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The Last Casualty of the War: a Post-Chosen fic

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  • The Last Casualty of the War: a Post-Chosen fic

    I started writing this fic for KingofCretins challenge, but missed the deadline by...possibly months. But I thought I'd post it anyway, now I've finally finished it.

    It's set shortly after Chosen.

    - - -
    It had survived. It didn't know how or why. All it knew was this: it had to feed, and blood was nearby. Something was stopping it from moving. Great weight, crushing. But the blood was close enough, pumping through a warm body ? the smell was maddening.

    If it could just free its legs. Ah. Yes. There.

    It wrenched a foot from under a heavy stone and limped forward through the broken tunnel of rubble.

    There. There it was - food. But the food was dying. Dead blood, no use. The creature got down on its knees over the dying body... biting... mouth warm and wet. Life.

    But all alone, the army gone, the creature wanted more than food. Before the point of death, it stopped. Its mind didn't have the capacity to question why, but it slashed its own wrist with a razor sharp claw, and grabbed the dying creature by the hair, forcing it to drink.


    When Anya awoke a few hours later, the first thing she saw was a hideous Ubervampire, glaring at her with its baleful eyes. Not stopping to think where she was, or what was going on, her hand fell on a broken spear of wood, and she leapt to her feet and rammed the beam into its chest. With a howl, it evaporated in a dusty cloud.

    "Humph!" Anya stepped back, coughing. She coughed for a couple of seconds before she realised she didn't need to be coughing... because she didn't need to be breathing.

    Because she was a vampire.

    "Oh, for Pete's sake!"


    In the hours it took for her to dig out from under God knows how many tonnes of rubble, Anya had the opportunity to consider her new position in life.

    I'm a vampire. A vampire with an incredibly painful slash wound across my torso.

    She felt irritation rise to go with the throbbing pain.

    That nasty Neanderthal could've at least turned me *before* I got stabbed

    It seemed that swords through the chest hurt more as a vampire than they had in her previous vengeance demon form.

    Well, that bites.

    But, on the upside, being a vampire didn't bring with it any professional responsibilities that would prevent her from pursuing her own life goals.
    Now she thought about it, being a vengeance demon was practically

    Socialist. Blech. While, as a vampire, she could exercise her rights to unlife, liberty and the pursuit of property without any of that justice nonsense.

    She could even own her own business ? wasn't that what Angel was doing now? She'd overheard Buffy talking about some such thing. So presumably some areas of the commercial sector were amenable to dealing with vampires. And presumably it was easier to avoid federal taxes if you were legally dead?

    All the same, her long term plans would have to be put on hold until she escaped the rubble-formerly-known-as-Sunnydale. She looked up at the mess of bricks and dust above her. Ooh, was that a glimmer of light? She clambered up over a concrete girder to where light appeared to be...

    Holy crap! She leapt back, feeling her face and hands sizzling in shaft of sunshine. She patted at her cheek, frantically, realising she was actually on fire. Her *face* was on fire. The flames went out quickly enough, but she felt increasingly mad.

    Why couldn't I get turned by some handsome, well-muscled man, somewhere romantic and dark like a graveyard? Then I could be having rampant sex by moonlight, after feasting on the blood of the innocent, instead of stuck here with nth degree burns and no frickin' clue where I am.

    She sat down on a wooden beam, pouting. She was going to have to wait until nightfall. If Sunnydale had collapsed into the Hellmouth ? she was pretty sure that was what had happened; what else could generate that much rubble? ? then she would most likely be in the middle of nowhere by now, so there'd be nowhere to shelter from the pesky sun.

    "Whyever do vampires live in California," she wondered out loud. Mmm, maybe I should move to Alaska? Weeks without sunshine...though, also, not much of a customer base for a young businessvamipre seeking to make her way in the world.

    "Hello?" came a voice. A man's voice. He sounded young. "Is someone there? I'm trapped! Help me, please!"

    Anya perked right up. Even if she wasn't going to get any hot sex in a graveyard, at least dinner was on the cards. Though, she could always turn him if he was good-looking of course. A boy toy of her very own would be a very pleasant addition to her new unlife. She was eager to try out her new, vampire body, as she understood that vampires had very pleasant sexual experiences for the most part, with their powerful muscles and whathaveyou.

    "Coming!" she called, eagerly. "And hopefully, we both will be soon, and many times!"

    "What? I can't hear you!" came the young, male voice.

    She was already imagining straddling him. Should she kill him before or after sex? Perhaps during? Though, the possibility of having sex with someone who didn't need to breathe.... Before, and wait until he arose as a vampire? Her encounter with Spike had not lasted long enough to try out that particular talent. And, for all her talk of "hanging out" with Dracula, they'd never actually done anything of that sort. She suspected that Dracula was probably gay or impotent and she never wanted to have sex with him anyway. Sure, she'd dreamed about being covered in blood so that he'd lick it off, but who didn't have *that* dream about the Dark Master?

    After scrambling through the rubble, avoiding shafts of sunlight, Anya came to where the trapped human was lying. She took one look at him and his face fell. The boy was barely out of high school, and a drippy, acne-ridden loser to boot. No way was he going to be her immortal beloved, or even her one night honey.

    "That's very disappointing," she said. But she shrugged. Dinner was dinner and a girl's got to eat. Her face shifted into vampire gear, and the boy screamed.

    She didn't need to pin him down. He was already pinned completely by a fall of bricks and a seriously wounded leg. So, as he continued to scream in a most annoying fashion, she dropped to her knees and sank her fangs into his neck.

    The blood tasted incredible. Like nothing she'd ever? Salty and sweet, warm and thick and?oh GOD. She sucked and sucked, feeling it gush down her throat in a warm, delicious torrent.

    After a few moments, she stopped drinking and paused, just to let the sensation wash over her. Gazing down at the pizza-faced boy, she couldn't quite believe all this deliciousness was coming from him. "You taste a lot better than you look," she remarked.

    The boy was too weak to reply. He just groaned.
    Anya shrugged. "Fine, don't take it as a compliment," she said, and carried on drinking, until she'd drained him dry.

    She didn't feel a thing about the death she'd just caused, other than a delicious warm sensation. Though, thoughts did flicker across her mind: I'm free. No more guilt. No more nightmares about frat boys... about Hallie... any of it. Humanity was a skin. I've evolved again. Free. This is who I was always meant to be.

    "Well, that's much better."

    She sighed and rocked back on her heels, then got up in one smooth, lightening-quick movement. She'd never felt this light or graceful. As a demon, she'd been fast and powerful, but this feeling was beyond any of that. She was, ooh, she was a coiled spring of elegance, a slinky vixen of violence.

    Surely any man who saw her now would want her? And she could have anyone she wanted, too. The only question was, who did she want first?
    Then, for the first time since she'd woken up, she thought about him.

    The man who broke her heart. The man who humiliated her in front of all her friends and colleagues. The man she... oh, she still loved him. There was no wiping that away ? she'd lost her conscience, but the tangles of her heart were still just as tangly. But now, she was in a position to do exactly what she needed to do to get closure with Mr Harris.

    She felt a grin spread across her face. There were so many things she would like to do to Alexander Lavelle Harris.

    Not that this was a vengeance thing. Vengeance was so last season. This was going to be all about pleasure. And maybe some kind of penetration with sharp objects.

    Not that the two things had to be mutually exclusive for her, as a vampire.
    All she had to do was wait until sundown, then track him down. Once her burns had healed, anyway.

    And she should probably wash out some of the dust from her hair and change her slashed clothing before she paid him a visit. You have to look good when you're going to torture and kill your ex-fianc?e, after all.

    + + + +

    A week after the collapse of the Hellmouth, the yellow bus brigade (temporary nickname, copyright Andrew, pending something that didn't suck) were in a nowhere town, in a no-frills motel, and Xander was sleeping in a bed that he was pretty sure had both fleas and bloodstains. Although, the bloodstains were so old that they were brown going on yellow. So perhaps they were coffee stains? He hoped and prayed so, to any god who would listen, and had the power to help him forget quite how many people had had bad wrong sex exactly where he was lying now.

    At least he had the bed to himself. Giles was having to bunk up with Andrew.
    But right at this moment, he was deep asleep, in spite of the saggy mattress and the soiled comforter, and in spite of the cold facts that seemed to slap him in the face every few moments in the pre-sleep darkness.

    She's dead. She's dead. She wasn't mine but then, she's dead.

    One way of knowing that a relationship's over, he guessed. But then again, if they're dead, you never get to see them moving on. So how can you move on?

    And, just like every night, he was dreaming of her. This time, they were walking on the beach back in Sunnydale. She was wearing a gold bikini with matching Princess Leia hair - though on Anya, the looped braids looked more alpine milk maid than intergalactic princess. She had that wholesomeness, in spite of her spicy talk or the fingers she used to put up places where fingers do not usually live.

    "I don't trust you any more," said dream Anya. "You're clearly a Communist. You share too much with Buffy." She folded her arms across her scantily-clad chest and stopped in the sand, looking out to sea.
    Xander put his hands on her shoulders, but she shrugged him off. Her skin felt like wax. Cold and slippy. He made a pleading gesture. "Please, Ahn, I don't see Buffy that way."

    When Anya spun around to face him, she was Buffy. "Then how do you see me?"

    Buffy's face began to bleed ? red drips down from her hairline, running quickly down the bridge of her nose and her cheeks. He saw the blood splash down onto her white clothing.

    "Not usually like that," said Xander. "Usually far less blood."

    "I frequently bleed," said Buffy. She sounded put out.

    "Because you're a woman?" said Xander, then wished he hadn't.

    Now Anya was standing beside Buffy, wearing the same white clothing as the slayer.

    "He's a tiny man. Much like Snyder," she said.

    They both looked at him in disgust and turned away, walking toward the waves and into the sea; they vanished beneath the grey-green water. He rushed forward in a panic, splashing up to his knees. The sea-bed was full of broken shells. They cut his feet.
    Without a warning, hands began to pull him down. He was struggling against cold fingers that were dragging him by the ankles. He cried out. "I'm not ready! I'm not?"

    Then he went under. He heard his own voice in his head as the water swallowed him. "I'm not ready to die."

    As he woke, he realized there was someone standing in the doorway. His eyes were still misted over with sleep.

    "You're never ready to do what I want you to do," said a voice. He recognized it instantly. "Move in together... get married...grow up and be a man. But this time, I can make it happen."

    "Anya?" He blinked. She was wearing a low-cut top and... leather pants? Anya never wore leather pants. Also, she should be dead. And her skin... it looked...there was something different.

    She smiled, patting her ass. "I understand these are a traditional indicator of..."

    Oh God, he thought. "You're a vampire."

    Anya rolled her eyes. "Fine, steal my thunder. Jackass. "
    She vamped out. Xander was sitting up in bed, fists clenching under the cover. She could smell him. She could almost feel the tensing of his muscles, altering the flow of blood through him.

    The scent was so familiar, yet far more intense. Also, a tad sweaty. She could just taste the beads of sweat forming all over him. She could hear his pulse quickening, heart pumping.

    She felt suddenly so hungry that she could barely contain herself from leaping on him and sinking her teeth into him right there and then. But this wasn't just a meal. This was Xander.

    "This is worse," said Xander.

    "Worse than what?" asked Anya.

    Xander shook his head. "It doesn't matter. You're not Anya, so I've not... there's no point talking to you. There's no point." He closed his eyes slightly.
    Xander felt as if he was going to cry. Inside his head, his pulse was throbbing and he could almost hear his thoughts out loud. His mind was completely clear and completely in agony. This is worse than her dying. Worse than I can imagine...just worse. Than anything.

    Anya watched him for a moment, then padded across the floor and sat down beside him on the bed. He didn't flinch exactly. He just became stiffer, like a little lifeless puppet. Only, not so little.

    She'd somehow expected him to seem diminished, now that she was a vampire and he was just a mortal. But in a way, he seemed bigger ? radiating heat and life, like a pulsing beacon of yumminess.

    "Worse than what?" she repeated. "You know what I can do to you, so I think you should answer my questions lickety split...." She suddenly lurched forward and straddled him, pinning his arms back above his head. She felt something give ? his shoulder.

    He yelled out in pain.

    "...or I'll make it last two days instead of my initial forecast of about eight hours," Anya added. "WORSE than what? Exactly? Please explain yourself."
    Xander turned his face away, feeling a whimper in his throat. There was a burning building in his arms. He tried to shut his mind off from the moment.

    But he couldn't. She was here, and a vampire, and she was going to hurt him. The others were staying in a motel two blocks up the road. They'd never hear him. He tried to think where he'd left his cellphone.

    In Dawn's room. Crap.

    Anya grabbed his face and made him look at her.

    She'd lost her vampface now. It was just Anya looking at him. Her face was a little paler, perhaps, and the touch of her hands was cold ? but still soft. He'd never really thought about that before. Do vampires moisturise?

    "You know what? I'm not sure I really care any more what you think," said Anya. Her eyes narrowed. She wasn't angry. She looked thoughtful. "I used to care so much about what you were thinking, what you were doing, what you were thinking about me."

    She sat back and exhaled ? a strange sensation, without the active involvement of lungs. It made her blink. "Gosh, that was strange..." She shook her head. "Anyway, what was I saying?"

    Xander didn't reply. What could he say? Strange, really... although he'd never imagined this scenario, if he had imagined it, he would've seen himself yammering nervously... pleading with her... or maybe trying to talk his way out of it. But, confronted with an undead copy of the woman he used to love... there was nothing to say. He just felt hollow.

    Oh, and terrified. But it was a clammy, damp, slow terror, like he was moving through treacle.

    Anya leaned closer, inspecting him, as if searching for something. She brushed his face with the back of her hand, absently, then pulled a finger down his cheek. So sharp, she drew blood and he gasped.

    Anya laughed. "What's happened to you, Harris? Cat got your tongue?"

    "I just don't know what to say. I really don't."

    Anya frowned. Xander was confusing her. She'd come here expecting to bicker with him as she broke every bone in his body. She'd come expecting to find the old spark, and turn it into something violent and cruel. Instead, she found nothing. It was as if Xander wasn't even seeing her. She felt her stomach clench with sadness. I'm not supposed to feel this way. I'm immortal.

    "How dare you make me feel this way?" She growled. She rung him a slap around his face. He grunted with pain, but that was all. She scowled and jumped up off the bed, starting to pace. Xander just lay there on the bed like a sack of wet cement.

    Perhaps he was concussed by the slap? He'd be sure to rally around and start saying sarcastic things any moment, and things would be just like they were before ? only this time, she had the power to win. To make him admit that she was better than him. She stopped and glared at him lying there on the bed. He was starting to sit up, eyeing the door. Ha! As if he could escape.

    "Why did I think you were important? There are so many human men in the world... why did I pick you?"

    "Because I was there," said Xander. He was upright now, and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. But he made no move to leave. He just ran his fingers through his hair and licked his lips. He looked cowed, like a little boy who'd been sent to bed without any supper. It made her think of that time she'd found him, after an argument with his father, when his father had told him he was nothing. She started to feel...what, sorry for him?

    "F**k you, Xander," she hissed. "You caught me off guard when I was vulnerable and newly human." She held up a scolding finger. "But don't try that again now I'm newly undead. It won't work. I'm going to torture you to death and that's that."

    "I won't. I won't try anything," said Xander. He looked up at her. He tried to remember what Anya had looked like before. Had her expressions been different? Was there something in her face that wasn't there before? Or had she always had a trace of the demon about her? And was there a trace of the old Anya there still? Did a vampire really take the whole person away?

    Anya thought how pretty Xander's eyes looked. Big, brown, gentle. Was that a tear in the corner of his eye? She should feel good about that, right? That meant she was hurting him.

    But her heart didn't flood with vicious pleasure. Instead, she remembered falling in love with him.

    So vivid.

    That time, when he'd looked at her like she was precious. Shad begun to believe that, just perhaps, not all men were evil... and perhaps she wasn't either.

    "Get out of my head, Xander," she growled. "Stop looking at me like that."
    Xander got to his feet and dusted down his pants, rubbing the now-cold sweat off. He stood up very straight and felt pretty certain that this was the end. And somehow, in this moment, he didn't mind. Because, was this really a world he could stay in? Was this the brave new world? Where friends became enemies and love, always, became death?

    "It's over, Anya. I haven't got anything to give to you."

    "You've got your body. " She moved quickly, shoving him against the wall. She wanted to feel a surge of animal rage, but it didn't come. She was playing a part. "You've got pain to give me." She pressed against him, hips bucking. That's what vampires did, wasn't it? Moved all sexy while doing something violent. Wasn't she doing it right? He wasn't reacting.

    She stepped back and put her hands on her hips. She should probably start cutting into his flesh about now, but she wasn't sure where to begin. What would make him suffer the most?

    Why am I doing this? she wondered. I mean, I want to taste his delicious blood... why don't I just taste it?

    "You know, I think I'm not going to be the sort of vampire who tortures people for hours," she said, with a haughty sniff. "I think I'm more of a good-time, kill-n-go kind of a girl." She giggled. "I'm done pretending to be something I'm not, or trying to please people." She vamped out and gazed at Xander. "You're dinner, nothing more," she said, and launched herself at him.

    Fangs meeting flesh and sinking... oh GOD. She practically had an orgasm at the taste. This was so much better than having sex with him... and Xander was an excellent lover...and an excellent lover makes you feel pleasure for as long as possible.... She pulled back for a moment, allowing the blood to course through her.

    This wasn't victory any more. This wasn't about power. This was about pleasure. Why hadn't she seen that before? All that mattered in the world... it wasn't power, or status, or being a part of something... it wasn't being loved.

    It was just this. Pleasure. She threw back her head and laughed. "I think this is the first time I've ever been truly happy." Xander started to slip down the wall. She grabbed him to keep him upright. "Thank you, Xander. You've set me free." She leaned over and licked at his neck. A dribble of blood. "Mmm," she purred. "You know, after my years as a Communist... and my years as a Capitalist... I've been missing out on the only philosophy that contained the real truth of things. Hedonism." She licked her lips and contemplated
    Xander's face for a moment. "You're a very pretty boy. I think I will turn you, after all. I think we could have fun. No strings, you understand. That's over, I realise that now. But think of the fun we could have. And the violent sex."

    Xander felt giddy. The world was spooling away, further and further. Think about Buffy. What would she do? Maybe she'd go catatonic too. Wouldn't be the first time.

    Buffy. What would she say is she knew he was... God... was he giving up? Just because something shitty happened? Just because someone died? Since when was that a new thing?

    "People die all the time," he said. He felt like himself, suddenly. More than he had since the Hellmouth collapsed. He looked Anya in the eye. She looked curiously back at him, a little irritated that he was cutting into her revelation, her new life philosophy.

    "Hello, I'm having an epiphany here," she said, grumpily.

    "You died," he said, slowly, really understanding the words for the first time. "Anya's gone."

    "I most certainly am no..." Anya began, indignantly. But she was interrupted. She felt a sharp, jabbing sensation in her back. Right where... "You little shit!" she cried. "You did me from behind! And not in the good wa..."

    But she exploded into dust before she was finished.

    Xander let the stake fall to the floor. Good thing he kept one by his bedside. His hand went up to his neck, which was throbbing. She'd taken a lot of blood, but not enough to kill him, he was pretty sure. Better call 911 in case though...

    He grabbed the room's phone from its cradle and dialled. "Yeah... I'm at Danielle's the turnpike... yeah... and...I think I'm going to need a transfusion. Type AB...thanks. No, I'm not... bye..."

    He smiled as he sank to the floor. The woman on the phone had been surprised at his specific request, asked if he was a doctor.
    He had to stay awake until help came. The others would see the ambulance go past maybe, come and find him.. or not. He almost hoped they wouldn't. He needed time before he saw them. What had happened...?

    "Nothing happened," he whispered. "No one died. She was already dead."

    He'd believed that earlier. But now... the dust on the floor made him wonder, just for a moment: was this my second chance to save her? I could've got Willow to give her a soul... I could've...

    Before he staked Anya, everything had been so clear. He was doing what he had to do, and it was for the best.

    But now, he just felt sick, and tired, and so unsure. Anya was dead and they'd changed the world. It wasn't a new start, he realized. No new, blank slate where they could write a glorious, shiny, heroic destiny. There was just this: picking up the pieces and carrying on.

    His eyes rested ? fuzzy, now; vision swimming ? on the pile of dust on the carpet. Just mess for some poor maid to clean up. He should do it himself. He made the mess after all.

    The sirens were coming. He was safe. The war was truly over.

    Anya was gone.

    -- Robofrakkinawesome BANNER BY FRANCY --