Susan ran as hard and as fast as she could, but no matter how fast she seemed herself to go, the grinning madman behind her would not relent. He was humming to himself, practically skipping, while she felt as though her lungs would burst, her chest heaving with exhaustion. Her legs felt as though they were running through water but she couldn't stop, she had to keep going. It was like something out of a nightmare. He had no trouble at all keeping up with her frantic pace. This was the fastest she had ever run, the farthest she had ever run, but still the man was behind her, as if gliding on a cloud. They said that adrenaline kicked in for humans in survival situations such that they could escape most dangers. But she feared it wasn't enough. When she felt her pace slowing, she chanced a horrified look behind her only to hear the revving of a chainsaw come to her ears. No, it was worse than any of her nightmares. Tears sprung to her eyes as she fell on the ground, utterly spent.
"No… oh god, oh please…" She begged, uncontrollable tears streamed down her face, and she felt a coldness gripping her heart that she had never felt before. This was a terror she had never experienced.
"Please… please don't…"
But the man merely grinned wider as he stood above her. She felt she was going mad, that her terror was distorting the image of this man, who couldn't be real, shouldn't be real. His hair was a flaming color, and it cascaded down and over his shoulders like a river of blood. His teeth were sharklike, menacing, his expression was cruel.
"…w-why… why me…" She was whimpering now. Her pleas were but feeble whispers falling on deaf ears for she did not have the strength to cry out for help. And who would hear? She was alone at night on the outskirts of London.
He raised his chainsaw over his head, and then she felt a flicker of pain across her neck. There was a moment, only a moment of stillness before it exploded into agony. Blood poured from her neck onto her clothes, the street, she felt herself drowning. She struggled and gasped, trying to breathe in air but only succeeding in swallowing her own blood. Choking and rasping, she clawed at her neck, as if to rip out her own throat, to be spared the pain for any further moments. Her lungs were bursting, her vision fading, still the pain continued. Her eyes cried out tears though they would do her no good, and her body twitched and spasmed, contorting itself in ways she did not know she could.
She wanted it to end, oh god, she needed it to end. Death would be a welcome respite for this horror, and she reached out a twitching, desperate hand towards the man who had attacked her. Ever fiber of her being begged for him to finish the job, to end it now, but he wouldn't. Cruelly he stood there, still smiling at her. He seemed to revel in her pain, her attempts to cry out. Then she felt her body growing colder, her strength giving out though the pain barely faded. Her body fell limp and as she felt the last bit of life leaving her, she thought she could see her life flashing before her eyes.
She could see her first birthday party, her first day of school, her first kiss to a childhood sweetheart… She saw her parents running toward her to congratulate her on her college graduation, and she remembered the first date she had ever had with her future husband. She saw her struggles, her triumphs, her loves, her hopes, her family, her friends. And then there was darkness. And at last, peace.
Grell took in a deep breath, reveling in the smell of freshly spilled blood, the sound of her chainsaw whirring, and the cool, damp air on her skin. She loved these muggy, London nights. The air was so thick you could touch it, and it sent a fever down her spine to think of the bustling life in the city streets.
Every half a century or so, she just needed to get out like this. She needed to leave the office, leave her paperwork and obligations behind, and just spill a little blood. Oh, and she loved it when they ran. She loved being able to reward their looks of terror with a taste of her beautiful scythe. She felt in those moments that she was a true and proper death god. Instead of a pencil-pushing, schedule-keeping dispatch worker, she was an honest to god reaper. After all, death should be unexpected and terrifying. If it wasn't, then life wouldn't be worth living. And in the eternal years of pseudo-life she had to spend in an old and tired routine, she needed to remind herself sometimes that she was alive. She needed to feel that spark in her dull world of grey, where they told her to do her job emotionlessly and quickly.
But that wasn't who she was. She was like fire, and she couldn't be held down or restrained or caged. If you placed a fire in a glass container, eventually it would die as it burned up all the air inside the glass. Slowly it would fade away into nothing, leaving behind only a residual heat as proof that it had once existed. Grell felt like that flame, forced to slowly suffocate behind an office desk and heaps of paperwork. Only she wouldn't go out that easily. No, she would break those cursed glass walls and break out like an explosion. And there were very few things in all the worlds that could stop her rampage. Except…
"She wasn't even a whore."
She whipped around as she heard the cold voice behind her, and her mad eyes grew soft at the sight of her favorite pair of green eyes. Oh, how she loved this man. Regrettably, his love wasn't enough to keep her content in this monotonous life they led, but they had both accepted that centuries ago.
When she had been the blade of Jack the Ripper, it had been unprecedented and had taken them all by surprise. Even she hadn't known that she could have been capable of such deeds. And while she had regretted much of it because of her love for William, she still couldn't forget what it had been like. It was like a bittersweet drug. She found herself longing for that recklessness again and again. Even as she knew it was wrong, no, because she knew it was wrong, she wanted it more and more. And as much as she loved William and wanted to enjoy the life they had together, she couldn't deny the bloodlust inside. It was who she was. There were so many emotions inside of her, so many were ill-suited to the life of a reaper.
William had vowed to love her despite it all. Only a few decades after her escapades as Jack the Ripper, she tested that love. Not out of spite or doubt, but because she couldn't hold it in anymore. The walls were closing in too close, the chains were too tight, and she needed to lash out. She needed to punish someone, anyone would do, for the ill-fated life she had been given. She needed to take life in exchange for the life she could not give. She needed to kill a woman out of envy and frustration that they had been given what she so wanted. She needed to spill blood, to see that flowing, sanguine proof that there was life, and to know that she too, was very much alive.
And when William had found her then, in her second slip, he had seen it coming. He welcomed her back with open arms and covered her tracks for her. He comforted her pain, made her feel warm and loved and wanted, satisfied her lust, and confirmed his love for her all over again.
The third time she had gone rogue, he had been more than ready. Before either of them had realized it, it had become something of a routine for both of them. Grell would need to cut loose, William would cover her tracks, then the two of them would reaffirm their love and their vows to spend eternity together in a bloody, twisted chain of events. Perhaps one day that too would become too monotonous for Grell, and she would crave more, but for now, she couldn't get enough of these nights. For now, she loved the routine, just as much as she would look forward to spending the rest of her evening in William's apartment as he fueled her fire as only he knew how.
Grinning at the sight of him, she began to twirl a strand of her hair before finally responding to his observation about the woman she had just murdered.
"Does it matter? She's a woman. And maybe if I break my usual pattern, it'll be easier to cover up. Someone was bound to notice soon that every few decades, a string of prostitutes go dead in London."
Stepping away from the corpse, she leaned up against William, one hand coyly fiddling with the buttons of his blazer.
"Let's go home~ I need to shower and get this blood out of my hair."
Tip-toeing slightly, she planted a chaste kiss on William's cheek, but he was unresponsive. He stared coldly at the woman on the pavement before speaking again,
"This is the third time in two years."
Grell's eyebrows furrowed. She could never quite read the tone in William's voice, somehow, he remained as unreadable as ever throughout the centuries. But she could guess that perhaps he was a little upset right now at the new frequency in her… escapades.
"I can't cover this up as easily as the others."
He sounded worried, and his eyebrows were starting to furrow. And Grell couldn't bear the guilty feeling his words inflicted on her. She didn't want to imagine the idea that she could be caught again, that they could… that Will would risk himself and his career for her again. That had broken her heart all those decades ago, she didn't want to inflict that on him again.
"Will, darling… Maybe in the worst case scenario, I'll just be suspended again for a while. That wouldn't be so horrible. I mean, it has been a very long time since Angelina and I-"
"Don't say her name."
Grell was taken aback. William had never begrudged her from saying Madam Red's name in the past. Taking William's hands in her own, she grasped them tightly before putting herself directly in front of him, hoping to meet his gaze.
"Will, what's wrong?"
For a while, he said nothing, and he refused to meet her eyes. And then he closed his eyes, sighing heavily before letting his shoulder slump slightly. The air felt cold around Grell. In a small corner of her mind, she wondered if William was giving up on her. She wondered if the centuries of dealing with her insanity had finally caught up with him and if he was finally beginning to tire of this relationship. She could hardly blame him, but she didn't want it to be true.
"I couldn't cover up the last incident that well. General Pearce is suspicious. If you had waited longer before this, it might have been fine, but now…"
Grell felt a small glimmer of relief in her heart as her fear was doused, but a new concern quickly took its place.
She didn't know what to say. There were perhaps so many things that she should say, but nothing she could say. She couldn't apologize, the deed was done, and she wasn't sorry. She wasn't sure what she could do to help either. Chances were, she'd just mess everything up and they'd be in deeper trouble than they could be if William handled it.
For a few agonizing minutes, they stood there in the London mist, grasping each other's hands tightly, the only two beings in the whole world who mattered. Grell wanted time to stop for just them two. She didn't want to go back, she didn't want to face any potential consequences for their actions, she didn't want to make William face it either. She lowered her head to stare at the pavement beneath their feet, pavement that was younger than they were. Centuries of constant, changing human life, yet they remained unchanged. It was one thing to be senior death gods in their division and boast experience over the younger reapers, but to be able to boast maturity when compared to a tree… It was as if it had just dawned on her just how long she had lived. Eternity wanted to catch up with her, but she didn't want to let it.
And finally William turned to leave, and she followed obediently. They stole away back home in the dark of the night, and they made love until morning. And every time was raw and desperate, filled with fever and sorrow. They cried out as if the world were deaf and bit and scratched and clung to each other. It was never enough. Even though it filled her with ecstasy, she couldn't enjoy it.
It was different this time. Although she had spent her long years wishing for excitement, for something new and different, she suddenly dreaded the coming change. When she closed her eyes, she thought she could hear the bells of Westminster Abbey ringing in the distance. She tried to imagine they were her wedding bells, but still they rang somber in her ears.
A/N: Um... I hope you will enjoy this story. And by enjoy, I mean that I hope you cry your heart out. I needed a break from the AMV I am working on to write out the angst that pervades the video. As always, reviews are much appreciated.