TITLE: Ashes to Ashes

AUTHOR: Matt, November 2003

SUMMARY: Every night, after dark, a hospital patient receives a visitor. Future fic. Character death. Forget Chosen and all those Angel eps since then – this piece doesn't exactly fit that chronology.


DISCLAIMER: These characters, even though they're not named, belong to Mutant Enemy et al. I make no money off of them. The story, however, is mine.

NOTE: My first - and quite probably last - S/B piece, but it came to me the other day and I felt I had to write it. Feedback is welcome, as is constructive criticism. This will eventually go onto my website.

The nurses have been letting him into her room nightly for some time. They find his being there actually appears to make a difference to their patient. During the day she's unresponsive, but at night it's as though she's a different person. They don't like to invade, but they must make their rounds and they swear it's the only time they hear her talk.

Admittedly, the doctors weren't sure of him the first night he visited. A swift phone call to the patient's sister told them his name and that he was a 'long time friend of the family.' Furthermore, the sister indicated that unless it interfered with medical procedure he was to come and go as he pleased. Despite the assurances from the next of kin, however, they're still a little wary. They wonder what the connection could be between an elderly and frail lady who hardly speaks, and a leather-clad young man with dyed blond hair.

He never visits during the day, but they know he'll always arrive shortly after the sun sets. In the stark light of the corridor he's an ominous figure as he strides through it, footfalls heavy, and coat tails rustling – announcing his presence and daring anyone to defy him. His first stop is always the nurses' station. There he always enquires as to the patient's wellbeing, with an English accent that some of them have come to call 'cute.' He'll sit there for up to an hour, talking and drinking hot chocolate – they always make sure they have some and those little marshmallows now. He even has his own mug they've set aside for him. Then he'll disappear into the room and not come out until shortly before dawn.

They hear the pair talk throughout the night. Most times the words are indistinguishable, just soft murmurs, although occasionally they hear him let loose a deep laugh that echoes eerily out into the corridor. The only conversation overheard is when the medical staff makes their rounds. The pair seems oblivious to everyone and the staff member usually leaves feeling they've intruded into something very private. The conversation never makes much sense anyway – it's full of fantasy tales of demons, witches and vampires, as well as of incredible sacrifices made.

The nurses realise it's morning when they see the sun through the window of an empty room. It casts its glow across the tiled white floor, brightening up the dreary corridor while causing shadows to fall on the areas it doesn't reach. A new day has begun and soon it will be time for a new shift to come in.

One of the nurses, one who thinks the young man is cute, realises that she hasn't seen him leave the room. He's never said why he only visits at night, but she suspects it's probably because he has a day job somewhere. She doesn't want him to be late for work so she hastens into the room to remind him.

The first thing that strikes her is how bright the room is. Usually the shades are down. The visitor always opens them so they can look into the night but he always, always, closes them before leaving so that the room us shaded. The nurse wonders what made him forget this time. The room is illuminated by the morning sun, the light falls in ribbons across the old woman's bed and body. It highlights the single red rose lying on top of the cotton sheet.

The second thing that's odd is how quiet the room is. It's as though there's no one there except for the nurse. In truth, there isn't; one look at the patient tells all that's needed. A graceful smile adorns her face. Death came peacefully to her sometime during the night.

Of her nocturnal companion there's no sign. A chair sits next to the bed, an indication that someone moved it from its traditional position in the corner, but it looks dusty as though no one has used it in a long, long time. With a sigh, the nurse realises she has probably seen the last of the blond hair, piercing blue eyes and long leather coat that she admires so much.

She exits the room, closing the door gently behind her.