Kade Gunner was supposed to be dead.
Billy had seen it with his own two eyes. The bright lights on a dark, rainy night. Had heard the tires screeching, the loud boom of the crash as the two cars had hit each other full force going well over the speed limit.
Until there was nothing left but the smushed shells of two once pristine sports cars. The crowd had been silent at first, watching the ways the flames had started consuming the two vehicles, frozen by fear and shock.
And then someone- probably Heather, Kade's prim and proper girlfriend- had let out a scream that seemed to rattle the earth along with the heavens above.
Everyone around Billy soon shot into action, moving forward to try and find a way to pull the two boys' not surprisingly, mangled bodies out of their cars. Billy didn't move though. Couldn't move.
Death was staring back at him from the other side of Kade's car. Eyes hollow in its non existent face. He watched as it bent forward into the car, into the driver's seat where Kade Gunner sat, blood seeping out of every orifice.
It's skeletal hand caressed the bruised side of his cheek with the tenderness of a loved one and Billy could feel the overwhelming sadness from this creature saturated in his bones.
Could Death be sad? Or was it his own feelings he was projecting into this apparition? Could Death feel his emotions, hear the screaming in his head, replay all the memories and missed chances between him and Kade that were cycling through his brain like a tragic movie?
He didn't know.
He didn't know, but he knew that if the Grim Reaper was here to collect, then Billy's life and future were over. He would have nothing- be nothing- without Kade Gunner by his side. Skeletal hands reached down to an unmoving chest.
"Don't." The word came out as a whisper, so quiet he didn't think that Death had heard him at first. But then, those not eyes were turning onto him with a curious tilt to its head.
"Don't take him. I'll give you anything. I'll give you my life, just don't take him." He kept his voice down so the people still screaming around him weren't witness to his silent breakdown. He felt absolutely crazy at the moment, begging and bargaining with Death over a boy who didn't even know how much he meant to him.
Death seemed to, though. Not so much in words but in the understanding hidden in that empty space where a face should have been. Its phantom form slipped through the car and through the people pulling Kade's lifeless body now out of it and to the ground, and stopped right in front Billy.
Up close, its presence was both overwhelming imposing- a great, frighteningly unknown- and overwhelming familiar- like a warm embrace.
Billy watched as its skeletal hand then slowly moved closer to his own chest, his breathing picking up as it reached it in and yanked something out. It was painful, almost unbearably so, but not more so than the pain that had already settled into his heart the moment the two cars had collided.
In Death's hand was a little ball of light, intensely bright even for its dark blue hue. Death then pulled out a pocket watch from the inside its robes and held it out to Billy. At first he was confused, wondering what the hell it had to do with bringing Kade back until he saw the engraving in the back of its face. The name William Hall stared back at him. He looked closer and noticed the notches of time were not in regular numbers but in years. In decades.
He counted down the decades he had left. Eighty. He would have to suffer eighty more years without Kade Gunner in his life.
Billy looked up desperately at Death, begging without saying anything. A skeletal hand reached into the watch, pushing the minute hand clockwise and Billy watched a decade disappear from the clock. The tiny ball in its hand got a little bit bigger.
Billy pushed it over and over again until forty years remained. Forty for him and forty for Kade. The ball of light was now around the size of a softball.
Death turned and started making its way back to where Kade's body was laid on the ground, two guys attempting CPR as lights and sirens started to scream in the distance. Billy followed death close until they were each kneeling beside Kade.
Death moved through the paramedic's body and reached inside Kade's chest like it had done to Billy, pulling out a tiny ball of red light. Billy watched as the two balls were brought together, the tiny red one engulfing the indigo one and turning a vibrant scarlet. Death pressed the ball back into his chest and then suddenly, Death was gone as if it had never been there to begin with.
Kade gasped out an ugly, startled breath and kept straining to pull more ragged ones in. One of the men who had been doing CPR on him bellowed out "He's alive! It's a miracle!" and stood up to go meet the ambulance that had just arrived.
Billy didn't know what to do now. He moved with the motions, standing up out of the way so the paramedics could pull Kade onto a gurney. Let Heather push him out of the way so she could sob into Kade's chest, mascara smeared on her face. He turned again to move out the way as the paramedics began to push the gurney to the ambulance, when a hand shot out and gripped his wrist tight.
He looked back, startled to have Kade's eyes on him. "What did you do?" The question came out strained and gruff, barely audible in the loudness of the chaos around them. Billy could see it in Kade's eyes immediately that he knew. That Kade knew he had made a deal with Death to bring Kade back to life by giving up part of his own. Billy's heart hurt as he moved forward to hold Kade's hand in both of his.
"I didn't do anything buddy. It's a miracle you're alive." Kade kept staring at him, looking like he wanted to call him on his bullshit, to yell at him for what he had done. It was too late though. The deal had been made and Kade was being loaded into the back of an ambulance and Billy moved to let it pass by.
Kade Gunner was supposed to be dead. But Billy would be damned if he let that happen.