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.Shadow Valley Vineyards – April 2003
Amanda turned to Kennedy who was stood next to her watching with considerable interest. The slightly older potential had actually been in training under a Council Watcher before
the First decided to make war on the whole slayer line and usually seemed to be better informed as to what was happening than the real newbies like her. ‘I know I’m kinda new to this’ she began. ‘But as a rule if a demon is beating the crap out of a priest isn’t it our job to like… stop them?’
‘Well yeah’ Kennedy replied ‘sacred duty and all that’ she agreed, ‘but given that’s the son-of-a-bitch that’s been working for the First, and stabbed that new girl Shannon, we’re making a big
exception’ she said.
Molly interrupted, raising a hand. ‘Downstairs he took out Buffy with one punch’ she told Amanda. ‘I mean like the actual slayer
punch. I guess no matter how tough you are there’s someone tougher’ she said. ‘Well except for maybe in her
case’ she observed, turning her hand to point wth an outstetched finger.
Amanda turned back and watched the blue haired demon woman pick Caleb up off the ground again, and with what looked like surprisingly little effort given the differentials in their size and build, swing him around and release him, throwing him a good twelve feet to crash hard into a tree trunk. He bounced off the trunk with both a loud thump and cry of pain then landed in a heap beside it, moaning. As the potentials continued to watch, she strode over to him, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck with her left hand and lifted him to his knees. She held him there, his arms hanging limply to his sides barely conscious, and with her free right hand she started punching him repeatedly in the face.
Amanda watched thoughtfully and decided that she should intervene in some manner. ‘Go on girl. Kick his ass’ she called out loudly, breaking into a grin.
Kennedy threw Amanda a look then laughed. ‘Work the body some more’ she called out.
‘Knock his bloody teeth out’ Molly shouted, getting into the spirit of the thing.
‘Go Blue, Go Blue, Go Blue’ Rona began chanting as the demon woman once again picked up Caleb before sending him hurtling away with an right cross that hit like a Mack Truck.
The God-King turned to look at the potentials and somewhat to their surprise addressed them. ‘I like hitting this one’ she declared, ‘he makes noise’ she explained before walking over to kick Caleb again. He was now laying on his side gasping for breath and bleeding from several wounds and the new blow, hard to the gut, sent him flying with the impact.
Xander watched the potentials who were stood in a group off to one side all now chanting along with Rona and turned to Buffy. ‘So… cheerleader uniforms you think?’ he asked.
The slayer looked at her friend. ‘Does every
thought you have lead back to that?’ she asked in mock disapproval.
‘I’m comfortable in my fetishes, better cheerleader uniforms than handcuffs and whips’ Xander joked then turned the other direction to look at the scruffy ex-watcher stood nearby. ‘Wesley, you gots some ‘splaining to do’ he said in his best Ricki Ricardo impression, he hoped that the Brit knew who Ricki Ricardo actually was because Xander hated to waste good material on the pop-culturally illiterate.
Wesley shrugged. ‘Long story short, Illyria there just appeared one day, out of the blue you might say’ he said hoping to get a laugh but failing. He masked his disappointment that nobody thought the line was funny and quickly continued. ‘Faith knows that part of it better than I do I wasn’t there at the time she appeared. Anyhow she said she wanted to help us. She knew who we all were, in fact she knows a great deal, far more I think than she’s letting on which I earnestly hope is for the sake of the timeline rather than some malevolent intent.’
‘The timeline?’ Spike repeated from the position he’d taken nearby ready to leap to Buffy’s defence if the Blue Meanie over yonder got bored hitting Caleb and decided to try her knuckles out on someone else.
Spike heard someone approach and span to face them as a newcomers voice interrupted the group from behind. ‘Yes she’s from the future so she says, and she’s backed the claim up with some very precise predictions’ the newcomer declared, ‘your meeting with Caleb there for example. It would be more accurate to say one of infinite possible futures though, certainly not our
future, because her arrival is already changing it. She came from another timeline where she didn’t
originally come back in time, to make all the changes she’s making now in our
Buffy and Xander had spun around and both made sounds of incredulity when they got a good look at the speaker. Xander afterwards made sure to tell everyone that his own shocked cry was deep and manly however.
‘Are y’all getting this?’ the slim woman with the Texan accent asked, looking at them hopefully. ‘Sorry I’m late, I lost track of time waiting in the car’ she told Wesley who smiled at her.
Buffy span back to Wesley ‘There’s two of them? You didn’t say there were two
of them’ she said stridently. ‘Have you got any more of them hanging around?’ he asked. ‘Do they turn Blue at will?’
‘Two of…’ the Texan woman repeated, ‘oh no silly I’m not another Illyria I’m Fred we just look the same’ she told them. ‘I’m only human, my only super-power is that I’m darn good with math, which I suppose isn’t really
a super-power in the classic sense, but then again when you think about it people who were good with math and physics like me designed the atomic bomb which is a lot more powerful than most of the guys in Gunn’s comic books… and I’m just yammering on again, it’s a habit, ignore me’ she said.
super-power is the ability to say two thousand consecutive words without needing to take a breath’ Wesley joked. ‘Yes she’s quite as human as she is lovely’ he assured everyone.
Xander looked from Fred to Illyria who was still pummelling Caleb nearby. ‘Evil twin?’ he asked. ‘Maybe a demon split you in half?’ he suggested.
Wesley looked at Xander askance.
‘Hey I can theorise can’t I?’ Xander asked the ex-watcher. ‘It’s not like that sort of thing doesn’t happen to perfectly ordinary people all the time’ he insisted defensively.
Fred shook her head smiling. ‘Oh no nothing like that’ she replied. ‘Illyria just possessed me and destroyed my soul’ she explained in bewilderingly upbeat tones considering the ramifications of what she’d just said.
‘She did what
?’ Buffy exclaimed aghast.
The physicist frowned maybe she wasn’t explaining too well? Temporal paradoxes, alternate realities and the like were better understood as mathematics, ordinary grammar and syntax coped with it very badly. ‘Well not me
exactly’ she responded, ‘the other
me from the alternate timeline in a few months from now.’
‘That thing killed
you, the other you, the other alternate you I mean’ Buffy said not liking where this conversation was going at all. It was like demonology meets Star-Trek technobabble.
‘Not deliberately or with malice as far as we know’ Wesley told her. ‘Fred’s body, Illyria calls it a “shell” incidentally, was chosen by one of her followers as the vessel for its rebirth. Fred was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.’
‘Time being the operative word’ Fred pointed out. ‘Fortunately it wasn’t in this timeline because I like having my own body with its soul exactly where it’s supposed to be’ she said then looked thoughtful. ‘Strangely enough by coming here Illyria has actually saved my life… in a really convoluted way anyhow’ she said.
Fred looked around trying to put names to faces. Fortunately Wesley had with cajoling finally provided a chart which helped her identify the Sunnydale crew and their relationships, Fred had studied it on the way here. ‘Oh you must be Spike’ she said turning to the blond in the black leather duster. ‘Angel says to tell you he’s flattered you decided to get yourself a soul to be just like him but you’ve really got to grow up and get from under his shadow’ she said. ‘He thinks you’ve got serious Sire issues and suggests you see a therapist.’ she added, ‘I think he was joking about that but I’m not sure’ she noted thoughtfully.
The vampire choked then snarled. ‘Tell that prissy bastard than my getting a soul has about as much to do with him as… as’ Spike couldn’t think of anything. ‘Well it’s got bugger-all to do with him full stop.’ He paused for a beat. ‘How does the big poof know I’ve got a soul?’
Fred crossed her arms. ‘Illyria told us. From the future remember, knows lots of things’ she pointed out.
Something suddenly occurred to Spike ‘Now hang on a sodding second’ he said turning to Faith. ‘Did you know I had a soul before you came here with Willow?’
‘Yup’ she replied, starting to laugh.
‘You bloody well tried to kill me in the graveyard when I was chasing that vampire bint’ Spike protested.
Faith gave him a beatific smile. ‘I had to play the part, the First might have been watching, couldn’t give the game away that I had the heads up on a few things I shouldn’t have’ she replied.
‘You didn’t have to hit me so bloody hard though did you?’ Spike complained. ‘Do you have any idea how much it hurts having a slayer wailing on you?’ he asked before pausing, looking to Buffy and then back to Faith. ‘Yeah well I suppose you do’ he said, ‘but that just makes it worse you sadistic git.’
Faith’s smile became rather more evil. ‘Method acting. I had to think what my motivation was and immerse myself in the role, and hey already a vampire slayer so it was easy’ she claimed. ‘Coming up with the “Are you the Bad Slayer now? Am I the Good Slayer now?” line to Buffy took a lot more effort.’
‘So you’re trying to say she’s friendly?’ Xander asked in an attempt to get things back on track indicating Illyria with a nod in her direction.
Fred grimaced. ‘Oh God no, she’s downright obnoxious
’ she replied forcefully, ‘she’s just not hostile
’ she declared then paused for a second to think ‘Well I suppose to be honest she is
hostile’ Fred went on, ‘but not to us, at least not in the physical sense. ‘She’ll almost certainly hurt your feelings if only because she has a monumental superiority complex, wait for the muck speech it’s a doozy, and she was like a total pain in the ass on the drive here from LA.’
Wesley shuddered in recollection. ‘All the way here it was “Are we there yet, these vehicles are too slow, why can’t I
sit in the front of the car, when I had all my powers I could have teleported there in an instant, I want to stop and get a taco” it drove me insane
’ Wesley said through gritted teeth.
Xander inwardly chuckled at Wesley’s rant then threw him a quizzical look ‘Tacos?’
‘My fault sorta’ Fred told him. ‘At least Illyria blames me and it does make sense in a way. I love ‘em you see, favourite food in the world, and a lot of my memories and other things like, emotions, attitudes to people, and of course the cravings for Mexican Food, remained in the shell when she took over, at least that’s what she says and we’ve tested her memories with things only I would know so we think she’s being straight about it.’
Buffy took a deep breath ‘Okay. Living on the hellmouth for a few years has left me pretty much go-with-the-flow girl when it comes to this kind of thing, but why did you bring her here?’ she asked. ‘Also what exactly
‘As to the why, she says her original timeline went badly so she decided to start again from an earlier point.’ Wesley replied. ‘She won’t say how she managed to do that however.’
Spike rubbed the bridge of his nose. ‘How “badly” are we talking about?’ he asked.
Wesley sighed. ‘Well from my standpoint very badly, as apparently I died’ he replied. ‘And I wasn’t the only one it seems’ he continued. ‘As to your other question Buffy regarding what
she is… well I can’t naturally confirm it one-hundred percent, but when she says she’s a god I think she’s being straight about it. She’s an actual Demon God’ he told them.
‘So you’re saying she’s a bloody HellGod? A friendly one? The bleeding Anti-Glory or something?’ Spike retorted in disbelief.
Less instantly dismissive herself Buffy turned to look Illyria over again. ‘So she’s like a good
HellGod?’ she suggested. ‘A HellGod with a soul?’
Spike snorted. ‘Who’s going to buy that load of cobblers?’ the vampire asked rhetorically. ‘HellGod with a soul my arse’ he said dismissively. ‘If you meet anyone who’d buy a likely story like that…’ he paused as everyone looked at him. ‘What?’ he asked the group in confusion before they turned away from him again.
Faith was still intently watching Illyria bounce Caleb around never having been all that interested in the discussion group thing and having already heard most of the story before but now she decided to speak up. ‘Super-Smurf saved my ass from Angelus so if you want my two cents she’s worth keeping around’ she opined. ‘Don’t know if I trust her but I reckon it’s better to have her inside pissing out than risk her being outside pissing in’ she said.
‘Angelus?’ Buffy said looking at Wesley. ‘Willow said you did a trick with some magic morphine stuff?’ she queried.
‘That was the original
plan so we kept it as a cover story’ Wesley told her. ‘The First might have been listening in on your conversation.’
‘Super-Smurf?’ Xander commented appreciatively, grinning at Faith.
Faith smiled back. ‘His nickname idea not mine’ she replied, indicating Wesley. ‘Junior Watcher here is as much a reformed character as I am’ she said, ‘going in kinda the other direction though’ she continued. ‘He’s pretty much the archetypical sarcastic, ruthless badass now ain’t you Wes?’
‘If you say so Faith’ Wesley replied sardonically. ‘Of course it could be argued that my conversion was in no small part down to you, a born-again baptismal in my own blood as it were.’
Faith flinched. ‘You’re just not going to let that little torturing you thing drop are you?’
‘Not this lifetime slayer’ Wesley replied earnestly. ‘But I’m beyond thoughts of retaliation if that’s what’s concerning you.’
It wasn’t but Faith didn’t say so.
Illyria had finally grown tired of the game and with everyone watching she picked the broken body of Caleb off the ground for a final time. Standing upright her left hand had him by the throat holding him just off the ground his broken body hanging loose from her iron grip. She carried him in that manner over to where her guide was talking with the blond vampire slayer.
‘Well I suppose a good HellGod is better than having an evil one hanging around’ Buffy told Illyria. ‘Nice to have you onboard’ she said.
‘Your words, your opinions, your meaningless struggles against the flows of chaos that drive the universes mean nothing to me’ Illyria replied coldly. ‘I am here for my own reasons, and my mission and yours just happen to synchronise at this point in time. Do not think of me as a long-term ally we merely share enemies for the near future’ she told her.
The slayer was slightly taken aback but maintained her composure. ‘Your enemies’ enemy is your friend they say’ Buffy responded.
‘They must be weak minded fools then’ Illyria retorted. ‘As for your simplistic conceptualisations of good and evil I am beyond such trivial labels’ she declared haughtily.
Wesley coughed causing the God-King to look over at his disapproving expression. She growled gently and then turned her full attention to Buffy once again. ‘You are the leader here however, and though you are not my
leader my Qwa’Ha Xahn thinks I should attempt to deal with you with civility and the respect due your position’ Illyria paused. ‘You are extremely fortunate I value his opinion beyond all others’ she said. ‘Here then an offering to symbolise a community of purpose between us’ the God-King declared loudly for all to hear. ‘I offer up my trophy to you’ she said then with her free right hand held flat to be used as a blade she slammed it into Calebs back, right through his shirt.
‘What the hell are you…’ Buffy began before Illyria suddenly snapped her hand upwards, using it like a cleaver and ripping Calebs back open in a spray of blood. She reached into the gaping wound, grabbed hold of something and with a savage jerk pulled most of his spine clean out of his body.
The Shaper of Things released her left hand's grip on Calebs throat and he fell to the floor in a bloody mess, leaving his spinal column still held in her right. Needless to say he was mercifully quite dead by this point not that it had been an entirely painless exit from this mortal coil by any means.
Fred gasped and turned away in horror. Two of the potentials fainted while Kennedy being of a sterner disposition merely turned and threw up.
‘I offer you your enemies spine as a trophy’ Illyria said, smiling and holding her prize out to Buffy in what she thought was a friendly gesture of mutual respect that would be well received by one that was so famed for fighting demons.
Xander had seen some things in his time with the Scoobies, things most people couldn’t imagine in their worst nightmares but he had gone very pale. ‘Are we certain
she’s not evil’ he asked in shocked tones.
‘I tend to think of Illyria as morally ambiguous’ Wesley commented off-handedly, taking a handkerchief from his pocket to offer to Buffy who was still standing there speechless with drops of blood splattered all over her face.
Collecting herself the slayer looked at the offered spine and eventually held up her hands, palms outwards in rejection. ‘Keep it’ she said. ‘It wouldn’t suit the décor in my house’ she told her new ally before taking Wesley’s offered handkerchief and wiping herself clean as best she could.
‘I’ll go get a petrol can to torch this place and the bodies’ Wesley said heading off to his SUV which he’d parked nearby. ‘Oh I suppose I should call it gasoline here in the Colonies, still trying to adjust to the New World’ he said in what might be best thought of as gallows humour considering the recent turn of events. Faith was right, he had changed a lot Buffy noted, the old Wes would have fainted along with the potentials, now he was clearly hard-core.
Lots to get adjusted to Buffy thought, looking the Blue God-Demon over for the umpteenth time. A whole new world indeed she realised.