Death and Vetinari can't go shopping for curtains, can they? Take this!
Tiniago GOADED me; Nisshoku gave me the title.
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HOW ABOUT THIS ONE? said Death. He held up a swathe of black cloth dotted with cheerful white bunnies.
Correction: cheerful white bunny skulls.
Vetinari doubted the fabric had existed before Death had walked into the shop, but Death had a way of changing reality around him without even noticing it. It came with the job. Life was strange when you were an anthropomorphic personification.
It was even stranger when you were conducting a relationship with one.
"It's . . . unusual," he said carefully. "Where do you plan to hang it?"
PERHAPS YOUR OFFICE? said Death. THE . . . OVAL OFFICE?
"Oblong," said Vetinari.
RIGHT. SORRY. YOU KNOW HOW IT IS, ONE GETS SO MUDDLED WITH ALL THESE UNIVERSES.
"Indeed?" said Vetinari.
He wondered if all skulls looked this appeasing. It could just be the immovable grin, he supposed, but somehow he doubted it. He'd seen plenty of skulls in his life, but none of them were like Death, although presumably they had encountered him.
"Let's keep looking," he said diplomatically. "These matters require careful consideration."
Death turned back to the fabrics, which suddenly looked very black and very dotted with skulls. He would probably have to contract a new housekeeper again, Vetinari thought. As if the bedroom incident hadn't been bad enough . . . .
"How is your granddaughter?" said Vetinari.
SUSAN? Death paused in his search for gruesomely cheerful textiles. SHE IS . . . DIFFICULT.
"I understand descendants usually are," said Vetinari.
SHE DOESN'T RESENT YOU, YOU UNDERSTAND, said Death, a little anxiously. SHE KEEPS SAYING, "WHY MUST YOU BE SO WEIRD?", BUT SHE ALWAYS SAYS THINGS LIKE THAT.
Vetinari made a polite noise, indicative of understanding and sympathy.
"Have you made your choice?" he said. "I do not wish to hurry you, but I have a meeting at eleven o'clock . . . ."
YES. Death held up another swathe of black fabric, looking hopeful. It was exactly the same as the first he'd chosen, except the skulls looked like bird skulls now. Birds that had been little yellow tweety balls of fluff in life, if Vetinari was any judge. Death had a curiously penetrating taste in these matters, although it usually penetrated exactly the wrong place.
"A striking choice," said Vetinari.
YOU THINK SO?
"The staff will be impressed," said Vetinari. He made a mental note to remind his secretary to advertise for new help. If the secretary was still around, that is.
"We'll take this one," he said to the salesgirl hovering a few yards away, looking like she had been seriously contemplating her mortality in the last half an hour. Vetinari tended to have that effect on people. Death, on the other hand, merely struck them as someone very tall, very thin, and very polite. The black robes didn't even register.
Vetinari enjoyed the irony.
"We should do this more often," he said to Death.
Death didn't beam, but his grin was a little shinier than it was a moment ago.
THIS WAS . . . FUN, he said, with the uncertain intonation of a man speaking a foreign language. He bent.
There was a press of cool bone against Vetinari's forehead, and then Death was gone.
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