Author: babies stole my dingo (agilebrit)
Length: Short story (a little over 1700 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. Chuck E. Cheese doesn't belong to me either...and I've never eaten at one. I suppose I should...Heh. No actual pizza places were destroyed in the writing of this fic.
Written for: Soundingsea's UnFicathon. Assignment: Illyria's birthday; guests are Spike, Faith, and Connor. Character not allowed: Angel. Villain: Eve. Present: A Happy Bunny Hot Topic tshirt that says "Hate is just a special kind of love we give to people who suck." Quote: "Sometimes it's to your advantage to have people think you're crazy." --Thelonius Monk.
Notes: Many thanks to SunnyDlite, who offered excellent suggestions and prevented me from leaving giant hunks of hair around my house--because I was thisclose to pulling it out.
"What is this place?" Illyria asked.
"Faith and Connor wanted us to meet them here." Spike got out of the car, walked around to her side, and opened the door for her.
She nodded her head regally at his courtesy, and he squired her through the entrance into the noisy, brightly lit space beyond. They were accosted immediately. "Hi! Welcome to--"
Spike yanked Illyria backwards before her boot connected with the costumed character's chin, and it scuttled out of the way. She rounded on him. "The Musprav Molestan was attacking you!"
"That's Chuck E. Cheese himself, Blue." He turned to the traumatized mouse. "Sorry about that. Cultural misunderstanding; she's not from here." His hunted gaze swept around the room, and he spotted Faith and Connor at a table. "Oh! There's the people we're here to meet. See you later!" Dragging the still-protesting Illyria, he beat a strategic retreat.
Connor and Faith wore pointy hats, and they tossed confetti and blew party horns. "Happy birthday, Illyria," Faith said.
"Oh, bloody hell, no, I am not wearing one of those," Spike said as Connor tried to thrust one of the hats upon him. "Seriously, bugger off, mate." Connor gave up with a huff, and Spike continued, "How did you know it was Bluebird's birthday? Does she even really have one?"
"Research," Connor answered. "Of course, they didn't use the same calendar we do, but we did some cross-referencing and a lot of creative math, and I think we've at least got an approximation."
Illyria seemed to consult some sort of inner time-keeping mechanism. "He is correct. Although I had no 'birthday' as such. My species is not born the way you understand it." She picked up a party hat and examined it with some curiosity, but declined to wear it.
A waitress brought them two heaping plates of hot wings, and they thanked her and dug in. "You are such a weirdo," Faith said to Spike around a mouthful of chicken.
He lifted his eyebrow and snorted, licking his fingers. "Been called worse." Eyeing Illyria's empty plate, he said, "You're not supposed to eat the bones, pet."
"Why not? They are delicious and provide nutrition. Not enough meat exists on them otherwise to make them worth eating." She put another entire wing in her mouth and chomped down on it in obvious enjoyment.
Their waitress appeared again with two large, loaded pizzas, dropped them off, and disappeared after giving Illyria a wide-eyed stare. They descended on the pizza as if the wings hadn't existed. Just as they finished, the server returned with a dessert pizza, which they attacked with gusto. "Better watch it, Leery," Spike said with an evil grin. "You eat all that, and you'll lose your figure. Then I won't want to be your pet anymore."
Faith leaned back and laughed. "Guess we've all been killing things tonight," she observed. "Everyone's hungry and horny."
"Indeed. Spike is always horny, and Connor is lusting after me again," Illyria said artlessly, while Spike nearly choked and Connor blushed. "You have a better chance with the Slayer," she told him--and he blushed more, while Faith looked at him with renewed interest.
He attempted a distraction. "Hey, Faith, didn't you get Illyria a present?"
"Oh, yeah." She reached under her chair and tossed a brightly-wrapped object across the table. "It's not much, really."
Illyria tore the paper off to reveal a bright pink t-shirt with a manic-looking rabbit on it. The message read "Hate is just a special kind of love we give to people who suck," and Illyria tilted her head, considering this with a slight frown. "This is...a joke, correct?"
Faith shrugged. "What do you get the God-King who has everything? Wear it in good health."
"My health is always good." Spike nudged her to remind her of human manners, and she twitched her eyebrows in annoyance. "Thank you, Faith."
"No prob. We've got tokens for the games if you guys want to play."
Spike jumped up. "Skee-ball!"
Faith laughed at him. "You are so twelve years old."
"Bite me, Slayer. Unless you'd like me to bite you." She lifted her eyebrow suggestively, grinned, and slapped his arm, and he said to Illyria, "C'mon, Blue, I'll show you how it's done, and we can clean this little establishment out of its tickets and get you something shiny for your birthday."
"I'm hittin' one of the shooter games. How about it, Junior? Wanna play?" Faith said to Connor.
"Yeah, in a sec." He followed Spike and Illyria over to the skee-ball machines and stood back while Spike put a token in and sent a ball into the hundred-point pocket in the upper corner, explaining to Illyria that, the higher the points, the more tickets she'd win. "So, Spike," Connor said, while Illyria began casually rolling balls into the highest-scoring pockets with scary accuracy, "didn't you use to go out with a Slayer?"
Spike snorted. "Last thing you want is woman advice from me, boy. Trust me. I was hopeless as a human and not much better as a vampire. You're on your own." At Connor's crestfallen expression, he clapped him on the shoulder. "Chin up. At least you can't do any worse than I did."
"Right." Connor squared his shoulders. "Wish me luck." He disappeared into the bank of video games to find Faith.
Spike turned back to Illyria in time to see the skee-ball machine spit out an amazing number of tickets. "This game is very easy," she said. "Give me another token."
"Here you are, luv. Knock yourself out."
A few minutes later, after maxing her score a second time, she held her hand out for a token. Something went horribly wrong when she rolled her first ball up the slope, however. It took an odd bounce and flipped into the ten-point pocket. She tilted her head, frowning, and sent another ball up. That one bounced even more strangely and wound up, again, in the lowest-scoring pocket.
She tossed her third ball up in the air and caught it. "These spheres are out of balance. The establishment cheats if you play the game too well."
"That's bloody unfair. I can't believe they'd rip off kids like that," Spike said, outraged.
"Oh, believe it, hero." Spike blinked at the familiar sound of the voice...and then Eve stepped out from behind the games with a Cheshire Cat smile. She continued, "How else are the Senior Partners going to get the little sprogs hooked on gambling? It's a basic principle of operant conditioning based on variable intervals of reward."
Spike and Illyria adopted fighting stances. "Eve," Spike said. "To what do we owe the displeasure of your company? I thought you were dead."
She shrugged. "Eh, deceased is as deceased does, I guess, and if you work for Wolfram and Hart, you're never really dead. But now that you've figured out our little secret here, I'm going to have to ask you kids to leave."
"But we were just starting to have fun." Spike picked up a ball and began lobbing it back and forth from hand to hand. "Seems a bit harsh to throw us out just when Bluebird here was gettin' the hang of your game. And on her birthday and all."
"Birthday, shmirthday. Out. All of you."
Connor and Faith, clued in by some vibe or other, had ranged themselves beside Spike and Illyria. "What's the sitch?" Faith asked.
"We've been asked rather rudely to bugger off," Spike informed her. "Apparently this fine place of business is owned by none other than Wolfram and Hart, and--" He ducked as Illyria's foot went flying over his head and slammed into the chin of the costumed mouse who had come up behind them. "Leery!"
"I told you it was a demon," she said with evident satisfaction. "It attempted to attack you. Again."
"And I told you..." he started--and stopped abruptly when she rolled the head off the costume to reveal that it was, indeed, a demon. "Oh. Right then. I thought you were barking mad, but it turns out you're crazy like a fox. That's my girl." He gave her a proud smile.
"Sometimes it's an advantage, having people think you're crazy," Faith said. "I should know."
"Oh, you're not crazy, Faith," Connor assured her.
"Eh, used to be. I got better." She grinned and punched him lightly on the shoulder.
"Hey, excuse me!" Eve shouted, waving her hand at them. "Get out! Or do I need to call Security?"
Spike looked around the place, noticed that all the customers had either cleared out or were hustling toward the door, and lit a cigarette. "Oh, are you still here? Go ahead and call them. I haven't had a good dust-up in a couple of hours." He blew a stream of smoke mockingly at her. "And it looks like being dead has done all sorts of bad things to your temperament, luv. Might want to have someone look at that."
A flash of hot anger crossed her face, but she smoothed it away and snapped her fingers. Ten demons of various shapes, sizes, and species entered the room. "Escort our friends from the premises," she instructed them. "If bones get broken...that's okay." She crossed her arms and gave them her patented condescending smirk, and the demons attacked.
"Well," Faith said. They stood on the sidewalk amongst a crowd of onlookers, some of whom cheered when the burning roof of the Chuck E. Cheese collapsed with a shower of sparks. "She didn't specify whose bones it was okay to break."
"Think she'll heal?" Connor asked.
"Not sure how that works when you're dead," Spike answered. "I'm undead, so it's not the same." He wrapped his arm around Illyria's waist. "Good birthday, pet?"
She had managed to rescue her t-shirt before they made their escape. "The celebration was more than acceptable." She briefly considered pummeling the half-breed for his presumption in touching her without permission, but his arm around her felt...nice. So she refrained. This time.
"That's a bit of all right then. Ready to head home?"
It had been millennia since her subjects had thrown a party for her. Tonight they had eaten good food, cleaned out a den of iniquity, and hit things. And the fire is beautiful, she thought, looking over her shoulder at it one last time as they drove away.