Title: The Big Bad Scam Artist
Setting: Summer, before S5
Buffy didn’t usually take her slaying duties out of town, seeing as evil tended to congregate in either LA or Sunnydale, but there’d been a rash of ‘animal attacks’ in Beaumont lately, so Giles had sent her off on a working holiday. She’d argued for a few days’ reprieve, wanting to wait until Riley returned from his summer in Iowa, but Giles had appealed to her sense of duty and now here she was, hanging out solo at the Beaumont Motor Inn, about to go poke around the Beaumont Rest Home.
She wasn’t too disappointed to be here, truth be told; the Hellmouth was taking its annual summer vacation as well, nothing evil brewing. Even Spike had been quiet of late. Which – note to self: check up on the evil dead when I return. A quiet Spike was an up-to-no-good Spike.
Beaumont was an even smaller town than Sunnydale and it didn’t take her long to find the funeral home. She slipped downstairs to the empty morgue, and yup, there were several bodies bearing distinctive ‘animal attack’ wounds on their necks. All candidates for staking, although she’d have to wait until they rose to take care of that task. It wouldn’t be dark for hours yet. In the meantime, the shiny new Beaumont Mall was calling her name.
Or not. A photo caught her eye on the way past one of the viewing rooms, a large poster mounted on an easel, with the words “William Blakely, 1971 – 2000” written tastefully beneath, and beneath that, “Accepting Donations for the Beaumont Memorial Children’s Hospital in lieu of flowers.”
Buffy would have felt reverent, and maybe a little saddened to see someone so handsome having lost their life so young, except she knew William Blakely by entirely different name. She yanked open the door to the room with a bang, muttering about evil vampires under her breath, then froze, several pairs of scandalized eyes upon her.
“Sorry?” she said, although secretly she was fuming, because there William the Bloody scam artist was, laid out in a casket, wearing a somber grey suit that somehow didn’t clash with his radioactive hair, looking peaceful and angelic and very much dead. With so many civilians in the room, Buffy couldn’t stake him, couldn’t punch him, could only wait and see what happened. He knew it too. Those still, pale lips twitched ever so slightly into a smirk, and Buffy’s suitably reverent expression faltered.
The speaker she’d interrupted was just finishing up, and Buffy sat quietly in the back, perplexed. Who the hell were all these people? There was no way Spike had this many ‘mourners’ in Beaumont.
“If you would like to contribute to the fund, you’ll find the donation box on the table in the back,” he said. “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy, such a brilliant young writer extinguished in the prime of life, but his words will not be forgotten. Mr. Blakely’s remains will be returned to his homeland and his family tomorrow…”
The mourners filed out, placing bills in the donation box as they went and soon only the funeral director remained. “So… William Blakely?” she asked.
“Terrible,” he shook his head. “He was at a speaking engagement at the bookstore, promoting his work, when he passed away. He’d mentioned, of course, his illness, how it could claim him at any time, but we never expected it to be so… sudden.”
Buffy stepped closer to the casket. “I’ll just pay my respects,” she said, then leaned in and whispered, “You’re a dead man, Mr. Blakely. A dead, dusty man, who won’t be bilking any more nice people out of their cash.”
Only she heard the answering sigh.