"Dead Simply..."



Summary: A (very grim) Grim Reaper gets a tough assignment in the Cicelyverse...

Disclaimer: Please, would Joss want his name associated with this?...He pays me to keep him out of it...

All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...



Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse...

***

Part I...

Today a nice day for you?...Yeah?...Well, for me it was another miserable day in my miserable existence...In some ways maybe this week's been lousier than usual...

Monday started out pretty much like every other lousy day...I had to get up as always two hours before anyone else at my incredibly awful day job in order to experience the morning joys of the Wafflehaus with the bunch one might ludicrously...To them even more than me...Call my friends...

Well, settle for...My co-workers...

No, we are not a bunch of eager beaver assholes trying to geek our way ahead...Nor are we a committed, terrific (or committed but third-rate) morning sports team...

Joggers?...God, definitely not...No, these guys are from my other firm...My real job...

Worst of it being I generally don't even get paid for this one...

See that man?...No, not the fat guy trying to stuff two dozen mini-waffles in his mouth to impress the reasonably intelligent-looking, even rather attractive-but-why-is-she-sitting-with-that-guy (Oh, my God, she's laughing with hand on his...She likes him?...This is one hell of a strange existence, isn't it?) woman...

Anyway, the other guy, in the checkered shirt, in the booth with the very attractive lady...Guys, don't say you weren't looking at her...And the meter maid...And the extremely attractive...Ladies you better not be looking at him...young English-ish guy...

Right, that's him...That is Rube, my boss...

"Hey, there's my girl..." a beaming smile emanating from Rube...

Urgh...

When my boss Rube puts on a phoney smile and greets me...I know he's just put crap on my workplate...Same for my other job but that crap's easy...

Note the rest trying not to look like they're rolling their eyes...This one is very crappy...

"Hey, Georgie..." the extremely attractive one, Betty smiles...

"George..." Mason, the "English-ish" one nods...

"Come on, sit down..." Rube continuing the warm manner...



"Get in and eat while you still may want to..." Roxy, the meter maid, gives a cold stare...

Very crappy...

"So what suckass miserable crap am I stuck with this time...?" I give Rube a direct glare...

"Georgia..." Rube shakes his head...

Whoa...He remembered my name...Called me by it...

This is world-class sucks...

"Your work is a noble calling...When the hell is that gonna penetrate that thick skull of yours, kiddo?..."

A very noble calling...Betty grabs the chance to suck up...

"Shut up..." Rube glares at her...

"Just tell me what the heck it is...Or rather who it is...That I'm gonna try to refuse to take and end up being stuck with anyway...Maybe I'll even try to get it over with quick..."

"Really?..." Rube stares... "Well, thank God...Cause one more minute of this lovable boss crap and I'd burst an artery..."

"Here..." he hands over a post-it note...On which is written an initial and last name, as always...Plus an address...

Hmmn...Hey...

"Two names?...Am I doing a two-fer?..."

"She's had other names in the past...It's possible you might find her using the one or the other..."

Two addresses?...

"She moves around a lot..." Rube notes...

I stare...What?...

"This one some kinda crook?...An accountant from Enron?...Martha Stewart's?..."

Roxy snickering...Betty trying not to look like she's laughing at me in Rube's presence...Mason chuckling...

"What do you mean she moves around a lot?...How can you not know where she...I assume since you said she was a she, she's a she...Is gonna die?..."

Rube shrugs... "She's a special case..."

And that by the way is my other, real job...

No, I don't kill people...This is not a Mafia tale...

Though it would be kinda neat if it was...

Cut to shot of me, hit-woman Georgia Lass, looking smugly efficient in my exceptionally neat and conservative business suit...The others equally well-dressed in conservative business suits...Though Betty wears hers unbuttoned at the neck with a sexy scarf and Roxy has her meter maid cap on...

"The folks back East want this one taken out quick and neat, Georgie..." Rube nods, placing fedora on his head...Laying out gun with silencer on table... "I told 'em our Georgie'd get the job done..."



I give solemn, smugly efficient nod...No wasted words or gestures...Scooping gun in single, deft motion...

"Hello...Earth to Georgia..." Rube taps on my head...

Oh...Sorry...

"Listening...Every once in a while...Can really help honey..." he notes...

"Ok, right...So how is this one special?..." I look at the note...

"Ooooh...Special..."Roxy sneers...

"Roxy...It's a tough job..." Rube notes...

"Tough job my ass..." Roxy sneers... "Ooooh...I'm Blankedy the Vampire Slayer...Ooooh, I'm the Chosen One...Ooooh, you can't take me yet, I have to...Save the World..." she waves fingers...

Betty grins...For some reason Mason frowns...

Hmmn...Seeing Mason frown over a girl who is...Special...Somehow makes me frown...

Though I am somewhat relieved by knowing that she is about to die and meet her just reward...Far away...

"And this one..." Roxy glares... "Frigging bitch..."

Roxy had a little trouble with her...Several times...Rube explains...

"She has super powers...She dodged me..." Roxy glares...

"Dodged you...Super...What...?" I stare...Blinking...

We've suddenly become a Saturday morning cartoon...I expect Scooby-Doo to enter with Shaggy next...

"Well...Then...Isn't that like, bad?...Doesn't her soul wither and rot within..." I eye them, focusing on a slightly sheepish-looking Rube...

You told me...My first case, that little girl...I fume...

"Now, girlie..." he puts up a hand... "Keep the coffee comin' hon'..." he beams at the waitress moving up...

"And today's is on me..." he smiles at us...We eye each other...The others focusing on the still fuming me...Though not enough to prevent all of them...And me...From immediately placing a mammoth breakfast order...

"I mean the coffee..." Rube notes...

"You said that if I didn't take her that poor kid's soul would wither and die inside her, that she'd... 'go bad'..." I glare...Truly pissed...

I liked that little girl...And if she coulda stayed, experienced all the good that life...I catch sight of today's local headline... "Decapitated 6-year old's body found in garbage bin..."

Ok...Maybe it wasn't such a bad alternative...The place she was headed did look kinda Heavenly...

"And it well might've..." Rube continues... "Besides, you saw what a nice place they had all ready for her...And it's different with the Slayer..."

"Slayers now..." Betty...

"Yeah...slayers now...Small, teeny little s...." Roxy smirks...



"The potential Slayers had to be activated to stop the First Evil from beginning Armageddon early..." Rube explained... "There are lots of them now..."

First who?...Lots of what?...

Armageddon I got...Hey, I'm not an idiot...

"And still none of the single ones will give you the time of day..." Betty chuckles to Mason who gives an angry look...

As do I...

I think I could enjoy taking this one...If she's single and likes English types...

"Anyway..." Rube dismissively waved a hand... "The Slayer or Slayer(s)...Are different...Their lives are vital to Humanity and sometimes they get to postpone the inevitable...It's a perk for saving Humanity from the other world baddies..."

"And they're all girls...Ummn...Women...Though young women..." Betty notes with proud look...

Hmm...World-saving young super-hero women...Not bad...Damn about...

"What the hell are 'Slayers'..."

"Doesn't keep 'em from being stuck-up little princesses..." Roxy fumes... "And they still work for men..."

"Wait...What baddies?..." I stare...

"Vampires, demons, humans gaining access to occult dark powers to further their insane ambitions...Occasionally ghosts...Though ghosts, as you know, are usually not bad folks..." Rube nods...

But sometimes they're had a rough life...Bad breaks, injustice...

"Or they were just plain assholes human..." Mason notes...

Yeah...Rube agrees...

"Vampires...?" I blink...

Betty does an overbite...Grrr...Ooooh...

"Getting back on track...This particular Slayer has been a little bit of trouble as Roxy noted..." Rube sighs... "Magnificent heroine though, with a special something over the usual run-of-the-mill Slayer..."

Pfft...Roxy snorts... "She's had the job how many times?..."

"Twenty, if we're counting..." Rube puts up a hand... "But that's not the point..."

"This 'Slayer' has gotten to live again...Twenty times?..." I move to definite angry glare...

If you add the times she shoulda bought it...More like five hundred..." Roxy grouses...

"I get creamed by a toilet seat at eighteen...And never have another shot...And this... 'Slayer'..." I nearly rose out of my seat...Hard thing to do in a booth, wedged in next to two people...

Rube pushes a picture over...

"She rates a picture?..." I blink at the photo of a lovely slight blonde... "Everyone else we barely get initials and a last name?...Some of whom were very, very nice people...And this one rates pictures and multiple comeback shots...?"



"She was prettier as a brunette..." Roxy casts a haughty eye...

Roxy...Rube eyes her...

"Girlie...When I say the Slayer has saved the world..." Rube turns back to me, his stern look that I'm supposed to get all nervous and wussy at...(Ok, I do get nervous and wussy at)..."I don't mean she wrote a bunch of rock stars and got them to donate time at a Live Aid concert for Africa..."

She done earned her points, kiddo...he notes...And eyes Roxy, then Betty, then Mason...Who was still fuming to himself about the last Slayer...Who'd told him she'd prefer to wait for a better-looking, classier escort to the Heavenly gates...

And no, she wasn't 'attached' but thought she'd be busy should he ever reach Heaven...

On the other hand, my perky, positive nature began to assert itself...This 'Slayer' case sounded big...

"Ok, so I get to play in the big leagues...The Slayer..." I nod, a pleased look...Yeah, bout time ole Lass got her chance...

"First, Ms. Suddenly-Eager-To-Dissoul folks..." Rube cut me off... "I'm only sending you on this one so I won't look so bad this time when you fail..."

"Hey..." By the way, sorry not to have mentioned it before...That's what I do...Dissoul...Remove the souls from the bodies at or before death...

"Secondly...A little history...Of her more recent exploits..."

He compressed the history of B. Summers' Slayer career into a two minute short film...Visible in my head...

Whoa...I stare...

"And that's only this time out..." Betty notes...

"She did all that?...I mean with her friends help, of course...Hey, they seemed very underappreciated...And what's that blonde guy roasting to death?..." God he was cute... "She loved him, he had to roast on her?..." I stare at Rube... "And we...I mean our boss...Bosses...Don't want her to hang some more?...Is the world that safe?..."

Say?...I look around the table...The profound thought hitting me...

"You know I never thought to ask before...But I'm working for the good guys, right?..."

"No, we're monsters of depravity...I was actually Adolf Hitler..." Rube waves at himself... "Over there is Chairman (Mason) Mao ...Lizzie (Roxy) Borden...Lucretia (Betty) Borgia..."

Betty gives attempt at Lucretia Borgia smile...

"I believe you had sex with your brother..." Roxy smiles sweetly at her...

Funny, guys...I frown...

"It's a good question but if you don't know the answer it's really much too late to start asking..." Rube notes...

"Ok, we're good guys...Then why?..."

" 'Cause she has a right to rest and bliss...More than most by far..."

"So...Tell her what's she's missin' out on and take her...Does she love her job so much?..."

"Please..." Rube waves a hand... "The Slayers like helping people, saving them...Throughly enjoy savage, hand-to-hand death sport...But they loathe the loneliness, the sacrifice of a normal life, the need for near total isolation from Humanity...(Sounds like my Unlife, I think morosely)...Some of the more compassionate..."



"Dumb...And therefore, long dead..." Roxy cuts in...

"...hate the hardness they have to develop to deal with the Undead..."

Err...The Evil Undead...Rube hastily qualifies... "Very bad, Evil Undead..."

"Deal with the Undead?...Wait...Does that mean the Slayers can...?"

"I like to think of it as a minor misunderstanding, the result helping to eventually send you to your deserved reward in Heaven..." Rube smiles...

But that's only if she doesn't know you're really on her side...And she's not pissed at you personally...

Tell that to the last three before me who tried to take her...I hear Roxy hiss to Mason...

"Really, it's not that the Slayer(s) don't want to ever die...But they have that strong sense of duty and commitment...Just like..." Rube looks round the table at us, his crew...Waiting with surprise for the long-deferred compliment...

"The Red Sox...Doing their duty for all those years, till things finally came their way..."

They feel they're needed...

"Please..." Betty snorts... "They each think no other Slayer could ever do the job half so well..."

Sounds like us for sure...I think...

"And this one has a special reason for hanging on..." Rube eyes me mysteriously...

"Ok..." I put up a hand... "First...I only got an hour so let me eat..." I manage to get in most of my breakfast after fighting Mason for my bacon...

"Second, what the hell do you mean?...There are vampires and demons running around the Earth?...Why didn't you tell me this?"

"Our Undead black sheep relations...Not a pleasant thing to discuss..." Rube sighs...

"My family?...My little sister?...Lives on Earth with vampires and demons?..."

"Eh, they mainly hang out in LA, Cleveland, Rome, or London..." Mason waves a hand...

"Look, facts of Unlife..." Rube shrugs... "There are good Undead with souls...Us...And a few assorted others..."

Freaks...Roxy hisses...Glare from Rube...

"And there are bad, unsouled, demonically possessed Undead...Demons, vampires..."

"And a few intermediates...Demons with souls, zombies..." Mason notes...

"Look, the kid is confused enough..." Rube frowns...

"And this... 'Slayer' kills the bad Undead?...And occasionally takes a shot at us?..."

"Only because of the confidential nature of our work..." Rube smiles... "We can't reveal ourselves so naturally when she senses our presence, and we try to come and take her soul, she assumes we're Evil...But we always get things straightened out in the end..."

And, if you get killed...Or whatever...You do get a generous allotment of bonus points toward promotion...

Generous, right...Roxy rolls her eyes... "Would I've hesitated a minute to let her kill me if it would be enough to get me promoted?..."



"You want me to see if I can get this transferred back to you?..."Rube eyes her...

She, much to my surprise...Horror...And, of course, pleasure...Shrinks down in her seat for the first time since I've known her...

"No...Sir..."

"All right then...Georgie...You will go and see that this Slayer finally gets to her deserved reward...And the rest of you...Excepting you, Roxy...Who have volunteered to take our Slayer's helper to LA..."

What the f...? Roxy and I stare...

"Non-negotiable...Roxy, I got you off easy...You know this girl, you're the wing man..."

"I thought this address said LA/Rome?..." I scan the post-it...Yes!... "Why don't we check out Rome first?..." I give an innocent, wan look...

Roxy giving sneer...

"Very good...Keep that look for when the Slayer is about to kill you and you try to explain to her why an Undead woman is trying to feel her up..." Rube nods... "LA...Because she should be on her way here...To save her true love..."

"She's already got another?...And I take her soul when she does that?...That is gross..." I fume...

"That blonde guy...He's a vampire...With soul..."Roxy notes matter-of-factly...With a little eye-rolling on the "With soul"...

"She kills vampires but she loves one?...And didn't that guy..." Definitely cute even if I don't go for the Billy Idol pose... "Fry..."

"Honey, she's loved two...And I mean in the sense of 'all the way'..." Roxy grins... "Both souled which I guess kills the whammy..."

"He came back..." Rube tries to continue...

Back?...

"Good ole Spike..." Mason sneers a bit... "What a wuss...And if you meet him, remind him he owes me fifty bucks..."

"Angelus wasn't souled..." Betty notes to Roxy precisely...

"That's debatable..." Roxy frowns...

"No way, he was gone at point of orgasm...The moment of perfect...Please...Happiness..." Betty insists... "Ergo she screwed a soulless beast..."

Her first, lucky dog...she grins... "My first was kinda more the 'whipped poodle' type..."

Huh?...

"People, I'm doing the briefing here...William, the blonde guy's soul, survived the roasting...Immortal, ya know?..." Rube managed to recover the conversation...

"So this B. Summers/r C. Addams is coming to LA to save the soul of her vampire beloved?...That's so..." I catch myself, eyeing Rube...Mason grinning at me slightly...

I obviously look like some kind of sentimentally romantic idiot...Which I am anything but...

Cut to shot of me at sixteen sobbing over "It's a Wonderful Life" in my room...Oh, God...

"He's got a body again, though still vamp...It's not totally altruistic and spiritual..." Betty notes...



"Why does she hang with vampires if she kills them?...Does she like, not know it and then kills them when they show themselves or get tripped up?...And what does this 'r' stand for...?"

"To save her current and her former vampire beloved...Personally I much prefer him to Spike..." Betty nods solemnly... "Though he did go off to LA and leave her stuck in Sunnydale all alone...Not even a loan after her resurrection to help tide her over..."

"R for reincarnate..." Mason unhelpfully explains...

"Reinwhat?...You're saying she reincarnated?..."

Oh, please...Roxy rolls eyes at Betty... "... 'I'm the world-saving Slayer and I deserve a chance to save my honey, reincarnate me in time to help him or I won't go when you need me'...Frigging little princess..."

"These two fellas are human-souled..." Rube explains... "The new/old one William got his back for love of her and the other one, Angel kinda stumbled into his when he killed the wrong person back in 1894...And yes, she reincarnated from an earlier self as her..." he taps the photo... "A special break..."

"She rates 'special break reincarnation' on top of that resurrection thing?...And her boyfriends don't attack people anymore?..."

I really wanted to be clear on that one...

"So they say..." Roxy gives me a malicious grin... "But...When you're alone with them...Helpless...Who knows what Evil may lurk..."

"...'in the hearts of men'...Oh, I loved 'The Shadow'..." Betty smiles...

"Say..." I eye the group in general... "What happens if these vampires or some truly bad one kills me?...I become more Undead than I am?..."

"You can't really be killed...You're dead..."Rube notes... "So you basically just drop in rank...And become sorta zombie-ish...Till someone upstairs cuts you a break and helps you snap outta it...And start all over again with no points..."

Like someone I know...Betty whispers very quietly...Roxy, hearing...Giving an deeply threatening glare...

"He said he had a soul...I trusted him..." she shocks me for once by starting to make vague sobbing noises...

"Betty..." Rube shakes his head... "Roxy, honey...Cut the crap and get hold of yourself...It's old news and the Immortal is dust as of yesterday, thanks to Ms. Summers..."

Besides, he wasn't lying to you that time...He had a soul...Utterly foul and merged with his demon, but a genuine, human soul...

"Currently burning in Hell...Thanks to Ms. Summers, the girl you owe an apology, I'd say..."

"She fell for his line, too, you know..." Roxy sniffs..."And she had a commitment..."

"That's not for us to judge..." Rube shakes his head... "And like I said, she killed him yesterday...And is on her way..."

"Who's the Immortal?..."

"No longer...Ergo very much not 'the Immortal'..." Mason chuckles... "And a miserable bastard at that...Pompous ass...And a freakin' hypocrite...Letting them call him 'His Benevolence' for protecting a few humans while he plotted with the other Partners to bring on Armageddon..."

"Nah..." Rube shook his head... "He only wanted to rule the world through his company...Armageddon's bad for business...That's why he played both sides..."

"Who the hell are the...?"

Rube gave me another brief film in my head on the Immortal, the Wolf, Ram, and Hart, and vampire and demon lore in general...



"So this guy tried to keep this reincarnated, resurrected Summers girl in Rome...While her dead, revived undead... (Say, what a gyp!)...lover was supposed to get creamed in LA fighting...lotsa demons?...And she thought this William was gone for good...Meanwhile he's come back in LA thanks to the Evil Inc boys but won't go to her in Rome cause he thinks she doesn't really love him?..."

"You go to the head of the class..." Rube notes dryly...

"That's horrible..." Betty suddenly had her chance to shock me by bursting into tears...

"All she's been through and he still doesn't believe her?..."

"It was her own fault..." Roxy waves a hand...

"She was trying to save him..." Betty glares...

"Ladies..." Rube tries...

"And what happened to him?..." Roxy eyes her... "100 years as a vampire, 'thanks for saving me, honey'..."

"It was beautiful..."

"It was half-assed...She shoulda told him, hid him somewhere, killed Drusilla...Happy ever after until he got randy and she caught him making out with the maid or something..."

"Girls..." Rube sighs...

"Wait..." I am confused again...

Not that I'd stopped being confused before...Just...

"When did she try to save him?...She left him at Sunnydale, went to Rome...Do you mean when she came to help him and that chubby tall guy who looks like he's trying to imitate Christ when he broods?..."

"Nope..." Roxy shakes her head...

Look at the other name...

"C. Addams?...So?..."

"C...As in Cicely..." Betty gives me a slight break...

"Cicely?...The girl William told her about back at that bar?..." I'm amazed to find I fully remember Rube's first little film...Hope it didn't do brain-damage or conceal subliminal commands to be his pussiest employee from now...

"The one who got him out on the street for the crazy nun to kill?..."

"That's her..." Betty nods... "But the crazy nun couldn't help herself, demonically possessed vamps' souls bear no responsibility..."

"But..."

"Reincarnate...Bitch..." Roxy frowns... "No wonder she sensed me coming, she'd been through it...Rube, I still say it wasn't..."

"It's done, Roxy...They accepted your explanation, thanks to me...Let it go..." Rube insists...

"Say, wait..." a crucial thought comes to me... "I can't take this girl...She's Roxy's..."

"Not any more..."Rube coolly notes... "She's yours now..."



Roxy giving me the oddest little nervous look...Like a little kid silently begging not to be made to wear something stupid...Or have a really embarrassing potty episode described in detail...

Reluctantly I change tactics... "Ok, so she was Cicely...And now...What about this William?...If she's coming to save him, isn't kinda mean to take her?...What's he gonna do?..."

"If he survives I think he'll probably take a sunbath and join her..." Rube notes... "Look, kiddo...Not our place to make the calls...Just do the job and let it sort itself out..."



So there I was...Staring at the picture of one B. Summers/r C (Cicely) Addams, Vampire Slayer...Apparently extraordinare...

Well, how tough can getting to instantaneously touch a 'Slayer' be?...

Roxy giving me a narrow, malicious smile...

Preety tough, I'd say...And remind me never to cut her an embarrassment break again...

"Hey...This says she dies tomorrow at 3:30 am?...I gotta get up at...?"

"1:30, I'd say..." Rube nods...

"Ah, the glamourous night life that comes with this profession..." Mason grins...Then frowns, remembering...

"Make sure you remind Spike..." William, Spike the demon's in Hell...Rube notes... "Right... 'William'...That he owes me fifty..."

***

"Dead Simply..."

Summary: A (very grim) Grim Reaper gets a tough assignment in the Cicelyverse...

Disclaimer: Please, would Joss want his name associated with this?...He pays me to keep him out of it...

All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse...



***

Part II...



Downtown LA...Early am...

This is the City, Los Angeles, California...Millions of people live and work here and no, I don't have time to look up the exact number today...

Besides, it's two-freaking-thirty am...As in, the morning...When I should be getting the little sleep I can...When I can...

Though it's true, I wasn't totally unhappy with the chance to finally see some new sights...Heck I'd never been anywhere when I died at eighteen…

But at two-freaking-thirty two am...The pleasure of new vistas is kinda limited...

Roxy looking equally miserable being small consolation...But some, I must admit...



"Out of uniform, I see..." I eye her black blouse and pants outfit as we get out of our rental...

"Would a meter maid be running around at two-thirty am, dumbass?..." she glares at me...

"Girlie, you look like crap..." she notes... "Couldn't you have worn something approaching suitable for the job?..." she eyes my gym sweats...

Great, now a dress code for soul-sucking...

"I thought I'd look more reasonable as an early morning jogger type..." I lie...Having simply worn the same stuff I slept in to save time...Hoping against hope I can finish this B. Summers job quick and get back to bed for a few hours...At least sleep on the way home, before I have to start my paying...And therefore, essential job...

Roxy rolling eyes...Right...

"Say, what's all that noise?..." I look over to where to my shock I see fires now bursting out, alarms starting to wail...

Well, I wanted the big leagues of Reaping...

"The Senior Partners must have started their attack..." Roxy looks over... "Whata bunch of morons...They never learn...Half their fellas can't take sunlight, the other's too brainless to avoid turning on each other...Plus with so many out on Earth, they only stay a few hours before they lose their connection to their Hell energy and get bounced back..."

"Attack?...Oh, right..."

Rube's second little brain film comes back...That Angel guy and our girl's William and their pals have gone and riled some Hell guys...

"How big is this 'attack'?...They gotta keep it quiet, right?...I mean I never heard of demons from Hell marching on the evening news..."

An explosion rocks us back... "Big enough..." Roxy nods in the direction of the blast... "They're pretty pissed..."

Whoa...I watch the flames rise...The morning news is gonna have quite an opener...

"Gas main..." Roxy notes, matter-of-factly... "We'd best get moving if we don't want to get our skin roasted off..."

She heads off to the left, I trying to nonchalantly race like hell after her...

Though like Rube said, I'm already dead...I can be hurt...And skin roasting, I would guess, hurts...

"So how come we gotta do this 'B. Summers', the Slayer anyhow?...This isn't even our territory..."

"Rube was talked into some kinda crappy exchange program years ago...I.e. we get the crap from different low performers' territories dumped into our laps, theirs get to tour our territory for a few easy ones in hopes of getting their shit together, and Rube looks good upstairs...Besides, the clowns here can't begin to handle Slayers...They lost three reapers in a row to this one alone..."

Yeah...I'd kinda been wantin' to forget about those three...

And just when I'd come to view the one good thing about reaping being the lack of physical risk...

They die, we stand back and collect...

The idea of one biting back just didn't seem fair somehow...Hey, I'd already died...And in a gross and humiliating fashion...Forever immortalized as 'the Toilet Seat Girl"...

"But hey, she didn't get you..." I note, hopefully...

" 'Cause I ain't some dumbass standin' around waitin' for a toilet seat from space to whack me...Come on!..."

"So these 'Partners' and their guys are from Hell?...There really is a Hell?...I mean outside our crappy jobs...As well as a Heaven?"

"Call it whatever you like, these guys chose to call it Hell...Who knows what it really is...That way, toward the big fire!..." she drags at me as I instinctively head away from the...Very...Big fire...

Hmmn... "So what exactly do 'these guys' want anyway?..."

And how come we never get to send somebody off to Hell?...I wondered...

You know, like the G-men of Death putting the finger on some mass murdering weasel ex-Nazi just when he thinks he's caught the boat to his new homeland, South America ...Lots more satisfying than taking some little kid's soul at a party...

"Eh, they're bigger versions of the gravelings...So they got bigger plans...Apocalypse, Armageddon...But most really just wanna get the hell outta Hell for a little sight-seeing and a few quick meals..."

"Won't the police, army...?"

"It'll be over by then...Like I said, they can't stay here long...The government'll come up with some sucking coverup that most of the idiots'll believe...Like Roswell...This way, move it, girl!...And try not to barf at the demon guts...It'll be splatter city soon, though most of it inflicted on each other..."

Hmmn...?...We move on towards the heart of the business district hereabouts...I made a rather skillful dodge of some flying debris...

"Get the lead out!..." Roxy grouses...Pull me back from the thing flying overhead that had sent the aforementioned debris our way...

A thing sorta like...

"My God, is that a dragon?..." The dragon politely sent a ball of flame our way to confirm my shrewd observation...

"Yeah...And it's been wounded, so watch your ass, cause that's the last time I'll save it!..."

We hurry on...Roxy pulls up short at a big intersection... "Hold up, I hear a few coming..."

Oh?...I look round, Roxy jerking me back...

"Hey!..."

"A few...Dozen..." she hisses...

The sound of howls and tramping....Trampling...Feet or something like feet...Grows steadily...We crouch down in the stairway of what seems to be a kinda nice basement bistro...Pretty tables with nice wall paintings visible through the windows…Gotta remember the address should I ever come back in daylight, menu on the door looks intriguing...

A dark, moving mass passes us, I can just barely make out versions of legs scurrying by our basement hideaway...Roxy pulls my head down...Moron!...

"How many are there, these guys from Hell...?"

She shrugs... "Guesstimate?...Maybe 5-10 thousand before the portal overloads..."

10, 000?...

"How many does this guy Angel have...?"

"How should I know?...Maybe five or six...Unless Princess the Vampire Slayer brings a few of her sisters along..."

Five or six...?

"You mean five or six thousand...?"

"I mean...Five or six...Unless the lady cavalry comes achargin'...But it ain't the numbers, it's the firepower you're packin' baby..." she pats her gun in its holster...

"But what happens if Angel and William get their asses kicked?..." As seemed highly likely...

"The Evil boys go back to Hell with some trophies and have a big party...Then Wolfram-Hart collapses under the weight of the insurance settlement and lawsuits...Unemployment shoots up..."

Hmmn...

Say, doesn't Wolfram-Hart manage my day-job Happy Time's pension fund?...

"And if the good guys win?..."

"Wolfram-Hart's Evil plan is defeated...They and Angel's organization probably get sued for all the damage...And unemployment shoots up..."

Hmmn...?

"Little man loses every time, every way, hon...Way of the world..."

"So, Rox..." She glares at me at the 'Rox'... "Roxy...You ever send someone like, you know, down there...?"

"Hell, I mean...The fiery place..." To her puzzled look further down the stairs...

"That kind don't rate our help, girlie...They get graveling shit transport...And experience the full joy and wonder of whatever kills 'em..."

Ah...I nod wisely...Divine justice...

"Divine my ass...If you ask me, girlie...The whole thing's run by a dickweed who doesn't give a leapin'..."

Loud, but fading yelps from down the street suggest the parade is passing us by…

"Should we?..." I look up the stairs...She shakes her head, a hand up, listening...

A hideous wail from the street...And a mass of body parts and gore comes spewing over the top...

Roxy covering my mouth to muffle my "...shit!...."

Though I'm not quite as upset as I might be had I not taken the precaution of wearing casual...

Unlike my partner...Who was definitively steamed...Though like the professional she was, was calm and restrained...

"Shit!..." she now hollers, I not quite daring to risk being shot to do for her what she'd done for me... "God-damn, miserable shit!...My new blouse!..."

I tense, expecting a horde to decide to check out our hiding place...Which as I said had a lot going for it and would have probably been a neat, if crowded place for them to sit out the fight, were they so inclined...

However they hurry on to whatever awaited them...And we find ourselves resting in peace...Along with what appeared to be three to five others resting in pieces....

"Lets move out..." Roxy hisses...

It occurs to me now that maybe this 'B. Summers/r C. Addams' and I have something in common...As I dodge the pile of demon guts oozing over the street...

We both have jobs dealing with the supernatural, involving special powers...We were both chosen for our special callings at more or less random, we're both on the young side...Hmmn…

She's acknowledged by at least a small group of friends and fellow Slayers as a world-saving heroine...I am unknown, barely recognized as existing by my co-workers...I have a crummy day job at Happy Time Temp Services that barely keeps me in shelter and food...She has the support of some huge unseen organization, the Watchers whoever they are...Run by her own Watcher, now...

She's had two hot (figuratively...I understand their normal bod temp is around room...) vampire lovers and some Undead Immortal guy and is rushing to her beloved who's died and Undied for her...I got kissed once, after croaking...And she lives in Rome, when not hunting down said beloved in LA or working elsewhere...Whereas yours truly generally schleps in one place, forever, alive or Undead…

Plus she got to reincarnate and resurrect...

Well, we are both college drop-outs...But I do have a little office management experience, plus…I know Excel…

Heck, the girl might be able enough at the world-saving, but she'd be workin' under me in any sane office sit…

***

We climbed the stairs, turned a corner...And found ourselves in what must have been a wonderful boulevard for shoppers, tourists, and office workers in dead-end jobs like me who like to stroll and imagine they could afford the stuff they see during their increasingly depressing stroll, before it had been utterly pulverized into one of those World War II cities, say Hiroshima?...And the object of attention for about eighty things, some of which kinda looked human...In a manner of speaking, you know?...Two legs, a discernible head, something like hands...

If humans were eight feet tall and covered with scales or bone armor...

I got the impression we were very welcome...They'd mostly been eating each other and it's a pain to crack open that bone or scale to get at the chewy goodness inside, I guess...

Kinda wish I was one of those 'Slayer' ladies at times like these...Or that my Undead existence came with a few useful super powers besides soul extraction and possible...As Rube says, how do we know til we are...Immortality...

"Don't run...It just excites them..." Roxy suggests..."And don't show any fear..."

"I don't think I can walk..." I note, trembling... "Can't do much about the fear thing...Do we play dead or what?..."

"They're not bears, you moron!..." Roxy hisses... "Just tell 'em you're a Reaper, let 'em sense you're Undead and they'll...Probably...Leave you alone..." She steps forward...The things looking her over with a variety of expressions...Some somehow seeming more than just your average... "Look what's for dinner, Joe..."

It suddenly occurs to me that some of these folks had once been human...Were still male...Or at least still might be interested in "dating" human females...

"Reaper business...Comin' through..." Roxy gives her best 'Parking Officer/Jedi Knight on duty' glare...A few look at her...

Yeah, some of these are definitely still interested in things beside eating...One grabbing at me as I try to pass with a weak imitation of Roxy... "Reaper business...." I try...

A rather unimpressive squeak...Though apparently it did have a charm all it's own...

"Ggor like..." a growl...Thus I was offered my first and to date, only wedding proposal, by one Ggor, seven foot heavily horned and plated demon foot soldier...

I won't deny the vaguest possibility did cross my mind...It being unlikely I'd ever receive another such offer...And he had a kinda charming facial...I think it was his face...Expression, if one ignored the drool and oozing bony plates...



Cut to cave home of Georgia Ggor, nee Lass, currently enormously pregnant, and her brood of four foot, ravenous, heavily horned and bone-plated offspring...

Who do have my eyes...

One pausing in demands for immediate feeding, using my bones if necessary...To offer me a carefully, if poorly drawn picture of Mommie in her cave house...

Almost making me able to forget that he started eating my arm the other day...

Sadly, my consideration of Ggor's kind offer was cut short by the blast of a rather large gun...Roxy's...Which ended any thoughts on my would-be suitor's part of continuing his suit...

In fact ended all thoughts on his part as his now partly headless body sank to the ground...

I will treasure the memory of our moment together in my heart, but Unlife goes on, ya know?...

***

The crew in the street having scattered after grabbing various parts of my fiancee to nosh...We hurried on down the wrecked street, Roxy dragging me over debris... "Lets move, girlie!..."

"Wait a minute, my shoe came off...And my right pants leg is riding up..."

No sign of any humans let alone 'B. Summers/r C. Addams'...And the clock is ticking, it's past three-fifteen now…

"You sure she's coming?...I don't see any hordes of young women sending these guys reelin' back in fear..."

Maybe we outta give more serious consideration to Rome...Yeah...

A professional thing...Like with these Slayers...A good and truly grim reaper can't leave a stone unturned in the performance of her duty...

Especially if it allows for the purchase of new Italian shoes....

"That way..." Roxy points... "William and Angel gotta be that way...She'll be coming to him..."

"Yeah?...Say what is the scoop on that 'Angel' guy?...He dump the Summers girl or what?...And how do you know the way or that she is coming?..."

"Mutual decision, I guess their 'I gotta save the world' schedules conflicted, then William showed...Take a big sniff, girlie..."

Hmmn...Strong metallic smell...Sorta like...

"Yeah, it's human blood...But with that little something extra, that only comes via vamp digestion..."

Eehew...

"And as for her coming...She's coming, I know her..."

"Hey..." I point at a number of God-knows-just what-things-they-were, running from some spot where they'd collected...A few zipping by us, some on all fours...Or threes in a few cases...Leaving behind a couple of mounds of their colleagues scattered in the street…

"Is that...?" I wave at the heap now remaining where the creatures had been on the street...A heap that vaguely looked like a man...With overly blonde hair...

Peroxide, no doubt about it…

"William..." Roxy looks at him...I turn at the tone in her voice...

And blink at the look on her face...



"What...?" she grouses...

"Do you...Like him?..." I ask, too startled to keep from blurting...

"Do I suddenly look like a lovestruck, dimwitted eighteen year old with a Russian toilet seat burning through her skull, neck, and rib cage?...C'mon..."

We come up to the body...I wondering as Roxy shocks me by kneeling by his battered...Very battered...Gross...Face...But to my surprise at least, still faintly moving body...

"William...Mr. Walthrop..." she whispers... "She'll be here, she's coming..."

And then Roxy made the most astounding move I'd seen her make to date...Kissing his bloodied forehead... "She's coming, I swear..." she pats him as he opened bloodied eyes to look up at her briefly, then closed them, as she rose...Still no sign of my client…

I stare at her...

"So, I feel a little sorry for him..." she looks away...

"It's unjust what's been done to him...As a black woman I know injustice when I see it, girlie...I mean, there he is, a nice, shy, little fella a century ago...He writes poetry and thinks he's got a beautiful girl to love him...Then, wham!...Good ole whoever lets him have it with both barrels..."

"Maybe 'whoever' didn't like his stuff..." I tease... "Mason said he was the worst poet England ever..."

"William's stuff's not bad..." Roxy blurts...

William?...

Not bad?...

Hmmn...

"You've read his stuff?..."

"Shut up...We gotta pull back and wait for Her Slayership..."

"Roxy..." I hiss as she drags me back to an alley dumpster... "What the hell's up here?...You just ided yourself to..."

I eyed the...vampire?...Whoa...On the ground...

"...a sort of bystander..."

"I did not id myself...You heard..." she grouses... "All I did was..."

All she'd done was tell him his beloved was on her way...And kiss him...Like a sister or a ministering angel...Wait...

She's met them before...Several times, she'd failed to grab our client's soul...

My eyes narrowing, I stare at her...

Why do I have this sudden feeling ole George has been set up?...And this already complicated reaping was about to become more so...

But the entrance of our heroine now prevents what would have been my dramatic accusation...This always happens to me, in death as well as life…

A screaming furry mass jumping over our heads and landing in the street near William...Followed by a slight blonde in brown leather jacket and jeans...Nice but clearly workaday white blouse, hair blonde...But suspiciously so to my acute eye...Nice shoes, Italian I'd say...Waving a sharpened stick as she lands on her feet...



B. Summers/r C. Addams, I presume...I hiss to Roxy...Who yanks me quiet...

Right, super senses...

The Slayer however a bit preoccupied...Halting in mid-charge on the furry, flaming mass as she catches sight of poor William on the ground...

"Will!..." she screams, racing over...Kneeling by him... "William..." gently now... "William, I'm here..."

I look at Roxy...Who is totally focusing on the couple...

"Can't...Believe it..." a faint gasp...

Still with us...I can't help smiling...He even seems to be...Yeah, sitting up now...

Nothing beats that Undead physiology…

B. glaring at his last remark...Bloody wounds and hideous suffering or no, that one really burns her a bit...

"You can't believe it?...You jackass!...Hell, you spend the best part of a year sitting on your ass over here when you shoulda been on a plane to me the first day...And you "can't believe it"...?"

He looks at her…Pretty clear apart from the agony of sitting up, he's not too overwhelmed by her rage…

"You don't understand, Will..." she pleads...

"Buffy..." he sighs…

Aw, crap...I look at my watch...Three-twenty five...And turn to Roxy... "We can't do this...She's gotta have more time..." I whisper...Wait...

"'Buffy'...?" I look at Roxy...

"She got five..." Roxy hisses back... "And yeah, 'Buffy'..."

"Slayer, it's fine..." William now waving a hand... "I do understand...I have since I got my sense of proportion back with the soul...You don't have to apologize or make excuses...It was grand of you to come and..."

"Goddamn you!!..." she shrieks...He falling back as she briefly releases him...

"Oh!...Will, I'm sorry!..." she pulls him up a little as he groans...

We jumping at her shriek...Making enough clatter for them both to start looking round...

"Someone's here..." Buffy notes...

Aren't those super-slayer senses something?...Roxy sneers to me...I noting we have no real escape route...

"Whoever the hell you are, get lost right now and I'll let ya go!...I'm busy!..." she calls...

So...I eye Roxy...

Do we take the kind lady's...

"Stay..." she hisses...Holding me...

I have now been demoted from reaper-in-training to dog-in-training...



"Will...William!...Forget 'em, whatever they are...We've got things to settle once and for all!..." she turns back him from where he was now actually starting to try and stand...Looking round for us or whoever might be threatening...

Roxy eyeing me...I wordlessly nodding...Yeah, quite a guy...

"Like the hell what?..." he frowns at the Slayer...She holding him down to sitting position...

"Like the hell, goddamn you, I..." she pauses...Looking round as if to be sure no one can hear...

Except us monsters from Hell, I guess...

Icutadealwithjackassforyou...she mumbles...

I look at Roxy... "She cut a deal with who?..."

"You what?..." he eyes her...

"With 'His Benevolence'..." she rolls her eyes... "I freaking cut a deal with the Immortal to save your miserable ass..."

"What?..."

"I sold out to the frigging Partners..." she shrugs nervously... "He was a member of the Board, if you didn't know..."

William silent...

Whoa...I stare...Roxy shrugs..."'Bout time..."

"I didn't get anyone killed..." Buffy hastily notes... "I just agreed not to oppose Giles on the 'nobody trust Angel anymore' thing and not to try to go or contact you in LA..."

"Though I never expected you'd be such a cowardly weasel as not to try and get in touch with me as soon as you could, jerk..." But she holds him now, cradling him in her arms...

"You sold out to the Partners...For me?..." he stares at her...

"Till I found out your freakin' idiot boss was actually going to attack them, ya...The Immortal arranged for some guy who hates Angel to get his hands on a spell to bring your amulet out from the Crater and then to get you solid..."

"You sold out...For me...?" he beams...

"I didn't let them kill anyone...And it was just the one time...I..." she looks at him...

"The guys...Giles, Willow...Wouldn't help me get you back...And I couldn't let you go..."

Roxy shows her watch to me...One minute, twenty seconds...

"Ok, she's done had her chance...Lets' go..." she hisses, pulling me...Dragging me out into view of the two...

"Hiya...Sorry..." Roxy waves... "We got trapped here, my friend Georgie and me...Just hiding out...You two ok?..."

Narrow look from the Slayer...Our human act not going over at all...I give nervous, innocent bystander wave and 'boy, I'm glad to have survived that disaster or whatever' dazed smile...

"My friend's gotta get to a hospital...Looks like your fella there needs an ambulance too...Can we maybe..."

"Who the hell are you?...You're not vamps...But you sure as hell aren't human..." she eyes us...Stake at the ready…



Uh-boy…Why couldn't I've had the sense to beg Rube for an easy one?…A nice old lady eagerly awaiting the end of her sufferings in a nursing home, say…

Someone who'd be grateful to see me…

Hmmn...I woulda thought she'd've recognized Roxy...The reaper who'd tried to take her out before...

"We're not with the Partners, miss..." Roxy pulls me closer... "To be honest, we're reapers...Just collecting a few of the dying humans' souls hereabouts..."

"Reapers?..." William looks us over, still sitting but again trying to rise from Buffy's grip... "Buffy, don't let them touch you!..."

Huh?...She looks at him...

I mean after all, for a Slayer, I guess physical contact is the whole name of the game...Wait a minute...

Then how the hell...I think...But Roxy nudges me...This is my chance...Simple…And she's gonna die in twenty-four seconds…

But...Staring at her, this poor Buffy...Who'd just found and saved her guy...And that very cute if covered in gore, blood, and severe gashes, said guy, William, so desperately trying to pull her back from us...

I couldn't do it...Demotion to zombie or no...So, like any good friend with a hundred years' of malicious revengelust welling up in her, Roxy grabs my hand to do it for me...

And she's ready...Till she looks up and sees the face staring back at her...Not the pretty blonde, though of course that's what everyone around us still able to see saw...

Cicely's worn and tragic face...Utterly aware of what was about to happen...Holding William in her arms desperately...Her eyes pleading...

Roxy staring back...A set, grim look on her face, her hand holding my squirming one in a vise grip...

"Ah...Crap..." she pulls my hand away...I staring...

The current Buffy staring at us now...Blinking a little...Her eyes narrowing... "What the heck are you tryin' to pull?!...Get away from us!..."

"Buffy...Get back!..." William tries to push her off, again trying to rise... "They may be here for you, let me!...They can't take my soul..."

She tenses...We back off... "Reapers?...They don't work for the Partners...?"

"Back!!..." Roxy calls as a huge shadow appears to us…Looking up, we all see the dragon overhead…Looking quite pissed…And clearly targeting our little band…

William pulls Buffy back just as a searing flame hits where she had knelt…

Three-thirty on the dot…And we are there…And have screwed it...Hmmn...

Not going to look good on my resume…

They stare at us…We them…

"Independent firm...More or less inclined toward our side...Yours and mine..." William notes... "Now get back!...Please...If you love me..."

She eyes him, then us...And steps over behind him...Giving him a rather arch smile...

"Get away from her!..." he calls to us... "If you're here for her, it won't be today!!..."

Roxy sighs...



"They take souls...?" Buffy hisses to William...

"Didn't Giles ever mention them to you?...They collect souls from the dying, just before death..."

"Ok...So what are they doing...Here?..." She looks at each of us...

"Just a mo, lady…" Roxy calls, a tad miffed… "You might remember we just saved your ass from turning to charred bacon!…"

"Uh-huh…Listen, if you two are here for William!...Get the Hell back to where you came from!...He's going nowhere!"...

"They can't take mine...I already reclaimed it..." he tells her..."It's a service they only provide once..."

She tenses…Hmmn…I see no reason to add to our heroic gesture of self-sacrifice by Undying at her hands…

"You owe our buddy Mason fifty bucks!..." I call... "William, I mean...That's why we stopped by...While we do our other stuff..." I finish, lamely...

They look at me...

"Oh, right...Mason..." William nods... "What's he up to these days?...Still as spaced out as ever?...Is he writin' again?..."

Buffy frowning...If that's all this is...But Will keeps a hand to hold her back...

"Reaping with the best of 'em…" I return… "He's off the drugs these days..."

Writing?...I eye Roxy...Who shrugs...

"Well, tell him he can write me care of Wolfram-Hart or whatever new name we gave the place here...I damned well should be getting a bonus after tonight..."

"If that's all, then get lost!..." Buffy glares at us... "Don't make me come after you!!..."

"Just pickin' up a few stray bystander humans, Slayer...Slayer's love bitch..." Roxy grins at William... "Just be about your business and we'll get on with ours..." she pulls at me...We move off...

"No!..." Will puts a hand up to stop the Slayer from angrily taking up our chase...Love's what?!...What the hell did those freaks just call my guy?!... "Hey!..."

"Yeah, you better run!...And get lost, you Undead bimbos!!..." Buffy calls after us…As we follow the better course of valor and calmly withdraw…At high speed... "Tell ya bosses...We'll go when we're good and ready, not before!..."

"Bitch is letting a few good days go to her head..." Roxy fumes to me as we walk back...In deep shit...Figuratively...As well as the pools of demon gore and blood we had to wade through...

Just pray our rental is still in one piece…I could not deal with trying to explain a wrecked car now…

"You let her go...Again..." I stare at her...

"You never slipped up...She never 'dodged' you...You let her live all those times and took the heat..."

"And what thanks do I get for it?..." Roxy grouses... "That bimbo telling me to get outta her face?!...Hell, I outta go right back and take her now...William or no..."

"Why did she do that?...She knew you'd just spared..."

"No, Cicely knew...We've met on my other tries...This Buffy kid's only got the barest access...Reincarnation's like that...Psychological protection...Otherwise you'd go crazy, trying to relive the past and all...And his demon woulda killed her long ago…"

"They gonna be ok?..." I look back...



"Better start thinking about your own ass when we get home and have to face Rube...I don't know, I suppose so...At least she's a little off her high-Slayer horse now and he's got the soul..."

"She saved him...A whole century, reincarnation, resurrection..."

"Betraying her side..."

"It's romantic and you loved it..." I give a smug smile...Which freezes as several giant spiderish things on eight legs look our way...

"Yeah...I'm a goddamn fool for love and this time, you're gonna pay for it, sweetie..." grin..."That is, if we get the hell outta here...Run...!"

***

And so, the fools for love reapers...Me sporting a wonderful new scar on my face...Which Betty assures me will heal well...In a few hours... Returned to face the Wrath of Rube...

Or rather, one Georgia Lass did...Roxy merely noting the kid had done her best...

Rube giving both of us the lecture on repercussions...As in, Reaper-cussions...

But, as he noted to us, he'd never had any faith we'd succeed...

Just a little embarrassing as it seemed the Slayer had put the word out on the street in LA that she'd ice any unapproved Reaper getting within ten feet of her or William for the next 80 years at least...

And we didn't even get invited to the wedding like Mason...What a bummer...

***