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.Graveyard – Sunnydale – April 2003
‘That’s the fastest dead white guy I’ve ever seen’ Rona observed placidly as the vampire went running past, head down, legs pumping for all its worth and emitting a sort of desperate, continual wailing noise which doppler-shifted like the siren of a Fire-Truck as it crossed their path. ‘We get that dude to Athens next year, run the ten thousand metres at night, US Gold Medal for sure’ she told the other potentials.
‘Blue’s gaining though’ Kennedy noted as Illyria tore past in hot pursuit of the athletically gifted and demonically animated corpse.
‘They’d never let her run the men’s events’ Rona replied. ‘Hell she’d have trouble with the medical exam to qualify for the women’s’ she pointed out. ‘There’s no way whatever flows through those veins isn’t going to flag up some serious
questions at the dope test.’
Amanda nodded her agreement. ‘And the needle would bend when they tried to take the blood sample. Somebody has got
to notice that kind of thing’ she reasoned.
Buffy tried to maintain a professional air. ‘If she chases it back this way somebody trip it up and put a stake in it’ she told the potentials tersely. ‘We’re supposed to be training here’ she declared authoritatively.
‘I thought there was supposed to be a nest around here?’ Faith asked loudly, finally arriving on scene.
Buffy looked at her watch. ‘You’re half an hour late’ she chided.
‘I was busy’ Faith replied, casually leaning back against an ornate tomb.
‘Doing what?’ Buffy asked. ‘Or should I ask “who” instead?’ she added sarcastically.
Faith smirked. ‘Just ‘cause a girl’s just got out of prison doesn’t mean she’s going to jump the first guy that she meets’ she said. ‘Anyhow the “who” was Wesley and he was giving me a different
kind of present’ she continued. ‘Most guys tell you it’s so many inches long but I’ll say this for Wes the boy doesn’t exaggerate’ Faith told the group grinning. ‘Check this out’ she said and held out her right arm.
With a flash of steel in the moonlight a collapsible sword shot out from the sleeve of Faith’s leather jacket, unfolded and locked itself into place with a metallic clinking sound. It was at least a yard long when fully extended. ‘Tell me you don’t want one of these for yourself’ the slayer said to Buffy and the potentials.
‘I prefer the basics to gimmicks’ Buffy told her, pretending unconvincingly not to be having covetous thoughts for the James Bond style weaponry.
‘I’ll take one’ Kennedy said quickly. ‘That thing is cool’ she continued imagining the expression on the face on the first vamp that jumped the apparently unarmed teenager and suddenly found itself looking at a wicked looking blade that came from nowhere.
Faith chuckled. ‘Sorry Wesley only had the two and he’s keeping the other one’ she told them. ‘Ask nicely and he might see about getting more made I suppose’ she continued, folding the sword back into position. It was bulky on her forearm but the jacket hid it pretty well. All she needed now was one of those mini-harpoon guns he had on the other arm, and maybe a car with an ejector seat she thought, smiling to herself.
Illyria returned holding the struggling vampire, one hand over its mouth to prevent it making that annoying noise any more. ‘I was going to kill this halfbreed for its temerity in making me run so far to catch it’ she told Buffy, ‘but I thought it might be useful to your training of the slayer potentials’ she said. ‘I can break one of its legs so it cannot easily escape while they hunt it’ she suggested amiably. ‘It is unusually swift for its kind.’
‘Okay’ Buffy said to the group. ‘Who hasn’t fought a vamp yet? Raise your hands don’t be embarrassed.’
More than half the potentials raised one arm sheepishly.
‘Faith you watch over them, I’ll take the others to the next graveyard to see if I can find some more’ Buffy told the other slayer who nodded her compliance. B was the boss here and despite her occasional bouts of insolence Faith was perfectly happy with the arrangement.
Buffy gave Illyria the nod who then snapped one of the vampires legs with a vicious move and a cringe inducing sound before releasing it. It moaned, snarled then started to limp away rapidly like its afterlife depended upon it which of course it did. Two slayers and a supernaturally strong blue demon chick were well out of its league and it knew it.
‘It’s still stronger than you, it’s got better senses and faster reaction times’ Faith told her assigned group. ‘Don’t get hurt and don’t take foolish risks for the kill’ she told them then paused and crossed her arms. ‘So what are you waiting for?’ she asked loudly. ‘Go get it.’
Buffy watched the unblooded potentials, or should that be undusted she wondered, charge off in pursuit of the crippled vampire stakes in hand, with the other slayer trotting behind to keep a close eye on them. Faith the trusted Lieutenant, who’d have ever thought? Buffy considered wondrously.
‘I am sorry for eliminating the other halfbreeds’ Illyria told Buffy. ‘I was bored with letting them attack me unpunished and it was they who foolishly initiated the combat to begin with’ she explained.
‘That’s okay, we all get carried away sometimes’ Buffy told the God-King. ‘Coming along?’ she asked.
Illyria shook her head. ‘I will patrol to the west then return to your home at dawn to prepare for work tomorrow’ she replied.
‘Must be useful not needing to sleep’ Buffy observed.
The Shaper of Things nodded. ‘I do seem to be able to achieve far more in a given 24 hour period than you humans’ she confirmed. ‘The Wolf, Ram and Hart have a technique, partially medical, partially mystical, that would remove your need to sleep too but its effects on certain psyches can be highly damaging’ Illyria noted. ‘I would advise against developing a similar system, or at least not utilising it in the long term. Humans sometimes seem barely sane as it is’ she added turning to leave. ‘Farewell for now Slayer’ she said striding off.Sunnydale Highschool – April 2003
‘So why is your hair blue?’ the girl asked sarcastically.
‘The same reason yours is blond’ the new teaching assistant replied, ‘because I colour it’ she lied. The truth would have been a lot less believable.
The girl looked mortified. ‘I don’t colour my hair!’ she claimed stridently.
Illyria looked at her. ‘Please’ she drawled back in her Texan accent. ‘If that hair’s not suicide blond I’m a mailbox’ she retorted.
‘Suicide blond?’ another girl queried, not having heard the phrase before.
‘Dyed by her own hand’ Illyria explained. It was a line from Cordelia the shell remembered and made the class laugh almost as much as it had Fred when she’d heard it. The girl in question directed a glare at Illyria who ignored it, the youth had been trying to get one up on the new TA with a series of snide remarks but had now been put firmly in her place. It was a battle of wills and Illyria made it her business never to lose a battle no matter how trivial.
‘Where’s Mr Jenkins?’ a boy asked.
‘He’s fetching some of your graded assignments from his car, he will be here presently’ Illyria replied. ‘In the meantime I am told you still have to finish your write-ups of last week’s experiments’ she continued. ‘If any of you need any help with the work please let me know...’
A dozen hands shot upwards.
‘…and I will arrange remedial tuition for after school’ Illyria finished her sentence.
A dozen hands snapped back down even faster.
‘I do not see you working’ the God-King in disguise declared, looking around the classroom, her dominion for today. ‘I have already put three students into detention from earlier in the day and have no reason not to add to the list because I’m already stuck here after school tonight anyway’ she told them. ‘You have your tasks get on with them’ she instructed the students, leaning back against the teacher’s desk at the front of the classroom.
As it turned out Principal Wood had been correct in his assessment that the students were “running rings around” the Science Teacher Mr Jenkins. Illyria had therefore quickly moved to end that situation. Even though the job was merely a cover story she took it as seriously as she did any other task and would certainly not countenance dissent or disobedience from a group of mere human children. They were here to learn and they were darn well going to, the God-King decided.
Fortunately the adoption of the mannerisms along with most
of the appearance of Winifred Burkle enabled her to adopt the tried and tested iron fist in the velvet glove technique. Certainly the fact she knew she was a darn sight more physically attractive, and looked
a lot younger, than most of the other staff, would probably help with hormonal teenage boys she reasoned.
The hellmouth seal beneath them continued to spew out malevolence from under its concrete lid, a force which Illyria could feel gnawing at the edge of her psyche and which affected the unconscious minds of everyone else. At lunch she had broken up a fight that just erupted from nowhere, her sensitivity to human emotional states giving her a prior warning it was about to start. The sight of the new slight young TA hauling one of the Football Team off another and then holding them apart had undoubtedly caused a stir amongst both students and faculty despite the fact she made it look a lot
more effort than it actually was. She treated this situation as another part of an ongoing campaign against the first and as one of her new favoured writers Sun Tzu put it “All warfare is based on deception”.
The First was of course still far from finished in it's manoeverings. It was gathering its forces to launch a far greater scale offensive than it had ever bothered to plan or assemble in the original timeline. However its opposition this time was also far beyond what it had been before and both sides were now racing to reach a relative peak of superiority compared to the other.
Through Illyria of course the First’s enemies now had a perhaps unassailable advantage, ‘Know your enemy and know yourself and in a thousand battles your victory will never be endangered’ as Sun Tzu had also written. The God-King had made very sure before coming back here that she was “big with the knowledge” as some of her new associates might have put it.
Both sides were racing to reinforce but the First was at a tactical and strategic disadvantage with its local forces severely weakened and the bulk of its Bringer troops scattered around the globe, where they had been hunting for potentials and the remnants of the Watchers Council. Already Bringers were being recalled from elsewhere in North America and even from overseas but they would take some time to get to Sunnydale.
Everything was shaping up very nicely for the Shaper of Things.Summers Residence – Sunnydale - April 2003
‘There’s a vampire at the door’ Dawn yelled. ‘He wants to be invited in’ she told her big sister.
‘You know the rules Dawn’ Buffy called back. ‘Remember the time you invited Harmony inside?’
Dawn shrugged. ‘Sorry rules are rules’ she told Angel. ‘No bloodsucking fiends allowed indoors after dark… well except for Spike’ she added, sticking her tongue firmly in her cheek. The mention of Spikes name caused Angel to flinch slightly which just made it funnier.
‘Buffy!’ Angel said loudly. ‘Your little sister’s being a pain in the ass’ he declared, trying to maintain a scowl by ignoring the expression on Dawn’s face.
‘It’s her gift’ Buffy told him, appearing next to Dawn. ‘You know the invite still stands from before’ she reminded him with a smile of welcome.
Angel nodded. ‘I was just being polite’ he said, stepping inside. ‘But if she didn’t tell me to come in within the next thirty seconds I was going to throw her present in the garbage’ he added, handing Dawn a small box.
‘Time was you just used to give me ten bucks and send me to the cinema to get rid of me’ Dawn remarked, opening the box. ‘Earrings’ she announced. ‘Nice ones’ she said happily already thinking about which of her outfits they would go best with.
‘Those clothes, knows about women’s jewellery, minces around like a male model,’ a mans voice with a British accent commented from inside the house. ‘Anne Rice writes vampires who are less gay than you’ it said.
Angel grimaced. ‘Spike’ he said, greeting the other vampire coldly.
‘Poofter’ Spike responded sardonically.
‘So I hear you’ve got a soul now?’ Angel said to him. ‘If I jumped off a cliff would you do that too?’ he asked in an equally sarcastic tone to Spikes.
‘Nah’ Spike replied. ‘I’d just laugh’ he said. ‘Maybe take some pictures though, something to laugh at again later.'
Cordelia pushed past Angel. ‘And putting the testosterone waving contest away again until the inevitable rematch later tonight, and likely for the rest of their immortal lives’ she began, ‘it’s surprisingly nice to see you again Buffy’ she said warmly, giving a slightly taken aback Buffy a hug and a kiss on the cheek. ‘Dawn you’ve grown’ she continued with a smile. ‘Does Buffy wear your
old clothes when you’ve grown out of them now?’ she added with a momentary flash of the old Cordy that once ruled Sunnydale High with an iron fist and an acid tongue.
Angel broke away from the staring contest with Spike that had been going on right through Cordelia’s entrance. ‘This is Charles Gunn’ he said introducing the large black guy who had been hanging back a bit not knowing anyone. He was looking around nervously, the suburbs disturbed him especially after dark. This looked exactly like one of those neighbourhoods you saw on the news where the “such a nice quiet boy” serial killers came from.
‘Call me Gunn’ he said stepping forward to shake hands with Buffy and Dawn but pointedly not with Spike. ‘We’ve got some stuff to drop off before heading off to Angel’s old place to set up camp’ he said pointing to the white pick-up parked in the road behind Angel’s convertible. ‘Anyone available to lend a hand?’ he asked.
‘I dare say I can be of assistance’ Wesley told him, appearing next to Cordelia who immediately grabbed him for a hug. ‘Lovely to have you back’ he told her hugging back awkwardly, personal space was a big deal for the English. ‘The real you especially’ he added.
‘Nice to have you back too Wes’ Cordy told him. ‘But if you don’t start shaving every day I’m going to do it for you’ she joked. ‘And I’ll be using one of Angel’s rustier broadswords’ she warned.
‘None of my broadswords are rusty’ Angel protested.
‘Yeah I’ll bet you spend hours alone polishing them in the dark right?’ Spike interjected resulting in a scowl from Angel but a laugh from Gunn who clammed up instantly when Angel directed the look his way instead. Dawn was sniggering, ensouled Angel and Spike were going to be a riot together she could tell.
Wesley managed to break free and greeted Gunn with their practiced, almost Freemason-like, “secret” handshake. ‘Welcome to Sunnydale’ he told his friend. ‘Got my back Gunn?’ he asked with a grin.
‘Always got your back English’ Gunn replied, ‘and I hope yours is okay because some of those boxes are heavy
’ he cautioned as they walked to his pick-up.
‘Any trouble getting the Amulet?’ Buffy asked Angel.
Angel shook his head. ‘Wolfram and Hart didn’t want to give it up this early’ he replied, ‘but when you get right down to it they
don’t want the First’s apocalypse any more than we
do, if only because they want their own at some point’ he told her. ‘They just wanted our side to take some heavy losses before they helped us out, soften up the good guys so we’re less of a threat to the Company’ he continued. ‘Problem was they’d already paid out a fortune redecorating the LA Offices once in the last few weeks, so when they thought we were going to smash them up again, unless they gave us something they were going to give us eventually anyhow, they cut their
losses and just handed it over’ he explained. ‘Of course Willow making a flashy entrance helped speed up their decision making process some’ he added wryly.
Shortly after Wesley and Gunn reached the pick-up and started unloading another vehicle pulled up outside the house, as Willow arrived in her small car with Fred and a less than enthused looking companion. Wesley gave them a wave of greeting and carried on working while they escorted the other up to the house. Gunn was already making snide comments that they were doing the work while the jerks with the super-powers chatted. Wesley replied that they probably needed the exercise more being merely human, but in any case they’d do something nasty to Angel later in revenge. Maybe put some extra-strong chilli-powder in his blood he suggested to Gunn's amusement.
Standing just inside the house Angel made a silent prayer that this would go well. ‘Buffy this is my son Connor’ he said, indicating the sullen youth standing between the Witch and the Physicist. ‘Connor this is Buffy, her sister Dawn… and Spike.’
Dawn whispered to her sister. ‘The scowls genetic’ she observed. ‘Who’d have guessed?’
Spike looked the teenager up and down. ‘Takes after Darla most’ he commented. ‘Thank God for that’ he said, dramatically lifting his eyes to the heavens. ‘There’s already one more neanderthal look-alike with eyebrow ridges in the world than it needs’ he declared.
Angel subconsciously reached up to his forehead with a concerned expression on his face before the smirk on Spikes face made him snap his arm back down realising what he was doing.
‘Vampire’ Connor hissed at Spike. The smell was unmistakable.
‘Yeah but my
parents were human so who are you to be chucking the racial epithets around junior?’ Spike snapped back. ‘Guess he lucked out with the looks but the poor bastard got your brains then gramps?’ he asked Angel sarcastically.
Connor looked the other two over and gently sniffed the air. The house reeked of teenage girl, which wasn’t exactly off-putting by any means, and Buffy’s sister was certainly nice to look at too, although his outwardly stern demeanour didn’t shift one bit.
‘You know it occurs to me’ Fred said suddenly, looking around at everyone. ‘That seeing as we’re in an alternate timeline that Illyria created, and that we know of other dimensions and parallel universes too, that somewhere there’s probably a universe where it was Spike that got a soul first and he had a daughter with Drusilla’ she theorised.
Angel and Spike both looked at the physicist, simultaneously blinked, paled even more than usual, and then shuddered.
‘Connor’ Willow began, turning to him. ‘You’ll never be appreciated more than you are at just this moment’ she told him earnestly. ‘Might be a good time to ask Dad to get you a car’ she suggested.