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The Alley By, Clayton Overstreet
If Angel was only 10 minutes longer...
Elyria gritted her teeth as Angel said, "I kinda want to slay the dragon. Let's go to work." It hurt so much, having lost Wesley. These emotions had to be what allowed humans to overthrow the Ancients, after her time. Right now she would have even faced herself if it meant taking her revenge for this emptiness she felt now. They waded in, two vampires, a half dead human, and an elder god devoid of most of her power. Hacking away at the monsters and demons in front of her she felt like screaming. In her time such creatures would not be able to harm her. Her jaws were so huge she could swallow their legions in mere moments. At her word they would have rather torn their own throats open rather than face her. And the Wolf, Ram, and Hart would have never dared stand against... A memory from those times flickered across her mind as she slew yet another beast and Gunn took a slice to the side. Spike and Angel, covered in dragon blood that they licked from their faces guarded over him as he struck out between them at the beasts. Angel was doing most of the work. Elyria could smell Hamilton's blood and sense the power coursing through him. "I have a plan!" She said. Taking a slice across the cheek from a talon Spike snarled back to her, "Then do it love! We 'aven't got all night!" Lowering her weapon Elyria shouted, her voice shaking the very street. She spoke in a language older than words and inside their minds Spike and Angel both heard it as clear as if she'd been speaking English, because their demons heard and understood. And slowly the fighting paused. "I am Elyria, god-king of this world and countless others! You seek to stand against me, side by side with Wolfram and Hart? Fools! I have crossed epochs to stand here now and the likes of you will not stand against me!" Her name passed through the lips of demons and monsters and a few evil humans. Those who did not know it heard whispers from the others in the dark legion. Tales out of nightmares from a time when demons ruled the Earth and fought with gods. And above them all, watching the fight for her own amusement sat and slithered the thing known as Elyria. "Serve me now, and slaughter all who would dare stand in my way, or I swear by the birthing darkness I will kill you slowly in the most inventive ways I can think of!" Without hesitation some of the demons, including the largest that towered almost a hundred feet in the air, turned on their fellows as Angel and Spike watched in shock. Angel nodded, "Not bad." "True that," Gunn gasped. Spike asked, "But what happens when they figure out that Elyria here isn't up to snuff?" "Then we will die," Elyria said staring at the carnage. "But we were going to do that anyway so I thought we'd have them take each other apart first." "Well I'm impressed," Gunn coughed, rain running over him in waves. "It's just too damn bad you ain't got those god-like powers of yours now." "Heh, if she did Charlie-boy she'd probably kill us for sport and go back to ruling over these guys. Ain't that right luv?" "Would you?" Angel asked. Elyria continued to stare at the mayhem. "Maybe I would have. But I fear I've become too human for that. I have experienced joys and sorrows beyond your feeble comprehension, but at the same time..." She frowned. "It's like the rapture thing in' nit?" Spike asked. She turned to look at him. "You always 'ear about ow the priests are waitin' fer the big old rapture to come and take 'em all up to heaven where they'll all be happy forever, but if it actually ever happened and you told 'em they were the only one's who got to go and nobody and nothing from here were goin' wif 'em they'd start wondering if they really wanted to." "So which is it Elyria? If you had the power to be your old self again, would you?" Angel asked. "I don't know." The fighting was stopping. There were many more demons who didn't recognize the name of Elyria than those that did and they had pretty much overwhelmed the one's that did. Now they were moving forward, fewer in number, but still a force far greater than they would ever be able to beat. "Then it's time we found out," Angel said. He reached into his pocket and his hand came out holding a small gold amulet, about the size of a quarter, hanging from a chain. "I was going to give this to Wes." "Is that wha' I think it is?" Spike asked. "You got your hands on that Aztec demon's talisman? I thought you got rid of that thing." "It's been a busy year. It was still sitting in Wes's desk." "Then why 'aven't you used it?" Spike yelled at him. "It's connected to a sun god, you English moron!" Angel said. "Bright and sunny aren't exactly powers I think either of us want to get to know better." "Good point." "Besides, we never did find out how to activate it." He tossed it to Elyria. "Can you make that thing work?" "What? You're giving it to 'er? We just stopped her from havin' the power to blow up the planet and now you want to make her sun-god powerful?" "We're dying anyway," Angel said. A monster ran towards him and he sliced its head off. "How do I activate it?" Elyria felt her pulse quicken, if that were possible. Everyone around her noticed. "I say let her do it," Charles said. The edges of his vision were turning black. "Fine," Spike said. "It's probably heart's blood..." Before he finished Elyria's hand reached out to a charging foe and snatched his beating heart from his chest. She pressed it to the talisman. "Nothing is happening." She threw the black thing away. Gunn said, "No, Spike's right. It makes sense. You just got the wrong heart." "Gunn, no!" Angel said. "Gotta be me man. The demon was after the hearts of heroes. I don't know if I qualify, but we're the only good guys around here and I'm the only human. We both know the dried up hunks of jerky in your chests won't do the trick." "Man's got a point," Spike said. "I do not wish to kill you." Elyria said. Gunn grinned at her. "I'm already dead. Besides, I spent a few weeks getting my heart ripped out of my chest. It's not so bad." He looked at Angel and Spike. "I'll say high to Wes for you." He reached into his waste band and pulled out a knife. Winking at Elyria he said, "See you on the other side." "No!" But it was too late. Gunn plunged the knife into his chest. Elyria felt her heart twist. Fred's memories and her own thoughts screamed. Her eyes flared with bloodlust and the approaching monsters all took a step back. Lightning flashed and she said, "Run!" "What?" Spike said. Elyria looked at him, reaching down to Gunn's body. "I said run." Angel nodded and grabbed Spike's arm. Spike looked at him in shock as Angel dragged both of them into a nearby dumpster and slammed the lid shut just as Elyria brought the amulet into contact with Gunn's blood, still gushing out of the hole in his heart. There was a flash of light and many demons went up in smoke. In the now red-hot glowing dumpster Spike and Angel beat out the fires caused by light slipping through the cracks and hitting their skin. The clouds blocking out the sky vanished in a heartbeat and even though it was night the sky was sapphire blue. Elyria felt power flow through her. The demons scattered, some trying to swarm her and others ran for their lives. Elyria raised one hand and in the same language she used before said, "I told you so." Light flared like a super nova. The demons were vaporized in a heartbeat. Turning to the cinders that were once Gunn's body she reached for the power again. She could feel his soul...and Wesley's... she could reach them and bring them back. "Elyria, no," Wesley's voice said. She saw him, looking at her across the dimensional barriers. "It hurts to much not to have you here. You are my teacher... my love." Gunn laughed. "Welcome to the human race sweetheart." "If you mean that Elyria then I have only one other thing to teach you. How to let go." "You say that because I am not Fred. You wish to be with her, even though you know that's impossible. I am sorry I took her from you." "I don't blame you Elyria. Fred wouldn't either. And you know, maybe she isn't as gone as we thought. Look, over there." She turned, as he indicated a place. Looking through worlds she saw one, not unlike the one her physical form occupied. There were Wesley and Fred... only different. They were actors in a television show suspiciously similar to the world they existed in. And as she saw that, she saw other worlds, like reflections in a mirror. In some Wesley and Fred were together... in others they never existed... in one they were shrimp. And somewhere Elyria was happily with him. An infinite number of universes with all the possibilities even she could imagine. "You think you're strong enough to make something like a soul vanish forever?" Wesley asked with a smile in his voice. "And here I thought you'd learned some humility." "The big guy up stairs..." Gunn said happily. "He's got plans for all of us. You just have to ride it out and see what's around the corner." "But... I can bring you back..." "No," they both said. Elyria wanted to bring them back. She had the power to destroy worlds and create them. Anything the sun could power so could she and the sun had made the Earth from a piece f itself. But as she stared at possible worlds spread out before her she remembered what it had been like, to be sucked back into the world. "Then maybe I should join you," she said. "Maybe, some day. Do you think you're ready for that? That you've finished everything you want to do in the world." "Angel talks about redemption. But I don't even have a soul to redeem." "Maybe you can earn one," Gunn said. "Only one way to find out." She nodded and a second later the light died. Cautiously Angel and Spike Broke open the melted lid of the garbage bin and looked out. "Is it over?" "Looks that way," Angel said. They came out, smoke and steam still coming off them and the street. Without looking at him Elyria handed Angel the amulet. "Take this away and never let me have it again." Watching the exchange Spike said, "You aren't going to keep it?" "I can not trust myself. Besides, it is a mere bauble. In my time I would have laughed at such a tiny power." "You know love, sometimes you're still way scary." "It's not over yet," Angel said, pocketing the medallion. "What? Are you kidding me?" Spike said. "We just wasted a freaking army sent by all the powers of evil. What the hell's going to come after us next?" "I don't know. But I drank some of Hamilton's blood. I can still feel the power of the senior partners coursing through me as strong as ever. And they can feel me." "They exist on many planes," Elyria said. "I saw them." She looked at Angel. "And I saw what you can become now, if you go to another dimension where you are less limited by your form. Where they are, you would have power as great as all of theirs combined." "Like he needed a bigger ego," Spike snorted. "Don't you get it you moron? If I'm that powerful they'll keep coming after me. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if the Powers the Be started gunning for me too." "Bloody hell. So what do we do?" "You two... I don't think you're as much of a threat. If they're all looking for me, you two need to get far away, at least until I figure out what to do. How to bring the fight to them." "And where would we be going then? Expecting us to join up with Buffy and the slayers?" "Buffy can handle herself." He shook his head. "Why are you asking me anyway? My plan was to die here!" "Alright, so what do you think?" He looked at Elyria. "You're a few billions years old. Got any bright ideas?" She shook her head. "I know one place you can go," Angel said. "Oz told me about a temple up in Tibet. It's where he learned to control his shape shifting. If nothing else see if you can find him. Maybe he can help you start over somewhere else." Spike said, "Start up a new gang then is it?" He looked at Elyria. "Whatever we do, we don't call our team Angel Investigations or the Scooby's. Deal?" She nodded. He turned back to Angel. "So what are you going to do?" "It's probably best if you don't know. So, are we done?" "I believe we can't do much more damage. And it's best if we move now," Elyria said. "Angel, I just want you to know," Spike said. "After savin' the world and all... I still think you're a total ponce and I hope to god that some day I'm there to beat you down... again." "Same here," Angel said. He shook Spike's hand and patted Elyria on the shoulder. Then he turned and disappeared into the night. "Well luv, don't know about you, but I could do with a drink," Spike said. "How about we go and close down a few bars?" "I think I would enjoy that," she said. "But how will we pay? We are now unemployed and our offices are rubble." Spike grinned. "Truth to tell, I spent about an hour today embezzling every cent I could from Wolfram and Hart's funds... world wide. Figured even if I died 'ere they wouldn't have the money to rebuild the LA offices or do any of their big evil and I wanted to do as much damage as I could before I went out. I also hacke din and changed all the names on the company's insurance to name me the only benificiary. Right now you're looking at the richest bloke in three dimensions." "Impressive." They left the alley. Up above the clouds came back and it started raining again, washing away the carbon ash that was all that remained of the largest demon army in centuries. A flash of lightning and the alley was empty, leaving only some melted walls and trash to show anyone had even been there. Lorne came running around the corner, ax in hand. "Hey guys, it's me! I couldn't just leave like..." He looked around. "Guys?"