Xander asked me once what it was like when I was human, and I found that I couldn't answer him. I wanted to, but I found that my jaw seemed to freeze shut. It had truly been centuries since I looked back at my past - since I thought back to a time when there were thoughts on my mind other how to punish traitorous men.
How could I tell him about the small brook that ran past my house, and how I would walk down to it twice a day to fill a huge urn with its water. How could I tell him what it was like to weave soft gray wool into blankets to keep out the chill night air. How could I tell him of how I could walk a mile down the dirt path and be able to visit the homes of my three married sisters.
And I know for damn sure that he wouldn't want to learn that my husband's name Eliashar, or that my oldest daughter had curly dark hair that was always getting tangled. For all his troubles, Xander has never been led to the home of a stranger with a dowry of twelve sheep and told that he was to submit to this man in all matters. If Xander ever wanted to leave his parents' basement, he could. He has freedoms that I never even dreamed of. He doesn't understand what it's like to go through the agony of childbirth, risking life itself to bring another into this world, and to know that his husband was disgusted in his inability to produce anything but daughters. He doesn't know what it's like to be struck across the face in a show of husbandly 'discipline', then be scolded for making such a display necessary.
He doesn't know what it's like to love someone like that. I was convinced that it was *my* fault that I couldn't give Eliashar the son he wanted so badly, and that it was *right* for Eliashar to 'discipline' me, or to 'discipline' our daughters. For me, the sun rose and set where Eliashar said it did. In my world, which consisted of a village made up of some fifty families, everything revolved around what Eliashar. I *knew* he loved me as much as I loved him.
And the day I found out that I was wrong, it was as though the sun had fallen from the sky, leaving only blackness. My father died, and my youngest sister came to live with me, since it wouldn't be safe for a girl of fifteen to live alone with an aged widow. The family agreed that my husband would deter any who would take advantage of her until we could get her safely married.
We didn't realize that it was my husband who would take advantage of her. I saw the looks that he gave Dalyiana, but dismissed them as just a silly suspicion. I believed - or convinced myself to believe - that the touches Dalyiana gave him were just those of an affectionate child to a much loved brother-in-law. It wasn't until the day that I walked out to the field to bring him lunch and actually *saw* them lying there together that I realized what a fool I'd been.
And even then, there was nothing I could do. If I had ever been discovered in an act of infidelity to my husband - or even *suspected* of such an act - I could be dragged into the street and stoned to death, but for my husband it was an acceptable practice. My other sisters sympathized with me, but they had problems and straying husbands of their own. What made them pity me the most was that I had never even imagined that Eliashar might've been unfaithful to me - and that little Dalyiana was only the latest on a long list of women. My sisters whispered to me to be calm and patient - after all, those other women were just his mistresses, and I was his lawful wife.
But every morning as I stood by his side and handed him bread that I had made with my own hands - knowing that he had done that with my own *SISTER* - it felt like I was screaming without making a sound. My hands trembled with utter hate and rage even as I mended a tear on his shirt. At that point he had given up all pretense, and flirted with Dalyiana in front of me, and in front of our daughters.
I prayed to every dark god whose name I had heard whispered only in the faintest of voices. I sought out the old wise ones whose knowledge stretched back generations in an oral tradition to a time lost in a hazy dream. In my anger I found my own hidden reserves of magic, and I brought a multitude of inflictions down on my faithless husband. I looked for a way to ensure that he would never again enjoy a stolen moment with Dalyiana, or any other woman. But even as I watched his pain with silent glee, that dark part of me that had blossomed in the wake of his treachery called for more.
When the Lower Powers came to me and offered me an immortality of punishing faithless men, I took it without even a thought. I was given a chalice filled with a dark red liquid that burned away my mortality, and even as I screamed with the pain as everything that had made me Anyanka, daughter, sister, wife, and mother, was ripped from my body, I felt sheer joy as I was reborn as a demon.
I don't even know what happened to my daughters.
Hundreds of years passed, and the duty of finding women who were recently scorned and offering them that one moment of revenge consumed every fiber of my being. I was in my late twenties when I accepted the sovereignty of the Lower Beings, but through the power of the wish I could be whoever I needed to be to seek them out and become their newest best friend, their confidant. Young, old, rich, poor, I stood in every pair of shoes or sandals.
Both Cordelia's anger and the presence of the Hellmouth were what attracted me to her particular case. I needed to be a high school senior, and a relatively well-off one at that, in order to gain her trust. Through my power-source, I found Jack and Vivian Creage. They co-owned a major company, but their only child - a girl named Anya - had just been killed in a hit-and-run accident, and since then, Vivian had suspected that Jack was cheating on her. She believed that if she had Anya with her again (even for a little while), Jack would realize the error of his ways. So I granted her wish - for a time, at least. I took on Anya's physical appearance and convinced them to move to Sunnydale. They had doubts, of course, but I was as close as they would ever get to their lost child, and what grieving parent could give up the opportunity to see their child's face again, even if it wasn't really real? I never expected to be with them on a permanent basis, of course. But I am.
For the record, Jack's infidelity continues. If it weren't for my presence, I'm fairly sure that Vivian would come to her senses and divorce him. For some reason, I find myself feeling guilty for that. They feed and clothe me, and all that they ask is that I spend Sundays with them and that I call them "Mom" and "Dad".
Introducing them to Xander was odd. For some reason I wanted them to approve of my choice. Of course, they didn't. I could see it in their eyes - not only was it bad enough that their pseudo-daughter wasn't going on to college and had no future plans, but she was dating a guy exactly like her! Oh, they like Xander fine enough. When he doesn't get nervous and babble, he's quite polite. A few weeks ago, he came over and helped Jack with some home repair project that involved shingles. Apparently they were impressed that Xander put up so well with what Vivian calls my "forthright manner". Jack calls it the tendency to "call shit what it is". For some reason, they choose to take pride in that.
Being a demon was simple, and I miss it. Now that I'm human, I have a boyfriend who I don't understand. I have parents who should be getting a divorce, but aren't because I'm wearing the aspect of their dead daughter.
So when Xander asked me what it was like when I was human, I changed the subject by having sex with him.
That, at least, I think I can understand.