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Despite the sudden and unpredicted rainfall, Willow strode with purpose, uncaring as her boot slammed into an oil-slicked puddle, spraying water violently and soaking the ends of her jeans. She kept her pace quick, her body slightly off balance as it tried to readjust to the sudden shifts in equilibrium. She couldn’t slow down. Anger fed adrenaline coursed through her, forcing her muscles on, her overworked mind grateful for something tangible and present to demand her attention. The walk and the destination. Willow tried hard to focus. The walk and the destination. And yet her thoughts, traitorous and unkind, seeped words and accusations.

“I don’t know how to be around her anymore”

“I know, me too. It’s like the magic is all-“

 “Do you care that she’s gone?”

“How could you, Willow?”

 She walked harder, faster. Doubled her intent and concentrated, mentally shooing errant, unwanted thoughts as they arose. The walk and the destination.

And then, there it was. A feeling settled in her bones. She felt it. She knew where to go.

A thrill danced on her spine as Willow recognized she now had the ability to tune in to Rack’s whereabouts, suddenly feeling like she had been giving the password to the best speakeasy in town. Thoughts from the day were split apart and pushed aside, the red sea of Willow’s intent creating a sure path.

The path led through Grammerly cemetery, past Spike’s crypt. Flickering candle light drew her attention to the crypt’s muddied windows, the light blurred and fragmented. Squinting her eyes at the sight, Willow briefly wondered why vampires always played with fire. Immolation, anyone? She shook her head and resumed her pace, turning into the older part of town on the East side.  A few more blocks and a right turn into an alley, and Willow was there.

She paused, bathed in anticipation and held out her hand, fingers splayed, reached and waggling. She reached until she felt the density of the outside air thicken. Stepping forward, Willow pushed into the unseen opening.

She emerged into the same dingy waiting room littered with other magic users, each one anxious for their turn behind Rack’s closed door. Taking in the faces of her fellow witches, Willow’s gaze stopped on Amy, leaning rigidly against the back wall, eyes narrowed, looking directly at Willow. After a beat, Amy’s façade shifted and Willow blinked, unsure of what she had seen, as Amy pleasantly waved her over.

Guilt and hurt vied for recognition, like gremlins in Willow’s mind, as she walked over to Amy. Both had come alone, neither had extended an invitation. Willow put on a smile and an overly cheery tone as she stopped and swung her arms, hands clasped in front of her, “Hey Amy, I didn’t know you’d be here!”

“Back atchya, Willow,” Amy shrugged casually even as her gaze shifted to the side, “it was, uh, kind of a spur of the moment thing.”  

“Oh right, same,” Willow picked-up, “just thought I’d, you know, do the quick drop in thing.” Amy nodded and Willow nodded back. They stood uncomfortably together, shifting as the minutes ticked by until Rack’s door opened behind them.

Immediately, Amy moved forward, sidestepping Willow with a wide grin as she headed for the open doorway. Rack raised his hand in a stop motion and Amy’s grin dropped. She followed his stare, directed past her shoulder and aimed at Willow.

Rack swept past Amy and bent his head to the side, an appraising leer disrupting scarred features. “Strawberry,” he purred, gesturing Willow over and inside.

Willow felt the hairs on her neck and arms rise, a sickening chill ran down her spine. But she continued walking, swallowing the acrid saliva that had pooled beneath her tongue. She was confident he didn’t want her body, but he gained an almost sexual pleasure being inside her magically, that had been clear the last time she had visited. What she was trying not to think about was how much she enjoyed what he gave her, too. It was purely magical, she took comfort in that, but it was also obscenely intimate. Willow sent a fleeting look at Amy as she crossed the threshold.

Hearing the door click behind her, Amy fumed. She turned abruptly, to the bemused stare of an unkempt and twitchy young man .

“What?!” Amy snapped. The onlooker rolled glassy eyes and turned away.

This is why I didn’t invite her! Amy raged internally as she paced the small room. She had been the one to introduce Willow to Rack, she had been the one who knew where to go or even that he existed and from moment one, Willow was favored. Rack had murmured the whole time he first inspected Willow: Willow was ripe, Willow was teeming, Willow had so much power.

Amy tried, she really tried to not be jealous, and part of her knew her reactions were childish. But mainly, she was pissed. Amy was powerful too, and maybe she hadn’t been “ripe” but she’d been trapped in a little cage while Willow went around developing her practice, gaining strength, having a life. Too busy playing with her girlfriend to care if she languished. No aim for maturity could soothe the bitter wound inside. She needed this at least as much as Willow, didn’t he see that?

An hour went by, Amy had stopped her pacing and now sat picking her cuticles, tapping her foot impatiently as she stared at the closed door. It opened slightly and Rack inspected her steadily before gesturing for her to come in. Amy stood, the irritated look on her face negated by the eager trip as her feet hustled to get inside.

She entered the room and looked around as the door closed behind her.

“Where’s Willow?” she asked, the question a jumble of irritation and concern.

Rack simply grinned and raised his hand, his index finger shooting upwards. There, sprawled across the ceiling, was Willow Rosenberg, her shirt riding up her torso, her body twisting in pleasure as her features swam in ecstasy. Amy laughed, the girl was gone. And old Willow had gone with her.

Still smiling, Amy turned toward Rack. She nearly batted her eyelashes as she asked coyly, “So whatcha got for me?”

The man stepped close, brushing his body slightly against Amy’s while he grazed his hand lightly between her breasts. His long, hard knuckled fingers splaying toward Amy’s nipples until he stopped, flattening his palm against her chest. The scents of whiskey and anise assaulted Amy as Rack pressed his mouth to her ear, “Red’s a bit…. engaged. Let’s you and me take a little tour.”

Amy shivered as she let him take her, waiting for the magic to push away her terror, leaving only a numb bliss.