Sabbatical Mortality

Written By intoxicatedasphyxiation

Original: The Sandman by Neil Gaiman (and any and all artistic collaborators). Standard disclaimers apply.

Summary: Just as Destiny, despite his foresight, can never see with his two eyes, Death is an entity that must exist alone. Even for an Endless such as her, there is so much to desire, and so much more to dream.

Notes: Anything I write is based solely on The Sandman comics – if there are any abnormalities, feel free to point them out. I'm aiming to be as accurate as possible. Also, I refer to Desire as 'it' rather than 'he' or 'she', since the character is the personification of both genders and none.

It is no major secret that Death has to die once every hundred years. After all, it is no stranger to her that all things must come to an end.

Whenever asked how this is possible, for the idea of Death herself having to die seems almost a paradox, a strangely complicated twist in the Way of Things (after all, what force out there could be greater than even Death itself?), she replies in a way that suggests she's answered the same question a million times before, "Destiny's much older than me."

And it is the truth.

Without having to ask, she knows that her mortal experiences are recorded in his giant Book of Destiny, and she wonders from time to time if he ever reads them aloud to himself in his garden. Some part of her knows, without asking, that he does, for he always takes to reading aloud the significant events that impact their lives as the Endless – and dying, in some way, counts as significant to them, for they alone transcend the mortal ideal of immortality. She has seen and walked alongside the many dictators and Gods who crowned themselves immortal, only to greet them at the very end of their endeavors. She has trekked towards dying stars and fading universes many times over, meeting each and every one at their deathbeds. As the sole witness to the birth and death of all things, Death knows the true limits of their claims – immortality, after all, is only forever to some.

To those familiar with the Old Ways, she is frequently described to be older than sin – a description she finds apt, for she knows that sin is only Desire in disguise. Desire sometimes muses if Death is immune to such worldly wants, for unlike Dream, Death is not known for her colourful history of lovers won, cherished, and lost.

"To fall in love with Dream is a dream in itself, is it not?" Death replied, one rare afternoon when Desire sought her out for a passing conversation between estranged siblings, "What do you think the love of Death brings to those who seek it?" Desire merely takes a sip from the chalice in its hand – it knows that Death, like Destiny, is bound by something far more absolute than any of the Endless. Just as Destiny, despite his foresight, can never see with his two eyes, Death is an entity that must exist alone.

When a man kisses her during one of her mortal sabbaticals, she chooses not to blame Desire and finds herself happy that she's mortal for the day. She doesn't worry about her fate or his – they're only mortal, and there are no consequences for the union of individuals destined to die. The Endless cannot love mortals, after all, and Death is constrained by greater things than cosmic laws – she finds it funny that Dream does not see his freedom in endeavors such as love and possession. From time to time, he mourns of losses and passing moments gone to waste, when it is all that encompasses Death's continuous existence. One touch of Death, after all, is enough to overwhelm even the greatest of beings. She envies Dream in that way, though she knows that he was always fated to dream. Unlike her younger siblings, she is not susceptible to such physical constraints, such agony and ecstasy. As a psychopomp, she transcends both spiritual and physical planes the way her younger siblings transcend realms – always selfless, always guiding safe passage, her existence both the candle and the darkness that follows once it all burns out.

Despite all this, she continues to find herself waiting eagerly for her next sabbatical to come.

After all, the wait is only for a hundred years, and time is nothing to an Endless.

I blame myself. I was never really any good with endings.

Anyhow, constructive feedback would be much appreciated, as usual. Thank you!