He leaned heavily on her as they walked through the door. “What a lovely day,” he exclaimed.
“Yes,” she said. “You wouldn’t know it was almost the end of the world.” She looked along the street. “There was no damage to any other retail establishments besides our own.”
“I’m sorry about that. I know what this store means to you.”
“Don’t worry.” She stumbled a bit under his weight. “We would have lost all our customers if the world ended anyway.” She looked at him with concern. He was still in very rough shape. “I should get you to the hospital.”
“No, dear. I’ll be fine. I should deal with Willow.”
“Can you still feel her? See what she’s seeing?”
“Somewhat. Not like before. The magic has drained from her, thanks to Xander.” He coughed, and looked very pale.
“This is ridiculous. You need to lie down. I don’t think you’ll make it anywhere in that condition. My apartment is near here. I think I could get you that far.”
She had rented space in a four story walk up off the main street, less than a block from the Magic Box. “What floor are you on?” he asked.
“Thank God.” She helped him into the lobby, down the hallway, and through her door. He paused outside her bedroom. “I really shouldn’t be resting. There’s too much to do.”
“There won’t be much you can do if you’re dead.” She pointed to her bed. “Rest. Now.”
He sighed heavily. “I wish I knew how Buffy was.”
“That’s not a vengeance wish, but I can do something about it. You get undressed and climb under the covers; I’ll be right back.”
Like she had in the shop, she suddenly disappeared. Five minutes later she was back, happy to see he had followed her orders. “Buffy and Dawn are fine. More than fine. Buffy’s actually smiling. I checked on Willow too. She passed out, and Xander’s taking her to Revello Drive. I think she’s safe enough for a little while. Xander really stopped her?”
“He saved the world.”
“Humpht.” She looked down at him. “Well, he couldn’t have done it without you.” Anya went to her bathroom, wetted a facecloth, and cleaned the wound on his forehead. She pulled a chair over and sat beside the bed, taking his hand. “You could have been killed. Almost were. I don’t like it when you worry me.”
“I worried you?” He looked up at her. Her eyes were moist with tears. Her face grew closer, and before he could react, her lips were pressed against his. Her kiss was soft and sweet. Gentle.
“Good,” she said, pulling away. “I knew it wasn’t the spell. Squoosh over.”
“I’m very tired. That’s a big enough bed.” She climbed on top of the blanket and lay beside him. “You were very brave today, even if you were self-sacrificial and stupid. Let’s get some sleep.”
“Where’s Spike?” he asked, as if there were a puzzle piece he’d missed in the excitement.
“He went away. Nobody knows where.”
“Buffy told me, well, about their relationship. I’m surprised he left.”
“They broke up. There’s more. I’ll tell you later.” She snuggled next to him. “Rupert, I’m glad you came back. And not just because you saved the world.”
He realized that her arm was draped across his body. He smiled as he drifted off.