Author's Note: This story is a repost from my old (and now deleted) account. Just an FYI.
It was only the rain that willed Angel's eyes opened. The rain that hadn't ceased to stop, the rain that made it seem as though it was pouring simply because the heavens were weeping at all of the destruction he'd caused. Illyria was kneeling above him, just watching silently as he stirred awake. Blood ran down his face and it joined the pool that had surrounded him from his other injuries. His battle axe lay still in his hand and relief washed over him when he was able to grip it without a struggle. All of his limbs still seemed to work even if he couldn't really feel them.
"You're not dead," said the blue demon, and Angel was almost sure he could hear a hint of happiness in her voice.
Angel tried to speak, but instead he sputtered blood.
The blue demon was standing now, looking out into the horizon. The sun was due to rise soon and if Angel didn't get inside, he'd be reduced to a pile of dust within seconds. "We need to find shelter," she said, leaning down and thrusting Angel over her shoulder.
He let out a shrill cry, but the pain quickly subsided. "The Hyperion..." he coughed, "The hotel."
Illyria paused, considering. She knew where the hotel was located from the memories inside the brain she'd taken over from Fred, but she chose to ignore the nostalgia it brought her. The feelings and attachments she had grown since overtaking the shell had grown bothersome, but she was too grief-stricken and too exhausted to care.
Inside the hotel, she positioned Angel on the couch by his old office then awaited his next command.
"There's some first aid supplies in the back," he said, wincing with pain as he tried to sit up. "Do you know how to use it?"
Illyria returned with the box and sat it on the table. "Fred has done this for you before," she answered, and knelt down beside the Vampire. "Would you like for me to be her?"
He stared at her for a long time. "No," he said, finally, "you're fine."
From the looks of it, he'd seemed to have broken a few bones and had many more injuries that, obviously, a simple band-aid would be able to fix. Regardless, he was still lucky to be alive - or, undead in his case. Now all he needed was to feed and luckily for him, there was still a jar or two left of pig's blood in the refrigerator.
"How did the others die?" he asked, hesitantly, after finishing up the two jars quickly, "Did they last long?"
Illyria, who'd been staring blankly outside the window, snapped her head around. "Your son came," she said, "he aided Gunn to safety." Angel had sat up, but quickly relaxed, silently thanking the heavens Connor hadn't been stupid enough to stay and fight. "Though, it is futile. His injury was far too severe. He would be long dead by now."
Angel let that register for a few minutes, but ultimately decided to push it out of his brain. "And Spike?"
"It's impossible to search through such chaos for such a creature whom only turns to dust once slain. He's probably long dead now too."
Her voice was bitter and hurt and angry - much like it usually was, but this time, for entirely different reasons. She had told them that she was feeling grief for Wesley, but it was clear, she was grieving for the rest of them now as well. The relief in her voice when Angel came to wasn't entirely unnoticeable and he'd come to realize that without one of them, Illyria would truly be lost in this world.
There was silence for a long time after that, but it didn't last very long, however, when clattering from the second floor could suddenly be heard. Illyria looked to Angel for permission to investigate, but he didn't want to risk her hurting an innocent who was probably just hiding. He stood, not without almost falling down a couple of times, and slowly made his way up stairs. Illyria followed, but kept her distance. Eventually, he found the room it was coming from and kicked down the door.
The green demon yelled, his hands flying over his mouth to cup his screams. "Angel?" he asked, finally taking notice of his two friends standing outside the door. "What... what are you-"
He had to lean against the door frame to support himself, but once he did that, the Vampire was able to ignore the pain long enough to talk to the demon without doubling over. "I could ask you the same question."
Lorne's eyes narrowed. "I was gonna get out of town," he said, with a sigh, "but... it was too late. Hell had been unleashed out there and well, this was the only place I knew of where I could hide. At least for a little while."
Angel paused. "I'm sorry-"
"Don't." His voice was hard, but not harsh. He didn't want to have this talk right now - hell, he never wanted to have it. Instead, he stared at the two of them for a moment, then asked: "Is this the whole gang, now?"
"We aren't sure, yet."
"Wesley's dead," added Illyria, "More than likely, Spike and Gunn are as well."
Lorne slide down into the chair behind him, the color in his face draining.
"I'm going to look for them," said Angel, "as soon as I can walk without falling over. I have to find Connor, anyway."
Illyria shook her head. "You're in no shape to leave. Let me search for them."
Angel, for the life of him, couldn't come up with an argument plausible enough to stop her, so instead he allowed her to go. She was right, he wasn't in good enough shape to leave: it had almost killed him to make it up to the second floor and all of this standing was enough to knock him out again, but there was no time for resting. As far as he could tell from up on Illyria's shoulders during the walk to the hotel, there were no demons in sight. That sounded like a good thing, but he couldn't help but get the feeling more was coming.
More would always come.
All of that time Wolfram & Hart spent on their apocalypse, there was no way it could have been that easy. There was supposed to fire and destruction and death and blood and chaos... he would go up against the Senior Partners - the real evil SOBs in charge of Wolfram & Hart - and he'd beat them. It'd be a long, hard battle, but in the end, he would have won. That's what this battle was supposed to be like. But, it wasn't. It was just a circle of evil creatures and a swarm of other-worldly demons. Deep inside, however, he knew he was only making excuses. One word prevented him from believing this was "the" apocalypse he'd been hearing about from day one:
But, he'd signed it away. That memory had escaped him until now. If this was the apocalypse he'd been told of since arriving in Los Angeles, he had chosen a side, he had chosen the right side, and by logic, he should be human now. But, he wasn't. And, now he never would be.
He couldn't hold back the tears any longer. This wasn't easy. This was hell. Cordelia, Fred, Wesley, Gunn... he'd lost his entire crew within a matter of one measly year and why? Wolfram & Hart. He'd lost sight of the mission and even Cordy's temporary appearance wasn't enough to get him back on track. In retrospect, it sort of made it worse. Now, he wondered, if the vision had been planted. Now, he wondered, if he had only waited just a bit longer, would things have been different?
Now, he finally realized, he should have told Wolfram & Hart to shove it.
But, he didn't. And, now, his family was dead.
The hospital was overrun with L.A residents. Ambulance after ambulance wheeled in countless victims, lifeless bodies littered both the outside and in, but Illyria paid no mind to the carnage. She shoved through the ridiculous line at the reception desk and slammed her hands down in front of the already deathly frightened nurse. "Charles Gunn," was all she said and with a quick search through the hospitals database, the nurse gave Illyria his room number.
A group of doctor's stood outside his room and a good portion of them ran screaming at the sight of the blue demon. The one that stayed, however, simply did because the shock was too much to allow him to move at all. He'd seen a lot of weird things since last night, but nothing like this up close.
"Is he dead?" she asked, indicating the room.
The doctor's eyes flickered from her, to the door, and back. "I don't think so," he stuttered, breathlessly, and finally got the urge to run like hell.
Though her fingers itched to tear the door down with a single shove, she placed one hand on the knob and turned it gently. Her head peeked around the corner and she scanned the room, until her eyes finally rested on a sleeping Gunn in the middle. The monitor next to him beeped calmly, but the demon couldn't help but notice the large bandage covering his torso. His face held a few bruises as well - even his arm was in a cast, but all in all, he seemed to be fine.
The low sound of faint crying stirred him awake and when he turned his head to the right, she was sitting next to him, clutching his hand and crying tears of joy that he was alright. "Fred...?" he asked, his voice hoarse. "It's you."
"I'm here, Charles," she breathed, her voice quivering. "I'm here."
He gripped her hand tightly. "I remember now... Connor brought me here. I was dying."
"But, you're okay now," said the brunette, tears staining her cheeks. "You're alive and you're okay."
Gunn gripped her hand even tightly, savoring the moment for one more second. "I am," he agreed, then finally let go, "but, you're not Fred." She sat back, the expression on her face fading. Within seconds, she was blue again: she was Illyria. She stood up, anger clouding her face but she said nothing. "You've got to stop this. You're not her."
"Then, who am I?" she screeched, her head snapping back to glare at him. "I can't be Illyria: God King the Primordium. I can't be Winifred Burkle. I'm nothing." Her eyes fixated on the cold, beige-tiled floor. "These feelings, these thoughts... they're not mine! And, they can't be her's."
"I don't know..." said Gunn, "I don't have the answers. All I know is that you fought beside me - beside us. That's what matters right now."
"Yet, I live." She turned around to face him again, uncaring that mortal tears slid down her cheeks. "I live to see another day when I destroyed everything that Winifred Burkle is, was, and ever would be."
Gunn smirked at the irony. "We couldn't take you out if we tried."
But, Illyria ignored him. Instead, she paced in front of him slowly, trying to make sense of everything she was thinking and feeling. "The Vampire would tear one end of the Earth up to the other to destroy those who hurt the ones he loves. Yet, I live - only because he... and you... and they... are attached to this shell."
"And, so are you."
Her head snapped up to look at Gunn and the expression she wore, he was sure, could melt him to stone. But, she said nothing. She simply stared at him: helplessly and hopelessly.
Because he was right.
"I figured you'd be here."
Angel, who'd been tending to a few other wounds he'd only just discovered, followed the voice just out of range until his eyes fell on his son. Connor descended the stairs with a pep in his step and a weapon in his hand. His mouth was bloody and his clothes were dirty and he was obviously soaked from the rain, but he still wore a smile on his face.
"You're enjoying this too much," said the boy's father and willed himself to stand.
"I know you told me to go away," Connor shrugged, setting down his weapon on the table, "and I did. For about five seconds until all hell broke loose."
"Is it still bad out there?"
"Not like it was," he said. "The death toll is pretty high. There aren't as near as many demons as there was earlier." The alley had, obviously, been the center point where they'd come from, but the battle had continued to spread until it reached every corner of Los Angeles. The creatures that already inhabited the city felt it was as good a time as any to start having their own fun, but the smarter ones got out of town while they still could. Angel could remember Spike calling out to him as more and more demons appeared from within the portal Wolfram & Hart created but he kept his confidence up to the very moment he'd lost consciousness. That thought drove him to wonder if he'd been the first one down, but then he remembered all of them had been separated at some point.
Angel's focus at the beginning was to defeat the dragon. Illyria had eventually descended deep into the mob of demons, while Spike assisted Gunn as he took on his "30,000 on the left." His memory let him down however, because the more he tried to remember, the more it all just bled together into one giant cloud of fog. There was rain and there was blood and there were creatures from every dimension Wolfram & Hart could access and he swung wildly at them - ripping them apart piece by piece. His body had already ached from his fight from Hamilton, but the blood belonging to the liaison had been coursing through his veins and that gave him enough power to rip through his enemies with ease for at least the first thirty minutes of the fight.
It wasn't important, but he still wondered what had finally gave him the KO. Was it a particular demon? Or just the battle in general?
"I'm sorry I didn't come sooner," continued Connor, interrupting Angel's thoughts. "I needed to get my parents out of town."
Angel ignored the instant pang of jealousy he felt at the word 'parents'. "It's okay - but, don't apologize. This wasn't your fight."
Connor leaned forward and began to sift through the first aid kit for a few bandages. "I couldn't find your other friend... Spike, right?" He slowly rubbed away the dried blood on his lip with a clinical wipe, then taped a few bandages to the rest of his wounds. "I'd try to track him, but I'm not familiar-" he stopped and instead of continuing, just shook his head. He still wasn't used to this superhuman stuff, and even though his memories had returned to him, the newer ones were more prominent.
"Don't worry about it," said Angel, "I'm not."
Okay, maybe that was sort of a lie. Spike had fought beside him, even when he didn't need to. He could've hopped the first flight to wherever Buffy was staying right now, but instead he stayed right in Los Angeles and went into a battle that they were all sure they were going to lose. To save the world. Even if Angel didn't want to admit it, Spike had definitely changed. Maybe not his personality, maybe not deep down in his non-beating heart, but his actions were that of a Champion's now: not a soulless, killing machine.
Even if, Angel thought, he was a moron.
"I have to find Spike," said Illyria, finally breaking the long, intense silence that had overtaken the room after her embarrassing outburst. "If he's still alive. Angel and the others are at the hotel."
Gunn had managed to sit up now and was enjoying a not so nice, but still good enough to eat hospital dinner. "The Hyperion?" he asked, with a bit of shock, but it actually wasn't all that shocking. Wolfram & Hart was definitely out of the question, even if the building hadn't practically collapsed. "What others? As far as I know, we're the only ones left."
"Lorne and Connor," she answered, stopping to glance back at him on the way out. "Do you need me to take you there?"
He hesitated, clearly considering it, but ultimately declined. If Illyria was right about the streets being somewhat empty, he'd be able to make it to the hotel safely. He'd rather be there than at the hospital, but right now - he was feeling monumentally better and he didn't want to risk anything. So, he decided to sit tight - at least until he'd had a chance to rest a bit longer.
The blue demon silently swore to herself as she searched the streets of Los Angeles for her vampire companion. If her powers hadn't had been wrongfully stolen from her, this wouldn't have happened. Not only would she have been able to find Spike by now, but she'd also have been able to destroy every enemy the Wolf, Ram, & Hart had tried to throw at them with a single swoop.
This shell never ceased to anger her, whether it was resisting her power or forcing her to feel unexplainable and infuriatingly painful human emotions. Why her Qwa'ha Xahn had chosen such a meager, breakable frame she'd never understand.
Growing fed up with looking, Illyria returned to the alley where the battle had begun. Demonic corpses littered the ground, but she paid no mind to them and tossed them aside. "Spike!" she called out into nothing, but the rain was too loud and the destruction was too great for even a creature with super-hearing to comprehend what she was saying. "Spike!" she hissed again, louder, but her voice didn't reach any farther than it had the first time.
Wherever he was - dead or not - Illyria decided she wasn't going to find him. Her mind shifted focus, however, when she quickly realized the sun had not risen. Darkness still encircled the city of Los Angeles and the rain still beat heavily into the ground. Something wasn't right. She just needed to find out what.
"The sun has not yet appeared," said the blue demon, rushing inside the hotel. "It was supposed to have risen over an hour ago, yet the darkness still remains."
"I don't think we have to worry," said Angel, once Connor tried to insist on jumping back out there to fight. The streets were practically empty right now and he hoped they'd stay that way, if only for a little while longer. "Not now anyway. We have to focus on healing, otherwise we'll never be able to get things back to the way they were."
Lorne tilted his head. "I'm sorry, sugar," he said, regretfully, "but things will never be the way they were. Not after all this."
That seemed to hit him like a ton of bricks, so all he did was stay silent. He was so tired, so exhausted... from just everything. He healed quickly, yes, but it seemed for every wound that closed another would begin to ache in its place and he hadn't rested in days. But, of course, Champions didn't get off days. Could he even call himself that anymore? It was becoming increasingly obvious his plan to take down the law firm had failed. The demons were dead, yes, but L.A remained an empty shell of its former self. If, somehow, the sun rose again and the battle truly was over, it would take months to restore order. Probably even longer.
"Damn... the morale in this place sure has hit an all time low, huh?"
The room turned its attention toward the door and all of them smiled when their eyes fell on Gunn. He was nursing one hell of an injury, but he seemed to be standing on his own - which is more than Angel could say for himself earlier. Still he wobbled as he descended the steps and Illyria quickly rushed to his side to lead him to the cluster of the couches the others were sitting on.
"Glad to see you made it in one piece," said Angel, forcing himself to sit up.
Gunn shrugged, a light grin forming on his lips. "I knew if I died you'd all miss me too much." He glanced over his shoulder at Connor, who was sorting out the stash of weapons he'd brung. "Yo, kid... you saved my life."
Connor smiled. "You're welcome."
Eventually, they'd all managed to take a seat - with the exception of Illyria - and Angel had decided this was their best opportunity to start coming up with a plan. "We're not in the best of shape right now," he began, standing in front of them all. "Gunn and I are the worst off... but hell, even Illyria's got a few injuries of her own. You all know we have to get back out there, though. We can't leave L.A like it is. We pissed off Wolfram & Hart, royally, and all those demons? That's just the beginning."
"Oh, will you bloody give it up with the speech-giving?" said a voice from their right and it wasn't hard to guess who it belonged to. "No one's buying it, anyway."
"Spike!" Illyria called out, rushing to his side. "I tried searching for you, but to no avail. Where were you?"
The Vampire gripped onto the blue demon's shoulders tightly as she helped him over to where the others were sitting. The left side of his face was incredibly bruised and swollen, his right arm laid limp beside him, and a large stake protruded from just above his non-beating heart. "Someone missed the mark," said Connor, handing the first aid kit to Illyria so she could begin patching him up. "Demon?"
"Bastard turned it around on me," he sputtered between coughs. "But, I got him. Thought I was dust, though. I passed out... not far from the alley."
"You're lucky to be alive," said Illyria, kneeling next to Spike to nurse his chest wound. She made no effort to hide the panic in her voice and it was quite clear she was more than relieved Spike was okay. She had been on edge since Wesley had died and incredibly worried the others were going to join him. "All of you. Look how banged up you are. If Wolfram & Hart had let out even two or three more of them things..."
"Illyria..." warned Gunn, as her voice continued to falter from demonic to human-like: Fred-like.
She closed her mouth immediately, but didn't bother to look at him. Instead, she placed her right hand around the wood inside Spike's chest and yanked backwards quickly, causing him to howl with intense pain. "Bloody hell," he squalled, both hands immediately cupping the large hole that the stake had left. "Wouldn't hurt to be a bit more gentle, pet?"
"I'm going out," said Connor, suddenly, picking up his battle axe. "I can get some more supplies, food... we're gonna need it." He was almost at the door when Angel stopped him. "Dad... I'm okay. It's fine out there, like you said, remember?"
The Vampire took a long, hard look at his son. "You shouldn't be doing this..." he said, after a moment, "you should be with your family."
Connor's eyes flickered from the others to the room, then back to the Vampire before him. "I am."
Angel couldn't suppress the large grin on his face now, but he resisted the urge to hug his son and instead offered him a quick pat on the back. Mid-way out Connor stopped, backing away from the now open door. "What is it?" asked Angel, circling around his son to look outside.
"Wesley? How did..." he stuttered, dumbfoundedly, as his eyes fell on the Brit. He stood there looking exactly as he did when Angel last saw him and definitely not as though he'd just been murdered. The Vampire's expression, however, quickly turned sour when his eyes traveled about an inch to his left. "Lilah!" Did Wolfram & Hart actually think they were going to try and cut a deal with him? Again? "You have got to be kidding me."
"Well," grinned the former lawyer, looking from Angel to Wesley and back again, "isn't this interesting?"