Title: Renude (Not a typo)
Spoilers: Through "Transcendence"
Author: The Mad Fangirl
Archive: Wherever, but let me know.
Disclaimer: The characters herein are owned by other people and I make no money from their shameless exploitation.


Renude (Not a typo)
By The Mad Fangirl


The food was, of course, exquisite. The music had been classically tasteful, but Gabriel had fixed that, and it was now tastefully classic rock n' roll. Still, someone, and Pez suspected Jake, had brought a Karaoke setup that hinted at things to come. The song list had more than one version of Cher's "Turn Back Time."

The party was, of course, being held at Irons' house, as he was the only one with room for everyone back from the dead. Not to mention that he had the wherewithal to throw parties beyond the wildest dreams of the rest, and absolutely not to mention that he had twelve bedrooms in his mansion.

Perfectly matched waiters with unmatched pairs of eyes circulated, balancing trays on outstretched hands. One paused near Tommy Gallo, and looked deep into his eyes.

"Everybody has a fantasy," the waiter said. "What's yours?"

"Hey, ah, Isaac," The hit man answered, reading the waiter's nametag, "You see the hot brunette just walked in? Sara Pezzini?"

"Yeah..."

"Well, I'd really like to kill her."

"Dammit!" the waiter responded. "You took mine!" He turned on his heel and walked off.

"Hey, bring that champagne back here!"

Irons was flanked by a pair of Ian Nottinghams, one bearded, one mostly shaven. The former kept his eyes decorously downcast; the latter wore a decidedly unsettling grin.

Kenneth scanned the room, and murmured, "I do wonder; I took pains to invite Orlinsky as well as Doctor Emo to this gathering. They complained so about being excluded from the last one. Yet they're not here."

"They were early," the smiling Ian responded.

"Oh. So..."

"So everyone else was late."

"And..."

"I had some time to kill."

"Ah," Irons replied, while behind his back the first Ian shot his latter counterpart an incredulous glance.

Jake, meanwhile, had appointed himself the emcee. While he'd stayed well clear of the circulating Isaacs, he had somehow managed to procure himself several glasses of Irons' expensive champagne. Now that Sara, the guest of honor, had arrived, he thought the moment right for a toast.

"Okay," he said, and the room quieted as Jake raised his glass. "It's time we recognized the special guests here this evening. Now, a big part of this gathering is dedicated to the two people who won't be with us next March. I think we can safely say that it's not who we expected, but that doesn't mean we can't see them off right. First up: Ghost Danny!"

The room cheered as the man in traditional Chinese costume stood, visible to all for the occasion. He inclined his head in acknowledgment as the assemblage broke into song.

"For he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow, which nobody can deny! Which nobody can deny! Which nobody can deny! For he's a jolly good fellow, which nobody can deny!"

Jake gestured again after the singing faded. "Second, and last but not least, is he live or is he Memorex! Please don't kill me again, Ian 2.0!"

Said gentleman cast his eyes about the room with a sinister smirk. The crowd began to sing again.

"For he's a slick psychotic bastard, for he's a slick psychotic bastard, for he's a slick psychotic bastard, which nobody can deny! Which nobody can deny! Which nobody can deny! For he's a slick psychotic bastard, which nobody can deny!"

"And the rest of this party's for the woman who brought more than a dozen people, not to mention our entire universe, back from the dead! Let's hear it for Sara 'Pez' Pezzini! You go, partner! Tell us how you did it!"

Everyone in the room save for the Ians and Irons, who thought themselves above such behavior, began to shout "Speech! Speech! Speech!" and continue until Sara held up her Witchblade hand for quiet.

"Okay, okay. Sheesh. All right. I think you'll all remember that when last seen, I was headed to the TNT program director's house with a gun, to threaten him so he'd write me another season of angst."

"'Spose you're gonna neglect to mention that that was my idea, Pet-zini!" hollered Dante from the villains' section, where he was sidling up to Dominique Boucher.

"Yeah, I was, actually. So, anyway, I did. Gave him the Dante treatment; kneeled on his chest with a gun to the guy's head."

"So what happened?" Gabriel asked

Sara's brows drew together in her patented frown. "Well, it turns out that he likes that kinda stuff."

Nottingham 1's head whipped around. Nottingham 2 looked at him.

"Kinky," Gabriel remarked, and then Ian 1 focused on him and his eyes widened as his mouth shut.

"Hey," Pez said, "Nobody compromised any principles, all right? He was . . . impressed, and he re-upped us for another year." Under her breath, she muttered, "On one condition," then, at normal volume, "And the rest, literally, is history."

"Oh, Sara?" Irons queried.

"Yeah?"

"What was the condition? Do enlighten us." He flexed his scarred hand.

"You heard that, huh?"

"But of course."

"Oh, it's nothing big."

"Hey, it's going to affect the structure of our universe," Jake said. "I'd say we've got a right to know."

Sara scanned the room. Everyone, friend and foe alike, was looking at her. They weren't going to let this drop. She looked desperately first at Ghost Danny and then at Elizabeth Bronte, but both spiritual advisors merely shrugged in apology. No way out.

"idoanothernudeshowerscene," she muttered.

"I don't believe everyone heard you, my dear."

Blushing, the blade whirling on her wrist, she took a deep breath and enunciated clearly. "I. Do. Another. Nude. Shower. Scene." She glared around the room, daring someone, anyone, to say something, anything, as the Witchblade covered her fist. "Standing, this time. Program director's one little condition."

"I'll kill him," Ian 1 said matter-of-factly. He grabbed a handful of extra blades from somewhere near the fireplace, hid them somewhere on his person, and took a step towards the door. Irons laid a hand upon his arm, and he trembled at the restraint, muscles straining forwards.

"What?" Jake said, looking back and forth. "I did it."

"I'll kill him," Nottingham reiterated, taking another step.

"Ian? No." Sara said, gently, and instantly, he calmed. The tension left his body, and he returned to parade rest.

"You really are whipped, aren't you," his doppelganger observed.

"What would you know, you empty-eyed revenant?"

"Oooh, big words."

"They stopped downloading my brain about halfway through, didn't they?"

Gabriel nudged Jake. "I think the Nottinghams are gonna fight."

Jake stood. "That case, I think I'll check out the rest of the mansion. You get me?"

"Right behind you."

Over by the bad guys, Dante murmured to Dominique, "I think they've got the right idea. You want to check out all those bedrooms this guy has?"

"You can go," the blonde said, entranced. "I like to watch."

"Yeah, so I've heard, but I really think we should..."

"Hey," Gallo broke in, "The lady wants to stay, she can stay. Right, Bella?"

"Oh," Boucher purred, "I *always* get what I want, Tommy."

Gallo grinned. "Call me Killer. I always liked that moniker."

"Oh, brother," Dante said, heading for the exit.

From near the party's host, the two assassins matched gazes.

"Slave!"

"Abomination!"

"Boys," Irons chided, tone colored with the slightest bit of uncertainty.

"Oh, this should be *fun,* said a blond man in priestly garb as he leaned against the wall.

"Don't make me exorcise you again," Sara warned.

"Wouldn't think of it." He smiled.

"Lapdog!"

"Bete noire!"

The Isaacs began moving the food to the hallway. "Sara? Do you think you might attempt ..." Irons inquired.

Sara shrugged. "Guys. Ian...?"

"Mule!"

"Hyena!"

Irons sighed. "Animal metaphors. Why did I ever start with those? They'll be at this all night." He and Sara brought up the rear, leaving Boucher, Gallo, and Father Del Toro behind, and closing the door. "And I'd best call my general contractor."

"You really think they'll do that much damage?"

Inside the room something shattered. It was followed by the sound of metal on metal, which in turn was followed by the sound of metal on wood, glass, plastic, marble, and possibly gold leaf.

"Never mind."

"Hey," said Gabriel, as he lifted a canapé from an Isaac eyeing him with interest. "It isn't a party without severe property damage, right?" He high-fived an unfamiliar man with ink-stained hands.

Irons looked back once at the closed door and sighed. "I suppose not." Then he turned back to the party, mentally writing off his den. "Sashee! So glad you could make it..."
--
END
TMF