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
‘Oh God’ Dawn cried out, her hand over her mouth when she opened the door to see her sister in Illyria’s arms. Buffy had insisted on not going to the hospital, she’d heal on her own and she said she wanted to go home. She just wanted to go home.
‘Take her upstairs’ Dawn instructed, and ran ahead to Buffy’s room, with Illyria carrying the slayer behind her, both of them dripping blood onto the carpet. In a moment of wry humour Wesley had told them during the drive from where he’d picked them up that one of them was definitely going to be scrubbing the red and blue stains off his car seats the following day and to his surprise Illyria had taken his words at face value and said she would do it. He had to quickly explain he was only kidding.
Illyria laid Buffy down gently on the bed and left Dawn to it after telling her she had already reset Buffy’s broken arm and bound it as best as could be managed with some cloth. Spike had followed them up and stood there looking down at Buffy holding his own wound but the pain of seeing her laying there like that was a lot worse than a mere hole through the chest.
Xander had fetched bandages from the kitchen, they always kept a good stock, and he was wondering if he should offer to help Dawn when Willow dashed past him, went white as a sheet looking at the state Buffy was in, then snatched the bandages from him and told him and Spike to get out, the tone of her voice making clear it wasn’t a request. Buffy asked where Giles was and Willow replied that he, Andrew and Anya had gone to Angel’s Mansion to try and help coordinate things from there.
When Illyria got back downstairs Wesley got his first proper look at her in decent light, the Guardian had been sitting quietly and praying, and Wesley was resisting the urge to make a comment that something a bit more concrete and proactive might get better results, when he turned away to see the bloody face and scorched skin and armour of the God-King. She must have read his concern in his face because she shook her head. ‘I am not badly injured do not concern yourself’ she told him. ‘The cuts and burns will heal rapidly’ she said. ‘The bleeding from my nose is almost finished and I will take a shower to wash off the residue’ she continued. ‘Much of the mess is Buffy’s blood and a not inconsiderable amount is Glory’s’ she said with satisfaction ‘especially in my hair’ she added.
Wesley regarded her normally blue-streaked locks, they were almost as much red now thanks to what Spike had told them in the car was Illyria giving Glory a serious taste of the good old Glasgow Kiss. The vampire had been almost reverent in his description of the fight, offering nothing but praise for the Old One’s fighting technique and pure unbridled viciousness as she headbutted, kicked, kneed and punched the HellGod into a bloody mess. ‘You should take that shower right now’ he suggested. He didn’t really know what he could do to help her and he felt useless.
Illyria however did
know something he could do. ‘In the original timeline you once produced a healing paste that was effective in speeding my recovery from a fight’ she told him. ‘You ground it yourself and put it on fabric to make a bandage of sorts. If you insist on aiding me that would be of greatest utility’ she suggested.
‘Right yes’ Wesley replied with realisation. ‘I know what you mean, I suppose it would be a more effective treatment than conventional medicine given your rather… different… physiology’ he told her. ‘I think I’ve got some of what I need in the car and I bet I can find the rest here what with Willow and Giles being around. I’ll try and make some up while you take that shower’ he said rapidly and dashed off.
Illyria watched him go about his business and smiled. He was genuinely concerned for her, and it was a pleasant thought that he was, although a more rational part of her did think that having to get repeatedly struck by the punches and kicks of a HellGod was a high price to pay for some sympathy and perhaps some possible signs of growing affection.
‘You did well to save the slayer Old One’ the Guardian told her, finishing her prayers. ‘I still do not understand your actions and do not trust you, but you have my thanks.’
The God-King turned to look at the ancient woman. ‘I require neither your understanding, your trust or your regard’ she replied. ‘It was only your ability to make slayer weapons that gave you value in my eyes and I was pleased to see, during the fight earlier with the Turok-Han, that the swords you enchanted did in fact prove their worth’ she told her before adding the off-handed comment, ‘although you have been lax in your production of them.’
‘I’m an old woman’ the Guardian replied curtly, stung by the God-Kings rebuke, but not surprised at the latent hostility between them. ‘I cannot work harder than I am’ she said.
‘I predate your earliest ancestor having developed vertebrae’ Illyria retorted. ‘Do not use age as an excuse to me’ she told her. ‘I am going to wash myself’ she declared. ‘Try and make yourself useful in the meantime’ she continued. ‘Many tired and possibly injured slayers will return from battle soon. If you truly care for them you could prepare food and drink for them instead of offering another prayer to whichever God it is that you worship.’
The Guardian found herself angry now for the first time in centuries. Strangely it made her feel more alive as well as very hostile towards Illyria. ‘Do not dismiss the Goddess, demon’ she snarled. ‘She watches over and protects us.’
Already heading for the doorway Illyria stopped and turned back. ‘The only deity around here that is doing anything to protect any of you as far as I can determine is the one that’s about to take a shower’ she said with a definitely superior air. ‘You seem younger when you are riled’ she continued after a pause, ‘I will have to provoke you more often it may boost your value to us’ the God-King stated, leaving a definite impression behind that she had been playing a little mind-game with the Guardian who now realised she had just been manipulated a treat while she went to prepare refreshments.
Passing Illyria at the bottom of the stairs Spike stumbled and someone caught him, though not to his surprise Blue. It was instead Xander that grabbed his arm to steady the vampire. Spike was pretty beat up himself and somewhat to the discomfort of both of them Xander helped him to a chair and sat him down. ‘I’m not donating any blood’ Xander told the vampire half-jokingly.
‘I know you’re the pin-up boy of the evil undead and demons everywhere’ Spike replied, ‘but you don’t send my
tastebuds a tingling’ he told him.
‘You say that’ Xander replied with a grin, ‘but everything, and I mean thing
, wants a bite of the Xand man we both know it’ he declared.
Spike looked at him askance. ‘Angel might go for it but I just don’t swing that way’ he told him, tongue in cheek. ‘That bleeding hell-bitch’ he said, looking down at his chest, ‘she did me over proper’ he moaned.
‘What she use?’ Xander queried, pointing at Spike’s gaping wound.
‘Iron railing’ the vampire replied. ‘Of course I bent it over her head a bit first’ he told him.
Xander nodded. ‘Remember when I hit Glory with that tire-iron?’ he asked. ‘I think it hurt me more than her’ he recalled. ‘Hard head’ he added sympathetically.
‘Ever seen an unstoppable force hit an immovable object?’ Spike asked thoughtfully, he was trying to keep his mind on anything but Buffy. ‘I mean I’m not one for philosophy, but watching Illyria clash heads with Glory was a bit like that’ he told him. ‘Bloody great sound it made too’ he added with a vindictive smile. ‘Christ I enjoyed watching the Blue Meanie get stuck in’ he declared. ‘So how did you get on tonight?’
‘Killed a crap-load of Bringers’ Xander replied, ‘saved the girl too’ he added indicating the Guardian. ‘Really
hoping she doesn’t
want to show her gratitude’ he joked. ‘Unless she’s thinking Wesley in which case that would be funny’ he said.
‘Nah, she’s too young for Wesley’ Spike replied. ‘He like’s ‘em a bit more seasoned these days’ he told him then paused. ‘Having seen her in action though I think sex with Blue might kill him’ he opined. ‘Let’s not warn the bloke’ he continued with a grin. ‘If you’ve got to go you can’t beat an exit like that.’Crawford Street Mansion – Sunnydale – May 2003
Faith dropped into a chair and passed the scythe to Molly who smiled as its power flowed through her. ‘We’ve got seven girls in hospital, three in intensive care, one of them is on a ventilator’ she told Giles. ‘Of the rest we’ve got another nine who’ll be out of action at least a couple of days’ she said.
‘But no fatalities?’ Giles checked.
Faith shook her head. ‘Fuck knows how but no’ she confirmed. ‘Assuming Caroline makes it through the night’ she added. If she did her slayer healing would get a chance to do its stuff and she’d be fine, at the moment though a machine was doing most of her breathing for her.
Giles leaned back and half sat on the table behind him. ‘I heard from Wesley on the radio’ he told Faith. ‘Buffy was badly hurt, broken arm and ribs, probable internal injuries’ he said. He was naturally fretful about Buffy’s condition, but it didn’t seem drastically
serious and he was needed more here at present.
‘But nothing life-threatening right?’ Faith asked nervously. It seemed callous, and she was guilty about it, but she was so
not wanting to be in charge right now, and that was more to the forefront of her mind than Buffy’s wellbeing.
‘She’ll recover’ Giles replied. ‘We’ve still got Glory out there to contend with’ he said looking around the room at the various slayers dotted around. ‘She toyed
with Buffy, she’d kill any of you in an instant’ he advised them. ‘If you meet her, run like hell’ he advised candidly.
‘If I meet her I’ll stick the scythe up her arse’ Molly responded coldly, brandishing it.
The watcher shook his head. ‘She’s still many times stronger than you and faster than anything you can imagine fighting if she uses her powers’ he told them. ‘Even if the scythe will injure her, as we believe it will, you’d still have to get the chance to use it, which also means getting close enough to get your head knocked off, and I’m not exaggerating about the head.’
‘Illyria took her down’ Kennedy pointed out. ‘She can take her again’ she said. ‘Screw it, get Blue to hold the bitch down and one of us can take the scythe and chop her
fucking head off’ she declared, ‘then we'll stick it in a box and mail it to those pricks at Wolfram and Hart’ she said. They’d been filled in on a lot of the story thanks to Cordelia who was still manning the radio and relaying messages and information back and forth.
‘Fucking A’ one of the other slayers responded in agreement with Kennedy’s suggested course of action.
‘Language’ Giles chided the girl, unable to help himself. She couldn’t have been more than fifteen.
The twins appeared with trays of drinks and started handing them out making themselves useful. They had been raised to serve the cause all their short lives and if they could do so best by serving drinks right now they would. Giles smiled at them, he was starting to develop parental thoughts towards them, as he had with Buffy though that took far longer. She had of course been older and frankly far more of a pain in the arse, so it had taken a while. It was becoming clear to him that he wanted children, but he was also starting to think he was getting a bit too old perhaps. The other problem was of course that he didn’t actually have a partner to carry out the major part of the operation.
Emily was putting a bandage around Stephens arm, fussing more than he felt the injury deserved. He had, much to his embarrassment and annoyance, not in fact been injured by a Turok-Han but instead by an overenthusiastic slayer who had swung her sword around with insufficient regard for her companions. He was only lucky she hadn’t cut his head off rather than nicked his left arm as he frantically dodged the wild swing. Stephen was glaring at the girl concerned who was unable to look back and blushing considerably. She saw a vision of the future and much of it involved getting hit with bamboo rods during incessant fencing practice with a vengeful trainee watcher.
Angel had been pacing, it wasn’t usually his way but he was worried for Buffy too whilst simultaneously seething at the revelation of Wolfram and Hart’s involvement. They had
been in opposition to the First, which is why they had given up the amulet without too much fuss, but they clearly considered Buffy’s new army a major threat, especially if they thought Illyria was going to be involved. Angel had been the loose cannon they had fretted about for years but by comparison a rogue Old One was a loose artillery brigade. The old clichéd adage of your enemies' enemy being your friend had come into play. Evildoers of the world unite you have nothing to lose but your mutual hatred of each other, he thought wryly.
‘So what now?’ Kennedy asked Giles.
‘We dig in and get ready to see what they do next while our forces recover’ Giles replied.
‘Bullshit’ Angel responded. ‘Enough of the wait and see crap, you want to win, be the hunter not the prey’ he declared. ‘Don’t wait for another ambush, take the fight to them’ he said forecefully.
Faith nodded. ‘I’m with Fang’ she agreed. ‘Better to be out there doing something than waiting around waiting for the axe to fall, or the HellGod’ she continued. ‘We’ve still got slayers coming out of our ears, more guns than the 82nd Airborne, Willow the super-witch and we’ve already shown the bastards that our
God-bitch is a damn sight tougher than their
‘Buffy’s the boss’ Vi interrupted. ‘It’s her decision.’
‘She’s out of the game for now’ Faith responded with a lot more confidence in her voice than she felt. ‘We’re still playing it’ she said.
‘In the absence of orders, go find something and kill it’ Stephen quoted. ‘Irwin Rommel said that’ he explained. ‘I was leafing through one of the books Illyria has been reading’ he told Emily, who had given him a look.
Angel nodded. It was a good line he’d have to remember it. ‘We find them and then we kill them’ he stated flatly. ‘So let’s figure out how to find them’ he said.Summers Residence – Sunnydale – May 2003
‘Is it strictly necessary for you to watch me doing this?’ Wesley snapped, turning on Spike and Xander. It was the expressions on their faces that was bothering him.
‘Nothing good on the telly’ Spike replied, continuing to watch Wesley rub the paste into Illyria’s wounds. ‘At least not anything that’s not pay per view like this should be’ he added. ‘Like ‘em well oiled and greasy do you?’ he asked, forcing Xander to stick his hand over his mouth to stop himself laughing. It was a release after the stress of the evening and kept their minds off Buffy upstairs, it would also have been bloody hilarious to watch Wesley squirm at any other time for that matter Spike thought.
‘What is wrong?’ Illyria asked as Wesley tried to ignore them and applied a bandage over the area he had just rubbed the paste into.
Wesley sighed, he tried to tell it straight with Illyria, it was just easier and she preferred it which is why she liked Anya. ‘They are mocking us’ he explained. ‘More specifically me’ he continued. ‘They are making crude references to a sexual connotation to this activity.’
‘My injuries?’ Illyria asked. ‘Do they think I enjoy pain? I have heard of this strange human compulsion that some have but I merely enjoy inflicting it…’
‘You’re in trouble Wes’ Xander interjected quickly, making Spike fight not to laugh this time.
‘…and not in a sexual way’ Illyria continued, ignoring him completely.
‘It’s the application of the paste that they are referring to not your injuries’ Wesley explained. ‘I’m sure that both of them have frequented several establishments where women wrestle in mud for the prurient delight of drunken morons’ he said.
Illyria frowned. ‘You are a truly strange species’ she observed. ‘No matter how much I learn, and how much time I spend in intercourse with your kind I am still constantly reminded by how truly alien you are’ she said. ‘And why are you making that noise?’ she asked Xander who was now sniggering, as was Spike though less obviously.
‘She means conversation you twits’ Wesley told them. ‘What are you Beavis and Butthead?’ he asked with a groan. ‘Either grow up or piss off’ he told them sternly and went back to work on Illyria’s injuries. ‘If you want to make yourself useful Spike you could tell those ghouls you know to clean up the mess Xander and I made’ he suggested.
‘Already done mate’ Spike told him. ‘Phoned them half an hour ago, they’re even going to collect up the cartridge casings you left behind as a favour’ he continued. ‘All we have to do is give them a heads up on every mass demon slaughter and stop the slayers dropping in on them. As for me pissing off I’m injured so I’m going to stay sitting right here until I’m less worried about my internal organs falling out the hole in the middle of my chest’ he said.
‘I cannot understand how they could eat Bringer Flesh’ Illyria commented, regarding the ghouls. ‘They taste terrible.’
Spike shrugged. ‘They told me they can’t get enough of it. Guess they like something with a bit of tang to it’ he theorised.
‘Hang on a second’ Xander said. ‘You phoned
them?’ he asked, nonplussed.
Spike nodded. ‘Cell Phones are the greatest leap forward in underworld communications technology since scrawling messages in blood on a crypt wall’ he replied. ‘Lots of them carried pagers a few years back but they just weren’t as convenient.’
Xander scratched his nose. ‘I really wonder what a normal life would be like sometimes’ he said wistfully. ‘The kind where you don’t have conversations like this while you watch an ancient God get lubricated.’
‘Let’s face it mate’ Spike told him. ‘You’d find it bloody boring now.’
‘I could give it a try for a while’ Xander replied. ‘See how it works out. I’ve got marketable skills, work experience, my own hammer...’
Wesley chuckled. ‘I wonder about retiring sometimes’ he said.
‘You go right ahead’ Spike told him. ‘You and Blue could settle down in a nice Fortress of Doom in the country’ he deadpanned.
‘I have tolerated it so far but is it necessary to call me that’ Illyria responded. ‘Blue is the pigment of some of my hair and skin, not my name or title.’
‘Term of endearment Love’ Spike told her. ‘I call Willow “Red” because of her hair colour’ he pointed out. ‘And I call Angel “Wanker”… because he is one.’
Illyria thought about it. ‘Couldn’t you use the abbreviation Ria I have adopted for my more human form?’ she asked.
‘Ain’t going to happen sorry Love’ Spike apologised. ‘To me you’ll be Blue till the day I die, which is due to be any day now so you can relax. Why didn’t you go for Lyria anyhow? It’s more… lyrical’ he asked with a smile.
‘I liked Ria’ the God-King replied.
‘Fond of the Bird myself’ Spike told her with a friendly tone. ‘You missed a spot’ he told Wesley pointing at her to indicate the area.
Ilyria turned to Xander. ‘I have need of a weapon to fight Glory with’ she said. ‘I have an idea but will likely need your assistance with it.’
‘Anything you need from me to help kick her ass you’ve got’ Xander replied earnestly.
‘Good’ she replied. ‘You may find tomorrow a long day’ she advised.