I'm so, so sorry that this romcom is what I came up with. ;-) Hope it's remotely close to what you wanted!
TITLE: Who's Telling this Story?
LENGTH: Approximately 1650 words
RATING: Perhaps not entirely wholesome, but mostly.
SUMMARY: AU after Season Six "Flooded" (also after AtS Season 4 "Slouching Toward Bethlehem")-- and, well, I'll let them tell the story. ;-) Rupert gets the bold type; Anya's our control font.
So it all began with the Hellmouth--
How far back in time are you going, darling?
Rupert, I thought you couldn’t tell this story, because you were, and I quote, ‘extremely busy negotiating with the non-vampiric bloodsuckers who don’t wish to ship my worldly goods back across the Atlantic without the deposit of a king’s ransom and my first-born,’ unquote. Have you changed your mind?
Er, no. Carry on.
So. It all began with the Hellmouth, and the really unfortunate communications problems it causes. Screws up phone lines, TV transmissions, cables, the internet, everything. You could have an apocalypse with fire and evisceration and substantial damage to homes and businesses, and people outside the city limits would be none the wiser.
As we’ve proven time and again...
Hey, who’s telling this story?
You are, Anya. Sorry.
Okay then. So, the Hellmouth means... no, he’s right. I should start earlier, with Buffy’s resurrection, Rupert’s return from England, and my realizing that Xander and I weren’t meant to be. ‘Cause, five months of secret engagement and all those ‘I’ll tell them when I’m ready’ speeches? Heartbreak and vengeance waiting to happen. I finally got that.
Rupert, you have a funny look on your face.
No. Um, anyway, as you say, I’m not telling this story.
That’s true, and don’t you forget it. Okay. So Buffy came back, Rupert came back, I hugged him very hard because I’d missed him terribly even though he’d only been gone a week, there was subsequent ring-returning, and then there was a little bit of depression. Also, one of our Magic Box suppliers in Los Angeles had just called me about her finding another valuable and rare Ramadan Effigy, just like the one someone had insisted belonged to him and not the shop, although clearly all invoices showed–
Yes, well, you might want to mention the name of this Los Angeles supplier, as it’s a rather important plot-point. Darling.
Okay, good point. The supplier’s name is Brenda Tallman. Kreato demon, very handy with her five eyes, can source just about anything.
So I asked Rupert if he’d watch the store while I went to Los Angeles that Saturday.
Which worried me, because Anya doesn’t like to leave the shop for anything short of, well, apocalypse. And I knew she was hurting, which worried me too, and, er... where were you in your story?
Honey, you are so sweet, in a cranky, middle-aged, can’t-hear-on-the-telephone way. And so ruggedly handsome, and so virile and good with your hands...
Oh, sorry. Story!
So Rupert said he’d watch the store, but he wanted me to check in while I was there – forgetting, unfortunately, the whole bad-communications aspect of the Hellmouth.
And at that point you’d forgot to tell me who you were meeting.
A girl can’t remember everything, honey. I was battling dissipating heartbreak and the somewhat disturbing realization that you’re hot as hell. One of the good hells. With orgies.
Okay, anyway, I drove my sporty yet affordable convertible to L.A., and met with Brenda. She’s got a nice little retail space down near the Beverly Center – ‘Green Gunk, Where Smart Demons find the Best for Their Every Medical or Aesthetic Need,’ that’s important. Also, she sells really great smoothies, loads of healthful fruit! But at the moment we were working the wholesale side, which is a little further south on La Cienega.
I got to her storage place, and yep, a Ramadan Effigy perfect for the Magic Box Christmas Hanukkah Winter Solstice Kwanzaa Holiday Buying catalogue. I called Rupert immediately, but... well, the connection was awful. Hellmouth, you see!
Right. So when Anya said she’d made a deal with Brenda Tallman, what I heard was more like... "end it all."
Like I’d go to Los Angeles to commit suicide? Smog alerts and brushfires and Wolfram and Hart, no thank you.
Well, I was rather worried. And it was... I’d never quite realised...
What he means to say is that while I was Xander’s, he kept me in a small, locked mental box labelled ‘Do Not Even Think About In A Sexual Way,’ and then I wasn’t Xander’s, and he thought, "Hey there." Or the Repressed English Watcher equivalent.
No, it was in fact along the lines of "Hey there." And then "Dear Christ, I need to stop this, she can’t, I haven’t..." Er. I asked her to wait until I got there.
Which pissed me off, because why couldn’t I make this stupid deal, I was the manager, he might be kind and smart and gorgeous but he’d damn well signed papers. I told him I’d be at Green Gunk, drinking smoothies, and he could find me there if he was going to be like that.
You don’t even want to know what I heard. But at least the name‘Green Gunk’ was clear, and I had the address and a rather fast car I’d hired, luckily.
Boy, you should see him in that Porsche. Hello, handsome.
Okay, anyway, the story. So I was back in the retail space for an hour or two, getting my hands done and drinking a power raspberry-smoothie – organic! – and then this really amazing Pylean guy stumbled in, holding an elegant hand to his poor battered green head and calling for the restorative special and some Kreato powder. Good for what ails ya, let me testify.
His name was Lorne, he said, and while Brenda went off to fix him the restorative, he sat down and told me that there were ugly bad portents swirling, worse than Sally Kirkland as the only A-lister at a Hollywood premiere, something about The Destroyer and the Beast and apocalypse, blah blah blah. But he didn’t really remember, he said, because Wolfram and Hart had tried to take his memories.
I felt so sorry for him, he was so nice even though he was apparently a friend of Angel’s and also I’ve personally tried to forget a lot of my past, and then he told me I was nice and asked me to sing him a little something. And so I started to sing. I was feeling a little melancholy, and I was mad at Rupert and also really wanting him, and for some reason – a flashback weekend on KROQ as I was driving in, maybe? – I started to sing that Kate Bush song about "Wuthering Heights."
And I came into Brenda’s shop as Anya was singing a song about despair and ghostly visitation. Well, what was I to think?
That I liked Britain’s most successful, if idiosyncratic, female singer of the 70s and 80s?
Yes, well, I might have thought that, but I didn’t. I was... I was so concerned, darling.
So he charged up to me, ignoring Lorne kind of squeaking beside me, and said in a deep, masculine, and attractively forceful voice, "Oh, Anya. Please don’t, please," and then, right there in Green Gunk he swept me off my feet. Literally. He’s very tall, you know.
And while I was trying to figure out how to tell him that I’d already bought the Ramadan Effigy but I found his passion incredibly attractive and could be persuaded to reconsider, he kissed me.
I, um, I wasn’t really thinking. I was all feeling. But she...Anya was... yes, well, aren’t you telling this story, my dear?
I don’t want to tell that part. I don’t have the words. It was good, that’s all. Great. Healing.
Anyway, when we stopped kissing, Lorne was standing there, clapping –even though it made his head hurt. And he said, "Sugar-girl" – he is very effusive – "I know you’ve had heartbreak, but I’ve read you, and that is all, all gone. Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow--"
And then Rupert begged him not to sing the whole song, he had Rodgers and Hammerstein issues.
Lorne sort of made a sound, then said that was too damn bad, ‘cause he’d read me and my future and there was going to be some singing of songs in Sunnydale pretty quick. Then he asked Rupert to sing, and Rupert sang some Beatles tune, and Lorne got very quiet. His hand tightened on his restorative special so hard that very expensive Kreato powder fuzzed up everywhere. Then he said, "Well, mister, I’ll tell you two things. One: little Miss Anya’s who you’ve been waiting for. And two–"
Then he punched Rupert in the stomach.
Well, it wasn’t a particularly forceful punch. I was just surprised, that’s all.
Whatever. I’m sure your knocking over a table full of Brenda’s best demon skincare products was an accident. So then Lorne said, "When we call on you and yours for help in the upcoming apocalypse, Rupert, you’d better come running, capisce?" Which is odd, because Pyleans rarely speak mobster-Italian. And then he said something about betraying an old friend and rain in the desert, and...
That part’s not really germane, Anya.
You still haven’t fully explained it to me, Rupert, so I wouldn’t know. But okay, then Lorne gave us his blessing, and got another restorative from Brenda – we paid – and then Rupert and I went to the Bel Age Hotel for the rest of the weekend.
At which point we, er, renegotiated our partnership.
Several times a day, with and without accessories. Ate some excellent sushi, drank some good wine, had public nighttime sex in the Porsche up there on Mulholland Drive–
Yes, er, fine. Anyway, that’s why I’m preparing to move back to Sunnydale. I believe Buffy could use the help as well, and this Los Angeles apocalypse bears watching, but Anya and I, um...
We’re really partners now. And it all began with the Hellmouth! You see?
You tell the story well, darling.