Rowena’s Apartment – Same Time
Rowena walked into the spare bedroom to see her father looking out the window, but her mother was nowhere around.
"Where’s mom?" she asked.
"Oh, she wanted to visit that mall down the street we passed on the way here." Rowena simply nodded, and her father pointed out the window. "I see you still have a water view."
"I like water," she replied.
"You haven’t changed much. At least, not at the core."
Rowena closed the distance between them. "I’ve changed a lot, actually, because of Willow. And not necessarily what you might be thinking," she added with a bashful smile.
"I did say at the core…but I understand what you mean," he reminded her. "You’re more relaxed, more grounded than I’ve ever seen you. I noticed it as soon as we walked in. You seem, I don’t know, confident but…content. It looks good on you."
"And Mom?" Rowena asked. "What does she say?"
Rowena’s father rubbed the back of his neck. "She didn’t want to come but…I put my foot down. Sometimes you gotta do that with the people you love, especially if it’s for their own good."
"So you think being here against her will is for her own good?" Rowena asked.
Her dad smiled. "I don’t always agree with your mother’s point of view, but I always love her. Despite what she says now, she feels the same way about you too. And yeah, maybe being here this week, seeing you and Willow together, will help her adjust."
"Why do you get it?" Rowena asked.
"Because I’m extremely smart and quick witted," he teased.
Rowena laughed. "You know what I mean."
"I know," he said with a grin before shrugging. "It’s really simple, Blanche. When you’ve traveled like I have, when you’ve seen what can happen on the sea – a calm day that can turn into a nightmare and a fight for your life – you realize something. Life’s too damn short and fragile. You have to cherish the people around you, and you don’t worry about the small stuff. And with the work you do, well, you understand that too. Your mother, thankfully, has never looked death in the eyes. I think that changes a person – for good or bad. I like to use my experience with the reaper for the positive."
"Thanks Dad," Rowena said sincerely.
"Well, don’t misunderstand. I wish you had a potential husband and wanted to have five kids. But that’s my wish, not yours. And as long as Willow treats you with respect and gives you the love you deserve, like I said…the small stuff doesn’t matter. I don’t care that she’s not a guy. As long as she supports you and you’re happy."
"She does," Rowena answered on the verge of tears. "I can’t even begin to tell you how she’s changed my life for the better, on many levels."
"Then that’s what matters, and with time I think your mom will see that too, Sweetie." He put his arm around her, and they both stared out across the frozen lake for a few seconds. "Whadda say we go skating sometime this week? I’ll race ya."
Rowena smiled. "You’re on," she said as he leaned her head on his shoulder.
Slayer Rec Room – Night
Andrew and Tracey came in carrying a cake covered in light candles as a host of slayers including Faith walked inside singing ‘Happy Birthday’. Lori, who sat on the sofa, turned around and began to smile. When they finished, she stood up to meet them.
"I didn’t think anyone remembered," she told them.
"Of course we did. That doesn’t mean you’re getting out of patrol tonight, though," Faith teased, and the group around them chuckled. "So tell us…how’s it feel to turn the big 3-0?" she asked.
"I won’t officially be thirty until 11:53 PM," Lori answered. "Don’t make me older than I am."
"Go on," Kennedy nodded. "Blow ’em out and make a wish."
Lori closed her eyes and in one big huff blew them all out to everyone’s applause. Andrew took the cake and then put it on the bar.
"Now everyone has to have a piece and give me their opinion," he told them. "No offense to Lori, but this is a test run for Giles’s cake, and Tracey and I are trying for perfection here."
With that, all the slayers began to dig in, pushing Andrew out of the way. "Huh, guys? Thoughts? Opinions?" Andrew prompted.
Faith was already on her third bite and gave him a thumbs-up sign.
"At least they’re eating it," Tracey remarked.
"They’re slayers. They’ll eat anything," Andrew replied. "Maybe we can get a piece and have Willow and Rowena try it?"
"Are you gonna fight your way through that mob of hungry superheroes?" Tracey said with a grin.
"Good point," Andrew said, motioning Tracey to follow him. "Let’s make another cake. It’ll take less time and hopefully won’t involve me getting stitches."
City Street – Night
Faith held her hand up, bringing Lori and two other Slayers to a halt. She crept carefully with her back to a factory wall to peer through a dingy window. Inside she saw a woman on a table and five vampires surrounding her. Three of them held her arms and legs while the other two appeared ready to feast.
Faith nodded to Lori, and the woman nodded back before issuing a mighty kick to the door in front of her. The sound of the crash behind them made all the vampires turn around. The slayers poured inside, and the vampires ran over to engage them, leaving the woman unguarded.
"Get out of here!" Faith yelled to the woman, who didn’t need to be told twice. The woman blew past Faith to freedom as the slayer stood toe to toe with the closest vampire.
As the other girls proceed to take them out one by one, Lori reared back and delivered a blow to the vampire’s jaw that barely moved his head. In shock, she grasped her hand in pain, and the vampire smiled. He picked her up by her jacket lapel and tossed her effortlessly into the wall behind her. As she tried to catch her breath, he closed in on her. She tried to sweep his leg, but she was far too slow, and he simply leapt over her moving limbs.
Lori closed her eyes as he started to descend upon her, but the unmistakable sound of a vamp dusting filled her ears. She opened her eyes to see Faith standing there.
"What the hell happened?" Faith asked.
"I don’t know," Lori said, trying to stand and wincing as she did. The two slayers now on either side of her helped her to her feet. "I can’t say for sure but..."
"What?" Faith asked.
Lori appeared confused. "I think I lost my powers."
Faith’s face registered surprise and worry as she frowned.
Computer Room – Day
A Few Days Later
Faith walked into the computer area where Willow and Rowena were working. Stacks of papers and books sat nearby and on the floor. When Faith came to a stop, her hands promptly went on her hips.
"Okay," she began in a frustrated voice. "It’s been nearly a week. Any theories on Lori yet?" she asked as she motioned between them.
"Not any more than before, I’m afraid," Rowena answered. "Robson is checking his information in England, as is the Asian Council, but so far nothing." Rowena watched as Faith ran her fingers through her hair. "I know this is frustrating," she added.
"No, you really don’t," Faith said as she turned heel and left the room.
Willow turned to Rowena. "Don’t take it personally."
"Take what personally?" Giles asked from behind them. They turned to see he had entered from the other side.
"Oh, this Lori-no-powers thingy," Willow answered. "Faith wants answers, but we just don’t have them. No slayer has ever lived past thirty according to our records, so we have no way to prove our theory. It’s just an educated hunch that thirty’s the magic number…or not so magic in this case. According to the report Faith filed, Lori lost her powers between the first melee at 10:45 and the next one at midnight. With Lori’s actual birth time being ten to twelve…it fits."
"Well, have Robson look after those two older slayers he has in England. If they also lose their powers in the next few months after their birthday, we’ll have the proof we need, I’d say."
"Already on it," Rowena answered.
Willow quickly looked at her watch and then at Giles. "Hey, shouldn’t you be at the airport right about now?"
"Yes, I’ve got something to do first, but I’ll be on my way shortly," he said as he left the room.
Slayer Gym – Moments Later
Faith stood with her feet planted, working the bag, when Giles entered the open doorway.
"May I come in?" he asked.
"Got any new info for me?" she asked as she continued to pound at the leather.
"Not yet," he replied. "But I wanted to speak with you."
"Speak away," she answered and continued her workout.
Giles walked over and pulled the bag away, making her stop.
"What are you truly concerned about?"
"What do you mean?" Faith asked.
Giles paused, looking for a starting place. "Lori lost her powers. I’m sure that worries you for all the girls’ sakes, but it also concerns you on a personal level."
"That you might not have slayer powers someday."
Faith turned her back to Giles and walked over to the water bottle and took a drink. She didn’t turn back around after she took a drink. "You’ll always be a watcher. You’ll always know just the right books to find. And Willow…she’ll always be a priestess. She’ll always know all the right spells." Faith turned around slowly. "All I do is hit things, and someday I won’t be able to. When that happens…I won’t have a place here anymore."
"Faith," Giles said sympathetically.
"I don’t want your pity, okay?" she replied.
"I don’t pity you. I’m worried you’re upset over nothing. I have every intention of keeping you as my head of the Slayer Division. Powers or no powers. Besides, at this point we know so little. This could be a situation that only happened t-to Lori for some reason. Since you were one of the two Chosen Ones, you may never lose your powers. We really don’t know at this point, so try to relax. Please."
Faith nodded and looked at her watch. "Shouldn’t you be at the airport?" she asked.
"Yes," Giles sighed. "You’re only the second person to remind me."
"Well, you’re not using me as an excuse to put it off any longer," Faith teased. "Go on and get out of here."
Giles bobbed his head and walked back to the door. "Faith?" he called out, making her turn around. "Try to remember that being a slayer isn’t just about your physical fortitude. It’s also about having the heart and the soul of a slayer. With you, that will never change."
Faith gave him a slight smile. "Thanks Giles. Now quite stalling and get outta here," she said waving him off.
He suppressed a grin and walked out.
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
Domestic Terminal – Later That Day
Becca and Xander stood at the arrival gate, looking at the people coming down the escalator.
"Thanks for helping with the bags," she told him. "I know you’re probably busy."
"My pleasure, Mi’lady," he told her with a small bow and a grin. "Besides, I’ve got nothing planned today."
Becca and Xander heard a squeal and looked up to see a blonde woman racing toward them. Becca smiled and turned to Xander.
"Roxanne," she told him.
The woman dashed toward Becca with open arms and wrapped her up upon arrival, making Becca give an umph sound in response.
"Look at you!" Roxanne said excitedly as she patted Becca’s growing belly. She turned to see Xander standing there with a smile, and she extended her hand. "Nice to finally meet you, Rupert."
Xander’s eyes went wide.
"No!" Xander and Becca said at the same time.
"I’m sorry. This is Xander Harris. Xander, Roxanne - my sister," Becca introduced. "Xander works at the school with Rupert, and he’s helping us with the bags since Rupert has to pick up his own family today."
"Oh," Roxanne said, relieved. "You never said how old Rupert was, so I thought the cradle had been officially robbed. But then again…" she said, walking up and feeling Xander’s muscled arms. "You work out?" she asked as they began to walk along.
Xander gave her an embarrassed grin.
"Oh Roxanne," Becca sighed. "He wasn’t even born and in diapers before your first wedding," she added.
"Well, he’s definitely not in diapers now," Roxanne said, giving Xander an appraising eye.
"Just ignore her," Becca told Xander before turning back to Roxanne. "Come on. We’ve got to wait for Hanna’s flight."
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
International Terminal – Later That Day
Giles waved through a crowd of people and began to walk over to four debarked passengers who stood waiting – a young man and woman in their early twenties and an older gentleman. Seated next to them in a wheelchair was an elderly woman.
"You made it," Giles said with a smile, extending his hand to the older man and shaking it.
"Are you kidding?" the man began in a British accent. "A lifelong bachelor finally making the long walk? We wouldn’t miss it," he replied.
Giles then gave his hand to the younger man and hugged the young woman. "And how are you two doing?" he asked.
"Just peachy, Uncle Rupert," she answered.
"Can’t complain," the young man answered.
Giles then turned to the elderly woman. "Mother," he said with a nod. "Did you have a nice flight?"
She ignored the question and instead said, "On time as usual I see."
Giles looked like a child who broke curfew. "Well, I-I got detained at the Council…but we’re all here now, so why don’t we go?"
With that, Giles picked up the flight bag by the wheelchair and began to push his mother as the others followed.
Council Lobby – Later That Day
"Very nice, Uncle Rupert," the young woman said as she nodded her head and looked around.
"You should have seen it when we first bought it. We made vast improvements," he replied.
"It looks beautiful," she added.
Faith, Rowena, and Willow walked from the computer room to see Giles and his family standing there.
"Hello girls," he called out and waved them over.
"This must be the fam’," Willow said with a smile as she came over, extending her hand to the handsome gentleman. Instead of shaking it, he kissed the back of it.
"Reginald Giles," he said. "You must be Willow." She looked surprised that he knew who she was, but he pointed to her head. "Not too many redheads in the world. Well, that and I have seen pictures."
"Oh," Willow said, slightly embarrassed. Then she turned quickly turning to the women beside her. "This is Rowena, my girlfriend and a fellow watcher, and over here is Faith, our Guru Slayer," she said proudly.
"Nice to meet you all," Reginald said as he nodded toward them. "This is my daughter, Nancy, and my son, Robert," he said, motioning toward them. "And this is my mother, well, our mother," he added quickly, looking at Giles, "Agnes."
"Mother?" Willow whispered to Giles. "A Mrs. Giles? Really? You have a mother?"
"Everyone has a mother, Willow," he answered softly.
"Yeah, but I didn’t know yours was still around." Willow then moved toward Agnes and knelt down. "Nice to meet you, Mrs. Giles," Willow said in a louder voice, offering her hand.
"This is the evil one, right?" she asked, looking up at Giles.
Willow’s hand shot away, and she stood up to her full height.
Giles sighed. "No, Mother, she’s not evil. She just had to go through some coven training."
Faith walked up and looked Reginald up from head to toe. "So…you’re the younger brother, I take it?"
"Actually, I’m two years older than Rupert," he answered.
"Damn…no kidding?" Faith asked.
He simply nodded.
"I’m sure if he had been the one to live through eight apocalypses he would look quite different," Giles piped in.
"Too true," Reginald conceded.
Everyone turned as they heard the front door open. There they saw Xander struggling with a load of bags, slipping and bobbling them. Behind him, Becca and two other giggling women entered. He plopped the bags down and tried to catch his breath as Becca made her way over to the group.
Roxanne pointed to Reginald and said, "If you tell me that’s Rupert, I’m going to be so jealous."
Becca grinned. "No, this is Rupert," she said walking over and giving him a kiss. As she pulled back, she motioned to Reginald. "This is his brother Reginald," she said, extending her hand to him as her sisters looked on.
Reginald smiled politely as he took it. "Nice to meet you face to face, Becca."
"Likewise," she answered. "This is Roxanne, my sister."
"And single," Roxanne added as she forced her way over and extended her hand.
"Charmed," Reginald told her and then added, "but happily married."
Roxanne’s face fell.
"And this is my other sister, Hanna," Becca motioned.
"Nice to meet you all," Hanna waved to the group.
Giles cleared his throat. "We’ve got lunch prepared, so perhaps we can all get acquainted in the dining room if that’s okay."
Everyone began to follow Giles and Becca, who walked hand in hand. In the back Hanna and Roxanne walked side by side.
Roxanne leaned over conspiratorially to Hanna, "I think she picked the wrong brother," she whispered.
"Be nice," Hanna said, trying not to chuckle.
Xander watched everyone leave and looked at the bags and then back at the empty lobby. With a sigh he picked up two of them and groaned. "Hundreds of girls with super strength, and I get to be bellhop."
Xander started for the stairs, but the sound of the front door crashing open stopped him.
"Don’t tell me how to drive! We got here, didn’t we?"
Xander turned to see his mother and father bickering at the front door.
"Mom, Dad. I see you made it," Xander said with a forced smile.
"After driving around for nearly an hour yes," Jessica replied. "I can’t understand why you can’t just ask for directions," she added to her husband.
"And say what?" Tony countered. "Can you point me in the location of the demon fighters’ building? We’re supposed to be quiet remember?"
Xander put his finger over his lips. "Hey guys. Can we take it down just a notch? Becca’s family is here already, and mum’s the word, okay?"
"Oh, I’m sorry, Alexander. Just ignore your father." Tony rolled his eyes. "How are you doing?" she went on. "You look good. Eating well? Seeing lots of single gals?" she prodded.
Xander looked uncomfortable. "There’re a couple I’m interested in, yeah," he answered.
"Well, if you decide to get hitched again, you’re footin’ the bill. I’m not wasting money on a wedding that won’t happen," Tony said.
"Believe me, Dad. I wouldn’t dream of asking. Say," Xander said, trying to change the topic, "let’s get you guys settled into a room." He unceremoniously dropped Becca’s sisters’ luggage to the ground and grabbed his parents’ bags quickly. "Right this way," he said, motioning with his head for them to follow him.
Becca’s Books – Late Afternoon
Becca led her sisters inside the store and motioned for them to look around. "Here it is," she told them. "Hey, Linda," she called over to the young woman behind the counter.
"Hello Ms. Montague," she said. "I wasn’t expecting you today."
"I thought I’d show my sisters the shop since they’re in town for the wedding."
"My god," Hanna remarked as she walked around. "It’s changed a lot since we were last here."
"It’s taken a few years, but it looks pretty good now. Rupert and some girls from the school built all the new bookcases. Oh, and Xander made this display case for me a few months ago, all by hand."
"Umm, so…what happens now?" Hanna asked.
"What do you mean?" Becca asked.
"Getting married. Baby on the way," Roxanne prompted. "It’s not like you’ll have much time to run a shop too."
"Well, I can always bring the baby to work. Not like the boss will fire me," Becca said with a grin. Hanna shrugged with a disapproving look. "You have a counterpoint?" Becca asked.
"No," Hanna said, trying to be neutral. "I just figured that since Rupert runs a school you would have enough money to sell the store is all."
"Money isn’t an issue. I like my store. I like having a place that’s my own."
"That’s smart, I guess. It gives you an out if you need it."
"What does that mean?" Becca asked with a touch of hostility.
"Relax Becca. I’m just saying that the first time you got married you were a bit trapped. If this time doesn’t work, then you’ve got the means to leave. That’s all."
"I’m not going to be leaving, as you put it. This is it. He’s the one." Hanna and Roxanne rolled their eyes. "Now what?" Becca asked, exasperated.
Hanna shook her head. "That’s the same thing you said about Mr. Wonderful, and we all know how that turned out."
Becca paused as if trying to keep her anger in check. "This is different. Rupert is different."
"Rupert might be just looking for a green card," Roxanne muttered, making Hanna snort.
Becca physically bit her lip to hold back anything that might escape her mouth.
End of Act Two
Onto Act Three