Prologue: The Reaper

Disclaimer: I don't own anything, I'm just visiting

Summary: AU after Chosen. Spike gets a chance at something he thought he could never have.

"Check."

"True love, mate. That's what it was. Mate in three."

"True love is for fairy tales. Don't be presumptuous, it could only be mate in three if I didn't take your knight like this."

"Oy! True love, that's what it was. That's what I died for. Not that she felt true love, you understand. But I did."

"And the others? What were they, chop suey?"

"Others? Cecily was a childish crush. Don't even bring it up."

"And Drusilla?"

"That was love. But she ruined it all, didn't she?"

"Hm. You know, part of my job is killing people."

"Gathered that from the Scythe."

"Did you just say Scythe?"

"Don't you say it a lot?"

"I say scythe. It's not a symbol or a great weapon, merely a tool of the trade. The last reaper had one as well. Anyway, that's part of my job. Check."

"What?!"

"And mate. You're not very good at this game."

"What are you talking about?! I'm bloody brilliant at this game!"

"Yes. And you have no sense whatsoever of strategy or timing. And you're impatient."

"Look, mate."

"Now, this business you say you have."

"I can beat you. Maybe not in this game, but in something. I can beat you!"

"Yes, probably. That's not the point."

"It isn't? But I thought. . .?"

"What? That if you beat me, I would owe you a favor? Or have to obey your request? I think not. Now, consider the price. The price is high."

"Look, I think we really need to do this."

"We?"

"Well, I'm not bloody well doing it without William! He and I are mates, now, aren't we?"

"Well, no. You're a demon, he's a soul. You're a different kind of demon, but still."

"Look, we want to do this. We have to do this. It's just not right, the way we left it!"

"Still, the price!"

"Look, Reaper boy, the price is hard. I grant you, it's hard. But it's worth it for this."

"If you fail, it will mean nothing less than eternal torment in a lake of fire."

"Oh, yeah, I bet that'd hurt worse than a knuckle sandwich from Buffy."

The third member of the party, who'd stayed silent through the chess game, spoke.

"We know the price. We know the cost. But we did this. We need to fix it. You now as well as I what the price of not fixing it is. We can't leave it at that."

"All right." Sighed the Grim Reaper. "We'll do this. I warn you, this isn't going to go as you think it should!"

"Oh?"

"All right, send them back." Said the Reaper.

"What, no final words?" Asked Spike.

"Sure. Don't go splat. It hurts."

There was a rushing, then a cosmic emptiness.

"He had you, if hadn't cheated." Noted a disembodied voice. "Moving your pawn sideways!"

"They just never expect Death to be a cheat." Shrugged the Reaper. "Not my fault, is it?"