DISCLAIMER:  This story is the property of Spiritquest.  Please do not take any of it without my consent.  ^-^ I put a lot of energy into this, so please be kind with reviewing.  Thanks!  3

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The Angel of Death stood silently amongst two gates. The Ivory and Ebony. Both decked out in precious gems of diamond and sapphire; and both the final view of a passing mortal before they were to be sent into one of the two.

The Ivory for the truly kind and good spirits; and the Ebony- for those that had done only bad; and had bred hate during their life. One moment would decide all; and this moment was no different.

She shifted her long scythe; as she looked out onto the spinning ring of stars before her; blinking a few times, as a young mortal stepped into her world; his pools a shade of blue in which the sky could only pale against. He walked with a silent grace; an angel to those that would gaze upon him; hair of gold sparkling into the early morning sun.

The Grim Reaper smiled; straightening up, and fixing her robe of black; greeting the young spirit with a bow of her head; closing her pools of silver; as she gestured for the departed soul to approach; setting her long scythe upon the deep green earth below her feet.

She leaned upon it for support, as she was met with weary eyes. Eyes of a deep sorrow. Eyes that she knew had traveled on a great journey. A journey of both peril, and success.

"Greetings, my son. What brings you to my door at this beautiful morning?"

The young mortal could only sigh; bringing himself up to meet the form of the lady in black; shaking his head for a bit, before he finally spoke.

"Great Bringer of Afterlife; I come to you with a heavy heart."

This intrigued the young Reaper. She had never met a mortal that was so sad to cross into her gates. Normally, she had met with those that had pined for eternal rest; those that were happy to pass on; those that had wanted to see beyond the beyond. She decided to dig a bit deeper.

"What is the cause for your pain, child? Do share with me the threads of your sadness," the Reaper egged on gently.

The young man found himself some soft ground to sit on; gazing up at the other presence with eyes of a distant longing, "It's my love. Or so, she was my love. You see, I had once dreamed of eternal happiness. Oh, Death Angel, it was perfect. We'd sing together; we'd dance together. Everything that is my spirit would be seen in her very eyes.

We'd dance under the stars; we'd sit together in the sunlight. My dream angel was perfect beyond imagination. She would love me for me; and not what was on the outside.

Once I had a dream, Death Angel. Once I had a light. But, now my light is nothing but a glowing ember of ash. My will to dream too far gone now."

The Angel of Death only nodded; lightly raising an arm to the sky; causing a cluster of golden stars to shimmer- locking together to form a single mirror. She reached her dainty, feminine hand up into the universe, and pulled down a single, silver star- placing it into the mirror, as the glass reflection ripped like a rock to a calm body of water.

The young man's teary eyes seemed to glow with a child-like wonder, watching the spinning swirls of the glass come to life; the image of a single female appearing in it's icy reflection; her body and form being of perfect proportion; her eyes a deep, emerald green; hair of light brown sparkling in the burst of daylight; flowing to just about her shoulders, as it fluffed out into the breeze from the distant hilltops.

A smile seeming longer, and more vibrant than the rising sun plastered upon her feminine features. The product of an outer masterpiece. An aura of a sparkling pink; the color of perfection. She stood out in a green field with a silent pose; gazing out into the endless valleys beyond.

The Reaper turned to the man on the grass; pointing a single, purple-nailed finger towards the lady in the mirror.

"Does she look familiar, my son?"

The young man gasped, and dried a single tear, "My Samantha," he spoke in a meek, and fragile voice.

The Reaper only nodded, "Yes. She was your lifeline, wasn't she? Your very dreams come true."

The man went to speak; pausing and sighing once again, the weariness in his pretty eyes replacing the wonder in which had once resided in his pools not too long ago.

"Yes. Or so, I had thought she was."

This fascinated the Bringer. So, she decided to ask yet again.

"Thought she was? Do explain this, darling."

"You see, when we first met- I had saved her. She was about to end her life over a former love. I begged and pleaded for her not to go. She was so beautiful. I had hated to see such a gorgeous creature fade away. So, I saved her; and eventually what was only friendship blossomed into something more. Love. Or so I had thought anyway."

The young man frowned.

The Death Angel gave a nod; kneeling down to sit across from him; her scythe placed upon her lap.

"You had thought you had found your eternity?"

The spirit only nodded.

"But, then as time went by; all of what I am went into her. She held my heart; she held my life."

"You mean, you had placed everything that you were into this supposed angel?"

The Grim Reaper was now giving her full attention; meeting his eyes, and giving off the occasional understanding nod as he spoke on with his story.

"I did; and it only ended in my heartbreak-"

The young spirit met the ground with his eyes; lightly bringing a hand over the smooth, silky texture of the fresh, summer grass; caressing it with a light sigh.

"She left me, Grim Reaper. One night as I was about to come home, and officially ask her to marry me; she left me for another. You see, I had gone to college in her town, and came out with high honors. I was the one to be granted the first scholarship in my field, Death Angel. I was so psyched-"

The Death Bringer gave her gentle nod; urging him to carry on.

The young man nodded in return.

"But, my time in the spotlight would someday be halted. You see, I had graduated, and moved right on to the job they had hooked me up with. Not long after I had just started to move up the ladder; the company had suddenly filed for bankrupt; leaving the employees in a status of lay-off. Myself no exception."

"I see," The Death Angel spoke, "And this affected your relationship with a great deal of sorrow?"

The young man silently nodded.

"Once she had known about being placed out of work; she grew even more and more distant. Whenever I'd try to ask her what was wrong; she'd always reply with, "I'm fine." I couldn't get her to talk to me no matter what.

I tried everything, Death Angel. All that I could. Bought her so many flowers; sang to her underneath our bedroom window; showered her in presents, and affection- and she still pushed me away. Still acted like she was upset with me."

The lady in black arched a curious brow, "Was she, though?"

The spirit nodded, "I do think she was. But, still; I tried, and tried. That is, until I found the letter. It simply stated that she didn't love me; and that she had run off to become a Nurse somewhere down south. She packed up her things, and moved out one night as I was sleeping. I never saw her again."

"Mmmhmm. So, she left you all because of a job-loss?"

The passing spirit met the ground with a deepened sadness, noting his answer of 'yes.'

The Grim Reaper nodded at this once again.

"I watched you as you suffered. You did not attempt out of this world; in fact, you lived a long, and healthy life. But, inside you were dead. A mere shell of the man you once were. Living as a burned out candle flame; only staying alive because of your fears of eternal punishment, and the shame of knowing that you are a coward if you commit suicide."

The young spirit met her eyes.

"I sent moonbeams onto your sweet face as you cried yourself to sleep; I was the wind that refreshed, and brought some peace to your deeply wounded soul. I carried your fragile spirit, and gave you the hope, and wisdom to seek out your gold beyond the rainbow. Why did you not answer my calls, young spirit?"

"I had let my denial take over. I had been given a huge reality check; and had only let myself think that Sam was coming back. I pushed the souls of others away that had wanted to be with me. I truly did think that she was only facing a tough time; and had wanted her space. I loved her, you know."

The young spirit's eyes filled with crystal tears; bringing his black-sleeved right arm up to dry them lightly; sniffling a bit, and meeting the Death Angel like a wounded child, just longing to be held, and assured.

The Bringer of Afterlife blinked her response; lightly bringing a hand to the young man's ghost-like complexion; drying a few more tears that had escaped his haunting eyes; smiling lightly.

"Your fate is in the Ivory Gate, my son. Do not fear for your punishment, for this is not one. You are a good spirit, with a pure heart; and you will rest, and live forever in the world of endless light.

You have brought a star of hope in the lives of so many that you graced with your presence. Rest assured that you are here to pass along to a better place."

This caused the wandering spirit's eyes to sparkle just a bit.

"But- there is also one more thing I must bring up before I let you pass on into the Gate. A single stop before the ride truly lets you get off. One final pot of gold, if you will; that was somehow overlooked by your very eyes."

The spirit met her gaze with a curiosity like no other.

"There was one more, my child. Another that you had left behind. One single spirit that you had bypassed during your time of jaded dreams. Does any of this sound familiar, darling?"

The passing spirit shook his head a bit, "Not…not that I can recall. I'm sorry," he apologized; frowning slightly.

The Reaper shook her head in return; locks of soft blue swaying in the breeze, smiling a bit.

"Not to apologize, my child. I am not surprised at your sudden mental block. For you see, another party loved you very, very much. There was one more in your life, wasn't there? One more pot of gold that could be reached at the end of a slightly different rainbow. A mystic spirit that had stood by your side for quite some time. One that cried night after night, and who's heart pined for your own in return."

At this, the spirit met the mirror-glass once again; watching it swirl around, as yet another image came into view. This one a bit different than the first. A woman sat quietly upon a flat, gray rock; tears of blood dripping down her scarred face; almost as if she had been crying for so long- that blood replaced the salty waters of crystal.

Her long, black hair was matted to her sickly complexion; eyes of a deep purple tired, and worn; silently gazing out as if she were under a spell into the moonlit body of water- sniffling lightly, and drying a single drop of blood; letting the remains streak across her face; not caring what damage it had left behind.

The young spirit gasped; yelping with a sob, as he covered his eyes with his shirt; whimpering in the tone of a lost child.

"Please, Death Angel. Make it stop. I can't stand to see her this way," he cried; falling slightly onto the fresh, cool grass; sobbing in a hushed whisper for a moment, before regaining his ability to meet the image yet again; shivering to himself; and choking back a light sob.

The Bringer of Death met his eyes with wonder, "So, you do know the victim pictured here?" she asked with a deepened sense of interest.

It took the wounded spirit a few moments to answer; but when he finally did so, his reply was brought with a sob:

"Y-Yes…"

This made the Grim Reaper want to know more. So, she finally asked.

"Explain."

"That one girl in the picture was my best friend. She was my life, really. Aside from Sam, anyway. We were 'homies.' Comrades woven together from the very silk of true friendship. She would always stand by, and support me; always. Even when things became too much for her to handle, she still continued to stand by me.

She always promised that she would be a true friend; telling me things that maybe I didn't want to hear- but they still had to be placed out into the open. She was always there; always. Up until the very end-"

The Death Bringer nodded slowly, "And how did you guys separate?"

The saddened spirit gazed down, almost in shame, as he went on, "Sam and I got engaged."

The Reaper met his gaze with an desire to hear more.

"I asked her to marry me right underneath the stars. It was so magical. I didn't have a ring, but I promised that I would bring her the one she had wanted for that next Christmas Day. It was amazing.

I couldn't wait to tell my best friend. We got back from our date, and I had just gotten done dropping Sam off at her apartment. I returned home, and immediately called Michelle. I had told her everything. About how happy I was; and everything that my heart was doing cartwheels over. I was on top of the world, Death Angel; I truly was."

"So, then what happened with Michelle that led her into this state?" The Grim Reaper questioned.

She fixed her gaze over to the lady in the mirror for a split second, then back to her spirit-presence.

"To this day, I'm not totally sure. You see, once I had told of me and Sam; she got so quiet. It was something that I had never seen from her before. Her normal, calm and beautiful voice had somehow turned sad, and broken. A mere shell of what I used to know.

We had begun to grow distant; every time I'd ask her what was going on; she'd tell me she wasn't feeling well, or something. She said she felt sick both inside and out; and that she wasn't up for company today. I didn't understand; and I felt so awful that I couldn't seemingly do anything to help. So, eventually we just lost touch."

"She loved you, my child. Michelle loved you to a point of no explanation. You just did not see this," the Death Bringer pointed out; revealing an aura of soft red around the woman in the glass reflection; entwined with black. The colors of love, and loss.

The young man gasped slightly, his pools of blue filling up with crystal waters again, drying some with his sleeve in a state of shock.

"B-B-But- S-S-She-" he managed to get out; his voice breaking.

"She loved you, darling. You just never let yourself see it. Samantha's artificial light, and your dreams of the perfect woman blind-sided your spirit; leaving you to overlook what could have been bright and beautiful. Overlooked that of your soul mate."

The spirit met her mystic, silver eyes.

"For you see, my darling child; Michelle could have given you all. Sure, she was a few extra pounds; but what self-respecting woman that is not a supermodel isn't?

Sure, she didn't understand your love for sports, and the Patriots; but she would have sat down with a smile, and a gentle embrace, and watched it with you. She would have learned to love them.

Yes, she smoked on the occasion; but she also knew your concerns, and would have given it up for you. In fact, she did not two months ago. You just did not see it, young spirit.

Your lay-off would have made her concerned, yes; but not because you would be anything less in her eyes, like you were with Samantha's; but because she would be concerned about your safety, and your health.

She would worry for the sake of you having enough money, and would have gotten two part time jobs to bring in the cash, if needed. Until you got back out on your feet.

She didn't cook any extravagant meals; but the food that she did provide for you would have been provided with love and energy; and not some pre-made frozen meal that would have taken only 30 minutes to cook. She would have placed her heart and soul into it for you.

And, yes. She wasn't a Nurse, or a Doctor; but she enjoyed her career in Geology. And I'm sure that over time, with some hands-on experience with her in her field, you would have grown to love it too. If not for a career, but a fun hobby that you both could enjoy together as a couple.

Sure, she wasn't a perfect woman by any means. She had her dark emotions; she had her features to which some would find unappealing; but her heart would have been good, and in truth.

She would have guided your soul like a gentle breeze for the small, mountain stream. She would have brought your heart a great joy, and made you happy for the rest of your mortal life.

But, because you placed so much into your pot of fool's gold; you let the one that could have fulfilled your every longing slip away. You let yourself be blinded by an artificial sunlight; that the light that would have awakened your passion for living dimmed, and eventually changed into a simple, glowing ember of ash."

The young spirit let a meek sob escape him, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," he whimpered; first to the Grim Reaper; then to the pained reflection in the mirror.

The young Death Angel had seen this before, only nodding with a light bow of her head afterwards.

"Your time on earth is through, my son. Now may you pass along with the wisdom that I have hopefully bestowed upon you. I hope that I have opened your eyes to what might have been; and helped you in a small way to see the light."

"Yes. Yes, you have. Thank-you," the spirit replied, his voice small and sad.

"Go on, my child. Go on and pass down this wisdom. Go out and seek fourth another who could need some guidance. Perhaps if more learn and see what is beyond the visible; then these heartbreaks will someday become less and less. Perhaps we all will be able to find our times in the sun. Our gold beyond the rainbow.

For you see, dear one; you and Michelle would have had it all. You would have soared high above any mountain; and reached a plain deeper than the bluest fathom of sea.

Together, you would have rattled the stars- and overthrown the universe."