Anya grumbled as she closed down the Magic Box for the evening. Even counting through the till couldn't bring her a sense of satisfaction. The amount in the register was, if anything, lower than average, an average that Anya knew to the last penny ($862.46 for a Friday in the summer), despite the unusual bustle out on the street. It was so unfair!
The county fair had brought a large influx of potential customers to town, but they all seemed selfishly focused on making the most of the free exhibits and sights at the fair itself. None of them seemed to be shopping through Sunnydale's eclectic mix of stores. No, they sped down the smooth streets, paved by taxpayer dollars, anxious to park their trailers in the free fair lots. Did they return down the wide sidewalks, conscientiously swept daily by hopeful shopkeepers, to browse the wares of those shops? No, they didn't. They looked their fill at pigs and cows and horses and – God help us all! – bunnies, and then shirked their patriotic duty of contributing to the local economy. It was enough to drive a hard-working former demon to vengeance.
She pulled the drawer from the register with unnecessary force, and sniffed hard. She was better than this. She would close for the evening, meet Xander at home, and extract at least two orgasms from him before dinner. That should be enough to make the evening patrol with the Scoobies and the Buffy-bot bearable, even if Xander said she still couldn't tell anyone about their engagement.
She sniffed again. Damn dust from those damn animals. It was making her eyes water. It was–
She froze as she heard a scratching noise in the back room. If one of those D'Hoffryn forsaken animals had gotten in here... Or worse, a thief! Or a thieving animal! Quietly, she grabbed a broom.
"Come on out of there! I've got a weapon, and I'm not afraid to use it!"
"Don't hurt me, human!" came a thin, weaselly voice. "I'm just looking for a word. Ooooh!" There was a sound as if something very small had licked its lips. "And maybe an eye of newt or two."
"You stay away from those newts' eyes! Giles overpaid ridiculously for them. I told him salamander eyes were cheaper and just as effective, but does he listen to me? No! He – " She broke off abruptly "A word?" She peered into the room, then snapped on the light. There was a scuttling noise, as if something small had hidden behind a shelf. "What for? What are you?"
"A word for a friend. I'm..." the voice hesitated, "I'm an animal. A helpless, furry animal. No threat to you, on my honor."
"On your honor as a what?" she demanded suspiciously. "Some sneaky, conniving, slinking – "
"No, not sneaky!" he lied, knowing how human hated his kind. "Not a bit! Just a lovely, friendly, not-at-all-ratlike, not-at-all-slinking, hungry..." He grasped for words as for a potato peeling in Wilbur's slops. What kinds of things did humans find appealing in animals? "Furry, hopping! That's it, hopping–"
"Hopping? Like a bunny?" Her voice rose. "Some good-for-nothing bunny?" Well that was just the crowning injury on the top of a very disappointing commercial week. Anya gripped her broom like a lance, prepared to defend her shop's sacred honor (and inventory) with her life, if necessary, against the depredations of the hidden bunny.
"No! I'm a rat! A rat!" Templeton attempted to show her by crawling out from under the moon-gathered rue ($2.98 an ounce – a real bargain), but the human was too agitated to believe the evidence of her eyes. She jabbed the broom at him, barely missing his beady eyes.
"Out! Out! I'll have none of your rabbit-y filth here!" she shrieked, flailing with the bristles. "You keep away from those herbs, you thieving bunny!"
Templeton clutched the paper scraps he'd collected earlier – "Crunchy" mocked him from the top of the stack – turned tail and fled through the rat hole where he'd entered. So much for finding more interesting words in the magic store. Charlotte would have to choose from the words he'd gathered already.