The Way We Were
by Eena Angel
"Two bottles of beer on the wall, two bottles of beer. Take
one down and pass it around, one bottle of beer on the wall!"
Willow flinched slightly from Spike's rather off-key
singing. The vampire in question was drunk off his ass. And he had
been for the better part of the night. He had originally started
with one hundred bottles of beer. And she meant in singing and in
actual beers. Good thing he was already dead, because otherwise his
liver would have quit on him hours ago.
"And to think," Xander piped up, pointing at the wasted
vampire. "They want to give that civil rights."
Buffy snorted from her spot on the couch. Dawn lay snuggled
up against her older sister, eyes intent on the television. The
whole group was more or less depressed or upset. The focus of their
discontent was the current debate in Congress.
"I can't believe they're going to make it illegal for me to
do my sacred duty," the Slayer moaned.
"I don't think they actually know about the Slayer," Willow
mused. "And that is something I'm grateful for. With all the
Vampire Rights lobbyists out there, I don't think you would be all
"Save the stinking world, and yet someone is still on your
ass about something," Buffy grumbled. "The world stinks. I'm just
not going to save it next time."
"Another thing that gets me is that they're all campaigning
for killers," Xander added. "I mean, we have psychos like Warren on
the loose and everyone's attention in on how we make the world better
for the undead."
"Bloody insane it is," Spike muttered. "Bad enough that I'm
chipped and unable to do harm. But now the whole lot of us are being
put on the endangered species list. What the bloody hell do we need
voting rights for?"
"And I get it for sentient beings, ones with souls," Buffy
continued. "But what about the soulless killers out there? What
about when they kill someone? Are they going to put them in jail for
life? Hello, vampires are immortal! Next thing you know there'll be
a Society for the Humane Treatment of Hell Hounds. What's the world
Willow shrugged and turned back to the television. Nothing
had changed at all. Everyone was still fighting and no decisions
were being made.
"Well, it doesn't seem to be happening that the moment," she
shrugged. "Civil rights will just have to wait for another day."
Spike snorted and turned back to his game.
"One bottle of beer on the wall, one bottle of beer! Take
one down and turn it around, no bottles of beer on the wall!"
Willow rolled her eyes as Spike downed his hundredth bottle
of beer for the night. Dawn gave the vampire a sparing glance.
"You're going to pass out," she informed him.
"Will not," he stopped his drinking long enough to protest.
Dawn snorted and turned back to the television while Spike went back
to his beer.
Spike passed out about ten minutes later. They pretty much
ignored the loud snoring emitting from the drunken vampire. On the
television, it was announced the vampire civil rights bill was not
passed. The four humans gathered their dishes and Spike's bottles of
beer. Xander and Willow took care of the kitchen while Buffy and
Dawn dealt with the living room and the vampire. Anya shimmered in
about ten minutes into cleanup. She had been busy with the shop but
had been watching the Congressional session on the television. The
vengeance demon was disgusted by the proceedings as well.
"Vampires don't want to vote," the demon shook her
head. "They want to maim and kill. It's what they're made for."
Willow had shrugged and resumed washing the dishes. Anya
later wandered over to the sisters to talk.
As Willow climbed the stairs for the night, she could hear
giggling coming from the living room.
"But I want to touch it!" she heard Dawn whine.
"Not after where I put it," Buffy replied.
"I'm going to have to do some serious vengeance when he wakes
up," Anya offered. Curious, the redhead wandered back into the
She nearly burst out laughing when she saw what they had
done. Spike, still unconscious, had been propped up in front of the
couch. His shirt and pants had been removed. The vampire was clad
only in his boxers. Dawn had put her pink bunny slippers on his feet
and there was a rubber ducky resting on his crotch. On his head was
a tiara that Willow recognized as Buffy's Prom Queen crown from LA.
The Slayer was currently applying eye shadow to the sleeping
vampire. Dawn had run off to get the camera while Anya stood by
"You're evil," Willow announced to the sisters. They shot
her identical innocent smiles and went back to work. Willow turned
back up the stairs, leaving the vampire in their treacherous grasps.
She was really too tired to participate in the fun. And besides, she
could see the videotape in the morning.
Anita Blake glanced distastefully down at the letter in her
hand. Her brow was furrowed with unhappiness, her mouth in a full out
"Stupid family," she muttered to herself. "Always ready to
guilt trip you into anything."
"What's that then?"
Anita glanced up to see her pard enter the kitchen. Nathaniel
immediately took a place next to her, concern on his face. Micah sat
down at her other side while Cherry and Zane opted for standing. The
were leopards knew something was wrong with their Nimra. She wasn't
one for concealing her emotions, or thoughts, or just about anything.
Anita was an outspoken woman if nothing else.
"Stupid family," she repeated, waving the letter at
them. "They want to have some stupid reunion. Dad just successfully
guilted me into going."
Nathaniel took the letter from her hands and began reading it
out for the others.
I know that your work keeps you occupied, but this is family.
You keep insisting that you don't have the time, but I just don't see
you putting any effort into trying. Your Aunt Sheila and Uncle Ira
found time in their busy schedule to come, why can't you? And don't
you think it's time for a visit? We're your family and we're lucky
if we hear from you more than three times a year. I understand that
you have obligations, but so do we all. It's just for one day. Can't
you come and grace us with your presence for one day? Is that too
much to ask for?
"Wow," Cherry nodded. "That was harsh."
"I know!" Anita agreed, jumping to her feet. She snatched the
letter out of Nathaniel's hands and proceeded to wave it
around. "It's like I'm the one who's uncaring and unresponsive, but
that's not true! I love my family, I do. But I'm busy! God, I raise
zombies, settle monster disputes, and spend
my time trying to sort out the problems of my psychotic vampire
boyfriend. Not to mention all the crap I do for the cops. And they
refuse to understand that!"
"Why don't you just go?" Micah spoke up. "One day, fly in for
a few hours and then leave."
"Because it doesn't work that way," Anita informed him. "I
get there and all everyone will do is try and psychoanalyze me. Tell
me that my
relationship with Jean-Claude is nothing more than my continuing
obsession with death. I've been preoccupied by it since my mother
died. And don't you know dating a monster is just my way of lashing
out at the members of my family? I do all this just to smear their
good reputation and go against their moral fibre."
"That bad?" Zane grinned at her.
"You have no idea," Anita sighed, plopping down in her
seat. "My Aunt Sheila is a psychologist and my Uncle Ira is a strict
Jewish man. You
should see the kind of crap they put my cousin through. And she's
daughter! I won't be safe at all from their psychobabble and attempts
redeem my soul."
"Aren't you Catholic?" Cherry asked, confused.
"Dad's Catholic, Mom was Jewish," Anita explained. "The
family wasn't too keen on her marrying out of the religion and even
less happy when I decided to follow the Catholic faith. Which is
another thing; they'll spend all their time trying to convert me.
It's going to be pure hell."
Micah rubbed her shoulders comfortingly.
"We can go with you," he offered. "Give you moral support."
"Yeah, that'll work," Anita scoffed. "They'd rip you into
pieces the second you stepped off the plane. And I am not in the mood
to explain the dynamics of our three-person relationship. God, there
is no way in hell I'm even going near that topic. Stupid reunion,
it's a waste of time."
"So, you're not going?" Nathaniel prompted. Anita gave him a
"Of course I'm going," she replied, rolling her
eyes. "Haven't you been paying attention? Excuse me, I have to go
Anita stomped out of the kitchen. Nathaniel turned confused
eyes to his friends.
"That entire tirade was about her consenting to go?"
"She's strange," he offered. "And I guess to Anita, all that
meant she was going to go anyway. She just had to lay out all the
dynamics for us first."
"Woman's got to get her griping in," Zane nodded in
agreement. Cherry poked him in the side.
"That woman also has a gun fully loaded with silver bullets,"
she reminded him. "You can make fun of her after she's left. It'll be
Micah nodded and then frowned.
"When is this thing anyway?"
"This Saturday," Willow griped. "I don't want to go!"
Dawn gave her friend an appraising look.
"It's not the end of the world," she scoffed at her. Then the
and turned back to Willow. "It's not the end of the world, is it?"
"No," Willow rolled her eyes. "But quite possibly the end of
"Don't need much of that nowadays," he stated sourly. "After
all, we live in a world that has created laws against the slaying of
dangerous and homicidal demons."
"At least they can't vote," Dawn chipped in helpfully.
"It's bullshit," Xander continued. "How the hell can they
You need a good reason to kill a vampire, or it's murder. What the
fuck is that about?"
"I'm with Xander," Buffy nodded. "What's the point of it? We
can't get rid of the problem until a few innocent people have died?"
"Let's not get back on this debate," Willow pleaded. "I have
enough of a headache."
"Oh just go," Anya told her. "Go and tell them all about your
relationship with Tara. And while they're sputtering and stunned, you
make your leave. In and out within hours."
"Anya's right," Dawn nodded. "Just suck it up and spend time
with your family."
"It won't be that bad," Xander offered. "Maybe that cousin
Anita of yours will show up. And that way, everyone will be too busy
yelling at her to even bother you. You'll be just fine."
"There's always hope," Willow grumbled. She turned on her
heel and headed up the steps. "I'm packing!" she yelled down to her
Dawn listened until she was sure Willow was out of earshot.
"She is so in for it," she sighed. The others nodded.
"She doesn't stand a chance."
Willow leapt through the jungle of aunts and uncles,
squealing cousins, and what looked like her mother, bursting through
the patio doors. The redhead cast a frantic look around her. They
were closing in and she had nowhere to go.
"PSST!" came a call from somewhere off to the
right. "Willow, get over here!"
The redhead spun in a circle, eyes searching the area around
"Over here!" came the whisper again. Willow caught a glimpse
of a beckoning hand. Now, growing up in Sunnydale taught Willow that
you don't just go off on your own. But daring a glance behind her,
Willow saw her mother and her aunt Claire join and head in her
Willow raced over to the beckoning hand. Screw danger.
She'd run headfirst into hell before colliding with that tag team
from hell. Arriving in front of her Uncle Morty's speedboat and
didn't see anyone. Who the hell had been calling her?
A hand clamped down on her shoulder and Willow felt herself
being pulled up. The redhead gave a yelp, grabbing onto the boat's
railing. Propelling herself up and over, Willow rolled away from her
captor, hands immediately going for a weapon.
"Hey, just me!" a familiar voice hissed at her. Willow
raised wide eyes to her captor. She took in the long curly dark
hair, the small frame, and dark eyes. Her cousin Anita noticed her
stare and gave her a quick wink.
"Couldn't stay in there any longer," she grinned. Willow
breathed a sigh of relief and gave a little giggle.
"I know what you mean," the redhead rolled her eyes. "If I
hear one more criticizing remark about my relationship with Tara, I'm
going to spontaneously combust."
"Tara?" Anita frowned, brows knitting together. "You're
gay? When did this happen? And how come no one told me?"
"I'm actually bisexual," Willow amended. "And it happened
like two years ago and no one is okay with it. I don't know why you
haven't heard about it. I mean, I thought I was all the big disgrace
Anita rolled her eyes.
"I guess you haven't heard of my recent exploits," the
brunette laughed. "I think when it comes to this family, I hold the
title of black sheep."
Willow shook her head.
"I think the sexuality thing really ruffles their feathers,"
she disagreed. "I think I'm the rotting fruit of the womb. And if
the thing with Tara doesn`t do it, all the other crap I`ve pulled
Anita arched an eyebrow.
"Well, I smuggled out a bottle of scotch," Anita waved the
bottle at Willow. "How's about we chug and compare stories? By the
end of the day, we should know who embarrasses the family more."
Willow smirked and took the bottle from her cousin.
"And then I said, `Prince of Night, I summon you! Come fill
me with your black, naughty evil!'" Willow giggled, bringing the
bottle back up to her lips.
"You did not!"
Willow nodded her head. "Yeah I did."
Anita burst out into laughter, nearly toppling over. The
brunette was red in the face and extremely drunk. Willow really
couldn't be that judgemental. She was as drunk as Anita. They had
spent the last couple of hours hiding in their uncle's boat, trading
stories and taking swigs. It was a lot better than being in the
house with their hostile relatives.
"So, your turn," Willow nudged Anita with her toe. The
brunette straightened and swallowed her laughter. Anita pursed her
lips and tried to think of a story she could share with her cousin.
"Okay, remember my friend Edward?" Willow nodded. "Yeah,
well he needed help with this case. People were being killed and
then skinned alive-"
"Ew!" Willow interrupted.
"Tell me about it," Anita sighed. "And anyway, it turned out
to be this vampire who thought he was this god or something. And
then I had to kill him, because he wanted to mate with me or
Willow wrinkled her nose.
"Okay, your stories are of more of the yuck factor," Willow
consented. "But I think that I've broken more of their precious
rules than you have. They just don't like the stuff you do. They
actually find my actions to be immoral and wrong."
Anita laughed and leaned back.
"You haven't heard all of my stories," she chuckled. "Trust
me. They're all that bad."
Willow shook her head.
"How did we get so out of touch?" Willow asked her cousin.
Anita shrugged her shoulders.
"I don't know," she admitted. "I honestly don't like it."
"We should hang out," Willow ascertained. "We should like
spend time together or something."
A light bulb went off in Anita's head. Had she been more
sober, she would have never said anything. But one true thing about
alcohol, it really does dull your inhibitions.
"Come visit me in St. Louis," she offered. Willow's head
shot up. Anita swore she saw tears sparkling in her eyes. Damn,
didn't anyone take an interest in Willow anymore? When was the last
time any of the family invited her for a visit. When was the last
time anyone paid attention to her?
"Really?" Willow asked.
Anita nodded. "Absolutely. That is if you want to.'
Willow broke out into a large smile.
"I definitely want to. When do we leave?"
"St. Louis, huh?" Xander raised a brow at Willow. The
redhead nodded, while throwing more clothes into her suitcase.
"That's where Anita lives," Willow agreed. "And that's where
we'll be going."
"Is that safe?" Xander pressed. "I mean, your cousin raises
the dead for a living. And she's always involved in some big murder
fiasco down there."
"Unlike here, with Buffy," Willow arched a brow. "Where she
slays the dead and gets into life threatening situations?"
"Actually, my situations are always more apocalyptic than
life threatening," Buffy added, walking into the room with Dawn in
tow. "I know it means basically the same thing, but adding
apocalyptic makes me feel all big and important."
"Good to know," Willow mumbled, distracted. She pulled a
fuzzy pink sweater out of her closet and frowned at it. She tossed
it onto a pile of discarded clothing.
"Going for a theme or something?" Dawn asked, motioning to
the clothes pile.
Willow put her hands on her hips.
"I don't want to bring anything fuzzy," she declared
firmly. "So I'm sticking to the newer wardrobe. I don't want Anita
and her friends to think I'm some sort of a child."
"So the fuzzies are out?" Buffy asked, peering at the clothes
Willow had put in her suitcase. Xander looked as well and it didn't
sit well with him. All he could see was tight pants, crop tops and
tight shirts, a few peasant blouses, and a few skirts.
"I think you should take the fuzzies," he suggested, starting
to pull some of the more revealing clothing out. "I mean, it's St.
Louis, it could be cold and stuff there."
Willow snatched the clothes back and gave him a look.
"It's the middle of summer," she told him, putting her
clothes back into the suitcase. "I won't need fuzzy sweaters. And
I'm taking these with me. And you are not my father, so don't try to
censor my wardrobe."
"I could phone your dad," Xander suggested. "Then he could
censor it from the phone."
"Nice try, but even I don't know where my parents are this
week," Willow grinned at him. "Just going to have to deal."
"I don't wanna," Xander pouted. "How many guys did she say
live with her?"
"You might also want to ask how many girls?" Anya piped up,
shimmering into the room. Willow gave her a slight smile.
"I'm more concerned about how the guys will act around
Willow, not how Willow will act around them," Xander informed her
stuffily. "And with clothes like these, they might get the wrong
impression. Let's get some of those good old floral skirts and fuzzy
sweaters in here."
Willow slapped his hand away from her luggage.
"You are being banned from the packing party," she told him,
ushering him out the door.
Buffy grabbed him by the collar and propelled him out of the
door. Willow shot her a grateful smile and went back to her
packing. Dawn and Anya stood in front of her closet, pulling out
clothes and discarded some others.
"So, what did you say your cousins name is?" Anya asked,
pulling a sheer tank top out of the closet and throwing it into her
"Anita Blake," Willow answered, pulling the same tank top out
and giving it an arched brow. She wasn't so sure she wanted to be
Anya frowned and placed a hand on her chin.
"Why does that sound so familiar?" the demoness mused.
"She's a necromancer," Willow supplied. "And she does some
work for the cops. She's like a major expert on the supernatural or
"Maybe," Anya shrugged. "Whatever, it'll come to me or it
won't. No big deal."
"So, does she really raise the dead?" Dawn asked, throwing
one of Willow's rare mini-skirts into the luggage.
"Yup, but I think she's taking a few days off while I'm
there," Willow shrugged. "But then again, it's not like I haven't
seen a zombie or two in my life."
"I don't think she knows that," Anya laughed. "And I think
you should probably keep it to yourself. Those people might think
you're weird or something."
Willow nodded emphatically.
"Absolutely," Willow agreed. "All the magic stuff is left at
home. For one month, I'm going to be the most normal person in the
"We have to be normal for one month," Anita instructed her
friends. "Just one month, and then we go back to normal. Well,
normal for us, not normal for others, because our normal is not
"Anita, you're babbling," Micah was looking at her with
concern in his eyes. "You don't babble. Calm down."
Anita drew a shaky breath.
"I can't believe I invited her here," she moaned, flopping
onto her couch. "Damn, I was so drunk. How the hell am I supposed
to keep her safe and ignorant for one month?"
"What possessed you to ask her in the first place?" Gregory
"I don't know," Anita shrugged. "We were hiding and getting
plastered and it just came out. And she looked so happy, I couldn't
take it back. My God, everyone just ignores that poor girl. And I
do love her. She is the best cousin in the whole world. She's
probably the best person all around in the whole world."
"She's sounds really nice," Zane offered with a grin. "Are
you sure she's related to you?"
"I wonder sometimes," Anita mused, ignoring the teasing
behind the comment. "She's always been so different. I mean, she
lets things be. And she can let things go. I've never been able to
"When does she get here?" Nathaniel asked.
"Day after tomorrow," Anita sighed. "And we have to act
normal. That means no monster wars, no three way vampire action, no
sleeping in the same bed, everyone must be dressed fully at all
times, and no one will try to seduce or I will shoot you where you
"Got it," Cherry nodded. "Cute little redhead is off
limits. But one question: what are you going to do about Jean-
"Well, if he knows what's good for him, he'll behave and stay
away as much as possible."
"And if he doesn't?"
Anita shrugged and pulled out her precious Browning.
"Then I'll shoot his dick off."
Willow felt a bit apprehensive stepping off the plane. True,
she was looking forward to this and she did want to spend time with
Anita, but there was something else. Willow wasn't entirely sure how
she was going to keep all her secrets secret for a month. Imagine,
one month without magic. Not that Willow needed magic, but it had
become apart of her life. What if she accidentally did something
without really knowing? God, what a mess that would be.
Her eyes darted around the arrival area. She didn't see
Anita anywhere. Probably because the woman was so tiny and such, but
also because she wasn't there. Willow felt a tiny bit nervous. She
did tell Anita the right time, right?
Hands on her hips, Willow looked around the airport. No one
that even remotely looked like Anita. The redhead didn't know if she
should be annoyed or worried. She was leaning towards worried, she
knew what Anita did for a living. What if one of the zombies went
nuts and ate her?
"Calm down spaz girl," she chided herself. "Anita was not
eaten by a zombie. She's probably just late."
Gathering a resemblance of calm, Willow headed for the
baggage carousel. She could get her bags while she waited. And if
Anita still didn't show, the redhead felt she would be capable enough
to flag down a taxi. After all, she was an adult. She could look
"Her flight already landed," Micah informed
Nathaniel. "She's got to be around here somewhere."
"Well, let's find her fast," Nathaniel muttered. "I wouldn't
want to be the person to lose Anita's precious cousin."
"We didn't lose her," Micah objected. "We just can't find
her at this exact moment."
"You should have let me drive," Nathaniel countered. "I
would have gotten us here in time."
"And most likely taken out an entire city block while you
were at it," Micah muttered under his breath.
Nathaniel chose to ignore that remark. Micah did out rank
him as Nimir-Raj. He would in no way point out that the leopard
drove like an old granny. He swept his eyes over the airport crowd.
How hard could it be to find one redhead?
"There," Micah announced, pointing to the baggage area. "I
Nathaniel followed the direction of his finger. Sure enough,
there was a little redhead waiting to get her luggage. But that
couldn't be the girl Anita was talking about. Anita said her cousin
was a computer nerd. This girl did not even come close to fitting
that description. He did however find a whole lot of words to
describe her. The number one being beautiful followed by sexy at
"Are you sure?" he asked Micah. The dark-haired man nodded.
"Anita showed me a picture," he answered. "She looks a
little different, but that's her. She smells like Anita."
Nathaniel shot him a strange look before sampling the air as
well. Micah was right, the girl smelled similar to Anita. Must be
her. Micah clapped him on the shoulder and nodded in the direction
of the redhead.
"Let's go get her."
Willow was very focused on picking out her luggage. That's
why she didn't realize there were people behind her until one of them
The redhead whirled around at the sound of her name. She
took in the two very handsome men behind her and gave a little blush.
The one with dark hair smiled disarmingly at her.
"I'm Micah," he introduced himself, offering her his
hand. "This is Nathaniel. Anita had an emergency and sent us to
pick you up."
"Oh, well that's good," she laughed, accepting his hand. "I
thought I gave her the wrong time or something."
"Nah," the auburn haired one, Nathaniel waved off. "Sorry
about being late though. Micah here is an overly cautious driver."
"Better than a reckless one hair boy," Micah shot back
easily. Willow bit back a giggle at that. Hair boy really did seem
to suit Nathaniel. His hair was long, way long. He had it braided
down his back. It was almost down to his ankles. She liked it.
Nathaniel noticed her attention and gave her a sexy smile.
Willow blushed and began to sputter.
"It's very nice," she stammered. "Not really used to it on
guys. Or girls for that matter, because it would be a pain to look
after. But you look like you manage it and then all is cool."
Micah tilted his head and looked curiously at her.
"I think I found where Anita picked up that new babbling
habit of hers," he teased lightly. Willow blushed deeper and turned
around to face the baggage carousel.
"I just need to get my bags," she explained, not wanting to
face them until her face went back to normal.
"We got it," Nathaniel waved off, coming to stand beside
her. Willow shot him a look.
"Are you sure?" she pressed. "There's a lot and they're
"So naturally we should let you handle it," Micah laughed,
coming to her other side. Willow ducked her head and blushed some
more. If they didn't stop doing stuff like that, she was going to
"So," she changed the subject. "What emergency did Anita
have to run off to?"
Nathaniel shrugged, leaning over to pick up one of her bags.
Willow frowned a bit at that. She didn't even tell him which one was
hers. How did he know?
"Something to do with the police," the man answered,
oblivious to her questioning look. "Dolph asked her for some help
"Is it serious?" she asked, eyes wide.
"Nah," Micah assured her, picking up another of her
bags. "Just some background on some supernatural thingy."
Willow nodded, confused. How did they know which bags were
hers? Could they read the tags from this far away? Damn good
eyesight if they could.
"That's the last of them," she told them as Nathaniel hauled
off another suitcase.
"Three bags?" Micah shot her a strange look. "That's not a
"It is for me," Willow shrugged. "Besides, I figured I'd be
returning with a lot more crap anyway."
"Good philosophy," Micah nodded. "Let's go."
Willow nodded and turned to follow him. Nathaniel flashed
her another smile. Something flickered across his eyes at that
point. For a second she thought he looked so predatory . . . Then it
Shaking her head, Willow followed the two men out of the