Author: Green Quarter
Pairing: Willow/Anya, sort of
Spoilers: Set right after “Him,” anything before is fair game.
Feedback: Always appreciated, at above address
Summary: A simple filling in of negative space between Willow and Anya.
Disclaimer: Buffy The Vampire Slayer and characters do not belong to me in any way; it all belongs to Joss and ME.
Note: This was written a long time ago, my first ever attempt at writing fanfiction. I post it now for the sake of completeness? Maybe? It is sort of a pre-slash thing between Willow and Anya, after Jane Espenson busted the door wide open on subtexty goodness between the pair in Season Seven. At one point I thought it was a good beginning for something more, but then I got massively sidetracked by Popular. I kind of cringe at its tentativeness now, but I still love the pairing. So much potential. Anyway, now that the notes section is longer than the fic, here it is.
“Willow! Look what I have!”
Willow stood at the open door of the Summers home, looking at a smiling Anya, who was awkwardly holding a laptop computer and several cables and peripherals in her arms. She pushed past Willow and entered the dining room, unceremoniously dumping the paraphernalia onto the table. She seized a knot of cables and hastily began disentangling them.
“I got it from Clem,” said Anya, intent on the snarl of wires. “He let me have it for a song. He’s one of the few demons who’s still talking to me, although I think he needed the money so he could convert it to kittens.”
“That’s great, Anya, but why the sudden interest in computers?” asked Willow, as she bemusedly sat down at the table. Anya’s frenzied activity was making her nervous, not to mention the fact that Willow hadn’t seen the her in awhile, and was feeling guilty for not calling or checking up on her, after what she had been through lately.
“Well, I recently came into some money,” Anya began, not meeting Willow’s eyes, “so I want to be one of those people who buy and sell pieces of companies thereby making lots and lots more money. Too many dollars can’t be a bad thing. I want to capitalize on the upswing of the economy. I want to make money on the backs of the poorly educated and the migrant. And I want to do it all in my pajamas,” Anya finally stopped fidgeting and looked at Willow. “Anyway, I have lots of time on my hands now that vengeance is out of the picture, and lets face it, the Magic Box is a lost cause. And I am going crazy sitting around with nothing to do, waiting for D’Hoffryn to send another one of his minions after me,” she finished exasperatedly.
Willow sat silently for a moment, taking in Anya’s outburst. “So you want me to help you become a day trader?” she asked bewilderedly. “You know I’m more with the science and technology, I wouldn’t know the first thing about what to do with your money.”
“It’s the technology part of your brain I need.” Anya picked up the laptop and shook it. “Clem said the insides of this thing are broken and I need you to fix it. Now, please.”
Willow quickly reached for the laptop and gently removed it from Anya’s grasp. She couldn’t bear to see poor defenseless computer hardware manhandled in that way. “I’ll take a look at it Anya, but I can’t promise you anything,” she said as she placed the machine back on the table and turned it on. Willow soon realized that the computer wasn’t damaged at all, but the hard drive had been reformatted. It was in fact a decent machine for Anya’s purpose. All that was required was a reinstallation of the operating system and some programs. Anya stood, looking over Willow’s shoulder, a little closer than Willow liked. Anya never observed the unspoken rules of personal space. “I can fix it Anya, but it’s going to take some time to load the OS. Do you want to come back for it tomorrow?” Willow asked hopefully.
“Oh, no,” Anya replied, “I can wait.”
At first Willow was annoyed that Anya would presume that she didn’t have other things to do today, but the simple truth was that she didn’t have any plans, and didn’t relish the thought of spending the day by herself, with only her schoolwork as a distraction. She had been feeling a little lonely with both Buffy and Dawn at the high school, and Xander at the construction site. Willow shrugged and said, “Okay, let me go and get some software up in my room.”
Anya knew she was forcing Willow into something she didn’t want to do. She sighed as she stared despondently at a black screen with a lone cursor blinking away at her. She had quickly learned to adopt the human habit of hiding one’s feelings and endeavored to project a smiling and happy exterior, but lately her vigilance was flagging. The fact was that if she didn’t have some human contact with somebody, anybody, she may as well put a sign on her back that said “D’Hoffryn come and get me!” because anything was better than her miserable existence right now. Kind of ironic that she needed human interaction when her opinion on the race changed daily, sometimes hourly. Even more ironic that she sought it from the one person of whom she had been jealous and suspicious for so long. Why had it been so hard for her to believe that Willow was not going to take Xander away from her? Xander was the only one that took Xander from her. She couldn’t explain why she came to Willow now, only that she had felt a kinship with her since Willow returned from England.
Willow searched through some old boxes for the software she needed. At least she now had something to occupy her time, even if it meant being with Anya. Yes, Anya irritated her no end sometimes, but she had been a good friend to Willow when she arrived back in Sunnydale, and Willow had no right to expect even that much from Anya. The problem was that she didn’t feel she could ask very much from any of her friends. So instead she just Night of the Living Deaded her way through each day, and avoided thinking about so many things that they became all she did think about. Willow didn’t want to be depresso-gal, but she couldn’t seem to find a way to just quiet her mind.
“Willow, are you tired? I’m tired,” Anya said, as Willow returned with the software.
Willow took in Anya’s slumped posture and the bleak expression on her face and knew at once that Anya wasn’t sleepy. She could have willfully misunderstood and kept things light, but she chose to be honest, for once. She sat down across the table from Anya and thought, “She looks how I feel.” Out loud, she said, “I’m bone weary,” a pause stretched out, “but that’s life on the Hellmouth, isn’t it?”
“Don’t you ever want to leave and never come back? Did it cross your mind in England to just not come back?”
Willow started. She had thought that, was still thinking it. She wanted forgiveness, she didn’t want to desert her friends, but it was so hard. It would be so easy to just leave. For a second she thought of Buffy leaving once. She pulled her thoughts back to Anya, who really looked like she was on the verge of breaking down. “What happened while I was upstairs, Anya?”
“Nothing. I’m just sick of this. I don’t have the vengeance gig anymore, and it’s really kind of a relief because my heart just wasn’t in it. But I don’t have any reasons for staying here, either. It hurts to be around Xander, and Buffy can’t look at me without reminding herself that she tried to kill me, and you have a jillion problems of your own. How do you make it stop?” asked Anya. “How can I not be unhappy anymore? Because it’s making me unhappy!”
Willow smiled a little at Anya’s frustration, not least because it was similar to her own. She realized that if she had to choose between sassy, tact-free Anya and the Anya she saw before her now, it was no contest. Sassy, tact-free Anya would win. It came as a surprise, because her knee-jerk reaction to that part of Anya’s personality had always been annoyance. “Wow, Anya, you’re really getting good at this being human thing.”
“But I don’t want to leave,” Anya continued, as if she hadn’t heard Willow. “I like it here, and I like you guys, even if you do irritate the heck out of me sometimes. I want to stay, but I want my life to be better.” She looked at Willow, “Will you help me? I don’t mean magic or anything,” she assured her, “But you seem to be avoiding fiery apocali, and not killing people, and generally doing okay since you came back.”
“Well, I guess I have everybody fooled. It’s very hard for me to be here, what with the guilt and the grief, but honestly, the hardest thing to not think about is the magicks. I do my best to just block it out my mind, which works about ten percent of the time. Another hard thing was coming back and expecting all my friends to be the same around me, but they’re totally not. Except you, you’re pretty normal around me, if you can be called normal,” she joked. She looked up, alarmed for a second that Anya might have taken her seriously, but Anya had the beginnings of a smile on her face. “Tell you what, why don’t we form a support group for Depressed Ex-Vengeance Demons and Sad Recovering from Dark Magicks Wiccans? We’ll call it the DEVDASRFDMW club. This can be our fist meeting. All in favor say ‘aye.’”
Anya raised her hand and said, “Aye.”
Willow got up and moved around the table to sit next to Anya and reached for the laptop. “Good. Now lets get this thing working so you can make some money to put in the treasury. You do want to be treasurer of our club, don’t you?”
“Of course. I am the most qualified to handle financial issues,” Anya said importantly as she scooched her chair closer to Willow and watched as she fiddled with the computer.
“Yes, you are,” answered Willow with a smile, aware of Anya once again invading her personal space, but not minding a bit. “And now we can talk about how much you’re going to pay me for fixing your computer.”
“Pay you?” asked Anya, with an uncomprehending look on her face.
Willow laughed, for the first time in a long time.
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