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05 March 2014 @ 07:31 pm
Discworld Rincewind Ficlet  
For a prompt of comment_fic of: Death + Rincewind, the day Death finally catches up. Anghammarad then appeared, because my brain is an odd place and it struck me that he and Rincewind might have a fair bit in common? *shakes head* I'm a little weird, I know -_-;

Title: Traveller's Rest
Rating: PG
Fandom: Discworld
Characters/Pairings: Rincewind, Death, Anghammarad, mention of Cohen. Rincewind & Death
Summary: Death finally catches up with Rincewind, Fate, Luck and quantum aside. All that's left, then, is what comes afterwards
Wordcount: 1529
Warnings/Notes: Um. Death, obviously. Afterlife. Comfort, maybe, and rest. Spoilers for Going Postal
Disclaimer: Not mine

Traveller's Rest

"I HAD HEARD," Death said, with a certain degree of idle curiosity, "THAT YOU HAVE A PHILOSOPHY OF RUNNING. IS THIS TRUE?"

The ancient wizzard blinked up at him from the ground, a tangled knot of bone and sinew and sequins where he'd tripped, for perhaps the first time in a very great many years, over his own feet. There were a good few decades worth of wrinkles feeding the exasperated scowl on his face, resulting in a rather impressively furrowed expression.

Death, of course, was unmoved. But then, he often was.

"... Philosophy, yes," Rincewind said eventually. Glaring up at his companion, but with no real animosity. More an annoyed resignation, really. "Though I've argued for religion, too. Depends on the company. Gods can be a bit strange about that sort of thing."

"HMM," Death said, with the amusement of someone who generally doesn't have to bother with gods overmuch. "I HAVE WONDERED. WOULD YOU DEFINE THIS PHILOSOPHY FOR ME, PLEASE?"

Rincewind sighed heavily, gathering his limbs to pull himself back to his feet. There was a small moment of necessary discombobulation when he realised he was drawing said limbs through what had, until very recently, been his chest, but he shrugged it off quickly. With everything he'd run through in his life, death was only mildly disconcerting, and even rather a relief by this point. It was difficult to get up a proper head of speed with arthritis all over the place, and difficult to judge terrain when your eyesight wasn't what it used to be. He'd never claimed to be Cohen the Barbarian or anything. Besides. Cohen'd never had to be fast, just quick. There was quite a lot of heroing you could do standing still.

Escaping, not so much.

"It wasn't that complicated, you know," he explained tiredly, reaching down to dust his rear off and straightening his hat out of long habit. "I've never understood why people have such a hard time with the idea. All you have to do is keep going until the screaming stops, and then some more just to be sure. It doesn't matter where you're going. It never matters what's ahead. It's all about what's coming behind you."

Death tilted his head curiously. On kittens, that kind of thing looked cute. On seven foot skeletons, somewhat less so. Probably fortunate, Rincewind thought. Those are the kind of things you probably oughtn't to be able to confuse for each other.

"I HAVE HEARD SEVERAL PHILOSOPHIES THAT STATE IT IS THE JOURNEY, RATHER THAN THE DESTINATION, THAT IS IMPORTANT," Death said at last, and it was hard to tell when he was more or less perpetually grinning, but Rincewind thought there might have been some amusement in it. "WOULD YOU SAY YOUR IDEA WAS SIMILAR, THEN?"

Rincewind squinted at him, with the kind of suspicion for placid, meandering questions that several decades of working with Archchancellor Ridcully trained into a man. There was a trap here, he could just sense it. But, well, he was dead. Not much point in being cautious now, was there?

"Close enough," he agreed, having more or less given up. "Not the journey so much as the point of origin, though, and getting as far away from it as possible in the smallest amount of time that can be arranged." He shrugged. "The destination tends to sort itself out, really. No point worrying about it when there are much more pertinent things to be concerned about."

Death appeared to consider this, idly reaching into his robes and pulling out ... Ah. Well. Rincewind took a look at his erstwhile life timer, or what was presumably his life timer, possibly after it had made several trips part-way through dimensional boundaries and perhaps engaged in some ill-advised liaisons with the more esoteric types of alchemical glassware, and thought to himself that perhaps a nice little rest really would be a good idea after all. Death ought to be quieter, at least. And involve a lot less in the way of Fate, Luck or quests.

Hopefully. If there was any mercy.

"... YES," Death said, after a moment. Stowing the now-useless timer back away, and looking over at Rincewind with something that might have been compassion. He moved closer, holding out one black-robed arm and waiting patiently for Rincewind to blink for a moment and accept the help climbing out of his previous body. "MOST PEOPLE FIND, IN THE END, THAT THEIR DESTINATION IS SOMEWHAT INEVITABLE. IN THIS, YOU MAY WELL HAVE BEEN CORRECT."

Rincewind paused briefly, the impassive strength of Death's arm under his hands and the remote, infinite thing in Death's eyes fixed almost gently on his. He paused, and he considered that. Turned it this way and that in his head, examined it from the kind of angles only a man who has taken tours through several of the more interesting dimensions can imagine. And in the end, rather quietly, he decided he liked it.

"Well," he tried, with a odd sort of smile. "It's nice to hear that once in a while. The fact that you've been right, I mean. Makes a nice finish to a day. Or a life. If it comes to that."

"YES," Death agreed, patting gently at Rincewind's arm with bony fingers. " IT WAS THE LEAST I COULD DO, FOR SUCH AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE. IT HAS BEEN ... INTERESTING, I THINK PERHAPS IS THE BEST WORD."

"Interesting," Rincewind repeated wryly. Thinking back on enough near-misses to fill several books, and warp a life timer beyond all recognition. "Yes. Lets go with that, shall we?" He smiled a bit to himself, before shaking his head and remembering that he was still essentially resting on Death's arm. He let go, taking a somewhat hasty step back, and grimaced apologetically. "So, um. What now, then?"

Death looked at him for a minute, a slow, thoughtful passage of time. "... IN MANY CASES," he said, "THERE WOULD BE ANOTHER JOURNEY. MOST SOULS DO NOT STAY STILL VERY WELL. IF YOU WISH, YOU MAY TAKE THAT OPTION. HOWEVER ..."

Rincewind blinked up at him curiously. "However?" he prodded, in mixed fascination and resigned anticipation from a lifetime of other shoes. Death tipped his head sideways and then, bizarrely, reached out to rest an extremely heavy hand on Rincewind's shoulder.

Almost comfortingly.

"HOWEVER, THERE IS ALSO THE OPTION TO ... STAY. HERE. FOR AS LONG AS YOU WISH." He squeezed Rincewind's shoulder gently, something that would probably have hurt if Rincewind had still had a body. "THERE HAVE BEEN OTHERS WHO HAVE DONE SO. THOSE WHO DESIRED ... A DESTINATION."

He pointed out over the dunes of an endless desert, to a burning figure a little way away. Rincewind squinted curiously, until the shape resolved itself into what looked for all the Disc like a golem made of fire. He blinked, and looked questioningly at Death.

"HE IS ANGHAMMARAD," Death told him, with a soft, contemplative tone. "A GOLEM. HE WISHED TO REMAIN HERE, WHERE THERE ARE NO TASKS TO BE COMPLETED OR JOURNEYS TO BE UNDERTAKEN. IT IS, I THINK, WHAT FREEDOM MEANS TO HIM. A FINAL DESTINATION, FROM WHICH HE CANNOT BE ASKED TO MOVE AGAIN." He paused, a odd look on his fixed face, and inclined his head to Rincewind once more. "IT IS NOT MY PLACE TO GIVE ADVICE, AFTER THE POINT OF DEATH IS PASSED. BUT IT OCCURRED TO ME ... THAT YOU AND HE MIGHT PERHAPS HAVE A PHILOSOPHY IN COMMON?"

... Yes, Rincewind thought, a little distantly. A place with nothing to do and nothing to run from, ever again. A place to stop and know you'll never have to restart, with a companion as perfectly content with that as you. Yes, that might ... that might be a destination he'd like to share, at that.

"You're not wrong," he said at last, an odd distant note in his voice too. Looking back at Death, finding a bright, uncomplicated smile in himself to offer his companion. The lights in Death's eyes shuttered briefly, a startled blink, and Rincewind grinned abruptly. Reached out to grip Death's arm for a change, and pat the bones lightly in their turn. "You know what? You're not wrong at all. That sounds ... that sounds like just about the best idea I've ever heard in my life, actually. Thank you."

"... YOU ARE WELCOME," Death murmured, bemused, but glowed happily enough as he steered Rincewind gently around towards the golem over the next rise. Content, maybe. And happy, in his way, to have helped an old friend. "I SHALL LEAVE YOU TWO TO IT, THEN. GOOD LUCK?"

And Rincewind, at the finish line for the first ever moment in his life, nodded cheerfully at him, and set off for the last few yards of sprinting he'd ever have to run again. Skidding to a happy halt beside a still, burning figure, and settling down cheerfully at his side to introduce himself, and exchange horror stories, and pass away eternity where no force could ever hound either of them again. A wizzard and an extremely senior postman sitting in an endless, sourceless desert, whiling away eternity.

Yes, he thought. This was a very nice finish to a life indeed.
 
 
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enchantersnight: Fox and Houndenchantersnight on March 8th, 2014 08:42 am (UTC)
Lovely, I only hope when his end does come it is something like this
icarus_chained: Cloud Roadicarus_chained on March 8th, 2014 11:47 am (UTC)
*smiles crookedly, nods* Me too. Heh. Thank you!
rum_game: LoMrum_game on April 27th, 2014 03:34 pm (UTC)
awesome fic!