Characters: Winifred 'Fred' Burkle, others mentioned
Prompt: 030: Death
Word Count: 658
Rating: Mature themes, no nudity or stuff.
Author's Notes: with thanks to remember_nomore.
There is a smile on her face when she goes.
"I walked with heroes," she says with a pride of a job well done, life well lived.
Cordelia offers a quiet 'Yes, Mom," and looks at Angel in search of explanation, but he just shrugs and lets his hand caress Fred's hair. In the dim light he can almost see the girl he met on Pylea, smudges of mud and innocent smile.
Her smile stays innocent forever, fixed on her pale face.
He buries her next to Wesley, two graves away from Cordy, three from Gunn.
Cordelia Pryce stands next to him on the funeral and wonders why her mother insisted to have the word 'click' engraved on her tombstone.
Sometimes she wonders if the world she used to think was real existed at all, or maybe it was something she made up to fill the moments between the cracks of whip.
Sometimes she thinks it doesn't matter anyway because she isn't real and then no world she is in can be real, and the meaning of real is blurry and confusing anyway.
Sometimes she wants to go back and sometimes she just wishes for all this to end already, even if it was not going to be a happy ending she dreamed of.
Sometimes she thinks that all a handsome prince would need to save her was a sword, or a sharp knife, or just a stone to do the job.
Sometimes she wants just to run, run away, run fast, and then she does so, and for a few precious moments before the rocks hit her she knows she's as real as the wind that blows her hair.
She makes a mistake of wondering how much time passed and Illyria answers immediately.
Five days, seven hours and forty-three minutes.
As if she wasn't counting herself.
She looks into the eyes that are too blue, or not blue enough, she can't remember and she almost screams at the thought.
She used to know Wesley's eyes. She should know them still.
She should have him still.
Illyria walks up to his desk and picks up one of the books, as if she...it had any right. Fred can't help it anymore, just throws at... it... a first thing she can find, misses, crack of glass against the wall.
She picks up the shards and gives a speculative look to a particulary sharp one.
She doesn't think it will hurt more than it already does.
It is something of a routine job and she counts the minutes to when she and Charles will be back at the hotel, in the room they now share together.
She can't believe how easy it is, how sweet.
Her hands hold the crossbow, but her shoulder brushes Charles' arm and they share a smile full of knowledge.
She can't believe how wonderful it is, how real.
Everything happens too fast then, blink of an eye seems an eternity in comparison. Charles pushes her away, but it's too late, and she feels like falling, darkness exploding under her eyelids.
She can't believe how dark it is, how cold.
When they tell her it's a terminal breast cancer, she laughs.
All those times she challenged death and she forgot what a bitch it was.
When they tell her she has a month left she sees Wesley's tears for the first time and laughs even harder, laughter tinted with hysteria, but what can you do?
None of them knows what to say, even though Angel tries, and she laughs, because it's so damn funny, so hilarious, that it isn't that at all.
She stays alive for the next three months, because she feels like she's supposed to fight, and then she dies crying, because there's no other way.
Not for her.