Joshua Karter landed gracefully on the roof of a building, watching a young woman walk down the busy street. The midnight black feather on the wings protruding from his back fluttered in the breeze as his eyes followed the girl's movements, never losing her in the crowd. Angel of death, dispatcher of dead souls... That had been his fate after his untimely death.

A magical flame flickered on his palm. It contained the details of his mission. The words were simple and impersonal. So unlike his feelings for the girl he loved and still did. He clenched his hand into a fist and the flame vanished, but he could still see the words in his mind's eye, clear as the day.

' Name: Lynn Myles

Age: 22

Time of death: 6th January 2011 '

But now, he had a task to accomplish.

"Hello, Joshua." She was looking straight at him. It was just like her to recognize him even though a cap shadowed his face. He had hidden his wings with a binding spell and had contemplated watching her from afar, but she had sent all his plans down the drain with two simple words.

"I can never fool you, can I, Lynn?" he said with a smile which belied his worry as his eyes took in her haggard appearance.

"No way," she quipped. Soon, she sobered, her eyes meeting his. "I do not have much longer to live, do I? That's why you're here."

He almost smiled at her practical and accurate evaluation of the matter. She had always taken everything into stride with a slightly detached manner. He did not give an answer. She had not expected one.

"Do you usually show yourself before a person's death?" she asked. Typical Lynn, she had easily seen right through him. His presence was undeniably an unusual circumstance.

"No." He had rejected all other tasks after receiving this job, just so that he could spend more time with her. The others had understood.

"So you came to keep me company."

"..." He was silent. There were no words that could sufficiently explain his actions. But she knew.

She turned and gave him her most radiant smile, the smile that he had missed so much. "I'm glad."

Both of them had known that this day would eventually come. She had always been sickly. His presence had brought hope to her life. For her, he represented comfort, happiness and love. It had been unexpected that he would leave this world before her. He had told her that he would stay by her side during her last moments. Now, he had returned to fulfill that promise.

He found her the next day sitting in their favorite park. She was looking thoughtful, occasionally adding some words to the paper in her lap. Joshua sat down next to her on the bench and took her free hand in his. It felt icy to his touch. He put an arm around her in an attempt to warm her. It didn't work. He could feel her energy waning.

"What are you doing?" he asked, peering curiously at the paper.

"Isn't it obvious?" she retorted dryly. "But since you asked, it's a letter for my sister Erika." She folded the completed letter and leaned her head against his shoulder. "Do you remember the previous time we went out together like this?" she asked.

"Of course." How could he forget? He remembered every moment they had been together, precious memories that he would never allow to fade.

"I thought that it would be out last. I'm happy that you returned today. But this time will really be the last, won't it?" Her voice was becoming softer, fainter. Slowly, her eyes fluttered close.

"It won't," he whispered against her hair. She didn't hear.

It was the 5th of January, 8:36 p.m.

Lynn insisted on staying at home. Close to tears, her sister had agreed. Erika brought her pillow to Lynn's room. They spent the night together, just like when they were young. Lynn soon fell asleep. Erika watched her younger sister's peaceful slumber with a sad smile. Her fingers brushed against Lynn's cheek, lightly tucking a few errant locks of hair behind her ear.

She drifted to sleep at 2:53 a.m., 6th of January.

When Joshua landed lightly on the window sill of Lynn's room, it was 7:10 a.m., 6th January. He barely made a sound as he stepping into the room but she opened her eyes.

"You came," she said, her voice faint and almost inaudible.

"I came," he answered gently, kneeling down at her bedside.

One of her hands found his. He grasped it tightly.

Sixty, fifty-nine, fifty-eight...

"All the time we spent together..." she said softly, "I was really happy..." She drew a shuddering breath.

"Shush, you don't have to speak," he chided. "I know."

Forty-one, forty, thirty-nine...

"I... just want... to tell... you..." She looked deep into his eyes. "Thank you... And..."

Twenty, nineteen, eighteen...

"I love you."

Twelve, eleven, ten...

He raised her hand to his lips. His eyes glistened with unshed tears. "I love you too."

Three, two, one, zero...

Her hand fell from his grasp, dropping to her side on the bed. Her eyes closed, her breathing stopped. At 7:12 a.m., 6th January, Lynn Myles passed away.

Yet death is not the end. Gently, Joshua drew Lynn's spirit from her body. Her hand, enveloped in his, was translucent and softly glowing, just like his true form. His arms caught her in a warm embrace.

During their lives, Fate had given them too little time together. Now, they had eternity.

Even before Erika opened her eyes, she knew. Tears clouded her vision as she looked at her sister's still form.

A letter was held lightly in Lynn's hand. It was addressed to her. With shaking fingers, Erika opened it.

Her sister's heartfelt words warmed her heart. As she read it, she was laughing and crying at the same time.

At the end of the letter, a message was scribbled in a different hand. Half-disbelieving, she stared at it for a few moments. Finally, she smiled.

"Thank you," she whispered.

'I'll cherish her forever. I promise.


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