Statuettes & Simians
by Chris Jordan
Willow Rosenberg-Chase yawned and snuggled closer into the well of her wife's warm body. She was tired and wanted to sleep. She wanted to forget the terrible argument that had led to them not talking for the last few hours. It was an argument Willow feared would flare up again tomorrow. She'd 'cooled off' a while downstairs, while Cordelia stormed off to bed. Alone.
They always came to bed together, even when Willow was up late translating, Cordelia would doze on the sofa rather than go to bed alone. Willow realised she didn't like missing saying goodnight to her friend. She kissed Cordelia lightly on the lips, trying not to wake her. "Goodnight baby", she whispered, "I love you."
(Perky muzak fades...)
"Gentlemen, start your engines! The tuxedoes are pressed, the ballgowns are flowing and every stretch limo in Southern California is purring. It's Oscar night and Tinseltown is buzzing with rumour and intrigue. Hey, everybody. I'm Bob Guttenthal and welcome to 'Entertainment L.A.'"
"Battle lines have been drawn for this year's most interesting and controversial awards race. Duking it out for the 'Best Actress' title are the new heroine of the conservative lobby, Janey McDaniel, for the smash hit "Angels of Sunset Strip", and former action pin-up Cordelia Chase, for her critically acclaimed lead in last year's updated adaptation of Ibsen's "A Doll's House".
"Ms. Chase, who has set Hollywood ablaze with her meteoric rise from b- movie starlet to leading player, through this role, has been the centre of controversy for the past four years. She has been attacked by several Christian Fundamentalist groups for her relationship with long-term friend and now "wife", Willow Rosenberg. Further outrage was caused when Chase was attacked for her decision to play the lead role in the movie (also nominated for 'Best Film') while heavily pregnant by a mystery father."
"Word is that she'll face big protests at tonight's ceremony, with rumours of planned disruptions inside the hall. As the first openly homosexual actor to be nominated for a "Best" award, several fundamentalist groups have vowed to torment her."
"In an interview at Ms. Chase's North Hollywood home last week, the 31-year-old Californian, previously best known for her roles in action films like "Overdrive" and "Tiffany the Vampire Killer", was asked why she had made the surprising choice to tackle such a heavyweight project. She joked, "Willow and I have such a huge collection of old books that I thought I should read some of them. "A Doll's house" was one of the few not in a dead language, so it was kind of forced on me!"
"When asked to comment on the virulent and constant personal attacks from certain groups, Ms. Chase replied: "It's just too tiring. I don't care what those bigoted fools think. I've faced worse dangers than them. I have my wife and children, good friends and a job I love. It doesn't matter what those idiots say."
"The interview was terminated when Ms. Chase's 11-month-old daughter, Alexandra, was sick into the interviewer's microphone and the couple's other child, three-year-old Jennifer, began performing handsprings while insisting, conspiratorially that she was "chosen". At this point our interviewer made his excuses and left".
"Whatever the outcome of tonight's decision, there is sure to be uproar in Hollywood. Studio insiders are reveling in the most politically- charged Oscars in years. Whatever the result you can be sure the acceptance speeches will be worth a listen! Tammy..."
"Thanks Bob! In other news: Heather Locklear has revealed her despair over the breakup of her fourth marriage, to former teen pop star and present Governor of Oklahoma, Jordan Knight..."
A million flashbulbs exploded as Cordelia and Willow Rosenberg-Chase stepped out of the limo. A million more flashed as the couple walked hand in hand down the aisle to the door of the pavilion. Cordelia waved to the screaming mob of star-spotters and posed for the paparazzi, ignoring the small but very vocal cordoned-off knot of protesters who hurled foul-mouthed and very unChristian insults at her.
The couple walked into the lobby and were sucked into the throng of Hollywood stars and studio execs. Cordelia spotted the English Director Bill Norton, a friend of theirs. "Cordy, how are you sweetheart?, you look great", he cried above the din, struggling to squeeze through the heaving mass to reach the pair in their lavish Ballgowns. "Willow, wow", he laughed, genuinely taken aback by her outfit. "You look incredible".
"Yeah, well, Cordy dressed me", the redhead confessed in her most conspiratorial voice. All three laughed at the not-so-great revelation. Willow was well known in their circle of friends for her homely and sensible dress sense. "I'm a Birkenstock Dyke", she joked. Both women were trying to act nonchalant. They'd spent weeks assuring all their friends who'd listen that it was 'no big deal', but it was obvious to all that the couple were nervous and excited.
"Have you had a drink?", the Englishman asked, his question aimed principally at Cordelia. "There's a lot of talk of protests inside, if..." he checked himself with a smile... "WHEN you win". If Cordelia was nervous she showed no signs of it. Willow pre-empted her wife's reply. "We've talked about it, Bill, and when she wins, Cordy's going to march right up there and stick it to anyone that wants to try!", Willow announced in as forceful a voice as possible.
Cordelia, who was being waved at by a lot of people she knew of but barely liked, turned backed to her friends for a moment and said, "And then I'm going to be violently sick on the podium". Willow looked at her face trying to tell if she was joking or not. Cordelia continued, "With all this right-wing rubbish going on, I sort of forgot I'm up for an OSCAR. I don't know what I'll say if I win". No-one spoke for a moment, until Willow concluded, with admirable economy: "OK, so your plan is to beat up anyone who gets in your way, win the award for best actress of the year, tell me you love me live to the world, curb rampaging conservatism at a stroke and then vomit all over your borrowed, $25,000 dress?". Cordelia nodded eagerly. "That's a hell of a plan, baby", Willow grinned. Bill interrupted. "Shall we go in?".
"And the 'Best Actress' award goes to....CORDELIA CHASE, for "A Doll's House". Almost like clockwork the theatre erupted. Seemingly half the crowd were cheering, while the other half were shouting abuse. The Chase-Rosenbergs barely noticed this, however, as they were too deeply involved in a celebratory embrace to care. Slowly Cordelia rose to her feet and reluctantly broke away from her wife's warm body. With her head spinning and a shell-shocked smile on her face, Cordelia Walked unsteadily toward the stage. She hugged a delighted Bill as she walked past his seat and then she was there, approaching the podium.
Cordelia gulped for air. She felt uncomfortable under the burning lights, and the knowledge that over a billion pairs of eyes were watching her at this very instant only served to increase her discomfort. At the back of the auditorium she could just make out a few protesters standing and shouting and being dragged out. The moment seemed to overtake her and for one terrible moment she thought she was going to live up to her jokey promise to Willow by throwing up. But then she caught sight of her beautiful wife, beaming with pride, and Cordelia became confident and controlled. She could imagine their dear friend Xander, sitting in their den, vainly trying to calm Jenny when she saw her Mama on the TV. After a few more moments collecting herself, she began to speak.
"Thank you, everyone. This is a great honour. Any young actor must spend half their free time planning their acceptance speeches, half-knowing they'll never be heard. I know because I was one of them, and now, when the time has come, it's hard to find the words." She paused and put down the statuette. "I've been very fortunate in my life to be surrounded by wonderful, extraordinary people who have loved me and protected me and encouraged me. Unfortunately, I didn't always realise that and I have been guilty of taking some people for granted. It took losing people who I should have appreciated more, to teach me that love is unconditional and everlasting."
Cordelia paused and looked up towards Willow. She saw her lover in tears at the memory of Buffy and the spirit of all the 'Slayerettes'. Cordelia pressed on, now holding back welling tears of her own. "I want to thank all those who made this award possible. The wonderful crew of "A Doll's House", who made working on this film such a pleasure. My foolhardy director, Nancy, who took a chance and inspired me so much. And all my friends who keep me going everyday and don't believe all the crap they here. Especially the ones who bet money you can't say 'crap' at the Oscars. Giles, Xander, you both owe me twenty bucks".
Cordelia found Willow again and locked her eyes into hers. "But most importantly this is dedicated to my family. To my darling wife Willow and our children Jenny and Alex. They remind me every day what happiness is and how life is there to be fought for". She paused again now as she started to cry. "I can be proud to have won this award, but I'll always be more proud of being Mrs. Willow Rosenberg. Thank you all". Willow stood weeping by her chair, mouthing "I love you", up to the stage. Xander broke down in their living room, crying along with his friends.
Cordelia stepped back from the podium as the hall rose in a standing ovation. She hadn't felt as strong as this since she first held a newborn Alex in her arms a year before. She wiped away some of the tears and blew a kiss to Willow. Then she turned and followed the young actor toward the wings and off the stage.
It was at this point that things started to become very strange. From the wings Cordelia could hear wild animal noises, like the 'screaming' of a monkey. In the darkness of backstage she could make out two pairs of red, glowing eyes, burning away in the shadows. She turned back toward the young man who had presented her award, only to find he wasn't a young movie star anymore. Now he was middle-aged and bald and rat faced and he looked just like... Principal Snyder...naked.
"Aaaah, damnit! THIS SUCKS", Cordelia cursed, as the stage began to melt into chocolate and the cats and the dogs signed a treaty that guaranteed peace between the species forever. She sighed heavily and walked off searching for Willow. If she was going to be dragged against her will, into a nonsensical world of illusion, Cordelia at least wanted her wife to be with her.
Cordelia opened her eyes and squinted as the warm, lazy sunlight of another California Sunday morning filled the room and glinted off the bedside alarm clock that read 6:00 am. She stifled a yawn as she recalled her bizarre dream. Coming on top of the bad feelings from the previous night's argument with Willow, she really didn't need this. "Fucking monkeys!", she hissed. "Somebody oughtta fix those jerks. They need a good kick in the ass".
It wasn't the first time she'd dealt with the invisible terrors, she'd had 'monkey dreams' before, but this time she was a little confused. She was wondering why they'd made her dream that. "A Doll's House" had been well received by the critics and her stock as an actress had improved, with several more 'Serious Actress' roles being offered and less 'Action Bimbo' rubbish. Unfortunately, however, the film hadn't overly-dented the box office and in truth, was a long way off Oscar contention. So what was it all about?
Willow stirred beside her and all Cordelia's attention was drawn to her wife. The red-headed woman stretched slightly in her sleep and Cordelia felt the welcome, familiar warmth of Willow's body pressing onto her own. She couldn't help smiling has she held her lover close, inhaling Willow's sweet, warm scent. Cordelia loved the early morning, when she could gaze at her wife's soft, calm, beautiful face and realise what a wonderful thing true love is.
Willow opened her eyes with a start, as always, resembling a startled rabbit. She smiled broadly when she caught sight of her lover grinning her morning greetings. "Hi, sweetie", Cordelia whispered softly, as she leaned forward and kissed her wife softly on the lips. Their embrace grew more passionate as the giggling women renewed their acquaintance with one another's bodies.
"I had such a strange dream", Willow panted as her lover found her left nipple with her soft, wet lips and tongue. "Mmmmmmmm! Oh Cordy!". Cordelia smiled again as she heard the other woman's moans of pleasure. "It... ungh... it was about the Oscauuuuuuungh...ers". Cordelia jumped a little and pulled her mouth off Willow's breast, inspiring groans of protest. "What happened?", the actress demanded.
"What happened what?", Willow replied, looking surprised and somewhat desperate to end the confusing conversation. Anything to get her lover's mouth back in it's very welcome position on her nipple. "What happened in the dream, Wil?". Cordelia had shifted her head back up to her pillow so her face was back on level with her wife's, their eyes, as ever, gazing longingly into each others.
Having reluctantly given up on the prospect of Cordy's hot lovin' for a while, Willow started to explain. In the mean time, the Watcher decided, she would be happy enough with stroking her partner's hair and sucking her fingers as she spoke. "Well", Willow started with a breathless giggle, "You were up for best actress, but there were all these fundamentalist whacko's causing trouble. But you won!".
Willow had her eyes closed now, her fingers entwined with Cordelia's, their bodies close, touching. The redhead began to cry softly as she spoke, sobbing a little more when she felt Cordelia's reassuring, loving hand on her cheek. "And when you did your acceptance speech, you pulled me up there with you and you told millions of people all round the world that you loved me and you were proud to be my wife", she sobbed.
"You know that's true, baby", Cordelia whispered. "Yeah", Willow replied, opening her eyes, pulling her wife even closer to her. "But that was when all the craziness started", she laughed. "The stage melted. And Principal Snyder turned up NAKED and singing "Old Smokey"! And Xander was there, dressed as a CLOWN! And Giles and Jenny were there dancing a scandalous tango!. And the conservatives all turned into frogs, which I didn't like, but it seemed appropriate".
Willow was breathless after telling her bizarre story. She was happy because she relished every chance to share her dreams with Cordelia. The nice ones, that is. Not the visions of past death, of watching Buffy die, or of her friends in danger. Certainly not the terrible, painful nightmares that she sometimes feared were premonitions. The dreams of losing her wife and burying her children. The terrible nightmares she knew Cordy also endured. The anxieties that resulted in the fear-fueled arguments that sometimes rocked their happy home, like last night's had. Sorrow for the past, fear for the future. It was nice to share some the happier dreams with the woman she loved.
The woman who was now grinning maddeningly at her. "Cordy? What's so funny? It was just a dream", Willow said defensively, feeling she was being teased. "I had the same dream, Wil", Cordelia exclaimed brightly. "Exactly the same dream". Willow was smiling, but looked doubtful. "After the Biblical flood washed away the pavilion and the cast of "The Brady Bunch" were sacrificed to the malevolent, fez-wearing Monkeys, we all got ice cream", Cordelia continued.
Willow interrupted, laughing. "Everyone was there. The whole scooby gang. Buffy was alive and happy, and me and you and Xander and Giles and good Angel and Faith and Kendra and Wesley and Oz and Amy and Ms. Calender.." Cordelia cut in again, her face just inches from her wife's. "And then we all went skinny dipping in the LaBrea Tar Pits. While they were on fire". Willow and Cordelia looked into each others eyes and started to giggle ferociously. "Yeah", Cordelia sighed, "that was nice."
"Wow. That's too wild", Willow said, becoming serious again. "There's probably something about shared unconscious thought in the 'Templar Chronicles'. This is really interesting". Cordelia rolled her partner over and pinned her to the bed. "Oh no you don't, Mrs. Chase!", she cried in mock indignation. "It's Sunday, so you can drop the Giles impression. No books today!". She ran her hand down Willow's neck to her right breast, cupping it tenderly. "Besides, weren't we just doing something?". Willow's face lit up: "Oh, definitely, Mrs. Rosenberg". The women were laughing again as they fell back into making love.
Unfortunately for the women, the 'Chosen One' decided on that exact moment to make her regular 'mommy wake-up visit'. Willow grunted with exasperation as her pleasure was cut short for the second time inside half-an-hour, but was cheered by the smiling face of the three-year-old who peered around the door. "Morning Mama", cried the little girl, fiendishly loudly, as she marched across her parents bedroom in her bright yellow pajamas, climbed onto their bed and planted a light kiss on Cordelia's sweaty cheek. "Hi, Mommy!" she said, leaning over to Willow for another kiss. "Good morning, Jennybear", Willow replied, as ever, happy and relieved to see their daughter safe from harm,
"I'll go get Alex". Willow said getting up and walking out of the room. Cordelia lay back, happily watching her hyperactive daughter hop and skip over the bed, chanting: "Slayerbaby", her self-imposed nickname, over and over again. The phone rang on Willow's bedside table. Cordelia struggled past the trampolining toddler and lifted the receiver. "Hey, Xander. How are you?". Jenny bounced harder and shouted in her excitement: "HI, UNCLE XANDER!".
Cordelia reached over and jokingly pretended to strangle her delighted daughter. "What, Xand? Oh, yeah. Monkeys, Snyder naked, tar pits, floods. Wasn't it weird? No. Willow had it too. Don't worry about it. Yeah, I know, but that clown suit really suited you. Hey, therapy's not that expensive! Xand, did you think I looked good with the Oscar? Wha...? BITE ME! Go back to sleep. No, I'm sure he won't come back. Ok, Love you. Bye". ("BYE, UNCLE XANDER!").
Willow returned with Alex just as her wife put the phone down, any doubts about who was calling having been extinguished by their banshee daughter. "What's the matter with Xander?", asked Willow, slightly worried. Cordelia had her 'thoughtful' face on. "Nothing. He had the same dream". Willow's reaction was forceful: "Cordy, this is too much, I am definitely looking into this later. Catch the baby!", she laughed as she dropped Alex all of a couple of inches onto Cordelia's chest.
With Alex in the bed Willow and Cordy tried to calm Jenny, encouraging her to sleep. But no sooner had the mothers got their daughters snuggled up tightly and started to doze off again, then Jenny jumped up and bounced around the bed. She was pointing into the corner yelling "monkeymonkeymonkeymonkeymonkeymonkey". Alex lifted her head from it's snug cradle between her mothers bodies and looked toward the spot her beloved big sister was maniacally indicating. "ukkee", the baby cried, as she caught sight of the fez-wearing creatures of mischief, "ukkeeukeeukkee".
"What is it, Jenny?", Cordelia asked her daughter as she grabbed the whirling toddler by the arm and pulled her down into a big hug. "Mama look. Monkeys". Cordelia looked over into the empty corner of the room. "Wil?", Cordelia appealed to her wife. But Willow just turned over muttering something about "The Crucible". Jenny lay back down but kept her eyes fixed on the corner, occasionally squealing with delight when the 'monkeys' "did something funny".
As the family dozed in the warm summer glow, Cordelia was overcome with a sense of guilt for the previous night's fight. She was so happy it hadn't continued in to the morning. Cordelia stretched over her snoring daughters and kissed her wife. "I'm sorry for last night, baby", she said. "I didn't mean those things I said. I love you so much", she pleaded desperately.
Willow turned over and met her girlfriend's gaze. "I forgive you, sweetie", she purred. "And I hope you DID mean the things you said", she declared determinedly. Cordelia look confused. Willow smiled, her eyes sparkling with the love she felt. "You told the whole world that you're proud to be my wife!", she giggled. The women kissed again. "I love you too, Cordelia".
Cordelia began to cry again. Tears of joy and gratitude for her beautiful family. Tears of thanks that the bitterness of the previous night was forgotten. She shifted the lightly snoring Alex to a more comfortable position in the crook of her arm, turned her head to the point in the corner where Jenny had been pointing and whispered softly... "Thanks, guys."
Mojo looked away from the bed and picked a tick from the other monkey's scalp and ate it, looking as smug as it's possible for a good demon monkey to look. Evil Jojo shut his glaring red eyes, shook his head and batted his tail at his brother, knocking off the good demon's fez. The malevolent Jojo hissed in his sulkiest tone: "You're such a wuss, Mojo!".