Thank you to enigmaticblues for running this shindig, and rabid1st for her beta services. Just a short angsty one-shot from me this time.
La Meilleure Revanche
Other pairings: a hint of Spike/Anya
Standard disclaimer: The characters aren't mine, just the story.
Feedback: Comments welcome.
Through his increasing inebriation, a small part of Spike's mind gradually began to register an oddity. Anya kept asking him what he wished would happen to Xander.
What the flying fuck did he care what happened to him?
There was some animosity there, sure. Only so much bullying and insults he could take from a human he had no interest in shagging. The primary reason he'd object to seeing Harris wrapped in bacon and thrown to hungry wolverines was that Buffy wouldn't like it. But any resentment he felt towards Xander was dull and fallow compared to the piercing agony caused by his beloved's rejection.
Anya had to know that. And if she were just being self-centered, why would she keep asking him what he wanted?
He leaned closer flirtatiously, as if he were trying to sneak a peek down her shirt. He knew she wouldn't mind. And he was sneaking a peak, just not at what she thought.
In the hollow of her cleavage, he spotted the muddy green and tell-tale glint of a demonically-charged pendant.
One brief glance at her admittedly luscious bosom, and he sat back to give her an assessing look.
He hadn't given much thought to what had happened directly after the non-wedding. He'd assumed that Buffy or Tara would have sat with Anya, with Willow put in charge of Xander. He'd have thought they would have rallied together -- or, well, separately -- to look after their friends in a crisis.
And now that he knew the score, he couldn't make the bacon and wolverines wish. The thought of how he could have been prompted to make a wish that would've hurt Xander -- hurt Buffy -- sobered him up a little.
"What good does it do," he wondered aloud, trailing his fingertips past her temple, "to take revenge on Xander?"
"I'll be revenged," Anya pointed out in that tone she used when she felt the humans were missing something obvious.
He noted she didn't waste his time trying to deny it. He wondered if she expected him to make a wish anyway. "His intestines bleed out his ears... and... what? You'll feel better?"
"Yes," Anya insisted, true to her creed.
He shook his head. He used to think that sort of thing worked. He used to be a big believer in vengeance. Still was, when it came to those he truly hated; just ask Doc. Or you could, if you could find a piece of him. Problem was, he didn't see it working so well when you still loved the person who'd hurt you. He could imagine, briefly, hitting Buffy until she bled, but on the heels of any image of her suffering came the impulse to make it better.
He didn't want to cause her pain. He just wanted his own to stop.
And despite Anya's desire for vengeance, which her return to demon-hood had transformed into an instinctive lust, he didn't believe she really wanted to kill Xander. It wasn't just wounded pride or love of commerce keeping her in this dinky little Hellmouth backwater; not when the entire world was hers for the teleporting. And once her fury was quenched, the loss of Xander would hurt her worse than his betrayal.
He wondered how many of the women Anyanka had supposedly done her vengeance for had suffered just as much as their men from their wishes... and not because their villages burnt down, but because they'd still loved the bastards who'd done them wrong.
Such thoughts were a sure indication of far too much incipient sobriety. He took a long drink, direct from the bottle this time. "His grisly demise will magically stop your pain?"
The look she shot him was nasty; an uncomfortable reminder that she could liquefy his innards too, were she motivated to find someone who'd wish that. And he was sure she could find such a person. "It would work better than drinking and moping," she retorted, conveniently ignoring the fact that she'd been the source of the booze. "Better than looking for 'make my poor heart feel better' spells which don't exist."
"Yeah." He took another swig. It was a fair cop. What did he do when his heart was broken? Drink like a fish, look for someone to blame, try to find rhyming words for 'devastation', and decide magic was the answer. Not necessarily in that order. "Be brilliant if we could just get over it. Living well is the best revenge, and all that."
Anya wrested the bottle from his grasp and took her own hearty slug. "Living forever is supposed to be the best revenge, but look where it gets us." She slumped in her seat, her vengeful mood turning maudlin. She slumped over the table, hand holding the bottle cast to the side. "Eleven hundred years and I'm right back where I started: pining over a man."
It sounded all too familiar to Spike. Maybe that's why he said what he said next. "I wish that you and I -- we both -- were no longer hurting over our lovers leaving us."
A strange mix of horror and delight filled Anya's eyes before her face turned corrugated grey. "Done."
Even as he'd said it, he'd had misgivings. And then, those were torn away, along with the defining feature of his life for the past three years. He knew it was the same for Anya as soon as she started ranting.
"What was I thinking? I was feared! Worshipped! A goddess among vengeance demons! Who the hell is Alexander Harris? A bumbling minion on the side of good!"
They'd hurt because they'd loved. To take the pain away, they'd had to lose the love as well. Or perhaps not had to, but had. A tiny part of him wailed at the loss of his longtime animus, but it was drowned out in the swell of relief.
Anya wheeled on him. "I was a slave to the penis! Me!"
Spike couldn't help but grin. "Yep."
"And you! At least I had an independent existence. You've spent your entire existence trailing after one skirt or another."
It was true. And it explained the vastness of the emptiness within. He was no longer in love with Buffy, but beyond that, he didn't feel that tug, that yearning to love and be loved that had always been with him. He didn't think he would again.
Another pang. He ruthlessly quashed it. Vengeance wishes didn't exist to bring anybody comfort, after all.
"I've never seen a demon so pussywhipped. First Dru, and then... " Her eyes narrowed. "It was Buffy, wasn't it." Without the preoccupation of her own agonies, her perceptiveness had rebounded with alacrity.
"Yeah." Spike just shrugged at her piercing look. Not five minutes ago, he'd have blustered to try to cover up Buffy's indiscretions with him; now, it was remarkable how little he cared.
Taking up the bottle again, he sketched a toast. By chance, his glinting eye met that of a miniature camera hidden inside a decorative skull. "Bye, love."
Note: The title and a bit of the dialogue are an homage to the old vampire cop show Forever Knight. LaCroix, a vampire with his own late-night talk radio show (really), says, "They say that living well is the best revenge. Au contraire. Living forever is the best revenge." Janette, also a vampire, later opines: "La meilleure revanche, c'est la revanche": the best revenge is revenge.
An AU companion piece to this fic is here: Meilleur Encore.