He was falling. It was nine o' clock at night and he'd slipped and now he was falling in the snow. The air whipped past his skull and the landscape sped by him, bright and unreal. He was falling and he didn't care.
Suddenly, something caught him. Something. He suddenly felt very light, very warm, floating, almost. He had not hit the ground, but he was no longer falling and no longer breathing.
Did I die in the air, some kind of heart attack?
He was being lifted, he knew, and he was comfortable, but that was all he knew, in the cloudhead where he now lived. It stopped though, and he was suddenly sure that, once they released him, what had been holding him was arms. Somebody had caught him.
"Kenny," called a faintly recognizable, seemingly far away, voice. "Kenny, open your eyes."
He didn't realise he had closed them.
Damien watched as the boy's eyes fluttered open, and he moved back a few inches to let him sit up. "Remember me?"
Kenny stared at him uncomprehendingly for a moment, still dazed, and then his features cleared slowly as it dawned on him. "Damien."
The son of the devil smiled a little. "Don't look so scared."
Kenny was a little taken aback. He couldn't remember Damien ever smiling. "Did you..save me?" He asked tentatively.
He laughed a little. "Not quite." He pointed over the cliff's edge.
Kenny peered over, and winced at the sight of his mangled corpse.
"I caught you on the way down. Your soul, that is. Saved you from feeling the impact, anyway."
Kenny, who had fell long distances before, nodded, still a little dazed. "Thanks," He eyed Damien warily, who shifted his weight on to his other hand.
"Kenny, you know you..die a lot?"
"Well..this is it. You've really died this time. There's no going back. I'm..sorry." The word seemed funny on his tongue. It didn't belong there. As Damien observed Kenny's reaction, he began to think those words didn't belong anywhere.
"Why?" It came out barely higher than a whisper.
"I don't know why, it just..is. It's your time. It happens to everyone."
"But..it never happens to me."
"I kn- "
"I'm just eight."
"Doesn't it make any difference that I'm just eight?"
He sighed, and didn't attempt to answer. Of course it didn't. It made no difference that he was eight, sweet-looking and pure and good. It made no difference at all anymore. He reached for Kenny's shoulder. "Let's go."
"No," he drew back at once.
"Kenny, if you don't come now, your soul will disappear of it's own accord over a couple of days. This way is a lot nicer."
Kenny still held back. "Not yet," he pleaded. "Please, in a minute. Not yet."
Damien sighed and dropped his hand. Why not? It was a nice night, no-one else was around, and he had warmed to Kenny considerably since last time. He had carried his soul, after all. That told you a lot about a person.
Kenny hugged his knees to himself, and as he looked at Damien it dawned on him. "I'm going to hell."
He nodded. "Don't take it too hard. Practically everyone goes to hell, except the Mormons. We even get newborn babies, sometimes."
Kenny stared at him. "Babies? Why?"
"I don't know. There used to be some kind of system, but it's all messed up now. As Earth got worse, Heaven and Hell did too." He broke off all of a sudden. He didn't really know how much he was allowed to tell.
"How come they sent you?"
"It's a new duty I've got, doing my Father's bidding. I escort the souls of children to hell."
"Isn't that horrible?"
"Not really, because you know that when they die you'll be conversing with them several minutes afterwards. You get used to it."
Kenny looked back at the snow. Deep down, he didn't quite believe it. There had been some kind of mistake, there must have been. He didn't die. He just didn't, at least, not properly. "I don't want to leave."
He glanced at Damien. "I guess you must have heard it all before, but there's..there's so much I haven't done.." His voice quavered a little.
Damien blinked at him in surprise. Insightful little thing. They really were getting the good ones these days. God'll be kicking himself.
"How bad is it?" he asked suddenly.
Damien had been expecting that one. "Not that bad. You don't get poked by forks all day, y'know."
"Yeah. And remember, my dad really likes you. He won't let anything happen to you."
They both heard sirens in the distance. Who had called them? Someone who had seen it at a distance, surely. No-one called an ambulance for Kenny McCormick, not anymore. Damien stiffened. "We should go."
"Can they see us?"
"No, but even so. Give me your hand."
"Okay.." he said. He said it mildly enough, but deep inside him panic was flinging about like a trapped bird.
Damien looked at him, with his pure, ungrown soul and his frightened eyes and the snow in his hair. He and his father deserved him more than this world did.
"They won't know," he murmured.
"I'll..I'll never be mourned," he said aloud.
"You will," Damien said, and took his hand. "It'll just take them a while." He was about to say it didn't matter, but decided against it. To Kenny, it mattered. Perhaps it mattered more than anything.
Kenny allowed himself to take one last look at the world, and closed his eyes as it began to disappear. For the second time that day, he was falling in the snow.
A/N: I was going to call it "Falling" instead of "Snow". I don't know. I can never decide with titles.