Disclaimer: I do not own AB nor BtVS. They are property of LKH and JW respectively.
Notes: This takes place in an alternate St. Louis than the one in AB. You may want to read December Flowers first. Anita was born in 1977 and Xander in 1981 in my verse.
The phone was ringing again. Anita couldn't ignore it this time or else she knew Xander would be beyond hurt. Today was his birthday and for the last 37 days she had avoided speaking with her family. She reached, with a trembling hand, and answered.
"Hello," She said, voice calm.
"Anita?" The voice was Willow's. It surprised her. Willow sounded desperate and angry.
"Hi, Wills." Anita greeted more personally, trying to stay persistent. She was doing it for them. She remembered.
"Anita," Willow said as if at a loss of words, something Anita didn't find right. "I...Xander...Why haven't you called!" She yelled, voice hurt. Anita flinched at the tone and by the simple fact that Willow had called her Anita.
"I've been busy." She lied. "I lost track of time." Anita heard a sniffling sound on the other end of the receiver.
"I..I'm going to pass you to Xander." Was all Willow said. "I'll talk to you afterward." Anita heard the phone change hands. The sniffling was almost non-existant but Anita could discern it after years of watching over him.
"Happy Birthday, Xan." Anita whispered, trying to desperately control her emotions.
"Don't call me that." He said as though trying to find something to talk about with her. Anita knew he was trying to avoid asking why she hadn't answered, written, or called. It would ruin his day, even though she knew it had already been ruined because of her.
"Okay, Alexander." She said lightly, teasingly.
"Don't call me that!" He whined, this time seriously. Anita smiled.
"What do you want me to call you then? Alex? Lex?" She could almost see Xander rolling his eyes. "Did you get my present?" She asked him before he could retort.
"No, you sent me one?"
"Yeah. It should have been there, today."
"What'd you get me?" He asked, voice excited.
"You'll have to wait," She said melting into a familiar role of older sister. The conversation went easier from there, less stilted. Xander chatted until Willow demanded he let her talk too. That had been after nearly an hour of conversation. Willow spoke rapidly, bubbly again, but her tone was lined with hurt. The call didn't last much longer after returning back to Xander.
"You're coming home for Christmas, right?" He demanded. This time his voice was desperate.
"Yes," Anita forced herself to say although she wanted to say no.
"You promise?" Xander demanded, his voice was rising with anger. Anita had already broken her promise to visit at Thanksgiving and call.
"On Sigmund's life." Anita said because she couldn't stand the way Xander was speaking to her.
"Good, I'll...I'll tell mom and dad. I have to go now."
"Okay," She said, voice tired. "Bye, Xander."
"Bye, Anita." The phone disconnected abruptly. Anita hung up the phone. Her hand was shaking now for an entirely different reason. Neither Willow nor Xander had called her 'Nia' at any time. Anita strengthen her resolve. She would go at Christmas then come back.
Sunnydale was too dangerous and she couldn't go back. Not after that man. Not after him. She had to keep them safe.