Summary: Angel finds life isn't always such a breeze.
Dedications: As always my beloved Muse, Saber Shadowkitten and of course Nancy, the hero who does Xander Xtreme and The Od. Thanks to Leanne for the beta read. Thanks also to Quinn Harper, Meika Tilley, Kirsty, Catherine and Jen, just for being such nice people. The others already know who you are.
It's Wesley's fault.
He told me off, scolded, berated, whinged, whined, strongly reminded me. It doesn't matter how he said it, all that matters is that it's his fault that I'm like this now.
It was such a stupid small thing as well that set the ball rolling. Nothing much really. Just a small cut. I didn't think much of it at the time. Yeah, it stung like mad at first and everyone including Cordelia had a wonderful time mimicking me as I jumped around the office like madman, my finger stuck in my mouth while I struggled to hold in the roar of pain that was intent on emerging.
I had accidentally sliced my finger open on the edge of a cardboard box. Didn't notice it right away. I mean, I *did* feel it but the pain took a few seconds to hit me.
It hurt a damn lot and after spending a few hundred years in Hell, that's saying something.
At first it was like... 'Ooohhh. That hurt!' followed by 'Fuuuuck! That fucking well bloody fucking hurt!' at which time I stuck my finger in my mouth in a vain attempt to halt the sharp stinging that was radiating from my little finger. The dull throb that came later was almost as hard to put up with.
After a few hours, it didn't hurt as much so I pushed my recent workplace injury to the back of my mind. More important things to worry about anyway, like which gym was the best for a newly restored human, what offers did they have, which had the best facilities for the smallest monthly fee possible. Yeah, I made it. Won what I thought, at that time, was the toughest battle of my entire existence. I've got my reward and a whole new world has opened up to me.
It wasn't until a few day's later that I thought about my finger again. I was down at one of the gyms on my shortlist, sampling a free weights and exercise session before making up my mind about which one to join. Everything had been going well. I had managed not to make too much of an idiot out of myself by staring at my reflection in the full wall mirrors when I knocked my hand against one of the treadmills.
Yet again it was only a small thing but it felt like I had just been kneecapped with a baseball bat, I swear my knees buckled. The pain flew from the tip of my little finger, up my forearm and came to a swirling halt around my elbow. There was so much pain and it wasn't until I looked at my injured hand that I realised why.
My whole little finger was bright red and slightly swollen. On a closer inspection, I found that my cardboard cut wasn't healing like it should have been. It was so stupid. Just a small thing like that has brought me to where I am today. It was obviously infected and there was only one thing to do.
Ask Wesley as to which doctor he went to.
As soon as I got back to the Hyperion, I asked him and that was when the trouble started. Wesley strutted around the office, full of authority and lectures. On and on he went about how I had to be more careful now that I was human again. I could no longer rely on my vampire healing to take care of me.
He did the glasses cleaning routine that Giles is so fond of. I had to laugh at that and I did until he said something that stopped me dead.
Humans are nothing more than walking colonies of germs, infections, diseases and bacteria. There are millions of viruses being transmitted from person to person each day... each hour... each minute. People got sick every second and some never got better. As Wesley was speaking, I couldn't help but feel a little nauseous as I realised that right that very instant, there was a person in the process of dying from a simple germ.
A germ or an infection that they had more than likely picked up from something as innocent as a dirty dish... a pet... a borrowed item. Something that you could get just by shaking hands with a friend. It was something that I hadn't had to worry about in almost 260 years. While I was a vampire, nothing short of a stake, fire or beheading could seriously incapacitate me. Even before I had been turned, I hadn't even known what bacteria, staphylococcus infections or AIDS were. Who had even heard of those things back then? Up until six months ago none of this was relevant for me.
It is now though.
I'm scared to go outside in case someone sneezes near me. They could have the 'flu and I could catch it and I'd be sick. I could go to the doctor and they could prescribe antibiotics for it but what if I'm allergic to the antibiotics? I could get sick from them as well. If I don't go to the doctor, I could go to the drugstore instead and get some cold and flu tablets to treat the symptoms but what if I catch something else from another person while I'm waiting to be served? Some of the ingredients in those cold and flu preparations can increase the risk of a heart attack, I know logically that its unlikely that I'd have one, but what if I did?
How do I know that the doctor is clean? If waiting room chairs are crawling with millions of germs and bacteria, all of which I can't see? What if I pick up a magazine that someone infected with German Measles has handled? What if they had coughed over it, then I picked it up and had touched the area they had coughed on and then wiped my mouth? I don't think you can catch something like that so easily but there's always a first time for everything.
Every time I close my eyes at night, I shudder to think of how many bugs are crawling over me as I try to sleep. An earwig might take a liking to my ear one night and burrow down deep inside of it until I would be forced to visit the hospital in order for it to be removed... it's something that has me almost vomiting at times. Not the earwig but a trip to the hospital. All those people filled with disease and infection. Illnesses passed around like candies. Even a fresh pair of surgical gloves doesn't guarantee the doctor has washed his hands before treating you.
God, I don't like being this way. I don't like that fact that I step back when someone tries to give me one of the air kisses, you know, a kiss that barely touches your cheek. Its bad enough that they get close enough to breathe on my face.
I'd like to whole-heartedly do the two-hand handshake one day but that means I'd have to wash my hands again. Keep washing them up to the elbows. Then I'd have to turn the tap off and that would mean that I would have to turn it back on again to wash the germs from my hands that I got when I turned it off. Which means I would have to eventually turn the tap off again...but my hands would be dirty again. My hands hurt enough as it is. They're almost red raw from the constant scrubbing, and no matter which soap I use they all irritate my skin. Ordinary soap, moisturising skin wash, anti-bacterial kitchen wipes...I've used them all. A few times, I've even poured straight bleach over my hands but nothing is making me feel clean.
It's horrible..... It's a vicious cycle that never seems to end.
These tiny little things could kill me one day and I don't want to die just yet. I've only just become human again. I can't understand how Cordelia, Gunn and even Wesley just take such things in their stride. How can they not be worried about these microscopic demons? They tell me not to be so silly and to worry about wiping the desk later, tell me that it doesn't need to be done each time I come into the office and each time I leave it for just a moment. It does though. I know it does. I've started to close the office door so that they can't see me do it.
They make jokes about how much I clean now. Cordelia keeps saying that she would pay me to clean her apartment. I just smile along with it, try to hide how much the very thought of visiting another person's house makes my skin crawl. God only knows how dirty it would be? The idea of joining them all at a restaurant makes me retch. I just can't begin to imagine the filth that would be floating around in the kitchen. The food could be crawling with salmonella, hair, skin flakes, insects and dirt. It's just too disgusting to contemplate. I can't eat takeout or things that other people have cooked. I just don't know how safe it is. At least if I do it, I know that I've been as clean as possible.
I didn't think that being a human again would be like this.
Full of fear.
I don't think that a mortal life is all that it's cracked up to be and to be honest, I'm not really liking it. I thought that I would be able to have sex at least without the risk of losing my soul but even that is scaring the shit out of me. When I was a human the first time, we only had a few things to worry about catching. Syphilis, The Clap, scabies, lice. Now there is that whole AIDS thing. Yeah, they could tell me that they were clean but would it be true? I know that there is a whole trust issue there but my health just isn't worth taking the risk.
Is this really my long sought after reward? To live in fear my every single waking moment?
I don't think that I can handle this much longer, the constant checking that everything is clean and sanitary. Making sure that people don't touch anything of mine because if they do, it only means that I have to clean it... again.
This new obssession of mine, it's not my fault.