I had something, but the menu popped up when I tried to add a title to this chapter and I was clicking so fast it made my original AN disappear forcing me to re-edit the story. UGH. I hate when that happens. Anyway, blah, blah, blah Sesame Street follows after Happiness Hotel. Lucinda, I borrowed your medication idea for Count von Count as a nod/wink/nudge aimed at your excellent stories I hope you won't mind. Now go, enjoy. Oh and if the rating needs a tweak let me know.Disclaimer: Sesame Street belongs to Sesame Workshop. Willow and the IWC belong to Joss and ME Productions. I don't claim otherwise.
New York City, the Big Apple and a place where anything and everything could and did happen, frequently. There were only a handful of places though that were easily located and recognized in a city this large, studying the map of the city she’d brought Willow blinked a scowl forming on her face marring her pretty features, the place she was looking for just wasn’t there. Sighing she glanced around and spotted a police officer who looked helpful enough, not like the cops in Sunnydale, approaching him she put on a polite smile.
“Excuse me sir,” she said attracting his attention.
“Yes,” he replied with a friendly smile.
“Could you possibly tell me How to Get to Sesame Street?” Willow asked.
“Search me lady, you’re not the first person who’s ever asked me that, unfortunately I can’t help ya. Never been there myself,” he said with a shrug, “I’m sorry.”
"That’s ok, someone’s bound to know,” the redheaded Wicca replied with a friendly smile. Turning she left to find someone who could direct her, seventeen tries later she was beginning to get frustrated, Sesame Street wasn’t on the map and none of the people she approached knew one damn thing about it. Some of them were rude about it too, as if she were making some joke at their expense. She was beginning to suspect that was why the Council had it listed as one of their numerous properties, a whole street that you couldn’t find unless you already knew ‘How to Get to Sesame Street’.
“Did Xander have this much trouble finding that hotel?” she asked herself frustratedly taking a seat on a park bench. It was just her luck she got stuck with this assignment, all because they’d been arguing over everything and Giles being Giles put his foot down. Rubbing at the soles of her feet Willow wished that locator spells could be used to find places you’d never been to before, while she was grumbling internally to herself about the unfairness of it all an older woman stopped in front of her with a slight frown on her face. The woman signed a question at Willow.
“Can I help you?”
“Oh,” Willow got up and offered a wan smile, she was just grateful she knew sign language, “I doubt it. Not unless you can tell me How to Get to Sesame Street,” she said without much hope in her voice. The deaf woman broke into a broad smile and nodded before signing a response.
“I used to live there, I can show you the way.” Willow couldn’t believe her luck.
“Thank you, I’ve been asking people all day that simple question, it’s someplace I just have to get to,” she said, “for business reasons,” she further elaborated. The deaf woman smiled again and began to lead Willow out of the park.
“My name is Linda.”
“I’m Willow Rosenberg, I am so pleased I met you Linda,” Willow said with a smile of her own, Linda laughed silently and headed for the closest subway entrance. Their journey together was a pleasant one, Willow took the opportunity to practice her sign language, she was actually a little rusty but Linda was kind enough to offer some help reacquainting herself with the skill. A few young kids on the subway watched them and smiled giggling mysteriously when Willow glanced in their direction.
“She doesn’t know How to Get to Sesame Street,” one of the children whispered to her friend.
“Maybe she doesn’t watch TV,” the boy said with a giggle. The sun hung low in the sky when they finally arrived at their stop, emerging from the dark subway tunnel Willow found herself at her intended destination.
“Welcome to Sesame Street,” Linda signed with a proud smile. The children from the subway broke into waves of laughter and dashed off down the street towards the distant park.
“Thank you so much for getting me here, if you ever need me for whatever reason here’s my cell number… oh wait can you use phones? I mean not to sound rude or anything, I’ve never personally known a deaf person so I was just, well, uh I’m babbling. Sorry,” Willow apologized, Linda laughed silently again and took the piece of paper with Willow’s phone number.
“My phone has a screen I can use to read what other people say, but I can’t use cell phones or public phones and I have a special keyboard to talk to them.”
“Oh well, maybe I can figure something out for you, I, well I know things,” Willow said confidentially, Linda smiled and said goodbye, she had to go to work soon. Willow nodded in understanding and turned her attention back to the job at hand, pulling the piece of paper from her purse with the information on it she read the list of contact names involved with the Council. “Mister Hooper first name not given, Susan and Gordon Wood, Bob, Bert and Ernie, Oscar, hmmmm I wonder which one of them I should try to talk to first.” Mulling it over she glanced up and had to take a moment to really take in what she was seeing coming down the street, it couldn’t be what she thought it was, but there was just no way around it.
“Hello,” the eight or nine foot tall giant yellow bird greeted with a pleasant smile. Willow being well versed in the dark side of life did the only thing she could think of, despite being a powerful Wicca who had activated all the potentials at once, despite having come so far since High School, Willow Rosenberg let out a blood curdling scream and promptly fainted dead away. It wasn’t as though this creature was particularly frightening or mean looking, it was more a combination of jet lag, the long search for her target and the fact that she hadn’t expected to be meeting giant talking birds. Although it could have been worse, it could have been a frog.
Startled by the woman’s reaction Big Bird hurriedly turned to the apartment building where his friends lived. “Susan, Maria, Gordon! Come quick, somebody’s collapsed and I don’t know what to do!”
Willow looked uncomfortable as she sat on the couch in Maria’s apartment, there had been no reason to act so, so un-Willow like when she met Big Bird. She hated her embarrassing collapse, but she couldn’t undo it so she was forced to put on a brave face as it were and show these ‘people’ she wasn’t a total flake.
“I’m really sorry about scaring you,” Big Bird said with a forlorn expression.
“I should be apologizing to you,” she countered, “it was totally rude of me and I don’t normally faint at the sight of strange people, I mean, you’re totally not scary looking or anything but you are big, it’s even part of your name. Actually kind of obvious, I’ve never seen a bird as big as you are before or so yellow, are you a canary, I mean well you aren’t a demon canary are you? Oh I shouldn’t ask people that, sorry that was rude.” Big Bird blinked.
“Wow, I’ve never seen anybody talk so fast before, and what’s a demon?” he asked curiously.
“Er, we’ll explain that some other time Big Bird,” Maria interrupted with a small frown, “could you possibly tell us who you are and why you’ve come to Sesame Street?” she asked. “This isn’t another unscheduled guest appearance is it?” she wondered under her breath.
“Oh how silly of me, I’m Willow Rosenberg, I’m here to talk to…” she trailed off and fished out her list of names, “well I suppose everybody on this list. It’s for who I work for, the IWC, you probably haven’t heard of them. Guess I’ll start with Mister Hooper,” she decided, could you introduce me or tell me where he lives?”
“Mister Hooper,” Big Bird repeated sadly, “Mister Hooper isn’t here anymore,” he said with a sad look in his eyes.
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” Willow apologized softly.
“Why exactly do you need to speak with these people?” Maria wondered suspiciously handing the list back to Willow, Susan and Gordon warned her about the IWC although they hadn’t gone into much detail.
“We’re kind of in the middle of undergoing a restructuring, the information left behind by the previous heads of the, um, the company is pretty much hopeless. So we’re going around trying to piece it all back together,” Willow explained.
“Who else in on your list?” Big Bird asked trying to be helpful.
“Bob, uh, for some reason his last name isn’t listed. Susan and Gordon Wood, hmmm, I wonder if they’re related to Robin? Bert and Ernie and an Oscar,” Willow recited reading each name off of the list.
“Oh, most of them live right here at One Two Three Sesame Street,” Big Bird said with a happy smile, “they’re all at work now too except for Oscar I could take you to see him but I don’t know if he’ll be very helpful. Oscar’s a Grouch,” he explained. Willow blinked and eyed the giant yellow bird in confusion.
“You mean he’s always mean to people?” she asked and Maria had to hide her smile.
“You could say that,” she said, “why don’t you go with Big Bird? I’ll call some of the others for you to tell them you want to speak with them,” she offered.
“Ok, thank you,” Willow said with a grateful smile, “lead on Big Bird.” Nodding happily Big Bird ducked his head down so he could get outside and together they headed down the stairs and out of the apartment complex, Willow didn’t know what to expect, but when Big Bird stopped in front of a pile of trash cans she was beginning to wonder if this would be as easy as she started to think. Then Big Bird started talking to it.
“Oscar,” Big Bird called knocking on one of the trash can’s lids, “somebody here wants to see you,” he added. Willow’s eyes widened in surprise as the lid flew open and a scruffy looking green fur covered demon popped his head out.
“Oh yeah, well I don’t want to see them, so scram,” he said before slamming the lid back down and vanishing inside.
“But Oscar she’s really nice and she’s trying to help her employers out,” Big Bird said pleadingly.
“I don’t do nice or help anybody out,” Oscar said from inside the can, “does she work for the IRS or something?” he demanded suspiciously.
“No, the IWC, whatever that is… say what does it stand for anyway?” Big Bird asked turning to Willow with a curious smile.
“International Watcher’s Council,” Oscar blurted actually sounding nervous when he popped back out of his can so fast the lid almost fell off.
“Oh is that anything like a Bird Watching Society?” Big Bird wondered. Willow shook her head.
“Why are they sending somebody here now?” Oscar demanded peering intently at Willow. “Funny you don’t look British.”
“I’m not, and, well the old group blew up, we’re taking over,” Willow automatically replied still feeling a little out of it as though this were some kind of surreal dream, she tried to peer inside of Oscar’s trash can wondering how big the guy was.
“Hey back off,” he snapped, “blew up huh? Sounds like somebody finally got fed up enough with the old coots to do something about it heh, heh, heh,” Oscar muttered breaking into a laugh.
“Blew up,” Big Bird repeated in a shocked tone, “how terrible. Blowing things up is definitely not nice.”
“Not if you ask me,” Oscar said with a smirk, “say uh Big Bird, I think me and this broad. Er, nice lady, need to talk privately. Grown up stuff, you understand, so beat it.”
“Ok Oscar, I’ll go to Sesame Park until you’re finished and play with the Children,” Big Bird told Willow before he started off down the street humming.
“That was rude,” Willow accused.
“Who cares? Big Bird is used to it, besides he’s only six, do you want to tell him all those monsters he’s friends with have bigger, meaner cousins out there in the real world?” Oscar demanded.
“Monsters he’s friends with?” Willow repeated confused.
“Didn’t anybody from the old guard survive to tell you about them? Yeesh no wonder they blew them up,” Oscar said.
“You’re pretty mean, what are you anyway?” Willow demanded her patience wearing out.
“I’m a Grouch being rude, filthy and disgusting is part of the job description, we specialize in showing kids what happens when you’re totally intolerant,” Oscar explained, “Gordon would probably tell ya it’s the other way around. That Grouches exist to teach kids how to be tolerant of anybody, but don’t believe a word of it.” Oscar stared at Willow thoughtfully and chuckled leaning closer to her and letting her get a good whiff of him, she almost passed out again. “So, what do ya want ta know?”
“I thought you didn’t want to talk or help me?”
“You brought me the best news I’ve had all week, so I guess I can be a little generous to ya because of it, plus since Travers is dead I don’t have to pay him back for that loan. So ask your questions already,” Oscar snapped, “I don’t have all day.”
“Uh, well, ok. I guess my first question is why do we own Sesame Street? I mean we as in the Council, not we as in me personally.”
“Alright, I get it, Yeesh.” Oscar rolled his eyes and disappeared into his trash can for a minute, Willow heard rummaging and an elephant, she tried to look inside again only for the Grouch to pop back out so suddenly she almost lost her footing. He was holding a small amulet. “You own Sesame Street because Nikki Wood owned Sesame Street, see she wasn’t just a Slayer she was from a really well off family of witches and warlocks. They had this idea about making a place where demons and humans could live together without their nasty tendencies coming out to play, here I got a few extras,” he said passing Willow the amulet. Taking it carefully she examined the thing curiously, it was made of a curious material, not quite metal and not quite wood but something in-between. One side had the Sesame Street name on it the other was smooth with the picture of two hands, one human, one demon clasping one another in friendship.
“So you’re a demon?”
“I told you I’m a Grouch, the demon thing didn’t work out like they planned. See instead of making them less violent they just ticked them off, but then the Wood family discovered that existence of us. Monsters, Grouches, Whatevers, least that’s what the long nosed guy keeps calling himself, we needed a place to stay too. The Woods created Sesame Street and a few other places for us.” Oscar shrugged. “When Nikki died she was stupid enough to give the Council ownership rights, thought they’d keep us safe.”
“You mean they didn’t?”
“Not at first, tried to pull something, but the Count taught’em a lesson they didn’t soon forget.” Oscar chuckled and glanced around making sure nobody was close enough to hear him. “Just between you and me I think he’s funner when he’s off the meds.”
“Um, this Count needs medication?”
“That’s what I said, weren’t you paying attention.”
“Oh, well, if this place is so magical how come I couldn’t detect anything? And why doesn’t Robin know about this place? His relatives live here don’t they? Shouldn't they own it? Nikki didn’t even have magical skills or else Spike couldn’t have killed her and…”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, one question at a time,” Oscar grumbled, “Robin ain’t welcome around here since he got in trouble because of his obsession with that vampire who killed his mother. Nikki was the oldest living daughter of the head of the Wood family, she had full ownership ‘cause of the way they worked it out. As for the rest of your questions, well I’m done being generous for a month, you’ll have to ask Susan when she gets home, now scram and don’t come around here again unless you got some more bad news.” With that Oscar slammed the lid of his trash can closed, and then he stood up on two furry legs and walked off trash can and all.
“I really don’t like him,” she said to herself, “but at least now I have something to report. It’s not the same as Xander’s discovery, but it could be important, we could use strong magical families on our side.” Willow thought out loud before she moved to sit down on the front steps to One Two Three Sesame Street. She mentally went over everything Oscar had said wondering how to best approach the Woods. She was so lost in her own thoughts that she failed to notice when a few ‘people’ joined her coming from the park with Big Bird.
“It’s the lady who couldn’t find her way here,” a little girl said with a giggle.
“She looks kind of like my cousin,” a little boy remarked thoughtfully.
“Was Oscar any help?” Big Bird asked startling Willow out of her thoughts.
“Oh yes, sort of,” she replied glancing up at Big Bird and his friends. The children all looked to be between five and seven with maybe a few eight or nine year olds in the bunch. The others weren’t entirely human, they must have been the monsters Oscar had mentioned and then there was.
“Hi ho,” he greeted with a big smile sticking out his hand to shake it, “I’m Kermit the Frog.”
“F-F-F-F,” Willow stammered instantly paling. “Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeh!” she screamed and for the second time that day Willow fainted. Her scream brought Oscar running back and he popped out eyeing the woman bemusedly.
“Was it something I said?” Kermit asked turning to the children and monsters.
“Ha, ha, two, that’s two fainting spells for Villow Rosenberg, ha, ha, ha, ha,” Count von Count stated holding up two fingers. Lightning crashed and the children all squealed with mock fright laughing happily.
“Oh dear,” Big Bird said.
“Sesame Street has been brought to you today by the letters I, W and C and the number twenty-five,” Elmo said giggling, “bye, bye.” He waved at the children, but they didn’t move.
“This looks like a job for Super Grover!” the blue monster exclaimed dashing off towards a nearby old fashioned phone booth.
“Will all of you shut up,” Oscar complained finally seeming to get fed up with them, “honestly can’t a Grouch get some peace and quiet around here. What happened to her anyway?”
“She fainted, again,” Big Bird replied.
“Why?” Oscar wondered.
“She took one look at Kermit and just screamed,” Telly explained.
“Heh, heh, heh, sounds like she’s got frog issues, that could be useful information,” Oscar mused.
“Frog issues?” a different little girl asked.
“Yes children, you see some people develop a fear of amphibians,” Kermit explained, “if I’d known that about her I wouldn’t have tried to shake her hand, her mind must have just collapsed on itself meeting a talking frog.”
“But you’re not scary looking,” a new little boy said.
“Not to you,” Kermit said, “but for her I must be absolutely terrifying.”
“Yeah,” Oscar said with a chuckle, “say Kermit why don’t you hop on her stomach and see if she doesn’t wake up?” he suggested eyeing Willow expectantly.
“That would be rude,” Elmo said.
“Shouldn’t we just help her inside?” Telly asked glancing up at Big Bird. “How heavy can she be?”
“Pretty heavy,” Big Bird admitted.
“Nah, let Gordon handle it when he gets back,” Oscar said vanishing back into his trash can.
“That doesn’t sound like a very nice thing to do,” Elmo said.
“I know, we’ll take her to my nest,” Big Bird decided. “It’ll be easier to get her in there then back up to Maria’s place.”
“Excellent,” Count von Count cheered, “come along children let us not get in their vay.”
“Well do it quietly!” Oscar shouted. Everybody helped pick up Willow except for Kermit and the kids and they took her into Big Bird’s nest, giggling Elmo stuck his head outside the door.
“Sesame Street is a production of the Children’s Television Workshop.”
“Scram already, you creep me out,” Oscar complained. “And enough with that too, this isn’t one of our episodes.”
“Sorry Oscar, I forgot the cameras weren’t here,” Elmo apologized.
“She should really watch TV,” the first little girl said again, “then she wouldn’t be scared of Kermit.” The children all laughed and Oscar sighed watching them leave.
“After they grow up they forget all about the TV show anyway,” he muttered before ducking back into his trash can and leaving an empty, quiet street behind.The End