Anya was irritated. It’s not like she wanted to be here in this house surrounded by a bunch of teenage girls, her ex, her ex’s closest friends, a vampire and that strange boy, Andrew. No, given the choice, she would have been in her new apartment. Working at the Magic Box, being human, doing her best to survive yet another apocalypse.
She supposed running away was pointless. Even when they’d finally done that, it hadn’t worked. Besides, the First Evil and Bringers? Not exactly geographically limited.
Here she was instead, hiding out with the Slayer and all the little potentials. Watching Xander try to date other demons. Rolling her eyes as Buffy and Spike tried to keep their hands and pining to themselves. She snorted. Ninnies, she thought. They weren’t fooling anyone.
Her continuing musing about the small miseries of mortal life were cut short by a knock on the door as Giles peeked his head in. “Ah, Anya. I was wondering if you knew where Buffy is?”
“Have you tried looking for her in the basement? She and Spike are probably making out or having very satisfying sex.” She wasn’t bitter, not all.
(Definitely not about the Spike thing. She just missed sex.)
Giles’ eyebrows nearly met his hairline. “Good lord. I-I highly doubt it. At least, I hope not.” He scratched his forehead and was pulling away from the door. “Thank-”
“Would you like to come in here and hide from the moody teenagers with me?”
He paused for a moment, then entered the room, sitting gingerly on the bed about a foot away. “Thank you. I don’t know if I could bear another moment surrounded by a bunch of children who think Lucky Charms is an acceptable breakfast.”
“They wouldn’t think that if they’d actually seen a leprechaun.”
“Most definitely not. Dreadful creatures.”
The two fell into companionable silence after that. A couple of minutes passed before Anya turned to look at Giles. “What if I hadn’t gotten stuck as a teenager? What if I’d met you all as someone a little older? Do you think things would have been different, Giles?”
“Er, yes, quite, I’m sure.”
“Do you think I still would have been with Xander? Ever since Willow’s tabula rasa spell, I’ve wondered if I should have gone for you instead.”
He took off his glasses to clean them. “Anya, it doesn’t work that way.”
“Well, why not?” Her tone held no recrimination, just curiosity and a hint of defensiveness.
“To begin with, I wasn’t over the loss of Jenny when I met you. And while you may have been born a millennium before me, I have experienced mortality longer. I feel older, even if you’ve seen centuries of wrongdoing and things I can’t imagine.” He didn’t meet her eyes, but his face was open and kind.
She tilted her head. “Huh. I suppose that makes sense. But sometimes it seems like you’re the only one who doesn’t hold being a demon against me.”
Then he did glance over at her. “You may not remember this, but I too was a demon. Briefly.”
She shook her head at him. “One day as a Fyarl demon. Ha!” Anya looked at her feet before staring at him again. “But do you ever wish it had gone differently?”
His look at her was dry and a little disapproving. “I’d think you’d know better than anyone to use the ‘w’ word.”
“I don’t think there are any vengeance demons left in Sunnydale. Any with sense have left.”
Giles cleared his throat. “But to answer your question – yes, sometimes I wonder if things mightn’t have been different.”
A hint of smile graced Anya’s face. “I know you find me attractive, because you responded very strongly during our kiss last year. So I’m glad to learn you’ve considered ways the past could have gone.”
He sputtered a bit and turned red, but gamely responded, “Yes, I do find you attractive. And headstrong, stubborn, and altogether brilliant.”
She scooted closer to him. “So is there hope for us?”
He pondered her question carefully. “I’d say so, though I’m still of the opinion the end of the world is hardly an ideal time to explore romance.”
Anya leaned her head onto his shoulder. “I guess I can live with that.”
“I have a question too. Did you intentionally grope me when the lot of you were checking to see if I was the First?”
She laughed. “Absolutely.”
He took her hand in his and squeezed it lightly. The hope of tomorrow...well, it even made the crowded house tolerable.