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(fic) This isn't about hate

24th May 2007 (23:17)
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There's been lots of controversy over a certain revelation in the S8 comics. Rather than agonise over it, though, I've decided to write fic about it. This is a short story set in Season 6, giving two missing scenes - one from just after 'Doublemeat Palace', the other starting 3/4 of the way into 'Villains' - inspired by the new S8 storyline. 

1,699 words, rated 15 for language and mild squickiness. But no pictures, so don't worry. :) 

.
This isn't about hate

She was dreaming about her mother again. 

Usually those were the bad ones; she'd wake up sweaty and trembling, unsure whether to cry or scream or break things. Sometimes she'd look at her own body, stupid awkward lump of mortal clay, and want to cut and tear and beat at it, punish it for what it made her into. But that scared even her; and then she'd hate herself more for thinking that way. So she'd unpeel the damp sheets, throw on the nearest clothes, and head on out. 

Looking for him

Looking for the fix that would make it all go away, just for a little while. The magical moment when she could still feel like she had power. That she was loved. 

I love you, baby. 

"No you don't. You never have." 

I only wanted the best for you always. 

"You wanted me. You wanted to possess me, make me into your – uh, I don’t know! But it was always about you. You, you, you." 

You’re my daughter. I wanted to be proud of you. 

"By turning me into you! But I’ve got my own thing now. I’m powerful now. I’m strong." 

I bet your friends are really impressed, dear. 

"Shut up! Shut up about that!" 

What’s the matter, dear? You do have friends, don’t you? That nice red-headed girl – 

"That bitch, you mean. Too busy screwing around with her wet blanket of a girlfriend to give a single thought about me. Except as an afterthought. An oh-so-condescending, "I’m-so-powerful-let-me-help-you" fucking afterthought. And Buffy’s no better. Big holier-than-thou protector, saviour of the helpless. And what did she do for me? Sweet fuck all. Well, I’m through being their pet. It’s my turn to play." 

Aww. You sound just like me at your age. 

"We’ve had this conversation, Mom. I’m not you. Never will be. Never want to be." 

You want my power, though, don’t you? 

"What, turning somersaults and cartwheels? Ooo, yes please. Or, wait... no!" 

Don’t be stupid, child. I’m talking about the magic. 

"I’ve got magic. I’m powerful." 

As powerful as Willow? 

"..." 

It won’t help, you know, dear. What this... Rack person gives you, it’ll never make you as strong as her. It’ll just eat you away from inside. It’ll destroy you, my baby girl, and you’ll still never match her power. 

"So that’s it? You want me to give up?" 

No, dear. I want to teach you. Show you my power. 

"So go on then..." 

It’s not so easy, baby. There’ll be tests. Trials. Sacrifices. You’ll have to clean yourself up, purge that corruption, that taint that Rack gave you, if you want to tap into the true dark essence of magic. 

"'Dark essence'? We’re talking about Evil here, aren’t we? Capital ‘E’?" 

And if we are? Would that stop you? 

"I – well – I’m not sure. I mean, I just want to have fun, Mom, without worrying about what Miss Righteous and her little Slayerette friends will think. I’m not wanting to get involved in some big, heavy Good and Evil thing..." 

So I’m wasting my time? I should just go? 

"No! Wait... it’s just, I don’t think I’m evil..." 

It’s just a word, Amy dear. Good, evil, right, wrong – none of them matters. It’s not about them.
It’s about power.




Her hands still shook sometimes. All her crappy breathing exercises and meditation were supposed to stop that, but they never really worked. Only one thing could do that. So she sat cross-legged in the circle, and gripped the crystal tightly to stop it rattling around or slipping from trembling fingers. 

Deep breaths. Unfocus her gaze. "Visualise the power coming up from beneath you", her mother’s – ghost? spirit? essence? - had instructed her, and she felt it fill her. Tingling through her hands, a cold touch in her stomach, a pain in her breasts, a cold wind on her neck. Her eyes filling with darkness, piercing the lucent shadows of the crystal’s heart. 

"Show me" 

...madness and horror... branches whipping her face, panting breath in her ears, heartbeat pounding... terror, desperation to reach safety, sullen anger and resentment that this was even happening... she winced in sympathetic agony as a tree root caught his foot and sent him tumbling, only to scramble upright again and plunge deeper into the forest...

But how? What? 

"Back. Take me back." 

... can we just skip it?... I love you guys! ... each get a whirl, as soon as I'm done.... you're a murderer ... I'm the guy that beat you... and it's not the muscles, baby... it's the brains. ... don’t get too used to them... I don't know what I'd do without you and Will ... you think you can just do that to me? ... your shirt... come back, baby... come back... how? how is this natural?... she's the new power, man - anybody with intuition can feel it... she's going to blow this town away - starting with you...she’s dead... and now he’s dead... I’m not coming back...
Not coming back. 

Amy winced under the impact of images and emotions, gasping for air, trembling. She was filled with horror and vicarious sympathy... and under it all, just the tiniest smidgeon of glee. Oh, she’d never had anything against Tara – except for a certain residual dislike of people who owned cats, but that was a rat thing and she was totally over it. And she supposed she was sorry she was dead. But honestly! The look on Willow’s face! That’ll teach the arrogant cow! The bubble of joy was growing bigger, threatening to break into outright giggles, as she saw how badly Willow had overreacted. Girl was off the wagon but good, and Amy could taste the murder in her heart. 

Oh, there was no way in Hell Buffy would let this go. That tight little clique would be broken asunder, and serves them right. She directed the crystal back to the present time, to see how the Slayer had taken the news. Would she kill Willow herself? Or would she... 

...there are limits to what we can do... there should be... Willow doesn't want to believe it - and now she's messing with forces that want to hurt her... all of us....I won't let Willow destroy herself... 

What? Unbelievable! A stone-cold killer fuelled by dark magic was rampaging through Sunnydale – Amy could taste the magic, even from here – with torture and murder on her mind, and Buffy’s only thought was to help her? Exactly how much help had she given Amy, all those years stuck in a cage? Stuck in a cage, she mentally added, because of Buffy and Willow’s mothers. It all came back to those two. If Buffy had spent one fraction of the emotional energy she was giving to Willow on finding a cure for Amy – a counter-spell, a transformational amulet, anything... but she hadn’t cared. Not like she cared about Willow. 

It was too much. Her fists clenched in rage, the sharp edges of the crystal drawing out an unnoticed trail of blood. It was TOO MUCH! But what could she do? How could she punish them? Maybe if Buffy actually saw Willow kill Warren, saw her torture him...? 

Why not save him? 

"What? Mother, how can you be here? I’m not dreaming. I’m not even asleep!" 

Concentrate, child. He’s clever, and powerful, and after all this he’ll really, really hate those girls. He’d make a strong ally. 

"Yes, and he’s also a misogynist bastard. Why would he want to work with me? Why would I want him to?" 

Because you’d be the one who saved his life. And who could un-save it with her magic, whenever you felt like it. 

"Yeah, but...it’s much more funny if Buffy knows her best friend is a murderer..." 

The figure of her mother just looked at her, cocking an eyebrow. 

"Unless...unless I let them think she’s a murderer! If I teleport him away just as she strikes the killing blow, leave an illusion behind.. No, wait, that wouldn’t work..." 

Amy love, I can feel her emotions from here. She’s planning to obliterate him, wipe him out of existence. There won’t be a body left when she’s finished with him... unless you step in. No need for illusions. 

Great! So – wait. How come you can feel her emotions? Is that, like, a ghost thing? 

What? It’s – look, never mind that. Focus, girl! You’ll need precise timing if this is to work. Now come on!




The fire flared up inside the summoning circle, glowed red, then imploded back on itself with a ‘pop’ – and something fell to the ground. 

Or rather, slithered into a heap. A smell of blood and entrails filled her mouth, her nostrils, gagging her. Choking back nausea, forcing her unwilling eyes to look, she rushed over. He was dead. Had to be. The shock alone would kill him, the bloodloss, the sheer pain... But his brain functions would still be working: his memories, his intelligence. She had a few seconds before they shut down to bring him back, animate his body. 

She couldn’t do anything about the skin. Grudgingly, she knew that was beyond her power for the moment. But on the other hand, if she thought he was repulsive, just imagine Willow’s reaction when she next saw him! The thought made her smile just a little, before her stomach heaved again and she forced herself to concentrate on her spell. 

Hours later, she saw his eyes move, focus. He tried to speak, forcing himself to articulate without any lips to form the sounds. She shook her head impatiently, then chanted the words of her telepathy spell and made mind-to-mind contact with him. 

"What - ?" 

"Willow killed you. I brought you back." 

"How - ?" 

"My mo-" she choked back that thought. "My magic. I’m a powerful witch. Amy. My name’s Amy Madison." 

"Why - ?" 

"Why do you think? I’m going to help you kill both of them. Buffy and Willow." 

A dreadful rictus grin spread across the front of Warren’s skull. 

"Think – you – me – going – be – good – friends..." 

Amy cocked her head appraisingly. She could bring herself to look at him for longer periods now, but still – yuk. 

"Sure. But... not that good, mister..."
.

Comments

Posted by: Owen (owenthurman)
Posted at: 25th May 2007 03:37 (UTC)

Very nice. I like Amy; she's always been interesting. I do wish we got to see her dad a little, though.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 25th May 2007 05:43 (UTC)

Thanks!

He probably doesn't appear because he sounds like a fairly decent father, so by definition is not allowed to appear on the show. :) Plus, Amy says in S6 that she's deliberately avoiding him. She's more her mother's daughter than S1 Amy would have admitted...

Posted by: spikeNdru (spikendru)
Posted at: 25th May 2007 20:07 (UTC)
Amy retcon by beer_good_foamy

She's more her mother's daughter than S1 Amy would have admitted...

Yes, I wondered how that came about. After "The Witch", she was looking forward to going to live with her father and making brownies and seemed really happy about the changes in her life. Then, when we next see her, she's using magic to make the teacher think she handed in a paper when she didn't, and is skilled enough to be calling on Hecate to do love spells and has somehow learned transmorgrification. Guess being a normal girl with a father who probably had to make a living so may not have been around as much as she would have liked wasn't enough for her.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 25th May 2007 23:34 (UTC)

In some ways she's a mirror to Willow - power corrupts, not because it turns you Evil, but because it lets you arrange other peoples' lives to suit yourself. Amy playing with her teacher's mind instead of doing her homework isn't on the same level of violation as Willow wiping Tara's memories, but it's starting down the same path.

The difference is that ultimately Willow cares about what others think about her (and her own self-image), while Amy is much more self-centred. Catherine Madison probably soured her daughter permanently against anybody trying to control or arrange her life for her, or even impose any restrictions on what she wanted to do...

Posted by: spikeNdru (spikendru)
Posted at: 25th May 2007 05:04 (UTC)
Amy retcon by beer_good_foamy

Is that really her mother talking to Amy, or is it perhaps The First?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 25th May 2007 05:51 (UTC)

Interesting guess. :)

Ever since 'The Killer In Me' when Amy said 'Oops" and "It's about power" using not only the same words but the same intonation as The First, I've been convinced they were somehow connected. And what dead person could The First appear as who would have maximum impact on Amy? And how did she turn from the strung-out junkie of S6 to the competent, malicious witch of S7?

One of the ideas I was trying to get across in this story was Amy's gradual corruption; she doesn't think of herself as evil, but she doesn't really care about anyone but herself (except for the hints at jealousy of Buffy and Willow), and she's got lots of bitterness. A perfect target for an entity that gets its pleasue fom tempting people into acts of evil...

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 25th May 2007 06:10 (UTC)

Very well done. I liked the conversation between Amy and her mom, or was that The first?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 25th May 2007 14:45 (UTC)

Thanks! And yes, Amy's mother may have had a few First-like qualities... :)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 25th May 2007 07:53 (UTC)
Warren is a bitch. And also dead.

Nice AU. ;-) Really liked the way the First tapped into Amy's insecurities, gradually twisting her and, not unimportantly, making her think she's the one coming up with all the ideas. Feeding her ego along with her dislike of Willow and Buffy.

not that good, mister...

So you're saying you don't believe in the twu wuv of Warren/Amy? :-) Of course, this is 2 1/2 years before we see them again, they spend most of that somehow surviving below the rubble of Sunnydale, and I guess any port in a storm...

a certain residual dislike of people who owned cats, but that was a rat thing and she was totally over it.

Oh, I'm definitely going to have to write some Rat!Amy/Miss Kitty Fantastico femslash.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 25th May 2007 14:53 (UTC)

Nice AU.
It's canon, baby. Canon.

I was trying to show a gradual corruption and twisting of Amy, so I'm glad it worked. I was envisioning The First as a tempter and enabler, more interested in getting Amy to damn herself through her own selfishness and resentment rather than acting directly.

The Amy/Warren thing was part of that... if she's in a slow slide downhill, who knows where she'd end up in two and a half years? So I wanted to show her initially repulsed by him... but then again, there's a definite element of flirtation in that last line I gave her.

Besides, I think the assumption is that a year surviving in the ruins of Sunnydale, possibly eating human corpses, has sent her completely round the bend...

Thanks!

Posted by: lilred26x (lilred26x)
Posted at: 25th May 2007 15:18 (UTC)

I really enjoyed this! I've read your responses to the other comments and I think you accomplished your goals very well with this fic. The longer I read Amy's mother's comments the more convinced I became that it was the First. Of course, Amy had no way to know that. You showed how she could have been led astray. And I laughed out loud at her thoughts about not liking people who owned cats being a residual of once being a rat. Perfect! Thanks so much for sharing this!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 25th May 2007 17:17 (UTC)

Thanks muchly! I weanted to drop hints that Amy's mother wasn't exactly what she seemed, rather than state it outright, because like you say Amy wouldn't know that. (Although I think she's starting to suspect something right at the end, where the First gets a little careless - or thinks she's hooked, so it doesn't need to pretend).

Thanks again!

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 26th May 2007 06:45 (UTC)

Neat.

I wonder if in 25 years Joss will add digitized Amy in the backgound... :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 26th May 2007 12:06 (UTC)

In a cheerleader outfit, waving pompoms?

Probably not. :)

Thanks!

Posted by: Mark Hunter (ozma914)
Posted at: 27th May 2007 01:45 (UTC)
Thumbs Up Spike

That actually ties things up pretty nicely -- it would make for a nice flashback comic, and it's always nice to see Amy again. Well done.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 27th May 2007 12:32 (UTC)

Thanks - glad you liked it.

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 27th May 2007 17:12 (UTC)
Willow kills people by awmp

Nicely done! I still think the comics are worryingly close to crakc!fic, but hey - this was very smooth. Would of course require The First to turn up a little early, but still... impressive!

And a tiny typo: Grudgingly, she know that was beyond her power for the moment. I'm presuming that should be 'knew'?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th May 2007 11:58 (UTC)

Yay! You read it! :) Thanks for the comments.

The First's involvement seems logical to me - after all, it was the events of episode 1 of season six that let It begin working on destroying the Slayer line. So presumably for the whole of season 6 It was working behind the scenes: laying plans, identifying suitable followers to be corrupted, creating new Harbingers, and, for all we know, starting a Turok-han forced breeding programme. It would have been particularly interested in having agents in place in Sunnydale over the Hellmouth, and a powerful witch with a grudge against Willow would make an excellent one.

Plus there's Amy's personality development from when we last see her stealing sage and dosing Willow with crack-magic in S6, and the much more self-controlled witch of S7. The change isn't unbelievable, but it's still significant enough to wonder how it happened. In the story I was also trying to account for how Amy could also have a big grudge against Buffy (as seen in S8) when logically it should be Willow she resents - Willow who was once a close friend, but became more powerful than Amy, turned her back on her and told her to stay away from her, did untold evil and damage, but was still welcomed back and forgiven by her friends.

So my assumption was that firstly it's jealousy - Buffy is the person who has the place in Willow's life that Amy used to have, and the one who accepted her back after she went dark.

Secondly, it's resentment that Buffy - who, as Willow herself said, is "Always saving people" - never found the time to save Amy from three years of rathood. That might be unfair, and it's not Amy's initial reaction when she became human again; but I suspect it may have played on her mind afterwards. Or, as in this case, been deliberately hinted at and stirred up by The First masquerading as Amy's mother...

Thanks for the correction - to be honest, I'm surprised you only found one typo. :) I've spotted a few places where my original version had more italics for emphasis - I had to re-paste this because LJ ate my first attempt at posting, and re-do all the formatting I'd spent ages on. (grr)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 28th May 2007 12:13 (UTC)
OTP of evil by buttersideup

The First's involvement seems logical to me - after all, it was the events of episode 1 of season six that let It begin working on destroying the Slayer line.
Oh absolutely. I always thought that The First helped Amy - partly because it appears to have pretty much vanished during a few episodes, and it makes much more sense for it to quite simply be tackling the problem [Scoobies] from another angle. And Any seems to know an *awful* lot about what's happening at Casa Summers...

I had to re-paste this because LJ ate my first attempt at posting, and re-do all the formatting I'd spent ages on. (grr)
Oh I know that feeling! ::is sympathetic::

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th May 2007 12:32 (UTC)

Characters on the show who say "It's about power": Buffy, The First, and Amy. (Did I miss any?) Clearly there has to be some sort of link there...

That's why I gave "Catherine" in this story the same line, as the first major clue that she's not really Amy's mum...

On a side note, when you read the first paragraph did you know it was about Amy? Because it struck me writing it that it could just as easily be about Buffy at that stage of season 6, with the 'him' referred to being Spike (rather than Rack).

Also, Amy not only knew all about Kennedy being a Potential, she knew about Willow's end-the-world attempt. So it's even TV-canon (as well as comic-canon) that she was spying on them right back in season 6, as well as season 7...

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 28th May 2007 12:39 (UTC)
Willow kills people by awmp

On a side note, when you read the first paragraph did you know it was about Amy?
I guessed, since it was about the ret-con. I was a tiny bit confused, since at first I thought that the other person talking to her was Warren (and it quickly became apparent that it wasn't and I had to back-track), but that's quite possibly just because I read too fast.

Also, Amy not only knew all about Kennedy being a Potential, she knew about Willow's end-the-world attempt. So it's even TV-canon (as well as comic-canon) that she was spying on them right back in season 6, as well as season 7...
I don't see why that follows. The First could easily have filled her in.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th May 2007 13:07 (UTC)

I was a tiny bit confused, since at first I thought that the other person talking to her was Warren
I'd not even considered that as a possibility. (I blame BGF for reccing this as "Amy/Warren", personally :) It's not, really). At the time of 'Doublemeat Palace' and 'Dead Things', Warren had other things on his mind than talking to Amy...

The First could easily have filled her in.
I suppose. But It never really seemed to be in the habit of giving long, detailed explanations to Its minions. (Season 7 might have made a lot more sense if It was... *g*) It dropped hints and left them to work out the details (cf Wood finding out about Spike, or reminding Andrew about the contents of Buffy's knicker drawer).

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 28th May 2007 13:23 (UTC)
S7 love by cleapet (not sharable)

But It never really seemed to be in the habit of giving long, detailed explanations to Its minions.
Well the people you mention It working on had to be tricked into doing It's bidding. Amy was ready and willing, held a giant grudge against Willow and was not worried about dabbling in the darker side of magic - and thus she was a far easier target.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th May 2007 13:51 (UTC)

That's not how I see her, though (as I hope came across in the story). Amy doesn't think of herself as evil - she's not like Caleb, willingly and knowingly worshipping The First. Willow was her friend, for all she resents what she's become (and the way Willow - in Amy's eyes - turned her back on her after the events of 'Wrecked').

All through the show, most of Amy's magic spells cast on others can be seen as practical jokes - causing mischief with no concern for the wellbeing of the victim, but also with no obvious wish to deliberately harm them. In other words, she has a lot in common with Ethan.

As such, I do think The First would have to manipulate her - push her into being slightly less caring about others, more self-centred, and more resentful of Buffy and Willow - rather than just popping up and saying "Worship me!"

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 28th May 2007 14:23 (UTC)
Willow - playing god by bogwitch

As such, I do think The First would have to manipulate her - push her into being slightly less caring about others, more self-centred, and more resentful of Buffy and Willow - rather than just popping up and saying "Worship me!"
Oh absolutely. I doubt Amy ever realised what or who she was dealing with. What I meant was that she was easily exploited - Andrew and Robin were both pushed towards murder, but Amy's trick was only 'a bit of fun' - trying to teach Willow a 'lesson'. Of course it ended up with Willow almost destroying herself/turning into Warren/killing Kennedy, all of which would have been dire and left Buffy's side without their most powerful tool.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th May 2007 15:08 (UTC)

killing Kennedy, [...] which would have been dire

I'm glad you think so. Many people wouldn't have. :)

Posted by: Ray (rayruz)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 00:44 (UTC)

niiice. I enjoyed this, and it would make it make sense.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 15:23 (UTC)

Thanks!
I do wonder if the comic will give any further background beyond the preview they've already issued, or if we'll be left to make it make sense ourselves... :)

Posted by: Ray (rayruz)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 15:55 (UTC)

I think there will be more. I can't believe everyone is in such a huff over a four page preview.

Posted by: Chris (silent_chris)
Posted at: 22nd June 2007 09:09 (UTC)

Great fic. I like how you make the whole thing make sense. I can really see Amy's corruption happening this way and I think you show the pain - and lonelyness - that drives her quite well.

Also if the First was manipulating Amy it would perhaps explain why she stayed in Sunnydale in order to be trapped in the collapse.

I used to be rather suspicious of the notion that Amy had anything to do with the First, because I saw the hex from KiM as a one shot act of reprisal, it was personal. Now that the comics are telling us that there was a lot more going on than we saw I think the idea that the First was involved makes a lot more sense.

It makes me rather wonder what would have happened to Amy if she hadn't gone down that road.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 22nd June 2007 21:15 (UTC)

Thanks! I'm pretty pleased with it, although issue #4 of the comics did kind of invalidate one premise - if The First was regularly appearing to Amy in the form of her mother, then she wouldn't have been so shocked and stricken when Buffywillow's magic created the illusion of her.

Personally, I connected Amy and The First as soon as Amy said 'oops' during TKiM in exactly the same tone of voice The First had a couple of episodes earlier. :) But working out how the connection works is trickier...

It makes me rather wonder what would have happened to Amy if she hadn't gone down that road.

She seemed to be pretty comprehensively wrecking her life in mid S6. All Wiollow's addiction problems with none of the friends, family and support network to help her recover from it...

Posted by: Chris (silent_chris)
Posted at: 23rd June 2007 07:02 (UTC)

I suppose if the First was defeated in sesaon 7 (and granted there is a debate about whether is was) then Amy might not have seen First!Catherine since then so it would be shock once more. Plus Buffy!Catherine would be appearing in quite a different context.

I guess with something like the First it's important to remember the difference between 'working for' and 'being used by'.

She seemed to be pretty comprehensively wrecking her life in mid S6. All Willow's addiction problems with none of the friends, family and support network to help her recover from it...

Exactly. Although I've always seen the addictions (if such they were) as merely small aspects of greater problems. When you consider how much any life can change in three years it makes one wonder if there was any recognizable shred of Amy's old life left for her to come back to.

Posted by: counteragent (counteragent)
Posted at: 17th August 2007 03:52 (UTC)

Wow! Well reasoned and executed.

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