’t want to lose him. Too many guys have walked away.”
“Then maybe you should go home more often. Spend less time in this office,” Janice remarked.
“Alex is aman, Liz,” Janice cut her off. “And at the risk of being fired…you need to put him first now and then or otherwise, he’ll walk too. There’s nothing wrong with taking stock in what you have and enjoying it. Besides, everyone needs to stop and smell the flowers now and then, even the head of the Watchers Council.” Liz began to tear up for a moment. “I’m sorry,” Janice immediately added. “I didn’t mean to upset–”
Liz held up her hand. “It’s not you. It’s just…you’re right, and it’s good to know I’ve still got someone here to remind me of that.”
“Does that mean you’ll leave, too?” Janice said, pitching a thumb behind her toward the door.
Liz smiled. “Power down,” she said toward the computer and it shut down. “Let’s go,” she said as she stood up.
“Oh,” Janice said, “I almost forgot.” She held up a small disc. “This is, uh, it’s your dad’s last entry. I checked it out and it works perfectly. I wanted to find out if you wanted to check it out or if I should file it. I know…well, it might be hard to hear his voice right now.”
Liz reached out and Janice gave it to her.
“Thanks,” she replied, resting the disc on the desk. “I’ll take care of it…tomorrow.”
“Good,” Janice said.
As they walked to the door, Liz put her arm around Janice. “Thank you.”
“Telling it like it is…as always.”
Janice shrugged. “That’s fine. Someone has to keep you in line.”
Liz chuckled and turned off the light, sending the room into blackness.
Willow and Kennedy’s House – Kitchen – Moments Later
“This is absolutely ridiculous,” Faith said with her cell phone to her ear. “He’s gonna say no.”
Kennedy motioned with her hands to keep going, “Don’t stop now.”
“I feel like some high school loser asking out a cheerleader.” Faith paused and added, “God, I’ve become Xander.”
Kennedy tried not to laugh and asked, “Is it ringing?”
“Yes, and he’s not answering. He can probably tell it’s me. I told you this is stupid,” Faith insisted. “Hey, Ace,” she said into the phone, her mood shifting to try to sound happy. “It’s me, uh, Faith.” She rolled her eyes, as if berating her performance. “Did I catch you at a bad time?” Faith heard the answer and put her hand over the phone. “He’s cooking dinner. Now what?”
“Ask him anyway,” Kennedy coached.
“Uh,” Faith said back into the phone. “I’m at Will and Ken’s right now and, well, they’re pretty boring…yeah, I was thinking, maybe you could turn off the stove and come join me for dinner tonight?” She put her hand back over the phone. “I sound like a spaz,” she whispered to Kennedy.
“You’re doing fine,” Kennedy told her.
“Sorry, Ken was saying something. What did you ask?” Faith said into the phone. “Oh, well, not really a date…just some food with a bit of conversation and…” By this point Kennedy was slapping Faith’s arm, and Faith was trying to avoid her and talk at the same time.
“No, no, no – it is a date,” Kennedy whispered heatedly. “Tell him you want a date. Be honest.”
“Ace, hold on a sec,” Faith said. She put her hand back over the phone and told Kennedy, “Please quit hitting me. It hurts, and it’s very distracting.”
“Oh for Pete’s sake,” Kennedy said, taking the phone. “It’s a date, Robin, don’t listen to her.”
The two of them began to slap fight for the phone, with Kennedy giving up and Faith eventually winning the phone back.
“Sorry again. I’m back now,” Faith told Robin. She heard him talk and then sighed, “Yes, technically, I would like it to be a date, but I’m trying little steps here.” Faith listened and then slowly began to grin. “Okay, great. Uh, I think Ken will let me use their hovercraft.” Kennedy nodded enthusiastically. “Okay, then, I’ll pick you up in, say, I don’t know, a half hour?…okay, fantastic. Well, then, I-I guess it’s a date. I’ll see you then.”
Faith hung up, and Kennedy gave her a big hug.
“I’m so proud of you,” Kennedy told her.
“You’re still a pain in the ass,” Faith said, although she wore a large grin.
Liz and Alex’s House – Later
Liz walked into the living room to see Alex and Nathan playing a video game on a screen the size of one of the living room walls. Both of them had boxing gloves and helmets on as they faced the screen, which showed a boxing ring. Nathan sent body blow after body blow until Alex just put down his gloves. On the screen, a referee came over and pushed the pair apart and then pointed toward Nathan announcing, “Winner by Technical Knock Out!”
“Woooohoooo!” the pre-teen yelled. “And still world champ!”
“I’ll get you someday,” Alex said, as he took of his helmet. It was then he noticed Liz. “Oh hey,” he said.
The tone of surprise was enough to stop Nathan from his victory dance. He took off his helmet and turned around too.
“Hey Mom. I beat Alex again. I think I’ve got the height advantage,” he teased. He raised his hand, showing he was maybe an inch taller than Alex.
“Hey,” Liz said, “be nice. No short jokes this week. You promised.”
Alex just smiled and leaned over the sofa, giving Liz a kiss.
“You’re home earlier,” he said.
“Yeah,” she said. “I missed my family.”
“Go put the water on for the pasta, please,” Alex told Nathan who promptly went to the kitchen. “While I have my way with your mother,” he added once the boy was out of earshot. He quickly grabbed Liz and pulled her over the sofa to land on the cushions.
“So much for the height advantage,” Liz said, as Alex pinned her to the sofa.
Alex smiled and began to kiss Liz when they heard an, “Ewww,” from behind them. They both rose up and looked over the back of the sofa to see Alex’s daughter Trish standing there.
“Later?” Alex asked Liz hopefully.
“Later,” she said in a sexy voice, as she stroked his face.
Restaurant – Night
Faith snorted, struggling to keep from spitting out chewed-up bits of quesadilla as she laughed. “That’s not true!” she managed to exclaim, despite her full mouth. “You’re making this up.”
The restaurant around them was actually pretty nice, with white tablecloths and purple-clad waiters flitting between tables.
“It’s true,” Robin nodded. “Right in the middle of the performance. They had to make another little girl play Wendy for the rest of the play. And thus Nikki’s budding acting career was brought to a tragic and premature end.”
“It’s just as well,” Faith told him, sobering. “She makes a fantastic watcher. You…you did a great job with her.”
Robin took a sip of something rose-colored out of a fluted glass. “I certainly like to think so. Though sometimes I think that maybe if she had–”
Faith held up a hand. “Ace…this is going too well. I’m not sure if I can deal with that stuff right now. Not…right this second.”
Robin nodded. “I understand.” He sighed. “I’m seeing someone, you know.”
Faith blinked a few times. “Oh…really? That’s, um…good? Good for you. I’m…kinda in between husbands.”
“It’s not really serious,” Robin told her. He smiled. “A powerful and handsome man like me attracts many conquests.”
“Of course,” Faith nodded, doing her best to keep a straight face.
“More importantly,” Robin said, “she’s not Faith Lehane.”
“Well, nobody is,” Faith observed. “I’m not even sure if I am, to be honest.” She looked around, seemingly desperate to change the subject. “Do you remember Taco Bell being this nice?”
Willow & Kennedy’s House – Living Room – Night
Willow peered at the text of the Opus Obscuram while seated at her desk, her nose inches from the page. She wrinkled her brow, running over a few lines of text with a finger. Then she flipped back a few pages with a gloved hand. After reading for a moment, she sat back in her chair.
“Ha! I still got it.”
“You better,” Calendar groused from the spot where she lay on the couch. “I was having a nice dream.”
“Were you kissing other women in this dream?”
“No!” Calendar exclaimed a little too quickly. She sat up. “Okay, maybe. So, I take it you found what we’re looking for?”
“We’ll see,” Willow replied. She pressed a button on her desk. “Call Alex.” She waited a moment for his face to appear on a previously blank spot on wall. “Hi, honey, it’s Mom. Listen, I need to brief the Coven on something right away…”
Willow & Kennedy’s House – Living Room – Minutes Later
Willow and Kennedy were now sitting next to each other on the couch, while projections on the wall showed Dawn and Skye, Andrew and Alex. There was also a black square where another screen was supposed to be.
“Jeff?” Kennedy asked. “Are you there?”
“Yeah,” came Jeff’s voice. “I think this thing is broken or something.” He raised his voice. “Honey! The vid is out on the picphone again.” Someone could be heard shouting in the background for a moment. “Well, I can’t call the repairman if you don’t tell me.” More shouting. “No, I don’t remember that…I do listen to you. I’m not perfect here, okay?”
Dawn and Skye glanced at each other and rolled their eyes.
“So where’s Liz?” Willow asked.
“Sleeping,” Alex told her. “And I’m not waking her up. We finally had a work-free night, if you catch my drift.”
“Ohhhh,” Dawn said.
“Aaanyway,” Willow said, trying to ignore the remark, “my plan is basically to open the door between life and death.”
“That sounds…hard,” Andrew pointed out.
“And dangerous,” Dawn put in.
“Not to mention dangerous and hard,” Skye finished.
“It’s certainly not for beginners,” Willow agreed. “Specifically, we need to draw off the souls within the Loathestone. They’re trapped in an unnatural state, stuck here when they should be moving on.”
“So if we open the door, they’ll just…go through it?” Alex asked.
“Pretty much,” Kennedy said. “As Will explained it to me, they’ll be irresistibly pulled from this world into the next. Like a…spiritual magnet.” She looked at Willow. “Is that the right way of putting it?”
“Maybe,” Willow nodded. “I prefer ‘supernatural tide’ myself, but it’s probably the same difference.”
“Maybe I’m missing the visual aids here,” Jeff could be heard to say, “but isn’t there a reason we haven’t done this before?”
“Well, yeah,” Willow agreed. “It will take some time for the full tide slash magnet slash whatever effect to take place. And if we leave the door open too long, bad stuff might happen.”
“Bad stuff? Is that the technical term?” Skye asked with a small smirk.
“Life and death will mix,” Kennedy said. “Time will go haywire, the world as we know it will cease to exist…”
“Dogs and cats living together,” Andrew put in.
“The trick,” Willow said, “is to keep the door open long enough to depower the Stone, then shut it again before things, y’know, get out of hand.”
Kennedy clapped her hands and grinned. “So! Who’s ready to do this?”
End of Act One