Author's Note: If you know anything about my Heroes fanfiction, then you know that I have a lot of trouble letting sleeping dead characters lie. This is just how I deal with loss. There's a whole section about it in my profile.
So, as I say below, this is not Season 8 compliant, because I came up with it before reading Season 8, and it doesn't really work if I try to incorporate the new canon. But it should be generally AtS Season 5 compliant, which means possible minor spoilers for that.
Last thing, I'm going to name each chapter after an episode of the show for no other reasons than (1) I think I can manage it where the titles are actually fairly relevant to the text and (2) I like a challenge. It's not that I actually think it's a cool thing to do or anything like that. (And if I start writing about Inca mummies, band candy, or the evils of beer, you'll know I'm in trouble.)
Disclaimer (for the whole story): I do not own any part of the Buffy franchise. No money is being made off this story. Please don't sue me.
Title: Living Vengeance
Summary: A wish made in the spirit of vengeance brings Anya back into Xander's life.
Circa: Five years after the finale for most of the story. (However this chapter is set three years after.) No Season 8
Chapter 1—Older and Far Away
There came a point where Buffy decided that she was getting old. At twenty-five, she was actually really old for a Slayer. It was a young girl's game. If she remembered her eighteenth birthday correctly, the Watchers' Council even liked to stack the deck to make sure that Slayers did not reach adulthood. Of course, she was not playing by the Council's rules anymore, but still, she felt that it might be time to re-evaluate her role in the fight against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness.
When this whole thing started, she had eight years of experience, and all the other Slayers had one day's worth. It was, to be fair, an incredibly difficult, evil-heavy day, but still... There was Faith. She had real experience; Buffy was not going to deny that. But when you subtracted all her time spent in prison, in a coma, and working for the wrong side, she only had maybe a year. So in the beginning, there was a lot put on Buffy's shoulders, which was fine. But now, there were hundreds of veterans with three years in the field, or close to that. By the time Buffy had been working that long, she had already averted three or four apocalypses with only a handful of non-Slayer helpers. They would be fine.
And it was not as though she intended to turn her back on her calling just because she was no longer the Chosen One. (Or one of two, as the case may be.) She just wanted a chance for a normal life, more normal anyway. For the last ten years, that was all she had wanted. She believed that she could fulfill her destiny by focusing on the training and leaving the fighting side of things to the younger, fresher girls.
After three years in the African desert, Xander, too, was ready to go home. His actual lifelong home of Sunnydale was gone, but when Buffy told him that she wanted to open a stable training facility in San Diego for new Slayers, that sounded close enough to him.
Between witchcraft and Kennedy, Willow had her own thing going on. She really liked the idea of them all being together again, but relocating to southern California did not work with her life. Buffy said she understood, that she had not expected Willow to come with them, but it all made Willow kind of sad. She promised that she would still be around a lot. To prove that, she spent a few weeks helping them with the move and setting up the facility.
It was not difficult to get the girls to come to San Diego. There was a connection between them, all of them. There was a sense of purpose and destiny that filled a new Slayer when she was called. Those who wanted to stay out of the fight, stay with their friends and family were free to do so, but most knew, most could feel that this was now their place in the world. By the time Willow was ready to leave, just one week after the facility opened, there were already twenty girls staying there and beginning their training.
On Willow's last night there, the three of them went out to a movie, because it seemed like a normal thing to do, and this move was all about getting back to normal. When the movie was over, Buffy and Willow went off to the restroom in that weird way girls always did, leaving Xander waiting alone in the lobby.
He leaned up against one of the promotional pictures without really paying attention to which one it was. From the other side of the lobby, an attractive, short woman with curly brown hair made eye contact with him. She hesitated for a second before approaching. "You know," she said. "I've heard of people dressing up for Star Wars, Star Trek, that kind of thing, but I've never seen someone in costume for Pirates. You must be a huge fan." She looked up at the poster behind his back.
Xander turned his head to see what she was looking at and realized that he was leaning against the poster for the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel. It still took him a second to figure out why she would think he was in costume. "Oh, no, I come by this eye patch honestly. By way of an actual ocular injury."
"Oh." The woman leaned against the wall to the right of him. "I'm Erica."
Xander was not sure if she was also waiting for someone, but he had a feeling she might be hanging around just to talk, which was okay with him. "Xander."
"So, Xander." She sounded like she was trying to be casual. "How did you lose your eye?"
He looked straight ahead at the restroom doors. "That is a long story."
She nodded a little. "Well, maybe you could tell it to me over coffee. Or something. I don't know." She closed her eyes and shook her head. "I'm really bad at this."
Willow and Buffy emerged from the restroom, but Xander turned his attention to Erica. It had been a while since he had a woman hit on him, and if he remembered correctly, he had never been that good at this either. "No, you're doing fine. I would love to get coffee with you, but I can't right now. I'm here with friends, and I drove, and one of them, it's her last night in town." He gestured over at his approaching friends.
She looked at the friends to whom he was referring and blew out her breath. She leaned closer, and asked under her breath, "Just friends? Both of them?"
"Definitely just friends."
Erica dug into her purse and pulled out a business card and a pen. "I'm going to give you my phone number, but you have to promise that you'll call." She wrote out a number on the back, labeling it "Home."
Xander looked at the card as Buffy and Willow walked up. Introductions were made all around, and then Erica made a slightly awkward exit.
When Erica was gone, Willow hooked her arm in Xander's. "Oh, you made a friend."
Xander looked at the card again, thinking about coffee and what he was going to tell her about his eye. He had spent the last three years with only Slayers and other people in the know. It had not occurred to him that telling the truth would make him sound insane to a normal person. Then another thought popped into his head. "What do you think the chances are she's a demon?"
Willow pulled him toward the door. "Knowing you, I'd say about 75%. Just remember, never go to a second location."
"Yeah," Buffy interjected. "That's how people get stabbed."
"You are not helping," Xander said. After a second, he added, "Would you think it was more or less likely that she's evil if I told you she's an accountant?"
Author's Note: So, I've written a lot of fanfiction in my day, but starting in a whole new fandom is kind of scary for me. I'm not going to beg for reviews, because that's not the kind of girl I am, but I am going to say that I would really appreciate feedback. (And if I do something that is canonologically wrong (or even iffy) without explaining it, please feel encouraged to point that out.)
In that canon vein: Eight years of experience because of her time in L.A. In Graduation Part One, she said she'd been doing it for four years running. Which means the count of apocalypses for the first three years doesn't include the Season Three apocalypse that Faith helped with (The Zeppo), but if you're feeling generous, technically you might grant Kendra a role in averting the Acathla one.