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  • Returning

    Title: Returning
    Set: One year after "Chosen"
    Disclaimer: Characters belong to Joss. Concept belongs to me.
    Rating: T (for references to what happened in "Chosen")
    Discription: One year after her supposed death, Anya's come back. But whom has she come back to and why did she wait a year?


    Andrew had watched her die. He had seen her die fighting, unable to do a thing as that sword sliced right through her.

    They had each mourned in their own ways over the last year since Sunnydale's demise. In addition each had moved on in their own ways.

    Well, all but one at least. One was still grieving, doing what he could to bury his private pain. With the others having gone on with their lives they hardly noticed how distant he had become when they spoke to him, how much more withdrawn he was becoming. To them a year had nearly been enough, but not to him.

    Only what they couldn't know was their fallen friend hadn't died. For a year she had silently returned to her work as a vengeance demon.

    D'Hoffryn had seen what would have been Anya's demise had she not been immortal and as he had always felt a somewhat paternal bond with his star pupil, he brought her back to their world and agreed to let her return to work.

    Under one condition. That she didn't return to the human life she had known. Not even to say goodbye.

    "That was what nearly caused your end, after all," D'Hoffryn had told her.

    "But what about my friends?" she had asked.

    "They have learned how to get along without others. Casualties are a guarantee in a war, my dear. You belong here with your own kind."

    Deep down Anya still felt she had never really been part of the crowd with Buffy and the others. Especially not after what happened with Xander. She had a want to return of course, yet she hardly felt she would truly be welcome.

    Today was the anniversary and D'Hoffryn made her another offer. To see how her former friends were getting along now after having been without her for so long. Sort of as proof that they didn't need her..

    "You mean I can go back?" she asked, not wanting to show her hope for fear that wasn't what he meant.

    "No. But you can see them in another way," he told her with a wave of his hand, a veil suddenly appearing and showing her a few of her friends and what they were currently doing.

    They all seemed to be so happy from what she could see. Even Xander looked as though he had moved on. Sure he still had the eye patch, but he was smiling, laughing even with what ever new friends he had made.

    Though it was someone else to catch her eye. The only one who was alone, in his home, seated on his sofa, looking a million miles away as he stared at seemingly nothing at all.

    "You said they'd get along fine without me!" she cried. The sight was too much for her to bear. She had caused a great deal of pain and suffering to several men over the better part of the last fifteen hundred years and yet this time it was hurting her to see a man in that position. She had never meant for any of her friends to be so pained by her supposed death and yet there he sat, obviously still grieving.

    "Give him time," D'Hoffryn spoke again before removing the veil and surrounding them in firelight once more.

    "No," she choked out, own sadness hitting her. "I could have been with him this last year, he could have seen that I survived and then he could be happy like everyone else."

    "You're a vengeance demon again, Anyanka, you should be used to causing men pain."

    "But I never wanted to hurt him. He was always good to me, even when some of the others weren't."

    "Are you saying you would want to go back? Living your life as a mortal once again?"

    Anya knew what he was saying, but without a second thought after what she had just seen, she answered, "Yes."

    "And what if he thinks you're just another trick? After all it wouldn't be the first time he would have seen someone he cared for come back to him and after the last time he's sure to think you yourself are no more than an illusion."

    "I don't care," she partially lied as she fought her welling tears.

    "Are you sure this is what you want, Anyanka? You will be immortal no longer and if he turns you away you will have nowhere to turn. Remember that, this was your last time."

    Anya still wasn't used to such strong human emotions coursing through her, but she remembered what Xander had told her once. The pain she felt was normal, especially in times of grief and while part of her was sad to leave what she had known for so long it pained her more to think back to the grieving man she had just seen.

    Within moments D'Hoffryn had heard her answer, he had heard her vague reason for it and as a final favor he teleported her to just outside of the man's home. Anya could only hope he wouldn't push her away as she feared.

    It took her a full minute before she gained the courage to knock on the door. She wanted to see him, but she still couldn't shake her fear. Her heart seemingly froze as she heard movement on the other side.

    "Bloody solicitors," he grumbled before unchaining the lock and turning the knob. Though the sight Giles soon saw was the first true shock he felt he'd had in a solid year.

    "Hi," Anya told him in as much of a bubbly tone as she could muster. She was surprised herself that she was really there and that she hardly seemed to know what to say next.

    "Who are you?" he demanded coldly, his features quickly hardening at the young woman he could only imagine to be another demon, one sent solely to further torment him.

    "It's me, it's Anya," she partially smiled, her hopefulness only increasing as she thought he may have met with another bout of amnesia. It's not like he didn't get hit on the head a lot, she thought to herself.

    There was part of him that wanted to put his hand to her throat. It was a trick, it could only be. "I don't know what you are, but if you ever come here again you will meet with a fate as grave as hers."

    "But it's really me, Rupy," she replied, her confusion now replacing her hopefulness.

    The nickname she had given him years before gave him pause and he couldn't help but sigh as he heard her voice say it again in his mind. But this wasn't her voice, not really. Demons had tricked him before, with Joyce, with Jenny, he wouldn't be fooled again. Now this time, not when it was her.

    "Really, D'Hoffryn told me you'd all be better off without me and it would give me a real chance to get back to what I'm the best at. Besides after everything that happened, I really didn't think any of you would still want me around so I took him up on his offer to go back to work for him. But after what I saw today I gave it up. Even before he made me human again it hurt me inside to see you so hurt."

    Images of what Andrew had told him were rushing back through his mind as she spoke. How the sword had cut through her, how her body wasn't regenerating as though she were still immortal. Yet now here she seemingly stood before him as though nothing had happened.

    From his silence Anya could tell he still needed more convincing. Now was as good of a time as any to bring up what they had sworn never to discuss again, she decided. "I know how to prove to you I'm really me. But first I need you to answer a question." Still he was silent, his expression blank. She couldn't understand why he was still listening if he didn't believe her, unless there was part of him that did. The one part she hoped to reach with this, "Do you ever think back to that night in the Magic Box?"

    There had been far too many for him to pick out just the one she meant. Again this could have been a trick and the demon could be talking about any night, hoping to tap into his memories.

    "I do," she confessed a moment later. "I mean, sure Xander was a good kisser himself, but he wasn't like you. He never held me as tightly as you did and I never knew until that night that having a man kiss you and make you weak in the knees wasn't just some human female figure of speech."

    There was a brightness in her eyes then as she talked about their kiss and how it had made her feel. A brightness Giles knew no demon ever had. Aside from Anya, that was.

    "D'Hoffryn took me back to our world after what happened, healed me and told me that I could work for him again so long as I put all of you behind. But I never forgot any of you and it was when I saw you today that I knew I couldn't keep hurting you like that. You're one of the only men I haven't felt compelled to take vengeance on. Okay, maybe that once when you were trying to convince me that was the wrong book to send those hellion cotton balls back to wherever they came from. But not since then, I swear."

    It was then he could see it, or maybe he was just seeing it because he wanted to, but right then it didn't matter. "Anya?"

    His eyes never left hers as she gave a nod and partial smile to him. "I know what you're thinking, but it's really me," she told him as she took his hand in hers finally, letting him feel for himself that she wasn't a ghost nor a demon like The First who couldn't truly touch people or objects.

    Overcome with shock, relief, need and, dare he admit, love, he took his hand from hers almost as quickly as possible but only to coil his arms as tightly around her as he could. He had dreamt of this too many times to pretend he didn't care for her, especially not when she had already said that she knew he had been hurting without her there.

    Beyond that, though he would never admit it to anyone but her, he had thought back to that night at the Magic Box. Nearly every day in fact. It was partly because of that he needed to feel her against him in that moment.

    Anya hardly minded the tight hug, hugging him as tightly as she could in return as if to demonstrate that. Though she had to admit that it was times like this being mortal would have its drawbacks. She almost couldn't breathe from the strong hold he had on her, however she hardly had it in her to care much in that moment.

    Beginning to realize just how long it had lasted, Giles finally released her slightly before looking her soft, happy features over once more. It had been too long and given what she had just confessed to him, he let how her eyes seemed to be dancing over his own face be his silent grant of permission to do what he did next.

    With her arms still around him, Anya only pressed herself into him more as their warm kiss grew even deeper and more impassioned. If he hadn't already figured it out, Giles knew then this was in deed the real Anya. The way her body was melting into his the same as it had before, the way her lips were pressed against his, there was no doubt left in his mind.

    In different ways they had both thought they had lost the other forever and knew then they would do anything to keep that from happening again.

    "Do the others know?" the older man finally breathed when their kiss ended a long moment later.

    Anya shook her head. "I wanted you to be the first to know. You were the only one who really seemed to still miss me and I don't know if it was because of all that time working together, but I feel the closest to you now."

    For the first time in what seemed to be that whole year, he smiled. "I hope you always do," he stated, his slight smile yet to fade.

    "So it's okay that I'm back? You won't push me away or anything?"

    He cringed at the memory of how there had been a time when he wanted to do nothing more. Now he only shook his head before holding her again.

    Neither could know for just how long they remained that way, both still letting the realizations sink in as they never wanted this to have to end.

    The End