Guest Stars: Michelle Rodriguez as Kadin VanHelsing, Liv Tyler as Shadow, Jeff Kober as Rack, Steffani Brass as Shannon, Hudson Leick as Jacinta Carter, Avril Lavigne as Janet, Asia Argento as Marie, Victoria Pratt as Francesca, Michele Merkin as Sable and Alicia Silverstone as Heli
Guest Starring: Elijah Wood as Jeff, Norika Fujiwara as Mia, Lindsay Felton as Skye, Stephanie March as Bonnie, and Felicity Day as Vi
16 hours earlier
Kennedy’s Apartment – Early Morning Before Sunrise
The bedroom was dark and calm. The only sound penetrating the darkness was the constant tick of the bedside clock.
Kennedy lay sprawled out on her side of the bed, one arm thrown across her eyes. A sleeping Mia lay peacefully next to her.
The elder slayer let out a deep sigh and turned her body more into her girlfriend, wrapping her arm around the woman’s waist. Mia let out a tiny sigh in her sleep and burrowed deeper into Kennedy’s embrace.
Deserted Beach – Night
The sound of the waves crashing against the rocks slowly lulled Kennedy out of her peaceful slumber. She let out a long moan as she stretched her arms above her head. Her eyes instantly opened when her hands met the cool sand of the beach.
The slayer sat up quickly and looked around. Perplexed, she pulled herself to her feet.
"Well…" she said, glancing around. "Huh."
"Looking for someone?"
The sultry voice froze Kennedy in place. She swallowed hard and let out a deep breath.
"Don’t worry," the voice said, now right next to her ear. "You’re not dead."
Kennedy’s eyes slid shut as the woman’s warm breath tickled her ear.
"Kennedy, look at me."
The slayer’s throat suddenly felt very dry, but she forced her eyes back open and looked at her companion’s face. Her eyes met the soft brown gaze of Kadin Van Helsing.
"Hey," the hunter said.
"Umm…hey?" Kennedy answered weakly.
Kadin chuckled and leaned in to place her forehead against the slayer’s. "You should really learn to relax."
Kennedy’s eyebrow shot to her hairline. "Relax? This from ‘Ms. Adreline Rush’. I’m in the middle of a deserted beach, at night, with…" She trailed off to give Kadin the once-over. "...with a very hot and scantily-clad woman. Relax isn’t in the cards right now."
"Hot?" Kadin repeated with a smirk. "Scantily clad?"
Kennedy smiled and averted her eyes with a blush.
"Well, it is your dream," Kadin said matter-of-factly. "So if anyone here is scantily clad, it’s because that’s how you want it."
"What?" Kennedy suddenly looked up. "No, not me. I…I don’t want any scantily-clad anything. I’m not even sure why I’m having this dream ’cause it’s obvious that this is something that I—"
Kadin cut off Kennedy’s babble with a gentle finger over her lips. "Don’t think," she whispered softly. "Just feel."
Kennedy watched wide-eyed as the hunter leaned in and kissed her.
Kennedy’s Apartment – Early Morning Before Sunrise
Kennedy moaned in her sleep and nuzzled deeper into Mia’s neck. She pulled the younger woman tighter against her own body and smiled in her sleep.
Deserted Beach – Night
Kennedy moaned into the kiss, lifting her hand to wind her fingers through Kadin’s raven hair. The kiss lasted only a moment longer before the hunter broke it and pulled away. Kennedy gave a small whimper of protest at the separation.
"Don’t worry," Kadin chuckled as she took Kennedy by the hand. "The night’s just begun." She turned and started to lead the slayer over to the shoreline, a devious smile plastered on her face.
"Ah, Kadin?" Kennedy said, trying to get the other woman’s attention.
Kadin just continued to walk along in silence, gently pulling Kennedy after her. When they finally reached the shoreline, Kadin stopped and looked out into the waves of the ocean.
"It’s so beautiful," Kadin said as she looked over at Kennedy and smiled. "Don’t cha think?"
"Well, yeah, I guess...if you like that kind of—" Kennedy’s words were cut off when Kadin suddenly shoved her onto the sand. The slayer fell onto her butt and let out an annoyed grunt. "All right, I’m sorry. Geez. It’s beautiful. No need to get violent."
Kadin gave Kennedy her most seductive leer and smirked. "I’m a lover…not a fighter."
Kennedy’s throat constricted. "H…huh?"
Kadin’s smile faded, and she placed her hands behind her back, resting them on her hips. Her wet hair hung down around her face and her bronze skin glowed in the moonlight. The bikini top she wore did nothing to hide the gently rippling muscles of her torso.
Kennedy found herself transfixed by the image before her. "Now that’s beautiful," she whispered.
Kadin stalked purposefully over to Kennedy. She paused when she reached the slayer’s feet. She slowly raked her eyes over the slayer’s body until her gaze came to a penetrating halt on the other woman’s eyes.
"I can’t believe how much I want you."
At those words, Kennedy’s eyes slid shut again, and she moaned. She cleared her throat and began, "Kadin, I—" Her words failed when she felt the woman’s presence even closer than before. She opened her eyes to meet Kadin’s mere inches from her own. The hunter smiled.
Any protest the slayer might have had died in her throat when Kadin’s lips once again met her own. She pulled the hunter to her, and the two women fell back onto the sand, moaning into each other as they kissed. A sudden wave swept up and crashed into their entangled bodies, but they didn’t seem to notice. Eventually, Kadin pulled away and smiled down at Kennedy.
"Well, look at that," she whispered, "you got me all wet."
Kadin smirked and leaned back down to capture the slayer’s lips. Kennedy closed her eyes and lost herself in the fantasy.
Kennedy’s Apartment – Early Morning Before Sunrise
Awakened by Kennedy’s moans, Mia slowly blinked her eyes open. When she realized she was wrapped in Kennedy’s arms, she smiled to herself. When Kennedy moaned again, Mia chuckled.
"Kennedy," Mia called softly in a sing-song voice. "Kennedy..." When Kennedy didn’t respond, Mia said more firmly, "Kennedy, wake up!"
Kennedy woke in a jolt, abruptly separating herself from Mia. "What? What is it?" she asked breathlessly.
Mia smirked. "Somebody woke me up. Seems she was having a very naughty dream." Kennedy went wide-eyed and speechless. "Was I in this dream?" Mia asked seductively.
"No!" Kennedy answered, more sharply than she intended. "I mean...no, I wasn’t having a naughty dream."
Mia looked at her girlfriend skeptically.
Kennedy put on her most charming grin. "What do I need naughty dreams for when I’ve my real-life dream girl right here?"
Mia glared for a moment, as if not believing Kennedy’s denial. Eventually, though, she succumbed to Kennedy’s sparkling charm and smiled broadly.
When she saw Mia’s face light up, Kennedy moved closer to her again. "Well, since we’re already awake, what’d’ya say we make up our own naughty dream right now?" Kennedy suggested before nuzzling Mia’s neck.
Once Kennedy had wrapped her arms around her, Mia laughed and returned the embrace. When she rested her chin on Kennedy’s shoulder, however, her face fell, and a sad worry filled her eyes. "Sounds good," she replied flatly.
Willow’s Apartment – A Little Later That Morning
Willow hurried about the living room, gathering personal items into her small backpack. Rowena, still in her pajamas, looked on unhappily, her arms crossed and her face frowning.
"Can’t you at least have breakfast with me?" Rowena asked with a pout.
"I’m sorry but I’ve got to get the supplies for the coven class," Willow replied apologetically as she looked inside of her pack as if searching for something.
"Well, just make sure to leave my fifty bucks for last night on the nightstand," Rowena shot back bringing Willow to an instant halt and making her look up. Almost immediately as the words left her mouth Rowena groaned and said, "I’m sorry. That was a cheap shot. I..I just miss you. Between researching this Presidium stuff and our regular duties, we haven’t had much time together except for…you know..." The blonde dropped her gaze and began fiddling with the hem of her pajama top.
Willow stopped her rush about the apartment when she heard the disappointment in Rowena’s voice. She set down her pack and crossed the room to stand before her girlfriend. She placed her hands gently on Rowena’s arms until she looked up.
"You’re right. We haven’t had much time together lately, and I’m sorry for making you feel like a call girl," Willow said.
"No," Rowena said quickly. "I know you love me and I know how busy you are – how busy we both are," she corrected. "It’s just a case of foot in mouth disease."
"It was a bit harsh, true. But I think you’re right to an extent. We haven’t had much time for just us so why don’t we go out tonight? Just you and me?"
"Really?" Rowena said hopefully.
"Really," Willow replied. "I can’t do breakfast now but I can do dinner tonight. I can call Sammie at The Palace, get him to save us a special table." Willow took Rowena’s hand planting a kiss on the back of Rowena’s hand.
Rowena smiled widely and pulled Willow into an earnest kiss. "Sounds perfect," the watcher answered.
Willow gave Rowena a long hug, then returned to her pack. Once she had swung it onto her back, she headed for the door. "I’ll make the reservation and call you later with the time. Then I’ll meet you there. Agreed?"
Rowena gave a happy nod. With a final smile to her girlfriend, Willow was out the door.
Giles’s Apartment – Later that Morning
Giles and Becca sat at the dining table, surrounded by boxes and ribbons and the remains of wrapping paper. Becca had her nose in a baby-names book while Giles finished opening the last of their wedding gifts.
"What about ‘Nadine’?" Becca asked.
Giles looked up, tilted his head in thought for a moment, and then said, "I’ve always preferred the simpler variant ‘Nadia’."
"Nadine is two syllables. Nadia is three. How is Nadia simpler?" Becca rolled her eyes and turned the page.
"What about ‘Glynnis’?" Giles offered as he lifted the latest gift from its box. He frowned at the rectangular item and added it to the pile of similarly-shaped objects. Then he made a note on a pad nearby.
"That’s a joke, right?" Becca pursed her lips and shrugged in a non-committal gesture.
"I had an aunt named Glynnis," he argued.
"Well let’s go with something in the last century at least," she argued. "So, how’d we do?" she asked after a few moments when it was clear that the unwrapping was officially over.
Giles picked up his list and glanced at it while motioning toward the sorted stacks of gifts. "Let’s see...nine books, ten tea-related gifts, seven non-gender-specific baby sleepers in yellow and green, four CDs, two sets of guitar strings, and one...um..." Giles nervously held up a plastic object with a cup-like feature.
"Breast pump," Becca finished for him.
"Yes...right," Giles replied, quickly replacing the object in its box.
Becca chuckled at her husband’s discomfort. "At least we got a few baby gifts," she commented. "We still need to fill in the gaps, though. It’s time to hit the baby superstores," Becca sighed, giving Giles a mock punch in the arm.
Giles forced a smile and sighed, "Yes. Whatever you say, dear."
"Just keep that up, and this’ll be the happiest marriage in the history of mankind," Becca teased as she stood and gave Giles a pinch on his cheek.
Giles grinned and pulled Becca into his lap. "It already is," he told her before kissing her soundly.
Coven Room – Same Time
Dawn and Skye sat at the small table in the corner, looking sleepy and bored. They straightened when the door opened and Jeff came in. He smiled when he saw them.
"Good, you’re here," he said as he joined them, setting his notebook on the table. "We can get started then."
"How can we get started? Willow’s not even here," Dawn said.
"Oh. Well...actually...she’s not going to be here," Jeff explained. "And Andrew can’t be here. He’s getting ready for the health inspection tomorrow. It’s just us."
"You called the meeting?" Skye asked.
Jeff nodded. "Yeah, I...um...I had something I wanted to talk to you about."
Dawn cut her eyes nervously. Skye crossed her arms and glared. Jeff swallowed noticeably.
"It’s about Willow," he announced.
"Willow?" Dawn and Skye replied simultaneously, a look of surprise and confusion on their faces.
Jeff nodded again. "Yeah. I’m...I’m worried about her. It’s been weeks since we did the counterspell to the Ritual of Sundering, and she’s nowhere near a hundred percent."
"So? She’s getting there," Dawn said defensively.
"I know she is, but in the meantime, we need somebody to take charge, to take point."
"And you think that somebody ought to be you?" Skye asked sarcastically.
"Well...yeah," he replied.
"I think you’re jumping the gun, Jeff," Dawn said. "Willow isn’t powerless. She can still lead the coven."
"And what happens when the Presidium shows up? What are we gonna do? Say, ‘Oh, can you wait just a few more weeks until Willow’s up to speed?’ I don’t think so."
Dawn looked at Skye, who returned her worried expression. Then Dawn turned back to Jeff. "What exactly are you proposing?"
"I’m not saying this to brag, but...besides Willow, I’m the strongest one here," Jeff replied. "It makes sense for me to lead. And I’m willing to do it, but I need your support. I think we should beef up our efforts, learn more spells, practice more. We have to be ready, whether Willow is or not."
Dawn and Skye once again exchanged anxious glances. When Skye shrugged and nodded, Dawn turned back to Jeff.
"Okay," she agreed, "but we should talk to Willow about this first, and I think I should be the one to talk to her."
Jeff smiled gladly. "Great! That’s fine. Can you talk to her today?"
"Sure," Dawn answered. "In fact, why don’t I go find her right now? The sooner we get started, the better."
After a quick kiss to her girlfriend, Dawn left the coven room, leaving Jeff and Skye alone. As soon as the door shut, Skye stood up and glared down at Jeff.
"This better not be about you wanting more ‘Dawn time’," she warned, pointing a finger toward Jeff.
Jeff lifted his hands in a defensive gesture. "It’s not," he insisted. "I swear."
"Okay, then," Skye said before sitting down again. "What did you have in mind?"
Jeff smiled and opened his notebook.
Slayer Gym – Same Time
Xander entered the gym carrying a briefcase-sized wooden box by its handle. He glanced about the room until he found what he was looking for: a flash of red hair near the punching bag. He smiled and hurried over.
Vi was dressed in biker’s shorts and a tank top over a black sports bra. Her fists were wrapped, and she was giving the bag a good pummeling. When she saw Xander approaching, she rolled her eyes and returned to her workout.
"Vi!" Xander said. "Faith said I could find you here."
"Yeah, so?" Vi replied, giving the bag an extra-strong pop, making the chains holding it rattle.
"I, um, I know we haven’t exactly been on speaking terms since, well, you know..."
Vi stopped punching and pinned Xander with a cold stare.
"...since I totally screwed up the wedding-date invite," Xander continued.
Vi nodded in agreement to that and resumed her workout.
"I just wanted to apologize...and to give you this." Xander held up the wooden case. It was beautifully stained in a dark, dark red, and the front was carved with the Council’s coat of arms.
Vi stopped and looked at the case curiously. "What is it?" she asked.
Xander motioned her toward the bench. Then he set the case down and opened it.
In the black-velvet-lined interior, held in place by two silver clips, lay two hand-carved stakes. The tips were sharpened to perfection, and the handles were crossed in leather. Each cap was inlaid with a silver V.
Vi’s mouth dropped open as she stared at the gift. She reached in the box and lifted out one of the stakes for closer inspection. She touched it in awe and wonder.
"Xander," she said, "they’re beautiful. I can’t believe you did this."
Xander shrugged. "I just wanted to say that I’m sorry and I hope we can start over."
"Oh, Xander," Vi said before throwing her arms around him and giving him a big hug. "Of course, we can!"
Xander hugged the slayer back, a look of relief on his face. When they finally separated, he asked, "So...friends again?"
The light in Vi’s eyes instantly vanished, although her smile stayed in place. "Friends," she said flatly. "Yeah. Sure."
Xander smiled widely. "Good...’cause I missed you. You know, when we weren’t talking."
"Yeah, me too," Vi replied sincerely.
The two stood in awkward silence for a moment until Xander finally spoke. "I guess I’d better get back to the shop. Catch you later?"
Vi nodded and said, "You bet."
When Xander had gone, Vi dropped her smile and plopped onto the bench beside the wooden case. She replaced the stake in its clip, and then, with a sigh, she closed the box.
Council Dining Room – Around Noon
"Mr. Wood, a moment?" Bonnie asked. He nodded, and the pair moved to the corner of the room, out of the way.
"You have something?" Robin asked.
"I have a definite something," Bonnie replied. "Do you remember the court case against Jimmy Volano, a couple of months ago?"
"The extortion case," Robin nodded. "The prosecutors dropped it on a technicality, didn’t they? Something about tampering with evidence?"
"I’ve been doing some research on it," Bonnie explained. "The evidence was cleared later. Apparently, someone in the police lab took a pay-off to raise the tampering allegation, to derail the trial. It’s not direct action, but if the case were reopened, I’m sure there are a lot of cops who would love to crawl all over Mr. Volano’s properties and dig up evidence of something more than intimidation tactics. And I imagine the DA’s office is full of zealous young prosecutors who would love a shot at making their name by bringing down the notorious James Volano."
"Sounds good," Robin nodded. "Is this just idle hope, or can we make it happen?"
"I think we can make it happen." Bonnie paused, thoughtful, then continued. "The state’s case rested largely on the testimony of a witness, Jacinta Carter. She was a bystander, but she saw just enough to hold the case together. Her identity was suppressed during the trial, but I found it after some work, so it’s good odds that Volano knew, too. When the case fell apart, she went into hiding. She knew what it meant to be willing to testify against him, and with the case stalled, it was probably the only way for her to save her life."
"But if the trial can go ahead now—" Robin began.
"It seems that Jacinta isn’t willing to take chances a second time because the police have had no luck tracking her down."
"But you have?"
"In a way," Bonnie smiled thinly. "It turns out there were two witnesses. But...the other one was a Khepri scarabite. Volano doesn’t know, but neither can anything with a carapace and compound eyes testify in a Cleveland court. But the scarabite can help me find Jacinta."
"You?" Robin asked pointedly.
"He knows me," Bonnie said. "And he knows her. He’s willing to take me to her, on two conditions: it has to be me, in person, and it has to be soon. Volano’s operation doesn’t extend just to extorting money from demons. He’s not afraid to hire them either. He’s got some working for him now, a Vorca tracker among them. Kin – the scarabite – wants himself and Jacinta under the Council’s protection within the next two days, or they’re going to leave the city permanently and never contact me or anyone else here again. Meaning you lose your chance to give Volano a court case to keep him busy while you move against him." Bonnie glanced at Robin, shifting uncomfortably.
"You look like you’ve got something else to say," Robin prompted.
"I…agreed to Kin’s terms on your behalf," Bonnie admitted.
"You did what?" Robin exclaimed, barely keeping his voice down.
"I had no choice!" Bonnie insisted. "Look, Volano may not be up in arms about Jacinta, but his people are on her trail anyway – he likes being thorough. She’s very, very scared, and Kin was half-ready to just take her and get the hell out of the city right away. He owes me a lot, from before the Engineer, and even so, I had to literally plead for just this much of a chance. Since he took Jacinta under his wing, they’re..." She smiled to herself briefly, then went on. "They’re close now, and Kin lost a mate years ago, so he’s very protective of her."
"Wait, ‘mate’?" Robin asked. "He’s a scarabite, right, as in…" He made a vague ‘wings’ motion with his hands.
"Yes," Bonnie nodded, without expression, "wings, mandibles, the whole deal."
"Are they even…compatible, with humans?"
"Reproductively, no," Bonnie shrugged. "But when has that ever stopped anyone? Look, the bottom line is that I had one chance to secure a resource for the Council, and I took it. If I overstepped my bounds, fine. Take away my bonsai tree or something. Do you want to know what you need to do?"
Robin stared at her for a moment, frowning in thought.
"All right," he said eventually. "Let’s hear it."
Council Library – Same Time
Dawn entered the library and looked around the empty room. She was just about to leave when she saw Rowena come out of the far stacks.
"Rowena," Dawn called to get the watcher’s attention.
"Dawn," Rowena replied. "What’s up?"
"Have you seen Willow?" Dawn asked. "I’ve looked all over, but I can’t find her."
"Last time I saw her, she was going to run a bunch of errands. Have you tried to call her?"
Dawn nodded. "Yeah, but she’s not picking up."
"Huh," Rowena replied. Then she waved her hand in dismissal. "Ah, she’s probably in a cell phone hole somewhere. Is there something I can help you with?"
Dawn shook her head. "No, but thanks. It can wait. It’s just some coven stuff I want to ask her about."
"Oh, okay," Rowena said with a shrug and a smile.
"No big. I’ll just catch her later," Dawn said before giving Rowena a wave and left the library.
Lenore’s Chamber Occult Shop – Same Time
Willow came down the sidewalk, slowly and carefully, as she carried two large bags of supplies for the coven’s stores. Trying her best not to drop the bags or lose her balance, Willow fished her keys out of the side pocket of her backpack, which was hanging off her arm.
She hit the button on the electronic key, and with a soft click, the van’s doors were unlocked. She leaned the bags against the side of the van and opened the passenger door. After setting the large bags inside on the passenger seat, she tucked her keys in her pocket and then slammed the door.
"Maybe now I can see who called," Willow mumbled to herself as she reached into her pack for her cell phone.
Suddenly, a figure in black materialized behind her and touched the back of her neck. Her body jerked from the contact as white bolts of energy left the figure’s hand and entered her body. Within seconds, Willow crumpled into unconsciousness, dropping her pack to the sidewalk. The dark figure caught Willow as she fell, then teleported them both away.
End of Act One
Onto Act Two