Summary: Xander ponders his life in the aftermath of his experiences during "The Replacement."

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters portrayed here, they remain the property of their respective owners/creators.

Rating: PG-13, for themes.

Time Frame: Fifth season BTVS, a couple of days after "The Replacement." (This is your spoiler warning, folks.)

Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me ( to let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.


My eyes snap open, and I involuntarily look to both sides. . .something inside me still expects to see a mirror image there, muttering restlessly as he sleeps. But there is no one to my right, and Anya quietly slumbers to my left. I sit up and watch her as she sleeps. . .there is none of the irritability or uneasiness that she often displays when she is awake. . .for all of her past, she apparently sleeps with the grace of a clear conscience. . .must be nice. I am moved to reach out and caress her cheek: her face momentarily twitches with irritation, then relaxes into a smile as I pull away and she falls back into deep sleep.

I glance over at the clock and see that I need to get up for work, and I quietly and carefully get out of bed and wander down the hallway to the bathroom to shower and shave. I love this place. . .between how happy it made Anya and the general joy involved with getting out from under my parents' roof, working my ass off for an indefinite period to make it financially practical is actually a rather pleasant scenario.

As always, the hot shower is the trick to getting my blood flowing in the morning (God knows I'll never be a morning person, but I might as well make the best of it), and I am fully awake by the time I finish and step out of the shower to shave. I look at the face in the mirror and am pleased at what I see. I went to the barber yesterday and had him make some small but important changes in my hair situation. No more unruly mop, and definitely no more rumpled wardrobe of the type that made Spike cringe when he had to borrow it. My suave half definitely got the better of the two of us in clothing tastes, and since I have both sets of memories, I saw no reason not to take advantage of it.

That might have been the weirdest part of this whole thing. . .having two completely distinct sets of memories of the same day. Suave Xander looked so confident from the outside. . .it made me feel better to know that even without non-confident Xander holding him back, he still had some of the same doubts that I am oh so familiar with. On the other hand, non-confident Xander was nervous and scared, but he still had some nerve. . .following what he assumed was a demon (or a robot, but I'm really going to try to forget that lame idea. . .) took some bravery, I guess. . .

The funny thing was, I had given this whole split personality thing some thought long before this. I'm a Star Trek fan from way back, and the episode where the transporter split Captain Kirk into good and evil halves certainly came to mind once both halves of me realized what had happened. I have to admit, I got a better deal than Kirk did. . .at least neither one of me turned into Evil Rapist Guy. . .although I've been there before during the hyena incident. . .don't want to think too much about that, no sir.

I guess I'm just glad that both parts of me were, at the core, not so bad. . .yeah, non-confident Xander was basically the embodiment of the butt-monkey problems that I've been so pissed off about over the last year or so. . .and Suave Xander was rather ruthless about wanting to get rid of non-confident Xander. . .but, hell, he thought he was dealing with a demon, and it did feel good to realize how much Buffy and the others cared about me when I saw how they reacted to the threat of a demon impersonating me, not to mention the "thank you" that Buffy whispered into my ear as they all took Suave Xander home after I shoved her out of the way of the duplicating ray.

Anyway, I lived through the whole thing, and it gave me some perspective. . .I earned that new job as Xander, not as Suave Xander, and Anya loves me. . .the whole me, momentary desires to explore really unique sexual opportunities aside. There are things I'm good at, and I don't have to go around thinking I'm useless. . .I've seen some rather convincing proof that I'm not.

I sigh before continuing to shave and contemplate the other bombshell of the last few days. . .hey, Riley's cool, as far as I'm concerned. He watches Buffy's back, makes her happy, and I'm pretty sure he won't suddenly lose his soul and start trying to kill us. . .so why in the hell did he have to tell me that he doesn't think Buffy is in love with him? Damn it, I really could have stood staying ignorant about THAT situation. . .

I was a little relieved when Buffy walked in, which meant I didn't have to respond to what he had said. . .I'm not sure I could have. I've grown comfortable with how things are between me and Buffy. . .hell, I didn't even try to take a shot last year when she was down and both of us were unattached. . .it was more important to get her out of her funk and back to kicking undead ass. . .we'd all be dead many times over by now if she wasn't as good as she is. But now. . .I'm getting the distinct feeling that all is not well in Buffy and Riley country, and if Riley ends up taking a powder. . .I'm not sure how I'm going to feel.

I love Anya: I have no doubt about that. As amazingly irritating as she can be at times, she is devoted to me, and my feelings for her have been rather evident since the incident with the Gentlemen. On the other hand, I loved (and, in a lot of ways, still do love) Cordelia, and look what I did to her, not to mention what the whole thing did to my friendship with Willow. . .we still aren't really back to where we were before as far as closeness goes. But hearing that Buffy may not be in love with Riley has been enough to catch the attention of the Idiot Jeb side of my personality, which whispers to me that this might be the time when she actually notices me "that way". . .and the rest of me just prays that I won't be tested in this way. . .because I don't know if I could come through and resist if the opportunity comes.

I finish shaving and shake my head in disgust. . .all of this nifty insight as to how my mind works and the opportunities it opens up for me, and I still have to worry about whether a moment of bad judgment on my part could screw up the lives of one of my best friends and the woman with whom I am most definitely in love. . .life really sucks sometimes.

A slender pair of arms slips around my waist, and Anya comments, "My. . .you're looking rather less rumpled than usual. . .could we have sex before you go off and dig some more?"

I smile and congratulate myself in allowing for just such a possibility in getting up as early as I did. I turn and give her a reluctant look before replying, "Well. . .I suppose I could spare a few minutes. . .assuming you're naked and waiting when I walk into our bedroom in two minutes."

Anya vanishes as quickly as a puff of smoke, and I chuckle as I drop my towel to the floor and give myself one last appraising glance in the mirror before heading in to Anya's waiting arms. The eyes that stare back at me look more confident than they had last week, though a new hint of wariness is there. I sigh: there were definitely some pitfalls ahead, but for now I am content to take the new problems as they came and enjoy the moment. With that thought, I turn and leave the bathroom, smiling at the thought of Anya waiting for me.

As always, comments are welcomed and desired