Anya died and went to Heaven.
That wasn't the end of the story.
She woke up promptly at seven every morning, and every morning a perfect breakfast was waiting. The eggs were turned over just barely, so there was a thin solid layer to pop before the yolks ran out, and the edges of the whites were crisp. There was pumpernickel toast cut in perfect triangles, with a crust that wasn't too chewy, and a dish of pickled herring, tart and sweet and just slightly fishy, like she hadn't tasted since she'd been human the first time, all those centuries ago. There was a ham steak, not too thick. To drink, she had cranberry juice cocktail with three ice cubes that, as they melted, diluted the juice just enough, and there was a mug of coffee with precisely two-thirds of a shot of hazelnut syrup. It was the same breakfast every morning, but it was always exactly what she wanted.
After breakfast, she would get dressed and go shopping. Every store had a few things she wanted to buy. Not too many, so she never felt compelled to leave behind an item she loved, and always about as many items as she'd planned to purchase. If she liked an article of clothing, it looked devastatingly cute; if she found pretty housewares, she had just the place for them at home. Shoes, no matter how pointy and high-heeled, were utterly comfortable. And everything she wanted was always on sale.
When she got tired of shopping-- or, really, when she felt pleasantly done, because there wasn't really such thing as getting tired of things in Heaven-- she went to a restaurant and had lunch. There were other restaurants in the neighborhood, but she never went to them: it was comforting to know she had the choice. Her restaurant's menu included all of her favorite foods, plus a few things that were nice to see on a menu even if she would never order them, like French toast. The restaurant always had a few specials: things she'd never tried before but had always wanted to, or things she'd just been thinking she hadn't had in a while.
After lunch, Anya would take a walk around town, or she'd go to the park. As she walked, she'd catch the eye of an attractive person. The person would smile back at her, then, without messing things up by saying anything, walk with her to her house. They would give each other orgasms as the afternoon sun cast diagonal rays into her room. Sometimes, the person would leave after that; other times, they'd have an interesting and funny conversation afterwards. Her lovers were always gone by dinnertime, and Anya's butler, Max, would always have just what she wanted on the table by then.
Max was also a skilled market analyst and licensed stockbroker, as Anya found out one day when she'd begun to worry a little about money. When she went shopping, she always had plenty, but it disappointed her not to be able to earn some of it. Max taught her about the stock market. Every day, he'd tell her about some new offering that was about to make it big, or show her evidence that one of her current investments was peaking in price. When she made a decision, it was always right, and every day, she was excited to see how much she'd earned.
As the evening waned, Anya liked to clean the house a bit. She knew Max would keep the house spotless if she wanted him to, but it was nice to have control over how things looked. If she was almost ready for bed, she'd read a financial magazine, or play some video games. She hadn't been into video games when she'd been alive, but now she had time to find out why Xander had liked them so much. She was getting pretty good at them.
If she wasn't tired after housecleaning, she'd go out. Sometimes, she'd go dancing: one of her favorite bands was always playing. More often, she'd go to the movies. All of the theaters were old-fashioned ones, with balconies and moldings, but she could see well from any seat in the house. Some of the theaters had new movies every day, but there was one that showed Flower Drum Song every night.
Anya's days were mostly the same, but she didn't mind. She got to do exactly the things she liked, and she was always successful when she did them. And when she did feel some small dissatisfaction, it was always resolved.
One day, she got to thinking, while she ate lunch, that Heaven was a little bit lonely. When she'd been human, she'd had friends. In Heaven, she met a lot of nice people, but the only one who seemed to care about her was Max. And she had a feeling he got paid to, which wasn't the same.
She finished her lunch and started her afternoon walk. Crossing the street, she thought she saw her old friend Tara, sitting under a tree. She hesitated to wave, certain it was no one she knew. But she walked close by, just to make sure. When she saw the familiar face, she shrieked and jumped up and down. One of the wonderful things about Heaven was that when a person did something silly, like bounce with glee, nobody thought they were dumb or immature. Everyone knew just how they felt.
Tara looked up from her book, smiled, and got up. She looked at Anya for another second, smiled again, and gave her a giant hug. "I was... just thinking about how it would be nice to see someone from Sunnydale," Tara said. "I, um, I thought everybody must still be alive, because I hadn't seen anyone I knew. Except my mom. And that was-- that was different. And I'm all rambly and embarrassing, so I should probably, um..."
"I was thinking about the same thing," Anya said. "Not your mom or being rambly, but about missing my friends."
Tara smiled and didn't say anything.
"Want to go to my house and have sex?" Anya said.
"We-- um-- we could talk first," said Tara. "Like, um, we could catch up on stuff."
That wasn't how Heaven usually worked. But Anya hadn't been able to tell anyone about the Potentials or the battle with the First Evil since she'd died. That was part of the loneliness, she realized. "That would be nice, too," she said.
Tara slipped her hand in Anya's. "We could have sex after," she said. "If you, um, if you still wanted."
So they went back to Anya's house, and sat on the soft, white comforter of Anya's four-poster bed, and Tara mostly listened, and Anya mostly talked. Tara was mostly happy about things: happy that most of them survived, happy that Spike got a soul, happy that Willow had a new girlfriend. She said, "I'd be sad if she still... like, I'd want to go back and fix it, and I can't, and it's better that-- I know that Willow will be here someday, but there are other things I kind of wanted to, you know. And if I spent all my time not getting over her, it wouldn't be..."
"Heaven," Anya said.
Anya couldn't think of any more stories, so she kissed Tara instead of continuing to talk. And they had sex, and it was very good, as always.
Tara went home after that, and Anya had dinner, traded some stocks, played The Legend of Zelda II, and went to bed. The next morning, she had breakfast, got dressed, went shopping, and had lunch. When she went for her walk, she saw Tara in the park and stopped to say hello. They went to Tara's house, and they had sex first this time, and it was very good.
They lay back naked on Tara's bed, which was made of reddish wood and had a fluffy quilt, and compared Heavens. Tara had hot oatmeal with brown sugar for breakfast, and fat golden raisins to stir in. A dish of vanilla yogurt and a nectarine, cut into eighths, that she ate sometimes with the yogurt, sometimes separately. A tall glass of 2% milk, and a mug of tea flavored with star anise, like Tara had drunk at a coffee shop in Sacramento, when she was in high school. Anya told Tara about the eggs and herring and pumpernickel toast, and Tara grinned. "That sounds like you," she said. "Or, like I think you are."
Tara told Anya about visiting her mother: how it felt right to see her again, and how it was like looking at her from far away. Tara had taken trips to Paris and the Grand Canyon, too. Anya hardly remembered her family from the first time she was Human, and she'd seen almost all of the world when she was a demon. All she wanted now was for things to be easy and go right. Those were the things she'd never gotten to have, and she had them now, every day.
"Why is Heaven like this?" Anya said. "Heaven wasn't like this for Buffy."
"I read a book that said that Heaven is exactly how-- how you think it should be," Tara said. "So it's different for everyone."
"But *we're* in the same Heaven," Anya said.
"I guess we, um, both wanted it to be sort of... the same kind of place," said Tara.
They talked until the sun started to cast a late amber glow into Tara's bedroom. Sunsets were always beautiful in Heaven, and Anya stayed to watch this one, sitting in Tara's window seat and holding her hand. She put her clothes on and walked home in the starlight, humming "I Enjoy Being a Girl."
Every afternoon after that, Anya saw Tara, waiting for her in the park. They both began to expect it. Things changed little by little, so Anya didn't feel disrupted. Tara would stay for dinner, sometimes, and Max would make enough for both of them. They would go to the movies together, and they found out that the theater that showed Flower Drum Song always showed Fried Green Tomatoes right afterward, and would charge them only an extra dollar to see both. When the movies ended, it would be late, and one of them would sleep over at the other's house. It was awfully nice to fall asleep in Tara's arms.
One day, Tara told Anya that she'd decided to take a trip to Italy, but she'd be back in a week. Anya missed Tara, but only just enough, and she used her free afternoons to play Final Fantasy VII and learn to knit.
She walked home after lunch on the day Tara was supposed to return, and she found that Tara's house was where her own house had been. It didn't bother her, because she knew that her room and all of her things would still be inside. Heaven was like that: sometimes she knew things just because she needed to know them.
Tara was there, reading in bed, and they skipped dinner to have extra orgasms.
From then on, Anya's routines were ever so slightly new. She would wake up while Tara was still asleep and have breakfast. Before she left, she'd kiss Tara awake and promise to meet her for lunch. Some days, they'd meet at Anya's restaurant; other days, Tara's butler, Franklin, would pack enough for both of them, and they'd have a picnic in the park under Tara's tree. They'd spend the afternoon having sex, while the sun shone diagonal rays into their room. After dinner, Anya would manage her investments and Tara would cast a small, harmless spell that went just right. Some nights, they would stay in, and Tara would read while Anya played video games or knitted. Sometimes, they would see a movie or go dancing.
When they got tired, which was always at exactly the same time, they would lie in bed in each other's arms until they drifted off to sleep. And every night, with her last bit of conscious thought, Anya would remark to herself that it just wouldn't be Heaven if she didn't have someone to love, and to love her back.
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