Notes: Not mine.

HAMLET MAKES A WHINY GHOST
or, TELLING THE STORY OF HAMLET IN A MODERN SETTING

Well, Someone Is Telling It, Anyway
(And If I Completely Missed the Point
At Least It Was Fairly Interesting)

Being a ghost, when you get down to it, is really, horribly boring.

There's the lack of visibility, for one thing. Hamlet can only make himself seen to one damn person, at night, in the place he was buried. It's hugely unfair, of course, because at least his dad got to roam the manor. There's really not a lot you can do when you're confined to a plot of land that's just big enough for three people and a Shetland pony.

"This is horrible," he says. It's midnight, and frost is clinging to the grass in much the same way he's clinging to this joke of an afterlife. "This sucks."

Horatio leans against the mausoleum door.

"You don't have to tell me," he says. "When I said I wanted to tell your story to the rest of the world, I didn't think I'd still be seeing you every night."

Hamlet feels like maybe there's an insult in there. "Was there an insult in there?"

Horatio sighs, and doesn't answer. Instead, he says, "fencing."

"What?"

"Fencing. It had to be fencing, hadn't it? Of all the things you could use as a means to shuffle off the mortal coil, you choose to get stabbed by a poisoned épée! I'm pretty sure those things aren't even sharp!"

"Felt sharp enough to me," Hamlet says, sulkily. Horatio rolls his eyes.

"Quit sulking. D'you know how hard it is to sell someone dying by fencing to the modern audience? Because it's really damn hard."

"Yeah, well, I'd've rather not done it, you know. It wasn't exactly my idea."

"You could've shot him."

Hamlet glares at him. "That's dishonourable."

He might be born in the twentieth century, but he's still a prince. (Well. Ex-prince.) He has morals. Horatio arches an eyebrow.

"And killing your dad and having sex with his wife wasn't?"

"That's different," Hamlet says. "I'm better than him."

Horatio sighs. "I suppose it'll always come back to that. Yeah, you're morally superiour, Hamlet. That's great. But you're also dead."

Hamlet mirrors his sigh, because he has a point there. (Some days, they sigh like it's a contest, or a concert. All is not well in the state of Denmark.) "Along with everyone else."

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, as is Polonius - and Hamlet actually did shoot him, which is just sad - and Laertes and his mother and Ophelia. Unlike him, they've all managed to move on.

To sleep, perchance to dream, his arse.

"I miss you," Horatio murmurs, uprooting grass with his fingers. Dimly, Hamlet thinks that it must be cold. "You were without a doubt the best person I've ever known."

Hamlet sits down next to him, and Horatio shudders involuntary, because while ghosts are supposed to be incorporeal, they still manage to give off cold like a reverse radiator.

"And you," Hamlet returns. The past tense irks him - he's still here, okay? It doesn't look like he's leaving any time soon - but he's pretty sure that Horatio is starting to think he's insane.

Which is probably right on the money, but what can you do.

"Hamlet," Horatio says, "why are you still here?"

"Well, it's not dawn yet, is it?" Hamlet says. As far as evasions go, it's pretty horrible. Horatio turns around and looks at him.

"It's because I'm scared shitless, Horatio," he doesn't say - instead, he forces a grin. It feels like something you might see on a skull, which is appropriate. "Well, I thought we all agreed I was a spineless bastard."

"True," Horatio says, and smiles. It looks weirdly ... fond on his face, and Hamlet isn't sure what to make of it. "I've often found it to be one of your better qualities."

And that, that, is an insult. Hamlet isn't corporeal enough to hit anyone over the head, but that doesn't stop him from trying.

When dawn comes, they're laughing.