I hate doing things the normal way, Willow thought. It’s all…slow. She had everything she needed laid out: eggs, flour, milk…a computer in the other room with a brand new Facebook profile in need of tending to, Dawny in San Francisco applying for college…and all of those ingredients needed to be mixed together before Kennedy came home from Slayer drills. Normally, Willow would be there – she was the closest thing to a Watcher in the Southern Hemisphere – but she had told Kennedy that she had something important to work on for Buffy. And it was true – Buffy would want Kennedy to have a Grandma Rosenberg recipe extra-special birthday cake. If she knew it was Kennedy’s birthday, that is. Or if she had ever had one of Grandma Rosenberg’s extra-special birthday cakes.
“Well she would have,” Willow said to the echoing room. “If she would ever have a birthday where the world wasn’t ending, or we weren’t attacked by a vengeance demons, or Giles wasn’t transmogrified into a demon.” Willow gathered the mixing bowls and spoons. “Next year she can have an extra-special cake. As long as there’s no extra-special apocalypse.” She paused, considering. “So, apocalypse then.”
As Willow put the last utensils on the table, another wave of anxiety hit her. It never used to be like this. Before Miss Calendar died, Willow had loved to cook. It was just like chemistry, after all. She had always loved mixing and measuring things, and seeing what happened when they came together. And tasting – never forget tasting. Not so much with chemistry, but with the cooking.
Now…it was like the world had moved on, and Willow with it. Even for a super-yummy cake, baking was just such a long process for her now. In the time she had spent gathering ingredients, she could have said a few words and laid out a four-course meal. And called Dawn about her college applications.
Will opened the drawer with the sage, horse hair, and other multi-purpose spell ingredients. Would Kennedy even taste the difference? she wondered. I would taste the love, a shadow of Kennedy’s voice echoed in Willow’s mind, but she banished it. Just because she made it more quickly, and without her grandma’s family recipe, wouldn’t mean she loved her any less.
While she weighed the pros and cons of magicking a cake into existence. Willow picked up another ingredient her grandparents hadn’t had: locally grown and processed dark chocolate. “What would Grandma say? After she got over saying ‘burn the witch’, that is.” Like most grandparents – like most people over the age of forty, in Willow’s experience – Grandma Rosenberg was a creature of tradition. She would react to a magic cake the same way Giles had reacted to the Kindle he got for Christmas, or the way Angel reacted whenever somebody tried to text him.
That wasn’t exactly the decisive argument she had hoped for. She considered calling Xander for advice, but she knew his reaction would be to delay saying “cake is cake is cake” until he got to look at her eyes for traces of black. Buffy might be less subtle on both fronts, but her reaction would be very much the same. Until she proved that she could keep using magic without being tainted by the power she had used over the Hellmouth, none of her friends would trust him.
Did she trust herself? Two years ago she’d have said that was a silly question. Even if she relied on magic a bit more than people who needed more effort to work it, it wasn’t a crutch. She wasn’t Civus Vail or Lucien Drake, who were barely alive without magic. She just did what she was good at. That was before she became so wrapped up in her power that she almost drove Tara to dump her, challenged a goddess, went on a power-drunk rampage and almost destroyed the world. That changes your perspective a little bit. Kennedy had never seen that Willow, and this Willow hoped she never would.
Still, there was a far cry between baking a cake and destroying the world. A glass of champagne does not a violent alcoholic make, and Willow was much more self-aware than she was before her time with the coven. No black irises here! Even if she did wonder sometimes how Kennedy would react to black hair.
Was she in denial, though? Was she already sliding down the slippery slope to needing magic to brush her teeth? She hadn’t tried to resolve any arguments with Kennedy by erasing the Slayer’s memory yet, that was a good sign. My name is Willow Rosenberg, and I am a magic-holic. She had considered attending meetings, but hadn’t really had the chance before the First attacked. Besides, most alkies didn’t know what it was like to have things like flight and telekinesis at their fingertips, and there certainly wasn’t a Wicca Anonymous group here in Rio.
Willow looked at the clock. Kennedy would be home in two hours. Could she really afford to spend an hour of that time baking a cake, and another twenty minutes scrubbing batter off of dishes?
“Tear ty tsat,” Willow said, sprinkling some components from the spell drawer into the air. They swirled in the air, eventually settling to form a five-layer chocolate cake. With a snap of her fingers, Will sent the various cake ingredients and utensils back to their resting places before inspecting the cake. It looked absolutely perfect – definitely better-looking than the slow way. Almost perfect, actually. “Ydennek,” she commanded, pointed with her finger, and a string of icing spelling out the Slayer’s name danced across the cake and settled on top of the frosting.
Satisfied, Willow headed toward her shared bedroom, her cellular phone flying from its resting place next to the computer to her hand. It was already ringing on the other end by the time it reached her hand, and was answered several tedious seconds later. “Hi, Dawny,” Willow said, as she sat down at the computer and began typing “wrosenberg@ ucsunnydale” into the login screen. “How are applications going? Any unspeakable evil in the admissions department?”