1st Anniversary Character Posting Party - Anya
Wisewoman - August 8, 2001

From Anyanka: Vengeance Demon,
to Anya: Loving, Learning Machine

Part I

While all of the Scooby Gang members have grown and matured significantly since we first met them, none has accomplished as startling and rapid a transformation as the character of Anya. In the short 2 12 years since she was introduced Anya has developed from an 1100+ year old vengeance demon into a loving and devoted girlfriend, and a fully functioning, productive member of society. And, despite her frequently tactless outspoken honesty, she is starting to be accepted as a valuable and respected addition to the SG. Her journey has alternated between being one of the funniest and one of the most touching aspects of the series.

Most of what we know of Anyanka's life as a vengeance demon we learn in four episodes: The Wish, Doppelgangland, The Prom, and Triangle. We can assume that she was demonized by D'Hoffryn in about the year 878 because when she first appears in The Wish, in November/December of 1998, she says she is 1120 years old.

In this episode, Giles' research into Anyanka was edited out of the televised version. He finds (in the shooting script) that she "raised a demon to ruin her unfaithful lover. The demon did her bidding-but then cursed her and turned her into a sort of...patron saint for scorned women," who grants their wishes. If this remains true, despite being cut, then the demon Anyanka raised was D'Hoffryn. We learn that he is the one who gave her the pendant that served as her power centre. Anyanka tells Cordelia that this pendant was given to her by her "father" as a good luck charm.

As a demon Anyanka is a smoking gun, in a "guns don't kill people, people kill people" kind of way. She functions as a tool of scorned women, to fulfil their wishes, rather than as an initiator of vengeance in her own right. Cordelia is the reason that Anyanka is in Sunnydale. "The cry of a wronged woman is like a siren's call to Anyanka," and Xander has seriously wronged Cordy. (In context, The Wish follows the episode Lover's Walk in which Cordelia and Oz burst in to save a Spikenapped Xander and Willow and find them in a compromising position, i.e. lying on a bed, kissing. In the aftermath of this shock Cordy is seriously injured, and spends some time recuperating physically and systematically cutting Xander out of her life.) It should be noted that Anyanka appears powerless to wreak havoc on Xander or anyone else by her own volition. She tries (desperately and humorously) to get Cordelia to wish some evil on Xander, but is ultimately unsuccessful.

The introduction of Anyanka in The Wish was a fairly obvious plot device, much like Clarence the Angel in "It's A Wonderful Life," allowing us to see what life in Sunnydale would have been like without Buffy's presence. As such, Anyanka was really secondary to the main plot, which concerned a Slayerless gang of vampire fighters, led by Giles and Oz, battling a large force of vampires led by the Master, and featuring VampWillow and VampXander. I don't doubt that Anya may initially have been intended to appear in only one, or possibly two episodes, and I'm not sure if her reappearance in Doppelgangland had as much to do with the appeal of Anya as a character, as it did with the desire to showcase more of VampWillow's sexy evil! It does seem fortuitous though, that she arrived on the scene just as Cordelia was preparing to depart for AtS. In many ways Anya has filled the hole left by Cordy's departure.

Whatever the reason, we do get to see Anya again in Doppelgangland, episode 16 of season 3. Giles has robbed her of her demon powers by smashing her power amulet, and she pleads with D'Hoffryn (who is described as "the high demon") to restore them.

D'Hoffryn: (sternly interrupts) Your powers were a gift of the lower beings. You have proved unworthy of them.

Anya: I was robbed of them.

D'Hoffryn: By your carelessness.

Anya: (dramatically) For a thousand years I wielded the powers of The Wish. I brought ruin to the heads of unfaithful men. I brought forth destruction and chaos for the pleasure of the lower beings. I was feared and worshipped across the mortal globe. (disgustedly) And now I'm stuck at Sunnydale High. (despondently) Mortal. Child. And I'm flunking math.

D'Hoffryn: (dismissingly) This is no concern of ours. You will live out your mortal life and die.

Anya: (pleadingly) Give me another chance. You can fold the fabric of time. Send me back to that place and I'll change it. I won't fail again.

D'Hoffryn: Your time is passed.

Anya: (desperately) Do you have any idea how boring twelfth graders are? (stands up) I'm getting my power center back. (defiantly) And if you won't help me, then, by the pestilent gods, I will find someone who will!"

In various subsequent episodes we learn bits and pieces about Anyanka's demon life. In Graduation Day Part I she tell the SG she was present "...about 800 years ago in the Koskov Valley above the Urals" when a sorcerer achieved Ascension and became the embodiment of the demon Lohesh. She "hung out" with Dracula when she was a silly young thing of 700 or so. She knows the "real" Santa Claus, who is not a myth, but a disemboweller of children. And she thought President Warren G. Harding was cute.

In Something Blue we get to hear Anya's version of how D'Hoffryn made her a demon: "I'd been dumped, I was miserable, doing a few vengeance spells - boils on the penis, nothing fancy...D'Hoffryn got wind of me, he offered to elevate me...He made me a demon."

However, in Triangle we learn that what she did specifically was to turn her boyfriend, Olaf, a "big dumb guy" who cheated on her, into a troll, which is how she got the job as a vengeance demon.

There's an inconsistency here with Giles' research into Anyanka. He finds that she was "cursed" and made a demon because she'd conjured up D'Hoffryn, while Anya considers that she was "elevated" to demon because she'd been able to turn Olaf into a troll. If Anya is to be held accountable for any of the crimes committed by Anyanka it can only be if she was offered the job of vengeance demon and took it willingly, and even then she does not seem to have been granted any powers to act on her own.

In any event, Anya makes it pretty clear to anyone who'll listen that she considers human to be a step down from demon, and she's determined to regain her powers and mentions this frequently in the first few weeks she's in Sunnydale. Then something happens to take her mind off her lost powers, at least temporarily, and she tells Xander in The Prom that it's all his fault. "You were unfaithful to Cordelia so I took on the guise of a twelfth-grader to tempt her with the Wish. When I lost my powers I got stuck in this persona, and now I have all these feelings. I don't understand it. I don't like it. All I know is I really want to go to this dance and I want someone to go with me."

Poor Anya! Not only stuck in a human body, but suddenly forced to deal with a raging flux of teenage hormones that she's had no time to get used to or develop defences against. And poor Xander! He becomes the target of her hormonally fuelled desire because he's "not quite as obnoxious as most of the alpha males" around Sunnydale. That's the reason Anya gives him, but right from the start of their relationship there seems to be something more to it for her, something she is powerless to control. In Graduation Day Part I she tries to convince Xander to escape from Sunnydale with her before the Mayor's Ascension:

Anya: "We could just get in the car and drive. No one would miss us. We could take turns driving. Keep each other awake. You're going to die if you stay here."

Xander: "I guess I might."

Anya: "When I think that something could happen to you, it feels bad inside, like I might vomit.

Xander: "Welcome to the world of romance."

It might not be going too far to say that, for Anya, Xander was love at first sight; at least at first human sight. She still has enough sense to get out of Dodge when the Ascension is about to happen, though, and the next time we see her is in episode 3 of season 4, The Harsh Light of Day. She accosts Xander while he's working with Giles and tells him, "I can't stop thinking about you. Sometimes in my dreams you're all naked."

Xander tells her she's rushing things, that "these things kind of have to develop on their own," and she wants to know how. All Xander can reply is that it just happens. Anya, of course, takes him literally, and decides that she'll make it just...happen. She seeks him out in his musty basement, removes her clothing, and proposes sexual intercourse, having been thoughtful enough to bring along condoms, some of which are black.

Anya: "I like you. You're funny, and you're nicely shaped. And frankly, it's ludicrous to have these interlocking bodies and not...interlock. Please remove your clothing now."

Xander: "And the amazing thing...still more romantic than Faith."

Demons may enjoy sex (certainly vampires seem to!) but they ain't got nothin' on the overwhelming reproductive imperative that is a human, teenage female ...whether true love is involved or not. The point, though, is that in Anya's case, true love is involved. Her burgeoning relationship with Xander in season four and it's growth throughout season five brings her into constant contact with the other Scoobies, with often hilarious and/or disastrous results, but her behaviour is always motivated by her fierce love for Xander.

Anya: "Xander is in trouble. We've got to do something, right now!"

Giles: "Uh, ah, where is Buffy and the others?"

Anya: "They're trapped, too, but we've got to save Xander!" (Halloween)

This attitude may be a holdover from her previous human existence. If she was as passionate about Olaf, it's no wonder she cursed him when he cheated on her.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, that seems to be about the only human attribute Anya has retained. And everything else about her humanity has to be relearned, step by painful step. It's a daunting task, but Anya is equal to it...and she has help. We have ample evidence that Xander recognizes Anya's struggle early on and spends time talking with her, explaining human behaviour to her and suggesting ways in which she might behave more "normally." From Graduation Day Part 1:

Anya: Come with me.

Xander: I can't.

Anya: Why not?

Xander: I've got friends on the line.

Anya: So?

Xander: That humanity thing's still a work in progress, isn't it?

Truer words were never spoken, and Xander takes up the role as tutor along with the one as boyfriend.

In Hush Anya embarrasses Xander in front of the gang by saying that all he cares about is lots of orgasms, and he responds with:

"Okay, remember when we talked about private conversations? How they're less private when they're in front of my friends?"

One reminder is never enough, though...

Giles: I, uh, one time I, uh, I was up to a little bit of a prank with the dart board-

Anya: I'm bored. Let's eat.

Xander: (Sternly) Anya, we've talked about this.

Anya is particularly prone to putting her foot in her mouth with Giles:

Anya: You sold someone Khul's amulet AND a Sobekian Blood Stone.

Giles: Yes, I believe I did.

Anya: Are you stupid or something?

Giles: Allow me to answer that question with a firing.

Xander: She's kidding. An, we talked about the employee to employer vocabulary no-no's...that was number five.

...and Xander finds himself forced to keep tabs on Anya's progress and run interference...

Buffy: If Riley and I hadn't gotten so...wrapped up in each other...none of this would have happened.

Anya: True. (to Riley) Feel shame.

Xander: My girlfriend-mistress of the learning plateau.

Sometimes he finds the only thing to do is to ask her, politely, to shut up:

Willow: Tara said they took him [Oz] right before she found me.

Anya: So that's good, right? They probably haven't had time to eviscerate him yet.

Xander: You can help by making this a quiet moment, An.

And sometimes he uses humour, his personal forte, to instruct her:

Anya rings up a purchase. Addresses the customer:

Anya: Please go.

Xander: Anya, the Shopkeepers Union of America called? They want me to tell you "please go" just got replaced with "have a nice day."

Anya: I have their money. Who cares what kind of day they have?

Xander: No one. It's a long cultural tradition of raging insincerity. Embrace it.

Anya nods. Yells at the customer who's nearly out the door:

Anya: Hey! You! Have a nice day.

Xander: There's my girl.

Sometimes Anya takes her lessons a little too seriously:

A customer is leaving the counter as Anya puts money in the register:

Anya: Thank you for coming! We value your patronage! Come again for more purchases!

Giles: We could perhaps be a bit less effusive, Anya. Let's not frighten the people away.

Xander doesn't hesitate to show his pride in her progress, especially when she does something that helps Buffy and the gang:

Xander: Ladies and gentleman, put your hands together for Scooby of the Month here.

...and eventually he seems to accept her idiosyncrasies:

Anya: Oh, that girl [April], Tara and I met her. She speaks with a strange evenness and selects her words a shade too precisely.

Xander (looking at Anya fondly): Some of us like that kind of thing in a girl.

Anya's quest for knowledge even makes an appearance in Xander's dream in Restless: "I've been keeping close tabs on cultural trends-a lot of men being unfaithful-very exciting things happening in the scorned women market..."

Anya also takes up the challenge to teach herself. It's strange that we seldom, if ever, see her reading, when it becomes obvious that she must read copiously, particularly pop psychology and women's magazines. From Into The Woods:

Dawn: When I was younger, I used to put my chopsticks in my mouth like this (Dawn puts chopsticks in her mouth like vampire fangs) and Buffy would chase me around the house yelling, "I'm the Slayer! I'm gonna get you!"

Anya: That's disturbing. You're emotionally scarred and will turn out badly.

In A New Man she helps Spike prepare to move from Xander's place to a crypt:

Anya: Wait. (she gets up and unplugs a tall three-headed lamp and brings it over to Spike) I want to give you something for your new place.

Xander: That's my lamp!

Anya: A gift is traditional. I've read about it.

And, from Intervention:

Anya: We're just kinda thrown by the, you having sex with Spike.

Buffy: The who whatting how with huh?

Anya: Okay that's denial. That comes before anger.

Buffy: I am not having sex with Spike!

Anya: Anger.

In this exchange she's referring to the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On Death and Dying, 1969).

We find out in Tough Love that, in addition to her vast personal knowledge of history and demonology, she's studied economics and politics as well:

Anya: I've recently come to realize there's more to me than just being human. I'm also an American.

Giles: I suppose you are, in a manner of speaking. You were born here. Your mortal self.

Anya: That's right, foreigner. So I've been reading a lot about the good ol' Us of A, embracing the extraordinarily precious ideology that helped to shape and define it.

Willow: Democracy.

Anya: Capitalism. A free market dependent on the profitable exchange of goods for currency. A system of symbiotic beauty...

Added to her reading, she makes use of the media as a free tutor.

Anya: What do I mean to you?

Xander: Well, I...we, you know, we spend...we'll talk about it later.

Anya: I think we should talk about it now!

Xander: If you don't know how I feel-

Anya: I don't! This isn't a relationship. You don't need me! All you care about is lots of orgasms! (Hush)

You can pretty much pick which afternoon talk show you think led up to that conversation. And then there's this exchange, from Where the Wild Things Are:

Anya: I don't understand-I'm pretty. I'm young...Why didn't you take advantage of me? Is something wrong with your body?

Xander: There's nothing wrong with my body.

Anya: There must be. I saw that wrinkled man on TV talking about erectile dysfunction...

She's willing to share her new knowledge by offering helpful suggestions to others, such as: "In the movies, when someone goes crazy, they slap 'em."

There is also the wealth of information available to her on the Internet. She tells Tara, in I Was Made to Love You, "Oh, at first it was confusing. Just the idea of computers was like-whoa-I'm eleven hundred years old here-I had trouble adjusting to the idea of Lutherans.

Tara: I go on-line sometimes, but everyone has really bad spelling. It's depressing.

Anya: Oh, but you have to try on-line trading. It's great. The secret is avoiding the tech companies everyone was jumping on, and going with the smaller firms that supply them with the basic components...

Not too shabby for a recent ex-demon.

Part II

Of course, being Xander's girlfriend is a "love me, love my friends" proposition, and so Anya travels the rocky road to Scoobydom, encountering more than a few pitfalls along the way. While it may not seem obvious, there are two very good reasons for Anya to want to infiltrate the Scooby Gang: 1) in order to be accepted by Xander's friends, because he is her first priority, and 2) in order to survive, which is her second, very practical priority. Love of Xander means she's forced to stay on the Hellmouth as long as that's where he is, and she figures out pretty quickly that she's far more likely to survive in the company of the Slayer and her friends. In The Yoko Factor, Anya points out to Xander that the Scoobies look down on him, and he replies, "And they hate you," which she counters with, "But they don't look down on me." What Anya has to offer the gang in exchange for their respect is initially the knowledge that only she, as an ex-demon has. By The Gift, though, Anya reveals that her talent for "thinking outside the box" is equal to her specialized knowledge. As she so aptly puts it, "Here to help. Want to live."

In Into The Woods she reveals how hurt she is by the gang mocking her: "Oh, yes. Very humorous. Make fun of the ex-demon. I can just hear you in private: 'I dislike that Anya. She is newly-human and strangely literal.'" Understandably, she finds it easier to bond with the other Scooby outsiders first--Tara and Spike. She and Tara find themselves sharing Giles' bathroom during an uncomfortable SG argument in TYF:

Tara: You think this'll go on awhile?

Anya: Hard to say.

Tara: Nice bathroom.

Anya: Like the tile.

She further cements their bond in IWMTLY, when she tells Tara that she's tripled her wages from Giles using on-line trading:

Tara: You can do this stuff with a regular computer?

Anya: I'll show you! Also, you can see the web site I designed for the Magic Shop. Huge photo of me...

She has even more in common with Spike in his chipped state. In WTWTA, they commiserate at The Bronze:

Anya: Boy I miss those powers.

Spike: Yeah. Tell me about it [...]We should just go do the vengeance. Both of us. You go eviscerate Xander, I'll stake Dru. Like, a project.

Anya: I don't know...I just can't. You can go do Dru though.

Spike: Yeah. I will. Maybe later.

Surprisingly, Buffy seems to accept Anya at face value and they seldom tussle (well, except for the memorable, "Stop with the shrimp! I'm trying to do something serious here!" scene). Anya's issues with Buffy all have to do with her possessiveness of Xander, as demonstrated in Goodbye Iowa:

Anya: You should get a boring boyfriend, like Xander. (beat) But you can't have Xander.

Buffy: That was the idea. Riley was supposed to be Mr. Joe Guy [...]

Anya: So dump him. But you can't have Xander.

Buffy: I'll try to remember that...

...and later in the same ep...

Buffy: Giles and Anya will keep researching. Xander, you and I will go in undercover.

Anya: Hey! Remember before? No Xander. Not in a boyfriend-way or a lead-him-to-certain-death-way.

Once Riley's gone though, Anya's attitude softens. She must be feeling a bit more secure in her relationship in IWMTLY because she "lets" Buffy dance with Xander:

Anya: I let them do that. Dance together. That was me.

Tara: Very nice of you.

Willow: A good deed.

Anya: Yes. I'm expecting a big karmic reward any second now.

Anya has a much more difficult time winning Giles over. There's something about her that is the antithesis to his reserved British demeanour:

Giles: I have a friend coming to town. I'd like us to be alone.

Anya: Oh. You mean an orgasm friend.

Giles: Yes, that's exactly the most appalling thing you could have said.

In The Gift Giles is understandably tense, but it's Anya that he snaps at:

Giles: Yes, Anya, apart from your incredibly uninfectious enthusiasm, have you anything to contribute? Any ideas on how to fight a god? Love to hear 'em.

In fact, Anya has a whole raft of ideas, enough to impress even Giles:

Giles: Anya, that's all very-did you just think of all that just now?

Xander: Smart chicks are so hot.

By far Anya's biggest challenge is Willow, so much so that we have an entire episode, Triangle, devoted to the friction between them. Anya's problem with Willow, again, is Xander-centric. Willow is his best friend and has known him since they were little, and there's no way Anya can compete with those years of shared experience. She's jealous of their friendship and she's still suspicious of Willow's intentions concerning Xander. Willow's problem with Anya goes deeper. She's long since gotten over her Xander crush, so it's not motivated by jealousy. It's more a personality clash. Anya brings out the worst in Willow:

Anya: You're quoting literature I have no way to be familiar with. You're trying to make me feel left out. And you're stealing!

Willow: I'm just taking stuff and not paying for it. In what twisted dictionary is that stealing?

She can even drive her to downright meanness:

Anya: You endangered the money!

Willow: Right, of course that's what she cares about. (Imitating Anya) I like money better than people. People can so rarely be exchanged for goods and/or services.

The real crux of the matter for Willow seems to be Anya's outspokenness...

Willow: Hey, Anya. Whatever really has you mad, just say it like you do every other thought that stomps through your brain.

...which Willow interprets as rudeness and an inability to play by the rules:

Anya: In case we need 'em, I'm getting more of all the things you stole.

Willow: I didn't-why do you do that?

Anya: What?

Willow: You're so rude! I mean, sure, at first, ex-demon, doesn't know the rules. Well, now you've been here forever. Learn the rules!

Anya: The rules are stupid.

Willow: Great. Whatever. Just thought you might be interesting in acting more like a human. Some of us enjoy it.

Pretty nasty talk for our little Will. As often happens in real life, it takes a major emotional outburst from both of them to clear the air and pave the way to détente:

Anya: Oh! You think I'm going to hurt Xander? I'd never hurt Xander! (Willow shrugs) You really think I would do that!?

Willow: Anya, it's what you do. You spent, what, a thousand years, hurting men. You got your thousand years of hurting men gold watch. [...]

Anya: I don't do magic now. You're the one with that kind of power. In fact, D'Hoffryn offered you my old job! You're closer to being a vengeance demon than I am! Maybe Xander should be afraid of you!

Willow: Xander's my best friend!

Anya: And you don't want anyone else to have him. I know what broke up him and Cordelia, you know. It was you! And your lips.

Willow: No, it was not! Well, yes it was so! But that was a long time ago! You think I'd do that again?

Anya: Why not?

Willow: Hello? Gay now!

Anya: But you're always doing everything you can to point out how much I'm an outsider. You've known him since you were squalling infants together. You'll always know him better than I do. You could sweep in, poison his mind against me-

Willow: You're insane! I'm not going to take him away! And I'm not going to hurt him!

Anya: Well, I'm not either!

And there it is, in a nutshell. From this point on Willow's attitude toward Anya softens noticeably, to the extent that she frequently appoints Anya as guardian of the brain-sucked Tara in the last few episodes of Season 5. Anya can confidently say to Xander, "Willow likes you too, but not in a sexy way 'cuz she's gay, and she won't break us up so it's all okay," and she is able to offer support, albeit bumbling, to Willow in the wake of Tara's tragedy:

Willow: ...it's a whole night and I don't think I can sleep without her.

Anya: You can sleep with me. You know, that came out a lot more lesbian than it sounded in my head.

While she's struggling to learn how to fit in with the Scoobies, Anya is simultaneously learning The Game of Life and all that it entails. Much has been made of her devotion to money but initially she didn't seem to have any financial worries. Part of the set-up for her appearance as a Sunnydale high school student included a supposedly wealthy father who had apparently provided her with an apartment, a car, and enough cash to see her through for several months. In the Season 5 premiere, Buffy versus Dracula, Anya seems completely unaware of the need for money while playing the board game version of The Game of Life with Xander and Dawn:

Anya: Look at this. Now I am burdened with a husband and several tiny pink children and more cash than I can reasonably manage.

Xander: That means you're winning.

Anya: Really?

Xander: Yes. Cash equals good.

Anya: Oh, I'm so pleased! Can I trade in the children for more cash?

By the time we get to Out of My Mind and Giles is taking over the Magic Box, her funds are running low...

Anya: ...I'm nearly out of money. I've never had to "afford" things before and it's making me bitter.

Giles: And the change is palpable...

Despite their differences, Anya proves to be an indispensable assistant at the shop and Giles offers her a job, which she readily accepts. "I'm just so excited. They come in, I help them, they give us money in exchange for goods, you give me money for working for you... I have a place in the world now. I'm part of the system. I'm a workin' gal." Her respect for money grows in leaps and bounds and, as we later learn, she's able to triple her probably meagre earnings with on-line trading. There's more to The Game of Life than money, though. After apartment-hunting with Xander in The Replacement, she tells him she's been thinking about their future together:

Anya: I mean, what's next in our lives? When do we get a car?

Xander: A car?

Anya: And a boat. No, wait. I don't mean a boat. I mean a puppy. Or a child? I have a list somewhere.

As John Burwood so insightfully pointed out in a recent post, "Anya's list is a garbled allusion to what real life, and real love, are all about. Real love is not about romance or sex but about sharing a life, including homes, taxes, children, boats, etc. It is about normal life..."

And what could be more important to an ex-demon than a normal life? Anya is threatened by the appearance of members of the Watcher's Council in Checkpoint and her attempts to appear "normal" are laughable.

Travers: You, miss, you work here?

Anya: Yes. I do. Ever since I moved here from south-eastern Indiana where I was raised by a mother and a father.

When a member of CoW asks her for her name she replies, "Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins. Twenty years old. Born on the fourth of July, and don't think there weren't jokes about that my whole life, mister, 'cause there were. "Who's our little patriot?" they'd say when I was younger and therefore smaller and shorter than I am now."

When it's pointed out that she has no special skills or powers or knowledge to bring the group, she says, "Just enthusiasm for killing the demons. Go deadness for the demons!"

While she may never come across as "normal" to most of the inhabitants of the Buffyverse, Anya has succeeded admirably in winning a place in Xander's heart, and in the lives of those closest to him. This is beautifully confirmed in Into The Woods, when Xander finally expresses the extent of his feeling for her: "I need to say something to you. I should have said it a long time ago. I mean, you may not even know...I love you, Anya, more every day. I love the way you see things. I love the way you work a cash register and how beautiful you are-and how amazingly sweet and crazy you can be at the same time...I can't imagine my days without you-and I wouldn't want to."

In fact, the best measure of Anya's progress from demon to human is how she's dealt with those twin bastions of humanness; love and death. As I said earlier, Anya's behaviour is usually motivated by her love for Xander, except when it's motivated by her fear of death, and the two motivations sometimes conflict. Anya's worry about her human mortality surfaces in The Replacement. In a previous episode she's been injured in a vamp attack and has a dislocated shoulder. Her arm is in a sling. When she tells Xander that they better hurry up and have a life because she's dying, and may have as little as 50 years left, he rapidly concludes that the recent injury has prompted her fear:

Xander: You haven't been hurt like this since you became human. Maybe it's finally hitting you what being human means...You were going to live for thousands more years. Now you're going to age and...die. It must be terrifying.

Anya confirms this in The Gift:

Anya: ...you see, usually, when there's an apocalypse, I skedaddle. But now I love you so much that instead I have inappropriately timed sex and try to think of ways to fight a god and worry terribly that something might happen to you, and also worry that something'll happen to me and then I have guilt that I'm not more worried about everyone else but I just don't have enough, I'm just on total overload and I honestly don't think anything could make me more nervous than I am right now.

Of course it's terrifying. For someone so obsessed with learning how to be human, death presents a major stumbling block. That, in combination with Anya's inability to prevaricate, gives us what, for my money, is the best written and most moving scene in five years; Anya's reaction to Joyce's death in The Body:

Anya: Are they gonna cut the body open?

Willow: Oh my god will you shut your mouth? Just not open it please?

Anya: What am I doing?

Willow: How can you act like that?

Anya: Am I supposed to be changing my clothes a lot, is that the helpful thing to do-

Xander: Guys...

Willow: The way you behave-

Anya: Well nobody will tell me-

Willow: Because it's not okay for you to be asking these things!

Anya: BUT I DON'T UNDERSTAND! I don't understand how this all happens, how we go through this, I mean I knew her and then she's, there's just a body, I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead, it's stupid, it's mortal and stupid, Xander's crying and not talking and I was having fruit punch and I thought that Joyce would never have any more fruit punch and she'd never have eggs, or yawn, or brush her hair, not ever and no one will explain why...

Willow: We don't know. How it works. Or why.

Later, at the morgue, Anya tries to express her feelings to Buffy, much to Willow's and Xander's discomfort:

Anya: I wish that Joyce didn't die. Because she was nice and now we all hurt.

Xander: Anya, ever the wordsmith.

But Buffy isn't offended. In fact, she acts as if that was exactly the right thing to say, and just replies, sincerely, "Thank you."

And yet, despite Anya's fear of death she's more than willing to sacrifice herself for the man she loves. In Triangle Olaf tries to force Xander to choose whether Anya or Willow will die, and when Xander won't make that choice Olaf threatens to kill him instead. Anya immediately offers herself, saying, "Choose me! Choose me to die! Just don't take him!" She proves herself again in the final moments of The Gift when she pushes Xander out of the way and takes the full brunt of a collapsing wall herself.

The death of Joyce, someone that she knows and likes, is what finally brings Anya face to face with what life is really all about, and in the following exchange with Xander we find that the pupil has become the teacher. They have just finished making love...

Anya: That was different.

Xander: It was more...intense. Very intense, actually.

Anya: It's because of Joyce.

Xander: Right, I...huh?

Anya: She died. She's gone forever.

Xander: Yeah. I kinda picked up on that.

Anya: Well, she got me thinking...About how people die all the time...And how they get born too...And how you kind of need one so you can have the other.

Xander: True. It would get kind of crowdy and stinky on Earth if nobody vacated.

Anya: And when I think about it that way, it makes death a little less sad and sex a little more exciting.

Xander: Again I say-huh?

Anya: Well, I just feel like I understand sex more. It isn't just about two bodies smooshing together. It's about life.

Xander: Got it. What makes you feel more alive than the good stuff?

Anya: Exactly. Sex is like a big party for our aliveness. But it's more than that. It's about making life.

Xander: Right! When two people are much older and way richer and far less stupid-

Anya: Breathe. You're turning colors. I'm not ready to make life with you. but I could, we could. Life could come out of our love and our smooshing and that's beautiful...It all makes me feel like we're part of something bigger. Like I'm more awake somehow, you know?

Xander: Yeah. I do.

At this point the ex-vengeance demon understands more about life than many of the people I've met in the Realverse, and it's easy to see how this scene leads directly to Xander's proposal of marriage in The Gift. Xander has chosen the right woman for him. She's no longer a demon, she's not a witch, she's not a vampire (with or without soul), and she's not really a hero-but she's become an honest, sensitive, loving human being-and perhaps her real journey is just beginning...

(With thanks to Rayne's Shooting Script Site, and Psyche's Transcripts.)

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