3: Soul Catching
Title: Soul Catching
Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Series: Death Becomes Him
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. The wonderful world of Incarnations of Immortality belongs to Piers Anthony, et al.
Distribution: Anyone who has prior parts of "Death Becomes Him" can have this part, too.
Author's Notes: Takes place after "Shock, Fear and Disgust" in the series.
Xander didn't realize until he began to walk through the trees in the direction that the other Death had come from that he didn't have the slightest clue how he was supposed to -get- to wherever his little watch was telling him to go. Did the cloak come with magical levitating abilities? Maybe there was a magic word or a gesture or. . .
He paused in mid-step, staring.
There was a slight clearing here in the trees; not too far from where he had 'died'. He could still hear his friends fighting, and prayed that they would be alright. Especially when they found. . .
He wouldn't. . .
Couldn't. . .
Think of that right now.
He just couldn't.
He focused his attention, instead on the horse standing in front of him. It was a pale whitish yellow color, very clean looking, with a tasteful saddle on it.
Death rides a horse?
"Are you mine?"
The horse neighed, nodding its head; one wise eye staring at him the entire time.
"I'm not the same guy as before. . ." He stammered.
The horse tossed its head, clearly impatient, and nudged him towards the saddle.
"I should get on? Yeah. Okay. Getting on a horse. Wish they'd taught that in school. Or in cartoons. " He sighed and grabbed on, managing after three attempts to awkwardly haul himself on. The horse seemed more irritated than ever, and he couldn't say that he blamed it.
"So. . .there's this little blip on my watch." He spoke out loud. "And I'm thinking that I need to go there. Any ideas?"
The horse moved forward, starting through the trees so fas that Xander hardly managed to grab hold of the saddle to keep his balance. He shut his eyes, hanging on for dear life and praying that the horse knew where they were going, because he sure didn't. The noises changed, and he was aware that they had left the cemetery and were now moving very, very fast. He could hear cars every now and then, but most of it was just a blur of noise.
And then it began to slow, coming into focus, as it were. He slowly opened his eyes.
They were outside of a building in a city of some sort, though which one he was at a loss for. The little arrow on his watch was pointing towards the door, a shabby thing that looked less likely to keep anyone our or in than was safe.
Which became even more apparent when he set foot in the house. The door was unlocked, or busted; he wasn't really sure which. There were pictures busted on the floor, a purse spilled onto its side, the contents everywhere. He frowned, following the path of destruction to the living room. His breath lodged painfully in his throat at the sight that greeted him - a woman laying on the floor, knife protruding from her abdomen. Her eyes were fluttering weakly, and she had her hands around the wound, as if to stave off the blood loss. A gun lay next to her, and another body, this one staring sightlessly at the ceiling, dead.
One was dead. One was dying. He kneeled next to the woman, guessing that she was his intended 'victim'.
But he was at a loss for what to do.
"Die?" He whispered, wishing that there had been a user's manual that came with the position. Maybe he'd write one for his own successor, if he lived long enough. "Um. . . please die?"
How was he supposed to help her with this dying thing if he didn't have the slightest clue how to get it done?
"You need to take her soul."
"Aargh!" Xander cried out, turning so quickly that he fell backwards, into the dead man. He cringed, jumping up to glare at the woman that stood before him. She was pretty, and on the younger side. Someone that he would have liked to have dated in high school, definitely. "Who -are- you?"
"Fate." She snapped with a roll of her eyes. "And that woman is suffering. Do it! Take her soul. Unless you're the kind of sick, twisted bas --"
In a blurring motion that made his head hurt the young woman was gone, replaced by a motherly looking one. She smiled kindly.
"You'll have to forgive her. She has a rather low opinion of men in general."
"So I saw." Xander sighed. He glanced over his shoulder at the dying woman and then back at this new version of Fate. "Can you tell me what I need to do?"
She shrugged. "My office is different from yours. We make and cut the threads of life, however we do not traffick in souls themselves."
The smile she spared for him was just as motherly as she looked. "Fate is made up of three aspects. The younger of which, being called Clotho, you have already met. I am Lachesis." Again the weird blurring sensation, and he was left looking at a woman that reminded him very much of his grandmother. "And I am Atropos."
She blurred again and the one known as Lachesis was back. "Together we create, measure and cut the threads of life."
Xander shook his head, thankful that the hood would cover his face and thus the confusion that he was feeling.
"From the little I saw of your predecessor," she offered, coming to stand next to him. "He would reach within them and draw out the soul."
Another whammy. Souls were not only real, but also objects. If he hadn't already experienced a whole heaping of weirdness that night, this might have actually made the top five on the big old scale of 'odd'. As it was, it was just another blip, like the little dots on his watch.
He kneeled next to the woman again. She was still alive, still very much in pain; but if she noticed him or Fate, she never showed it. Her entire being was clouded with the pain of her demise. She had killed the man in self-defense a little too late, it appeared to his untrained eye.
Reaching forward, Xander watched his fingers slowly slide not -into- the woman, but -through- her, as if her skin and bones were not even there. He wiggled his fingers, grimacing as they encountered something sticky and thin, much like a spider web.
Well, this was as good as anything, he guessed. He grabbed onto it, pulling the cloudy film free of the body.
"Fold it up, put it in your pouch and get on with it already." Fate snapped, once again back to Clotho. "The night is wasting and you're behind schedule."
Xander shuddered and turned to tell her off, stopping only when he encountered nothingness. She was gone.
He turned his attentin back to the soul in his hand, fighting back the urge to be well and truly disgusted by the entire situation. This was a soul. The soul of a woman that was now dead at his feet. Slowly he folded it in a small wad, transferring it to the pouch at his side. Fate hadn't said what he was supposed to do with it past that point and he didn't have time to guess if the countdown on his watch was any indication. He was behind schedule, she had been right about that much.
There was no time for thought, as much as he feared he'd pay for it later.
When thoughts of his life, his death, his new 'job' and, most importantly, his friends, finally caught up with him.