Title: High Noon
Universe: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Anita Blake
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Characters: Anya, Giles and a few old favorites
Rating: R, hints of smut and graphic violence
Timeline: Slightly before Incubus Dreams
in AB, after Yesterday’s Sunrise
in an AU BtVS.
Notes: This is the second in a series of fics that begin with Dawn’s wish to Halfrek in Season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
. In the first fic, Yesterday’s Sunrise
, Dawn’s wish created the Anita Blake universe with some devastating consequences. I suggest you read that fic before continuing here, though this features Anya rather than Dawn. The next fic of the series will be Tomorrow’s Sunset
, which focuses on Dawn again, thought back in St. Louis.
Word Count: ~13,000
~~~ Part 1 ~~~
In the days since Dawn remade the world, Anya had done not a small bit of thinking. Some of this thinking involved her second favorite subject- money. This resulted in a rather dramatic upswing in her net worth followed by the eventual establishment of a scholarship fund for Dawn as a small thank you for creating a world in which Anya could bank major bucks by just being, well, herself. She founded a magical marketing and investment service that now raked in over seven figures annually and kept Anya in all the cash she could care to fondle.
Through all this, though, Anya couldn’t help but think some on her first favorite subject- sex- and the current lack thereof. The first few weeks after the change Anya spent most of her time venting her frustration by granting very creative wishes. The rest of the time she watched Xander and his new honey bunny. Unfortunately, this generated more frustration than she knew how to get rid of. He was having all the orgasms he was supposed to be having with her with that new floozie of his and the situation threatened to break her heart if she allowed it to.
It took a few depressing conversations with Dawn to learn to let it go on the idea that she did want Xander to be happy. This was followed by the corollary that showing up on his doorstep demanding hours of mind-blowing sex with a near stranger, or a stranger to him at least, probably wasn’t going to lead to Happy Xander.
She nursed her bruised heart in private, pulling a few good sulks and interspersing them with old fashioned bitch sessions. Dawn was fairly understanding- given that this was all her fault to begin with- and they became closer than Anya had ever been to a mortal she hadn’t been boffing at the time.
So Anya let it go and threw herself into work. The vengeance wasn’t quite as enjoyable as it once had been, but when she handed D’Hoffryn a cut of the profits in her newly thriving business, Magic Boxes Incorporated
, he stopped nagging her to do better on her internal performance reviews and switched his encouragement to increasing the dividends to shareholders.
While she was happy to oblige with the money and the vengeance, there was always a lingering dissatisfaction with her new life. She’d tasted the fruits of an- albeit dysfunctional- relationship with Xander and she wanted them again. Not with Xander; even she saw that.
So she cast her evaluating gaze on men of all shapes and sizes-and an occasional kiss- but none suited her discerning tastes. When she thought honestly about it, none could compare to that one mind-blowing kiss she should never have had in the first place.
She and Dawn tracked him down in London, but by an unspoken agreement neither had contacted him. They learned he was not only alive, but that he had never married. Even if he still worked in the field, so to speak, they just wouldn’t know what to say to him, how to approach him out of the blue. So they let him be and Anya firmly ignored every sneaking thought that tempted her to give him a call- if not pop up on his doorstep one day. Each nagging comparison that crossed her mind with each fulfilled wish made it harder to remember why she didn’t just swoop down and plant a big, fat, unexpected kiss on his lips just to see if that smoldering fire still lived in this new Rupert Giles.
But she was good and stayed put, trying to keep his name out of the weekly conversations she still had with the one person who remembered Giles for who he had been to them both. Dawn was in her final year of her Masters in preternatural psychology when the younger woman called Anya late one night. Unusually solemn, she asked Anya a few pointed questions, pointed enough that the demon wondered what text book she was reading from, then suggested Anya go look up Giles. Just for professional purposes, of course.
Anya thought about it for a day or two and between a shareholders meeting and the cursing of an adulterous marketing executive from a rival company, she came to a decision. She had a plan- a devious and complicated plan that even Willow would have been proud of if she still existed.
Magic Boxes Incorporated needed a branch office in London.
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
The wind swept stinging, dirt-soiled, rainy drops down the narrow street nearly sideways. Unusually cold for September, the out of season storms were wreaking havoc in London and the surrounding areas. Anya Jenkins, owner and CEO of Magic Boxes Incorporated, was wrapped up tightly against the chill damp. She squinted down at a sodden scrap of paper. It had wilted in the rain and ran with bleeding ink. She sighed and tried to keep the ink from her coat sleeves.
While moving to London was actually a very sound business measure, it was the personal aspect of things that had her worried. She wasn’t much of a personal risk taker with her heart, not in years, not since the world was a very different place when showing up in a poor boy’s basement demanding sex sounded like a good idea. She’d learned a lot about the way things worked since then and she wasn’t about to make the same mistakes twice.
Besides, Anya was playing to win now, and she wasn’t going to screw things up.
She’d been uncharacteristically patient, turning her money-making acumen to a new personal venture: rare and collectable magical objects. A niche market, to be sure, but one she was uniquely situated to handle. One of the only demons left free to walk in the world, she was capable of much stronger magic than those human witches and sorcerers who wanted to purchase her new acquisitions. While most acquisitions were for her personal collection, she could tailor each piece to the purchasing collector with minimal magical damage should the idiot actually figure out how to use the item.
So there she was a few long months after moving to London, trudging through a gloomy South End alleyway, looking for No. 13 and only seeing Nos. 12 and 15. This was the day- and no amount of cheery phone calls from Dawn would make it go any easier. She took another look around, peering down stairways and around awnings. There, beneath a storm-tattered striped awning was No.13, Giles’ Antiques and Collectables.
A few steps down from the Curator of Magical Antiquities job he had when Dawn remade the world, Anya couldn’t help but be curious why such a well-respected man would resign at the height of his career. His colleagues at the museum had no idea, only saying that he’d indicated he was going into a private venture to take a little more time for himself.
Straightening her shoulders and screwing up her courage, she curled her fingers around the doorknob, pushed open the heavy lead-glass door, and walked into the shop. It was dark but comfortable; full of warm smells, tea, tobacco, old leather, dusty fabric and underlying it all, that euphorically familiar smell of Giles’ aftershave.
She stood for a momentarily transfixed and instantaneously aroused and pretended to look at the beading on a sixteenth century Bedouin headdress. Her heart clattered around her chest, strangling her breath, and she only got a hold of herself when she heard a voice to her left say, “That’s a lovely old piece. It’s supposed to be cursed but other than anecdotal evidence that the former owner had very bad taste in wives, we can’t be sure.”
Anya froze for a heartbeat, half expecting a familiar voice and hearing none. A perky young salesgirl with a pageboy haircut smiled at her expectantly. Her eyes were dark, almost black, and her nose twitched impatiently.
Anya shook her damp hair back over her shoulder and said, “Oh, I’m not a customer, well, not exactly. I do have an appointment with a Mr. Giles regarding a potential purchase. He’ll know what it’s about- my name is Anya Jenkins.”
The clerk seemed momentarily startled and warily gestured towards the back of the store. “He’s occupied at the moment, but I’ll let him know you’re here. He doesn’t usually see people so late in the day.”
When the girl left Anya standing at the counter, the demon glanced out the window. She was
a bit late but the storm had been horrendous and it was barely dark, after all. She fiddled with the blotter and antique fountain pen on the oak counter and tried to maintain the famous composure that struck fear in the hearts of her board members. She wasn’t a ruthless demon for naught, these days.
A few moments later the woman returned, holding a teapot. The steam curling from the spout smelled so freakishly familiar, the very sensory embodiment of apocalypse nowish, that Anya shuddered, goosebumps trailing down her arms. The clerk took no notice and directed Anya to a back room behind the transaction counter.
It, too, was warm and dark and screamed Giles. Anya accepted the cup of tea like it might bite and settled down on an overstuffed ottoman to wait. It appeared as if Giles lived above the shop with shadowed stairs leading upwards from the sitting room. Anya only had to wait a few minutes until she heard noises, footsteps from behind a second closed door.
The heavy wood door swung open as Anya got to her feet and a man backed out holding a large box. Anya recognized the set of his shoulders, and the curve of his buttocks, as if they had been burned into her brain. She remembered the feel of his lips on hers, the scratch of stubble against her fingers. She could almost taste his skin on her tongue. All these years of waiting and obsessing and it came down to this one moment.
“I am sorry for the delay but we had expected you here sooner. I kept this downstairs to be safe- it’s not everyday that we have someone requesting the Urn of Osiris. Not many have ever heard of it, after all.”
He slid the box to the floor and stood up, hand outstretched. “Good evening, Ms. Jenkins, I’m Rupert Giles. A pleasure to meet you.”
Anya blinked her eyes a few times but the mirage was still there.
This Rupert Giles couldn’t be more than thirty years old.
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
Anya made a few noises that could have been taken to be ‘hello’ or ‘howdy’ or ‘holy fuck’ and Giles shook her hand briskly and professionally. He didn’t appear to notice her shock and motioned for her to sit down.
“As I’m sure you’re aware, if you’ve researched this object at all, it has considerable power in the folk record. I wanted to make sure that you were who you said you were and not some sort of necromancer wanting to use it for nefarious purposes so I investigated your company. Magic Boxes
seems to be on good, solid footing, with this new venture into antiquities as only a personal side light, is this correct?”
Despite being distracted by the distinct lack of lines around Giles’ hazel eyes, Anya grasped at the familiar business straws and soldiered on, filing away the temporal incongruity to worry about later.
“It’s really a personal hobby of mine. I do deal with some collectors, though most can’t afford my prices. I’ve always been fascinated by objects such as this one, the history as much as the monetary value. This urn is for my personal collection.”
Giles gave her a measuring glance before sliding the urn from the box and unwrapping it. It looked the same as the one that had been destroyed after Buffy’s raising. She wondered if Giles had obtained if from the same source she had in the last reality. E-Bay truly was a wonderful commerce device.
She accepted the urn carefully, turning it over in her hands, all the while watching Giles from the corner of her eye. He didn’t have a substantially different magical feel than the old Giles did, but he was slightly…different. And it wasn’t just the firm cheeks and glass-less eyes. He felt…sharper, somehow. There was a lingering arrogance in every movement; she remembered the stories Xander, Willow and Buffy had told her of his Ripper days, the Band Candy incident, and the vicious rebel that somehow still lurked under all that tweed. The edges that had been dulled down fighting the forces of darkness so many years were still there in this Giles and Anya’s heart gave a little thrill when he brushed the back of her hand to retrieve the urn.
His eyes met hers, wide with curiosity, and she swallowed. There was something in those eyes, something she’s only seen a few times before, something…primal. This wasn’t her Giles, all caution and tut-tut and polishing his glasses, she knew this now, but maybe he could be something else.
He carefully rewrapped the urn and set it aside. “This will be rather pricey, I’m afraid, as it was very difficult to obtain. Are you still willing to pay the finder’s fee?”
One lingering glance at the shrouded urn and Anya was nodding. “Oh, yes. I will most definitely pay the asking price. On one condition.”
His eyebrows raised, Giles gestured for her to continue. He settled deeper back into the chair and crossed his arms over his chest. He looked her over, a calculated evaluation; she felt a brush of warmth flow through her. That gaze promised naughty things, if she played her cards right, and there weren’t nearly enough naughty things in her life these days.
Anya swallowed and gave what she hoped was a winning smile. “I would like you to have dinner with me.”
Whatever he had been expecting, that certainly wasn’t it. He jolted upright, blinking. “Beg your pardon?”
Chucking whatever reserve she’d managed to gather over the years right out the metaphorical window—after all, eight years was quite long enough to nurse a broken heart—Anya leaned forward, angling her breasts to catch Giles’ eye. “I said: I’ll pay your price, if you have dinner with me.”
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
Nearly an hour later, they strolled into a neighborhood Indian restaurant and out of the soggy rain. The restaurant staff seemed surprised to see Giles, but very accommodating, giving him his requested table without question. They brought drinks without having to take orders and Giles poured her a glass of dark wine. She took a sip and licked her lips appreciatively.
Giles had excused himself for a moment after accepting her terms and Anya took the time to demonically freshen herself up. That was one advantage of being able to magic her appearance at will—neatening clothes for a date was a snap. While Giles was off doing whatever it was that men needed to do before going out, Anya poked around his study a bit. The books were familiar: most had been in the original incarnation of the Magic Box, though some were new. The demon raising books were conspicuously absent, but not strikingly so- after all, demon raising was more than a little illegal in this brave new world.
When he had arrived back in the study, his face was thunderous and the gloom made it seem as if he sprouted fingertip shaped bruises on one well-sculpted cheekbone. But he had taken her arm with calm assurance and escorted her out the door.
Looking at him across the candlelit table, she was sure she imagined the bruise because his face was as flawless as when she first saw him. His eyes flickered over the menu but it was apparent that he didn’t need to read it. He glanced out onto the darkening streets before turning back to ask if she was ready to order.
“You go ahead and order for me, since you seem to know the menu well. Eat here often?”
“You could say that,” he muttered, waving over a waiter. He ordered briskly and before Anya knew it, they were all alone with their wine.
“So, the name Magic Boxes, did it come from somewhere in particular?”
“Er, I had a friend with a shop with that name a long time ago. It seemed a good way to honor him at the time.” Anya took another sip of wine to cover the blush on her cheeks. Actually, Dawn had insisted on the name of her company, and Anya couldn’t think of any real objections.
“He’s dead then?” Giles asked, running his fingertip around the rim of his wine glass.
Blinking, the demon tilted her head. “Yes, he’s dead. Funny how easily humans die.”
She watched his response carefully. Though it had been dark when she arrived, her appointment with Giles had been during daylight hours, so it was unlikely he was a vampire. But whatever he was, it couldn’t be human. Not and have a physique like that. She licked her lips again.
His glass titled, sloshing a bit of wine onto the white table cloth. They both stared at it for a moment before Giles moved to wipe it up. “Silly me. You’d think I’d know better than to play with my food.”
The rest of dinner progressed, if not awkwardly, then at least intensely. Anya wasn’t one to normally beat around the bush, but flat out asking Giles what he was made of in a public place was even less tactful than usual. So they skirted the issue, talking of the weather and how Anya found living in London. They touched on the subject of the recent civil unrest in Bolivia, the plane crash in Malta, and the news that Mad Cow disease was once again making headway in northern Scotland. However, when Anya brought up the tabloid gossip about the London Master vampire and the problems he was having with his public appearances, not like that dish of a vampire in St. Louis, Giles changed the subject so fast she thought she would get whiplash.
Dinner wound down and still Giles watched her, like some sort of animal toying with prey. That curious intensity was there again, the hunger for something she could not name. He must have found her at least somewhat interesting; he asked her to join him for dinner again two nights later.
In some ways, this evening out was profoundly bizarre. Her Giles would not be sitting across a dinner table looking at her as if she were something to eat; her Giles would have sent her home with admonishments to be careful despite knowing she’d survived eleven hundred years without any vague paternal warnings about safety.
Her disconnected feeling multiplied as he pulled out her chair and handed back her coat. This chivalrous Giles was nice, but it drove home the point he was not the man from her memories and she should be careful. The thought of Giles sneaking glances at her rear as she wrapped up against the cold night filled her with a pre-orgasmic delight and she could almost pretend that she wasn’t worried that he’d turn out to be something dreadfully in need of slaying.