Title: Hopscotch and Dandelions
rating: PG, Angel/Sandman crossover.
spoilers: Sleep Tight
summary: Wesley and an old friend go on a walk.
archive: lists, contractuals, others by permission.
disclaimer: Joss and co own Wesley; Neil and Vertigo own Death.
"It's queer," I said to her, looking down at the grass. It was already
starting to get cold and wet with dew. "How soon it stops hurting."
She nodded, the smile on her face faded a little. I felt bad that she
was sorry about it. I wasn't sorry--not really. That had been something
of a surprise. I hadn't been at all sorry to find myself face to face
with her. In fact, I had perhaps been looking forward to it.
"This wasn't supposed to happen, you know," she said thoughtfully. "My
brother's very worried about what this means. He even tried to prevent
it. But you're pretty damn stubborn about what you want, Wesley. Or
Wes. Probably should call you Wes, shouldn't I?"
I nodded. She knew me too well. Of course, she knows everyone too well.
"In my defense, I wasn't actively searching for it," I said.
"Of course not," she said with a solid dose of sarcasm. "Just
passively. Because it's so much better to be passive-aggressive."
I almost felt guilty then, but I looked at her and she'd managed to
smile again. I supposed that was her nature. She was rather like
Cordelia in a way, with the tough happy-go-lucky nature and
"I like Cordelia a lot," she confessed. "I was glad that she went the
road she did with the visions. Not surprised--Cordy's a fighter. Facing
down the gates of hell and all that."
"I know exactly what you mean," I said, taking her proffered hand.
"It's rare. And beautiful."
"I think you're sorrier about this than you'll let on, Wes," she said,
squeezing my hand. "I'm sorry, too. But you seem to be mostly glad to
be done. And it is your choice, after all."
"My choice?" I said. "I thought I'd made it. After all, you're here and
we're on our way to wherever one goes after death."
She smiled at me wistfully. "Everyone should be so nonchalant about a
special offer," she replied. "My brother and my sister have a bet."
"About me?" I said. "Odd that anyone cares that much."
We stopped then, or really, she stopped and I was required to pause
along with her. It looked like we were still in the park across from my
house. Considering my companion, it could be. Or it could be somewhere
quite different. I wasn't sure. But she looked at me carefully, her
eyes sparkling black and not-quite-human. Her ankh was lovely, silver,
probably priceless. Definitely priceless, considering its owner.
I hadn't quite pictured Death that way, but when she came, I recognized
her immediately. It's funny how that works.
"Grow up, Wes," she said. "I know she hurt you. I know they've all hurt
"Then you know a good deal, don't you?" I said, suddenly angry. Then I
remembered to whom I was talking. "Sorry."
"It's okay," she said. "You've had a bad year."
"That's an understatement," I said, looking at the sidewalk. It was
cracked and there were dandelions growing through. One of them was in
bloom, cheerful yellow despite its precarious position. If I could have
stepped on it, I would have.
"So here's a question," she said, changing the subject abruptly. "Do
you think Rachel's going to get together with Ross or Joey? Joey's a
lot sweeter. But Ross--there's the history."
I started, surprised enough to look at her again. She had her arms
folded with a mischievous grin on her lips.
"I beg your pardon?"
"On Friends," she said. "You know, the show? Don't you watch it?"
I blinked. "Occasionally," I said. She looked at me. Damn, but the
woman knew me well! "All right, all right--Joey."
"No wonder you're depressed," she said. "Not that I disagree, but
there's a perfect example of why you're not happy. You want to be
something you're not and worse, that you don't deserve anything because
you're not that thing."
"What sort of help is that!?" I said. "Just because I know what's the
best for her?"
"That's just for one woman out of billions," she pointed out.
"But I thought--" and I shook my head. "I have terrible luck with love.
Or anything involving happiness. Or anything involving life, for that
"So it's not easy," she said. "That just means that when the good bits
come along, you'll treasure them more than most people. If you choose
to go back, that is."
"Should I?" I said. She gave me a look.
"I'm not saying one way or the other," she replied. "Not my call. Not
I looked at the dandelion. Stupid thing, growing in the cracks. There
was an entire damn world of green grass and open soil not five feet to
its left and there it was, struggling through the concrete. Well, I
could almost hear my companion say, bloom where you're planted.
"It's not bad advice," she said, lifting an eyebrow. "Some things bear
"I was tired of all the hurting," I said. "I was doing my damnedest and
it wasn't doing anything. Shouldn't good things eventually happen if
you're doing the right thing?"
"If good things naturally happened to good people, don't you think
everyone would have figured it out by now?" she replied. "Major
"I suppose so," I said. "I wish that I wanted to go back. It would make
She nodded and promptly began to play an impromptu game of hopscotch
that had been chalked onto the sidewalk in bright purple, probably by
the neighbor girls.
"You should maybe find a psychologist, if you go back," she said.
"Could be helpful in dealing with living. Or maybe try a new hobby
outside of work. Like kite-flying or swing dancing. Hey, look at this!"
She closed her eyes and hopped across the hopscotch grid, arms behind
her back. Death was playing hopscotch while advising me to take up
swing dancing. It was less surprising than it should have been.
"When you come for me next time, we'll have to walk again," I said. "I
would have never expected Death to play hopscotch."
She smiled. "Arms crossed behind my back and everything."
"I'm Death, Wesley," she replied. For a moment I got the full blast of
what that meant and it wasn't exactly amusing anymore. Though not
exactly un-amusing, either. "I'm impressive by nature."
That made sense. We walked back toward my body and what had seemed far
away was suddenly so close that I almost changed my mind.
"Will it hurt?" I asked.
"Probably a lot."
"Will they forgive me?"
"You'll have to wait and see."
She touched my cheek and her hand was soft and barely cold. I didn't
want to go back. She let go of me, turning away into the shadows that
were suddenly darker and more real. I blinked and she was suddenly
walking away down the sidewalk, leaving me behind. But I had one last
"Why am I doing this?" I called after her.
I could barely hear her, but her answer rang through my head as I sank
back into life.
"Because you want to," she replied.