“Don’t you think we should
“I think she just needs time.”
“But Xander left her. Left her at the altar. She must feel so…”
“Anya’s stronger than you think.”
“But maybe we should just call or
“You were here when she came by. She said she needed to leave to go and work things out. At least that’s what
I think she said between the uncontrollable sobbing.”
“How about a card? Just to let her know we’re concerned.”
“Fine. Send her a card. Put my name on it, while you’re at
Dawn looked at the card she had purchased,
trying to find the right words to include. She had spent way too long at the
card store looking through all the choices. Birthday for daughter. Birthday for
son. Birthday for daughter’s boyfriend. Condolences for lost puppy… She had been unable to find one that said, “Sorry you were dumped at the altar.” After a half hour of looking, and feeling guilty whenever she’d laugh at the
cards with animals wearing clothes, she’d finally chosen one that was close enough.
Now she had to come up with the right words
to let Anya know that they were thinking about her and that she had their support, not to say that Xander didn’t have
their support, or that they were choosing sides or…
Anya returned from Arashmahar and
made her way to her apartment. It had been a long time since she had been there. She had pretty much moved into Xander’s apartment and had been sure she would
be spending the rest of her life there. Her answering machine had 50 messages
on it. Not wanting to deal with it, she put on her nightgown that Xander had
always said made her look like an old lady. She sat on the leather couch and
took a deep breath.
It was time to get back to her life. D’Hoffryn had given her back her powers.
She was powerful once again. That power that had once made her strong. That power that had been her essence. Yet
all she could think about was that weak mortal who she had given her life to.
Stop thinking about him. Get back to life.
Get back to vengeance. Yes. Vengeance. That’s what she needed. She needed
to wreak vengeance on all the weak mortal males who hurt the women they claimed to love. Like Xander.
Why had she even come back to Sunnydale? She could have gone anywhere. There were
women with broken hearts all over the world. Yet, she had come back here. Why?
Because here was where Xander was. Because here was where her life was. It
had only been a few years since she lost her powers, but Anya realized that this place had become her home. It was where she belonged.
Normal. Get back to normal. Normal meant making money and saving it and buying pretty things and paying bills. Anya went downstairs to her mailbox and was surprised by how many of those credit card applications were
in there. She brought her load upstairs and started sorting through them. She stopped when she came across a pink envelope with a drawing of a flower by her
name, which had been written in the most girly script she had seen. She flipped
the envelope over and saw that it was from Dawn.
At least someone cared.
She opened the envelope to reveal a card
with a picture of kitten hanging from a clothes line. She opened it up. She read “Hang in there” and Dawn’s message.
You are a strong woman who I admire. I know that you will get through this. If
you need anything, let us know. We will be there for you.
Dawn and Buffy
Anya smiled for the first time in weeks.
If she could smile, maybe she could handle listening to all her messages. After
listening to the first few though, she realized she wasn’t ready.
“Anya, it’s Xander… um…
please call me when you get this. I need to explain.”
“Anya, are you there? I really want to explain what happened.”
“Anya, I’m worried about you. Please call me.”
“An, I’m sooo sorry. Please…”
Anya picked up the machine and yanked its cord from the wall. Throwing
it against the wall, she felt some satisfaction. But only a little.
Anya screamed at the top of her lungs until
she collapsed from the stress.
When Anya regained consciousness, she went
to her desk and pulled out a pad of paper. She began writing a letter to Xander,
meticulously going through each word making sure that it explained her feelings. A
letter she didn’t know if she would ever send, but it did start making her feel better.
I got your messages asking about
But I guess all that thought you've
given me is just your damn conscience,
If I were walking in your shoes,
I wouldn't worry.
While you and your friends are worrying
about me, I’m having lots of fun.
Lots of fun. Anya crinkled up the paper and through it into the waste basket.
She decided to indeed have lots of fun. She got dressed and went to find
women in need of a vengeance demon. And after a little practice, it would be
Xander sat in the seedy motel room he had
checked into the previous night. He just sat.
He could not feel his fingers. Could not feel his toes. He was completely numb. He felt so damn guilty. And relieved.
He had broken Anya. The woman he loved. And he had broken himself in the process.
He needed something to take away the pain. Something to take away the guilt.
He went the staircase supporting
himself with a rusted banister he didn’t completely trust and walked to a nearby convenience store. After purchasing a twelve pack of comfort, he returned to the room.
He sat with a bottle in his hand, not knowing what to do, how to get his life straightened up.
Xander stared at the beer and thought of
his mom and dad. He considered blaming them, but really couldn’t. Not this time. They may have screwed
him up royally, but they weren’t the ones who did this to Anya. He
was the one who had had reservations about getting married and never told her.
He had kept his feelings to himself as she shoved one bridal magazine after another in his face. He loved Anya, but he was scared. He didn’t want to
turn into his father. Was that it? In
part. He opened a beer and stared at it.
Maybe it was inevitable that he would turn into his dad. Might as well
help it along, he thought
Xander opened the bottle and took
a swig. Comfort. Fake comfort.
Xander worked his way through the bottles,
losing consciousness by the time the twelve-pack was down to one.
Xander slowly opened one eye and realized
it was the middle of the day. He stumbled to the bathroom looked at himself in
the smoke-stained mirror. He barely recognized the image before him.
Who was this man? Wasn’t it just yesterday that he and Willow
were playing doctor in the bushes? Where was his innocence? When had he changed?
The answers didn’t come. Xander began
feeling claustrophobic in this roach motel. He needed to get out. He needed to fix this. That’s what he did after all. He fixed things.
Xander picked up his suitcase packed with
what where supposed to be his honeymoon clothes. He hadn’t even been able to open it.
He checked out of the motel and drove back to his apartment still wearing his tuxedo.
He looked around the apartment. It felt empty. Anya’s presence was gone. There were still reminders of the wedding that wasn’t: left over tool cut into squares to be wrapped
around bubbles, a sink full of dirty dishes left by his family and Anya’s friends, the garment bag that his tux came
Xander walked to the phone and began checking
his messages. He stopped after listening to three messages from Willow,
two from Tara, four from Buffy and eight from Dawn.
He needed to contact them. Let them know he was all right. Or at least give the impression he was all right. He called Buffy’s house and was grateful when the machine picked up.
After the beep, he left his message.
“It’s Xander. (pause) I’m okay. (pause)” Xander looked down at the filthy tux and continued,
“Last night I dressed in tails, pretended I was on the town. As long as I can dream it's hard to slow this swinger down.”
Xander’s words became less coherent through the tears caught in his throat, “So please don't give a thought to
me, I'm really doing fine. You can always find me here and having quite a time”
Xander quickly hung up, knowing that they
would never believe him. He redialed and entered the code to Buffy’s answering
machine, which he had found through very delicate detective work. Okay, he had
bought her the damn machine, and had memorized the code in case of emergencies. He
listened to his own voice and deleted the message.
~Anya and Xander~
Anya stood outside Xander’s apartment. She’d been standing there for what seemed like an eternity. She was ready to take her vengeance. She looked up and could
see the glow of the television in the dimly lit apartment. Then the light was
completely gone. He must be leaving, she thought.
Anya hid herself behind the bushes and waited. Eventually, she saw Xander
walk out the door and head toward her.
As he came closer, Anya imagined what she
would say. She would be strong. She
would give him hell for the hell she’d been living in.
“Xander,” she would say. No, better yet, “Harris.” She
decided to try to not to give him the satisfaction of her calling him by his first name.
“Anya,” he would say in his
little weasely way, “let me try to explain.”
“No,” she would tell him, disdain
marking every word. “I’ve heard enough explaining from you. You don’t
have the right to <i>explain</i> anything to me any more. I’m
not the newly human person I once was, who didn’t get all of your clever inside jokes.
I am strong!”
Xander would start crying, “Please,
Anya, I’m sorry. I’m a little, little man who is not worthy to stand
in your great light.”
Anya would laugh wickedly, “Damn
right, Harris. You are puny. You
are insignificant. You are pitiful.”
Then Xander would be on his knees, begging
her forgiveness which Anya would never give him.
Anya would then wreak her vengeance. She hadn’t decided what exactly she would have done to him, but it would be
painful and last forever.
Then, as whatever was left of Xander continued
begging forgiveness, Anya would say, “It's good to see you. But I must go now; I know I look a fright. Anyway, my eyes
are not accustomed to this light and my shoes are not accustomed to this hard concrete. So I must go back to my room and make
my day complete.”
Then she would walk away. Walk away from Xander and from humanity once and for all.
But as she saw Xander walking toward her,
Anya realized she wasn’t ready. She couldn’t face him.
Xander turned and started down the
sidewalk. Anya stepped out from behind the bushes and just watched him go.
Not now but soon. Anya turned on her heel
and went the opposite direction.
Xander continued walking. He had nowhere to go, but that didn’t matter. He had
spent the last few days trying to get his life back. He’d gone hunting
with Spike for a demon with an unpronounceable name that had made Buffy temporarily crazy.
He’d tried to put Anya out of his mind, but Spike wouldn’t let it go and then Buffy had knocked him out
and tied him to a support beam and let the demon loose on him. Despite his feelings
of pain about everything, a strength inside him compelled him to fight back. It
would have been so much easier to let the demon kill him; put him out of his misery.
But he fought.
He fought so he could live, so he could
But after the adrenaline of the fight,
he returned to his apartment. Alone. Again.
He’d sat in his apartment, getting
more and more drunk. Where was that strength now? It had left him once again.
He sat in his comfy chair staring
at the walls and remembered how often he had deflowered Anya against them. Granted
she could only be deflowered once, but she liked to pretend that each time was the same as that first in his parents’
He’d gotten out his deck of blue
Bicycle cards to play solitaire, but kept thinking about how Anya liked to play. Every time she moved more than one card,
she gave herself a dollar. Man, how she loved playing with her money. To make matters worse, she had taken the Queen of Hearts and had intended to use it as her “something
blue” in the wedding.
He’d sat in front of the TV, flipping
mindlessly through the channels. At one point he’d even stopped on a rerun
of Captain Kangaroo. He remembered the time he was trying to accustom Anya to
pop culture and showed her an episode of the show that he and Willow
had loved so much when they were little. As soon as she saw the bunny, though,
she screamed and made him turn it off.
It seemed that everything was reminding
him of Anya, so he’d decided to go for a walk. Without thinking, he found
himself at a cemetery. He had spent so much time in cemeteries these last few
years, he felt comfortable there. When had that changed? It was a little disconcerting being there alone, without one of the other Scoobies to have his back. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a stake that had become standard uniform
for his little group. As he walked through the tombstones, his senses instinctively
became more alert. He looked around a crypt and saw a vampire. Xander quickly jerked his head back and his breathing sped up. He
would definitely be able to keep busy there or die trying. “Now don’t tell me,” he whispered to no one in
particular, “I’ve nothing to do.”