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 - April 2003
‘So where have you been all morning?’ Buffy asked, opening the front door to let Illyria inside.
The Old One held up several shopping bags. ‘I have been to the Mall to obtain clothes more suitable for working at the school and other items I found I desired’ she replied.
for them right?’ Buffy asked, imagining the God-King simply walking out with the goods dragging half a dozen security guards along for the ride.
‘Wesley paid with his Credit Card’ Illyria told her. ‘He is bringing more bags from his vehicle’ she added. ‘He did not seem to enjoy visiting the Mall as much as Anya, or indeed myself’ she noted.
Buffy nodded. ‘That would have been either the guy thing or the paying thing’ she reasoned. ‘Maybe both’ she added. ‘So Anya came along too?’ she asked. To be honest Buffy hadn’t actually noticed she was gone.
‘She was very helpful in helping me select appropriate clothes and small items of jewellery’ Illyria told the Slayer. ‘I found her company relaxing also.’
Dawn had been listening in and nearly drowned on the glass of juice she had just taken a swig from. She started coughing loudly.
‘Anya’s company… relaxing
?’ Buffy queried in considerable surprise. Anya herself would readily admit most people found her strangely literal at best, sometimes downright irksome. It wasn’t even the vengeance-demon thing apparently, as they’d found out one night when Anya got drunk and started up on her life story, she’d always
been like that. One good thing about having Andrew around was that Anya seemed far more tolerable company, irritation is relative.
Illyria walked over to the couch and laid the shopping bags on top of it. ‘Anya does not speak in metaphor or half-truths as the rest of you do’ she told Buffy. ‘She is direct, saying what she means, and she does not pepper her speech with huge amounts of cultural references I do not necessarily understand’ she explained.
Wesley hauled another four large bags inside. ‘If those lottery tickets don’t win they’ll cut my credit card in half’ he moaned. ‘Did you have
to get the necklace and the matching bracelet?’ he asked Illyria.
‘They called to me’ Illyria replied. ‘Anya agreed they were attractive to look at also’ she added defensively.
Wesley dropped the bags. ‘Blue Sapphires’ he said. ‘Who
would have guessed?’ he asked with a distinctly sarcastic tone.
‘You do not like them?’ Illyria responded hurriedly, she seemed almost flustered.
‘Only the paying for them’ Wesley replied. ‘I’ll help Anya get the boxes out of the car’ he said.
Buffy looked at Illyria curiously. If she didn’t know better she’d swear the God-King had a thing for the ex-Watcher. After all he was the only one she’d assigned a pet name to, Quiz-whatever, she’d reacted badly to the idea he didn’t like the blue stoned jewellery when she’d claimed forcefully that the opinions of others “mattered less than sunlight” and her head cranked around to follow him walking away.
Illyria turned back to Buffy who was looking at her with raised eyebrows. ‘What?’ she asked.
‘Nothing’ Buffy replied, deciding to keep an eye on those two.
Anya arrived holding a number of boxes. ‘Games Console’ she explained. ‘And some games.’
‘I do not sleep and get bored at night when there is nothing to do’ Illyria explained to Buffy. ‘I patrol for vampires and bringers but there are too few and battling them no test of my abilities in any case’ she said. ‘Video games however constantly challenge my reflexes and hand-eye coordination’ she told the slayer. ‘I was annoyed to learn that Doom 3 has not yet been released, I liked that one, I found the monsters, dark hallways and simulated gore very amusing’ she said.
‘Okay…’ Buffy responded guardedly. ‘So what’s in the big box Wesley is wrestling with?’ she asked.
‘Satellite Dish’ Illyria told her. ‘Your choice of TV Channels is woefully inadequate. And it could be installed and running quicker than Cable.’
‘If every consumer was like her the lives of retailers everywhere would be enriched beyond measure’ Anya observed happily.Hyperion Hotel – Los Angeles – April 2003
Cordelia opened her eyes. ‘Is it gone?’ she asked the smiling faces surrounding her. She was laying on a couch in the main lobby.
‘Yes’ Angel told her. ‘And how many mystical pregnancies is this for you now Cordy?’ he asked with a wry smile.
‘One more and I qualify for a discount on my next ultrasound’ Cordy joked. ‘Thanks guys’ she said and pulled Angel in for a hug which he accepted without looking too uncomfortable about it.
‘Don’t thank us’ Gunn told her. ‘Willow there did most of the heavy lifting’ he told his friend, pointing out the exhausted looking red-haired witch who gave Cordelia a smile and a little wave. ‘The bitch that had set up shop inside you didn’t want to go without a fight but Darth Sabrina here put the smackdown on her good’ he declared.
Angel managed to break away from the hug and turned to Willow. ‘You put my soul back and you’ve saved my friend’ he said seriously. ‘If you ever need anything from me’ he told her, ‘and I mean anything
, I’ll be there’ he told her with all the earnestness he could muster.
‘Technically it’s the second
time I’ve put your soul back but who’s counting’ Willow told him with an endearing smile which Angel returned with a look that told her he was deadly serious about owing her.
Fred swept in and took Angels place in the hug. ‘We missed you’ she said. ‘Of course we did
think we already had you back, but when we found out we really hadn’t we missed you again’ she said. ‘We all
owe you Willow’ she said, which caused Gunn to nod his agreement emphatically.
‘Just glad I could help’ Willow told them embarrassed by the praise. She was also blushing slightly, her cheeks starting to match her hair colour which had only just changed back to its normal shade from jet-black minutes before. When the witch was in full-on magicks mode her appearance left no doubts about it. ‘I don’t know if I’d have had the power to pull it off if the pregnancy had been much further along’ she admitted. ‘I could feel it was in a weakened condition even though it was still tough.’
‘I’m just making sure not to mess with any girls from Sunnydale’ Gunn said tongue in cheek. ‘I thought they raised ‘em tough in my neighbourhood but damn
‘Wait until you’ve seen Buffy pissed-off’ Cordelia told him with a laugh. ‘So who was the blue chick that bitchslapped me?’ she asked. ‘It looked a lot like you Fred but the thing inside knew it wasn't’ she said.
‘You remember all of that?’ Angel asked her curiously.
‘I remember everything’ Cordelia told him. ‘It was like being an observer in my own body with someone else at the wheel’ she told him. ‘Is Wesley around too?’ she asked, her smile slipping. ‘I need to talk to him’ she said quietly.
Fred gave her a kiss on the forehead. ‘If it’s about Lilah’ she began, ‘Wesley knows that wasn’t really you’ she told her.
‘It was my hand holding the knife’ Cordelia replied, ‘I tried not to do it’ she said plaintively, ‘I tried.’
‘He’s not here, he’s in Sunnydale with Illyria’ Angel told her. ‘She’s the “Blue Chick” you met briefly before she knocked you out. She was also the one that caught Angelus’ he explained.
‘Higher-Power?’ Cordy asked. ‘A nice one I mean?’
Fred looked thoughtful. ‘Maybe more of a Lower-Power, and I wouldn’t go so far as to say “Nice” exactly either’ she considered.
‘Like I said I got a distinct impression of recognition before the lights went out’ Cordelia told them. ‘Followed by a feeling of shock, panic and then for the briefest moment a very
painful jaw’ she said.
‘Illyria is an Old One’ Willow explained. ‘A demon God-King from the time before… well pretty much everything else’ she told Cordelia.
Cordelia frowned. ‘Why’d she look like Fred?’ she asked.
‘Long story which also includes time-travel, me becoming the CEO of Wolfram and Hart, Gunn becoming a Lawyer and Lottery tickets’ Angel told her. ‘We’re still trying to piece it all together ourselves’ he admitted.
‘Lottery tickets?’ Cordy asked in confusion.
‘Oh yeah we’re rich’ Gunn announced giving her a thumbs-up. ‘Lorne’s gone to buy a crate of champagne’ he told her ‘otherwise he’d be here to see you too. He was hoping to get back with it before you woke up.’
‘We’re rich?’ Cordelia asked as her eyes narrowed. ‘How rich?’ she wanted to know.
‘Enough to keep you in Blue Boxes for the rest of your life’ Angel joked.
Cordy pinched herself. ‘Ouch’ she moaned. ‘For a second there I thought I was back in heaven’ she joked.
‘You were in Heaven?’ Fred asked.
‘Or something like it’ Cordy replied.
Gunn looked at her ‘What’s it like?’
‘Eternal bliss? A heck of a lot more boring than you’d think’ Cordelia answered. ‘Nice for a visit but I’m not sure you’d want to move in long term’ she opined.
Willow looked confused. ‘When we accidentally “rescued” Buffy from Heaven she was distraught about it’ she remembered.
‘Either it’s a franchise and there’s more than one of them or Buffy has low expectations of what constitutes paradise’ Cordelia responded. ‘So what’s been happening back in Sunnydale?’ she queried.
‘Imminent apocalypse’ Willow summarised neatly.
Cordelia nodded her head. ‘Nothing ever changes much back in the old hometown’ she responded. ‘Hang on it’s still only April right?’ she realised. ‘May is armageddon season, I used to write it off in my social calendar every year’ she recollected.
‘Hey I thought I was the only one that noticed that’ Willow said brightly.
‘Are you kidding?’ Cordelia replied. ‘After the first few even Xander must have cottoned on.’
Gunn looked at Angel. ‘What the heck are they talking about?’ he asked.
Angel shrugged. ‘It’s a Sunnydale thing’ he told him. ‘Trust me, fighting demons in LA is the quiet life’ he told him.
‘Yeah? So why are we
going there?’ Gunn wanted to know.
‘Because they’d come here to help us
’ Angel pointed out, nodding towards Willow. ‘Anyhow me and the First Evil have a history’ he said darkly.
‘We’re going to Sunnydale?’ Cordelia asked.
Angel shook his head. ‘You should stay here and rest’ he told her.
‘To hell with that’ Cordy snapped back. ‘We all go or none of us do’ she told him flatly. ‘Where’s Connor anyhow?’ she asked.
‘Locked in the cage downstairs’ Angel told her. ‘We were hoping you could explain the real story to him. He doesn’t seem to trust us, well not me anyway so we’ve had to protect him from himself’ he said. ‘And us from him’ he added redundantly.
Cordy nodded sadly. ‘I’ll talk him around’ she agreed.
‘Use his gender against him’ Fred suggested. ‘Tell him if he comes with us to Sunnydale there’s a houseful of teenage girls who’d just love to meet an eighteen year old guy who fights demons. And
there’s more things to kill there than he’s ever imagined’ she added.
Cordelia nodded. ‘Sex and violence’ she said mulling it over ‘Yeah that’ll work.’
‘Ya know if you’d mentioned about the house full of teenage girls earlier’ Gunn began, ‘I’d have never asked why we were going’ he told everyone. ‘In fact I’d already be half-way there’ he said.
Fred punched him on the arm.Wolfram and Hart Building – Los Angeles – April 2003
‘I can’t believe they’ve nearly rebuilt this place so soon’ Angel said in wonderment. ‘The Beast tore this building apart.’
Gunn nodded agreement. ‘Yeah even cleaning up the bits of zombies should have taken them longer than this’ he concurred, following Angel inside into the main lobby which was already a hive of activity, even though it was past sundown. Some of the floors were still being redecorated he guessed from the building contractors working overtime who had stepped out of the elevator ahead.
Everyone looked at the vampire as he stepped up to the reception desk. Nervous whispers started throughout the area as a few of the lawyers and other staff began to make themselves scarce. The receptionist looked pretty concerned herself.
‘Tell the bossman, whoever it is now, that Angel would like a word’ he told the receptionist. ‘He’ll know who I am.’
‘Not so much a man’ a woman told him getting out of a private elevator. ‘And only temporarily the boss until they get someone permanent’ she said. ‘I heard from a seer on the third floor you were on your way’ she explained looking him over.
‘Lilah’ Angel said in surprise. ‘Now I’m pretty sure you’re dead’ he added, returning the favour and looking her over in response.
The lawyer smiled. ‘Wolfram and Hart Contracts hold on to your services a tiny bit longer than your standard employment agreement’ she told him. ‘No Wesley?’ she asked.
Angel shook his head. ‘Busy elsewhere’ he told her extremely glad of the fact. Seeing the dead former lover he’d decapitated walking around again would not have exactly been pleasant for poor old Wes.
‘So what are you here for?’ Lilah asked, crossing her arms.
‘We want the amulet’ Angel told her. ‘We know you know about The First Evil and you’ve got the thing so hand it over’ he instructed her.
‘No idea what you’re talking about’ Lilah told him flatly, tapping her foot then looking at her wristwatch. ‘I’ve got a meeting early tomorrow morning and I need my beauty sleep so take yourself and your merry men back to Sherwood and play with your arrows or something’ she retorted.
Angel sighed. ‘I don’t have time for your games’ he told her. ‘Just bring me the amulet and I’ll be on my way’ he continued. ‘Hey I’ll even be out of town a while so you can have LA to yourself for a few days, maybe even weeks’ he said. ‘Come on you’ve got
to love that idea. Free reign over the city without me around being a pain in the ass, don’t tell me that doesn’t make your corpse tingle all over?’
Lilah threw him a vicious smile and a look that would have cut through steel plate. ‘Nope still not doing it for me’ she told him. ‘Now if Wesley was here… well he always
managed to do it for me, usually more than once’ she added smugly, a smirk forming.
‘Why isn’t anything ever easy?’ Angel said to nobody in particular. ‘Okay let’s stop jerking around’ he said. ‘I’m leaving with the amulet and we can do this the easy way or the hard way’ he declared loudly so everyone in the lobby could hear.
Lilah’s smirk grew more intense. ‘You can’t take all the guards in this building and even if you could we’ve got mystics, warlocks and necromancers that could feed you your own entrails’ she stated with a condescending air.
‘Mystics?’ Angel repeated. ‘Well I guess, what with not being so big with the magicks myself, I’m in way over my head’ he said, looking Lilah straight in the eyes then smirking himself.
The double doors behind Angel leading to the street suddenly crashed inwards as if struck by an invisible wrecking ball. The air became charged with electricity and a young woman floated inside, her feet at least a foot off the ground and her body surrounded by bolts of lightning. Her hair was black as coal as were her eyes. She looked down at Lilah as she approached. ‘Give us the amulet’ she commanded in an unnatural booming voice that shook the windows in their frames.
‘In case you hadn’t figured it out’ Gunn addressed Lilah whilst indicating Willow, ‘that’s
the hard way’ he pointed out to her helpfully.