Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters. If you knew how little I own, you’d laugh so hard you might hurt yourself, and then you’d try to sue me, and I don’t own anything, so, let’s not.
I’m not sure how long I’ve been standing outside. I’m still working up the nerve to enter the shop. I haven’t been back for a few days, not since helping with the troll clean up. I could barely look at Giles. He was angry with me; he was making those clucking noises the whole time. That I could handle. But he was also disappointed in me, I could see it when I looked in his eyes, and I couldn’t stand that.
Of course, the general consensus seems to be that the whole troll thing is basically my fault, which I think is totally unfair. Xander even keeps referring to him as ‘Willow’s Troll’, but I think he’s trying to avoid having to deal with the mental image of Anya’s troll dating history. Still, Anya has gotten off scot free, as usual! What does that expression mean anyway, I mean, are we talking about Scots like people from Scotland, and are they any more free than anybody else, I mean I guess they don’t wear anything under their kilts, so in that sense-
Okay, I’m babbling in my head. I’m babbling in my head because I don’t want to face them. But Tara said Giles called earlier and said they needed my help, so here I am. Standing outside. I can see them in there through the window: Giles, Anya and Xander. Hmm, Anya doesn’t really look happy. Maybe I do want to go in there.
“Ah, Willow, you’re here.” Giles looks, if anything, a little more harried than usual, but he also looks happy to see me. Xander’s giving me a big Xander grin, too, so that’s good. Anya has her arms crossed across her chest and she’s not looking at me. All good so far.
“There, you see, Giles? She’s here. Willow can do it.” Xander’s nodding in my direction, his non-broken hand is patting Anya’s arm reassuringly. His poor broken hand! And the bruises! Poor Xander. Oh! Giles is talking to me again.
“Yes, Willow, I’m afraid we have a problem that Xander and I, that is, we’re certain you have the expertise to fix.” Suddenly I’m feeling warm all over, and I can feel myself smiling. They’ve forgiven me, and they need my help!
“Is it a spell?”
“No!” Okay, Giles, adamant much? I feel my face fall. At least he has the decency to look apologetic. Giles clears his throat. “Um, no, not that kind of expertise. More of the, um, computer kind.”
“Different kind of magic, Wills,” Xander adds softly, and I give him a small smile. “Giles is a bit worried about, well. . .” I’m certain I’m wearing my puzzled face. With her usual abruptness Anya’s chiming in.
“It’s me. I’m the big problem. You need to fix me.”
Anya’s the big problem. I need to fix her. Oh.
Ooh, she sounds bitter. I need to fix her. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Okay, I’ve got to censor these thoughts or I’m going to start to giggle and Giles and Xander will be mad at me all over again. Control, girl, control!
“Giles? What does she mean?” I’m managing to keep a straight face. Hey, drama class last semester paid off after all!
“Um, it’s her employment records. As Anya’s employer, I should be paying taxes on her wages, but I haven’t been able to do so, because-“
“-Because I don’t exist. I’m a big swirling ball of nothing! No history as a human, just an ex-demon dropped out of nowhere.” Gosh, Anya seems really upset about this. And Giles is wearing a very odd expression, kind of startled and guilty all at once. Wonder what that’s about.
“B-but you were in school. With us. At Sunnydale. Didn’t you have to have some identification, school records, for that?”
Anya shrugged. “It was temporary. No one was supposed to remember I existed after I granted Cordelia’s wish. And now it’s like Anya Emerson never existed at all. I’ve got nothing.” Xander’s standing behind her now, his good arm around her, his puppy dog pleading expression firmly in place. His eyes are asking me to help. Of course I’m going to help, I mean, it’s really for Giles and Xander, not for her.
“So you see-” Oh, Giles is still explaining. I’ve got to tell him-
“I got it. You need a birth certificate and a Social Security number for Anya.” I’m already working this out in my head, and moving towards the computer as I speak. Oh I just noticed, the shop doesn’t look too bad. You’d never know there even was a troll.
Giles’ laptop still has new computer smell. Or it would if there was such a thing. I swear it squeaks when I open it from lack of use. While I’m waiting for it to power up and part of my brain is working out the problem, the other part is wondering-
“Giles, if you didn’t have all this, how’ve you been paying Anya?” Giles won’t look at me, but he needn’t bother, because Anya’s gotten all chatty now.
“Oh, he was paying me under the table. Off the books. But Xander told me how if he pays me the right way, when I’m old and all wrinkly, I’ll still be paid. I want that.” And when are you going to tell her you’ll be taking money OUT for taxes? Might want to have Buffy here to keep her from hurting Giles. Xander won’t look at Giles now, but Giles is looking at me. And at the computer. Which is ramped up and ready, so I start working. Giles is clearing his throat again. He should really get that looked at.
“Yes, well, that’s when we realized the problem. And I think it’s best that this is done quickl-, that is, that all the records are above board, in case...”
“In case the revenuers come a’callin.” Xander’s Southern accent is the worst, I swear. I should explain what I’m doing, I could use some input.
“Well, the easiest way to get a birth certificate is to find one that already exists, only for a still birth, and change it to be a live birth. So I’m gonna need to search for records of still births from...sometime in 1980?” I’m looking at Anya, but she’s whispering something to Xander. Gee, I wonder, might it be about SEX? Xander is noticing I’m watching, not typing or clicking, and he nudges her. She actually snorts at me.
“1981. My human form is not that old!” No, of course you’re 1,120, but who’s counting? I just nod, though I can’t repress a sigh.
“I assume you want to still be named Anya.”
“Of course. It’s my name. That’s just stupid.” I’m not going to grit my teeth. I’m doing this for Giles. For Xander. I can do this, and not strangle her, because that wouldn’t be helpful.
“Okay, that’s still births, girls born in 1981 named Anya...” It occurs to me that- “I’d better look broaden the search, look in places other than California. If I use one from someplace too close to here, there’s a greater risk involved.”
“That’s okay, I went just about everywhere as a vengeance demon. All over the world, I’m sure I’ve been to-” A-ha!
“Clark County, Indiana.” Dead silence for a moment, then-
“Where the hell is that?” I have to shrug.
“I’m not really sure, other than the being in Indiana part. They’ve got an Anya that fits our needs, though. Anya Jenkins. Born in Sellersburg, Clark County, Indiana. Oooh, a home birth, too, no hospital records, um, except for the hospital morgue, I guess, cause the baby...but it’s perfect.”
“But I’ve never been to Sellersburg, Clark County, Indiana. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been to Indiana, period. It just isn’t big vengeance territory.” Giles mercifully interrupts.
“Um, Willow, what about the parents.” Oooh, good thought, Giles. Let’s see, their names are-
“Henry Craig Jenkins and Christina Selwig Jenkins. Let’s see. Henry Jenkins is apparently a doctor - oops, was, he died in 1997, heart attack.” I sneak a look at Anya, who for a second almost seems to be sad, until she says-
“What? He wasn’t my real father, he died more than a thousand years ago. What about my m-the mother.” Interesting slip. I keep looking through the records, and find-
“It looks like she’s still alive, but she sold the house and moved out of Indiana. She’s in Santa Fe now, in a condo. No other children.” I can’t help it, I feel pity for this woman, all alone like that. And now I’m messing with her dead child’s history, bringing her back to life in the form of an ex-demon. I’m a really bad person. Of course, I don’t know she’s all alone, maybe she met some nice man - or woman - and they’re really happy-
“Do you think that will be a problem, Wills? Mrs. Jenkins, I mean?” Xander interrupts my mental babble, thank goodness. I’m shaking my head.
“No, I think it’s good.” I finish altering the birth certificate, then dash off a quick fax to Indiana state records. “There, I’ve requested some certified copies of your birth certificate, and used Giles’ credit card to pay for them.”
“Willow, how do you know my credit-”
“Oh, goody!” Anya seems happy for the first time. She’s looking at me expectantly. “So?”
“So...oh, right! The Social Security number.”
“No! I don’t care about that! What is it?” I’m so not in the mood for Anyaspeak. She either gives too much information or not enough. Fortunately for me, seeing my blank look she’s clarifying for once. “My birthday!” Before I can answer, she’s turning to Xander. “I going to have a birthday now. That means you will buy me presents, and they will be expensive.” Xander’s sighing, and now she’s giving me that patented impatient Anya look.
“July 4th.” Huh, hadn’t noticed that before. That’s funny.
“No, that’s already a holiday. I want a day just for me. Fix it.”
I’m taking a deep breath. This is for Giles and Xander. I will not kill Anya. Acting class or no, I know I’m starting to turn red, because Xander’s laughing that nervous ‘there’s-gonna-be-bloodshed-if-I-don’t-stop-Anya’ laugh. I still remember when it was his ‘there’s-gonna-be-bloodshed-if-I-don’t-stop-Cordelia’ laugh.
“Ahn, I think it’s a great birthday, I mean, everyone in the country will be celebrating your birthday, of course as the birthday of the country, and there’ll be picnics. And fireworks. There’ll be fireworks on your birthday every year. That’ll be great, huh?” Anya looks uncertain, but Xander’s looking at me like I‘m a firework about to go off. “It’s all good, she loves it, don’t change a thing.” Anya’s dropping her gaze and nodding, a bit grumpily.
“Fine. I was born on the 4th of July.”
“Yankee doodle do or die.” I’m in shock. That was Giles. Every once in a while he really surprises me. He’s looking rather embarrassed off of all of our looks. “Well, you Americans tend to indoctrinate your youth. And I thought James Cagney was quite brilliant in the film.” This is getting too weird. I’m thinking I want to move this along, but I want to summarize, and is a thank you too much to hope for?
“Okay, Anya, your full name is Anya Christina Jenkins-”
“What?” Xander’s asking, I’m dumbfounded. She is the most impossible-
“I don’t like Christina. It’s ridiculously common. I want Emmanuella.” I can’t help it, I’m going to glower. There’s a glower shower coming on, and it’s going to be all over Anya.
“What? Why? Who cares?” Glower, glower, glower. “It’s a middle name.”
“It’s MY middle name.” She sounds kind of distressed, and I almost feel - screw that, she’s whining about her middle name!
“Why Emmanuella?” Giles is asking. I’m not asking, I‘m working on hacking into the SSA to get the ungrateful little...Anya a Social Security number, because Xander is somehow managing to turn pale and purple at the same time and I’m afraid-
“That’s the girl in the movie, the one we watch sometimes. Before we have sex. Though sometimes we watch while we’re having sex. Xander says she looks like me, and we can both do that thing-”
“I like Christina! It’s my favorite name of all possible names! Just like Christina Aguilera, I’m a genie in a bottle, come on let me out, I think it’s great!” She’s going to make him have a stroke one of these days.
“Xander, did you want to play that game, the one with the genie and his master?” Perhaps the stroke will be today. I’m making a huge effort to be calm and reasonble, so that I can save Xander from himself. Again.
“Anya. Your middle name is Christina. I cannot change it. You were born in Clark County, Indiana, on July 4, 1981. Your father is dead, your mother lives in Santa Fe, I’ve gotten you a Social Security number, please! Be happy and be quiet!” Oops, that last part came out a little loud. Giles and Xander seem to be okay, though. Giles even comes and puts his hand on my shoulder and smiles that little smile that used to make my heart all fluttery in high school.
“Thank you, Willow. I know this is not easy, and we seem to take your...services...for granted, but this has been extremely helpful.” Now Giles is glowering at Anya, and for once she actually seems to respond to it.
“Thank you, Willow.” Now a new thought is trickling into my mind. I’m trying to push it away, because I’ve done what they asked, and I’ve been thanked, and everyone is happy, and I don’t have to do anything else, but I’m all at once asking-
“What about her education?” I can’t believe I’m doing this. I have to look at Giles, because I can’t even look at Anya. I don’t like Anya. I’m not doing this for Anya. I’m doing this for...for...
For Anya. For Anya Christina (Emmanuella) Jenkins, who I sort of just created. There’s kind of a power in bringing a person back to life, even if it is only on paper. I want my Anya to have a good start. Everyone’s looking at me, waiting for me to explain.
“Anya may want to go to college someday, and she didn’t graduate Sunnydale High, cause she flunked out of math and skipped town before graduation.”
“Otherwise known as the day we blew up the school and roasted Mayor McSnake.” Xander’s making with the funny again, but Anya’s looking at me with a different expression. Reminds me of a little girl who’s just been told that she actually is getting a pony for Christmas, and who’s afraid to believe it ‘cause she’s probably being teased.
“You can get me a diploma?” I’m nodding, then shaking my head.
“Not exactly. School records are tricky, someone might remember you not being there and get suspicious. Home schooling records and a GED is the way to go, but I think I can get you that, so you’ll have it. In case you want to go to college someday-”
Suddenly Anya’s arms are around me, and it‘s a strange, kind of nice feeling. Maybe she’s really growing. Maybe I couldn’t be friends with Anya Emerson, former vengeance demon, but maybe I can be friends with Anya Jenkins, midwest girl with a GED. Maybe-
“Does it have to be home school? Because that’s kind of for losers.”
And maybe not.