This Tangled Web

"You can't wrap your arms around the wind...within lie the reasons for this tangled web we weave..."


From the Watcher's Diary of Timothy Hunter, September 12th, 2009:

We finally got our answer today.

The spells were cast, the omens interpreted, and the oracles asked. Every single sign and portent was interpreted, checked, re-interpreted, and re-checked. And, in the end, no matter how much we disliked it, we knew it was true.

And we knew we had to tell her.

But I can't.

And we don't know who can.


From TeenScene, September 2009:

The Dingoes, the hit band from the States, is finishing up their Europe tour this weekend in London. TS managed to snag an interview with their utterly handsome-but-mysterious guitarist, Oz.

TS: The tour's been a phenomenon around Europe and now here in the UK. But what do the Dingoes have planned for afterwards?

Oz: Well, we're taking a few months off, so we can try and remember our wives and girlfriends. Then it's back to the studio to start work on our second album, which, barring any accidents or fatalities or bad karma, ought to be out in January, so be sure to save that Christmas money.

TS: And is your second album going to be anything like your first one, "A Load of Dingoes' Kidneys"?

Oz: Well, actually, we were considering having our next album be purely a collection of Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, but then we sobered up.

TS: You mentioned "wives and girlfriends" earlier. Is there anyone particular in your life?

Oz: My wife, Sheila. At least I think that's what her name is. I haven't seen her in over a year, so it's a little difficult. (laughter) I'm kidding. You have to put down that I'm kidding or else she's going to kill me.

TS: Aside from releasing a great first album and giving amazing concerts, the Dingoes are also known for one quirk -- Every month, there are three days where you will not be seen out in public. Any comments?

Oz: Yeah, I'm a werewolf. Every full moon and the two nights before and after, I have to be locked up nude in a basement with chains around me.

TS: Really?

Oz: No. I just like saying that.


Oz walked off of the plane, jet-lagged as hell. "I hate tours," he grumbled. After spending an hour in customs, What is it about harassing bands?, he finally walked out of Heathrow airport. He found the nearest payphone and dialed the number he knew from memory.




A male voice answered. "Hello?"

"Hi....Is Willow there?"

There was a long pause. "Who is this?"

Oz frowned. "Oz."

Another long pause. "Just a second."

Oz's frown grew deeper. What was going on?

"Oz?" Another man's voice. "Oz, it's Giles."

"Giles, what's wrong? Where's Willow?"

There was a brief pause. " should come by the house. We need to talk."


Oz made his way to the small house quickly, but in his usual understated manner. He rang the bell and waited for someone to open the door.

Tim opened the door slowly, looking older than his 29 years. "Hi...Oz..." he said quietly, pushing up his glasses. "Come in."

Oz walked into the main room. "So what's going on?" he said, his voice slightly sharper than usual. "Where's Willow?"

"She's gone."

Oz turned around, seeing Giles standing in a doorway. "Gone?"

"She...She left the Watchers." Giles looked down at his feet.

Oz stood there in shock. "How does someone just leave?" He finally asked.

"She decided to just...flitter off to her high school reunion and completely abandon her responsibilities," said Tim behind him, his voice disgusted.

Oz turned back to Giles, his eyes wide. Giles took off his glasses and began to clean them. "We didn't hear anything about it until she mailed us her Watcher diary, which had, as its last entry, a brief resignation letter." He put his glasses back on and looked at Oz. "We've tried to contact her, but to no avail. She refuses to respond."

Oz frowned. "But...why?"

"She went off with..." Tim's voice grew even more vicious. "Some woman," he spat out.

Oz raised an eyebrow. "A woman?" he said softly.

Giles nodded. "Cordelia, to be precise."

That raised both of Oz's eyebrows. "Cordelia Chase?" He stood for a second, stunned. After some time, he simply said "Huh."


From the diary of Willow Rosenberg, September 15th, 2009:

Xander visited us yesterday. The first thing out of his mouth was "Willow, you're as big as a house!" He always knew the right thing to say.

He's leaving today to move up north, to help start a sporting goods store with his cousin. He thinks it'll be good for him to leave Sunnydale, to try and make a new life for himself in a place where there aren't so many memories.

He's the last of us to leave. In a way, his leaving closes the chapter on our lives in Sunnydale, everything that happened to us, all the supernatural experiences. That's behind us. We can move on to our normal lives in our normal world, secure in the knowledge that we've left that behind us.

The baby is due in little over a month. Cordelia's been so wonderful these past six months, taking me to expensive doctors and decorating one of the rooms in her house as a nursery and just getting everything ready for when the newest Rosenberg makes her appearance. Her. It's still weird to think of the baby as a girl, but the blood test proved it. We haven't decided on a name yet, but Cordelia's said that if I name her Buffy, I'll never be forgiven.

Maybe when she's born, we'll be able to move on, to forget what happened to us back then. Maybe we can start to build our futures the way we want them to, not the way prophecy or destiny tells us to. We're in control of our future now. I hope.


Cordelia walked into the garden in typical movie star splendor, large sunglasses and a white swimsuit. She looked over her backyard, then smiled when she caught sight of who she was looking for. "Willow?" she said, walking over to the small flowerbed. "Oh Willow," she said lightly. "You know we hire gardeners to do that..."

Willow looked up, smiling. "I know...but I like doing this." She turned back to the weed she was pulling out. "It's relaxing."

Cordelia rested her hand on the other woman's shoulder, smiling down at her. "Come on," she said. "You have to see what I added to the baby's room."

Willow leaned back on her heels, making her protruding stomach even more prominent. " shouldn't be doing all of must cost so much..."

"Willow, I've told you not to worry about it!" She grinned. "After all, you are speaking to the woman who just snagged a starring role..."

Willow's eyes lit up. "You got the part?"

Cordelia nodded.

Willow's lips curved into a large grin. "That's great!" She wiped her hands on her jeans and slowly, carefully, began to make her way up, balancing her body carefully. Cordelia moved closer and helped her up. Willow gave her a long hug. "Congratulations!" she said happily.

Cordelia smiled and kissed her forehead. "Thanks. I thought we'd celebrate by going out tonight."

Willow pulled back for a second, her eyes twinkling. "Kai's Japanese?" she said softly.

Cordelia chuckled. "I'll be so glad when this pregnancy is over. I'm getting so sick of your seaweed cravings."

Willow blushed slightly. "Well, it tastes good...."

Cordelia leaned down and kissed her tenderly. "I love you, Willow Rosenberg."

Willow looked down at the ground, her face serious. Before Cordelia could ask her what was wrong, the gate intercom buzzed. Cordelia walked over to it and pressed the button. "Yes?"

"I...I'm looking for Willow Rosenberg....I was told she was here."

Cordelia looked over at Willow in surprise. "And who are you?" she said into the speaker.


Willow's eyes grew wide as she mouthed back "Oz?"

Cordelia frowned and leaned forward towards the speaker. "Just a second." She pressed the button to make the gate open, then turned to Willow. "I wonder what he's doing here. Who did you tell that you were here?"

"My parents. Xander, of course. And..." Her eyes grew wider. "I told Giles and Tim..." She began walking towards the front entrance. "Oh dear," she said quietly. "I hope everything's all right."

Cordelia followed her, still frowning as the small car pulled up in the main driveway.


Oz got out of his car slowly, not knowing what to expect. He hadn't been told much by Tim or Giles, and after hearing Tim's harsh comments about Willow living with Cordelia, he wasn't sure he wanted to hear it from them.

So when he saw Willow walking slowly, very pregnant, all he could do was stare for a second. "Willow?" he said, his voice unsure.

Willow smiled that particular smile she saved for Oz. It was her. "Oz! I haven't seen you in...."

Oz smiled. "Not since our first gig in London, which was around a year ago." He looked at his high school sweetheart, focusing on her stomach. "You'"

Willow grinned and rubbed her hands over her stomach. "Yeah, eight months along."

Oz shook his head. "Wow. Giles and Tim didn't mention that at all."

Willow looked up at him. "You saw them?" she said.

Oz nodded. "I was back in London for the final show of our European gig, and I called you up to see if you wanted to go out to dinner or something. Giles asked me to come over, and then they told me you had left..."

Cordelia hmphed. "Did they mention who she was with?" she asked.

Oz looked at Cordelia. "Hey Cordelia," he said. "I didn't see you." He frowned. "They said she had moved to L.A. and moved in with you, but this..." He gestured towards Willow's stomach. "They didn't mention this at all."

Cordelia raised an eyebrow and was about to say something, when Willow intervened. "Come in, Oz....we can have something to drink." She took his arm and led him up the front stairs towards the large door.


Willow slowly sat herself down onto the couch. Cordelia hovered over her until Willow waved her away. Cordelia sat down next to her, reaching out to take her lover's hand. Willow squeezed her hand, then turned back to Oz. "So what have you been doing besides touring?" she asked.

Oz shrugged. "That's been about it. Last time I saw you, we were starting our European tour and now, we finished it. We're going to start work on our next album in a few days...."

"And how's Sheila?"

"She's good... She's glad to have me back."

Willow grinned. "Oh I bet. And your daughter...Mina?"

Oz grinned. "She's just starting kindergarten, and already causing trouble. Sheila's been trying to get me to do that whole 'Daddy' thing and I just end up joining Mina in her fun." He gestured towards Willow. "So when are you due?"

Willow grinned. "October 20th. But my mother keeps telling me that Rosenbergs always have their babies a few days early or a few days late." She sighed tiredly. "It'll be so good to not have to carry her everywhere..."

"So it's a girl? Picked a name yet?"

Willow grinned widely. "It's a girl, but we're not sure on the name." She looked at Cordelia, an evil glint in her eyes. "I've been told that if I name her Buffy I'll never be forgiven though..."

Cordelia grinned. "Damn right you won't."

Oz looked down at his hands, not knowing what to say. Suddenly, he looked up. "Oh, Giles told me to give you this." Oz handed Willow the small envelope.

Willow held up the envelope, frowning slightly. "What is it?"

Oz shrugged. "They didn't bother to tell me."

"Hmm," she said quietly. "Excuse me for a minute," she said softly. She slowly stood up and walked into the kitchen, opening the letter as she walked.

Oz looked at Cordelia. " and Willow..."

Cordelia nodded. "For over six months now."

Oz nodded. "Um...and you're still acting, right?"

Cordelia nodded again. "I'm about to start filming another movie," she said crisply.

Oz nodded again. "That's.....great."

The silence lasted for over a minute. Oz opened his mouth again, about to say something, when he heard a curse from the kitchen.

Cordelia stood up instantly. "Willow?" she asked, her voice worried.

Willow walked out of the kitchen, the letter crumpled in her hand, furious. "" she spat out.

Cordelia moved towards Willow. "Willow, what's going on?" she said softly.

Willow held up the letter. "Read it." Cordelia frowned slightly. "Read IT." She crushed the letter into Cordelia's hand.

Cordelia unwrinkled the letter and began to read it. After reading through the first sentence, she paled. "Oh no..." she said quietly. She slowly fell down onto the couch. "They can't be serious...not again...."

Willow closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "They're serious. They've been searching for these signs for the past two years." She looked directly at Cordelia, her eyes still filled with anger. "I'm not going through that again. I can't do this."

Oz frowned. "Um...what's going on?"

Willow turned her head towards him, but looked down at the floor. "Every two years, the Watchers search for a group of signs and portents that lead them to the newest Slayer-to-be. Once they find the Slayer, the Watchers keep an eye on the child until she comes into full power. Sometimes, the parents are part of the Watcher hierarchy, therefore making the transition easier." Willow looked up at Oz, calmness thinly veiling the underlying despair and anger. "I've just been told that my baby is the next Slayer."


Oz frowned. "But why tell you now? I mean," he gestured to a small picture of Buffy and Willow that was placed on the mantle. "Buffy didn't know until she was a teenager..."

Willow looked at the picture sadly. "The Watcher first assigned to Buffy made a mistake. Because Buffy's parents were in the US, the Watchers' Guild decided to not tell them the truth and instead would simply....abduct Buffy at a young age." She picked up the picture and held it gently. "It went badly. The Guild didn't hear from the Watcher for over ten years, and when they did, it was from a California prison, where he was being held for attempted kidnapping."

"So every other Slayer has been raised up by the Guild since they were little?" Oz asked, still frowning.

Willow nodded, still looking at the picture. "They thought it was better for the Slayer, to start the training early, to not have to worry about outside education, or social skills..." Her voice grew sharper and sharper with every word, her body growing more and more tense. "Or a childhood, or dating, or friends, or even family!" Her hands clenched tightly around the frame, breaking the glass covering the photo.

Cordelia walked over to her lover and gently took the photo out of her hands. She placed it back on the mantle, then gently placed her hands on Willow's shoulders. "Willow...I..." She sighed. "There has to be a way we can fight this."

Willow looked up at Cordelia. "There might be one way..." she said quietly.

"What is it?" Cordelia asked, her voice edgy.

Willow's eyes hardened. "Pleading in front of the Guild itself."


The two women were up in their bedroom, Oz having left, uncomfortable being the bearer of such bad news. Cordelia leaned up against the closet door, her arms crossed and her eyes narrowed, while Willow pulled clothing from a chest of drawers. "You are in no condition to be traveling alone," Cordelia said, her voice sharp.

Willow paused just long enough to glare at Cordelia. "This is between me and the Guild, Cordy. You're not involved."

"Excuse me? You're living with me, I'm helping you support this baby, I think I'm pretty damn well involved!"

"The Guild doesn't allow outsiders into their chambers. This is between me and them. You'd just get in the way. You don't belong there. I do."

Cordelia closed her eyes, those final words cutting through her. She fell back against the door for a minute, then straightened up. "I'm not arguing about this any more," she said crisply. "I'm going. And there's no way around it."

Willow looked at her in surprise. "But your movie..."

"It can wait. I don't care if I'm the outsider or whatever. I'm going. And you're not going to stop me." As if to prove her point, she grabbed the phone and dialed her travel agent. "This is Cordelia Chase. I want two tickets to Heathrow on the next flight out."

Willow narrowed her eyes and began viciously stuffing a suitcase.


Willow walked furiously through the airport, Cordelia barely able to keep track of the determined redhead. She finally stopped when she was right up to the tall thin man.

The man looked down at Willow, his eyes narrowing. "Hello, Willow," he said in a clipped voice. "So you've come back."

Willow straightened up, her eyes also narrowing. "Hello, Tim," she said, her voice just as tense. "You knew I had to be here."

Tim's eyes turned towards Cordelia. "And this must be....Cordelia." His voice was filled with scorn. He looked back at Willow. "You know you can't bring outsiders in front of the Guild."

Cordelia frowned. "Maybe you're not up to date with your reading, but I've seen more in the past ten years than you could have possibly ever seen in your little ivory tower!"

Tim glared at her and was about to speak when Willow intervened. "Tim, don't bother. She's coming. Take me to the Guild now."

Cordelia put a hand on her lover's shoulder. "Willow, you should rest. We've been traveling for over 18 hours."

Willow looked at Cordelia, her face determined. "No. We start this now." She brushed off Cordelia's hand and walked out of the airport.

Cordelia's hand remained in the air as she stood there, stunned.

"I knew she wouldn't need you around," Tim sneered. He walked after Willow. Cordelia stood there for another second, then followed the two.


From the Diary of Willow Rosenberg, September 16/17, 2009:

We're on a plane to England, the first flight Cordelia could arrange.

She spent so much money, just so that I can go on this foolish crusade. So that I can try to break over a thousand years of tradition simply because one woman wants things to be different.

I can't believe she does this. I don't know why she does this.

No, I know why she does this. She loves me. She loves me enough to follow me to another country, to leave everything behind at a moment's notice. She believes that I'm right, and I think she's the only one who does. And it's all because she loves me.

I don't know what to say. I don't know what to do. I wish I did. God, I wish I did.


They reached the small townhouse after a half hour of driving. Tim parked the car right next to the house, then quickly got out, leaving Cordelia to help Willow and carry the luggage.

The door of the house opened and a man stood in the doorway. Willow walked up and paused halfway up the walk, her expression carefully guarded. "Hello Giles," she said softly.

Giles smiled faintly, then opened up his arms. Willow hugged him, as tightly as she could. Giles pulled away after a few seconds and looked down at the protruding stomach separating them. "Oh my," he said softly. He looked up at Willow. "It's...It's good to have you back," he said, smiling.

Giles looked away from Willow and noticed Cordelia. "Oh..C-Cordelia..." he said, stuttering slightly. "I...I didn't know you were coming..."

Cordelia set down a suitcase. "That doesn't surprise me. It seems like no one has expecting me anywhere for the past six months."

Willow's eyes slightly narrowed at her lover, as if in reproach. Cordelia's eyes narrowed back. Well? she seemed to be saying. What do you expect me to do?

Willow turned back to Giles, her expression one of resolve. "Did you arrange a meeting?"

Giles flustered. "Y-Y-Yes, but..."

"No 'buts', Giles." She said her words carefully. "Have you arranged a meeting?"

Giles sighed, looking down at the ground. "They said they would....grant you 15 minutes at their weekly meeting."

Willow closed her eyes. Not enough time. Nowhere near enough time. She kept her eyes shut for a few more seconds, then nodded. "Same time and place?" she asked quietly, still keeping her eyes shut. Before Giles could respond, she answered herself. "I know," she said, a bitter smile on her face. "It hasn't changed in over 200 years." She sighed. "So we wait." She picked up her small bag.

Giles held open the front door as the travelers walked in. "We...uh...we prepared the large bedroom. Tim moved into the attic after..." his voice trailed off.

Willow nodded. "I'm sure it will be fine," she said quietly. She made her way up the one flight of stairs to the largest bedroom in the tiny house. Cordelia followed her, carrying as much luggage as she could carry. Willow sat down on the bed, lost in thought.

Cordelia dropped the luggage on the floor. "Will someone please clue me in or do I have to start asking people on the street?"

Willow looked up at her. "I thought I told you everything," she said, her voice oddly calm.

"Sure, you told me, but you sure as hell didn't bother to tell anyone that I was coming with you!"

Willow looked at Cordelia, her face blank. "You shouldn't have come. This isn't any of your concern."

"Like hell it isn't!" Cordelia glared at Willow furiously. "God DAMN it, Willow. I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to raise this baby up with you. And you keep on telling me it's 'none of my concern'? I don't think so!"

Willow looked up at her, opened her mouth as if to say something, then looked down at her feet. "I should get ready to go," she said quietly. She stood up and looked in the mirror, checking her appearance.

Cordelia reached out with her hands, about to touch Willow's shoulders. Willow pulled away, quietly walking out the door, not seeing the look of anguish on the other woman's face.


From the Watcher's Diary of Timothy Hunter, September 17th, 2009:

She came to England, but she didn't come back to us.

I should have known the second she stepped off the plane. She wasn't going to return to the fold, she wasn't going to go along quietly.

And she brought her along.

In the time I've known her, Willow has never been known for erring on the side of caution, but this, this is going too far. This woman she's seeing, she could bring about the entire downfall of the Watchers. Just one excessively curious tabloid reporter and everything about the Slayer, the Watchers, and the underworld that we have spent centuries protecting the average person from come crashing down. The woman is a menace to us. She shouldn't even be in the same house as us, much less involved in our affairs, and even much less involved in raising the next Slayer.

Willow believes that I don't care about our baby. She's wrong. That baby is our hope against the forces of darkness surrounding us. We need her. But we need her to be trained right. And Willow, with her Southern Californian New Age ideas and her liberal lifestyle, can NOT do that. Only we can. Only the Watchers.


Cordelia stood in the doorway, frowning. "I don't understand, Willow. Why can't I go with you?"

Willow sighed. "Cordelia, only Watchers are allowed to know where the Guild is. Anyone else would jeopardize the security of the location. What if something happened to you and you ended up telling a bunch of vampires where we met? It'd be a massacre."

Cordelia looked towards the small car, still frowning. "I...I just..." She sighed. "Damn it, I love you too much to just let you go..." She looked down at her lover. "Be careful? For my sake?"

Before Willow could respond, Tim interrupted. "Willow? We are going to be late..."

Willow turned away from Cordelia and moved towards the car. She got in and shut the door, not looking at Cordelia until the car pulled away. The look of pain on the other's woman face stayed with her.


The car winded through the streets of London, eventually stopping at an elegant townhouse by the British Museum. Giles, Tim, and Willow got out and made their way to the front door.

Tim looked at Willow, raising an eyebrow. "Do you still have your card?" he asked coolly.

Willow narrowed her eyes at him and pulled out a plastic ID card. She quickly slid it through the reader at the front door. The door unlocked and she opened it. "Coming?" she asked, just as cool.

The trio walked into the main hallway. The man sitting in front of the double doors at the end of the hallway stood up as he saw them coming. His eyes widened when he saw the petite redhead leading the way. "M-Miss Rosenberg," he stuttered.

Willow nodded. "I've come to speak to the Guild," she said, her voice calm.

The man looked at the two people with her, his eyes widening at seeing Giles, then nodded. "Yes, of course, right this way." He opened the double doors, which lead into a darkened room.

Willow walked past him into the room, Tim and Giles following. The lights slowly rose as she walked towards the center of the room, eventually coming up to a twilight level. Around her, several wall-sized flat monitors clicked on, slowly warming up.

"Willow Rosenberg," an stern voice said from the shadows. A tall, gaunt man stepped into the light, his sandy hair glinting. "It's been several months since you've entered the Guild." He paused for a second. "We had heard you had resigned, that you wanted nothing to do with the Watchers." He walked directly up to her. "What are you doing back?"

Willow looked up at him, her eyes steel. "When the meeting starts, I'll tell everyone," she said coolly.

The man turned from her and looked at Giles. "Rupert, you're retired. You're not expected to attend any meetings."

Giles looked directly at the man. "I'm here for her, Iain"

Iain Foxe raised an eyebrow. "You know your vote won't count for much now."

Giles never broke his gaze. "It will count for something."

Foxe finally looked away. "Take a seat. The meeting will be starting in a minute."

The trio sat down as the lights dimmed. The screens flashed to life, the images slowly focusing into people. As the faces clarified, text scrolled below them. Samuel Zabuto, Caribbean and South America. Kentaro Yoshida, Eastern Asia. Abiodun Akinsowon, Africa. Rashid al-Adawiyya, Western Asia. Eric Stevenson, Australia.

All around the trio, people filed in, of various ethnicities and ages. They sat facing the screens and Foxe, who was standing on the podium. He faced the camera he knew was focused at him. "We watch, we protect, we serve."

The people on the screens and the people filling the room recited the motto simultaneously. Still seated, Tim and Giles echoed it. Willow closed her eyes, her lips instinctively moving over the words. We watch. We protect. We serve. Not anymore. Never again.


The meeting progressed normally, every area detailing activity. A Hellmouth had opened near Calcutta and the latest Slayer, a street urchin by the name of Sumittra was managing as best as she could. Ming Li, the next Slayer-in-training, was on alert, and no one taking any chances. The other Watchers detailed their training of future Slayers and any extra-ordinary activity occurring in their regions.

After some time, Foxe turned towards Willow. "Miss Rosenberg wishes to speak," he said, his voice carefully bland.

Willow stood and walked to the center of the room. "You all know me. From when I first began my training as a Watcher, I came here." She gestured to the screens. "I designed this room, allowing everyone to communicate instantaneously. Many of you protested, but it was, as everyone will admit now, a necessary change." She paused, collecting her resolve. " come to you asking you make another necessary change."

She began to walk around the podium. "I spent ten years of my life studying the ways of the Watchers, learning the arcane knowledge necessary to fight the darkness. I studied Watchers, I studied Slayers.

"I know that my understanding of the...overall scheme of things is a bit...unconventional for a Watcher. Several of you have never interacted with a Slayer before completing your training, much less before even deciding to be a Watcher. A Slayer was never allowed to remain with her family, never allowed to have friends.

"Several of you have dedicated years to studying the life of Buffy, determining what made her different, what led to her surviving for almost 10 years as an active Slayer. I know why she was the oldest surviving Slayer. She had a reason to fight, a reason to survive. She had us."

She paused for a second, letting the mutterings die down. "Buffy didn't see her destiny as a 'mission', as 'me against them'. She knew exactly who she was protecting. Buffy had reasons to live, reasons to never give up the fight. She survived because she cared."

Willow paused again, taking a deep breath. "I come to you today with a request. My baby will be a Slayer. My fellow Watchers, I ask you. Help this Slayer survive. Let her be raised by her family."

The room broke into chaos.


Cordelia walked around the small house, worrying. She heard the car pull up and rushed into the hallway. Willow and Giles walked in, their faces somber. Cordelia looked at them worriedly. "What happened?" she asked.

Willow looked down at the ground. "We don't know," she said quietly, her voice barely over a whisper.


"They.....They're currently in discussion. Willow and I were asked to leave during the discussion. Afterwards, we'll be told..." Giles' voice trailed off.

Willow pushed her way past Cordelia and Giles. "Excuse me," she whispered. She quickly went up the stairs.

"Willow...." Cordelia said. She glanced at Giles, then dashed up the stairs. She walked into the bedroom, seeing Willow sitting on the bed, sobbing quietly. "Oh Willow..." She sat on the bed next to Willow.

Willow sniffled. "I....I'm so scared..."

"Baby...." Cordelia wrapped her arms around the other woman. "Oh darling..."

Willow began to cry again, resting her head against her lover's chest. "Oh Cordelia...what if baby...."

Cordelia held her tightly. "I know, baby...I know..." she crooned, stroking Willow's silky red hair.

After a few minutes, Willow's sobs finally subsided. She relaxed against Cordelia, who held her tightly, still stroking her hair. Cordelia lowered her head and kissed Willow on the forehead. "I love you, Willow Rosenberg."

There was silence. Cordelia looked down and saw the other woman asleep, the frown on her face slowly easing. She sighed, moving the smaller woman onto a pillow. Cordelia curled up next to her and dozed off.


The trio sat around the kitchen table, waiting. Giles had earlier fumbled with making some tea and he sat with Willow and Cordelia, the tea growing cold in their mugs, waiting in silent dreaded anticipation.

The phone rang, causing all three to jump, startled. Giles picked up the phone. "Hello?" He listened. "Yes." Cordelia looked over at Willow and grabbed her hand. "Yes, I understand. Goodbye." He hung up the phone.

"Well?" Cordelia asked. "What happened? What did they say?"

Giles removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "They have decided that letting Willow raise the baby would prevent the girl from receiving the proper knowledge and training and she would a risk."

Cordelia frowned. "What?"

"They're not letting me keep her," Willow said, speaking with her head down. She looked up at Giles, her face fallen. "I'm a risk to my own baby?" she said, her voice cracking.

Giles looked down. "Because...because you left the Watchers, they believe that you will not instruct the girl properly, therefore making it dangerous to be the Slayer, not only for the girl herself, but also for the Watchers."

Cordelia looked at the two of them in disbelief. "But Willow is her mother! How could they think she would risk her daughter's life?" The two didn't respond to her. She looked up. "Why don't we just go back to California?"

Willow looked at her, frowning. "What?"

"Go back home. The baby would be born a US citizen. They can't take her then because of all the kidnapping laws, right?"

"I can assure you that, within a week of your return to the US, the Guild would begin proceedings to make Tim the legal parent with full custody." Giles paused, looking down at the table. "Within a matter of months, Willow would be arrested under those very same laws. Tim would bring the baby back here, and she would be placed with her Watcher."

Cordelia looked at Giles, her eyes hopeful. "There has to be a way to appeal this, right?"

Giles frowned. "We can find a precedent....attempt to change the mind of several of the elders..."

Willow nodded. "We should get to work..." She paused, turning to Giles. "Giles, talk to the older Watchers and try to convince them."

Giles looked away from her. "I....I don't know if they'll listen to me."

"Why not?" Cordelia frowned at him. "You are a pretty important Watcher, right?"

Giles turned away. Willow answered for him. "He hasn't attended a meeting since the debriefing on...on Buffy's death," she said quietly. She reached out and grabbed his sleeve. " have to try..."

Giles sighed and nodded. "Of course." He paused. "What will you be doing?"

"Research. I know there has to be something in over 5000 years of information that we can use." She turned towards Cordelia. "Can you help me?"

Cordelia nodded. "I haven't done any deep research since those late nights in Sunnydale, but I'll try." She reached out for Willow's hand. "We'll fight this, Willow."

Willow turned away, slowly standing up. "I think I'll start researching," she said quietly. "Have you moved any books?" she asked Giles.

"No, no....They're all where they were before."

"Good..." She carefully ignored Cordelia's worried gaze and left the kitchen.

Giles stood up, collecting the still full mugs of tea. He moved over to the sink. The only sound was the tap running as he washed the glasses. After a few minutes, Cordelia spoke. "Giles....does..." She searched for the words. "How did Willow...act when she was with Tim?"

Giles frowned. "They....became very close right after Buffy's death," he finally said.

Cordelia nodded. "Yeah, she told me that." She sighed. "I...I don't know if she's...." She finally decided to be blunt. "I don't think she cares for me the way I care for her. I mean, she's Willow....She's a Watcher and she's got a baby who's going to be a Slayer and she's involved in this whole greater destiny thing and I'm just Cordelia Chase who used to totally insult her in high school and I don't have a destiny except to be a second-rate actress and who am I kidding? She deserves someone so much better than me."

Giles looked at the woman in front of him, smiling slightly. "I must admit, when I heard that she had moved to Los Angeles to live with you, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. But the occasional letters I would get sounded happier than the past six months she had been here with Tim..."

"Of course she was happier. The little bitch thought she was getting away with everything."

Giles and Cordelia whirled around to the owner of the voice. Tim stood there, his eyes hard. "She didn't tell you, did she?" he asked, glaring at Cordelia.

"Tell me what?" Cordelia asked, her face pale. Oh god she doesn't love me she doesn't care the voice in her head recited over and over.

Tim smirked. "I bet she acted like it was a big surprise when she got that letter about the Slayer, huh? Like she had never heard about it. She lied to you. She spent four years studying Slayer prophecies! She knew that the next baby would be born of a Watcher! She knew and that's why she left!"

Cordelia stood there, her body tense. "What are you saying?" she asked, her voice soft.

Tim's smirk grew into a sharp grin. "She thought that leaving the Watchers meant that her baby wouldn't be a Slayer. She doesn't care about you, she's just using you to save her baby."

Cordelia closed her eyes. Oh God I was right he was right Oh God she doesn't... She opened them slowly, trying not to show what she was feeling inside, what she was feeling for her. That's when she saw Willow standing behind Tim, a shocked look on her face.

"Cordelia?" Willow asked quietly, her eyes wide. "I...."

Cordelia shook her head. "Don't...please...just don't..." She fled into the backyard and out the back gate, not knowing where she was going, just knowing she had to get away.


Giles finally found her in a small pub a few blocks away, sitting in a corner table alone, two empty glasses by her as she twirled the straw in a near-empty third. He pulled out a chair and sat down next to her.

Cordelia looked up at him, narrowing her eyes. "If she sent you, I don't want to hear it," she said, her voice unslurred by the alcohol.

Giles sat down across from her, not saying a word. He picked up one of the glasses from the table and sniffed at it. "Gin and Tonic? Not the typical choice for drowning your sorrows." He gestured at the barmaid. When the girl came over, he looked up at her. "Two house scotches," he said quietly. Once she left, he turned back towards Cordelia. "Why are you here, Cordelia?"

Cordelia looked down at the drink in her hand and quickly tipped it back, emptying it. "I'm here to get drunk, Giles. At least, I was, until you showed up."

Giles kept quiet as the barmaid dropped off the two glasses of scotch, then spoke. "You shouldn't blame her," he said quietly.

Cordelia stared at him in disbelief. "Excuse me?" She pushed away her glass and reached for the scotch. "I've just been told 'Hey, you know that whole relationship bit? Well, I was just trying to hide out and instead of telling you at first like someone who actually cared would, I let it sit until my ex decided to mention it as an aside!' Why the hell shouldn't I blame her?" She took a drink. "You're the last person I thought would lecture me on how to treat lovers who betray you."

Giles flinched. He looked down at the glass in his hand, then, after a minute looked up. "You're right," he said quietly. "I...I didn't treat Jenny the way I should have." He looked back down into his drink. "And I've regretted it ever since." He sipped at the scotch, thinking. After a few more minutes of silence, he looked back at her. "Cordelia, she did what she thought was right."

Cordelia narrowed her eyes. "Don't tell me that. Don't even start. There's no excuse for lying to me like that. Not after everything we've been through. She..." Her voice broke off. "She could have trusted me."

"Do you love her?"

Cordelia frowned. "What sort of question is that?"

Giles looked directly at her, leaning forward. "Do you?"

"Yes!" she said, raising her voice slightly. "Yes, God damn it, I do!" Her eyes locked with his, shiny with tears. "I love her more than I've loved anyone."

"Then forgive her. Don't let her betrayal get in the way. Don't..." He paused for a second. "Don't make the same mistake I did. never know will happen tomorrow."

Cordelia looked down at her drink, and tipped back the rest of the scotch in silence.


From the Diary of Willow Rosenberg, September 24th, 2009:

One week has passed since the Watchers' Guild made their first pronouncement on the fate of my baby. And we've gotten nowhere.

Giles has talked to every connection in the Guild he made over the past thirty-odd years. All have ignored him. I tried to talk to a few people that I had worked with, but apparently they've decided to side with Tim. I should have known this would happen. The new Watchers are more fanatically conservative than the elders.

My research has turned up nothing. No one has ever won a battle against the Watchers. But, on a positive note, no one has ever actually fought the Watchers. So there isn't a precedent.

I don't know what to do about Cordelia, though. Through all of this, she's been supporting me, even after Tim lied to her about the prophecy. I told her that he made it up, but she said it didn't matter. "None of it matters, as long as you're with me," she said.

I wish I knew what to say. I wish I knew why. Staying here with me can't be good for her. And yet she does it anyway.

I wish I knew what to do.


Tim Hunter slowly made his way down the steep stairs, carrying a stack of books. He walked quietly, his feet padding on the soft carpeting. As he walked down from the small attic that had become his room, he heard a voice talking, soft and furious.

He made his way into the hallway, slowing by the bedroom where Cordelia and Willow were staying. He heard the arguing grow louder and more furious. He peeked into the room.

"No, I don't understand, Greg!" Cordelia was shouting into the phone. "You know I have to be here for her! It involves her baby!" She paused for a second. "No, I can't give you full details, you're just my agent!" She stood there in silence, shaking her head. "But I don't see what the problem is!" She paced the room, taking the phone with her. "I can't be holding up production, they barely had the money to begin with!" She sat down on the bed, sighing. "No, I don't know when I'll be back. They'll have to wait for me." She frowned deeply. "They've got someone else lined up? Already?" She swore under her breath. "I can't make it. You're going to have to tell them that I can't be at the lot by Thursday." She started pacing again. "Yeah, I know it's a big part. But I can't leave her. They'll have to give it to..." She paused for a second, then frowned. "Her!?! Good God, no wonder they can't wait for me! But wasn't she connected to--" She stood there, listening. "Oh." She closed her eyes, deep in thought. "I can't be there by Thursday," she said calmly. "Yeah, I know what a big role this is... Yeah, I know how hard you worked on this... But I can't leave her alone." She paused for a bit longer. "All right. Okay. I'll call you in a week. Yeah. Bye." She put down the phone and sat back down on the bed. "Damn it," she said quietly.

Tim leaned up against the doorway, still holding the stack of books. "You should have told him you were returning," he said coolly. "You're definitely not needed here."

Cordelia looked up, her eyes narrowed to thin slits. "Willow needs me."

Tim raised an eyebrow. "Does she now? Then why are you here sitting in the house doing nothing while she's running around town doing research?" He straightened, moving away from the door jamb. "She's certainly able to get around town without you, even with the baby. Makes me wonder what you're still doing around..." He walked away from the doorway, leaving Cordelia sitting on the bed, her face pale.


Giles parked the small car in front of the Watchers' Guild, a feeling of dread settling in his stomach. "You have to do this," he said to himself. "It has to be done." He looked at himself in the rear view mirror. "She needs you."

His face settled and he got out of the car, quickly walking up the steps and entering the main hallway.

"M-M-Mr. Giles...." The young man in the hallway said nervously. "You.."

Giles looked directly at the boy and stared him down. "I want to speak to Iain Foxe. NOW."

The boy stuttered for a bit, then sighed. "He's in the main guild room."

Giles nodded and walked into the room, his eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness. "Iain?"

A single spotlight appeared, revealing Foxe. "Rupert Giles. You don't show here for two years, and then, suddenly you're everywhere..." He walked towards Giles. "So what brings you here this time? Yet another attempt to change the minds of the Council again?"

"You have to let her raise this baby. You know she's right."

Foxe walked around the empty room. "Rupert, do you know why you were allowed to join the Watchers?" He looked towards Giles.

Giles matched the other man's gaze. "My father persuaded the Council to let me into the Guild, despite my...record."

Foxe chuckled. "Come on, Rupert, we all were a mistake. A complete and utter cock-up. Just like your Slayer."

Giles bristled. "My 'mistake' lived a lot longer than all your perfect creations."

Foxe sighed and began walking around the room. "She was a mistake! We weren't going to even train her. Merrick was supposed to just let her die. But no, he has to start training her. She wasn't supposed to be a Slayer." Foxe stopped and looked at Giles. "And you weren't supposed to be a Watcher."

Giles closed his eyes. "Is this why you are so dead-set against Willow raising the baby? Because of Buffy?"

Foxe chuckled. "It's not just one Slayer, Rupert. It's the future. We let her raise the baby, and our entire system -- our entire way of life is over."

"That's absurd."

"Is it?" Foxe gestured towards the blank screens. "Look around you, Rupert. For over 500 years, we have raised Slayers, trained Slayers, and buried Slayers. We were their teachers, their mentors, their friends." He looked back at Giles. "Their family. We were all the Slayers had. And they were all we had." He looked directly into Giles' eyes, his eyes bleak. "Then Buffy came along. You weren't here, Rupert. You didn't see the chaos your Slayer caused. There were factions who wanted her killed, Rupert, gunned down in the street so that Kendra, a properly trained Slayer, could take over." He paused, looking down at the ground, unable to meet Giles' gaze. "If Buffy alone could cause such fury, I'm afraid to think of what Willow's baby would cause."

"We've been following the same bloody rules for over 500 years! We're obviously been doing something wrong if every single one of our Slayers dies before her twentieth birthday!" He grabbed Foxe's shoulder and forced the other man to look at him. "It's time to find something new, Iain. It's time to change!"

Foxe stepped back, his eyes looking downward. "We can't." He looked up at Giles with a sad smile on his lips. "Willow was the best....I had hoped she would eventually take my position. But now..." He shook his head, then straightened up. He looked directly at Giles. "The Watchers' Council cannot allow Willow to raise the baby. And that will be the final word on it." He walked away.


From the diary of Rupert Giles, written the night of September 24th, 2009:

I tried. Dear God, I tried.

I should have been paying more attention. I should have attended the meetings, keep track of the Council, remained in the Guild. I should have done my bloody job.

The Watchers are too conservative now. I should have realized this. I thought Tim was the only one who thought this way. I didn't know there were more.

I failed her. Just like I failed Buffy. I couldn't save my Slayer and now I can't save Willow.

I don't know what's left. I don't know what to do.


"Willow...." the voice called out.

Willow walked in the darkness. "Whu....who are you? Where are you?"

"Right behind you," an accented voice said sharply.

Willow whirled around. "Kendra!" She took in the girl's appearance. "Oh God..."

Kendra smiled an eerie smile, her mouth mirroring the gash in her throat.

"Yo-You're dead..." Willow stuttered.

"T'at's right. I'm dead. T'at's what happens when you're a Slayer."

"That's what always happens to Slayers..." another voice said to the right of her.

Willow turned and gasped. "Faith!"

Faith shrugged, the movements of her shoulders opening and closing the gaping wound in her chest, revealing the empty spot where her heart was ripped out. "We die," she said dully. "All Slayers die."

"No matter what happens," a third voice said, this time to the left. Willow spun left, facing a dark haired girl. The girl's empty eye sockets crinkled as she grinned. "No matter who tries to save us."

"It's only a matter of time," a blond girl said, appearing from behind Kendra. "I only lasted a month. My Watcher wasn't prepared for what was going to happen." She stepped directly up to Willow. "They bit my neck. They ripped out my insides. And they did it all in front of my Watcher. Making him watch."

Willow shook her head. ""

"They took me from my family when I was a baby..." Kendra began saying.

"When I was three..." Faith continued.

"When I was born..."

"When I was two.."

"When I was still in my mother," a fifth voice said, appearing from the shadows.

Willow paled. "Sumittra..." she whispered. "No...Not already..."

Sumittra moved forward, the clean cut from collarbone to lower belly almost as precise as a coroner. "They found me before I was even born. They told my mother I'd be safer with them. I'd survive with them." She walked directly up to Willow, the scent of death fresh on her. "I died. Like all Slayers die. No one can protect us."

"We die," the blond girl said.

"We die," Kendra said.

"We die," Faith said. "And no one can stop it." She moved close to Willow, her chest opening and closing with every step. "Not even you." She put a mangled hand on Willow's stomach. "She'll die too. She'll die and you'll know and there'll be no way you can stop it. She's one of us."

"No!" Willow shouted, taking a step back. "You can't have her!" She took another step back and felt her shoulders touch somebody else. She spun around and screamed.

Buffy stood there, quiet, her body pale, drained of blood. The vampire that had killed her only had enough time to drain her before being staked by Xander. "Willow..." she said, her voice quiet.

Willow took a step back, her eyes wide. "Oh God...Buffy..."

Buffy looked at her best friend. Her pale hands slid from Willow's shoulders down to her stomach. "She's.....She's one of us..." she said, her voice filled with awe. "A Slayer..." Her eyes caught Willow's, and her face fell. "She'll die."

Willow shook her head. "No..."

"She's a Slayer, Will. That's what happens." She grabbed onto Willow's shoulders. Willow flinched at her cold hands. "Willow, she will die. That's what happens to Slayers. That's what happens to us."

"No...she's mine...MINE!" Willow screamed at her dead best friend. "My baby! My daughter! MINE!"

Buffy stepped away, the shadows slowly taking her back in. The other Slayers were behind her, being sucked into the darkness. "She won't even be your Slayer if you let them take her." The shadows covered her body, leaving only her face in the light. "You know what you have to do, Willow..." She faded away. "You know what to do..."

Willow put her hands on her stomach. "I know what to do... I know..."

"Oh do you? You stupid bitch, she's mine too!" Someone rushed towards Willow.

Willow gasped. "Tim!"

Tim smiled sharply. "She's my baby, Willow. And you'll never keep her." A large shiny knife appeared in his hand. "I'll take her before I let you keep her!"

Willow screamed.


Cordelia woke up to the sound of Willow screaming. "God!" She bolted up right. "Willow!"

Willow was sitting up in bed, gasping for breath.

"Willow!" Cordelia grasped her shoulder.

Willow screamed again, then realized who was holding. "Oh! Oh God!" She wrapped her arms around Cordelia, crying. "Oh God, Cordelia....I had a terrible dream..."

Cordelia held her lover tightly. " was just a was just a dream..."

" was more than a dream..." Willow said quietly. "I.....I know what I have to do...."


"'s the only way..."

Cordelia felt dread seeping into her stomach. "What?"

Willow pulled away from Cordelia. "Yes, of course." She got out of bed and grabbed her robe. "It's the only way..."

Cordelia jumped out of bed and faced Willow. "Willow! What's the only way? The only way for what?"

Willow finally looked at Cordelia, her eyes shiny. "I...." She caressed the other woman's cheek. "I'm sorry." She stood and her tiptoes and kissed her lover, then left the room.

Cordelia stood there for a few minutes in shock, then grabbed her robe and ran downstairs.


Cordelia ran down the stairs, panicking. She heard the front door shut before she could even react. "Giles!" she shouted.

Giles' sleep-tousled head peeked out of his bedroom door. "What?" he asked, his voice still muffled by sleep.

"She's gone. She woke up screaming and then she just left." Cordelia frantically started climbing back up the stairs, running to her bedroom to dress.

"What?" Giles said, awake now. "Willow?"

Cordelia came back out from her bedroom, pulling on a shirt. "She had a nightmare. When she woke up she said 'It was the only way'. The only way for what? What did she mean?" She took a deep breath, trying not to break down. "Oh God, Giles, what is she going to do?"

Giles was already dressing. "We have to find her." He grabbed his shoes and began putting them on.

Cordelia walked up to him. "Giles, she told me she was sorry. I..." Her voice caught.

Giles nodded grimly. "We'll find her."


Willow walked into the Watcher's Councilhouse, her back straight, her eyes defiant. The lone guard stood there, calm and yet tensed. "We can not let you in, Miss Rosenberg," he said the second she reached the main doorway.

Willow glared at the man. "Why not?"

"You're not a Watcher any more. You're....a civilian," he said, his voice tinged with disgust.

Willow straightened haughtily. "I am Willow Rosenberg. I designed the Watcher's Council Chamber. I carry the next Slayer. I fought with three of your Slayers. You will let me in or by God, I will tear this place down around you!" She pushed her way past the guard and opened the Council's door.

Giles and Cordelia drove quickly. "Are you sure she'd be here?" Giles asked.

Cordelia nodded. "I...I just know..." she said quietly, looking out the window. Giles silently parked the car and the two quickly walked into the Councilhouse.

The guard stood there, his eyes bleak. "You're too late..." he said. "She's already in there."

Cordelia closed her eyes for a second, her face pale. Giles grasped her arm and pulled her into Council chambers.


Silence filled the crowded room. From the monitors, the large faces of the other Watchers looked down at Willow. Foxe stood there, one eyebrow raised. "Hello, Miss Rosenberg," he said, his voice calm. "Can I help you?"

Willow walked into the center of the room, her stance determined. She looked directly at Foxe. "Give me my child."

Foxe raised his eyebrow again. "You know we can not."

"Let me raise my baby!" she said, her voice getting more hysterical.

Foxe paused, then took a different approach. "Willow..." he said, his voice paternalistic. "We're the best to raise her. Who better to raise a Slayer than a Watcher?"

"I am a Watcher!" she shouted. She paused for a second, calming herself. "And she is my daughter. I should be allowed to raise her."

Foxe looked directly at her. "We can't."

Willow narrowed her eyes. "Why? So she can die like the rest? Like Buffy? Like Kendra? Like Faith? Like Machiko? Like Gertrude? Like Sumittra?"

Around her, Watchers gasped. Foxe stared at her in shock. "How did you know that?" he said in amazement. He then regained his icy demeanor. "All Slayers die, Willow. And the Slayer you're carrying will die faster if you continue with this belief that you can raise it!"

Willow closed her eyes. "You're wrong," she said quietly She pulled a large knife from her bag. "She'll die if you continue to deny me this." She pointed the knife directly at her stomach. The murmuring grew louder. "If you..." she shouted out. "If you will not let me keep my baby, I will kill her and myself." She held the knife firmly. "Our blood will stain the Council floor."

Foxe stared at her in shock, his face pale. "You wouldn't," he said quietly.

Willow smiled, a sad sick smile that only the extremely desperate can achieve. "Try me." She raised the knife higher.

Cordelia pushed her way through the crowd of Watchers. "Willow, no!" she shouted.

Willow turned her eyes toward Cordelia. "I'm sorry..." she whispered. She raised the knife higher, ready to plunge it deep into her--

The knife clattered to the ground. Willow hunched over, clutching her stomach. "Oh God..." she groaned.

Cordelia rushed to her side. "Somebody help!" she shouted to the frozen Watchers. "She's in labor!"


Cordelia paced around the tiny waiting room, scowling. It had been ten hours. Ten damn hours. And no word. Nothing. She swore under her breath and continued to pace.

"Will you stop that?" Tim asked crossly. "Annoying bitch," he muttered under his breath.

"Excuse me?" she said, glaring at him.

He glared back. "You heard me."

Cordelia sighed. "What is it with you? You've had it out for me ever since I got off the damn plane!" Her voice grew harsher and harsher "What is it, huh? Can't stand it that your girlfriend left you for a woman?"

"You think that's it? That I can't get over Willow?" He scoffed. "I don't care about Willow. It's the baby that I'm concerned with."

Cordelia narrowed her eyes. "Right. Just concerned about the baby." She walked directly up to him. "Admit it. You hate me. You hate the fact that she's with me and not with you."

Tim glared back at her. "You bitch," he said roughly. "You stupid bitch. You have no idea what you're getting into."

Cordelia paused. "Excuse me?" She scoffed. "I was fighting vampires when you were just allowed to go into the adult section of the library!"

Tim walked away, chuckling. "You have no idea, do you? No bloody idea at all."

Cordelia crossed her arms around her chest. "Try me."

He turned back to her. "Let's see if I can put this into simple words so that it gets through your thick skull. You're an actress. You're in a lot of movies. There's a lot of publicity." He paused for second. "One especially nosy reporter and..." He looked down at his feet. "God have mercy on us all." He looked back up at Cordelia. "Your 'love' for Willow could cost the Watchers everything. This bloody stunt of hers proved that you're dangerous. And I'll be damned if I let some Californian bimbo ruin over 500 years of work on some whim!"

Cordelia's mouth opened, then she closed it again. She was about to open it, when, suddenly, someone walked in the door.

"Is Cordelia Chase here?" a nurse asked.

Cordelia stepped forward. "That's me," she said, her voice filled with worry.

"Ms. Rosenberg is asking for you," the nurse said.

Cordelia stepped forward, when Tim injected. "She's not related to the baby! She has no right to be there!"

Cordelia glared at Tim. "Why you stuck-up little bastard! She's asking for me!"

"And let you take the baby away before we can make a decision? Not bloody likely!"

The nurse sighed and looked towards Tim. "Are you the father of the child?" At Tim's nod, she continued. "Well, Ms. Rosenberg is asking specifically for Ms. Chase, and I'm afraid patient wishes come first, especially when the person is listed as 'Next of Kin'." She gestured towards Cordelia. "Come with me."

Cordelia followed the nurse, her stomach sick with dread. "Is she okay? Do you know if she's okay?"

"If they're allowing you in, she ought to be doing fine." She handed Cordelia a smock. "Put these on." Cordelia dressed while walking and soon reached the doorway. "Through here."

Cordelia pushed open the door and instantly ran to Willow's side. "Willow?" she asked, her voice soft.

Willow looked up, her eyes glittering with tears. "Cordy...I....Oh god!" she screamed as another contraction hit her.

Cordelia reached out and grasped Willow's hand. "Come on, Willow, you can do this. Remember the classes we took? C'mon, baby, breathe....breathe..."

Willow began breathing, screaming again as another contraction hit. "I...Cordy! I...." She took a very deep breath. "I...I have to tell you..." She arched her back in pain, her hand clutching at Cordelia's. " god!" She started pushing at her stomach with her hands. "I can't! I can't!"

"Damn it!" The doctor yelled. "Get her ready for emergency c-section!"

A nurse pushed Cordelia out of the way. "Whu-What's going on?" Cordelia asked, frantic.

"Cordy!" Willow shouted before they put the gas mask over her. "I..." She fell into unconsciousness.

"What...Oh God, what's happening?!" Cordelia tried to look at her lover, but was blocked by a nurse.

"You'll have to go to the waiting room, ma'am. Follow me."

"But...what's happening. Why won't you tell me what's happening?"

The nurse led her out. "Breech birth. We thought the baby would turn and it isn't, plus it's premature. We're doing everything we can. Please, wait outside." The nurse left her in front of the waiting room.

Cordelia walked into the room, stumbling in shock, still wearing the smock the nurse gave her. Tim stood up, his eyes wide. Cordelia waved him down. "She....she's in surgery. The baby was having trouble. I..." She fell into a chair, exhausted and sick with worry.

Tim's voice slid through the haze of her mind, as sharp and as nasty as a razor blade in candy. "She could have avoided all of this if you hadn't interfered. Do you really want her torment on your hands?"

Cordelia looked up at him, her eyes dark with grief and anger. Before she could respond, his cellular rang. He answered it quickly and, after a short conversation, looked back at her. "Watchers' Meeting," he said tersely before leaving the room. Cordelia sat there, her body still tensed, her mind racing.


The Watchers' Council was in chaos. Foxe let the Council argue among each other for a few minutes before he spoke. "Well," he said, keeping his voice relatively light and civil. "It appears we have a problem."

"We can't let her have her!"

"We've always raised the Slayers!"

"We can't change just for her!"

Giles stood up. "And why not?" He looked at the group of Watchers around him. "Why can't we change for her....for us?"

"She's a foolish girl. She can't train a Slayer. The girl would be dead before the year is out!"

Giles turned to the old man speaking. "Willow's personally killed more vampires than some of the classically-trained Slayers." His voice grew cold. "I wouldn't underestimate her."

"We don't doubt she can train a Slayer," another Watcher said, his voice calm and soothing. "But can she raise her own daughter? We've never had to deal with emotional attachment before."

"But that could help save a Slayer," another Watcher said. She looked around the room. "Rosenberg wants to keep her daughter alive. She would train her to survive."

"Maternal instinct could help keep a Slayer alive," another female Watcher said.

"It could also kill her. Willow could decide not to train the Slayer, protecting her from the evil outside. We need someone who isn't attached to her! We need the girl raised properly!"

"We already know how dangerous Willow can be." Tim walked in, his face cool. "She was going to kill herself right here." He pointed to the floor where Willow had stood. "Spilling her blood on the council chamber, killing not just herself, but also the baby." He paused, looking directly at Giles. "She is dangerous. And she shouldn't raise our future."

The Watchers began to argue with each other, each in their own little conversations.

"Why don't we just take the baby from her? She can't fight us, we're too powerful!"

"And risk her going to the authorities? Is that what you want? A bloody media circus with headlines like 'Secret Organization Steals My Baby!'? Don't be mad!"

"She wouldn't dare! She knows what we can do!"

"You all thought she wouldn't try to kill herself too! And we saw what came of that, now didn't we? She's desperate, and desperate people do desperate things."

Foxe held up his hand, silencing the chamber. "It appears that we cannot make a decision today. Tomorrow, we will vote on the fate of the Rosenberg Slayer." He paused for a second. "Consider the future effects of your decision. Perhaps....perhaps it is time the Watchers changed."

The Watchers began to file out of the chamber. Giles walked up to Tim. "Where is she?"

Tim looked at him coolly. "The nearest one," he said. Giles began walking away and Tim spoke up. "What does it matter?" he said. "She won't get to keep the baby. She's just a civilian. And she has no place with us."

Giles turned back to him, his eyes steely. "What did you say?" he asked, his voice cold.

"Letting her raise that baby will result in the downfall of the entire system! You already weakened it by being Buffy's Watcher instead of letting her die and now THIS?" He snorted. "It'll be a good thing when all of you liberal Watchers are gone and dead and we can run things the right way."

Giles' eyes grew even more steely. "Get out."


Giles looked up at Tim, his eyes filled with fury and yet exhausted. "I said 'Get out.' Get out of my sight. Get out of my house." He straightened. "I expect everything that is yours out of my house by the time Willow returns from the hospital. If not, I will forcibly remove you."

Tim blinked, his eyes confused, then narrowed in anger. "You wouldn't...over her?"

Giles leaned close to him, his body tense. "Especially because of her," he said, his voice rough with anger. He walked out of the door.


His anger didn't subside until he walked into the hospital. He walked quickly into the waiting room. "Cordelia?" he asked.

Cordelia turned to him, her eyes ringed with dark circles. "She....She's in surgery....still...I's been five hours..."

Giles couldn't comprehend what she was saying. "Surgery?"

Cordelia opened her mouth, but before she could respond, a nurse walked into the room. "Cordelia Chase?" she asked.

Cordelia walked up to her. "Yes? How is she? How's the baby?"

"Miss Rosenberg and her baby girl are doing fine, considering what had happened."

"What did happen?" Giles said, his voice developing a frantic edge.

"The baby was in a breech position. Considering the premature birth of the baby and the fact that the labor was induced by stress, the doctor decided that the best thing to do would be a emergency cesarean." The nurse smiled. "She's fine now. The baby's in neonatal care for observation tonight. Both the baby and Miss Rosenberg will have to stay here for awhile, but, considering how well they seem to be recovering, it ought to be about a week and a half."

Giles relaxed. "Thank God," he said. He looked at Cordelia. "I'll take you home, Cordelia."

Cordelia shook her head and turned towards the nurse. "Can I stay with her tonight? I mean, I won't wake her and I'll just sit there quietly and watch her...."

The nurse smiled. "Of course you can. If you'll follow me..."

Giles looked at Cordelia. "Are you sure?"

Cordelia nodded. "I need to be here with her." She looked down. "I'll....I'll see you tomorrow..." She followed the nurse.


It was three in the morning. Willow tossed and turned on the bed, caught in her dream. "" she said quietly.

Cordelia reached out and grasped Willow's hand tightly. "'s okay, baby," she said in a low comforting voice. "It's okay..."

Willow's eyes fluttered open. "C...Cordelia?" she said dazedly.

"Yeah, baby," Cordelia said quietly. "It's me."

"How..." Willow attempted to make coherent thoughts. "How is she?"

"She's fine...Safe in neonatal. They won't get her..." Cordelia caressed Willow's cheek. "Sleep..."

Willow fell back into an exhausted sleep. Cordelia watched over her lover, protecting her, ignoring the exhaustion that was slowly winding through her bones. It would be a long night.


Giles walked out of the Watcher's Councilchamber in a daze. He slowly made his way to the car, opening the car door and sitting down almost automatically.

There was a moment's pause, then he slowly removed his glasses, his hands shaking with emotion. It was over. It was finally over. His head dipped down and his hand rubbed the bridge of his nose. Tears came to his eyes and he wiped them quickly.

We did it. Despite everything, we did it.

He wanted to shout, to yell, to cry in joy. Instead, he sat there, looking down at the steering wheel, occasionally wiping his eyes.

After a minute, he started the car and drove towards the hospital.


Giles walked into the hospital calmly. He made his way up to the maternity ward and towards Willow's room. Cordelia stood outside, her face lines with exhaustion. She straightened slightly when he walked up to her, her eyes holding the unasked question.

"They've agreed," Giles said as soon as he reached her. "Willow will raise the baby. Once she's activated as a Slayer, she'll be assigned a Watcher, but until then, it's Willow's responsibility."

Cordelia slumped against the wall in relief. "Oh thank God," she said quietly.

Giles nodded. " you want to tell her or should I?"

" should talk to her," Cordelia said tiredly. "I...I've been up for 28 hours, Giles. I need to go home."

Giles nodded. As Cordelia began to walk away, he spoke up. "Cordelia?"

She turned and looked at him.

"Thank you," he said. "Thank you for watching her."

Cordelia nodded and walked out of the hospital.

Giles walked into Willow's room, knocking first. "Willow?" he said.

Willow brightened when she saw him. "Giles!" She looked up at him, her eyes questioning. "What happened at the Council?" she asked quickly.

Giles sat down in the nearby chair. "We deliberated through most of yesterday and last night and then voted today." He paused for a second. "They've agreed to your demands, Willow. You'll raise the baby until she's activated as a Slayer." He looked directly at her. "You did it."

Willow looked at Giles, stunned. "I...I don't know what to say..."

Giles smiled tenderly at her. "Hopefully not another death threat," he joked lightly.

She laid there for a moment, still stunned, then started laughing. "Oh my god..." she said, in between giggles. "It worked. I can't believe it worked..."

Giles nodded, then grew gravely serious. "That was a foolish trick to pull, Willow. There was a very good chance that it wouldn't have worked."

Willow grew just as serious. "It wasn't a trick, Giles." Her eyes met his. "I knew what I had to do."

Giles opened his mouth to say something, then closed it as the door opened. "Miss Rosenberg?" the nurse said, coming in.

Willow straightened up in the bed. "Is she okay?" she asked, her voice filled with worry.

The nurse smiled. "She's fine. And the doctor says that she's healthy enough to be moved from the neonatal unit into your room." Another nurse walked in, pushing a baby bed. The first nurse took the infant from the bed and held her out to Willow. "It was a hard delivery for both you and the baby though, so the doctor wants you to stay here for about a week, just so if there are any problems, we can take care of them right away."

Willow took the baby into her arms carefully, the way she had treated her porcelain dolls as a child. But the infant in her arms was warm, alive, and, above all, Willow's. She looked down at the baby, stroking her soft cheek, then looked up at Giles, her eyes shining. "Look at her, Giles," she said quietly. "Jennifer Anne Rosenberg. The first Slayer to be raised and trained by her family, the first approved by the Watchers."

Giles looked down at the small blanket-wrapped bundle in Willow's arms. He reached down and stroked her soft faintly fuzzy head. "And hopefully not the last," he said quietly. He pulled back and looked at Willow. "You and Cordelia are quite welcome to stay at the house for as long as you need," he said quietly.

Willow looked up at Giles. "I....Thank you..." She looked down at the baby. "I'm sure Jenny won't bother you...and I'll help out around the house..." She paused. "But I....I don't think Cordelia will be with us."

Giles frowned. "Why not?"

"She..." Willow searched for the words. "She never wanted to be a part of this. She was going to be the princess, the prom queen, and, instead, she ended up fighting demons and vampires with the rest of us. She never wanted this life." She stroked her baby's cheek gently. "And now, with Jenny, I can't make her go through all this again. I can't let her risk everything for me."

Giles frowned. "What if she wants to? What if she will risk everything?"

Willow smiled sadly. "She already wants to." She looked up at Giles. "I don't ever want to hurt her, Giles. And if she lived with me, she would be hurt again."

Giles frowned deeper. "But she..."

Willow nodded. "I know. And I don't want her hurt because she loves me. You know what that feels like."

Giles closed his eyes and sighed. "I..." He tried to find the words, tried to find the reasoning. "Willow," he finally said. "You can't protect people from pain. You can't shelter yourself from loving someone because you don't want them hurt. Cordelia loves you." He paused. "Do you...?"

Willow closed her eyes. "I don't know," she said in a whisper. "I don't know what love feels like anymore."

Giles stood up. "I...I should go back to the house and check up on Cordelia," he said. "I will...I'll stop by later. Think about what I said?"

Willow nodded, her eyes still closed tightly.

Giles stepped outside of Willow's room, not showing that he heard the sobs coming from the bed.


Giles walked into the house, looking for Cordelia. He heard her voice in the kitchen and walked towards it.

"Yeah, it sounds like a great project," she said to the phone, her back turned to Giles. "And they specifically want me? Wonderful." She paused for a second. "I'll be on the plane tomorrow. Give me until next week to be on set." She paused again. " don't have to postpone the project for me. I'll be there in a week. Yeah...bye." She hung up the phone and turned, tensing slightly when she saw Giles. "You startled me," she said quietly. "How...." her voice broke slightly. "How's Willow?"

"She'll need a lot of rest, but she'll be fine. Jenny is..." He smiled tenderly. "She's beautiful." He turned to the table, seeing the ring of keys there. "Tim is out of the house?" he asked, changing the subject.
Cordelia nodded. "The attic's empty," she said. "Do you.... Do you think he'll try and fight the decision?"

Giles frowned. "I don't see him doing something that'd result in more humiliation. He knows that any attempt would be seen as sheer spite against Willow. The Council will reassign him, possibly even moving him to another country."

"That's....that's good..." Cordelia said.

Giles straightened slightly. "I.... You and Willow are welcome to stay here for as long as you need." He paused. "Although.....tomorrow?"

Cordelia crossed her arms around her waist, holding herself. "I....I'm not good for her," she said quietly. "She's raising the next Slayer, she's a Watcher, and I...." She looked down at her feet. "I'm an actress."

Giles moved towards her. "Cordelia..."

"I'm a public figure, Giles. I'm surprised I haven't seen a camera in front of the house yet." She looked at the newspaper on the table. "One extra-curious reporter and there goes the entire secret. No more Watchers, no more Slayers..." She looked up at him. "I can't do that to her. You can't risk everything because of me."

Giles sighed and closed his eyes for a second. "Do you still love her?" he asked, opening his eyes and looking right at her.

Cordelia looked at him tiredly. "Yes," she said, her voice near breaking. "But I don't know if she loves me."

Giles looked down, repressing the urge to grab her by her shoulder and yell. "You..." he said, his voice resigned. "You have to do what you feel is right."

She turned away from him after a moment. "I....I should call the airline," she said, reaching for the phone.

"Wait," Giles said. "Let's go visit Willow. You..." He attempted to smile. "You haven't even seen Jenny..." He paused. "I'll drive."

Cordelia looked up at him. "I....I'd like to go alone," she said quietly. She walked past him towards the front door. After a minute, Giles heard the door shut.


Cordelia stood outside the door of the hospital room, her arms wrapped around herself. She looked into the room again, took a step forward, then took two steps back. I can't.

I can't do this to her. She'd be happier without me. She has Jenny. And Giles. And Oz. And Xander. And even Tim.

She doesn't need me.

Cordelia watched the woman she loved hold her baby in her arms. The archetype, the perfect circle of mother and child, self-contained and exquisite. They were so beautiful it hurt Cordelia to even look at them, the aching pit in her stomach growing larger and larger with every stolen glance.

It hurt her to leave them. But it had to be done.

She raised a hand up, mentally stroking Willow's long soft red hair. "Goodbye, Willow," she whispered softly. "I love you...." She looked at the scene for one last heart-wrenching moment, then began to walk away.

"Cordelia?" A voice echoed from the room. "Cordelia?" It was Willow's. Her Willow. Her precious darling Willow. "Cordelia, where are you going?"

Cordelia turned around and walked back to the door. Tell her, tell her. Tell her everything. She doesn't need you. You can leave after you tell her. "I....I was...leaving, Willow. I was going back to Los Angeles."

Willow stared at her with a look of disbelief. "But...why?"

Cordelia tried to close down her heart, to not run to Willow's side in tears, begging forgiveness for ever causing the slightest doubt, to ask simply to care for her all her life. She couldn't do that. Not again. Not without knowing. "I'm not...." Cordelia took a deep breath, trying not to let the emotion get into her voice. "I'm not needed here, Willow."

Willow looked at Cordelia for a full minute, her eyes wide, then looked down at the sleeping baby in her arms. "Cordelia," she said softly. "Look at her."

Cordelia looked down at the tiny infant in Willow's arms, innocent of what her destiny held for her. Willow continued to speak. "She has an entire destiny in front of her. She needs to be surrounded by people who can help her survive. Who can teach her." Willow looked up into Cordelia's eyes. "Jenny needs you, Cordelia." She paused for a second. "And...And..." her voice faltered. "And I need you."

Cordelia looked at Willow, stunned. "You...?"

Willow closed her eyes for a second. "I didn't realize it until after Jennifer was born....the first night I spent in the hospital. You were there for me, the entire night, holding me against the darkness, against the fear. And I knew I could rest because you were here to watch over me." She opened her eyes and looked into Cordelia's glimmering eyes. "I....I love you, Cordelia."

Cordelia sagged against the wall, her soul overwhelmed by the sensation of hearing those words for the first time. She began to cry. "Oh God...Oh Willow...I love you....I've loved you since I first saw you that night at Sunnydale High..." She continued to cry.

Willow held out her free arm. "Cordelia," she said, her voice whisper soft. "Hold me..."

Cordelia rushed to her lover's side, vowing to never let her go.


From the Rosenberg-Chase announcement/invitation, mailed October 20th, 2009:

Willow Rosenberg and Cordelia Chase are proud to announce the birth of their daughter Jennifer Anne Rosenberg-Chase, born on September 26th, 2009, weighing 4 pounds, 3 ounces.

Willow and Cordelia also invite you to their wedding, being held on November 1st, on the back patio of their house. The ceremony is at 7, the reception at 8. Dress is informal.

Celebrate with us our two special events.