Rating: PG (overly cautious, I think, there's just a couple words & I figured better safe than sorry)
Author: Kat (amelie1689)
Characters/Pairings: George-centric, George/Mason-ish
Word Count: 1,784
Summary: Originally written for Challenge #309, "still," at writers_choicebut somehow wound up being several hundred words longer than a true drabble; George reflects on her past years as Head Reaper of External Influences, Seattle, and maybe, just maybe, gets her happy ending.
Spoilers: Nothing really series-specific, makes some references to the movie Dead Like Me: Life After Death.
Disclaimer: If I owned Dead Like Me I would be sleeping at night, not getting out of bed at four in the morning to write fanfic = none of what you see is mine.
Notes: I was up late again polishing off a fandom pitch for fandom_of_oneand must've still had Dead Like Me on the brain from the night before because I tossed and turned for an hour or so before suddenly just *seeing* George sitting on a lake shore. Next thing I know, details come flitting out at me (such as "still water") and I was left, as I am far more than I care for, irritatingly reaching out for pen and paper (what I got was a red marker and the back of Calculus notes from who knows how long ago). I wrote this from about 4 in the morning until sunrise and, as you can imagine, had a brilliant full sleep afterwards *yawns*, that, and the fact that it's my first Dead Like Me fic, should serve as quality warnings before you read this (it's very rambly and light on punctuation - run-on sentences abound and I'm just too tired to try and fix it up; an experiment in minimal dialogue).
A Completed Un-Life
Amelie Rae Lanhoss
[A/N-I'm exhausted and really can't be bothered with coming up with anything - make of this what you will. Here's to K.M.L.
One-Shot: A Completed Un-Life
George sat down on the sandy shore, arms wrapped around legs tucked under her chin, and looked out at the still waters of Elliott Bay. Life wasn't fair - well, life, death, whatever - just wasn't fair. Earlier that morning all that had been left of the original group was her and Mason, and now the bastard had left her too and she was still here. Rube had, of course, gotten his lights long ago and whoever had a twisted sense of humour upstairs had seen fit to make her, of all people, the new Head Reaper of the External Influences division of Seattle, which hadn't made Roxy too happy - she was still considered a newly dead, after all, while Roxy had been dead for over 25 years. Of course, it was never discussed that by that logic, Daisy and Mason would both make Head Reaper before her because while Daisy may have been able to handle it, who in their right mind was really going to put Mason in charge of anything? Eventually, Roxy grumblingly decided that the only reason George had been chosen over her must've been because George was the only one not to participate in the killing of Cameron Kane; a new reaper, Tony, was brought in from Chicago to complete their department of five and the four-some continued to un-live in all their dysfunctional familial glory. Though George tried whenever she could - or rather, whenever she remembered she should and could actually be bothered to do so - to include the new department member, but the former mobster turned reaper was more used to the quiet, calm solitude of Plague division and most days only came in to the IHOP (their new "headquarters" since the burning down of Der Waffel Haus) for his post-its and left again.
Even in death loss was frighteningly real and Rube's hit them all harder than any of them cared to let on, even to each other. For another 14 years, George handed out post-its, reaped a variety of souls, argued with Roxy, battled Daisy's beauty products in the morning, hung out with Mason and occasionally drove by the old Lass homestead just to catch a glimpse of the mother she never could've imagined missing so much. Then, it was Daisy's turn: one night she never came home and the next morning Mason walked into the IHOP with a dark face and an extra soul in tow.
Fitness buff Audrey Heeley had been climbing a tree in an ill-fated attempt to put a bird's nest that had fallen down back on one of the tallest branches. A little ways down the road a repairman, whose coffee a graveling had just knocked over in his lap, swerved his van in shock and accidentally hit a pole, knocking down the live wires it held aloft, one of which fell onto Audrey's tree with enough current that Audrey, who at this point was standing on a branch and carefully reaching up to put the nest on the next, was shocked by the unexpected jolt, lost her footing and fell, breaking her neck. Audrey was furious at being dead, forever just 5 pounds shy of her target weight, and constantly demanded to be returned to her gym, to life and to her family - in that order - for those aggravating first few weeks and George sent up a silent apology to Rube if he had ever found her half as irritating. Without Daisy, Roxy easily assumed the bossy parental role in their group, with George glad to give up some responsibility and Mason and the others more or less falling into line, and visiting Reapers were often surprised to find out George was actually the one who kept the appointment book and handed out post-its.
Another 7 years passed, in which Mason permanently moved in with her, Roxy was made a detective, Audrey more or less settled in and Tony suddenly started staying around longer - though no one missed that this unexpected and unprecedented phenomenon coincided with Audrey's arrival - before the name R. Lass appeared on the list of scheduled dead. Both Roxy and Mason offered to take the post-it ("No one expects you to reap your own family, Georgie," Mason had told her in one of the gentlest tones she had ever heard him use while Roxy nodded along sympathetically in a way she’d never seen) but George had insisted she be the one to do it. Her sister was only 37 years old and had four kids of her own, George knew it wouldn't be easy on her but she still wanted one last chance to say good-bye. When the pre-determined hour of death came there were tears (on both sides, if she wanted to be honest with herself) and George promised to look in on their mother and her family before Reggie stepped into a Mustang of lights, waved and was gone. For most of the way home she felt good about herself, until she came across a woman standing over a car crash who was yelling frantically at everyone around her with no reaction or response and her heart plummeted to her feet. That night, with the new reaper, Laura, safely placed on Audrey's couch, Mason sat up late with her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders as she ranted at the injustice of it all. If only she had let Roxy take the reap her sister would still be around to look after her own stupid family. If only she had been told ahead of time that it would be Roxy's last reap. If only, if only.
For 19 years now it had just been the two of them, her and Mason all that was left of the old crowd. They'd lived together, laughed together, bickered together, drank together...he'd stood by her in the back of first her mother's funeral (she had died of natural causes at the ripe old age of 82 and as a favour to Penny, who had also gotten her lights, the new Head Reaper of that division had let her know) and a year later as she buried her father (he had foolishly decided to go sky-diving to impress his new, young girlfriend and had a heart attack) and if the others sometimes wondered if there was more than just casual touches in their shared life, death, whatever, well they could just go fuck themselves.
That morning they'd both had reaps out on Sunny Shores barely an hour apart and so, as had become the norm, they headed out there together. The typical death on a lake was drowning but they morbidly amused themselves anyways, inventing deaths with tree branches, bear traps and vengeful bees. Before long, a couple came running down the beach holding hands, shrieking and screaming in glee - Mason bumped into the woman, E. Harris, while George grabbed on to the shoulder of the man, R. Harris, to keep from falling. Apologies were exchanged all around and the reapers sat back and watched as the living couple raced each other into the water, a graveling scurrying after the woman. It had only been a few minutes when the woman's soul appeared next to them and looked around baffled. She asked after her husband and Mason patted her on the back as, in the water, her husband realised she'd been underwater for far too long and started frantically calling her name. As he started diving deeper and deeper into the lake looking for her, the women started screaming his name and turned to George in a panic, but all she could do was point her to the lights that were starting to appear in the form of what was probably a rock concert. George’s heart sank as the woman’s brow furrowed in confusion and Mason took an awed step towards them before spinning back around with a stricken, heartbroken gaze to look at her.
“Go,” she responded dully.
He glanced behind him before looking back at her again.
And he walked backwards into the lights, staring at her the whole way. She forced herself to smile at him one last time before he disappeared and she was left alone. Alone with his supposed replacement, one Elizabeth Harris, still yelling for her husband who was coming back up for air more and more infrequently. She glared at the woman and rolled her eyes before calling Laura to come get her and slumping down into the sand, arms around legs, knees under chin. If it had been any one of the other reapers who got their lights, George would’ve pitied the woman who would die almost at the same time as her husband and lose him not once but twice, as he would get his lights and she would be stuck reaping for god knows how many years, as it was, she just couldn’t be bothered to spare the sympathy. Just as George heard a Jeep pull out onto the beach the man’s soul appeared next to her and his wife was quick to embrace him. She rolled her eyes again and grumbled, standing up and turning away from the nauseating display of affection to await the lights that would undoubtedly cause unwanted tears on the part of Elizabeth and some sort of pathetic display of hesitation from Ryan. Laura stood next to her, opened her mouth and, glancing at Elizabeth and then George’s thunderous expression, clearly reconsidered asking after Mason.
When the lights started trickling down Elizabeth seemed to realise what had happened to Mason and what it meant for Ryan and the predicted blubbering and attempted bargaining commenced. George couldn’t help but take a step towards the forming lights that were starting to suspiciously resemble Der Waffel Haus. She took another step. No, it couldn’t be…could it? Was that…Kiffany pouring coffee? Another step. Coffee for Rube? Rube! And Daisy filing her nails! Another. And good old dependable Roxy. Roxy still in her police uniform? And another. Now the door was opening and there was Mason looking somehow cleaner and neater than she had ever seen him while still unkempt and grinning, holding the door open. He held a hand out to her, Daisy looked up and smiled, Rube waved and continued sipping at his coffee, Roxy nodded and Mason wriggled the fingers of the hand outstretched towards her. They were still all there! She felt a genuine smile spread hugely across her face as she took his hand, stepping into the warmth and lights. She never looked back at the three reapers, two brand new and one looking up into raining post-its, still standing on the beach.
[End A/N-Originally the ending was very different and much more in keeping with the feel of the prompt "still" but it wound up looking like this instead and since it was already too long to officially be for the prompt, I figured what the hell, why not. I'll probaby still post the original ending some other time.