Disclaimers

Legal: All 'Buffy' characters are (c) Joss Whedon, Fox, Mutant Enemy and probably a whole mess of other people. No infringement of copyright is intended.

Archive: Mailing lists, go right ahead. Anyone else, yes, but please let me know.

Spoilers: Up to 'Crush'.

Rating: a strongly-deserved R (MPAA)

Summary: Xander and Anya find a novel use for the World Without Shrimp. This is a response to YGTS? Challenge #97.


Anya sighed as she slipped her key into the lock of the door. It had not been a good day.

First, she'd made the mistake of getting into an argument with Xander about the appropriateness of public sex. She'd very reasonably brought up the precedent of that time at the Mini Golf Course. And at the Magic Box. It had taken nearly half an hour for Xander to stop explaining that these places were very different to the pulpit of St Michael's Church.

That, of course, had made her late for work, which made Giles cranky, so he sent her to dust all the really high shelves. She hated that. Not only did the dusting make her sneeze, but there was no money involved.

Her pensive expression suddenly changed to a delighted smile, however, as the door swung open from her gentle push.

The apartment was dimly lit, accentuating the glow of candles on the dining table. She couldn't see Xander, but she could hear him moving around in the kitchen, and she could definitely smell the rich scent of his world-famous 'Making-Up Marinara'.

That could mean only one thing. Her eyes slipped to the couch, immediately finding the familiar shape of the Blockbuster video bag. It looked particularly full, this time.

Closing the door as silently as she could, the ex-demoness tip-toed over to the bag and checked inside. Her smile broadened as she read the titles. Xander had managed to find a perfect blend of mushiness and bloodbaths. He definitely deserved a reward.

Still smiling, Anya went to tell Xander she was home.

Neither her blouse or bra made it to the kitchen.


Much later; after they had sniffled through 'The Parent Trap' and freeze-framed all the gory bits from 'Event Horizon', they lay together on the couch, Anya snuggled on top of Xander.

"You taste of fish sauce." He teased her, his hands creeping down her sides.

Anya pouted, pretending not to notice the fingers that were sneaking along her skin.

"It's not my fault," she mock-sniffled, "There was this handsome stranger and he plied me with delicious food, then ravished me. Three times."

Xander smiled,

"A handsome stranger, huh?" then he frowned, "did you say three times?"

Anya nodded solemnly, then burst into giggles as Xander's fingers leapt to the tickle-attack.


It wasn't until the next evening, as she ladled reheated Marinara into bowls, that Anya had 'The Idea'. She paused in mid-ladle, frowning slightly, then fished a shrimp out of the pasta and chewed it thoughtfully.

"What are you up to?"

She started slightly at Xander's sudden question, accidentally spilling some sauce on the table.

"You scared me deliberately." She accused.

He didn't bother to deny it,

"You looked like you were a million miles away."

"A whole different dimension, actually." She put the ladle back in the pot.

Xander caught the thoughtfulness of her tone and raised his eyebrows,

"Wanna share with the rest of us?"

"I was just thinking about how you didn't want to have sex in St Michael's in case we got caught, because then everyone in town would think we were sexual deviates."

"Yeah?" Xander leaned against the fridge, obviously prepared to hear her out.

"Well, I was thinking, what if we did it in an alternate universe? Then, if we got caught, no-one here would know about it."

"Just the people in the alternate universe."

"Well, sure." Anya shrugged, "But why would we care what the people in the World Without Shrimp thought of us? We don't even exist, there."

"We don't?"

Anya shook her head,

"Your grandparents met in hospital. Your grandmother got food poisoning -"

"And my grandfather was a cleaner. I remember the story." He ought to; he was the one who had told her. "So in the World Without Shrimp -" he capitalised it in his mind, "that didn't happen?"

"You can't get food poisoning from bad shrimp in a world that doesn't have them."

Xander had to admit the logic of that. Still ...

"How do you know it was food poisoning from bad shrimp?"

"I knew your grandmother."

"Oh." He nodded. Then the other shoe dropped. "Oh."


"- and that's the whole story."

Xander cocked his head to one side, as if listening to the silent block of stone that stood in front of him,

"I don't know how we ended up together either, man." He shrugged, "But it feels good. It feels better than good. Even when she drives me crazy, she still drives me crazy. If you get what I mean."

He paused, then chuckled softly.

"Yes. Just like you and Cordy."

He knew that someone watching would have wondered if he was crazy, standing there talking to a mausoleum, but it had become such a regular part of his life that he barely even thought about it, anymore. It wasn't something that he talked about with the others; not even Willow. He didn't think she had been back there in years. Probably the only one who knew was Giles. They sometimes saw each other, when they came to visit the friends they had lose.

"Wotcha doin', monkey-brains?"

Xander sighed. Make that Giles and Spike.

"The sun isn't down yet, Chipboy. Shouldn't you still be in your hole?"

"Got me a nice bit of shadow, 'ere. And this is still a free country, innit?"

"You're not American. Hell, you're not even alive."

"At least I ain't talkin' to a soddin' lump of rock like a great poof."

"There's still sunlight out here, Dustboy." Xander warned, "Want me to introduce you?"

He'd expected a typical Spike response, but instead the vampire was silent for a long moment, before speaking again in a serious tone of voice,

"Friend of yours, was it?"

"My best friend." Xander frowned, "Or the last place I saw him alive, anyway. What do you want, Spike? Shouldn't you be getting ready to spend your night stalking Buffy?"

"Might have known you'd kick a man while he was down." Spike attempted an injured tone. "As it happens, I heard a little story 'bout you and the demoness. Figured I'd find out if it was true."

Xander suppressed a sigh. The problem with having an ex-demoness as a girlfriend was that she was far too friendly with neutered British vampires.

"What do you want, Spike?"

"I want to come along. It sounds like fun. I can have a poke around while you two have a poke of your own."

"Not a chance."

"Think the little witch would like to know about it?"

Xander didn't bother to suppress this sigh,

"You can come. But if you make any trouble at all, we'll leave you there. Got it?"


"The World Without Shrimp!" Xander declared in portentous tones, as the wibbly-wobbly distortion of the dimensional warp faded away.

"Looks just the bloody same as back 'ome, to me." Spike sniffed critically.

"I'm more than happy to ask Anya to send you back, right now." The dark-haired young man responded cheerfully, gesturing at his girlfriend.

"Guess I could take a look-see, first." The vampire sounded like he was doing them a favour.

"Just be back here in five hours. That's an hour before dawn." Anya smirked and poked him in the chest, "If you aren't here, we'll leave you behind."

"Couldn't we leave him, anyway?"

This time it was Xander who received the poke in the chest.

"Quiet. You're wasting valuable sex time."

"Good point."

"Fine!" Spike shouted after the pair, who were quickly disappearing into the gloom. "Run off by yourselves and get killed. See if I care!"

There was no answer. Spike swore. However, after a few minutes reflection, he shrugged and lit a cigarette. He'd give them a couple of minutes' start, then follow to make sure they were okay. And if they happened not to notice he was around, well ... he wouldn't mind seeing the little demon girl with her kit off.


"This isn't St Michael's." Xander stared at the church. "St Michael's is smaller. And it has fewer statutes of men with clubs."

"It's St Patrick's." Anya pointed at the title of the notice-board in front of the church. According to the largest notice, the weekly basket-weaving courses had recently been cancelled due to the unfortunate death of the teacher. "This is an alternate universe, remember."

Xander couldn't argue with her logic. So instead, he jimmied open a window at the back of the building, climbed through, and opened the door for Anya.

"Why has he got a club?" he asked, as he let her in.

"He used it to drive all the snakes out of Ireland." Anya watched as Xander closed the door

"Did you lock it?" she whispered.

"Yeah." Xander replied in the same low tones. "I didn't want any interruptions."

"The risk of interruptions is half the fun."

"Not if they are vampires. I don't want my blood sucked in any dimension."

"Good point." Anya giggled softly. "That's not the kind of sucking you like, right?"

"Minx." Xander grabbed her around the waist and lowered them both to the floor, gently nibbling her ear-lobe as he did so.

Anya's reply was broken off with a soft moan, and it wasn't until several minutes later that any noise could be heard but quickened breathing and the soft rustle of clothing being removed.

Xander raised his eyebrows as Anya giggled in the middle of stripping off his underwear.

"That's not your usual reaction." He mock-pouted.

"Sorry." She giggled again, "I was just thinking that this was one snake St Patrick hasn't driven out."

"Well, at least it isn't poisonous."

"Are you sure?" Anya dipped her head, "I was thinking I should suck the wound to make sure ..."

"That's a mixed metaphohhhhhhhyeahhhh."


Spike peered into the church through a grimy window. It wasn't much of a view, but it was good enough that he was just about to take matters in hand, so to speak, when a voice spoke from behind him.

"What the 'ell are you doin'?"

Zipping himself hastily, Spike turned, trying to look nonchalant.

And then his jaw sagged open.

"Bloody 'ell!" the newcomer took a step back, an unlit cigarette falling from his mouth. "Where did you get my face from, you ponce?"

Spike closed his mouth with a snap.

"Keep your shirt on." He fished out a cigarette of his own, "We're the same person. It's just that I'm from an alternate universe."

"Your hair's the wrong colour." This universe's version of Spike objected, running a hand through his own orange-died scalp.

"That's why they call it an alternate universe, mate." Spike offered himself a cigarette, which his counterpart took wordlessly.

For several moments, they stood in silence, watching one another through the blue cigarette smoke.

"So what were you doing?" his orange-haired self asked at last, pointing at the window.

"Coupla kids screwing inside."

There was another long silence, then:

"Room for two up there, do you think?"


"Did you hear something?"

"Only my name." Xander grinned, making Anya playfully swat him on the chest.

"Egotist."

"You mean 'Oh yes Xander, harder, more more' was just an act?"

Anya pretended to think,

"You know, I'm not sure. My memory is fuzzy. Care to refresh it?"


"They're going again?"

Spike snorted at the hoarse tone of wonder in his alternate self's voice.

"They're regular little Energizer bunnies, mate." He tried to get comfortable in his jeans. They were feeling very confining. "Oh, sod it." He unzipped and let it all hang out. Wasn't like the guy next to him didn't see it every day, anyway.

There was a matching zippering noise from beside him, and despite his interest in the show inside, he couldn't help but sneak a peek.

It really was quite impressive, he thought smugly, before raising his eyes to meet those of his counterpart.

The orange-haired vampire licked his lips and raised his eyebrows nervously,

"You know ... since we're the same person, it wouldn't be like we were really poofs ..."

"Oh, save it, mate." Spike threw away his cigarette and grabbed the other man for a bruising kiss, "I know about all those times with Peaches, remember?"


It was a week later before they returned to the World Without Shrimp.

"Was it just me, or did Spike seem really eager to come back here?" Anya asked, as she and Xander waited for the ferry on Sunnydale Pier.

"I'm just glad he didn't want to stay with us." Xander waggled his eyebrows.

"Maybe he's found an alternate dimension orgasm friend?" the ex-demoness suggested brightly, oblivious to the strange looks they received from the people around them.

"Really not wanting to know, Ahn." Xander helped her aboard the ferry, staring at the strange vessel with a frown. "What's with all the netting on the sides of the boat? They worried about people falling in the water?"

"Oh, that's Kraken Mesh." Anya replied airily, as she dragged him toward one of the ferry's small cabins. She'd been planning this voyage for the entire week, and she wanted to get started.

"It's what mesh?" Xander came to a dead halt.

"Kraken Mesh." Anya shrugged, "They still have Krakens here, you see. In your world, they got wiped out in a genocidal war with the Shrimp."

Xander decided not to ask how shrimp had managed to wipe out a race of sixty-foot long tentacled abominations.

"You brought me on a boat trip in a universe with sea monsters?" He waved his hands in the air, his voice rising, as Anya closed the door of the cabin to give them some privacy.

She stared at him, her lower lip trembling very slightly. Guilt smacked Xander in the forehead like an oversized brick.

"I'm sorry, Ahn." He said gently, enfolding her in his arms. "I just wasn't expecting these trips of ours to involve the risk of being eaten."

Anya sniffled, then said quietly,

"I just thought water was supposed to be romantic. All the books say that keeping the romance alive is important in a relationship. But I guess I got it wrong -"

"No." Xander put his fingers to her lips to quiet her, "No, you did great, honey. I just wasn't expecting the Kraken thing, and overreacted. You didn't do anything wrong."

She looked up again, and now her eyes were bright with mischief, not tears.

"Does that mean you aren't going to spank me?"

He grinned,

"I never said that."

Moments later, delighted squeals could be heard from emanating from the cabin.


"Aaaaahhhhh! My eyes! I'm blind!"

Twin Spike faces peered up from their naked embrace at the sudden screams of horror. Xander staggered away, falling to his knees and begging someone to tear our his eyes. Anya, meanwhile, was looking at the two vampires with a blatantly appraising eye.

"Humans. Can we eat 'em?"

Spike shook his head at his orange-haired counterpart.

"Not unless they ask to join us nicely."

Anya opened her mouth, but Xander shot immediately to his feet and clamped a hand over her lips,

"I am not having group sex with Spike ... Spikes." He glared at the two vampires, who had made no attempt to move out of their entwined position.

Anya pushed his hand down,

"I was just going to remind Spike that we were supposed to have a midnight picnic, together." She answered primly, earning a look of disbelief from both Xander and the blonde vampire.

"You're back early." said vampire grumbled, producing a cigarette and lighter from Xander-didn't-want-to-know-where.

"Actually, we're late." The ex-demoness replied cheerfully, "You boys must have got carried away with each other and lost track of the time. Does your friend want to come, Spike? We've got enough food -"

"Hang on, it's bad enough that you had to invite one Spike, let alone two!" Xander interrupted her, "Besides, what will we call this guy?"

"We can call him Shrike."

"'s a good name." The orange-haired vampire looked impressed, "Shrikes are nasty little buggers." He caught their confused looks, "Shrikes? The butcher bird?"

"It was short for ShrimpSpike." Anya confessed in a small voice.

"Wouldn't our Spike be ShrimpSpike?" Xander pondered, "This guy is actually NoShrimpSpike."

"Do I look like a shrimp to you?" Spike rolled onto his back and presented himself for investigation. Xander blanched. Anya gave a nonchalant shrug and cuddled closer to her boyfriend, which earned her glares from both vampires.

"What's a shrimp?" the newly-christened Shrike asked.

"It's a type of seafood!" Anya beamed, "I brought some for the picnic. For purposes of irony, which I have heard humans appreciate."

"Did you bring blood?" Vampires apparently had little interest in irony.

"Of course."

"Weetabix?" Spike asked hopefully.

"And honey." Anya confirmed.

"Well, what are we waiting around here for?"


"You can't be meaning to eat that." Shrike stared at the shrimp in Anya's hand with an expression of horror.

"Why not?" she ripped off its head and began to methodically remove the legs and shell.

"Why not?" he stared at her like she had grown a second head, "It's a giant pink bug, for Christ's sake!"

"It's tasty." Xander scooped one out of the cool bag and offered it to the repulsed vampire, who recoiled visibly.

"Xander, don't tease the undead." Anya slapped his hand lightly.

"Give me that." Spike snatched the shrimp out of Xander's grip and turned to Shrike, "They really aren't that bad, you know." He made as if to de-shell the shrimp.

"Eat that disgusting thing and I'll never kiss you again."


"You know," Xander remarked the next night, as he and Anya lay spooned together in bed, "I don't know what's more disturbing. That Spike is having sex with himself, or that he threw away a perfectly good shrimp to keep getting it."

"Definitely throwing away the shrimp." Anya murmured, without opening her eyes, "there's nothing wrong with pretty naked boys."

Xander made choking noises, and the girl reached back to slap his behind.

"Like the idea of Tara and Willow in bed doesn't turn you on."

The silence that followed was answer enough. Anya smiled smugly. Then a thought occurred to her.

"Xander?"

"Hmmm?'

"Who would you be willing to have group sex with?"


Epilogue: The World Without Shrimp

Willow sighed and rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand,

"He's right." She admitted at last, "It's like nothing I've ever seen before. About the only thing it can be is some kind of new demon spawn."

"Or an alien." Shrike offered helpfully, then spread his hands when all eyes were turned on him, "What? None of you saw 'The Faculty'?"

Everyone in the room stared at the dissected shrimp on the table. With it's beady black eyes and repulsively pink colour, it did indeed look like something from another world.

"We'd better break into teams and check all the usual haunts." Buffy said at last, with a sigh. "There's no telling what the Mama-beast could be up to."

Shrike grinned to himself. With luck, he could keep the Slayer chasing non-existent demons for days. This was going to be such fun.