The Reapers Girl Part One:
In the beginning he hadn’t thought about what happened after. He was just there to collect what belonged below, but she changed all that.
They’d never fought him before. The relatives of those who had passed were usually blind to his appearance, oblivious to the role he played in transporting souls to their final destination, but she was different. He didn’t understand it, she just was.
He stood back in the shadows, the dark hood of his jacket covering his face. His vantage point gave him the perfect view of her as she swung her red hair over her shoulder, laughing at some unheard joke told by the plain looking girl sat in the cafe booth in front of her. He felt drawn to her. It was like some unseen magnetic force pulling his whole being in her direction. He hadn’t felt anything like this before; if he had even felt anything before?
He wasn’t built to feel, he just was. Like the wind or the rain, he was undeniable, inevitable and he couldn’t be fought. But she’d fought him. He’d arrived to collect the soul of the boy, the one who had been killed by her brother. She didn’t see him do it, she didn’t know it was him and so she blamed Death when he came to collect her friends soul.
He traced the memory in his mind as his fingers ran along the scar nestling in his ebony hair. He’d bled when she hit him. He hadn’t known he could bleed. It hurt too, the pain blossoming across his crown. It was an entirely brand new sensation and it took him a while to connect to it. He could call it to him now, the pain, though as part of the memory that went with it. He could tap into it, turn it over in his consciousness, inspect it and poke at it like a child poking at a sore. It was fascinating to him, she was fascinating to him. It was difficult to carry on with his duties while she pulled at his insides but he didn’t know how to stop it from happening. He wasn’t sure he even wanted to.
The fingers of his left hand gripped the bark of the tree he was sheltering under, his senses unaware of the rough and unyielding bark beneath his touch. He couldn’t take his eyes off the red haired girl as she swayed and moved in time to the unheard conversation. It took until Khaos spoke, for him to realise he was no longer alone.
“What are we looking at?” she whispered, pushing her face up close to him, her chocolate coloured tresses tickling his cheek. It wasn’t often that his grandmother paid him a visit and trouble always followed close behind her short social trips.
He sighed. No doubt she had something to do with his current situation and that was why she was here; under a budding cherry tree, amid the mortals.
“Nothing.” He muttered, wrenching his gaze away from the red haired girl and settling it on the lithe form of his matriarch.
To the mortals they looked just like two high school kids, ditching school and trying to hide. Their physical forms never betraying the ages that had passed since they’d both come into being.
When the Titans had fallen his parents had faded away but there was no end to Khaos and her reign of mischief. The Olympians had never managed to catch her, no matter how hard they’d screamed and fitted each time she played havoc with their plans. She always had a way of escaping, to live and meddle another day. Death didn’t want her messing up the red haired girls life but he’d never be able to turn his Grandmother’s head if she decided that she was her next victim, so he tried instead to deflect the ancient spirit’s attention.
“What can I do for you, Grandma.”
He watched the micro-expressions on her face as he used the mortal term, hoping that baiting her might divert her focus. Her rose bud lips pouted and a brief glint of anger touched her eyes before fading away to reveal the look of smug knowing she usually wore.
“I’m just, you know, hanging around, looking for something to cure my eternal boredom.”
She stretched her arms above her head, shifting the high cut top she was wearing to expose a line of tanned mid-drift. Six feet away a mortal walking his dog walked into a lamp post, clearly distracted by the pretty girl flashing her skin. Death clenched his teeth, a thick ball of acidic irritation making him feel momentarily sick.His fists balled involuntarily. She was beginning to piss him off. This was another first for him, usually he didn’t care either way what Khaos did, it wasn’t his job to care, he collected souls and moved them on, that was his job, full stop. But now…An image of him laying a hefty slap across those rose bud lips danced around his mind and pulled at the corners of his mouth, forcing a smirk onto his lips. He tried to pull it back in and wipe the image from his brain but it was too late, she’d spotted it.
He didn’t see her move before she appeared in front of him, the fingers of her right hand splayed across his left cheek as she peered directly into his left eye. Her perfume irritated the bile in his stomach and forced some of it up his throat to singe the soft tissue. He wanted to shake her off but he was too concerned about re-directing her attention back to the red haired girl.
After what seemed like an hour Khaos pulled away from him, a look of deep concern etched on her usually flawless brow.
“You’re growing,” She said, a note of worry in her voice. “You’re changing, but that’s not supposed to be possible.”
Death wasn’t sure what she meant and the sudden change in Khaos’ attitude worried him. He reached up to trace the scar on the side of his head but she grabbed hold of his wrist before his fingers could travel the now familiar curve. Gently parting his dark hair she ran her own warm finger tip along the dent in his scalp.
“She did this.” she muttered, glancing back towards the cafe where the red haired girl was enjoying her second cup of coffee.
It was less of a question, more a statement of fact and it made Death’s insides roil. A sense of impending doom settled in his chest but it was soon replaced by a flush of anxiety.
“I’m sorry,” Khaos whispered, “I had no idea this would happen.” She pulled away from him her head hung, her soft features betraying a little of the eons of experience that she was carrying inside her.
Death’s emotions broke free and he instantly gave in to them.
“What?” He demanded. “What did you do?”
Khaos let her head hang a little lower, her chocolate coloured hair covering her sorrow filled face.
“I was bored,” she began, “but you have to believe that I did not see this happening.”
She exhaled sharply and raised her head to face him.
“I’m the last of my kind, the Olympians erased everyone…except you. You were incorruptible, immutable, unchanged, they needed you just as much as the mortals do. But they don’t need me and I was lonely.”
Death flexed his fists.
“What did you do?” He growled.
She exhaled again and threw her head back to stare up at the budding branches above them. The cherry tree would be blossoming soon, it’s delicate blooms scenting the spring air, one of the first seasonal reminders of the renewal of life.
“Does it matter?” she sighed. “I can’t undo it.”
Death let frustration trickle through his muscles and drain away into the ground under his feet. She was right. What would be the good of knowing if she couldn’t undo what she’d done? And did he even want her to undo it? Even now, the magnetic hold the red haired girl had on him was pulling him towards her. Did he really want it to stop?
Khaos turned to look at him again, a bright smile forced onto her beautiful features.
“Look at it this way, you’ve been given life, you’ve been renewed! And who more deserving than you, faithful servant of creation? You’ve never expected anything nor asked for anything. Who could deserve life more than you?”
Death had never thought of it that way. He had just done his job, served his purpose, fulfilled his function, it was what he had been built for. It had never occurred to him that there was more. Now it did.
“You should see this as an unexpected gift,” she continued “something to be enjoyed after all of your hard work.”
Death shifted his weight, trying to dislodge the last of his frustration but instead it morphed into a slither of fresh anxiety.
“But what if it goes wrong?” He asked, the anxiety growing. Very few things touched by Khaos ended well, he knew that, he’d been a central part of her clean up crew for centuries.
She reached out and rested her hand on his shoulder, meeting his gaze.
“I’ll be there to help you, I promise.”
Death had never seen his Grandmother look so serious. She suddenly looked like the adult she should be. A warmth spread from her finger tips and snaked it’s way to Death’s heart.
“I promise.” she reiterated.
Death closed his eyes and embraced the warmth. He felt loved, at least what he thought love should feel like. He relaxed and felt Khaos pull her hand away. He stood with his eyes closed for a while longer as the warmth began to fade. When he finally opened his eyes Khaos had gone and the blossom above him had begun to open. He turned his attention towards the cafe again just in time to see the red haired girl leave with her friends. The magnetic pull in his chest asserted itself once more, at the same time that the pull on his soul reminded him that he had work still to do.
“Those souls aren’t going to gather themselves” he muttered.
Casting another quick glance at the object of his new found affection, he promised himself that next time he would talk to her, but for now it was time to do his job. He just hoped that Khaos would keep her promise. This was not going to be a smooth ride, but he didn’t care as long as the red haired girl was there.