From Hell's Heart I Spit at Thee

The lair of a powerful wizard on the night of a pogrom. Two dead bodies, both wizards, one a warrior, both dead because they ultimately underestimated the power of an opponent.

One pair of Manolo Blahnik pumps striding across the blood-smeared floor. A woman with a scarf around her throat stops, then crouches next to the body of the warrior mage.

"Shithead," Lilah says fondly. "I wonder if you're going to be spending time with me, now. I'll have to check your contract."

She rests her fingers on Wesley's cheek, scrapes her nails across the stubble on his chin. Then, grimacing at the blood, she checks for his wallet. Pulls it from his hip pocket, hesitates, then opens it.

The autographed dollar bill is still there. Smiling, Lilah pulls it out.

"Don't worry, lover. You'll like this." She carefully dips her finger in a bit of still-liquid blood, then draws a symbol on the bill. Debates drawing a mustache on Washington, then decides that levity is inadvisable at this stage. "Lindsay isn't the only one with a knack for runes."

She begins to stand, then pauses again. Leans over to kiss Wesley farewell. Smells Fred. "At least I got there first." Kisses him, gives it a little tongue for old times sake, then rises and walks away.

A rainy alley behind a decrepit hotel. A vampire with a soul kneels on the ground, ignoring both the hovering hordes of hell at the far end of the alley and the shell of the ancient god at his shoulder. His arms cradle dust that is still sifting slowly to the ground. The dying hulk of a dragon flaps and convulses not far away.

"Don't leave me like this," he whispers. "I don't know how do this without you. You're my Yoda, man."

"What is this Yoda you keep muttering about?" Illyria asks. "We are the last ones. I wish to continue killing."

Spike ignores her, still staring at the last of Angel sifting through his fingers, becoming mud on the ground.

Crisp footsteps coming along the alley. The well-dressed woman with the umbrella and the scarf around her neck gazes down. "Oh, gosh, did I miss the big farewell scene? Darn that cross-town traffic."

Slowly Spike rises to his feet, humanity flowing away to show fangs. "You must be the next challenger on the fight card. Let's see what you've got, bitch." He clenches his fists slowly, grinding the last ashes into his skin.

"Take it easy, Junior. I'm a lawyer, not a fighter." She holds out her hand. "Lilah Morgan." She smiles more as Spike growls.

"You are she," Illyria says quietly.

Lilah glances over, frowns. "What do you mean?"

"Wesley fought sleep. When he lost, he would call out the name of this shell I carry. Twice he called out the name Lilah. He threatened me with an ax when I asked who Lilah was. You are she."

"Yes, I am," Lilah says after a very long pause.

Spike's eyes are on the blood and dust streaked pavement. "Does all this natter have a point? There's dying that needs to be finished." Slowly he raises his head. "You'd be one of theirs, I imagine." He nodsat the waiting horde.

"Yes, I would. I'm supposed to be pointing out to you the futility of your cause and reminding you as you die that nothing you've done will have any lasting impact." She gazes over her shoulder at the monsters. "Which makes this ever so much more interesting."

Illyria steps closer. "You reek of deceit."

"And if Chanel could bottle that, they'd make another fortune." Lilah pulls something out of her pocket and holds it out. Eventually Spike takes it, unfolds it, and stares down at the dollar bill.

"What is this?" he asks. He takes a deep breath. "This is Wesley's blood."

Lilah's smile becomes satisfied and cruel. "That, my dear William the Bloody and Illyria, is a bomb. Wesley's name, Wesley's blood, a rune to bind a wizard's power to an object. Have either of you ever heard of a Final Strike?"

Spike straightens, steps back, looks at the object in his hand in awe. Illyria takes it from him, studies it.

"The power of a mage, released all at once with his death. But he is dead already."

"Um, well, duh. But his power isn't. Not yet. Destroy that, and it should tidy everything up quite nicely." She nods back at the waiting horde.

"Why?" Spike asks suspiciously. "You're one of theirs. Why bring this down on them?"

Lilah looks away. "I owe him. He tried to save me, poor silly bastard. He'd want to save you, if he could." She frowns at the black man's body lying near the wall, surrounded by slain monsters. "I was hoping some of you would last longer than others, though." She glances down at the ground, quietly moves her foot, and twists her shoe in a small pile of dust.
Illyria nods. "Whoever destroys this will be at the center of the strike."

"Yes." Lilah reaches for the dollar.

"No." Illyria steps away from Lilah's outstretched hand.

"Look, I'm already dead. And I'll keep coming back. It's in my contract. The Senior Partners will be pissed at me, of course, but that'll wear off in a millennia or so. Your pretty shell is not likely to survive, cupcake." She smiles at that.

Illyria frowns. "Are you related to the green man? He addresses people as food items as well. No matter. I am weary of this plane of existence. If my brother gods have left this plane, I shall as well, and search for my powers elsewhere."

Spike glares at Illyria and reaches for the bill, which she pulls out of his reach. "I've got no reason to hang around either, Blue."

"Oh, for heaven's sake." Lilah glares at both of them. "Fine, far be it from me to interrupt such beloved death wishes. I'll just walk away and let the boys finish playing with you. And when you're both pate, they'll go back to their little hell dimension, and the Senior Partners will file this under Temporary Interruption of Service and go on like nothing has happened."

"We knew that coming in," Spike says quietly.

"Well, that's dumb. Come on, Spikey, wouldn't you really rather be able to sit in a bar somewhere and tell how you kicked Wolfram and Hart in the balls and lived to tell the tale?" She grins at his snarl. "It's so poetic."

He narrows his eyes, then looks uncertain.

Illyria contemplates the bill. "For all of us to die is wasteful and serves only the satisfaction of our foes. I do not wish them to be satisfied." She smiles her vengeance of gods smile. "It would please me to confront them and rain destruction upon their heads."

Spike stares at his hands, at the blood and ash. "He had it all planned," he whispers. "And we agreed."

Lilah sighs and checks her watch. "Look, if you want to stay and mingle your dust with his, or whatever vampires do, that's up to you. I've done my bit." She shrugged and turned away. "When you're gone, we can finally erase Angel from history. I mean, it's not like anyone gives a damn anymore. Look at your former buddies in Europe. They figured he went bad and he's not worth caring about." She smiles over her shoulder at him. "They're probably right. Good-bye, Spike. Maybe we'll make a footnote out of you somewhere."

The snarl is every dangerous predator that ever hunted the night. "William the Bloody is nobody's sodding footnote. The Scourge of Europe does not get tidied off into some file stashed in the back of drawer."

"He will be when we get done with him." Lilah tsks at herself. Just because she's on the commuter route from Hell and back doesn't mean antagonizing vampires was smart. Still, she needed an antagonized vampire at the moment. "When the last person who knows someone dies, that person becomes just another story in history. And we all know who writes the history."

"We'll see who writes what." Spike's yellow eyes narrowed just a bit. "I'd still like to know why you give a damn."

She shrugs. "Maybe eternity was getting boring." She glances at the waiting horde, which is getting louder. "The natives are restless. I'd leave now if I were you."

Spike straightens his shoulders, settles the battle-tattered duster. "Think anyone will follow me?"

"Depends on how annoying you make yourself."

He laughs. "I'll watch my back." He looks at the dust on the ground, and his smile fades. His eyebrows tighten hard, and his face is pain. Then he shakes himself. "Have fun, Blue." He reaches into a pocket of the duster and pulls out his lighter. "I imagine fire would be the best way to do this."

Illyria catches the tossed lighter and gazes back at Spike. "You would have been an amusing pet."

"Thanks. Probably." One more look around, a curt nod to Lilah, and he disappears into the night.

The monsters howl and begin moving.

"Time to leave," Lilah says. "Good-bye, Illyria."

Illyria is still, then her head tilts sharply. "You loved him. Wesley," she adds as Lilah starts to speak. "You loved Wesley."

Lilah's smile is hard and tight. "It isn't always puppies and walks in the rain, cupcake. Sometimes it's best to say it with corpses."

The tilt steepens, but Illyria says nothing more. She hold the dollar bill in one hand, then flicks the lighter on. Lilah nods and heads away, just as the flame begins to lick the corner of the dollar, lighting Wesley's name.

The clouds above growl and swirl. Lilah begins to run, and she grins as the rain comes down harder. When the lightning slams down a hard-won block behind her, she laughs and blames the water streaming from her eyes on the rain.