Summary: Spike and Illiyria talk about some things after the big battle. Post NFA

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The big battle had been over for a few weeks. Percy was gone of course, and Charlie…Charlie went out the way he came in—fighting. Angel had crawled away as Spike knew he would after all of this. Spike would like to think that it said something bad about his Grand-Sire, but that was just his way. And, yes, Big Blue had been more like little girl Blue for a while. Spike knew how it could be. How you had been told you were a super being and things were going to be better for you, but they weren't. Pain was unavoidable, so it was best to invent interesting ways to avoid it. The supposed all powerful Goddess yell at no one. "My grief I can't seem to control it. This is the fault of the wretched shell—Fred! These are her desires her disgusting weak emotions—not mine!"

Then she would use Fred's voice. "Why? Why couldn't they stay; I wanted them to stay! I will go. I will go where I'll watch and I'll wait and yield to the hurt."

She would use Fred's body even more. Illiyria would lose all of her blue coloring as if it drained into her body and she looked just like Fred.

The Fred figure took to bed and didn't speak much just like Spike's Mother had after Father's death. Spike remembered the housekeeper saying Mother was "sick with grief." Of course, Drusilla had done this little trick of the super natural nervous break down more times than he could count. So, Spike didn't know why he was thinking of Mother when Blue had the break down. Maybe because Fred had been more like Mother than Dru had. Perhaps it was because while cold Blue was nothing like his mother, Spike had thought of both of them as Goddesses and he had never expected a Goddess to break, but they did. Or maybe that was over-thinking it. Maybe he had been reminded of Mother and not Dru because Dru was nuttier than a shithouse rat and would have these episodes over a leaf falling off a tree. He knew Blue's pain was over something big and real. But, he supposed he shouldn't judge. Pain was pain and it was real no matter what—leaves and dying friends alike.

So, Spike did what he had done for Mother and Dru. After he came in from doing what he had to do to keep the place going he'd tell Blue about what he had done that day. How he hustled pool in all the dank halls in LA and beat off all the beefy men that had come after him about it. How he was moving up to the classier pool halls and he wondered how the rich suits would try to come after him when he hustled and he told her how he thought they would just hire the beefy men to try to beat him up.

Just like with Dru and mother, Spike brought Blue food, and just like them she didn't eat. Spike wasn't sure how hard he had to push this issue as he wasn't sure if Blue had to eat at all. She made two, small, sort of conflicting improvements. When he held her hand she held it back, and her eyes became that neon blue again.

"You've got the fire back in your eyes," he said to her, "or the ice."

She just looked at him with those frosty eyes and said nothing, but she seemed to smile. He didn't know if that was a sign that she was getting better or going crazy because he didn't think she smiled at all.

Then, one day just like that, Illiyria got off the futon with the wooden frame that he got at the Salvation Army in a better part of town. There was no calling for him as Dru or mother had done, no dramatic or cryptic speech about how she was better, and how it would have never have been without him. She walked across the tight knitted grey carpet with her leather moccasined feet. Had she taken those things off when she was in the bed? Weren't her clothes just a "construct of reality?" He hadn't noticed. She was under the green army comforter during her rain fever.

"It is over, and you still remain," she said to him her stiff god-like form returning.

And he knew she was better. He tried to turn back to his video game as if nothing had happened. Making a big deal out of it could put her back in her shell.

"Yes, well someone had to stay to make sure the rent was paid and you had food to eat. A fetching girl who would go from blue to crying with no money would get tossed out of a place no matter how fetching she is," Spike said.

He thought paying her a subtle complement couldn't hurt.

"I do not require food," she told him, "Rent. Fred's memories tell me what it is, but she never owed this rent to anyone. She was never the master of any dwelling she was in, and yet they never demanded she pay anything."

"Well, cute nice things with big brains have a lot more things to offer than money," Spike said.

"What do you have to offer me besides this dim abode, and your dull existence?" she asked.

"Well, you really are back to yourself, aren't you?" he said. He laughed as he walked into his bedroom and flopped down on his futon. He could finally have it back.

"No more spilling salt as Fred? Why did you do that anyway? Turn into her? I suppose she was the one that had the connection to Wesley and Charlie boy. Poor sods."

"You're leader?" she cocked her head in that stiff way, "Why do you not refer to him as dead, like the others? There is no evidence he is alive."

"He's not my sodding leader," Spike said lazily.

He didn't care enough anymore to really get brassed off about it. He picked up the book he got. It was about a boy and his friend—a dragon. He saw it in the display window and figured reading a story where a dragon wasn't trying to cause an apocalypse was a good way to get his mind off things.

"You avoid my question," she stated and walked stiffly over to the spider plant he had gotten for her.

"Look," Spike sighed as he turned her, "If he was dead, I'd know it, and he's not. And it's not bloody denial, believe me. Out of everyone that bastard deserved it the most, and my life would be easier in a certain way if he was. Now if you don't mind I want to get back to my reading. Eragon looks like he's in a bit of situation here."

"You have a connection with him," she stated as she held her slim body stiffly, but craned her neck gracefully to look down at the plant.

"A connection to who? Eragon? I suppose he's a nice enough farm boy. The dragon sure likes him. Says he's the only one that can ride her. She's much better than those nasty real life ones that try to eat you. It's just a book, love. We should get you into books now that you're better again. You can't just be into video games," he said.

"Not the creatures in your foolish fairytale! You know who I am speaking of," she said.

"Hey!" he said, "There's nothing wrong with some light reading. Besides, how would you know if my book's foolish?"

"I am speaking of you're leader, Angel. You have a connection to him—a strong one. You can feel his life, if his life ceased there would be a little death inside you?"

The fact that he didn't get it made her angry, as if he was the one who had it all wrong. Her lower lip stuck out, and underneath the blue, he could still tell that she had a cute little heart shaped face. Why did she look most human when she said the most annoying things?

"Ug!" Spike shuddered, "Don't ever sayBloodyLook, I'll explain this once and then the subject of Angel is closed. We do not have a connection of any kind. Maybe there was a time when we were drunk on that enchanted Whore's blood when things got a littleIt doesn't matter! We never have been connected and we never will be. We just fell together for a long sodding time, that to you may seem like a blink of an eye, which I don't even think you bloody do. So due to this falling together, I'd know if he was dead. I'd feel it. I don't feel it. The end. Now if you don't mind, I want to get back to my book."

"Perhaps this is why you were never the leader. You pay too much attention to the idle things in this world," she said.

"Who wants to be a bloody leader? If it means I have to have a stick up my ass like you or Angel I'll pass. You and he can hide in your holes all you like until a big battle comes again. What's the good of saving this world if you can't enjoy it?"

"You're leader is a noble warrior—a hero. He achieved the goal of ridding the world of those vile creatures that humiliated me, and created nothing but suffering. Youyou seem to have the skill, but not the drive. You are nothing but an idle being. It's disgraceful."

"Yep, here I am idly providing you with food and shelter. Now I'm giving you idle conversation, and boy am I enjoying it. Why don't you take a walk? It's nice outside. You could talk to the trees. Don't you do that sort of thing? On second thought, don't. They might all decide to off themselves after you tell them how loathsome they are, and that'll upset the ecosystem. I got you a spider plant. I figured it was a strong enough plant to take any insults you had to hand out."

Now she had gotten him all distracted and thinking even though he was trying to look back at his book to see if the dragon was going to be able to escape the evil wizard without help from the boy.

"You like this world," she said that with so much disgust he had to look up and see that cold little face, "This loathsome disgusting place that kills your friends and has no justice! You're a fool. I am forced to live in this world with a fool that turns a blind eye to all its vileness. You will not due!"

Then she stomped off. Her little flat maroon leather ass moved as stiff as ever with all its power ticked up inside. Spike picked his head up to see her walk away and take a seat on the brown plushfuton that was folded into a couch. She turned on the X-box and began playing Crash Bandicoot.

"You know that folds out into a bed like this one, right?" he asked, "And if you erase my memory card on that game, you won't have to worry about living in this world."

"I wish to converse with you as to the where abouts of your leader," Illiyria said as Spike came out of the shower.

He hadn't been a modest man for a long time, but there was something about the way she was staring through him that made him glad that he had a towel around his waste. He rolled his eyes.

"What is it with your wet-spot for Angel? Did Fred really have a thing for him? Is it spilling over to you?" he said.

He threw the towel on the floor and slid under the covers. The sun was up and he wanted to get some sleep.

"Do not disgust me," she ordered, "Last night we encountered demons preying on weaker humans."

"Right and we gave then what for, huh?" he said and smiled, "Gotta say, Blue it was nice to see you all mean again. Especially at something other than me. I swore I saw you get demon gibs all over your leather ensemble. Do you just mind meld the stains away or did you get some seltzer water out of the fridge?"

"There is still evil in the world. We need to reassemble in order to defeat it. Perhaps, then, this world will be tolerable. You say you know that your leader is alive. We shall find him and eviscerate every demon on this earth and then these meek humans will not cry out. Their suffering disgusts me far more than anything"

"Whoa, whoa whoa there, horsy. I'm glad that you're feelin' all connected to the little people, but assembling any army of mountains every time there is a little molehill. That's not how it works."

"How does it work, then? How do you rid this world of its vileness?"

"You don't, not ever, and if you ever get a fool idea in your head that you can flush the world of all the things you don't like about it you'll end up dead or insane or both," he said.

"So, you wile away your time with ridiculous trivialities, winning pointless battles, playing foolish games until the next true war?"

"Pretty much, only when you say it like that, I sound like a sorry sod, and not some bloke that rose from the dead twice and helped save the world. I do have some other interests. I go to pubs. I play pool, poker, though I've lost my taste for kittens as of late," he lowered his eyes from her so he could think.

"I have some friends. A few that aren't dead. One that I phone in Cleveland now. Bloody Hell, what am I saying, having a friend in Cleveland really makes me sound sad. I have connections in Cleveland. I have connections all over the world. I could get us into a lot of hip night spots for free in most countries. Try having Angel do that. He thinks he so sodding cool just because he knows a few people in Vegas…Old bastards. But you're not the sort of girl who's impressed by connections, are you?"

"You say now you have connections to your leader, beings in other countries, and to people in another land. You are right to think I am not impressed by these connections. I do not require connections to anything in this world. The only connections I have are due to the memories of the inhabitor of my former shell, Fred. By what means are you connected to all of these people you speak of?" "I'm afraid I'm not following the question, love. You lost me at 'connections,'" he said.

"How do you have these connections to these beings in other lands? In Cleve-land and night-spots? Would you know if one of them died as you would know if Angel died? Are you all like puny little leaves growing on a vine?"

"A puny little leaf…now that's poetic," he couldn't help but snicker, "I'd prefer to think of myself like a bird on a wire. Feeling the electricity on the life of everyone that's important flowing. If there was a little short like that little doe-eyes getting into trouble in Cleveland, the wire would buzz, so I'd hear about it from somewhere. If Angel went to dust, or if Buffy…There'd be a big power failure to the wire I cling to. I'd know because I'd feel it. I'd feel them go. Not that it would hurt if Angel—"

"Feelings!" she spat, "You have these connections through feelings! Then I do not want to know about them. Feelings cause nothing but useless pain. You can not rely on them."

Her blue lips curled back so he could see her teeth for a second, still white, not blue.

"I know that's how you feel. I mean"he had to roll his eyes at his own slip there, "I know that the feelings that have had the most fun with you have all been the worst ones. Misery and grief with losing our frie"

"It was her grief, Fred's, her memories of them infecting me. The infection is over; scars will remain!"

He liked it when she got angry. She would try to still stand stiff, but something in her would falter. Her body looked like it actually had some softness for a bit.

"Hate to tell you, Blue. YOU are the infection, the thing that took over Fred's body, and those feelings are all the bits of life left," he said.

"That is how you view me, as a disease, and not a being. That is why you can have a connection to these lower creatures and not me. You don't realize how superior I am to you. You're mind cannot comprehend it, so you like to think it is I that am inferior," she said and folded her arms over her leather. "All right, All right," Spike put his hands up with a sigh, "That was a cheap shot. I'm sorry. We should just stop talking about connections. Like I said most of the ones I have you can't use. We could probably get into any underground club we fancied with who I know. But you're the type that likes to go out every once in a while to a simple place, turn a few heads and then bash them in, and then you go home. You're the sort that is a closet home-body. You'd never let the world know it, but you like to stay in your shell. "

"Stay in my shell. You are the one that is truly doing that. I will fight until my enemies are gone, even if it means my death. You—you know that your enemies are here, they live and breathe all around you like the grime under your fingernails and still you sit like a helpless child reading your fairytale," she said.

"Bloody Hell. You know, I lived and died in this world a lot longer than you and now I can finally say I know what it's like to have a bitchy teen in my house. All you do is bitch about how superior you are and play video games. You should read a bloody book. It would be good for you. Something like 'The little Mermaid' where the girl learns she should appreciate what she had."

"I do not require a text of a false story. You have been speaking ofthe one you have been reading incessantly for a fortnight," she said.

"Well, I had to keep up more than my part of the conversation when you went into the land of catatonia, didn't I?"

"When my shell's former being, Fred, was dying Wesley actually read the book to her for her comfort. He did not go on with the useless prattle of his opinions about the fairytale. He let the tale speak for itself," she said.

Illiyria looked through Spike and at nothing; it seemed as if those eyes were hardening into actual ice. Blue was missing Percy.

"What book did he read?" he asked.

"Fred's memories tell me it was 'A Little Princess'," she actually surprised him by sitting on the bed next to him.

"One of Dru's favorites," he said to her and she looked back quizzically, "That was my ex. I brought it to her along with a school girl and she…Well, she liked the book. Liked being called a Princess after that."

"Your…Ex…she became a princess after you read this book to her? What happened to this Princess? Did she die as well?" she asked.

"Dru, no, Dru's alive and well. Well, undead and unwell, but alive. She's another one whose death I'd feel. She's no princess, she was to me at the time, but, things change. I suppose Fred was really a Princess though, and then the kingdom came down."

"Another useless connection of feelings to an ex-princess. I suppose you felt Fred's death too. She was not a Princess. She was a physicist. I am a God. When I came this shell only improved," her hard eyes stared at the blue brick wall of Spike's flat.

Yes, it was a bit of irony that her Holy Blueness and the color of the flat walls were perfectly matched.

"Don't be that way, love. You know what? I can read the book to you," Spike said.

She looked over at Spike for a few seconds. Spike was sure she wasn't deciding what to do, that she already knew and she was pausing for dramatic effect before she hit him or threw him somewhere. Instead of hitting him or going on about what an insignificant little man he was she nodded, as if they had decided she was going in for a suicide mission. And go in she did, under the covers and she lay against him. He always thought she would feel cold—freezing. She didn't. Not that it would have really made a difference to Spike. Temperature didn't affect him. But, she was warm, not quite as warm as a human, but warmer than him. It was as if there was a cool layer and then there was heat under it, like someone just put ice into hot coa-coa

"This is how Fred and Wesley read the book. It gave her great comfort," she explained lifting her head to look at Spike.

"Yeah? Was there anything else that they did that gave her great comfort?" he smirked.

Her blue lips pinched as she thought. Spike found himself moving back her long brown hair from between her head and his chest. He looked at the part of it that she had streaked blue. It was almost like it was colored by a hologram, an illusion of light that she had carried around. She closed her eyes as he did this, as if she didn't want to feel his fingers running through her hair, but she did. He had stopped smirking and he actually felt bad for asking such a fresh question. He'd like to think he felt bad for being fresh to Fred's last memories with Wesley, but that wasn't why.

"Wesley told Fred that he would tell her parents of her death, and that she was brave, and that also gave her great comfort," she said and then her lips curled back into anger, "He never did so. Then, the parents arrived at your old domain to visit Fred."

"God! That must have been a show. Her poor bloody parents, coming to see their sweet Southern Bell and getting the Ice Prin—I mean—that Percy could be a tosser, he really should have kept his promise. I mean, I' m sure he meant to but—"

"He did not," she said, "He did not mean to keep his promise, or break it; he did not mean to do anything. He was just so filled with wretched grief he had no purpose to do anything at all."

"Ah, so what happened then? Must have been awful. Where was I? Why didn't I hear about it?"

"It was not awful, not for the parents of Fred. I assumed Fred's form and I behaved as her, so I would not have to smell the grief on them as I did on Wesley. You were off doing one of your pointless activities, I am sure. You were of absolutely no importance to me or Wesley, so telling you about it would have served no purpose," she said across Spike's chest.

"Well, they must have known something was rotten in the state of Denmark, though, right? They could tell it wasn't her, I mean they are her parents," Spike said.

"I am a God, and the parent's of Fred are only mortals. I know all of Fred's behaviors and thoughts. I knew how to behave and appear exactly like her. Of course, her parents believed what I presented. I caused them no grief, nor will I do so. When I arouse out of grief a day ago the first thing I did was contact them on that telephone device. I did not tell them of the deaths of the others, as that would also cause them grief. They are disgustingly fragile."

"Right, well that'll explain the mysterious phone bill, but I'm still confused about a few things. How did you know to lie to Fred's parents about all that happened here? What on earth did you tell them, and how did you bloody convince them of it?"

"I knew to lie because of my—Fred's connection to them. I have enough of Fred' s memories to know that they would experience great grief if they thought anything happened to anyone their off spring had a connection too. I knew to tell them instead, that I was 'a late bloomer finally going through a wild phase.' I told them I had desires to quit working for the company because I thought my life purpose was no longer being served there. I said I moved in with a new love interest that pretended to be a musician, but that he really was a Champion as Ange—"

"Bloody Hell," Spike said as he felt his forehead knot up, "At first I didn't understand how you could pull this off, but it's clear to me you are awful at it. If you're going to make up a lie, at least tell them something that isn't going to send them around the bend in worry. Say that you and Angel decided to give the company to Percy and Charlie while you moved in together and that you're teaching at university or something. Not that you moved in with a bloody musician and quit a six figure job. If I was your old man I'd be on the next plane out to LA to knock some sens—"

"The father wanted to travel here, as well as the mother when I gave them this news, but I convinced them not to. Luckily, you are not the father of Fred, but sadly you must be the love interest," she said.

"How in hell did you convince them that—Wait? What did you just say?"

"I said," she sighed in annoyance, "That the father wanted—"

"Not that bloody part! The part where I am the bloody awful musician that took his precious daughter away from the good life and pushed her towards decadence," Spike said.

He wiggled to get away from Illiyria to get out of bed and pace. Then he realized he was naked and decided against it.

"The reason I told the parents you were a musician was because I know when they see how you look and along with how you behave and speak that is the only thing that they will think you could possibly be. 'A musician in one of those crazy bands that the Brits brought over and never took back.' That is what the father will say. Besides, it is better than the truth, that you are a professional pool hustler and gambler that sometimes kills for money," she said.

"That was one time!" Spike said and he did jump out of bed naked now, but just sat there rather than paced, "And it was to kill a very bad demon I was gonna do for free anyway andJesus bloody Christ what have you gotten me into? Why couldn't you just've said you were off with Angel saving the world in his super-jet?"

"Because Angel has chosen not to remain, and no longer has a super-jet. The parents of Fred are weak and mortal, but they are not complete fools. I had to tell them something that they could believe when they do come. Perhaps, telling them I teach at the university is a good idea. Perhaps, even doing so is sufficient. I know all of the physical possibilities in this world. The leaders there would be fools not to make me the leader of the department of the physical world."

"If you do go to get a job there, don't say that on the bloody interview, and you have to go as Fred and talk like her, all sweet, and show the pieces of paper the school gave her; and I'm pretty sure it's not called the department of the physical world; and I guess I could go with you, make sure you do it right…And, bloody hell, Blue. I can't play someone's boyfriend who has parents," he put his head in his hands and ran them through his hair.

"I do not require you to go with me on a job interview. I know how to manipulate the mortals there through Fred's connections as well. What I will require of you is to go along with the manipulation that I have planned for the parents of Fred." "Look," he said, "Maybe this is cruel. Maybe we should just tell Fred's parents the truth."

"If you do not do what I require of you for the parents of Fred and cause them grief it is you that will know cruelty," she snarled.

And Spike could see her snarling as she had pounced on top of him and laid him flat on the bed.

"So, you admit you do need me for something after all," Spike said smirking as her cold perky face was inches from his, "You think I can keep your connection happy."

She contemplated this as she allowed him to sit up. She seemed to glance down at his crotch as he sat up and her eyebrow went up a bit. Well, what did she expect? She was jumping on him clad in leather while he was naked. He started to wonder what she knew of sex. It seemed that all of Fred's knowledge of the world transferred over to Blue, even if Fred's understandings of that knowledge didn't. He always thought Fred was the type that seemed all innocent, but when she got under the sheets she was a hell-cat. Then he started to remember how he had gotten here and that thought quickly evaporated.

"Only, I don't think any parents of Fred would be happy with me. I don't think that they'd ever believe that their daughter would take up with the likes of me. That's all I'm sayin.'"

"Mortals will believe what they choose when horrible grief is the alternative," she said.

"So, it's their precious girl in my arms or horrible grief that sounds about right. This is bloody awful, you know."

"Kingdoms have fallen. Great warriors have died and will never rise again. Evil still walks the Earth, and the idea that you must keep Fred's parents happy by posing as the love interest is what appalls you," she said.

"You don't get it. It will appall them. She could do better. I—I won't know what to say. How to act. I don't have a parent guide programmed into me like you. I'm sure her father will want to wipe the floor with my ass. I know I would."

"You fight the entire black thorn and remain, but you fear the father of Fred will injure you?"

"No, it's not—"Spike snapped and then stopped to think

She was looking at him with those marble eyes, like she usually did, like he was a member of the Sex Pistols on a mobile phone in the middle of Victorian Era England. He could due without the look and the questions. Her bloody questions were more annoying to him than Harm's. Sometimes he longed for the days where the only thing he had to explain was why he couldn't kidnap Angelina Jolie and make her a vampire. Why wasn't it a good idea, Harm would ask. Harm would point out that Angelina looked a lot likeCharlize Therononly Angelina was crazy and would like being a vampire. Okay, maybe he didn't long for those days. At least Illiyria got his blood pumping toward his brain a bit—feeling.

"I'm afraid he won't like me. He'll think I did Fred wrong. He'll think I'm going to hurt her"

"You would not hurt Fred. I will tell him this. Why do you only fear the father and not the mother?"

"Well, mums an' me usually get on okay. Buffy's mum and IHow can you have all of Fred's memories and not understand this? What in your bloody brain doesn't connect?" "I told you. I have no true connections to this world. It is only Fred's memories that allow me to know what her parents would require to be happy. Do not worry. You may be strange and off putting to the father of Fred, but you are a Champion. In his eyes this will bring Fred happiness and bring her closer to her destiny. That he will like. That is all that truly matters to the father—her happiness. A Champion can provide that —could provide that, and in the father's eyes you will."

"And what about you, Blue. Could you ever be happy with this life here?"

"I am a God," she tilted her head and looked at him, "You wouldn't begin to fathom what I would require for happiness."

"You and most bints. I'll bet it has something to do with ruling the world with an army of doom though, right?"

"No, that is no longer true. I suppose nothing in this world can make me happy now."

"Like I said, you and most bints. But, I was supposed to read my story to you, for comfort, right?"

"You were supposed to begin reading it before, and instead you kept talking about useless things. You are very easily distracted. Perhaps, this is why you could never lead. You are a pitiful waste of a Champion."

"Do you want me to read this to you for sodding comfort or not? If not I'll just go on by myself and ask you not to distract my pitiful wasted head by springing things on me, like I have to meet your parents," he said this to her firmly as he got back under the covers.

"You may read," she said and got under the covers stiffly.

"Great," Spike said and smiled, "I wanna see how they get out of this with the dark wizard."

"If you are going to read a story do it right, and start from the beginning," she told him as her soft maroon leathery arms fell around him with surprising grace.

"But, I told you about the rest," he sighed as he looked down at her face.

"I want to hear it how it was written and not how the story is seen through your feeble brain," she said.

"Fine, but when you go off I'm going to read the end and spoil it for you," he told her.

"You are a petty ridiculous creature," she told him and shut her eyes.

He went back to the cover of the book with the dragon and noticed how the color of it matched her perfectly.

The story all started with a poor farm boy, who was the only one that could ride the blue dragon...