Micah Thaxter has a problem -- one scary, inconvenient problem. His shadow wants him dead and isn’t shy about it.
On the plus side, it’s not his time to die and Scary Gary is always there to carry him back to the land of the living. Gary is far too pale, his black cloak a bit out of fashion, and his scythe quite terrifying, but he’s still one of the most beautiful men Micah has ever seen.
Micah may be stuck with a homicidal shadow, but perhaps there’s a way to keep Gary around too. His job escorting souls keeps him busy, but since Micah has already died once today, Gary’s there. So what’s the harm in offering him a cup of tea?
“Micah. Time to wake up.”
A cold hand lightly slapped Micah’s cheek, and he sucked in a breath. “Stop it.” The croak was a surprise. Though, considering he’d been strangled, it shouldn’t have been.
“Oh, it talks.” Gary’s unimpressed huff would have made Micah smile if he’d had the energy. Squinting at Gary, he noticed they were in his apartment. His small, safe, apartment.
“Are you okay?” The worry in Gary’s voice had hot and cold clashing in Micah’s chest. Those unnaturally blue eyes skidded over his face and he wondered how many scrapes and cuts there were this time.
“Of course. I just missed your cheerful company and was wondering if maybe you’d be up for a nightcap.”
Gary groaned and rubbed his eyes, his shoulders slumping as if Micah had stolen what little energy he had. Guilt, and maybe a little worry, had Micah struggling to sit. There were bloody scrapes on his forearms. Bruises encircled his wrists -- that was new. He frowned at them and glanced at Gary.
Gary flew to his feet, pointing a pale finger at him. “Do I need to remind you --” His black cloak billowed around him, blue smoke wafting from around his ankles, and his face etched in stern lines. Had this been the first time Micah had seen him, he’d have been petrified.
“Oh, shut up, Scary Gary. Do you want a drink or not?” Micah refused to acknowledge the way his hands shook and how he wished Gary would sit on the sofa next to him.
“-- that you can’t go outside after dark.” Gary sighed and rubbed his forehead, his shoulders slumping as some of the fight -- fear? -- leaked away.
“I think I was the one who first informed you of that fact.” Micah tried to get up. His entire body ached, but he gritted his teeth and stood. He hated when Gary thought of him as an irresponsible child. All his life he’d had to deal with this shit, and, yes, he should’ve known better, but he’d been ... immersed in a history book. He grabbed his glasses off the table and slipped them on. The world didn’t become any brighter, but at least there were no cracks in the glass this time.
“And yet you end up dead more often than not.”
Micah rolled his eyes. “I can’t die. It’s magic.” It was. He refused to allow the familiar sadness to grab hold of him. He’d live forever, trapped in his apartment, unable to go outside once darkness had fallen, and everyone he knew would die. Everyone but Gary.
He glanced in Gary’s direction. The cloak was out of fashion, and a day in the sun wouldn’t hurt, but he was still one of the most attractive men Micah had met -- if he could be called a man.
Gary blew out a breath and turned to the window facing the street where Micah had died a little while ago. “There are fates worse than death.”
Too true. “Yeah, but I don’t have to worry because you’re my knight in black armor.” If only. Gary had probably been around since the beginning of time, why would he care for someone like Micah?
The silence stretched for too long. “One day I might not be there.”
“Sorry to break it to you, but when someone dies you come. Crash, boom, bang, and blue smoke, and there you are, scary as fuck unless you know there’s a kind soul within.”
Gary frowned at him.
“Sometimes I see you right before I go, not you, but I see the smoke and the shadow of your cloak and the ...” He nodded at the scythe. “Then I die, and when I wake you’re there, yelling at me.” He chuckled hoping Gary would do the same -- he didn’t.
Unease pooled in Micah’s gut. Gary was too quiet tonight, too serious. They’d been through this before, many times. Micah only needed a couple of days to recover and he’d be fine.