Aftermath

Disclaimer - I don't own any of these characters, Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy do. No copyright infringement is intended.

He'd never expected to survive their wrath, nor any of the others for that matter, which was why he'd signed away his shanshu. Yet, here he was, along with Illyria and Spike. Wesley had saved their lives, though he hadn't lived to see this take place. The ointment he'd treated Illyria with had temporarily restored some of her old powers. Not enough to be much of a danger to the landscape, but long enough for her to prevail against the legions of the Wolf, Ram, and Hart.

It was the Senior Partner's own energy that had allowed Angel to survive, by having drunk Hamilton's blood, and Illyria created a time pocket allowing Angel to share this with Spike as well. There was nothing they could do for Gunn, and now they wished they hadn't survived, either.

The Contract of Perpetuity. It was why the bulk of the Circle was standing before them, along with Lindsey, Lilah, and Gavin, and a couple others who were involved in Illyria's resurrection. Angel recognized Dr. Sparrow, who had used Gunn to get Illyria's sarcophagus out of Customs, and Knox, the deceiver who purported to be Illyria's Qua'Ha'Xahn.

"What are you doing here?" she demanded of Knox.

"I'm on the Circle, now!" Knox boasted. Spike and Angel were incredulous. So was Illyria, whose relationship with the Senior Partners had never been cordial. Knox continued sarcastically, "Sorry I couldn't be your Qua'Ha'Xahn, your majesty."

"I found another. He was a much more worthy guide than you ever would have been, despite a level of grief I couldn't fathom until now," Illyria answered. "How did you get on the Circle?" she wanted to know.

"The key was Gunn's involvement," Lilah answered, and made a gesture with her wrists that Illyria understood. The others were beginning to understand, too. The old strategy of divide and conquer.

"It was Fred all along wasn't it?" Angel asked. "You wanted her death to turn my team against each other."

"Ding, got a winner!" Lindsey said. They had to admit it worked, considering Wesley had stabbed Gunn when he learned of Gunn's involvement. Fred's death was a blow from which Wesley never recovered, and Gunn only barely recovered from. And now he was gone, too.

Illyria remembered Knox had the skeleton key that day. "You were going to close the portal behind me once I went through. You knew then that I wouldn't be able to resurrect my army didn't you?" She spat at Knox.

"Just like old times, huh?" Lindsey taunted Angel. "You, me, mortal enemies. Now both dead. Looks like you're going to have to find some beat up old hotel again. Wonder how Blue-face is going to feel about that."

"I'll manage," Illyria answered, almost surprising herself.

A few months ago such a notion would have been unthinkable for the great monarch of the demon age. Maybe it was how Wesley's death had affected her, maybe it was realizing how Wolfram & Hart had used her to break Wes, maybe there was more of the shell's previous owner than she was prepared to admit; she couldn't say. She'd seen Drogyn, Wes, and Gunn sacrificed only to see the Circle come back. After Wes's funeral when everyone had left she returned to place a small object on Wesley's grave. The only way to make sure their sacrifice wasn't completely in vain was to continue their work, and that meant working with Angel and Spike.

The small object was Mr. Feigenbaum.