A.N.: This is my first time writing any kind of fanfiction. As a general rule, writing is not my creative medium of choice. But I read somewhere that Joss Whedon intended, had "Angel" gotten a sixth season like it was supposed to, that Fred would somehow how come back, retake her body and that Illyria would be a force she could call on when she needed to. That idea really stuck with me. I like the idea of a non-corporeal power struggle over the control of a shared body, so I decided to try my hand at writing how I think that would go.
The first few chapters are going to be an alternate perspective on scenes from the show, to provide a bit of lead-up.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. They are copyright Joss Whedon and 20th Century FOX.
"Please. Wesley, why can't I stay?"
The words are ripped from her, torn out to be hurled across the laboratory at him. Fred watches, in her body but not in it. Watches as the words come out of a mouth that used to be hers. She tries to fight, to hold them in her soul, her essence, whatever is left of who she is. But the effort is wasted. She hears her voice, and sees the words hit Wesley with the force of a train.
Wesley reels from the impact, staggers, cries out.
He turns away, but Fred is nowhere and everywhere. She can still see his face. She is not spared even that. The anguish, the utter despair in Wesley's expression, it's more than she can bear. She fights harder, trying to find some way to surface, to get past the being that has taken her hostage, body and soul.
But it is all for naught. The thing, Illyria, has complete and utter control. At the sound of Wesley's voice it stops, puzzled, no longer tearing words from Fred's memories. A small comfort.
"Leave," Wesley implores.
Fred wishes desperately that it would listen. Illyria's presence is tearing Wesley apart, and she doesn't want to watch any longer. How she wishes she could stay with him forever, but she is tied to this thing, this demon housed in her body, and for her to stay it must, too. She struggles, tries to compel Illyria to heed his words.
"I have nowhere to go! My kingdom is long dead! Long dead."
Illyria's voice is strained, desperate almost. Fred feels a moment of sympathy for the creature. She knows what it is to feel lost, to be thrust suddenly into a world she doesn't know. Fred's essence stills, stopping her fruitless struggle for the time being. She watches as Wesley listens to Illyria's words, his face a mask of pain.
"There's, so much I don't understand. I've become... overwhelmed. I'm unsure of my place," Illyria says, its voice is tinged with despair.
Wesley whips around.
"Your place," he bites out, "is with the rest of your people! Dead, and turned to ash."
His anger, the darkness bubbling out of him, it scares Fred. It's been so long since she's seen him his way. She had hoped she never would again. To think, that she is causing this…
Illyria stares at Wesley, and Fred can feel the anger bubbling within it. She is afraid that it will strike Wesley, kill him for his outburst. She can't bear watching her body being used to destroy the man she loves. Remembering how Angel tried to control his demon while in Pylea, she forgoes fighting and tries a different tact. Fred throws as many calming and peaceful emotions as she can muster at Illyria, hoping to temper it's fury and somehow prevent the massacre she feels coming.
"Perhaps," Illyria says calmly, reasonably, the tone a stark contrast to the unbridled fury that had been boiling inside it a moment before.
Fred is shocked by the reply. She isn't sure if it was her efforts, or if Illyria is merely weary from the shock of finding the world so different from how she had left it. Either way, it is as if someone flipped a switch and Illyria's anger is all but gone.
Wesley stares, almost as surprised as Fred, his anger also quelled for the time being. Seeing that it has his attention, Illyria continues.
"But I exist here."
Illyria's voice has lost most of it's power and bravado. Wesley's face softens a fraction, a bit of empathy for this lost creature working it's way into his mind. This is one of the many reasons she loves him, Fred thinks to herself. His heart is bigger and kinder than even he knows. Seeing him like this, broken but still caring, it breaks her heart.
Illyria takes a few steps forwards.
"I'll need your help. Wesley."
At the sound of his name, said in a voice so much like that of the woman he loves, Wesley's face starts to crumple, contorting with the torrent of emotions struggling to take hold of him. His answer is softer, more resigned.
"If I were to help you find your way, you have to learn to change."
Illyria tilts its head, not understanding.
"You mustn't kill," Wesley explains, like a schoolteacher dealing with an unruly child.
"You killed the Qua'hazan. In defiance of your leader," Illyria replies, a touch of it's old defiance back.
"He murdered the woman I love," Wesley chokes out, anger creeping back into his voice.
Illyria nods in understanding.
"And that made it just."
"No," Wesley replies quickly, voice cracking with despair. "It wasn't just."
Fred watches Wesley's body droop, sagging resignedly at the horror his life is slowly becoming. She can see, now, what the outcome of this encounter will be, and knows that Wesley will be destroyed by it. She tries again to make Illyria leave, to force it to let Wesley be, let him work through his grief instead of making the choice she knows he is about to make.
She may as well be trying to move a mountain.
"I'm probably the last man in the world to teach you what's right," Wesley says, looking at Illyria with a mixture of pity and trepidation. Illyria takes a few more steps towards him.
"But you will. If I abide. You will help me."
Wesley's reply comes out in a whisper.
No! Fred cries out.
Illyria studies Wesley, processing his answer.
"Because I look like her?"
Wesley blinks, holding back tears.
"Yes," he says, barely audible.
Fred lets out a sob that nobody hears. Oh Wesley. Sweet, kindhearted Wesley.
He would do anything for her, for any small part of her, the shell of her, even if it destroys him. She tries to scream, to tell him to go, to move on with his life, but nobody can hear her. And deep down, a small, selfish part of her is glad, happy that she will see him still. A part of her hopes that maybe, just maybe, she'll be able to find a way to break through, to make it back to him.
Illyria turns, walks over to the rail. It looks out over Fred's laboratory, down at the sarcophagus that had held it prisoner for millennia.
"We cling to what is gone," it says. "Is there anything in this life but grief?"
Wesley comes to stand beside Illyria, looking down at the lab.
"There's love," he answers, his voice dull, empty, as if he, too, has become a shell. Illyria stands beside him, taking in what he is saying, offering no opinion. For once.
"There's hope," he continues. "For some. There's hope that you'll find something worthy. That your life will lead you to some joy. That after everything, you can still be surprised."
After a pause Illyria stirs.
"Is that enough?" it asks, looking up at Wesley. "Is that enough to live on?"
Wesley turns and looks at it, studying what used to be Fred's face. Then, without a word, he turns and walks out of the laboratory, leaving Fred alone with Illyria.
Fred wishes she could cry, feel the warm comfort of tears running down her face. The sadness at seeing Wesley so broken, it rips at her, shredding what is left of her being. When she'd had a body she would have thrown herself down and sobbed for hours. Instead she fights, pummeling the essence of Illyria, throwing herself against it in vain. Screaming into the void.
Finally, after several minutes, she becomes weary, emotionally exhausted, and ceases her metaphysical assault.
Are you done now?
Fred is dumbfounded. The words come from Illyria, but their body's mouth doesn't move. Instead the words float into Fred's mind, felt as much as heard.
Do not think you can fight me. I am the only one in control. You are here only because I allow it.
Then why didn't you hurt Wesley when you wanted to? Why do you acknowledge me now? Fred screams into the nothingness.
Because it suited me, Illyria states dismissively. Do not flatter yourself that it had anything to do with you. Now be gone. I've had enough of your wailing for today.
Fred feels her essence suddenly and forcefully being pulled back down, being smothered beneath Illyria. She screams, claws for the surface. But Illyria is relentless, pushing her down, hiding her away in a dark corner of what used to be Fred's brain. Fred feels herself being compressed, like she is being sucked into a box too small to hold her. She cries out for Wesley, but with a final shove Illyria tucks her away, not gone, but hidden, where she no longer has conscious thought or action. Keeping her there until it finds use for her again.
As Illyria turns to leave the laboratory, a whimper escapes unbidden from it's lips, and a tear rolls down it's cheek.