CATEGORY: Transgender-fic, AU, minor angst
WARNING: TRANSGENDER FIC! There are also a few naughty words and a really weird scene in which a shower is involved, but nothing too shocking.
DISCLAIMER: Joss Whedon and the Grr-Argh Monster own all. I am merely a lowly minion playing in this world.
Anya sat at a small table at the Bronze and watched the oddly Sunnydale mix of highschool and collage aged kids dancing to the loud music when one girl in particular caught her eye. She was pretty in an average sort of way, nothing about her auburn hair or modestly clothed slim form stood out from the crowd. She was a little older than the norm for the club, but no so old that she was out of her element. No, what caught Anya's eye was the banked anger that made her fairly glow with the kind of energy that only a Vengeance Demon could see. Practically purring, Anya waved her over.
"Hey. I'm Anya."
The girl smiled wanly, wanting to be polite despite the fact that she was caught in the midst of trying to suppress a temper tantrum.
"Rachel. Rachel Collinwood."
Anya gestured to the seat across the small round table from her and smiled warmly.
"Have a seat Rachel. You look like you could use someone to talk to." Anya's voice was filled with sympathy, but her eyes sparkled. "Tell me about it. Boy trouble?"
Rachel put her purse and her drink on the table and sat down on the seat even as she nodded and rolled her eyes in exasperation.
"Oh my, yes." Then she turned a faintly hurt look on the Vengeance Demon. "Is it just me or are all guys secretly jerks at heart?"
Anya got an oddly understanding gleam in her own eyes. "Yes, they are. Although...to be honest, some do try not to be." She shrugged philosophically. "Then their inner boyness comes out and it can't be helped."
Rachel snorted in vague amusement and took a quick sip of her drink.
"Like, this last disaster that called itself my date. When I met him he seemed to be perfect. Good job, nice friends, good grasp of what was important...or so it seemed."
Anya nodded in sympathy even as she got the feeling that this girl was going to give her a good challenge, one she could enjoy. Then Rachel's face crumpled from one of explaining to a frown of remembering.
"We were out having diner. Nothing too fancy, but I was having a very good time. Then, out of nowhere, his cell phone starts ringing. It's one of his friends...having some sort of crisis. And then he left!"
Rachel slammed her fist down on the table and Anya blinked and jerked a little at the sudden movement.
"Can you believe it? That jerk! He didn't even pay for the bill. Xander just babbled some stupid excuse that was patently a lie and then ran out of the restaurant! He left me there with the check and no way home!"
Anya felt her face go pale and her voice was little more than a croaking whisper, "Xander? Did you say his name was Xander?"
Rachel paused a moment and she looked up at Anya in confusion.
"Yeah. Xander. Xander Harris is his name. Dark hair and dark eyes." Rachel frowned slightly and tilted her head. "Do you know him?"
Anya's eyes narrowed down and her lips pursed into tight line. "Oh yeah, I know him all right. Xander is the asshole that left me standing at the altar in my wedding dress, so I am not surprised at all that he left you with the bill and a cab ride."
Rachel sucked in a deep breath and reached out and grasped Anya's hand gently. She gave it a light squeeze in sympathy. "Oh Anya. I'm so sorry. I didn't know."
Anya carefully pulled her hand back and took a large drink from her glass. She didn't even think about what to do next, this was a situation that she had dreamed of. Leaning forward, she offered up a slightly conspiratorial grin to the other girl.
"So...if we could chose any punishment in the world for our love 'em and leave 'em Xander, what would you suggest?"
Rachel blinked at Anya for a moment and then dissolved into giggles.
"Oh, I could think of a few things. Boils, lesions, bald head, bad breath and hairy ears being only a few." Anya was about to say it could be arranged and cast the spell, but then Rachel went on. "But I don't think that those types of things would get it through to Xander that there are certain things that you just. don't. do. If you ask me, the best punishments are the ones that also teach a lesson."
Anya smiled. She really liked this girl. She could see why Xander would want to date her. Rachel was smart and saw things clearly and Xander always did like smart women...even if he didn't always realize that fact.
"That's true. All of those things would only teach him to fear mirrors and that's not really the point, huh?"
Rachel giggled again even as she nodded.
"True. What he needs to learn is how to treat a woman. I mean...okay, things come up and stuff happens and all. Everyone knows this and understands. But...to just spout stupid lies and then bail? That's...that's so highschool. Xander needs to learn what it means to be a woman. Women don't want to be treated like...like some toy to be played with when it's convenient."
Anya nodded even though her mind was going a hundred miles an hour. "So...what? You think Xander needs to know what it's like to be a girl?"
Rachel tilted her head again and considered it. "Yeah, I guess I do. I mean, it's like that old saying. If you walk a mile in a man's shoes you'll understand his life better. Well, I'm sure it would work just as well with a woman's shoes, right?"
Rachel frowned and shrugged. "It's weird. He seemed so nice, but...it's almost as if he has no clue how to treat a woman. It's like he has two modes, friend or not friend. That's..." She broke off and looked up at Anya. "Doesn't he have a single romantic bone in his body?"
Anya shook her head. "No. I guess it's not really his fault in a weird way. His parents...well, let's just say that if he had learned how to treat a lady from his dad than you would have walked away from your date covered in bruises. So, I guess that in a way, you're right. He has never learned how a woman wants to be treated."
Then, Anya smiled a not so nice smile. "Okay, Rachel. I agree to your terms. Xander will have to walk that metaphorical mile in a woman's shoes until he learns what it means to be a woman."
And with that pronouncement, she slipped into her true demon face and cast the spell. Rachel jerked back in her seat in shock, but Anya just waved goodbye to her and dissolved in a shower of glittering sparkles of energy.
Early Morning Shocks
Blurry eyed and half asleep, Xander stumbled into the bathroom while yawning. He felt out-of-sorts and off balance, but he just shrugged that off to a mix of just waking up combined with stiff muscles and bruises from last night's baddie. He flicked on the light without looking and shuffled over to the toilet. The seat was still up from last night, so he just reached down and shifted his boxer shorts out of the way. Then he grabbed for his penis so that he could take his traditional first piss of the day.
Only...he missed. Not the bowl, but his penis. He reached for it again. And missed...again. A huge frown of confusion and mild fear forming on his face, Xander felt around for it. He could feel the soft warm skin of his stomach and then down further the short crinkly fur of pubic hair...but there was no penis. No hanging set of lightly furred balls. No...
Panic rising, Xander's eyes flew open and he looked down. Only, he didn't see his penis. Instead, he saw a set of perky breasts straining against his t-shirt.
Whirling around, Xander reached out with one shaking hand and swung the bathroom door shut to expose the full-length mirror that he had hung on it for Anya. Swallowing passed the lump in his throat, he watched as the image of the bathroom shifted around and around until it showed the reflection of a wide eyed and frantic looking girl with curly shoulder length dark hair, large doe-like eyes, full lips, a generous rack, tiny waist, wide hips and long, long legs.
The girl in the mirror was wearing Xander's boxer shorts and t-shirt. When Xander lifted one hand to touch the reflection, the girl in the mirror reached out to touch his hand back. His mind babbling in panicky circles, he watched the girl in the mirror as she cupped her own breasts in her hands. He felt the sensation of movement on his chest and a warm weight pressing against his palms. Looking down, Xander saw that he was cupping his hands around his...his...his own breasts.
His head snapped back up to stare in horrified shock at the mirror. Then he screamed.
Closet of Doom
It had taken a good hour and a half of freaking out for Xander to calm to the point of being able to function. He...er, she had alternated between screaming, crying, huddling in a dark corner while bemoaning his fate, and frantic grasping of various body parts to try and determine if it was all a bad dream. She had moved past that primal panic and had settled into a sort of trancelike numbness. Horror overload, she was sure.
Once Xander had managed to tap into that inner calm-in-the-face-of-overwhelming-terror that all Scoobies learn, she had come up with a plan. Or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof. She would go see Buffy. Then they could call Wills and the three of them could do...research, or something. If all else failed, they could always call Giles in England. This...girlness could be fixed.
But first, she needed to get dressed. Preferably in lots and lots of layers that could hide her...attributes.
Walking into her bedroom, Xander opened up her closet. She figured that one of her large oversized sweaters overtop of a wifebeater t-shirt would do. It was hot out, but that would be the best choice to...well, one glance at her overly generous breasts ended all thoughts that they could be hidden, but the sweater would make them...um...seem a little less...shapely. She most definitely didn't want to wear anything tight and clingy. And large baggy jeans would be necessary to get them up over her flaring hips.
Unfortunately, the fashion police were in on this cosmic joke against Xander. None of the clothing that she remembered owning were in her closet. All of her oversized sweaters and sweatshirts were gone. All of her brightly colored Hawaiian shirts were also gone. Even her baggy jeans and large pull over shirts were missing. In their place, Xander found brightly colored skirts, blouses and dresses in a variety of bold patterns and flowery prints. Xander whimpered.
Pushing the girlie clothing aside, she looked towards the far side of the closet and found some capris pants, but none of her own clothes. Panic trying to rise up in her once again, Xander turned to the dresser. She opened up the first drawer and found a bunch of neatly folded tank-tops and baby-doll t's. Shutting it, she opened the next one down. Inside she found several pairs of cotton leggings like the kind Buffy liked to wear for her training workouts. The bottom drawer held a bunch of socks and...Xander tried not to sway as the blood rushed out of her face, pantyhose.
The other three drawers that were next to the first three she'd opened didn't help either. The top one was filled with women's panties, the second was filled with lacy bras and things and the bottom one was filled with frilly nightgowns and stuff. It was the items in these last three drawers that finally pushed Xander's panic back over the edge. With a pathetic little whimper of fear, she slammed the drawers shut and dashed out of the bedroom and into the rest of the apartment.
She had some dumb idea that if she ran fast enough to Buffy's, no one would realize that she was only wearing a pair of boxer's and a t-shirt. It was stupid, but her brain wasn't really capable of too much thought. It was at that point that she banged her wider-than-she-was-used-to hips against the end table by the couch. That sudden jolt of pain slammed Xander back into the now and caused her to stop, grab her hip and yowl in pain. It also made the small purse on the table tip over and spill it's contents all over the glossy surface.
Her eyes watering with a combination of pain and despair, Xander tried not to cry. With a small little whine of hopelessness, she dropped down onto the floor and began to try and put everything that fell out of the purse back inside it. She was certain that whoever it belonged to would be angry at what she had done. In her fumbling rush, she dropped the wallet onto the floor. Reaching down to scoop it up, the wallet fell open to expose its inner contents. More specifically, the California State Drivers License that was tucked into the small clear plastic display area right in front.
With a shaking hand, Xander picked up the wallet and stared uncomprehending as she studied the picture. It was...her as a she, not as a he. Her eyes, her lips, her...name? The license was issued to one Alexandria LaVelle Harris. With growing horror, Xander realized that somehow she really was a girl...not just in body, but in the public records as well.
Buffy and Jesse
Ignoring the odd looks she was getting, Xander continued up the street to Buffy's house. Getting dressed had been a torture that was suitable to be used in hell, but Xander had finally managed to do it. She had decided on pair of capris pants since they were the closest things to jeans that her girlie self owned, a tank-top with a blouse buttoned up over it and sneakers. Just for the sake of trying to hide her...attributes, she had thrown on a jacket over everything. Hence the odd looks. It was far too hot out for jackets.
Finally, with a rush of relief, Xander reached Buffy's house. She banged on the door and called out, "Buff! Dawnie! Anyone? Hurry up, please!"
She reached up to bang on the door again, but it suddenly wasn't there because someone was opening it. Loosing her all ready shaky balance, Xander stumbled inside only to be caught by strong warm hands. She nearly melted in relief.
"Xan? What happened sweetie? Is someone chasing you?"
The tones were a bit deeper than she remembered, as if the voice had matured a bit, but it was still essentially the same as it had been the last time that well loved voice echoed in her ears. Mind numb with terror and confusion, Xander looked up into the concerned eyes of her one time best friend in the entire world. The same best friend who had been turned at the age of fifteen only to then find his final death at the end of Xander's own stake.
Mindless with panic, Xander tore herself out of Jesse's arms and backwards right into Buffy. Practically sobbing, Xander flung herself behind the Slayer and pointed over her shoulder at the man that she had killed so long ago.
Xander watched as Buffy and Jesse exchanged confused looks although Jesse seemed to be a little hurt at her reaction. Then Buffy was ignoring the ghost of Xander's best friend and turned around to pull Xander into a hug.
"Xan? Sweetie? What is it? You have to tell me or I can't make it all better for you."
Wishing that she wasn't trembling with terror, but unable to help it, she pointed at Jesse again.
Buffy frowned in confusion. "Of course he's alive." Then she blinked. "Wait! Did someone tell you that he had been hurt? Or...or killed?"
Xander looked into Buffy's clear beautiful eyes and stuttered out the best explanation she could.
"T...turned. He was turned."
With a low cry of sympathy, Buffy hugged her close. "No! No, Jesse wasn't turned. Not even close. See? He's alive. Very much alive with no fangs or bumpy ridges at all."
Buffy gestured to Jesse and Xander peered at him over the Slayer's shoulder.
"Is...is this real? Or...or a dream?"
A look of compassion and love on his face, Jesse moved towards them and gently grasped Xander's hand. He was warm to the touch and when he shifted Xander's fingers to his wrist, she could feel his pulse.
"See? I'm fine."
Xander's head was swimming in confusion. "But...but..."
Then Buffy was turning Xander's head gently by the chin so that she was looking at the Slayer again.
"Xan? Did Spike tell you that Jesse had been turned? Did he? Cause if he's messing with your head after I warned him, I'll stake him. I will." Then her eyes went wide and her face paled. "Or did he mean that someone threatened to turn Jesse? Is that it? Is Jesse in danger?"
It was all just too much. Too many shocks that had come far too quickly. Xander had always thought that she could handle anything that the Hellmouth threw at her, but this was far too weird even for Sunnydale. With a low cry, her knees gave out and she crumpled to the floor as tears poured out of her eyes. A wave of hysteria rose up in her and she gave into it.
"No. I didn't see Spike last night at all. He never mentioned anything about Jesse. Spike's never even met Jesse because Jesse is dead. He was turned back in highschool when were fifteen years old by an ancient vampire named Darla. I know this because I am the one that ended up staking Jesse. It was the hardest thing I'd ever done and I still haven't forgiven myself for it. Yet, here he is, standing right in front of me with the whole heartbeat-breathing-being alive thing going on. And neither of you have even mentioned about me being a girl. Because, I have to tell you, as nice as it is to see Jesse alive again, I still miss my penis and I want it back."
Buffy and Jesse exchanged confused looks and then turned to stare in shock at the hysterical and babbling girl on the floor. Then Buffy muttered, "We should go see Giles. This can't be good."
A much-subdued Xander sat at the table in the Magic Box with a cup of tea in front of her. She still didn't really enjoy the taste too much, but she had to admit that the warmth was very comforting. Jesse sat between the two women, mostly because Xander took comfort from being able to reach out every now and then to check and make sure he was still solid, still real. Giles sat at the head of the table, a slight frown on his face as he fussed with his own tea.
"Now, l...let me get this straight." The Watcher cleared his throat and began ticking items off of his fingers. "You woke up this morning to find that you are a female, yet all of your memories are of being a male since birth." Xander nodded. "These...memories also include young Jesse here having been turned several years back." Xander nodded again even as she reached out and gently touched Jesse's warm living hand. "You also have...er, no memory of your life as a female?" Xander shook her head.
"No. It's...strange. I've never been a girl. I can't remember a single day of this...life. But...some things seem, natural even if they are new."
Giles frowned and took a sip of his tea. "Wh...what do you mean?"
Xander shrugged and thought about it. "Like...these sneakers. I don't remember buying them. I don't remember ever wearing them, yet they fit perfectly. They're...broken in to my feet perfectly as if I've worn them a lot. It feels...right to wear them."
Buffy ducked her head and looked down at Xander's feet. When she popped her head back up, she was smiling softly. "I remember when you bought them. It was a fun day of shopping. Me, you and Wills at the Mall with Jesse's credit cards. We had a blast."
Xander offered up a shaky grin to her two dear friends.
Giles, however, found very little to smile about. "We have to find out what is going on with Xan, here. Is...is this a case of someone messing around with her memories...or something even more ominous? Also, it might make her feel better, as well as help with our search, if we compare her new memories with ours."
They all nodded in agreement. Xander was more of the opinion that this whole being a girl was the new thing, but she wasn't going to argue that fact. Giles' was the smartest person she knew and if he said that comparing her boy-memories to her new girl-world's history, then that's what she would do.
"Well, the first glaring difference is Jesse. Xan said that she could remember him being turned by Darla."
Giles looked up at Xander with a questioning look on his face. Those memories were some of Xander's worst, but she realized that this was too important to shut aside. With a sigh, she began to try and explain.
"It...it was right before the Harvest. Darla caught Jesse and turned him to try and punish Buffy since we were all friends. Then...we had a big showdown at the Bronze. I...I...I staked Jesse that night. He...he exploded into a big puff of dust right in front of me. I had nightmares about that ever since." Xander turned big watery brown eyes up at the young man next to her. "I'm so sorry, Jesse. Please forgive me."
Jesse reached out and wrapped one arm around her shoulders and gave her a gentle hug. "Shhhh. It's okay. You're my heart-sib, the sister of my soul, if not my blood and I'll always forgive you anything. Besides, I would never want to be a vampire and it makes me feel relief to know that you would stake me so that I don't go around killing and maiming the people I love."
Xander nodded and sniffled at that, but it was a huge weight off of her shoulders to know that Jesse didn't hate her for what she had done. Giles delicately cleared his throat to help move the talk beyond this tragic spot.
"What of the other people that we are all close to. What do these...er, memories that you have say about them?"
Xander was glad for the respite over Jesse, but his memories of the rest of his friends were just as bad. "Well, Giles, in my boy-memories you are no longer living here in California. In fact, I was a little confused when Buffy said she wanted to talk to you and then didn't call you. See, as far as my memories go, you should be in London England."
Xander faltered for a moment as painful memories rose up in her mind. "Uh...you left here for your homeland after Willow, Tara, Anya and I brought Buffy back from the dead."
Giles' jaw dropped, but it was Buffy who voiced everyone's thoughts. "Dead! I was dead? How...what...what happened?"
Xander cringed and then sighed. She figured that if she just rushed through it, it might not hurt as much. "Well...there was this Hell God. Glorificus." Everyone nodded, so Xander assumed that they remembered her too. "Well, she needed your sister Dawn to open up some sort of Gateway to Hell."
"Dawn is Buffy's sister in your memories?"
Xander blinked and looked up at Jesse in confusion. "Um...yeah. Why? Whose sister is she...in...in this world?"
Jesse pointed at Giles. "Dawn doesn't have a sister. She's Giles' daughter."
"Oh." It took a second or two to shift her worldview to include that tidbit of information and then with a shrug, Xander continued her tale. "Anyway, Buffy...you, managed to close the Gateway, but it killed you in the process. We...we were afraid that you were trapped in Hell. So...Willow found a spell to get you back. But...but you were actually in Heaven and it took you a long time to stop being suicidal about the whole ripped-out-of-eternal-paradise thing."
Everyone just sort of stared at her in stunned shock while Xander tried not to begin hyperventilating. It wasn't easy for her to remember that dark time and she was sure it wasn't easy to hear it either. It was finally Giles that managed to pull himself together enough to talk.
"That...that's not how it really happened, Xan. When you get your real memories back, you'll know that. But, just be reassured that Buffy never died. B...Ben, Glory's other half, took a liking to you when you met him at the hospital where Joyce was being treated. The...the two of you began to date each other. And...and..." Giles blushed darkly, but he resolutely stumbled forward in his narrative. "Well, suffice it to say, you discovered that Ben talks in his sleep and that he had some mystical connection to Glory. We...we were able to use this information to stop her before it ever came to that."
Xander stared at him uncomprehendingly for a long moment. It was Buffy who cleared up her misunderstanding.
"Don't feel too bad Xan. At least, you know, you got some good sex out of it before that mess happened."
With a low cry of horror, Xan covered her ears with her hands and shook her head. "NO! I don't want to hear about me having sex with guys! I am a guy and as soon as I get my penis back I'm going to find me a new girlfriend. You'll see."
Buffy and Jesse looked torn between shock and the desire to laugh. Giles just looked terribly embarrassed and very British.
"Um...yes. I...see." But it was clear that Giles didn't see.
Buffy, however, came to her rescue and changed the subject. "So, speaking of girlfriends. Do you still remember Wills dating a girl named Tara?"
Xander nodded sadly. "Yeah. It almost destroyed her when Tara was killed. Wills even managed to out evil Angelus when that happened."
Buffy's jaw dropped open and sort of flopped around, but nothing came out. It was Jesse who took Xander's hand and began to speak.
"Xan? Honey, Tara was never killed and Wills...well, she's not evil. She's still our heart-sib and soul-sister. She'd never do anything to hurt anyone."
Xander looked up into the eyes of a man she had thought long dead. "Tara's still alive too?"
Jesse smiled and nodded at her. Xander let out a shuddering sigh of relief. "Good. I like her and she's so good to Wills."
Then, a thought hit Xander hard and her head snapped up. "What about Spike? Still soul-boy? Or does he still have his chip? Neither?"
Everyone frowned. "Xan, Spike never had a soul, but yes...his chip is still functional."
"Speaking of the Initiative..." Buffy flashed her an odd look. "Do you still remember Riley, at least?"
Xander nodded and Buffy's expression became odd.
"So, you do remember dating him and the whole...non-wedding fiasco?"
Xander felt her face go pale. "Wh...what? I dated...no, no. See. You, Miss Buffy Summers, dated Riley, not me."
Buffy scrunched up her nose and Jesse crossed his arms over his chest and huffed. Giles picked up the tale.
"Um...no, Xan. It really was you that dated young Mr. Finn. I'm sure that being left at the altar is not something that you would want to remember, after all. But it was most definitely not Buffy that dated him."
"L...left. At the alter?"
Giles nodded in sympathy and Xander turned to face Buffy. "Not your boyfriend?"
Buffy shook her head. "Nope. Sorry. I've been dating Jesse ever since he defended my honor to the creep Parker. I've never looked back. Jesse's all I could ever ask for in a boyfriend. Smart, cute, loyal and brave. No offense, but why would I want to date Riley when I have Jesse?"
Xander could only nod in agreement to that statement.
Xander was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed and seek oblivion between her sheets. It wasn't that she'd spent the day chasing after some random demon or getting beaten up in a fight. It was a mental and emotional weariness that came from being faced with too many shocks and too many extreme emotions. She'd spent the day racing from high to low. Happiness to anger, fear to relief and back again.
Part of her wanted to indulge in a long soak in the tub like Buffy had suggested, but she wasn't too comfortable spending that much time being naked. She wanted to hide her new body, even from herself...not wander about without clothes on. Still, she felt that changing into a comfortable pair of those stretchy leggings would be better to sleep in than her capris.
Heading into her bedroom, Xander flicked on the lights only to watch as a shimmering of sparkly lights floating in midair coalesced into a piece of heavy-bond off-white paper. Snatching it out of the air before it could drift down and away, Xander looked at it. There was shimmering gold lettering on it in a fancy hand-drawn calligraphy. Beginning to tremble once more, Xander read the message.
I finally found a loophole to the clause that D'Hoffryn made me agree to where you are concerned. I was forbidden to curse you on my own behalf, but he said nothing about cursing you for anyone else. I finally found someone who wanted to see you cursed. I'm sure you remember her; your date, Rachel Collinwood.
Her wish was for you to learn just what it means to be a woman. So, to honor her wish, I created a whole new timeline for you to live in. A timeline in which you are a female. You'll find that everyone remembers and knows you as a woman, not as a man. Only you remember your original timeline as a male.
I've taken the liberty to provide you with everything that you'll need. Legal documents, a job, clothing, etc...however, your memories of this new world will come a bit slowly. A quirk of the human mind, of course, but things will begin coming to you bit-by-bit until you remember your entire life as a female.
The part of me that hates you hopes that you suffer, but the part of me that still loves you hopes that you learn to be happy in your new life.
Xander gasped, her jaw hanging open as she read the note once and then once again. Finally, she snapped her mouth closed and turned, ready to run straight to Giles so she could show him what she'd found. Before she even got to the front door of her apartment, the paper began to shiver and shimmer in her hands. She dropped it with a little cry of surprise, but before it even touched the floor, it disappeared with a sharp 'pop' and a cloud of smoke.
With a low throaty moan melting into a husky cry, Xander found herself catapulted into full awareness, the images and sensations from her dream slow to fade. Her body was sweaty and her heart was pounding behind her ribs. Worse, there was a wet throbbing heat between her thighs.
Caught between revulsion and desire, Xander could still feel the ghost-memories of Riley's hands stroking her skin in gentle caresses and the taste of his lips and tongue were fresh in her mind. She absolutely positively refused to think about what she could remember feeling in that oddly hollow spot between her thighs and she threw up thick walls of emotional denial instead of admitting that she ached for his solid heat deep inside of her body.
Throwing herself out of bed, Xander stumbled in a trembling daze out of her bedroom and into her living room. Part of her wanted to luxuriate in the afterglow of orgasm and part of her wanted to go into the bathroom and throw up.
Deciding that ignorance truly was bliss and that she didn't want to discover anymore of her girl-memories, Xander determined to never sleep again if it meant more sex dreams of her so-called ex-fiancée Riley Finn. After all, she could barely handle being in a girl's body, let alone a girl's body that was doing naked things with a boy body that wasn't her...er, him. Whatever. No more sleep, for Xander.
Bras Are Evil
It was still early, but Xander had been up ever since her nightmare about Riley. She had already consumed way too much caffeine for her own good, but it prevented sleep, so that was okay. And as much as she wanted to find a dark corner to hide in, she had to get to the Magic Box. As it turned out, she was Giles' shop assistant instead of Anya...who no one here but her could remember.
So, she had to go...even if it weren't her job, Xander would still want to be there anyway. The familiarness of the place was soothing to her jarred nerves when everything else seemed so topsy-turvy. The first step to doing that, however, was getting dressed. Not something that she was looking forward to. Still, yesterday had been a bit of an educational experience and Xander might be a bit slow, but she wasn't stupid. She had learned the hard way that big breasted women could not run around town without any sort of bra. It was...uncomfortable. Plus, there was the whole being in the public eye thing. Yesterday, Giles had shut down the shop to deal with her confusion and terror, but it would be open today and she would be behind the counter, so she at least wanted to appear...somewhat normal. It wouldn't do to frighten anyone away.
With that in mind, Xander headed into the bathroom. Trying to avoid looking in the mirrors as much as possible, she brushed her teeth and washed her face. She was tempted to jump in the shower, but if she did then she would have to run her hands over her naked body...just as Riley had in her dreams. With a shudder, Xander ignored the shower and just loaded up on deodorant. Maybe tomorrow, but right now she just couldn't handle that thought.
Going back into her room, Xander figured that she'd wear another pair of capris pants again. They were comfortable and they had the added bonus of not being a skirt or a dress. She grabbed a pair of tan ones and a fitted button-down shirt in pale blue. It had a funky girlish collar and oversized backward flipping cuffs, but that was okay. It was the least girlie thing in the closet and she wasn't brave enough to try on one of the baby-doll t's yet.
Stripping off her sleep clothes and putting on clean underwear wasn't easy with her eyes squished shut, but she managed. Once that was done, it was a lot easier to pull on the capris. It was at that point that Xander had to take a deep breath to steady her nerves. Acting as if she expected something horrible to jump out and bite her, Xander slowly opened up the middle drawer. The drawer of horrors. Flinching, she reached in and pulled out a bra.
Staring at the bit of evil lace in her hand with disgust, Xander could remember finding these things sexy and alluring at one time. Of course, that was before she was the one that had to wear it. With a grimace of distaste, she slowly slid her arms in the strap holes and pulled it up against her. Unfortunately, her breasts didn't automatically fall into the soft fabric cups. Trying not to freak out, she took a breast into her hand and...put it into the bra. Then, whimpering deep in her throat, she did it to the other breast as well. It was at that point that she couldn't contain her wiggins anymore and she let out a little shriek as she jumped and shivered at the very idea of manhandling her own breasts. It was just so...Ewwww!
"I want my penis back."
The walls were unsympathetic. With a defeated sigh, Xander reached her arms back to try and grab the bra straps that went around her ribcage. She managed to grab one. The other eluded her. She turned in a small circle trying to chase it, her fingertips brushing it lightly as it hung down her back. Finally loosing her temper, Xander jerked her arm in an odd way that pulled on the tendons in her shoulder painfully, but she managed to catch the stupid strap. She grinned in triumph.
The grin melted into a frustrated frown as soon as she tried to bring the two ends together so that she could snap it shut. Her arms simply couldn't physically bend that far. Her hands wouldn't touch behind her back. Creasing her forehead in concentration, she tugged at the evil bit of fabric so that it would reach further down her spine. Reaching behind her again, Xander found that she could now make her two hands touch. She started to smile, but it died before it even reached her lips. She couldn't see what she was doing, and as such, she couldn't line up the little metal hooks with the little metal eye-holes. She tried again. And again. And finally a forth time.
With a groan, Xander realized that she didn't know how to put on her own bra. She could always call Buffy to come over and help her, but that was so...pathetic. After all, what did she think Buffy would do, slay her evil undergarments? No, she would have to figure this out herself.
Finally, she let go of the straps and slid the whole thing off of her and turned it around to study it. The clasp wasn't really that complicated. It was really simple, in fact. It was just impossible to do without looking and with her arms twisted at such a bizarre and painful angle. After staring at it for a long moment, Xander had an idea.
With a sly smirk, she wrapped the claspy part around her waist and turned it around so that the clasp was at her belly button. Then, ignoring the fact that she was looking at her own breasts, Xander clasped it shut. She swirled the bra around her waist so that the clasp was at her back and tugged it up her waist to her ribs. Then, with another grimace of distaste, she tucked her unwanted breasts back into the cups and slid her arms in under the arm straps.
Grinning in triumph, Xander glanced down at her bra...and realized that it was now inside out. She contemplated leaving it this way when she realized that would mean scratchy lace against her skin all day. Her shoulders slumping down in defeat, she yanked it back off so that she could put it on right-side-in. During the whole process, Xander described her opinions on being a girl and girl's clothing in as colorful a language as she could. She impressed herself by not having to repeat any particular profanity.
Finally, she was able to put on her blouse. By that point, she just wanted to get out of her apartment and over to the Magic Box where she was at least considered normal by the others. And not really knowing what to do with half of the girlie stuff in her bathroom and on her dresser top, she just ran a brush through her long hair and pulled it up into a neat ponytail. After that, it was merely putting a pair of sandals on her feet and grabbing her...purse. Then, she was ready to go.
The day went a lot better than Xander had hoped it would. Right at first it had been a little awkward with Dawn there. She had started out the morning by organizing her homework due that day at her father's shop. That right there had been odd for Xander. Her memories clearly stated that Dawn was Buffy's sister and yet there she was calling Giles "Dad" and promising to come back to the shop after classes.
Dawn was sympathetic to Xander's plight of mixed up memories, but she didn't act like the same girl who had suffered a crush on him for years. Instead, she was giving off definite kid-sister vibes. She also seemed to be a lot more mature and grown-up and Xander wondered if it was because she didn't spend so many years' blind to the Hellmouth alongside of Joyce.
Soon enough, Dawn was off to school and it was just she and Giles left at the Magic Box. That was odd enough as it was. Xander's memories told her that she should be taller. She should be able to look Giles in the eyes...not the chin. However, she found that if she focused on other things, like the buttons on his shirt or the glassy surface of the counter in front of her that she could more easily deal with the oddly disturbing difference.
With a bit of stuttering and a little stumbling over the story, Xander had told Giles about the floating note and the message it contained. She also explained how it had disappeared into thin air after she had read it. It was encouraging that Giles was excited about that bit of evidence, even if he didn't recognize the name Anyanka and had never even heard of Vengeance Demons. Xander had felt disappointed that Giles didn't know about it off of the top of his head, but her longtime mentor assured her that there were a lot of different types of demons that he wasn't personally familiar with. Giles said it was all a matter of research and now that he knew in which area to focus it would all go much faster and smoother.
So, Giles had left her in charge of the shop and it's cash register so that he could spend the day concentrating on finding any reference to Vengeance Demons in general or Anyanka: Patron of Scorned Women in particular. That was just fine with Xander. There was no one better to do the research for her.
The odd thing was, over the course of the day Xander noticed little things that suggested that the promised girl-memories were appearing in her head. She was mostly familiar with the shop's inventory since she had spent so many hours as a guy building shelves and display cases and putting new orders on those shelves. In this version of reality, those shelving units and display cases were missing, but the inventory that they would have held was still available to purchase. What's more, whenever a customer wished to buy something, she automatically knew what it cost and how to use the cash register...something that she hadn't known in her boy-life.
When she thought about it, she realized that she could still remember everything about her life as a male. The knowledge of how she had built the missing display cases was still rattling around inside of her head even if they didn't exist in this...girl-world. That was reassuring in it's own way. She didn't think that she would like it if the new memories that Anya was slowly building in her mind ended up erasing her old ones.
Hands in New Places
She was slowly going through the end-of-day receipts and logging the information into the accounts ledger so that she and Giles could close up the shop and get ready for that evening's Scooby meeting. Giles had a stack of books already out on the table to pass around and Dawn was quietly doing her homework so that she would be done in time to help out as well.
It was at that point that a loud bang followed by a brief flurry of swearing came from the back room. Xander grimaced. Spike. Still, the others did say that he was chipped, so Xander figured that it wouldn't be any worse than what she remembered from the boy-reality.
She watched confused as both Dawn and Giles snapped their heads up to exchange a brief look of worry. Then Giles was trying to stand up and turn around at the same time while calling for the chipped vampire. Spike sauntered into the front room with his black duster fluttering about his legs.
"Hey, Nibblet. Watcher."
The bleached blonde demon nodded at the two frantically waving people at the table, but he otherwise ignored them and strolled right up to Xander. She swallowed hard, waiting for the torrent of rude comments and barbed jokes. They never came. Instead, Spike stepped up behind her and plastered his solid form tightly to her back as his hands ran themselves down her sides. One arm wrapped around her waist as the other gently groped her capris pants covered bottom. "Mmmm, pet. How's my girl today?", was whispered into her ear before a cool wet tongue ran up the side of her neck.
"Ahhhhhh!" Xander lurched out of his arms and flung herself over the counter and into a tumbled heap on the floor. "Hands in new places! Ahhhh! Evil evil hands in bad bad places!"
Spike just stood there stunned, a look of complete shock on his face for a moment. Then he turned and growled at the Watcher. "What the bloody hell is going on with my woman, Rupert?!"
Xander stared at the blonde vampire for a moment and then turned to look up at the ceiling and screamed. "No! Anya this isn't funny anymore! You're making me date Spike? Anya, no! I wanna go home dammit and I want my fucking penis back! Now!"
Nothing happened. Anyanka didn't appear and Xander stayed a girl. Spike, Giles and Dawn simply gaped at her as she crumpled up into a shivering ball on the floor and gave in to the urge to cry.
Perceptions of Reality
The rest of the night was torture for Xander. Right up at the top of her list of things to have a mental breakdown about, directly under "Xander has no penis" was the fact that she was somehow dating Spike of all people. This ranked above even the whole "must wear a bra now" thing. She was a bit upset that Buffy didn't tell her last night when they were comparing her memories to theirs, but she could sort of understand. After all, how do you tell someone that they're doing the wacky with a soulless demon that would like to kill all of your friends?
Xander's track record with dating, at least boy-memory wise, had given her lots of practice at the whole "but they're evil" thing, so that wasn't the most disturbing point...which was it's own little ball of scary that Xander refused to think about. No, what messed with Xander's head the most was that Spike seemed to genuinely care about her now. Yes, he was most definitely post-chip crazy instead of post-soul crazy, but he still seemed...oddly protective of her.
He would sit quietly next to her all wide-eyed and shocked until he forgot that she didn't remember their relationship and tried to cuddle and comfort her. Then, of course, Xander would flinch away and slam Spike back into reality. At that point, he would jump up and rant and rave about what he would do to Anya when he got his hands on her. He was very inventive in his choice of tortures and Xander found it flattering in a sick and twisted sort of way. It also reminded her of all of the times that she had listened to Anya describe the various things that she had done to men over the centuries on behalf of some scorned woman or another.
Finally, after one last tantrum and the threat of rivers of Anya-blood, Spike stormed out of the Magic Box to go have a smoke and everyone sighed in relief.
"Um...Xander. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to find anything in our books that mentions this...Anyanka or...or any other type of Vengeance Demon."
Xander frowned and looked up at Giles in worry. Giles took off his glasses and began to polish them slowly.
"Of...of course, that doesn't mean that we will stop looking. I...I still have some contacts on the Council and there are other places we can search. How...however, we might want to consider that your altered memories also include false impressions of this...person."
Willow nodded slowly and then looked up with an excited expression on her face. "Oooo! Maybe...maybe Anyanka is just...you know, a witch that wants you to think she's some demony creature to...I don't know, throw you off of her trail so that you can't get your real memories back?"
With dawning horror, Xander realized that they didn't comprehend the true scope of Anya's abilities.
"No. She's a demon. A Vengeance Demon. She didn't alter my memories at all. She altered my body and this effected the timeline. It...it...created a whole new universe."
They all looked at her with skepticism on their faces. Xander knew that if she couldn't make them believe her that they wouldn't look in the right places.
"No, no. She's...she's done it before. In...in my own world, I mean. See...Cordelia wished that Buffy never came to Sunnydale. Anyanka granted that wish and it changed everything. The timeline was altered to fit that fact that there was no Slayer here on the Hellmouth."
With a pause to make sure that everyone was listening, Xander continued. "That meant that when the Master was resurrected, there was no one to stop him. Willow was a vampire and...and so was I. Boy me, I mean. We both were. Giles and Oz and a few others had banded together to try and fight them off, but without a Slayer it wasn't easy."
With a sigh, Xander looked at the Watcher. "Giles, when Cordy realized what had happened, she went directly to you...or your double in that reality. She explained about Anyanka and the wish and you did...something to her power-center that destroyed it. By destroying her power, all of the wishes that she had granted undid themselves as if they never were and Cordy was sent back home to the real timeline."
Giles just stared at her with one eyebrow raised up in concentration. "What was it that...the other me did to stop her?"
Xander's shoulders slumped down in defeat. "I don't know. Anya refused to talk about it to anyone and the Giles of my timeline didn't experience it. Cordy knew, but she didn't understand it so she could never say what exactly was necessary to perform the ritual. Besides, it had already been done and no one ever thought that Anya would get her power-center back."
Xander watched with growing dread as everyone exchanged pointed looks. They didn't believe her. They were already convinced that it was a witch that had done this and that this was a case of an altered set of memories, not a whole new timeline. With a groan, Xander let her head rest on the table in defeat.
Willow reached across and patted her shoulder sympathetically. "Don't worry, Xan. We'll get your memories back."
At that, Xander's head snapped up and she snarled at the redhead. "I don't want the memories of this world. What I want is to get my fucking dick back!" And with that, she shoved her chair back and stormed out leaving everyone staring at her with shocked looks on their faces.
Late Night Stroll
She didn't get very far before she heard Spike's steps fall into rhythm with her own. She kept walking as she waited for him to speak, to say something. When he stayed silent she finally lost her patience.
Spike flinched a little and then sighed softly. He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and fiddled with it a bit before he took one out and put it in his mouth. Then there was a brief flare of red-orange light as he flicked on his lighter. The scent of burning tobacco began to wrap around them and that was strangely soothing. It was something normal that matched her memories perfectly.
"I heard everything that was said in the shop back there, pet."
Xander gritted her teeth at being called "pet" by Spike, but she didn't yell about it. She was more interested in what he had to say on the subject so she stayed quiet and just tossed a questioning glance at him.
Spike cleared his throat and looked away uncomfortably for a moment. "I...I can't say as I've ever heard of a Vengeance Demon either...but," The vampire sighed and shook his head. "but I believe you."
Xander stopped dead in the middle of the street, stunned that out of all of the people she had told the truth to, that only the evil undead one believed her. She turned wide startled brown eyes on Spike.
"You...you believe me?"
Spike merely nodded and grasped her elbow gently and got her moving again.
Spike paused for a long moment and took a drag off of his cigarette and then tipped his head back to look up at the stars. He blew out a stream of smoke and pointed into the sky.
"Dru used to spend a lot of time chatting with them glittery pinpricks of light. The stars are singing to me Spike, she used to say." He huffed a bit of air out of his nose that was half sigh and half snort. "She told me, more than once, that for every star in the sky there was a different life for someone to lead. A different destiny, so to speak."
Xander nodded and grimaced. "No offense if the Drusilla of this reality is different, but the one that I remember was raving mad, Spike."
Spike chuckled softly. "No offense taken, luv. I have a feeling that my Dark Princess is a bit touched in the head in any reality. Doesn't mean that she didn't know her mojo. She had visions, you see? Wise beyond her years one moment, childlike and confused the next."
"And she believed in alternate realities? Multiple timelines?"
Spike shrugged slightly and frowned in thought. "I...I think that's what her visions actually were. Glimpses into other worlds. Then it was up to her to decide if she wanted to make that reality come to pass here or if she wanted to try and prevent it from happening. See?"
Xander nodded. "Yeah. That actually makes sense in a weird Hellmouthy sort of way."
Spike looked away for a long moment then. "That's not a concept that most people are too comfortable with, pet." He sighed and looked back at her and she was struck with how very very blue his eyes were. "See, if this whole...timeline is the creation of your Anya, then that means that we all...aren't real. Your mates are good people, luv, but it's easier for them to accept that your memories were scrambled then it is to accept that their entire lives are the figment of some demon's imagination."
That thought was so profound and deep that Xander stumbled as she considered it. With his lightening fast reflexes, Spike reached out and caught her before she could fall. Then, instead of letting go, he simply wrapped his hand around hers and entwined their fingers so that they were holding hands. She stared at their clasped hands for a long moment until Spike went to draw away with a softly muttered, "sorry. Forgot 'bout that."
She clung to his hand as something wonderfully real in all of this madness and questioning of reality that she was doing. "No. It's...it's okay. I...uh, sorta feel like I need to be anchored down. That...that works."
Spike grinned at her for a moment and then grew pensive again.
"Xan. Luv,...I think you might want to consider the fact that you might not be able to...get back to your own...timeline. That you might be stuck here."
Xander sucked in a breath. "No. No, I can't."
Spike grimaced. "If we can't find this Anyanka and she doesn't appear for you..." He trailed off and stared out into the night. Xander didn't need the vampire to finish the thought, however. She could do that all on her own. If Anya didn't undo the curse or if they couldn't find a way to remove her power-center than she would be stuck in this alternate timeline as a girl forever.
"I just think that you should think about it, Xan." Spike shrugged and looked oddly vulnerable. "I know that you were shocked about...well, about us, but..." He sighed. "Look, this isn't such a bad place. You've got friends who would kill or die for you. You've got a good job doing something you love. You're healthy and not in any trouble with the law. I..." Spike tossed her a brief leer. "I'm willing to give you time to adjust, but when you do I promise to try and seduce you once again so that you'll still be able to enjoy some of the best sex on the planet."
Xander blinked at that and tried very very hard not to let any Spike-sex memories rise up in her mind. Before she could work herself up into a panic, Spike continued on.
"All I'm saying is that while you are looking for a way home to the existence you remember, you should try and relax and enjoy the things that you have here." Then Spike turned an oddly curious look at her. "I mean, is it that terrible a fate to be a chit?"
Xander frowned at that last question even as they reached her apartment building. "Um...probably not. Or at least, it wouldn't be if I had been one forever. But..." She turned a pointed look on Spike. "How would you feel if you woke up one morning to find your dick was missing?"
Spike blanched slightly and a horrified expression flickered across his face. "Good point, luv."
Then, shaking himself, Spike turned to face her and reached up with one hand to brush it softly alongside of her face. It was a tender gesture that spoke of devotion...devotion and other things that she had no memory of. Appreciating his concern but still fearing that he might try to kiss her goodnight, Xander pulled back and gave him a wobbly smile.
"Tha...thank you for walking me home, Spike." She glanced up at her building. "I...I should go inside now."
He smiled sadly, but let go of her.
"Sure thing, pet."
The soft noises that came out the sleeping girl's mouth were an odd mixture of whimpers, moans and grumbling displeasure. Her limbs twitched and jerked slightly even as her head occasionally thrashed upon her pillow. Rapid movements behind her eyelids were highlighted by the swiftly shifting expressions that chased across her sleeping face.
Xander stood there with his head hanging down as he fidgeted, shifting his weight from one foot to the other and back again. His father stood looming over the seven-year-old boy and lectured him on the importance of picking up his toys. It was a typical scene that could be found in almost any home in America...at least until the end of the lecture when Frank Harris leaned down and hissed at Xander, "I hate you and your stupid mother. You do know that when you were just a baby that I had the chance to get away from you two, don'cha? I should have taken it and just left." The haranguing got worse from there
The sleeping girl moaned quietly in the night and turned her head to the side as if to look away from her own dreams. Now facing the far side of the room, her dreams became calmer and more soothing.
Seven-year-old Xan stood in front of a mirror in the small little apartment that she and her mother lived in. When she had been just a small baby, her father had left for parts unknown and her mother had sold the house. Their apartment was tiny, but it was home. Her mother had worked part time and gone back to school part time for many years. Now, her mother was finally ready to graduate and Xander had gotten a new dress to wear to the small celebration. She was so excited. Willow and Jesse were going to be there as her guests and that was cool because she was so proud of her mom and Xan wanted her friends to know that
The sleeping girl turned her head again, only to have her soft smile fade away as her dreams turned darker once again.
Xander's world was crumpling around him. Jesse was dead, a dusted vampire whose remains had been swept from the floor of the Bronze. Willow was in shock and trying to deal with this all as well, so she wasn't able to be his rock...his shelter. And then there was Buffy; blonde, brave, beautiful. She stood against the darkness and drove it back. Xander focused on her in an effort to keep from slipping into insanity. He only wished that he had something to offer her
A frown marring her full lips, the sleeping girl shifted once again.
Xan's world was a confusing and frightening place. Safety was merely an illusion. Jesse had been attacked by some vampire chick and it was only at the last instant that he had been saved by that new girl, Buffy. Willow was in shock and was spending most of her time at the hospital with Jesse, so she wasn't able to be her rock...her shelter. That left Xan with Buffy; blonde, brave, beautiful. She stood against the darkness and drove it back. Xan focused on her in an effort to keep from slipping into insanity. So, she did the only thing she could, she offered her friendship, an open invitation to visit the apartment anytime and offered to introduce her mom to Buffy's...after all, they were both single working moms in an insane town. People needed all the friends they could get
A shift in body position, a shift in dreams....
Xander wasn't sure if he loved Cordelia or if he merely loved the thrill of the forbidden that she represented. She was beautiful and smart, but she was also cold and at times, cruel. There were times that he liked her, times he admired her, times he adored her and there were also times that he just couldn't stand the sight of her face. She put him down, she trod on his feelings, she refused to acknowledge him or his friends in public and she was always doing her best to change him...to mold him into some image of the perfect man that only she could understand. It wasn't love, but it was something warm, alive, challenging and most importantly, his
Another shift, another facet of the dream....
Xan and Willow exchanged a shared look of fond exasperation as Jesse wandered away with Cordelia Chase, the girl he had longed for more than half his life. Xan wondered if Cordy was all that Jesse had hoped for, but she didn't think that this was the great romance that her heart-sib had wanted. Cordelia was happy to express herself in front of the Slayerettes and even helped them out on occasion as a Slayerette herself. However, she was still the undisputed ruler of the Cordettes and she refused to acknowledge any of them in front of her gang of self-important stuck-up friends...even Jesse. She knew that hurt her dear friend, even if he claimed otherwise
Xander shuddered with fear and loathing even as he continued to barricade the door. He and Cordelia were hiding, trying to prevent the hordes of bespelled women from reaching them with their murderous intent. Something had gone wrong with Amy's spell and now Xander found himself to be the epicenter of raging hormones and intensely powerful jealousy. Just for the ironic twist, the only woman that he had wanted it to work on still thought he was a total shit. Life just sucked that way
Xan walked into the Library and sat down between Willow and Buffy. Almost instantly, a big old book was shoved in front of her and Giles asked her to translate it into English. Xan made and face, "Ewww. I hate translating." The Englishman smiled briefly, "But you do it so well." Xan rolled her dark eyes and once again wondered why she had told them that she had learned a lot about doing this as a young child because her mother had gone to school for archeology. Granted, her mom now had a great job at the local Museum of Art and Cultural History, heck, she was even thinking of going back to school to get her doctorate degree. Still, the dusty books made her sneeze. Trying to stall, she told everyone about the latest gossip. "Hey, did you guys know that Amy Madison is a witch? I saw her put a spell on a teacher to convince her that Amy had turned in some homework...and there wasn't any homework there. The teacher didn't know that, however." Jesse looked up, hope springing over his desolate face. "Do you think she could cast a love spell?" After a brief pause and a few "Ewwww"'s, Giles had then gone into full-blown lecture mode about the dangers of untried love spells, especially one cast by an untrained and unethical witch
Suddenly, a sound intruded on the sleeping girl's dreams. It was loud, electronic and obnoxiously repeating itself over and over again. Struggling to push away the cobwebs of sleep, Xander finally awoke enough to realize that it was the alarm clock. With a groan, she rubbed her eyes and rolled over. Reaching out with one hand, she turned off the alarm clock and wondered what the day would bring.
Standing in her bathroom, Xander realized that she couldn't put it off any more. She needed to get a shower. She was, bluntly, beginning to smell and she didn't think it was fair to inflict that on her friends simply because she felt awkward about being a girl...in a girl's body. With girlie body parts. Naked. And wet.
She had to stop thinking like that and just do it before she ended up in a panic over it. With a slightly hysterical giggle, Xander figured that she could always ask Spike over to wash her body for her. She could just picture it now, "Um, Spike? Could you wash down my body for me? See, I don't want to touch it, but I figured that there wouldn't be any surprises or shocks for you. So, be a pal and soap me all up?" Not! Shaking her head, Xander admitted to herself that the only thing worse than a wet soapy her was a wet soapy Spike. That didn't even bear thinking about.
So, she reached into the tub and turned on the water so that it could heat up. Then, she made sure that she had towels and her robe waiting for her. She looked around one last time to make sure that she was all set and then realized that she couldn't stall any longer. It was time to get naked.
Turning her back on the mirror hanging on the bathroom door, Xander quickly shed her clothes and stepped under the spray of warm water. It felt good on her skin, but she was trying not to actually look at herself, so she was too focused to relax and enjoy it. Reaching for the shampoo, she quickly poured some in her hands and began to wash her hair. It wasn't too long until she realized that more hair meant that she had to use more shampoo, so she loaded up her hand again and this time it worked.
She shampooed and conditioned twice and then had no choice but to start on her new girlie body. She took up one of those puffy sponge things that she recognized from Anya liking them and poured a bit of body wash on it. Arms, armpits, legs and feet. Strange and surreal, but doable. It was the whole in-between-those-spots thing that gave her the wiggins.
Taking a steadying breath, Xander began to wash. It her complete horror, she discovered that running her puffy sponge thing over her breasts felt good and that the sensations didn't just stay in her breasts, but shivered all throughout her body in tingly waves. If that wasn't the worst of it, then the thought of having to wash between her legs was. For a brief instant, Xander almost lost her nerve and didn't do it, but then she had visions of all those half-overheard conversations and clips of tv commercials running through her mind. Things that all girls understood, but that she had no true knowledge of. Things that had names and descriptions that induced horror, like that yeasty stuff you needed creams and pills to cure. Xander had no idea if that was from not washing or sitting on public toilets or something else. She wasn't going to take the chance though. So, armed with a bunch of clean scented bubbles, she cleaned herself.
Soaped up and rinsed off, Xander shut off the water, jumped out of the tub and freaked all over her bathroom. She shook and shivered and was on the verge of tears. It was somehow more real now. She had girlie parts that were nothing like the manly parts that she had grown up washing and cleaning and it totally freaked her out that she might have to spend the rest of her life washing and cleaning parts that weren't of the manly type.
Muttering "I want my penis back. I miss my penis." over and over again, Xander began to dry herself off with her towel. She found that long hair was a lot harder to just towel dry and she was forced to wrap the towel around her head turban style. Then she put on her robe and walked out to her bedroom.
Slowly, Xander began to change into her clothes. She had settled on a pair of forest green cotton leggings and an oversized yellow cotton t-shirt that had a picture of 'Buttercup'; the dark haired green dress wearing PowerPuff Girl on it. She had the vague memory of buying it while Willow got the shirt with the red haired 'Blossom' and Buffy got the shirt with the blonde haired 'Bubbles'. Jesse had been amused to find that they had bought him a 'Mojo Jojo' t-shirt to match theirs.
Somehow, that memory helped to make Xander feel better.
Xander stood behind the counter at the Magic Box as she carefully drew up plans for a new display case. She had managed to convince Giles that she still remembered enough of her previous life to be able to make one. "After all," she had told him, "I was a professional carpenter with my own crew working for me." Giles had relented, but she had the feeling that he didn't really believe that she had the knowledge or skills to do it properly. She wanted to do this for two reasons. One; it was soothing to her nerves and two; it just might convince everyone that she was telling the truth.
It was when Xander was trying to measure the room itself to see if her design would fit or if it would need to be altered that Jonathan had come strolling in to the store. With a wave and a bounce in his step, the young man had called out a cheery hello to Giles and then with a shyer smile, he had turned and stuttered at Xander.
"Um..." he paused to blush and fidget. "Hi, Xan. H...How are you d...doing today?"
Xander was just so shocked to see Jonathan alive and well...and well, here that she simply stared open mouthed. It was a bit presumptuous of her to think that Willow had harmed him. After all, Tara was alive and well, so that tragedy never happened at all. Finally, Xan realized that she was staring and that Jonathan was a bundle of nerves because of it. Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, she smiled at him.
"Sorry about that. I was...uh, I was just thinking. I'm..." Xan gestured to the measuring tape in her hands, "trying to measure the store. I was thinking that we need another display case. One that can hold the more...uh, exotic and dangerous items. That way it can be locked behind shatterproof glass and no one will get hurt by accident."
Jonathan smiled shyly again and blushed. "Th...that's a...a great idea. I...I mean, all of your ideas are...are good. Y...you're very, uh...smart." Jonathan's blush turned from a light pink to a deep red and he fidgeted some more.
Xander couldn't understand why the young man was so painfully nervous, but she had always sorta liked the guy. He was weird and dweeby and not too tightly wrapped, but besides all that, he was nice. He and his friends hadn't made very good bad guys despite all of the trouble they had caused individually and collectively. It was that failure to make Buffy take them seriously that had lead to the shooting, but that didn't happen here...or yet. Or something. Xan wondered if all Jonathan had needed was positive encouragement to be one of the good guys. With that thought in mind, she decided to be that one person to him.
"So, um...Jonathan. Would you mind helping me? I just need you to hold this end of the measuring tape here while I walk the other end to that far corner."
Jonathan's smile was like the sun coming up, it just lit his whole face. He was so eager to help that he literally tripped over his own feet. With Scooby honed reflexes, Xander reached out and caught him before he fell and steadied him. Jonathan smiled shyly up at her and made an odd little noise. Smiling, she showed him at which point to hold the end of the measuring tape and then began to walk away to the far side of the room. When she got there, she bent down and began to record the distance.
It was at that point that Xander had an epiphany. In his own shy and dorky way, Jonathan had been flirting with her. The blushing smiles, the gazing with adoration into her eyes, the nervous fidgeting, the stuttering speech...they were all classic symptoms of the nerdy boy liking the cool girl that was out of his league. That had been Xander enough times in her boy-life that she could easily recognize it.
So...Jonathan had a crush on her and while that thought was wiggy enough on it's own there was also the whole 'Xander being the girl that was too cool for words' thing that was also beyond strange. She wasn't sure exactly how to deal with that. Okay, it was really nice to have someone think she was pretty and cool and exciting. Being flirted with was sorta fun, too...although Jonathan wasn't really that good at the whole flirting thing. However, niceness aside, it was very strange to be the one chased instead of the chaser. Guys did the chasing and girls did the whole getting caught thing. And now, she was on the other side of the whole dating game.
With typical prey mentality, Xander wanted to suddenly run away. Then, she shook herself out of that mode of thought. First of all, she could handle Jonathan even if the whole flirting thing was still wiggy and odd. The thing was, she wanted to take some time to just...think about this revelation. It was one thing for a shy and dorky boy to flirt with her, but what if someone else did? Someone without the shyness and the nervousness holding him back...someone with brass balls the size of London...someone that wore a black leather duster and spoke with a Cockney accent...someone that would make her be the flustered and blushing one. She really needed time to think about this whole flirting thing.
Thankfully, just at that moment, Giles stepped into the front room and saw Jonathan. As the Watcher walked over to him, Xander stood up and began to wind the measuring tape up.
"Thanks Jonathan. I've got the measurement now."
The boy blushed and smiled and looked down at his feet. "Y...you're welcome, Xan."
With a grin of her own, Xander went back to the counter and pretended to concentrate on her design even as Giles gently ushered the younger man back towards his office. "So...Jonathan. How are the designs for that weapon Buffy wanted coming along? Has Warren worked out that bug in the system yet?"
Xander startled hard and whipped her head up and around to stare at their retreating backs as she goggled. The Troika were working for the Slayer by designing her gadgets and gizmos? They really weren't bad guys here? They were the Sunnydale equivalent of James Bond's buddy Q?
That was almost as weird as the fact that Xander was now effectively a girl.
Xander watched with despairing eyes as Buffy and Jesse headed off in one direction while Willow and Tara headed off in another. Giles had sent them out on patrol to, "look for any signs of the witch, Anya" so that they could "force her to remove the altered memories from Xan's mind" and life could go back to normal for them. With a soft resigned sigh, Xander turned to look over at her patrol partner.
"Spike. This isn't going to do any good. Anya's not a witch and we won't find her by patrolling. She has to be summoned unless she just decides to show up on her own."
A brief flare of orange light illuminated Spike's face as he lit his cigarette. Xander was treated to a perfect view of the strong planes and sharp angles dancing in shadow in light. It made the vampire seem otherworldly and ethereal for just a moment. Then, Spike clicked the lighter off and he became just the same old demon that he'd always been, no longer a fairy creature of mist and flame. Unnerved, she folded her arms across her chest and turned away quickly.
"I...I mean, not that patrolling for other types of...of oogities is wrong, but..." Xander sighed and shook her head. "...it's not something that will help, you know, me and my girl problem."
One dark eyebrow arched up under platinum blonde hair. "Pet? Did you just say the word 'oogities' or did I hear you wrong?"
Xander shrugged and blushed. "So? What's wrong with the word? It's a perfectly good word and I think it describes some of the less then friendly citizens of this lovely suburb of hell."
Spike just grinned and shrugged. "Now I know that you aren't my girl. My Xan always calls the bad guys 'ick monsters', not oogities." Spike tilted his head and blew smoke into the night sky as he ran his bright blue eyes up and down Xander's form. "You're just as beautiful, though." With a sort of sad little smile, Spike turned and began to walk off. "Well, come on then. We have...oogities to hunt down."
Xander shivered suddenly and she realized that she had been right. Dealing with a flirty Jonathan was a whole different game than dealing with a flirty Spike. Spike was...well, he was a lot cuter for one thing. He was also a hell of a charmer when he wanted to be. The thing that hurt the most was, Xander felt bad for the vampire. Anya got a two for one deal on them. Xander was stuck in a girl body...and Spike was obviously in love with the girl that Xander was supposed to be. Xander could only imagine how much that must hurt Spike to know that his girlfriend suddenly had a whole new brain...one that didn't remember being in love with him.
With a sigh, Xander jogged forward to catch up to the vampire. She wanted to try and make him feel better...and how strange was that? However, this Spike was a lot nicer than the one in her boy-memories. He still had that dark and dangerous edge. He was still smart and crass with a cutting wit and sharp retorts that came from nowhere. On the other hand, he was gentle with her, tried to help her understand her bizarre situation better and didn't tease her. Well, at least not with the intention of smashing her feelings down. After a quick internal debate, Xander decided that she liked this Spike better than the old one. And that thought reminded her of something that he'd said.
"I...um, well I was thinking about what you said." Xander made a vague gesture in the direction of her apartment. "You know, the other night."
Spike turned his head, one eyebrow arched. "Oh? And what was it that I said, luv?"
Xander had another moment to boggle over the soft tone of Spike's voice. She was so used to the cutting sarcasm that it tended to throw her when it never materialized between them.
"Oh. Um, you said that I should try and find things about this...reality that were good things. You know, just in case we can't find Anya and...uh, fix this." She watched Spike draw on the cigarette and nod his head, so she went on. "Anyway, I was thinking about that. And, you're right, in a way. I mean, Jesse and Tara are alive here and they're both dead in my own world."
A frown blossomed over Xander's face. "I can still see it so clearly when I close my eyes. Both of their deaths marked the beginning of horrible times in my life." With a tiny shrug and a twisting of her hands, Xander continued the thought. "I sometimes feel bad about wanting to fix this, because that would mean that they have to be dead again."
Suddenly, a leather covered arm wrapped around her shoulders and pulled her in tight against Spike's side even as a softly accented voice cooed in her ear that it would all be okay eventually. Xander instantly stiffened up in shock and a small tendril of fear, but then she gave a mental shrug and melted into the embrace and simply soaked up the comfort that Spike was offering her.
It was still weird, but she could understand how the girl-version of Xander could have fallen for Spike. With Jesse still alive, there wouldn't be that primal hatred for vampires, nor the soul rending guilt at having dusted him to hold her back. And Spike was a very handsome and charming demon.
Showering that morning hadn't been as awkward or as terrifying as it had been the day before. It had still been weird and surreal, but the mind-numbing trauma hadn't been a part of it. Xander contemplated that fact as she ate her breakfast cereal. Spooning another bite of plain crispy flakes into her mouth, she realized that she was also a bit numbed to the clothing issue, the purse carrying thing and the alien dreams of her girl-life.
Mirrors still made her jump in surprise when she passed them and saw a girl looking back instead of a boy, but she wondered if it was because it was still too new. If she could just...get used to it, it might not seem as strange and awkward. Perhaps she needed to follow Spike's advice and just 'embrace her inner girl' so that she felt more comfortable in her own skin.
It sounded trite and a bit silly, but there was a lot about this body that was very different, besides the obvious. Patrol last night had proved that. The first part of it had been spent in some pretty deep conversation as Spike tried to help her work out some painful issues, but then they had come across a roving bunch of fledgling minions. Five years ago that would have been enough to send Xander into a panic just before she ended up dead. Now, a small pack of fledglings running into Xander would have found their final death at the end of a stake and in a flurry of drifting dust in the wind. Of course, that was in the boy-world. Spike was his normal twisting dervish of lethal force, but Xander had been nothing but a big liability to the vampire. She wasn't as strong or as fast as she remembered and her balance was all off. Even Spike had commented on it.
With a sigh, Xander decided that she had to take charge of her life. If she was going to end up spending the rest of her life stuck in a girl's body, then she had better learn to make it work for her...not against. Decision made, Xander put her empty bowl in the sink and phoned Giles to call off of work for the day. The Watcher had been painfully understanding about her need to take time to 'adjust to her missing memories' and try to find a way to make peace with her situation. Xander didn't even bother arguing with him about the fact that it wasn't her memories that were altered.
After getting off the phone, Xander changed into a pair of capris that were pale pink. She had avoided them for as long as she could, but it was either them or a skirt. The rest were dirty. She also put on a white tank-top with a big pink heart on the front. It was so girlie that Xander almost couldn't stand it, but she figured that it was okay. After all, she was a girl now. Sandals on her feet, hair in a ponytail, purse over her shoulder and she was ready to go.
It took a while to find a gym that was offering self-defense classes, but Xander figured that if it helped to keep her alive then it was worth the effort of hunting one down. The owner of Holden's Gym was a very nice older man that was in excellent shape for his age. Xander was impressed. His son Jeff taught several classes at the gym, but not all of them were beginners level. Any one class at beginner's level came free with a membership to the gym and after that you had to pay separate for the other lessons. Xander ended up buying a membership to the gym and paying for one extra class. She immediately signed up for the self-defense for women class and the beginner's level karate class. Use of the weights, the indoor track and the swimming pool also came with the membership. She didn't think that she'd end up using the weights or the track often, but the pool sounded like a great idea.
When she left Holden's Gym, Xander was feeling much better about her situation. She hadn't asked for this nor did she really want it, but she refused to let it defeat her or get her killed. When she had been a younger boy, she had been easy to torment and push around. Easily intimidated and afraid of messing up, she had learned to stay in the background and not make waves. That was then. This was now. She had grown up since that time and she had made a life for herself. It wasn't as easy to push her around because she knew that she was a good person with valuable skills and a good heart.
Millions of other people made it in this world as a female and so would she.
Locking the door on her apartment, Xander tossed her bags down on the table and shook her head at herself. Walking into the kitchen, she pulled a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and wondered if she was losing her mind.
She had left Holden's Gym and went to figure out how to be a girl. The only things that she could ever remember hearing every girl she'd ever known talk about was shoe shopping and getting their hair done. Well, girl or not, Xander didn't relish the idea of shoe shopping, so...hair salon it was.
It had been a surprisingly fun and educational time.
She had stumbled into the hair salon and stuttered and stammered and blushed, but she had finally gotten the idea across that she wanted a short simple-to-do style that looked good. She admitted that she knew next to nothing about hair and make-up and stuff. The hairdresser had been very sweet and understanding about that and promised Xander that she'd be able to help her out.
Then, when she'd found herself sitting in the chair, the hairdresser had looked at her shrewdly and asked if there was a new man in her life that had been giving her the eye. Confused and blushing, Xander had wondered how she knew about Spike and his flirty charming ways. With a delighted laugh, the hairdresser said that when a woman who had never had any interest learning about hair and make-up suddenly decides one day that she has to know everything about it, it's usually because of some hottie that's caught her eye. Xander didn't even want to try and explain that until recently she'd been a boy, so she just quickly described Spike and admitted that he wanted her to be 'his girl' and that she was thinking about it.
That had led to almost an hour of learning more about hair care products and styling techniques than she had known even existed. She had also picked up a lot of tips about boys and boyfriends in general since everyone wanted to give the 'cute little wallflower' some advice. Some of those ladies had been blunt enough to make her blush like mad.
Now, here she was with her new haircut, a shopping bag full of styling products, a hairdryer and a whole bunch of women's magazines filled with even more good advice. Apparently, she had a lot to learn. Beyond hair, there were fingernails, skin, fashion tips, controlling or losing weight, nutrition and relationship quizzes to take.
A knocking on her door startled her and caused her hand to slip. With a softly muttered curse, Xander wiped the smear of bright pink nail polish off of her toe. Then, cotton balls stuffed between each little piggie, she hobbled over to her door on her heels. Snapping open the series of locks, she swung open the door to reveal Spike. With a grin, the bleached blonde vampire sauntered in.
"Was worried about you, Pet. Rupert said that you called off work and I thought maybe you were injured during patrol...."
Spike's voice trailed off as he got a good look at Xander. His piercing blue eyes took in her new haircut, the thin layer of make-up she'd put on and taken off three times before she'd gotten it right, the lacy green silk sleeper shorts and camisole, the flowery scent of skin lotion and the bright pink polish on her ten fingers and the toes of one foot. His grin widened into a conspiratorial smile.
"Ahhh. I see, now. Playing hooky on the Watcher. Decided to stay home and play instead, eh?" A mock hurt look crossed his face. "Why didn't you invite me to spend the day, luv? I'm all for encouraging this type of anti-responsibility."
Xander rolled her eyes, although she was extremely grateful that Spike didn't tease her for playing girl. This whole situation could be very humiliating if the vampire wanted to call her on it. Then again, it probably didn't seem strange to him. After all, Xander was supposed to be his girlfriend or something, so he had probably seen this type of thing before.
With a slightly embarrassed shrug, Xander leaned forward and shut her door again. When she wasn't looking, Spike reached out and touched the ends of her hair with the tips of his fingers. She startled slightly, but he just smiled at her.
"I like this look, Xan. Very pretty." Cool fingers brushed alongside her face in a teasing feather-light touch. "Highlights your eyes, it does."
Almost against her will, she felt herself blush. With a chuckle, Spike shrugged off his duster and folded it over one of her kitchen chairs, then he gently took her elbow and helped her to hobble back to the couch. He tucked her into one corner and sat down on the other sort of sideways. Then, he grabbed up her unpainted foot and put it in his lap. Plucking the bottle of nail polish out of her hands, he shook it up and then began to carefully paint her toenails.
"So...pet, tell me about your day. Have a spot of fun, did you?"
Xander looked up into his compelling blue eyes and felt the surreal urge to tell him all about it. In the back of her mind, she could hear the voice of her hairdresser telling her that communication was key to a good relationship with her boyfriend and to never pass up a chance to talk to him when he was in a 'listening' mood. Against her will, Xander began to giggle.
~one year later~
Xan was leaning against Spike's side and frowning down at her ruined boots. The icky monster that they had fought tonight had eventually exploded in a shower of goo and scaly demon parts. Her boots, Tara's jacket and most of Buffy's entire outfit had been casualties of the fight. She had altered the Magic Box's employee's restroom recently so that it included a small one-person shower stall for just such emergencies. Everyone appreciated her carpentry and construction skills when she used them, but none so much as Buffy at the moment. She was currently using said shower to wash the demon goo out of her hair.
With a sigh, Xan leaned away from Spike and peeled off her boots. She held them up with an expression of distaste on her face as she studied them.
"I think these are toast. Even if I managed to get the stain out, I think the smell is there for good."
Spike snorted in amusement and Xan turned a glare on him. He shrugged and gestured to her destroyed footwear. "Don't look at me like that, luv. I told you to watch out. S'not my fault if you didn't listen, is it?"
Tara walked over holding a plastic trash bag with Buffy's old clothes and her own ruined jacket in it. "Here, Xan. I...I'm going to toss these in the dumpster out back. Want to add your boots to it?"
With a sigh, Xan tossed her boots in. Tara tied it shut, but before she could make it to the door leading out back a glittering sizzle of light began to coalesce out of the air. The disturbance made a shimmering tone, like that left after a bell had been struck. Then there was a bright flash of green light and Anyanka stood in all her demony glory. Willow and Tara immediately ran to each other and clasped hands to double their power and Giles began yelling for Buffy. Spike stood up and slipped into gameface. Just as Buffy dashed out dripping wet and wrapped in a long towel, Xan managed to pull herself together and walked over to stand in front of her ex-fiancée.
"Xan! No, get away from it!"
A slightly hysterical bark of laughter tore itself from her throat. "Anyanka isn't an 'it', Buffy. She's a Vengeance Demon, just like I told you guys last year when I first arrived in this reality wearing this female body." Then she turned her focus onto the demon. "Hello, Ahn. You're looking good."
Anyanka gave a slight delighted laugh. "Well, it's nice to know that some things never change. You always did know how to give me a compliment, even when you were so angry you could hardly see straight." Then she grew serious. "I'm here for a reason, Xander."
With a sigh, Xan nodded her head. "Yeah, I figured that was the case. So...are you here for me personally, or is there trouble that you need the gang to take care of?"
"You, Xan. I'm here for you." With a slight shrug, Anya continued. "The whole point of this curse, if you remember, was for you to learn what it means to be a woman. Well," she smiled slightly. "You've done that admirably well over this past year. So...now I can offer you a choice."
A confused voice cut in from behind, "Wait. You mean that story about demons and alternate timelines was the truth? It wasn't just some witch that altered her memories?"
Anya looked over Xan's shoulder with an expression of scorn on her gameface. "Yes, it was true. All of it. I really expected better from you, Giles. You were even offered the book with the information that would have proved that it was true, but you turned it away since you had already decided that Xan didn't know what she was talking about."
Dismissing the Watcher, Anyanka turned back to Xan. "This choice, you have to decide if you want to stay here as a female or go home and be a man again."
Xander looked up at her and winced. "Couldn't I stay here and become a man in this world?"
Sadly, Anya shook her head no. "In this world, Xander Harris is a woman and that's the way it is. Sorry."
With a sigh, Xander nodded her head. "Fine. I'll..." she could hear everyone suck in their breath behind her, "stay here then. I...I like this world better."
Anya nodded her head and started to shift, but Xan caught her in a quick hug. "Thank you."
A slow smirk slid across Anyanka's face. "Why...whatever for. I'm the one that cursed you, after all."
A matching smirk slid across Xan's face. "Yes, you did. You cursed me with a world in which two of my dearest friends are still alive. You cursed me with a happy and strong family instead of one that tore itself to pieces. You cursed me with a world that's full of hope and happiness instead of pain and despair." Xan glanced back at Spike. "You cursed me with the love of my life even though I couldn't do the same for you."
A soft chuckle escaped Anyanka's lips. "That's okay. You cursed me with humanity and taught me to love it. For that, I could never thank you enough...even if you did leave me at the altar."
Then, in another flash of green light, Anyanka disappeared. Her disembodied voice echoed one last time through the Magic Box, "Have a nice life, Xander Harris. Remember, I'll always love you." and then even the glittering sparkles faded away.
Xan turned around to see everyone staring at her in shock. Giles and Willow seemed a bit sheepish and Xan figured that was because they were the ones to convince the others that it was a witch that muddied up her memories. She just shrugged and smiled.
"I told you guys the truth and you didn't believe me. That's okay. Spike said it was because you didn't want to believe that an evil demon could craft a world that was so good." Xan shrugged again. "I'll be the first to admit that Anya is capable of great evil, but I'll also be the first to admit that she is capable of great goodness too."
Buffy shook off her shock and pulled her towel tighter around her. "I...I can't believe that you stayed. I mean, if you were really a guy and all, well, now you're going to be stuck as a girl forever."
Xan shrugged and smiled. "There's no contest, Buffy. Being a girl isn't a bad thing. Oh, don't get me wrong, it was a shock at first and it was very confusing. But it's not bad. And besides, my original world was an ugly and horrifying place where no one is happy. If I went home, Tara and Jesse would be dead, Giles would be alone in England and..." she swallowed passed the lump in her throat. "Spike would be a crazed loon suffering under the burden of a soul and he would hate me. I'm...I'm happy here."
There wasn't really much that could be said to that. Each of them had listened to Xan as she had told them about her memories of the other world and they had each cringed and been thankful that it wasn't real. But now it was real...it just wasn't their reality.
Then Spike was there, wrapping his strong arms around her and tugging her gently towards the door. "Come on, luv. Let's go home. It's been a long night and you need to get some rest." With a smile and a wave, Xan left the Magic Box and went with Spike back to the apartment that they now shared.
She was, in truth, going home.
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