freezingrayne: (Calavera.  Manny Calavera)
[personal profile] freezingrayne
Title: Love is for the Living
Characters: Manny, Lola
Rating: Worksafe
For [community profile] oddible
Teaser: “Life,” he says. It’s the best sort of dodge, and the cheapest. Everyone knows that life is off limits as a topic of conversation, even to an ex-reaper like him.

Tiny, underrated, adventure game fandom FTW!!!

The ice clinks against the side of the glass like music, a staccato counterpoint to the smooth trickle of jazz sliding out of the club’s open windows. Manny takes a long drag on his cigarette and imagines that he can feel the wind on his face.

It’s gotten easier with practice, like the smoke he draws into his lungs—the sensation is gone, but the memory of it, the pressure, the slow burn, that’s almost good enough.

“What are you thinkin’ about?”

Manny blows the smoke out in a long, thin plume. “Life,” he answers. It’s the best sort of dodge, and the cheapest. Everyone knows that life is off limits as a topic of conversation, even to an ex-reaper like him. “What are you doing here, Lola? A nice girl like you can do better than a place like this.”

“How are you so sure I’m a nice girl?” Lola asks, stepping up to the railing. It’s not the sort of thing you ask a guy when you’re on his private balcony on the top of his nightclub.

“Because I know you, Lola,” he tells her, not unkindly. “You’re too good for this whole city.”

“So are you,” she tells him, and it’s so earnest and wide-eyed that it makes Manny’s heart ache. Or it would, if he had one.

“I haven’t been any good for a long, long time.” He takes one last drag on the cigarette and stubs it out. The ice in the glass has melted to tiny slivers, shards of floating glass, lightening the whiskey to a pale gold. “So why aren’t you at home, Lola? Nobody you want to see?”

She shrugs. “Not really.” She makes a noise that sounds like a laugh. “You’re thinking about her, aren’t you? About Meche.”

Manny grunts. Not an affirmation, but not a denial either. Even if he hadn’t been focusing on her at that moment, there wasn’t ever truly a time that he wasn’t thinking about her. His whole life for the past year had been dedicated to finding her, bringing her back. A woman he’d only know for a few minutes—his salvation.

“You must really love her,” Lola says after a minute or two. She’s almost as bad at taking a hint as she is at being dead.

Manny laughs. “Love if for the living,” he tells her, echoing words he’d said before, a year ago exactly.

Lola stares out across the water, to where the sky hits the sea, a perfect line of velvet blue and black. In never really goes completely dark on El Dia de Los Muertos. “I don’t like to think that way, but maybe you’re right. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you about the girl who was asking about you earlier.”

“What?” There’s a clank and a crash as Manny sends the glass tumbling to the patio floor. Shards glitter at him like a thousand tiny eyes. “What did you say?”

Lola shrugs again, managing to look innocent. “Some girl. Wanted to know if I’d ever heard of a Manny Calavera.”

“What did she look like? Lola, tell me!”

“I dunno. Dead. Pretty. Nice coat.”

The glass crunches under his shoes as he practically sprints for the door. “I owe you, Lola!” he calls back.

He thunders down the steps and through the lounge, filled with something that he doesn’t have a name for. He doesn’t set much store by cliché, but maybe Lola’s right. Maybe love doesn’t live in the body, maybe it lives in the soul. Or, at the very least, in the bones.


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December 2011

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