Aretha left and as she closed the door, Death's legs gave out from under her. "I know I shouldn't trust you, hell, I shouldn't trust anyone..." Her voice caught and the tears started to flow. "No one can help me. No one!" She didn't know why she had started yelling, she wasn't angry, she was scared. "Why do you think I trust you? I'm hoping that you'll kill me or use it against my will! I'm hoping that I bloody die!" She banged her head into the ground. "Ian isn't Ian, Ren is me, my little brother is being held as ransom, my foster father is going to kill me! There is nothing left for this damn misfit!" She flung herself onto her back but there wasn't pain. "I didn't tell Ari that I punched Mevolent in the face because I wanted to be tortured because she'd get sad or flip. I need to bloody feel again..." She started sobbing with her hands on her face.
Niccolò didn't know what he had been expecting, but it certainly wasn't that. He quickly knelt beside her on the ground. "Ok, ok.Take a deep breath, if you can manage it. Try to calm down," he coaxed, "Just breathe." It made him feel guilty as Hell, but he figured it was better than making her relive everything as she explained, so he leafed through her foremost memories for the details. "Don't be so sure that noone can help you." He paused for a minute, searching for the right words,then continued.
"If you'll let me, I might be able to do something.I'll get your brother for you if you can tell me where he is, for one thing,and I can put you and Ren back into your proper bodies, for another. I'll need a bit of time but I could manage it, easily. Would you like that?" And maybe I can bring Ian back, too, he thought to himself, but didn't say it out loud.That was a long shot, and the last thing she needed was false hope, so for the moment he'd stick to things he knew he could deliver on.
Death rolled away from Bob. She tried to breathe but her lungs were to constricted and she was breathing into the carpet. "Just...Don't. I don't know where he is, even if you did," she hiccupped,"Diablo's there and Rohan knows about magic. Ren has ran off. Do you have a knife by any chance?" She hoped he didn't see her plan of dying again.She really wanted to stop her life, be eradicated from everyones' minds."Just kill me. Please." She rolled back over, suffocation failed, and looked him right in his eyes. "Please."
He felt tears beginning to pool in his eyes. Actual tears.Sharp, stinging pains shot up his neck, but he was used to them by now. Anytimehe felt things, it hurt. But his concern was Death. Niccolò had wanted to diebefore. Hell, he wanted to die right then. The only reason he was still aroundwas because all the names he had stolen always took over before he could die.Eventually he'd stopped trying.
But Death was different. She had a whole life ahead if her.And seeing her so willing, so desperate to throw it away? "No." Hisvoice was still soft, but left no room for argument. "You're not dying onmy watch." He stared right back into her eyes and after a moment, her bodywent limp, though she was still perfectly conscious. He lifted her easily andlaid her on the bed, then took a few steps backwards and leaned against thewall across from her. "I know how it is to want to give up," he toldher, his eyes dark and intense- for half a second all 564 years of his lifewere clearly visible in his face- "But you don't have to."
Death tried to move, to get up and pull her shoelaces out tomake a noose; she'd done it before. "I do. I honestly do. I'm trapped inthis dark void that- it's more like quicksand actually. The more I struggle,the further I sink. When I met you in the darkness the first time, I had noidea what was happening. If I was there now, if cross over to the otherside." She started to hold her breath. Soon enough, the dark spots dancedacross her vision. She felt lightheaded and happy. Maybe this would work, maybeshe'd not pull through this time. She hoped that she wouldn't.
Quickly he realized whet she was doing and stopped her thefastest way he knew how- she was asleep in seconds. Breathing, after all, isinvoluntary, and if she's not conscious to control it her body will breathe onits own. Knowing her sleep would last for a while, he let himself sink to thefloor and focused on reinforcing the mental barriers he'd placed in himself,trying very, very hard to not think about the pain.
I walked through the door to find Death asleep on the bed,and Niccolò in a crumpled heap on the floor, breathing hard. I ran to theground beside him and rubbed his shoulder until his breaths had slowed again.'I'm going out to find Ian' he spoke in my mind, still lacking enough breathfor speech. 'Watch her- don't let her kill herself.' "Ok," I answeredsimply, pushing back my shock at the fact that was serious. "Make sure youcome back." And then he disappeared.