Title: Death Becomes Her
Spoilers: ATS season 2 - Trial
Summary: Portrait of Darla through three deaths
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon, Fox Television, Mutant Enemy Inc., own these
Author's Note: A thousand thanks to Evan Como for betareading this story
and for a great time in Los Angeles.
She is dying, and death does not come as a surprise to her. It has been
clawing at her, eating her from the inside out for a long time now. First
she had hidden it from herself. Then from her customers.
Her friends she would not have bothered to hide it from; but then, she
didn't have any.
Look at the people now, waiting for her to die so they can use the bed for
someone else. The women, shrouded in white, about as comforting as those
long, white altar candles she remembers from her childhood. She saw the
tapers burning but could never feel their warmth, so she tried to touch
them. The priest slapped her hands.
No such candles here in the New World. But these women. She didn't bother
to find out their names, since they never spoke to her. Standing left and
right at her bed, like candles burning for the deceased. But she isn't dead
yet. Is she?
If she were, she wouldn't feel the terrible dryness in her mouth, the heat
consuming every last bit of moisture, turning every breath she takes into
dust. She is dimly aware the leech is feeding on her forearm again. She
doesn't know how many leeches Forrester the barber has foisted onto her so
far. He isn't a bad man, Forrester, but not a real doctor, if there is such
a thing. However, his thick, strong fingers have the advantage of being
completely unfamiliar to her. He has never had her, and so she can bear his
touch on her skin, that skin which seems to be getting thinner by the hour,
giving her less and less protection against the sucking, stifling heat.
She asks them to close the shutters. The sun is hurting her eyes and she
has the vague hope that without the sunbeams burning through it, the air
won't be quite so dusty anymore.
"You will not see it again," a new voice says, and she observes the figure
entering the room. A stranger, though there is something familiar about his
voice. An odd voice, bringing to mind things her mother, smelling of old
sweat and men and cheap ale, trying to sing her to sleep. She cannot see
his face, but his robe reveals his occupation, at least.
"By the time it sets, you will have left this life," he continues, and she
refuses to acknowledge him.
"I didn't ask for a priest. Who invited him in here?"
Not for a priest, not for a clergyman. Hypocrites, the lot of them. When
her mother died, they did not come. By then, she herself had been a whore
as well. At least there is no daughter to be bewildered and angry and
secretly relieved now. We come on to this earth alone, and we leave it
"You did. You cried out for me last night in your delirium."
"I do not remember," she protests, aghast that she should have done such a
thing. And yet, and yet, here he is, and at least he talks to her, unlike
the silent attendants who bide the hours until they can turn their care to
worthier patients. "Do you even know what I am?"
"A woman of some property. No husband. No inheritance. Yes. I know what you
are. As does God."
Ah. So it is her money he is after. The taste of disappointment changes
from dust to bile. If he thinks that she will attempt to buy her way into
the kingdom of heaven - trying to please God by leaving what possessions
she has to His servants -, he is about to be disillusioned.
"I'm a whore."
A whore, and a whore doesn't give away anything for free. Not that she has
much left; she is sure that whatever there is has long been shared among
whoever found it first. But still, she has her pride.
"That, too," her visitor replies, sounding almost amused. A strange,
stirring sensation fevering the back of her neck warns that something is
not right here.
"You should have asked for a priest long ago, child. Your life may have
turned out the better for it."
"And you should have paid me a visit before this day, Father. Your life
might have been the more interesting because of it," she retorts. The words
are like an echo of the banter she used to attract men who wanted their
hunger for flesh shrouded with some wit so they could feel better about
satisfying themselves. This one, though, refuses to spar.
"Are you prepared to renounce Satan? Beg God for his forgiveness?"
"Why? God never did anything for me."
The cloaked figure makes a commanding gesture, and the walking altar
candles disappear, rush away like freed birds. The barber hesitates until
the priest suggests, "You can't save her life. Perhaps I can still save her
Left alone with him, she hears her heart beating, loud enough to drown out
some of what he says next. Something about her being prepared to renounce
Satan and all his works, undoubtedly.
Suddenly she is tired, so tired. She only wants it to end.
"My soul is well past saving. Let the devil take me if he'll have me. It
doesn't matter. Either way, I die."
He comes closer, and she smells the earth on him. Not the fresh earth of
fields and gardens, but graveyard earth, mould fit to cover dead bodies
with, such as she will need in a very short while.
"No, you will not die. You will be reborn," he claims, pulling back his
hood. She sees his face. Sharp angles and teeth, nothing human. But she is
not afraid. She has seen all kinds of faces, deformed by lust, greed or
below her, above her - as this one is right now -, breathing down hard -
as this one
is not. There was not much human about them, either.
"I know you."
"I came to you last night," he says, with an oddly comforting tone, as if
speaking to a child. "Sang to you from that window."
She sighs. Men. They all expected to be remembered. She should have known
Death would be a man, too.
"I remember now," she admits, concedes. "You're Death."
"No," he returns, and this startles her as his features did not.
"Your saviour. God never did anything for you, but I will."
There is a sharp pain in her neck, like with the leeches, a pulling from
under her skin, only tenfold more. In a flash of recognition, she realises
what he is doing. Wonders whether he'll find any blood at all considering
has been taken out already.
Somehow she knew it would end like this. Dying alone, with a stranger on
top. If only, she thinks. But does not know how to continue the thought as
her heart beats faster and faster and drowns out everything else with a
rolling flood which takes her away.
She is dying, and death surprises her. Of course she had always been aware
it might happen, even to her. But the final death happens so quickly to her
kind she had assumed there would be no time for thoughts and sensations, if
it were ever to catch up with her again. She had expected to dissolve like
with the first experience, if it were to happen, only much quicker, with no
emotion at all. Instead, time freezes. She is aware of everything. The
girl, who a moment before had been helpless and at her mercy. A Slayer, no
less. Small and blond like herself, as if to add injury to insult. An
insolent child, staring wide-eyed. For once, both of them are bereft of
"What's up with the Catholic school girl look?" he had asked. "The last
time I saw you, it was kimonos."
"And the last time I saw you, it wasn't high school girls," she had
retorted, enjoying the flare in his dark eyes which told her the barb had
hit. It is true, this disguise isn't up to her usual standards of elegance.
But it is very
appropriate for the Master's plans, and Darla has had to wheedle her way
back into the Master's good graces for a long time now. His fault, in a
way, but then, she can't bring herself to regret her decision to defy her
Sire for her fledgling's sake. The Master had made her, and so she was a
part of him. But she had made Angelus.
The Master should have known that a woman always prefers what was made from
Angelus. Most of all, she is aware of her greatest joy and greatest
disappointment. Darling boy, draughted from an Irish brawler whose
arrogance and anger and an intriguing hint of despair had settled her
decision to sire him,
instead of using and discarding what she had found in that village. She had
not known, could not have known, that he would become an addiction.
She tried to wean herself more than once. Leaving him behind in France
when her own survival was at stake - and oh! The splendid fury he was in
about that incident when he caught up with her again in Vienna. Again in
Rumania, when the ever-accursed gypsies gave him a soul. And when he found
her in China, made her take him back, betrayed her and fled. But in a
secret corner of the heart, which no longer beats, she has continued to
hold out hope that one day, he will return to her as his old self - soul or
no soul. That they would share the whirlwind again, together for eternity.
So close. They are so close now, and yet so separate. They had been close
the other night when he had pinned her against his apartment wall and she
had felt the darkness within him answering her, as it had done before. Now
he is not in front of her, but behind, and the stake in his hand has
unerringly found her heart.
Weak, she rages at herself, and does not mean him. She should never have
involved him at all, just gone on with killing the girl. There would have
been time enough to confront him again. But no, her vanity had not
permitted that, had driven her into contesting this new infatuation of his.
Angel and his obsession with innocence. She doubts this one will be a
California girl, all light and sunshine, without the pain-laced fragility
the young woman haunted by sight whom she had found for her boy had
possessed. And yet, this new one might learn about pain, too. Angelus is
the unsurpassed master of the art, after all. He has even found a new pain
to teach her, who has woven this particular tapestry for centuries.
She is mocked by the walls that seem to repeat the words she'd spoken to
the girl: Do you know what the worst thing in the world is? To love
somebody who used to love you.
In utter disbelief, she half turns to glimpse him. She whispers, "Angel?"
The endless second dissolves. She cannot read his eyes anymore, and she
realizes that once again, she dies alone.
She is dying, and Death has wrapped itself all around her. Ever since they
resurrected her, she could feel her demise, but never until now could she
make sense of it. Seated on an old bed, in a shabby room where the walls
reek failure and disappointment, she is reborn by the sound of his voice.
"Maybe. maybe it would be different. I mean, we don't know. Maybe. because
I have a soul. if I did bite you."
What she had been waiting for ever since her memories returned, but now
that he has said it, she doesn't want it anymore. As a human, she has been
a pathetic failure. And yet, she has learned things which had escaped her
for four centuries, which even the Master would not have known.
"No," she replies gently. She feels his surprise. Ever since the British-
accented games-keeper touched her forehead, connecting her to Angel, she
has not stopped sharing his emotions. So strange, that, and so fitting. It
used to thrill her to no end, seeing her boy inflicting pain on others. But
when he went through torture and death this time, she found it unbearable.
Yet he bore it, as he has endured everything, ever since she sent him away.
"Angel, I see it now," she continues. There is a brief flicker of hope from
him among all his grief, soothing like the cool winter air she has longed
for more than once in this city of eternal heat and sunshine. "Everything
you're going through, everything you've gone through. I've felt it. I've
felt how you care - in a way no one's ever cared before. Not for me."
Not for her. Not for the nameless woman dying all those centuries ago in
bitterness and rage. Not for the vampire evaporating into the void. She had
asked Lindsey who she was, whom they brought back, and he had not been able
to reply. At last she had found her own answer, though, for this is what
she has learned. She was somebody who could be loved, who could love in
return. Not as a player in the long, twisted game of expectations and
manipulations. Not to get something for herself. Such a new, strange
sensation. She takes a breath and arms herself to set him free.
"That's all I need from you."
"It's not enough," he protests, and she shushes him with "It is."
Still the grief and unfocused anger in him is overwhelming. "How could the
Powers allow you to be brought back - dangle a second chance - then take it
away like this?"
"Maybe this is my second chance," she answers, wonderingly. The idea is
still new to her, not at all easy to accept. But it will give him peace,
and that is what she wants more than anything else.
"To die?" he asks, full of scepticism.
"Yes. To die. The way I was supposed to die in the first place."
They look at each other and, as the anger dies in his eyes, fear clutches
at her. To die. To simply stop. Regardless of what he said about there
being a hell, she does not remember such a thing. There is probably
nothing. She will become nothing once more. She tries to push the fear
back, to concentrate on the peace she wants to give him, but it is hard, so
He comes to her, takes her into his arms and whispers, "I'm not going to
leave you. Every moment you have left, I'll be by your side. You'll never
be alone again."
In a way, it was better when he had been angry. Unable to suppress them any
longer, the tears come. While he holds her, she cries, over her first life
which she only remembers in brief flashes, for four hundred years full of
destruction and little wisdom, for a century away from him because she did
not understand what having a soul meant. For the torment he went through,
all because of her who had dammed him, and now she understands damnation,
she understands all too well. This, too, she has learned.
And yet, dying like that, being held like that. it is what she has never
had before. It is an acceptance she feels in him as well. He is battered,
and she is dying, but they are together.
It is his shock she experiences even before her own, as the door is kicked
open. As men rush in to grab her while they subdue Angel with sharp,
electric shocks. After the holy water and the crosses, this is simply too
much and he goes down. She struggles against the two men holding her, but
this human body is weak, weak, weak, and so she is unable to help him. The
ones holding Angel quickly tie him up. Astonishment and rage start to
as Lindsey enters.
"Everyone betrays you, sooner or later," she had told Lindsey, and yet she
had not expected it from him. She doesn't know when she crossed the line
from seeing him as a useful ally to manipulate and flirt with to seeing him
as a friend, but she must have done so. Otherwise she would have expected
this. Lindsey, pointedly not looking at her, goes to Angel and pulls
Angel's head up by the hair. He says triumphantly:
"How did you think this was going to end?"
So Angel had been right after all. Mind games. It had all been one
elaborate mind game by Wolfram & Hart, and Lindsey had been a part of it. A
tool is a tool is a tool, and will never be allowed to escape its purpose.
All for the purpose of bringing Angel down. The flame burning within her
quickly becomes a fire, until it is suddenly extinguished by utter horror,
as she and Angel follow Lindsey's gaze to the broken door.
Darla has not seen Drusilla for more than ninety years. After China, she
had left the children to their own devices, unable to bear their happiness
with one another after losing her boy for the second time.
There is nothing alien about the girl who enters, for Darla never could
think of Dru as a woman. Death is not male after all; Death is female, in a
red dress, Ophelia out for murder, the graceful end of all hope.
Darla continues to struggle, but knows it is in vain. The merciless justice
of it takes away what little breath she
has left. Out of boredom, out of spite she had delivered this girl into the
hands of madness, torture and death. Vivid recollections of Drusilla's
turning come to her. There had been desperate cries for mercy and salvation
which at the time only irritated and amused Darla, though even she had been
shocked by Angelus' idea of making this broken thing a vampire, of
prolonging her mental torment with immortality. Now the family is together
again, Angel and Darla and Drusilla. But this time the childe is in
control, and the elders are reduced to
horror, hopelessness and desperation.
The bite, the coldness of the girl's body, the drowning, swooning
sensation she had longed for until this night, and Darla attempts to cling
to what rage she has left. But it is hard, so hard, as she desperately
longs for some fluid to fill her again, to stop the terrible thirst and
dryness. She is vaguely aware of being lowered on the bed she had shared
with Angel only a brief while ago. She tries to sense him again, to find
some strength, and there is the familiar smell, the taste and texture of
his blood. Her mouth is pressed against it, and even though a part of her,
with a scream fainting in the back of her head, reminds her of the
deception, her lips part.
Death embraces her again, pressing against her, wrapping herself around
her, and it comes, the flood, the dark, rolling flood.
And Darla is taken away.