A Sketch in Octarine
Summary: Hanna has one particularly mysterious aquaintance, and he doesn't seem to want to take no for an answer. Well, it's not as if many people say yes to him.
A/N: I just realized that I never archived this! Woops. Enjoy.
"I'll only be gone a moment," the zombie insisted, as much as anyone can insist with exactly one tone of voice. There was a kind of firmness in the statement despite the apparent lack of emotion. "Worry about Mr. Achenleck tomorrow. After the events of tonight—" he glanced toward the window and seemed to think better of it, "—Last night, you'll need food and sleep more than anything else."
Hanna did a one-eighty. "You remember that stuff!"
"It would appear so," the dead man replied, carefully picking Hanna's wallet off the floor.
"Yanno, I once read a book about amnesia. It was like, you remember everything except your own life so I guess that's how amnesiacs can still speak whatever language and stuff, and I hadn't thought about it but I bet you've got the same thing."
"Perhaps." The zombie pocketed Hanna's wallet and reached for the fedora hanging on the door handle. "The symptoms do sound similar. What do you want me to get for you?"
The living man waved a hand, grinning. "Just grab me a poptart or something. Uh, try not to get anything too expensive… you can probably tell, but I'm not exactly rolling in the dough. Eheh."
"I'll be frugal."
Hanna fell backwards onto the mattress, making the lose scatter of items around him jump. He grinned. "Can I just say, even if I did fuck up and get Conrad killed, I'm really glad last night happened. You and me, we are gonna solve some epic awesome mysteries."
"I'm looking forward to it," the zombie said, and this time Hanna could tell that he was perfectly serious.
The red-head grinned. "Okay, okay, go buy some food. I'll hold down the fort while you're out, no prob. See you in a bit, Machiavelli."
When the door closed, Hanna let out a deep sigh and then broke into an even bigger smile. Oh man, he had a roommate. He had a freakin' partner. They could go to Wafflehouse together and watch pirated videos on his laptop and solve crimes and wear matching shirts…
He kicked a shoe at the light switch, flipping off the electricity. Ten points for that one, definitely. A faint orange glow caught in the little window, a lot like his new partner's eyes only way less cool. Hanna figured he was going to be sleeping till noon and he'd have to let Imhotep know about his day job at some point, oh, and they really had to set something up with Mr. Achenleck, give him the run-down on the whole vampire deal. Tomorrow night, maybe, and he could run by Doc Worth's before meeting up and grab some blood for him, engender some goodwill? He felt really really bad about getting the guy killed, and if there was a way he could help out…
YOU MAKE MY JOB VERY DIFFICULT.
Hanna glanced over at the far (relatively speaking) end of his apartment, where a tall shadow was looming in the corner. Hanna slid his glasses off—they still had dried blood on the lenses—and turned his head in that direction. It was interesting, he reflected, that something could be so obviously black, and yet have a distinct coloring of purplish green.
"Hey," Hanna called out, grinning tiredly, "haven't seen you in a while."
YOU MIGHT COUNT YOURSELF LUCKY FOR THAT.
Hanna shrugged. "How are you?"
SAME AS EVER. AND YOU ARE, APARENTLY, THE SAME CHEATER AS WHEN WE LAST MET.
The shrouded guest had a voice like heavy lids slamming closed and footsteps echoing in dark places. It rattled through the thin frame of the apartment, shaking the runes that Hanna had taped to the walls and leaving the coating of dust untouched.
"I never cheat," the human denied, crossing arms over his horizontal chest. "I got Conrad fair and square."
HE WAS SUPPOSED TO DIE TONIGHT, HANNA.
"Well he did die. He just didn't stay dead."
The figure moved closer, long robes fading into the dirty floor, and the silver curve over his shoulder glittered, the color of moonlight and dark questions. It, he, projected an aura of severely tested patience.
I HAVE A QUOTA. I HAVE A LIST. CONRAD ACHENLECK WAS SUPPOSED TO SHUFFLE OFF THIS BLOODY COIL TONIGHT, AND NOW I'M DOWN ONE BRITTISH IMIGRANT. WHERE AM I GOING TO PICK UP ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE?
"You always get mad when I grab one of your assignments," Hanna sulked. "I'm the hero, it's my job! And if you're so specific about your stupid quota, how come Artos isn't rotting in a grave somewhere? Did you lose track of that one?"
YOUR ZOMBIE FRIEND WAS… A ONE TIME DEAL. SUCCESSFUL RESSURECTIONS PAY QUITE WELL. ALL UNDER THE TABLE, YOU UNDERSTAND.
"Really? Hey, then can you tell me who he was? Yanno, before he died and all."
I DON'T THINK SO. THAT'S PART OF THE RULES. AND EVEN IF I DID, YOU WOULDN'T HAVE A CHANCE TO TELL HIM ANYWAY.
Hanna looked up and down the figure, trying to get a look under the hood. Last time the hood had been down, but then, last time it had been midnight too. Slowly, he sat up.
"I shoulda known when you showed up like you did. I'm supposed to kick the bucket tonight, huh?"
I ALWAYS COME IN PERSON WHEN A MAGICIAN DIES. YOU HAVE ABOUT THIRTY SECONDS BEFORE YOUR TIME RUNS OUT.
The entity reached over his shoulder and wrapped chalk white fingers around the grip of his scythe. Morning light caught in the blade as he hefted it.
LAST WORDS, THEN?
Hanna grinned again, although there was something sharp in it now.
Three things happened very quickly after that: Death swung the scythe, aiming for Hanna's neck; outside the window, the sun rose just high enough to break over the skyline, sending shots of gold through every second story for miles; and Hanna, without hesitation, grabbed the glittering weapon and wrenched it out of Death's hands just as sunlight came pouring in the tiny window, bouncing off the angled scythe and into the dark folds of Death's hood.
A horrible keening noise went through the apartment as the entity recoiled, hood askew and bone-white face now bared. Eyes like distant stars in the depths of empty sockets stared down at Hanna.
YOU BLOODY CHEATER.
The human shrugged. "I have the scythe. Rules is rules."
IF YOU CAN CHEAT, THEN SO CAN I.
Peeling his bloodied hands off the blade, Hanna laughed. "No you can't. You know, that's my favorite thing about the supernatural… so many binding clauses."
Death was grinning—he always was—but now there was something distinctly dark about it. YOU KNOW I'LL GET YOU EVENTUALLY, HANNA. YOU CAN'T OUTRUN ME FOREVER.
"Yeah," the human admitted, "but everybody's got a right to try. Now, if I give you this back, you have to swear you'll leave me and my friends alone until the next mortal crisis, okay? Uh, and that includes Doc Worth too."
A knock at the door cut through the tension-thick air. Death and Hanna both turned towards it like they'd been caught doing something illegal.
"Hanna?" a familiar monotone voice called out, "I can't seem to find the key…"
Quick as a heart attack, Death snatched the scythe back from his errant prey. DEAL.
Hanna went running to the door, shouting something about locks and having to hit the door the right way. Death retreated back to the dark corner whence he first arrived, observing the young man with grim interest. As far as he was concerned, this little hiccup was but a bump on the road to the inevitable, and he had time to wait. He had all the time in the universe.
The last thing the entity heard, before he faded back into the darkness between worlds, was a cool, toneless voice saying:
"Hanna, why are your hands bleeding?"