23. A World Without End

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Spring hit the ground on his knees with the weight of Keu's nearly lifeless body. The man lied beside him, eyes struggling to stay open as his mouth gasped like a waterless fish. Spring's eyes widened as he sat there powerlessly for a moment in the stillness. With a tentative hand, the boy reached out to hold his sleeved arm. He clenched him, but the man didn't respond, and, after shaking him a bit more desperately as the tears pooled in his eyes, he grabbed his shoulders and and wrapped his arms around him to pull him up to his chest.

His body was limp, even as his mouth opened in shut in search for words. Spring pleased him not to strain himself, not to leave him, to look at him and never close his eyes, but Keu could only gaze up at him with the eyes of the man that had been by his side for thousands of years. The big brother he always had. His hands twitched at the want to dry the boy's eyes, but the gaping hole in his back that was quickly draining his body of blood and pooling on the ground and on Spring's lap prevented his body from moving.

"S-Spring," Keu began against the blood pooling in his mouth, gasping for air with lungs that had been destroyed. "Don't... D-Don't cry... You... You're... Strong... And... P-pretty damn cute...."

With that, a defiant smirk on his bleeding lips, his eyes shut, and his body went completely limp in his arms.

Spring burst into tears on his hands and knees with the man's weight too heavy to bear. The burning sorrow that fell from his eyes were as hot as the searing burn in his chest that devoured his body faster than he could quench it. He couldn't stop them. They gushed out of him in synchronicity to the crushing weight pulling his face into the dirt. He couldn't couldn't breathe from the intense screaming inside of him, and the cries that came from him were labored yelps of pain and grief. He was gone.

The man that looked after him, the teen that gave him the love of an older brother he'd never known he craved, the friend that took care of him whenever he was at a loss for where to go and hated himself- he was dead, and nothing Spring did or said would ever bring him back to life again. Eon, in the anger that he'd created inside him from his own sins, had killed him when he should have killed Spring. This, more than the ice raining down on them, more than the dirt he scraped under his fingernails, more than the man's beady eyes, was real.

It wasn't fair! Keu had done nothing wrong to anyone! He was just a man going to school so that he could properly care for the little siblings that needed him back home, and he'd been unfortunate and kind enough to make friends with the cursed boy. His forehead scraped against the soggy sticks and grass. Never again would those hands hold him and tell him all the mush he wanted to hear to give him confidence. Never again would those feet protect him from would-be suitors. Never again would he see that defiant smile that lit up the dark.

Spring sobbed even harder at that thought, grasping the sticks and leaves below him as his tears tore themselves out of his eyes. He pressed his whole body against the ground, squeezing his eyes at the agony overcoming him. How could he have met this happen? How could he allow one of the first people that made him feel human die? As he scolded himself for being so useless, he crawled back over to the man lying beside him and buried his face in his chest. This time, there was no heart beat to reply. This time, the warmth was replaced by icy death.

Autumn swallowed down his own sob. His best friend, the one person in the world that he could play video games with and talk about relationships with and just be a normal teen with- his best friend- was gone. In the blink if an eye. He ran his fingers through his hair in disbelief and shook his head. There was no reason for it. It was senseless! And yet, as he watch Spring ball over his body, he kept waiting for him to spring back up and kick his way out of his troubles. The longer the hollow silence went on, the more his body chilled.

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