Title: Grief Reconciled
Fandom: Angel
Rating: PG-13
Words: 1500-ish
Disclaimer: Joss is the genius behind these characters; I am but a lowly follower.
Written for: The ficathon at LJ Community Fresliriafic.
Notes: Aphroditesflesh requested: Spike, a flashback of Fred without Illyria turning into her, and something with Wes and Illyria in the rain. Takes place after "The Girl in Question."
"Hey, Blue." Spike was surprised to see Illyria stalking the hallways of Wolfram and Hart. "Thought you and the Watcher were over at his place bonding and whatnot."

"He is grief-stricken and useless. He consumes whiskey and insults me. I could stomach it no more, and so came back here, seeking..." She trailed off. "I know not what. This world is not as it was when I left. No one fears me. No one worships me." She paused. "His eyes burn with hatred. He would kill me if he could. That is something I am unaccustomed to."

"How the mighty have fallen." Spike lifted a sardonic eyebrow and leaned against the wall.

"Humans infest this dimension like vermin, filling it with their useless emotions. Their thoughts and feelings choke me. Wesley had affection for this shell, and now he wallows in futile sorrow because the Burkle persona has left it." Her voice became almost plaintive. "I thought that transforming myself for her parents was the correct thing to do. But he reacted badly to it."

"Well, pet, we all deal with heartache in different ways. Sounds like our Wes drowns his. I know what overwhelming grief is like, and I've been known to do that m'self."

"You are a half-breed. The alcohol does not affect you the same way it does these humans." She made a frustrated noise. "He is supposed to be my guide. How can he teach me if he will not leave his dwelling?"

Wesley held his whiskey glass up to the light, watching the glow play through the amber liquid. Seemed a shame to waste such good scotch on what was turning out to be a rather ordinary drunk, but he could get more. He downed the shot and poured himself another, noticing with some surprise that the bottle was almost empty.

He thought back to the Halloween party. He'd been drunk then, too, with Fred.

"What do you think of Knox?" she asked.

"I rather think he's a bit of a wanker, actually."

"Oh, that's mean." She giggled. "I'm not sure I like you when you're drunk."

"In vino veritas," he declaimed, waving a hand theatrically. "I like you very much when I'm drunk."

"Only when you're drunk?"

"Oh, other times too. All the time actually. You're quite fetching."

She ducked her head, embarrassed. "We need to find Lorne's sleep."

It was too bad, he reflected, that he hadn't used his induced drunkenness as an excuse to tell her how he really felt. He should have just kissed her then and there. All that wasted time. Ah well. Water over the bridge or under the dam or whatever the saying was. Reality was here and now and...

Striding through his front door, with Spike in tow. She took the glass from his hand and hauled him to his feet by his shirt. "The half-breed is taking me to go hit things. You are to come with us."

"I am far too intoxicated--" he began carefully.

"You won't be after you drink this," Spike said, handing him a bottle of a sickly green substance. "Certain advantages to working at Hell, Incorporated. This'll have you right as rain in about two seconds flat."

"But I don't want--"

"Doesn't matter what you want, Watcher-boy. It's what you need. Come on, drink up. If you decide you still want to get plastered again after a spot of violence, we won't stand in your way, will we, Bluebird?"

"Spike tells me that hitting things has remedial powers," Illyria said. "I wish to test this theory."

It was something he hadn't considered. True, he wouldn't be able to take out his anger and frustration on the source, but venting it on a different demon might do him all kinds of good. "All right," he said, shaking loose from Illyria's grip and drawing himself up with drunken dignity. "Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, rogue demon-hunter, back in business."

Finding trouble wasn't hard. As a matter of fact, in Los Angeles, trouble was nearly impossible to avoid. Getting out of trouble, once it was found, was a different prospect altogether.

Wesley hacked at one of the ten Gl'ram Demons that surrounded them. "Tell me again why you thought this was a good idea?"

"Fists and fangs, back to the wall..." Spike sliced and parried. "Gets the adrenaline moving and the endorphins going. It's fun."

"You have an odd definition of 'fun,' half-breed," Illyria said, delivering a roundhouse kick.

"Yeah? Can you think of anything better?"

Whatever answer she would have given was drowned out by a collective roar from the group of demons. Wes found himself in a desperate battle with three of them, split away from his companions. Whirling and cutting, he noticed that Spike's expression was one of savage joy while he took on three opponents of his own, and that the demons had correctly guessed the more potent threat and had ganged up on Illyria with four.

Fortunately, the demons were slow-moving, though powerful. Wes had to concentrate in order to avoid getting hurt, but he made short work of his adversaries. Turning to find out how Spike and Illyria were doing, he found that Spike had discarded his sword and was fighting hand-to- hand with one remaining demon, sneering and hurling insults.

Illyria had her back to him. She'd dispatched two of the demons, and faced off with one of the remaining ones. It provided distraction while the last one maneuvered behind her in search of an opening. They both attacked at the same time, and Wesley reacted instinctively. As Illyria parried the assault of the one in front of her, he dove in and ambushed the other.

They killed their demons at the same time, and Illyria spun around and eyed him over the bodies, panting. Spike joined them, grinning maniacally and bouncing on the balls of his feet. "There, now. Don't you feel better?"

He had to admit, reluctantly, that he did.

The good feelings lasted until he got back to his apartment with Illyria. Her inquiring gaze hadn't left his face the entire trip over. She sat down on his couch when he did and tilted her head. "My very existence on this plane is repugnant to you. You could have allowed my adversary to kill me by simply standing by and doing nothing, and yet you defended me."

"Don't let it go to your head," Wes muttered.

"I do not understand. Explain."

"Sometimes, humans react without thinking. That's all." He uncapped the bottle of whiskey on the coffee table. She put her hand on his, and he flinched away. "Don't touch me."

"You are conflicted. Your actions confuse you as much as they puzzle me." She frowned. "Are all humans this illogical?"

He barked out a laugh. "Yes, we are. Isn't it bloody marvelous?"

Her gaze darted around the room. "These walls close in on me. I must think on this further."

Seeing her genuine bewilderment softened his attitude somewhat. "Why don't you go up on the roof? I'll join you in a bit."

"Yes. That will be...acceptable."

Thunder startled Wes out of a doze. What time was it? Blearily, he looked at his clock, which told him it was four AM. "Illyria?" No answer. He grimaced and decided to look for her on the roof. He had come to a decision.

Lightning flashed, silhouetting her against the clouds, lit from beneath by the city lights. She paced back and forth along the parapet, unconscious of the heart-stopping drop below her, or the electricity crackling in the air above. He sat on the ledge. "Have you reached any conclusions?"

She hopped down and sat next to him just as the sky released its pent-up rage, sending a steady deluge of water down on them. "Humans are insane. They do whatever seems right to them at the moment, with no regard or memory for past actions."

"Sometimes. The human subconscious is powerful, and it does odd things under stress. All that being said..." He took a deep breath and steeled himself, because this was going to hurt both of them. "I need for you to leave."

"Leave? Leave and go where?"

"I don't know. I don't care. Anywhere that's away from me." His voice cracked. "The very sight of you sickens me inside. I saved you because I couldn't stand the thought of the final vestiges of what Fred was disappearing from the world forever. But I realize now that I have to let her go."

For a moment, Illyria looked lost and alone. Then she stood and drew herself up with dignity. "I must find another guide." She reached out, nearly touched his face, but pulled back. "Goodbye, Wesley." Shoulders very straight, she turned and walked to the door leading downstairs.

As the rain poured from the sky, Wesley slid down to the roof, rested his head on his bent knees, and cried.