Lacey Chabert as Skye Talisker, Gale Harold as Jim Pollan, Caroline Dhavernas as Grace Hatherley, Michelle Rodriguez as Kadin Van Helsing, Elijah Woods as Jeff Lindquist, Helen Shaver as Becca Giles, and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Gary Oldman as Mr. Jason Felix, Laura Prepon as Lori Carew, Christine Romano as Hope Lehane, Mía Maestro as Isabel Ortiz, Jennifer Connelly as Althenea Dimmons, Renée Zellwenger as Mary Grace Allister, Michael J. Fox as Joseph Allister, Brian Cox as Jacob Allister, Catherine O'Hara as Betty Allister, Jordan Baker as Sheila Rosenberg, Sam Waterston as Ira Rosenberg, Brittany Murphy as Luna, Mercedes McNab as Harmony Kendall, Sendhil Ramamurthy as Rajiv Venugopal, Jennifer Eccleston as Tally Atwater, Kiran Chetry as Herself, and John Roberts as Himself
Watchers Council – Slayer Rec Room – Early Morning
Kennedy was seated on one of the benches, grunting softly as she lifted a weight up and down with her right arm. Beads of sweat glistened on the straining muscle as she flexed her arm with every lift. Similar beads of sweat dripped from her brow as she concentrated on lifting the weight with every rep.
"Don't you think you're pushing it just a bit?" Faith suddenly asked from her spot on the bench across from the other slayer. "I mean, I haven't seen you work out this much since Will…" She trailed off and cleared her throat with a nervous laugh. "You sure there ain't something you wanna talk about?"
Kennedy lifted the weight one more time before releasing a sigh and dropping it to the floor by her feet. "No," she answered shortly as she reached over for her water bottle. Twisting off the cap, she downed the entire thing in one gulp.
"You sure?" Faith nudged lightly. "You just seem a bit…"
"Tense?" Kennedy supplied for her. "Frustrated? Completely and totally about to explode?" The slayer sighed again as she reached over for her towel. "Well, you would be too if you hadn't had sex for the last two months."
Faith's brow furrowed, and she dropped her own weight to the floor. "You mean…you and Quick? But I thought…"
"She stayed last night so I thought, maybe…Point is, she says she doesn't want to hurt me," Kennedy cut her off. "Says she doesn't really understand what's inside of her or how it…how she might react if we…" Kennedy trailed off with another sigh as she wiped her arms with the towel and then groaned as she dropped her head back to the wall before placing the towel over her face.
Faith grinned. "I just find it kinda amusing that, for once, you're the one with the sexual frustration and I get to be the friend that's all deep and insightful."
"So insight me," Kennedy told the other slayer with a light smile of her own. "If you really are the master of all things sexy…tell me how I'm supposed to convince my girlfriend that we can still have sex without her going all 'grrr-argg' and trying to eat my spleen."
Faith's face contorted in momentary disgust before she shook it off and smiled again. "It's all about com-mun-i-cat-ion," she answered slowly as she met the eyes of her friend. "Have you even thought to talk to her about it? Or have you just moped around all frustrated and…mopey?"
Kennedy was quiet for a long moment as she seemed to consider the other slayer's words. "Since when did you become the brains in this relationship?" she teased.
Faith laughed in turn as she reached over to grab her towel before throwing it at Kennedy's head. "I was always the brains." Kennedy was grinning as she pulled the towel from her face. "Come on," Faith said as she motioned Kennedy with her head. "We need to hit the showers before the big meeting this morning."
"What's it about?" Kennedy asked. "Not more wedding planning I hope."
"Heck if I know. Red just told me to not be late."
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Early The Next Morning
The Watchers Council leadership gathered around the large rectangle table that included Willow, Rowena, Buffy, Robin, Jim, Faith, Kennedy, Andrew, and Xander. Jeff was also present, a laptop computer in front of him.
"Pull it up, Jeff," Willow instructed.
Jeff moved his mouse around, and on the large projector on the far wall his inbox was visible. Jeff clicked, and it opened Hope's Bureau Nine memo.
"What are we looking at here, Will?" Buffy asked.
"A message from Hope Lehane to Jeff. It's an itinerary," she began. "Seems Jason Felix, Lori, and Isabel are on their way to New Delhi, pursuing the fulfillment of Project Roland."
"What's Project Roland?" Robin asked.
"The document mentions the sphere that they nabbed in the switcheroo. This project has something to do with that item they took from us."
"Not to sound like a parrot, but again, what's Project Roland?" Buffy asked.
"It doesn't say specifically, but it mentions another object that we thought the Tyrells had…the Codex," she said as she pointed to Rowena and then Kennedy.
"Somehow they're using the sphere and the Codex?" Kennedy asked.
"Looks that way," Willow replied.
Kennedy looked over at Rowena. "You should have left with that book."
"I told you," Rowena countered. "It was you or the book. I still made the right call."
"We'll see when Project Roland destroys us all," Kennedy replied.
"Pessimistic much?" Willow asked Kennedy before looking around the room. "Truth is, guys, we don't know what this thing is about. It could mean the destruction of life as we know it, as Kennedy so happily pointed out. Orrrr it could mean they're searching for another artifact. Ether way, it wouldn't be a bad idea to look into it."
"I nominate Willow and Rowena," Faith teased. "They have nothing to do this week." She flashed them a smile.
"Smart ass," Willow replied as she grinned from across the table.
"Honestly though," Faith began, turning serious again. "This news is coming from my sister. She's not the most reliable source, and speaking of which, how the hell did she get this?"
"Maybe she deliberately went undercover at Bureau Nine," Jeff offered.
"And that's why she didn't contact you about her secret agent plan?" Faith remarked.
"Do you think she would have contacted you?" Buffy asked Faith.
"Ha!" Faith chortled. "You have to understand, B. Hope and I aren't like you and Dawn. You guys might occasionally act like you hate each other, but with Hope it's not an act. My sister and I don't talk. Never have, never will."
"Okay, fine," Jeff began again. "Maybe she did join up for some reason, but now she's having doubts?"
"And maybe it's just a big setup?" Faith replied. "It could be a trap."
"I don't think she'd do that," Jeff answered.
"Oh yeah?" Faith said sarcastically. "She tried to feed me to pack of hungry demons to save our alcoholic father," she added, her voice starting to rise. "She's real good at setting traps, Jeff, and you'd be wise to get that through your head."
"Guys," Robin spoke up before Jeff could reply. "Let's calm down here a second."
"Buffy?" Xander asked. "What do you think we should do?"
Before Buffy could reply, Kennedy spoke.
"I'd like to call a ten-minute recess."
Everyone looked at each other for a moment.
"I second it," Buffy replied and banged the gavel. The group began to rise, and Kennedy went over to Buffy, taking her by the elbow.
"I want to speak to you privately," she said and motioned Buffy to follow her.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Moments Later
"Okay, what did you want to say that you couldn't say in there?" Buffy asked Kennedy as they walked side by side.
"Send me," Kennedy told her. "Willow's right. Someone needs to check this out."
"Kennedy," Buffy sighed. "I'm not sure if you're up to something like this yet. Faith told me about the dream you had, and I'm not sure if you're…stable enough. Besides, it's not right that everyone else is off and you'll be working."
Kennedy stopped, and it prompted Buffy to quit walking too. "Truth, no holds barred, just between us and no further?"
"When did I become the Council confidant?" Buffy sighed in a quiet tone. "Yes," she answered louder.
"I really don't want to go to this wedding, and this trip couldn't be more perfectly timed," Kennedy replied.
"Oh Ken," Buffy said sympathetically.
Kennedy held out her hand. "I'm over it. Really, I am. But…how gung-ho would you be to see Angel or Spike get married, honestly?"
"I wouldn't," Buffy admitted.
"Then you know where I'm at right now…Like I said, I'm over it but…it still hurts for some reason…So let me go. I'll be doing something the Council needs done. And I promise you, I can handle it."
Buffy was silent for a moment. "I'll contact Rajiiv Venugopal, Head Watcher at the India branch. I'll let him know you're coming."
"Thank you," Kennedy said sincerely. "Now, one more request…I want to bring Kadin with me." Buffy appeared reluctant. "I want a backup I can trust," Kennedy told her. "Not that the other Council doesn't have fine slayers, I'm sure they do, but I want her with me, Buffy."
Buffy sighed. "Anything else you want?" she asked with a grin. "Million dollars, my first born…anything?"
Kennedy grinned. "Yeah. Have a good time up in Canada," she said as she extended her hand. "Give the happy couple my best," she said as they shook.
"I will," Buffy told her. "Be careful, okay? We don't know what these guys are up to."
Kennedy gave her a salute and headed off down the hall.
Kennedy's Apartment – A Short Time Later
Kadin was lying in bed, her back against the headboard as she idly flipped through the channels on the television. She looked over when she heard the door open, and then Kennedy stepped into the room.
The slayer smiled as she flipped off the light and padded over to the bed. "I thought you were still asleep?"
Kadin shook her head lightly as she watched Kennedy walk over and climb into bed next to her. She turned her eyes back to the screen, but after only a few moments, she released a sigh and turned the TV off.
Kennedy moved into her spot next to the hunter as she shifted on the bed and fluffed her pillow. "Nothing on?"
Kadin watched her intently, and she shook her head once again.
Kennedy smiled up at her lover as she finally settled into bed. "Cat got your tongue? You're not usually this…"
"I'm sorry," Kadin suddenly interrupted her bluntly.
Kennedy's brow furrowed, and she slowly sat up next to the hunter. "What for?"
Kadin sighed as she dropped her head back against the headboard. "For pushing you away," she answered in a soft whisper. "For being too afraid to love you like I've been wanting to, for not telling you how I feel…and for being such a jerk."
Kennedy's expression softened, and she smiled lightly. "You haven't been a jerk," she told the hunter gently. "It's not your fault. You're scared, and you don't understand what's happening to your body." She lifted a hand to reach over and run it through Kadin's dark hair. "If anything, I've been the one acting like a total jerk. I should be more understanding and patient because I know this hasn't been easy for you…"
"It's not your fault either," Kadin broke in softly. She kept her eyes locked on the slayer's as a slow smile spread across her lips. "I haven't exactly been on the same page with you for a while, and it's not like I can just expect you to know what I'm feeling."
Kadin reached up to take her lover's hand in her own as she lightly entwined their fingers before slowly pulling their hands back down to the bed. "Please believe me when I say that I've wanted nothing more than to be with you so many times…"
Kennedy smiled. "I know," she replied. "Me too."
The smile on Kadin's face faltered, and there was clear fear and hesitation in her eyes. "I'm scared," she admitted quietly. "I don't want to hurt you. I couldn't live with myself if I did."
Kennedy leaned in the short distance to bring her face-to-face with the hunter. "I trust you," she told the other woman in a gentle whisper. "We don't have to do anything that y – "
The slayer was instantly silenced by the hunter's lips pressed firmly against hers.
Kennedy adjusted to the surprise with a light moan, pulling away after only a short moment of the contact. "Are you sure?" she whispered against Kadin's lips without opening her eyes.
"I trust you," the hunter whispered in return.
Kennedy's eyes slowly opened, and the two women found themselves locked in a deep, intense stare. A slow smile spread over both their faces.
"I have to hear your voice," Kadin finally said. "I should be fine as long as I hear your voice."
Kennedy's smile grew into a smirk as she chuckled. "Somehow…I don't think that's gonna be a problem."
Kadin smiled in turn before she leaned in to reclaim the slayer's lips.
Thornkirk, Nova Scotia – Allister Home – Later That Day
The sound of the front door opening made Rowena's brother Joseph turn his head in that direction. Quickly, his grin widened, and he darted over as Rowena and Willow entered.
"Hey Blanche," he said excitedly as he made his way over and gave her a hug. "Willow." He followed it up by leaning over and kissing Willow on the cheek. "I was starting to wonder if we'd have to call off the caterer," he teased the pair.
"Sorry, got stuck at work this morning," Rowena replied.
"You're here now, so that's all that matters. Oh, check this out," he said as he hurriedly walked over to the coffee table and tossed Rowena a brochure. She began to look at it. "Check out the name, The Ace of Cauldrons," he told them. "Althenea told me that's the Tarot emblem of perfect love. Didn't know that when I rented it, so how's that for luck, eh?"
Althenea and Rowena's sister Mary Grace entered from the dining room.
"I thought I heard your voice," Althenea told her. "It's about damn time." She walked over and gave both women a hug. "Where's the gang?" she asked.
"Getting settled in at the hotel," Rowena answered.
"Did you see the ship?" Althenea asked Willow.
"Yeah, Joseph was just telling us about it," the witch replied. "And I really do need to thank you," she said, addressing him. "Things have been so crazy lately you have no idea how grateful we are for everything you've been doing for us, really."
"It's not everyday that my little sis gets married," Joseph answered as he leaned over and gave her a kiss on the temple.
"How's my girl?" Rowena heard someone say from behind and turned to see her father, Jacob, entering the house behind them.
"Da," she greeted warmly and walked over to give him a hug and a kiss. As she pulled away, Jacob walked over and gave Willow a hug.
"We were all starting to wonder if you gals got cold feet," Jacob told her. "Well, actually these three were wondering, but I had faith you'd make it."
"At least it's nice to know someone believes in us," Willow replied.
Jacob grinned and gave Willow a kiss on the forehead.
Rowena looked out the door. "Where's mom?" she asked.
"She wasn't with dad," Mary offered. "She's upstairs," she added with a sigh.
"In mourning," Joseph complained.
Rowena rolled her eyes.
"But don't worry," Jacob told Rowena. "She can do what she wants. I, on the other hand, have every intention of walking my girl down the aisle."
Rowena grinned at him as the group began to talk among themselves. She looked at the stairs leading to the second floor, but instead of taking them, she followed the group, which was now proceeding into the kitchen.
Thornkirk – Allister Home – Upstairs Hallway – Later
Rowena stood in the cramped upstairs hall, knocking on a closed door.
"Mom?" she called. "Mom? It's Ro – Blanche."
Rowena sighed when she didn't receive any response. After a brief hesitation, she placed her hand on the doorknob and turned.
Thornkirk – Allister Home – Bedroom – Continuous
Rowena poked her head through the partially opened door and peered into the darkened bedroom. The shutters were drawn, and only small slits of sunlight played across the hand-quilted bedspread. Betty Allister sat in a well-cushioned easy chair in the far corner of the room.
Rowena squinted in her mother's direction and took a few more steps into the room.
"It's a beautiful day," she said. "You should be out enjoying it."
"What are you doing up here?" Mrs. Allister asked softly.
Rowena licked her lips and took a deep breath. "You didn't come to see me, so I came to see you."
"Well, I'm not interested," Mrs. Allister told her. "If the girl I raised wants to come and talk, she's more than welcome to. I don't have any time for you."
Rowena shook her head. "Y'know what? This is stupid." She strode forward and knelt directly in front of her mother, bringing her eyes level. "I have personally saved hundreds, maybe thousands of lives. I've even helped save the world, more than once. I'm smart. I'm famous now. I'm beautiful. And I've been blessed to have the love of a beautiful person, who supports me and cares about me, no matter what. You couldn't have done a better job raising me, Mom. I am living my dream, you know that? And all I want is to share that with you."
Mrs. Allister met Rowena's eyes.
"Mom, please," Rowena pleaded. "Come to the wedding."
For a moment, there was silence.
"This isn't a wedding," Mrs. Allister said. "It's a farce, and I won't be part of it." She got to her feet, startling Rowena into taking a step back. "You're famous, all right. You're the poster girl for…whatever it is that you are."
Rowena's stood silently, just listening, expressionless.
"I thought things were really beginning to change," Rowena replied. "That maybe you could accept Willow…accept me."
"If you want to…cavort in private, that's one thing. But a marriage, Blanche? With the whole world watching?" Betty said, her anger rising. "It's an affront to God and His Son and everything they stand for."
"If you want to get technical, Jesus never said anything about homosexuals," Rowena offered. "But he did say a lot about loving your fellow man and not judging them."
Betty was quiet for a moment. "We were never good enough for you," she eventually said.
"What?" Rowena asked.
"All I ever wanted for you was to meet a nice boy and for me to have some grandchildren, but that was never good enough for you, was it? And now it's something that I'll never have."
Rowena physically bit her tongue.
"So…" Betty continued, "no, I won't be participating in tomorrow's…charade. You've brought shame into my house, Blanche. I hope you're happy."
Rowena spoke quietly, evenly. "I just told you that I was. And if you don't want to be proud of me, that's your choice. My feelings for Willow are never going to change, no matter what you say."
"Stubborn as always," Mrs. Allister muttered.
"I am not the one being stubborn!" Rowena nearly shouted. She immediately caught herself, rubbing one hand on the bridge of her nose in an effort to calm down. "I'm not even sure why I came up here," Rowena said. "I guess maybe, Mom…I-I just wanted you to know that…I never would have gotten here if it weren't for you."
"Humph," her mother grumbled, sitting back down in the chair.
Rowena looked down at her a moment, then shook her head and walked toward the door. "My friends are downstairs if you want to meet them."
She closed the door behind her, leaving Betty Allister sitting in the dark.
Undisclosed Location – Early Evening
Willow, Xander, and Faith were sitting on a bench and appeared to be tying their shoes as 'Dancing Queen' by Abba played in the background.
"You know," Xander began as he finished and sat up. "When I suggested a bachelorette party for lesbians…this isn't quite what I had in mind."
"You and me both," Willow agreed.
"I have to admit," Faith began as she too sat up. "Watching naked chicks dance has got to be better than this. At least at the bar I can get a drink."
They all sighed and stood up at the same time, shaking on ice skates.
Buffy and Rowena were already on the ice in the skating rink. The trio watched the couple wave to them as they rounded the corner, motioning them to come out.
"Look at 'em," Faith said as all three of them hobbled toward the ice. In a synchronized move, Buffy and Rowena both leapt in the air, did a spin, and started skating backward. "They make it look so damn easy."
"Come on, ladies," Xander said, "time to bite the bullet."
"Fine," Willow said flatly, "but after this we're going to that Loads of Mischief bar we passed."
"Now you're talking," Xander complimented. "I'll even buy Faith a lap dance," he added.
"Well, you better call Robin to join us," Faith replied. "I'm sure he wouldn't want to miss that."
Rowena skated up and took Willow by the hands and slowly led her out to the ice.
"Come on, Xan," Buffy said as she led him away in a similar fashion. "I'll show you how it's done."
Faith watched them leave as she tried to stay upright. "This really blows," she muttered. A few seconds later her arms started to flail, and she landed on her backside with a thud. She looked over to Xander as Buffy continued to steer him away. "A lap dance AND a drink!" she shouted.
New Delhi – Bureau Nine Office – Same Time (Early Morning)
Lori pointed to a spot on the map stretched across the desk. "Here," she said. "It was abandoned years ago, but its origins go back – well, a real long time. No one's really sure how long."
"A monastery. Buddhist or Hindu?" Felix leaned over the map.
"No one's quite sure. Little bit of both. Some of neither."
Isabel stood a little bit apart. "How do you get there?"
"Special jet helicopter," was Lori's reply. "We call it 'Big Frank.' Carries up to a dozen plus equipment. A portable medical station, radar, infrared, limited stealth capability, and in a pinch it can almost reach Mach One."
"Big Frank?" Felix raised an eyebrow. "The ship is named Big Frank?"
"Yeah. Is there a problem?"
"I thought you named ships after girls," said Isabel.
Lori shrugged. "Some of the outfitters were Russian. They name ships after boys for some reason."
"Ah. And when will 'Frank' be here?" Felix asked.
"Within twenty-four hours. We'll fuel him up, do a last minute check. Then the team can head out. Your call as to who that is."
"Us," said Felix. "The three of us."
After a moment of silence, Lori said, "Thank you."
"The Codex," continued Felix, "says that two Chosen and one Twice-Chosen must go to the top of the world. Isabel has been chosen twice, as a Slayer and as what I suppose we might call the Anti-Slayer."
"Good to know there was a reason," said Isabel. "Even better to find out what it was."
"Exactly," said Felix with a nod. He touched her briefly on the shoulder. "As for the other two, a chosen Watcher and a chosen Slayer fulfill the requirements I think."
"But I'm not a Slayer anymore."
"You were chosen, that is the point. And now, I'm choosing you again." He looked at her. She smiled. Then he grinned. "Of course that might mess up the prophecy, come to think of it. But I don't see a way around that." Then he blinked. "Oh, and I meant to ask you – did you sign the card?"
It took a moment for Lori to mentally shift gears. "Not really. The fact is, I was never really close to them. Wish them well and all, but…" Her voice trailed off.
"Understandable. No doubt they're being deluged with cards, so one wonders if they'll even notice one from Bureau Nine. Or what they'll make of it!"
"I signed it," said Isabel. "So did Hope. I'm surprised you didn't send a gift."
"That," said Felix, "is what the project is all about. Miss Allister and Miss Rosenberg deserve full lives, years together spent in peace and love. We all do. Soon, very soon, we'll be able to make that far more likely." He was silent for a moment. "That is my hope." They could barely hear him. "We have to try."
End of Act One
On to Act Two