Illyria stood on the roof of Wolfram and Hart and braced her hands on the ledge, looking down at the city without really seeing any of it. She was standing exactly where she had seen the half-breed and the Slayer on New Years. The memory of their interaction continued to replay in her mind and she wondered what the reaction would be if one of them were to perish in the coming battle. She imagined the vampire exploding into dust-an easy image to picture considering she had not only seen it, but been responsible for it-and the Slayer collapsing with tears once she realized he was gone. She imagined a blade piercing the girl’s heart and the vampire launching into a frenzied attack, ripping out the throats of any demon who-
She shook her head. Since when did she care about the emotions of mortals and impure demons? Since when did she imagine? Since that night, part of her whispered, presenting her with the image of the vampire and the girl. Illyria shook her head again, then froze with revulsion at having performed such a human gesture. “Humans,” she said with disgust. “Infecting me with their poison.”
They weren’t all humans, though, she reminded herself. They were witches and half- breeds and girls who were nothing more than children playing at heroes. Yet this one….this one was something different. I killed the Master and Angelus. And I fought Glorificus, Olvikan, and the First Evil. I didn’t kill those three myself, but I did a lot of heavy lifting.
Illyria recognized most of the names the Slayer had said. She was unfamiliar with the Master she referred to and she had heard the name Angelus mentioned in reference to Angel,but they were the only ones she wasn’t intimately familiar with. She’d known Olvikan personally and had fought alongside the large snake-like demon during the Primordium Age. The First Evil was nearly as old as she was, if not older, and she was intimately familiar with the power it wielded. The fact that this girl had managed to defeat it was an impressive feat and one Illyria couldn’t ignore. And Glorificus….
That Which Cannot Be Named. The Beast. The Abomination. Glorificus. Any of this ringing a bell?
Yes. I knew Glorificus. An insolent girl. Arrogant and proud. I did not care for her.
She remembered the Beast well.
“Please,” the girl had pleaded, groveling at Illyria’s feet with blood smeared on her face and sludge tangled in her limp golden curls. She’d looked up with eyes that couldn’t hide her fire and Illyria smiled. “Please don’t do this.”
The God-King had slapped her, her hand cracking against the girl’s cheek and sending her collapsing fully to the ground. “You disrespect me,” she’d said. She hadn’t looked all that different herself, in a body similar to a human yet taller and with longer limbs to fully allow all the grace her current bag of bones could never contain. Her skin had been the rich blue that lingered at her forehead, her hair had been a dark black….not even close to her natural form, but the one she took when dealing with the demons below her. A silent reminder to them that she could change the game while they were forced to play the hand they were dealt. “You dare to challenge me. You wish to rule.”
“And if I do?” The girl had gotten to her feet with little trouble, staring Illyria in the eye as the Old One glared at her. “I’m tired of being treated like dirt and wearing rags every day just because I’m not a pure bred demon like you. I’m not a demon at all. I’m something beyond even your comprehension. You call yourself a God-King, but it’s nothing more than a title. I am a true god; in my blood, in my bones, in every glorious part of my body and I demand that I have the title to show for it! ”
“You dare say you are my equal?”
“No. I dare say I’m your better.”
“You are a demon wearing the skin of a human and wielding the power of an Old One. You are lower than the half-breeds, you are beneath me.”
“I am a god.”
“You wish for your own rule?” Illyria had asked, eyes narrowed. She waved a hand and a portal of glowing red light appeared at her side. She grabbed the girl by her disgusting hair and forced her to her feet. “Very well. Perhaps you can find someone to worship you in another land.”
She hadn’t even given Glorificus the chance to scream before she shoved her through the portal and closed it behind her.
She didn’t regret her actions, but she felt a strange tightness in her chest at the thought of that fiery young spirit being extinguished. She should have died when she was thrown through the portal to a dimension Illyria didn’t know the name of. At the same time, it seemed only fitting that Glorificus was destroyed by the very thing that had also destroyed the Old Ones.
She placed a hand to her chest and pressed hard but the feeling didn’t go away, in fact it only became worse. She pulled her hand away and twisted it in front of her face, inspecting it with wide eyes. Something spilled past her lips and she clapped her hand over her mouth. Had she just laughed? A strange feeling was building in her chest and she realized with horror that she was feeling emotions and feeling them intensely.
The image of the vampire and the Slayer standing in front of the window flashed in her mind, quickly shifting to the threat she had made against Illyria. The demon girl’s emotions only made her stronger. Perhaps Illyria could turn them into an asset as well.
With one last glance at the spot where Spike and Buffy had held each other, she turned and headed out into the Los Angeles streets.
She was able to find Izzerial and his friends easily. They weren’t particularly worried about being conspicuous as they drove through the Los Angeles streets. She ran beside them on the rooftops and followed their car all the way to the restaurant they were dining at, listening to their vain chatter about whatever evil act they were in the process of committing. Once they entered the restaurant, she dropped down into a side alley next door and lurked in the shadows, staring with single minded focus at the door. Had anyone seen her, they likely would have run away terrified.
The demon reappeared later with his three cohorts close behind, too caught up in their laughter to notice Illyria crossing the street and stalking towards them. She let them get in the car and get situated, standing in front of the machine and waiting. The lights turned on, illuminating her, and she cocked her head as she waited for them to get out of the vehicle.
After a moment of loud bickering, one of the humans opened the backdoor and slid out of the car, stopping in the headlights so his friends could watch him talk to her. She almost smiled at his misplaced confidence. What was it Wesley had told her while he tended to her wounds in Spike’s apartment? Everyone’s immortal until proven otherwise, his calm voice said from somewhere in her mind, bringing forth the memory of a cool cloth being pressed to her forehead. Even you, Illyria.
As she stared down the man walking towards her, Illyria realized she wasn’t helping Angel because she had no other options or because she was suddenly on the side of good. She was doing it because she had things she didn’t want ruined here. She enjoyed her conversations with Spike and she liked seeing his interactions with Buffy. She had become fond of Lorne, Gunn, Angel, even Harmony, infuriating as Illyria found her. She wanted to know the people Angel had called friends in his past, the ones who came when Buffy asked it of them. She wanted to learn more about Wesley, the man in love with the woman she had murdered and the man who had helped her get her footing in this strange new world.
She wanted to feel direct sunlight on her face, wanted to know what the ocean felt like against her bare skin, wanted to try the cigarettes and alcohol Spike was so fond of just to see what they did to her. She wanted to see what the humans had made of the world she used to rule with an iron fist, the beauty they had cultivated from the destruction that came of the Primordium Age she had lived in.
Illyria liked this world and she wanted it to continue to exist in whatever form it took.
“Hey,” Izzerial’s human friend said, strutting towards her. “Why don’t you run home, little girl? We’ve got places to-”
She grabbed him and threw him up in the air with little effort, tilting her head to watch him sail up to the heavens. He seemed to hover for one perfect moment before he came crashing back down to Earth faster than he’d flown up. The man landed on top of the car with a loud crash that nearly hid the grating shriek of the roof collapsing inwards. The remaining two humans and the demon exited the car, bodies tense in preparation of a fight. “Do you know who I am?” Izzerial demanded.
“I could ask the same of you,” she said. She shot forward and grabbed one of the humans before he could move. She didn’t hesitate, grabbing the head of the man squirming in her hands and yanking it off. Blood spattered on her face and she blinked the wetness from her eyes as she examined the head she held by the hair. “I wanted the spine, but I suppose this will do.” She let the body fall and land in the street, a pool of red slowly forming on the pavement underneath him.
“Illyria,” Izzerial said with dull understanding. It brought her a glimmer of pleasure to hear the lack of fight in his voice. He knew there was no walking away from her. “I thought you worked for Wolfram and Hart.”
“I serve no one,” she said, dropping the head onto its owner's back. After all, she wasn’t finished yet and she would need both hands to kill the other two. “Certainly not the scum you call Wolfram and Hart.”
The final human of Izzerial’s trio sneaked around the car and attempted to sprint past her. She dropped low and swung her leg out in a wide arc. It collided and the man hit the ground with a thud and a groan. She felt a modicum of displeasure as she stood and looked down at him. That move never worked on Spike anymore. She had expected this man to jump over her leg as well. Disappointing.
She pressed her foot against the man’s sternum to pin him in place and reached down, plunging her hand into his chest and ripping out his heart. She straightened, turning to Izzerial as she examined the organ in the palm of her hand. She was glad she wore gloves. Sticky and slippery hands would only hinder her in the upcoming battle.
“What is this?” the devil demanded, beginning to inch away.
She looked up at him sharply, tilting her head and holding him in place with her stare. “A coup.”
Illyria dropped the heart and darted forward. She grabbed Izzerial by his shirt before he could sprint away and whirled around to slam him onto the hood of the car, barely noticing how the fabric tore from the force of her action. The car alarm blared as smoke curled around the two of them from the destroyed engine. He writhed underneath her in a vain attempt to shove her off. “I thought you'd put up more of a fight,” she said. “Not a problem. I’ll save my strength for the real battle.”
With little ceremony, she flipped him onto his stomach and ripped his spine from his back with a wet squelch. She inspected it for only a moment before she tossed it aside. Neither the heart, the head, nor the spine were worthy enough to keep as a trophy. She considered ripping off his tail, then decided against it. She would claim a trophy from a more worthy foe.
Remembering Angel’s words to her in private, she picked up the bodies and threw them into the side alley she had been hiding in. If there was an L.A. still standing once they were finished, they’d clean them up then.
That done, she examined her work with a small smile and stalked down the street. She wasn’t entirely sure why, but something inside of her was urging her to check in on Wesley and the witch. That same something was making her stomach ache unpleasantly and her legs move faster until she was full on sprinting down the street.
Everyone’s immortal until proven otherwise, she thought. Especially you, Wesley.