Ficlet #6 of my Cycle Series. Sequel to Making Medicine. Spike/Fred; rated PG-13; set post-Not Fade Away.


Armistice Day

"Damn it, will you just be still a minute and LISTEN to me?" Cordelia shrieks, as Illyria shoves past her and slams against Willow's protective bubble. "Look, that thing's not going to give. And frankly, Anya and I are tired of holding hands and playing Red Rover with you, and I'm sure that Doyle has better things to do, too, although I'm not sure I want to know what those things are."

Allen Francis Doyle is struggling to hold onto one of Illyria's boots. "Don't knock 'em 'til you've tried 'em, Darlin'," he grunts, and then, "OW!" as the Old One pulls free and kicks him in the face. "Jaysus, I t'ink she broke my nose!"

"You're a ghost. It'll mend," Cordy sighs in exasperation.

"Give. Me. The. Shell."

Illyria whirls around now with wild, furious eyes and prepares to make another run at the force field. Anya quickly steps into her path. "Trust me, the human body is severely overrated. You should consider possessing a nice recently-deceased spiny anteater; they're very dangerous to touch and they have a four-headed penis."

Doyle boggles at her. "Feck off, are you serious?"

"Absolutely; they're not as dangerous as rabbits, of course, but then what is?"

"No, I mean about the four-headed penis-"

"ENOUGH!" Cordy yells, and her aura glares so brightly that the group inside the bubble have to hide their eyes. "God, where is a phantom Tylenol when I need one?" Hand on hip, she points one immaculately lacquered and manicured finger at Illyria. "You. Rainbow Brite. You are so not getting my friend's bod that it's not even up for discussion."

"Take care, Bitch Trollop, that I do not decide to inhabit your shell instead," the Old One snarls.

Cordelia rolls her eyes. "Been there, done that, have the maternity-top souvenir T-shirt. Oh, and good luck even finding MY shell; it's currently pushing up very stylish daisies in Forest Lawn."

"AAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEEE!" Illyria screams, and drives her fists into the floor.

They pass through it harmlessly, and this outrages and humiliates her even further. She throws a tantrum. Within seconds, she begins to lose shape and churns herself into a thrashing, lunging, nebulous blob. Doyle leans against the fireplace, crosses his arms, and watches her performance, commenting dryly, "Oh, that's dead fuckin' brill, dat is."

She hurls herself to her feet and reels through the room like a fly in a bottle, throwing off sparks; hammering at the invisible barrier over Fred and Spike. The blows send blue-white electrical currents rippling and crackling across the barrier's surface. Anya and Cordy leap back in alarm at her howls of anguish. "Do you think she'd like some juice?" Anya yells through the cacophony, her hands over her ears. "I always feel better when I have juice."

"I AM GONE, I AM NOTHING, I AM DISPO-"

"Illyria."

A quiet male voice, soft and cultured. It cuts through her screams and silences her. Those inside the force field hear nothing and see only a new ball of light passing through the front door, but to the spirits in the room it's a person, and it's familiar.

"Thank goodness," Cordelia sighs, and adds in a stage whisper, "Where have you been?"

Wesley doesn't answer. His focus is entirely on Illyria. They lock eyes, and he takes a few steps toward her.

"You exist," she says, with a touch of wonder in her otherwise dead voice.

"Yes."

He looks very much as he did during his last days of earthly life…but his bleakness, and his misery, have been replaced with an otherworldly calm. Illyria tilts her head in bewilderment, and her brow furrows.

"I don't understand this plane of existence. It confounds me."

"You'll get used to it. We all did. It's not a bad world, once you learn the ropes. Come with me, and I'll show you." He holds his hand out to her.

She looks back, once, at Fred.

Slowly, wordlessly…she lays her fingertips on his palm.

Allows his hand to close around them.

Allows him to lead her away.


The other ghosts watch them go. As they pass a chair, Halfrek appears in it, sitting politely and watching with her perennially cheerful smile. "Are you finished now?" she asks Anya.

"I hope so. These assignments are really eating into my quality time."

"Sorry about that," Doyle apologizes. "This one come up too quick to check schedules. Was you meetin' someone?"

"Yes," says Anya, and Hallie adds pleasantly, "We're going to visit the TAPS team and pretend to be orbs and then not say anything when they ask us to talk to them." She gathers up her purse and drifts through the wall with her fellow vengeance demon; faintly from the other side they hear her saying, "Would the porcupine-faced man like to come with us?"

There's only Cordy and Doyle left now. Together they gaze at the place where Illyria and her guide were last standing. "He never looked at her, not once, did'ja notice that?" Doyle notes, wondering. "Wes, I mean. At Fred."

Cordelia answers softly, "He couldn't bear to. I think if he'd looked he wouldn't have been able to leave. And he has to leave, to keep Illyria away from her."

"Where'll he take her, do you think?"

"No idea. Although if we're quiet, we could probably follow them at a discreet distance…"

Like fireflies, their lights wink out.

From behind the bubble Willow sees the last of the mysterious glowing balls vanish, and carefully, cautiously, she lets the force shield drop. When it does, Cordy darts back in for an instant, unseen by anyone; she slips behind Willow, lays her hands on the young witch's shoulders, and whispers something in her ear.


"Was that her?" Faith asks. She twirls the candlestick-cum-bludgeon restlessly. "I thought we were gonna see a big scary blue chick. I'm kind of disappointed."

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure that was Illyria…cleverly disguised as a package of firecrackers. We can relax now, though. I don't think she'll come back again."

Still in vamp face, Spike appears unconvinced. "What makes you say that?"

"I don't know how I know; I just know."

"A little birdie told you, I suppose," he scoffs.

"No, not a little birdie. It felt more…emu-size."

Several choice, mocking come-backs spring to mind for that…but then he remembers Tara's visit, and suddenly Willow doesn't sound quite so silly after all. He also remembers that Willow's just possibly saved his and Fred's lives, and for that he owes her big-time.

So he simply nods and says nothing.

Nought to do now but wait for Fred to awaken.