Don’t Fear the Reaper


AUTHOR: MAB (aka KATY)
SUMMARY: Angel gets a first-hand look at getting old and doesn’t like what he sees. At all.
RATING: NC17
POSTED: 5 Jan 2004
CATEGORY: HOLIDAY FIC (HALLOWEEEN) / ANGST / GORE / SMUT
CONTENTS/PAIRING: C/A
WARNINGS: Sexual Content, Gore
FICPIC CREDIT: N/A
AUTHOR’S NOTES:
1) Based on Psychofilly’s Theme: Fear of Aging.
2) A world full of thanks to my betas – Abbycadabra, Elizabeth, Little Heaven, and starlet2367. Big hugs to Ando, Lara, and Dan for their moral support. A shout out to ShadowLongKnife for his helpful info regarding vectors and such. *bg*
3) I was beyond thrilled that I got to write for Becky. It was an honor to work on something for someone who has done nothing but wow me with her writing. Happy Halloween, Becky! Hope you like!
STATUS: Complete


All our times have come
Here but now they’re gone
Seasons don’t fear the reaper
Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain… we can be like they are
Come on baby… don’t fear the reaper
Baby take my hand… don’t fear the reaper
We’ll be able to fly… don’t fear the reaper
Baby I’m your man…

Love of two is one
Here but now they’re gone
Came the last night of sadness
And it was clear she couldn’t go on
Then the door was open and the wind appeared
The candles blew then disappeared
The curtains flew then he appeared… saying don’t be afraid
Come on baby… and she had no fear
And she ran to him… then they started to fly
They looked backward and said good bye… she had become like they are
She had taken his hand… she had become like they are
Come on baby… don’t fear the reaper

– “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” Blue Oyster Cult

***
“Fred, c’mon now. We have to go.” Angel’s voice was soft, but insistent as he held out a hand to help her up.

She looked up at him with empty eyes. “Go?” She shook her head, “No, I’m not leaving them, Angel. I won’t.”

Cordelia crouched down in front of Fred, brushing her hair out of the older girls eyes, her own hands shaking. “You don’t have to, Fred, we’ll take them with us. Won’t we?”

Them. Wes. Gunn. Dead. Killed trying to save the world…again. Angel found it almost impossible to digest. Was it just yesterday that Lilah approached him?

“Here’s the deal,” Lilah had explained. “Evil scientist created evil virus. If he’s not stopped, the world’s human population will be nil in about two, maybe three months, tops.”

“And you’ve come to me, why? I thought the whole evil thing was your kind of party.”

She shook her head. “Not this, Angel. This virus causes aging in humans. Rapid aging. Can’t be stopped, can’t be slowed down. Believe me, we’ve tried. As soon as we found out about it, we started working on an anti-virus. No luck, it’s unstoppable.”

“Does the firm know you’ve come to me?” Angel couldn’t believe that they would have allowed her to give him this information.

“Probably,” she nodded. ” I don’t really care. I’ve seen old on a Morgan and it ain’t pretty.”

But they were too late. In a matter of days, the virus would spread all over LA and in a matter of weeks, the world.

“Angel?” Cordelia’s voice brought him back to the present. “We’ll take them with us.” It wasn’t a question, and truth be told he wasn’t up to arguing with her, so he just nodded his head. With Cordelia’s help, he loaded the bodies and themselves into the car.

The ride home was nothing short of surreal. Fred was wedged between he and Cordy in the front seat, practically in Cordy’s lap. And in the back were the bloodied corpses of Wesley and Gunn. Angel did everything he could to prevent having to use the rearview mirror. Safety be damned, he couldn’t handle the constant vision of his closest friends’ ravaged bodies. In his mind, they were alive and arguing over who would get to sit in the front seat. “Shotgun!” Wes would call, knowing all the while that if Cordelia were present, she would be the one sitting up front. Only in limousines, would Cordelia deign to sit in the back seat.

“Angel!” Cordelia shouted.

“What?” he snapped, unhappy at being torn from his reverie of happier times.

“Where are you going?”

“Home.”

Cordelia looked incredulous. “We can’t go home. We need to get out of LA, far from LA.”

“Cordy, we lost. There’s nowhere to run, the virus is spreading as we speak.”

“Outrun, no, but we can buy some time.”

“Cordy, I don’t see the point…”

“You don’t see the point? You don’t see the point?” Cordelia snapped. She turned in her seat to face him and took a deep breath.

“Listen, mister, you’re not the one who’s gonna die an old lady in just a few days. I am. We are, Fred and me. So you let us decide where we want to die. And I say that we’re not going to stick around LA.”

Angel sighed. “Where do you want to go?”

“Just drive.”

So he drove from Los Angeles to Phoenix and only stopped there because they needed to bury the bodies. They buried Gunn and Wes on a Friday. Cordelia sang “Amazing Grace” and Fred threw up.

Cordelia found Fred in the bathroom of the Super 8 they had stopped to rest at in Phoenix. Her wrists had been slashed with pieces of a broken mirror.

They buried Fred in between Wesley and Gunn, under the full moon. It was Saturday and Cordelia placed wilted cactus lilies on her grave.

“I knew she was going to do this.” Cordelia told Angel as they stood at the graves of their dearest friends.

“You couldn’t have known.”

“No,” she shook her head, “You don’t understand. I knew she was going to do this. I had a vision last night.”

Angel was appalled “Then why…?”

She shrugged. “What was the point? Really, what was the point? She was already dead.”

He wordlessly watched her walk away until her figure was a tiny dot against the horizon.

When he got back to the motel, he found her packed and ready to go. He loaded the car up and turned to her expectantly.

“Texas,” she told him. “I want to die in Texas.”

He blanched at her matter-of-factness, but hid it well. He nodded. “Texas, it is.” For Fred.

Neither one of them said anything about the new gray hairs she was sporting.

***

She took over driving duty at dawn, while he napped in the back seat covered with a blanket.

When he woke it was dusk, and they were pulled over on the side of the road.

“Cordy?” he called from the back seat, not understanding why they had stopped.

“I…I can’t see so well, Angel. Everything’s kinda foggy.” She turned to face him.

The reality of their situation was etched in new lines on her face. Her eyes, once a sparkling hazel, were now softened by a layer of hazy blue. He tried to keep the pity from his eyes, but when he saw her chin lift, he knew he must have failed.

He got out of the backseat and slid into the driver’s seat without a sound. He stopped at a hardware store to get some black paint to cover the windows of the car, because there would be no more driving for Cordelia. And if they wanted to make it to Texas, before Cordelia…then they couldn’t afford to only travel at night.

They finally made it to El Paso at the end of the third day. They went no further because Cordelia’s aging body was suffering the consequences of sitting in the same position for hours on end.

Across from the motel that they stopped at was a large Victorian house. It shone white in the night and Cordelia couldn’t keep her eyes off it.

“I wonder…” Angel said, and drove across the street.

“Wait here,” he said, and walked up the stairs to the door.

The wear and tear of the house was more visible close up than it had been from across the way. He easily broke the door in and went in to investigate.

The great room was full of antiques and family pictures, all covered with a thin layer of dust. The house had been abandoned, though not for long. He switched on a lamp; they had electricity, at least for now. He wandered into the kitchen and tested the faucet. Water. He smiled; Cordelia would be pleased.

He went back out to the car to tell Cordelia about the house.

“Well, it looks abandoned. The owners probably left, trying to outrun the virus. There’s electricity and running water.”

“Sounds heavenly,” she replied with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

Cordelia had to be helped out of the car. Her wrists felt like birds bones under his hand and he was startled by her sudden fragility.

She quietly roamed the large house, eyeing the antiques appreciatively.

“This is a good house,” she said at last, nodding her approval.

He knew that she was really saying that it was a good place to die. She gave him a crooked smile and brushed his cheek with the back of her fingers. He caught her hand in his and kissed it. She withdrew, smiling and continued exploring.

Angel saw her run her fingers lightly over a piece of chantilly lace draped over the back of the sofa and knew she was thinking of Fred. While Cordelia was the finest cashmere, Fred was delicate chantilly lace.

***
The next day, when she broke a tooth after biting into an apple, they both pretended that nothing had happened, although later he heard her sobbing in the bathroom. He went into the bathroom, wiped her tears and carried her to bed. He followed her to bed soon after, and his dreams were troubled, full of shadows and the sense of being followed.

His dreams were interrupted by horrific screams coming from Cordelia. He rushed to her side. Her eyes were squeezed shut and she was clutching her stomach. He did a double take when he saw her. She had changed so much in just a matter of hours. Most of her hair was gray now and her skin blotched with age spots.

“Angel, oh God, make it stop, make it stop!” He placed his hand over her belly and could practically feel what was going on inside of her. The virus caused rapid aging of the human body and Cordelia was feeling first-hand what menopause on a ramped up schedule felt like. Her ovaries being drained of their last drop of life must have been excruciating. And he could do nothing, nothing but hold her hand and silently promise to be there until the end. He held her tightly and they both drifted off to sleep.

He dreamed of a subway train, a clock, and Cordelia, young and beautiful.

They were on an empty subway train. The musty smell permeated his senses as his body jerked slightly to-and-fro from the motion. Cordelia sat shivering beside him, her eyes fixed on a clock mounted on the grungy ceiling. He opened his leather jacket and drew Cordelia’s body flush with his, his arm going around her. She readily accepted his embrace and scooted close, almost burrowing herself into his body. She turned her head so that her nose nuzzled his neck, her breath hot and moist. He shifted, pulling her even closer.

His hand clenched on her shoulder as he felt her tongue on his neck, licking her way up to his ear. With his free hand he reached over and traced the line of her jaw, before moving on to her face. He couldn’t remember when they had become lovers, only that they had and it was enough. Wordlessly he began to unbutton her shirt. He hesitated for just a second, before unfastening her front clasped bra and revealing her breasts.

Her eyes closed and she released a ragged sigh as his hand covered her, molding her. His thumb brushed a dusky peak and she arched slightly, silently begging him for more contact. He raised his thumb to her mouth and she eagerly drew it in, dampening it with her tongue, wet and hot around his finger. He traded his thumb for his index finger and she gave it the same attention. He removed his finger from the warm cavern of her mouth and returned to her breast. He plucked and twisted her nipple with his wet fingers and she whimpered.

His moan echoed her whimper and his mouth swooped down to claim hers. His lips devoured hers, his tongue sweeping through her mouth, tasting her, scenting her. Her hands wound through his hair and his hands drifted from her breasts to her waist, gripping her tightly. Without stopping the kiss, he lifted her onto his lap, heat against hardness. She grunted her approval and rocked against him. He reached under her long skirt slid his hand under the elastic of her panties and pushed them down.

He ended the kiss to completely remove her panties and glanced up at her. His body froze.

Cataract-glazed eyes and wrinkled skin stared down at him.

“Angel?” Cordy panted in his ear.

He realized then that his eyes were squeezed shut. He opened them and to his relief it was hazel eyes staring down at him. His vision forgotten, he began removing her panties. She wriggled in his lap to make his job easier and raked a nail down the length of his hardness before moving on to his zipper. She reached in and grasped him with her hand, releasing him from the confines of his pants. He hissed at the feel of her soft hand surrounding him. She rose up and slowly lowered herself onto him, her tongue darting out to lick her lips. His eyes drank her in, and he found himself wanting to suspend time, to stretch out this moment. His eyes shut involuntarily as he felt her hot warmth surround him, stretching to accommodate him. He heard her swift intake of breath and smiled, opening his eyes. She began to move, slowly, her hands above her head holding onto the handrail.

“Angel…so good,” she moaned, her head falling back, as she moved faster. Cordelia brought her hand down from the rail and pushed her fingers into his mouth. He sucked on them greedily, bringing a seductive smile to her face.

He watched, fascinated, as she removed her fingers and brought them to her breast, circling, wetting and finally pinching her nipples. A gutteral moan wrenched out of his chest as he struggled for control. He stilled her motions with a firm hand on each side of her waist.

“Angel?” More of a whimper than a question. He smiled, leaning forward to take a nipple into his mouth, worrying it with his tongue. He felt her hand snake up to cradle his head to her breast, and felt the frantic beating of her heart. He wedged a hand between them and rested the pad of his thumb against her clit, laughing softly as he felt her hips thrust against him. He bit down on her nipple just as his thumb began to move, swirling and pressing on her clit.

“God, Angel. More.” She moaned, her fingers plucking at her other nipple. He increased the pressure of his thumb and moved to her other breast, nudging her dancing fingers out of the way. She began to softly keen in response.

Angel stood up, still inside of her, and backed her against the door of the car. Her legs wound around him, squeezing tightly. Her back slammed against the door of the train. He pumped against her in slow, measured thrusts and she met them eagerly.

Over her shoulder and out the subway car window, he glimpsed other travelers waiting for their train. He saw Wesley, Fred, and Gunn on the platform, waving and smiling, completely covered in sand.

On the ceiling, the clock was still ticking. And then it all seemed to rewind, going backwards faster and faster until there was nothing. No train, no clock. Just her.

He narrowed his focus and pounded into her, giving her no respite. Her keening turned into a wail and he felt her body clench around him tightly and heard her shout his name. He was only a step behind her, heat spreading from his groin to the rest of his body, making him feel truly alive. Pleasure radiated from his entire being; culminating in a bright, white flash.

He slumped against her, his face buried in the crook of her neck, legs shaking from his release. She panted in his ear, softly stroking the hair at the nape of his neck. He no longer heard the clock ticking.
Her soft pants turned into a cackle and he looked at her face. Old. Wrinkled. She smiled at him with rotted teeth and the harder he tried to pull away, the tighter she held him, still cackling.

She smelled of death and decay. Her skin began to shift, sliding off her face to reveal rotted flesh, melting away until there was nothing left but bones.

He woke up, a scream lodged in his throat. He thought he heard heavy breathing, someone gasping for air, and for a moment was sure he was still in the dream. No, he was awake, and Cordelia was sleeping soundly, her breathing soft and even. He tried to shake off the nightmare, but soon realized that his reality was far more frightening than any dream.

In the short time they had, Angel developed a routine. He would wake her up at dawn, bathe her and feed her. Then they would settle in the family room and Angel would read to her, often interrupted by Cordelia’s memories.

“Angel?”

“Yes?”

“Remember the time we went on the moonlit picnic? Gunn ate too much and threw up in the bushes? Remember that?

“Yes, Cordelia.”

Her mouth slightly opened and widened as she smiled, a gruesome caricature of what had once been sunlight itself. She was rotting on the inside and her teeth proved it. He shivered slightly at the sight.

“Those were good times.”

“Yes, Cordelia,” he sighed, returning to his book.

He didn’t know when his love for her had started to turn to repulsion, but he hated himself for it. For all the living he’d done, he’d never seen anyone grow old and die. And it was certainly not something that he had thought about. He went to bed each night with the knowledge that he would die a violent death; there was no gentle death for a vampire. Even one with a soul. For the first time since he was turned, he was comforted by that fact and for once he and his demon agreed on something – immortality wasn’t so bad after all. Growing old was a natural human process, except Angel didn’t think that there was anything natural about it. It was an obscene way to die.

“Angel?”

“Yes?”

“Do you think we buried them deep enough?”

“Yes, Cordelia.”

“Fred was smart, wasn’t she, Angel?”

“Yes, Cordelia, ” he answered automatically, before realizing just what she was really implying. She was referring to Fred’s suicide and not her book smarts.

He stopped reading and looked at her. She had a far-off look on her face and was humming to herself.

***
Not all nights were peaceful. Cordelia’s mood changes were swift and all too often. Her mind was deteriorating quickly.

“You think I don’t know? Huh? You think I don’t know what you think about me? Well, I do, Angel. I do. I know what you’re thinking. You’re disgusted by me,” she continued. “You wish I would hurry up and die.”

“Cordelia…” Angel pleaded, finding it difficult to meet her eyes. “Don’t do this. Of course I don’t want you to die.”

She started to sob. “Well, maybe I want to die. Maybe I don’t want to be old and gross and helpless.”

As much as he knew that it was the right thing to do, he couldn’t bring himself to go to her and comfort her. Not when the demon inside of him was screaming for him to leave her. Kill her and leave her. Get rid of her rotting stench and leave her.

***
That night he dreamed of Buffy and Cordelia, laughing and chasing each other in a field covered with sunflowers. His heart swelled with love. The sun was bright and high in the sky. He was in a small room, a loudly ticking clock his only companion. He was watching the women through a window and wanted desperately to join them, but there was no latch, nothing to open the window. He pulled the clock from the wall and threw it at the pane, shattering the glass, and stepped out onto the sun soaked field.

The sun did not harm him, only warmed him. He ran to join Buffy and Cordelia in their play, but they screamed in terror at the sight of him. He looked down at his hands. They were dark, weathered by sun and age, giving way to rotted, maggot-covered flesh.

He awoke with a start, blindly reaching for the lamp at his bedside, his eyes taking longer than usual to adjust to the dark. He could still hear the ticking of the clock along with the sound of heavy breathing. Eventually they diminished and he was able to calm himself and get back to sleep. This time he did not dream.

Like his nights, his waking hours were gradually becoming a nightmare; a grim reality filled with gruesome duties. Wash Cordelia’s hair, feed her, wipe her ass, clean up her vomit, change her piss soaked sheets, it just went on and on and on. He was beginning to feel trapped. Sometimes he felt that Cordy’s dementia was rubbing off on him. He was stalked by shadows that he swore he could see when passing mirrors and the deep, heavy breathing that often woke him up gave him chills.

His demon taunted him endlessly, relentlessly. Leave her. Kill her. He ignored the voices and continued to care for her. He loved her as much as he feared her, but prayed for her death more than he prayed for her life. Her death would be a kindness, of that he was sure, and he would welcome the reaper when he came for her. Death from old age was a cruel business, and though he was loathe to admit it, he was glad he had been turned so this would never happen to him.

***

In the end, Cordelia’s passing wasn’t peaceful, it wasn’t gentle, and for that he wanted to rage at God. But he was more fearful of God now than he ever was, if this was his work, and he really didn’t want to piss God off. Complete loss of control. Pain. Suffering. This natural death was not pretty and not something he would wish on his worst enemy.

Her breathing was harsh and uneven, broken by gasps of pain. She was in so much pain and there was nothing he could do. Age was a demon he could not defeat. He shoved his revulsion aside and held her hand tightly. She didn’t seem to be aware of his presence, but at least he was there. He wouldn’t let her go through this alone.

Her body tensed and relaxed as she let out a long and final breath. She was gone, death had finally taken her. His shoulders slumped and he began to weep, grief and relief flooding through him at the same time.

***
He buried Cordelia under a willow tree behind the house, at sundown. He wrapped her in chantilly lace and covered her grave with wild flowers. He couldn’t think of anything to say that would sum up what she meant to him, so he bid her good journey and promised to remember her always. Afterwards, he went inside to collect his things, he couldn’t bear to spend another night in the house where so much suffering had taken place.

He had no idea where he was going, just that he had to leave that house. On his way out to the car he passed the mirror, and something caught his eye. He slowly walked in front of the mirror and saw a shadowy shape. He got chills as the shape came into focus. He was paralyzed. Never, in a million years would he have ever been prepared for what he saw in the mirror.

He saw himself. Himself. In a mirror. He placed his hand over his heart. thud thud thud

The shadowy figure had been him.

The ticking clock. His heart.

The heavy breathing. His own.

Shanshu.

He was alive. Alive. A living, breathing human being. A smile spread over his face and he was filled with elation, his heart hammering in his chest. He peered closer, wanting a better look. Laughter bubbled up out of him and then he noticed…

Faint lines around his eyes, tiny gray hairs around his temple…age.
The virus.

He had the virus.

His elation quickly turned to fear and dread. He had the virus and that meant…Oh, God…

He would waste away painfully. Like she had.

Except that no one would be there to care for him.

No one would be there to hear his final confession and hold his hand as he greeted the Reaper.

No one to forgive him and no one to remember him.


…THE END…


 

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