by Beth C.

I. Strawberries

It's always struck her as odd.

The off-limit lists women make in their heads of loves, desires, obsessions of things they can never touch. The things their insides ache for deep inside, which no one should never know about.

Anya has lived long enough to know that with the fleeting time humans have, it's not worth denying yourself all of those purely indulgent things your body craves. Besides, she met the Puritans, and nobody wanted to be around them.

Xander loves how her skin smells of strawberries, and he would never argue with the amount of strawberry ice cream she keeps in the freezer.

It makes holidays even easier for him because with one box of truffles with a fluffy strawberry cream, and Anya would love it.

In her old life, fresh fruit wasn't as easy to come across and neither were the sugary sweet things that sit in glass cases at the bakeries throughout the town.

In her new life, she can surround herself with that taste that blesses her tongue. The fresh juices run down her throat, and that decay of mortal death she can sense around her can be hidden for a short time.


II. Silk

Xander understands this appetite, even though it's one that he won't help pay for.

But he loves that she does it, donning the undergarments. She likes her body to be encased in the most perfect fabrics, and he loves the way her slip feels as he pushes it to her waist, the way her nipples strain against the pale pink fabric, and the way her stockings rub against his cheeks.

Every morning is a ritual of scented lotions and oils, even though she knows that her skin will never be as soft as what she wears. She slides her white stockings up her pale skin slowly, trying to continue the sensation as long as possible, before putting on her slip of light peach almost translucent against her body.

Giles wonders why she smiles so much during the day.

She is just grateful he pays her to support the habit.


III. Vodka

Her fridge is filled with juices and her cabinets are filled with delicate glass bottles filled with the purest vodka she can find.

From her flask, from pristine crystal tumblers, from lean glasses she drinks it. She drinks it with cranberries, with orange juice, or just straight, letting it burn down her throat. It slides so perfectly in and she remembers that with age comes knowledge.

Mead had never tasted good, but it had always got the job done.

Absinthe was fun, but it was never a casual drink and left her sick in the morning.

Champagne tastes sweet, but leaves a bitter aftertaste from all of the aristocrats she cursed so often over the years.

Scotch reminds her of Giles who she is still trying to forget.

Xander doesn't understand this fixation, happy to get drunk off of cheap beer and cheap liquor. He doesn't understand why she cares so much, and she can't understand why he's so happy drinking bad alcohol.

The first thing she put on her wedding registry was a bar set, and the first thing she knew she needed to do was show Xander why the haze produced by her favorites is far better then anything produced in an American brewery.


IV. Blondes

The only one she does hide from her dark haired lover, because she would never want to hurt Xander.

Plus it would almost ruin the memory to know that Xander spent time masturbating from the thought of Anya's past.

Darla was young when Anya first met her, with blushing cheeks and a heartbeat.

She was rough but sweet, and even though she wasn't the first scorned woman she took in her bed, she was the first one she had hoped would never utter those words.

She spent most days trapped in her husband's manor, and most nights shutting her eyes, spreading her legs, and thinking of England. But there would be excuses some nights, and Anya would be waiting down the street with her carriage.

From the carriage would come Anya's apartment in the city, and then just skin against skin. Darla wasn't always so pale, with a flush that would spread across her chest as Anya moved down her body whispering soft comforting words against her stomach.

But with so many beautiful things to focus on from the unblemished arch of her back, to the pink nipples that grew rigid the moment Anya unlaced her corset, Anya found herself focusing on the shimmering gold on her body. Her hair would curl gently over her shoulders, and the gold tuft between her legs was soft and coarse at the same time shining in the low light of the bedroom.

Running her fingers through, tugging it sharply, feeling it rub against her, Anya found her new fixation in that beauty. Against Anya's darker hair, Darla glowed with lust, with sweat, and with an innocence Anya could faintly remember. But then that day came when Darla said those words.

"I wish I could go to the new world, and live a different life."

Anya couldn't cry then, but now on those days when Xander is working late, she can pull out old paintings of her past and see Darla reflected back. She can see her hair that pales in comparisons to daffodils, and the sun, and she can imagine that steady heartbeat.

She only say Darla once after that night when she wished herself to some dirty bed, repenting the wish she made. With Angel on her arm, she glided with arrogance through a ball D'Hoffryn was throwing in hopes of uniting the vampires with his group of demons.

Darla stared right through her, and Anya couldn't see any recognition of what they once had. It was the first moment Anya felt real death.

It wasn't strong and sweet like the death she brought to so many. It was empty and painful as she felt another part of herself fall away.

That was her last blonde to sleep beside her. Now she can dye her own hair, and think of happier times.

Blonde was the color of her past, and Xander never needed to know.


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