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Gabriel nudged a foot of the corpse - still leaking blood onto the bedspread - with the toe of his loafer and watched the glowing soul begin to coalesce. “That was probably not the smartest thing you’ve ever done, kid.”

The soul pulsed in response, pulling itself into a vague echo of the man it had once been.

He watched the soul reform - shape first, then motion, then personality. The transition from life was generally an easy one, but violent deaths tended to take a few extra minutes for the soul to process. Gabriel filled the silence with chatter. “Seriously, short stack. I’m hardly your guidance counselor and I couldn’t care less what your particular issues were, but don’t you think there might have been a better option out there? One that didn’t end with a hotel blanket tye-dyed in brain and blood? Not that I’m going to complain, since it all works out in my favor, but I gotta believe you didn’t think this all the way through.”

The soul flickered one last time and turned a wry eye on the archangel - ah, there was the personality! “I was hoping for oblivion,” it quipped, “but I’m guessing I get you for my personal Hell instead?”

A predatory smirk crossed Gabriel’s face. He was about eighty percent sure the soul’s attitude was a defensive measure, but a personality like that he could use. “Nah, kid. You’re not in Hell yet.” He motioned to the black-suited Reaper hovering at the edge of the room. “That’s what Agent K’s for. Or possibly to take you to Heaven, I really couldn’t say. That’s not my department. I’m here to see if you’d like to put off finding out for a few more years.”

“I just put a bullet through my brain; do you really think I want to put that off?” Even without a corporeal body, the soul managed to convey an incredible amount of sarcasm with just a quirk of its eyebrows.

"Well, I’m hoping so. I don’t know if you could tell, but I’m not human.” Gabriel waved a hand in a vague sort of way, punctuating the understatement of his words. “I’m not really… anything at the moment. You might call me a demigod. I travel the world and take down assholes along the way - it’s a pretty good living, if I do say so myself. Problem is, I can’t keep one form too long. Doesn’t pay to be recognizable in my line of work and I’m hoping to use your trigger-happy body so I can let this one go. Ansel’s been with me for a while now, but it’s time for him to move on. He’s wearing thin, and anyway, bulky muscular types are so yesterday, don’t you think? I need a makeover - I need you.”

"You need a new body and you want mine? Did you not notice the large holes?"

"Kid, you’re dead and I just told you I’m a demigod. You really think I can’t fix that? Hell, I’ll fix you and then make a copy of your body from the minibar cashews so there’s something to bury. You’ve just got to give me permission and we can get this show on the road."

The soul ran an ethereal hand through equally ethereal hair. “Do you ask all the recently dead this or is it just me?”

Gabriel huffed. “Why not ask you? You may have had a streak of terminal stupidity, but you’re younger than the bodies I usually get to take control of. Whatever you say, you’re still dead. If you let me in, I get the body I need to continue my life and in exchange, I’ll give you whatever you want.”

The soul just gave him a Look. If he ever got this guy’s permission, Gabriel was going to have a field day with the potential facial expressions.

"What’s your name? Daniel? Look, Daniel, what is it you dream of? You want a bed full of pretty girls? Pretty guys? Both? You want a never-ending library? The world’s largest buffet? You want to party with Kurt Cobain? You got it. You’ll be happily living your dreams - as many as you want - while I use your body. I won’t pretend to be you or use anything from your life - just your likeness. I go about my business, you enjoy your extended vacation, and then in a century or so, I’ll trade out bodies again and you go on to your final destination. This isn’t a permanent thing, simply a delay of the inevitable."

Daniel was wavering - both literally and figuratively; his soul was ready to move on one way or the other and the Reaper was beginning to get restless. “You won’t pretend to be me? You’ll make sure my family in Kansas is okay? You’ll make sure they have a body to bury and that they find closure? And if I want, I can have nothingness?”

Gabriel shrugged. “Sure thing. A bit routine on the last requests, but I’ll give you rarity points for nothingness. So we got a deal? You give me permission? Ready to start a beautiful friendship or some other misquoted sentimental mumbo-jumbo?”

It took a moment, but Daniel nodded. “You can use my body.”

"Close enough for government work. All right, Daniel from Kansas, let’s get this party started."