Story by DragonWriter17 and Susan Carr
Written by DragonWriter17 (additional writing by Kye and Chris Cook)
Produced and Directed by DragonWriter17 and CN Winters
Edited by CN Winters
Sound by CSR
Art Direction by Chris Cook
Artists - Chris Cook, Zahir al-Daoud, Rob, Sarah, Humaira, CN Winters
Council Kitchen – Early Evening
As Andrew herded a team of junior slayers carrying stuffed garbage bags out of the kitchen and into the alley where the dumpster was located, Robin supervised a trio who were cleaning out the dry storage pantry. Nearby, Faith stood watch over another group, who was scrubbing the industrial walk-in refrigerator and freezer. In the freezer, both Shannon and Rita were on their hands and knees wiping down the walls and lower shelves with bleach water.
Shannon made a sound between a groan and a growl. "This is no fair," she complained. "Why do we have to do all the dirty work while she just watches?"
"’Cause we’re on the bottom of the pecking order, that’s why," Rita replied. "Oh, need your car washed? Get a junior slayer. Or how ’bout these five-hundred pound boxes? Oh, let the young’uns do it. We’re like slaves or something."
"Do I hear complaining in here?" Faith asked as she walked toward the two younger slayers.
"Yeah," Shannon said, "this is torture!"
"It’s like...cruel and unusual punishment!" Rita added.
"Let me ask you something. Do you like to eat?" Faith inquired.
"Of course, we do," Rita replied.
"Do you want to continue eating," Faith said, "then I suggest you clean like your meal plan depended on it, because it does." Rita and Shannon both swallowed hard and collectively took a step back from Faith. "Not me from me," the slayer continued exasperated. The girls seemed to relax a moment. "Health inspector’s coming tomorrow, and if we don’t pass, we get shut down. We get shut down, you don’t eat. So the logical answer would be…?"
"Clean," Rita and Shannon grumbled and returned to their work.
Faith simply laid a finger on her nose.
Council Lobby – Same Time
Becca hobbled through the front entrance and immediately plopped into a nearby chair in the lobby. She sprawled out in the chair and moaned in pain.
"Oh god, my feet are killing me!" she exclaimed.
"I’m sure it’s...nothing...compared to my back," Giles grunted from behind an armload of bags and packages as he struggled through the doorway and into the lobby. "Oh...dear...lord..." he groaned as he set the packages on the floor. Then he too fell into a lobby chair.
As Rowena entered on her way to the exit, she caught sight of the exhausted parents-to-be. She grinned and went over to join them.
"Back from another lengthy expedition, I take it?" she asked.
Giles and Becca didn’t answer; they merely nodded wearily.
Rowena glanced at the packages. "Hmmm...Babies R Us, A Pea in the Pod, Nursery Depot, Baby Universe...boy, you two have really been at it."
Becca leaned up in her chair and looked at Rowena more closely. "Don’t you look nice," she said. "What’s the occasion?"
Rowena struck a momentary pose then said with a wide smile, "I have a date. A real date, by the way – not just a take-out pizza in the rec room."
"Should I warn Willow?" Becca teased.
Rowena gave Becca a sarcastic ‘ha-ha’ look and went on. "She’s meeting me at The Palace, and after that, it’s just the two of us for the rest of the night."
"It sounds lovely," Giles said.
"It will be, so unless there’s an apocalypse, don’t call us!" Rowena said in a mock command.
When Giles and Becca grinned and nodded in compliance, Rowena gave them a wave and headed out the door.
Kennedy’s Apartment – Same Time
Kennedy and Mia sat on the couch, their supper plates on their laps. The television was on, but neither was really watching. Mia nervously looked over at Kennedy then cast her gaze back at her plate. Seconds later, Kennedy glanced at Mia and then also looked away quickly. After an interminable silence, Mia finally spoke.
"I’m glad we got out of the whole ‘super-clean’ downstairs," Mia commented.
Kennedy forced a smile. "Yeah, me too."
"Lucky us, huh?"
"Yeah, lucky us."
The two slayers returned to their meals, once again eating in awkward silence.
The Palace – Dining Room – Later
Rowena sat alone at a table in the palace. She lifted the fine china cup from its saucer and took a sip from her tea. Then she turned around and glanced nervously at the doorway to the foyer where the hostess stood greeting guests.
"Need a little more tea, hon?" the waiter asked, forcing Rowena to turn back around.
Rowena smiled at the server and shook her head. "No thanks, Sammie."
Sammie put his hands on his hips. "Where is that girlfriend of yours?"
"I’m not sure," Rowena replied. "She’s usually very punctual."
"That must be one of the things you two have in common."
Rowena laughed. "Yep, sticklers for timeliness."
"Well, I know she wouldn’t stand you up," Sammie said. "Willow thinks the sun rises and sets in those eyes of yours. You know that, right?"
Rowena blushed at the thought. "That’s good ’cause the feeling’s mutual."
"It’s obvious," Sammie said. "I’ll check back with you in a little bit. In the meantime, hang in there. Willow’ll be here before you know it." Sammie gave Rowena a wink of encouragement, then hurried off to the kitchen.
At the table in front of Rowena sat a well-dressed, heavy-set woman who was probably in her late forties or early fifties. She glanced over her shoulder at Rowena. When Rowena met her eyes and smiled, the woman stuck her nose in the air and turned back around. Rowena frowned and shook her head.
The woman stroked the arm of her mink coat, which was draped on the back of her chair. Then she reached up and touched the diamond necklace that lay conspicuously on her chest. She patted it several times and then reached over to touch her companion’s hand.
He was a much younger man, in his late twenties at the most. He was dressed in a very expensive black suit. When the woman touched his hand, he smiled graciously and turned to her, the charm coming off him in waves.
"I simply cannot believe the gall of some people," the woman said, loudly enough for both Rowena and other nearby patrons to hear. "It’s a disgrace, I tell you."
The woman’s companion nodded in whole-hearted agreement, giving her hand a comforting pat. Rowena, however, went crimson in embarrassment and shrank back in her seat, dropping her gaze to the tabletop. She cut her eyes to her left and right, but found no encouraging glances. She gripped her teacup with both hands and stared into it.
"Willow, where are you?" she whispered urgently.
End of Teaser
Onto Act One