Title: Dice with the Universe Originally posted 11/03/04 for leni_ba's cya_ficathon on livejournal Characters: Focus on Illyria, but if you want to call a pairing, then Spike/Dru. Timeline: Through "Timebomb," but it's set in the Wishverse. (Just trust me). Disclaimer: All hail Joss and Mutant Enemy. I'm just playing. Thanks to my lovely beta velvetandlace and to romanyg, beccaelizabeth, flurblewig, violethamster, lady1raven and leni_ba for responding to my parallel universe vs. alternate dimensions debate.
Request: Characters/Pairings you want the story to focus in: Illyria/Spike Characters/Pairings you want in the story too: Any of the BtVS cast in the Wish!verse Things you want: Illyria time-jumping into the Wish-verse (can be same timeplace jump, or back in time), runs into Spike there Things you don't want: Go wild! Extras: Quite happy to have Spike / Dru together, and only friendship of a sort with Illyria. No need for PWP between the two (unless you want it!)
She’d been there before, and she was losing control. Time was a linear measure. Time was a personal force. Time couldn’t fight her will, not until she was trapped in the physical limitations of the shell; bound not only by time but by dimension. It would not obey and could not contain her. She’d had those conversations; she’d said those words and lifted those weapons. She’d felt the betrayal that once would never have reached her. Those who would harm her lay dead at her feet. Blew dust in the air. She reached the moment and she knew only in the moment, at the end, that her confusion wasn’t them but the shell breaking apart under her weight and strain. Her power bled out, leaking from her body in a slow steady seep she couldn’t control. Time circled and spun; falling and twisting and bleeding. Her companions lay dead. No, she rescued Gunn. No, they would destroy her. The challenge in Angel’s eyes. “You would do this to me?” And Wes said, “I’d try anyway. Every time.” She ripped apart. It was over and beginning and over again.
When she opened her eyes she was alone. The training room was different, unfamiliar. The moment was new. More than that, the air had a different quality. Things were the same, but everything had changed: the light was lower; the scents were sharper and sour; a low whine of tension was reaching her. Not a sound but a feeling. She wasn’t where she had been; something here was wrong. At a foundational level, something was wrong. The difference caught at the edge of her thoughts, just eluding her strangely limited and still foreign almost-human senses.
She heard them coming before they were on her. She hesitated, moved more slowly than usual. If they’d been expecting her they might have caught her, in that moment before time bent to her will, but they weren’t expecting her. The men with guns were on the ground before they could think to fire, almost before they knew she had not obeyed their call to stand still.
Illyria paused when her time slowed again. It was under her control. She was back in the timeline, or a timeline. The men on the ground watched her. She watched them. The woman in the doorway clapped. “Well now, that was just impressive.”
She was impressive herself, for a human; though she was nondescript, dressed like any of the women wandering the halls of Wolfram and Hart in muted colors and dagger heels. Those women shied away from Illyria, used to demons but afraid of what couldn’t be known or controlled. This one approached with a caution that denied challenge even as her smile denied Illyria’s power to harm her. She gave off confidence like a scent. Illyria hated her. The feeling hit her suddenly, irrationally, piercing her with unrecognizable emotion rising from depths of memories that were not her own. She stiffened, cocked her head and narrowed her eyes. Winifred Burkle had hated this woman.
To be human after the end of the world required courage. To be human in a position of power required grace and strength. It required a cold sense of humor and a loss of any vestigial conscience or guilt. Lilah Morgan had learned well. Wolfram and Hart operated in every dimension, and every dimension had been bleeding into hers for years. Dealing with the displaced inhabitants of those dimensions was literally in her job description, written into the new contracts when everything literally went to hell and had to be reevaluated. Disgusted, she stepped over the unconscious bodies on the floor and approached the demon cautiously. She hid her intimidation but never took her attention off the strange woman-creature in front of her. She was not shocked by the situation - awed, perhaps, but not shocked - at least not until she asked for a name. The demon answered dismissively, as though she could not be bothered by Lilah’s presence. Lilah started, taking a step back before regaining her composure. “Illyria,” she whispered, “Damn it, Lindsey. I thought you took care of that.”
“I did,” Lindsey insisted later, pulling Lilah around the corner. He craned his head to study Illyria where she stood staring absently through the glass at the technicians in the laboratory. “No,” he amended, “we did. You know we did.” “Yeah. We did, except that apparently we didn’t, so what do we know?” “They say we’re protected here, that nothing from another dimension should show up in the building. That it just did. Essentially what we already knew.” He shrugged, “I’m still stuck on the ‘this is Illyria’ thing. That’s a problem.” “Knox and his friends are locked up, the coffin is back in the deeper well; everything’s fine, then what? A month later, this?” “Everything is never fine here Lilah,” Lindsey shook his head, “I don’t know how this happened. If she’s even who she claims.” Lilah sighed, leaning against the wall and passing a hand over her eyes, “We can’t go to Holland. If the Partners find out Illyria escaped after all . . .” she shuddered. “I’m not taking the fall for this.” “Nobody has to. Yet.” “Okay. We get her out of the building.” “First we talk to Knox.” She nodded, “first we talk to Knox.”
She was staring at her Quo’ha Xaan. They dumped him on the floor of a lab that might as well have been Fred’s. The equipment was older and the staff more harried. There were far fewer humans than she was accustomed to seeing at Wolfram and Hart, but there were familiar faces, whether familiar from her memory or the shell’s she wasn’t sure. Knox was dirty and disheveled. According to Lindsey, he was in good shape for someone who had been caught openly defying the senior partners. Knox rubbed at his chained wrists, watching all of them defiantly. He looked at Illyria, then turned to Lindsey, “Well. She’s kinda scary looking.” “Knox, this is Illyria.” He paled, “I didn’t do it.” “Knox . . .” “You say this is Illyria? Well, you’ve had me locked in your basement for a month now. I’d know if Illyria rose. I’d know.” “Is it Illyria?” Lilah hissed, “Can you tell?”
Watching the man huddled on the floor and the clear confusion of those standing beside her, Illyria understood. She’d once walked dimensions and time at will. What she hadn’t done - because it was not done - was venture into a universe not her own. The dimensions belonged to her universe, and so to her, but this place did not. The sickly feeling, the sense that she didn’t belong . . . she had a double that would force her out. A double still dormant or the weakening dimension would not have held their combined power. Illyria interrupted the conversation around her, turning to Lilah. “He is not responsible for my presence; I am not of your world.” She was gone before they could react, caring nothing for it. They knew nothing more than she did. Inevitably, they knew less.
Wolfram and Hart had been barely any preparation for facing the streets of LA. The humans there had behaved fairly normally. Here there were still very few, and those that were there scuttled and hurried, looking nervously around them and shying from shadows. They stopped, eyes wide, to stare at her when she allowed herself to be seen; they hurried on. The demons walked openly, and far outnumbered the humans. They were of varied species, but even many of them seemed cautious. They might stop to threaten a wary human. They might fall on each other in a sudden burst of anger, a bravado induced release to the tension that permeated everything, but even they looked about with nervous, shifting eyes. Above her, Illyria heard a roar. It was a familiar sound, but incongruous with the time and place. She caught sight of the tail of the dragon as it disappeared from sight. The sky was murky, black with cloud cover, not with night, and lit occasionally with a lightning surge, streaking and burning the sky. She caught a familiar scent and followed it through dark alleys, through the twists of poorly lit LA streets, and she didn’t know what was the same or different. She hadn’t seen enough of the city to know. She came upon him in an alley, bent over a blonde woman slumped in his arms. “Spike,” Illyria said, turning the corner. He looked up, startled at not hearing her approach. He shook his head out of the demon face, and wiped a drop of blood from the corner of his mouth with his thumb. He released the victim and she slumped to his feet. He, at least, looked the same, platinum blonde hair, black leather coat, distinctive smirk. He raised an eyebrow. “Who the bloody hell are you?”
She followed him through the streets as he carried his still breathing but unconscious victim in his arms. Everything was quiet, and the sky hung eerily low, dark and sick. No one stopped to stare at her and Spike as they passed; demons and humans hurried on their way. “This dimension is wrong,” she began. “Right,” he sighed, trying to remember her earlier explanation, “Because you’re from a parallel universe.” “My world has deteriorated since my time, but the nature of this one . . . I have never witnessed such a convergence.” “We had the apocalypse a few years back, might have something to do with it.” “The world has suffered an apocalypse. You speak with flippancy of a cataclysm.” “Happened when some hell god took out the vampire slayer in Jamaica. Honestly, when it happened we all thought it would be worse, portals opening everywhere, crazy flying things flying through. Thought we were all dead. Things calmed down, though. It sucks for those still breathing. Sometimes it sucks for those of who eat the still breathing . . .” he shrugged. “The world’s still standing, for what it is. Mainly we get them,” he jerked his head upwards, and she got another vision of a disappearing dragon. “Demons I’ve never seen before. The portals can’t be closed between dimensions; they’re all bleeding in, or so says Wolfram and Hart.” “This world is rotting,” she said again. He studied her, “Yeah, Drusilla says that too.”
The house was decrepit, but no more so than anything else on the street. He pushed open the creaking door against some resistance. It was dusty inside, musty smelling, but with a mixture of something sick and sweet. Human blood, and not fresh. “Dru?” Spike called out softly. She lay on the couch, tangled in blankets, thick hair matted around her face. “Spike,” she answered, attempting to push herself into a sitting position. The blanket slid down her torso, revealing her thinness. Her arms were sticks and the nightgown she wore enveloped her, hanging off her frame. Dark hair swallowed her too thin face like a sheath. Spike dragged the unconscious woman to the side of the couch. “How are you feeling, love? Are you strong enough to eat?” She whimpered, “It’s like eating a lie.” “Try, for me.” She nodded and he eased the woman into her lap; Drusilla bit from the wrist, though she made a face at the first draught. Illyria watched with mild interest until Drusilla jerked up, staring at her. “So much power, but it doesn’t belong. This world is already sinking, and the bottom falls out ...” She trailed off. Spike shook his head, smoothing her hair and whispering comforting words in her ear. When Dru quieted, Spike looked up at Illyria. “So. Why me?” “In my world . . .You are not as you are.” “How’s that then?” She shook her head. “She is injured. Too weak to live.” Spike glared, but Drusilla looked up, swaying a little. “Angry men with angry sticks.” Spike flinched, “It was a mob in Prague about six years back. She had more strength when we were on the Hellmouth in Cleveland, but right after this all started,” he nodded toward the sky, “the new slayer showed up. Things got out of hand and her Watcher got dead. With Dru in this condition I couldn’t be looking over my shoulder for a vampire slayer. We’re going to the Hellmouth in Sunnydale, as soon as I can figure out how to get near it without that prick of a master vampire who runs it killing both of us.” He looked down at Drusilla. “But I’m starting to think we might be running out of time.” “Your kind is immortal,” Illyria said, “you have only time.” Spike nodded, “Yeah, but there’s life and then there’s life.”
“I wish to find this world’s version of Wesley.” Spike looked up, startled by Illyria’s voice. She’d been staring blankly out the window for hours. If her presence hadn’t been so unnerving, he might have almost forgotten she was there. “In my world he is your friend, and Angel’s,” she continued. Spike started to his feet, “In your world Angel and I are friends?” He shook his head in an attempt to clear it, “I guess it’s possible . . .Once upon a time . . .Yeah, but, well, ironically in this world Angel’s death is the reason there’s nothing to be done for Dru and the only Wesley I know is one Wesley Wyndam-Pryce up in Cleveland “watching” that bitch of a slayer . . .” He trailed off when she jerked her head up in recognition. “That is he.” Spike stared, “Right. So how’d he turn evil?” “He didn’t. You . . .Are not as you are.” “So we’re - Angel and I - are. . . not evil, then. You’re sure this universe of yours is parallel?” Illyria didn’t answer. “Well, Blue, I’m not sure what crazy world you hit your head in, but if you’re relying on that wanker to help you, you’re better off here with me.” Illyria shrugged dismissively. “Perhaps he is different as well. You concern yourself far too much with morality, in that world and in this. I weary of your narrow viewpoint. Good and evil are perceptions only. In my time we understood that; we understood what true power meant.”
Spike never answered her, and she went back to watching the sky. Her senses were limited, and all the power trapped in the small human body rebelled against them. Somehow she was back in the timestream, a timestream, anyway, this world’s timestream, but how it had happened, what held her here she couldn’t be sure. No way to know if it would last, or if the power threatening to explode from her would rip her out again. It was hazy and dark; she stood by the window, watching the empty streets, imagining the plays of shadow and light she would once have been able to see. Once, she had walked dimensions by the simple desire to do so, traveled through worlds by her will alone. This was a whole other world. She had not expected this.
Spike saw Illyria duck into the other room when the knock came at the door. He opened it to find a very annoyed Lindsey McDonald. “Hey, Cowboy.” “Don’t call me that. Where is she?” “Who?” “Don’t fuck with me, Spike. The old one, the ancient demon from before time began, who’s leaking an insane amount of power all over this dimension . . .” Spike blinked. Lindsey sighed, “Illyria. About yea high, full body armor, blue hair . . . We tracked her here and if you play dumb, I will send someone to stake you, ‘master vampire’ or not. Don’t think we can’t control the vamps in this town without you. Did it before you ever showed up.” “Wouldn’t you rather stake me yourself?” Spike smirked. Lindsey glowered. “Spike . . .” “Okay then. Illyria. What’s her deal?” Lindsey sighed, pushing his way past Spike and into the hallway. “She isn’t from our dimension.” “Lindsey, nothing is from our dimension anymore.” “She isn’t from our universe, Spike. We’re talking parallel universes. This universe’s Illyria is still in the deeper well and we’ve talked to Illyria’s acolyte. He doesn’t know shit. Plus, our equipment was reading off the charts; she’s from a parallel universe.” “So.” “Our universe can’t withstand a being with powers like hers, especially a being who doesn’t belong. We’ve got to get her out of here.” “Yeah, before the Senior Partners find out . . .” “You laugh now. You better hope for all our sakes that they don’t.” “You want my help?” “No. Not really. I just want to know where she is, though I wouldn’t mind knowing what went wrong in our universe that didn’t go wrong in hers.” “Look, in her universe I’m friends with Watchers and she didn’t even recognize Drusilla. I want no part of that universe.” “You wish to send me back?” Illyria appeared in the doorway. Lindsey involuntarily took a step backward. “You can’t stay here. It’s no good for us and no good for you. Don’t you want to go back?” Illyria considered for a moment, “I do not know what I wish. In this universe, I am part of the timestream, in the other . . . I do not know my fate,” finally she nodded, “but my fate is there. I do not belong here, and this place is fragile, kept afloat by nothing. I will return.” Spike looked at Lindsey, “So, how do we do that?” Lindsey looked back and forth between them, “You mean she doesn’t know?”