A fan fiction story by Melpomene based on the characters and backstory of "Buffy: the Vampire Slayer" and composed without permission. No copyright infringement is intended and no monies have been earned.

One Evening

Anya watched the pedestrians pass by the storefront, their feet and their wallets foregoing a visit to the Magic Box. No one had stopped by the shop all day, not even when she’d walked out onto the sidewalk and demanded in a very loud voice that someone come in and buy something.

The only person she did expect was Willow who would stop in once her classes were over for the day. She was expecting her but she wasn’t looking forward to the woman’s visit. She still wasn’t especially fond of the redheaded witch, although her dislike of the other woman as well as her fear of losing Xander had been tempered to an extent. She only expected Willow to appear because she had done precisely that every day since Giles had disappeared back to England.

Willow didn’t trust her to run the shop smoothly. Willow didn’t trust her to handle the customers well. Willow didn’t trust her to do anything except make a mess out of things. Willow was going to be disappointed.

She swiped at one of the shelves behind the counter with the tattered feather duster, stirring up a small cloud of dust and small pieces of broken feathers as she did so. Coughing on the musty particles, she was startled by the sound of the front door opening, it was still too early for Willow to make an appearance.

“May I help you?” She adopted a cheerful attitude and turned swiftly to greet her first customer of the day, pleased by the anticipation of finally making a sale.

“Yes, you can.”

Anya didn’t have the chance to focus on the man who had entered the shop. She wasn’t able to process even a single thought before she hit the floor except the vague notion of sharp pain that radiated out from the back of her head.

* * *

“I just wanted to stop by and see if she needed any help. That’s all,” Willow explained as she sulked through the front door of the Summer’s house.

“I know,” Tara sympathized, “but I bet Anya’s fine. She has the number here. She’ll call if she needs help.” Not wanting to ruffle Willow’s feathers but having promised Anya to try to keep Willow away from the shop for a few days, Tara found herself hopelessly in the middle of a silently waged war.

“But…” She followed Tara into the kitchen.

“She’ll be fine.”

Willow watched Tara as she opened the refrigerator door. She was probably right; Anya was more than capable of handling the store. And she could always swing by the next day to check and make sure she hadn’t sold the shop to some entrepenurializing demon who just happened to be passing through town.

“Okay, you win. So, you want to go see a movie?” Willow’s gaze lowered and focused on the newspaper on the counter.

“Umm…” Tara slowly turned around, suddenly nervous although she didn’t fully understand why. “I was thinking that since Dawn’s spending the night at Heather’s and Buffy’s out patrolling… we’ve got the house to ourselves… For a little while at least.” She ducked her head shyly.

“Willow grinned. “In that case, let’s stay home.”

* * *

Xander slipped his key into the lock and turned the doorknob. It had been an excruciatingly long day at the site. As much as he had discovered he liked the construction business, it didn’t make the bad days seem to pass any more quickly. All he could think about was a long hot shower and lying on the couch watching something mind-numbing on television.

Anya would be home from the Magic Box already. Maybe she’d offer to massage his back for him; her soft hands could melt away his muscles’ most stubborn knots. And she would even be willing to call out for a pizza to be delivered; she liked playing nursemaid to his worn out self after work.

The first traces of a smile found their way to his lips as Xander stepped over the threshold of the apartment he shared with Anya. Even as tired as he was, he was still eager to see her; some things would never change.

He looked around the darkened living room. “Anya?”

He couldn’t find her in the kitchen or bathroom either. He picked up the phone and dialed the number to the Magic Box. No answer. She must have closed up shop late and have already headed home. No sweat, he could wait a few more minutes for her gentle ministrations.

Xander kicked off his heavy work boots and peeled away his socks, relishing the feel of the silky carpet beneath his sore feet. Leaning back in one of the overstuffed chairs Anya had chosen expressly for the apartment, he closed his eyes, determined to only rest for a moment before Anya arrived home.

* * *

The cemetery was dead. Literally. No sounds, no movement, no vampires. Nothing. Nada. Not a single creepy crawlie in sight.

Buffy walked slowly past the headstones. She was there in body but her spirit was lacking. That and the fact that there wasn’t anything around that needed killing, directed her feet on a path toward the shops downtown. She didn’t exactly have money to spare on new clothes and things but the stores would be closed anyway and window-shopping was a cost-free venture.

Things were slowly getting back to the way she remembered them being… very slowly. There were still moments she had difficulty dealing with things, but for the most part she was her old self.

She looked both ways before she crossed the street mid-block, grateful there weren’t any cops around to force her down to the crosswalk at the corner. When she stepped up on the deserted sidewalk, she found herself just a few doors down from the magic shop.

She walked slowly toward it, admiring the new line of clothes that was displayed in the store windows. As she came to the Magic Box, she peered at the window display out of curiosity more than any real interest. It wasn’t as if she needed any of the things Anya and Giles had stocked.

It took a few minutes for it to sink in. There was something was odd about the store. She couldn’t pinpoint what it was, but something was definitely off. She stood still, staring in the window for a few silent minutes when it dawned on her. The lights were all still on. Why would Anya leave the store lit up like a Christmas tree after hours… unless she was still inside.

Buffy wondered if she should go in, see if Anya needed any help with anything. Then again, Anya might be happier if she just left her alone. She stood outside the store for a long moment, torn as to what to do.

Maybe she could just pop in for a second and if Anya was in a less than friendly mood, she could leave.

Decided, she pushed the door open and called out the former demon’s name.

* * *

Dawn fell onto the bed in a fit of giggles, her pillow falling from limp fingers. It had been a long time since she had been able to relax and just hang out with her friends. Way too long.

“So, what do you think of the new boy? Trevor Hatchet?”

Dawn faced Heather and smiled. “He’s kinda cute. If you like that sort of thing…” she demurred.

“Uh huh,” her friend laughed. “I saw you watching him in the cafeteria today at lunch.”

Dawn snatched up the pillow again and threw it in the general direction of Heather’s head.

“So, what’s it like?”

Dawn looked up at the hesitant question. “What’s what like?”

“You know,” Heather paused, “it just being you and your sister. Is it weird?”

She thought for a moment. She knew Heather what was talking about. She wanted to know what it was like to not have a mother anymore. Dawn didn’t know what to say. For so long, she hadn’t even had Buffy, not really. “It’s okay,” she answered at last. “Buffy’s pretty cool most of the time.”

“I bet.” Heather grinned. “Hey, we’ve got some ice cream in the freezer. Want some?”


* * *

Buffy walked further into the shop. She had called Anya’s name a couple of times but hadn’t gotten a response yet. She must be in the back. Wonder what’s keeping her so long? I’d have thought she would be home already with Xander.

“Hey, Anya.” One last try and she was going to barge in on whatever was going on in the back room. That was a tricky thing; she knew Xander and Anya’s sexual escapades weren’t limited to their apartment and had no wish to walk in on anything that might be defiling her workout room.

She almost tripped over the woman when she rounded the counter.

“Oh my… Anya?” Buffy dropped to her knees. “Anya, can you hear me?” Flashbacks of finding her mother dead in the living room of their home flooded Buffy’s thoughts as she felt frantically for a pulse. There was one, relatively weak but there nonetheless. She fumbled for the phone on the counter, pulling it to the floor.

“911. What is the nature of your emergency?”

Buffy listened numbly as she related all she knew to the operator, listening as she gave instructions to stay put and that an ambulance would be on the way. Did she think it was a robbery?

Buffy glanced up at the cash register. It was open and the till was missing. Yes, just a robbery. No supernatural forces at work here, just someone wanting to steal what money there had been in the register. No hellgods or demons or vampires, just a human scumbag.

She sat back and watched as the EMT’s tended to the still unconscious woman. She was suddenly grateful Dawn hadn’t decided to visit the shop today after school. She needed to call Xander; he would be worried. She should probably call Willow too.

* * *

The phone rang once, twice, three times.

Xander nestled further into the chair, dreams of Anya and ice cream trucks floating through his sleep, pulling him ever deeper.

The answering machine picked up, filling the apartment with the sound of Anya’s voice as she reluctantly informed the caller to leave a message if they wanted to and to have a nice day. Buffy’s voice followed, the sounds of the hospital emergency room filling in the background, trying to calmly ask Xander to please go to Sunnydale Hospital as soon as he got the message. Anya was alright but she’d been hurt in a robbery attempt at the Magic Box.

“Please get this soon, Xander.”

* * *

Buffy slumped in the chair in Anya’s room. She’d tried calling Willow too but had only gotten the machine there as well. She looked up at the pale face resting against the stiff hospital pillow.

“Well, Anya, at least you have someone here.” She shifted against the uncomfortable chair until she found a position that wasn’t completely painful.

The doctor had assured her that Anya would be fine, that there was nothing to worry about. Buffy had decided that she’d still feel better once she saw Anya’s eyes and knew for herself that the woman was awake and alright.

“Sleep well, Anya. I’m sure they’ll all be here in the morning.” Buffy closed her eyes and pulled the blanket the nurse had offered her up over her shoulder, drifting off to a dreamless sleep

* * *

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