Rating: PG
Characters: Whole Cast
Spoilers: Older and Far Away
Disclaimer: I don’t own any BTVS or any of the characters. If I did, some would be a bit less obnoxious, or better yet, not exist at all. You all know who I’m talking about by now. I’m not making any money from this, either.
Summary: Character’s thoughts after Older and Far Away

Sadder, Wiser, and Far Apart
By Matt


This is so not my fault. I can’t believe they’re blaming me for it. And it was so automatic, too: "Oops, something’s wrong, it must have something to do with Dawn." And okay, so it did have something to do with me. But I didn’t do anything wrong. All I did was make a wish, and since when do my wishes come true?

In fact, if they’d just think about it, it’s their fault that Halfrek came at all. First Dad leaves me, then Mom leaves me, then Buffy leaves me, then Giles leaves me, then Tara leaves me—everyone is always leaving me! Buffy’s back, but she’d leave again if she could—she keeps trying to, doesn’t she? And even though she can’t get away, she sure doesn’t want to be around me very much. None of the others do, either. Of course not. I’m just a child, aren’t I?

I was in pain, and only a demon noticed. They deserved what happened to them. They deserved to be trapped with me. It’s their own fault and they can’t blame me for it!


But they’re not.

That’s not what they’re blaming me for.

Buffy’s trying to figure out a way to make this right without getting me taken away. Dropping grades and a messy house are bad, but if I get caught shoplifting, I get sent to live with Dad. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Then I’ll really be alone.

She’s trying so hard, you’d almost think she cared. But if she’d been paying attention before…

What? She still wouldn’t have believed it. Even with all of the evidence shoved into her face, she still didn’t believe it. If I’d said it was a mistake, she would have stood up for me against all of her friends. She trusts—trusted—me that much. Even after the sneaking-out episode.

And Anya--! Did she have to make it so personal? The Magic Box just has a lot of neat stuff, that’s all. And it’s not like I took anything big.

I think I hurt her feelings. I really think I did.

But I didn’t mean to!

Any more than she meant to hurt mine. Or ignore me. Or treat me like a child.

This isn’t my fault. It isn’t.



I wish Mom was here.

Even if she was—even if she was the one taking care of Dawn and the house and the bills—I’d probably still be falling apart. But Mom is gone, and I have to be her as well as me, and I can't do it.

I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry, Giles. But I can’t do this by myself.

I can’t afford your house, Mom. I’m working double shifts at a soul-sucking, dead-end fast-food job to keep food on our table and your roof over our heads, but the bills are starting to stack up again. Looks like Snyder was right. It’s not Hotdog-On-A-Stick, but it might as well be.

And when I’m not working that second shift, I’m still out there, risking my life every night trying to keep the world where it is and the people in it safe, happy, and ignorant. It’s great. Really it is.

I can’t raise a fifteen-year-old. Raise? She’s six years younger than me. Not even. And I’m still just her bossy older sister. Me "raising" her isn’t even a good joke. Especially now. I’m trying to make this right, but how do I do that without getting me or her or both of us arrested? In which case, I probably go to jail and she goes to Dad.

I’m not sure which is worse. At least I wouldn’t be in Solitary all the time in prison, like she’ll be living "with" Dad.

She’s not helping, either. She acts like she doesn’t care, and she doesn’t expect me to, either.

Well, I’m sorry if a steady stream of blame and snide remarks didn’t make me eager to hang out with you, Dawnie. I tried. In between my job, my Calling, and my dragged-out-of-Heaven-by-my-best-friends related breakdown, I tried. And every time I tried, you slapped it away, mad that I hadn’t tried sooner. Someone else might have gotten tired of trying and given up.

And I’m screwing Spike.

Are you proud of me, Mom? Giles? I’m screwing Spike.

What happened to me? Other than I’ve become a disgusting, pathetic shadow of who I’m supposed to be? Tara says the spell didn’t change anything about me, I didn’t come back wrong, but I’m neglecting my friends and my sister and

I’m. Screwing. Spike.

When it was Angel, that was one thing. He had a soul. But Spike doesn’t. He’s a monster. He disposed of a human being like she was garbage.

I’m a disgrace. I don’t deserve to be a Slayer.

I have to stop. Beating myself up doesn’t help. Just do like Tara said, like Willow’s doing—take one day at a time without him. Fix what I’ve messed up, don’t mope about it.

You know, I noticed something funny last night. Spike hung out with the Gang all summer. He practically adopted Dawnie. Why doesn’t he want to hang around them anymore? All night, he was trying to get me away from them. When he couldn’t seduce me away, he taunted me away.

Why would he do that?



She knows. The sapphic little bint knows.

Every time I tried to get Buffy alone, there she was, smiling at Buffy and smirking at me. How can I carry on with Blondie if I can’t get any peace?

I wouldn’t be surprised if she was the one behind that wanker who was sniffing around Buffy all night.

No, wait. That’s more the Whelp’s style. He’s nosey and stupid enough.

Damn it all, I’d nearly gotten through to her. She doesn’t understand yet that she’s a creature of the night, but she will. Why else would she fall for two vampires? But her going and spilling to little blond witch is a setback.

Backsliding is what it is. Falling back into a human mindset.

You’re not human anymore, Buff. Get used to it.

Bloody hell, what if she tells the rest of ‘em?

They’ll rank on her pretty hard at first. I’ve never even heard of a group ganging up so much on one person and treating ‘em so bad, except for the stories Angelus and Darla used to tell me about what they did to that Holtz bloke.

I miss those stories. They were so hilarious. Warmed my heart right through.

But once they’re done ranking on her, they’re going to gang together and come after me. Forget chasing me off, they’re liable to put a stake in me arse this time.

They’re bad friends, don’t you see that, Buffy? I’m the only friend you need. Hell, I’m the only friend you really have. They’re bad for you.

So’s that job. It’s sucking your spirit out. You’re a Warrior. A creature of the night. You’re not supposed to be feedin’ mulch burgers to zit-faced punks.

I can provide for you. I’m all you need.

And who the bloody, buggerin’ hell was that Halfrek bird, anyway? She seemed awfully familiar…

No. It can’t be.



Damn it! Damn it, damn it, damn it! Anyanka was always better at this than me! Always! She does this for 1200 years and it takes a sorcerer—a Watcher, no less—to stop her. Me? I’m not paying attention, so I get stabbed by some random thug-demon, and she almost gets my power center away from me.

Even mortal and powerless, she’s better than me. I can’t even get her to wish some vengeance on that man she’s—ugh—marrying. Doesn’t she remember how evil men are? I thought I could save her from herself by playing on her pre-wedding jitters, but she knows better than to say "I wish" in my presence—or that of any female stranger—unless she really means it.

Damn it!

I bet she never got caught in one of her own curses.



Oh, God. I’m a coward. I’m a traitor. Oh, God.

I never realized how dependent I’d become on Willow saving our asses with her magic. Now she’s on the wagon, but I’m still hooked. I’m all supportive when it’s just a question of things being slower, but as soon as things get really tough, I become like a pusher in a cartoon anti-drug special:

"Just one little spell."

"We got you through this before."

Why don’t I just sell some crack to Dawn?

I said I was her friend, and I promised I’d be there for her. But if that’s the kind of friend I’m going to be, then I’m the last person she needs to have around.

I owe her an apology. Several. And then I better start adjusting. For real, this time. We still have Tara, but that puts us back to where we were when Willow was first learning and Giles was our primary magic-user. We’re going to have to learn to be a team again, rather than the rest of us ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the Big Guns.

Time to do like she’s done, and take some responsibility.



Well! One thing is certain. Halfrek is off the workplace friends table and condemned to the table with Xander’s family. The nerve of her, cursing me—us!—I meant us. Xander got hurt, and she still had the sheer gall to stand there and lecture us!

Did I used to be like that? So arrogant? So self-righteous? I don’t think—

Wait. Well, maybe I was—

No! I was a ven—no, a Justice demon! I was a righteous, flaming sword against unfaithful men!

Just like Hally’s a righteous, flaming sword against bad parents.

Well, maybe Buffy needed a little wake-up call. She hasn’t been hanging around with Dawn as much as she should—though why the girl is so hung up on us rather than friends her own age, I’ll never know—but what about us? We were innocent bystan—

--And in the last wish I ever granted, I created an alternate reality where a lot of people suffered. And I remember at the time, I thought it was ‘interesting’.

But she tricked Dawn. There was no way the child had any way of knowing that this time, out of the millions of times she’s said ‘I wish’, would be the one that counted. If she had known, she would have been more careful, wished for something that she really wanted. Instead, we were trapped in that house, and even if there hadn’t been a demon trapped in with us, we would have starved to death—including Dawn. There wasn’t even any way for us to order food!

Forgetting, Anyanka? That was standard operating procedure, too. You made sure to show up right away, when they were still angry and hurt. You even helped them along a little bit, didn’t you? If they’d known what you were, what you could do, they might have made wimpy wishes like "I wish it had never happened" or "I wish he would come back to me" or "I wish he would be impotent with any other woman but me". Where’s the vengeance in that?

And how much did I care about what became of the women who called on me after I’d punished their men? I’m 1200 years old, and for about 1160 of that, a woman’s husband was her primary means of support. How many starved after I left? I did a few jobs in India—how many were tossed onto their husband’s pyres? How many were burned as witches when their philandering husbands died obviously unnatural deaths?

I don’t know. Which is exactly what’s wrong.

It was never about them, was it? It was about me, wanting to punish men. Every man, any man. I didn’t care what the clients wanted, as long as they made a wish that allowed me to hurt a man. Just like Hally and her parents. Giles was right, during the Chumash incident. Vengeance is never satisfied—I never was.

Whatever we did or didn’t do, we didn’t deserve to be trapped in a house to starve to death. Especially Dawn.

Oh, she deserves what I’m going to do to her now, the thieving little traitor. She has my attention now and she’s not ever going to want to catch it again. But as far as Hally goes, she was a victim, too.

How many of the men I punished didn’t deserve what I did to them? Sure, some—probably most—of them were awful people, but how many were like Xander? How many were decent guys who just screwed up? In how many cases was the relationship just terrible in a lot of other ways—on both sides?

Maybe I’m not so proud of being a vengeance demon anymore. At least I was a better one than Hally. One hundred years along, and she makes a stupid, amateur mistake like getting caught in her own curse. That never happened to me.

And she’s still sitting at the "People We Hate" table.



The next time Anya—or anyone. I don’t care if it’s Buffy. Not that it’s likely to be—says anything like that to Willow, I’m going to knock her across the room and Bind her mouth shut. I swear to all the gods.

"Whose fault is that?"

There’s no excuse for that. None. She gets away with far too much just because she’s supposedly one of the group’s "straight shooters". Xander does it, too. From the stories Willow tells me, their friend Cordelia was the same way. Can’t anyone in this group tell the difference between telling the Hard Truth and simple cruelty? Tact and compassion and simple by-God decency are virtues, too, people!

"By-God decency"? Blessed Goddess, I’m starting to sound like my father.

Okay, she was panicking. I can understand that. But does she apologize afterward for trying to undo everything Willow’s worked so hard for? Of course not.

But Willow. I’m so proud of her. It got bad. Really bad. And she still said no. Despite the fact that her so-called friends were attacking her, she said no. I don’t know how much longer she could have stood up to the pressure those two were putting on her, but the point is, she stood up.

Aphrodite and Erzuli, give me some hope. Let it work out—I miss her so much.

Buffy stood up, too, and I’m glad. But that situation worries me. Spike tried very hard to get her alone last night. And from what she tells me, he’s trying very hard to make her too ashamed to talk to anyone about it.

Just like my father did to me.

I’m glad she’s come to me. I wish she’d come out—although, if the way Willow’s been treated is any indication, I can understand why she hasn’t. That’d take Spike’s leverage away.

Even if he can’t hurt anyone else, he can still hurt her. And he might, if he realizes he’s losing her. A lot of men say "If I can’t have you, then no one can". And Spike’s a man and a demon.

It’s a situation that could get really bad. Really fast.



I was born in 1981. That means I’m just barely old enough to kinda remember Nancy Reagan and "Just Say No." I remember, coming all the way up through school, the anti-drug assemblies and classes and pamphlets they would give us. A big part of them was always about how to resist peer pressure. That was never really a problem for me, seeing as how the few peers I had that were interested in me, weren’t interested in drugs.

I can now honestly say that I’ve dealt with peer pressure. And it isn’t fun.

You know what makes it even harder? All those things they taught us how to resist peer pressure for when we were kids? There are no circumstances when they’re actually necessary. There is no situation where smoking crack or shooting up heroin is beneficial. You never need to gamble. A shot of booze isn’t something you need to stay alive—although that one might be a little trickier to avoid than the others. Alcohol is in all sorts of things—take a shot of Ny-Quil for that cough, wake up three days later in Venezuela.

But the day might come when my magic really is necessary. Today was almost that day. If Anya hadn’t trapped Halfrek in her own curse, it might have been.

I could go through Halfrek’s curse like wet tissue paper. There’s not a doubt in my mind about that. Then I could smash her pendant while it was still on her neck, just for an encore.

And I’m almost as sure that that would put me right back at the beginning, and I don’t know if I could do it again. It was so hard the first time.

Still, I came through. And Tara not only forgave me—at least for my little "safety net"—she even seemed a little proud of me. And the way she stood up for me!

I may still have a chance! Blessed Aphrodite—and this is a prayer, not a spell—let me still have a chance.



Matt Fic