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Title: In death, that I may live…
Maximum rating: NC-17
Genre/tone: humor/romance/mild angst
3 Things she wanted included: Buffy starting out appreciating William, but ending up missing Spike; Anya/William interaction; William in a big-box bookstore a la Borders or Barnes & Noble
3 Things she didn’t want in it: Anyone being mean to William (this means YOU Xander); any major character death; the Potentials (nobody needs that, least of all a transplanted Victorian poet).
Spoilers: Any and all episodes are fair game. Starts off during Seeing Red (hey, watch it! That rock hurt!) and proceeds wildly AU from there.
It seemed to be an average evening of profitable sales, right up until Anya felt the sudden unmistakable pull that signaled it was time to attend to her other job. This one didn't feel like it was as much of a summons to wreak vengeance, as it felt more like a possible window for justice. Then again, the call was usually born of the same causes and it wasn't generally too difficult to get a client to go the extra mile. Not to mention, work was work and she was still on a bit of a probationary period since D’hoffran had taken her back into the vengeance fold. Nothing formal, more of a, ‘I’ll-be-monitoring-you-until-I’m-certain-you’re-up-to-full-speed,’ kind of thing.
So she quickly locked the door to the Magic Box, changed the sign to “closed”, secured the cash in the safe, and tidied her dress up a bit. Satisfied that everything was in order, she focused her power to teleport, letting the feelings of the unfortunate woman guide her path straight to… Buffy’s bathroom?
“Oh my gosh! Buffy, what happened?” Anya queried as she scurried around Buffy’s bathroom, pulling out the first aid supplies and a clean washcloth.
Buffy, however, failed to answer her question. She appeared to be lost in her own thoughts. So Anya set about tending to Buffy’s scrapes and fetched the ice pack for her. That was when she spotted the unmistakable black leather coat.
“So, tell me that at least Spike looks worse than you do,” Anya said as she gently applied the icepack to the worst of Buffy’s bruises. That earned her a sudden panicked look from Buffy. “I knew Spike could still be dangerous, but I must admit that I’m surprised he’d ever actually hurt *you*.”
A small sad smile crossed Buffy’s face. “Yeah, well, let’s just say that I’ve learned how to ring Pavlov’s bell. But this time he tried to ring mine.”
“I can only imagine the intensity with which you two would…” Anya trailed off as she stared into space for a few moments with a lopsided grin, only to be brought back by Buffy’s hiss of discomfort when Anya pressed a little too firmly with the icepack. “Oh, sorry! I was imagining the intensity with which the two of you would have had sex. But judging by the fact I'm here, I'm guessing this wasn't an average get together for some really great sex.”
Again, Buffy remained silent. Until she seemed to notice that Anya was looking at her with confusion.
“Huh?” Anya replied, “Oh, I was just thinking how focused he was. Even drunk, I'm guessing he was drunk, yes?" Buffy glanced down again, so Anya continued, "It looks like he was trying at least a little to be…I mean, I know you have great healing, but usually if a vampire's involved…” Anya stopped as she noticed Buffy looking very pained. “This is one of those occasions when I shouldn’t say anything, isn’t it?”
“I… I usually didn’t let him… it wasn’t that kind of…” Buffy seemed to sheepishly be trying to explain the complexities of her relationship with Spike, so Anya decided that it was a good time for her to be the silent one now.
“But, sometimes,” Buffy began, “He was so. He would be so gentle. Trying to show me the man he… the man he used to be, before. The one that I could…” Silence followed that, and stretched into long moments.
“But, that could never happen. He’s *not* that man! He’s not! God, sometimes I wish Spike the Bloody Vampire just didn’t exist anymore. Then he couldn’t…”
“Buffy!” Anya exclaimed, and began frantically shaking her head. “No! No, no, no, no, I didn’t hear you!”
“What?” Buffy asked, confusedly.
“Lalalalalalala,” Anya loudly chanted with her fingers inserted in her ears.
“Anya, what are you…” Buffy tried to ask above Anya’s screeching. She was soon silenced, when they were joined in Buffy’s bathroom by another visitor. D’Hoffran.
Anya’s eyes went wide as saucers, but she continued her chanting.
“Really Anyanka, do you honestly expect me to fall for this charade?” Her boss asked, giving Anya a rather pointed look.
Anya’s chanting fell silent and she dropped her fingers, only to nervously begin winding them around each other.
“Please tell me you were not attempting to circumvent your duty to this woman.”
“This woman?” Buffy indignantly repeated. “Like you’re too good to remember who I am?”
“Your station is not important, Miss Summers,” He responded. “What is important here, is that Anyanka was attempting to thwart your wish for vengeance. It is not a matter to be taken lightly.”
“I made *no* wish! And she isn’t even a vengeance demon anymore!” Buffy adamantly insisted.
“So you did not speak to Anyanka the words, ‘*I wish*,’ followed by, ‘Spike the Bloody Vampire just didn’t exist anymore’?”
“I…well, yeah, but that’s not what I,” Buffy began, only to be cut off by a hand of dismissal from D’Hoffran.
“Then the wish is confirmed as valid. Anyanka, do you intend to fulfill this wish?” He asked.
“But, Buffy didn’t…”
“Very well then, I will complete the wish myself,” D’Hoffran interrupted, raising his hands in flourish.
“No!” Anya screamed as she desperately reached for one of his arms. “I’ll do it! I’ll…I’ll do it.”
D’Hoffran dropped his hands. After a seconds pause, he waved one hand toward Buffy and gave Anya an expectant look.
Anya’s features morphed into that of the vengeance demon. She closed her eyes for a moment, hoping that her very spur of the moment plan worked. “Wish granted,” She whispered.
After a second of silence, D’Hoffran gave a small sound of disapproval. “Not what I had in mind.”
“It was technically adherent to the request. Besides, a Victorian virgin momma’s boy in the 21st century? 'Never go for the kill, when you can go for the pain.' Isn’t that your motto?” Anya asked.
D’Hoffran conceded a small smile, before disappearing in a cloud of bright and excessive smoke.
"Anya, what did you do?" Buffy asked in a small trepid voice.
The sudden scream rent the evening air, and brought Clem running out of the crypt, to find Spike prostrate on the ground. He quickly flipped him over, and gave him a few cautious slaps to the face to rouse him. It worked.
After several seconds of this, they both trailed off into a rather uncomfortable silence.
William stared at the very strange looking, well, person? Thing? Hallucination? He reached a tentative hand out and poked what he supposed was its arm, eliciting a loud giggle from it.
“Dude, you know I’m ticklish!” Clem blurted, before quickly glancing around him. “Not out here! If the guys ever found out I’m ticklish…”
“I beg your pardon?” William asked, clearly offended. “I assure you…sir…I am not some,” William dropped his voice to a barely audible whisper, “some, mary!” He finished before quickly scanning the area to ensure no one had heard his lowly slang, as he stood up and brushed himself off.
“A what?” Clem asked with evident confusion. Well, as evident as William supposed the creature could manage anyhow. He couldn’t be entirely certain. Maybe that expression was anger. Maybe he’d insulted the being. Then again, it had insulted him first. But that exact moment was when what he’d spied, in his brief perusal of his surroundings, finally registered.
“Why are we in a cemetery?” He wondered aloud.
“Um, because you live here,” Clem replied.
“I most certainly do not!” William indignantly responded. “My home is no where near any cemeteries,” He informed the thing in a matter-of-fact tone. “Mother! Oh my, she’ll be worried beyond measure if I don’t return home at once.”
That was when his last memory returned to him, causing him to wobble a little. The street, the stable, the beautiful woman, no…she wasn’t beautiful, she’d been horrendous. A,a… a monster. His left hand quickly covered his neck, but he felt no pain, no telling wetness of a bleeding wound.
“Your mother? Man, you must’ve had more to drink than I thought. Should’ve known, what with all that talk about taking some trip across the globe. Like you’d ever leave Buffy. Come on,” Clem said, reaching out to try and grab his arm. “Let’s get you back inside and we’ll get you all tucked in bed.”
“What? No!” William lurched away in his panic. “What, what are you? Are you one of them?” He squinted his eyes, bringing the creature into better focus. Which only increased his terror.
“Them?” Clem parroted.
“You are! You’re a, a…vampire!” William exclaimed.
“What? Me? Now I know you’ve had too much,” Clem chuckled as he reached once again in an attempt to seize William by the arm.
“You’ll not be getting a hold of *me* a second time!” William resolved as he stepped backward several steps, keeping his eye on the demon… and proceeded to trip over a low grave marker. His footsteps faltering, he fell. He tried to twist and catch himself, but ended up crashing sideways into another headstone, his head striking it none too gently. The last thing he remembered, was the disfigured demon leaning over him, its razor sharp teeth glistening as it uttered its terrible curse at him…
“Dude, that *had* to hurt like a bitch!”