Title: The Voice Continues

Author: filmFreak1

Disclaimer: To my great chagrin, I don't own any of them.

Feedback: Yes, for God's sakes, please! State your honest opinion and try to be constructive in your criticism.

Summary: Sequel to The Voice Within. Illyria continues to adjust to life in the human world while living with Fred's parents. One day, a package arrives in the mail for her.

"Illyria, I could use your help out here again." Roger Burkle's Texan accent drifts from the back porch. Illyria looks at him from the kitchen and nods. How quickly these lower beings (although she tries not to think of them as such anymore) tire. The one called "Daddy" has only been working for an hour, and already his arms are wearing out.

Shifting into Fred-form (this time, the form is dressed in a maroon sweatshirt and blue jeans), Illyria walks out the back. Roger is wearing a navy blue coat and a green sock hat. He gestures toward the axe, which is embedded in the chopping block. Around the block lie numerous pieces of wood. Although the cold does not affect her as much as it does her "father", Illyria can tell that winter is approaching fast.

Pulling the axe out of the block, she sets a log upright on it and with a quick and (for her) simple motion, it falls in half, a piece landing on either side. She repeats this process for a while, until finally dozens of new pieces have been added to the ones already left by Roger. She and Roger then spend a brief time piling the pieces up in a neat stack a few feet from the side wall of the house.

To Roger and Trish's surprise, Illyria has actually been quite useful around the house (it also is a great help that she is "low maintenance", as Roger puts it, seeing as she has no need to eat, and clothing is not an issue). Due to her superhuman strength, she can do the most laborious chores with virtually no effort at all. Illyria does not particularly enjoy the jobs, of course (and she knows that the lower beings do not, either). But she knows it is her duty; after all, the mortals have been kind enough to give her (the one who killed their daughter, no less!) shelter. Besides, what else is she going to do?

Pretty ironic, isn't it? Fred giggles inside of Illyria. Just a few months ago, you would have been completely disgusted by the idea of doing such menial work for us lower folk, and look where you are now.

I do it because I can no longer rule this world, replies Illyria. I do it so that instead, I can learn to live in it.

You do it for the ones you love, says Fred. You do it for those who helped you. Mommy. Daddy. Angel. Spike. Gunn.

Wesley, Illyria finishes. She can feel Fred smiling and nodding at that.

Roger and Illyria finish stacking the wood, and then go through the back door into the house. By this time, Trish has started making dinner. Even from outside, Illyria can sense that it is going to be tacos. She smiles. Although she has no need to eat (especially since Fred's digestive system is completely melted) and does not sit down to dinner with the two mortals most of the time, Illyria has developed a bit of a taste for Mexican food. Yet another thing inherited from Fred, she supposes.

A moment later, the three of them are sitting down at the table. Out of respect for the mortals (yet another concept that Illyria would have scoffed at months ago), Illyria does not change out of her Fred-form. Lately, she mostly just wears her regular form when nobody else is around to see it. One thing that she has noted is that they finally have started calling her by her name, Illyria. For the first few days, they kept slipping and calling her Fred, then correcting themselves, following up with a quick apology. Not that she really minds, though; after all, the past few months, Fred has been more or less coming back to life within her mind.

Roger says a prayer of grace, and then they start eating. Illyria (or is it Fred?) savors every bite as it goes down. After they finish, Trish takes the dishes over to the sink. She turns and speaks. Her tone of voice is neither friendly nor hostile; she has learned to accept (and perhaps even like) Illyria, but this does not mean that she loves her like she loved the one who once possessed what is now Illyria's body.

"By the way, Illyria, a package came in the mail for us. The return address was for the L.A. branch of Wolfram and Hart. For some reason, the postal system lost it several months ago, and just recently found it again. I think it would be better if you opened it yourself; it's up in your room." Illyria nods in response.

As she walks up the stairs, she shifts back into her regular form. Ah, that feels a little better. It takes a sizable amount of energy to maintain her false appearance for long periods of time; this has been true ever since Wesley had stripped her of most of her powers.

Illyria has little need for sleep (she did not need it at all before the loss of her powers); as long as she doesn't overexert herself (which is not all that possible with her relatively simple chores), she can easily last for several days at a time. Maintaining the Fred-form is currently what sucks up most of her energy nowadays.

It is on her bed that the package of which the female lower being had spoken now rests. It is small, approximately one foot by a foot and a half at the base, and about a foot in height. Within two seconds, Illyria shoves her fingers between the taped flaps of the box and rips them back.

Illyria cocks her head, rather puzzled at the strange, fuzzy object that lies in the box. Then the recognition hits her.

Feigenbaum! Illyria hears Fred squeal in delight. The Master of Chaos has come home!

Illyria slowly lifts the stuffed rabbit out of the box. Examining it, she turns it over in her hands, looking over it thoroughly, ghosts of tears starting to form.

Time has not been kind to the Master of Chaos. Dust has collected on the outside, and the wool has worn thin in some places. One arm is dangling by a few threads, and stuffing is sticking out between it and the rest of the stuffed rabbit.

Illyria stands and walks out of the room. As she descends the stairs, she once again takes on Fred's appearance.

Downstairs, Roger is taking a nap on the couch; his glasses sit on a small table next to the couch. Trish is humming quietly as she loads the last of the plates into the dishwasher. The floor groans behind her, and she turns to see Illyria standing there.

"Oh…hi. So, what was in the box?"

Illyria holds up the stuffed animal in front of her. The female mortal's eyes start to fill with tears.

"Feigenbaum."

Illyria nods in confirmation.

Trish takes the Master of Chaos in her hands. "Fred had this thing since she was a little girl. She loved it so much, and even took it to college with her."

Trish wipes the tears from her eyes with her hand then looks at the bunny again.

"Looks like he's taken a bit of abuse…his arm is almost torn off."

Illyria nods, and then speaks (despite maintaining Fred's form, she still uses her own voice). "Could you fix it?"

Trish looks up at Illyria in surprise, and then smiles. "Sure, honey, I'd be glad to. Just put it next to the sewing machine and I'll take care of it when I finish cleaning up in here."

Mommy did a good job, Fred comments. Illyria does not disagree; the stitch lines are barely visible.

Smiling, Illyria places the Master of Chaos next to the pillow. Looking at it brings back (Fred's) memories of snuggling up to it underneath the covers as a child.

It has gotten dark outside. The mortals have already gone to bed; Illyria has to be extra careful not to make noise. She is not all that tired; she still has a few days to go before the lack of sleep starts to take a toll. However, Feigenbaum's return makes the Fred inside of her yearn for what the mortals refer to as "nostalgia."

Illyria once again changes her outer appearance. Only this time, instead of changing into Fred-form, she makes her body suit dissolve into nothing. She will re-form it in the morning.

Illyria climbs under the covers naked; she (or Fred, perhaps) loves the feel of the soft, warm sheets against her cold, bluish-pale skin. Hugging the Master of Chaos between her breasts, she drifts off to sleep.

And dreams.

--

A/N: I thought of simply making this a second chapter of the first story (The Voice Within). However, I decided in the end that I wanted each to be judged on their own merits, rather than the two together being judged as a whole. I'm thinking about turning this into a series; if so, I will eventually have some new and exciting things start happening, such as Illyria meeting up with someone else from the Buffyverse, etc. What do you think? R&R, please!