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Chapter Nine: Anya
Fan Fiction: Never Look Back
Chapter Nine: Wishing for Justice
SATURDAY, JUNE 8, 2002, 9:15 AM EST (2:15 PM GMT)
"What do you mean, done?" The girl's voice was high and petulant, and she wrung her handkerchief in her hands as she spoke. "And what just happened to your face?"
Anyanka felt almost sorry for the kerchief, but even sorrier for herself; it had taken her over an hour to get the silly chit to wade through her so-called tragedy to the wishing part, and the well of tears still hadn't dried up. "I meant, your wish is granted," she said, giving the girl a small, tight smile. "He won't know the touch of a woman ever again. And I guarantee that he'll know you're the reason why."
Happily, she didn't add. It hadn't exactly been his fault that the girl had gotten her feelings hurt; all he'd ever been guilty of was 'talking while male', from what Anyanka could tell. So he'd go through a life-change a little abruptly-- better than lifelong celibacy, she thought, and she'd bet most men with a sex drive would (eventually) agree.
Had the wishes always been that way? Eleven hundred years of serving up vengeance, and she'd never thought to ask if the victims deserved it. Well, so maybe that wasn't true. She'd thought about it a little, when the same woman kept calling her time after time... but she'd always put the female first. It just seemed so unbalanced in retrospect. Why wasn't there a patron saint of scorned men? Oh, right: because they'd be too manly to call on him for help. Stupid humans. They were all idiots.
Well, except for the ones who sometimes weren't. And maybe that was the real reason for her irritable mood; all kinds of things could have been happening in England while she was gone. If her co-workers and business partners-- friends-- were going to risk themselves saving Faith, then she wanted to be in on the action. She couldn't use the Wish without reason, but she could still cast a mean spell or two. Stupid D'Hoffryn and his stupid quotas; she should never have taken this call.
"Ohmigod!" the girl gasped, a stunned expression on her face. The embroidered square of cloth she'd been abusing fluttered unnoticed to the floor as she clapped both palms to her pale cheeks. Anyanka braced herself for all the 'Wait a minute, I didn't really mean...' arguments that she sometimes got at that point, but the girl's next words surprised her.
"You're, like, some kind of genie or something?" The hands came down off the teenager's cheeks to clasp at her scantily-clad bosom, and her voice trembled with excitement. "And you punished him for me? Oh, wow. I didn't think that happened in real life! Do I get two more wishes now? 'Cause I'm thinking, you know, Hugh Jackman..."
And they thought I was shallow, Anyanka thought darkly. "Do I look Arabic to you?" she snapped, rising from her chair and snatching up her purse in preparation to leave.
"What?" The girl flinched, her face falling with the sudden shift in mood. "I don't understand..."
"Next time you want to make a wish, do the world a favor, and don't. You have no idea of the forces you're messing with." What kind of fairy tales did they teach these days, anyway? Who in their right mind would want to summon a djinni? Anyanka shook her head, slid her purse strap on her shoulder, and exited the house as quickly as she could. Once the front door had slammed shut behind her, she tried to clear her thoughts for teleport back to England. Finally.
Of course, it wasn't that simple. She had more than her own thoughts to deal with; when she was in demon form, some part of her mind was always aware of every scorned woman on the planet. Their pain echoed in her mind like a choir of voices all trying to catch her attention. She could ignore them most of the time unless they performed the actual Anyanka-summoning ritual, but they never went away, and sometimes they were annoying enough to distract her from whatever she was doing. Hence, the serving of women who hadn't deliberately called her. This time, there was one voice that just would not let her concentrate.
Oh! It was because she knew the voice. Faith! She was picking up fear, worry, outrage-- something was going on, and it was about time, too. If Faith had woken up vengeful earlier, they could have wrapped up the whole mess hours ago. So much for the Scooby cavalry, Anyanka thought, and permitted herself a grim smile. With a little creativity, she could have everyone back home in time for dinner. One Slayer rescue, coming right...
Nothing. Blankness. Silence. Anyanka froze as Faith disappeared entirely from her internal radar as suddenly as she'd appeared, along with a few dozen other dim voices that she only really noticed in their absence. There was no death cry, no dimming as if they had fallen unconscious, just silence. Something really bad had just happened, and she had no idea what it was.
"...Hello? So, are you just playing statue now, or what?"
Anyanka blinked back to awareness and turned to see the teenager in the open doorway, staring at her. She glared back, took several steps away along the sidewalk, then gathered her energy again and focused on the London hotel. Between one breath and the next, she vanished from the walk and reappeared in her shared room.
"Anya!" Another irritating teenage voice broke in on her concentration, and Anyanka almost bit the girl's head off--metaphorically, of course-- before she realized it was Dawn and not the stupid girl she'd left behind. Buffy's little sister had still been asleep when she left, but something had happened to wake her up. She was sitting up on her bed, still dressed in pajamas, with a startled expression on her face.
"Not now, Dawn," Anyanka said sharply, letting her face smooth back into her human features. "Something's happened to Faith; I've got to find Buffy and Giles."
Dawn sighed and rolled her eyes, then reached for the suitcase at the foot of her bed and started digging for fresh clothes. "They already know," she said, in a tired voice. "Buffy called up here a second ago wanting the rest of us to come downstairs; she said something was up. I mean, I guessed already, because she woke me up out of this nightmare... Wait a minute. How'd you know?"
It figured. That made twice that morning she'd thought she could be useful, and got upstaged by something else. Of course the Slayers would already know when something happened to one of them. "She was there one second, all vengeful and angry, and the next she was just-- gone. I didn't even have time to find out where she was. I don't think she's dead; it's more like when Amy was trapped... Oh, why am I explaining it to you?" Anyanka threw her hands up in agitation and took a few steps toward the door.
"Wait up!" Dawn yelped, hastily tugging on a pair of jeans and a slightly wrinkled lavender tee shirt that announced she was 'Rated P for Princess.' "Let me come with you! It'll just take me a second to get ready!"
"Okay, but hurry. This is important."
"I'm hurrying, I'm hurrying! Just let me..." Dawn shoved her feet into a pair of thick-soled leather sandals and dashed into the bathroom. Less than a minute later she was back out, still a little disheveled-- she hadn't had time for make-up-- but her hair was smooth and her face looked freshly washed. "Okay. Let me grab my jewelry, and I'm good to go."
"That's got to be a record," Anyanka said, making a show of checking her watch. "So, are they still in the restaurant?"
Dawn nodded. She grabbed her keycard off the dresser, followed by a collection of small silver things from the nightstand, and trailed Anyanka out into the hall. "Yeah. They've been down there awhile, I guess-- I'm not sure when Buffy left the room. But she said they were still at the table when whatever it was happened."
Anyanka frowned, running the 'whatever' through her thoughts a few more times. The only time she'd ever felt anything like it before had been during large-scale human-caused disasters, like a bombing or a riot or a group execution. Things like earthquakes didn't carry the same weight-- people were angry at God or at the world, not men, and that didn't exactly fall under her purview. But, mass murder-- not that she'd put it past the Council, but something about the situation seemed off.
"Did Buffy specifically mention Faith?" she asked, still trying to mentally connect the dots. "Or just that something happened? Because she wasn't the only one it happened to. Dozens of voices cried out in pain, and then were silenced. Maybe they got the Potentials, too."
Dawn stared at her with wide eyes as they got onto the lift, stabbing absentmindedly at the correct button as though it were an afterthought. "Okay, now there's a disturbing thought," she said, with a little shudder. "Now you've got me thinking about honking death rays. I really hope that's not what happened; everyone's freaked enough as it is. I mean, the Council needs smashing anyway, but we need people thinking, not going kamikaze."
"Death rays?" Now it was Anyanka's turn to stare. Didn't these people understand by now that she had a weak grasp of pop-culture references?
"You know, the great disturbance in the Force? Alderaan? The Death Star?" Dawn arched her eyebrows, then lifted out of her mood long enough to give a short laugh. "Come on, I know Xander made you watch Star Wars."
"What does that have to do with anything?" Anyanka objected, still a little confused.
"Never mind." Dawn shook her head, hiding her face behind a fall of silky brown hair, and started putting on the jewelry she'd grabbed. She wore a silver cuff over the curve of cartilage on one ear, a black-and-silver band around one toe, a funky watch, and a chunky cross necklace. Nothing that required any piercing, which had made her big sister happy, but enough to catch the eye and assuage teenage vanity.
Anyanka sighed. "You're deflecting," she muttered. "Classic Xander. You shouldn't use him as a role model, you know." Grown-up or not, she still had flashes of resenting her ex. If he hadn't been so good at the deflecting thing, it could have saved them months of pointless wedding plans and a way-too-public dumping at the altar. Not to mention preventing her from lending the Wish to a bunch of stupid teenagers who thought every bout of indigestion was Cupid's arrow.
Dawn rolled her eyes. "I'm not deflecting, you made an accidental quote. Besides, Xander? Totally role-model material. I mean, brave, loyal, strong? Has the occasional really great plan?"
"Plan? We have a plan?"
Anyanka blinked at the new voice, surprised to find that they'd reached their chosen floor already. The doors had slid open, revealing a pair of tired Scoobies standing a few paces out in the hall.
"Willow, Tara. Hey. How'd you get down here before we did?" Dawn complained.
Magic, Anyanka thought, but didn't say. The two witches looked as tense as she felt, but better put-together than Dawn; they'd probably used magic to get dressed in a hurry. Or Tara had, anyway. These days, the red-haired witch used her power like a battery and let her girlfriend actually cast the spells, which was more than OK in Anyanka's book. She encountered very few humans who could be a danger to her demon form, and Willow-with-no-brakes had rated pretty high on that list.
"Dawnie." Willow smiled at Dawn, then yawned and hid her mouth behind one hand; the other hand clutched at one of Tara's. The blonde witch smiled fondly at her girlfriend, then shrugged her shoulders in Dawn's direction.
"Buffy said we should hurry," Tara said simply, then let her gaze slide past Dawn to Anyanka. "Did she tell you what's w-wrong?"
"Something happened to Faith," Anyanka told her.
"Something bad, we think," Dawn added, and skipped past the others toward the restaurant. "Buffy wasn't sure exactly what."
"Of course not," Willow said, with a sigh. "I hope Giles remembered to reserve a private conference room-- I'll need a place to hook in my computer if I'm going to hack the Council's records, and Tara will need a table for the locating spells."
Anyanka rather doubted that the spells would work. But then, it couldn't hurt to try. And really, what else could they do, at that point?
A flicker of something at the edge of her awareness answered her question for her. "Wait-- I can feel her again! Whoever's holding her just made a big mistake."
"Anya?" Tara questioned.
She felt the crinkle of flesh as her face resumed its demon aspect, and she flashed a triumphant smile at the other girls. "Tell Giles I've gone to grant Faith's Wish," she said, and focused her concentration inward.
The hotel vanished with one quick thought.
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