Delirium huddled into the school of clown fish, ignoring the way they peeked out from the shelter of her hair and suddenly darted forth to nibble on her tears of red algae and tiny, salted brine shrimp. The average person walking past had no worse reaction than a passing desire to watch Finding Nemo, but a few froze, wide-eyed, on entering the tropical waters...sans water.
A lovely, pale girl with dark hair and kind eyes stopped to tickle a passing squid. "Sister," she said, voice warm with compassion and concern, "What troubles you?"
"I've lost them!" Delirium sobbed, the clown fish morphing to sleek, darting eels before condensing into flounder. "My precious chains grew wings and slithered away."
The flounder seemed to decide, as one, to become an orchestra of jewel-colored frogs and star patterned crickets. "Never gonna run around and desert you..." they chorused in tones of honey and cinnamon and rose-water-ginger.
Death nodded, smiling at the harmonies, and offered an arm to her little sister. "Tell me where you lost them; perhaps I've seen them somewhere."
Clinging to her sister's arm, the world seemed to assume sharper angles, and fewer of them. Could Death help? In the not-usual way?
"Are you here," she began, then coughed jade petals into her hand. Death waited patiently. "Are you here," she continued through the prism of her mouth, "because my chains are yours now?"
"Not quite, dear little sister," Death said, smiling, petting an absent hand through the universes contained in her sister's hair. "Much of Delight remains in you, Delirium. It's when your chains completely escape that natural laws remember they are merely suggestions."
Laying a gentle kiss on each eyelid, Death pulled back and studied her sadly lost little sibling. "When did your chains escape you?"
Death had always been a steadying influence on the youngest of the Endless. Delirium focused her mismatched eyes on a specific memory and drew its image into the now. A human, with hair like Delirium's own, a pretty face, a tenor voice, and the maelstrom of Delirium's domain contained in that small, finite frame.
The human of Delirium's past ghosted over, and ran reverent fingers over Delirium's chains. "Don't you want to be free?" sie'd asked. "Imagine what you could do unfettered."
"Terrible things," Delirium answered her memory. "And I wouldn't even know I'd done them."
"Show me." The multicolored human sounded cousin to Desire at that point, Death reflected, watching the scene. And while Desire might regard Delirium as too easy a mark to torment, sie was still prone to practice hir being whenever possible. The heartfelt plea was answered, and Delirium's chains grew wings and slithered from her arms, wrapping the human up in a basic structure of linearity and physics.
"My chains!" gasped Delirium, clearly having forgotten this when she relinquished control. "Please," she sniffled, "please come back to me." The pearls of her misery were scattered behind, leaving a wake of people searching for a broken necklace.
Death held her sister's hand comfortingly. "I think if you hold yourself open to them, they'll return to you." Death brushed a seed pearl from the corner of each eye, then grasped Delirium's hands firmly. "Open yourself to them, and let them wrap you tight." Dropping contact, Death stood back. "You can do it," she encouraged with a sweet smile.
Trembling, Delirium stood up. Her clothing dissolved in the non-existent wave that passed through, leaving a rainbow of tiny shells in her hair and nothing but skin elsewhere. Nude, now, but for the shells, Delirium embraced the memory of the bird-bright human that had started this whole mess. Delirium spoke, then, her voice the only real thing in a world of ephemeral time: "My chains! Pleasepleasepleaseplease come back to me?! I need you. You anchor me to what's real and don't let me forget that I'm broken. Please, my chains. Please come hold me together."
The strength of the initial words rapidly dissolved into uncertain blubble, but the chains knew their duty. The came flying out of everywhere, snake-like circles wrapping around the bare body of their mistress. With every eel chain sinking into her, then resurfacing as a series of bangles, a bit of the floaty came out of the air, settling into something logical and organized and real.
Death placed a tender kiss over mismatched eyes and drew Delirium into her arms. "Why don't you come home with me for a bit, sweetie? Just until your chains can bind you properly." She held out her hand.
Carefully measuring the edges of their bodies, Delirium entwined her fingers with her sister's. "That sounds nice." She smiled, a little shy, and fidgeted with a bracelet. "Do...do you want to try on my chains?"
Kohl-lined eyes crinkled with delight. "Sure, sweetheart. I'll try them on for you."