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Imperfections

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“Found it!” Ms. Calendar tossed a book to Giles, looking extremely proud of herself, and took a quick bite from her plate of spaghetti.

Giles caught the book, holding it protectively to his chest. “This is an antique,” he began indignantly.

“Yeah, yeah, don’t throw books, you’re an absolute heathen, Jenny, how dare you,” Ms. Calendar waved a hand dismissively, moving forward to open the book for Giles. “Look at this.”

Willow stepped forward, peering over Ms. Calendar’s shoulder. “Anyanka,” she read aloud. “Renowned vengeance demon, specializing in…scorned women.”

“Bad breakups!” Ms. Calendar sounded positively delighted. “And Charlotte’s been upset over her ex-boyfriend—it all fits.”

“Not the part where Ms. Emerson went all Invisible-Woman on us,” Xander interjected. “That doesn’t seem like something a vengeance demon would do.”

“No, see,” Faith’s eyes lit up, “she wished that no one could see or hear her, ‘cause she felt like she was making a scene, and Anyanka grants wishes, right?”

“Jenny, you’ve got tomato sauce on your nose,” Giles was saying at the same time. “What? Oh, yes—it does say here—Anyanka has the power to grant any wish made by a vengeful woman.”

“And she chose to grant that one?” said Ms. Calendar with amusement. “That’s pretty literal-minded.”

“Okay, so we know why Anyanka turned Ms. Emerson invisible,” said Buffy, handing Willow a plate of spaghetti. Willow, who was particularly hungry after the action-packed last few hours, gratefully started eating. “That doesn’t tell us how to turn her back.”

“According to this, Anyanka’s power is in her necklace,” Giles explained, handing Ms. Calendar the book to take a serving of spaghetti. “Thank you, Buffy. Theoretically, if we could break the necklace, that would then break the power of Anyanka’s spell on Ms. Emerson.”

Or we could ask nicely,” Willow suggested. “I don’t think Anyanka meant to turn Ms. Emerson invisible, exactly.”

Ms. Calendar shook her head. “There are definitely patron saints of scorned women who don’t do harm,” she said. “I remember after a really bad breakup in my teens, I called on the help of one of them to help me heal. But Anyanka is a vengeance demon, and that’s a very, very different thing.”

“So how do we get the necklace?” Oz asked.

“I’m going to summon Anyanka,” Ms. Calendar replied. She hesitated, thinking, then, “Rupert, could you break up with me for a second?”

“What?” said Giles, looking honestly bewildered.

“Just—you know, as a precaution,” said Ms. Calendar, as matter-of-factly as if she was asking Giles to do the dishes. “That way, I can honestly tell Anyanka that she’s been summoned by a scorned woman.” She took another bite of spaghetti.

Giles still looked a little confused, but replied, “Right, um—I hereby terminate our relationship.”

Ms. Calendar choked on her spaghetti and started laughing.

“Giles,” Buffy whispered very audibly, “never use the word ‘terminate’ to break up with someone.”

“Yes, thank you, Buffy,” said Giles irritably. “Jenny, I really am breaking up with you. Stop laughing.”

“Yeah, Ms. Calendar,” Xander chimed in, grinning. “You don’t look scorned.”

Still giggling, Ms. Calendar staggered over to take the book from Giles. “God, I can’t even look at you,” she managed, hitting him lightly with the book. “Such a dork.” She looked over at the group, and her smile faded a little. “Everyone stay in the kitchen, okay?” she said. “This thing is between me and Anyanka. I don’t want anyone caught in the crossfire.”

“I actually think—” Giles began.

“No men,” Ms. Calendar reminded him.

“That wasn’t what I had in mind,” said Giles a little irritably. “I was merely going to say that I think you should have a Slayer assist you. You can summon Anyanka, and the Slayer can take the necklace.”

“Why just one?” Faith grinned at Buffy. “Two makes it all the more fun.”

Even after all the stuff that had gone down in the factory, Willow felt more than a little left out. Magic was her thing with Ms. Calendar. “Can I help too?” she asked, already pretty sure she knew the answer.

Ms. Calendar looked between Buffy, Willow, and Faith, then said, “You know what? I think Buffy’s going to help me on this one. Faith, you and Willow can help set up the ritual, but then I want you both to go to the kitchen too, okay?”

This wasn’t at all what Willow had expected. Judging by the expressions on Buffy’s and Faith’s faces, they hadn’t seen that one coming either. “Okay,” said Willow, still a little surprised, but not feeling quite as sidelined.

“Okay,” Faith agreed, picking up the pot of spaghetti. “Should I finish up serving dinner?”


 

Buffy paced the living room while Ms. Calendar prepared herbs and materials for the ritual. Everyone else was having dinner in the kitchen, and a part of her kind of wished she was there; she’d never really gotten the chance to connect with Ms. Calendar, and she was honestly still a little worried that Ms. Calendar might harbor some resentment towards her.

Sure, Ms. Calendar was nice and all, but Buffy still didn’t know all that much about her. And more and more, she was beginning to feel the effects of that. Willow would gush about something particularly witty Ms. Calendar had said, and Faith—well, obviously Faith didn’t gush, but there was clear affection in Faith’s voice whenever she brought up Ms. Calendar at all. It made Buffy feel strangely left out. She wanted to appreciate Ms. Calendar for more than just being Giles’s girlfriend, but she didn’t know where to start.

“Why’d you want me to help out?” Buffy asked without thinking.

Ms. Calendar looked up from where she was setting up the last of the herbs. “What?”

“Why me?” Buffy repeated, feeling a little embarrassed to even ask. It was too late to go back now, though, so she continued. “I mean—Faith’s pretty much your Slayer, and you and Willow have that whole magic thing going on. Why just me?”

Ms. Calendar smiled slightly. “Because,” she said, “you’re important to Rupert, and therefore important to me.”

The answer was simple, and it made Buffy feel warmed and guilty at the same time. She didn’t like that Ms. Calendar still liked her. If the situation were reversed, she sure wouldn’t like Ms. Calendar. “I wasn’t exactly great to you last year,” she said. “And I barely know you.”

“Another reason why I want you to help me out,” Ms. Calendar replied without missing a beat. “Nothing like taking down a centuries-old vengeance demon to get to know someone.”

Buffy smiled nervously and handed Ms. Calendar the spellbook. “You ready?”

“All set,” Ms. Calendar agreed. “Get ready to tackle her when she shows up.” She began to read. “Oh, Anyanka, I beseech thee,” she recited, giving Buffy a small, encouraging grin. “In the name of all women scorned…” She sprinkled a handful of herbs onto the fire. “Come before me,” she finished.

Quietly, and without fanfare, a demon appeared in the middle of the room.

“Huh,” said Buffy.

“Why have you called on me?” Anyanka asked somewhat imperiously.

“I’m a scorned woman with a wish to make,” said Ms. Calendar seriously. “See, my boyfriend just terminated our relationship—”

“You think I don’t know your trickery?” Anyanka demanded. “There is no wrath in your heart! I have seen the look of a vengeful woman, and you are not one, so why have you called on me?”

“All right, enough’s enough,” Buffy announced. As Anyanka turned to look at her, Buffy tackled her, grabbing the demon’s wrists and holding on tight. “Ms. Calendar, get the pendant!” she shouted.

Ms. Calendar rushed over, pulling the necklace away from the demon. The chain snapped. “Guys, get in here!” Ms. Calendar shouted, just as Anyanka broke free of Buffy’s hold in an attempt to retrieve her necklace.

In the commotion, Buffy managed to grab the necklace herself, tossing it across the room to Giles. “Smash it!” she yelled.

Anyanka let go of Ms. Calendar, rushing Giles. He threw the necklace behind him to Faith, who placed the necklace carefully down on the floor and stomped on it as hard as she could.

A ripple passed through the living room—


God, I wish no one could see me like this!” the teacher burst out. “Or—or even hear me!”

“Done,” said the other woman ominously.

Shit, thought Faith, that’s weird. She decided that she would wait on getting the frozen peas.

“Wait—done,” she heard the other woman saying as she left.

“I wish Robert was in as much pain as I was,” the teacher continued, sniffling. “I wish he was in more pain than I was!”

“Done!” The other woman sounded extremely frustrated.

Faith rounded the corner to the shopping cart, smiling at the group. “Hey,” she said. “We might have to wait on getting the frozen peas. Some teacher’s having a breakdown about her ex-boyfriend.”

“I’m guessing that’s Ms. Emerson,” said Jen sympathetically. “At least she’s got a friend on staff. Some substitute teacher—”

“Yikes,” said Xander. “You never can tell with substitute teachers in Sunnydale.”