Deathly Visitations

April 30, 2018:

Azazel, Angel of Death, drops by to casually let Dani know that Phil Coulson's soul has escaped.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

It's just an average early evening. The kind that makes it seem like nothing out of the ordinary is going to happen.

In fact, for Danielle Moonstar, it is so normal that she's actually taking a break from /everything/. From pondering the fate of souls, from tracking an errant speedster, and from her X-Men and SHIELD type responsibilities.

This evening, Moonstar finds herself in the city, visiting one of her favorite little eateries. Well, eateries is giving it too good a name. In reality it's just a little hole in the wall and while barely more than two rooms, it sells the best donuts and fried 'pastries' around.

And that is where the black-haired woman can be found. Just exiting the little building with a wave and a bag of hot donuts carefully balanced within one arm. "Later Maurice, Shelly."

And out the door she goes. Already a regular old glazed donut is being fished out from the bag - please world, don't intrude.

The world intrudes.

Azazel is suddenely walking beside her. Jeans and a black hoodie with a little DoT monogram on it, today. The hood is voluminous, as if it could become a reaper's cowl at any moment. The golden light that radiates from within him adds a shine to them that others don't have. It briefly takes the form of an angel's wings, then disappears.

He is here on serious business, and yet he cocks an eyebrow and asks, "Did you get any Boston Cream? Those are the only ones worth eating, I find. Or the chocolate cake type."

It's even hard to tell whether he's seriously trying to bum one of her donuts.

Always great news, when a death omen shows up though, right? Especially one who can't appreciate a good plain donut.

There wasn't a death image hanging over her head this morning, or this afternoon, or late afternoon, so the bite of donut she now finds in her mouth is hastily swallowed versus choked on.

A slant of a dark eyebrow is easily seen as the woman turns her head in an almost whipcord fashion - she stares then, dubiously, before she finds her voice.

"If you're serious about a donut all you need to do is say please." She states and while it's not a Boston Creme donut, a chocolate cake donut is procured from the bag. "Unless of course a decision has been made on high and you're here for my soul?" Her gaze flicks at his hoodie, his general appearance with those words of hers, "If so, then the donut is mine. Last meal and all that." She allows in a rather dry voice, even if tension lines along the corners of her mouth and crinkles the corners of her eyes.

Idly her gaze flicks around them, possibly looking to see if the world changed from one minute to the next, thanks to Death's appearance at her side.

The world looks much the same as it ever did. Azazel actually looks a bit delighted when she offers the donut. "No, your soul is safe today," he says, accepting it. "And a decision was almost made. But…a problem developed. And so there was a different one. It is my duty to inform you of the problem, but please, don't deprive the messenger of perfectly good baked goods. You'd be surprised how little I get to enjoy them in my line of work."

Despite the levity of his tone and even his words, his eyes are ancient and grave.

He is not here because something has gone right.

Or at least.

Not smoothly.

With the world looking no different Dani allows the vaguest sense of relief to be felt, then her gaze is right back on Azazel. That donut stays extended until he accepts it and once out of her hand, the woman goes back to carefully holding the paper bag of goodies.

However, she doesn't quite finish her own donut. Not with the Angel's words and especially not with his current expression. Carefully the woman tucks the donut back in the bag, unmindful that she took a bite of that donut and now it's touching all the fresh ones within.

"What's happened?" She asks, her tone moving to something much more serious - and just down the street, atop one of the taller buildings, a winged horse raises his head.

The echo of a faint snort might be heard upon the breeze that whirls softly along the streets and sidewalks the two find themselves upon.

He clears his throat. "It is either good, or bad, depending upon how you look at it. The bad news is, Agent Coulson apparently decided a cozy waiting room looked a lot like a Hydra gulag or whatever it is SHIELD agents find themselves needing to escape from these days. He escaped, and we have no idea where he is."

He arches a golden eyebrow. "The good news is, Management was about to rule against Phil and for you, for a lot of complex legal reasons I'm sure you don't want to hear about, involving subsections of subsections of heavenly law and this one time Phil made a joke about selling his soul for a Pop Tart…he didn't sell it, but there's ancient ordinances…"

He waves it aside. "Nevermind. At any rate. Death, laws of death, laws of the universe, ties aren't enough to pierce the veil, etc."

He clears his throat. "But when Phil flew the coop, the ruling changed. Now it is 100% up to human free will. Everything that happens next. Perhaps those who tamper with his body even now will find a way to call him home to it. If so, he shall get a second chance at life, and, eventually, at death. But if they do not, well. He'll be forced to remain on Earth as a wandering spirit."

Moonstar's steps slow as the Angel of Death speaks and when he reveals Agent Coulson has escaped, that's enough to bring a widening of her eyes. "What?" She asks, rhetorically, but also sharply. Not that most would ever take a sharp tone with Death, but this isn't the first time she's chatted with him.

"You lost him." She repeats, possibly trying to parse those three words correctly. "Did you by chance tell him he was in a holding pattern? If you had -" Well, they likely wouldn't be here, but before she can finish that particular thought Death continues to speak.

A multitude of expression flash across her features at the mention of Pop Tarts, laws, bylaws and ancient ordinances until finally Dani's expression settles into something stern. "Hey, how is this now only in our hands? We didn't lose him! You guys did!" And while she shouldn't take another tone with him, she can't quite help it. Not at all the bombs Azazel just dropped at her feet.

"Nobody just escapes from the waiting room," Azazel says, sounding a little exasperated. "The only reason anyone could have was he must have briefly been alive for…a tenth of a second, say, in whatever crazy experiments you people are running on his body. It created a weakness he could slip through. And most wouldn't have even caught the weakness."

He arches an eyebrow and spreads his hands. "Did you think, Valkyrie, that you could challenge Death itself without responsibility? The wheel of the natural order turned, and you put your hand out to stop it. That makes what happens next your responsibility. He is now your responsibility."

He shakes his head ruefully. "As for telling him, I could not. There are rules. I put out the 'Welcome, Everything is Fine' kiosk instead. He had 90,000 cable channels and plenty of magazines. Most humans become distracted just trying to figure out what to watch. I'm not allowed to spoiler a person's final destination, nor answer any other question about what might have halted it. Laws as old as time govern how a reaper must conduct himself. I'm sure if you really thought it through you could think of all the reasons why we are not allowed to simply start revealing secrets left and right."

Her mouth thins with all of what Azazel has to say and at a few points the dark-haired woman looks away.

Responsibilities, yes, she understands them and rarely is Dani one to push them aside.

"Experiments." She finally murmurs, though she doesn't elaborate on just what her thoughts are on that. Instead the mention of her status of Valkyrie causes the woman unconsciously straighten, her shoulders stiffening with that singular word.

"I know my responsibilities." She says formally, "And I'll find his wayward soul. I'll be damned if he's left to become a wraith upon the world when so many of us could have helped him. And yes, I can think of the many reasons why, doesn't mean I have to like the fact that he gave you guys the slip."

But again, responsibilities and Moonstar does understand these. "How long do we have to get his soul back in his body? Before it becomes lost forever."

"That's harder to say," Azazel says apologetically. "It depends largely on Phil himself. A year and a day is the average. Some, though, slip away in a month. And some take years. Decades, even. In the normal course of things, I'd have him pegged as one of the latter. But…"

He takes a bite of the donut. He's stalling. Thinking on how much he can tell her. "Consider, if you will, the reason he was able to escape the waiting room. Now, consider this."

He takes out a rubber band, of all things. He stretches it way out, and snaps it. "Once…fine."

He snaps it again. "Twice, okay. Three times, okay. But do this enough times, and sooner or later…cracks begin forming in the rubber. And sooner or later…"

The rubber band breaks, apurpose, for the benefit of his explanation.

And, regretfully, "Any soul would find that hard, Dani." Dani, this time, gently. "Especially one who made his peace before I came to claim him. He was not suicidal. He never would have abandoned any of you. But some part of him longed for a chance to rest, for surcease. Not all of him. His will to remain and make a difference was equally strong. But enough that I do not think it will be an easy road either for his spirit, or, should human free will actually make him into the next Lazarus…the man himself."

A year and a day - that causes her expression to ease for a moment, before his next words. Sometimes a month. His mention of seeing Phil as part of the latter, the woman nods in agreement.

"There's always a but." She agrees and while he stalls with that bite of donut, Dani simply watches him, waiting for him to continue. Knowing there's more to be had.

Her patience is soon rewarded when Azazel continues onward with what he has to say and the explanation with the rubber band. She nods solemnly, understanding what he's explaining easily enough.

It's only at her name, gently spoken, that the woman looks back to the Angel of Death. For a moment she says nothing, verbally at least, her expression however shows a slight crack. Something that allows the Angel to see beneath her typically composed self-assured expression. Now the doubt is seen for a second as the Valkyrie momentarily second-guesses her decisions that brought her here. It's only a second and then Dani's ever present poised expression reasserts itself. "Whether it's an easy road or not it's the road he has to face, but he won't face it alone. We'll be there to help him and hopefully when things are set to right we can give him some of that rest he needs."

"I hope so," the Angel of Death says. He finishes the donut and says, "Have you any more questions for me? I am afraid there is little I can offer in the way of aid. But information flows freely, at least for as long as I have. There's a cancer patient over on 42nd street I've got to go collect."

He sighs dramatically. "She thinks I'm supposed to be an alien. I hate posing as one of the greys, man, those guys are creepy. Unless you want to armwrestle for Julia's soul too. She's 91, it's probably not worth the effort, but your wish is my command and all that."

Look. When you've been Death, or at least one of Death's avatars, for millenia, you develop a certain sense of humor. A real flippancy for things that mortals take ever-so-seriously. He's not even trying to poke fun directly. It's just kind of who he is. Humans came up with the name Grim Reaper, and not even all of them did. When the omen is Baron Samedi, after all, he always laughs.

"Yes, because little gray aliens is so much creepier." Moonstar says with a wry murmur.

Only DEATH could really joke about collecting souls, but being something similar Dani doesn't quite look outraged. Instead she just gives the Harbinger of Death a good healthy does of side-eye.


"I suppose you couldn't give me an easy way to find his wayward soul?" She asks and then for a bit of humor she adds, "Like Maps-For-The-Perpetually-Lost?"

"Otherwise I'll go with the homegrown route." Which means bothering those magical types that she knows. "Otherwise no, I don't have any questions." Then there's a head tilt, "Though if I have any further questions I'll make sure to knock on the proverbial door."

"There are over 60 million wandering souls on this island," Azazel says with a snort, even as he accepts her side-eye. "I haven't the foggiest. There have been a lot of years of human history, lots of chances for people to refuse to come when the Reaper calls. I suppose that's not entirely true. I could find him. But. Human free will, remember? I can tell you things. I can't help you do them. If you have a way, you must follow that way."

He tips an imaginary hat to her. "You could always try a summoning circle with the mustiest historical bits and bobs you can pull out. Or Captain America gear."

Then he's simply gone, vanished as if he were never there at all. Leaving mostly the empty hole where one chocolate donut used to live.

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