Sweet Misery

Author: hold_that_thought

Summary: Anya wants to be alone. Spike doesn't. (Season 6, between Normal Again and Entropy)

Rated: PG-13

Spoilers: Through Buffy Season 6

Feedback: Totally welcome (APostModernSleaz@aol.com)

Archive: More than likely okay, but please ask first

Disclaimer: The characters used within are the property of Mutant Enemy, Twentieth Century Fox, and of course Joss Whedon. It's their sandbox, I'm just playing in it.

Notes: Thank you so, so much to Shadowlass and adjrun for being fabulous betas. To Shadowlass for whipping it into shape and still being willing to beta it even when it was going to have dirty Spike and Anya sex, and to adjrun for encouraging me and not making me cry. And thanks to little_bit and Nongenius for making extremely helpful comments and suggestions while it was in-progress. To cousinjean, soda, fenwic, Nautibitz, Love, QoT, AC, sun, and everyone else who makes watching a tv show more fun than it has a right to be. And of course to the great American icons HH/WP, the 'ship of the future. Skinfluters will be running rampant in mere weeks, I swear.


The bar was underlit and overpriced, and there was a fine layer of dust coating the yellowing advertisements and bowling league plaques, but Anya didn't care. She could even live with the pervasive smell of stale cigarettes that hung over the bar. After all, she couldn't go to the Bronze; he might be there. The Espresso Pump was closed for renovations and Willy's was annoying, so here she was in some random downtown dive called the Snake Pit. It was small and anonymous, and she was sure that she wouldn't see anything connected with Xander Harris.

She should have felt good. She'd taken D'Hoffryn up on his offer to become a vengeance demon again. It was exactly what she'd dreamed about for the first year after she'd been cast out of the fold, even after she started dating Xander. She had power, and she was going to live forever. At the moment, that wasn't as comforting a thought as it had been the first time around. She should have at least felt content, like she had a place in the universe again. But she didn't. Anya didn't feel good because that would mean she could feel anything at all.

Halfrek was at that very moment gathering her belongings from Xander's apartment and bringing them to Anya's old apartment. She didn't think she could be there when Hallie brought in the cardboard box full of the remnants of the life she'd almost had. Which left Anya in the Snake Pit.

She was on her second gin and tonic, when she felt the breeze of someone passing uncomfortably close behind her and heard the stool to her right creak.

"Well, small world, eh?"

"Leave me alone, Spike," Anya said, turning away.

The vampire smirked. "Oh, come now, just teasing. I heard about you and Harris. Stupid prat. Double shot of bourbon, neat." The bartender barely nodded to recognize Spike's order. "Want to talk about it?"

Anya remained with her back turned to him, and she fiddled with her glass. "I really don't."

"Come on, I had my share of spectacular break-ups with Dru. I can help."

"Why do you even care?"

"Well, you're not like the rest of 'em. for starters. The other one, Red's girl, she's fine enough. But I get right tired of Harris and the witch treating me worse'n hired help. And the nibblet's been giving me the cold shoulder ever since..."

Spike trailed off, but Anya knew what he was going to say. Ever since Buffy came back. Everything was different after that. Anya liked Buffy, and had been sad when she'd died, but... a tiny, petty part of her was almost disappointed when the Slayer came back into their lives, once again making everything all about her, and her business of slaying. It had been nice, for a few months, to be able to pretend that they were all normal.

"Anyway," Spike continued, "you don't bother with that. The pretending. You're honest. Rare quality in your lot." He downed his shot of bourbon with a gulp.

"They're not 'my lot.' Not anymore." Anya turned towards him only far enough to reach over and pull a cigarette out of his pack. She held it out expectantly. Spike chuckled and pulled out his lighter.

"Since when do you smoke?"

"Since now. Well, I also did for a while in the 1940's. Everyone was smoking then."

"Tell me about it. Me and Dru were in Italy, and every dead soldier we came across was good for a couple packs. Definitely easier than buying cigs. Of course, by buying I mean stealing, but still." This elicited a small smile from Anya, so Spike pressed on. "What about you? Where were you in the 40's?"

"New York. I was there during Prohibition. Debauchery leads to adultery leads to scorned women. Stuck around for a while afterwards." Anya took a drink. "Funny how much more fun it seemed when I was on the other side of it."

Spike signaled for another round of drinks. "So you gonna tell me what exactly happened? The Scoobs weren't exactly forthcoming on the details."

"If I do, will you leave?"

"Probably not, but tell me anyway."

"Fine," Anya snapped. She spun around on the stool, daintily smoothing down her black skirt. "Ten minutes before we were supposed to walk down the aisle, Xander decided we shouldn't get married. He then took off and I had to tell my friends and his family what happened."

Spike's mouth opened, closed, opened, and closed again. He showed an unprecedented amount of restraint and kept any of the obvious insults towards Xander to himself. When the silence had gotten uncomfortably long and Anya didn't ask Spike why he was in the Snake Pit, he volunteered the information Anya didn't care about.

"Well, me? I'm running outta bars. Keep getting thrown out of the demon joints for starting fights. At this rate, I'll be ordering some frothy nightmare at the Espresso Pump before too long. This place is about as close as a human bar can get to Willy's. I like the ambiance."

"You mean the skeevy half-naked dancing girls," Anya said.

"Well, that too. I'm not coming here for the bourbon at any rate," he wrinkled his nose up and glared at his again-empty shot glass. "I'd kill him for you, you know. If I could."

Anya snorted. "You'd kill him anyway, if you could."

"True. But I'd be even more thrilled to do it now. That's not right, how he treated you."

"Yeah, well, it's over now. The guests are gone and the dress is burned. Cost me nine hundred and eight dollars and fifty-seven cents and I burned it." The earrings she was wearing were the same ones she'd had on at the wedding. Almost-wedding, Anya mentally corrected herself. They suddenly weighed a ton, pulling down her entire head. As she started to reach up to pull them off, Spike caught her hand and swung her around to face him.

"I didn't just mean that. The way he talked to you. All the time, talking down to you, like you were... beneath him. It's just not right to treat someone who loves you so much like that. Just not right." Spike grabbed the third shot of bourbon the bartender had set down in front of him and downed it.

The fruity scent of Buffy's shampoo still lingered on his hands, despite not having touched her for over a week. The scent hit him every time he raised the shot glass to his mouth. Or maybe he was imagining it. Either way, it unnerved him. Anya had resumed ignoring him to stare gloomily into her drink. Silence chafed him. On the best of days, it was an annoyance, but in his current dangerous mood, it was threatening to lead him to violence or brooding. So Spike figured if he kept pestering Anya, she'd eventually do something entertaining. And besides, he hated seeing her so upset. She deserved better. Maybe some venting would do her good.

"So what happened after Harris made like an even pansier Rhett Butler and fled? You get some of your demon pals to teach him a lesson?"

"D'Hoffryn, my old boss, took me back to Arashmaharr and offered to make me a vengeance demon again. Would you believe he now offers more vacation time than Giles?"

"Really?" Spike grinned. "Well, good on you! Wanna have a celebratory evisceration or something?" Anya sighed. "Come on! You're living the dream! Someone broke your cage open! Just one little decapitation in honor of the chipped vamp?"


"Not even a little dismemberment?" he wheedled.

"It doesn't work that way."

"Right. Yeah." Spike turned back to his drink. "I get it. Wishes, scorned lovers. Scorned though I may be, I'd never want to hurt..." He trailed off.

"Hurt? Hurt who?" For the first time all night, Anya was genuinely interested in Spike. But instead of jumping at the chance to talk about himself as she assumed he would, Spike remained silent for a few moments, his eyes lazily ticking over the array of bottles lining the back wall.

"You ever think we're the wrong ones here?" Spike finally asked. "I mean, maybe there's a reason for the lack of a dating scene in the demon world. Maybe we're just not supposed to love. To care. Especially not humans. Hunt. Kill. Feed. Or in your case, wreak havoc and suffering. But no love. Not the most complex existence, but I bet it's less likely to plain out kill you inside."

"I've had too many gin and tonics to start thinking about the meaning of my existence, Spike." For the first time since her wedding, the corners of Anya's mouth quirked up slightly.

Spike returned the half-smile. "Sorry. Guess I'm a bit morose myself this evening." Spike leaned in towards Anya, placed his hand on her leg. She felt like his fingers were shooting jolts of electricity into her, even through the thick skirt. "I'm just saying, it's hard to find someone you feel... connected to."

Anya slowly tilted towards him, the heat and gin giving her a heady giddiness. Spike's hand crept higher now, his face inching closer. She closed her eyes, put her hand on his chest, and she could sense his breath on her neck when she sighed, "Xander."

Spike chuckled. "Still love him, don't you?"

Anya straightened up, the sudden rush of cool air as they parted clearing her head. Then she slumped forward. "I don't know," she admitted. "I don't know what I want. But... I have to figure out."

"I get it," Spike said, withdrawing his hand from her. "I know how I feel, but it doesn't make any difference because she won't admit how she feels."

"Again, who are you talking about, Spike?"

He considered telling her exactly who he was talking about, but only for a second. Buffy would tell her friends, and soon. He would make sure she did, and it would be much more satisfying seeing their faces when the news came from her. "No one you know, luv," he lied. "Why don't you go talk to Harris? Might make things clearer for you. And if that doesn't work, turn him into a dung beetle and step on him."

"I'll try that. Thanks." Anya stood up and grabbed her coat from the stool next to her. "Well, not the dung beetle part. Probably." She started to leave, but turned to look at him one last time. "I mean it. Thank you."

"'s no problem, pet. I think talking it out with you gave me a bit of perspective, too."

Anya smiled and left.

Spike turned back around to the bar. Buffy was going to tell her friends about the two of them, he would make sure of that. Then, if she admitted it to them, maybe she could finally admit it to herself. Then he could begin making things right with her. Spike signaled the bartender for another drink and reached for another cigarette. Damn, pack's empty. Where's a dead Italian soldier when you need him?


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