Part 1: Joyce at the End -- Begin Again

"Thank you for a lovely evening. See you soon (?) -- Brian."

The flowers were lovely and the card was almost enough to restore her faith in mankind. What a lovely man. Joyce put the card back and winced. Her head hurt; it felt like something was very slowly being pushed into her brain. Whimpering she stumbled into the living room and lay down flat on the couch. She closed her eyes but the pain got worse, not better. With a clench in her belly she knew something was very, very, wrong. Even the headaches that had signaled her brain tumor hadn’t hurt like this. She needed to talk to Dr. Tensai. She tried to open her eyes, and couldn’t. Just black nothingness all around and she couldn’t move, couldn’t feel anything. Oh no, god, please…


She heard her daughter’s voice and tried to answer. Buffy? Baby I’m here I’m…

The darkness fell away and there was light, bright, penetrating light, everywhere. She was rushing through a tunnel towards something that blazed bright and perfect and…

“Joyce! Over here!”

What? She almost knew that voice. She stopped to listen ignoring the pull of radiance.

“That’s right, come this way Joyce.” She could feel the light yearning for her but it had lost its inevitability. She turned toward the voice and saw that there was another path, a branch in the tunnel. A different light, warmer and softer. “Joyce,” the voice coaxed and she let herself be pulled in.

She was home. Standing in her living room, looking at herself lying on the couch in a not very comfortable looking position. And her skirt was rucked up in a very unbecoming fashion. She took a step closer. Her eyes were open, staring at nothing. She wasn’t breathing.

“Joyce! Hello, I wasn’t sure this would work.” She spun around in shock. Anya was standing there, looking considerably different from the last time Joyce had seen her: she’d dyed her hair, which looked nice, and lost quite a bit of weight, which didn’t.

“Anya? What’s going on?”

Anya frowned. “Oh, you died. It was awful. Everyone was so upset. Even me. Xander cried.”

The news isn’t as much of a shock as it ought to have been. She’d almost gotten used to the idea that she was going to die. “I had an awful headache.” Anya nodded in quick agreement.

“An aneurysm. They said it was quick, there was nothing anyone could have done.” Joyce couldn’t think of anything to say and unusually Anya seemed to understand.

“It’s difficult. Why don’t you sit down?” She gestured and they were somewhere else, a light-filled modern apartment. Joyce sat down gratefully on the white leather sofa.

“Buffy and Dawn, are they alright?” Anya hesitated for a beat. If Joyce didn’t know better, she’d suspect her of being tactful.

“They’re doing fine, now. Buffy has a job at the new high school.”

“Now? How long have I been dead?”

“Let’s see – about a year and a half.”

So not only was she dead, she’d been dead for awhile. Joyce sighed.

“So, is this heaven?”

Posted 26 June 2003

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