Yeah, sure, they’d killed the fucking demon, and saved the babies, and his prissy Slayer had taken his girl home. But that didn’t mean the night was over. Herds of sheep milling in the streets, drunk or stoned or plain numb. And until the sun was up, that meant work. If the sodding Slayer wasn’t going to do it, somebody had to. That meant him.
He felt like he was thinking clearly for the first time in years. Layers of blankets that had been wrapped over himself and the things he most wanted, all gone. Blanket-man had worked pretty hard to keep what he wanted unreachable. Nothing decent to wear in his drawers. His Les Paul had been way the fuck back in the hall closet. And the only fags in the house had been a half-pack of pansy-arse Silk Cuts. And a Zippo. Blanket-man sneaked a smoke, now and then. The corner of Rip’s mouth curled. Blanket-man also kept a baggie of something more interesting, way back in that drawer, for when he wanted to kick at the shrouds. Too bad Rip couldn’t afford it right now. Didn’t want to take the edge off the aggro.
No leather to wear. Fuck. At least he had the sword, still. He strapped the scabbard onto his back and walked out of the flat. He pointed himself to where he’d seen the herds earlier. The Bronze. Downtown. Felt good to tonk in boots. Slam his feet down, make some noise. Announce himself.
Rip lit a cigarette. He’d had two earlier in the day and his throat was still raw. Blanket-man didn’t indulge himself often, then. Though Rip had no idea why not. Who was there to tell Blanket-man he couldn’t?
He still had it in the corner of his mouth when he found the first vamp, dragging a pudgy middle-aged man into an alley. He drew the sword and spun it in exactly the showy way he’d told his Slayer not to. Why he arsed himself, he didn’t know. She never listened to his repressive bullshit. Rip grinned. Smart girl, his Slayer. That thought carried him through the first fight, which was sweet and ended with him holding a dead cool pose with the sword while the headless vamp exploded. The civilian pissed himself where he lay on the garbage bag. Rip looked down in disgust and blew smoke out his nose.
“Get inside,” he said. “Now, ya fuckin’ tosser. Now!”
The man got up and ran. Felt good. Rip finished the smoke and ground out the fag-end under his heel.
He didn’t bother sheathing the sword, just rested it on his shoulder while he went looking for the next vamp. He found that in the alley behind the Bronze. This one wasn’t so good: the woman was dead before Rip got there. Vamp came at him bloody-mouthed, self-satisfied, and Rip didn’t bother with posing or with flashy moves. He took the thing’s head and walked straight through the haze of expiring demon to find the next. Because now Rip was pissed off. Blanket-man was too. And guilty, but fuck that.
Two more, round the side of the Bronze, lurking and waiting for candy-drunks on their way out. Rip broke a sweat fighting both at once. Good sweat. Rip wanted to sweat like this every night. He cut them up, made them scream, before he took their heads. Slow, stupid. Not enough of a challenge for Ripper Giles, swordfighter. He lit up and went in search of the next demon.
Dawn found Rip sitting on a picnic table in the park, one knee up, sword sheathed. He’d scattered off another crowd of candy-stoned fools and climbed up to watch the sky change color. He smoked his last cigarette, watching and thinking. Seven vamps dusted. Three civilian bodies found. Probably a lot more of both he’d missed. Ashes in his mouth and nose, and a burn in his throat. It was fine that this was his last one.
Birdsong now, and a line of white along the horizon. Blanket-man was knocking on the door. Rip had a stash. Had a half-melted bar in his back pocket right now. He could shut him out for a while. But no point. Had to end some time. Might as well let it end now.
Rip blew smoke rings and waited.