Story by CN Winters, Anne, David Zahir and Susan Carr
Written by CN Winters (with additional writing by Susan Carr)
Directed by CN Winters
Produced by CN Winters and Susan Carr
Edited by Sharon Kierein and Angie Wilson
Sound by CSR
Art Direction by Chris Cook
Artists: Chris Cook, David Zahir, Cala, Rob, CN Winters
Watchers Council Lobby – Same Time
"Hey," Willow said softly in Rowena's direction.
Kennedy, Giles and Xander appeared as if they weren't sure what to say or do when they heard Rowena issue a quiet 'Hey' in return. No one moved or made a sound until Giles finally cleared his throat.
"Rowena," he said as he made his way over with a grin, his hand extended. "This is a pleasant surprise."
"Thank you, Giles," she said taking his hand, her tone still quiet.
"Sticking around or just passing through?" Kennedy asked defensively.
Rowena looked at Willow for a brief moment before her eyes focused on the floor. "I'm not quite sure yet."
The room fell uncomfortably quiet again.
"Well then," Giles said nervously. "Uh, Xander and I will be back i-in the workshop if you need anything."
"Good idea," Kennedy added before turning to Willow, resting a hand on her upper arm. "If you need me, I'll be training with Faith."
Willow nodded her thanks and watched as Kennedy followed out behind Giles and Xander. Once they were gone, Willow hesitated but finally turned to Rowena and spoke. "I see you cut your hair. Looks nice."
"Thanks," Rowena answered as she self-consciously ran her fingers through it. "You're looking good."
Willow nodded to her in gratitude, still looking unsure what to say. "So, how have you been?"
"Fine." Rowena clutched the organizer she held even closer to her chest. "I know it's been awhile..."
"Four months, two days and…" Willow paused to look at her watch. "Thirteen hours, but who's counting?" she tried to add optimistically.
Rowena seemed to read through it and took a step forward. "Willow," she began talking quickly. "First let me say...I'm sorry I guess I was kinda mean to ya –."
Willow ignored the apology and continued with a reserved hostility. "You asked for Giles every time you called in."
Rowena's foot nervously scraped the floor. "I realize that, but…I've been busy."
"For four months?" Willow asked, incredulous.
Rowena took a calming breath. "Truth is, I called you lots of times," she confessed.
"Oh really?" Willow asked sarcastically. "I didn't get the messages."
"It rang but…I hung up before you answered."
"And why is that?"
"I didn't know what I should say," Rowena said honestly, trying to ignore the acidity in Willow's voice. "And then, after four weeks of perpetually picking up the phone and putting it back down, I realized how much time had passed…so I wrote you."
"Why am I finding this hard to believe?" Willow asked.
"It's true. But again…I couldn't say everything I wanted to, the way I wanted to so I, I didn't say anything. Besides, if I wrote, maybe the only thing I'd end up doing is messing up your life. I…I missed you, so much, and there wasn't an hour that went by that I didn't wonder where you were or what you were doing, but…"
"But?" the witch asked and took a step closer.
"I told you to move on and not wait around. And judging by that goodbye from Kennedy I just witnessed, obviously you've done that, and I'm…" Rowena let out a ragged sigh. "Look, I'll only stay a few days, give my report to Giles and go back to England. I'm not going to interfere with you and Kennedy."
Willow took another step closer. "For the record, I'm not with Kennedy. She's with Mia and I'm happy for her, for them both actually. Jealous, but happy."
"You're not together again?" Rowena asked hopefully.
"No, she was just being a friend. You know what that is, right? A friend? Someone who cares about you? Someone you talk to? Any of this ringin' any bells for ya? Because I thought that's what we were, in spite of anything else. I thought you'd still be my friend."
"I am. And I didn't come back here to make you angry. I just thought…"
"What? That you'd walk right back in and all would be forgiven?" Willow said sarcastically.
"Not all, just some," Rowena answered with a touch of anger rising to her voice too.
"Ro, I can handle you not wanting to be my girlfriend. Honestly, I can. I did it when I pined over Xander for god knows how long. But he talked to me even if he couldn't feel the same way about me…at least he still respected me."
"I respect you, too."
"Obviously you don't or you would have said something," Willow countered, unable to contain her anger and hurt any longer. "But what do you do? You hop a plane and don't look back!"
"Like hell I did!" Rowena shouted and made Willow jump. "The plane ticket I came here on was originally dated for May 25th! I kept looking back – all goddamn summer! I told you that I loved you and that wasn't a lie!"
"Then why Rowena? I'd really like an answer – no, I need an answer!"
"Not like this." the blonde Watcher begged on the verge of tears. After a few seconds she composed herself enough to say, "Not with us yelling at each other...I can't."
Rowena put her face in her hand and moved to wipe her eyes. Willow's angry façade fell for a moment and she looked away as if trying not to give in to Rowena's display of emotion.
"Just give me something here," Willow said in a calmer voice. "Some reason why you left other than 'I love you and miss you but I don't want you.'"
Rowena coughed and wiped her eyes again. "I know you're wonderful," the Watcher managed to answer. "But you deserve a woman who's experienced and passionate and…not me."
Willow threw her hands up in the air. "Four months, and I'm no closer to finding out anything." She turned and walked away, not looking back.
Rowena could only watch her leave. She wiped her eyes again and took a ragged breath. With a determined stride she walked over to the phone and hit the speed dial number. She paused a few seconds as the voice on the other end answered.
"Hi there, it's Rowena…" Rowena paused and gave a short smile at the voice on the other end in spite of her dark mood. "It's good to hear you too," she added warmly and paused as if relieved to hear the other voice. "No, I'm at the Council actually, but I'd like to ask a favor…If you don't have plans, can we have dinner tonight at Gigi's Restaurant? Just the two of us…No, seven is fine. Oh, and please don't mention this to anyone, okay?…Okay, I'll see you then. Bye."
Rowena hung up the phone and let her hands slide from the receiver. She cleared her throat again and squared her shoulders. When she turned she saw an older teenage girl standing in the doorway, looking around the lobby at the décor.
"Hi there," Rowena greeted her. "Can I help you?"
"Yeah I'm here to see Faith. Is she around?"
Rowena looked uncertain for a second. "Oh, uh, I can check. Can I say who's calling?" Rowena questioned politely.
"Yeah," the girl said, stuffing her hands in her pockets, "Tell her it's her sister."
End of Teaser
Onto Act One