Author: Jedi Buttercup
Summary: Angel, Drive. The taste of ash still lingers on the back of her tongue. 500 words.
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not. I claim nothing but the plot.
Spoilers: "Not Fade Away" (Angel 5.22); "Let the Games Begin" (Drive 1.3)
Notes: Because Amy Acker plays Kathryn Tully, and I couldn't resist.
When she wakes up after the last battle, drenched in blood not her own and aching from the expenditure of too much power, she is no longer in the Los Angeles she knows. She is, instead, in the Los Angeles that was, before Fred, before Wesley, before Angel. Time has been rolled up like thread on a spool, and Fate's skein has been unwound. All has been made new at the touch of her hand-- and yet, and yet. The taste of ash still lingers on the back of her tongue.
She considers the situation at length as she picks herself up off the pavement to seek shelter and sustenance. She gleans the date from a discarded newspaper, then compares it to the timeline of the shell's memories with a spasm of disgust; the Wesley that currently existed was a mere shadow of her last Qwa'ha Xahn, and Drusilla's Spike was not fit to lick the blood from the boots of her favorite pet. She had initiated the trip in a moment of weakness, intending to save them, but it will be years before they are worthy of her notice, and even that is only assured if events unfold as they had Before. They are not hers now-- and they would, in fact, have greater chances of survival if they never met her in the first place.
In a fit of rage she rips the spines from an unsuspecting Knox and Vail, then flees east. World conquest is no more possible now than it was in the ruins of Vahla ha'nesh; instead, she takes a new name and walks the world, restlessly seeking fulfillment of an all-too-human need she prefers not to name.
Eventually, she settles; Nebraska is as good a place to (re)learn the art of being woman as any. It is far from the family of the shell, who live in Texas; it is far from any prominent focal point of the halfbreed community. The customs of the humans are demeaning and illogical, and it is many months before she can favor the residents of Hastings with a smile that is not falsely copied from the shell's memories, but it had been Wesley's wish for her to live, so she bears it.
Then she meets Alex Tully, and begins to focus not on the past, but the present.
Almost, she forgets that she was once Illyria, god-king of the primordium. What use is supernatural strength or the ability to warp the fabric of space-time to a rehabilitated racer and wheelman turned gardener? Together they tend the song of the green, and she discovers the meaning of joy.
Almost, however, is not quite. When Wolfram and Hart roar back into her life to run her husband like a rat in their latest experimental maze, Kathryn plays quiet, banking the memory of that joy in her heart like an ember, and waits for the perfect moment.
Alex is not Wesley, and this time there will be no suicidal last stand.