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This beauty by my side

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It's the Queen's birthday, Gerald is exhausted and only half done with his work shift, and That Woman has come in again.

She only comes in on holidays. She is always alone, and always wears red. Her dress is different every time, and always the most current fashion (not that Gerald would know, particularly, but she always brings it up to someone). She likes to take a seat at the bar and watch the room until she finds whatever sort of man she's looking for that night, sometimes making a bee-line to his side and sometimes luring him to hers with a certain look. She introduces herself as someone new every time. Gerald has heard her called Ruby, Ginger, Rose, Carmen, Scarlet, Cerise, Cherry, Poppy, and once, memorably, she pitched her voice lower and asked a gentleman to address her as Rusty.

Once she has her man hooked, they may stay just long enough for decorum's sake before walking out a bit too close, or they may close down the pub, laughing and drinking and dancing. Gerald prides himself on knowing his regulars and their quirks, but he has never found a pattern to her decisions in the five years since he first saw her. Young or old, dark or fair, handsome or ugly, she shows no discernible preference for any type of man. Even if he already has a companion, she somehow manages to charm her way between them, sometimes rather literally.

Tonight, she seems preoccupied. She barely looks around the crowd and doesn't single anyone out. A few men approach her through the evening, and she flirts gaily for a while but soon enough sends them on their way before returning to her wine. She finishes an entire bottle of red by herself, and at last call, she leaves Gerald a generous tip and stumbles out into the night. It worries him, but as much as he'd like to, he can't follow after her to make sure she gets home safely. The pub is still busier than usual because of the holiday, and he still has closing to see to.

It's a good couple of hours later when Gerald is finally able to lock the doors and bid goodnight to the boys in the band who stayed to help him tidy up. His last task of the evening is always to take the scraps from dinner to the alley out back for the stray cats. It's not much, but he and the band always try to leave a little for the cute buggers. He's just finished scraping the lot out of the pan when he hears footsteps and a sigh.

"Oh, dear, how I do wish it didn't have to be you."

Gerald stands up and sees that woman in the mouth of the alley. Her hair glows like fire under the street lamp. "What... what do you mean?"

"Five years patronizing your fine establishment, and I've never once seen you spill a drop of alcohol or a secret. You've really been a very good bartender, Gerald."

She starts walking toward him, her heeled shoes making an ominous click on the ground with each step. Gerald backs away from her, matching her pace, afraid that if he turns his back and runs, something horrific will happen.

"You've been very tired lately, haven't you? Swollen feet, a bit of chest pain?"

Gerald's back hits the wall, and she stops advancing. His heart races, and he can't breathe. The last thing he sees is the woman standing over him with a gaudy chainsaw propped on her shoulder, grinning with too-sharp teeth.

"I'm glad it wasn't Valentine's day, at least," she says conversationally, revving up the chainsaw. "How dreadfully cliché it would be for one's heart to give out on the day of love!"

 

"Sutcliffe, are you finished yet?"

Grell looks up from watching the alley cats who'd come to sniff around Gerald's offering of scraps, who are now sniffing around his cooling corpse. Will is on the roof, looking as impatient and handsome as always.

"Oh, I suppose," she says, and leaps up to join him. She stamps Gerald Drexler's case 'complete' in her ledger before tucking it away. "Be a dear and escort me to the office party tonight. I've a new dress and an itch for a good shag, and there's a strapping young thing new to Spectacles who's just begging to be given a proper welcome."

"I will do no such thing," Will replies, adjusting his glasses.

"Are you volunteering to scratch my itch yourself, then~?"

Grell only just manages to dodge the swing Will takes at her with his scythe, and she slips away from the mortal plane with a giddy laugh, knowing he won't be far behind.