A fan fiction story by Melpomene based on the characters and backstory of "Buffy: the Vampire Slayer" and composed without permission. No copyright infringement is intended and no monies have been earned.

A Stork's Quandry

“I tried to exact vengeance on you with wishes… I couldn’t.”

“Yeah. Well, the whole sleeping with an evil vampire thing pretty much did the trick.”

Anya stood in front of the counter in the Magic Box, her feather duster frozen in mid swipe as the conversation replayed itself across her memory, stomping on the still too-fresh wounds of her heart.

Why was she doing this? Staying in Sunnydale. It made no sense, not really. Her title role of patron saint of scorned women had been reclaimed, much to D’Hoffryn’s pleasure. There was a back log of vengeance to be wrought on far too many unsuspecting males. But she couldn’t bring herself to leave Sunnydale to do it.

Things had changed—drastically. Tara was dead. Willow was recovering from her romp through pure evil. Spike had disappeared without so much as a fare-thee-well. Dawn wouldn’t look her in the eye the last time she’d seen her at the grocers. No one even remotely related to the Scoobies had darkened the shop’s threshold since the night she and Spike had gotten drunk on Giles’ leftover liquor.

Anya couldn’t even bring herself to revert to her normal money-lust. Capitalism had lost its appeal since she couldn’t share her wealth with Xander.

It had struck her like a physical blow when the double realization had dawned on her. She had done to Xander exactly the same thing Olaf had done to her. Of course, she hadn’t left Olaf at the altar on their wedding day.

At first she had believed her nausea was a side effect of her grief about the whole Xander/Spike ordeal, but after some hasty calculations one afternoon and a trip to the pharmacy, the real truth emerged.

It was supposed to be a joyous event, the magazines and books all said so, and it would have been had a thousand and one things not gone wrong that preempted that happiness. She was sure there had been a time when Xander would have been overjoyed at the thought that she would bear his child. Anya’s biggest concern was how he might react to that same bit of news now.

Not wanting to risk the baby’s welfare, she had chosen to remain in Sunnydale rather than traverse demonic realms. Portals and spells couldn’t be good for a developing child, no matter that the child in question was being nurtured within a demon.

She looked down and patted her slightly rounded stomach. She had to find a way to tell Xander soon, before it became impossible to hide the fact that she was carrying his child. Xander walked across the construction site, one hand wiping at his streaming brow as he listened with half an ear to the carpenter who matched him stride for stride. At the door of the site’s temporary office, he nodded his agreement to the other man’s one-sided discussion, scuffed his heavy boots on the grungy mat in a cursory attempt at cleanliness, and pushed open the door to step into the chilled air of the building that was little more than a metal box on wheels.

He sat heavily at the desk, staring with unseeing eyes at the stack of neglected paperwork that required his attention. Ever since the fiasco that should have been his wedding had occurred, he’d found it harder and harder to concentrate. If he didn’t snap out of his stupor soon, he’d find himself scouring the want ads for another job. He wondered fleetingly if the Double Meat Palace was hiring.

His hand strayed toward the beckoning papers, but found an overturned picture frame instead, lifting it almost reverently. The photograph was one Dawn had taken while she’d waited for Buffy at the Magic Box after school. He remembered clearly Anya’s disconcerted expression when she had realized Dawn intended to take their picture. It had taken him several minutes to convince her she looked beautiful despite the long hours she’d worked on inventory that day. His fingers trailed across the glass of their own accord, trying to trace the curves of the face they knew better even than his own.

He loved her still, he’d never be able to deny it. Regardless even of his knowledge of her time spent more or less in Spike’s embrace, he loved her. Even the fact that she had reverted to being a demon hadn’t destroyed his feelings.

Not only did he still love her, he blamed himself for the predicament they were wedged into. Yes, he had walked away from the wedding out of fear of what he might possibly become but that didn’t seem to be enough to justify the consequences. He had harbored so many fears of turning into the human monster his father was that he had needed to step back for a while, he never thought to explain his concerns with Anya.

He chuckled sardonically. Of all the horror they survived each day, all the demons and attempts at destroying the world, it had been his own silence that had pushed Anya back to D’Hoffryn and even into Spike’s arms.

The office door opened suddenly, causing his fingers to lose their grip on the picture. It fell to the desk, shattering the glass much the same way he imagined he shattered Anya’s faith in humanity, not to mention her heart. He had single-handedly killed the one human for whom he had cared the most. You always hurt the ones you love…

“Xander, they need you outside.”

He nodded at the journeyman and slowly rose from the desk. He would have to stop by the craft store on his way home from work to replace the glass he’d just destroyed. He only wished Anya could be so easily mended.

*** ** ***

The front door of the Magic Box opened, filling the shop with the tinkling of bells and drawing Anya out of the storeroom. The smile she had forced to her face in order the greet her customer faded to hesitant caution when she saw who the visitor was.

Buffy stood immobile just inside the shop. “Umm. Hi, Anya.”

“Hello.” Anya stepped closer to the counter, moving aside a bit so that she stood behind a display of crystals. “What’s wrong? Is--anyone hurt?” Her breath hitched, causing her to stumble over the words.

Buffy smiled slightly. “No, don’t worry. Xander’s okay, at least physically. I just—“ she paused, unsure how to proceed, “I guess I was worried about you.”

Anya’s brow furrowed in confusion. “But you know that I’m a vengeance demon. You were here when Willow—“

“Yeah, I know,” Buffy said, stopping Anya’s words. “But, well, Dawn said she saw you at the store. She said you looked pretty green. Everything’s alright, isn’t it?”

Anya picked up a long slender crystal. She’s crossed paths with Dawn the morning after her trip to the pharmacy. She’d almost dropped the armload of pregnancy and baby magazines she’d been carrying and nearly called off her search for saltine crackers when she’d spotted the teen. But when Dawn took one look at her and spun around in the opposite direction, Anya knew it wouldn’t have mattered if she were nine months pregnant with triplets, the teen was far too angry to notice.

“Everything’s,” Anya searched her mind for the right word, but nothing seemed to fit. She shook her head, instantly regretting her decision to make such a sudden movement.

Her doctor had assured her that although most women experienced morning sickness in their first trimester, it was perfectly normal for it to extend into the second. Anya wouldn’t have minded except that it was also extending into the afternoons. Without a word to Buffy, Anya darted to the bathroom, slamming the door shut but unable to lock it in her rush to the toilet.

Buffy stared at the bathroom door, frozen by Anya’s sudden flight. Trying to ignore the sounds that emanated from the small room, she walked closer, waiting for Anya to emerge. After several minutes, Buffy opened the door to find Anya at the sink, her face flushed and damp.

“You’re not okay.”

“I’m fine,” Anya insisted, “the doctor said—“ she stopped speaking as soon as the words were out of her mouth, wishing there was some way to take them back.

“Doctor? What doctor?”

“My doctor,” Anya insisted, refusing to explain further. The sound of the door opening again saved her from further questions and she slipped past Buffy.

Anya spent as much time as she could helping the older man who had wandered in asking for directions to the Bison’s Lodge, but even her detailed instructions and hand-drawn map only managed to kill fifteen minutes. Buffy was still there when the door opened again to allow the man to leave, but she had moved to stand behind the counter, her eyes falling on the pile of magazines and books that covered the surface.

She met Anay’s eyes in silent understanding and tried to put the pieces of the mystery jigsaw puzzle together as quickly as her addled brain would allow. “Does he know?”

“That man? I just told him how to get there, I’m sure he’ll find it unless he comes across a demon first,” Anya said, trying to backtrack.

“I meant Xander.”

“Xander knows where the lodge is,” she snapped. “That’s where we were supposed to get married.”

Buffy sighed, gesturing toward the reading material she had stumbled across. “I meant does Xander know about the baby?”

“What baby? I don’t see a baby,” Anya sputtered, quickly scanning the room in case a little squirming bundle had somehow wriggled its way into the shop without her notice. Buffy’s gaze dropped from Anya’s wide-eyed innocence to the gentle swelling of her midriff. She twisted her lips as she searched for a delicate way to explain.

In the end, she didn’t need to. Anya spied her copy of “What to Expect When Your Expecting”, still opened to the chapter outlining the eighteenth week. Her innocent expression dissolved. “Oh, Xander’s baby.” Her hand dropped to her stomach in an automatic display of protection.

Buffy took a step nearer the newly returned vengeance demon but halted when Anya stumbled back away from her. Instead, she decided to try a more vocal approach to the problem.

“Is the baby—okay? I mean, you are a demon again and that, well, that can’t be good…”

“The doctor says the baby is fine and healthy and that there’s nothing to worry about. He should know, he’s a very highly skilled demon obstetrician.”

“I’m glad,” Buffy assured her. A long pause preceded her next statement, “You haven’t told Xander yet, have you?”

Anya’s eyes hardened. “How could I? He won’t speak to me or even be in the same room with me. How could I tell him I’m pregnant when he won’t talk to me? He probably won’t even believe it’s his, and it couldn’t be anyone else’s. It’s not like it could be Spike’s baby, and Xander was the only one up until that stupid fight and the alcohol.” Anya paused for a moment in her rant, gasping for breath before plunging forward. “It isn’t supposed to be like this! The books all say how happy I’m supposed to be but I’m not happy—I’m miserable. Tara’s dead and no one will talk to me and Xander’s gone and I’m getting fat and I just want everything to go back the way it was but it can’t!”

Buffy stood dumbfounded by the other woman’s outpouring of emotion. “I’m sorry. You’re right and I’m sorry but maybe it can still work out.”

Derision filled Anya’s attitude. “Even if it could—I’m a vengeance demon now.”

Buffy nodded, her thoughts far flung from the Magic Box. “Yeah, that does make it a little harder, but you and Xander,” she said emphatically, “You were always ‘right’ together, even when the world was about to end, you somehow clicked. You were my light at the end of the tunnel, my proof that happiness was a possibility despite all the evil that abounds, especially here in Sunnydale. There’s got to be a way for you to be able to fix this. If you and Xander can’t make love work, what chance do any of the rest of us have?”

Anya repeated, “But I’m a vengeance demon now. I wasn’t before.”

“Yes you were, back when you first came to Sunnydale. And you became human again.”

Anya watched as Buffy began to pace in agitation, the dizzying motion sending new waves of nausea through her.

“Do you love him?”

The question caught her off guard. “Xander? Of course I love him, I’m having his baby,” she whispered.

Buffy nodded as if she had already known the answer. “I’ll be back, I promise. And I’ll try to smooth things over with everyone else too.”

Anya watched as the slayer darted out of the shop and tossed up a hasty wave as she passed in front of the window.

When the store was again empty, she returned to the counter, sinking down onto a wooden stool to rest her feet as she scanned her newly acquired books. She wondered whether or not Gilgamesh or Durga would be good names for the baby.

*** ** ***

Xander hooked his foot on the door and swung it shut with a resounding thud. The apartment echoed the dull sound, reminding him that he would be spending yet another night alone.

Walking into the kitchen, he set a bag on the counter and glanced forlornly at the pile of dishes that littered the sink and countertop, indicating far too many solitary meals. Deciding to ignore the dishes, he opened the bag and lifted out a bundle wrapped in brown paper as well as the ruined frame from the on-site office. The glass fit perfectly in the frame and he slid the backing in neatly, taking a moment to polish the gleaming surface to an unmarred perfection.

Memories of a happier time stared back at him as he set the picture upright on the counter.

Pulling the second bag closer to him, he lifted out the six-pack he’d picked up and twisted open one of the long necks. He hated drunks and what alcohol did to them, he hated anything that reminded him of everything he had left behind in his parents’ house, but he reasoned that he was alone in the apartment, no one would be the wiser if he indulged just this one time. Besides, how much better was he than his father? He had succeeded in hurting Anya just as badly as his father had ever hurt his mother, but he had done it under the guise of love and protection.

After staring at the beer for what felt to him like an eon, he downed it and twisted open another. It would be a long night indeed. Just him and his memories of Anya and everything he’d destroyed.

Buffy bounded up the stairs of her home, her thoughts racing. There had been so much sadness abounding in all of their lives that she was thrilled to finally be able to do something positive. All she had to do was mend a broken relationship and somehow reincorporate Anya into their group despite her current demonic status. She was the slayer; if she could save the world countless times, she could do this!

But first, she had to make a phone call and convince Xander to join her on patrol.

“Willow, Dawn!” She ran into the pair as they talked in the bathroom, Dawn with an eyeliner pencil poised in one hand and Willow seated on the edge of the tub.

Dawn’s hand jerked at Buffy’s sudden appearance. She dropped the make up into the sink. “Willow was just giving me a few pointers,” she said hurriedly.

“Yeah, just some girl advice before we went out to the Bronze. You wanna come?” Willow added.

Buffy smiled in response. “Patrol. But why don’t you invite Anya? I bet she’d like the chance to get out of the shop and, who knows, maybe she’ll run into a scorned woman at the club and get to wreck some vengeance.”

“Um… Anya?” Dawn looked at Willow’s reflection in the mirror, seeing a confusion that matched her own. “But—“

“She’s a demon now. Yeah, I got ya’. That’s what she kept saying. But try anyway, huh?” Buffy replied. “Just ask her. I know there’s a lot to get past, but she’s kind of lonely and could use a few friends right now.”

“Okay,” Willow said hesitantly. “I guess we could always ask. I mean, what are the chances that she’ll say yes anyway?”

Buffy watched as Dawn shrugged and picked up the eye pencil again.

*** ** ***

The phone wouldn’t stop ringing and Xander glared at it, hoping to intimidate it into shutting up. It didn’t work however and he finally lifted the receiver from its cradle.


“Xander?” Buffy’s voice echoed in his ear.

“Yeah,” he allowed, waiting for more.

“I was wondering, would you come out with me on patrol tonight? Willow and Dawn are going out and…”

He looked at the four empty beer bottles that littered the kitchen bar. “I don’t think—“

“I’ll come by and pick you up. That way we can leave straight from your place. See ya’ in ten.”

He hung up the phone; the realization that his friend had just steamrolled right over him did not escape his inebriated attention. That gave him ten minutes to either sober up or finish off the six-pack. He decided on the latter, no longer caring if his drunkenness had witnesses or not.

*** ** ***

Dusk was just beginning to descend when Buffy pulled up in front of the apartment building. She had left the house as a surprised Willow and Dawn were also heading out on their way to the Magic Box to meet Anya. Buffy hoped the evening went well for the mismatched trio because she still wasn’t entirely sure how to begin her mission with Xander.

Being on patrol would help matters since they would be on foot in the dark and she wouldn’t be able to clearly se his expression. Plus, the occasional vampire or demon would keep the conversation’s mood lighter than it would be were they to sit down someplace and talk uninterrupted.

Closing the station wagon’s door as quietly as possible, she hurried up the front steps. The sooner she got to Xander, the sooner she could start getting him and Anya back on the right track.

“We'll walk down this hall, and we'll say, "La la, I'm on my way to Xander's." “Just warning you, Xander, I probably won't be doing that.” “Really? I will.”

The memory was a jolt to her subconscious. They had all changed so much since that pleasant afternoon.

In a hushed voice, she said in a singsong tone, “La la, I’m on my way to Xander’s.”

An elderly lady was just stepping out into the hallway when Buffy rounded the corner, obviously having overheard the comment and gave her a strange “kids these days” look before stepping out of the hallway again.

Reddened from her embarrassment, Buffy grinned when she finally reached Xander’s door and knocked, waiting for him to appear.

“Hey you, are ya’ ready?” She stopped dead in her tracks when the scent of beer hit her. “Oh my—Have you been drinking? You’re drunk,” she sputtered, in answer to her own question.

“Wha’s it t’ you?” Xander slurred, taking an unsteady step backward.

Buffy’s thoughts froze. She had been prepared for many possibilities, but the notion that he could be drunk had never been one of them. After so many years spent in his father’s house, she had never considered he might turn to alcohol.


“Huh?” Xander’s steps were unsteady on the thick pile of the carpet as he headed toward the sofa.

Buffy remained at the gaping door, staring at the stranger who had taken over her friend’s body.

“What?” he snapped when he looked back up and saw her still standing there, staring at him.

“I—“ Buffy’s tongue suddenly felt too large for her mouth. “I just can’t believe—“

“Wha’s the sayin’?” Xander asked, his words slow and heavy. “Like father, like son?”

“No!” she demanded, realizing that her mission had just grown exponentially. She pulled the door closed as she entered the messy apartment. “You are not your father,” she insisted, “and you never could be.”

*** ** ***

“You’re right, I’m worse. Ya’ see, he never pretended to be an’thing other than what he was. But me?” he laughed mirthlessly, “I said I’d never be like ‘im. Look!” He waved his arms in a gesture that encompassed the apartment. “I acted like one of the good guys. I pretended to be better.”

“It wasn’t pretending, Xander. You’re just having a hard time right now is all.”

“No!” his cry rattled the windowpanes. “You didn’t see what was in that vision. What I was in that vision.”

Buffy shook her head vehemently. “But it was a trick. Anya told you herself that it wasn’t real.”

“Doesn’t matter… it could be true.”

Buffy glowered. “Yeah, it could be but only if you let it. If you want to look at things that way, I could be dead—many times over, Willow could still be evil, Dawn… Dawn could still be nothing more than ‘the key’. But we aren’t, none of us, because we chose not to be, in one way or another.”

She paused. “And Anya could be long gone. But even though she’s back on the vengeance schtick she’s still here because she loves you, whether she’ll admit it or not. We all do. Don’t let your father win now, Xander. Not now, not after everything we’ve lived through.”

*** ** ***

a work in progress

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