Dedication: To all the authors that have begun to explore this very topic.
' She watched him as he finished shoveling the mossy earth into the pit they had dug earlier. "Are you *sure* this is part of the cleansing ritual?"
"Oh, definitely. The most important part, actually. The body has to be buried for it to return to the crawling, disgusting insect it really was."
"I thought you said the most important part was the strangulation."
He paused, thoughtful. "I did say that. Well, this is second after the strangulation."
She looked at him strangely. "You said the heart removal was second."
"Oh. Did I really? Well, I may have gotten my parts confused. Doesn't matter. He's dead."
She pushed at a mound of earth with her toe. "Yeah. Really dead. If...if he wasn't a demon, I would almost feel sorry for him. Nobody should have to die like that, watching their innards being pulled slowly through a hole in their stomach."
"Yep," he agreed cheerfully. "Sucks to be him."
"And then the strangulation, making him look into your eyes while you did it. Did it really say that in the book? That in order for the demon to truly die, he had to be staring into the face of his slayer?"
"That's what it said," he said brusquely, flinging the dirt a little harder.
"I could have done it, you know. It's my job, after all."
"It's done. Taken care of."
"Well...thank you. If he really was as bad as you say, it's nice to know I don't have to worry about *him* in the middle of the night."
He finished shoveling, and heaved the shovel off to the side while he stared down at the heap of dirt. "No. You won't have to worry about him doing anything to you in the middle of the night. And now, neither will I."
She came to stand next to him, putting a slim arm around his waist while leaning her head against his solid shoulder. "Kind of funny how all my begging and pleading wasn't enough to bring you home from Los Angeles, but this demon was."
He looked down at the top of her precious golden head. "You have no idea of the rage I felt when I was...informed...of his presence here."
She giggled. "I could tell. Especially when you cracked his shins with that sledgehammer. I've never seen such a violent ritual before."
He was pensive as he hugged her to his side, still staring at the fresh grave. "If any more of his kind appears, you'll see it again. Personally done by me."
"Does that mean you're staying?" She was hopeful, trusting.
"I think it's a good idea. I didn't realize this danger was possible."
She squealed her excitement, jumping up to wrap her legs about his waist and burying her face in his neck. "That's the best news I've heard in months," she murmured, nuzzling his cool skin and hearing his answering growl. She looked over her shoulder at the grave. "You know, he really had me going for a while. I mean, he looked and acted just like you would expect a college student to act. Good thing I didn't go out with him when he asked, who knows what could've happened. I mean, with me not knowing the proper ritual and>all."
"Are we done?"
"Oh, I think my work here is definitely done. Want an escort home?" He winked at her, then placed a light kiss on the tip of her nose. "What was I thinking, leaving you that way? Too many unforseen dangers here in the Hellmouth."
"But now you're back, and I trust you to keep me safe," she grinned. She slid to the ground and threaded their fingers together. "Ready?"
He spared the hastily dug grave one last glance before smiling down at her. "Ready."
They left the cemetery, hand in hand.