Notes and disclaimers: Characters and Reaper mythos property of large corporate entities, not me. Thanks to Tigs and Mosca.
Imagine a field blown into darkness.
Anya was complaining. "It would just be nice," Anya said, "to see how things are going with her. We were never actually close, but I find myself curious."
"Whatever," Prue said. "Go, do yours. Go!" She almost glared but Anya was clutching her amulet. She probably didn't even care, but she loved to talk about her old friends, people she fought with, her centuries of life and it was like listening to Grams only way worse. Prue cared about Grams. She found Anya annoying.
Still, she thought as she walked to the alley, it was like having a friend and that wasn't bad. It wasn't life and it wasn't sisters, but it was what she had now.
She saw tonight's Reap, dressed in black and already causing destruction. The post-it note had included a picture, like always, though the girl hadn't looked quite so drunk in her picture. Prue had heard other Reapers didn't get pictures, but it was necessary for mystical Reaping. Mistakes were way too dangerous with all the stupid plans and prophecies and fates running around.
This time, her Reap was a witch, one gone bad. The Reap was blasting at the brick walls on either side of the alley. Just for fun, Prue thought. Prue had never quite lost the urge to stop the demons and help the innocent, but it had been years since she had actually tried to interfere. It was always easier to stand by when she was Reaping the bad guys.
"No one deserves to suffer, though," she muttered. She hated that lesson.
She stared at the girl's shoulder and felt the tug. Done. Prue wasn't interested in watching the battle so she walked one alley over and waited.
The sounds of fighting never really changed. Even when it was witch and Slayer. Though this Slayer, whoever she was, really grunted a lot. And swore. But she was good at her job, and things ended much quicker than Prue expected. She scrambled back to the alley and watched as the Slayer frowned over the body and then walked away, brushing her hands on her leather pants.
The witch stood in front of Prue, screaming. "I won't I won't I WON'T!"
Prue grabbed her roughly by the elbow and said, "You will." She shook the girl. "You lost, by the way. You're dead. Just like you wanted."
The girl stepped back. "I'm dead?"
"You're dead. Turn around," Prue said.
The girl gaped at her dead body. "That's so, that's -- did I pee?"
"That's what people do when they die. I know, it's gross." She took the girl's arm. "Let's move on."
"Move on to where?" The girl tried to balk, but Prue had a good grip.
"I don't know. You're about to find out." The lights were blooming in the corner of the alley. "That's for you."
"You should have thought of that before taking on a Slayer."
"That was a Slayer? What's a Slayer?"
"Does it matter? You're dead. Go that way." Prue was this close to using her power to push the girl into the lights, but it was wrong. She wondered if it would even work. This was already boring, the same thing she'd been doing for years.
The girl stopped complaining long enough to look at the lights and finally relaxed. She moved ahead of Prue and walked into the lights, gone in a flash.
"What the fuck was that?"
Prue turned around. The Slayer. "What was what?"
"Were you just talking to that witch? The one I just killed?"
Prue sighed. The rules for the mystical Reaping department were very strict about telling the truth. Much stricter than normal Reaper rules. Which is why Prue had developed her all-purpose story for when she was caught by someone who could see ghosts and see her. "I was. Has your Watcher ever told you about Whitelighters?" Please say no, she thought. The Slayer didn't look very studious.
"No. Is she not dead?"
The only one not dead was the Slayer. Prue said, "She's dead. I'm a Whitelighter, we're like watchers. Only more mystical and we work with witches. And now I'm done and you're done so let's just go our separate ways, okay?"
The Slayer looked confused and frustrated. "And I'm just supposed to believe you?"
"You can go back and look at her body. And I'll be over here, not using my powers on you."
Prue should have left when the Slayer went to look at the body, but she didn't. She didn't want to create a mystery in the woman's head, something she might mention to her Watcher or the other Slayers. Work, work, work, she thought. Her inner voice was starting to sound like Anya and not like Phoebe. Prue looked down at her shoes. She remembered Phoebe, she still did. She remembered life and San Francisco and Andy and Piper and all of it.
"But do you feel it," she said to herself. Maybe she'd talk to Henry tomorrow. Maybe she'd find her own damn way out of this funk.
The Slayer stomped back into the alley and said, "She's still dead."
"And I'm still doing nothing to you." Prue smiled. "Are you hungry? I find this stuff really makes me hungry."
"Stuff? Yeah, I guess that's one word for it." The Slayer looked her up and down and then said, "If you're paying."
"I'm paying." Prue gestured to the dull lighted windows and neon sign of the diner across the highway and pulled out her wallet.
"So," Faith said. She'd finally deigned to mention her name. Prue had gone with her fake name, True. It sounded like something Phoebe would choose but that was kind of why Prue liked it. Piper would have rolled her eyes and said something about how Prue never did hold back with the truth. Prue also liked that it didn't start with a P. "So, True baby, tell me more about this Whitelighter shit."
"It's not shit. It's a calling. To protect and help witches."
"Were you helping that crazy bitch?"
"And to guide them when they've lost their way. In this case, the guidance came post-life. We only work with witches in certain traditions, which is probably why you've never met one. Only certain people can see us, people like you. And that's all you need to know, so eat up and then we can both go back to work." Prue picked up her burger and took a big bite, leading by example.
"Maybe you're going back to work; I'm done for the day." Faith ate half her burger and then said, with her mouth full, "So what kind of powers do you have?"
"Telekinesis, astral projection, teleporting. Boring stuff." Stop asking questions, Prue thought. If she could do spells now, she'd take care of it. But death stopped all that, she only kept her active powers. She'd stopped wondering years ago how all those rules worked. "It's really not important."
"Whatever," Faith said. "Why didn't you guide that witch away from the crazy?"
Prue sighed. "Some people can't be saved. And I have a lot of charges."
"So you suck at your job, huh?"
"No, I don't. I'm actually great at my job. All I have is my damn job and I do it very well. You weren't there. You don't know the whole story. Some people are just wrong." Prue could hear herself getting a little shrill. "You don't know."
"Looks like I hit a nerve," Faith said, smirking.
"You did not. It's just annoying when someone who doesn't know what she's talking about says something ridiculous. You don't even know how ridiculous." Prue was a very good Reaper. She'd been a very good witch and now she was a very good Reaper. Prue always aced the work part of her life or post-life, in this case.
"I got the message loud and clear," Faith said, licking ketchup off her fingers. "You have work and you're great at it, even though I spent the last day dealing with that witch. But it's sure not your fault."
"People have choices," Prue said. When they were alive. She didn't feel like she'd had many choices since then. "Exactly how much guidance was I supposed to provide? She wanted to die. She was self-destructive and when she couldn't make that work, she went with all out destructive and waited for someone else to stop her. Looks like it worked." She stared Faith down. Faith looked away first but Prue didn't feel very triumphant. "I'm sorry, I know you wish you could have stopped her another way."
"You know an awful fucking lot, don't you?" Faith leaned back and pushed her plate away. She took out a pack of cigarettes and lit one up. Prue never got used to living in a state where you could smoke in restaurants. Clearly, she'd said something wrong. Faith had that cover my pain look Phoebe had all the time back in her teens. Same way of smoking like it was giving her an orgasm, too.
"I don't know everything," Prue said. "I always sucked at having a life."
"Clearly," Faith said. "You have a major stick up your ass, you know? Maybe that gets in the way."
"Probably," Prue said. "That's what my sisters always said."
"You have sisters? Family, the whole thing?"
"I did." Prue sipped her water. "Not anymore. Whitelighters don't, it doesn't work that way."
"But they know you're okay?" Faith sat up, looking interested.
"They know I'm okay," Prue said. They thought she was with her mother and Grams. She hadn't seen either of them since she'd died, but it was the sort of fiction spirits gave out about Reapers. If Prue ever made her quota, maybe she would be. "It sucks, though, you know? My sister has two kids now, and I'm not even allowed to see them."
"Allowed? That's a stupid rule. You should just cheat. You can teleport. Blink in and out and see them." Faith frowned and stubbed out her cigarette.
"They monitor that. You can only teleport to where you're supposed to be." Prue had thought of that already. But Henry had been pretty clear about it and she'd seen Anya try to cheat. She actually only knew about Chris and Wyatt because Anya had seen them on one of her Reaps. "It's okay. It's the job."
"Your job sucks way more than mine. No wonder you're so sensitive about it. I'd be pissed-off if all I had was my damn job and it was all shitty like that." She smiled. "At least they pay you, right?"
"Actually, no." Prue nearly laughed.
"But you paid for dinner and those sweet boots you're wearing."
"They are great boots. I have a second job, like a secret identity thing." Prue was a freelance photographer back in Chicago. Where, like the rest of the team, she wasn't allowed to do Reaps, just in case. So many rules, she thought. Faith was right, a lot of her post-life sucked.
"Nice shirt, too," Faith said. She smirked and looked right at Prue's chest.
Prue wondered if she gave off a vibe. When she was alive, she only got hit on by women when she was in college and never after that. Since she'd died, it was a lot more often. "Are you hitting on me? Didn't you think I was a stick in the mud two seconds ago?"
"Whatever, you're a hot kind of stick in the mud. Maybe I find people like that hot. Why, you interested?"
She really shouldn't have been. There were even rules about that. Rules about fraternizing with other mystical players. "It's against the rules."
Faith smiled. "So you're interested. Come on, no one's looking."
If Prue were actually a Whitelighter, someone would be. As a Reaper, she was pretty sure no one was. Which was annoying, if she really thought about it. "You're right." Prue stayed in her seat, though. "I should." She had, with men, with women a few times in college and since she'd died. But never with another mystical player. Slayers probably weren't really a big no-no. Just a stupid rule, she thought. Faith wouldn't figure out she was dead from having sex with her. Slayers didn't have those kinds of powers.
"I think you should. Bathroom's right back there," Faith said.
"I didn't have sex in bathrooms before and I'm sure not starting now. Especially not this one. I'd rather do it in the alley, frankly."
"I'm okay with the alley." Faith stood up and stretched.
"Yeah, I'm not. I've got a credit card, let's get a hotel room. Beds and everything."
"We only need one bed." Faith looked over her shoulder as she started walking out. "Unless you've got something really fun in mind."
Being dead did have some advantages, Prue thought. She had about as much endurance as any Slayer. "You know, I have a lot of fun things in mind." She left enough money on the table for the bill and a nice tip and followed Faith out.
Dance like no one's watching, she imagined Phoebe saying, because no one was. Really dance. She could picture Phoebe saying it with a smirk.
The nearest hotel was pretty run-down. Faith kept smiling and running her hands up and down Prue's arms, patting her ass and generally acting like she was ready to go to get the sex part immediately. Even while Prue was signing the credit card receipt to check in, it was like having a Faith coat draped over her. It would have been annoying but Prue found herself smiling back.
By the time they got to the door, Faith had already reached around and undone Prue's belt. While she struggled with the door, Faith unzipped Prue's jeans an inch and slipped her hand down. "No underwear, I like it."
"I hate panty lines," Prue said. She laughed as the door finally opened and they both stumbled in the first steps. Faith walked ahead and flopped on the bed, legs spread. Prue made sure the door was fully closed with a glare and then turned back to Faith. "Let me do that," she said as she saw Faith taking off her shirt.
Faith actually dropped the tough girl crap and giggled as Prue TK'ed off her clothes. That was one trick she'd never had a chance to try while she was alive. "Damn, girl," Faith said, "that's awesome."
Prue spread her arms and took her own clothes off the same way. Then she folded both sets neatly on the floor. "That was fun," Prue said. "Thank you."
"Come here and I'll thank you right," Faith said.
Prue started laughing and flopped on the bed like she was twelve. Faith was immediately on top of her, already cupping Prue's breast. "Can you use that mind power while we do it?"
"You know, I've never tried," Prue said.
"I want you to try," Faith said and then put her mouth to work on something other than talking. Prue hadn't felt this alive since Andy and it made her laugh all over again. Somehow, somewhere Phoebe would know and she'd definitely be smirking. Good, Prue thought. Good all around.
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