Title: Reaping the Whirlwind (The Boom Boom Boom Ba Remix); Part 3/14
Summary: What does the addition of supernatural-related reaps to the reaping workload, Roxy’s promotion, the addition of a new grim reaper with supernatural experience, a new sort-of boyfriend who may or may not be a pirate, and an approaching apocalypse all have in common? New grim reaper boss George doesn’t know, but she’s willing to bet that in the middle of it all the universe will kick her ass. Again.
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Dead Like Me crossover
Characters: Dead Like Me (order of appearance) — George, Mason, Daisy, Roxy, Kiffany, Delores, Penny, OCs. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (order of appearance) — Dawn, Buffy, Willow (appearance only), Giles (appearance only), Xander, OCs.
Pairing: George/Xander (nothing explicit)
Rating: R for language, cartoon violence and death, sexual situations
Warning: Spoilers for all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV show only), Dead Like Me, and Dead Like Me: Life After Death.
The week after my death is kind of a blur. It seemed I skipped around in time a lot. One moment I was standing next to a smoking crater and staring at my burned-out, blood-stained shoe. The next I was watching my autopsy. Then I was at my funeral.
Plus, I changed clothes. Several times. Which was weird.
And I sure as hell didn’t see Rube or Betty do any reaping before I become solid and joined the grim reaper brigade.
It’s weird that I didn’t question any of it. I figure that from E.T.D. to becoming reaper-solid at least a week passed, and yet I wasn’t aware of any time passing, at least not between any of those moments I just mentioned. Not how I changed clothes. None of it.
Now I know why.
Turns out that a pre-reaper kind of blips in and out of existence until they just are.
One moment you’re moseying along, doing your thing, and the next…blip…dead girl is standing right next to you ready for the next step. Frankly, it creeps the hell out of me. It takes everything I have not to jump three feet into the air and yell, “Holy shit!”
I wonder if Rube was the same way. Then again, by the time I died he had already done it God knows how many times before I came along. Maybe for him, my death was just another day at the office.
I hope it never gets to the point for me.
“I don’t understand why I’m still here,” Dawn said as she trotted next to George down the sidewalk. “Shouldn’t I be going toward the light? Or something?”
“You in a rush to leave?” George asked as set the pace.
“Not really, no,” Dawn admitted. “What I’d like to be is alive.”
“Join the club.”
Dawn rolled her eyes. “Sorry. I’m not buying that you’re undead. I know from undead, and you’re not it.”
George grit her teeth. This was fast becoming an irritating argument. No matter how many times George explained grim reapers, Dawn pulled the know-it-all card and insisted that she knew best despite the fact that she knew shit.
“You’re walking around during the daytime, for a start,” Dawn said. “You eat like a horse, and I’m talking real food and not blood or brains.”
“Why the hell would grim reapers eat anything but food?” Geroge said shortly. “Besides, it’s not like it goes to our asses. Reapers have fast metabolisms.”
“You also go to the bathroom,” Dawn continued her litany. “You’re not afraid of holy or mystical objects. ”
I desperately wished that Dawn would hurry up and become solid so I could mash her face through a plate glass window.
“Okay, you say you heal right away, but you’d be surprised how many mystically endowed people heal quickly,” Dawn continued. “Hardly a specific characteristic of the undead.”
“Finished?” George growled.
“Excuse me for trying to figure out what taxonomy a ‘grim reaper’ falls under, since you’re clearly not an anthropomorphic personification of a common human conceptualization,” Dawn sniffed.
George spun around to face her. “You take that back!”
Dawn hopped backwards. “Take what back?”
“I’m not a pornographic anything,” George hotly protested.
Dawn blinked as the muscles in her face seemed to be fighting one another. A snort escaped. This was quickly followed by a second and a third. She then began howling with laughter.
“I don’t want to know,” George sourly remarked.
Dawn doubled over as her howls of laughter got louder.
Then, a miracle occurred!
Well, not really. I just wanted to say that.
A nearby pedestrian careened into Dawn, nearly knocking the laughing woman off her feet and successfully putting a sudden halt to the laughter.
“Watch it!” the man shouted over his shoulder as he strode away.
“He just…” Dawn pointed after him. “He…what I mean is…”
“Welcome to club undead.” George flashed a chipper smile. “Oh, and welcome to your new job as a grim reaper.”
“What?” Dawn exploded.
“Now you’ll have all the time in the world, or at least a couple of decades, to figure out if I’m wrong,” George said as she grabbed the sputtering Dawn and pulled her out of the main rush of pedestrian traffic.
“Why didn’t you tell me this before now?” Dawn roared.
George winced. “Rules.”
“Rules? What rules?” Dawn demanded.
Those would be the rules from Death’s own HR department. If I ever get a promotion, the first thing I’m going to do is find out where they work. Then I’m going to kick their asses.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t exactly something I could tell Dawn, so I punted. Much as I hate punting, if there’s one thing that Happy Time taught me is that it’s sometimes better to get close to the truth without actually telling the truth. This goes double when it’s an irate client demanding to know why you sent them an asshole temp. It goes triple when you’ve got an irate temp demanding to know why you sent them to work for an asshole boss.
Since Dawn just found out she was working for Death, I figured the punting should come with a side of tap dancing on the head of a pin.
“Because I actually didn’t know for sure until you became solid that you were the new reaper,” George said.
Technically true, if you squint really, really hard.
Dawn began to pace back and forth on the sidewalk. “This is impossible!”
“And yet, here you are,” George pointed out.
“No! You don’t understand! I shouldn’t be here!” Dawn insisted.
“And yet, here you are,” George repeated.
“No! No! No! There’s been a mistake! A horrible, horrible mistake!” Dawn was just short of shaking her fist at the sky.
“And yet…” George shook her head. They really weren’t getting anywhere at this point. “You’re not going to make me repeat myself a third time, are you?”
Dawn stopped and fixed George with a pleading look. “Is this because I’m The Key?”
“The key to what?” George asked.
“The Key to opening doorways into other dimensions,” Dawn said.
Well, don’t we just have an over-inflated sense of self-importance. Or you’re a nut. Either way, we’re all pretty screwed.
George fought the urge to take a step back. “Rrrrriiiiiiiiiggggghhhhht. You’re really a key for whatever and not a person at all.”
Dawn seemed to deflate right in front of George’s eyes. “You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”
“Let’s make that a ‘no’,” George responded as she grabbed Dawn’s arm and hustled her down the sidewalk to their destination.
“Then why am I here?” Dawn wailed.
George decided to play to the idea that Dawn was self-important instead of the idea that she was crazy. “Because you have a destiny?” she hazarded.
“Don’t say that! I hate that,” Dawn vehemently said.
“Fine. The flying fickle finger of fate fucked you,” George said.
“Is that supposed to be comforting?” Dawn asked.
George mentally threw her hands in the air, because she was now at a loss. “Would ‘I have no fucking clue why you and not someone else’ make you feel any better?”
“Not really, no.”
“To bad, because ‘no clue’ happens to be the truth,” George shortly said.
“You know, you could be nicer,” Dawn complained.
George stopped her forward momentum and took a deep breath. “You know what? You’re right.”
“I…am?” Dawn asked with surprise.
“I’ve been where you are and I know how much it sucks,” George admitted. “So let’s try again. You’re now a grim reaper, which means you work for Death.”
“I got that part,” Dawn cautiously said.
“Your mission, regardless of whether or not you decide to accept it because it’s been pretty much decided for you, is to reap the souls of people who are about to die,” George explained.
Dawn’s expression darkened. “I won’t kill people.”
“We don’t kill anyone,” George said. “These people are going to die no matter what. The only thing we do is take their souls moments before they die so they don’t die alone, don’t feel the pain of actually dying, and don’t go into the afterlife bearing any of the, ummmm, signs showing how they died.”
“That didn’t happen to me,” Dawn huffed.
“Actually, it did,” George said. “Think about this. Your head’s not at a 45-degree angle and your brains are actually inside your skull.”
“I think I’d remember if someone—” Dawn suddenly stopped as the penny dropped into the slot. “The police woman who I thought was flirting with me. The one that grabbed my hand.”
“That was Roxy,” George said.
Dawn’s face darkened again as she asked in a low, dangerous voice, “Where is she?”
“She got a promotion. You’re her replacement,” George said. “I don’t know where she is.”
“No one asked me if I wanted it,” Dawn huffed.
“I wasn’t asked. Mason wasn’t asked. Daisy wasn’t asked. Roxy, wherever she is, wasn’t asked either,” George said. “Welcome to Club No One Asked Me. There are lots of members.”
Dawn suddenly looked down and kicked at the pavement. “Yeah. There are a few clubs like that. I should know better, shouldn’t I?”
Dawn’s sudden change in demeanor threw George for a loop. That didn’t mean that she wasn’t about to take advantage of it. “Don’t feel so bad. You should’ve heard me yell when I found out,” George said. She waved her hand around as if to indicate everyone within hearing distance. “This conversation we’re having is practically civilized compared to the one I had back in the day.”
Dawn studied her as if she were trying to figure out if George was lying.
“I’m telling the truth,” George said. “Including the part where you’re stuck with being a reaper.”
“For now,” Dawn said almost to herself.
“You’ll find out I’m telling the truth soon enough, especially if you try to break the rules,” George said.
That strangely seemed to perk Dawn right up. “Rules. Of course. There are always rules. You just have to learn them first.”
George wasn’t sure why, but she didn’t like the way Dawn said it. “You’ll learn the rules on the job,” she said as she grabbed Dawn’s arm again and propelled her down the sidewalk. “I’m going to demonstrate the first one to you right now.”
“Lay it on me.” Dawn actually sounded chipper at the prospect.
George began with the thing she could demonstrate right away. “The reason why you’re in a town where anyone would recognize you—”
“Hey! That’s right! I am in a town where people know me.” Dawn sounded even more chipper about the idea.
“Will you let me finish?” George asked as she stopped in front of an electronics store. “The reason why they haven’t shipped your ass cross-country is because no one you knew while you were alive is going to recognize you even if they trip over you.”
“Don’t tell me. Reapers are automatically glamoured,” Dawn said sourly.
“Glamoured?” George asked with confusion.
Dawn sighed. “People who know me are going to see someone completely different, aren’t they?”
I felt like I was having one of those conversations where the other person was already way out in front of me. How the hell did she already know that?
“Ummm, yeah,” George said. “You also have to add to that list: anyone who is alive is going to see you as someone else. The only people who’ll see you as you are other reapers.”
“Well, let’s get it over with. What do I look like?” Dawn wearily asked.
George indicated the hi-def, widescreen television in the window that showed their patch of sidewalk. “Right there. I wouldn’t exactly call it ‘glamour,’ though.”
Dawn stared. She blinked. Then she stared some more.
“Please tell me I’m the young blonde,” Dawn finally said.
George held up a peace sign. Her televised image did the same. “Sorry. That’s me.”
Dawn blinked at the screen some more.
I’m guessing she’s in shock.
“Mason’s theory is that how we look to the living reflects our inner person or some kind of shit like that,” George explained.
Shut up, George! I’m sure that didn’t help!
“I look like one of those middle-aged bag ladies who live under the overpass with their shopping carts and mumble to themselves about cats!” Dawn wailed.
Yup. No help at all.
George uncomfortably patted Dawn’s shoulder. “There is a bright side.”
“Bright side? What bright side?” Dawn asked.
“The way people see you can improve,” George said. “When I first started out, I looked like I had a meth dealer boyfriend and had dropped a couple of trick babies along the way.”
Dawn looked suspiciously at George’s televised image. “The glamour you’ve got now doesn’t reflect that at all.”
“The trick is to take care of yourself, settle into a routine, and find something to fill up the time between reaping that won’t drive you completely crazy,” George advised. “Think of this as the bottom of the barrel with nowhere to go but up.”
“Great,” Dawn grumbled.
George spotted Daisy across the street and checked her watch. Right on time. She tapped Dawn on the shoulder to get her attention. “I want you to watch this.”
“I’m not sure I can take more horror today,” Dawn said.
“Ummm, yeah. Sorry about that. But honestly, it’s better this way,” George said. She waved her hand across the street. “Daisy’s over there.”
Dawn turned around with a sigh and looked across the street. It took her about a minute to spot Daisy flirting with a businessman at a hot dog cart. “God! Does she ever stop throwing herself at men?”
“This time she’s doing her job,” George said.
Dawn slit her eyes toward George, before turning back to the scene. “What am I looking for?”
There was a puff of smoke behind the businessman from which emerged a graveling.
“Demon!” Dawn shouted.
George grabbed Dawn just as she was about to charge across the street to do who the hell knows what. “Graveling!”
Dawn fought her hold. “Same diff,” Dawn snarled.
“Um, actually, no. They work for Death, too. I think,” George said.
Dawn paused. “Hunh?”
“Just watch,” George ordered.
The graveling hopped in its simian-like manner over to a manhole cover and began sniffing around the edge.
“What is it doing?” Dawn asked.
The graveling’s fingers played around the edges of the manhole cover until it found a grip it liked. It yanked at the cover several times before it came up with a pop, knocking the graveling ass over teakettle with the manhole cover still in its clawed hands.
“Doesn’t anyone see this?” Dawn asked.
“The living can’t see gravelings,” George answered.
“I figured that much out,” Dawn huffed. “I’m talking about the manhole now being uncovered.”
“You’d be shocked.”
Dawn seemed to think about this a bit. “You know what? I’m actually not.”
Daisy appeared to notice the graveling when it disappeared in a puff of smoke. She reached out and brushed the man’s shoulder as if she were brushing off lint or dandruff. She smiled a cheeky grin, turned, and walked away.
The businessman had a grin as he also turned away from the cart. He walked in the opposite direction right toward the manhole cover.
“Don’t tell me—” Dawn began.
The business man didn’t notice the open hole right in front of him, at least not before he dropped through it and disappeared with a very loud yelp.
Dawn’s expression darkened. “So the gravelings kill people.”
“Ummm, no. They just set the scene,” George corrected. “We know who’s going to die before they show up for their appointment. The gravelings just set things in motion. That businessman did all the work of dying by himself. No one told him to walk in that direction.”
“You know ahead of time who’s going to die,” Dawn snarled.
“Unh, yeah. Reapers get first initial, last name, location of death, and E.T.D.”
“Estimated time of death,” George answered.
“Of course. It couldn’t possibly mean anything else.” Dawn shook her head. “Wait. Did I hear you right? Just a first initial?”
George shrugged. “To keep it clean. The less information you actually know about your reap, the better.”
Dawn was still staring at her dumbfounded.
“I don’t make the rules,” George uncomfortably added.
“Georgia!” Daisy’s voice called out.
Dawn spotted Daisy as she finished crossing the street before George did. “Hey! That guy with her. Didn’t we just see him—”
“Unh-hunh,” George agreed.
Daisy trooped over to them with her reaped soul in tow. “Georgia, Dawn. This is John.”
“Hey,” George acknowledged.
“Um, yeaaaaah,” Dawn said.
“John was just telling me about these wonderful investment opportunities,” said Daisy with her best fake actress smile.
George frowned at Daisy. “With what money? You’re always broke.”
“You don’t need much to invest. I trade in penny stocks,” John interrupted. “There are a few start-ups that I think are going to be big. Have you ever heard of—”
“Yeah, that’s great,” George interrupted. “Daisy, don’t you think you should be taking John here to his lights?”
“Lights?” Dawn asked.
“Mason will explain it to you, assuming he gets here,” George said.
“I’m not going anywhere. I need to put a hold on a couple of sells,” John stated.
Daisy rolled her eyes. “Georgia, do you think you could help—”
“No,” George interrupted.
“Georgia, I have to get to this audition and I really don’t have time,” Daisy wheedled.
“Talk to me after he’s been here a few days,” George said.
Daisy made a face. “Fine.”
“Well, well, well, the gang’s all here,” Mason said as he strolled up behind them.
“Mason! Great!” George exclaimed. “I leave Dawn in your hands for the rest of the day.”
“Where are you going to be?” Dawn demanded.
“Away. Mason’ll show you the ropes,” George said. “He’s taking you to his 3 o’clock appointment.”
“The reap’s at a head shop I know,” Mason said. “Promises to be a bit of a laugh.”
“Death. As a laugh,” Dawn dead-panned.
“Got to find your jollies where you can,” Mason said. “Dibs on the contents of my reap’s pockets.”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Dawn said. “Please tell me he’s kidding.”
“Mason, is there a head shop in the city you don’t know?” George asked.
“So much for kidding,” Dawn mumbled.
Mason didn’t even think about his answer. “No.”
“What a surprise,” Daisy remarked.
“Excuse me,” John interrupted. “But I really need to get to my office.”
“As I’ve explained, you can’t go back to your office,” Daisy said with irritation.
“You know, if someone last week had asked me to imagine that Death had a bureaucracy and asked me to describe it, I’m pretty sure my description wouldn’t even come close to this,” Dawn said.
“This is one of our better days,” Mason said.
“Not helping, Mason,” George said.
“Oh, God.” Dawn put her head in her hands. “This is worse than my days as a Scooby.”
Mason brightened. “Yeah, some days it is a bit like a cartoon ’round here, isn’t it?”
“If you start imitating that stupid dog, I’m going to hit you,” George threatened.
“Before Georgia begins to employ violence, I must be going,” Daisy sing-songed.
George’s arm shot out to halt Daisy’s escape. “Also, I want you two to take in Dawn as a roomie.”
This caused both Mason and Daisy to explode with a number of objections.
“What if she’s a nutter?” Mason asked.
“We don’t know her at all yet,” Daisy protested.
“Can’t be too careful about these things, Georgie Girl.”
“I have some very expensive skin care products, and she looks like a borrower.”
“Is she a drinker? Because nothing upsets me more than someone drinking all my booze.”
“I bet she borrows clothes, too. And I have some very expensive things. A lot of people had to die for me to get my Chanel dress.”
“Enough!” George shouted.
To her utter shock, Daisy’s and Mason’s mouths snapped shut.
“Thanks a lot guys,” Dawn sourly remarked. “Way to build up my self-esteem there.”
“Dawn, that goes for you, too,” George said.
“What about me?” John asked.
“Shut up, John,” George snapped. “You two are taking Dawn in as a roomie, at least until she gets her reaping feet. And don’t tell me you don’t have room because I know that’s bullshit. Got it?”
Mason and Daisy mumbled their grudging agreement.
George beamed at Daisy, Mason, and Dawn. “Good. This’ll work out great. You’ll see.”
And so Dawn joined the ranks of the undead — even though she really didn’t think the term applied to any of us — and the ranks of the grim reapers.
She joined us at the Pancake Stack in the mornings, witnessed the ritual passing of the post-its, and then spent the day following around Daisy and Mason as they reaped.
She also asked a lot of questions, mostly about the rules. Not why they existed, just the rules themselves. Most of those questions were directed at Mason and Daisy.
Without a doubt, Dawn was looking for a loophole.
As a connoisseur of loophole searching and using to dodge responsibility, I had to respect how Dawn was going about it. Don’t ask The Boss, because there’s always a chance that The Boss will figure out what you’re doing. Ask your slacker co-workers, because odds are they know what’ll work and what won’t. Plus, they know The Boss and what The Boss will tolerate.
Honestly, I wasn’t that smart when I was in Dawn’s position. I usually just asked Rube about the rules. You can imagine how well that went.
Dawn clearly was a pro at this kind of thing and I had to take my hat off to her. That is if I wore hats, which I usually don’t unless it’s really cold out.
I also knew that in the end it wouldn’t do a whole lot of good.
Death always gets you in the end.
“Here’s your reports,” George said as she dropped the files into Delores’s inbox.
Delores looked up from her computer terminal. “Thank you. And Millie?”
Delores looked like she didn’t want to talk, but was going to anyway. “Millie, take a seat.”
“Unh, okay,” George said as she gingerly sat on a chair.
Delores folded her hands and got a concerned look on her face. “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah. Why?” George asked. “Is there a problem?”
Delores immediately held up her hands. “Oh, no. No problem with your work. None at all. It’s just you seem…” She made a sad face and hunched her shoulders.
Before we go any further, meet Delores Herbig, as in “her big, brown eyes” and “her big, strange heart” and “her big, weird life”.
When I was alive, Delores had placed me in a shit filing job after I pissed her off. My first day on that job, I got killed by a falling toilet seat, which you know.
After I died, she hired me as her assistant at Happy Time. Of course she thought she was hiring someone named Mildred Hagen, which is kind of the truth if you go by all the false I.D. I have. In a weird way, I kind of became a project for her, like a stray cat that she just had to take in so she could lavish all kinds of attention on me.
It’s one of those win-lose situations. Sometimes it’s really helpful, sometimes it’s not.
Right now, it’s not really helpful.
“Oh, it’s just that someone I know moved out of town,” George said as her brain furiously worked to come up with something that would stop Hurricane Delores in her tracks.
Delores leaned forward, full of empathy. “Was it a man?”
“What? No. No nothing like that,” George quickly said. “Just…a friend. A female friend.”
Delores blinked. “Millie, if you prefer the company of women that’s perfectly okay. I’ve stuck my toe in that pool myself.”
“Not a friend like that,” George interrupted before Delores could go any further.
How many times can I trot out the AA excuse? Let’s find out!
“Just…it was someone from my group,” George said.
“Your group?” Delores seemed momentarily confused, before her expression brightened. “Ooooh, your group.”
“Yes, so you can see why I can’t actually talk about it,” George said.
Delores became all tea and sympathy. “Fell off the wagon, hunh?”
“No! No, nothing like that,” George quickly said. “She, unh, she got a better job. In another city. So, yeah. She just moved, so that wasn’t code for anything. No wagons involved at all.”
Delores nodded. “It’s always rough losing people you know when they move on with their lives.”
Or their deaths.
“So, how’s the search for a new cat going?” George brightly asked before Delores could show any more sympathy.
Delores seemed touched. “It’s not going so well I’m afraid. Every shelter I go to I see so many cats begging just to be loved. I want to take them all home.”
“Unh, I’ve been in your apartment. Maybe you could take two cats, but more than that the neighbors will start calling you the crazy cat lady and they’ll all tell their kids to stay away from you,” George said. “Plus, think of all the fans of your Getting Things Done with Delores Web site. I don’t think they’d be too happy to watch you clean litter boxes all the time.”
“I know,” Delores tsked as she reached out to swivel her computer screen around to face George. “But just look at these little scamps at the SPCA shelter. They’re all so precious.”
“Ummmm, yeah,” George said as she watched Delores pat her computer screen like she could reach through it and scritch every cat pictured there behind the ears.
“It’s so hard choosing just one,” Delores sadly said.
“I know you can do it,” George said as she slowly got out of her seat. “Do it for your fans if nothing else.”
“There you are!” came a male voice from behind her.
George startled. “Mason! What are you doing here?”
Delores plastered a friendly smile on her face. “Mason! It’s so good to see you again.”
Mason gave a weak wave from the doorway of Delores’s office. “I need to talk to Geo— I mean Millie. It’s important.”
George groaned. This couldn’t possibly be good.
“Do you need to talk privately?” Delores asked.
“More private, the better,” Mason said.
“Millie, the conference room down the hall should be free,” Delores said with a wave of her hand.
“Cheers,” Mason said as he head off in the direction Delores indicated.
“I better grab him before he causes trouble,” George said.
“There’s always one in every support group,” Delores said sympathetically.
You don’t know the half of it, lady.
George darted out of Delores’s office and quickly caught up to Mason. “Stay with me,” she said in an undertone as she grabbed his arm, dragged him down the hall, and through the right door.
As soon as George shut the door behind them, Mason began pleading his case. “I don’t think Dawn’s ready.”
“Say, what?” George asked. “Slow down. What happened?”
Mason’s shoulders slumped. “That’s just it. Nothing.”
“Nothing? What does that even mean?” George asked.
“What it means is that I don’t think she’s ready to start reaping,” Mason said. “She’s too…she’s too…calm. That’s it. She’s too calm about all of this.”
George folded her arms. “So let me get this straight. Dawn’s not freaking out, she’s not causing trouble, nothing bad happened, and nothing’s actually wrong, which means that you don’t think that she’s ready to start reaping.”
Mason beamed at her. “Exactly.”
“I don’t get it.”
Mason slumped. “Right. Let me see if I can explain it another way.”
As Mason launched into his explanation why I should keep Dawn off the schedule for as long as possible, I finally understood why Rube asked Mason to show me around my first week despite the fact he thought Mason was a fuck-up.
I could also see why Rube would get so frustrated with Mason, too.
Mason, who managed to screw things up just by standing still, was weirdly perceptive when he set his mind to it, something I never realized before now. It was so strange to see Mason acting like he was the responsible big brother who had his head on straight instead of the jobless big brother who sat around the house smoking weed and watching game shows all day.
It made me want to actually take his advice.
“Okay, stop right there,” George interrupted.
Mason looked at her with puppy dog eyes.
“Do you really think it’s necessary for Dawn to have a nervous breakdown before she can do her job?” George asked.
“She needs to mourn, George,” Mason insisted. “I did it. Roxy did it. I bet Daisy did it. I know you did. She hasn’t. It’s not bloody normal.”
“She has supernatural experience, y’know,” George pointed out. “Maybe none of this is all that surprising or new to her. Okay, being a reaper is, but she’s way out ahead of us on some concepts.”
Mason shook his finger at her and began to pace. “That’s not it. Okay, maybe that’s part of it, but that’s not everything. It’s almost like it hasn’t sunk in that she’s really dead, or like she believes that any day now she’ll wake up alive again. I really think that she needs more time for it all to sink in that there’s no going back.”
“Mason, I can’t not put her on the schedule,” George began.
“Oh, don’t give me that toff. I’ve been around long enough to know that you’ve got some leeway on handing out assignments,” Mason scoffed.
“You do?” George asked.
“George, I know some reaps, maybe even most of them, are assigned to us and you don’t get a choice,” Mason said. “And I know that sooner or later Dawn’s going to be assigned a reap and there’s bugger-all you can do about it. I’m just saying that—”
“If I’ve got wiggle room to use it,” George finished for him.
“If I do this, that means you, me, and Daisy will have to carry the extra load,” George said.
“I still think it’s a good idea,” Mason stubbornly insisted.
Wow. He’s really worried about Dawn.
“I don’t remember you being this protective about me,” George said.
“That’s because Rube was,” Mason said.
“Rube? Protective? Of me?” George began to laugh. “You have to stop smoking the crack you find in your reaps’ pockets.”
“He was, in his weird Rube-like way,” Mason said. “He really loved you, Georgie.”
George stopped cold and stared at Mason in surprise.
“He really did,” Mason insisted. “I could tell by the way he’d never stay mad at you, and the way he beamed like a proud papa whenever you did good.”
George looked down and kicked at the carpet. “I wish he was dealing with this instead of me.”
Mason leaned against the conference table. “Not sure how Rube’d take to Dawn, to be honest. She’s a bit of an odd duck, that one.”
“Yeah. Yeah she is,” George glumly agreed.
“All-in-all, I think I prefer you on this one,” Mason said. “I think you’re just better equipped to handle her.”
“Really?” George’s eyes narrowed. “Do you mean that? Or are you buttering me up?”
“Unh, both?” Mason smiled a cheeky grin.
George grumbled and shook her head. “Fine,” she said to Mason. “A week. I’ll hold off a week, assuming she doesn’t get an assigned reap before then. After that, she’s got to go on the roster, nervous breakdown or no.”
“Fair ’nuff,” Mason happily agreed.
And so started my week from hell.
Or rather, my, Mason’s, and Daisy’s week from hell.
The post-its started coming fast and furious. Sure, there are always heavy death days, but everyday was becoming a heavy death day. Every day was turning into a two-reap minimum, with one of us getting a third reap in the bargain.
I also noticed we were getting at least one supernatural death in the mix per day.
Someone was definitely pushing me to use Dawn.
Much as I wanted to get Dawn out and reaping on her own, if only so that Mason, Daisy, and me could catch a break, I did promise. One more week.
As long as my reap reports didn’t specifically assign Dawn a reap, I planned to keep my word even if it killed me.