Title: Dead Stock Clearance
Characters: Giles/Anya (ish)
Summary: Late night working in the Magic Box. Just how do Giles and Anya deal with unwelcome visits from vampires? A fluffy something for the first free for all posting day. Yay for summer_of_giles
The shutters were drawn and they were not expecting the Slayer that night, but nevertheless the lights blazed on late in the Magic Box as Anya and Giles worked to redecorate the central stock displays. Easter was fast approaching and they had fought for control of a holiday appropriate theme. Both had agreed Christianity was not a strong seller but after much heated debate, they had reluctantly agreed to abide by a coin toss on the hotly contested issue of store wide representations of the Easter Bunny.
Anya happily unpacked another box of delicately ornate glass eggs and arranged them artfully up the two meter high metal pyramid on the small table nearest the entrance. Giles' principal role was to back and forth with the discarded packaging and haul the next box load of fake Faberge up from the stockroom for her to apply her artistic temperament to.
"You know someone will knock this over don't you?" he said gloomily. "I mean, it's just asking for it in the middle of the shop like that."
"You watch too much Benny Hill. Keep the ladder still." The last part referred to Giles’ other important job of the night, supporting the bottom of the step ladder as she stretched and reached to crown her lavish achievement. He fulfilled this duty with a bored lounge, leaning backwards against it, one foot on the bottom step, hands in pockets, until the shop door opened and two men walked in.
"We're closed," Anya shouted down but Giles ceased to lounge with quite so much boredom because their visitors, while not yet sporting traditional vampire features, were still clearly of the clan.
"I heard you got something of ours," the taller of the two vampires said.
Giles was cautious. "Such as?"
"All the cash in the register." The vamp smiled. "And we'll take the blonde to go."
"You can't have the money," Anya insisted waspishly. "And don't you know who he is?"
"Dinner?" suggested the other one and they both laughed at what passed for high wit in vampire circles.
"He's the Slayer's Watcher and she would be angry and wrathful if you killed him.”
"And would she be so wrathful if I killed you?"
Giles was bolt upright and alert, eying the two men who circled around them.
"I would strongly take that amiss," he said firmly, with a low menacing tone in his voice that he hoped they heeded as their only warning.
“Is that so?” the taller vampire sprang forward but Giles swiftly pulled a crucifix from his pocket and stung him. The vampire ducked back and snarled in shock. His friend laughed at him and went behind the counter to the cash register, but there he too received a jolt as he touched the keys.
“They’ve warded the damn thing!”
Anya, still on the step ladder and resting a hand on Giles’ shoulder, snorted. “We're not as stupid as he looks.”
“So get down from there and come open it.” The vamps moved to either side to circle them and the Easter Egg display. Giles couldn’t protect them both with just a crucifix and they all knew it. “Give us the money and we will let you live.” Anya and Giles exchanged a glance and she cautiously descended to his side. “But it only needs one of you to open the register. Just you Blondie. Your boyfriend stays where he is.”
Anya noticeably distanced herself from Giles. “He is not my boyfriend,” she said in affronted rebuke.
“She's about eleven hundred years older than I am for a start,” Giles remarked ungallantly.
Anya glared at him. “And you always have to bring that up don't you? A girl can't keep a little mystique about her age?” She clipped past the amused vampires and made for the counter, forcing them to have to turn their heads if they wanted to watch both shopkeepers.
“She used to be known as Anyanka the Terrible,” Giles explained morosely, pulling their attention back to him. “I'm actually employing a former Vengeance Demon, gentlemen.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “And don't you ever forget it. I used to be able to eviscerate you with the power of my eyeballs. And now you have me working all hours of the day and night? I'm a slave, a drudge, a pawn of oppression. Am I getting paid for this by the way?”
Giles’ eyes nearly popped. “I'm not paying time and a half for you to be taken hostage.”
The vampires smirked, turning their heads at the exchanges.
“Capitalist running dog,” she snapped.
“I thought you liked capitalism?”
“Only the money part. The politics are very confusing.”
Giles waved his arms in despair and it was enough. Both vampires were openly laughing now, and looking only at him. Anya quickly pulled the loaded crossbow they kept taped under the counter and fired at the nearest target. Her aim was true and he exploded in a shower of dust. Giles, seizing the advantage of surprise, revealed the sharpened point of the crucifix he held and plunged it in the other’s chest. He missed the heart, and the two men fell into the ornate egg stand, sending shattered, coloured glass around the store as Giles fought for his life against his much more powerful assailant. He was already flipped and twisted on his back, wrists held and angry vamperic eyes boring down on him, when Anya finally figured the reload mechanism and shot the guy to a shower of dust into Giles’ face and suit.
He coughed. “Thank you.” And awkwardly sat up in the wreckage of her artistic display. She knelt beside him and slapped his shoulder to help with some of the dust.
"We need to think of a better system to deal with this problem," Anya stated.
He removed his glasses to clean them and mused, “Maybe we should just get a sign saying No Vampires?”
Anya frowned seriously. “I don't think it would work.”
“No.” He smiled and looked around the mess. “Sorry I didn't get mine with the first strike.”
“Did you mean what you said?”
"Of course not," he said hastily. "Which part? The paid overtime part?"
"No." Her voice was nervous, faltering to reveal a hint of self-doubt. “The part that you'd take it amiss?” She suddenly looked completely vulnerable.
He smiled with reassurance. “Of course I did.”
She stared at him intently, then reached and gently brushed a piece of broken glass egg from his shoulder, leaving her hand there. She had a piece in her hair also, he noticed. It would be the gentlemanly thing to remove it for her. Sometimes in the store there were quiet times, times when he caught a glimpse of the honesty and fire within her that made her so very beautiful. She smiled at him and his throat suddenly felt dry, and it was late he told himself, and they spent an awful lot of time in each other's company. Perhaps it was only natural he’d want to fix her hair, as a friend? It would be completely natural to touch her hair, and to thank her, because after all, she had just saved his life.
He heard himself ask, “What time is Xander picking you up?”
“When I call him.” There was something in the tone of her voice that Giles, if pressed, would have to have described as husky.
He swallowed hard. “You should probably call him now.”
She rocked back on her heels and spat out a short laugh.
“What, and let you decorate the store with hundreds of floppy eared rats of death while I'm gone? No way, mister, I wasn't born yesterday.” She sprang up quickly and began to gather any of the decorative eggs that hadn’t shattered in a whirl of speed. “Right, we should still be able to do this. I'll salvage what I can. You get a broom and get this mess cleared up,” she commanded.
He remained immobile until she actually clapped her hands at him in encouragement. “Come on. We haven't got all night.”
He sighed, resigned to his fate, and hauled himself unsteadily to his feet, muttering, "Yes, ma'am." They really needed a better system for dealing with vampires, and he definitely needed to spend fewer late nights alone with Anya.