The Devereaux Legacy: Chapter Seven - Part 1

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The Devereaux Legacy: Chapter Seven - Part 1

  1. 1. Welcome back to the Devereaux Legacy! Ive decided to change my format a bit. Having a background picture always made mydocument sizes larger than they needed to be and often times, with a busy background, it would be hard to read the text. I alsochanged my font. Hey, if Im changing one thing, might as well change everything, right? Okay, no, not really. Just thebackground and font. Oh, and the fact that I actually typed this slide FIRST (before I even finished writing my outline!) instead ofsaving it for last is pretty new, but not really expected to continue.Everything else will be the same old Devereaux stuff. Yawn, yawn. Red fauxhawk sightings, just on this side of NC-17 nudity(But not in this update! NOPE! Go me!), drama (Oh yes, the drama), and a mopey Grim Reaper...Speaking of Mopey Grim Reapers, this chapter is pretty much all about Zane. Its sort of taking care of old business whileintroducing new business. If you dont know who Zane is, or you dont know why hes mopey...well, you might want to start fromthe beginning. If you start reading a new legacy story at Generation Seven, youre bound to be super confused about whatsgoing on.For everyone else who is familiar with Zane and the rest of my story, I hope you enjoy the chapter! ~*~*~
  2. 2. ...
  3. 3. ...
  4. 4. "You look beautiful, darling, you shouldnt be so nervous.""Are you sure, Mom? Do you really think hell like me?""Well obviously he likes you, otherwise we wouldnt be here celebrating your special day.""Do I look pretty enough? Im not too old, am I?"
  5. 5. "Well, sis, there would have to be something seriously wrong with him if he doesnt see how radiant and beautiful you are.""But do I look too old? Hes so young!"
  6. 6. "You look as beautiful as your mother did the day she and I got married, Cassandra..."
  7. 7. "...Now of course the nervous young man standing at the altar doesnt look nearly as good as I did, but that cant really be helped. Not everyone can have the suave and debonaire looks that I did when I was young.""But Im too old for him now! Ive waited and waited for this day and its taken so long."
  8. 8. "Looks can be deceiving, Cassandra. Not everyone is how they seem. Besides, you love each other, thats all that matters.""Youre right, Mom.""Of course I am. Now lets get you married. If we wait any longer the poor soul thats waiting for you will end up picking the skinoff his fingers until all you can see is the bones."
  9. 9. ...
  10. 10. ...
  11. 11. ...
  12. 12. ...
  13. 13. ...
  14. 14. "Okay, I know its tradition and all, but could you not smash the wedding cake into my mouth?""I wouldnt dream of it. Um, Im really not the type. Getting married is very special to me and the last thing I would want to do isruin it for either of us.""Well plus, you know, the comments people would make when they see pictures of me with white frosting all over my face anddress.""Oh man, I can hear my friends now. They love teasing me about that sort of thing!""Okay, good, were in agreement then. Wait...why are you looking at me like that?"
  15. 15. "Am I giving you a look? Im sorry. Its just...""What?""Its weird. I can see my unborn blond haired children in your eyes.""Blond? Neither one of us have blond hair.""No, but my grandmother, as well as my great grandparents, did. It runs in my family."
  16. 16. "You know what? I dont care if our kids have purple hair, so long as I have them with you."BANG BANG BANG BANG
  17. 17. ...
  18. 18. Cassandra had become accustomed to the overwhelming disappointment she usually felt when she found out that the recurringdream was just that: a dream. She had been having the same one for years. Oh, sure, over time some of the details hadchanged. The worry about her age was one. Another was having Rhys, Eden, and Quinn present.Everything else was the same. The same vague face of the man she gets married to. The same conversation with him aboutseeing unborn blond children in her eyes. It always ended with a kiss.As she mused over the fact that the loud banging sound was also a new development in her dream, she heard it again. Loud.Insistent. Her doorbell was then rung multiple times, to be followed again by the pounding. She looked over at her clock andsighed. It was about time for her to get up anyway.
  19. 19. As she walked down the stairs, she could see her brother through the window. She made a disgusted sound to herself anddebated as to whether or not she should answer the door."I know youre home, Cassandra," she heard him say through the door. "I saw you coming down the stairs. Let me in."She rubbed her forehead. Her brother had grown more and more intolerable over the years and she wasnt sure if she couldhandle his attitude right now, especially since she hadnt had her morning coffee yet.On the other hand, she knew that he wouldnt stop pounding until she let him in. She shook her head and opened the door.
  20. 20. "Good morning, Alex, so nice of you to drop by this early in the morning," she said as he walked inside. Her gaze lingered on theblack eye that Rhys had given him. She bit her lip to keep from smiling.Alexander merely raised an eyebrow and said nothing.
  21. 21. He remained silent as he followed her into the kitchen, but she could feel his eyes burning into the back of her head. "Would youlike some coffee?" she asked lightly.
  22. 22. "Where is my wife?" His voice sounded calm, but she could hear the anger behind it."Shes not here.""That much is obvious. Answer my question.""Shes done with you and I dont really blame her. Over the last few decades youve really spun out of control. You werentalways the sweetest kid, but you werent ever this bad."
  23. 23. He grabbed her arm and spun her around to face him. "If I would have wanted your opinion, I would have asked for it. I will askone more time: Where. Is. My. Wife?""Shes somewhere where you cant get at her.""Everything in this town is within my reach.""Thats not true and I think you know it. Oh, sure, you used to have everyone believing in your lies and propaganda. But youknow what? Some people are beginning to question you and your authority. You used to be able to intimidate everyone becauseyou had the entire police force at your beck and call. But thats not the case anymore, not with your own son and a couple of hisfriends on the squad. I really think your spotlight is fading and you should either change how you act, or just go away."
  24. 24. "Step down and let you and my son ruin our good family name? You two are a disgrace and I will do everything, everything, in mypower to make sure that the order and control in this town belongs right where it should be: In Goth hands. It should never haveleft our control."
  25. 25. She pushed him away and glared. She wanted to rub the painful spot where he had been poking her, but she didnt want to givehim the satisfaction. "Its your weird, obsessive hatred for the Devereaux family thats leading you to your own ruin, Alex. And thething is, I used to agree with you on all counts. But you want to know something? I did something that you never did: I actuallytalked to them. I got to know them. And you know what? They arent bad people. Not at all. I dont even understand why youblame them anymore. Project Pleasantview happened a long, long time before they had even arrived. Outsiders knew thatcoming in. And those outsiders have friends. More friends than you.""That can, and will, be changed.""It wont matter. And as for your claim about how Im ruining our good family name?"
  26. 26. "Well you should know that its my family name, not yours. Dad never noticed, or really cared, about how you look nothing likeus. You were the son and that was far more important. But between you and me, I think you ought to be a bit nicer to EdenDevereaux. You know, seeing as shes your half sister and all that. Your last name should be GilsCarbo. But, hey, be glad thatyour initials really wouldnt change. No need to drop a lot of money on new monogrammed towels--"
  27. 27. She had prepared herself for the slap, but that didnt make it sting any less.
  28. 28. "I will not have you spread slanderous rumors about our mother," he said calmly."Our saintly mother was a whore and an all around awful human being. You inherited that from her." She braced herself again ashe raised his hand, but he didnt strike her.
  29. 29. "Her death was wrongful and I will demand that our family is compensated for our loss. Between that and the proof of physicalabuse, I will make sure that your precious Devereaux family wont have two pennies to rub together. And then youll comecrawling back to me when you need help. But I will let you know now: youre cut off. You wont see a dime in reparations. Andwhile Im thinking about it, I think its high time you stopped taking Elixir, so you are cut off from that as well. Your usefulness is atan end, dear sister of mine. I will not be surrounded by traitors."
  30. 30. "I dont need you. I don’t need your money. I dont care about Elixir anymore. You are a bastard in the truest sense of the word.Now get out of my house before I call the cops who arent in your pocket.""You are going to regret this.""Oh save your monologues for someone who actually cares to listen, you prick."She stood her ground and she was half expecting him to hit her again. He didnt, though. Instead he shook his head and left herhouse.
  31. 31. When she was sure he was gone, she sagged against the sink in relief. After a few moments she decided to call Eden. Shecouldnt stop whatever her brother was planning, but the least she could do was let her friend know what had happened. Friendsdidnt let friends be blindsided by lawsuits. ~*~*~
  32. 32. ...
  33. 33. There was no such thing as "nighttime" in the Dead Realm. Every day, every hour, had the same orange sky with the same lightfiltering through the windows. Most of the denizens of the realm had taken to rather mortal schedules, at least when it came tosleep. Everyones minds need to rest so the brain can process everything they had seen. Not resting quickly led to insanity, andit was something the Reaper Office itself warned against.For the last six years, Zane disregarded those warnings. He had let his grief over Tina overwhelm and consume him. For a time,he personally blamed Ruth, Jezebel, and Remington for not being present when Tina was kidnapped. But he had blamed himselfmore. After while though, he had managed to build a wall between himself and everything else around him. He haddisconnected himself from everyone and everything.That is until Quinn Devereauxs death. When the dying man had admitted to being the one who kidnapped Tina, it had blownthrough all of Zanes defenses. He could no longer disassociate himself.But he was desperately trying to.
  34. 34. "Okay, so thats Thaddeus Dead Realm key, isnt it? Why go to all the trouble of giving it to a mortal to have the mortal, um, takeaway Tina so she would die? Why didnt he just do it himself? Not that it would have made the situation any better. Its just, well,it all seems so convoluted which totally doesnt describe Thaddeus. Not at all," Jezebel said."The how and why doesnt matter. What does matter is what are you going to do about it, Zane?" Ruth asked.
  35. 35. "Nothing. What would be the point? He did what he did. Theres nothing more he can do."
  36. 36. "So thats it then? Your answer to what has been confirmed as an attack by Thaddeus is to do nothing?"
  37. 37. "Thats exactly what Im saying. Let him do what he wants. I dont care anymore."
  38. 38. "That is such a load of crap and you know it, Zane. He intruded into your personal territory, which goes against Reaper Rulenumber one. Hes interfering with your work, which goes against rule number two. If you dont do anything about it, he can, andprobably will, find something even worse to do to you. To us!"
  39. 39. Zanes only response was to rest his head back into his hands.
  40. 40. Jezebel tossed her hands in the air. "Oh so thats your answer, huh? Youre just going to cut yourself off from the world again?Binky told us what happened when you went on your last reap. He told us how you almost let the poor kid suffer but in the endyou did the right thing and you even forgave him. Are you going to pretend that didnt happen? Because I call bullshit on yourentire I dont care attitude. You do care. But instead of doing anything about it, youre just going to sit on your ass and feel sorryfor yourself."You know what? We miss Tina, too. Sure, yeah, we didnt like her at first, but after fifty years of living with her, she turned out tobe pretty cool. It sucks that she died. It sucks that she died the way she did. And I felt bad for you. I really did. But now? Wellnow I think you should just go fuck yourself, Zane Devereaux!"She turned to Ruth and Remington. "Come on, lets get out of here. Id like to have some sort of life before Mister I-dont-give-a-shits attitude leads to Thaddeus coming after us."
  41. 41. Zane shook his head and ground his teeth as his three housemates left.I dont care. I dont care. I dont care, he repeated to himself over and over.
  42. 42. In the middle of his mantra, his phone vibrated. With an irritated sigh, he pulled it out to read the message.
  43. 43. ...
  44. 44. The message he saw on his phone made Zane realize that he was wrong. He did care. He cared very much. ~*~*~
  45. 45. Remington struggled to walk as normally as possible, but no matter what he did, he knew he was failing. He hated being azombie and more often than not he really wished that he had never set eyes on Lillian Devereaux. If it wouldnt have been for herhe probably would have gotten married, had a bunch of children, and, quite frankly, he would have been dead and buriedgenerations ago.Instead he was a shambling mess that people avoided making eye contact with. Zane, Tina, Ruth, Jezebel, and the rest of theirfriends did their best to make him feel welcome, and he had appreciated that. Unfortunately, ever since Tina died and Zane hadshut down, those warm, friendly gatherings had ceased. Zanes grief often times left a physical, oppressive pall over the housethat dragged everyone down, so Remington, along with the Hula "Zombies," would escape to the mortal realm. Ruth and Jez didfine as they blended in with the crowds.But he always stood out as everyone turned their noses up in disgust. Even the other undead, the ghosts and the vampires,considered zombies to be at the very bottom of The Dead hierarchy.Remington, as of late, had begun harboring dark fantasies of having it all just end.
  46. 46. A red haired woman seemed to appear out of nowhere and she was smiling cheerfully. "Ah, just the man I was looking for."
  47. 47. He stopped in front of her and looked around confused. "Are you talking to me?" he asked.
  48. 48. "Of course I am. Who else would I be talking to?"
  49. 49. "I dont know. Nobody looks for a zombie."
  50. 50. "Youre not happy with your fate, are you?" she asked sympathetically.
  51. 51. He honestly didnt feel like it was any of her business, but he still found himself answering. "Well would you be? Look at me. Imkinda useless. I cant get a job because nobody wants to hire someone who always smells faintly of rotting flesh. Nobody wantsto marry me because not only are zombies sterile, but, well, Im gonna be quite frank here: the equipment doesnt work at all. Icant have kids, I cant have a wife, I cant get a job. But you want to know the worst part? Its the unachievable dream. I wantedto be a Captain Hero. I applied for a job on the police force once. I tried to tell them that zombies could actually make good copsseeing as our pain threshold is a lot higher than a mortals. The only thing that can stop us, really, is a head shot. And, come on,that stops everyone, alive or undead. But they laughed. They laughed because I cant run."And so now Im just sort of stuck in limbo here with no purpose in life and I cant even be a comfort to my grieving friend becauseI dont know how he really feels and I never will. So no, maam, I am not happy with my fate. Not at all."
  52. 52. He had fully expected the woman to turn away from his TMI rant. But instead she stood still and stared off into the distance for abit before nodding silently to herself.
  53. 53. "What if I were to tell you that I can help?"
  54. 54. "Id be a bit suspicious as to why, seeing as I have no idea who you are or why you would have such a vested interest in me."
  55. 55. "Because you are a good man, Remington Harris.""Wait. How--?""I know everything. Trust me on that. And I have the means to help you end your existence and in so doing, youd be doingsomething heroic and so very, very important. Would you like that?"
  56. 56. "I..I dont want it to hurt."
  57. 57. She gently put her arm over his shoulder. "Any pain you feel will be brief. I promise you that. Now before I tell you what youneed to do, let me first tell you who I am..." ~*~*~
  58. 58. ...
  59. 59. ...
  60. 60. "Hello? Is someone there?"
  61. 61. "Honey! Im home!"
  62. 62. "Quinn? Oh my God! QUINN!"
  63. 63. "Are you real?""Im here, arent I?"
  64. 64. "Everyone thought you were dead!""Im really sorry about that. I had to fake my death so I could escape Bella.""Does your family know that youre actually alive?"
  65. 65. "Yeah they do. I hope youll forgive me for going home first.""I do. I do! Ill forgive you for anything.""Good, Im glad. Besides, do you want to hear even more good news?""What can be better news than this?""Well, as soon as my mother found out that I was alive, she dropped to her knees and begged me for forgiveness for reacting theway she did when she found out about the feelings you and I had for each other. She said that so long as I am happy then shewill be happy. As soon as she told me that, I rushed here as fast as I could because I have something to ask you.""What?"
  66. 66. "Will you, Emily Jane Smith, make me the happiest man alive by marrying me?"
  67. 67. "Oh my god, Quinn! Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!"
  68. 68. "Its like a dream come true. Youve made me so happy today!""Well, Em, I plan on spending the rest of your life making you happy."
  69. 69. "Wh..where did you go?"
  70. 70. "Quinn? Quinn? Where are you?""Im out here, Em."
  71. 71. "Oh thank goodness! I thought I had lost you again."
  72. 72. "No, youll never lose me ever again. I promise. Come here, and we can be together forever."
  73. 73. "Okay."
  74. 74. "Ill be right there."
  75. 75. ...
  76. 76. ...
  77. 77. ...
  78. 78. ...
  79. 79. "Oh no you dont. Not on my watch," Zane said as he snatched Emily. He was just in time. One second more and he wouldhave missed her completely.
  80. 80. She struggled quite a bit, which made it difficult for him to pull her over the ledge. The two of them tumbled back and afteranother moment of struggle, Emily relaxed and started crying and mumbling, "Quinn, where are you?" over and over.Zane rocked her and made soothing sounds as he rubbed her shoulder. Thats when he noticed something was wrong with herlife force. Generally a Mortals life force was unnoticeable unless he concentrated on it. But with Emily, the hole in it jumped outat him. An emptiness. Something missing. And it didnt feel like it was only absent, but more like it had been severed from her."Quinn, let me come to you," Emily moaned.
  81. 81. Not every piece of the puzzle fell into place for him, but he could still see most of the picture and it involved Quinn Devereaux andthe Dead Realm key he had when he died.It looked like it was time for him to take care of the Thaddeus issue. Jezebel had been right. He was through with reacting like avictim.
  82. 82. He picked Tinas granddaughter up and said softly, "Sweetheart, Im going to take you to your parents house, okay? Theyll makesure you feel better."
  83. 83. "Death," Emily whispered. "I see Death around the corner.""Im not here to get you. Im going to make sure youre safe. I promise."
  84. 84. ...
  85. 85. ...
  86. 86. ...
  87. 87. Bottom strode up the the secretarys desk and stood there silently until the ghostly green woman noticed her. The secretaryjumped slightly. "Oh! I..Im sorry. You werent standing there for long, were you?"Bottom smiled. "I am need of a certain Reapers files. It appears that there may have been some tampering done and I wouldlike to sort out any issues before they become a bigger problem than they already are."The ghost eagerly nodded. "And whose files do you need?""Zane Devereauxs." She said nothing more.
  88. 88. The ghost secretary nodded, typed on her computer for a moment, clicked her mouse a few times, and then said, "Everything involvingReaper Devereaux has been sent to you. Is there--?"
  89. 89. "That is all," Bottom said abruptly and she glided out of the reception area and made her way to her own private office.
  90. 90. Along the way, the other reapers parted before her. Ever since the True Reaper Child Experiment became public Reaperknowledge, with herself as the poster child for it, the other reapers feared her. Their "lives" were finite. Hers was not. They weredead. She was not. They were replaceable. She, and others of her kind (sanctioned by the Office naturally), were the ones whowould be replacing them.I dont have any of my mothers powers like Puck did, she thought, but this isnt so bad. She wrinkled her nose at the thought ofher brother. His betrayal still left a sour taste in her mouth.
  91. 91. She sat down at her desk still thinking about Puck. Nobody had done what he had done: having his powers stripped from him.Nobody was sure if he would still pass along something in his recessive genes. She was of the mind to pluck him from the MortalRealm just to eliminate the possible issues, but, alas, she still had superiors to contend with. For now. She shook her head andpushed those thoughts from her mind. Issues for another day. There were more pressing concerns.Such as Zane Devereaux.Zane was under suspicion based off his sloppy, and often times incomplete paperwork. Her assignment had been to observe hisactions on his next reap, and document her findings. What she had witnessed went beyond sloppy paperwork; he had outrightinterfered with a Mortals death and she had the feeling that it wasnt the first time. She just needed more proof to build her caseagainst him so he could be audited fully.Almost immediately she found some interesting things that would need closer attention, particularly a semi-recent reap of a MaryDevereaux. But before she could look closer, she noticed the name "Lillian Devereaux" and was able to come to the conclusionthat Lillian was Zanes biological mother. His father appeared to be unknown.
  92. 92. She cocked her head and pondered that. Or was he? Zane certainly had the appearance of a Reaper Clone Child. But they were allaccounted for...werent they? Not that it mattered. Zane was a Reaper. For now.
  93. 93. She went back to Lillian Devereauxs dossier and she saw mention of her being a dark witch. An idea sprung up in her mind, towhich she tried to disregard. She couldnt do such a thing...could she? She shook her head to clear the seed of thought away,but it kept pestering her, wanting to form into a full idea.Maybe this Lillian woman can help the Reaper Office with a certain True Reaper Child who turned his back on his family.
  94. 94. Bottom sat back in her chair as she let the idea take root. It certainly would tie up loose ends. The Reaper Office was appallinglydisorganized and Bottom was certain that her destiny lay in fixing those issues. It helped that she enjoyed it, but that was besidethe point.She smiled to herself and began taking notes. ~*~*~
  95. 95. ...
  96. 96. ...
  97. 97. "Well look who decided to grace me with his presence," Thaddeus said when he saw Zane standing in the room. "Have youfinally decided to stop pretending like youre human? You and your super special gang have gotten really annoying with your, Istill maintain a bit of my humanity bullshit. So now youre finally coming to me to learn what it really means to be a Grim Reaper,right? Well I have news for you, buddy: maybe I dont want you. Did you think about that? Self-righteous, goody-two-shoeassholes leave a bad taste in my mouth."
  98. 98. Zane said nothing as he slowly advanced towards the Pet Reaper.
  99. 99. "Hey, look, I told you that that black eye thing you Reaper Clone Children do is super creepy."
  100. 100. Zane still said nothing. When he got closer to Thaddeus, he held up a Dead Realm key."Thats not mine," the Pet Reaper said immediately.Zane forcefully threw it at the other mans chest.
  101. 101. "What the fuck? I told you--" his eyes widened when he saw the key on the ground. "That bitch! I fucking knew she was up tosomething."
  102. 102. Zane shoved Thaddeus backward, which caused the other man to stumble. "Look, she fucking copied it. She set me up! Im,like, a victim of identity theft or something."
  103. 103. "I had nothing to do with your womans death. You have to believe me. Your crazy bitch mother, it was all her idea! Shes got amassive hard on for making your life as miserable as possible. Im innocent!"
  104. 104. When his back hit the wall, a grim look of determination settled on Thaddeus face. "So its gonna be like that, huh? What areyou gonna do, kill me?"
  105. 105. "Yes."
  106. 106. Thaddeus snorted. "Really. Well havent you heard? You should never back a wild animal into a corner."
  107. 107. ...
  108. 108. Remington shuffled as fast as his body would allow him. He only had one chance. The red haired woman, who had revealedherself as one of the aspects of Fate, told him exactly what he needed to do.Im going to be a hero.With that thought, he urged his broken down body to move faster.
  109. 109. ...
  110. 110. "I always knew I was stronger than you. What the fuck did you think you were going to accomplish here anyway?" Thaddeustwitched his fingers slightly as he teased the magical, simulated life force that animated Zane. "So tell me, Zane, what happenswhen you try to take the life force, the energy, from a person who is essentially composed of pure, solid energy and nothingelse?” he asked in a mocking tone, using the same words Zane himself had asked years before.Zane was paralyzed as the Pet Reaper continued to swirl and dip his fingers into Zanes spirit, never grabbing complete hold."No smart mouthed answer, huh? Well, how about we find out together? I suddenly find myself wanting to learn new things andIve got all the time in the world to experiment. You wanted to die anyway. Youve been moping about your blond bitchs death allthis time, I know you really want to join her, right?"
  111. 111. A tear slid down Zanes cheek and his face contorted in pain as Thaddeus tortured him. "No, I dont want to die," he whispered."Well thats just too fucking bad."
  112. 112. ...
  113. 113. ...
  114. 114. ...
  115. 115. Thaddeus managed to easily roll out from under the zombie. "It looks like Im encountering a whole bunch of failures today." Hetutted under his breath as he looked down at Remington.
  116. 116. Remington was clutching his torso and his limbs were shaking."Oh my God, youre practically falling apart," the Pet Reaper said with a snort. "A useless pet owned by a useless Reaper. Wasthat the best you can do?"
  117. 117. "I stopped you. I won," Remington said serenely. "Im a hero," he whispered.
  118. 118. "You won nothing. You stopped nothing. Your death will be exactly like your life: pointless. Some fucking hero you are."
  119. 119. Zane tried to shout, but his voice was hoarse and he could only whisper, "Remington, no!"
  120. 120. Thaddeus hand shot forward and he plunged it into the zombies chest as he unceremoniously tore Remingtons spirit from hisbody.
  121. 121. ...
  122. 122. "Well now with that minor distraction out of the way, you and I have some unfinished experimenting to do."
  123. 123. He roughly kicked the dead zombies legs out of the way as he stepped over the body.
  124. 124. After another step, he stopped abruptly as blue lights slowly began to surround him. "What the fuck?"
  125. 125. Zane watched in stunned amazement. Something nagged in the back of his mind telling him that he had seen those lightsbefore.
  126. 126. "Are you fucking kidding me? This cant be happening!"
  127. 127. Any grief Zane had over Remingtons death vanished and he began to laugh. He remembered why the lights were familiar. TheGrim Reaper who had collected him, almost a century ago, had been surrounded by the same blue lights.
  128. 128. "Goodbye, Thaddeus," he said as the Pet Reaper exploded in one final, blinding flash.
  129. 129. He continued to laugh long after Thaddeus had disappeared.
  130. 130. Eventually his mirth died with a cough and he shook his head at the irony. All this time and he only had one reap left, he thoughtwith another snort.
  131. 131. He crawled over to where Thaddeus had been and he found the Pet Reapers cigarettes. He picked them up, pulled one out ofthe pack, and lit it. His nose wrinkled at the taste but he didnt toss it. Instead he attempted to stand up. His legs were weak andhis chest hurt.
  132. 132. He stumbled a couple feet before he gave up. He lowered himself back to the ground and leaned his back against a bookcase.He closed his eyes took another drag off the cigarette with a smile."Smokings bad for you," a voice said.
  133. 133. He opened his eyes and a hopeful feeling shot through him. "Youre my new Pet Reaper?"
  134. 134. The man squatted down in front of him. "Pfft. So long as you dont pick up that nasty habit. Way, way, way back in the day Iused to clean houses of people who would smoke. Its impossible to get rid of the smell. And like I said, its bad for you."Zane couldnt hide his smile as he took another drag. "Whats it gonna do, kill me?" he teased. Teased! Things were certainlylooking up.
  135. 135. "Well no," Remington admitted, "but Im pretty sure Ruth and Jez will kick your ass up and down the Dead Realm at the slightestsign of you acting remotely like Thaddeus. And then theyll take you to Spiders and Im pretty sure hell kick your ass just for thefun of it. And then Max will go on and on about the health hazards of smoking regardless of whether or not itll actually kill you.And then Yakko...well Yakko will probably turn the cigarettes into bananas or something and then bop you on the head with ananvil claiming that technically anvils cant kill you either.""You know, it does sound like more trouble than its worth.""Yeah, Id say so."
  136. 136. Zane stubbed the cigarette out on the floor and then winced. "I probably shouldnt have done that seeing as youre going to beliving here.""Meh. It looks like Thaddeus was doing the same thing. Besides, Id prefer to continue living with you. Um, if thats okay withyou that is.""Id love nothing more. A Pet Reaper that I enjoy working with? Thatll be a relief."
  137. 137. The man in front of him nodded and then his brow creased. "So I discovered a weird thing while I was at the Reaper Office.There were a couple of zombies around handing out mail or something. They..they gave me the creeps. Like deep down in mybones." The Pet Reapers gray eyes locked with Zanes.
  138. 138. Zane nodded. "Its the lack of a life aura. You were sensing the void.""And yet you let me live with you for all these years."Zane looked away. "Yeah.""Why?""Because youre my friend, Remington. You were also pretty much my father when I was alive and the only parent who actuallygave a damn about me. It would have been pretty ungrateful of me to turn you away just because of the heebie-jeebies.""Well then youre a better man than me."
  139. 139. Zane waved away the words. "Nonsense." His eyes flicked over Remingtons clothes and he cocked his head. "So why arentyou wearing black anyway? Now that youre a Reaper and all."
  140. 140. "Yeah, funny thing: you do know that black isnt a requirement, right? A lot of Reapers prefer it, but its not necessary. The onlything thats required are the robes when youre collecting."
  141. 141. "Wait..what? It isnt? But..but..Reaper! Reaper Child!"Remington chuckled. "Not a requirement though."Zane looked down at his clothes. "I hate the color black. I just thought...well it felt appropriate. But I really hate the color.""If it feels appropriate, then continue wearing it. Its just that you dont have to."
  142. 142. With Remingtons assistance, and using the bookcase for support, Zane stood up. "No. Im done wearing black. Its depressing.Im done being depressing." He looked over at the other man. "Thank you for saving my life, Remington. If you wouldn’t haveshown up, Thaddeus would probably have ended my existence. I realized, almost too late, that I dont want to give up my lifequite yet."
  143. 143. The new Pet Reaper looked down at his flesh colored hands and flexed his fingers. "No need to thank me. Look, my skin isntrotting off anymore, I can walk normally, and my muscles dont twitch uncontrollably. Im like a whole new person. It was worthit." He looked back to Zane. "But you know how you said that stuff about parents? You know that your mother--"
  144. 144. Zane held up his hand and sighed. "Yeah, I have a pretty good idea. But shes done something to hide herself from me. I cantsense her." He shook his head. "Im not going to worry about it today. The only thing I can do is be on the lookout forher...signature? Signs of her? You know what I mean. But right now, well, today is a good day. A fresh start, I think. Im notgoing to let worry and sadness drag me down anymore.""Good. Ill be on the lookout for signs of her, too."
  145. 145. As they prepared to leave, Remington said, "You know, um, Im not terribly fond of the thought of watching animals die.""Id be worried if you were.""Well, its just that, seriously, I think its almost more depressing than people. God, thats bad, isnt it?"
  146. 146. Zane grinned. "Well then Ill continue to make sure that all the pets in this verse are fed Kibble of Life. Its worked for the last fewdecades, I dont see why I cant keep doing it.""Good. Thank you," Remington said with relief.
  147. 147. The two of them left Thaddeus house and made their way home. ~*~*~
  148. 148. It had taken Zane a few days to recover from the encounter with Thaddeus. While he was resting he spent a lot of time thinkingabout Tina, his mother, and his general unhappiness with being a Grim Reaper. One by one, he let it go.His mother never loved him and had murdered him. It hurt, but he now knew it wasnt his fault or any personality flaw on his part.He was a Grim Reaper. Its what he was, not who he was.Tina. She was the hardest one. He had quietly wept over her death, but he also remembered, and was grateful, for the time hedid get to spend with her. When he let his sorrow over her go, he had felt a lot lighter.He had let his blind grief rule his actions, actions that he knew, deep down, affected the Mortal Realm, as well as his home on theDead Realm. He had already apologized, profusely, to Ruth, Jezebel, and Remington and he was, thankfully, forgiven. He had afeeling that he was going to need to apologize to the rest of the Devereaux family. Eventually.
  149. 149. But before he could think about the implications of what he had done to the people who had loved and accepted him, he felt thatthere was one other person who deserved an apology.
  150. 150. ...
  151. 151. He was relieved when Spider Jerusalem allowed him into his garden. He wouldnt have blamed him if Spider had decided to banhim forever.He stood at the very edge of Spiders world. Spider was looking back at him almost expectantly.
  152. 152. Neither one of them said anything as Zane slowly approached the fountain. When he was a few feet away from his friend, heshyly placed the lawn gnome he was carrying onto the ground.
  153. 153. After a moment, Spider said, "So theyre making new gnomes? Cool. The other ones were starting to get kind of boring."Zane fidgeted with his fingers, licked his lips and said, "Spider, I want to--"
  154. 154. "Woah, wait. Youre not here to be all like, Golly gee whiz, Spider, I want to say Im sorry for making you kick my ass that oneday, are you?"
  155. 155. "But Spider, I am sorry. I shouldnt have--"
  156. 156. "I know why you did it. I knew, and understood, where you were coming from. There is no need to apologize. Seriously.Just...dont fucking do it again. Especially not here. Got it?""But—""No buts, Drama Queen. Look, this isnt some television program and I dont want to spend energy on making an orchestraappear so they can play sappy music while we hug or something like that. No apologies. No forgiveness needed. Were cool."Zane wanted to protest again, but when he saw the look on his friends face, he closed his mouth and nodded. "Okay. Thanks.""No problem."
  157. 157. "So...""So...""So does this mean that there will be lawn gnomes for me to steal?"
  158. 158. Zane smiled. "Yes.""Good. Im running out and I really need some more. But make it a bit more interesting, okay? Them just sitting on your frontlawn isnt nearly as fun. You might as well just hand them to me and thats not exciting at all.""I will make sure that your gnome thefts are a bit more challenging in the future.""Thats all I ask."
  159. 159. "Okay. So, um, Im not here to stay or anything like that because I know I have a really bad habit of interrupting you when youre,um, busy. So Im gonna get going. I have some things I need to do."
  160. 160. "What, you have a hot date or something?"
  161. 161. "...No."
  162. 162. "Yeah, okay, that was probably in bad taste, and itll be in even more bad taste to tell you that you should eventually go pick upchicks or something because Forever is a long time to be alone. I get it. Lawn gnomes. Lets stick to lawn gnomes.""Actually..." Zane began thoughtfully, then he shook his head.
  163. 163. "No. Actually Im going shopping for new clothes. Did you know that its not mandatory for me, for any of us, to wear black?""What?""I know, right? Anyway, yeah, Im done with black. Im done mourning for..over...everything. Its time for a change and Im ratherfond of the color blue. What do you think?"
  164. 164. "I think some of us look awesome and kick ass in black. And then there are others, like you, who cant pull it off.""Gee, thanks.""Hey. Youre asking me for fashion advice. What did you expect?"
  165. 165. "Point taken. Im going to go now. Maybe we can do dinner sometime next week?""Sounds good. Ill let the gang know. And remember what I said about the lawn gnomes!"Zane laughed as he left his friends garden.
  166. 166. ~*~*~
  167. 167. Cassandra rubbed her eyes and sighed. It wasnt the murmurs of the customers in the coffee shop that was giving her aheadache. It was her eyes and it looked like she was going to need a new prescription for her glasses. Even worse, it looked likeshe would be needing bifocals very soon. She picked up her book and squinted her eyes.
  168. 168. She didnt think the Elixir withdrawal would hit so fast. She thought the aging would be a bit more gradual. But then again, shehad been using the Elixir, at her brothers insistence, for nearly as long as she could remember. Her brother thought that he hadscored a major victory over her by announcing that she was cut off not only from the only Elixir supply in SimCity, but from all ofthe family funds as well.The money part didnt bother her. Shed had a real job for quite some time, her own house (granted it wasnt nearly as large asthe house she had grown up in, but it was still hers), her own life and, for the first time in decades, her own friends.The Elixir part was what sort of depressed her. A few days ago she had seen the first white hairs crop up on her head. She hadtaken some of her money from her meager slush fund to go to a hairdresser, a friend of a friend, and had him dye her hair. Shemight be getting older but she wasnt going to go down without a fight. She had a feeling that there were still things for her to do.Places to go. New people to meet.
  169. 169. The quiet voice of a man standing next to her table startled her. "I..I am very sorry for your loss," he said.She looked up at him and she felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her.
  170. 170. It was him. She recognized him. She had never seen him before in her entire life, she was sure of that. But she knew him all thesame. In her recurring dreams, his face was always vague, but as soon as she saw it right before her, she knew it was him.He was beautiful in that classical, "statue carved from marble" sort of way, right down to the blue-black cherub-like curls tumblingdown over his forehead. He was tall, at least over six feet. His build was lean and graceful, but she could see his chest musclesflexing under his shirt as shifted shyly from one foot to the other.
  171. 171. Thats when she realized she had been staring at him for too long without saying a word. When her mind started applying purpleprose to his looks...good grief. What was worse, before she realized it, the word, "Wow," escaped her lips.
  172. 172. The mans eyes widened and he gave her a confused look. "Um...what?"
  173. 173. "Ah, sorry. You startled me, thats all," she said in an effort to recover.
  174. 174. "You know..uh, I..Im really sorry. Youre busy. I shouldnt have interrupted you. I just..." he shrugged uncomfortably and gesturedover his shoulder. "I should get going. This was really dumb of me to do."
  175. 175. "Nonono, wait!" she said as he started to walk away. When he turned to look back at her she gestured at the chair opposite ofher. "I would actually really welcome a distraction from my own thoughts."
  176. 176. He glanced at the chair and gave her a hesitant look before he sat down. He gave her a nervous smile and then started fidgetingwith something on his left finger. A wedding ring. He was married.Of course he was.
  177. 177. Her face must have registered her disappointment because he briefly stopped fidgeting with his fingers and gave her a confusedlook. "What?""Youre married." She winced inwardly. She didnt mean to sound so accusing. He had every right to be married after all. Whyshouldnt he be?
  178. 178. His mouth opened as if he were about to say something and then he closed it. He looked down at the offending piece of jewelry,twisted it a couple times, pulled it off, placed it on the table, picked it up, and placed it back on his finger. "She died," he finallysaid. He twisted the ring a few more times and it looked like he was having an internal debate with himself. His brow creased fora moment before he nodded silently. "Yeah. It..its been six years. I just..I never got around to taking the ring off." He lifted hisshoulder in a shrug. "I guess I wasnt okay with it until just recently." With a shaking hand he removed the ring from his fingerand placed it back on the table. He stared at it for a moment but didnt pick it up again.
  179. 179. She got the feeling that she was witnessing something momentous, but she was nearly distracted by her guilt over feeling...glad.Glad that he wasnt married. He appeared so genuine about everything that the thought that he was lying about his wife beingdead never occurred to her. It felt almost preposterous to think such a thing, which was odd seeing as she just met the fidgetingman in front of her.
  180. 180. "God, Im really bad at this," he said with a wince.She raised an eyebrow. "Bad at what?""This. All of this. This entire picking up chicks thing." His fingers made air quotations. "And, oh my God! Thats not my phrase!Thats my friends phrase. That I need to go pick up some chicks because forever is a long time to be alone. Thats what hesaid. And hes right, of course, but Ive never really had to do anything like this, not ever, and--"
  181. 181. "Wait. Youre trying to pick me up?"He sighed. "Yeah, I am. Hi, Im a widower. Thats pretty awful, isnt it?""Why?"
  182. 182. He blinked. "Why is that an awful way to start a conversation with someone who catches your eye?""No. Why are you trying to pick me up?"
  183. 183. He looked around uncertainly and raised his eyebrows. "Why wouldnt I? Look around." He gestured at the rest of the busycoffee shop. "Everyone here has their noses stuck in their stupid phones playing Angry Sims, or theyre on their laptops, ortheyre talking loudly into their phones. And here you are, a pretty girl, and youre reading a book. An actual book, too, not one ofthose electronic book reader things. I saw that and I thought to myself, Now theres someone that Id actually like to get to knowbetter. What book are you reading anyway?"
  184. 184. She hastily tucked her copy of 50 Shades of Green out of sight with a blush. She got the feeling that a BDSM smut novel, writtenby her friends husband, would make the man in front of her act even more awkward. "You know," she said regretfully, "Im too oldfor you."
  185. 185. The expression on his face was rueful when he responded with, "Im a lot older than I look."She rolled her eyes and laughed. "Oh, Im sure. Let me guess, youre a baby faced thirty year old who bemoans the fact thathes so old yet you still get irritated when youre carded at the liquor store."This time he outright snorted. "Try closer to a hundred years old."
  186. 186. She was still a lot older. She had been using Elixir for a very long time. But his response still piqued her curiosity. "Elixir of Life?"He shook his head. "No.""Some sort of immortal?"He sighed. "Yeah."She looked at him carefully, trying to determine the answer. It didnt hurt that he was very easy on the eyes. "Well, unless thosesparkly vampires from Dusk are real, youre not a vampire seeing as its the middle of the afternoon."A small smile touched his lips. "No. Im not a vampire.""Werewolf?"He wrinkled his nose. "God no."
  187. 187. A sudden question of whether or not he had any body hair flitted through her mind. She pushed the thought away. She had beenreading way too many smut novels lately. "I give up. What sort of immortal are you?"
  188. 188. He nervously tapped his fingers on the table, picked up his wedding ring and shoved it into the pocket of his jeans. "Im a GrimReaper," he finally said. "The Grim Reaper for this verse. That...thats why I wanted to apologize to you about the loss of yourmother. I was the one who collected her."
  189. 189. That didnt bother her at all. She had grieved for her mother long before her mother had reappeared and died. The fact that hewas the Grim Reaper though...the Grim Reaper, sitting there, looking very, very normal (though admittedly very awkward)...shestarted laughing.
  190. 190. His look of horror and confusion made her laugh even harder. "Of course youre the Grim Reaper. Not that thats a bad thing,"she hastily said after she saw his face fall. "Its just...You, the Grim Reaper, youre here trying to pick me up, as in, you want toask me out on a date or something because youre human, and all humans want companionship. It just seems so..so normal.""You think Im lying, dont you?""No, not at all. Theres something about you that I cant put my finger on. I didnt notice it until you told me, but now that youmentioned it..." she trailed off and started laughing again. "I dont even know your name, Mister Grim Reaper."
  191. 191. He rested his head in his hands with a groan. "Oh my God. I told you that Im really bad at this. Here I am telling you that Ithought you were pretty, that Im a widower, and oh hey, Im also the Grim Reaper, and I didnt even have the basic courtesy tointroduce myself."
  192. 192. He squared his shoulders and took a deep breath. "Hello, Cassandra Goth, Im Zane Devereaux and I was wondering if youwould like to go out with me sometime?"He already knew her name. Of course he did.
  193. 193. She smiled at him. "Im very pleased to meet you, Zane. And I would love to."
  194. 194. ~*~*~
  195. 195. ...
  196. 196. Lillian was irritated. Beyond irritated. Her plan had been perfectly thought out and in the end chance, fate, a fluke, had takenaway the climax she had desired.
  197. 197. Her manipulation of Quinn Devereaux had gone perfectly. For years she had made sure that he felt inferior to the rest of theworld.The curse she had placed on Emily Smith had worked perfectly as well. Bonding Emily and Quinn together to where the otherwould go insane and kill themselves had been her goal all along.But then an accident, a car accident due to careless driving, took away all of Lillians control over the situation. She had wantedto kill Quinn, and his stupid wife, personally. She wanted to be the one who whispered dark thoughts into Emilys ear before shepushed the girl off a tall building.Instead, a snow storm and her idiot of a son prevented all of that. She felt robbed.And then there was Thaddeus...well she didnt care about him. She got a copy of his key, duplicated it, and added a wardingeffect so no Grim Reaper could sense her. Thaddeus had outlived his usefulness.Still, Lillian fumed over the fact that she had to start all over. She didnt even know where to begin.
  198. 198. "Ive been doing some light reading, and it turns out that someone has been a very bad girl," a voice next to her said.
  199. 199. Lillian whipped out her wand, intending on blasting the intruder with one of her experimental spells. But before she could incantany words, the brown haired elven woman gestured slightly, and the wand was ripped from Lillians hand.
  200. 200. She didnt have any time to react before the woman had her pressed against that wall."Now there will be none of that. We dont want to get off on the wrong foot here, now do we?"Lillian felt an icy cold finger upon her very soul and she gasped a word through her paralysis. "Impossible.""Whats impossible? That I can do this?" Lillian felt a slight twist deep inside her. "Did you think your necklace could hide youfrom me? I must say, its a pretty clever magical item and it is very effective. Effective against your average, run of the mill GrimReaper, that is. I am not average, nor am I run of the mill."
  201. 201. Lillian remain defiant as the woman spun her around. She managed not to gasp in relief when her soul was released. "What doyou want?""Order. The Reaper Office has been very disorganized for the past century or so. I dislike chaos and you and your actions,Lillian Devereaux, are the very definition of the word. Now, I dont care that your hands have blood on them. I recognize the factthat everything must die for there to be new life. But it needs to be done in an organized manner."Lillians eyes flicked to the other womans pointed ears. "How very Unseelie of you," she said.
  202. 202. "Oh dont let my ears fool you. I am not fae. I am, however, the person who will bring order to a few disorderly situations. Andyou are going to be the one who will help me. Is that understood?"
  203. 203. Lillian looked away, resigned. "It appears that I have no choice in the matter.""No. You dont," the other woman said. ~*~*~
  204. 204. (This is real, in game footage of these two.)Credits and Thanks:Marina: For Rhys Fitzhugh (The Fitzhugh Legacy/A Villainous Apocalypse)Doc: For Spider Jerusalem Vetinari (The Vetinari Dualegacy)Lark: As always, for being my primary sounding board.I also want to thank everyone for reading and leaving your incredibly flattering comments!A funny side note: In my canon, 50 Shades of Green, the book that Cassandra was reading, was written by Rhys.Next chapter: Generation Seven makes its official appearance!As always, thanks for reading and until next time, Happy Simming!

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