Word Count: ~21,500
Feedback: Yes please
Adrenaline coursed through Anya's body as she cut down the oncoming Bringers, one after the other, imagining each one of them with a pink twitchy nose and long floppy ears. She was kicking evil bunny ass, she could keep going all day-
Anya felt the familiar pain of a blade slicing through her body.
Oh crap. I bet that's fatal, and she blacked out.
Anya woke up on the floor of the Magic Box. Which couldn't have been right. The Magic Box was destroyed. Also, it didn't have faded orange and brown wallpaper that looked like it belonged in cheap motel. Or, for that matter, massive stone pillars that rose to a vaulted ceiling so high it was almost out of sight.
Anya got to her feet and turned around slowly, taking in her surroundings. There were shelves filled with herbs and amulets that she remembered stocking herself a long time ago. Arcane, leather-bound books were spread out on the table as if her friends had just been there, researching the latest monster of the week. And over there (her heart almost skipped a beat when she saw it) on the counter was the cash register. It definitely felt like the Magic Box, but at the same time it definitely wasn’t. It was the Magic Box mashed up with a motel and an ancient temple.
"This is weird," she said to no one in particular.
Only there was someone else. Anya noticed an arm poking out from behind the counter. She rushed over, and found an unfamiliar man sprawled on the floor.
She knelt besides him. He was in his mid-thirties, with red hair so dark it was almost black, wearing a rumpled suit and trench coat.
Anya looked at him askance, “You’re not dead, are you?” She leaned closer to his face, trying to see if he was breathing. His eyes snapped open suddenly and Anya jumped back.
They were the bluest eyes that Anya had ever seen. When they fixed on Anya the man's gaze sharpened with recognition, and he quickly sat up and scuttled away from her.
"You're a demon," he said, his voice a deep, accusing growl.
"What? No, I -" Anya started, before she realized that he was right. She felt the glow of power in her core, and wondered why she hadn't noticed earlier. She supposed the dying and waking up in a place that she was pretty sure never existed had distracted her. “Oh… that’s disturbing.” She looked at the man. "But I'm human. I chose to be human. How did I become a demon again?"
Anya didn’t really expect the man to have an answer for her, but she was still annoyed when he said nothing, and only glared at her distrustfully.
The silence was starting to feel hostile when Anya heard the sound of footsteps on the stone floor. Both she and the strange man rose to their feet.
Okay, these were the bluest eyes Anya had ever seen. They were framed in the pale face of a slight woman with blue hair, wearing what looked like skin-tight leather armour, the kind that the women in Andrew's computer games would wear.
Anya glanced towards the man. His gaze was flitting around room, as though he was looking at something much bigger than the blue lady standing before them.
Anya sighed, exasperated by yet another unexplained development. "Okay, does anyone know what's going on here?"
Instead of answering Anya's question, the man launched himself over the counter at blue lady, grabbing her by the throat and pressing a palm against her forhead. Anya supposed that this was supposed to accomplish something because the man looked surprised and frightened when nothing happened. The blue lady, on the other hand, smirked and grabbed the front of the man's shirt, lifting him off the ground with one hand. She flung him back towards the counter with enough force to knock the cash register off its mount, so that it smashed to the ground underneath the man's back.
Anya winced, even though she knew it wasn't really her cash register.
"I think I can answer that."
Anya spun around to see a pale man with sunken cheeks and black slicked-back hair, wearing a black over-coat. He met her gaze. "Anyanka." He turned to the blue lady. "Illyria." Anya heard a moan behind her and the grating of broken machinery against the floor as the first man got to his feet. The newcomer gave him a nod. "Castiel."
"Death," Castiel returned.
Anya gawked. She was dead. And Death was an actual guy, who was standing in front of her.
"You've come for me," Castiel said, and Anya could have sworn he sounded embarassed.
"No, I've already come for you," Death replied, a snarky bite to his tone. "All of you, in fact. Now the Powers That Be need to decide what to do with you lot."
"No," Illyria spoke for the first time. Her voice was regal and otherworldly. "I am Illyria, God-King of the primordium -"
"Yes, I know," Death interrupted, wholly unimpressed.
"- I cannot be felled by some glorified Reaper."
Death's expression was cold and impassive as he let Illyria seethe in uncomfortable silence before replying, "And yet, here we are."
Something about Death's explanation struck Anya as ominous.
"What do you mean, 'decide what to do with us?'"
A smile briefly flashed across Death's face as he turned towards Anya. Creepy. "Well, you are all essentially mass-murders who have also, on occasion, helped to save the world. None of you are entirely human, nor are you entirely not-human either."
Castiel looked like he was about to question that assertion, but Illyria spoke first. "I am a God-King-"
"Whose being is fused with the soul of a human," Death cut her off, and continued. "So now that you're dead, the question is: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory? Oblivion? Or something else? The Powers That Be decided it would be most efficient to take your cases out of time and place and hear them together."
"How dare they!" Illyria fumed, "How dare they presume to sit in judgment over me! I, who have walked through worlds, who have commanded civilizations-"
"Right, well, we'll start with you, then," Death strode over to Illyria and touched her on the shoulder. The two of them disappeared, leaving Anya alone with Castiel.