: Wishing You Were(n't) HereAuthor
: Jedi ButtercupRating
: The words are mine; the worlds are not.Summary
: Anya's back. But the justice business hasn't gotten any more satisfying since the last time she tried it.
: Post-series for both.Notes
: As part of the 2013 August Ficathon. A random FFA pairing for a change of pace!
The border worlds were such
a ripe field for plucking wishes, particularly around the political holiday so few of the locals celebrated. Anya made sure to find her way out to one of the various Alliance-favoring bars and taverns in that region every U-Day; she still owed D'Hoffryn in magic and time for her latest resurrection, and the more wishes she granted the quicker her debt would be paid.
Unfortunately, she was having very little luck on this particular
U-Day. Her justice demon instincts led Anya as unerringly as usual to the one woman in the room most
currently irritated by the significant other in her life, a soft-skinned brunette with obviously pricey taste-- but no matter how many hints she dropped, the woman just would not
speak the magic word. But she wouldn't stop flirting with the subject, either; she just kept going on and on
about him, whoever the hell he was. After listening to what felt like half a saga's worth of kissing the wrong people and cargo bays full of dung with nary a wish to be heard, Anya was to the point of simply hoping to salvage something
from her otherwise wasted evening; she'd settle for a pathetic wart curse, or even a minorly uncomfortable rash, just so she didn't have to take down a zero against her quota.
"And then he said, 'I wish like hell you was elsewhere'," the woman who'd introduced herself as Inara sighed, reaching yet another low point in her epic tale. Then she lifted the mug at her elbow and took a sip, her first of the evening. "Mmm," she made a comical face. "Why did I order this again?"
Anya sat up straighter, finally sensing an opportunity. "Because he recommended it? Though I don't see why he should expect you to adjust to his
tastes rather than the other way around. If it were me, I'd wish I was elsewhere, too."
Inara gave Anya a wry look at that, for some reason, rather than responding to Anya's encouragement by increasing her own anger level. "I'd never have got very far in my career as a Companion if I'd adopted the same philosophy," she said. "The problem was never whether I could meet his
expectations, you know; if that were all, I would have been done with him a long time ago. The problem was figuring out mine
, and whether there was room for us to meet in the middle. Private relationships are, oddly enough, one area where I haven't had much experience."
"Don't you wish
you had a less frustrating partner to share that experience with, then?" Anya tried again.
Then the former Companion tasted her drink again, rolling the liquid around in her mouth. "If wishes were horses... you know, I don't actually know the rest of that colloquialism? I suppose I'll learn it eventually, given the company I keep. You could say that he-- and life aboard a trader's ship of that kind in general-- is something of an acquired taste. Rather like this xióngmāo niào
, I suspect." She gave a belated shudder. "I just couldn't stop myself from going back for more."
Anya took a frustrated breath. "That sounds complicated to me; not the kind of life I'd
wish for. Wouldn't you rather be....?"
"What? Independent?" Perfectly straight, white teeth flashed as Inara laughed. "Oh, undoubtedly. And on this day, in this bar, in particular. You see, I told him that the next time he decided to indulge in pointless fisticuffs, I intended to be a participant, and I'm not about to renege."
"You're-- wishing he'll think twice then, if you're here?" Anya tried one last time. Though what sort of curse she could get out of that
, she wasn't sure; perhaps one of those exotic mental illnesses where victims couldn't make new memories? That
might play well in Arashmahaar....
"You really are obsessed with that word, aren't you?" Inara tilted her head a little, gaze sharpening unexpectedly on Anya's face, and snorted irritably. "You know, as glad as I am that Mal is at least occasionally
taking my advice these days, I'm beginning to think I overreacted by insisting on testing the waters when he recognized your face from the door. You haven't followed up on a single hint I've dropped about clandestine shipping, evading Alliance officers, or even the names of Serenity
's other crew; I do believe you keep showing up in the same bars he does not to spy on troublemakers, but to start trouble of your own! Is 'wish' some kind of code phrase? Is there some hot new product circulating?"
Anya blinked. The entire time she'd been trying to get the woman to say something incriminating, she'd been trying to do the same to Anya
? And Anya had been recognized
"I've gotten complacent; that's the only explanation. All this time wasted, and nothing to show for it!" She stood, pushing her chair back from the table. Why had she ever thought returning to this existence was a good idea?
Oh, right; because Xander was due to make his way back around the wheel soon, and she wanted to be there when he arrived-- to rub his face in it or have her happily ever after this time, she hadn't yet decided, but she would
be there. And she would prefer to be rid of her dratted debt first. "You'd think a woman of your experience would understand the concept of a conversation profitably spent! Are you sure you won't just make one teeny little wish? Doesn't this Mal of yours deserve it for sending you in alone? What if I'd been an axe murderer?"
Inara raised an eyebrow, following Anya to her feet. "I'm fairly good with edged weapons myself, actually," she said dryly, laying her hand on a small, jeweled hilt nearly hidden by the folds of her skirt. "Care to try again?"
Fuming, Anya turned away from the table-- just in time to hear some other woman's voice rise in an idle whine. "...always Linda this, Linda that. I wish I never had to hear him say her name again!"
A self-curse; not ideal but it was something! "Wish granted," Anya snapped as she stormed away, not bothering to wait to see the results. One way or another, a surgeon could probably fix the woman's ears-- and at least, the evening wasn't a total
She'd have to write "Alliance bars on U-Day" off her list of fertile hunting grounds, now; a real shame. Underground clubs on Osiris next, perhaps? It had
been awhile since her last visit.