Michelle Rodriguez as Kadin Van Helsing, Gale Harold as Jim Pollan, Caroline Dhavernas as Grace Hatherly, and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Edward Woodward as James Tyrell, Peter Woodward as Jordon Tyrell, Laura Prepon as Lori, Christy Carlson Romano as Hope Lehane, Mia Maestro as Isabel, Robin Sachs as Ethan Rayne, Elisabeth Sladen as Dianna Earl, Kyle Gallner as Camden Kreswell, Tracy-Ann Oberman as Cameron Kreswell, Carl Lumbly as Nicholas and Gary Oldman as Mr. Jason Felix
Watchers Council – Buffy's Office – Afternoon
Buffy was leaning against the edge of her desk facing Willow, Kennedy, and Faith, who were seated a few feet away. She was in the middle of telling the others about her morning meeting with Mrs. Longheart.
"A gift of appreciation?" Faith asked skeptically. "What kinda gift?"
Buffy smiled and then dramatically announced, "A week at her family's private tropical island, complete with luxury condo."
"Awesome!" Willow exclaimed excitedly.
"Where is it?" Kennedy asked.
"Close to Anguilla," Buffy answered.
"And that would be…?" Faith prompted.
"It's in the Caribbean somewhere," Buffy said, "like south of the Virgin Islands or something."
"Cool," Kennedy commented approvingly.
Willow sighed dreamily. "Oh, the Caribbean would be so wonderful right now. Sunny skies, warm sand under our feet…" Then she sat up straight and blurted, "When can we go?"
"Wait a minute," Faith interjected. "How do we know this thing is legit? What if it's some kinda trap or somethin'?"
"You were there, Faith," Willow said. "We saved the woman's kids. She's just showing her gratitude."
"What if that whole 'attack' was staged just to set up this so-called 'gift'?" Faith countered.
"And you call me paranoid?" Kennedy quipped.
"I've got Research and Security on it right now," Buffy assured them. "So…assuming the offer is legit, what do you think? Should we go?"
"Hell yes," Kennedy answered.
"What I mean is…is it even ethical to go? Isn't this like taking bribes or something?"
"Hell no," Kennedy replied.
"Look, we're not the government," Willow said. "We're a privately-funded organization. I don't think the same rules apply. Besides, it's not like we charged the woman for our services – unlike a certain competitor of ours. We've been working so hard lately. I think we deserve some time off." Kennedy, Faith, and Buffy nodded solemnly in agreement with that. Then Willow smiled widely again. "So when can we go?"
"Next week," Buffy explained. "The staff will be off then. After that, though, the condo's booked for months with family gatherings and corporate events. If we don't go now, it'll be next year before it's available again. So what's everybody's schedule like next week?"
"I'm free, I'm free!" Willow instantly replied.
Kennedy and Faith looked at each other then shrugged. "Nothing on the slayer schedule we can't rearrange," Faith said.
"Can we invite other people?" Willow asked.
"Yes, but that's the catch," Buffy said. "The only way to get to the island is by sea plane, and there's only enough room for seven people to go. That means only three of us can invite someone."
"We can draw straws to see who gets the extra invites," Kennedy suggested.
Buffy raised her hand to stave off any other ideas. "No, that won't be necessary. I'm the only single one in the group. You guys invite your honeys, and I'll be the seventh wheel."
"Well, if it's gotta be next week, Robin can't go," Faith said. "He's got that thing in Vancouver, remember?"
Buffy put on a small pout. "Oh yeah, that's right. Bummer. Well, we could always postpone the trip."
"Please no," Willow pleaded. "I really need a sunshine fix."
Faith gave a nonchalant shrug. "No big. Robin and I can go anywhere, anytime really. You pick somebody, B."
Buffy turned to Willow and asked, "Do you think Xander might come?"
Willow smiled and nodded. "Yeah, I think he might."
"Okay then," Buffy said with a big grin. "If everything checks out, it looks like we're off to the tropics!"
Buffy's Apartment – Early Evening
Giles was sitting on Buffy's sofa in her apartment.
"Oh," Buffy said as if remembering something, "Andrew is heading the Coven here, so if there're any problems while we're gone –"
"Buffy, for the last time," Giles sighed and fell back against the furniture arm, his own arms extended. "I have done this before, you know," he added exasperated.
Buffy grinned. "I know, but things are different now. You're used to the old secret-agent-y Council. This is the new in-your-face Council, Giles...And while you're at it, sit up and pay attention here please."Giles rolled to his side and looked at Buffy with a grin but said nothing. "What?" she finally asked.
"You," he replied, his grin still in place. "...disciplined and...orderly."
"Well, obviously one of us has to be," she said as she pushed his feet off the sofa and took a seat in the place.
"I'm sure everything will be fine. Just go and enjoy yourself," he said as he sat up again.
"We will," she told him, seeming more at ease. The relaxation only lasted a brief moment when she began to say, "Now remember our cell phones –"
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Same Time
"– won't work," Willow told Andrew, Jeff, and Dawn. "Not on the island itself probably. The phones should work fine from here to Philadelphia and San Juan and probably even Anguilla itself. But once we get on the island, they'll be, you know, caput, so don't call us, we'll call you. On the satellite phone, when we get there."
Jeff and Dawn looked at each other and at the same time said, "Babbling," before grinning at each other.
Watchers Council – Slayer Rec Room – Same Time
"You've got everything you need, right?" Kennedy asked Mia.
"Yes," she said firmly. "You worry too much. Guess you do need a vacation," she added as she rubbed Kennedy's shoulder.
"I'll help her relax," a voice called from the doorway. Mia dropped her hand as Kadin came over to wrap her arm around Kennedy. "You ready babe?" she asked.
"Yeah, just making sure things are all set," she replied.
"Well, let's go then," Kadin said, giving Kennedy a kiss and pulling her away.
Mia and Kadin didn't break eye contact until Kadin turned completely around.
Faith and Robin's Apartment – Same Time
Faith had her bags by the door. "Robin?" she called out.
"Got everything?" he asked as he walked out of the kitchen to move to where she was standing.
"I think so," she said, handing him a list that he looked at closely.
"Posted the new patrol schedule?" he asked. Faith nodded. "Met with Mia?" Another nod. "Packed your passport?"
"Yep, got it all," she replied.
"Had I'll-miss-you sex with your sensitive yet studly fiancé?"
"Did that last night."
"You didn't let me finish," he replied. "Had I'll-miss-you sex with your sensitive yet studly fiancé today?"
"Now that I have not done yet," Faith said as she wrapped her arms around Robin's neck.
"Well, I think you'd better take care of that, don't you?"
Faith kissed him and began dragging him away from the door.
Xander's Apartment – Same Time
"I can't believe you're packed already," Xander told Rowena, who sat on the edge of his bed.
"Had it done last night," she told him.
"You're such an organized little camper. No wonder you and Will get along so well. Do you even color-code your luggage?" he teased.
Rowena grinned. "She color-codes and I pack – it's a team effort," she replied.
Xander chuckled and continued to pack.
"It's good to see you laughing again, Xander. We've been worried about you."
Xander shrugged. "I can't say I'm over things, but with time…"
Rowena nodded as a small silence passed between them. "Will was so worried you'd leave again and go on some drunken bender around the U.S. But I'm glad you stuck around this time."
Xander grinned as he continued to pack. "And I'm glad you popped the question. You make her happy, you know that, right?"
"I try," Rowena replied. "I haven't always succeeded but…things are better now that we're not at odds with each other."
Xander paused and looked at his suitcase. "I better bring a light jacket, just in case."
"Is it here in the closet?" Rowena asked, rising and starting to walk over.
"That's fine," Xander said quickly and darted over, preventing Rowena from opening the door. She gave him a suspicious look. "There's some stuff in there you might not want to see."
"What? Your porno collection?" Rowena replied.
Xander shrugged. "What can I say? I'm a guy."
"Well, guy," Rowena said as she grinned, "I'll leave you to finish up. Will should just be about done addressing her troops. I'll see you downstairs."
Xander nodded and watched her leave the room. When the exterior door shut, he then opened the closet. It was far from a pornography collection.
It was a collage of Vi pictures – some of her alone, some of her with him, and some with a few other Council members. He also had various types of angel statues surrounding the photos. He looked at it all for a moment, as if soaking it in. He then grabbed a jacket and closed the door behind him.
Bureau Nine – Briefing Room – Same Time
Nine people sat at a table. They ranged in age from thirty to over seventy. One, James Tyrell, wore a three-piece suit. Several others were in formal attire, while others wore slacks and simple shirts. Lori was passing out files, ending with Mr. Felix – who wore a leather jacket and whose hair was tussled.
"The Cardiff Team," Tyrell said, "performed admirably, even if their tactics were a bit questionable."
"It worked," noted Lori, taking her seat.
"Without a doubt," Tyrell agreed. "More to the point, Harkness and his group have now confirmed the circumstances where one might expect to find similar creatures dormant."
"The warning signs will need to be shared with all teams and offices," Felix said. "And we'll need a survey to identify likely trouble spots."
Several members of the group nodded their heads, taking notes.
"We should probably inform the Council," Lori added.
"Nicholas?" Felix asked turning to a well-dressed African-American man. "Thoughts?"
"Good idea," he replied. "Otherwise they might accidentally stumble across the same problem."
"Anyone have any objections?" Felix looked around the room. No one said a word. "Consider it authorized, then. Probably best to have the Harkness Team do it directly to their opposite numbers. Next on the agenda…" He looked at Lori.
"Isabel is uncomfortable," she said. "She's willing to help. Under the circumstances, that's hardly a surprise. But she misses her friends, her home. On the other hand, she and Hope seem to be clicking nicely."
"Good," said Felix. "I'll pay her a visit soon myself. Maybe cheer her up. At the very least I'd like to thank her again for her cooperation."
"The Project proceeds then?" Tyrell asked.
Felix made a gesture halfway between a nod and a shrug. "Not as smoothly as I'd hoped, but faster than I feared."
"And what of the so-called Watchers Council? Further signs of interference at all?"
"There's…ah…some news," a bespeckled young man in rumpled clothes offered. "Press release on Yahoo news."
"Oh yes," Felix said. "The think tank."
"Think tank?" Tyrell raised an eyebrow.
"Most of the high-up muckety-mucks," continued the rumpled young man, "are going on a retreat for a few days."
"Do we know where?"
"As a matter of fact," Felix said before anyone could answer, "we do. And to be perfectly honest, I suspect the think tank story is something of a cover. It appears to me as if they are giving themselves a much-needed vacation." He smiled then looked up at Lori. "Reminds me – when the hell is mine?"
"You have over ten months of accrued vacation time just waiting for you."
"Oh. Right. Well, this summer is a possibility."
"I must insist," Tyrell said, raising his voice, "that we increase our surveillance on the Council, most especially when their members are doing anything out of the ordinary. Specifically upon those attending what you call a vacation."
"Why?" Felix asked.
"Because they are still a threat, possibly the only real threat to our ultimate success. We need to strain all available resources to countering that threat, no matter what the cost. For example, we could postpone the Seattle study."
"Again?" the rumpled young man nearly wailed.
"Or – perhaps the business of the Japanese drownings could be put off."
"Mr. Tyrell," Nicholas spoke this time, "you are aware that over a dozen teenagers have died that we know of? Drowned. Indoors. Miles from the ocean. But with seawater in their lungs."
"And enough adrenaline in their systems to kill a horse," Felix finished. "I'm not willing to call off any such mission without much better justification than you've offered."
"These other threats are at worst temporary –"
"You don't know that," said Lori.
"But the Watchers Council, they have proven themselves an ongoing threat," Tyrell said.
Felix looked at him without blinking. The room went silent. "Not to us," he said finally.
Tyrell glowered at him.
Island – Lagoon Pier – Moments Later
A seaplane pulled up to a long pier that jutted out from a large lagoon. The group got out and began to look around. A huge condo sat nestled in the trees on the hill above the lagoon. The group, including the pilot, walked down the dock to a gorgeous beach. Located nearby was an umbrella table and chairs. A bit further down sat a boathouse and a roped off swimming area.
Island – Condo – Deck – Moments Later
The group headed up the steps to the deck on the back of the house. The deck spanned the entire width of the mansion-like beach house with swings, umbrella tables, and an outside bar.
"You've got three entrances to the house off the deck," he told them. "One key fits all," he said as he showed it to them. "They usually use the side entrance after going to the beach since the mudroom is right there. This door goes into the great room."
The pilot put the key into the door and unlocked it. He turned to Xander and winked.
"You and six beautiful ladies, huh? Poor guy," he teased. He motioned everyone inside. "Come on in, folks."
As they walked in, taking in the sight, he handed Xander the key. "Here you go since you're the man of the house." All six women turned around with a collective hostile look. "Teasing, teasing," he told them, holding up his hands. "Someone needs to hold it for now."
Island – Condo – Great Room – Moments Later
The great room on the main floor was stunning – a fireplace, an entertainment center, a wet bar, and various seating arrangements. The whole room was decorated with a nautical theme with artifacts from sunken ships and the like. The mantel even had a pirate-theme with swords hanging on the wall.
"This one room is bigger than my entire apartment," Faith said as she looked around in awe.
"No kidding," Kennedy muttered as she and Kadin looked around hand in hand as they split off from the group.
"I changed my mind," Willow told Rowena. "Let's honeymoon here."
"This is just one room, right?" Buffy asked the pilot. "I mean the rest of the house is ours too, and we're not, like, sharing with someone else? This place is…huge."
"It's all yours, and you're welcome to everything in here. Mrs. Lockheart had the place stocked before you arrived, so you don't have to worry about shopping."
"You could probably land your plane in here," Xander told the pilot, who smiled in response.
"Over that way," the pilot said and pointed, "is the kitchen and informal dining area as you see. On the other side is the receiving room to the front door."
"What the hell is a receiving room?" Faith asked.
The pilot paused for a moment. "Kind of like a glorified lobby with a piano in it."
"There's a piano!" Rowena said excitedly before turning to Willow. "You can play for us tonight!"
"Yeah, but I'd have to get real drunk first," Willow said.
Kennedy emerged from the kitchen with a bottle in her hand. "Will this do?" she asked as she tossed it to Willow, who looked at the label.
"Dom Pérignon…1976?" the witch asked, looking at the pilot. "Are you sure this stuff is for us?" she added.
"Positive," the pilot told her. "She said, and I quote, 'You saved her greatest treasures,' so everything is on the house."
"I think I'm gonna like this," Faith said as she plopped down on one of the comfy sofas.
"Now," the pilot continued, "Up the stairs is where you'll find the bedrooms. There's one master bedroom –"
"Dibs!" Willow and Rowena both shouted at the same time.
"With a Jacuzzi," the pilot finished.
"Yes!" Willow said triumphantly, still clutching the bottle, as everyone except Rowena groaned.
"She's so juvenile," Buffy said as she took a seat beside Faith.
"And a second master suite –"
"Dibs!" Kennedy said just a hair faster than Buffy and Faith, who both leapt off the sofa. "Ha!" she added in victory. She and Kadin gave each other a high-five.
"Damn it," Buffy and Faith both swore softly and sat back down, dejected.
The pilot just shook his head. "Don't worry, folks. The other rooms all have private baths too, so I'm sure no one will be disappointed," the pilot added.
Island – Condo – Study – Moments Later
The pilot walked into the study, and everyone followed along.
"There's no power running directly to the island, but you have a generator for electric. Like the TV and stereo system, the computer system is set up too. Your cell phones won't work, but that big satellite out there," he said, pointing out the window to a garage, "runs the Internet access. There's also a two-way radio in the cabinet over here that works on batteries."
Island – Condo – Great Room – Moments Later
Pilot led them back inside the great room.
"That should cover all of it, but if you need me, I'm just a phone call away. It might take me an hour or two to get here, but if there's an emergency, just use the radio. Otherwise, I'll be back to pick you up on Friday morning."
"Uh, I'd tip you for the tour, but whatever I'd give you wouldn't compare to all this," Buffy told him.
"Don't worry. Mrs. Longheart already covered that too," he said with a wink. "You guys have fun, and I'll see you tanned and relaxed come Friday."
Everyone thanked him and waved goodbye as he left.
"I'm starving," Faith said. "I'm gonna raid the fridge."
"Wait for me," Buffy said as she began to follow.
"Me too," Kennedy said as she took off.
"Slayers," the remaining four all said at the same time.
Island – Condo – Informal Dining Area – A Short Time Later
After enjoying a hearty dinner, the vacationers had settled back and opened the champagne that Mrs. Longheart had left for them. Two bottles were already empty, and Xander went about the process of opening a third. He lifted the bottle in offering, and everyone but Buffy extended their glasses for more.
"Come on, B," Faith teased. "You ain't drivin' nowhere. Live it up."
"I haven't even finished what's in my glass," Buffy pointed out. "I'm fine. Really."
"Just leaves more for us," Kadin said with a wink.
Xander gave everyone, save Buffy, a refill and then all seven raised their glasses. "To Lady Longheart," he said, "who knows how to give one helluva thank-you gift!"
After many hear-hears, the group sat back and sipped their champagne, just laughing and enjoying each other's company.
Bureau Nine – Kreswell Apartment – Morning
"Ethan, he has to be told."
Ethan Rayne and Cameron Kreswell engaged in a short, silent stare-off before Cameron crossed her arms and continued.
"What do you mean 'no'?" she said. "He's my son. I'll decide –"
"That's precisely it. It's because he is your son that…" Ethan Rayne sighed heavily. "Look, I'll speak with him. It has to come from me. Bloody hell! What've I gotten myself into?"
Cameron smiled in spite of being annoyed. "A little chaos finally biting you in the behind?" she smirked. "Serves you right."
He shot her a playfully dangerous look over the top of his reading glasses. They slid down his nose suddenly and fell off.
Cameron laughed outright as he fumbled with them. They clattered to the floor.
"I suppose you would normally have done a little magic and conjured them to fit properly," she said.
"Where do you think they came from?" he answered ruefully, picking them up.
"You conjured them?"
"You don't bloody well expect that I'd be able to find a pair this color anywhere, do you?"
"But they don't fit."
Ethan sighed. "I –" He stopped, somewhat embarrassed.
"Ethan Rayne, you're blushing!"
"Well it's not my fault! Even the best of us has one thing they don't quite conjure as well as the rest. In my case, it's clothing."
"You mean to tell me you don't accessorize well?" Cameron laughed heartily.
Ethan tried to curl his mouth into a frown, but only succeeded in producing a twisted, half-smile. The smile faded as he said softly, "Besides, I've found something more important than chaos. I think the Gods are jealous because…I can feel it…the magic keeps fading."
"Not for Cam, it isn't," Cameron said, seriously. "For him, it's only begun."
"Oh, bleeding, sodding hell!" Ethan spat. Then seeing her look he added, contritely, "Missus."
"Ethan, I won't have him hurt."
"And neither would I, except –"
"If you don't tell him, and I mean soon, I'll –"
Ethan held his hands up to calm her. "I'll tell him tomorrow, I promise," he said, reaching out to take her hand in his. "He wants to show me a pond or something, he said…tomorrow morning."
"The duck pond," she replied. "That's a lovely place. It's actually quite large. And it's very pretty. But it will be so cold out."
"Then have something warm ready for me when I get back." He smiled a little and let the implication hang in the air.
She put her hand to her lips and fought the urge to giggle at him. "Oh…it's ready now, if you want it…"
Watchers Council – Rowena's Office – Same Time
Grace sat in Rowena's chair, her head resting on her curled-up fist as she leaned forward on the desk. Dianna sat opposite with a large blue book in her hands titled "Investigation into the Vampire Condition – A Case Study by Rowena Allister."
"I see you haven't got a problem sitting in the big chair," Dianna uttered, with her eyes down and completely engrossed in the book.
"No problem at all. Why, you got a problem sitting where you are?" Grace replied.
"No dear. It's good to see you've got aspirations of wanting to sit in the chair."
"Why is that a problem, mother?"
"Oh no. It's just that you never wanted such responsibility, and look at you now. Rowena even trusts you enough to use her office while she's away. It's nice to see you've changed your mind…" Dianna kept her eyes down on the book and turned a page. "… yet again." The latter she all but whispered to herself.
"Ro and I have big trust for one another. On a scale from big to massive, it's giganamously colossal," she stated matter-of-factly. "She's even left me her keys to go check on her cats to make sure Skye doesn't eat them," Grace gave back with a sarcastic cheer and clap of her hands.
"She doesn't know what you did to Peggy, does she?"
Grace looked up at her mother. Dianna looked up at her daughter. After a brief pause, Grace pursed her lips and then gave a weak shake of her head.
Dianna cracked a small smirk and returned her stare to the book. "I have to ask…'Vampification'?"
"Yeah, not me." Dianna gave her a dubious look. "Seriously, that's all Ro."
"Well, I must say that from what I've read of the study and from the videos, I'm impressed, if not a little shocked. We've always known that a vampire's strength deteriorates the longer he goes without blood, and to an extent so does his mental state, but certainly not to the degree the subject displayed. Fascinating."
"What do the other branches think of the study?"
Grace shrugged her shoulders. "Seems to be going down well. Ruffled a couple of people's feathers, but on the whole pretty good. It's generated interest in the book community. Looks like it's going to get published. Hey, I wonder if we'll beat Harry Potter to the top spot of Amazon's pre-order list?" She gazed up wistfully.
"Your name's not on the front cover."
"No, but it's on the inside sleeve, see?" Grace leaned over and pointed it out.
"'Case study assisted by Grace Hatherley'," Dianna read out. "Umm, you'll want to make sure your name gets put on the front before it's published."
Grace looked at her mother. "I don't mind. I only helped Ro."
"I suppose that with your study you'll get all the glory. Speaking of which, how's that going?" Dianna laid the book down on the desk and watched her daughter.
"Well it's still in thesis-mode. I'm getting the intro and testing strategies done at the mo', and when Ro gets back, we're going to get into it."
Dianna raised a brow. "It's your investigation, why are you waiting for Rowena?" Before Grace could answer, Dianna continued. "You talk about wanting all this responsibility and wanting to sit in the big chair, so why are you waiting for someone else to hold your hand?"
"I'm not waiting for Ro to hold my hand. I can do the investigation on my own."
"Then why are you waiting?"
Grace sat forward and glared at her mother. "Because I value the input of my partner."
Dianna just stared back at her daughter.
Island – Condo – Willow & Rowena's Suite – The Next Day
Willow pulled lingerie from the drawer. Panties and brassieres flew everywhere under her onslaught. Rowena entered the room just in time to have a thong land on her head.
The blonde smirked and pulled the garment off. "Looking for something, hon?"
Willow sighed and kept digging. "I can't find my bikini."
"You didn't bring a bikini," Rowena said.
Willow looked at her blankly. "Why not?"
"You said, and I quote, 'With all of those hot women around, I am not wearing a bikini.' And I said, quote, 'You'll be the hottest one there no matter what you wear' unquote, and you said, 'Then I can be the hottest babe in a one-piece'."
Willow blinked. "I'll go borrow one from Buffy."
Rowena laughed as Willow walked rapidly from the room.
Island – Condo – Buffy's Room – Moments Later
Willow walked through the door and found Faith lounging on Buffy's bed reading a magazine. The brunette was in shorts and a white tee-shirt.
"Hey Will," she said absently.
"Hey," Willow said. Then she started rummaging through Buffy's suitcase. "Where's Buffy?"
"Shower," she replied. "Why she has to shower to go to the beach, I'm still trying to figure out."
"She's always been like that," Willow commented. She pulled out several garments and held each one up, as if deciding which one to wear. "What about you, aren't you changing for the beach?"
"Didn't come all the way to the Caribbean for tan lines." Faith licked her finger and then turned the page.
Willow's mouth opened and closed a couple of times as a blush crept up her cheeks. She finally grabbed a bathing suit and croaked out, "See you on the beach," as she hurried from the room.
"Yep," Faith said to an empty room.
Island – Condo – Kitchen – Same Time
Xander was cracking eggs into a bowl while Kadin chopped vegetables at the counter. Xander watched the hunter slash through an onion with lightning fast speed. She flipped the onion into a glass bowl and then grabbed a green pepper. Before Xander could blink twice, thin green slices had joined the onion.
"Impressive," he said as he took the bowl to the stove where a pan with oil was heating. He threw the vegetables in and started sautéing them. "I tried doing the Ginsu imitation once and nearly emasculated myself."
"Ouch!" Kadin said. "Let me guess, you were trying to impress a chick?"
"You betcha," Xander said cheerily. "The first time I cooked breakfast for Vi. She didn't tease me about it, but after that she made sure she did all the knife work in the kitchen."
Kadin laughed and then turned as Kennedy came in. "Hey, babe."
"Breakfast ready?" Kennedy asked after giving Kadin a long kiss. She sat at the counter and grabbed a banana from the fruit bowl.
"Almost," Xander answered.
"Wanna get the ATV's from the garage after we eat?" Kennedy questioned Kadin. "The rest of the gang is going to the beach."
"Sure," Kadin said. "I'll race ya to the other side of the island. What'll we race for?"
Kennedy seemed to think a moment and then with a sly smile, she took a large bite of her banana. Kadin flushed and said, "I'll pack supplies before we go."
Xander smiled at them and then looked up as Willow and Rowena entered the kitchen. Rowena was wearing a white tunic over her suit, but Willow was in her bikini top with a sheer sarong around her hips, drawing an appreciative glance from Kadin.
"Breakfast ladies?" Xander said, dishing up the first omelet.
"Uh, no thanks," Willow said. "We want to get to the beach before all the good spots are taken."
The others all gave her a strange glance. "You're on a private island Will…I don't think you have to worry about finding space," Rowena said.
Willow whispered something in Rowena's ear, causing the blonde's eyes to widen. "Yeah, let's go!" Rowena yelped. She grabbed a couple of bottles of water from the refrigerator and stuffed them in her straw bag. The two hurried outside and practically ran toward the beach.
Kennedy looked at Xander. "Pre-wedding jitters?" she asked.
Xander shrugged. "Beats me," he said. "Come down to the beach after your ride if you want. I'll be 'Grill Man' this afternoon. Fire burn red meat…good!" He let out a series of grunts a la Tim Allen.
Kadin dug into her omelet with a similar grunt.
Island – Beach – Later
Willow and Rowena were romping in the cobalt-blue surf as Faith and Buffy arrived at the beach. The beach was furnished with a large cabana and luxuriously-padded chaise lounges, and the slayers chose a pair in the full sun. Faith pulled two bottles of Kalik from a cooler, which she then stored under her lounge and out of the sun. She popped open both beers with a flick of her thumb and placed them on the table between the two chairs.
Buffy paused in laying a towel on her lounge and eyed the beers. "Me and beer don't mix," she said. "I've avoided it since freshman year."
"Don't worry, B," Faith said. "I'm not some frat boy who needs to get ya drunk to take advantage of ya."
Buffy grinned and said, "Then what do you need?"
Faith grinned back. "Just my je ne sais quoi will do. Here," she said tossing Buffy a bottle of tanning oil. "I want to be tan, not crispy." She turned away from Buffy and easily stripped off her shorts and tee-shirt, lying facedown on the lounge. She rested her head on her crossed arms and looked at Buffy as if to question 'Well?'
"Okay," Buffy said after taking a long moment to admire Faith's back. "But you gotta do me too."
"Deal," Faith said.
Island – Trail – Later
Kennedy howled in joy as she pulled ahead of Kadin. Her ATV cut off the hunter's, and with a final twist of the throttle she raced ahead and reached the end of the beaten track that ended at the edge of the cliff leading down to the beach. With a flourish she spun her craft in a 360-degree turn and killed the engine just as Kadin caught up.
"You cheated, Slayer!" the hunter said, pulling off her helmet.
"Did not," Kennedy said, pulling off her helmet as well. "Face it, I'm better than you."
Kadin growled playfully and leapt from her ATV to Kennedy's, pushing the slayer off the side and landing on top of her. The couple wrestled for a few minutes, rolling around dangerously close to the drop-off until finally Kadin pinned Kennedy on her back, holding the slayer's hands over her head.
Both women were covered in sweat and dirt and breathing heavily. Kadin looked down into Kennedy's eyes and asked, "Trust me?"
Kennedy squinted her eyes. "Do you trust me?"
"Maybe," Kadin replied.
"Then maybe I do, too."
Kadin grinned and slipped her firm thigh between the slayer's legs, pushing upward. "Wanna put your money where your mouth is?"
Kennedy's heavy breathing turned to a gasp, and she briefly closed her eyes as her body arched up into Kadin's. "What…what did you have in mind?"
"Trust me?" Kadin asked again with a smirk and thrust herself forcefully against Kennedy.
"Y-yes, I trust you!"
"Good," Kadin said and jumped off the slayer and on to her ATV. With a jerk of her head, she said, "Hop on!"
Kennedy looked at her incredulously. "You're not gonna leave me like this, are you?"
"I'll make it up to you," Kadin promised. "Come on, Ken! Let's go!"
With a shake of her head, Kennedy stood up and climbed on the ATV behind Kadin. The hunter roared off with a cloud of dirt, leaving Kennedy's vehicle and both their helmets behind.
Island – Beach – Same Time
Rowena and Willow were relaxing in the shade of the cabana while Xander sat in the sand chatting with Willow, his back resting against her lounge. He was whittling on a small piece of driftwood using only a penknife. Rowena was reading a novel while the slayers were still sunbathing, Buffy having joined Faith in her dismissal of tan lines.
Every fifteen minutes or so, they would roll over in perfect sync, causing Willow and Xander to cease their conversation for a few moments and Rowena to momentarily lose interest in her book.
Island – Cliffs – Later
Kennedy stood up behind Kadin, just resting her hands on the hunter's shoulders as they sped along the edge of the cliff. Both women were laughing and whooping in excitement as the wind blew through their hair. Suddenly, Kadin twisted the ATV hard toward the cliff's edge, and as they bounced over the top, Kennedy was forced back into her seat. The craft flew through the air for a few heart-stopping moments and then landed on a steep trail leading down to the beach. The ATV nearly rolled over, but both women shifted to the side and forced it back on to all four wheels. Rocks and debris avalanched off the trail down to the beach far below. After a few minutes of wrestling the craft by almost sheer willpower, Kadin practically crashed onto the beach and steered for the water. Just before they reached the surf line, she spun the vehicle into a stop and with a shout, they both jumped off and headed for the water, stripping as they ran.
Both women dove under the waves, and when they came up, they were locked in a passionate embrace.
Island – Beach – Night
A large bonfire burned as the gang used long sticks to toast marshmallows – an open box of graham crackers and several packs of chocolate giving evidence to their choice of dessert. Except for the lights from the house and the firelight, the beach and the ocean were pitch dark, clearly showing the starry swath of the Milky Way across the sky. A brisk breeze had caused them to don sweaters and sweatshirts.
"This is great," Rowena said, sliding another marshmallow onto a cookie sandwich and taking a big bite. "I never had S'mores before," she mumbled the words while still chewing.
"You mean they didn't have a Girl Scout troop at the Council?" Willow asked.
"Are you kidding?" she replied. "No time for such nonsense, according to Travers."
"I really hated Travers," Buffy said absently. Willow and Xander both nodded.
"We earned our merits on our intellectual skills and saved our physical activities for fencing and track," Rowena went on.
"We should start a troop in Cleveland for the junior slayers," Buffy mused. "I was one and had a blast, and since it's something Travers would never do, then you know it's gotta be a good thing."
"My dad wanted me to be a scout," Kennedy put in. "He thought it looked good on your record, but I rebelled."
"Xander was a scout for a while," Willow said proudly. "I was so jealous. My mother thought scouting only reinforced gender-specific roles in society."
Instead of toasting marshmallows, Xander was still whittling. Tucked into the sand next to him were several wooden caricatures, each depicting a different high-ranking Council member. A pirate with a peg-leg was obviously Robin, and a stiff figure with a leftover nub pointing out of its behind comically satirized Jim Pollan. "I was only a Cub Scout…never made it to a full Boy Scout."
"How come?" Kadin asked.
"My dad refused to shell out any more cash for uniforms and stuff," Xander replied. "When I asked for a pup tent, he blew up, and I was bruised for a week. I was too proud to ask for help from the troop, and mowing lawns didn't pay enough." His penknife slipped and sliced across his thumb. A thin line of blood welled up from the shallow wound. Willow took his hand in both of hers, and a whiff of ozone filled the air. When she let go only a thin red line remained on his thumb.
"I think that's the first time I've heard you talk about your dad," Rowena commented.
"Yeah, I don't usually," he said. "When I was a little kid, I was afraid of him, and then I hated him. Now – I just pity him."
"I'm so proud of you, Xander," Buffy said, her voice filled with warmth.
"For what? Wanting to be a better man than my dad?"
"For turning into a fine man in spite of him."
"Thanks Buff," Xander said and dropped his head back to his carving.
"And on that note, I think I'll head for bed. All that sun today wore me out," Buffy said. "G'night all."
A chorus of goodnights and sleep-wells followed her up the beach.
After a moment, Willow turned to the rest of the gang and said, "Hey, I know what we can do! Let's sing campfire songs!" Before anyone could agree or disagree, she launched into a painful rendition of 'Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore.'
Island – Condo – Kitchen – Minutes Later
Buffy opened the refrigerator and took out a bottle of sparkling water. She opened it and took a drink before carrying it with her out of the kitchen.
Unknown Location – Same Time
A dark figure sat in a dark room lit only by a bank of flat-screen monitors. The monitors displayed various rooms of the island's house. The figure shifted slightly as Buffy moved from the kitchen monitor to the foyer monitor. The bald head tilted in thought as the slayer started up the staircase.
End of Act One
On to Act Two