Giles opened his door cautiously, taking in the sight of the obviously annoyed FBI agent that was standing on the other side. Giles would have been lying if he said that he hadn’t glanced up at the sky, making sure the sun was still up, because Willow’s father was looking particularly murderous and not unlike the monster that had taken over his many times great-grandfather’s body.
“Er... Special Agent Booth? What can I do for you?”
“Willow was just talking to me about all the... things she and the other kids have been doing,” Booth told him, brushing past Giles and striding into the librarian’s home. Giles sighed and closed the door. He’d anticipated that Booth would go to him when he found out some of the details about Willow’s slaying career. He only hoped that Booth would refrain from using violence and that neither of them would end up getting arrested.
“What in particular has you so concerned, Special Agent Booth? Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Coffee would be great if you have it, thanks. She just told me about how, in some alternative reality, she’s a vampire and how she can do magic and how she set a arrow on fire last night when she was saving Parker’s life... and how she almost got burned at the stake! Who would do that to their own kid? I mean, I know that Willow wasn’t theirs biologically but they’ve still been looking after her for almost eighteen years. I’m Catholic and I try to go to church every week and I know and understand that as a group we Catholics tend not to believe in any of the magic and supernatural stuff, I never did until now and I would NEVER do anything like that, and the same goes for a lot of the other people I go to church with. I’d never hurt either of my kids like that, even if I didn’t know the truth. The Rosenbergs tried to kill Willow and it was their responsibility to look out for her. I should put a warrant out for their arrests, charged with attempted murder and abuse and assault,” Booth ranted, pacing in Giles’ living room while the Watcher prepared a cup of strong coffee for Willow’s father and a cup of tea for himself. He opened up his liquor cabinet and retrieved a bottle of scotch, offering it to Booth, who nodded.
Giles smiled and put a generous shot into both cups before handing the coffee to Booth, who drank a quick mouthful of the hot liquid.
“Thank you,” he said, sitting down at Giles’ table. Giles shifted a few book aside before sitting down across from the agent.
“Firstly, reporting the crime would have no effect. Sheila Rosenberg, along with all of the other parents involved in that particular situation, have no memory of the event. I don’t know how in depth Willow went with her explanation of the event but the parents were all possessed by a demon who wanted to bring about Buffy’s death. Unfortunately, Willow was collateral damage. The fire was blamed on an electrical fault and as there was little damage done to City Hall, nothing was reported. Sunnydale’s police department turned a blind eye, as is usual for this town.”
“Willow didn’t actually tell me much,” Booth admitted. “I’m pretty sure she didn’t plan on telling me about it at all. She let it slip and then she closed up about everything.”
Giles nodded, taking a sip of his tea. “It has been a very long few days for all of them... Willow perhaps more than the others, she isn’t as used to the limelight as Buffy is. Some slips of the tongue have to be expected.”
Booth nodded. “I have a question, about the magic thing?’
“I imagined you would. Let me begin by saying that the magical arts are very difficult to understand and many aspects of magic are yet to be understood by even the most studious mages.”
Booth nodded. “How did Willow come to have magic? I mean, I’ve never heard of any magic in my family and I don’t know about Carmen... Willow’s mom, but I never saw her do anything or say anything that hinted anything about that... or is it somehow connected to that Angel guy that is a vampire?”
Giles nodded. “A good question... you want to know if there is a chance that Parker, or any other children you might go on to father, might have magical talent like Willow? In the majority of cases, magic runs in families, usually from mother to daughter, but male magic users do exist. In some cases however, like Willow’s, for example, there is no blood connection. Willow herself asked me the same question when she first begun to explore her skills. I performed a harmless spell which confirmed that Willow was one of the few people who are born with dormant magical talent but without the familial connections.”
“You do magic too?” Booth asked.
“Yes... some... but I have nowhere near as much talent, as much potential as Willow. It is why I supported her move away from Sunnydale. There is a coven of witches quite close to where Willow will be living and she can be trained and supported by them. I have friends among them who will make sure Willow does not make the mistakes I did when I was her age and I was exploring magic.”
“So Willow will still be doing all of this,” Booth waved his hands at the books scattered on the table beside him, “when she’s at college,”
“As long as she wants to, yes. She will be working with a colleague of mine who also has a certain degree of magical talent and assisting with research. She may also take an active part in patrolling the area around MIT but of course this will all be done when she has time outside of her studies.”
“So... is there a potential career for Willow in all this?” Booth asked curiously. Giles hesitated before nodding.
“Willow is already on the path towards becoming a Watcher herself... and from what I have seen of her resourcefulness, determination and courage, I have little doubt that Willow will be one of the finest Watchers the Watcher’s Council has ever known.”
Booth smiled at that. While in his head he had imagined Willow ending up working either in some sort of science career, mentored by Brennan and the other squints or working in the area of computer programming somewhere in the Silicon Valley, the idea of Willow surrounded by old, musty books and saving humanity from the supernatural, both through passing on knowledge to those doing the fighting and through fighting herself, did seem to fit in with what Booth now knew about Willow. She really was, Booth reasoned, a mix of him and Carmen, with her mother’s genius level intelligence and with Booth’s own desire to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves.
“I suppose being a Watcher wouldn’t be too bad for her,” Booth said. “It’s obviously something she enjoys.” He wasn’t going to get involved in Willow’s choice of career... she would only resent it if he did, but Booth figured that by being a Watcher Willow would get to do what she obviously enjoyed and valued... which was the most important thing.
“Exactly,” Giles agreed.
The two men looked at each other before they clinked their cups together and drained what was left of their drinks, united by their respective feelings about Willow’s future.
Several days passed by and since the apocalypse had been adverted, Willow continued to pack up everything that she was taking away with her to MIT.
“Are you sure about this?” Buffy asked as Willow put a jumper in her suitcase. Willow rolled her eyes and walked across her room to get some more clothes out of her drawers.
“Yes, I’m sure, Buffy.”
“You can’t be serious about taking that sweater, Willow?” Cordelia asked from where she sat beside Willow’s suitcase, surveying the sweater Willow had just put into her suitcase. Willow rolled her eyes.
“I promise not to wear it when you’re around, I’ll never say that I know you while I’m wearing it,” Willow said. “Relax, I’m going to be living on the other side of the country.”
“I can’t believe you kept that sweater... Wasn’t that the one you wore when Spike kidnapped you and Xander? You can even still see the bloodstain on the sleeve from where Xander had that big cut on his head. I would have burnt it,” Cordelia said, eying the sweater disdainfully.
“That’s why I’m keeping it,” Willow said after a pause. “It’s to remind me that we almost didn’t make it through everything.”
Buffy and Cordelia exchanged a look at that but decided not to say anything else. Both of them had noticed that Willow was sensitive about her own mortality and that of those around her. They both found it oddly endearing.
“So, are you looking forward to starting at MIT?’ Cordelia asked.
Buffy groaned wearily, “Don’t start talking about college... we’ve only just graduated from high school. At least let me enjoy this summer.”
Willow smiled. “It will be good, I think. I’m looking forward to it... learning more about technology and everything... and helping with research and slaying. It’ll be great. Are you looking forward to moving to L.A.?”
Cordelia nodded. “Anything to get out of Sunnydale and get away of this... weirdness. No offense, Buffy, but this town is creepy.”
“No offense taken, Cordy,” Buffy laughed, settling herself comfortably on the floor, leaning against Willow’s bedside table.
Willow went back to her packing and Cordelia looked around the room.
“If someone told me three years ago that I would be friends with Willow Rosenberg...that I would feel bad about her leaving town, I would have been certain that they were on some sort of drug.”
“Don’t worry, Cordelia, the feeling is mutual... I’ll miss you too.” Willow laughed.
Cordelia smiled. “You’ll keep in touch though?”
“Yeah, you have to tell me if you get any spots in movies or something, so I can go and see you up on the big screen.”
“There is no ifs about it... I will get movie roles, it’s just a matter of how many days after I move into town I start getting them,” Cordelia told them. In reply, Willow and Buffy exchanged a look at Cordelia’s level of confidence.
“Good luck with that, Cordelia.” Buffy smiled.
“I’d say break a leg but we are on the Hellmouth. I don’t think it understands figures of speech and might take it seriously... which would be bad,” Willow offered. Cordelia rolled her eyes.
“Er, thanks Willow. When I am famous and anybody gives you a hard time, make sure you tell them that you know me.”
Willow nodded. “I’ll remember that, Cordy.”
“I can’t believe that you’re leaving Sunnydale,” Buffy told Willow. “I mean... I’m happy for you... it’s a great opportunity and there was always the chance that when you finished high school, you would want to move closer to Washington D.C. to be closer to your dad and everything but now you’re actually leaving and it’s... weird.”
“Tell me about it.” Willow nodded in agreement as she put some more clothes in her suitcase. “For awhile there, we didn’t even know if we would make it this far... and now I’m packing to go to college on the other side of the country and my dad knows everything about what we do here in Sunnydale. Everything is changing so quickly.”
“I know how THAT feels,” Cordy agreed. Buffy and Willow understood what Cordelia had meant. They both knew about the fall of Cordelia’s parents and how Cordy wasn’t going to L.A. out of choice... she would have to. There would be no college education for her.
The three girls were quiet for a short moment before Buffy broke the silence, taking Willow’s hand comfortingly in her own.
“Come on, we better get you packed up... you have to come out with the rest of us to the Bronze tonight.”
Willow nodded and continued to pack up what felt like her life in Sunnydale. It felt like a stage of her life was ending and the next stage was beginning. Maybe her speech at graduation hadn’t been so far off the mark. This was the start of a new beginning... for her... for Cordy... for Buffy... for everyone.
“You have to stay in touch... I want to hear all the gossip from MIT,” Cordelia announced. “That goes for you too, Buffy.”
“As long as you tell us what movies and TV shows you’re going to be in so we can watch them,” Willow replied. Buffy rolled her eyes.
“I don’t know... I’m looking forward to hearing about all the hot guys Willow’s going to meet at MIT.”
“Seriously, Buffy... they’re all going to be geeks and nerds,” Cordelia rolled her eyes.
“Hmm, good point. I’ll take my chances with the guys at UC Sunnydale.”
Willow looked from Buffy to Cordelia, a smile spreading over her face. She had no idea when chatting with Buffy and Cordelia about boys became normal, but somewhere along the line Willow... who for most of her life had been friends only with Xander and Jesse... had gotten used to having to friends that were most definitely female. It was with a pang that Willow realized that she was going to miss times like these... a lot. Intellectually, Willow knew that she would develop new friendships after she moved but she also knew that her new friendships wouldn’t be the same as the ones she had developed in Sunnydale. There was something about working together to save the world that made friendships stronger than others.
Willow leaned against Xander as he held her tightly against him.
“I’m going to miss you,” he told her.
Willow nodded. “Not as much as I’ll miss you,” she promised, glancing up at her best friend’s face. She was surprised to see the tears that filled his brown eyes and that rolled down his cheeks. Reaching up, Willow used her thumb to wipe Xander’s tears away.
“Don’t worry, I’ll come and visit... I promise.”
“We’ll look after him for you, Willow, won’t we Giles?” Buffy said, approaching them and swinging her arm over Giles’ shoulder. Giles nodded, polishing his glasses.
“Of course we will.”
“Thanks,” Willow smiled, pulling away from Xander before being engulfed in a Slayer-strength hug.
“Um… Buffy... air?” Willow choked and Buffy loosened her grip a little.
“Sorry,” she apologized sheepishly. Willow shrugged it off.
“It’s okay. I just want to thank you... for everything.”
Buffy smiled. “It’s okay, Willow... I’m the one that should be thanking you. Sunnydale’s not going to be the same without you.”
Willow smiled. “I’m sure you’ll be so busy with college and... other stuff, that you won’t even notice I’m gone.”
“No way.” Buffy shook her head. “I could never be so busy that I won’t think of you and miss you. You better stay in touch, you hear?”
“Yes, mom,” Willow teased, rolling her eyes, although she could feel her throat tightening with emotion and tears building up in the corners of her eyes. Overhead, there was an announcement, telling the assembled group that Willow’s flight was now boarding. Around them, people were packing up their things and lining up, preparing to board. Willow looked around at her friends. Buffy, Xander and Giles had offered to accompany her to the airport and see her off. Oz had other plans... it was a full moon and there was no way Giles and the others would be back before nightfall and Cordelia had insisted on fare-welling Willow privately. The cheerleader had her own packing to do as well... she would be leaving Sunnydale for L.A. the next day. Booth and the team from the Jeffersonian had left three days before and Willow was heading to Washington D.C. to spend some more time with them before she headed off to MIT.
Fighting to stay in control of her emotions, Willow turned to Giles and took the hand the Watcher offered to her, shaking it formally before giving up and throwing herself at him, hugging him tightly. Buffy and Xander watched on as Giles sniffed, trying to hide his own tears.
“You truly are the best of us all,” Giles croaked out and Buffy knew from the subtle shaking of Willow’s shoulders that Willow was crying.
“Look after them, Giles... and look after yourself too... I don’t want to find out that something’s happened to you when I’m not there. You have to promise stay in touch, please, Giles... I promise to help out with the research and stuff as much as I can,” Willow babbled, her voice muffled by Giles’ tweed jacket. Giles patted Willow’s back.
“Work hard, Willow. You have so much potential. This is your time to reach that potential... but at the same time be careful. Magic is a dangerous thing... as you well know.”
Willow nodded. “I know. I’ll be careful and I will follow instructions.”
“Good, I am so proud of you, Willow.” Giles smiled, a tear rolling down his cheek. Willow blushed, tears rolling down her cheeks as well.
“Willow, the line’s moving, it’s time for you to go,” Buffy reminded gently. Willow took a steadying breath, pulling away from Giles and wiping her tears away.
“Alright,” she said, picking on her carry-on bags. “I guess I’ll see you... whenever I see you.”
“Keep in touch... I want nice long, juicy, phone calls and emails,” Buffy told her as Willow began to walk away. Willow blushed and nodded as she walked up to the counter and scanned her ticket. She turned and waved at the rest of the original Scooby Gang before she walked down the corridor that would take her to her plane... and then on to her new life.
And as the plane lifted off from the tarmac, Willow knew that although her life in Sunnydale might be over for now, the life she was about to go into was going to be just as interesting.