"Do you really have to go?" I asked Rube.
Just like what he and Betty had agreed with Mark, they will both return to Heaven 3 days after they've been pulled down. "I have to," he said. "My time here had been long over and my family is probably been waiting sick for me to return."
I turned to Betty. "How about you?"
"I'm returning too. Though I shouldn't because I never completed my quota, the Boss told me that it's okay now. He said that someone had volunteered to complete my quota for me."
I sighed in defeat. I know that they won't stay for long but I still hoped that they'll stay a little longer. They might have been around for 3 days but most of those times were spent working under a tight deadline and we'd never had the chance to have some bonding moments together just like the old times. But still, I am happy for them that they finally had the place and peace that they deserved after serving as the minions of Death for almost a century. "So it's goodbye then."
Betty sadly nodded. Rube hid his sadness under his unemotional demeanor. "Don't be sad, George. We will surely see each other again. Once you meet your quota, I'll certainly welcome you in Heaven."
Heaven? My Light. I almost forgot about that. I almost forgot that I'm not going to be staying in the living world forever. That little by little I'm earning my fare to fly myself to Heaven. "Thanks Betty," I embraced her. And then to Rube, "I will miss you."
"I'm proud of you, Peanut. You've done pretty well." Rube said softly against my ear.
"I have a good teacher," I said when I pulled away. "Though I can never be as good of a Head Reaper as you."
"No, Peanut. You've been way better."
He nodded. "Stay well."
"I will," I said as tears escaped from my eyes. "Hey, the others are not yet here. Why don't we wait for them first to say goodbye."
Rube shook his head. "I'll pass. I'm not really much into the many fusses before leaving."
"Are you sure?"
He nodded. "Just tell them to stay well and stay out of trouble especially Mason and Daisy."
"I will," I said and then gazed to Betty. "Betty?"
"I'll pass too. Rube and I quite think alike in this matter. That's why we didn't say goodbye on the first time that we left."
In the middle of our conversation, Mark materializes beside me. "You guys ready?"
The two of them nodded and Mark snapped his fingers. A blinding opened behind Rube and Betty. "See you later, Peanut."
"See you later."
And then he turned to Mark. "Take care of her Boss."
Mark smiled. "Of course."
They waved goodbye to us for the last before finally walking into the light, returning to Heaven where they truly belong. "I'm gonna miss them."
"If I only knew that it will make you sad, I shouldn't have brought them back."
"No, its fine," I said, wiping my tears by the back of my hand. "At least I got the chance to see them again."
"Are you okay?" he asked, placing his hand on my shoulder.
I half-forced myself to nod. "Yeah…I'm cool," I said in a voice that betrays my words.
"Why don't you take the entire day off?" he suggested. "Reggie could use a company of a sister."
"How is she doing?"
"Enjoying her rest but is bored being alone."
I finally cracked a wholehearted smile. "You're right, maybe I should join her."
One Week Later…
I don't know if it's just me or is Mark is really avoiding me. It had been a week ever since we'd stopped that huge catastrophe that could have erased half of Seattle from the face of the planet. And since that day, I noticed that Mark had been gradually increasing the gap between us.
Before, he will always find a way or an excuse to be with me or he will invite me for a drink or dinner. But within these past few days, he rarely calls nor shows himself up except if he's delivering the Reap list.
"What the hell is going on?" I furiously asked him when he tried to leave again without even saying a word.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"You're avoiding me again."
"I'm not avoiding you."
"Yeah right. I'm not stupid Mark. I know it when people are trying their best to stay away from. I can tell because I've been doing that ever since I grow my teeth."
"It's not avoiding, George. It's precaution. Just deal with it. It's the best for both of us."
"And who are you to say what's best for us."
"Because I'm your Boss and you're my Reaper," his expression was hell born and it honestly scared me. On that single moment, I saw Mark not as the man that made love to me at night but Death that every living creature feared.
"What does that supposed to mean?" I went cold with dread.
His gaze froze me to the core. "I want you to stay away from me. I want you to pretend that you never knew me. I want you to do your job as a Reaper, reach your quota, and step into your light."
The mere thought of what he was asking had set my temper into total eruption. "You're kidding right?" I said, smirking. "Did the Gravelings gnaw your brain that you missed to see the irony on that? Mark, I'm dead because of you. I become a Reaper because of you. And now, after who knows how long, I started to feel alive once more solely because of you. And then you'll ask me to forget you, to pretend that I never knew you. Tell me? How am I supposed to do that!?"
But there was no backing down on his determined expression. "Don't you understand?" he said in a harsh voice. "The longer I stay with you, the more I am attached to you. The more I can't let you go."
"Oh so that's it. You hate attachments, so you're pushing me away."
"Bullshit! I've been alone since the dawn of time. I've been looking after this world single-handedly and I'm sick of it."
"Then why are abandoning me? If you don't want to be alone then why are you pushing me away?"
"Because you deserve better, you have a Light and Heaven ahead of you. If you stay longer with me, it'll be harder for me to let go of you. And sooner I'll do something really really stupid just to keep you."
"And you don't want to do that?"
"Of course," he gave me a sincere look as calmed a degree. "It's cruel and it's selfish. You deserve a paradise and I can't strip you of that just because of my selfishness."
"You know what, for someone who is a thousand times older than me, you're stupid. You already said that the milk is wasted even before it's spilled. You concluded that I will leave without even asking me if that's what I want."
"Does that matter?"
"It does matter, you asshole. Didn't it occur to you that what if…what you want and what I want is the same thing? Or did the Gravelings really gnaw your brain that bad that you'd preferred to sulk like a pig than to consider that."
"You don't know what you're talking about."
I reached out to him and hold his hands. "No, I know what I'm talking about. And I also know what I want."
He shook his head. "George, you can't do this to yourself."
"I'd taken for granted a lot of wonderful things when I was still alive. I'm not going to do the same mistake again."
"But what about your quota, your Light, your Heaven? Are you gonna just throw it all away?"
"Are you crazy?" That's not what I have in mind. I have no plans of abandoning anything anymore. Not on this second lifetime of mine. "Of course not…I'm gonna make one on my own." I lifted my hand and rest it on his cheek. "Starting now."
Mark smiled. Something I haven't seen for quite a while. "You're one crazy bitch, you know that?"
"And you're an asshole. I can't believe that someone as pathetic as you is feared by billions of people."
He pulled me to him, wrapping me into a tight embrace. "If I can stay with you I won't mind being one."
I closed my eyes as those words touched me deeply. "I love you, Mark, and I will never leave your side."
"I love you too."
As I held him in my arms, everything that I've been through these past 6 years since my death returns to me in utter clarity.
Death for me was just a wake up call. When I died, I realize a lot of important things. I learn how to value those that I often take for granted. I realize my mistakes and how to make them right.
And above all of that, it gave me friends. It returned the sister that I once lost. It gave a meaning to my existence. And most of all, Death gave me love.
So fuck life. Screw second chance. Even if I get one, I will still walk the same path and become a Grim Reaper.
Someone who is taking souls from the living.
Someone who hang out in a Waffle House and squat in a dead man's house.
Someone who read Death Schedules and issue post-its.
Someone, who is Dead Like Me.
To all that followed and read my fanfiction of Dead Like Me, thank you so much for all the support. :)