This was my contribution to an August 2008 fanfic challenge at IDW Comic's message forums.

Rating: PG

Challenge: Write a fic (any length) switching at least once between Fred's and Illyria's perspectives (in either 1st or 3rd person.) The fic should be set at some point during the time frame of After the Fall (aka AtS Season 6), exploring what it is like for both Illyria and Fred to be sharing a body and struggling against each other.

For readers unfamiliar with the comics, the ficlet I've written is a scene from Spike: After the Fall Issue 1, in which Spike discovers a possibly resurrected Fred after L.A. gets sucked into a hell dimension. I've "novelized" the scene, and added what I imagined Fred's thoughts might be.

Winifred Rising

Death shouldn't be this crowded.

Fred woke up, and within minutes came to that conclusion. She'd had a feeling that dying was gonna be rough, and she'd been right...hurt like a possum passin' peach pits, as her father would say. And then some.

And then a lot.

And then more than anyone could imagine.

The pain had been unbearable; she'd actually felt her stomach squirm and twist as though trying to escape from its body cavity and jump clear of the lava flowing there... That's stupid, though; who'd swallow lava? Besides Godzilla. And that fire-eater guy at the state fair midway. Why is everything so TIGHT?

Underneath her, and wedged into the back side of her brain (with barely room for Fred herself), Illyria lay unconscious.

Fred's gut felt better now. Still, she stayed curled in the same fetal position that she'd taken in her bed -- afraid to move, afraid to look. She knew the bed was gone. Wesley is gone too My Qwa'ha Xahn is gone.

"Who said that?" Fred whispered. No one answered. Half-remembered images flickered and faded: Mama and Daddy on their way to Hawaii; a tall man's fist smashing into her face; Charles on a table in somebody's cellar. A clipboard, a foul-tasting petri dish, a surge of grief, and rain.

There was supposed to be a light to go into when you died, wasn't there? And pearly gates? What was taking so long?

"Is it over?"

She cracked her eyes open the least little bit, and saw pavement...and a small, thin line of fire. I think... she said to herself slowly, I think I'm in Hell.

Despair welled up and threatened to drown her. Trapped in the horror of Pylea, then to finally escape, only to be thrown right back into someplace just as bad...and just as lonely.

I can't do it again. Not anymore. I know I have to, God, 'cause there's nothing else to do; what can't be cured must be endured; where there's a will, there's a way...

Please don't make me do this by myself.



Wonderful, beloved, familiar voice; wonderful gentle face; wonderful strong arms tightening around her and picking her up. Wonderful -- even -- beautiful, heavenly, cigarette-reeking, beat-up old black coat.

"...and probably Gunn. Point is, not us." Most of what he was saying didn't even register; the words simply spilled into her ear in a lovely, soothing ramble. She'd be able to handle Pylea Part Two after all: this time she'd have a companion. Spike was walking now, carrying her; murmuring something about finding a safe place for them to stay. Gotta ask him about the others. Did I ask yet? Where's Wesley, and Charles…?

Suddenly there was confusion as he set her on her feet. Someone -- not her; of that she was fairly certain -- was screaming. What was it they wanted? Listen, listen, listen.

Listen…to the sound of Illyria clawing her way to the surface.

MY shell. Something soft and glowing blocked the Old One's path; she shoved it aside and flowed seamlessly through the body, connecting with muscles and nerve ganglia. The glowing thing scrambled briefly for a hold. Then it loosened, went limp, and fell back into the shell's recesses.

Fred felt the massive blue block of pressure surge past her. She was dimly aware that she was walking forward, even as her vision began to blur. Seconds later, she passed out.

And because of that, she missed learning that she would never be alone here. Always, there would be someone with her.

As close, as her daddy would say, as two peas in a pod.


Be careful what you wish for.

The End