Of Frogs And Carrots
by Princess Twilite

There were a few things she was learning about being dead. It was a lot like being alive, but like being alive when you lived next to a trash dump in a trailer, with no money, bad credit, and eight screaming children. Very, very hard. And sometimes you smelled bad.

She picked at the carrot sticks she had ordered as a side dish. It wasn't that she really liked carrot sticks. In fact, she hated carrot sticks. But it was something that gave her a little bit of home, a memory of her mother towering over her with a plastic bag filled with carrot sticks, demanding George put it back into her lunch box.

She'd learned, the hard way, that memories were precious.

George jerked when Mason suddenly slid into the booth beside her, bumping his hip against hers. "Ouch!" She pushed her shoulder against the wall on the other side of her, as if it would move so that she wouldn't feel so claustrophobic and near to blushing. "You have personal space issues."

Mason shrugged casually, leaning a little bit closer. "I see you do as well."

"No," she mumbled, turning her face away from him and staring hard at her carrots so that she wouldn't have to look directly in his eyes. He unsettled her. "I just have some concept of what personal space means."

Mason leaned back, scooting a little, a very little, away from her. "Fair enough."

"Where is everyone?" George asked, raising an eyebrow when he snatched a carrot stick off of her plate. "I thought we were all meeting here for lunch."

"Sometimes they're late," he said vaguely, biting into the carrot with a loud crunch. "You know, I was thinking about this frog dream of yours."

George blinked. "You must lead a very dull life." She moved her plate to the side when he would have snatched another carrot, glaring at him.

"Hardly, but I'm being serious here." He tapped her on the nose, distracting her, and stole the vegetable anyway. "Do you ever get the impression that frogs are evil?"

George stared at him. "No, but sometimes I get the impression that when you drilled that hole in your head, something important fell out."

Mason chuckled and tossed his arm over the back of the seat, fingers curling around a chunk of her hair, twisting it around his forefinger. "You're a funny girl, did you know that?"

George shrugged and tried to ignore the way he was playing with her hair. She could feel the unfamiliar blush burning its way up from her chest, a flood of crimson heat. After a moment of her silence, he bit into the carrot stick, chewing it as he slowly uncurled his fingers from her hair, casually keeping his arm behind her.

"Well, you are," he continued, as if she had answered. "I knew it the first time I saw you." He swallowed, and canted his head at her. "I said to myself, that girl's a funny one. I like her." When she only continued to stare at him, he sighed dramatically, shaking his head.

George looked around the restaurant, hoping to catch sight of Rube. She liked Mason. She *did*. But he had this unfortunate habit of popping up in the oddest places. Like her apartment, for one. And she wasn't used to having that much familiarity with anyone of the male species, including her father, who spent most of his time with a general look of resigned boredom on his face.

"Do I make you nervous?" Mason asked, in her ear, and George whipped her head around, nearly smacking their noses together.

"No! I mean, no." She tilted her chin up, even though his face was right before hers, close enough that she could see the laugh lines at the corner of his eyes. "I just don't know you. You come into my apartment all the time, for no discernible reason. And don't take this the wrong way, but you show apparent signs of schizophrenia."

Mason blinked, slowly, and a smile worked into his eyes. "I do make you nervous."

"I'm leaving," George muttered, but he didn't shift out of her way. Her eyebrows shot up on her forehead when he only continued to sit there, staring at her with that stupid grin on his face. "You know, as in I no longer wish to be here."

"Oh, I know what you mean," Mason replied, with that pleasant lilt in his voice. His eyes sparkled at her as he lifted yet another carrot from her plate and shoved it whole into his mouth, clamping down on it with his teeth. "But you see, I'm your babysitter again today. As your babysitter, I say you sit here like a good girl and eat your carrots."

"I say you take those carrots and-"

"Hey now, that's not nice!" Mason waved a carrot in front of her face. He showed no signs of getting out of her way any time soon. For a moment George thought about climbing under the table, but then she remembered when Mason had picked bubble gum off the surface beneath it and she had no desire to spend the day cutting out chunks of gum from her hair.

She'd had to once, after telling Madonna-not-quite-a-virgin at her highschool that she could pick up her own damn STD-ridden pencil. Madonna-like-a-virgin-but-not spat the gum into George's hair, and sashayed off into the other direction with an extremely pleased expression on her face.

George had spent the next day plotting revenge, glaring at anyone who dared to look at her really bad hair cut. And oh, she'd gotten it in spades. She had brought a pen with red-ink to class on a day that Madonna-with-a-whore-complex wore her infamous white silk pants. Accidentally, of course, her pen had broken open and she'd gotten red ink all over the back of the slut's pants. When Madonna-not-quite-a- virgin stood, she had virile red ink staining the entire bottom half of her pants. It looked like she'd gotten her period.

Ah, revenge, it tasted sweet.

Mason's fingers snapped before George's eyes, breaking her out of the trance. "You with me, love, or should I call a doctor? You're grinning like you're mad."

George forced the smile off her face. "Oh? It was a lapse."

"Nah." He waved a dismissing hand and pulled her plate over to his side, lifting the half-eaten cheeseburger from its surface and taking a bite. "You're pretty when you smile."

Said as it was, in his pretty accent, she almost started smiling like a fool again, but she managed to contain it. Instead, she stared pointedly at the plate he had stolen from her. "You know, it's common knowledge that greasy foods lead to impotence."

Mason paused in chewing, the burger halfway to his mouth. A slightly panicked look lit his face as his eyebrows shot up his forehead. "Is that right?"

George nodded sagely. "I read it in Scientific America."

She wondered, briefly, if that magazine really existed.

Mason eyed her thoughtfully for a moment, and then deliberately leaned forward, with his eyes on hers, and took a large bite of the burger. "Well then," he said with his mouthful, food distorting his speech. "I suppose it's a good thing I'm undead, isn't it?"

When he winked at her, George turned bright red, and looked quickly away from him. Men think about sex every five to eight seconds, she remembered. George tossed him a look out of the corner of her eye. So he was probably thinking of sex right now, that pig.

One. Two.

Three. Four. Five.

"Do undead people have sex?" She blurted.

He was thinking about sex again.

Mason looked at her, surprised. "What? You think we die and suddenly become re-virginized?" He picked up a carrot stick and offered it to her.

George lifted a shoulder, and then took the carrot, sliding it into her mouth like a cigar and chewing on the tip. "I don't know. It's just a question."

"You ask a lot of questions," he observed, and gave her a strange look. And then he was back to eating the burger. Oh yeah, he was thinking about sex, all right.

"So you have sex?" She asked, not letting the line of conversation drop.

"A bloody lot of it, thank you very much," Mason said. He looked offended that she would even suggest he didn't, nose curled up, eyebrows scrunched together. She pursed her lips to the side to keep from laughing at him.

Were undead people who had sex Necrophiliacs? Or was it the people who had sex with them who were the Necrophiliacs? George chewed on the thought for a moment before turning back to Mason. "We don't have to use protection right?"

Mason set the burger down, carefully. "We?"

Realizing how she'd phrased it, George backpedaled quickly. "Not we as in you and I, but as in a general universal species or whatever. I mean, are there little undead Grim Reaper babies running around out there?"

"Little undead Grim Reaper babies?" Mason shook his head, astonished. "You're quite a piece of work, toilet seat. I think you and I are going to have a rather interesting relationship."

George scowled at him. "Did we swallow a pill of arrogance today?"

"Don't fight inevitability, love." And then he smiled, brilliantly. "Oh, but we're getting off the topic."

"There was a topic?"

"Certainly," he said, eagerly. "One I've been itching to speak with you about ever since you told me about your dream the other day."

"Why didn't you talk to me about it this morning?" She asked, dryly. "After all, you did seem in urgent need of conversation when you woke me up by breaking into my apartment yet again, but you didn't quite get around to mentioning anything important. Which reminds me, what did you need with my fork? You already had my butcher's knife."

"You were grumpy," he explained, not bothering to justify his presence. Like usual. "Besides, I didn't think of it. I'm thinking of it now, so this is when I'll speak with you about it. The frogs-"

"God, will you let the frogs go? It was just a dream."

"I will not," he replied righteously, sitting up straighter. "I rented that movie again, the one I was telling you about."

"Frogs?" She suggested helpfully when he couldn't seem to remember the name of the of it.

Mason snapped his fingers. "That's the one. And looking at them, all creepy like and slimy, it made me start thinking."

"A movie titled `Frogs' made you contemplative?" George sighed, blowing a few strands of hair out of her face. "I wonder what Pet Cemetery would do to you."

"Quiet," he warned her, pointing a finger at her threateningly. George mimed fright, clasping her hands around her neck and letting out a terrified gasp. His face softened a bit, and she felt abruptly silly, dropping her hands and wishing she was back home, in her bed, and that this had all been a dream. She didn't want to know this crazy, and slightly dangerous if the butcher knife meant something, guy. It was too... weird.

"I'm trying to tell you that frogs are evil," he said, plucking her out of her thoughts. "I mean, they've got these beady little eyes." Lifting his hands, he acted like he was holding a frog, pointing to where the eyes would be. "And they never move, always looking right at you. They must be thinking `bout something, ya know? So what is it? Daytime television? Not very likely. But what if they're thinking about world domination? I mean, there's so bloody many of them they could probably pull it off."

Listening to his insane rambling, George suddenly saw a flash of the rest of her undead life.

It was sitting here, in this booth, with Mason beside her, ranting about one issue or another with unnatural exuberance.

She was disturbed when she didn't find the image altogether unpleasant. Shaking the sensation off, she stared at him in growing horror. This was not the rest of her eternity, or whatever. She'd find a way out of this world eventually, because she had to.

"And then, their tongues," Mason muttered, shivering in disgust. "They're long, and they could probably take a grown man down. Of course, I'd step on it before it got a chance. But what I'm trying to say is that they'd have the means and they're just creepy enough to try it..." Mason trailed off when he noticed her expression, frowning. "What's the look?"

George quickly returned to her mask of careful boredom. "There's a look?"

"There was until you wiped it away like you do." He made a twisting gesture with his hand. "Like a key in a lock, slipping it away. You were looking at me like I'd gone mad. And I'm not mad, just playing."

"You were talking about frogs taking over the world," George reminded him wryly.

"So were you!" His voice went up a pitch on the last syllable, and she had to mentally slap herself to keep her mind from cooing. Damn it.

She did not have a crush on Mason.

"I was practically still sleeping then," she pointed out, stabbing a finger in his direction. "And I only thought about it for five seconds. You came up with a whole world domination scheme." George stiffened her body, making a face as she imitated his voice. "They'd have the means."

Mason sputtered. "I do not sound like that."

"Beady little eyes."

"You're not being nice."

"Frogs are evil!" She gasped dramatically, laying the back of her hand against her forehead and pretending to faint against side of the booth.

"Bloody hell, woman." He muttered, standing abruptly. "Can't have a conversation with anyone these days without being mocked."

"You could try talking to a shrink," she suggested to him as he glared and turned his back on her, stomping toward the exit. "Hey, you're my babysitter!"

He pivoted around when he'd reached the door and held up two fingers, his middle and his pointer, as if he was cursing her. She didn't know exactly what the gensture meant, but it couldn't be for her to have a nice day.

In retaliation, George leaned over so he could see her better and stuck out her tongue.

Mason's mouth fell open, and he danced around a bit as if he was searching for a proper comeback, before he finally gave in and tossed his hands in the air. He growled something that she couldn't hear and shoved out of the restaurant, the bells above the door jingling wildly as it swung open.

It wasn't until he'd disappeared from sight that she realized he'd eaten her entire meal and that he'd also swiped the tip she'd planned on leaving for the waitress.


It would certainly be interesting.


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