Thunk! Slam! The library door was flung open furiously, then slammed shut again behind the person who entered, causing the windows to rattle in their panes. Willow looked up from her book in surprise, only to see Erin standing just inside the door in as much of a towering fury as the three-year old could muster. The redhead stifled a giggle at the little girl's fierce expression, the child's body practically shaking with rage.
"Erin," Willow greeted her gravely, again trying to keep the smile from her lips.
Erin stamped her foot, then burst into tears and kicked the door before racing across the room. Willow quickly pushed away from the desk and caught the sobbing little girl as she threw herself into Willow's lap. Erin was babbling to Willow, but since she was also choking on her sobs, it was impossible for Willow to understand her. She awkwardly shifted until she had Erin cuddled more comfortably against her shoulder as she had seen Buffy do. Not accustomed to children, and still getting used to having Erin around, no matter how delightful Willow found her, the witch fell back on the old fashioned method of rocking the little girl gently in an effort to calm her.
Finally, Erin's sobs quieted and subsided into occasional hiccups and sniffles. Willow reached for a tissue from the box on the desk and gently wiped the tears form Erin's face. "What's wrong Erin?" she asked, worry causing a small line of concern to appear between her eyebrows.
"Mommy yelled," Erin replied, a heart-tugging pout on her little face. Still, Willow was a little surprised. Buffy had been on edge all day, and as the tension grew the Slayer had been snapping at everyone all afternoon. She knew that Buffy had been trying to distract Erin all day so the Slayer wouldn't take her emotions out on the innocent little girl. What had Erin said that finally set Buffy off?
"Erin, I'm not sure what to say," Willow fumbled. "Buffy's been jumpy and nervous, so maybe she yelled when she shouldn't have, but you know that she still loves you, right?"
Erin rolled her brown eyes in exasperation. "'Course I do," she said. "Mommy love me, no matter what."
Willow was at a loss. "So, if you know your mom still loves you, why were you so upset?"
Willow watched as Erin shifted in her lap and avoided her eyes, curiosity growing each moment that her 'niece' stalled. "Mommy and Papa aren't listening," Erin finally said cryptically.
Willow rolled her eyes at Erin's statement; the child's steady brown eyes and slight frown brought to mind another brunette who had a tendency to avoid details. "What are they not listening to?" Willow asked, trying to lead Erin towards the answers she needed, while a part of her started laughing hysterically at Buffy's concern over Angel being able to relate to Erin. If the Wicca didn't know any better, she'd swear that Erin was Angel's own flesh and blood.
"Me," responded Erin with a roll of her eyes. Willow simply raised an eyebrow and met the child's gaze steadily. Finally, Erin sighed and replied to the unasked question. "I's trying to tell them 'bout my dream cause it was weird. Papa always makes Mommy write down her dreams 'cause they might be 'portant, but they won't listen to me. How come Auntie Willow? Aren't my dreams 'portant too?"
Willow sighed and leaned back in her chair, cocking her head to one side thoughtfully as she gazed at Erin. "I don't know Erin," was her eventual answer. When Erin started pouting and tears started welling, the hacker quickly moved to try to explain. "I mean, I know your dreams are important to you, and that they're important to all of us if you have nightmares, because we want to help keep the bad dreams away." Willow started falling back into her old habit of babbling as she tried to gather her thoughts and simplify them so the not quite four-year old could understand them. "Everyone's dreams are important, but your mommy has special dreams sometimes. You know that Mommy fights the monsters right? So, sometimes when we don't know what's going on, or how to beat the monsters, your mom has special dreams. They warn her about bad guys, problems, or sometimes tell her how to beat the monsters. That's why your papa makes her write them down, in case they help us out later."
"I *know* that," interrupted Erin, her voice impatient. "But that doesn't mean I'm not special, too."
Willow opened her mouth to reply to Erin's statement and closed it again abruptly when the little girl's words registered. She studied Erin's expression closely, her thoughts racing wildly as she scrambled to remember if she'd ever read anything about a Slayer's offspring. "You're right Erin," Willow finally managed, her thoughts skittering around her mind in a panic. "No one ever said you weren't special too. I'll talk to your mom and Giles later today or tomorrow, when things have calmed down a little, and remind them of that. In the meantime, why don't you tell me about the nightmare you had last night."
"It wasn't a nightmare," Erin sighed as Willow pulled a legal pad and a pen towards her. "It was just weird. There was this man, and he was talking. It looked like he had two faces, but he didn't, and..."
Erin babbled on about her dream, pausing frequently as she tried to describe the strange creatures she'd seen, the necklace she'd been given, and various other little snippets she'd observed while asleep. While Willow dutifully took notes, a larger portion of her brain was occupied by two new problems. The first of which was the previously unthought of consequences of Erin's mother being not only a Slayer, but being the strongest, longest lived, and most successful Slayer in over a thousand years. The implications would no doubt boggle Willow's mind when she had the time to focus on that little problem, and that was nothing compared to how Buffy would fly off the handle in reaction.
Willow's attention was brought to the other potential problem as Erin again struggled to explain what she'd seen. For a child that was not even four yet, Erin expressed herself very well. Maybe she didn't have perfect grammar yet, but her vocabulary was pretty large, and she knew that there were words that would better describe what she'd seen, if only she knew them. The situation reminded Willow very much of herself as a child, and she wondered if Buffy and Giles knew just how intelligent Erin seemed to be.
Eventually, Erin finished her tale with, "It was dark, and cold, but I wasn't scared 'cause I knew mommy would come, and that other man with the yellow eyes wasn't scary at all. How come my eyes are brown and yours are green and Papa's are blue?" she asked, looked at Willow expectantly. The redhead muttered something vague about families, as she read through the notes she'd taken, dismissing several sections involving fairies and princesses as normal, Disney induced childhood fantasies. However, there were a few instances where Erin talked about chaos, or described a particular type of demon that made Willow pause. Erin's mention of a two-faced man tickled at Willow's memory, but she couldn't place from where. And the last reference had obviously been a vampire.
"Well, Erin," Willow said, "you may be right about this dream being special. You described a Sedlotz monster here, and the confusion could mean a lot of things. I'll talk to your mom or Giles, but until I do, make sure you come and tell me about any other dreams like this one." Erin nodded, a beaming smile on her face as it appeared her mother and grandfather had made a mistake in not listening to her, before she scrambled off of Willow's lap and moved towards the door. "Erin," Willow called before Erin left. When the child turned back, Willow said very seriously, "You're a very smart little girl."
Equally serious, Erin responded, "I know Aunt Willow."
Willow simply stared after her, stunned at how adult Erin had just sounded. When the door clicked shut, Willow jumped her thoughts whirling. All she could think of as she looked at what she feared would turn out to be a prophetic dream, was "Oh, boy."