Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Mutant Enemy, Fox, WB/UPN. Charmed belongs to Aaron Spelling, et al.
Spoilers: Vague spoilers for Hell’s Bells
Pairing: FFA pairing (Anya Jenkins/Prue Halliwell) non-romantic
“Excuse me? Miss?”
Anya looked up from her ledger trying not to scowl as the customer who had breezed into the shop a few minutes ago interrupted her count and made her lose her place. She mentally repeated her personal mantra, ‘customer’s bring me money’, and forced a smile to her face.
“Yes? Can I help you? We’ve got a special on love potions and some of our Valentine’s Day merchandise has been marked down.”
The majority of Anya’s customers over the past few days had been single middle-aged women looking for romance. Her current customer was not wearing a ring and there was a look about her that Anya had come to associate with single, career driven women fast closing in on 30.
Had Anya been closer to 30 than 1200 she may have felt guilty for capitalising on her customer’s anxiety. As it was they formed a large part of her customer base and when they were not interrupting her she felt a strong sense of kinship with them. Especially since the disaster that was not her wedding.
Prue frowned at the sales assistant’s direct approach, before she shook her head remembering she was on a tight time frame. “I’m looking for thrice blessed sage?”
“What religion?” Anya asked, trying to sound polite.
When Giles had floated the idea of opening a magic shop and making a lot of money he had failed to mention Anya would be required to deal with amateurs and rebellious teenagers who had no interest in witchcraft beyond upsetting their parents. As a recreated vengeance demon she was finding dealing with uneducated mortals even more demanding than before.
“Umm, does it matter?” Prue asked. She pulled her list out of her back pocket and checked it over, confirming the ingredients she needed for the spell, before meeting the sceptical eyes of the sale assistant, “the spell didn’t specify.”
Anya shook her head, rolling her eyes at the other woman’s stupidity. “Of course it matters! Do you want your spell to work or don’t you?”
“It’s never mattered before,” Prue defended.
Prue found herself going back over the potions they had made over the past couple of months mentally running through the ingredients she could remember as she wracked her brain trying to work out whether or not thrice blessed anything had been called for in any of the potions. The Charmed Ones may not have been working with magic for long but for the most part their spells and potions had always worked, at least when they followed the instructions properly.
“Well then you’re lucky,” Anya replied. “Mixing blessed ingredients or using the wrong blessed ingredient changes the outcome of the spell. You probably haven’t done anything too big or you would have realised that by now.”
Prue narrowed her eyes at the lecturing tone the sales assistant had adopted and clenched her jaw to prevent herself from saying anything rude. They needed the ingredients to complete a spell, without which they would more than likely die trying to destroy a demon they had been tracking across California since it made its bloody appearance in San Francisco a week and a half ago. She gave the assistant a tight smile as she reached into her bag and pulled her phone out.
“I’ll just give my sister a call.”
“You do that,” Anya replied, going back to her ledger.
If there was one thing Anya loved about owning and running the Magic Shop, it was her ledger. Whenever she was sad or unhappy or just needed something to occupy her time with the ledger was always there with its neat, comforting rows of items and figures and it never failed to distract her. Giles had made an entry in it just after they had opened the store and the ensuing lecture he received from Anya in response had ensured he never made another.
Today, however, it was not working because despite the fact that her customer did not seem to even know the basics of spell craft she was different from the normal tourists and “witches” that frequented her store.
Older, more confident and dressed in a tasteful, well cut, black business suit that just screamed designer label. There was nothing normal about the woman who was currently standing in the middle of her store talking to her sister.
“No, I don’t have the sage, Phoebe,” Prue said, into the phone. “Do you have the Book? The sales assistant wants to know what type of blessing the sage needs to have. I don’t know why, she says it matters.”
Prue tapped her foot impatiently on the floor as she waited for Phoebe to find the list of ingredients. After a near miss with a particularly volatile potion they had all agreed it was safer in the long run to copy potion instructions and ingredients onto spare paper rather than run the risk of damaging the Book.
As she listened to Phoebe flipping through the Book, Prue looked back over at the sales assistant who appeared to be doing her best not to obviously listen in on the conversation. When she noticed Prue watching her she gave up the pretence entirely. “We have a sale on Mandrake root if you’re interested and mice feet are currently two for one.”
“Uh, no, thanks,” Prue said.
Feeling uncomfortable Prue turned away from the other woman and hunched over her phone a little more giving herself the illusion of privacy. There was something strange about the sales assistant.
“Are you sure? It doesn’t specify?” Prue asked as Phoebe came back on the line. “No, don’t worry, I’ll sort it out. Just concentrate on the spell and tell Piper to be ready with the potion when I get back, the demon might have disappeared for now but it’s not going to stay that way.”
Anya frowned as she listened to the conversation. She had assumed the sage was for a wealth potion or something equally inane, not that wealth was inane but everyone knew that wealth potions simply did not work. The fact that the woman currently standing in the middle of her shop was making a potion to kill a demon was a little concerning and Anya hastily started to reassess the situation.
“Love you too, yeah, bye.”
Prue hung up the phone a small smile on her face. Until a couple of months ago talking to Phoebe tended to have the opposite effect on her, but her little sister had grown up in the time she had been away and now Prue could not imagine life without her around. Which was why finishing the potion and killing the demon was so important; no one threatened her family.
Prue took a deep breath as she turned back to the sales assistant who was looking more than a little worried and Prue realised she had probably overheard the entire conversation. She snapped her phone closed with a grimace as she tried to think of something to say to fill the awkward silence.
“Uh, so you’re killing a demon, huh?” Anya asked, desperately wishing someone else was there with her. “I hope it’s not a good demon. After all, demons are people too you know and not all of them need to be killed. Some of them are quite nice and don’t hurt anyone, unless they deserve it, in which case I don’t think the demon can be held responsible for her actions because she’s only doing what she’s told.”
Anya found herself babbling as she filled the silence that had descended in the shop and she snapped her mouth shut before anything more incriminating could come out of it.
Whatever Prue had been expecting the sales assistant to say, a five second diatribe in the defence of demons was not it. She opened her mouth, closed it and opened it again as her brain tried to process what she had just heard. She finally managed, “good demons?”
The sales assistant nodded enthusiastically, clapping her hands together. “Yes. Good demons. More of them than you might think. You should be careful who you go around killing.”
“Um, ok,” Prue replied, still feeling a little out of her depth at the sudden turn the conversation had taken. She took another deep breath trying to clear her head and get back on subject. “The potion doesn’t say what type of blessing the sage needs to have. Can’t you just give me one?”
If Anya had been able to grant her own wishes she would have wished the customer out of her shop or maybe Giles into her shop. It was really all Giles’ fault for disappearing back to England in the first place none of this would have happened if he had been there to keep an eye on them all. He should be there now, looking after the woman and explaining in his implacable British manner why demons did not deserve to be killed.
“We don’t normally do that,” Anya hedged. “There’s a lot of variables in potion making and, uh, my potion making assistant isn’t here right now.”
Prue did her best to quell her rising frustration as she tried to communicate the seriousness of the situation to the sales assistant. “Look, it’s not a good demon. We missed it in San Francisco and we couldn’t save the girl it attacked. If you don’t help me it’s going to keep killing.”
“It killed a girl?”
The sales assistant sounded almost pleased at the news and Prue could only stare in surprise as she answered, “yes.”
Anya let out the breath she had been holding and smiled happily at the dark haired woman. “Well why didn’t you say so in the first place? We’re all about the killing of the bad demons around here. What type of demon is it?”
Happy to have the sales assistant back on track Prue decided not to question her good fortune. “It’s a Braman Demon, they look human until...”
“...they attack and then it’s all about the claws and tentacles,” Anya finished for her. “Urgh, and the smell they produce, it’s like a cross between an ice creamery and something that died in stagnant water.”
“You know what they are,” Prue said, relieved. If the sales assistant knew that much about the Demon she might be able to get the sage after all. “What type of sage do I need?”
“uh, none, actually.” It went against every instinct Anya possessed to admit she did not need to sell the woman anything. “But I do have a Banshee’s scream I was saving for just the right customer if you’re interested?”
Prue frowned as she started to get upset again. “You know what these demons are like! How can you not sell me the sage?”
“I can sell you the sage! You can have as much sage as you want, with as many different blessings as you need.” Anya protested, irked at the accusation that she would refuse a customer’s money. “It’s just that we already killed the demon, well Buffy did anyway, and so you don’t really need the sage. But you’re a witch right? Which means you might need other ingredients for all your other spells that you cast and I can help you with that. I have really good contacts and I can get anything you might need. I have a guy in South America he has the best salamander eyes I’ve ever seen.”
Talking with the sales assistant was much like talking to Phoebe when she had ingested too much sugar and it took Prue a few moments to realise what the other woman had just said. “You killed the demon?”
“Buffy did,” Anya clarified.
“And now you want me to buy potion ingredients from a man in South America?” Prue asked, feeling completely out of her depth.
Anya shook her head, anxious to retain the woman as a customer or at least sell her something before she left. “No. Just from me.”
“Well you look like you earn good money, you’re certainly dressed very well, I would suggest cash or credit. I can’t take personal cheque though,” Anya said.
Prue closed her eyes and held up her hand in a ‘stop’ gesture. “Not how do I buy stuff from you, how did you kill the demon?”
“Oh, you should have said that,” Anya said, rolling her eyes.
People were always saying she was too literal, but Anya honestly believed it was better to be clear than leave room for misunderstanding. So many of the women she had avenged over the years had complained about the outcome of their wish when if they had just been worded correctly to begin with there would have been no room for interpretation.
“Buffy and Spike hacked it to pieces, Xander burned the head and Willow dispersed the ashes to the four winds, it was...dusty... Dawn might have been there but she’s only a child so it’s doubtful she did anything useful.”
“A child?” Prue repeated faintly.
“Yes, Dawn is a child,” Anya confirmed, not entirely sure why it was a problem. “But she’s Buffy’s sister and with the hours Buffy works sometimes patrol is the only time they get to spend together.”
“Um, ok,” Prue replied. “So the demon is dead?”
“Yes,” Anya said. “Are you alright? You look strange.”
Prue stared at the sales assistant feeling more out of her depth than she had since first learning she was a witch. “Um, I have to go.”
Anya watched as the dark haired woman turned and started walking out of the shop, pulling her phone out of her bag as she left. “Are you sure?” she called after her. “I have lots of other things I can sell you.”
The bell above the door jangled as the woman left and the door shut firmly behind her. Anya sighed at the loss of income and shaking her head at the vagaries of humans she went back to her ledger successfully losing herself in the comforting rows of figures once more.