Death sat at his bedside.
He drew in a breath when their eyes met. He knew it was time.
She looked down at him with a sad fondness.
Falling in love with a god was not a death sentence.
He thumbed a picture frame; the crinkled, smiling face of his lover stared back at him.
The story was only a tragedy if the god loved you back.
"I'm glad you're here with me." He took a shuddering breath in. He wasn't afraid. "I did the right thing, didn't I? It all worked out in the end."
Death put her hand on his face. "In the end? Nothing ends. Nothing ever ends."
He smiled, comforted by her touch.
"But was it worth it?" She asked.
"It was." His eyes burned, wet with tears. He let them fall. But he was smiling. "I am someone who did not die when I should have died.
I thought it was so I could witness more evils, worse evils than ever before. But that wasn't it, that's not why I was saved. I know that now."
Death seemed so much smaller than he remembered. So much more human as she spoke. "I have lived through all ages of men, child. Centuries without end. I have seen many great men and known countless honors.
But the greatest honor of this ancient and tired soul has been the privilege of fighting beside you and calling you my friend. May grace and peace be with you, to the end of all things."
He put the photo frame down in his lap, his hands shaking. "We have witnessed so much tragedy and so much beauty. After all of it, I believe we deserve a bit of rest."
Her voice shook. "Oh, you poor thing.
All you have ever wanted was love's sunlight, but all you ever got were the thunderstorms, the clouds above your head heavy with sorrow,
and so you chose to drown out the rain between the thighs of your lover, the one you stole back from my cold embrace years ago.
You could have done so much with endless centuries, but you chose the path of love, just as your mother. Do not regret it, for they were good nights." Her eyes were focused on his.
"What is your regret, child?"
There were so many. To choose a single one...? "My regret...I regret that my love has to come with me. As my journey ends, so does theirs."
He wiped the tears from his eyes with the back of a trembling hand. "It all just disappears, doesn't it? Everything you are, gone in a moment, like breath on a mirror. We're like plants.
We flourish and we die. As far as regrets go, it's a big one. But you're right, there were good nights. I was here. I lived. I loved. I was here. I've done everything that I wanted to do.
And it was more than I thought it would be. I will leave my mark so everyone will know I was here. My work is done. And it's time to head home."
They would be shadows in the cascades of history. And he could live with that, because his mark upon the world would remain. That would be his legacy.
This wasn't about him, or his love, it was about the future of the world. The world his children could live in, possibly the only thing he did that mattered.
She took his hand, her touch cold. "I am Death. And when I love you, it's forever."