TITLE: Talking Helps
AUTHOR: Kate Bolin
SUMMARY: There's a slow summertime silence when a Slayer dies. Anya attempts to deal.
SHOW: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
CHARACTER: Anya, Anya/Xander
SETTING: Summer between 5th/6th season
FEEDBACK: Privately, please. It saves annoyance, and you're more likely to get a reply.
ARCHIVE: My site, list sites, eterniata, otherwise ask.
DISCLAIMER: The characters and universe herein are the property of Joss Whedon, 20th Century Fox, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar, and Kuzui Productions. This piece of fan-written fiction means no infringement.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: For Mary and Lise, on the occasion of their birthdays. A belated gift of quite-not-cheer.
She spent every day talking. Sitting in the store with Giles, she'd echo nearly everything that happened, stock takes soundtracked by her continual narration.
"Those are going for $4.75, but we should put the price up. It can be used for a particularly vicious curse and if it make it more expensive, then we won't get kids trying to buy it for their enemies..."
"We're definitely going to have to start ordering more marnok root, we always seem to run out right before that one virgin queen coven's monthly celebration and with the money they spend here...it's much better to have them spend all their money here instead of some here and some at that shop on the other side of town..."
"Hey, we still have some Zebrakian scales...that reminds me of this one time, when this fisherman's wife wished for her husband to be completely covered in scales, and when I did it, he thought that he had turned into a merman. He jumped into the sea, thinking he was going to find a mermaid, but he drowned. It was terribly ironic...."
Giles would watch her and not say anything, just staring at her blankly for a few seconds before returning to his notebook, occasionally wiping his eyes as he continued to write.
If there were more people in the shop, she'd try to talk to them, sharing small talk about the weather and its effects on particular herbs.
"Please take caution during this heat wave --direct sunlight and a temperature over 90 degrees can cause Leemora buds to secrete a resin that could either open up a portal to a minor hell dimension or leave large shiny stains on nylon. Thank you, come again...."
"We are currently keeping all the flat-spined tapeworms in the fridge in the basement -- the heat makes the formaldehyde cloudy -- but if you wait, I will acquire one for you...."
"No, I can assure you that our mummy hands are always the highest quality. They currently look this way because mummy hands are always lethargic in the summer. Plus the heat creates swelling."
They wouldn't respond, making their purchases quickly and quietly before almost running out the door.
She'd tried once to include Willow in a conversation, asking her about the possibilities of replacing rosehips for marnok in a pinch, if that coven were to come back, but Willow just glared at her and walked off, leaving her with a jar in each hand.
She'd close the shop up early, walk home to Xander's apartment every night and wait for him to get home. She'd bring some sort of take-out, and sit in the near-darkness, the only lights coming from the tv set and the faint glint of the ring she put on every night.
When he got home, they would eat, and she would tell him about her day. Every single minute would be detailed, from when she woke up to when he came home at night.
"That one woman came into the store again -- the one that always asks if the mandrake root was organically grown. I told her again that if she wanted it organically grown, she could do it herself and try to explain away the annual piles of dead dogs as some sort of exercise in futility, but she didn't really listen..."
"I think Giles is drinking. I keep finding bottles in the stockroom and the last time I checked, we weren't selling Dewars. If he wants to open up the trade to include alcohol, I am perfectly agreeable -- it's a profitable business, but I have to know so that I can apply for the liquor license. I told him so, but he wasn't listening..."
"I got another catalog today -- lots of videos and toys and I think that I'm finally going to buy that Hitachi Magic Wand. They make it sound so appealing and think of how much we would save on batteries..."
She'd spend the entire meal talking between bites of food, and when she wasn't talking, she would turn on the television, the radio, anything that would cause noise, fill up the empty space that was Xander's silence. After dinner, she would still talk, responding to what she would see on the tv, asking questions that Xander would only non-commitally grunt and shrug to.
She talked. It was all she could do.
"Giles, we should invest in riot insurance. I've discovered that some companies carry it, and with the high risk factor associated with owning a magic shop in Sunnydale, it would be very practical, in case one of us ended up horribly murdered by the next large hellgod..."
"The best option would be to alternate between the marnok root and the rosehips, until we get our larger order in. You'll only notice a slight difference in your spell, the faintest of color change and possibly excess body hair, but it's doubtful your group would notice the excess body hair, what with your preponderance towards whiskers and mustaches..."
"Xander, I don't understand why people do that. Having such an elaborate funeral doesn't seem to do the dead person very much -- they don't know what's going on, do they? And then the cost and the stress of raising such an event, it must be very tiring. Why don't people just have events for happy occasions, like weddings? Speaking of, are we going to tell Willow soon? She's been giving me strange looks every time I reach in my bag to feel the ring --"
"Stop it!" Xander finally shouted.
Anya closed her mouth, blinking in surprise. "Xander?" she said softly, her voice shaking a little.
"Just...stop talking, An..." he said, toning his voice down slowly. "You've been talking ever since..." He drifted off, and looked away from her. "Can I just have one night of quiet?"
Anya blinked a few more times. "I...I just thought it would be helpful. To talk. To speak about things that are happening."
"Well, it isn't," he said, looking at her again. "Talking about the shop or a catalog or what you saw on tv -- that isn't helping. Talking about what you had for lunch or what you wore or every single thing you've talked about for the past month -- that *isn't* helping, An. So would you just *stop*?"
She blinked again, staring up at him. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, then she looked down at her lap.
There was silence. After a few minutes, Xander slowly relaxed back onto the couch.
"I missed a period," she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
He straightened up again. "What?"
She lifted her head, looking up at him. "When we were running from Glory, I forgot to take my pills with me, and I missed one and then I missed a period, but it's okay now, it turns out I was just late..." She blinked a few times before continuing. "And...I couldn't tell you, because you weren't talking to anyone, and I couldn't tell Willow because every time I would try, she'd glare at me, and I couldn't tell Giles because he wouldn't understand and I thought I was pregnant and I thought about how it'd be easier if we were married before the baby came and how hard it'd be to tell everyone and if they'd want us to name it 'Buffy' and then I wasn't pregnant and...if this happened to Buffy there wouldn't have been a problem because you would have all talked to her and no one was talking to me and no one was talking to anyone and it was like that, because she was gone, no one could say anything anymore and..." She took a deep breath and wiped her eyes. "And I had to say *something* and I couldn't say anything..." She took a gulp of air. "And no one was *talking*..."
"Oh, An...honey..." he said, moving to sit next to her. "Baby, I..." He stopped, then smiled slightly. "Would you believe that right when I want to talk, I can't think of what to say?"
She returned his smile and rubbed her eyes.
"I didn't know, and I'm sorry," he said, putting his arm around her. "You're right -- I wasn't talking to you, and I should have." He paused. "It's just...hard, y'know? You think 'Man, I'd love some pizza,' and you go to the phone to order, and you're about to ask Buffy if she still wants ham & pineapple and then you remember that she's..."
"Gone..." she said quietly.
"Yeah..." he said. He took a deep breath and slowly let it out.
She sat there, her head resting on his shoulder, staring down at her fingers. "Xander?" she finally said.
"Tell me about your day?"
Xander smiled, and, slowly, began talking.
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