A Question of Heaven

By Ariel Dawn

Summary: So, Anya’s dead, what now?

Author’s note: Written for Bloodytearsoflife’s birthday. And she beta’d it. I hope you had a good birthday sweetie!

Disclaimer: All Hail Joss.

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Anya looked down at her bisected body, amidst the chaos of the earthquake, dismembered bodies and survivors escaping. Even as all this was happening Anya had no desire to watch them escape.

“How is this fair? I ask you!” Anya began to rant. “I tried to do the right thing, be on the side of good, stuck around to the end on this one, again! And this is what I get?”

Anya’s head turned as she heard her name being called. Xander’s voice echoed off the empty walls.

“My dead body is over here,” she responded, her voice a whisper, not really paying attention to her former fiancé.

The ceiling started to cave in, debris passing directly through her transparent body. Anya rolled her eyes. “Please tell me that I’m not going to be stuck as a ghost here!”

Soon she was hovering above a crater, the remains of what was once Sunnydale.

“This is so not good,” she said to no one in particular. “How am I supposed to make peace with my former life if Sunnydale’s gone?”

Slowly Anya floated down to the ground, the barren crater that used to be her home.

She kicked a rock, unsuccessfully, as her foot went right through the object. “What the hell am I supposed to do now?”

“Well you had it right,” came a voice from her left.

Startled and turning, Anya stared back at the demon that had appeared. He didn’t look familiar, but he had a kind face, something that wasn’t unpleasant after dying. She had half expected to go straight to hell, do not pass GO, do not collect two hundred dollars. Not that two hundred dollars would help in this situation.

“I had what right?” Anya asked back.

“It’s time to make peace with your life. Time to move on. You yourself admitted that you were in love with humans. It’s time to let those humans go.”

“I’ve let go, I’m dead. What more is there to let go of? My monetary assets will get divided up to my beneficiaries…Good thing I took Xander out of my will last year after he left me at the altar.”

“This has a little more importance than who gets your thousands,” replied the demon.

“Hey, I was verging on a million. I had a slow start. I was newly human and not aware of the importance of currency for a long time. And I had several set backs, the store was destroyed more than once. Willow never did repay me for the damage she caused. Who are you, by the way?” she asked, halting her rant.

“Skip,” he offered, extending his hand with a smile.

Hesitantly she shook the offered hand. “Nice to meet you Skip. Why are you here?”

“I’ve been sent, by the Powers to be your guide,” he explained.

“Guide to what? The afterlife? To send me on my way to where vengeance demons go?”

“Sorta,” he admitted, “I mean, if that’s where you want to go.”

“I have a choice?”

“Well you did just sacrifice your life for the cause, so to speak. Reformed demon, seen the light. Now you don’t have a soul or anything but the powers are impressed, have been for the past couple of months.”

“I don’t have a soul?” she whispered her eyes wide.

“Sure, you are a demon, after all. And not a good demon. You destroyed men and lives for a millennium, not blinking an eye.”

“But I had a soul when I was human, before I was elevated, right? It was a long time ago, but I remember having a soul.”

“Do you?”

“Well no, but that’s not the point. I had a soul, didn’t I?”

“Sure you did. And now it belongs to D’Hoffryn.”

Anya wrinkled up her face for a moment pondering.

“So either I get my soul back from D’Hoffryn, or I spend eternity in torment?” she asked.

“That’s the way it looks,” Skip replied.

Anya looked down at the crater, and sighed. “I think it would be easier to haunt the living for all eternity. Well maybe not all eternity, ‘cause I’m pretty sure I’d get bored of it after a while.”

Skip shook his head. “Nope, no haunting. Against the rules. The Powers have enough ghosts and spirits to keep track of, they don’t need you floating around making Xander go crazy.”

“I’d make Xander go crazy wouldn’t I?” Anya smiled, proud of herself.

“Of course you would. You are, what I describe as obsessive. You did work the vengeance trade for a millennia. If he didn’t go crazy I’d be disappointed.”

“Me too,” Anya giggled. “So, I can’t haunt. It’s a get your soul or go straight to hell deal?”

Skip nodded.

“Question: Just how in Arashamahar am I supposed to get my soul back from D’Hoffryn when I’m dead?” Anya questioned, putting her hands on her hips and attempting to tap her foot impatiently, even though she hovered over the large crater what once was Sunnydale.

“Would it help if D’Hoffryn is able to see you?” Skip offered.

“Help, yes. Boy, am I not looking forward to this reunion.”

Skip chuckled and stepped forward, on the air, taking Anya’s spirit hand. Suddenly, the venue changed and Anya found herself standing in front of her old boss, who was reclining on a plush throne, in an opulent chamber.

“Anyanka! You’re dead,” D’Hoffryn stated, his tone indicating neither surprise or sadness about the fact.

“Yep, I died. Not even ten minutes ago. I need my soul back,” Anya bluntly attacked.

“Oh, Anyanka, always blunt. I’m sorry my dear, but I am disinclined to return the soul. I like it where it is. You are my greatest acquisition. Your soul is my greatest prize,” the lord of Arashamahar explained. “Who’s he?”

Anya looked to her left and saw that Skip was still there with her.

“He’s my guide. Name’s Skip. I want my soul. What do I have to do to get it back?” Anya asked. “Either tell me how or that it can’t be done. I don’t want to banter with you while I could be getting on with the rest of my afterlife.”

“I guess, Anyanka, because of my fondness for you, I could bare to part with your soul, on a condition though. There is nothing free here. I trust you have learned that.”

“Yeah, yeah. Tell me!”

“In exchange for your soul. I want another soul, that is, I want you to recruit for me, someone to fill your place by my side in Arashamahar.”

“Blah blah bitty blah….Who?”

D’Hoffryn smiled. “Over a millennium ago there was a girl in a Baltic town, the name of which history has long forgotten, who was mated to a large oaf of a man. Olaf and Aud lived well for some months…”

“Before she turned him into a troll…I know this story.”

“Do you? Do you remember all the details of your quaint Baltic life before I took you from mediocrity? Do you remember having a son?”

Anya put her finger to her chin and thought. She ran over all the memories she had of those days, but with all the memories she had, and there were millions, she could not remember ever being a mother.

“Nope, I got nothing,” Anya replied.

“In exchange for your soul I will accept the soul of a descendant of yours. No doubt your offspring reproduced and that the Baltic states are teeming with your progeny,” D’Hoffryn sneered, as if disgusted by the idea of humans breeding.

“How come I don’t remember having a son?” Anya asked. “I think something like that is something I would remember.”

“I think at the time of Olaf’s betrayal you were concentrating on him rather than your offspring.”

“That does sound like me,” Anya noted to Skip. “Right then. One soul. I can do this. Skip, take me to one of my progeny.”

Skip nodded, and once again, Anya found herself displaced, and standing in a sterile room, a slight odour inflicting itself on Anya’s spirit nostrils.

Skip waved his hand in front of his own nose and grimaced. “That’s nasty, what is that smell?”

“It smells like that place Willow and Tara dragged me to when they had to put their cat down. I think this is a veterinarian’s office,” Anya explained. “That’s why it smells like urine.”

“Well that’s just foul,” Skip noted.

“Let’s see this descendant of mine, so we can get out of here.”

As Anya spoke, a woman in green scrubs walked though a swinging door. She was pretty, but definitely did not have the refined bone structure that Anya had.

“Olaf’s side of the family,” Anya noted.

The woman picked up the phone and spoke into it, in Swedish, a language that Anya had not spoken in quite some time. As Anya tried to puzzle out what the woman was saying, and trying to recall fragments of her native tongue, another woman walked into the room, carrying a small case.

“I think she looks more like you,” Skip noted, pointing to the new occupant of the room.

Anya whipped her head around to look at the girl who entered the room. “No,” Anya commented, “She bears no resemblance.”

“Which one would you rather con into a life of vengeance though?” Skip asked. “They are both your descendants, though neither of them know they are related.”

Anya looked appraisingly at both the girls. They both looked happy and contented with their lives. No doubt if something tragic happened to them, say being left at the altar, or having their significant other dally with a load bearing barmaid, they would both turn to vengeance. But that wasn’t their life. It had taken Anya over a thousand years to learn that. Yes, what she’d said to Andrew only a couple of days ago was true. She’d fallen in love with the human race. It was slightly ironic that she’d fallen in love with a race she was once a part of.

“I can’t do it,” Anya declared after much thought. “They don’t deserve that life. I didn’t deserve that life either, but it’s what I chose. It was my own decision, and I have to live with my choices. Or rather, I have to burn in torment for my choices. You think the whole dying for the greater good would earn me bonus points with the powers? Maybe they’d choose a nice hell dimension for me?”

“You seem sure about that. You’re so close to getting off scott free.”

“Knowing my luck it will be the home dimension of the dreaded rabbit.” Anya gave an involuntary shiver. “I’m sure. I can’t send them to a life they know nothing about.”

“You’ve made your choice?”

“Man, you’re thick. Yes, bring on the hell dimension full of ravenous bunnies!” she shouted at him.

Just then, one of the women before them reached into the carrier she had carried into the room and brought out a large white rabbit.

“Oh, god,” Anya moaned, “I’m already there.”

Skip put a hand on her shoulder and brought her away from the highly distressing scene, laughing.

“Oh, that’s right, mock the woman who’s going to hell.”

“You passed,” Skip explained.

Anya looked at him with an icy glare. “You mean that was a test? Stupid powers.”

“Yes, a test. Though I might not start calling the powers stupid. They work in mysterious and unpredictable ways.”

“So, wait, am I not going to hell?” Anya asked.

“No, you aren’t.”

A slow smile spread over Anya’s face even as her form started to fade away. She didn’t know where she was going next, but she was certain that it wasn’t going to be populated by ravenous rabid rabbits.

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