Crackling sounds nip through his ears, piece by piece, only to hit the window over and over again. Hooves stomp and clank through the streets, slowly but with a pace that says the horse must make hast. Still, with each scattered crackling sound around it, the horse continues to press on, stopping to flinch as a droplet passes into its eye and it is forced to shake.
Time: 8:46 pm, and there were stacks of work left unfinished. A train whistle blows by and it seems the rain has become even more hasty, tapping at the only glass window in the room. What a slow night, indeed.
With each passing breath, the grim reaper took notice of his right side, as it had only begun to ale him. Adjusting for comfort in his office chair, he closed his eyes for a few moments, removing his spectacles and placing his fingertips to his forehead.
Knock, knock, knock, the three small raps at the door only briefly deterred him from his aches and pains. Sighing, the reaper placed his spectacles back upon his fair and pale face, opening his fluorescent green eyes.
"Come in," he spoke softly but with that melancholy appeal, as usual.
"Slow night," another reaper walked into the office.
"It is," he replied. "Since we're trapped here until the weather lets up."
The reaper flipped back his long, sleek hair, breathing in the fresh rain scent of the air and letting out a sigh of his own. His death scythe was set aside as he sat in the chair next to his comrades. For a while, he stared out the window, watching the crackling raindrops as they crashed violently against the window along the beat of the rolling thunder. He turned back to face his comrade.
"Out of paperwork yet?" he asked.
"Almost," the reaper replied. "What are you doing in my office anyway?"
The reaper took off his crimson jacket, ringing it out near a wastebasket along with his flaming red hair. His unmistakable red hair. He looked up from his frames as he did so, a smile on his face and with a low volume of laughter. Removing his black gloves, his manager stared intently, annoyed as ever with him.
"Here," the reaper placed down his soul collections for the evening, and his manager looked up, slightly impressed. Adjusting his glasses, the black reaper stared at the paperwork. "Have some more work, dud."
"You went out in this weather?" he asked. "Against quota for the evening? I thought I told you not to collect until tomorrow. It's a dangerous sort of weather." Thunder crashed outside multiple times like the cymbals of a drum set.
"Oh William, if I couldn't turn in my soul collections this evening because of some silly rain, well then, what kind of grim reaper would I be?" he asked.
Sighing, Will took the report. "You're not hurt, Sutcliff?"
"Not a scratch," Grell confirmed. "Though, my clothes are most definitely ruined for the evening. You're welcome."
"Of course they are," Will spoke, scanning the report. "How long do you intend to stay here?"
"Until the storm lets up of course, just like you told me to do just now," Grell said, eying Will who closed his eyes briefly in annoyance.
They were trapped, everyone on duty tonight was at least. The storm had turned deadly, so intense that with lightning firing itself off every few minutes, the reaper association came to a soul collection halt. Any souls passing during the storm would need to be collected as soon as the weather let up. Even a desperate demon wouldn't go out in this. The light would expose them and the rain would only tire them out.
Grim Reapers, however resistant they seemed to the weather, even had to wait for this. The rain would only spot their spectacles, the wind may blow them completely off, and the lightning would most certainly arouse suspicions among the average passerby to see a few men walking around with suits in a storm such as this. It was announced as severe weather, even the radios were talking about it.
William T. Spears did not mind this, for he was productive with other paperwork that had come piling itself onto his desk throughout the week. However, it was coming to the point where even Sutcliff could finish everything he needed to do tonight, especially if he'd gone on a reaping himself.
The power flickered itself out within moments of Grell's arrival, making him overreact somewhat to the new surroundings with only light fixtures being the window and the thunder coming from outside.
"Calm down," Will said, standing and reaching into a closet door. "Grab a match."
Grell spotted the fire matches on Spears' desk, lighting the candles Will brought out. As usual, he was prepared for anything and almost everything. Grell shivered from his spine, stripping himself of his vest and white undershirt.
"What are you doing?" Spears asked.
"I'm drenched," Grell protested, hanging his clothes on the ends of the chair. "I've leaving these to dry."
He placed a few more candles around the room, along with some near his clothing in hopes to keep a dry environment. The silent moments pleased William greatly as he finished Grell's report overview and looked to have it filed by tomorrow morning. Looking up, he couldn't help but note Grell's chest as he rubbed his hands up and down his arms, seeing that friction would come as a proper source of heat.
After giving his red spectacles a quick cleaning, he sat atop Will's newly cleared desk, leaning down.
"No more paperwork?" Grell asked. "What will you possibly do now?"
"Wait for the storm to let up," Will replied, pushing up his glasses. "What will you do?"
"Stay here, I should think," Grell said, knowing Will couldn't really kick him out of the office without a good reason.
Will pushed his chair out, leaning back, almost feeling a sense of relief. The delay would of course mean more work tomorrow, possibly even overtime, but just this once, Grell would not be the cause of it. He leaned his head up, noticing Grell still looking at him.
"Why did you go out reaping tonight?" Will asked.
"Oh, that," Grell said. "Well you see, that gorgeous old Undertaker found me, begging me to come in, asking about souls that have gone uncollected and were sitting in his shop. I went in and took the souls from him, noticing that a few were on my own list for tonight. That's when the storm was getting quite nasty. I took his souls to the library, where they were crossed off the list, but I'm sure plenty of them didn't make it to his shop.
"That's when I decided to go on a reaping myself. I knew the storm would only get worse, but with two off my list already, I only had 20 more to go," Sutcliff explained.
"Undertaker picked up souls?" Will inquired. "How so?"
"Flooding," Sutcliff replied. "Said something about a recent cremation incident. He was handed bodies left and right to keep store for the night, and I hear even a few urns were knocked over. Sounded like a bloody mess."
"Hmm, indeed, interesting," Will said.
They shared another silent moment, watching the window become tainted with raindrops to the point where it was no longer seeable through. Suddenly, Grell sat himself into Will's lap, wrapping his arms around the black reaper's neck.
"Sutcliff, what the hell?" he asked.
"I'm cold," Grell replied, whining. "And you're warm." He snuggled up against Will.
"It's not like anyone's coming in," Grell added.
"Very well," Will wrapped his arms around Grell's back, securing his position on his lap.
They watched the storm with nothing better to do, literally. Its passing was not for another hour or so, at least until the worst part was over. The reapers already in the association were asked to look for any additional souls not collected, record their names if possible, and bring them in, just as an extra service. There were undoubtedly bets in place out of the sheer boredom already about who would collect the most souls not on their lists.
Grell did not concern himself with such a matter once he found himself a most comfortable spot, nestled close to Will. Once he gave Grell what he wanted, Spears found it most surprising that Grell would almost instantly stop complaining, giving off a much more calm demeanor. Perhaps even a little too calm, but whenever Spears looked down, Grell was wide awake, breathing and leaning into his shoulder.
"Do you like rain?" Grell's voice was near to perfectly smooth ice with a sharp crystalized spark whenever he spoke consonants. Will was almost startled by this seemingly random question, as he'd become quickly accustomed to the silence.
"I suppose it has a need to the environment."
"My God Will, that doesn't answer my question," Grell said. "Do you like it?"
"It's delaying our production, so I'm going to say no, no I don't like it one bit."
Typical William T. Spears answer. Grell sighed.
"I think it's calming," he said. "And just think, for right now, no work."
"Yes but later-"
"I said right now. Enjoy the moment, Will," Grell scolded, looking out the window.
The overtime was inevitable, but as the rain pressed on too dangerous for even the reaper's association, Will watched as the storm created chaos among England's land. Nature was above even a grim reaper, and they knew it was the only thing that could prevent them from working. That and of course any slacking that was procreated by the reapers themselves. Spears was waiting eagerly for his chance when the rain let up just a little more so he could advance with soul collections for the evening.
That moment couldn't come fast enough, but Grell was leaning in close and loving the lazy time.
"You don't know what to do with yourself do you?" Grell asked, making Will turn to face him. "You're such a workaholic when there's no work to be done, you lose yourself." Spears said nothing.
"I'm surprised you weren't killed," Will said. "Lighting likes to strike the tallest thing in sight. You usually take the rooftops on your collections."
"You really think people were in the streets?" Grell asked. "Not many."
"And you even risked losing your makeup and hair."
"I'll admit I was a tinsy disappointed about that, but rain isn't the worst thing I've caught my hair in," Grell smirked, showing his sharpened teeth and batting his green eyes at Will.
"I'm impressed," Will said. "You actually got your work done Sutcliff."
Grell gasped, acting shocked and admitting that impressing Will was all he ever wanted to do. He hugged Will closer to himself, sighed and kept watching the rain. Spears patted Grell's shoulder, keeping him securely on his lap so the red reaper wouldn't fall over.
"I never tire of you," Grell said. "You amaze me."
"The only reason I tolerate you is because I've nothing better to do and when I do have something better to do, I tire of your thick skull," Will said.
"Ouch, so cold I love it," Grell was leaning in even closer so his face was a mere few inches away. "If I gave you my word not to boast or brag or be loud, could I lock this door and ravish you?"
"No," Will said. "Most certainly not." Grell pouted for a few moments.
"Oh fine," he said, patching a kiss onto Will's cheek. "I'll take what I can get." Grell picked himself up off of Will's lap.
"Why don't you socialize with those out there?" Will gestured into the hallway.
"Ha, are you insane? Them?" Grell said. "They think I'm too old fashioned. The other reapers from when we went through school were either transferred to other areas or are on higher positions of power. Since my practical skills rank higher than all of theirs averaged together, I find myself forever in soul collection."
"Why didn't you transfer with some of the others into Glasgow when you had the chance?" Will asked.
"Are you really asking me that question?" Grell replied, checking on his wet clothing and death scythe. "You. I'd much rather be called old fashioned and collect the souls of London if it means I get to work with you."
His eyes sharply caught Grell's as the red reaper slowly lifted himself off of his manager's lap.
"Yes, you heard me right," Grell replied, pushing up his glasses. "As long as you're here, I'll be just around the corner. I'll have you one day, Spears."
Grell made his exit after one more kiss to his cheek. Checking the outside, Will noticed there was a moment the rain was starting to finally let up.
Ugh, he could be so infuriating...