Xander and Anya lied facing each other on the hideaway bed, nude and covered
only by Xander's beloved Star Wars bed sheets. The moonlight shined through
the basement window, providing the only illumination in the room as he
finished describing the Scooby Gang's strange dream encounter with the first
"...so we still have no idea what the guy with the cheese has to do with
anything. Weird, huh?" Xander's brown eyes smiled at his girlfriend as his
finger traced the outline of Chewbacca's head on her pillowcase.
"Very," she agreed. "I saw a TV commercial that boasted "Behold the power
of cheese," but I had no idea cheese power could exceed metaphysical
Xander grinned and ran his finger down her nose affectionately.
This is nice. Lying with him, alone, just talking. I could look into his
Still curious about his experience, Anya rose up on her elbow. "Xander,
there's something else I don't get about your dream. Why did you dream that
your father killed you?"
Xander blinked, and the smile left his face. He shifted in bed to lie on
his back, and pulled the covers up higher on his chest. Darth Vader peeked
out from under his bare forearm.
"Everything about your relationship with your parents is complicated, but
since you don't like to talk about them, I don't think I understand them
very well. But I'd like to." She reached over and rustled her fingers
slowly in his hair.
Xander sighed. "I stopped trying to understand them a long time ago."
"Did your father ever beat you?" asked Anya, her voice lacking any pretense.
"No!" Xander declared with an embarrassed look on his face. "Well, he
smacked me pretty good a few times, like when I was ten and I busted his
NASCAR beer stein, but nothing that warranted calling child welfare or
anything. So, to answer your question, no, Dad never abused me as a kid."
He's trying to shrug this off, but I know I'm on to something. Xander's
dream father ripped his heart out. Why is he pretending like that's no big
"I don't understand. Dreams are supposed to be a gateway to the
subconscious, so his presence in your dream must be indicative of how he
makes you feel."
"Let's just say Dad...never had to resort to using his fists to hurt me," he
said softly. He looked at her, his eyes faintly pleading. "Ahn, can we
just change the subject?"
"Why do you say that?" she asked. "And why don't you like to talk about
him? He's your family, and a girlfriend is supposed to get to know her
boyfriend's family. It says so in all the women's magazines. I've met your
mother many times, and she seems nice enough. Her meatloaf is dreadful, and
she smells too much like cigarette smoke, but other than that I like her.
I've only met your father twice, but I'm pretty sure I don't like him. Your
mother doesn't seem to like him very much either. They argue frequently,
and quite loudly."
"Yeah," Xander admitted wistfully. "Ma and Pa Harris still hold the record
for generating the highest number of domestic dispute complaints in our
neighborhood. Jerry Springer's people have called six times begging them to
appear on his show."
He tries to make jokes when he talks about them, but underneath he gets so
sad. Why isn't his family like the ones on all the television sitcoms? On
TV, all the mothers and fathers wear brightly colored sweaters, teach their
children how to be moral, and tell lots of funny jokes. Xander's parents
just yell and throw breakable objects at each other.
"When I was really little, I remember how much it scared me when my parents
fought. I hated hearing them argue! I'd cram my pillow over my head and
try to block out all the sounds. When things got bad, I would dream up
these complicated little schemes designed to keep them both happy, so they
wouldn't scream anymore."
Anya stroked his cheek lovingly. "Tell me. What would you do?"
"It was all stupid stuff," he admitted shyly, trailing his finger lightly
down her arm. "I picked flowers out of the neighbor's garden and gave 'em
to Mom, but told her they were from Dad. Or the time I told Dad that all
the other fathers on the block had a poll, and voted Mom the prettiest and
nicest mother in the neighborhood. That little plan totally backfired,
'cause he immediately accused Mom of being a tramp, and they fought for two
weeks. Even though nothing I tried seemed to work, I still kept hoping that
there was something I could do to make things better."
Xander's voice got quieter, more reflective. "That was my dream, that we'd
all be one big happy family. But that's all it was...a dream. Mom and I get
along fine, but Dad and I have never been close. For one thing, he doesn't
believe in hugging - too unmanly. He'd pat me on the head once in awhile
and that's about as affectionate as he ever got. When he talked to me,
which was rare, it was usually to yell at me to stop making too much noise,
or to hurry up and finish my chores, or to stop painting the Miller's cat."
Painting cats...that sounds entertaining. I wonder how Miss Kitty
Fantastico would look with green and purple fur?
Xander pulled Anya closer, turning her around so he could spoon against her.
He kissed the back of her hair. As he continued, his voice took on a more
confessional tone, as if he was recalling something he wasn't proud of, or
was ashamed to admit.
"One night, as I sat scared in my bedroom, listening to my parents scream at
each other for the millionth time, I heard Dad say something to Mom that
gave me new inspiration for Project Perfect Family. The next morning, I
embarked on my new mission, bound and determined to make him happy. So
every time I saw my dad, I yawned."
Anya wrinkled her nose, and turned her head back, confused. "You...yawned?"
"Yeah. I yawned. I followed my Dad all over the place, and yawned my head
off. I must have yawned in front of him at least a hundred times. After
about three days of dealing with freakish Yawn Boy, the old man finally went
nuts. He grabbed me and demanded to know why I was acting so weird."
If this is supposed to be a cute, funny childhood story, why does he sound
The basement fell silent. Xander hesitated for several moments before he
continued. "So I told him. I was so sure that once he knew what I was
doing, he'd be proud of me."
"What did you say to him?"
His voice raw with emotion, Xander imitated himself as a child:
"You told Mom you wished she had a bored son. I heard you. You said your
life would have been so much easier if she'd had a bored son. So I'm trying
to give you what you want, Daddy. Am I bored enough?"
As he clutched Anya closer, Xander wept soundlessly against the back of her
neck. Anya turned around to face him again.
"Honey, I don't understand. What's wrong?" Anya's own eyes welled up with
tears as she looked into the anguished eyes of her lover.
"Abortion. That's what he really said. He told Mom that he w-wished she'd
had an abortion. I was just a little kid! I'd never heard that word
before. He...he laughed, like I was on that show "Kids Say the Darndest
Things," and then he told me what abortion meant. I was only seven years old
when my own father told me he wished I'd never been born!"
Anya kissed his tear-stained face, and held Xander as he sobbed quietly. He
held her hand tightly in his own.
If there is a vengeance demon out there that avenges wronged children, I
wish with every fiber of my being that Xander's father be cursed to suffer
for all eternity.
"I'm sorry, Xander. I'm so sorry I pried, and made you relive that horrible
memory," she murmured, as she rubbed her damp eye against the Chewbacca
"It's okay. I'm glad you know. I've never told anybody that story, Ahn."
He smiled weakly. "It's the most personal, private thing I've ever told
anyone in my entire life." He squeezed her hand, and brought it to his lips
for a kiss.
Anya's lips trembled. "Not even Willow?"
"Not even Willow." He kissed her forehead gently as their bodies entwined.
"I've never felt closer to anyone than how I feel about you. I want you to
know everything about me, Ahn. Even the bad stuff. No secrets."
"As long as we're not keeping secrets, I feel it's my obligation to tell you
that I think your father is an idiot," deadpanned Anya as she snuggled
against his chest. Xander laughed, dabbing his eyes. "He watches
professional wrestling and believes it's a sport, he wears navy blue socks
with black pants, and he fails to realize how completely wonderful you are.
I'd say that definitely makes him an idiot."
"Runs in the Harris family," he said with a suggestive twinkle in his eye.
"I guess that means we better be extra careful that we don't bear any idiot
children." He leaned in and kissed her shoulder, running his hand from her
neck down to the small of her back.
"Yes," she agreed heartily, as she rolled over him and reached below the
foldout bed. "We must definitely be very careful and use lots of
protection. In fact, I think you still have the kind of protection we need
hidden in this Babylon 5 lunch box...ooh, goodie, we still have some
glow-in-the-dark ones left!"
"Watch out, baby," he growled. "Looks like Luke Skywalker won't be the only
one getting some light saber action tonight!" Xander grabbed one of the
condoms and flung himself onto his giggling girlfriend, and they both dove
excitedly under the sheet.
Lying alone, just talking with Xander is wonderful, but who am I kidding?
Having sex is even better!