TITLE: Dark Room (6/?)

AUTHOR: Wicked Raygun

E-MAIL: wicked_raygun@yahoo.com

SUMMARY: Where does a person draw the line between love and obsession?

RATING: R. Just to be safe anyway. Nothing *really* bad is going to happen. Trust me.

SPOILERS: General spoilers for seasons 1 through 6. Any spoilers from season 7 simply happen because they fit with the story I want to tell.

DISCLAIMOR: I refuse to believe this is necessary. Does anyone here actually believe I own this stuff in any way? Well. To the folks who do own a piece of the Buffster and/or her friends and enemies, I mean you no harm. I'm simply borrowing your toys to put on a little puppet show. I promise to bring them all back in near-mint condition. Even Spike.

FEEDBACK: Everyone needs a little love. It makes the world go round and writers post faster.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: If you're expecting fluffy bunnies and cute endings run away in fear right now. I'm writing a mature story, where adult themes such as violence, rage, obsession, stalking and, yes. gasp, even sex are mentioned. If you cannot deal with that, please, go somewhere else. Or better yet, just grow up.

Special thanks must be given to my online friend Lori Bush, who is an amazing writer who for some reason that I cannot begin to comprehend seems to actually want to read my work and help me improve it. Here's hoping her sanity doesn't kick in anytime soon. For those of you who are interested in reading one or ten of her fabulous stories, they can be found here:

Please leave many, many reviews so that she may be inspired to write many more stories.

Also, for those who are interested in some of my other work, including Hero Complex, and Nonsense, it can be found here:

And here:

That's my brand spanking new website, created by the wonderful and talented Joanne W. and was the coolest Christmas gift ever! Please, go to her site, read her fine work and leave many reviews for her as well.

Now, onto the show.
************ Chapter Six ************
Morgan ran, laughing wildly all the while.

She just couldn't believe what she had done. She had actually committed an act of vandalism and couldn't remember feeling better in her life. It was exhilarating. Before this, she felt guilty about jaywalking.

But now.

Morgan whooped loudly and broke out in another laugh that she could feel as a throbbing pain in her abdomen.

To hell with keeping a low profile, she thought. Actually getting involved felt so much better than watching.
Buffy was becoming more and more frustrated by the minute, and nearly all who knew the Slayer were very well aware of the dangers of such a thing. The fact of the matter was that she was a very intimidating woman under normal circumstances, but when she became annoyed, she started losing restraint, and restraint was the kind of thing that would keep her from murdering those around her in a dazzling spectacle of violence.

Anya, however, either wasn't aware of this or simply didn't care, and Buffy suspected the latter, which only served to frustrate her further.

"Have you found anything yet?" Anya questioned in a very annoyed tone.

Buffy bristled and resisted the urge to snap Anya's neck like a twig. "No, Anya, not yet," she answered in a restrained voice.

Obviously, she hadn't found anything. Anya had been standing right there behind her the entire time inspecting the same areas Buffy had and was well aware that she hadn't found anything. That didn't stop Anya from asking every thirty seconds or so.

Anya had called her that morning, sounding frantic over the phone, exclaiming that the shop had been vandalized. Buffy would have suggested that Anya call the police, but knew that there were many things inside the Magic Box that a police officer would easily find suspicious, and no good could possibly come from that. For example, about a year ago, Buffy got in trouble with a social worker who during a surprise inspection of her care of Dawn spotted some herbs in a small, plastic, see-through bag. The situation wasn't helped at all when Buffy tried to explain that the bag only contained "magic weed." So, aware of the consequences of police involvement, Buffy agreed to come over and investigate for Anya in lieu of having Sunnydale's finest bumbling about the shop.

Upon arriving, Buffy took one look at the gaping hole that had once been a plane of glass in the shop's front window, saw the rock inside the shop surrounded by shards of glass and figured that any further deductive reasoning was pretty much pointless; Anya, however, felt differently.

That was over an hour ago, and now Buffy desperately wanted to stop searching. In fact she had wanted to avoid searching altogether since she came in and saw the damage, but Anya was worried about demonic involvement and thought that they should make sure there were no surprises. Unfortunately, Buffy had to admit at the time that she had a valid point, thus the fruitless searching. But now this was getting beyond pointless.

Buffy rose from her crouched-over position and turned to Anya. "That's it. I'm not looking anymore."

"What?" Anya said, sounding shocked. "You can't just give up. We have to find out who did this. So be a slayer already and examine the evidence!"

"Evidence? Our evidence is a rock. What do you want me to do? Dust it for fingerprints?"

"Oh, can you?" Anya said excitedly.

"No," Buffy replied slowly.

Anya made an impatient sounding clicking noise with her mouth and stomped her foot on the floor. "Come on! The forces of evil are using me to get to you in another intricately planned, yet doomed to fail, plot to kill you. You have to help me!"

"A rock?!? A rock thrown at a window isn't intricately planned, it's schoolyard evil."

"Well, something still busted up my store, and I want it dead," Anya said, upset.

"Anya, there's nothing here to even remotely suggest that a demon did this."

"Did I specify that it had to be a demon in order for it to die?" Anya asked, annoyed.

Buffy's face twisted into a scowl as she briefly pondered throwing Anya through the unbroken window. It would've been wonderfully therapeutic.

Anya began to pace around the store, oblivious to, or uncaring of, Buffy's rising anger and homicidal daydreams. After a moment of thinking, she turned to Buffy and said, "I bet you that this was the work of the mafia. They're always damaging the property of uncooperative businesses."



"Have been visited lately by guys in derbies and pin-striped suits demanding protection money?"

Anya thought about it for a second, then said, "Well, no."

"Then it probably wasn't the mafia."

Anya went back to thinking and almost immediately said, "Maybe Willow went evil again?"

"And her bitter wrath was a rock?" Buffy asked incredulously.

Anya ignored her. "I always thought she came back from evilness way too easily. One pep talk from Xander and all of the sudden she doesn't want to destroy the world? I don't think so. She evoked some seriously dark magicks, and if she expects it all to just flitter away because she had a heart-to-heart with an old crush, well, she thought wrong. "

Buffy rolled her eyes and resisted the temptation to bludgeon the ex-demon with a nearby chair because she knew that Anya would exhaust her wild theories soon enough, and the sooner that happened, the sooner she could leave. Although, that didn't stop her from being offended on her friend's behalf. Personally, she was very proud of Xander's achievement.

"Plus," Anya continued, "she's always had it in for me. Can't let anyone take her precious Xander away, can we?" she finished bitterly. Anya sighed, "Not that it matters anymore."

Buffy noticed the change in her tone of voice and was about to ask about it when Anya continued talking.

"Maybe it was demon bunnies?"

Buffy shook her head in disbelief. "What is it with you and bunnies anyway? They're cute."

Anya stared at her as if she was insane. "Are you kidding? They're evil, and tiny and. unsanitary," she hissed in disgust.

When Buffy saw how disturbed Anya was, she didn't press the issue. "Anya, listen, I don't think the rock was an omen of some new demon threat. More than likely, it was probably just some kid who wanted to cause a little mayhem. So. I'm just gonna go."

"Fine, leave," Anya squeaked emotionally. "I have a hangover, I can't find any of the new business cards I had made, Xander hates me and doesn't want anything to do with me, and now my store is under threat from evil, dark forces and you don't believe me." Anya looked on the verge of crying.

Buffy moved to put a comforting hand on her shoulder, but Anya moved away, apparently uncomfortable with any human contact. Although slightly hurt by Anya's rejection, Buffy tried to console her a little anyway. "Anya?" she asked tentatively. "What's going on? What do you mean 'Xander doesn't want anything to do with you?' I thought you guys called a truce."

"It's not a truce anymore. It's more of a ceasefire," Anya began sadly. "He. Never mind. I don't want to talk about this with you. Even I'm aware of that irony."

"Irony?" Buffy asked, not quite understanding Anya's use of the word.

Anya sighed in a way that conveyed both her annoyance and exhaustion. "Xander doesn't want. us anymore."

"What do you mean?"

"It's over. For good. There's not even a 'maybe' anymore," she said, while somehow maintaining her composure enough not to cry.

"I'm sorry," Buffy said sympathetically.

"No, you're not."

"No, really, Anya, I am. You two were so happy, and then. What he did to you was wrong, and you didn't deserve that." Then Buffy frowned. "Although, I will say that you shouldn't have tried wishing him out of existence for it. Or the other stuff," Buffy finished with a wince, recalling what she and Xander had seen Anya doing with Spike.

Anya pointed a finger at Buffy and looked at her with her mouth wide open in incredulous outrage. "I don't believe this. Even when you're trying to make me feel better, you're taking his side!"

Buffy stammered for a reply, "W-well, i-it's not really about sides-"

"Forget it," Anya interrupted. "Just go, already." Buffy looked about to protest, but Anya said in softer voice. "Please. I just want to be alone right now."

Buffy nodded, understanding the need to deal with some things on one's own. She made her way to the door, but turned back to look at Anya again who was holding herself and looking at the floor forlornly.

"I'll make sure to kill that demon for you," Buffy offered with forced enthusiasm. Anya nodded indifferently. Buffy grimaced in commiseration one final time before leaving.

Anya looked to where Buffy had been standing earlier and sneered. "Those two deserve to never have one another," she said to no one bitterly.
"Hey, Harris!"

Xander paused right before biting into a sandwich and then turned toward the sound of his name being called to see one of his coworkers motioning him over with a clipboard. He mentally lamented having to wait to start his lunch as he spoke to the man.

"Something I can do for you?"

"You got a girl waiting outside the worksite for you."

Xander thanked him and then made his way down to the front entrance of the site. He paused a little when he saw Morgan sitting on a bench, wringing her hands and smiling bashfully. She stood up the moment she laid eyes on him.

"Morgan? Uh, hey. I didn't expect to see you here."

She smiled a little and said, "I was wondering if you'd like to hang out."

Xander smiled nervously at her and then said, "Well, I'm kind of busy right now. Um, but maybe a rain check?"

Morgan's earlier smile faltered as she looked away from Xander's face. A moment passed and Xander was about to say something, when Morgan looked up, a determined look on her face.

"Sure. How about later tonight?"

"I, uh, can't tonight." No, he thought, that sounded suspiciously like a date. and there was too much weirdness in his life for that right now. "Maybe lunch tomorrow?"

"Okay!" she squeaked excitedly. "I'll see you here tomorrow."

"Great. I'll see you then."

They said their goodbyes, and went their separate ways. When he was far enough away and wondering just what he was going to do, an odd thought crossed his mind and he frowned.

"How did Morgan know I worked here?"