Title: Square Roots
Author: hold-that-thought
Summary: As it turns out, there are better things to think about during class.
Pairing: Anya & Oz
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Through Buffy 3x16 - Doppelgängland
Feedback: Greatly appreciated (APostModernSleaz at aol.com)
Archive: More than likely okay, but please ask first.
Disclaimer: The characters used within are the property of Mutant Enemy, Twentieth Century Fox, and of course Joss Whedon. It's their sandbox, I'm just playing in it.
Notes: Written for Voleuse for the Old Skool Ficathon. (Completed 6/02/04)

The square root of 729 is 27. Once, in Budapest, Anyanka cooked twenty-seven men from the inside out. All had visited the same brothel, and all had treated the women in it as little more than attractive livestock. They'd paid in blood - their own, specifically, gushing out of their noses and mouths like a slightly distasteful but amusing fountain. It had been her greatest moment. Greatest moment in Budapest, at any rate.

That was then….

"Miss Jenkins? We're waiting."

"Twenty-seven," Anya said, rolling her eyes.

This is now.

"Very good. Now, who can tell me the easiest way to find the square root of a four-digit number?" The teacher, a haggard old crone with a stupid name like Mrs. Buttersworth or Butterbacher or something, turned to the blackboard and began scratching out equations.

Anya sighed and resumed doodling in her notebook. This was pointless. Why, of all the guises she'd inhabited, did she have to become trapped in that of an American teenager? Why not the Russian countess, or the French ballerina, or even the Hollywood starlet in 1935?

In the very least, Anya wished she had conjured up a persona who was better in math.

"That's an…interesting drawing you have there," came a voice from her right. Anya slowly turned to face the skinny, ginger-haired boy who was slouched down in his seat, bordering on sprawling but without the attitude. He nodded at her notebook. "New Marilyn Manson logo?"

"Disemboweled vengeance demon," Anya said, leaving off the D'Hoffryn part.

"That was gonna be my next guess."

He was familiar, and she finally knew why. "You're that guy, the one in the band -- Willow's boyfriend."

His eyelids dipped slightly in acknowledgement. "I usually go by Oz now."

"Are you any good at math?"

"I get by," Oz shrugged.

"Well, you should help me. Since it's your girlfriend's fault I'm stuck as a human," Anya announced. The ugly girl with frizzy hair who sat in front of them turned around and stared. "What are you looking at?" The girl quickly looked away.

"Word of advice?" Oz said. "'Stuck as human' tends to unnerve the locals."

"That's stupid." Anya made a few jagged lines across the paper, trying to make one of those 3-D boxes she'd seen the kids in her English class drawing. "I mean, you're not human, either! I overheard Xander talking to you about it. How can you stand knowing how weak being human makes you?"

"It's not like that," Oz said quietly. He reached over and took the pencil from her hands, then drew a grid of four lines on her paper. In the middle box, he placed an O. "I started out as human." He handed the pencil back to her.

Anya drew an X in the top right square. "So did I. I got over it."

"The wolf is only a part of who I am." O in top left. "And it would be hard finding clothes if it was more than the three times a month."

X in lower right. "So what do you do?"

O in middle right. Oz flicked his eyes towards the teacher, then back to her. "Compromise."

"That's weakness."

"That's human."

"That's stupid."

"That's human, too," he said, mouth quirking up slightly at the corners. He jerked his chin towards her notebook. "Looks like a draw."

Anya looked down. There were no moves left. Each space was occupied by an X or an O, all blocking and intersecting each other. "Why do people play games no one wins?"

"Beats paying attention in class."

"Mr. Osbourne?" The teacher was suddenly standing in front of them, glaring down at Oz with lips pursed into two withered prunes.

"Eighty-four," he said without hesitating.

"Hm." The old hag nodded and started back towards the front of the classroom. "Knowing the material doesn't excuse you from paying attention in class, Daniel."

In 1384, she'd performed an act of vengeance for a woman who looked and sounded much like Mrs. Butterball. For the first time ever, Anya questioned whether that vengeance was justified -- had she been married to a woman like that, she might have taken up with another man, too.

Of course, the residents of that tiny European village were probably still picking exploded eyeballs out of the local shrubbery, which made the vengeance not only worthwhile, but also quite funny.

Thinking about her glory days just made Anya more depressed over her current humiliating state. She sighed and threw down her pencil, slouching down in her seat and petulantly screwing her face into a pout. If she was going to be stuck in the guise of a child, she might as well go for the gusto.

"Hey." Oz leaned over towards her. "I can help you, if you want. I have a free period at noon."

"That's not why I'm...." Anya looked at him. Well, okay, he might be a man, but in the whole Willow and Xander situation, Oz was technically the scorned woman, right? And he seemed...slightly less annoying than most of the other boorish alpha males who ran through Sunnydale High. "Okay," she said, giving him a slight smile. "But only because, you know, Willow's fault, I'm human, blah blah blah."

"Understood," Oz nodded. He drew another grid and handed her the pencil. "X goes first this time."

Anya drew an X in the center box and said, "Beats paying attention in class."