"If a patient has had enough time… and has been given some help in working through the previously described stages, he will reach a stage during which he is neither depressed nor angry about his 'fate.' He will have been able to express his previous feelings… It is not a resigned and hopeless 'giving up,' a sense of 'what's the use' or 'I just cannot fight it any longer'…" – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, On Death and Dying

It happens in an instant.

When Liz wakes up, it is without her usual lassitude, but with immediate alertness and clarity. Momentarily stunned, she rolls over in bed to check the glowing clock on her nightstand and discovers that it is midnight. She frowns into the darkness of her bedroom and tries to figure out what exactly it was that snapped her into wakefulness.

Something is missing, she decides presently. With a sudden twinge of alarm, she reaches out with her soul for Patty and Kid. Both of their wavelengths are there – she can feel the distinct vibrations of her two partners down the hall, each in their own rooms – and Liz sighs in relief, breathing deeply to calm her pounding heart. She no longer has to worry about Kid's absence, for he had been rescued from the Book of Eibon many months ago. But still, Liz thinks, something is lacking in the air, something important, but she can't pinpoint what on Earth it could be.

It is then that the first scream pierces through the silent night.


Liz is flinging back her covers and throwing herself out of bed before she even realizes what she is doing. Her bare feet hit the floor hard, but she ignores the brief pain, bolting to the door and wrenching it open. She wastes no time thinking about what sort of creepy, icky horrors – supernatural or otherwise – might be out there stalking through the darkness, because it was Kid's strangled cry that echoed down the hallway to her room and she needs to get to him now.

As she races down the dim corridor, she hears a door slam open and the sound of Patty's feet pounding the floor behind her. Liz huffs as her sudden exertion catches up to her, but runs faster as several more screams of "NO! NO! NO!" reach her ears. It seems to take far too long to get there, but the door to Kid's bedroom finally looms up in front of her and she pounces on the doorknob. Patty is there next to her, panting, with her lace-trimmed cotton nightgown tangled in her legs. Liz throws open the door and they stumble inside.

The first thing Liz notices is that the lamp on the right side of Kid's bed has been turned on. The second thing she notices is that the matching lamp, on the twin nightstand on the left side of his bed, has – impossibly – been left off. Her stomach sinks immediately at this, and she whips her head around, her gaze falling on Kid.

He is kneeling on the floor in front of the full-length mirror on the wall, but Liz is unable to discern his expression. All she can see is the left side of his face, and it is cast in shadow. She steps carefully towards him, giving him plenty of time to recognize her approach, except he doesn't look away from the mirror. "…NO! …NO!" he continues to cry, as if in disbelief, and Liz feels small hands close tightly on the edge of her nightshirt, a warm cheek press against her upper arm in consternation. As they near their meister, Liz realizes, with mounting panic, that he is not so much kneeling on the floor as he is slumped on it weakly, and she watches him raise trembling hands to his head, fisting his short hair tightly. She steps closer, Patty in tow, until she can get down on the floor next to him. Inches away, she stares at his profile, and takes in the wide eye, its ringed pupil contracted almost into nothingness. His jaw is slack, and his pale face is more washed out than she has ever seen it before. It hits her then, that she can feel the coldness of his body radiating off of him, which is not natural. And when she brushes tentatively against his soul with her own, she meets the tingling surface of it quicker than usual, as if it has somehow expanded.

"Kid…?" Liz whispers gently, in-between his continued verbal dissent. "Kid, please, what's wrong? …Kid, what is it?" He only shakes his head, in a vague way, eye still glued to the mirror. Liz reaches out and grasps each of his delicate wrists, slowly pulling his hands out of his untidy hair. He allows her, so she releases his wrists and cradles each of his cool cheeks in her hands instead. She tilts his head around to face her, still whispering, "Kid, tell us what's-"

She stops. She hears Patty's gasp in her ear, drowning out the sound of her own.

Above shocked golden eyes, three horizontal white stripes cut through glossy black hair, forming a complete and endless ring around his head.

And Liz realizes what it is that is missing: from the manor, from the city, from the world.

Lord Death is gone.

The next few days are horrible. Liz isn't sure how she is able to even make it through them, but she does. She has never lost anyone really close to her before, and she doesn't know what to do or how to help. But she has to keep going, because Liz knows in her heart what her purpose is, and Kid needs her and her sister now more than he has ever needed them before.

She and Patty spend the rest of that awful night at Kid's side. They curl up on the floor around him like vines, entangling him in their arms as he howls his rejection of this happening over and over, until his voice breaks and his thin body is wracked with silent, shaking sobs. When he begins to crumple face-down to the floor, they drag his limp form back onto his bed. Liz sends Patty off for tissues as she pulls the blankets up to his shoulders. Together, they wipe his blotchy face and their own until they are only slightly sticky with tears, and then slide – by simultaneous decision – under the covers on either side of him. As Patty reaches to turn off the lamp, Liz tucks Kid's face protectively into the side of her neck. They huddle against him in the dark, their souls wrapped around his larger one tightly, but as exhausted as she is, it is a long time before Liz is able to go to sleep. Long into the night, she feels his cold lips moving soundlessly against her fragile skin, denying this new reality over and over and over…

Though the morning, as it always does, brings with it the sunrise, nothing is made better by the light. In fact, Liz thinks things only gets worse. When Kid refuses to leave the bed, Liz takes it upon herself to get dressed and contact Spirit Albarn via mirror. She knows that everyone in Death City must have felt the change to some degree, the vanishing of that great protective soul, so she calls the head Death Scythe less to tell him the news than to let him know that Kid is still there and is fine – physically, anyway. She also asks him for advice. Liz can sense bigger transitions, beyond this personal tragedy, on the horizon from the way the solemn, red-headed man speaks and acts. So she takes in his counseling words as best she can until a loud crash in another room distracts her, and she terminates the link with a hasty promise to call back as soon as possible.

The sight that greets her, when she finally finds the source of the racket, is so strange that it brings her up short. The corridor is in complete disarray. Paintings are tilted precariously, the carpet runner is bunched up, several candles have been ripped off their candlesticks, and a side window is shattered, still raining tiny shards of glittering glass. Liz hears a hoarse screech from another room and quickly follows the haphazard trail of destruction, only pausing to snuff out a candle before it can light the Manor on fire. As she rounds the corner, Kid's incoherent shrieks suddenly become clear. She hears him cry, "How could He do this to me! HOW!" before Patty tackles him to the ground, intercepting his attempt to kick over a porcelain vase.

Liz rushes over. Patty has him pinned, but Kid is thrashing wildly and to her horror, Liz catches glimpses of small, ghostly skulls – siphoned off from his enraged soul – snapping through the air. The macabre specters circle far too close to her sister for comfort, and although she knows Kid would never hurt Patty intentionally, she quickly pulls the younger girl off of him. Patty is shrieking right back at Kid, in that special way she has, telling him to "stop destroying the whole fucking house, you crazy bastard!" but her harsh words no longer seem to have any mind-clearing effect. Liz tugs her flailing sister back, and hisses in her ear to clean up the glass and start putting things back to rights. Patty gives a strangled sob, but does Liz's bidding, disappearing back the way they came.

Liz kneels down on the floor next to Kid and inspects his person for damage. His breathing is ragged, and there is an array of tiny nicks and cuts on his hands that are oozing with bright red droplets of blood, but he is otherwise well. He lays still, panting heavily, as she places a gentle hand on his back. He is still wearing his nightclothes, so she can feel each vertebra in his spine through the light cotton as she rubs him with a soothing gesture. Liz rubs her soul against his own at the same time, and gradually, the swooping phantom skulls dissipate. Kid's face, however, screws up in a terrible, ugly expression as his body begins to shake. He clenches his bleeding hands into fists, then pounds one of them on the floor. "Why?" he spits out, and the tone is so twisted and threatening that Liz is sure anyone else would be running away by now. "Why now? Why would He do this to me when I'm still… still so… IT'S NOT FAIR! …IT'S NOT FAIR!"

Liz can't help but agree with this assessment. Still, she doesn't have any answers to his questions, so she stays silent and continues to massage his back.

She and Patty bandage his injuries and clean up his chaotic mess without complaint. Kid spends a great deal of time screaming and sobbing and throwing everything he can get his hands on, so they are eventually forced to isolate him in his room. Liz brings the three of them some simple food from the kitchen, and she and Patty eat on his bed, while Kid curls up around a pillow and ignores the proffered plate. Instructing Patty to guard him, Liz leaves the room and calls Spirit back.

It turns out that there is no funeral to plan for. Lord Death's pointy black silhouette has vanished along with his soul, leaving only his broken mask – cracked slantwise from side to side – behind. Spirit and the other Death Scythes, top meisters, and DWMA staff are, however, planning a memorial to occur sometime in the next few days, and Liz nods firmly when asked if Kid will be able to attend. She sees some of their friends – Maka, Soul, Black*Star, and Tsubaki – farther back in the mirror, but hangs up before any of them can try to talk to her.

That night, she and Patty don't even bother with the formality of heading off to their own bedrooms. They just sandwich Kid's cold, trembling body between them and hold onto him tight.

When the day of the memorial finally comes, Liz brings a plate of some kind of casserole up to Kid's room, determined to make him eat something before the long service. Citizens from all over Death City have been bringing them dishes and bowls of fruits and baked desserts by the dozen, and she and her sister have been hard pressed to handle it all, to keep an accurate record of who brought what for the thank you cards they will eventually write. Liz is suddenly very thankful for Gallows Manor's many refrigerators, and she is reflecting on this fact when she taps on the door to Kid's boudoir, shoving it open with her shoulder without waiting for an answer.

Kid is only half-dressed, as if he has forgotten what he is doing in the middle of doing it. His black dress pants are on, as is his white shirt, but neither of them are buttoned up, and his suspenders lay limply against the black leather ottoman he is seated on. He stares dully at the mirror in front of him – something he has done far too often these last few days – with his rapidly-healed hands lying slack in his lap. Liz sits down indifferently next to him, gathers up a forkful of casserole, and holds it hoveringly in front of his mouth.

"Eat," Liz commands. Kid's eyes, still golden but somehow listless, turn towards her blue ones, but he makes no move to follow her order.

"Eat," she insists, harder this time, jiggling the fork. She forces her mouth into a stern line, to bring home the seriousness of her attitude, but this only makes the corner of his mouth twitch up in a faltering shadow of a smile.

"Do you remember…" Kid begins quietly, and Liz only barely keeps herself from shoving the food into his open mouth. "Do you remember when we talked, before that mission to Rio?" Liz remembers. So she nods. "Do you remember what I said then?" She remembers everything he said then, for she has never been able to get that conversation – their agreement – out of her mind. She doesn't know what particular thing he is referring to, though, so she waits for him to continue.

A pained grin suddenly worms its way onto his face. "I said I would give anything – anything – to make my hair symmetrical." Liz feels dark dread claw its way into her chest, and she sets the loaded fork back down onto the plate. Hysterical laughter wells up inside of him; it begins to come out of his mouth in short, jagged bursts. "Well, I got my wish, didn't I, Liz? Ha ha. I got just exactly what I wanted. Perfect symmetry, clean and precise. Ha ha ha… What I wouldn't give… What I wouldn't give now…" The laughter is too close to Kishin-induced madness for comfort, so Liz sets the plate aside and places each of her hands on his shoulders. She gives him a little shake to get his attention.

"Just hold it in, Kid," she says firmly. His tense hilarity subsides slightly, and she sees his gaze cling to her own frantically. "Just… keep it together for right now, okay? Just for the service. That's all. If you can do that, and get through all the condolences and stuff, then we can… we can talk about it afterwards, okay? Just you, me, and Patty. Can you do that, Kid? For your dad?" He stares at her, still desperate. "…For me?" Slowly, he nods, and Liz wipes away a tear that threatens to run down his cheek.

She helps him finish getting dressed: buttoning the buttons, tucking in his shirt, pulling up his suspenders, and slipping on his black blazer. She adjusts the skull-shaped tie around his neck last, fingers lingering helplessly on the familiar shape, before ordering him once more to eat. She makes sure he has consumed at least a third of the casserole on the plate before leaving to put on her own clothes.

The memorial at the DWMA is appropriately packed. Liz and Patty, in matching black mourning dresses, press close on either side of Kid, fending off as many nosy questions and weepy remarks as they can so that Kid is able to stay, for the most part, silent. He is forced to shake hands with some high-ranking individuals, however, and Liz is proud of how brave and stoic he stays in the face of all of this unwanted attention.

When they reach the front row of seats in the service room, only one chair is there, isolated and alone, and Liz feels a pang of dismay. Spirit is nearby, however, bickering angrily with an attendant, a chair dangling from each of his flailing hands. He apparently wins the argument, for Liz watches with mounting gratitude as the Death Scythe wheels around and plunks the two chairs down, one on either side of the lonely one. As Spirit settles down in his own seat in the second row, Liz catches his attention and shoots him a thankful smile. He returns it, with a light thumbs-up and an oddly perceptive glint in his otherwise sorrowful eye.

Liz glances sideways at Kid every minute or so throughout the service, to see how he is holding up. It bothers her, in a self-conscious sort of way, to sit on the front row like this. She knows that most of the audience behind them probably has their eyes fixed on the person next to her, but when she sees Kid's face begin to twist at a particularly heartfelt eulogy, she doesn't hesitate to slip her hand discretely into his. On his other side, Patty not-so-discretely wraps her arms around his arm and holds it captive against her chest. Liz feels Kid's cold fingers slip between her own, his silver ring pressed almost painfully between them. He squeezes her hand and she squeezes his back, not letting go even when the service is over.

They manage, somehow, to evade most of the crowd in leaving the memorial. Their anxious friends come over to talk to Kid, but Liz brushes them off with a flippant wave and a lie about how they must tend to something at home immediately. Liz is uncomfortable with the repeated avoidance. She can only hope that the four of them will one day forgive her for it, but upon seeing their approach, Kid had ducked his head and squeezed her hand, a clear signal that he wasn't ready to face them yet. And Liz wasn't going to force any more social interaction on him that day, not after his stellar behavior at the service.

After that, time seems to drag by, one day melding indifferently into the next. His destructive tendencies abated, Liz and Patty allow Kid to move about the house at will, though he mostly stays in his own quarters or follows them to whatever room they happen to be in. Slowly, he begins to pitch in, helping to arrange the delivered flowers into bouquets, to write repetitive notes of appreciation to their senders, and to clean borrowed kitchenware after the food is gone. He begins to eat again, though only when Liz prompts him to do so, and shows no sign of lapsing into any sort of insane meltdown.

But Liz isn't sure Kid is really getting any better. He has shown no interest in anything going on outside the Manor, and Liz knows, through repeated mirror-conferences with the Death Scythes, that those bigger transitions she had anticipated need to occur, and fast. As Yumi Azusa points out, with a piercing stare, "We can handle the DWMA fine on our own, but not for long. We need a leader, Miss Thompson, and we need him now. You can't keep making excuses for him and sheltering him forever."

One night, after a particularly brutal conference – in which there had been unnecessary name-calling and Marie Mjolnir had emotionally punched a stone column into pieces – Liz resolves to bring up the difficult topic. She lies next to Kid, nearly nose to nose with him in the dark, wondering how to even begin. She can hear Patty's soft, breathy snores on the other side of Kid, and can just catch a glimpse of her soft yellow hair. Unlike her sister, however, Kid is not asleep, but staring absently at the dip in Liz's neck, just visible above the collar of her nightshirt. One slender finger scratches at a loose thread in the white sheets. Liz closes a hand gingerly over his, stilling the restless movement.

"…Kid?" she whispers uncertainly. "…What do you think… about a visit to the Death Room?"

He is silent, and remains staring at her without response. Haltingly, she adds, "…Everyone's really worried that… They miss you, Kid. And… and I think maybe it's time we… time we go back. What do you think?"

"I know what they want of me," Kid says, after a moment. Liz waits, but he does not continue.

"Then… you know… it's got to happen sometime, whether you want it to or not," she replies.

"I know," he murmurs. He slides his finger out from under her hand and slowly reaches out to trace the skin along her collar bone. The cold, ephemeral contact sends a quivering jolt through her entire body, from head to toe. Liz lies perfectly still, the dormant ache in her soul threatening to bubble to the surface. "I know. I just… what's the point, Elizabeth? What's the point of… going on, when He isn't here anymore? I… I always thought the world would end – quite literally – if He ever… But it seems that it is only my world that has ended."

"Oh, Kid…"

"I miss Him so much," Kid whispers, finger lingering against her skin. "I hardly know how to bear it. I'm so sad, I… I've never been this sad before in all my life. And it's… it's all my fault. If only these stupid Sanzu Lines hadn't… hadn't… then He'd…" Kid's hand finds its way into his hair, and he grips the solid stripes as if trying to strangle them. The first tears have barely begun to stream down his cheeks before Liz pulls him against her. His small, slender frame barely fills the circle of her arms. She knows he will be able to feel her breasts press against his chest and her knees slide against his thighs, but she no longer cares about this sort of propriety. She feels cold hands hesitantly come to rest on her lower back, and can't help but smile through her own tears.

"It's not your fault," she breathes tenderly in his ear, and she feels his body begin to tremble. She runs her soul against the surface of his own, and an uncertain, searching touch comes in reply. "This is just the way things are, Kid. …There's a circle to it, you know, and… it's just your time now. Your time, to get out there and… Your… your dad's time is passed, and I know He wouldn't want you to blame yourself for it… or be sad that…"

Kid chokes back a sob, and Liz feels herself begin to tremble as well. A small, warm hand comes to rest on her arm, and Liz is aware that Patty has rolled over and is holding onto Kid as well, though whether her sister is actually awake or not, she can't tell.

"I know you're… gonna miss Him, Kid… for a long, long time, and that's okay, but… you have to go on… because we need you. I… I…"

"I know," Kid murmurs shakily. "That's… that's why… I'm trying to hold on."

The next day, when Liz brings breakfast back to what has become their bedroom, she is surprised to find Kid nearly dressed. He is straightening his blazer with contentious, symmetrical sweeps of his hands, and when he looks up at her entrance, she catches his delicate fingers tilt a stubborn cufflink a fraction of a centimeter. She grins before she can stop herself, and is greeted with a sad, though sincere, smile in return. The expression brings a sense of alertness to his face that Liz suddenly realizes she hasn't seen for weeks.

"Thank you, Liz, that looks delicious," Kid says, with a nod towards the scones and strawberry jam. His quiet tone, with that smooth dab of pompousness to it, sounds almost nostalgic to her ears. "You can set the tray down there. And have a look at the outfit I picked out for you. Patty is trying her own on in the next room."

Liz places her offering on a side table, then studies the clothing Kid has carefully laid out on the bed. The first thing that strikes her is the black-and-white color scheme. With a silent chuckle at the monochrome, she strokes the silky texture of the suit, with its crisp edges and distinctly feminine cut. It reminds her a bit of Azusa's usual wardrobe, but little touches here and there – the heavy white stitching against black cloth, the embroidered skulls on the lapels of the double-breasted waistcoat – leave no doubt as to who the real inspiration is. It hovers somewhere on the border between formal and casual, Liz decides, and thinks fondly that she will be able to wear her old high-heeled boots with it.

"…Is it suitable to your tastes?" Kid asks solemnly, though Liz hears a touch of nervousness in his voice as well. She looks up at him, and sees him glance at her out of the corner of his eye. He looks positively shy, she thinks, and suddenly understands that not all of his self-assuredness has returned to him intact. She realizes, too, that this outfit means more to him than simple matching; Kid is marking her – and Patty – as his own. As his weapons, as his closest friends… and as his only family.

Liz smiles to reassure him. "I like it very much," she says honestly, and Kid bobs his head, clearly satisfied and somewhat more at ease.

When the three of them finally arrive in the Death Room, they find it quiet and oddly vacant. Liz figures some thoughtful person – Sid or Nygus, perhaps, or maybe even Spirit – must have ushered everyone out upon learning of Kid's abrupt reappearance. They walk down the guillotine passageway in silence, Kid two steps ahead as always, Liz and Patty trailing, one on each side. The jagged cloak Kid had pulled on over his suit billows around him in an absent breeze, and Liz finds herself watching the black shroud thoughtfully.

Upon reaching the dais in the center, they learn that nothing much has changed. The incomprehensible ceiling is still sky blue overhead and inhabited by fluffy white clouds. The vast expanse is still dusty and dry and overpopulated with crooked crosses, and the old, eccentric mirror still stands tall and proud. Kid's golden, high-backed chair, however, has been placed in the center of the dais, a familiar form waiting patiently for them in its seat.

As one, they reverently approach the chair and gaze down at the white, skull-shaped mask, broken in two along a rough, very asymmetrical diagonal. The mask looks sad, Liz thinks, before reminding herself that it is only an object, then taking this thought back as she remembers just how much emotion Kid's father was able to express through this mask. Kid reaches down and, with deliberate care, picks it up, one piece in each hand. His hands tremble every now and then, but Liz sees that his face is set and unwavering. He turns away slowly from the chair and walks on past it, towards the tall mirror. Liz and Patty remain where they are indecisively for a moment, before Patty clambers up into the unoccupied seat and leans back, cross-legged, into it. She shoots Liz a soft but knowing grin, then closes her eyes and folds her arms across her chest in a mockery of sleep. Liz rolls her eyes at the teasing, then leisurely follows in Kid's path.

Kid in staring into the mirror as Liz comes to stand beside him. Together they gaze into its surface. Rather wistfully, Liz imagines the glass - currently as black as onyx, but still crystal clear – rippling like pond water before the image in the mirror morphs into a spiky, bouncing figure. And for a moment, Liz is startled, because she suddenly thinks she sees Him again. But then she realizes that what she is really seeing is Kid's reflection.

Liz turns to look him over in person. The cloak hides his slender body beneath a pointy silhouette, and the three complete rings glow with an almost inner white light in his black hair. Beyond these peculiarities, though, he is still deeply familiar to her eyes. His skin is still pale, his features still round, and his irises still loops of two-toned gold. Kid tilts his head to the side to meet her gaze, and Liz decides he is more beautiful now, in this tragedy-born growth, than he ever was before.

"Do you really think I can do this, Liz?" he asks, gesturing with the two pieces of the mask. "Take over… all of these responsibilities?"

"I do. I know you can," she says, with total confidence. "…And you don't have to do everything by yourself, you know. That's why the DWMA exists… why you have weapon partners… why I'm here. Okay?"

A small smile crosses his solemn features. "I just wish I was as certain about it as you are. To me, it all feels like terrible timing."

"Timing, huh?" Liz senses the memory, recently dredged up, tugging at her mind again.

"Yes, so recent after that whole Book of Eibon incident… and I still feel so untrained, so amateur, at being a Grim Reaper; too young to really have the… the… experience… to…" Kid trails off. His thin eyebrows slowly rise on his forehead, so Liz is literally able to watch his process of recalling the same moment that is in her own thoughts.

"You know," Liz comments casually, "I think, in our line of work, there's never really going to be perfect timing… for anything."

The jagged cloak rustles softly as Kid shifts in place. Liz feels a cool, delicate prod against her soul, and realizes that he is testing her, trying to figure out what she is getting at with her loaded words. She feels her cheeks begin to heat up at his silent inquiry, but the only thing she can think to do is grin. Apparently, this solves the riddle for him.

"I don't believe…" he murmurs, haltingly, under his breath, "that the… specified number of… years in our arrangement… has yet been reached…"

Liz shrugs before she can think about it too hard. "Like I said, no such thing as good timing. And even if it has only been a short amount of time, I think we've both matured quite a bit since then…"

To Liz's amazement, Kid's cheeks begin to steadily grow pink. "There is… Father's passing…"

"C'mon, Kid, you know your dad only ever wanted you to be happy. And…" Liz pauses. She knows how she feels, and she no longer suffers any real qualms about admitting it, but it is still nerve-wracking, not knowing exactly what stage Kid is at himself. With a resigned sigh, she plunges ahead, "…and if I can do anything for you, that will bring you that happiness, I will." She stares him straight in the eye. "You and Patty are my reason for living, Kid. And I-"

"I love you, Elizabeth," Kid says.

She freezes. And of all the things that leap into mind, the one that stands out is, he beat me to the punch.

"I have, for a long time," he continues presently, looking down at the pieces of the mask in his delicate hands. "It is just… it is just that…" The white fragments, fitted together, catch her eye and Liz nods, understanding why this spoken admittance has really been so long in coming.

"You are Death," she whispers.

"…I am Death," he confirms.

Suddenly, there is a crackling noise, and bright light breaks out along the broken, diagonal seam. A moment later, the startling effects cease, and the two of them are left standing there staring at a flawless mask, pristine and perfectly whole.

Liz smiles at this little display of magic, and turns her attention back to the one in front of her. There is still a hint of longing, sharp and painful, in his face, but to her relief, it is overridden by a sense of inner peace, of slow and tranquil acceptance.

It is then that it occurs to her that, for the past few weeks, she has been calling him by the wrong name.

Stepping closer to his still, silent form, the cold he now radiates leeches into her very skin, and Liz basks in it. With her soul, she caresses him, diminishing the space between their quivering wavelengths until she feels the vibrations slide almost effortlessly into a single, beautiful frequency. Golden eyes instantly rise to meet shining blue.

"You are Death," she says, reaching out to cup his cool, pale face in her hands, "but I love you anyway."

Liz opens her arms to him, and embraces Death with all of her body, mind, and soul.