Title: The Watcher's Council Wellness Retreat
Pairing: Standard canon ones
Rating: PG
Warnings: None
Word Count: 5,120
Summary: After Willow's memory spell in Tabula Rasa, Giles doesn'tgo back to England. Instead he decides to pack the gang up and send them to a psychiatric retreat.

Note: This is crack!fic. Unabashedly crack!fic. It's also the first thing I've written in a while. Please enjoy. :)

Excerpt from Buffy Summers' Wellness Journal:

Okay, so I had begged Giles not to leave. I hadn't expected him to whisk us all away on some kooky hippie therapy retreat, though. I don't care that this is Council-approved or healing or whatever. I'm not gonna fill out this stupid diary and I'm not gonna join hands and do the kumbayahs and why is Spike here anyway? He's not a part of anything so I don't know why Giles insisted he be brought along. He's just gonna be a stupid annoying vampire guy for the entire retreat, and I think his evil vampire energy will infect us all. In fact, I feel infected already. I think I should be sent home. I know you're all reading this!

Excerpt from Spike's Wellness Journal:


First Group Therapy Session

"So, since we all know each other, why don't we go around the Freedom Circle and reveal one truth about ourselves that the others may not know?" Dr. Rick Johnson - Ricky to the inmates - spoke in a soothing voice with a calm smile. The guy looked one toke away from a flight.

Suddenly, all eyes were on Buffy. She remained slouched down in the hard plastic chair, arms crossed in front of her.

"I'm not participating."

"Uh uh!" Ricky said. "You have to hold the Branch of Sharing."

He handed Buffy the thick, polished branch. She sighed and grabbed it.

"I'm not participating," she repeated while holding the Branch of Sharing away from her body.

Ricky smiled. "Very good. Now Willow."

When Buffy made no effort to pass the branch along, Willow leaned over to fetch it from Buffy's apathetic grasp. She repositioned herself on the edge of her own cheap seat. One of the legs was wobbly, so she had to stabilize it with her feet.

"Okay, well," Willow smiled nervously. "I guess not all of you know this, but I was kinda the one who did that big memory spell on all of us. Sorry."

From across the circle, Spike rolled his eyes. "Think we all got that sussed out, Red."

"Now, Spike, Willow's holding the Branch of Sharing," Ricky intervened. "Only Willow may speak."

"Oh, I'm done." Willow passed the branch along to Tara as Spike made a rude gesture to Ricky.

Tara took the branch, careful not to let her hands touch Willow's. She looked around the circle. "If Giles hadn't arranged this, I would have left Willow."

The news settled over the group. Tara looked down at her lap.

"Uh, here you go, sweetie," she said as she relayed the branch to a devastated Dawn.

Dawn held the Branch of Sharing with both hands, still staring at Tara. Then her expression closed down.

"If Tara leaves Willow, I'm gonna run away from home. Here you go, Xander."

With a careless toss that only a teenager could pull off, Dawn passed the branch along.

Xander smiled when he received it.

"Well, this has been interesting, hasn't it? Let's see, one truth..." He began to peer at the tiled floor as if it might have something written on it. "Oh! How about this! A long time ago - many, many years ago - I thought there might be a tiny possibility that I was gay." He nodded in satisfaction. "Oh, but I'm not. Willow is. As is Tara. But I'm one hundred percent straight man."

He turned to pass the branch to Anya but paused to turn to the circle again. "Really, straight." He considered again. "In fact, forget I said anything."

"That was very courageous of you to admit, Xander. We'll discuss more about your homosexual impulses during your one-on-one sessions," Ricky said while scribbling on his notepad.

Xander, horrified, appeared about to protest, but the Branch of Sharing was already in Anya's hands.

"Okay, well, I can attest to the fact that Xander likes women, at least. Of course that doesn't preclude him from being into men, as well. I, for one, would be all for experimentation in that area," Anya said.

"Alright, Anya, and do you have anything of your own to share?" Ricky prompted.

"Yes. I'm older than, well, all of you by a thousand years. I've seen more and done more things involving the demon world than any of you can imagine. I've lived many, many times longer than even Giles or Spike. I've watched civilizations crumble and new societies form. And you all treat me like I'm a mindless child who doesn't know the first thing about the world. I'm smarter than all of you combined, and the one thing I miss about being a demon is that I no longer get the respect I deserve." She concluded with a broad smile. "Also, I'm so excited about my wedding, and I'm glad you all agreed to be a part of the ceremony. Thank you!"

Anya cheerfully handed the branch to Giles.

"Excellent, Anya," Ricky said. "Now, Rupert. I know you initially weren't going to participate, but I'm glad you've decided to take the plunge, as it were."

"Ah yes," Giles said, still distracted by Anya's comments. "Yes, I realized it would be rather hypocritical to enlist all of you on this retreat without also partaking in the activities. So, here I am." He held up the Branch of Sharing. "My...truth...is that I would rather like to go back to England if we can get this whole mess smoothed over." He steadfastly ignored Buffy's imploring look. "Onto Spike, then."

Spike snatched up the branch and favored the group with a broad smile.

"After the singing demon came to town, Buffy and I had a good snog."

"Spike!" Buffy jumped up from her seat.

"Well, this has been an insightful session. Shall we retire to our rooms for meditation before dinner?" Ricky stood as the rest of the circle expressed incredulity at Spike's statement.

Art Therapy
Subject: Willow Rosenberg

Pauline Pritchett - Pippi - laid another stark white piece of paper in front of Willow.

"Why don't you tell me more about what it's like?"

Willow snatched up a green crayon and started sketching out the pasture that would be the landscape. "What what's like?"

"You know, helping the Slayer. It sounds like it's had a big influence on you."

"Totally. Before Buffy, I was just some big loser that nobody paid attention to. Now, I have something special in my life, you know?"

"What are you drawing?"

"Oh, this is, well, it's kinda a fantasy world. I'm no good at drawing, really. But Tara, she writes, and she has this novel that she's working on set in this world. I'm trying to draw it cause it sounds pretty."

Pippi nodded.

Willow paused in her drawing and scrunched up her face. "Pippi? While I am totally behind the idea of play therapy and all, do you think...I mean, crazy thought, but would it possible for me to have a grown-up chair?"

Willow attempted to stretch her legs out under the table to prevent them from being hiked up to her chest thanks to the foot-high chair. Pippi inspected her over her glasses.

"Why do you feel you deserve the grown-up chair, Willow?"

Excerpt from Willow's Wellness Journal:

Okay, I know the couples' counseling thing is supposed to be helpful, but I don't wanna go, but I don't wanna refuse to go because then I wouldn't be a team player, which seems to be frowned upon in this place. I mean, I know me and Tara are going through some issues, so couples' counseling? Totally makes sense. But maybe some things are better off handled individually? I don't wanna tell you guys how to do your job. You're the professionals, after all. But forcing me to bare all to my girlfriend is just going to make things worse in the long-run, and I think you should make some consideration for that.

Again, not gonna tell you how to do your job. But think about it, okay? I brought some supplies with me, though, so I can probably figure out a way to miss that particular session...

Excerpt from Tara's Wellness Journal:

I know I'm supposed to write in this as if I didn't know someone was reading it, but I do, and this seems to be the most appropriate venue to pass this along:

I'm very thankful that the Watcher's Council Wellness Retreat has a charm to prevent magic-use. I think this is a good thing. Though, does Willow know about this?

Individual Psychiatric Evaluation
Subject: Buffy Summers

Dr. Bryant Gray held up the next card. "And this one?"

"Death. Again. Just like the last five. You keep showing me pictures of death." Buffy rested her elbows on the table across from him.

Dr. Gray made a thoughtful hum as he began to jot down notes. He placed the latest inkblot card face down on the table.

"That's an interesting coincidence, don't you think?" Dr. Gray asked.

"Have you ever been in a coffin, Bryant?" Buffy replied.

"Yes, it's part of every Watcher's training."

"Oh." Buffy blinked, surprised. "Well, then, I'm sure you know what it's like. Trapped six feet underground, sealed in your supposed final resting place, your vision blurred because you can't breathe. And, yeah, it's pitch dark, so you don't know how you know your vision is blurred, but it is. And you're just left scratching at the wood, trying to claw your way out because your only thought is to breathe. If only you'd known what was going on, you wouldn't have bothered."

Dr. Bryant made a disinterested hum as he took a sip of his coffee. "As I said, all part of the Watcher training." He put the coffee back down. "Now, Buffy, I want you to close your eyes."

With a sigh, Buffy obliged.

"Now picture yourself in the most relaxing place you can think of. Maybe a beach or a forest. Some people picture themselves in a huge ball pit with Japanese pop music playing in the background. Whatever works for you. Let your breathing steady. You're completely relaxed. Are you there, Buffy?"

Buffy shrugged. "Sure."

"Now tell me what's going on."

"Well, I have this nice calm place, but hey! Here comes my friends to drag me out of it. Jerks."

Couple's Counseling
Subjects: Xander Harris and Anya

Dr. James Worley pulled the pen from his pocket and looked up at Xander and Anya.

"Alright, you two. Remember that we're using 'I statements' in this session. It's not about blame but about reaching an understanding. Now, Xander won the coin toss, so he gets to go first."

"Okay," Xander said, looking nervously at Anya. "Anya, sometimes I feel..." Xander looked to Dr. Worley who nodded in encouragement. Xander continued, "Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by our relationship."

Anya frowned. "I get to go now, right?" she asked. "I can respond?"

"Using an 'I statement', please," Dr. Worley said.

"Okay," Anya replied. "I feel confused when you say you're 'overwhelmed' since you were the one who proposed. This was all your idea."

Dr. Worley looked at Xander.

"Well, I feel that maybe things are moving too fast. We're both young - "

"I'm not young. I'm over a thousand years old!" At a reproachful look from Dr. Worley, Anya amended her statement. "I feel over a thousand years old."

"Now, hold on there, Anya," Dr. Worley said. He tapped his pen against his thumb. "You say you're over a thousand years old?"

"Should I use an 'I statement'?"

"Not necessary."

"Alright. Yes. I used to be a demon. You all do know this. It's been discussed during our group sessions with Ricky."

Dr. Worley waved his hand. "Oh, we doctors don't talk to each other. In any case, that's fascinating. I imagine you have a lot of interesting insights to share."

"Thank you, and yes I do. Not that anybody's ever interested." Anya glared at Xander.

"Okay." Xander held his hands up in a surrender gesture. "Feeling a little jumped on here."

"I feel like you always do that! Deflect reasonable criticism with a humorous remark. And your friends play along! Then I'm the one left being the laughing stock!"

"And I just feel like you sometimes wish you could do some vengeance on me, and it makes me uncomfortable."

Anya huffed. "I feel like you're always bringing up the demon thing in order to ignore the fact that you're afraid of commitment."

"Well, I feel like you overreact to everything I say."

"I feel like you're just a scared little boy who's afraid to grow up!"

"I feel like you suck the life out of me sometimes!"

"Oh!" Dr. Worley straightened up in his seat. "That's the chime for midday meditation. I think this has been a very productive session, and we'll meet back here tomorrow."

Second Group Therapy Session

As soon as everyone was seated, Buffy immediately grabbed the Branch of Sharing. She stood up.

"I want to let you guys know that I hate everyone in this circle. You suck." Buffy began to sit but paused to add, "Oh, and you all buried me in a really ugly dress. Remind me to pick something out ahead of time for my next burial."

With a satisfied nod, Buffy passed the branch to Willow.

Willow didn't stand. Instead, she smiled at the group.

"I don't hate you guys, but I do need magic to make you all more bearable."

Tara grabbed the branch from Willow. She stood.

"I kissed a guy once before I realized I was a lesbian."

Willow frowned at her, but Tara shrugged. "I couldn't think of anything else to confess."

Ricky nodded, "That's just fine, Tara. We'll discuss your history of bisexuality in our one-on-one session."

Tara handed the branch to Dawn.

"I think Keys should get an exemption from doing this stuff. It's not like my feelings are real, anyway."

The Branch of Sharing traveled to Xander. He slouched in his seat, edging as far away from Anya as possible.

"I think I'm way too young to get married."

He dropped the branch onto the floor, and Anya had to bend over and reach to grab it. Her face was red.

"Well, I feel like I'm way too old to get married."

Anya shoved the branch at Giles, who looked very flustered.

"Yes, well, I'm not sure at this time how helpful this all is, but I suppose I must do my part. I, er, have someone in England I'd like to get back to."

With a curt nod, Giles passed the branch to Spike.

Spike turned to Ricky. "I'd like you to pass along my regards to Miss Pippi for the love note, but let her know that I'm not really into watersports."

Ricky scribbled on his notepad as he nodded. "Excellent, group. We have music therapy with music from the band, Slayer, scheduled next."

Dawn leaned over to Tara. "I don't get it. Why would Pippi bring up Slip 'n Slide in a love note?"

Meditation Session

"Now, remember. Breathe in through your nose and imagine you're inhaling all the purity and goodness and light in the world," Ricky instructed.

Spike raised his hand.

"Yes, Spike?"

"I'm a vampire. Can I pretend I'm inhaling evil instead?"

"That's fine. Now get into the rhythm." Ricky gestured wildly with his hands. "Breathe out through the mouth. Pretend you're expelling all the pain, the hurt, the dark thoughts that cloud your mind. Unless you're Spike, in which case I suppose you would imagine that you're expelling any good thoughts. Now visualize it. Close your eyes."

Everybody sat on their own individual mat, legs crossed and arms resting gently on their knees. New Age music played in the background.

Anya raised her hand.

"Yes, Anya?"

"Xander's expelling his dark thoughts onto me. Can I move farther away from him?"

"I was not expelling at you!" Xander protested.

"You were. Your dark thoughts made my hair move."

"Dawn, maybe you could switch places with Anya?" Ricky suggested.

"As long as we don't have to switch mats," Anya said. "I dislike sitting down in a place that somebody else's behind has warmed. It's eerie."

"Gee, feeling really relaxed here," Willow quipped.

"I'll trade with you, Anya," Dawn said, already standing up and grabbing her mat.

Anya and Dawn switched places.

"Okay, now back to the meditation." Ricky said. "Clear your mind completely. No thoughts of what you want or need to do. Just be present with yourself."

Buffy raised her hand.

"Yes, Buffy?"

"What if we don't like ourselves?"

Ricky frowned. "That's a good question. Maybe pretend you're with someone else?"

"Like Spike?"

"If that works for you."

Buffy nodded and closed her eyes again.

Ricky resumed talking. "Again, you're completely relaxed. Think about the waves of the ocean, crashing to shore than flowing out again."

"Oh! Now I have to pee!" Dawn said.

Ricky checked his watch. "Me too, actually. I think we hit a record for length of meditation today, though, guys. Very good job, everyone."

Excerpt from Xander's Wellness Journal:

Okay, this whole thing is like a nightmare. I blame Giles. Way to stir things up.

The thing is, I know I love Anya and want to be with her forever. I'm just not sure that marriage is the best idea anymore. And anytime I try to bring that up, she flies off the handle. Plus, I really wish she'd stop bringing up the demon thing. It's just creepy.

On another note, I want to kick whoever did the room assignments. Whose bright idea was it to put me next to Dawn? That was awkward last night for reasons I'd rather not go into.

Excerpt from Anya's Wellness Journal:

Xander and I had sex last night. It was quite loud, and I'm almost positive that Dawn must have heard us. Xander's mooing was very enthusiastic.

I think it's a good sign that Xander and I still have fantastic sex even when we're fighting. Sex shows that physical intimacy doesn't fade. This is important, because my time at this retreat has led me to a startling revelation about myself.

I want to be a vengeance demon again. I miss it. As a vengeance demon, I probably wouldn't be able to marry Xander, but we could maintain an ongoing sexual relationship. I would be happy with this.

Excerpt from Dawn's Wellness Journal:

I had a weird dream that Xander was mooing like a cow last night.

Birthing Session
Subject: Dawn Summers

Pippi snapped the glove onto her hand. Ricky stood beside her.

"Alright, everyone form a circle," Pippi said.

Anya frowned at the piled latex on the floor. She raised her hand.

"Uh...is this a new meditation?"

"No," Ricky said, stepping forward. He gravitated to Dawn and put an arm around her shoulder. "This is a birthing ceremony for Dawn."

"Dawn's giving birth?" Buffy gaped.

"I knew she'd be a delinquent," Anya whispered to Xander.

"Dawn's not giving birth," Pippi said. "No. Through the course of our therapy, we've discovered that the root of a lot of Dawn's problems are due to her origins as a mystical Key. She had no actual birth, and so doesn't feel like an actual person."

Dawn nodded. "Pippi's right. And...I hope you all will stay and witness my real birth. Cause you're my family." She smiled brightly.

After a pause of resounding silence around the circle, Tara spoke up. "Of course we'll stay, honey. Whatever you need."

"Good!" Dawn clapped her hands together. "Cause I need Buffy."

Buffy's eyes widened. "Me?"

Ricky stepped in. "Buffy, you are, essentially, Dawn's mother. Your participation in this ceremony is essential."

Buffy glanced around at her friends. "What do I have to do?"

"It's very easy," Ricky said. "Just lay down on top of this specially constructed artificial womb. Dawn will be underneath, and she'll break free between your legs."

"Uh huh," Buffy said, her eyes glazed over.

Dawn walked over and grabbed her sister by the hand. "Please, Buffy? It would mean a lot."

Buffy shrugged. "Okay, but only if it means I can get out of tomorrow's meditation session."

Pippi and Ricky looked at each other. Pippi nodded. "We can do that."

Ricky grabbed Buffy by the other arm and started walking her forward. "This won't be difficult at all. Let me just get you set up."

Dawn crawled under the latex tarp, curling into a ball. At Ricky's instruction, Buffy lay with her legs spread-eagled on either side of Dawn's body.

Xander turned to Giles. "Did they give us drugs? Is this was a drug trip is like?"

Giles' eyes were wide. He didn't respond.

Pippi flipped on the stereo. Enthusiastically joyous music started to play. Both Ricky and Pippi donned surgeon's masks in addition to their gloves.

"Okay, Buffy," Ricky knelt down between Buffy's legs. "We need you to push."

Pippi grabbed Buffy's hand in a gesture of support.

Buffy looked from the doctors to the group. "I have no clue what I'm supposed to be doing."

"Push, Buffy!" Ricky yelled. "You're dilated and the baby is coming!"

"You're doing good, Buffy," Pippi encouraged. "We're almost there."

Spike lit a cigarette.

As Ricky continued to yell instructions to a bewildered Buffy, Dawn started uncurling, reaching out to stretch at the latex barrier. The material pulled taut before it snapped. As it did, Dawn burst out of the rubber cocoon and stood with a smile. Ricky grabbed a bucket and poured water over Dawn's head.

"It's a girl!" he proclaimed.

Pippi hugged Buffy with tears in her eyes. "You did it!"

"Should we clap now?" Anya asked Tara. "Is this a clapping thing?"

"Okay, Buffy, stand up if you're not too tired from the labor," Ricky said. "We need a group hug to welcome Dawn into the world. Come on, everyone!"

No one moved at first. Finally, before Dawn became crestfallen, Tara stepped forward and embraced her. As she did, the others followed suit. Willow, then Xander, then Anya. Buffy and Giles were the last. Spike continued smoking.

"This was wonderful, everybody!" Ricky clapped his hands. "Now I don't know about you, but delivering a new person into the world always makes me hungry. Let's go eat!"

Individual Psychiatric Evaluation
Subject: Spike

Dr. Bryant Gray clicked his pen. "You say this one looks like - "

"Buffy," Spike answered. "They all look like Buffy, Doc."

Dr. Gray hummed with interest and jotted down a note. He put the last inkblot card down. "Buffy's pretty central to your world, isn't she?"

"Well, yeah. She's the bloody Slayer."

"But more than just a vampire-Slayer relationship. You are in love with her."

Spike tilted his head. "You get that from reading the Cliffs Notes?"

"No, just an educated guess. Reading patient files is boring." Dr. Bryant shifted in his seat. "Tell me, Spike, what do you hope to get from your experience here?"

"Want her to be happy. If that means going through some nonsense mumbo jumbo, then I'll do it."

"And what about your happiness?"

"Come again?" Spike asked.

"What makes you happy, outside of Buffy?"

Spike considered. Finally, he spoke. "Well, it's not something I exactly want spread around, you understand, but I'm rather fond of poetry."

Dr. Gray took a sip of his coffee. "Poetry?"

"Yeah. Kinda a remnant of my human time, I suppose."

"Okay, then, Spike. I want you to write a poem about yourself. Nothing about Buffy. Just yourself."

"And hand it in to you?" Spike asked warily.

"Oh, no. I wouldn't bother reading some amateur poetry nonsense. Just for your own edification."

"Okay, I'll do the poem, but on one condition.

Dr. Gray frowned. "What's that?"

Fight Therapy
Subjects: Buffy Summers and Spike

"I don't get it." Buffy squinted at her blue foam bat. Spike stood across from her, wielding his own pink foam bat.

Dr. Gray checked his watch. "Uh, this is unscheduled, but after some consideration, it was decided that you needed some way to release all your, you know, aggression. Spike's the best candidate for assisting you with that given his vampire strength."

"But Spike has a chip," Buffy said. "He can't fight back."

Spike held up his foam bat. "This is all pretend, love. Chip won't go off if I'm not intending to hurt you."

"I think this is stupid," Buffy said.

"Okay," Dr. Gray stepped back. "And go!"

Spike immediately charged forward and thwapped Buffy over the head with his bat. His attack succeeded in mussing her hair. She gaped, mouth open.

"Hey!" she yelled. "I wasn't ready!"

She began to launch repeated blows against his torso.

"Stupid. Vampire. Guy." She punctuated each word with a strike.

Spike laughed. He began to land a cascade of wallops against her in tandem with her own assault.

Dr. Gray pulled his PDA out and began to check his schedule. He had a date with Pippi later. He had to remember to bring the Slip 'n Slide.

Buffy and Spike continued to fight with little regard for grace or dignity. Buffy had started giggling and was bent over, presenting her back as a whomping target for Spike. She continued to smack his legs.

"What type of strategy is that, Slayer?" Spike taunted.

"Trying...to get...your legs to give!" Buffy said between giggles.

Finally, Buffy tossed the bat to the side and stood upright. "New strategy," she said.

Then she grabbed Spike into a heated embrace, capturing his lips in a kiss.

He quickly dropped his own bat.

"And time," Dr. Gray announced while staring at his watch. "Very well done, both of you. I'll leave you to get to your next scheduled activity now."

Dr. Gray left as Buffy and Spike tumbled to the floor.

Art Therapy
Subject: Willow Rosenberg

Willow finished the coloring on her dream house and proudly displayed it to Pippi.

"See? This is the fire pole where we can slide down when there's a Scooby emergency. And this is the room where I keep the dark magick books. Just in case, cause you never know, right?"

Pippi took the drawing and added it to the pile. "That's true, you never know."

Willow placed the brown back into its spot in the crayon box. "What now?"

"Well, why don't you draw the person you want living with you in your dream house?"

Willow smiled. "Oh, that's easy."

She extracted the peach crayon from the box and placed it to a blank sheet of paper.

"I think this has been good for us," Willow said as she scribbled. "I mean, what you guys did with Dawn? She seems so much better now. I was all skeptic gal at first, but I think this whole retreat might help some of us work with our issues."

"And what about your issues, Willow?"

Willow put down the peach crayon and fetched the yellow crayon from the box. She began to outline.

"I don't know that I have any issues to work with."

"Then why was Tara going to leave you?"

A snap sounded through the room. Willow's hand froze as the yellow crayon broke. The bottom half was still gripped in her hand, the top half hanging at an angle held on only by the paper wrapper.

Willow raised the crayon.

"I broke it."

"How does that make you feel?"

Willow began to cry. "Oh god, I'm such a horrible person!"

The crayon fell from her hand, dropping to the table. Willow buried her face in her hands as she became racked with sobs.

"I didn't mean to! I'm so sorry!"

"Be honest, Willow," Pippi said as she leaned in close. "It wasn't entirely an accident, was it?"

Willow shook her head. "I was coloring too hard. I thought the crayon could take the pressure, but it couldn't. It's all my fault!"

She kicked the small child's chair away from the table and folded herself against her knees. Pippi wrote in her notepad.

"This is excellent progress, Willow. I think we've made a real breakthrough. Now it's about time for dinner, if I'm not mistaken."

Willow remained sitting as Pippi stood.

"Tara!" Willow cried.

Final Group Therapy Session

Ricky smiled at the group. "I see we have some new seating arrangements. That's excellent. Of course, Rupert abruptly left us to go back to England, but we shall overcome." He held up the Branch of Sharing. "Where should we start?"

Anya jumped up from her seat to grab the branch. She sat back down with a wide smile. "I have decided to become a vengeance demon again. But I'm still gonna have sex with Xander. Here you go."

She passed the branch to Xander.

"Ah," Xander said. "That is true. Though thanks to some intensive one-on-one sessions, I'm starting to think I may actually be kinda gay. But in a manly way, you know?" Xander paused. "I had a crush on Jonathan."

"Didn't we all? During that spell?" Buffy asked.

"Now, Buffy. You're not holding the Branch of Sharing," Ricky chastised her. "But, yes, I think we were all in love with Jonathan."

Xander gaped. "So I'm not gay?"

"We'll discuss your newly-discovered straightness in our follow-up sessions," Ricky said while jotting down some notes. "Now Willow?"

Xander handed the branch to Willow.

Willow looked exhausted and forlorn. Her shoulders dropped, her posture hunched over. She didn't even try to keep her chair from wobbling anymore.

"I'm a crayon-breaker," she said with dejected air of misery.

"Excellent insight, Willow. Tara?" Ricky said.

Tara took the branch from Willow. "Are you guys actually certified? Because some of this therapy has been a little...weird."

"And now Dawn," Ricky said quickly.

Dawn hugged Tara as she took the branch. "I love my new family. You guys are the greatest!"

Dawn hugged Spike as she passed the branch to him.

Spike paused to consider his thoughts. "Gray wanted me to write some poetry, and I'll hear no grousing from any of you lot about it. Think it did a lot for me to find something 'bout myself that really mattered. Poncy thing to say, yeah, but then I'm holding 'the Branch of Sharing' in the bloody 'Freedom Circle', so I guess I can't claim to be overly concerned about my Big Bad reputation anymore." Spike turned to Buffy. "Here you go, love."

Buffy eagerly snatched up the Branch of Sharing. She smiled. "Spike and I fucked yesterday. And now we're dating, so we're probably gonna do it again soon."

Spike smirked. Xander sputtered. Dawn jumped up to give Buffy a hug.

Ricky stood up. "I think we've healed a lot. Thanks for participating, all of you."