Author's Note:

So. Finally had enough of being a lurker. The thing below ignores the DLM movie's events. Not sure it works well on its own—I plucked it off a pretty long WIP sitting idly in my folder; it's a piece I've never had the guts to completely immerse myself in—but I figured I can die any day and I probably wouldn't be able to sink into eternal repose knowing I hadn't posted this.


Four years in the business and Georgia Lass had yet to become indifferent. To life, which had never stopped alternating between sunny and crankily rainy, and to death, which had ranged from pointlessly grotesque to cathartic and revelatory. The two, George had decided, were very similar. Almost twins. They fed off of and nurtured each other, formed a self-sustaining system George had never ceased to be curious about but was nonetheless thankful for.

She had kept track of her family. No use denying that. But the drive-bys had been surreptitious—nothing more than glances and protracted breaths—so Rube hadn't found reason to talk her out of them. Besides, he knew she would've gone mad if she'd completely lost contact. And there weren't a lot of things more difficult than reacquiring sanity once it'd been thrown out the window.

Darkness had already eaten up Der Waffle Haus and its vicinity when the chimes jingled welcome to a petite blonde and her poker face. Her arms didn't swing as she walked to the booth Rube had claimed for the evening. She plopped down in front of him, eyes all but dead from computer radiation. She looked at him and managed a smile.

Rube looked at his watch. Seven twenty-eight. Nearly two hours later than her usual check-in time. "Delores needed help with her laundry?" he asked.

"Something like that."

Kiffany lifted a menu board, placed a finger on it, and raised her eyebrows at George who held up six fingers and mouthed, "Thanks."

George turned back to Rube. He was staring. Didn't even flinch when he got caught, which made her think he was going to drop some sort of bomb before the evening ended.

"What?" she asked.

"Nothing. You just look nice today."

"You too. Grew your hair out a bit. You been getting advice from Dave?"

Rube just winced. "Well, he is kinda nuts. But he has good hair," George said when she realized she wasn't going to get a verbal response.

Rube's eyes met hers, and he smiled. Something was up, she thought, but it wouldn't do her good to try and forcibly—or sneakily—get it out of him. He didn't like being manipulated, and George was happy to have at least one guy she didn't have to be deceitful around.

Kiffany came with her bowl of fruit and orange juice. She had taken to eating the glow before the grow and go after reading a magazine article about how doing that was supposed to aid one's digestive system. Not that she would be in any physical danger if she hadn't, of course. But the magazine had been for humans, and George had thought it nice for a reaper not to separate herself from the species. George took up her fork and speared a cantaloupe cube.

"You really have grown a lot, huh?" Rube said, stirring sugar into his coffee.

"Mm," she replied, though she suspected it was the fresh and sweet fruit talking. Then it hit her. "Wait, what?"

"You were untamed, Peanut. Hostile. Bit every hand that came close."

"Uhuh." George cocked an eyebrow. "And the realization struck... just now? With you swirling coffee and me eating fruit, talking about some mad man's hair?"

"Perfect lighting, aromatic meals, relative seclusion. Got pushed to hit the subject, so I did. But since you seem to have—"

"Okay, you can stop now." George shot him a glare, which he promptly returned. The contest lasted a good five seconds or so—she didn't really bother to count—before she sighed and her whole stance softened. He was right. Der Waffle Haus was being extra-conducive to heart-to-hearts. She decided to ride his mood. "You know, I didn't really count on distancing myself being the easier approach. Persistence can be fucking irritating, and aggressiveness comes in real handy when shooing shitheads away, but in a business as delicate as ours—"

"You think blown-off heads and unfurling entrails are delicate?"

George rolled her eyes. "Thanks for the visual. I mean death. Doesn't matter if you die in a long-term care facility or a gas chamber..." George's eyebrows met. "Wait, no, it does. I'd much rather have it end for a serial killer than a sweet old cat person." Rube regarded her intently. George let out a sigh. She continued, "But wherever it ends, and whoever you may be, the details don't seem to matter as much as the idea of death itself. You know as well as anybody how the we-can't-intervene thing annoyed the fuck out of me at first, but then I asked myself... What if I had access to the details? What if I held the pen of fate? What would I have done then?"

George focused on the floor, looked as though she was deep in communion with and seeking answers from it. Rube cleared his throat.

She gasped, then her cheeks colored. "Nothing, probably. I'd've just frozen." Her shoulders rose as she heaved. "And so I realized things are better the way they are now. It's about finding your place, and I think I've found mine."

They held each other's eyes, all smiles, hearts full of something they felt needn't be put into words.

Rube broke his gaze. "Well, what can I say? You're faster at this moving-on gig than I was," he said.

She broke into a wicked grin. "I didn't die in the twenties. Can't think of a lot of things more compelling than that conservative shit. Or impeding. Whichever."

"Very funny, dead girl."