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Issues much?
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CHAPTER 9: Issues much?

Willow Rosenberg sat cross legged in her magical prison, her eyes closed and her hands resting on her knees palms up. Her lips were moving but the ancient words were whispered so quietly that they were impossible to hear. Her body ached and she wanted nothing more than to curl into a tight ball on the floor and cry until she had no more tears left. But she knew she had to be strong if she wanted to get out of this mess alive.

She hadn't seen her captors for over twenty-four hours now, but she was still in pain from the torture session Ethan Rayne put her through last time.

Ethan. They should have known the man would reappear eventually. After the Initiative had been dismantled, he'd vanished. Not once had they wondered what had happened to him. They all just assumed he had died after the demons had been set loose while they were fighting Adam. Apparently not so. All these years and he was still obsessing over getting his revenge on Buffy and her friends.

Couldn't he just get a life? Willow wondered with anger. No, anger was bad. She had to focus. But seriously...

She had just finished putting two young Slayers on a flight to Scotland, when she had decided to try to find Kennedy. Last she heard, her ex girlfriend was in L.A. causing some trouble. Things had ended badly between the two of them and it led to Kennedy turning her back not only on Willow, but on the new council and her sister Slayers as well. After she arrived in L.A., she'd gotten into a fight with another Slayer that resulted in the other girl ending up in a hospital. Consequently, Kennedy made the list of rogue Slayers. Willow had been hoping to fix things by talking to her before it was too late.

What Willow didn’t see coming though was that not only did Kennedy expect her, she also had a welcoming committee. Rona was by her side. Rona had split even before they left for Scotland, after a huge blow out with Buffy. No one had ever heard from her until Kennedy had found her. Also--and that was probably the most shocking surprise--a ghost from the past was with them: Amy Madison.

Realizing something was wrong, Willow had tried to break the tension by being her usual bubbly self, but didn’t get a reaction and the awkwardness only escalated until a fourth figure walked in to join them. When she saw Ethan Rayne, she knew she should react fast because they obviously had something planned and she was sure it wasn’t a surprise party with punch and cake, but she has the unfortunate habit of giving people the benefit of the doubt. Well, this definitely was the wrong time to be a good person.

Before she knew what was happening, Amy had said something, and suddenly, she was standing between Ethan and Kennedy, and looking at herself. Amy had switched bodies with her. She opened her mouth to speak but there was a flash of pain behind her eyes and everything went dark. When she woke up, she was in this basement, stripped of her powers and surrounded by a glowing energy sphere.

Unfortunately for her, Willow had left Scotland telling everybody that she was getting the Slayers, then she needed to be alone for a while. No one was coming for her. She still had hope that Iris would feel something was wrong, but it might take a while. She could only rely on herself. That’s why she was chanting. Even the strongest binding spell could be broken if you knew how to draw power from the elements. Anyway, it was worth a try. And bonus, it kept her mind off her pain.

Ethan came downstairs and unceremoniously threw a greasy bag at her. Sparks flew when the bag went through the energy barrier, but it reached Willow almost intact if only for a light burnt paper smell. Burger King. She made a face.

“Stop your useless chanting and have a bite, Miss Rosenberg.”

“Burger King again? Ew. Couldn’t you at least get In and Out if you insist on feeding me junk food?”

“I’m sorry, princess, it’s out of my way. Beside, you’re bloody well not in a position to make demands. Just be happy I bother feeding you at all.”

“Geez, thank you, Ethan. I’ll keep that in mind next time you decide to torture me.”

He grinned. “As you should, my dear. Now, enough chit chat. I’m on my way to meet with Amy. If I were you, I’d pray that she made progress. It will save you a world of pain. Oh, and don’t bother trying anything, my two watch dogs are upstairs.”

“Lucky me.” Willow said mockingly while opening the bag. “Now we can have a fun girls’ night in. Maybe there’ll be pillow fight or something.”

Ethan tsked. “You really do have a smart mouth, Willow. Maybe I ought to be tougher on you next time... just to keep you humble.”

She didn’t answer, too busy taking a bite out of her burger. She was starving.

He turned to leave. “Stay out of trouble, darling.”

Willow wolfed down her food, then quickly returned to her chanting. God she had to get out of this place!


Spike had spent the better part of three hours trying to get Buffy to open her bedroom door, but the stubborn bint wouldn’t hear it. What he had to say to her, he had to say face to face. He didn’t want to have to tell her everything that happened in the past year through a door. But she had used choice words to let him know she didn’t want to see him or talk to him. Then, he listened to her cry for the longest time without being able to do anything to make it better. He thought it was a bit of an extreme reaction, but who was he to judge? After all, once he’d been back home after his first visit to Rome, he’d spent an entire night crying like a baby. Not that he would ever tell anyone; he wasn’t exactly proud of this. But it had felt like the end of an era and he had mourned for a life and a love that would never exist again. He knew he had nowhere to go but forward, but he had needed that moment of self pity first before he could even attempt to move on. Not that he did a stellar job at moving on, mind you.

Now, it turned out this era might not have been over, but he’d of course managed to screw it up. For a few moments, he’d been hopeful. The things she said to him he never thought he would hear coming from her mouth. When Buffy told him she’d meant it when she said she loved him on the Hellmouth, he didn’t have the heart to tell her that no, he really hadn’t believed her. But maybe he should have. Maybe it would be easier for her to understand why he didn’t come back to her if she knew.

Why couldn’t they get it right? They kept hurting each other. Maybe he should just go.

Spike was sitting on the floor, his back to the door. He decided to try one last time. He knocked on the door.

“Buffy. Please let me in so we can talk. I don’t want things to end like this. Please.”

Silence answered him.

He closed his eyes and shook his head sadly. “Please, pet. You’ve had your turn to speak, now let me have mine.”

“Go away.”

Spike stood up. “All right, then. I won’t be bothering you again.” He spat out angrily. “But just know that it had nothing to do with you or how I feel about you. It was about me. Not everything is about you, Buffy.”

He waited a beat, then: “Goodbye, Buffy. I’m sorry things turned out this way.”

He was already gone when the door opened. Angry that he listened to her and left, Buffy slammed the door shut again with a violence that could have easily broken the door. Thankfully, it didn’t.

Spike was sullenly making his way downstairs when he was stopped by Andrew.

He narrowed his eyes in annoyance. “Not in the mood to deal with you right now.”

“Sorry. But somebody wants to see you.”

“Don’t bloody well want to see anybody, so sod off.”

“It’s Dawn.”

That almost put a smile on Spike‘s face. “Dawn is here?”

“Yes. She’s in the basement.”

“Spike, wait! There something you should know first...” Andrew tried to stop him, but Spike was already halfway to the basement.

He arrived in the dark and damp lower level of the castle then stopped and, not knowing where to go, he called out.


"I'm in here!"

Her voice was strangely loud, but he chalked it up to the basement's sonority.

He opened an heavy wooden door and walked in. Spike looked around, surprised by what he saw. There were stairs leading down to a large shadowy room. It took him a moment to realize what he was looking at.

"Bloody fucking hell!!? Dawn?"

"Hey, watch your mouth!" She laughed at the expression on the vampire's face.

Then, the reality of Spike being there hit her.

"Wow. You're alive. I can't believe it."

"And you're a... bleedin' giant!" He was staring at her with his mouth open in shock.

She smiled at him. "Oh. Is it that noticeable?"

"Just a little."

"God, Spike, I can't believe you're really here. I never thought I'd ever see you again." Her eyes got misty and one big tear drop rolled down her cheek and splashed onto the stone floor, forming a puddle.

"Hey now, none of that... pigeon." He chuckled. "Was gonna call you little bit, but I'll have to come up with new and more appropriate nicknames for you."

"Yeah. Can't use that one anymore."

"How did this happen?"

"Uh... long story. Forget it."

"I'm serious, Dawn. What the hell happened here?"

"Well, I guess my sister and I do have one thing in common after all. Both our first..." Dawn blushed bright red. She had to remind herself that she was an adult now, and if you can do the deed, you were definitely grown up enough to talk about it. "... sexual experience had catastrophic consequences."

Spike almost choked. "Your WHAT NOW?"

She rolled her eyes at the outraged look on the vampire's face. "Don't freak out. I'm seventeen years old. What did you think? I'd stay a virgin until I'm thirty?"

"Damn straight!"

"Sorry. You weren't around to scare off all my potential lovers and one of them managed to get under my skirt."


She giggled.

"And the wanker super sized you? Where is he, I'm gonna kill him."


"No. Better yet: I'm gonna rip his entrails right out of his body."


"Fine. Don't tell me. I'll ask around and I'll find him."

He turned to leave, but suddenly found himself being lifted off his feet, trapped into a giant hand. He might have laughed at how ridiculous the scene was if he wasn't so furious.

"Hey! Put me down."

"No can do."

"Dawn, I'm not kidding." He warned.

She huffed. "And what are you gonna do about it?"

He considered his option for a while, then looked pitifully at her. "I got nothing."

"That's what I thought. I'm not putting you down until you promise you won't kill Kenny."

Spike snorted. "Kenny? What kind of nancy name is that?"

"A perfectly normal name. Now stop worrying about that, Giles and the witches are on it. I'll be back to my normal self before you know it. Can we stop talking about that?"

"Fine." He said sulkily. "But I still get to kick his sorry ass for ever touching you."

"Spike..." She said in a warning tone.

"I won't kill him. Just scare the bleedin' hell out of the boy."


She gently sat him down on her upturned hand so they could talk face to face.

"Spike, what happened?"

He shrugged and looked away, pretending not to know what she was talking about.

"You just got back and you and my sister already had a fight? What's the matter with you guys? Geez!"

"Oh. So you know about that?"

"Yeah. Andrew told me Buffy was super upset and locked herself in her room."

"You know us... Could never see eye to eye. Every time it looks like we might be getting along, I put my foot in my mouth and bollock things up. Can't help myself."

"As much as she's been a giant pain in my giant butt lately--pun intended--she's been miserable without you and I do want her to be happy. Mostly because when she's happy, she doesn't spend every minute of her existence yelling at me. So... Fix it! Whatever happened, I don't even want to know about it, just make it better."

"Easier said than done, Dawnie. I really screwed up this time and she won't talk to me. I even told her I was leaving and it didn't make her come out. You know I hate disappointing you, but I'm leaving."

"What? No! You can't leave, you just got here. Since when do you give up so easily?"

"I'm tired, Dawn." Spike sighed and dropped his shoulder in defeat. "I never thought I would give up either, but it's just too much. I've been on this rollercoaster ride for years and it's starting to make me nauseous. Why should I ask for forgiveness from someone who won't even listen to my side of the story?"

"She'll listen. You know her, she freaks out, gets all hotheaded and stubborn, then she calms down. Give her time to calm down."

"I have my pride too, Dawn. I spent a lot of time alone lately, doing some thinking, and as much as I love your sister and always will, I don't want to be the whipped puppy dog chasing after her anymore. Now she knows I'm alive and I'll make sure she knows where I live, this way if she does calm down and decides she's interested in my side of the story, she can be the one coming after me for a change."

Dawn looked defeated. "Does it really have to be that way?"

"I'm afraid so, pet."

She nodded her understanding. "Yeah. I guess it kind of sucks always being the one making the effort."

"That it does."

"All right then. But as soon as I'm regular size Dawn again, you better have a pull out couch ready for me because you can be sure I'll visit... often."

Spike smiled affectionately at her. "You better."


Amy wiped the steam from the bathroom mirror and looked at her reflection with curiosity. She had been in someone else’s body once, when her mother had stolen her identity in high school, but there just wasn’t any getting used to it. Looking in the mirror and seeing someone else looking back at you was unsettling, even when you expected it. And she felt short. There was also the issue of showering a body that wasn’t yours. She knew how stupid that was, but she tried not too look too much while doing it.

She got most of the water out of her hair with the towel, then wrapped it tightly around her slim body. One thing on the positive list was that Willow was skinny and could eat anything she wanted. Amy was taking full advantage of that. She’d called room service before getting in the shower and ordered a big fat juicy burger and a slice of apple pie. It was nice to take a break from the salads.

She opened the bathroom door and opened her mouth to scream when she saw the man sitting on the bed. She caught herself in time when she realized it was Ethan. She glared at him and walked up to the dresser to get a T-Shirt then quickly slipped it over her head.

“You could have knocked, you know.”

“Now what would be the fun in that, Amy?”

She ignored him while she looked for a pair of pants. She put them on under the towel, then dropped the towel on the floor. She finally faced him.

“Why are you here? I already told you on the phone I didn’t find her yet.”

Ethan stood up slowly, and took a few steps toward her. Amy shivered at his proximity and forced herself not to step back. She hadn’t realized until now just how small the hotel room was.

“I am well aware of what you told me on the phone. But I got so disappointed that I figured a little visit might motivate you to try harder.”

He reached up to touch her cheek.

“You know how I hate to be disappointed, don’t you?” He whispered, his voice like honey and poison.

His eyes were so dark, she felt hypnotized. She tried telling herself that she didn’t need him anymore now that she had Willow’s body and powers. She didn’t even really care about Buffy’s whereabouts. But Amy Madison was a junkie and junkies don’t think logically. It wasn’t only about the power anymore--she had plenty of that--it was about dependency and need. The need to be controlled, to be dominated, made her despise herself, but she couldn’t help it. Unfortunately for her, Ethan knew that. He had known at first glance that night he met her at a gathering of magic users in the Valley a month ago. Which is why he had picked her. Men like him always go for the weakest and easily manipulated one.

Ethan grabbed Amy’s arms painfully and pulled her against him. He sneaked one arm around her waist to force her to stay still, then with his free hand, he ran a finger down her forehead, her nose, all the way to her lips. It was a gentle caress, but it chilled her. Blue energy crackled from his fingertip, making her lips tingle.

Ethan leaned in to whisper in her ear.

“Don’t let me down, Amy.”

A/N: Thank you guys so much for the reviews! Aw, you still love me! At least now I know you're still reading lol. Didn't mean to sound whiny in my last note, but I was really starting to wonder. I hope you'll like this chapter just as much. Thanks again.
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