One heartbeat, and the world stands still around him.

The harsh crunching of their boots on the dirt silences, and nothing can be heard but the sick hollow sound of Flynn Rider choking on his own breath. As he watches the stars dance in his vision, he remembers how to live, but it is much harder to learn how to breathe.

In the midst of a cough, he damns the world.

Such soft silence sings and rings and dances eerily. And he can't quite put his finger on the sound, but it's the sound of a man choking on his own regrets. The sun scintillating from their steel plates mesmerizes the thief, and for a split second his past taunts his present – and his future.

She reaches, hand pausing in its painful descent towards the ground, as tears crystallize in her wide eyes. Her blonde hair is such a beautiful mess of grass and twigs and innocence and sunlight. And oh, damn, how it reminds him of gold and silver and diamonds and rubies, but oh-so-much-prettier.

In the midst of dying, he loves.

And lives.

Two heartbeats, and the memories wash over him.

And he's a child again, full of light and night and excitement for the forests that he discovers in the eyes of everyone around him. Forests, oh the freedom and natural scent that entices him and the time he spends alone. He knows, and as he stares into the eyes of her, he understands.

Treasures – a thumbtack, a broken coin, paper, and bits of nothing – fill his knapsack, thrown over his shoulder without a care. Disappearing into the shadowy, sinister woods is the boy, and emerging is Flynn Rider.

She stares at him with surprise etched on her face, lips curling into an adorable o. She's all beauty and innocence and soft and everything he isn't, but that's what makes her one-of-a-kind, or so he tells himself when he cradles her with care in his arms.

Three heartbeats, and the noose tightens around his neck.

In the midst of living, he dies.

And doesn't.

A song.