An Ending
by P.H. Wise
An Angel shortfic

Disclaimer: I don't own Angel or any of its affiliated characters.

Fred shuddered violently, her face clammy, and an unnatural blue pigment spreading across her brow. It was rising now, devouring her from the inside, and there would be no more fighting. She had failed, and the monster was going to get her at last. Summoning the very last of her strength, she looked into her lover's eyes and whispered, "Wesley, why can't I stay?"

Another shudder ran through her body, and everything went dark. She couldn't feel her body anymore, but there was a shape to the darkness; a shape vast and terrible, and a shape that had been feeding upon her very soul – Illyria.

"You?" she asked.

The Old One looked at her. Looked upon the tiny, frail human spirit that it was about to utterly devour at last in the fires of resurrection, and it was surprised.

Fred let out a bitter laugh. This creature was destroying her, body and soul, and it hadn't even *noticed her* until now? It hadn't even realized what it was doing?

And then, with a negligent shift of its form, Illyria descended upon her.

"No!" Fred screamed, and Illyria paused, looking down at the curious thing that had deigned to bleat at it. Frantically, Fred scrambled backwards, away from the Old One. "You can't have me. I might have done some bad things in my life, but I ain't going to end up as food for somethin' like you. I can't!"

Illyria laughed cruelly. "What could possibly stop me? You are less than an insect. I almost didn't notice you at all."

Fred wracked her thoughts for some reason, for something she could say that would appease the creature. At last, and desperately, she seized upon the faith of her youth: "God won't let one of his own be lost like that!"

There was silence for a long moment, and then, Illyria spoke, and its voice nearly tore asunder what sanity Fred's shattered spirit had left. "Your God cannot save you, worm. You will not deny my resurrection."

Illyria surged forward, and as the darkness of the thing's spirit began to smother her, Fred cried out desperately, reaching out for something, anything that would save her.


She broke.

She had come to the end of her self, and all was lost. She would be devoured by this... this monster. Utterly destroyed. Yet even as her remnants were being absorbed into the horrid mass that was Illyria, the calloused hand of a carpenter took hers. She looked into his eyes, and a desperate, glorious hope seized upon her. Even as Illyria overcame her at last, Winifred Burkle's torn, broken soul vanished, born aloft by the Love that moves the sun and the stars. As she vanished, her spirit's final whisper echoed in the darkness that was Illyria. "My glorious..."

And somewhere far away, far beneath her, the shell's eyes froze over, and Illyria sat up and considered her new body. "This will do," she said.


Author's note: Because the moment when all seems lost is the moment of greatest promise. Cheesy, perhaps, but Fred deserved a happier ending than she got.