First in the
Fragments series. Pre-Spander
Disclaimer: This is fanfic, based on the show Angel. Characters are property of Mutant Enemy.
This story was written for fun, not profit.
Not The End
The plan was to go down fighting. A blaze of glory, a bang not a whimper, going not at all gentle into this chaotic, evil night. No matter how you put it, it came down to this: they were all going to die.
And then Angel's fist met the first demon's head and splorched right through. The inch-thick skull shattered against Angel's knuckles like so much cheap drywall, and the demon's knees buckled and its eyes bulged dead.
The power of the Senior Partners, stolen through Hamilton's blood. Angel still had it. This fight wasn't over yet.
He could kill them, but there were so many, and the big ones in the back hadn't yet come into play.
He saw Illyria stride through the fray with a puzzled and worried expression, killing each demon she met. Her fists broke through bone to gore each time they landed. Her power over time and space had been stripped away, but it seemed she still had most of the strength of a god.
This fight wasn't over yet.
He didn't see Gunn fall. There was a moment when Angel had pushed away one dead demon, before he had to move to meet the next, in which he had space to scan the battle. He saw Illyria leaping to the shoulders of a giant and bashing its head in. He saw Spike, game-faced and bloody and fighting with his back against the wall, holding his own. But there was no sign of Gunn.
Another hero down. But it wasn't over yet.
"I kinda want to slay the dragon," he'd said at the start, and honestly he hadn't expected to live to face the dragon but now here it was, lurching over its dead army with its wings bashing the buildings on either side of the alley, arching its neck back with a freight-train roar.
Angel ran towards it, ducked to the side and leapfrogged from a dumpster to the dragon's back. Its scales were rough like asphalt. Its neck was as thick as Angel's torso. It bucked and he grabbed a spine and held on, and tried to plunge his sword into its neck. The sword scraped harmlessly off its scales with a screech like metal on rock, but the dragon crashed to a halt as its wings got caught on the brickwork.
Spike and Illyria ranged in front of the dragon, keeping out of reach of its teeth, waiting for the next opportunity. Illyria paced with her shoulders hunched, glare fixed steady on the monster. Spike stood panting with his feet planted wide, sword holding steady in his right hand while his left arm dangled limp.
The dragon flexed its wings, and bricks rained down on both sides of the alley. It shrieked and lunged another step towards Illyria and Spike.
The scales under Angel's feet fit over each other like roofing tiles. As the dragon swung its head from side to side, the scales shifted over each other. A gap, what he needed was a gap.
"Make it lower its head!" Angel shouted.
"Right then." Spike raised the tip of his sword, and stepped in towards the dragon. "You wanna eat me, you great big bugger? Then bloody well come and get me!"
The dragon reared back, nearly bucking Angel off, then suddenly it plunged its head down towards Spike. As its neck arched forward and down, chinks opened in its armor, smooth purple-black skin under and between the rock-hard plates. Angel picked his mark and thrust the sword in to its hilt. The dragon shuddered and shrieked, and on the tail of the shriek was a hollow roar. Bright flame spewed from its mouth, filling the alley from wall to wall, and for a moment Illyria and Spike and all the fallen corpses made black outlines in the orange flames.
In another instant the flames had dissolved, except for the bright and hungry fire consuming Spike. He screamed, and then Angel saw Spike's skeleton outlined for a split second in the poof of vampire dust.
And so it ended.
The dragon fell heavily to the side and Angel jumped off to avoid getting crushed as Spike's death-scream still echoed in the alley. Illyria stood unsinged a few feet away from where Spike had burned, staring in puzzlement at the empty place.
Angel staggered, caught himself against the wall of the alley. He'd won. It was beyond comprehension. He hadn't planned to win. He didn't know what to do next.
Illyria crouched at the place where Spike had been, and traced her fingers curiously through the dust.
Spike. Gone. There was a strange hollow place inside Angel. Would he mourn Spike? He hadn't expected to.
A quiet white portal opened behind the carnage, and a dark-haired woman in a tailored suit stepped out. She calmly surveyed the dead bodies, then walked briskly towards Angel. She passed Illyria without a glance, and did not hold out her hand for Angel to shake when she stopped in front of him.
"Well, that was impressive," she said, tilting her head and giving Angel a bemused look. She had a gray silk scarf tied around her neck.
Angel scowled and wished she'd go away, or at least stop smiling. "What, slaying the dragon? Defeating the army? Or getting almost everyone I know killed in the process?"
Lilah shrugged. "All of the above, I guess."
"Let me guess. You're here to offer me a promotion." He was aiming for biting sarcasm, but it didn't seem funny when he remembered the way she'd lolled into the Hyperion last year to offer him the reins of the LA branch after he defeated Jasmine. Lilah had the same coy half-smile on her face now that she'd had then. Laughing at a joke no one else got.
"No. I'm here to tell you you're fired."
She smiled. He stared.
"Actually, you're being downsized," she went on with an apologetic tilt of her head. "In light of Earth's appalling performance in the past fiscal year, Wolfram and Hart have decided to terminate their operations in this dimension. And since you were directly or indirectly responsible for most of the losses, you aren't being offered a position in any of the other regional offices."
Angel tucked his hands into the pockets of his coat, feeling overwhelmed and numb. "Does this mean I won?"
Lilah's laugh was brittle, but her smile stayed playful. "No, it means you lost. Power, influence, resources, money - everything. You have nothing left. What are you going to do now?"
It was a good question. Angel frowned. "Did they send you here to kill me when the dragon failed?" He didn't even know if she was corporeal.
"No, just to hand you your metaphorical pink slip. Why would they kill you now? You're not important anymore. The prophecy is all played out." She smiled again, letting her head list to the other side now. "Bye, Angel. It was interesting working with you." She walked back to the portal, swinging her hips and tossing her hair, pointlessly flirtatious to the last.
"I think we won," Angel said softly, to no one in particular.
"What is this?" Illyria demanded. Angel looked.
Face-down on the ground at her feet there lay a naked man. He was brown-haired, pale-skinned and apparently uninjured. None of the demons in the battle had looked that close to human.
"He was not here a moment ago," Illyria said. "Reality has shifted. I cannot follow the flows," she added, looking annoyed.
Angel shot a glance in Lilah's direction, but her portal had already vanished. What the hell was happening now? He went over to look at the man.
The man was definitely human, and alive; Angel's vampire senses told him that much as soon as he got close. He took hold of the man's shoulder and rolled him over onto his back.
Oh God. It was him. His name came to Angel's lips unbidden. "William."
He looked exactly as he had when Angelus first saw him in 1880, the night after Dru turned him. His hair was brown, floppy in loose curls, and his left eyebrow was unmarked.
Blue eyes blinked open, confused, and focused on Angel.
"Bloody hell." The rough, familiar voice. "Not again!"
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