Xander twisted in his restraints, trying to work his wrists free. Finally,
he gave up and let himself slump backwards.
He smiled at Anya, who stood next to the bed, frowning. "An, honey, I'd love
to play, but I have to get ready for work. Can you untie the scarves?"
"No," she said. "I can't. You'll have to stay home with me. On the bed."
"Honey, we can try for a kid later. I promise."
Her eyes were bright. "You keep saying that. But for the past two weeks, all
you've done is get up and go to work, come home and go to bed. We don't
talk. We don't do any of the fun baby-making stuff."
"I want a baby, An," Xander protested, staring into her eyes.
Brow furrowed, she gazed back. He looked away, whispering, "I do, really."
Anya sat on the edge of the bed. The bedsprings creaked. She played
absent-mindedly with the light covering of hair on his thigh. He twitched.
She could smell his sweat, something that normally made her interested in
him - to say the least - but now it just made her worried. He wasn't
sweating with arousal; he was nervous. She said, "We talked about it,
Xander." She fought to keep her voice mild and unconcerned, but couldn't
stop it cracking.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I don't know what's wrong with me. I just
feel - strange lately. A little claustrophobic, or something." A tiny grin
appeared on his face. He nodded at the scarves. "Of course, right now I've
got a good explanation for that."
"It's late." Anya stood, swiping at her eyes with the back of her hand.
"I'll let you go," she said, wincing at her choice of words.
Xander twisted in his restraints, trying to work his wrists free. Finally,
he gave up and let himself slump backwards.
He looked around, vaguely hoping that an escape route would've appeared
since the 399th time he'd scanned the cavern. It was huge, dark, echoey,
and - cavernous. Lots of rocks, lots of damp, lots of moss, but nope - no
A voice floated towards him from the other side of the cavern. "There's no
point struggling." Xander's personal nightmare walked towards him; a huge,
grey demon with enormous horns spiralling up from his temples.
"My companions are quite experienced with chains, and you're too weak to do
anything more than collapse in a pathetic heap, even if you were able to
break the chains."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence," Xander muttered, but it was hard to
disagree with D'Hoffryn's assessment. His arms were rubbery, his legs were
non-existent, and the only thing holding him on his feet were the damn
chains. A wave of dizziness passed over him, leaving him gasping.
D'Hoffryn grabbed Xander's head. His fingers were icy cold. Xander looked up
at him, trying to focus, trying not to wince. D'Hoffryn took a deep breath.
"Muster your energy, human. I need to refuel my golem."
"Not again," Xander said in mock amazement. He mustered a grin from
somewhere. "You're not getting enough value outta that thing."
D'Hoffryn's fingers began to heat. A mild ache blossomed in Xander's skull,
then it transformed into a raging migraine as the pressure in his head built
up. He felt himself vanishing, pushed out of his own mind by the enormous
presence of D'Hoffryn; by D'Hoffryn sucking energy and knowledge from him to
send to the golem. Xander was aware of existing in two bodies
simultaneously, of breathing in two different rhythms and controlling two
vastly different circulatory systems. D'Hoffryn's mind was all around his,
squeezing every last drop of usefulness from him.
Before he spiralled down into unconsciousness yet again, Xander snagged a
passing thought from D'Hoffryn, "Anyanka should never have left. She will
know true vengeance."
Anya stared up at the ceiling while Xander groaned on top of her. He kissed
her quickly on the forehead then rolled off. He was soon snoring. He was
usually the most considerate of lovers, but lately he was so tired from work
that she thought herself 'lucky' to get ten minutes of sex.
She turned over, to cuddle up against his back, but he was cold. She turned
away from him and stared at the wall.
Xander felt something cold trickle down his arm. He looked up, expecting to
see another drip of water from the rock formations high above his head, but
instead saw something red. The shackle had finally broken the skin. His
wrist was bleeding. "Oh, great," he said. "Just what I needed. Y'know, it'd
be nice if the blood would stay inside me for once."
He looked down at the tattered remains of his t-shirt and boxer shorts. They
failed to cover the multitude of bruises and cuts on his skin. He stank,
from old blood, fear, and some other stuff that he didn't want to think
about. He'd thought he'd passed the stage of soiling himself when he was
A wiry red demon strode towards him, thoughtfully stroking a large knife.
She cackled softly.
"What do you mean, you want me to go home?"
"You're in my way, An," Xander explained. He folded his arms. "Look, I don't
see why you have to get emotional about this. I'm rational. Why can't you be
"But I - but you always like having me around," Anya said, shaking her head.
She fought the sudden sting of tears. "Even when you're watching sport. I do
girlfriend stuff. I fetch drinks and snacks and then we make fun of the
"I just need to be by myself."
Anya picked up her handbag. It was an excellent copy of a Prada baguette.
Xander had given it to her two months ago, for no particular reason, just
because he knew she wanted it.
She left silently.
"Another day, human. Just another day. One final task to be completed."
Xander screamed as D'Hoffryn's hands became incandescently hot. He sensed
the golem through the flames inside his mind, sensed its treatment of Anya,
and tried even harder to hold himself back. Pain licked along his ankle. One
of the minor demons had opened another vein to suck the blood out of him. It
was no good. He was too weak, and D'Hoffryn was too strong.
Anya pulled her hair back, examining herself in the mirror. Her face had
become hollow and gaunt in the last few weeks, with black circles under the
"I'm going out," Xander said shortly from the bathroom door.
She didn't bother to ask where he was going, or when he'd be back.
Xander hung limply from the chains, no longer noticing the pain in his arms.
One thought burned in his mind; that he must get to Anya. Must make it okay.
Must tell her that it wasn't him.
A hand grabbed him between the legs. He yelped. The demon behind him yanked
his head around. She licked the side of his neck, her rough tongue rasping
over the wounds there. "Sorry to see you go."
"What - what do you mean?" he asked tiredly. There was no moisture in his
"The final part of the plan is in place. D'Hoffryn's letting you go. No
point in wasting energy killing you."
Xander didn't question it; just stood there as she undid the shackles. His
legs wouldn't hold him, and he fell to the ground. The demon grunted. She
snapped her fingers. A glass of water materialised. She put it to his lips,
muttering under her breath about humanitarian gestures.
After a few minutes, he was able to stand. He staggered towards the exit
that had miraculously appeared in the cavern wall.
It vanished as soon as he was outside. He gazed in wonder at the night sky.
"No, I don't want to," Anya said firmly.
"But you always wanted to, before," Xander grinned. He pinned her hands
above her head with one of his, leaning his body on hers to keep her still.
He ran his fingers through her hair. "Don't you want to make a baby?"
Anya tried to stay calm. "Not right now. Let me up."
He slapped her face lightly. She recoiled, eyes wide. "It's all a game to
you, you little prick-tease. You dress like a slut, you tell me you want it,
then when it comes down to it, you don't." She wriggled underneath him,
starting to panic. He slapped her again, harder.
Then he flipped her over and slammed her head into the wall.
Xander lurched through the streets of Sunnydale, taking the dark streets. Of
course, there were lots of dark streets. He still felt like ten miles of bad
road, but he was starting to gain a little energy, because no one was
draining it from him. He thought about the last thing he'd sensed in
D'Hoffryn's mind, and moved faster.
Anya couldn't stop the sob from escaping. Xander was behind her, strapping
her to the bed face down. She was too weak and nauseous to fight him. Her
head sent jolts of pain through her every time she moved.
He laughed. "Oh, I'm gonna enjoy this. It's about time we played things my
Xander punched the door. He swore under his breath. Logically, it was shut,
and - also logically - he didn't have his damn key. He'd have to remember to
sleep with his key on him, in the future. He pressed the buzzer for his
apartment again, praying Anya would answer.
D'Hoffryn's face swam through his mind again. Suspecting that D'Hoffryn
would want him to see, he crossed his fingers and tried the door again.
Anya felt herself spread open. Cold fingers were inserted into her, probing,
poking. Her head was jerked back uncomfortably, a hand around her mouth.
"You scream, bitch," Xander said conversationally, "and I break your fucking
Then she felt the knife.
Xander barrelled through the door to his apartment. "An?" he shrieked
frantically. "An!" The bedroom. They must be in the bedroom.
Xander raced in and his stomach constricted so hard at what he saw that he
nearly threw up. Anya was tied to the bed, spread-eagled on her stomach. The
other him was on top of Anya, thrusting away, with one hand holding her
face, the other hand - tracing patterns into her back with a knife. Xander
screamed wordlessly and charged. The other man was taken by surprise. He
fell off Anya and laid on the floor next to the bed, grinning up at Xander,
Xander leapt on top of him and punched furiously. Instead of fighting back,
the other him shimmered and vanished. Xander felt himself grow a little
stronger as what D'Hoffryn had taken was fully restored. He bounced upright
and started to untie Anya, tears pouring from him when he saw what had been
done to her.
"She'll be all right," Buffy said softly, patting Xander's hand.
He hoisted himself higher in the bed. "Is she - is she coming to see me?"
The others refused to meet his eyes. Willow turned away, scratching her
head, Giles pretended to be studying something in the hospital grounds
visible through the window, Buffy looked at the floor, and Tara blew her
Finally, Willow answered, taking his other hand. "I think so, Xand. But I'm
not sure. You have to give her time, okay? I know you were both hurt - and,
Goddess, I wish it hadn't happened, I wish I'd worked out what was going
on," Tara put an arm around Willow as Willow's voice wobbled, "but, unfair
as it is, you have to think about her. She's in hospital, after thinking
that you - that you. . ."
"Raped her," Xander finished. He picked at the scab next to the IV on his
right arm, focusing on that one tiny pain and ignoring the rest. "Yeah, I
know, you're right."
After a prolonged silence, Giles said gently, "We'll visit you later this
afternoon." He ushered the others out.
Xander flicked the TV on. His insurance had paid for a private room, with
all the perks he could've wanted from a hospital - apart from not being in a
hospital in the first place, of course. He ran through the channels. Nothing
he wanted to watch.
There was a tentative knock at the door. Anya shuffled in. She looked
impossibly small in the hospital robe and her pink fuzzy slippers. Her hair
was tousled, hanging around her face.
"Hi," Xander offered.
"Hi," Anya said. "I just - how are you?"
"Good, thanks," he said, uncomfortably aware of the bruises, cuts, tubes,
and plaster putting the lie to his words. "How are you?"
Her voice was nearly inaudible. She hadn't moved from her position near the
door. "They cleaned all the cuts out, and gave me some stuff for the
concussion. They want to keep me here for another couple of days, though."
"I'll be here for a while, too," Xander said. He bit his lip. "Do you
think," he moistened his lips and tried again, "Do you think I could come
Anya didn't respond, but after a while Xander saw her shaking her head
minutely. "No, I don't think so," she said finally.
"I'm so sorry, An."
Anya continued, "And I think it would be better if you didn't see me when
you get out, too. Not for a while, anyway." She clasped her hands together
at her waist, staring at them. "I know it wasn't you. I know I should be
okay with you."
"But you're not," Xander finished softly.
"But I'm not," she agreed. She rubbed at her eyes with the back of one hand,
then clasped her hands together again. She whispered, "I'm sorry, Xander."
Then she left.