The Flip of a Coin

Summery: NCFOM; post-film What is violence if it cannot destroy? The only enemy Anton Chigurh has to face now is the past. One-shot.

A/n: I really need to stop watching Bergman's The Seventh Seal. Anyway, I digress. On with the show!

He was stumbling down the dusty moonlit street. Anton Chigurh felt weak, disoriented and ill for the first time in years. How long had it been since he actually felt his body give up on him like this? God only knew. Cambodia, maybe. That time, he'd been lying on the ground in the jungle, writhing in pain and screaming for help as he tried to staunch the bullet wound to the side of his neck. He'd been the head of a combat medical team and had been shot down trying to help a civilian. Chigurh would have died then, hadn't Carson Wells saved his life. However, Anton Chigurh did die, in a way. The part of him that died was the humanity in him. All that was left now was El Lobo—The Wolf. With his soul gone to the Devil, he was purely an animal now. Violence incarnate.

Can the Hand of Fate die, he thought. Can Death be physically destroyed? He groaned in pain and collapsed at the steps to the Basilica de Guadalupe. The church was unoccupied this late at night; not that it really mattered to Anton's fever-fuelled mind. The damned couldn't tread on hallowed ground. Flinching, Chigurh took out a hunting knife from his belt and set it on one of the steps. Pausing to ease the pain, he then dipped his good hand into his pocket and pulled out a quarter.

"Ah, so you see where this is headed then," said a smug voice Anton recognized. It was the voice of a dead man. Carson Wells, the man who had saved his life in Cambodia; the man Chigurh himself had killed, was perched leisurely several steps above him.

"Cuh—Carson—" Anton sputtered. Wells smiled his cocky little grin.

"Buenos noches, Anton. I've got a bit of a proposition for you," he said, picking up the bloodstained quarter next to the knife. "You have a choice. Heads means that you die here tonight. Tails means that, should you live, you will never kill again. Either way, friend-o—" he paused and chuckled. "You're screwed. Call it."

"Go to—Hell," Chigurh whispered. Wells' smile widened, but it went no deeper than his teeth.

"Oh I will," he said, "but I am dragging you down with me. Even Old Scratch ain't afraid of you. You think yourself Death on you pale horse with Hell followin' at yer heels, but deep down… Deep down in that part of you that you claim don't exist anymore—you know that's not true. You're human and I'm here to remind you of it." He brushed Anton's hair back and examined the large scar on the side of his neck. Part of his left ear was gone as well. "Surprised you didn't die on me then. Had I known what you would become, I would have killed you long ago."

"What's—stopping you?" inquired Chigurh.

"I have no power to kill you, Anton. The dead can't hurt the living. Not in your world."

"My world?"

"You're heart's still beating. If you still have one, I mean," barbed Wells. He smirked again at seeing Chigurh pale at being zinged. "Tell me," he went on, "are you afraid to die?"

"Why would—that matter to you?"

"Just curious," said Carson with a shrug. "Wondering if I'm getting through to that fever-addled brain of yours. Are you going to play the game you so enjoy, Anton? I can't hold back the Reaper for long. Your name's on his list."

"What would save me?" Anton asked. Wells' eyes glinted as if saying so the Wolf is afraid of something after all.

"You've got the one right tool," Carson said, placing the hunting knife into Chigurh's hand. "As well as the source of the problem," he went on, untying the makeshift sling that supported Anton's badly broken arm. "If you're the monster you've made yourself out to be, you can brake the chains Death's locking you in. Go on. Sever the ties Death is making. If you do, you will never kill again. Think on that for a second. What is violence if it cannot destroy? What will become of you? Heads or tails?"

At the exact moment Wells flipped the coin, Chigurh plunged the knife into his own throat. Carson smiled weakly and uncovered the coin balanced on his inner wrist. Death had called it. Heads had won.

As ye are now, so once was I. And though ye look aghast at me, as am I now, so shall ye be. Death and the Traveller