Beauty Effulgent

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Anya's Story - Part 12

Spike laughed as he set down the manuscript he had been reading. Harmony and her minions. He remembered meeting them in the graveyard and even giving Harmony the idea to kidnap one of the Scoobies.

He paused for a moment, the thought of popping up to the Executive Floor and taunting Harmony with the fact that her "minions" had no doubt just been viewing her as a bit of fluffy, blonde ass - not to mention the revelation that she'd never been more than a blip on the Slayer's radar - almost too much to resist. But he'd just managed to tip his chair far back enough to cross his legs on the table top, and someone had kindly refilled his mug with pleasant, oaky ocelot, so it would keep. He and Harmony had nothing but time, in any case.

He ignored the stares of the Wolfram and Hart employees who were on their lunch break as he continued reading.

Two of a Kind and a Full House

After falling victim to one of Harmony's minions, I would never again discount the fact that she was a threat in spite of how absurd she was. At the hospital the doctor informed me that I had a dislocated shoulder. Buffy happily offered to pop it back into place, but the doctor had already done so. It hurt. A lot.

Xander took me back to my apartment, where I took some pain killers and began to think about my life. This event had made me reevaluate the entire situation. I'd known logically that I was mortal, but now the truth of that fact was sinking in. I wasn't going to live forever. If my life was going to mean anything, I needed to get started living. After all, I only had 50 or 60 years left. I decided that I needed to make a list of goals.

Anya's list of important things to do.

  1. Meet the man of my dreams.

  2. Have sex.

  3. Get engaged.

  4. Move in with man (but only if he moves out of his parents' basement)

  5. Find another couple to hang out / experiment with (Not Buffy or Willow)

  6. Get married.

  7. Learn to drive.

  8. Buy a car.

  9. Have babies / Buy a dog

  10. Find a career.

  11. Buy a house.

  12. Buy a boat.

  13. Get wrinkly

  14. Retire to the country.

  15. Find a way to live forever or Die

I reread my list and crossed off the first two items with a sense of accomplishment. I then studied the remaining goals intently, trying to discern if there was anything I had forgotten. Deciding that I had pretty much covered everything, I hung the list on the refrigerator with the Farscape magnet I had stolen from Xander so that I could keep these objectives fresh in my mind. Exhausted, I sat down on the couch and let the painkillers take effect.

The next day, Xander called and asked me if I wanted to hang out with him. Whenever he had wanted to hang out before, it tended to mean that he wanted to take our clothes off and rub our bodies together. I tried to explain to him how much pain I was in, but he started begging. As a vengeance demon I always enjoyed it when men would beg, but with Xander it was somewhat grating. Nevertheless, I decided to join him.

When I got to his basement, I found Buffy and Riley already there. I was actually glad they were there, since the idea of having Xander on top of me made my shoulder twinge even more. I sat in front of Xander on his musty couch and we watched a Kung Fu movie. I had a hard time following the plot and finally decided that there wasn't one.

As we were watching and Buffy was studying, the doors upstairs slammed and then shouting could be heard. Everyone looked uncomfortable, but Xander the most. He tried to blame it on some incompetent burglars, but I doubt anyone bought it. After a few more shouts and some more slamming, Xander said that it may be time to find a new place to live. I didn't believe him. He'd been saying for months that he wanted to move out, but he never did anything about it.

Riley began rubbing Buffy's shoulders and she made pleased sounds. I guess Xander wanted to prove his machismo to Riley, so he began rubbing mine, but it caused me nothing but pain.

We finished the movie in uncomfortable silence, except for the sounds coming from Buffy as Riley continued with the rubbing. As soon as the movie ended, they made a hasty exit and I went upstairs to use the bathroom.

When I returned, I saw Xander removing the cushions from the couch so that he could fold it out to a bed.

"Xander," I said to him, "we're not having sex tonight. My shoulder hurts and I don't have any painkillers." Xander looked disappointed and it came to me: this was the first time I had ever refused sex.

Xander blushed and started replacing the cushions. "Um, I was just getting ready for bed." He was lying. And I knew he was lying. "An," he continued, "could you spend the night at least?"

I debated whether to stay or not. I was exhausted from the medications and didn't feel like going all the way home when there was a perfectly good, although very uncomfortable, sofa bed right there.

Xander eased behind me and started kissing me on the neck. "We can just cuddle," he said, as his kisses followed the curve of my neck around to my chin until at last they landed softly on my lips.

Our kisses grew more and more passionate and I temporarily forgot about my shoulder, until Xander started unhooking my bra and realized he couldn't get it off because of the sling I was being forced to wear.

"Xander," I said patiently, "I just can't have you laying on top of me. The doctor told me not to exert myself."

Xander led me over to the Spike chair (he'd called it the Spike chair ever since Giles had forced Xander to keep Spike at his house) and helped me sit down. Then he knelt down in front of me, took off my sandals and gently glided his hands up my legs. Xander stared at me the entire time, and the fact that everything I felt was reflected in my eyes meeting his unnerved me, until I remembered that this was Xander, and he wouldn't see anything but "blue" and "pretty". Then he smiled.

"Anya, you're not wearing any underwear."

Before I could respond, he said, "You know, An, there are things I can do, things that don't involve me getting on top of you, and you won't even have to exert yourself."

His hands slid my skirt higher and his head dipped lower and I was able to gasp, "Okay, I'll stay."


When I woke up the next morning, Xander was reading the newspaper, something I'd never seen before. I looked through the discarded sections: Front page, sports, arts and entertainment.

"What are you reading?" I asked.

"The classifieds. I told you that I needed to find a new place to live."

I was astonished. Xander had never been one to take charge of his life. He kind of just let things happen to him, but now he seemed to actually be taking control. I didn't say anything. Instead I just looked for the comics.

Xander circled different ads and made several phone calls. What's gotten into him? I thought. He was being all decisive and taking control.

Xander made some appointments. Then he asked if I minded if he called the gang to have them come look with us. How considerate, I thought. Xander never asked if I wanted to be around his friends and now he was giving me the option. I decided the least I could do was to agree.

We met Riley, Buffy and Willow and toured a few apartments, most of which made the basement look pristine. At one apartment, Willow ran out the bathroom screaming when she saw a colony of mice who apparently were the previous tenants. Xander was at the point of giving up, but I reminded him of what he'd be going home to if he didn't find something.

We had one last stop on the Great Apartment Search of 2000. From the outside alone, it far surpassed anything else we had looked at that day. As we walked up the stairs and down the hall, Willow blathered on and on. When we went in, I fell in love immediately. The apartment was at least twice as big as the basement and there was no scent of urine anywhere. The living room was huge. I told Xander that I loved it and that he should pay anything.

The building manager introduced herself and began talking to Xander. I wanted the apartment more than I had wanted anything in a long time. I was determined to get Xander to agree. I even said that we could have the Scooby meetings there. The manager gave Xander an application, which didn't seem too complicated to me, so I told her that we'd take it. I tried to send Xander to get the furniture while I waited.

Xander pulled me aside and explained that his job was ending and that he wouldn't have any money coming in.

"So if I want to see you I have to be in that awful basement?" I asked.

"Not forever," he said. "Just until things come together."

I got angry because when it came to Xander things never seemed to come together. I almost volunteered to help him with the rent, but luckily, I decided not to. Too often had I seen that couples who loan each other money end up ripping each other's throats out. (Not from my vengeance days, but from watching Judge Judy.)

Xander asked me what my problem was and I told him that I was tired and my arm hurt and I didn't want to look at pretty things I couldn't have.

Xander just stood there, looking helpless. I chose that moment to leave and started walking home. Here was Xander's chance to be an adult, but he hesitated. Willow and Buffy seemed to have no problem growing up, but Xander just wanted to wait for things to work out. The more I walked, the angrier I got. When I got home, I took my list off the refrigerator and erased the line I had drawn through the first item. Perhaps Xander wasn't the man of my dreams. Perhaps he was just the man of the moment.

The next day, Xander called and I let the machine get it.

"Look, I know you're still mad, but ... I figure you're probably sitting there pretending you're not home but listening anyway... Look, I have something to show you. Meet me at the apartment. You know the one. 9:00."

I took my time deciding whether to meet him or not. Was he playing a trick on me? Was he just being cruel? In the end, I decided to meet him. If he wasn't the man of my dreams, I needed to find out sooner rather than later. After all, I had a list.

Xander greeted me at the door, holding a bottle of champagne. He told me that he had been approved for the apartment.

"You really got the apartment?" I asked.

"Yes," he said, "and do you know why? It's because you wanted it. It's all for you."

I couldn't have been happier. Xander had finally figured out that the best way to make me happy was to give me my way. It had certainly taken long enough.

Then Xander asked if I'd seen him today, an odd question I thought. I told him no and I asked him what happened next, remembering my list.

"Well, at some point we take our clothes off."

I tried to tell him about my list and how we didn't have forever to get everything accomplished. He acted confused and then honed in on the real problem, my mortality. Xander was very understanding and surprisingly insightful about what I was going through. He seemed very, well, un-Xanderlike.

He really made me feel better and we kissed. Just as things were getting started, the doors slammed open and Xander appeared at the door. Not the Xander I was kissing, but another Xander. He looked dirty and stinky and kind of maniacal, but still very Xander. I was very confused. I had to make a decision. Both were claiming to be the real Xander. All I knew was that the Xander I was with had this great apartment and this newfound understanding of me.

I told my Xander to make the other go away. Then the crazy Xander at the door pulled out a gun. My gun! The clean, perceptive Xander went after the gun and after a little bit of struggling, managed to wrench the gun from stinky Xander's hand. I was still confused as to who to believe, but luckily Buffy and Riley came in and explained that they were both Xander with different characteristics in each.

Buffy said that she would explain it all on the way to Giles' house, but got interrupted when the demon who had apparently separated Xander in two came in and shot his flaming rod towards Buffy. After many kicks and punches, Buffy was able to slay him.

We made our way to the Magic Box, Giles' recently purchased magic shop, in Riley's car. As we rode in the back seat, the two Xanders flanking me examined each other to find out how identical they were. An idea occurred.

At the Magic Box as Giles prepared the spell to put Xander back together, I asked why we couldn't wait until the morning. I would be able to have sex with both and no harm would be done. But Giles would have none of that. Willow successfully put Xander back together.

Later, I went back to the doctor. He told me I could stop using the sling that Saturday. I debated whether to do so because I was liking the sympathy and I didn't want to help Xander move.

That Saturday, Xander moved out of the basement and into his life as an adult and I again crossed number one off my list.


When Xander moved into his apartment, so did I, more or less. I kept my apartment (just in case). I periodically went back to check my messages and get my mail. A few weeks after the move, I got a message from my bank. Apparently, the trust fund I had set up almost two years before was almost empty. I had no idea where my money had gone. The rent was paid for the next two years and the only thing I ever spent money on was clothes (and trips to the hair salon).

I needed to find a job. And soon. But I had seen how difficult finding a good job could be with only a high school education. I thought about the various jobs Xander had worked just to make ends meet and I didn't want any part of that. I knew I couldn't put the fact that I had held a job for over 1100 years on an application, and besides, what skills had I learned in my vengeance days that would easily parlay into the mortal realm's workforce?

I considered giving college a try. Buffy and Willow didn't seem to be having problems with it and I was much more cunning than either of them. But I couldn't wait four or five years.

I decided to distract myself by attending the grand opening of Giles' new store.

In the weeks prior to his opening, Xander and I had put in quite a few hours pro bono (I could just kick myself) helping him get set up. Xander did all the sawing and nailing and I had told him where not to put magical ingredients that reacted poorly to others. Had Giles even offered to pay us for our work? No.

When I went in, the first thing I noticed was how empty it was. The second thing I noticed was that his conjuring powder was way overpriced and subtly told him so. I even offered to set him up with the troll who shed the stuff. Later, he let me do just that and I even got a finder's fee.

Buffy came in to check on the research results of an orb she had found. She told us that she thought it might have something to do with her mother getting sick. Buffy and Willow researched and I continued browsing, so I could give Giles more helpful hints.

Before long, the shop seemed to fill up with customers. Giles was way out of his element, he seemed flustered and very un-British. Finally, he asked for some help. I worked the register for him. I didn't even expect to be compensated. I just did it because it seemed to be the right thing to do. I realize now that that was really the beginning of my humanity, although I also realize now that Giles was taking advantage.

"Please go," I told the customer as I gave her back her change. Xander, whose arrival I had missed, explained to me about the culture of retail and that I needed to tell the customers to have a nice day. I still don't get it, but it has become almost second nature at this point.

As Buffy told Xander what was going on with her mom, I remembered the "Tirer la Couture," a trance to see spells. I told her about it and Buffy left to try it. Personally, I didn't think that Buffy had the focus to do it.

With Buffy gone, I spent that whole afternoon helping customers and fixing the mistakes that Willow kept making. Xander helped as well. As the final customer left, Xander, Giles and Willow sat around the table and collapsed. I was organizing the register and giving Giles some advice on how to make his business run better.

"Anya," Giles said, "would you like a job?"


And thus my life in business began.


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