She was just reaching the peak of her pleasure moment when she heard his voice. “Any luck?” it called down the stairs, and she luxuriated in his voice, which had played into so many of her fantasies. But in reality, he wasn’t asking her if she had luck with the sex, the quickie she was having with her boyfriend. (Boyfriend being the appropriate word for him.) End of the world sex and all. Not very satisfying, but sex all the same. Of course, he wouldn’t know if she actually orgasmed or not, she had tested the theory in the past, but luckily she knew how to guide him just so...1100 years of masturbation had taught her a thing or two about her own body.
“Have you found the Dagon sphere?” Giles calls down, sounding irritated. Right. Saving the world.
“Um, I'm sure it's here, just be a minute!”
“Yeah, we're on it! Let's look over here, where we didn't look yet,” said her boyfriend, putting his pants on. Well that was a waste of time. They’re trying to save the world, and wasted time with inadequate sex. She might as well have run.
“Time is a factor,” said Giles.
“Yes. Yes. Not to worry,” she said. Maybe if she had had Giles down here looking with her, maybe then she could have had a quickie with him, and she would have cum hard enough to lose her currently rising fear. There’s something to be said for age and experience...
And then Xander felt he had to discuss the average sex they’d just had, like an insecure puppy looking for praise. He did seem unsure of whether or not she’d orgasmed. Typical.
Discovering the Buffy-Bot still in the basement and having to listen to Xander further insist on sexualizing his best friend’s lesbianism for his own male pleasure was almost the last straw, but it was the terrifying stuffed animal was her breaking point.
“God, who, who would put something like that there? Is this supposed to be some sort of sick joke? I mean, things aren't bad enough! This is an omen.” But was it an omen that they were all about to die at the hands of a petty goddess or an omen that she’s been wasting her time, wasting her last moments on earth with an idiot?
“Hey, hey, shh.” Xander starts rubbing her shoulders. Which is sweet and all, but not helpful.
But Anya is not to be dismissed by platitudes. She should have skedaddled. But she blathered something about loving him (was it him she loved? Did it matter at this point?) and worrying that something would happen to him and how she’s so overloaded that she couldn’t be possibly more nervous than she is...
And the bastard pulls a ring out of his pocket. “Care to wager on that?” he says, looking really proud of himself for this inappropriately timed gesture. “Anya ... you wanna marry me?”
So she slapped him.
“Can I take that as a "maybe"?”
“You're proposing to me!” Now she was getting angry. How dare he propose to her when she didn’t want him to.
“You're proposing to me 'cause we're gonna die! And you think it's romantic and sexy and, and you know you're not gonna have to go through with it 'cause the world's gonna end!” She was planning on saying no, but now that she had his full attention she needed to finally get to correct him for inappropriate social behavior, after the thousands of times since they met that he had corrected her as if she were a child who didn’t know better, rather than an 1100 year old woman who was just too old for social niceties, like old ladies in nursing homes who just say anything that comes to mind. But now she could correct him. It was an inappropriate time to propose to him.
“I'm proposing to you, Anya, because it's not.”
“Xander, that’s very sweet. Misguided, but sweet. But I can’t,” she said, looking away from the ring, which was very pretty.
“Uh, why can’t you?” he said, completely confused and a little nauseated looking.
She thought through the many reasons she could give him for the rejection: the fact that the sex, while frequent, wasn’t getting any better, the fact that he wasn’t a happy mature adult, so he clearly wasn’t ready to be anyone’s husband, and she considered mentioning those, but they all paled in comparison to the real reason.
“I’m in love with someone else,” she said. She flash of another man’s face she had in her mind when she saw the ring wouldn’t lie.
“Sugar muffin, are you trying to say that you’re cheating on me?”
“No! No, Xander, I’d never. After 1100 years of punishing cheaters, I would never.” Anya tried to touch his arm to comfort him, but he pulled away. “I don’t even know if he feels the same way as me. But I can’t marry you knowing that I love someone else.”
“Ahn, you’re kinda stealing my thunder here. I asked you to marry me. You’re supposed to...”
“Xander, this is real life. There isn’t a script I’m supposed to follow. I’m sorry that you’re disappointed in my answer. How about this: I’ll find out if my feelings are reciprocated, and if they’re not, you can ask me again.” Though she instantly regretted saying that. This boy wasn’t ready to be a husband. It wasn’t his fault. At 1122 years old she still had a lot of growing up to do.
But luckily he didn’t take her up on it. “It doesn’t work that way, Ahn. Only you would think it would work that way.”
“I didn’t think it did. I was just trying to be nice.”
“That’s not your best skill, is it?”
She didn’t know if he said that to wound her on purpose or by accident, and it did hurt, though she’d never prided herself on a false sense of niceness, anyhow. Especially not when honesty was ultimately nicer to the person in the long run. But as she was rejecting him, she decided to acquiesce. “I suppose not, Xander.”
“Just tell me one thing. who is he? Do I know him?”
“Let’s just find the Dagon sphere, okay?”
* * *
After they found it and brought it up, there was some ruckus about Buffy and Spike getting weapons. When Xander asked for a broadsword, she felt a little less like standing near him in this battle in the way he said it, but when Spike insulted him and he quipped back at him that he was an excellent bowler, Anya couldn’t help but add that he owned his own shoes. She didn’t know if she was mocking him or joining in with the witty banter his friends favored. Honestly she never knew.
And she didn’t want to make the same mistake that Xander had made. If she was going to tell him, it couldn’t just be because she was convinced that they might die. But if she meant to stay silent, she might as well have said yes to Xander and know that at least he would have died happy. For all blind happiness matters.
But when she ended up literally bumping into him in the back of the shop by the training room, she just couldn’t stop herself.
“Giles, I need to talk to you.”
“Anya, I'm rather busy now with the end of the world. Can it wait?”
“Xander asked me to marry him.”
It was like all the air had left the room. And Anya had performed that wish enough times to know the sensation. She watched Giles’s jaw tighten and his shoulders get stiff. Not a great physical reaction going into a battle. This was a terrible idea. Better get to the good part.
“I...I suppose congratulations are in order, though again, I really don't have the time....”
“I told him no.”
“Why ever would you do...”
“I told him I was in love with someone else.”
“Anya...weren't you just down there having sex with him?”
Oh. He knew. “The world might be ending. I was stressed out,” she said, rather lamely.
“So you had sex with him, he proposed, and you said you were in love with another. I suppose that’s one way to put off a man. How did it take the brush off?”
“Not well. He got a bit mean to me.”
“Meaner than usual?”
“Xander’s not usually...” At this, she cut herself off. She looked up at Giles’ face, at Rupert’s face. He wasn’t being overly sympathetic when he said that. Just blankly honest. She appreciated the honesty. She thought back to all the times Xander had corrected her for her own good. Laughed at her when she said something that was too honest or too uncensored. Not laughed with her. Laughed at her. Was embarrassed by her. “I guess he is, isn’t he.”
“I never would have said anything. But yes. It’s always pained me to see how he regarded you.”
“Oh,” she said, simultaneously knowing that she was right to be making this confession, and terrified that the warm good feeling she had hearing from Rupert that he noticed things like that was about to go away.
“So you made up a fake man to let him down easy?”
“No you stupid man,” she stated, way sharper than she meant to be. Was there a way to call a man stupid without being sharp. Oh. “Sorry. That was my being mean to you. I didn’t intend the irony.”
“Anya, why am I a stupid man?” Rupert’s stupid lips were getting a little pouty as he spoke, and his eyes were going a bit misty, his pupils dialing slightly and looking straight into her.
She’s at a loss for words. He steps closer.
“Why am I a stupid man?”
She saw him getting closer to her lips, closer to her, and felt that she had to speak now, since even if he kissed her, she still needed to say what had been rattling around in her head for so long.
“If the world ends, or if you die, or I die, or if both of us dies, I don't want us to die before...well I don't want us to die, but if we do, I don't want us to die without my telling you...” And she trailed off. She’d lost her nerve. She closed her eyes. The world was ending and all she wanted to do was skedaddle.
But his words caused her to look back into his eyes. “Telling me what, Anya?”
“I have feelings. That involve you. And me. And I saw a stuffed bunny downstairs and it might have been a portent....And again, you don't have to say anything back. We probably won't make it through today, so none of this matters, but I just had to tell you that the hole inside of me. Well not a literal hole, obviously,”
“Obviously,” he said, in his characteristically amused voice. That was the thing about Rupert. He was amused by her quirks, rather than embarrassed by them.
“But it's not Xander shaped. The hole It's...it's Rupert shaped. It has been for a long time. With your scowl, and your tall lanky secret muscles, and I get to thinking about how much I exasperate you, and maybe that means that you care, though maybe not, and...”
And he kissed her. He kissed her. And kissed her again. But then he pulled away abruptly.
“Oh, Christ, Anya we can’t,” he said, and she rolled her eyes, since he didn’t even pause in his kisses after uttering this nonsense. He tried to protest a few times more, each time returning to the kiss, until he actually did manage to break away.
“Why can’t we,” she said, exasperated and turned on.
“It would destroy Xander. And what would Buffy and Willow think? This could destroy the cohesion of the group.”
“Everything gets destroyed, Rupert. Eventually. When you’ve lived as long as I have, you’ll understand that.”
He laughed the first genuine laugh she’d seen on his worried face in too long. “Are you calling me young and naive?”
“Something like that,” she smiled with the poise of someone quite old. “Young man,” she laughed at him. He laughed as well. She touched him on the cheek “Everything gets destroyed. Eventually. Why can’t we have the thing we want?”
Anya touched his face, thumb to lip, he bit her finger a little. “And just so we’re clear, you’re a stupid man because the man I’m in love with isn’t imaginary: it’s you.”
“I think I rather got that from context,” Giles smiled at her.
“I just wanted to be clear.” And then he didn’t reply. Didn’t even make little Gilesish facial expressions. He just looked at her. “Okay well you’ve stopped talking and stopped kissing so I’ve probably said too much and made you uncomfortable, so I’m just going to go.”
It was like he came to life again at that. “Don’t,” he said. He took his long pointer finger and trailed it from her forehead down her nose, touching her lips, neck, collar bone, and trailing between her breasts, and finally down to her belly button where he maddeningly stops. It’s such an odd thing to do, but it leaves her breathless. “Anya I’ve repressed any possible emotions that I’ve felt for you for so long. Please give me a moment to recalibrate.”
So she gives him a moment. And another. And one more for good measure. And then she speaks. “So you have feelings? Toward me?”
“Christ, Anya, of course I do. I’m just trying to figure out what we should do about this.”
“We should have sex. Probably after we save the world, but before if you think we have time.”
She has rendered him speechless again.
“Unless you can’t. You’re an older human man you could be riddled with all sorts of erectile...” And then she’s silenced as he pushes his body into hers and she feels how hard he is. She has a moment of greed. She wants it in her mouth, her cunt, her ass, all at once. Maybe she can clone him.
“That’s not remotely my hesitation. Anya when’s the last time you had sex that lasted more than 20 minutes?”
And then Anya was the one who needed to recalibrate her brain. 20 minutes sounds like especially long sex, to her. “Never,” she replies.
“You’re over 1000 bloody years old and...”
“Well, I was celibate for most of that time. As a vengeance demon, we’re not really supposed to have sex with our targets...”
“God and I thought a few years of a dry spell was rough,” Giles muttered mostly to himself.
“But what you’re saying is that you prefer sex to last what amount of time, exactly?”
“I think it might take an hour, perhaps two, until we both would be satisfied. Does that sound about right?” And he leaned down and gave her a slow, long kiss.
“But Rupert, we don’t have time for that!” Anya panicked. Because she really wanted to have time for that.
“Then we’re both going to have to live through this,” he said, and gave her one last lingering kiss. He smells like the vanillin of old books.
“Go,” she laughed. “Go save the world. No dying though.”
“No. No dying.”