Yay! It's back! I would've posted this earlier, but I wasn't happy with AlternaAnya's part. I had to work it a little bit.
When last we left our heros:
- Giles is acting on information that closing the Sunnydale Hellmouth will cause world-wide adverse effects by formalizing Council membership and reaching out to the scattered Watchers
- Lady Haversham is in Cleveland to help retrieve Xander from the alternative dimension and to consult with Giles on how to best respond to the latest threat
- Willow comes clean to Faith about Buffy's second death, what happened on Kingman's Bluff, and everything in between
- AlternaGiles and AlternaXander are looking looking for a missing Haley.
- AlternaFaith is racing against time and the sinking feeling that her Slayer dream foretelling Xander's death is about to happen.
- Xander saves Haley from a pack of vampires at the cost of three of her friends and sends her on ahead to get help in fighting the pack.
- Xander stumbles the rest of the way to the Harris house, only to find a vampire blocking his straight run to safety.
Now, on with the next part.
For all previous parts, go here.
Too late to beg you or cancel it
Though I know it must be the killing time
Anya clutched the marble rolling pin in her hands. She had no idea why she was holding it, beyond using it as some twisted form of security blanket.
It’s a stupid thing. Why did I buy this? Why?
Because she saw it on some cooking show on the Food Network when she was pregnant and had decided that when she and Xander were rich and had their own big single-family home she was going to buy something spectacularly useless for the kitchen.
Like a marble rolling pin perfect for flattening raw dough.
She got the money. She got the house. So she had to have the marble rolling pin to go with it.
She used it once. After one frustrating afternoon with her, the rolling pin, the dough, and Xander’s bad jokes about her war against bread products, it was relegated to the cabinets.
When everyone had scattered to find Haley—her daughter, too, which Xander seemed to forget the second he found out Haley was a Slayer—Anya was left alone with her creeping dread. On some instinct she couldn’t name, she pulled the rolling pin out and carried it around with her as she paced the house.
She would’ve chosen the baseball bat, but Haley broke that in half.
Not my daughter. No. You’re not taking my daughter.
Good god! It was like everyone forgot that Slayers had short lives. And their deaths? Always gruesome.
You’d think Xander would remember what happened to Buffy three times, but no, Anya fumed as she wandered the first floor of her home and clutched her marble rolling pin close. He’s going to turn her over to that…to that…
Haley was going to have a future, one not dictated by old men who hid behind little girls. Anya snorted. That was exactly what the Council was: little, frightened, old men who pushed all those little girls to die like cannon fodder. Now that there was an endless supply, they were going to be even more careless about those girls. Now they didn’t have to wait to find a new one when the old one died.
Her daughter was better than that.
Her daughter was not disposable and she was not expendable.
Anya continued pacing as she ground her teeth. Mental images of bashing in Giles’s, Faith’s, and Xander’s faces one-by-one with her marble rolling pin did nothing to make the anger go away. Then she imagined ripping Evil Xander apart with her bare hands after bashing in the faces of the other three and felt marginally better.
She almost pulled off sparing her family the horror of the past catching up to them. She had nice, simple shielding wards around the town just strong enough to hide her and her family, but weak enough that no one would notice wards in place. Besides, even if Giles got it into his head to look for Xander again, he wouldn’t even know where to start looking. It was in place just in case Giles used magic to look for them.
Then Haley had to become a Slayer.
Anya had panicked when she saw what had happened. She figured the Council would come knocking on the door any day and acted quickly. She managed to dig up several cloaking spells while on a “business trip” to San Diego and settled on one of middling strength. It was strong enough to hide Haley from seer sight and locator spells, but that was about it. There were others that would’ve hidden the whole Slayer package, but she was afraid they’d be strong enough to capture the attention of whatever witch or seer the Council used to find Slayers. Even so, Anya was nervous about the spell she did use. Anyone with any magic sensitivity was going to pick up on it if they got close enough, especially if they got close within a few days after renewing the spell.
But the point is, she had a plan and acted. The spell was good enough that the Council would’ve never found Haley at all.
Sure, she was depriving the world of the Slayer—or so she thought—but Haley would have a nice, long, demon-free life and the Council would have to do its own fighting for a change.
Now that she knew that the Council had all the Slayers it could ever possibly want, she was doubly furious. There was no need for them to take her daughter away. They had plenty of other people ready and willing to commit suicide by vampire and plenty of other families that probably thought it was some huge honor. Why couldn’t they just leave her little girl alone?
Because those old men are greedy, the thought snarled. They’ll never be happy until they own all the Slayers.
The thing that really galled Anya was this: she almost did pull it off. The Council wasn’t even looking for Haley, because they had those other girls to fight their war. The spell was strong enough to block any Watcher that happened to pass through town. It had the makings of a rousing success.
Xander was hunting vampires behind her back. How she missed it, she didn’t know, but she did. She believed him when he said he was turning his back on all that and that he just wanted a happy, normal life for his family. He left Sunnydale for her. He turned his back on Giles for her and her baby.
Then he started playing with fire from the moment they moved into town.
It was enough to make Anya scream, which she did when she found out just how long Xander’d been hunting vampires behind her back and leaving her and Haley vulnerable if things went wrong. She was angry. She was hurt. She was devastated. She was a lot of things. One thing she wasn’t at the moment was willing to forgive.
Maybe if Giles and the Slut Bomb weren’t here, she and Xander might’ve been able to work through this.
The sinking feeling in her heart told her that she was living in a fool’s world if she believed that. Evil Xander was a prefect illustration that, given his own head, Xander would’ve never stopped even if she knew, even if she put her foot down, even if he never found out about Haley.
How the hell did Evil Xander figure out Haley was a Slayer? Was it a Watcher trick? Or did he see something? How did he figure it out in less than a week? Anya wondered. Because there’s no way he approached Haley before he knew for sure. Evil Xander may be evil, but he’s no more stupid than Xander. He’s probably more patient, because Xander would’ve said something right away based on a guess. Evil Xander waited until we weren’t around to say something to Haley, so he had to have known.
She wondered if Evil Xander and Haley talked before or after Evil Xander seduced her. Probably before. It made sense. Approach Haley, then call in Giles and the Slut Bomb, move to soften her up and make her think he really was Xander deep down inside despite that cool, superior attitude of his, and then work on her to invite Giles into her home to take her daughter away.
Surprise! Anya bitterly thought. You found out that you were appealing to the wrong parent. And I found out that you’re a liar.
What the hell happened in that world without shrimp? Evil Xander knew who Olaf was, so the other Anya had to have left sometime after that mess. Unless…
Anya froze with the realization. Unless you left her, you son of a bitch! When she told you about Olaf and what he did to her, you probably went running to your precious Evil Buffy for advice like a scared little boy!
Anya didn’t have to guess what Evil Buffy said. Buffy never liked her. Buffy always blamed her for the rift that happened when Tony and Jessica died. Buffy accused her of encouraging Xander’s belief that something more than alcohol was involved in the car accident. It didn’t matter that Anya kept arguing that all she was doing was being supportive. It didn’t matter that Anya said that Xander was convinced and there was nothing she could say to dissuade him. Buffy believed that Anya was poisoning the well and that was that.
So what was different? Did Evil Giles finally find the right evidence to convince Evil Xander that it really was a DUI? Did Evil Buffy try to help for longer than two weeks, instead of getting sucked into the Initiative? Did Evil Willow get through to him before he went completely off the edge?
One thing she did know: other Anya didn’t do anything different. God knows Xander didn’t listen to her, so there was no chance Evil Xander listened to the other Anya.
I bet Evil Xander chose to save Evil Willow over me when Olaf had us all trapped at the Bronze.
She wondered if Evil Xander did the same thing Xander did: make the choice and then welsh on the deal by getting in the way and preventing Olaf from making the killing blow. Either way, Anya knew how the story ended. Evil Buffy crashed into the Bronze with Evil Riley right behind her, saw Evil Xander fighting a losing battle against Olaf to save a half-conscious Evil Willow—no, in this world I’d be the one who’d be half-conscious, not Evil Willow—and stepped in and save the day.
The picture was enough to make Anya cry.
Xander choosing her over Willow made them closer, which was good. Unfortunately, Xander fighting Olaf until Buffy could step in paved the way for Xander to rejoin Buffy’s exclusive club on a full-time basis after Riley died.
She could just imagine a world where Evil Xander chose Willow over her. She could imagine it driving Evil Xander and other Anya apart. She could imagine Evil Xander getting really close to Evil Willow or Evil Buffy because he proved he was a Scooby through and through, instead of a fair-weather Scooby who’d help only if Buffy asked, like she did when Adam was on the rampage and needed information.
How the hell did the other Anya lose it all? Anya wondered. It doesn’t make any sense.
Anya was left to conclude that the other Anya somehow managed to screw it all up. If the other Anya ever poked her nose around here, Anya was going to give her a piece of her mind. If other Anya couldn’t get Evil Xander to see that his friends really didn’t care about his problems after Evil Xander’s parents were killed in the car accident, then the other Anya was incompetent.
My daughter’s going to get murdered because the other Anya was stupid, Anya raged.
She was just finishing her tenth circuit of the living room when the front door crashed open. She ran into the hall, brandishing her marble rolling pin as a weapon. When she saw Haley standing at the door, she dropped the pin with a cry and ran forward to clutch her daughter close.
“Mooo-oooom,” Haley protested.
Anya stood back, but kept her grip on Haley’s upper arms. “Do you know how worried we’ve been? Where did you go? What did you think—”
Her voice cut off when Haley’s condition registered. It looked like someone had tried to cave in the left side of her head. Her left eye was sporting a shiner. Her hair was a bloody mess and her right cheek was stained with blood. Her clothes were torn. She looked battered, tired, and scared. She looked…
…like a Slayer who was fighting for her life. Anya helplessly thought as she fought back the sob trying to break out of her throat.
“Mom,” Haley said urgently, “we have to get Mr. Rupert and dad and Faith and—”
“Haley, honey!” Anya yelled. She took a deep breath and lowered her voice. “Slow down. What happ—you look—”
Haley closed her eyes. She was breathing hard and trembling head-to-foot.
Anya again clutched her daughter tight.
“They’re dead and I couldn’t—and Uncle Xander said—we have to—” Haley stumbled.
“Breathe,” Anya crooned without letting go. “Just breathe and tell me what happened.”
“I was with Joey, and Tommy, and Bethany and we were down at the boardwalk and we sort of broke into the dance hall because I wanted to hide for awhile and there were these vampires and they got us and—”
Anya pulled away. “Where are your friends?”
Haley’s jaw was trembling. “Uncle Xander pulled me out before—he said he saw them get killed and—he’s hurt really bad. He said to run ahead and have you call dad and—”
“—Faith and Giles, yes, yes,” Anya said. “Were you followed?”
Haley’s eyes darted around in a terrified manner.
Anya grasped her daughter by the upper arms and forced her to focus by giving her a slight shake. “Where you followed? By any vampires?”
“N-n-no. I don’t think so,” Haley said. “But mom, Uncle Xander’s really hurt and I have to get back to him in case. And we have to stop the vampires before they kill…before they kill more people and…and…”
Anya swallowed. She’s her father’s daughter. “The list of cell phone numbers is in the kitchen on the table. Go call them.”
“If your…” Anya choked trying to get ‘Uncle Xander’ out. “If he said he was right behind you, he’s right behind you. My hands are shaking too hard to dial and they’ll ask fewer questions if you tell them you’ve been attacked and need help.”
“Okay,” Haley agreed.
I will not cry, I will not cry, Anya mentally repeated as she turned to watch Haley scurry into the kitchen. As she did so, her eyes fell on the marble rolling pin, which had rolled to a stop against a wall.
Without really understanding what she was doing, Anya ghosted over to it, scooped it up in a smooth move, and silently followed Haley into the kitchen.
Haley’s back was to her as her little girl scanned the list of numbers. Anya managed to get right behind her.
“Mom? I can’t read your handwriting,” Haley said as she turned around.
Anya didn’t stop to think. She brought the marble rolling pin up in a hard and fast arc, catching Haley on her injured temple. The girl went down like her strings had been cut. The list of phone numbers fluttered out of Haley’s hand and came to rest under the kitchen table.
Anya stood frozen, not quite believing that she had just done what she did. “Sorry, sorry, sorry,” she whispered.
Haley was a Slayer. She’d be okay. She’d heal.
Anya began to hyperventilate. Evil Xander was probably on his way here. Haley said he told her to run ahead, so he had to be coming back.
Haley said he was hurt, Anya thought as she made her trembling way to the front door. She could take a hurt Evil Xander by surprise and knock him out. Then she could grab the handcuffs in the bedroom upstairs, put them on Haley, and make a run for it.
Got to get Haley to the car first, her brain pointed out as she took up position next to the door, all the better to bash the face in of whoever walked through it.
She’d deal with the problem of getting Haley to the car after she had Evil Xander knocked out. She could probably assume that the others would be looking for Haley awhile longer before checking back here, and by that time she’d be long gone with her daughter.
She felt a stab of guilt at running out on Xander, but he was going to turn Haley over to the Council for training. He made that pretty clear to her. She loved Xander, but if she was forced to choose between her husband and her daughter, there wasn’t a contest.
Anya forced her breathing to slow as she closed her eyes tight. There were too many things that could go wrong. Haley could wake up before Evil Xander got here. She might not be able to knock out Evil Xander. One of the others might return unexpectedly.
The sounds of a fight reached her ears and her eyes popped open. She carefully stole over to a window and peered out.
Evil Xander was fighting a vampire. From the looks of it, he was really hurt and barely managing to stay out of reach of his opponent. Anya swore under her breath. If Evil Xander got killed, that vampire would be waiting for her. If Evil Xander won, he might have enough fight left in him to stop her.
Maybe she’d get lucky and they’d kill each other.
One step at a time, Anya thought.
First, she should go get the handcuffs upstairs and get them on Haley.
Next, she was going to give Haley another knock on the head to make sure she stayed knocked out.
Sneak out the back door with Haley and run if either one of them are still out there when I’m done.
She had a plan.
Anya leapt to put it in action.
Xander was panting hard as he fell to his hands and knees. Mercifully, he dropped the stake before he hit the ground and it landed in easy reach. Vampire dust was still circling around him in the slight breeze.
How, how, how, how, the giddy, half-hysterical thought circled his mind. Too lucky. I was too lucky.
Given his condition, he should’ve been toast, but he somehow managed to stake his opponent.
Let’s hear it for desperation.
Or more likely, these vampires weren’t used to dealing with people who knew the pointy end of the stake went into the heart. Since every vampire he went up against today thought he was the other Xander, they probably just assumed that he was helpless without a bow and arrow.
Saved by being underestimated! Yay!
These vampires obviously wanted “Archer” very badly. That vampire had to have been following his blood trail right after he and Haley left the fight, although he had no idea how the vampire got here so fast, considering it was still light out when he and Haley escaped the ballroom. If any of those vampires knew where “Archer” lived before now they would’ve tried catching him in the backyard after one of his solo hunts.
Oh, god. I just basically told the local bads where the evil twin lives. If they stay in town after this, Haley’s, Anya’s, and other Xander’s lives are pretty much over.
Xander squeezed his eyes tight and clenched his jaw to fight back the scream. He wasn’t just ruining lives now. He was killing people or setting them up to be killed.
Maybe Rupert was right about him after all.
He looked up and saw some stars were starting the shine through the dark sky.
Where the hell is Haley or Anya?
They had to have heard the fight. He was surprised someone didn’t emerge from the house to drag him to safety once he dusted his roadblock to the house.
What if they got to them?
Oh, god. Haley and Anya could’ve been lured out the back while he was fighting out front.
Stupid. I’m so stupid, he berated himself as he forced himself into the kneeling position.
He had to get up. He had to check—
“GET IN THE HOUSE! IN THE FUCKING HOUSE RIGHT NOW!”
Xander’s head shot up in time to see Faith skidding past the picket fence opening. She kept screaming as she backtracked. “MOVE YOUR GODDAMN ASS JUNIOR RIGHT NOW! IN THE HOUSE RIGHT—”
That’s when a half-dozen vampires boiled out of the bushes roaring for blood.