Mortality - Anya's POV
It happened so fast.
I guess I knew, somewhere in the back of my mind, that it would happen someday, just not so soon. There was no warning. I don't know what I expected; maybe for someone to come up to me one day and say, "You have thirty days left. Use them wisely." That way I could have prepared myself. Come to terms with it.
No, even with a warning I don't think I could have ever prepared myself.
I was a demon for so long: I never had to deal with aging, with death, with mortality. Not my own at least. I dealt with the deaths of other people on a daily basis, but it was never real to me. They were just mortals. Only human. I would grant their wishes and watch the consequences with a relaxed detachment. Even after I became a mortal again, I forgot what life was like: the overwhelming emotion and uncertainty of it all. At first, being human was almost like a game, an experiment to see what it was like from the other side. Nothing really mattered because it was only temporary.
I know exactly when it became real to me though: it was when Joyce died. I knew her. I liked her. She was nice to me. She never treated me as an ex demon. She treated me as a person. She always made me feel welcome. She made good chocolate chip cookies. She was the first person that I really knew that died. I didn't understand it at the time. I'm not sure I really understand it now. I kept thinking that this shouldn't be happening, that this isn't the way things should be.
One of the things I learned, during my second turn as a human, is that things rarely turn out they way you think they should.
Look at Xander. I could never have planned out what happened between us. I really only meant for us to be orgasm friends, nothing more. I certainly never expected to fall in love, or feel loved in return.
I did though.
Our relationship just seemed to grow on its own without our help. One minute we were tangled in the sheets, the next our lives were tangled together. Five years together, half of that as husband and wife. I'm still surprised that he proposed. Maybe that's the real reason I slapped him after he proposed, for making me feel insecure. I don't like that feeling. I like to be in control.
Insecure. I've been feeling that quite a lot recently. I only found out a couple of weeks ago. It's going to change everything. We had talked about it, but it was always hypothetical. It was always 'someday' or 'sometime in the future', never now. Xander always felt that he could never handle the responsibility and that he was too immature himself. Well, it just so happened that the PTB had other plans, and I was afraid to tell him-- I didn't know how he would react. I thought maybe he would accuse me of doing it on purpose. That I was trying to force the situation on him before he was ready. I wasn't. It really was an accident. One I was very pleased about though. I was ready. I had been ready for sometime, but I wanted to wait until he was ready too.
I was having a baby. What better way to beat mortality than to create a life from your own being that will go on after you die? I was so happy but so terrified at the same time. What if he rejected me?
Everything came to a head on a quiet night in May. I was only two months pregnant at the time. I hadn't talked to anyone about it, well except my doctor to get my suspicions confirmed. I decided that tonight was the night. He had to know and I would just deal with his reactions, whatever they were.
We went on our nightly patrol after the Magic Box closed. It was just me, Xander, Willow and Spike. It was dull. The hellmouth had been so quiet lately; we hadn't seen a vamp all week. Except Spike, of course. Can you even consider him to be a vampire anymore? I mean sure, he still drinks blood, but it's not as if he can actually bite anyone. I can't remember the last time I even saw him get all bumpy. I think he has given up even trying to be scary these days. He still calls himself 'The Big Bad' but he's not fooling any of us. He always helps us beat up the bad guys. He is fiercely protective of Dawn. Willow and Tara just adore him now. He pretends to find them annoying but I know he values their friendship.
I think we were all surprised when, not only did he remember Willow's last birthday, but he bought her an old, rare and very expensive spell book that he had shipped from a shop in England. He tried not to make a big deal out of it but I think Willow hugged him so hard, if he had been human, he would have suffocated. We were all so impressed with the gesture that nobody wanted to ask where he got the money from. Except me that is. He wouldn't tell me though. He just winked and smiled at me.
He and Giles have come to appreciate each others company in a sort of British way. I think Xander even considers him a friend now. Don't get me wrong, they still argue every chance they get but they don't mean half of it. I think Spike nearly fell off his chair the first time Xander invited him over to the apartment to have dinner with us. It's quite a regular event now. I always enjoy having one of our nostalgic 'wasn't it great to be a demon' talks. It was nice to have someone that really understood that aspect of me.
As for Buffy, I think she and Spike have come to an understanding. They don't talk about the way Spike used to feel, so none of us do either. Everyone knew it was wrong. A vampire and a slayer together? It could never have worked. Just look at what happened between Buffy and Angel. I know Spike realises this now. I don't know if I would call them friends: they don't exactly hang out a lot. At least not without the rest of the gang present. I think they do have a mutual respect for each other now. They watch each other's backs when they fight and they've saved each others lives more times than I can count.
We were on patrol. Giles and Buffy were patrolling together at another cemetery I think. I don't know where Tara or Dawn were. Studying maybe? It doesn't matter. I think I said before that it happened fast. None of us saw it coming. Spike and Xander were having another of their not-quite arguments about something or other. I wasn't really paying attention. He...she...it... just came out of nowhere. It was huge and a really ugly shade of purple. I don't even want to think about the smell. It went straight for me. I tried to run but it was fast, I never had a chance. Xander barely had time to even turn towards me before it struck, and all I remember is a blinding pain on my right side, then nothing.
The next thing I realised, I was lying on the ground with the three of them looking down at me. My vision was fuzzy and I was so cold. I never liked being cold. It reminded me too much of when I was a human the first time round. My family wasn't exactly wealthy. We couldn't afford luxuries like being warm. I hated being a human back then. It's probably why I was so keen to become a demon. I tried to ask Xander to give me his sweatshirt but all that came out my mouth was a strangled croak. It was then that it came back to me. The ugly, smelly demon. I had been hurt. I could see the terror in their faces. Xander looked so pale. I tried to sit up to tell him that I was okay but I couldn't move. I couldn't really feel my body. I felt numb all over, but there wasn't any real pain, not anymore.
Willow was holding a cell phone. I could hear them talking.
"The ambulance should be here in a few minutes."
"There's so much blood. What do we do? I don't know what to do?"
"We need to be calm. Panicking will only make it worse."
"Look, she's awake. Talk to her. Keep her conscious."
"Anya? Anya honey, can you hear me? Don't move. Help will be here soon. Just hang on. Please hang on."
I could hear the desperation in Xander's voice. They were saying I had lost a lot of blood. I guess that's why I was so cold. Then I remembered, and my whole being filled with panic. The baby! What if the baby was hurt? I couldn't live if I lost the baby.
I tried to talk. I had to make them understand. What if the baby was in danger too? All I could do was cough. Blood! I was coughing up blood. That wasn't good. I could hear Xander start to sob. "No Anya...please. Don't talk, just relax. Everything will be okay."
"The baby," I finally managed to croak out. "Please help my baby."
That wasn't the way I wanted to tell Xander, but I couldn't think about that. All I could think about was the baby. I could tell by the looks on their faces that I was in pretty bad shape. My vision was still fuzzy but I saw the look and the small headshake that Spike gave to Willow. I wasn't going to make it.
"Baby? Anya, sweetie, what do you mean?" Xander looked at me with a mixture of confusion and cold dread.
"My baby, Xander. Our baby. Please help me." The effort was almost too much. I started coughing again.
The shocked look on Xander's face might have actually been funny in another time or place. "You... you're pregnant?"
All I could manage was a small nod of my head.
"Oh God! Where the hell is that ambulance? I don't know what to do. Willow, Spike what do I do?" Xander was almost shouting. I could tell he was so scared. So was I.
He just stared at me for a few moments, his gaze changing from one of overwhelming terror, to confusion, to one of a sort of odd bemusement.
"A baby, really? We're gonna be parents?" He managed to smile a little when that thought occurred to him. I think that warmed me more than any sweatshirt could. He wasn't mad. He wasn't angry with me. I think I smiled too.
"Harris, mate." Spike was speaking softly just to Xander but I still heard him. "I don't think there is anything we can do." Xander just stared at him incredulously. "Until the ambulance gets here," he added quickly at Xander's look, but it was obvious to everyone what he meant.
The despair washed though me. I was going to die and take my baby with me and there was nothing anyone could do. The tears came, flowing freely over my face. I don't like to cry. It's just another way to lose control, but I couldn't help it. I could see Xander in the same state. I knew then that I shouldn't have said anything. Was I cruel to tell him...only to have it snatched away a moment later?
Then Willow, my new angel of mercy, spoke. "I think maybe I m...might be able to do something, but we will have to act quickly."
Hope. With that one sentence she gave me hope. I forced the tears away. "Willow, wh...what can you do. Please help."
She took control quickly. Forced her own tears away. "Spike, get my bag. I dropped it over there," she said pointing behind her. "Xander, Anya. I think I could do a spell that could save the baby but..." her words faltered.
"Willow, we'll do it, please anything," I gasped. I was frantic.
"It's a bit unconventional, but it's the only thing I can think of," I guess Xander and I were not the only ones that were desperate. She sounded unsure of herself. Willow has become very powerful in the last couple of years but I know she still suffers from some self-doubt.
Any strength I had left to me was gone. I could only look at her pleadingly. She got the message. She nodded, trying to reassure me as Spike approached from behind and handed her bag over.
"Do you guys remember the spell that Tara and I did against Glory a few years ago, when we teleported her away?" Willow started pulling ingredients from her bag and mixing them together. "This spell is a variation on that. I am going to transfer the baby from Anya to... well... Xander," her voice faded at the last part. Xander had that shocked look on his face again. I was thankful that he was young and healthy. If he had been older, all the stress he has been through in the last few minutes probably would have given him a heart attack.
"Willow, what! How? What!" I know Xander could not believe what Willow was saying but at that point I would have done anything. I turned my pleading look to Xander. I had to make him understand this was the only way. I could feel myself fading fast.
"It's the only way Xander. It has to be you. I have to perform the spell; there is no way I could do it to myself. It takes an incredible amount of focus and concentration. I can't do it to Spike. He's dead. He can't carry a baby. There is no one else around. It has to be you."
"But I'm a guy. Guys can't have babies."
I wanted to be able to sit up to plead with him. Convince him. I didn't have time for this, but I couldn't move.
"I can make this work Xan trust me please. Anya doesn't have the time." She barely whispered the last part. Willow understood how close I was. Xander looked down at me again.
"No Anya. No! You aren't going to die. You can't leave me here alone. You're going to be fine. The ambulance will be here any second and you are going to be fine," he touched my face gently and brushed away a stray hair, trying to give me a comforting smile, but not really succeeding.
I saw him start to rock gently back and forth: a comfort thing he does when he's afraid.
"Harris?" Spike said softly. Xander didn't respond. He just kept slowly brushing his fingers over my cheek.
"Xander," This time he said it a little more forcefully. That got his attention. I think it was more the use of his name than anything else. Spike very rarely calls us by our names. It's always, Slayer or Watcher or Red.
"Please mate, let Red do the spell. If it's what Anya wants..." He didn't know what to say to convince him. Neither of them did.
"No! We don't need to do the spell because there is no point. Anya is going to be fine!" I think he was trying to convince himself more than anything.
I managed to lift my hand and place it over his on my face. Our eyes locked and I know he immediately saw how weak I was getting, how quickly I was slipping away. I felt light headed, things started to get dark. I heard him softly say two words "Do it!"
Willow instructed Xander to lie down next to me. She positioned herself kneeling in between us. I could feel Xander grasp my hand and squeeze. I desperately wanted to squeeze back. To reassure him that everything would be okay, but I couldn't. I felt Willow's hand touch my stomach. I could see she did the same to Xander. I could hear her start to chant. I didn't understand the words. She nodded to Spike who started to sprinkle the mixture that Willow had prepared, over us.
Willow's chanting got louder and louder. She closed her eyes. She had such an intense look of concentration on her face. I could see her nose starting to bleed. She ignored it.
Pain. Powerful, sharp pain, starting at my stomach and spreading all over my body. It was too much. I passed out again.
I awoke. I don't know how much time had passed. I was still at the cemetery, no ambulance. It couldn't have been long. Xander was kneeling beside me; my head was on his lap.
I looked up at him, my eyes asking the question. Tears were again steaming down his handsome face. He couldn't answer.
"It worked Anya. Your baby will be fine. I promise," Willow spoke softly, maybe afraid that any kind of noise would harm me further. I could see Spike standing behind her with tears in his eyes, not even trying to hide it. I smiled inwardly. Complimented in an odd sort of way, that I could make 'The Big Bad' cry.
I somehow mustered any last strength that I had to lift my hand. I lightly touched Xander's belly. Still flat, but now full with our child. I smiled and closed my eyes for the last time. The last thing I heard was Xander's voice. "Anya no. Don't leave me, please don't leave me. I love you."
I wanted to go back to say "I love you too," but I was gone.
It's okay though. Like I said earlier, there's no better way to beat mortality than to create a life from your own being that will go on after you die.
Grief - Xander's POV
I keep trying to tell myself that, but it hasn't really sunk in. She's gone.
I saw her close her eyes for the last time, her hand on my stomach and a small smile on her lips. Her body relaxed and her hand slipped away.
I gathered her up into my arms. I asked her not to go, not to leave me. I told her I loved her but she didn't listen. She left me anyway. She's gone.
I'm sitting in a chair. It's hard and cold and uncomfortable. It squeaks when I move, making my skin crawl. I think I am at the hospital. How did I get here? I guess the ambulance finally showed up. Too late.
I feel numb. I'm staring down at my feet --they're still there, but I can't feel them. I feel heavy too. Like someone has put 10-ton weight on my back. Is this it then? Is this all I can feel?
I can hear voices. Giles? Is Giles here? When did he get here? When did I get here? How long have I been here? It only feels like a few minutes... or maybe forever. Probably somewhere in between.
"Xander can I get you anything?" I hear Willow's voice on my right side. Can she get me anything? I can't think. Can she? I don't know. I can't think. I should be answering now, I know I should. It's rude not to answer someone when they ask you a question. My mom always said that. I can't bring myself to answer though. I can't even bring myself to look up.
"Well, you let me know if there is," I knew Willow would understand. I can see her out of the corner of my eye move away and stand beside Tara. Tara's here too?
More voices. Quiet. Subdued.
"It was a Groloth. Big bugger. Fast. She never stood a chance."
"What happened to it?"
"I managed to snap its neck. They decompose fast. There was just a pile of purple goo by the time the ambulance arrived."
"And Anya was really pregnant?"
"Yeah. We managed to save the baby, I just wish we could have saved her too."
Oh God the baby. Our baby. I'm going to have a baby. She left me and I'm going to have a baby!
How could she do this to me? She should have told me. She had no business out on patrol if she was pregnant. Oh Anya, why didn't you tell me?
I know why. She thought I would have freaked. She's probably right. I would have. We talked about it sometimes. I know she wanted kids, I guess I did too, but the time never seemed right. I always told her I was too immature myself. I mean aren't you supposed to be grown up yourself before you have kids? I'm not a grown up. I'm still...well I am twenty-three I guess. Is that grown up? I would have been okay though, given time. Wouldn't I? Having a little Anya around wouldn't have been so bad.
I don't know anything about babies though. I don't know how to take care of it. I mean what are you supposed to feed them? What kind of diapers would it wear? What if it got sick? I wouldn't know what to do. Anya would know. She'll make... would have made a great mom. She was always so in control of herself, she always seemed to know what to do. How could she leave me alone with the baby?
Maybe... maybe she was wrong. Maybe there was no baby. Women have false alarms with this sort of thing all the time right? Maybe this is one of those times. She was probably just mistaken. I won't really have to deal with this without her because she was mistaken. Yeah, Willow will be coming over any minute to say that the spell didn't work because there really is no baby.
She's not coming over.
I don't understand any of this. It makes no sense. Why her? Why not me? Why not Willow? Oh God I didn't mean that, really I didn't. I don't want Willow to die. I don't want anybody to die.
I mean: it just went straight for her. Why her?
It should have been me. It was supposed to be me. I'm not meant to be here without her. How am I going to live here if she isn't with me? I mean who else is gonna make sure I eat something other than junk food? Who's gonna leave me cute little love notes in my lunchbox. Who's gonna put a damp cloth on my forehead and feed me chicken soup when I'm ill? I don't even know how to work the washer and dryer.
Ugh, too many thoughts. I just need to close my eyes and block it all out.
That's it. I'm not really here. I'm home in bed with her. Everything is fine. It was just a dream. I'm gonna wake up and she'll be there. She will try to cook breakfast and she'll burn the toast like she always does. We'll laugh about it and I'll tease her. She'll pretend to be insulted but she will have that knowing smile on her face. We'll go off to work together. I'll drop her off at the Magic shop and I will go on to the construction site and everything will be normal.
Everything has to be normal.
I don't want to open my eyes because I know it's not true. Everything isn't normal. It'll never be normal. I can still smell that hospital smell: that too clean smell. I can still hear all the chatter from the other people in the waiting area. Useless irrelevant chatter. Don't they know? Don't they understand? She's gone and they go on talking like the world is still spinning and the sun is still gonna rise in the morning. Something should be happening. Somebody should be doing something to acknowledge that she... that something happened. Everybody should be silent. I feel like shouting at everybody to shut the fuck up! I want to ask them, how can you all go on with your daily lives so calmly?
What's the point?
"Mr. Harris? Mr. Harris can I talk to you for a few minutes?" I open my eyes and finally look up. I guess it'll do me good to stop staring at my feet.
"My name is Dr Reid. I have a few things that I need to go over with you."
"What?" My voice sounds strange, distorted. My throat is raw from the crying earlier when....
He wants to talk to me? To go over a few things? Now? I guess my face effectively conveyed my thoughts because he backs away as if he was intruding on some private moment. Well he was. How can anybody expect me to go over anything just now?
"Just bugger off for now okay?" Spike's voice doesn't have the usual bite to it that it normally has. Instead it's full of sorrow and resignation. Far too gentle to be Spike.
"Here, maybe I can help. What do you need?" There, Giles is dealing with him. Let Giles handle it. He's the grown up.
I'm tired. Maybe if I sleep I will feel better. Yeah, good one. Now I really feel like laughing. My eyes hurt. I have a headache. Anya would always massage my headaches away. I rub my eyes to try and get rid of the hurt.
What's that? Oh God it's blood. It's all over me. It's on my hands. I didn't notice. Is it mine? Was I hurt? I don't think so. Oh no it's Anya's. I've gotta get it off me. Gotta get it off.
I can't get it off. I'm just staining my jeans red as I rub. My hands are still tinted pink. Why won't it just go away?
"It's all right mate. C'mere," Spike is making me stand up. I don't wanna. I just want to curl up in a ball and hide. Maybe that will make everything go away.
He leads me to a bathroom and washes my hands and arms carefully until all the blood is gone. I can't see it any more but I can still feel it. It's all over me. I don't think it will ever go. That horrific pink stain has seeped through right to my core.
I lean against the wall and slowly slide down. I don't have the strength to hold myself up. I just sit there crouched on the bathroom floor. I don't know what else to do. I can feel Spike's eyes on me. Of all the things a vampire needs to learn to survive, I doubt comforting a grieving friend is high on the list. He's probably trying desperately to come up with something to say, some platitude to make my misery go away. That's something I wouldn't mind hearing. I wish there were something, a simple sentence, that would make all these thoughts and feelings disappear.
Instead Spike just sits down next to me. He puts an arm around me and places my head on his shoulder. He probably expects me to cry. That's what people in this situation usually do isn't it, cry? I can't. I think if I started I'd never be able to stop. I don't wanna cry, I don't wanna feel anything. Not anymore.