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(Fic) On The Whispering Wind

22nd October 2008 (01:15)
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After the seriousness of my last post (for which, thanks to the people who replied) I decided to indulge myself in a bit of silliness. Um... by writing a fic about Buffy's death. No, wait, don't run away; it's not at all morbid or angsty. It's actually rather funny, silly and just ever so slightly pervy. Not in that way, either. It's also kind of an accompaniment to my earlier fic Hell's Heart, which put Faith into a quite similar but also completely different situation.

3,112 words, rating 12. Set just after the end of 'The Gift'.

BUFFY ANNE SUMMERS
1981-2001
BELOVED SISTER
DEVOTED FRIEND
SHE SAVED THE WORLD
A LOT

This story tells what happened to her next.
 

 

.
On The Whispering Wind

The voice was warm and comforting, the way she used to wish her Dad would speak to her. It made Buffy feel cosy and loved. Her friends, her family were safe. Everything was going to be all right.

Maybe being dead wouldn't be so bad after all.

"So - this is heaven? Really? I wasn't sure it actually existed. Um, can I say that?" Her eyes shifted nervously. "You won't send me away again?"

"Don't worry, child. People of all belief systems and none are welcome here."

"Really? Cool! So, uh, how does it work? What happens next?"

"If you'd care to step this way?"

Buffy walked through the gleaming gates, and found herself standing on a shining white plain under a vast sky of perfect blue, so beautiful it made her heart ache. She stood there transfixed,losing all track of time as she gazed around in wonder.

A voice saying her name in a questioning tone brought her back, and she turned to see - an angel. An honest-to-God angel... and not the vampire ex-boyfriend kind, but the fluffy white wings and halo kind. No kidding. He smiled at her.

"Buffy? Ah, hello there. Welcome to heaven. My name's André, and I'm here to give you your basic orientation, issue your equipment and answer any questions you might have."

"My what now? Equipment? Orientation? Uh, I'm heterosexual, and my equipment works perfectly well, thank you." She suddenly blushed bright red. "Sorry. Am I allowed to say that stuff here? I mean, you guys... don't... uh..."

André smiled patiently. "That's actually one of the first things I explain to new residents. Your actual physical body is no more, of course; you're now an ethereal spirit. An angel, if you like. Some of our residents prefer to exist as beings of pure thought and energy. Others choose to form bodies around themselves, as mortals would wear clothing."

He gestured at his own form. "I made that choice myself, as you see."

"Did you, uh, look like that when you were, um, still alive?" Because - Buffy thought to herself - you were impossibly good-looking back then, whoever you were.

He laughed. "Not quite. Now for yourself, though. You actually seem to have made your choice already, in your subconscious, since your form seems solid enough now. But it's my duty to point out you have an alternative."

"I have?" Buffy looked down at her body, wrapped her arms around her chest. She seemed solid enough, actually. In fact, she was still breathing - which struck her as odd, now she thought about it. After all, she remembered dying pretty clearly.

"Do you wish to look at yourself?" André gestured, and a full-length mirror suddenly faded into sight. Its frame was golden, and decorated with shiny gilt roses. Buffy turned, and studied her image.

There was something... was she taller? There was nothing to compare herself against, but she was sure she was taller somehow. Her complexion was flawless, her muscle tone perfect. As far as she could tell, she was at her ideal weight too. A grin started to spread across her face, and she turned to view her profile. This was good. Even her boobs seemed a little bigger, the way she'd imagined them becoming back when she was a teenager before reality intruded.

It was only at this point she realised something rather important. She was stark naked. Had, in fact, been naked the entire time. But somehow the thought didn't make her blush, or feel the least bit self-conscious. She did, however, turn back to André to ask the burning question:

"So do people wear clothes in heaven?"

He coughed. "Usually, yes. In fact, I have your robe right here." He picked up something shimmering and white from - well, from out of thin air, actually. "We wait until you've chosen your body first, so we know what size to provide. Here."

Buffy took the garment and held it up to see. It was made of some light, gossamer-like material that seemed a hundred times softer than silk. She pulled it down over her head, put her arms through the holes - it was sleeveless - and watched as it fell down in loose drapes around her. It was beautiful - but somewhere deep in her soul, Buffy's inner 14-year old Valley Girl clicked her tongue and called it 'shapeless' and 'baggy'. Not to mention that it would be impossible to run or jump wearing it. She looked at herself in the mirror, conflicted, not wanting to hurt her host's feelings.

But he smiled understandingly. "Most of us do wear the robes, because clothing is a comforting reminder of our earthly lives. But they are optional."

"Really? Wouldn't you get funny looks, wandering around naked? Don't people get embarrassed?"

"Why would we? The human body is a gift of creation; it is nothing to be ashamed of."

Buffy looked dubious, but then shrugged. She was born and bred in California, after all; people with relaxed views on nudity weren't exactly unheard of. She hadn't expected heaven to be Hippie Central, but-- And it was true, she hadn't felt any shame or embarrassment before; she seemed to have left that behind with her earthly body. And the robe really wasn't her style. She pulled it off again and offered it back to the angel, but he shook his head.

"Just fold it up, concentrate and imagine it disappearing." She did - and the robe faded from sight.

"Woah. That was cool. Can I get it back?" Without waiting for an answer, she imagined the robe materialising instead - and it did just that. She tried it again a couple of times, and André smiled approvingly.

"It's yours now. You can call it to you whenever you like. Your harp works the same way."

"My harp? Seriously? I get a harp? Er, I don't know how to play the harp..."

"You do now." André made the now-familiar gesture and handed Buffy a harp. It was golden, with silver strings, and quite beautiful. She took it, holding it somewhat awkwardly, and wondered if she should hit the strings, or pluck them, or what. She experimented - and to her surprise, the notes she created all seemed perfectly in tune and tempo.

This seemed like fun. She wondered what she should play, and somewhat embarrassingly the first tune that popped into her head was 'Stairway to Heaven'. She'd once strummed Oz's second-best guitar when he wasn't around and it had sounded like two cats mating; but the music from her harp now just poured out in a pitch-perfect melody.

The song ended, and she still had a half-smile on her face as she caught André's eyes - and thought she noticed a brief look of pain flicker across them. He hid it well, but Buffy could be pretty observant when she had to be.

"I'm guessing I'm not the first person to play that song, huh?"

"It's, uh, quite a popular choice, yes. And the harp lets you play any music you know perfectly... but if you don't know the tune, not even a heavenly harp can let you play it properly..."

Buffy giggled, then tried to look sympathetic. "Sorry. So, do you only have harps here then? What about guitars, or drums, or keyboards?"

André blinked, then looked thoughtful. "I'm sure we could get them if someone wanted one. We're quite traditional here for the most part, though. We prefer the classics."

"Does that explain the robes too? I mean, what if I wanted to wear some clothes that were actually in style?"

"In style when? Heaven is eternal. Most of us wear the robes because they're timeless... or go naked" - he nodded politely at Buffy - "Which, of course, is even more timeless. But for those who find pleasure in such things, we can of course offer an infinite variety of designs: dresses, shoes--"

"Infinite shoes?! Heaven has an infinity of shoes? Not that I'm shallow or anything, but infinite shoes??!"

André nodded patiently; Buffy got the distinct impression that this was another area where her reaction wasn't exactly original.

"You see that cloud there?"

Buffy looked - the sky had seemed flawless and empty before, but as soon as she wanted to see them, fluffy white clouds seemed to be everywhere. The one André was pointing at seemed the same as all the others, yet somehow Buffy knew that it was completely unique and she'd recognise it anywhere.

"That's heaven's shoe shop. It may look small from here, but in fact it's infinite in size. You'll get used to it soon enough; a lot of places here are like that."

"I can see why they call this paradise. But how do I get up there?"

"You fly, of course. Using your wings."

"Uh, I don't--" Buffy looked at André, and specifically at the feathery white wings fluttering gently on his back. "Do I get wings too? Like yours?"

"You already have them. You just haven't seen them yet."

Puzzled, Buffy turned back to the mirror. She turned back and forth, screwing up her face and squinting to try and see if she could see what he meant. She even reached her hand behind her back, trying (and failing) to feel anything different.

"Imagine yourself flying."

Obediently, she closed her eyes and tried to think of herself rising up into the sky. Nothing happened. She opened her eyes - and squeaked in terror as she saw the ground far, far beneath her. But it wasn't getting any closer, and so she relaxed.

The very moment she did, she immediately started plummeting down, down towards the ground.  "I can't die again!" flashed through her panicking brain, but then she forced herself to imagine snow-white wings spreading out behind her, catching the air, breaking her fall...

And she stopped, and hovered. Safe. She sneaked a glance behind her, and saw exactly what she expected to see; but the sight still stunned her into incredulity. Gleaming wings fluttering gently. Her wings. She could fly! She was, in fact, an angel.

This was so cool.

Ten minutes later, she was swooping and soaring and laughing like a mad thing, making dive-bomber noises as she hurtled towards the ground then arced back up to safety. She looped around the clouds - catching sight of several other startled-looking angels sitting on them as she did. She waved at them and after a moment, they waved back.

That reminded her, and she hurried back towards the ground where André was still standing. He seemed to be waiting for her patiently. She hoped so.

"Ahem. I see that the flying lesson part of our schedule is unnecessary. That's good, it will save some time."

"Sorry." She grinned, not entirely repentantly. "What's next?"

"Your halo. Here."

He passed Buffy a gleaming circlet made of golden light. It was totally insubstantial, but somehow she was able to take hold of it. She held it over her head, looked at herself in the mirror again. "How do I use this?"

"Just let go. See - it hovers over your head automatically. It'll hold its position however you move around, and you can adjust the angle and closeness. It also comes with two brightness settings, full and dimmed, and you can choose between golden or silver light. Feel free to experiment."

Buffy did just that. With her wings and halo, she thought, she really did look just like a storybook angel.. well, apart from the clothing situation. While she was still dubious about the robe, maybe she should try to look the part? She thought for a moment, then remembered the trick and drew her robe out of the air.

Then stopped in confusion. "Er, how do I pull this on over my wings?"

"Just do it. Your wings are an intangible philosophical construct, after all."

"Um, okay." She pulled on the garment, and her wings seemed to fade from sight as she did. Then she concentrated, and they sprang back into glorious existence. The fact that there were no holes in the back of her robe through which they could have projected didn't seem to bother them, so she wouldn't let it bother her either.

She took out her harp as well and struck a pose. She made a pretty good angel, she thought. All things considered.

"So now what? What sort of things do people do here, anyway?"

"Anything you like, really. You're here as a reward, a rest after your labours. I understand you were a Champion of Good back on earth? A hero?"

"Well, er, I suppose... yes. I mean, yes I was. Or at least I tried to be."

André nodded, smiling at her. "It's my experience that people like you enjoy our company for a short time, cosmologically speaking. A mere aeon or two; then you become restless, seeking a higher purpose. A cause to dedicate yourself to once again; a chance to do good in the world. Don't worry, there will be plenty of opportunities open to you once you want to seek them. But for the moment, you're here to enjoy yourself. Whatever pleasures you can imagine for yourself, we can offer."

"You're talking about the shoes? Or, um, other stuff?" She blushed. "I thought the sins of the flesh were, you know, sinful."

"Some people believe that, yes. They spend their time here in contemplation of the glory of the Cosmic Infinite, or in other ways which satisfy the longings of their souls."

"But the others?"

"Others believe that their body is a gift of creation, and satisfying its desires is no shame. Should you wish, you may indulge freely; we hold heavenly banquets, there are pools and fountains of the purest nectar--"

"Oh! You're talking about eating and drinking!" She turned fiery crimson from neck to hairline. "I'm sorry, I--"

But André chuckled gently. "I know what you meant. Don't worry, plenty of that sort of thing goes on here too, if you're interested. And because this is heaven, nobody is ever hurt or disappointed or abandoned or rejected. Unless they want to be."

"How's that work? I mean, surely we don't have to say 'yes' to everyone who asks, do we?"

André looked shocked. "Of course not! Unless you wanted them to ask, they wouldn't. They just wouldn't. That's not how it works. Heaven is infinite. If you want to meet your perfect soulmate for all eternity - or just a partner for a quick tumble behind the cumulo-nimbus - you'll turn around and he or she will be there standing next to you. Or off in the distance, if you prefer. This is paradise, after all."

"Oh. Okay."

"Since the subject has been raised, however, I do have to tell you of one limitation on your new existence."

"Restriction?" Buffy raised an eyebrow. "In heaven?"

"Yes. Heaven is the afterlife, you see: you're now dead. By the nature of things, that means you can't create new life; your role in the circle of existence has passed by."

"So... you're saying I can have unlimited sex, and never get pregnant?"

"No. Not even if you wanted to."

"Oh. Oh. I see what you mean now."

"It is the way of things. If you have family back on earth, they will continue the wheel of life for you; but you have now stepped off it."

"I suppose." Something flitted through Buffy's mind then; a face, the memory of a name. She had a sister, didn't she? Back home? But then the image faded, and she knew only that her friends and family were safe.

She shrugged, and another more immediate question intruded itself.

"So I can't get pregnant. I assume I won't get periods anymore, then?

André looked unembarrassed; it was clearly a question he'd dealt with many times before.

"It's your choice. The body you have created for yourself here can perform that function if you wish. You simply have to will it so."

"What? Why on earth would I want to do that?"

André shrugged. "Some people do: I believe it gives them a comforting connection back to their former reality. Admittedly it's not a very common choice, but like I said before, heaven is infinite. We get all sorts here."

"Clearly. So are my other bodily functions optional as well?"

"Exactly. Most of us breathe by instinct, but we don't actually require air. You never need to eat or drink, but you can do so to your heart's content if it gives you pleasure. I should point out, too, that you never suffer the ill-effects of over-indulgence in food or drink... unless you wish to. Some people enjoy feeling drunk, for example. And, of course, the same principle of choice applies to relieving yourself after consuming the food and drink."

Buffy blinked in astonishment. "You have restrooms in heaven?"

"We don't need them, of course. Some people choose to use them. I imagine it's for the same reason some women choose to menstruate: it makes their bodies feel more real to them."

"Freaky. So, anything else I need to know?"

"Let's see. Finding your way around is easy enough. Like I showed you with the shoe shop, just imagine where you'd like to go and you'll immediately know the way. The same thing applies to finding another person. Just decide you'd like to see them, and they'll just happen to be going past when you turn around."

He passed Buffy an ornate folder, tied with a pink silk ribbon.

"This is your welcome pack; feel free to read it at your leisure. There's a list of our facilities in there. We don't have any rules as such; we trust all our residents to respect each other instinctively." He smiled. "If you weren't the sort of person to do that, you wouldn't be here in the first place, would you? But there's some hints there on how to enjoy your stay here. We've arranged living accommodation for you on Cloud 954519; I'm sure you'll find it to your taste. The key is in the folder."

He stood back, grinned and winked at her.

"If you need me, you know how to find me." And with a rustle of feathery wings, he was gone.

Buffy looked around her, wondering what to do next. The shoe shop beckoned... but she decided to pace herself, explore a little first. She'd save the shopping as a treat for herself later. After all, she'd be here for all eternity; there was no rush.

She had all the time in the world.
.


 

Comments

Posted by: poważny zamyślony kwadrat (pellamerethiel)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 01:05 (UTC)
btvs::things she wants to remember

Fantastic! I've giggled through the whole fic - perfect vision, with the plenty of fantastic details, like the choice of body functions, infinite shoes and Buffy's reaction to them, wings, her special cloud and the key in the folder, "never getting pregnant" dialogue. Pretty brilliant, saving it to my memories :D

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 01:17 (UTC)

Thanks! I have to say it's probably a good sign - if also a self-indulgent one - when I find myself laughing out loud at my own fic...

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 01:50 (UTC)

Hee! I laughed quite a bit at the dimmer switch on the haloes...

And the last line was jarring - in a really good way. Just going "Oh, how nice, she has all the time in the world... oh wait, she doesn't. OH."

Well done!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 23:17 (UTC)

I can't write comedy without introducing a vaguely sinister note, apparently. :-)

Thanks!

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 02:32 (UTC)
faith S4 puppy

Suddenly, S6 makes a lot more sense.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 23:19 (UTC)

Yeah. Forget all that "I was warm, and I was loved, and I was finished" stuff. Willow dragged Buffy away from an eternal shopping mall, where the most perfect shoe just happened to be on special offer, and there was one left in her size just as she got there...

Posted by: I write tragedies, not sins (mabus101)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 06:40 (UTC)

Very nifty. It's not that different from some of the ways I've pictured heaven.

Then again, C.S. Lewis seemed to think otherwise; this sort of mutable reality was one of the features of his description of hell. (Where things can be changed because nothing is truly real, and nothing provides any shelter from the two things in hell that are real: the nothingness itself, and other people.)

I've often noticed that there's an interesting similarity on a deep level between Buffy's afterlife experience and Darla's. Both of them speak of themselves as being "finished" or "done". And while Buffy does remember something, it's something that sounds extremely insubstantial: no body, nothing to do, just a feeling of peace.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 23:27 (UTC)

Thanks!

I suppose if one thinks that there's an Eternal Truth to the cosmos, then Hell could be defined as "being as far away as possible from the truth", hence mutable and illusionary. The Buffyverse seems more, well, agnostic on such matters. ("Does He exist, by the way? Any word on that?" "(shrug) Nothing solid.") Heaven is a place where you're rewarded, and your own subconscious and desires fill in the rest.

If Heaven really was like this for Buffy, I imagine leaving would be like waking from a dream; as your mind starts working actively again the details of the dream slip out of your grasp until all you have left is a vague memory of how you felt.

Posted by: curiouswombat (curiouswombat)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 12:19 (UTC)
Shiny!

Hmm - no wonder Buffy was annoyed at being yanked back!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 23:30 (UTC)

In my mind, she lost all track of time, wandering in an ecstatic tranport of delight through heaven's wonders, all the time thinking that she'd treat herself to the shoe shop when she was good and ready. And just as she finally stepped through the door and saw the perfect shoe under a huge "Special offer!" sign...

...Willow brought her back to the real world.

:-)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 17:03 (UTC)
D'oh!

"I'm guessing I'm not the first person to play that song, huh?"

Heee! Almost as funny as Pratchett's "everyone plays Stairway" joke. (And boy, am I relieved to know you can still take a dump in heaven; the music, sex and delicious food I always assumed would be there, but... y'know.)

Seriously cute fic.

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 17:09 (UTC)

Uh, that sounded more like faint praise than I intended. IMO, being almost as funny as Pratchett is sort of like being almost as good a guitar player as Hendrix... which, funnily enough, would mean you're a much better guitar player than Jimmy Page. :-)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 23:34 (UTC)

Thank you. :-) (Which book is the Terry Pratchett quote from? I feel like I ought to know, but don't).


One thing I did miss was André giving Buffy a voucher for her 72 houris with ever-renewable virginity, and Buffy asking what on earth she was supposed to do with them...

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 23:45 (UTC)

It's from Soul Music.

"And then go down to the docks and hire a troll and tell him to stand in the corner and if anyone else comes in and tries to play..." he paused, and then remembered, "'Pathway to Paradise,' I think they said it's called... he's to pull their head off."
"Shouldn't he give them a warning?" said Gibbsson.
"That will be the warning."

Posted by: louise39 (louise39)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 17:06 (UTC)
Buffy   long swinging blond hair

Wonderful and funny. I can imagine Buffy having some great times, choosing shoes, designing dresses and learning new songs. I can imagine her smiling and happy here...until.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 22nd October 2008 23:36 (UTC)

The real reason she didn't tell her friends what Heaven was like was that she was afraid they'd laugh at the idea of her with a halo, wings and a harp. :-)

Thanks!

Posted by: Slacker Spice (slackerspice)
Posted at: 15th November 2008 21:04 (UTC)
Spike thumbs-up

Heh, this is just like the final line in "Earth That Was":

There'll still be dangers out there, but at least now she's made sure there’ll be no cannibalistic monsters among them…

Though I still kind of expected a Buffy-Joyce reunion the first time I read this...

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th November 2008 09:59 (UTC)

Thanks!

I did wonder if I should introduce Joyce, but decided against it because:

1) It would either be really sweet and sentimental, or all angsty, and neither would have fit the mood of the story (or been something I had much interest in writing).

2) When she came back, Buffy said that "she knew all her loved ones were safe and happy". That is firstly, a simple untruth - they weren't happy at all, nor safe - and secondly, seems rather vague. Hence the line in this story where Buffy can't remember Dawn's name; she just vaguely remembers she might have had a sister once, but isn't worried about it because she's sure everything is all right.

If you want to see that as a slightly sinister and discordant note in the story, feel free. :-)

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