Also Comes in Strange
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Title: A Whole New Me
Author: Tania
Setting: Hells Bells
Summary: The invitations were sent, but no one left a gift.
Rating: PG-13 for implied sexuality and gratuitous use of the word beaver, I guess.

He might have been there, maybe in the back, hiding in a corner with his date. Maybe he’d slipped out for a cigarette, or was at the bar getting a drink. Why hadn’t she looked harder or asked someone if they’d seen him? He said he’d come. He had to have been somewhere. She’d been sure to hand-deliver an invitation.

“We’re getting married. Here’s your invitation. The book said I didn’t have to put a stamp on it if I brought it myself. I think it’s an efficient way to save twenty-nine cents, plus the walk is nice at night.”

The pile of gifts was so high, such beautiful paper, just the bows on some had to have cost five dollars. People who said demons couldn’t be generous didn’t know her friends, the friends that she still had left at least. Halfrek had been there, and D’Hoffryn, even Ternyasha had teleported in with a gift, and people said she’d never stop blaming Anya for that little incident with the Romanovs. There just had to be one with his name on it, too.

“You don’t have to bring a gift. You know I’m just being polite when I say that right? I want presents. You have such great taste; it would be a shame to keep wasting it all on this damp place. I mean it’s lovely. No, really, but still, I want you to shop for me.”

There had been a fight and he hadn’t helped. He couldn’t have been there and just watched the demon strike her down. Why wouldn’t he want to watch her walk down the aisle? That was the part everyone came to weddings for. The same everyones that were gone now. They all left so slowly; most of them taking their gifts as they went. Not even worth presents that cost them an hour’s pay; not without Xander to help her untie their lousy five-dollar bows.

“You could come to the bachelorette party, I mean not that they’re giving me one. We could do our own. You could take me to Willie’s, and we could talk a Proethos demon into showing us the Marin parasite that lives in its head. That would be kind of like a stripper jumping from a cake, I guess. It would cost less money at least. Maybe we could just get a beer at the Bronze.”

Didn’t they come out at night? If she sat here in the dark long enough, wouldn’t the vampires come to her? How many times had Spike stopped her on the street in the middle of the night? Where was he when she truly needed a friend? She didn’t care; she was running out of tears, she just wanted a drink, a fight, something other than crying in the dark. Staring to the corners for yet another moment of disappoint, it truly hit her, harder than the philanderer’s quilled hand could ever hope to; there was really no one coming to comfort her.

“You didn’t have to come. Some of the guys from Xander’s crew took him to a place called the Beaver Dam. I’m not threatened; I know he loves only me. Did they invite you? You could have gone with them. I’d understand, but Spike…I’m glad you came with me.”

It started as a pinprick of light. Just a little sliver of yellow brightening the room the same way it had brightened the cloudy day a millennia ago when D’Hoffryn offered her worlds she didn’t want but couldn’t resist. She looked to the corners of the darkness expecting to see a small ember burning, some sign that she wasn’t alone with her grief, ready to make yet another mistake she’d have to live long enough to regret. Spike wasn’t there. All the world had left her were the platitudes of a demon and the rage of a woman scorned.

“We should do this more often, just you and me. We make excellent company I think. This is almost like our couch, just “Spike and Anya’s drinking couch”. Or maybe Anya and Spike, women first, you know. I didn’t know drinks came this blue, but I like it. Is my tongue blue? Yours is red. Think if we kissed it would make purple? Kidding.”

For an hour's worth of pain, her anger had been her own again. In the blink of an eye, a thousand hearts crying out for vengeance had blanketed the rage welling up inside of her. Their wailing laments burned in her ears. There was barely time to step out of her gown before the need to teleport overwhelmed her. She had to find the source; calm the voices, satisfy the will. It was the only way she knew how to deal with the emotions that tried so hard to bend her past mending.

“It’s so silly to sleep at Buffy’s house tonight. I want to see Xander, I want to be his last pre-marital fling. Sometimes I dress up and pretend I don’t know him, and when we have sex I call him the wrong name. I think he likes it, although he didn’t like it when I called him Spike. Do you need a napkin? You spilt a little of your drink. Should I do the patting you on the back thing?”

It was dark outside Spike’s crypt, even the sconces were blown out and she wondered if he’d mind if she just slept here without him. Maybe she could just sleep until they were all dead. They hadn’t even called, not even Dawn or Tara. Why should she even care? Her clothes reeked of smoke and blood. It had felt wonderful to just let go, point a finger and watch the release of pain the lower beings loved so much. She could just turn Xander inside out if she wanted. Maybe tomorrow. Turning him inside out wasn’t very creative in the context of a full night’s work. She needed to sleep on it to truly appreciate the damage she could do.

“It’s not a very big bed is it? Kind of cold in here really. If you have electricity for the TV why not get a little heater. I mean unless it doesn’t bother you anymore. Sometimes I just like to be hot, so hot you have to take your clothes off. The kind of hot where just touching someone else makes you both so sweaty you just slide against each other like mating eels, twisting and entwined. Do you ever feel that way? I hate being cold.”

For a minute she thought there were voices, the quiet sort of whispers that begged more than told. It must have just been the dream - Spike’s voice had that tone that could put you to sleep and make you feel safe. Safe in the vampire’s lair, crypt, whatever. It was a bed and soft. That’s all she wanted. She’d had enough of hard for one lifetime. She wanted to end the day like it began. In a bed that smelled like kissed-away scotch and someone who wouldn’t betray her. Spike was evil at his core, he never made apologies or pretended he was anything else. She’d had her fill of pretenses and nice when company was looking.

“How long has it been? Do you need to slow down? Everyone should have one last fling, right? Do you want me to stop talking? Xander says I talk too much. In a hundred years I’ve only been with him; that seems so dumb, doesn’t it? All those years wasted because I was so into my job. Do you really think I’m beautiful? You say such nice things. I’m glad it was you that took me out, this would have been much more awkward with Willow.”

Why wasn’t he there? How many invitations did she have to send out before someone brought her what she needed? He would have brought something nice and pretty if he’d come. She was sure of it. Maybe he’d be there in the morning when she woke up; that would be better than rushing out before dawn to get ready for abandonment. The book hadn’t said anything about being left at the altar. She was just glad she didn’t have to follow their dumb rules anymore.

“Tomorrow my whole life is going to change. I can’t wait for you to see me. I’m going to be the best ever, you won’t even recognize me. Will you kiss me goodbye now in case I forget in the morning? I don’t want to sleep, but if I don’t I can’t wake up the new Anya.”

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