Title: Between Hell and Back
Characters: Godot and Diego Armando
Word Count: 1262
Summary: Before death, Diego and Godot meet at a coffee shop.
Diego meets the older man at a coffee shop, the type that sells the atrocious crap that neither of them would ever drink. Diego watches the woman at the next table over as she stirs her drink; the sheer amount of cream on top makes Diego feel physically ill.
So Diego’s not entirely surprised to discover that the older man has brought his own coffee, in a mug that seems to have appeared out of nowhere, black and bitter, just the way Diego likes it. Diego stares at the atrocity in his own cup, and for a moment, he almost considers asking the other man for a sip of his coffee, but in the end, his pride won’t allow it.
“Been waiting long, Kitten?” the older man asks, leaning over the table, a familiar grin spreading over familiar features. Diego doesn’t like being referred to a kitten, but doesn’t want the older man to know that he’s gotten under his skin, so he just laughs, and says he just got here.
“Hah,” the older man snorts, a hand moving up to the visor that covers half of his face. “Long enough to buy that, I see.” He indicates the billowing cup of something-or-other sitting in front of Diego.
Diego’s quick to assure the older man that he doesn’t usually drink that sort of stuff. “It’s not my favourite,” he admits.
The older man pauses, puts the mug to his lips, and takes a long sip. “But it’ll do in a pinch.”
Diego laughs again. “Something like that.”
The older man exhales, the sound is weary, as if he’s been waiting for a long time. “I blend my own drinks, you know.”
Somehow, Diego is not surprised. “Yeah, I do too.” He does not take a sip of his own drink. To do so would almost feel like blasphemy in front of this man. He doesn’t embarrass himself in front of public; that’s one of his rules.
“I know,” the older man says with a smirk, raising the mug to his lips once more. Diego thinks the drink looks divine. “There’s something different about this one though,” the older man says, setting down the drink so heavily that coffee sloshes down its sides. “Can you guess what it is?”
Diego pauses for a moment, almost as though he’s asking for permission to look closer. The older man nods assent, and Diego finds himself staring into the mug's depths – he doesn’t get it. It looks like a normal old cup of Joe to him, darker than the darkest nights. Of course, who knew what even what the most ordinary of nights held?
“Don’t see it?” the older man asks, the smile on his face twisting. Diego leans back in his chair, almost nonchalantly, his hands tucked behind his head, determined not to let on how annoying it is not to know what on earth the older man is on about.
“This brew…” the man trails off, more for effect than anything else, “it’s not numbered. You know why?”
Diego scowls, and then covers it up with an uneasy laugh. “I number all my blends,” he says, hand ruffling his hair now, as if it needed to be any messier. “It’s one of my rules.”
The older man leans on the table, a hand resting thoughtfully on a stubbled chin. “My blends are never numbered higher than double digits; that’s one of my rules.” He laughs Diego’s laugh as he takes another sip of coffee.
There’s something that’s been discomforting Diego this entire meeting; the older man is a perfect stranger, but he seems so familiar. Too familiar. Perhaps Diego has suspected it since the moment the other man sat across from him, but that doesn’t make sense. This man knows who he, Diego Armando is, but Diego knows nothing about him.
The older man fills in the silence. “The only number that this brew represents has three digits, all the same. Know what it is, Kitten?”
Diego scoffs, at the name more than anything else, although the older man’s grandstanding is deserving of derision as well.
“It’s death, Kitten; liquid death.” The older man takes a sip, and the world fades around Diego – why’d he come to the coffee shop in the first place? He can’t remember…and hey! He never finished his own cheap, nasty drink.
Diego wakes up in a hospital bed for the second time in three months. He vaguely remembers the nurses telling him how lucky he is to be alive. He’s been to hell and back, they say.
He asks about his Kitten, his Mia, and the nurses exchange a glance between them. Gently they tell him that Mia Fey is dead.
Diego Armando dies, and Godot is born.
Godot wakes up in a hospital bed and raises a weak and trembling hand to his face. The damn wound’s open again. Hah.
He remembers speaking with Diego, drinking his special blend. There’s not much time left in the world for old Godot. Death’s nothing to be scared of, though – he’s already been to hell and back.
It takes all of his remaining energy to turn on his side and look at the man sitting by his bedside. “Hey, Kitten,” Godot whispers, his voice tired – of course the end is near now. Diego shouldn’t even be here – it doesn’t make sense. Godot briefly wonders if he’s dreaming.
Diego laughs, runs a hand through familiar messy hair. “Have to take care of you, old man,” he says, drinking a familiar cup of coffee.
Godot walks up to the door of the coffee shop, drinking his own special blend. He marvels at how it’s stayed warm all this time, while there was something still left to live for. Godot hates this place, and its cheap atrocious drinks. Once upon a time, he would have glanced at the menu, hell, maybe he would have purchased one of these sad excuses for coffee. Godot’s not that type of man anymore.
He spots the younger man sitting alone at a table, and sidles into the seat opposite him. “Been waiting long, Kitten?” he asks, leaning over the table. Godot likes how the nickname makes the other man squirm.
“I just got here,” he laughs, his hand curling around the cheap, nasty excuse for coffee sitting in front of him.
They banter, and it’s familiar, but for some reason, Godot doesn’t know why. He puts it down to the reason that he knows the other man better than anyone else does, even though they’ve just met. They start talking about coffee; despite the trash the younger man is contemplating, it’s a topic dear to both of their hearts.
“The only number that this brew represents has three digits, all the same. Know what it is, Kitten?” Godot asks. It’s a dangerous number, all right, the number of the devil. But when one’s been to hell and back, the devil is nothing more than a familiar friend.
“It’s death, Kitten; liquid death.” He raises the mug to his lips – the coffee that had managed to stay warm after all this time has now gone stone cold, but instead of doing one of the spit-takes he is famous for, Godot forces it down, feels it rush down his throat, and thinks to himself that Hell’s just around the corner. The coffee shop burns down around Godot: out of the corner of his eye, he sees Diego clutch his head.
This time, neither Godot or Diego Armando wake up.