Title: Noble Souls, Rising from Disaster
Author: babies stole my dingo (agilebrit)
Fandom: Angel
Rating: PG-13
Length: Short story (a little over 1500 words)
Disclaimer: Joss is the genius behind these characters; I am but a lowly follower. I make no money from any of this, so please don't sue me.
Written for: MaybeDarkPink's "We Will Not Fade Away" Angel Ficathon. Vampedvixen requested Spike, Illyria, and Connor, Spike/Illyria but mostly gen, Happy!Connor, and some sort of celebration after they win the battle. No slash, please.
Notes: Had a hard time with this, mostly because of the whole "celebration" aspect. Hopefully a pizza party and a toast fulfills that requirement. The title is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: "Noble souls, through dust and heat, rise from disaster and defeat the stronger."
The giant crashed to the ground with a broken neck, and Illyria hopped off its shoulders, dusting her hands. "Is that it?" Spike asked. His left arm hung, useless and bloody, at his side. "Did we actually win?"

Angel looked up from where the severed dragon head, oozing black ichor, still snapped at him. "I think so," he said wearily. "We all still standing? Gunn?"

"Not standing as such, man." Gunn's voice was weak, and they rushed over to him. His face was a mask of blood, lips showing gray behind the red, but the pile of demon bodies surrounding him testified that he'd done his share of killing that night.

"You need a hospital," Angel said. "I'll take you. Spike, Illyria, you two hole up in the Hyperion. There's a no-demon-violence spell on it, so you should be safe. I'll be back as soon as I can." He hoisted Gunn and disappeared into the pre-dawn darkness.

Illyria shook her head. "Humans are so fragile," she observed.

"He lasted longer than you said he would, any rate," Spike said, opening the door into the hotel. "You're not hurt?"

"Not badly; a few flesh wounds only. I will heal." She preceded him through the entry...and stiffened, lifting her hand. "Someone is here."

"Just me," Connor called. "Is it over? Did everyone--where's Da--Angel?"

"He took Charlie to hospital." Spike shoved past Illyria, ignoring her affronted stare, and collapsed onto a couch in the lobby. "Don't suppose I've a bloody hope of the old man having laid in a supply of blood and whiskey for us, have I?"

"He did, actually." Connor put a mug of blood in the microwave, warmed it, and added a generous dollop of alcohol. "Here you go. Illyria, you want anything?"

"I do not require any nourishment at this time." She pushed at Spike until he scooted against the far left end, then she lay down, pillowing her head on his leg. "I am, however, tired. I will sleep. Do not move, half-breed."

Spike leaned forward and set his empty mug down on the table in front of the sofa. He gingerly moved his left elbow onto the armrest with his right hand and shook his head at the blue goddess sleeping on his lap. He started to put his hand on her hair, hesitated, then tangled his fingers in it. She murmured and leaned into his grip a little, like a cat, and he smiled fondly.

Connor frowned. "You haven't mentioned Wes."

A muscle in Spike's jaw worked for a moment as the smile disappeared. "He didn't make it."

"Oh." Connor's voice was small, and Spike felt a stab of sympathy. They'd lost so much... "What about Lorne?"

"Don't know." He gave Connor a look. "Why so interested? Not like you know them."

"Well. That's not strictly true," Connor said with an eyeshift. "Anyway. Your arm looks pretty rough."

"Yeah, it's broken. It'll heal," Spike said dismissively. Wouldn't do to lose manhood points by telling the boy that it actually hurt like a bitch. "Look, Junior, not like I don't enjoy talkin' with you, but I just fought a hell of a battle and I'm knackered. Give a bloke a chance to rest?"

"Oh, right. Sorry." Connor stood up. "I'll wake you up when Angel gets back."

Spike's eyes were already closing, and he lay down across Illyria, resting his head on her arm. He smiled again at the thought that she'd probably want to pummel him for his cheek. In a few moments, he was asleep.

:-:

The world came into focus slowly as Illyria awakened. The scent of blood, smoke, and leather filled her nostrils, and a weight on her arm told her that Spike was using her as a pillow. Presumptuous vampire. In her time--

Well. It was no longer her time, was it? Instead, the world was overrun by human vermin who refused to acknowledge her glory. The young one sat across the room from them, doing something with a textbook, a notepad, and a laptop, and not worshiping her as he ought. She slid out from beneath Spike and approached Connor. "Has Angel returned yet?" she asked.

"Oh, hey, you're awake." He was writing something down and didn't look up until he was done.

That would have been an unforgivable insult... she thought, and had to remind herself again that she was no longer revered.

"He called," Connor continued. "He's staying at the hospital with Gunn. They had to put him in intensive care; he's hurt pretty bad. They think he'll live, though."

"That pleases me. I would not lose another companion." She tilted her head. "Humans are delicate, and yet they sustain such strong emotions without shattering. The grief I felt for Wesley was--" she paused. "--surprising. And disturbing."

"Guess we're used to it."

"You have suffered loss as well," she said, accessing the shell's memories. "Cordelia Chase. Jasmine."

"Yeah. Part of the human condition, even when you're not quite human." He swallowed as the memories seemed to affect him, then shook it off and smiled. "But we won this one, right?"

"For now. The Black Thorn is broken, its members dead. The Wolf, Ram, and Hart will not take this defeat well."

"I guess Angel will know how to deal with that." He glanced at his watch. "You hungry? Because I'm starving. It's been a long night."

"Indeed. Sustenance will be acceptable. The shell liked tacos."

"I was thinking pizza, myself."

"Pizza sounds fantastic. With a side of blood, if you've got it," Spike piped up from the couch, having woken up. "And some hot wings."

"Hey, college student here. I'm poor," Connor pointed out.

"And that's why," Spike said as he got up and walked over, "I nicked Angel's credit card." He handed the card to Connor and grinned. "Pizza and wings. Lots of wings."

:-:

"Your arm seems better," Connor said to Spike around a mouthful of pepperoni and cheese.

He flexed it. "Much better. Vamp recuperative powers, bloody nice to have. How's those wings, Princess?" he asked Illyria.

"They taste good, although it seems that you must expend much effort for little return. I prefer the pizza." She snagged a slice out of the box and took an enormous bite.

"More for me then."

Angel walked in, strode through the lobby without saying a word, and closed the door to the office behind him. They exchanged glances. "That can't be good," Connor finally said.

"I'd have thought he'd stay at the hospital guarding Charlie."

"Yeah." Through the window, they could see that Angel had his elbow on the desk and his face in his hand. "Crap."

In unspoken agreement, they got up together. Connor knocked on the door and poked his head in. "Angel?"

Angel didn't move. "He didn't make it. Pulmonary embolism, they said. Nothing they could do." His body language radiated exhaustion.

"Charles Gunn was a valiant warrior. I will miss him," Illyria said quietly as they all sat down in the chairs in front of the desk.

"Nobody left but us demons." Connor's expression was pensive.

Angel's head came up at that. "No. You are not a part of this."

"I am no mere demon--" Illyria began.

Connor interrupted her. "Dad." Spike twitched violently, while Illyria looked affronted at being cut off. "Whether you like it or not, I am a part of...whatever this is. I understand what you sacrificed to give me a normal life. I do, okay? But the fact is, I was never going to have a normal life, no matter what." He gave Angel a level stare. "And I'd like to have that not-normal life working with you."

Angel closed his eyes. "I'm too tired to argue the point right now. Is there any blood left, or did Spike drink it all?"

"Oi, you wanker. Of course I left you some."

"Well, that would be a first," Angel snarked back, but without heat. "You going to sit there all day, or get me some?"

Spike opened his mouth to retort, then closed it with a snap and left the room. He came back a few moments later with drinks for all of them. Angel stared into his mug, inhaled, and swallowed it down in one long gulp. He coughed. "How much whiskey did you put in that?"

"Not enough, apparently. You're still conscious."

"Spike..."

"Want some more?"

Spike knew him so well. "Yeah, I do."

"Poisoning yourself will not bring them back," Illyria said as Spike left the room to get the bottle.

"I know," Angel answered. Spike came back and poured a shot into each of their cups. ("Don't think we're making a habit of this," he muttered to Connor.) "But I think we should have a toast. We fought the good fight, and some of our friends paid a terrible price."

"Quit the pontificating, you silly bugger, and make the toast," Spike said, smiling a little to take the sting out of his words.

Angel huffed out an exasperated breath. "Fine." He composed himself. "To our fallen heroes. May they never be forgotten." He lifted his mug briefly and took a drink.

The rest of them followed suit. Connor choked a bit, but managed to get it all down. Illyria gazed at her cup with renewed interest after she drank hers. "I now see the appeal of this substance. Give me more."

"Oh, bloody hell, no." Spike crossed his arms. "The last thing we need is a drunk blue goddess elephanting around creating chaos."

"'Elephanting.' That's one way to put it, I guess," Angel said. He nearly dropped his mug, but caught it just in time and set it carefully on the desk.

"Right." Spike stood up. "You're completely fagged. Go to bed, Angel. We'll still be here when you wake up."

"You sure?"

"Positive. Go." After Angel stumbled out of the room and headed upstairs, Spike sat back down. "Well, we won, I suppose. Go, us." He looked sideways at Connor. "'Dad'?"

"Um. You probably deserve an explanation for that. But, I'm not the one to give it, at least, not by myself. Okay?"

"I can wait, I suppose." Spike leaped to his feet again, suddenly restless. "Hey, Bluebird. What do you think? Wanna go see if there's anything left to hit in this city?"

"It is daylight," she said, gesturing at the windows.

"That's all right; we'll go down to the sewers. How about you, Junior? You can tag along if you like."

"Sewers?" Connor made a face. "I'll pass, thanks. I've got a test I should be studying for anyway."

"Right then. Blue? Shall we?"

"We must make haste. You promised him we would be here when he awakened. And you need to be careful. It would not do for you to be killed by mere demons after we defeated the army of the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart. Also, I have not finished training you as my pet. You are still far too presumptuous."

"I'll keep that in mind. Let's go." He gave Connor a sketchy salute. "Back in a bit."

Connor watched them leave, bickering good-naturedly. Yeah. They were good not-quite-people.

Working with them was going to be...interesting.

finis