Summary: Why should death be feared? When Papa Ge visits her tree, Ti Moune decides that there is no reason, so long as death is kind. Once on This Island

Disclaimer: I Do not own Once on this Island or any of it's characters or plots

A/N: fixed the misspellings of the gods' names.

The yard of the French hotel had not changed much over the years. Grands Hommes still shuffled in and out in their fancy cars. Ti Moune's tree had only just begun to wage war upon the gate from beneath, its roots twisting between the stones of the foundation. When they grew, there was no doubt that the wall would tumble. This was unknown to the hotel's residence and staff, baring one gardener who bore the dark skin of a peasant, thought if a trained eye was to gaze upon him, it would observe that his posture was rather stately for that status. An observant eye might also notice the black trim on his white uniform, an embellishment possessed by no other member of the hotel staff. That his watering can and hoe were also jet black might have also given the careful observer pause. If the observer was superstitious, he or she might have said that he had the touch of Papa Ge upon him.

The gardener moved to the young tree. It was strong, and filled with promise. Yes, she would grow to do what she must, even if, the gardener thought, it was a fool's errand. Still, it had been her dying request.

A cool breeze shivered through the air, welcome in the tropical heat. The tree's branches swayed in it, as if in memory of a dance and from its bows descend a woman, slender and dark and beautiful, her skin near transparent.

"Thank you for the drink, Papa Ge." She said, smiling.

"You see through my guise then?" The gardener asked without looking up.

"Once you have come to know the presence of Death, you do not easily forget it nor have difficulty recognizing it."

There was no fear in her voice. After all, what could one who was already dead have to fear from Papa Ge.

"I suppose I am quite memorable." He glanced at her for but a moment, revealing a flash of a red tattoo about his eye before tuning to he flowers beside the tree.

"Are you enjoying yourself, Ti Moune? Here in the yard of the man who betrayed you? The man you sold your soul for only to find that he would never return your love? Does it bring you joy to watch his wife kiss him each morning, reminding you that she shares his bed and his home and his name?"

Her peaceful expression did not change.

"I do not expect you to understand."

The god let his watering can fall to the ground.

"You are right not to. I will never understand, nor do I have any desire to. Where righteous anger should burn, you feel only love, that sickness of Erzulie."

"We in my village have always said that the god's gifts are not be affronted else you will be affronted by the gods. It was Erzulie's sickness that defeated you. Have you come here only dance the childish motions of a poor loser?"

"I have come to provide the righteous anger that you lack."

Her serine expression was at last disturbed.

"You have come for vengeance then?"

The god of death laughed.

"Not my own. Erzulie won our wager fairly. I come to commit vengeance on your behalf."

"I do not want to be avenged."

"Then what do you desire? Tell me and I will lay it before your feet. Why should my brother and sisters be the only ones to bestow gifts upon you? I could slay him for you, Ti Moune."

"No,"

"Place a curse upon his house, Ti Moune."

"don't

"See that his bride pays, Ti Moune."

"I beg…"

"Take his fortune from him, Ti Moune"

"…of you!"

"See that his first son dies, Ti Moune. Only bid and I will do, Ti Moune. that is all you need do, Ti Moune."

The nymph knelt at his feet.

"All that I ask of you is that you honor your oath, honor our bargain and let him live!"

"He will have to die some day; he is mortal! A few decades and I will claim him. All that you bought him was time! You sacrificed yourself for a mortal man in a foolish bargain. I will have to claim his life some day, what of our bargain then?"

"If what you say is true, then I traded nothing. My life would have ended sooner or later as well. There was no joy for me in a life without Daniel, so my sacrifice insured that at least one of us would be happy, and in my eyes, that makes it worthy."

"Erzulie won fairly." He said more to himself than to her. "But I will never understand how."

"I forgive him, Papa Ge. I forgive him because I love him."

"But he betrayed you!"

She smiled, and a limb of her tree bent low, shading the god.

"It is the same heart that has forgiven you that forgave him, Papa Ge."

"Ha!" he laughed. "What makes you think that I desire your forgiveness?"

"Would you be here if you did not? What other reason would the god of death have for the company of one already dead? Asaka sees that I have sustenance and Agwe provides me with drink. You are not here because you doubt their ability to look after those they have blessed."

"No," he said. "I suppose I am not. I could be here to claim you as my own, as our bargain gives me right to."

"If you planed to claim me, you would have done it when I was in your realm."

"Asaka took you from me!"

"You gave me to her, Papa Ge. Do you not remember? You took my spirit from Agwe and carried me to her."

"You cannot know what happened. You were dead."

"But my spirit saw. My spirit felt your tenderness as you carried me to Asaka. My spirit tasted the salt of the tear that you cried for me as you gave me to her keeping. No, Papa Ge, you are not here to claim me. You are here because you desire my forgiveness, and I give it to you. I have already forgiven your sister, though Erzulie never asked for it."

"And she never will. Why would a god ask forgiveness from a mortal?"

"I do not know. When I find one that has, I will ask him."

The wind blew her branches against a tall mango tree, knocking loose one of the fruit. It rolled down her limb until it came to rest before Papa Ge. He reached out and took it.

"Manny would say that this is an inviting gesture. Your village would disapprove."

"The god of death will always come, invited or not, and in my village we say that it is best to be hospitable least a guest becomes both unwelcome and angry."

He grinned darkly.

"I have never been shown your village's hospitality. Perhaps I should visit and request it."

"I cannot stop you. You said that Death must visit all."

"Death has made you stoic. Good. I never could stand a romantic."

"Then it is good that you did not enforce my side of our bargain. You would have had to spend eternity with one."

"Yes." He did not sound so certain.

Ti Moune had, in life, never heard of a god ever being uncertain, although, she supposed, if a god can be wrong, there is no reason why he could not be unsure of himself.

"You know," the god continued. "Even the trees, tall and strong, must die some day. Your fate is no different then it would have been. Like your lover, you only have more time. But someday, I will return for you. Perhaps then, you will choose to uphold your end of our bargain."

Her eyes closed in thought, and she stepped back, leaning against her tree.

"Will you be gentle when you carry me back to the darkness, when you take me down your road from which there is no return? You are not so frightening when you are gentle."

"I suppose I shall be. I have no reason to be cruel or vengeful towards you."

"Then I suppose that I do not fear death, not now that I know what, and who, it truly is."

"What if Death wishes you to fear him?"

"Then Death, I think, would try harder to frighten me."

"Bah! It would be tiresome to spend eternity with one who cowers at the sight of me."

"Yes. It would be tiresome for both of us."

"Then, you plan to uphold your side of the bargain?" He sounded almost hopeful and Ti Moune again came to understand something new about the gods. Even they could be lonely at times.

"I will. I did swear, and my village always said that one who keeps her word will keep..."

"…away Papa Ge's eye." he finished the adage.

She laughed.

"I suppose that it is too late for that, but I will keep my word. When you come for me at last, I will be ready."

"Then I suppose that I should prepare as well. The life of a tree may seem an eternity for a mortal, but for a god it is but the twinkling of an eye."