Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

By Cassie
For Netgirl

It wasn't quite what she expected it to be.

She felt it, searing, white hot pain, blinding agony, felt it so vividly, with startling clarity, all for an overwhelming instant, a mere moment, burned into her sensory memory...

And then nothing.

"It's ok."

A voice, behind her, and she spun on her heel, but could not see, place it, though it triggered something in the back of her mind, a familiarity, could not see anything but the crumbling building around her, and the Bringers...

"Andrew!" She screamed, spinning around again, seeing him, struggling with one of the Bringers, and she ran towards him, sword in her hand raised, preparing to save him.


She was a foot away when she saw Andrew's sword pierce the Bringer, and she skidded to a stop.

"Finally, you do something right!" She almost felt compelled to clap for him, as she lowered her sword to her side. He made no reply, only began struggling with the demon on top of him.

"He can't hear you now."

That voice, so familiar, again behind her, and she turned, and saw a girl barreling down on top of her. She jumped to the side as one of the potentials, her name she couldn't place, ran past her, and Anya dodged her and turned, a scathing comment on the tip of her tongue, before she felt it, felt a sudden unearthly wrongness, felt a ripple in her arm, and looked down, seeing the appendage shimmering, shaking in a way that was entirely unnatural, as the girl pushed the Bringer off of Andrew and helped him to his feet.

He looked at her, through her, to a spot behind her, on the ground, and began sobbing, and the girl turned her head, followed his gaze, and gasped softly, eyes widening, then welling with tears, and she shook her head. A large piece of ceiling fell down near them, as Andrew collapsed against her, and she pulled, half carried him down the hall, as he looked over his shoulder, his body wracked with guilty sobs.

"Andrew! Those are not the appropriate tears for the situation at hand!" She screamed again, her voice uncharacteristically concerned, and the potential turned the corner, dragging him with her, and out of sight. She moved to follow them.

"No one can see you now, either, Anya."

The ex-vengeance demon stopped again, her body tensing, mind reeling, and she turned slowly on her heel, as the building continued to crumble around her, the shaking, intensity of the shockwaves increasing, bigger chunks falling around her, and a large crack began to form down the hallway floor, towards the pre-calculus classroom, which she recalled failing, years ago.

The same hallway she'd told Xander he made her want to vomit.

Her eyes settled on the shoes, sandals of a skirted woman, and quickly trailed up her body, hands clasped in front of her, over a comfortable peasant top blouse, to a face, so familiar, so kind and open that she'd mourned the loss of, framed in long blonde hair, and settled on gentle blue eyes, filled with warmth, but layered in sadness.

She found it comforting to know that the hallway still induced vomit-y feelings.

"Tara." Her voice, the single word came out cracked, strained, quiet and pained and everything she wished it wasn't, and the other girl ducked her head slightly in acknowledgement.

"Hello Anya," She replied, a smile gracing her lips momentarily, and they stared at each other in brief silence.

"What's..." Anya trailed off, and bit her lip, and Tara's smile grew sad, her eyes sympathetic.

"You know what." A simple reply, no rhyme, no reason, no poetry.

Anya shook her head softly, and heard her name, screamed behind her. She spun on her heel, and saw him, saw Xander, frantically looking for her, running down the hall a short ways, the building too crumbled beyond her for him to go much further.

"Anya! Anya!" He screamed, frantic, his gaze wild, never focusing on any spot for more than a second.

"Xander!" She screamed in reply, as loud as she possibly could.

No reply.

He continued his frantic search, until Dawn grabbed him by the arm and pulled him back up the hall, towards the exit that Andrew had taken moments before.

And then he was gone.

"No! Xander!" She screamed again, began to run, towards the exit, only to feel a hand on her shoulder, holding her back.

"It won't do any good," Tara whispered softly in her ear, her voice clear, despite the falling mortar around them. Anya struggled, tried to shake off her grasp, and Tara wrapped an arm around her, holding her into place, hugging her in a sense, her grip strong, and comforting, and anchoring, while Anya felt her mind churning, heart reeling, stomach dropping.

"I'm not-" The ex-demon stopped, shaking her head and clearing her throat, her voice more determined, "I'm not."

She couldn't say the word.

"It's a shock right now. Too much of a shock. I know." Tara stopped, swallowing softly, her expression growing distant, taking her to a not so pleasant past, a less than pleasant, a harsh and sudden and brutal death that ripped her from the earth, from life, from the arms of the witch she'd loved, and had watched her, overcome with grief and propelled, consumed by rage, attempt to destroy the world that saw fit to take her, never seeing, hearing her pleas, her screams to stop.

Much like her screams to Andrew, and Xander fell onto deaf ears.

Or living.

Tara's grip on her loosened, and she turned around, facing her, brown eyes meeting gentle blue, and Tara gave her a slight, sad nod.

"I don't feel..." Anya stopped, again, unable to utter a four letter word. Tara studied her, as the building began to fall apart, as the beginnings of an otherworldly light began to radiate from the gaping hole in the floor, as it continued to grow.

Tara moved suddenly, stepped and moved to Anya's side, her hand coming up to rest on the other girl's shoulder, and she stared at the floor, Anya's gaze coming to rest on something, a body, dust and brick and chunks of ceiling scattered around, over it, and Anya blinked, shaking her head softly.

"You don't feel. But you are." Tara murmured softly, and Anya took a step closer to the body on the floor, her eyes wide, unbelieving, unseeing.

The floor shook violently, and cracked more, sinking in to itself. The body on the floor was shaken, thrown, tossed like a ragdoll closer to the gaping hole, the brilliant light glowing to blinding intensity, and Anya saw then, her face, haloed in that light, eyes, unblinking, unseeing, cheek covered in dust, a delicate line of blood trailing from the corner of her mouth, her hair, now resting in a pool of blood that came from her body...

The pain, she felt it again, that white hot agony that disappeared so suddenly she was too terrified to question why, where it went, what was going on now, only had the acute, painful knowledge that she was...


The word left her lips in a whisper, a shock, suddenly painfully clear, so real, as her eyes took in the sword slash down her body, nearly severing her head, chest from her torso, the blood a brilliant, startling contrast from the light that was radiating from the hole in the floor that shook, crumbled moreso, and her body slipped that much closer into oblivion.

Her body would be pulled into hell.

The thought almost made her want to laugh.

"We have to go." Tara's voice ripped her away from her musings, ripping her gaze away from the sight, up to Tara's eyes as the blonde witch stepped in front of her, her hand sliding down Anya's arm to her hand, taking it, squeezing it gently in her own, giving the other girl a soft smile.

"This'll feel weird," Tara murmured, taking her other hand and stepping backwards, pulling Anya with her, away from the hole, her body, the life she no longer had an option of living, pulling them down the hall, away from the exit Xander and the others had taken moments, mere moments that seemed like hours, towards the wall, and Anya followed, gripping Tara's hands tightly, her eyes on the blue ones in front of her, trusting them, this lifeline.

Or deathline.

She tightened her grip at the thought, and Tara squeezed back, and Anya watched as her body touched the wall behind her, and shimmered, shook and began to disappear behind the wall, the motion making Anya's eyes hurt, and she closed them, then felt it, felt her own hands, arms, then her body pass through the wall, felt something foreign touching her every molecule of being, felt a strange fullness, followed by emptiness.

She blinked open her eyes.

Her gaze focused once again on Tara, in a place that she was unfamiliar with, not another wing of the school, not the grounds outside of the school, or even in Sunnydale, and she looked around, felt herself surrounded by entities, bodies or spirits that she could not see, just cought glimpses, flashes of that same shimmering unnaturalness that hurt her eyes, made her dizzy and out of place.

"You get used to it, after a while," Tara offered, her voice soft, lilting, a startling contrast against the dull buzz Anya currently couldn't shake from inside of her head, "You can only see the people that you know. For now."

She didn't know exactly where she was, and as a demon had encountered many planes of existence, worlds without shrimp and worlds entirely composed of shrimp, worlds where there was no such thing as love, or emotion, worlds where loss was eradicated and eternity was a given.

She found herself longing for the latter.

"Is... this it?" Anya blinked, focusing her attention on Tara, wanting desperately to close her eyes again, place her hands over her ears and immerse herself in nonexistent silence. Tara smiled at her again, shaking her head softly.

"This is anything, Anya." The witch stepped closer to her, placed her hands on Anya's, looking into her, "It gets quieter, when you move on."

"Move on?" Anya found herself repeating her, and she shook her head, almost violently, "Move on? I'm already... dead," She said the word haltingly, "What else is there to move to?"

Tara's smile grew, into a soft grin, "So much. Come on. I'll show you."

She gave one of Anya's hands a gentle squeeze, and kept hold of it, leading her forward, or what Anya assumed to be forward, as there didn't seem to be a concept of direction on the endless plane she thought she was in. They walked in silence, until Tara slowed, pointing towards something in front of them.

"See that?" She questioned, and Anya shook her head, "Look closer then."

Anya squinted, studying the distance, and in the shimmering she saw something solid, colorless but solid, and she looked over at Tara, who smiled again.

"Step two. These are doorways. This is how it gets quieter. All these people are still being shown the way to their afterlife in here, so it's... busy."

Anya nodded absently, as if it made perfect sense to her, when in fact it made less than no sense. She studied the colorless doorway, and idly wondered if anyone had ever run into it, accidentally. The thought slipped away from her as she was pulled through the doorway, and into another colorless, endless, shimmery plane.

"So is this what you do now? An afterlife tour guide?" Anya questioned as they continued through the room. She noticed that her eyes hurt a little less than before, and the dull roar in her head had diminished into an irritating din. Tara raised her brow at that, shaking her head softly.

"Only on special occasions. This is my first time, actually." She said it softly, almost shyly, and Anya's brow furrowed.

"First time?" She repeated, and wanted to cringe, wondering why she had become so inept at being more than just an echo, then brushed the thought aside, deciding she would make allowances for today.

As it wasn't every day you found yourself dead.

Though she would find herself dead every day from now on.

She frowned at her thoughts, and Tara studied her, momentarily regarding her, taking her in. Something about her was different, her eyes were older, had seen more hardships over the last year, two years, personal hardships that took more out of her then vengeance demon-ing ever could. The innocence Tara had always found endearing had dulled, faded slightly, and she almost felt as if she were standing in front of a new woman.

"Can you have sex here?"

Some things would never change. The thought oddly comforted her, and broke her from her musings. She smiled softly, and shrugged her shoulders.

"I'm not entirely sure," She murmured, raising her brows, "I've not exactly tried."

Anya nodded, almost uncertainly, and softly said, "I don't guess you'd have reason to. What with Willow being alive, still."

Tara winced imperceptibly, blinking, turning her gaze away from Anya, her expression growing distant. She'd come to understand that no matter how much time passes you don't forget the moments, events surrounding your death. Anya would always remember the Bringers, the First, saving Andrew.

Tara would always remember being the cause of a potential apocalypse.

Death was easy to remember. It was life that slowly slipped away from you, the moments you want to remember that faded in time.

Tara didn't say it, didn't want to steal a little more of the endearing innocence she admired in Anya, something the ex-demon had none to spare anymore of. She looked back at Anya, found her studying her, probably thinking the same, or similar thoughts that Tara had mused over moments ago, about how changed she was.

Changed but the same. Didn't it always work that way?

"Why are you here?" Anya finally asked, softly, but bluntly, her words drawing a small smile from Tara, as the witch reached over to take her hand and lead her further into the afterlife.

Life after the afterlife. The thought struck Anya as desperately amusing.

"When you die... the person you loved most in life that's already on the other side comes to escort you here." Tara gestured around her, the infinite nothingness, with a few shimmery glitches. Anya stopped their slow meandering, and Tara turned to face her, her hand still gripping Anya's. She looked up at her, her expression encompassing the "deer-in-headlights" look, and Tara smiled gently.

"But Halfrek..." Anya paused, swallowing hard, "I spent centuries with her, and she-"

"Did you love her?" Tara murmured softly, taking a step closer to her, "I'm not saying that she shouldn't be here, if you think she should. I just want to know."

Did she? It was the name that first popped into her mind. She recalled having a mother and a father, but that was so many centuries ago that she couldn't even recall what they looked like, let alone how she felt about them. But Halfrek, her vengeance-ing companion for those long centuries torturing men, she recalled her vividly, the nights, times they'd spent together plotting, planning, comparing notes and headcounts, and the other, more personal nights they'd spent drinking wine and having heated sexual encounters.

It made sense to her, and to Halfrek, that vengeance demons who maimed and flayed men for scorned women sate their desires without men.

She might have fancied it as love, at the time, but she knew now, had felt so much more for Xander, as a human, and felt so many stirrings inside of her for the woman in front of her that it couldn't have been anything more than what it was.


"But I don't-" She stopped abruptly, shook her head, eyes flicking up to Tara's, and tried again, "I don't..."

For the second time she found herself unable to say what she was so intent on denying.

"Anya," Tara murmured softly, compassionately, "It's ok. I know."

Her voice, her general demeanor was something that Anya was struck suddenly as missing desperately since her death, something that was so utterly Tara that she'd never been able to help herself, stop herself from craving, loving.

Something she could never have in life.

Circumstances. It was always the underlying circumstances.

"What? You know what?" Anya's voice was defensive, even though she didn't want it to be, and she felt herself flushing, embarrassed, something she rarely, if ever, had experienced in life, so blunt and forthright, no apologies, never having a reason to be embarrassed.

But now...

"We're dead, Anya. There's no secrets here, no lies. There's no room for it. We only have what is. Haven't you realized yet?" Anya laughed abruptly at that, finding it suddenly impossible to comprehend anything, let alone ultimate truth.

"I'm having a bit of trouble with the first one, Tara, for god's sake I've not even been dead an hour, and you want me to-"

It hit her.

Her mind was slammed, bombarded with thoughts, images, a rush of information that coursed through her head, filling it, making her feel as if it was going to expand, explode inside of her skull, anything to take away from the overwhelming fullness of knowing.

It was almost like dying all over again.

And she was suddenly aware of the fact that she had collapsed into Tara's arms, felt the other girl holding her close, gently, heard soothing words being whispered in her ear, her breath brushing against her in a way that made her shudder, which struck her as inappropriate.

If Anya held religion in any regard above amusement, she would have sworn by the fact that she had experienced an awakening, a moment of clarity, as alcoholics sometimes had, an intense moment that would alter the rest of her course in life.

Or death, in this case.

She blinked as her mind cleared, focused, processed and eliminated some of the thoughts, some of that divine ultimate knowledge she found thrust upon herself at the most inopportune, painful of times, which she now knew was meant to be as such, processed information about Tara, thoughts and images...

Her mother, when Tara was seventeen, on her deathbed, frail and close to passing, Tara holding her hand, nodding her head softly as her mother requested she take care of her father and brother...

Her father, finding her doing a spell, breaking down her door and screaming at her, screaming that it was what killed her mother, kicking her candles and books and bowls across the room...

Her first girlfriend, a pretty, though mousy girl named Susan, who broke her heart when her parents found out about the two of them and forbid her from seeing her...

And then there was Willow.

So much Willow, the two of them doing spells, playing with their kitten, gentle looks, touches, sweet kisses, the two of them snuggled in bed together, talking, making love, then the magic, going too far, the fighting, the breakup, the pain, all the way to those final moments, when Tara returned to her and told her all she wanted was to be kissing her, making love to her, then the gunshot, that one moment that ended it all, flooding her with so much emotion that Anya almost couldn't believe it was possible.

But it was Tara.

And Anya could only imagine the horrors, the evil wretchedness that Tara saw of her, nations plundered because of her granting wishes, single men ruined for life, the joy, pleasures she took in doing such, all the things that made her a horrible person, undeserving of being in her presence, let alone her arms, basking in her warmth and comfort and the utter light that she seemed to always radiate onto everything she touched and loved.

Like Willow.

The thought made Anya cringe.

"You love her so much," Anya whispered softly, finally finding her feet, legs shaky. She was mildly surprised when Tara kept hold of her, her arms on her waist, as if she were steadying her, her fingertips stroking her shirt gently. Tara met her gaze and nodded softly, her smile sad, bittersweet and accepting, as if her statement were the most natural truth.

And Anya knew that odds are it was.

"And you love him." Tara replied, just as softly, keeping her close despite the situation they found themselves in.

"They'll wind up together, you know," Anya murmured, her thoughts going to the man she'd wanted to spend her life with, and his best friend.

"They don't see it coming. But they will," Tara agreed, almost sadly, "And then when they're here..."

"What?" Anya breathed, her question almost desperate, her eyes searching Tara's, almost begging her for an answer that she already knew she couldn't get.

"I don't know." Tara indulged her anyway, leaning down, so close to her their noses were touching, her eyes staring intently into Anya's, "We can't know."

They knew everything that was. And everything that is. But not everything that could be amongst the living.

"What now?" Anya queried softly, swallowing hard, her eyes darting from Tara's own eyes to her lips and back again, and she suddenly found herself desperately wishing Tara would close that little distance between them and kiss her.

And she did, leaning in and capturing Anya's lips in a gentle, soft kiss, almost chaste and endearing in a way that Anya had never experienced before.

She found it ironic that she was having new life experiences whilst being dead.

"Now we wait," Tara whispered to her when she broke away from her lips, her arms still firmly around her body, holding her close. Anya nodded, an untypical silent agreement.

What more was there to do?

"I've got more to show you," Tara murmured, breaking away from her and taking her hand once more into her own. They began walking again, and Anya squeezed Tara's hand tightly, her gaze not on the infinite vastness of shimmery nothing surrounding them, but the light that did, indeed, seem to radiate from Tara.

It struck her suddenly, in that moment, when Tara led them through another doorway, struck her clearly that she could love her, could and would grow to love her, her emotions in the afterlife would far outweigh those from her time living. Despite the uncertainty of Xander and Willow and what would become in the world without the two of them, meandering across the afterlife, she could love Tara better than she ever loved Xander.

And she knew that she would never be to Tara half of what Willow always would be.

Tara squeezed her hand gently, but made no reply, no move to deny the thoughts that Anya knew she was aware of.

And it was all the answer that she needed.

She would spend the afterlife waiting for a day of inevitable heartbreak.