Disclaimer: (Also at end of story) I do not own any of these characters and am making no profit from this story. No copyright infringement intended. Kripke owns the Winchesters and Whedon owns Illyria."Your forefathers bubbled prettily in the slime beneath my feet."(a.k.a., Just Another Way to Say I Love You)
“So…how long has she been gracing us with her presence anyway?” the short, orange-skinned demon asked his green-fleshed compatriot sitting across from him in the lounge.
now. After that LA debacle, she had to go somewhere
, and Big Lou offered to give her a place to stay…knew her from the good ol’ days, he said.” The green demon tore a strip of flesh off the bone in front of him, blood smearing over his chin.
“Used to be a Big Cheese, I hear,” the first demon commented, motioning the waitress for another round. “She’s not much now. Scary-ass bitch, I’ll give you that, but she’s gettin’ by on reputation more than anything.” The orange demon swallowed the last of his drink and slammed it on the table.
“And she’s pissing off Big Lou with all the commentary. ‘You used to mewl like a strangled kitten before I dredged you from the muck to serve at my feet’,” the green demon mimicked wickedly. He barked, baring curved fangs before attempting to muffle his laughter. “You shoulda seen Big Lou’s face! The Dark Lord of All That is Evil being scolded like a schoolgirl!” The demon snickered more quietly, glancing around to see if anyone had heard him. Creatures tended to end up as living area rugs in Lucifer’s bathroom if he heard them laughing about the situation.
“Yeah. The Boss doesn’t like to have his ‘big sis’ around making him look bad. She’s drivin’ him crazy,” his companion agreed.
“She’s been spending a lot of time in your neck of the Lower Realms, I heard,” the green demon hinted, taking another drink.
“Lucky me. She just stands there and stares with those blank blue eyes as I’m torturing the poor schmuck. Talk about performance anxiety!” he complained, nabbing one of the wings off the plate. “She seems to like him.”
“She hasn’t called him ooze or threatened to tear out his internal organs even once. I think it’s love,” the orange-fleshed demon snickered.
“That guy was born under a lucky star. Her interest
musta earned him his one-way ticket outta here.” The green demon offered this tidbit with a triumphant smirk. “Ol’ Yellow Eyes was fit to be tied, but Big Lou put his foot down - right on his neck - and told him to shut the fuck up about it or he was gonna skin him like an apple and roast him an inch at a time.”
“What?! He’s gettin’ out
? Even after….”
“Yep,” the fellow demon nodded wisely, pleased to be passing on such a juicy bit of gossip. “Big Lou wants Illyria gone
. She can’t be released without a…she calls it a priest or some such shit…but Big Lou calls it a babysitter, so he’s lettin’ him go.”
“Whoa,” his pal said, his red eyes widening. “John Winchester’s gettin’ out. Remind me to stay away from Ol’ Yellow Eyes for the next hundred years or so. He’s gonna be pissed
His compatriot took another gulp of the viscous purple sludge before commenting with a laugh. “It ain’t gonna be no walk in the park for Winchester, ya know. He’s been bound to Illyria for eternity. If that
ain’t torture, I don’t know what is.”
A soft breeze rustled through the churchyard, twirling the few remaining leaves off the winter-worn branches and twisting them into lazy circles across the snow dusted ground. With an audible sigh, the church doors swung open as if weary of the burden they held, emitting two stark figures – one a world-worn man with dark hair and a grizzled beard just beginning to fill in, his eyes holding the weight of the unknown, and the other a stiff-backed young female clad in blood-dark leather, the blue of her eyes and hair startling in the whitened world into which they emerged.
She glanced around, unblinking, before muttering in an ironically melodious monotone, “Lucifer always did think he was amusing.”
John Winchester hunched in on himself, stuffing his hands in his pockets as the cold air wrapped around him, crushing him in the startling reality of living
. His breath ghosted out, more proof that he was here – alive
- making his wan cheeks flush with hope. “I think I’ve gotten used to a more…tropical…climate the past few months.”
Illyria’s cheek quirked in what may have been the beginning of a smile, or may have been just a facial tic as she readjusted to the mortal plane.
John turned to his blue-haired companion and said awkwardly, “I…uh…know you had something to do with getting me out. Thank you for that, ma’am. But I’ve got to get to my boys. I need to know they’re OK. So I’ll say goodbye to you and we’ll head our separate ways.” With a curt nod, he turned and straightened his back, trying to keep from just running
– running to get away, running to go where he wanted, running to know he was really here
Illyria cocked her head to the side, curiosity an emotion beneath her, watching the human walk off with an unwavering determination, his breath coming faster the farther he got away from her, from the memory of where he had been. Then he faltered, falling back as if he’d run into a wall. He paused, then tried again…and again…until he fell back exhausted, falling to his knees as he tried to catch his breath.
“What have you done to me?” he cried out in rage, tilting his head back and screaming his impotence to the gray winter sky.
He felt more than heard her approach behind him, her presence a solid weight in his chest that he hadn’t noticed before. She stood still beside him. “Lucifer mentioned something about a leash. I did not know this was what he intended.”
,” John Winchester stated with an undercurrent of anger as he got unsteadily to his feet, “am no one’s pet
, especially not a creature such as you. If that’s what you brought me back for, then you can kill me right now and I’ll happily go right back to Hell.”
“When I ruled this world, my pets could rend entire civilizations limb from limb. They stood taller than your skyscrapers and frolicked at my feet in the blood and bones of your ancestors. You are not worthy to be my pet,” Illyria stated blandly, blinking once as if taking him in fully for the first time. “You are my Guide. I cannot be here without one, and neither Heaven nor Hell want me…or you, for that matter. You will take the place of my Wesley and teach me how to be human.”
A ghost of an emotion crossed her still, white face – whether it be sadness, anger, or merely the coming of a sneeze, John couldn’t tell. He turned his head, holding his breath a second before muttering, “You chose the wrong man for that job. I forgot how to do that a long time ago.”
“Then we can learn together,” Illyria declared steadily. “Let us go to your progeny - I wish to know the fruit of your loins. Do they have pancakes?”
John blinked at her series of absurd non-sequiturs before barking a laugh. He looked startled for a moment at his own reaction before turning serious. “We need to establish a few ground rules before we go anywhere. Let’s head back into the church and have ourselves a nice little chat.” Without waiting for her agreement, he spun on his heel and marched back into the building they had just emerged from, Illyria deigning to follow behind him.
Tucked around a rusty heating vent, they sat facing each other, John’s distrust more than adequately filling the space between them. “An Old One, eh?” John asked, shaking his head in disbelief. “My boys and I would have hunted you down if things were different.”
Illyria brushed her still damp hair from her face. “If things were different, I would be leading my armies across the dimensions and crushing whole worlds in my grasp, bathing in the blood of your defeat as if it were….”
“Got it the first time, Illyria. Thank you for your…vivid descriptions.”
“You are welcome,” she replied, staring at him blankly with a bird-like tilt of the head. “And you would have been turned inside out and sewn together again to serve as my puppet had you tried that holy water trick on me…if things were different.” Her eyelids shuttered open and closed, her moist skin still drying.
“Had to be sure,” he said unapologetically. John took a deep breath, a slight tremor shaking his body. “I remember things from…there. I saw you watching when they…did what they did.” He glanced up, his eyes suddenly hard. “Why’d you pick me? They wanted you out of there so badly, it sounds like you could have had anyone, but you picked me. Why?”
Illyria reached up towards his hair, her hand falling back into her lap when he flinched away. “It is a strange feeling. I do not understand it.” Her expression shifted from its usual statuesque stillness to something John barely recognized as different. “You remind me of Wesley.”
“Your previous…Guide? I’m sorry about what happened to him,” John murmured soothingly.
“He died a champion. It was a good death.” She cocked her head again, aiming her bold blue gaze on his weary features. “You feel the same…in here,” she said, patting at her chest. “You have the same emptiness – the loss of something so vital to living, that you feel dead on the inside. I feel death in you, John Winchester – death and a powerful hatred…but also a burning desire to do what is right, no matter the cost. You stink of it.” She adjusted her gaze to somewhere over his head and added, “Wesley had that.”
“I told you about Mary – what that demon did to my family.” Illyria blinked in what he took as agreement. “That changes a man.” He gulped a breath, unable to talk about this any further. “Ok, so they sent me back to keep an eye on you,” he held up a hand when Illyria looked ready to go on another primordial ooze, lower being diatribe, “…guide
you, sorry. We’re pretty much stuck together….”
“Until the dimensions melt from the sky and sink into the unknown abyss of Creation to simmer for eons in the Time after Time until a new world is ready to emerge from the muck and crawl its way back into Being.”
“Have you ever thought of writing children’s books?” John asked with a gruff laugh, pushing his horror at this idea of eternity to the back of his mind. “You could be the next Dr. Seuss.” She blinked at him with her steadfast gaze and he waved it off. “OK, for a long
He leaned back against the side of a pew, shivering in the chill air. “Let’s recap - I can’t get farther than thirty feet from you, we’ve got no money, no transportation, I’m freezing, and you look like a triple X Smurf.” He tilted his head back, grinning at the ceiling. “Dean would love this.” He wrapped his arms around his knees for body heat. “So what are we going to do?”
Illyria cocked her head in what he guessed was deep thought mode. “I can change my form, if you wish it.” Before he could reply, her icy white skin darkened to a pale olive, her eyes bleeding to a brown as dark as her hair as her blood leather armor shrank into a beige skirt and pale blue sweater.
“So this is Winifred Burkle?” John asked warily, mulling over the bits of information Illyria had shared earlier.
“Pleased ta meetcha, Mr. Winchester,” Fred agreed, shaking him cordially by the hand. Her Texan twang warmed his heart, bringing out a smile before he even realized the expression had dared to cross his face.
With a start, he dropped her hand and scooted back, catching his breath sharply in his throat. “Excuse me, ma’am, but fuck, that’s freaky.”
“Oh, aren’t y’all the sweetest thing? I’m not a married gal. Ya’ll can call me Fred, if you’d like.” Her mocha eyes twinkled charmingly at him, a small smile blooming on her heart shaped face.
“New rule. When we’re alone, you revert back to Illyria, OK? I can deal with Illyria better than this, I think. This is just a little too creepy for me.”
“Deal!” she twittered, getting to her feet. “Now let’s go gather some money. We’ve got those charmin’ boys of yours to meet!”