Flirting with Death

"Hey there, stranger." The voice, strangely calm, flirtatious even, startled Death, and he jumped, nearly upsetting his drink. Here, it was always silent, save the occasional clink of glass on marble as Charon, the bartender, moved glasses around, and the only interruptions ever were either terrified screams or frantic questions filled with thinly veiled panic.

"Shelly," Death said, grinning, having finally recognized the owner of the voice. "Long time, no see. What's the deal?" he asked, squinting up through the rosemary scented haze that perpetually permeated the air of the Styx bar.

Shelly shrugged. "Lack of funds, mostly. Potentially deadly activities are expensive. Legal ones," she added firmly, cutting Death's suggestion short.

In response, Death shrugged his shoulders and grinned as Shelly sat across down across from him. "I missed you, you know," he said suddenly, arranging his face into a mask of sincerity.

This time, it was Shelly's turn to grin. "I bet you did." She looked around, coolly regarding Charon, who simply nodded in return, before looking back to Death. "And I bet you say that to all the girls."

"Right." Death offered up a wry smile. "I'd never seen a girl more than once before you, and I'll probably never see another girl as many times as I've seen you." As he spoke, Death reached out and took one of Shelly's hands in both of his, after which he was so shocked he nearly let go, both by the desperation in the act and the fact that he could; never before had he been able to actually hold onto her. Maybe this was a sign that this time she would actually stay? That she would actually succumb and finally be claimed by Death?

"Oh, how you flatter me." With a mock coy smile, Shelly pulled her hand back.

Death could tell his touch had unsettled her, though she tried to hide it, but it had excited him, filled him with a joy he hadn't known in years. With this joy, he grew bolder, and reached out across the table—which, it seemed to Shelly, had suddenly grown smaller—to cup her cheek in his hand. He could feel as her breath hitched, with what he did not know. "Please," his voice was near pleading, "Stay?"

Shelly's eyes fluttered shut, as if maybe, just maybe, she was considering it, and Death grew even more hopeful when she lifted a hand to cover his. But then she tightened that hand. "I-I can't," she said.

"But… Maybe I can work out something for you!" Death suggested, sounding far too eager for his own liking. "I'm really just sort of a messenger, but I do have some pull, and if I talked with the higher ups, I could get you…"

"Sorry." Shelly cut him off as she opened her eyes. "But not now." With a slightly pained expression, she pulled Death's hand from her cheek and got up. She was halfway to the door when Death called out.

"Can I at least buy you a drink?"

Shelly paused, again, as if she was considering, before looking over her shoulder and offering Death a flirtatious smile. "Maybe next time. Patience is a virtue." And with that, she was out the door.

Back in the intensive care unit of a small hospital in the middle of nowhere, a woman, her husband, their son, and a doctor that had been working for far too long looked up as one of the many machines connected to a young Ms. Shelly Wall started beeping again.