Everything either belongs to Joss or it should, no infringement is intended and no profit is to be made. When you get right down to it I’m not really worth suing anyway unless you want a share of an underpaid civil servants wages and it just wouldn’t be worth the hassle trust me.Summers Residence – Sunnydale – May 2003
Willow took a breath and started to chant holding the amulet. ‘Beatum sit in nomine D'Hoffrynis. Fiat hoc spatium porta ad mundum Arashmaharris’ she intoned.
Expecting the flash of blinding light from the teleporting Willow had already closed her eyes and opened them again afterwards.
‘Behold, D'Hoffryn. Lord of Arashmahaar. He that turns the air to blood and rains… oh it’s you again’ the vengeance demon said with a frown. ‘This had better be a business call I was about to go out’ he added then looked around the room. There were a lot of familiar faces none with welcoming expressions. ‘Anyanka how nice to see you again. Still alive I see’ he greeted Anya.
‘No thanks to you’ Anya replied angrily.
Buffy stepped closer and held up the scythe, judging from D’Hoffryns’ reaction he was well aware of what it was and he contemplated it with a look that was somewhere between distaste and disquiet. ‘This is very simple’ Buffy told him. ‘Call off your dogs and stop trying to kill Anya’ she demanded. ‘It’s starting to get annoying and we’re too busy to have to keep on dealing with mercenary demon assassins trying to collect on the bounty we know you’ve put on her head.’
D’Hoffryn chuckled. ‘I’m a vengeance demon’ he reminded her, ‘the Lord of all Vengeance Demons in fact’ he pointed out. ‘Now how would it look to the rank and file if I showed forgiveness? I’d lose their respect, people would question my authority, I’d have to kill some of my staff to make an example and show them I’ve not gone soft… no it’s all too much bother so I don’t think I’ll be doing that slayer. Are we done now?’ he asked.
Buffy looked at the scythe. ‘I know a sword in the guts won’t get the job done but I’m betting this thing will’ she said. ‘I wasn’t asking
, I was telling
’ she informed the demon.
The Lord of Arashmahaar sighed. ‘I could teleport away before you got close and you know it’ he told the slayer. ‘You’re still trying to solve your problems the same way just with a different sharp object and it’s no more effective than that sword you had last time if you can’t actually touch me with it’ he went on. ‘You’re just not fast enough’ he said with a smirk.
A blur shot across the room and D’Hoffryn found himself on his knees in a strong headlock before he could do so much as think of teleporting. ‘I could have ripped off your head easily, do not make me regret not doing it because I can make your demise much less quick and painless’ a voice from behind said into his ear. D’Hoffryn had many times human strength but a brief struggle to break the grip around his neck was futile. He tried to teleport away but the hold on him was more than merely physical.
‘Like they say in old westerns, no matter how fast you think you are there’s always someone faster’ Buffy told the demon and stepped forward to poke him in the ribs with the scythe. ‘I guess the news that there was a new Sheriff in town hadn’t reached you yet’ she supposed. ‘Illyria meet D’Hoffryn, Lord of Arashmahaar. D’Hoffryn meet Illyria, God-King of the Primordium. I think that King outranks Lord right?’ she asked, poking the demon in the ribs again.
‘I heard a rumour there was an Old One back in this realm but I did not credit it with the truth’ D’Hoffryn said. ‘You hear so many tall tales in my business. Why are you debasing yourself to association with these humans?’ he asked. ‘They should be worshipping at your feet, you should not be doing their grunt work.’
Illyria tightened her grip. ‘I have my reasons for my course of action’ she told him. ‘They are no more your concern than they are theirs’ she added indicating the humans. ‘You will end your campaign against Anya or I will teach you the true meaning of the word vengeance’ she told him darkly. ‘You may be a gifted amateur but your knowledge and skill at the game are simply not at my level, do not think for an instant you could cross me and live.’
‘Face it’ Willow told D’Hoffryn. ‘You’re just not up to playing Pro’ she continued with a wry smile directed towards Giles.
Buffy leaned over to look the vengeance demon directly in the eyes. ‘We’re feeling charitable so we’re going to let you live. Don’t think you’ll get a second chance because you won’t’ she told him earnestly. ‘Spread the word that Anya is off-limits, and stay out of our way in future, and we’ll peacefully coexist’ she continued before pushing the scythe hard into his chest. ‘Fuck with us again and you’ll regret the day you were spawned’ she vowed, thinking the profanity appropriate.
The slayer straightened up and Illyria released her grip allowing the demon to get back up himself. ‘If you’ll forgive the observation’ D’Hoffryn said. ‘I find your new proactive attitude quite refreshing’ he told Buffy. ‘Your side are usually so
wishy-washy’ he added appreciatively.
‘We’re trying out a new way of doing things’ Buffy replied. ‘It seems to get results.’
‘Well I could have told you that years ago’ D’Hoffryn told her. ‘Good Day Anyanka’ he said and teleported off with another flash of light.
‘Think we can trust him?’ Willow asked.
‘Not a chance’ Buffy replied honestly.
Illyria looked at them and frowned. She raised a hand and with a crack of thunder and the smell of ozone in the air a black spinning vortex appeared in front of her. With everybody staring in amazement the God-King reached an arm into the vortex and to their astonishment simply yanked D’Hoffryn back through it into the room.
‘I trust I have made my point’ Illyria told D’Hoffryn who looked more than a little perturbed himself by being suddenly grabbed by the scruff of the neck and being pulled sharply backwards through a hole in the space-time continuum. ‘Do not think for a second that I cannot get to you wherever you go’ she told the demon before shoving him back through the portal to where he had just teleported to.
Illyria closed the portal with another wave of her hand. ‘That should ensure his compliance’ she told Buffy. ‘If you have any more trouble with that one’ she added turning to Anya ‘I will put his head on a pike in front of your home as a warning to others.’
‘Well thanks’ Anya said gratefully. ‘Nice trick with the portal, beats my old teleporting days hands down’ she told Illyria, clearly impressed.
‘I didn’t know she could do that’ Willow said to Wesley. ‘Did you
know she could do that?’ she asked in amazement.
Wesley shook his head. ‘She came here by portal, through time as well as space, but I thought there must be more to it than that’ he said. ‘It looked so… effortless’ he said in awe.
‘The effort is not in using my power it is in not
using it’ Illyria told them. ‘The shell is still not stable enough despite the…’ she paused. ‘Never mind it is not of your concern’ she added cryptically.
‘Okay… you can’t fly can you’ Xander asked, ‘no X-Ray vision, retractable adamantium claws, any other powers we don’t know of?’ he checked. He was stood with Anya and had been holding her hand reassuringly when D’Hoffryn had been summoned.
Illyria thought about his query. ‘I talk to plants, have I mentioned that?’ she replied.
‘Lots of people do’ Willow said. ‘My uncle's a gardener and… oh you mean they talk back
’ she realised in surprise.
‘More like singing’ Illyria told her. ‘Have you not noticed the improved condition of the plant-life in your garden?’ she asked Buffy. ‘That is my doing’ she told the slayer.
Buffy thought about that. ‘Well it’s cool and all but I still think the opening portals and freezing time thing with a wave of your hand is more useful’ she admitted.
‘If you could hear the song of the green yourself you would not necessarily think so’ Illyria told her. ‘I need to go, Connor and I are due to patrol the outskirts of town tonight. Wesley will drive me to our rendezvous point.’
‘Why not just portal there?’ Wesley asked curiously.
‘I have my reasons’ Illyria replied. It would be best if they didn’t know that excess use of her more arcane powers destabilised the shell. She could exercise them sparingly, but something as formerly simple as opening one portal too soon after another could be catastrophic. The less she used her powers the more she could use them when urgently required, the shell stabilised itself again over time as she had been told it would. ‘Are you ready Wesley?’ she asked. ‘I will meet you by the car’ she told him.
Wesley made to follow her out of the room but Buffy pulled him up. ‘Is there anything about her you
know that I don’t?’ she demanded to know.
He shook his head. ‘She’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a suit of red leather armour’ he replied. ‘Want me to pump her for information?’ he asked.
Buffy smiled sweetly. ‘Well I sometimes think she’d like that but no’ she told him knowingly.
Wesley just looked very confused.Warehouse District – Sunnydale – May 2003
‘What did you do
Spike?’ Angel demanded to know, swinging his broadsword to fend off another demon in the dark alleyway between two large warehouses.
The other ensouled vampire ducked under an attempted blow and retaliated with a hefty kick to the demons gut which sent it staggering backwards. ‘Well I didn’t know there would be this
many of the damn things when I burst into their lair’ he said. ‘Polgara are usually thinner on the ground than this.’
Angels sword parried a thrust from the bone skewers on the nearest Polgara but then he swiftly had leap sideways to avoid another. ‘Before the next time you decide to go out and pick a fight learn how to count better than “one, two, more” and carry a decent weapon you imbecile’ he told Spike who was fighting with his bare hands.
‘I like the crunch’ Spike said smashing his fist hard into the face of yet another Polgara. There were at least twelve of them now and Spike was lucky Angel had heard his cry for help and had come running when he did, rapidly outpacing the rest of the team. Angel had almost crashed headlong into Spike who had been going the other direction with a pack of greenish-yellow demons hot on his tail.
‘When they’re snacking on your bones they’ll like the crunch too’ Angel retorted slamming his sword through a Polgara chest and pushing another away with his free hand.
A crossbow bolt appeared from nowhere and went through a Polgara’s neck which sprayed blood everywhere.
With a roaring battle cry Gunn appeared swinging an axe which he used to cleave a Polgara almost clean in half. More crossbow bolts started to punch their way into the demon ranks as Fred reloaded and Cordelia joined in, they were both wearing night-vision gear which seemed at odds with their medieval weaponry but the combination was deadly and meant they could do serious damage without getting too close.
‘Hooray the cavalry’ Spike yelled out, grabbing a demon and headbutting it with a satisfying cracking sound as its face caved in.
‘Guess that makes you the stupid homesteaders who don’t have the brains to stay off the Indian Burial Ground and have to be saved’ Angel yelled back, slashing with his sword.
‘As long as it’s not Custers Last Stand I don’t give a shit’ Gunn called out, getting more heavily embroiled in the melee. ‘Where’s our backup?’ he called back to Cordelia as more and more Polgara demons continued to arrive faster than they could kill them.
A car screeched into the alley with a squeal of brakes and a figure jumped out and started running before it had even stopped moving. The sprinting Faith made a flying leap and bought a mace crashing down on a demons skull sending it straight to earth.
‘Come on!’ Kennedy practically screamed, bailing out of the car and sprinting towards the battle with a short-sword outstretched, tearing past Cordy and Fred en-route. Rona was barely just behind her, driven on by the adrenaline taking over her body, normally she would have considered running into a pack of killer demons twice her size nothing short of insane, but just then it seemed entirely the right thing to do. Rona simply drove her own sword right through the back of the demon directly in front of her using her momentum to push it on through then had to use all her strength to pull it back out as the demon collapsed. Caridad was slower off the mark but quickly joined Rona’s side swinging an iron-studded club.
‘Hold them!’ Angel bellowed, fighting like a berserker warrior.
‘Don’t bond with them just bloody kill them’ Spike retorted just as loud. ‘Forget the touchy-feely crap’ he joked, getting a grip on a Polgara’s head and snapping its neck with a savage jerk.
Gunn decapitated a demon but lost his axe as another clubbed him aside with a powerful blow sending him sprawling. He rolled to the side, pulled an automatic pistol from his jacket and emptied a full magazine into the closest packed group of demons. It was only what he’d call a "Nine-Milli", a Sig-Sauer P226 from the arsenal they’d bought from Emil the Arms Dealer rather than one of the big .45s like Wes carried, but the fifteen rapid-fire shots he volleyed made an impression on the demons, and as a number fell or staggered back they lost the initiative.
With the three potentials backing her up Faith got into full swing and started to enjoy herself, shattering demon limbs and skulls with her heavy mace that only someone with superhuman strength could have wielded so effortlessly. The potentials were more cautious and after their initial shock charge had played it safer, not having her strength or perhaps not her foolhardiness.
‘Break and run you bastards’ Spike howled and found himself fighting back to back with Angel against an ever diminishing number of Polgara who were fighting as individuals not as a group and with no tactics whatsoever. If they’d had an ounce of brains between them the demons would have fought as a collective unit and overwhelmed their enemy, but they spent as much time in each others way as they did fighting, and by packing themselves in close together they had trouble using their deadly forearm bone-spikes effectively.
Cordelia and Fred had run out of crossbow bolts and had drawn swords, Fred a short-sword and Cordy a Japanese Katana she favoured, and the two of them joined in with the potentials who were now fighting as a solid skirmish line across the alley covering the person to both left and right. The Polgara charged the line one or two at a time and were hacked and clubbed to pieces.
Eventually the Polgara were outnumbered themselves and Kennedy howled and led a second charge as Faith killed the last one that was near her. Gunn had retrieved his axe and was fighting beside Angel and Spike against the last few when the girls arrived and overwhelmed the demons ending the fight in seconds.
Spike fell sideways. He was covered in wounds as was Angel who leaned into Gunn who caught him. Faith was bleeding heavily from a gash on her right thigh and more blood dripped into her left eye from a cut on her forehead but she limped over to the group grabbing Kennedy in a hug. ‘Fucking A Ken’ she told her and turning to the other girls. ‘All of you’ she said proudly.
‘You’re not going to leave me down here are you?’ Spike asked. He had fallen across the body of a still twitching Polgara and looked a mess.
‘We should’ Angel replied. ‘Don’t you ever do that again’ he told him.
‘I’ve learned my lesson’ Spike replied.
‘Bullshit’ Angel retorted. ‘You never do’ he complained.
Rona reached an arm down to Spike and with Caridads help hauled him back to his feet. ‘Some of these things aren’t dead yet’ she pointed out.
‘Alright you know the drill’ Faith told the potentials. ‘Anything still with a head loses it’ she ordered. ‘Then we get the gas can from the back of the car and torch the fucking lot’ she added.
Cordelia appeared beside Gunn. ‘I’ll take Angel if you want to put your axe to good use’ she told him and moved to steady the vampire.
Spike looked around at all the Polgara bodies then to Angel’s battered form. ‘You’ve got to admit that was fun’ he said, grinning.
‘I hate you Spike’ Angel told him with all the sincerity he could muster as he continued dripping more blood into the pool that was collecting in the alley.Woodland - Outskirts of Sunnydale – May 2003
‘You know that that can’t kill me’ the vampire declared with a condescending laugh.
‘That’s true’ Wesley admitted and depressed the trigger on his assault rifle. It was set on fully-automatic and promptly blew thirty holes right though the vampires torso in just under two and a half seconds, Wesley fighting hard against the recoil. ‘More than a little incapacitating though’ he added as the vampire fell backwards, its chest and gut a bloody mess.
Wesley ejected the empty clip and reloaded before pulling a stake from his pocket and dusting the vampire which was barely able to resist. It was obviously recently sired and had never actually been shot before, because it didn’t seem to realise the world of difference between can’t kill
and can’t hurt
‘I heard gunfire, I thought it would be you’ Illyria’s familiar, not-quite-Fred's voice said from behind. ‘You should not have left the vehicle it is dangerous for you to hunt alone’ she told him.
Wesley turned and smiled. ‘We rogue demon hunters like to strike out alone once in a while’ he replied half-jokingly. ‘It keeps us sharp’ he told her. ‘Where’s Connor? You left him
alone’ he pointed out.
‘The Halfbreed’s son is much stronger and resilient than you, and could either defeat or outpace most foes. You are far more fragile’ Illyria responded.
‘There are scars on my body that would dispute the notion I’m all that
fragile’ Wesley told her with a wry smile.
‘If you were not fragile those injuries would not have left you with a permanent mark’ Illyria retorted. ‘You must be more careful’ she said.
‘Your concern for our welfare is appreciated’ Wesley replied. ‘I assume your opinion of humanity is improving?’ he asked.
The Old One looked at him. They were alone together in the woods after dark and nobody else was around. It was as good a time as any she decided. ‘It is your welfare as an individual that concerns me, not that of your species’ she admitted.
‘Really?’ Wesley replied, raising an eyebrow. ‘I know you consider me your guide, as you say I also was in the other timeline, but I did not think I mattered that
much’ he said. ‘Is there a reason I am so special?’ he asked.
Illyria narrowed her eyes, he wasn't getting this at all. The memories of the shell had indicated his inability to grasp the obvious in such a situation but fortunately the same memories also provided a solution that had worked previously for Fred. ‘Oh screw it’ Illyria declared and changing to the appearance of her more human persona “Ria” stepped forward and kissed Wesley on the lips.
The watcher almost dropped his rifle.
‘Well?’ Illyria queried. ‘That was a signal was it clear enough?’ she asked.
Wesley just stared back at her in surprise.
‘Not the reaction I hoped for’ Illyria observed and tried again, kissing him a second time. ‘Am I doing this wrong?’ she queried in confusion.
‘Wuh… why?’ Wesley finally managed to get out. ‘Why did you do that?’ he asked nonplussed.
Illyria shook her head. ‘Why do you think?’ she retorted, struck by the urge to roll her eyes as a human might. ‘I have feelings for you, I do not think they are really mine but they seem as real and I cannot get rid of them so this seems the only solution, distasteful though I find it on another level’ she said.
‘Feelings?’ Wesley repeated, still taken aback.
‘Romantic feelings’ Illyria told him and then really decided to bite the bullet and get it over with. ‘The shell, I mean Fred, and you had just become lovers shortly before…’
‘Fred and I were lovers?’ Wesley repeated.
‘Do not interrupt’ Illyria told him curtly before continuing. ‘Before I took over her form, and despite my own preferences on the matter, I inherited those feelings and I cannot
rid myself of them’ she explained. ‘It took me a long while to work out what they were, In my original form I would not have even been capable
of them, nor would I have ever desired to be, but I am
stuck with them’ she said.
Wesley took a breath. ‘These feelings are not really yours, they will fade with time’ he told her.
‘No they won’t
’ Illyria snapped back. ‘They are as intrinsic to this form as the shell itself, they are imprinted upon me. It is not like human passion which may fade over time or merely go away’ she told him and looked away. ‘I love you, I cannot ever not
love you, and I always will
love you’ she stated. ‘And if that bothers you imagine my side of the situation’ she asked of him.
He looked at her and contemplated her words. ‘It’s terrible’ he responded, with a sympathy for her that surprised him.
Illyria nodded. ‘If I believed in the concept of karma I would think it Fred’s ultimate revenge upon me for her death’ she told him. ‘The best possible result I can envision is that we become lovers and it stops hurting so much not to be with you.’
Wesley’s eyes widened. ‘Were we before?’ he asked. ‘The other me I mean.’
Illyria looked to the ground. ‘The Wesley from the original timeline hated me for Fred's death, he would have never accepted me’ she told him quietly. ‘But you
do not hate me, so you can’ she continued more forcefully.
‘Illyria you’re not…. You’re not human’ Wesley reminded her.
The God-King looked him directly him in the eye, even in her more human form it was unnerving in its intensity. ‘Both Angel and Spike are half-breeds yet both were taken by Buffy as a lover’ she responded. ‘Anya and Xander were nearly wed and he still
had feelings for her when she became a vengeance demon again and even the witch Willow had a werewolf as a lover at one point’ she argued. ‘Cordelia is part demon to prevent her visions killing her do you hate her for it? Find her to be less than a real person?’ she asked.
Wesley blinked. ‘Well no’ he admitted.
‘Do you find me physically unattractive?’ Illyria asked.
‘No’ he also admitted, shaking his head.
‘Then I fail to see your problem’ Illyria stated. ‘You may not love me… yet… but I will work on that and in the meantime I am willing to sleep with you’ she told him flatly.
Wesley nearly choked. ‘That won’t be necessary’ he replied.
‘You are not sleeping with anyone else are you?’ Illyria demanded to know, narrowing her eyes. She would deal with any rival for his affections swiftly and ruthlessly.
‘No I’m not as it happens’ Wesley replied, ‘I just… I find the idea of sleeping with you…’
‘Unappealing?’ Illyria asked with a rising feeling of panic. ‘Is it the hair colour because I will change it?’ she offered hoping it wasn't. Illyria was blue and proud.
Wesley swallowed. ‘No it’s just… strange to think about’ he told her.
Illyria relaxed. ‘You will get used to the idea’ she told him confidently then moved in to kiss him again. The response was still unsatisfactory, he just let her and did not participate in the kiss as such, but he didn’t actually pull away, or look astonished again, which was a start. ‘I have clearly given you much to consider’ she told him. ‘I will not pressure you I just needed you to know’ she said.
‘Illyria…’ Wesley began. ‘I know what it's like to love someone and not have them love you back I’m very sorry for you’ he sympathised.
The Shaper of Things directed her fierce gaze at him again. ‘I do not need your sorrow’ she responded, ‘I will conquer you as I have conquered empires’ she declared with all her fire and certainty returning. ‘The idea of defeat in either love or war is equally abhorrent and I will not taste it again’ she declared.
Looking at her Wesley was struck by the sudden realisation that he didn’t really know if he wanted to be “conquered” or not. One thing else was for certain, he had never, ever, imagined he might end up as the Boy Toy to an ancient Demon Goddess. If it had worked out that way for Xander he pondered, very few would have been all that surprised.
Regarding Illyria in a new light it dawned on him that despite everything else she was probably still a big step up from Lilah on the evil stakes anyhow, before something else suddenly occurred to him as well. ‘Umm Illyria I’ve been meaning to ask whether you read through my private journals’ he questioned. It was a bigger issue now he thought of her as not so much a dispassionate observer of humanity as much as a possible
participant in his life.
Illyria nodded in response. ‘I went back and retrieved them after your death, I wanted something of yours and they were the most personal thing I could find’ she explained.
‘Right’ he replied, taking a sharp intake of breath. ‘Did you read them all?’ he asked anxiously.
‘Yes’ Illyria confirmed.
‘Ah’ he murmured, unable to look her in the eyes. It was highly embarassing.
‘I do not think some of the things you described in the text are physically possible, nor can I imagine them pleasurable in any case, but I would be willing to try them’ the God-King offered as an enticement.
Wesley winced and wished he had a less active imagination.