Chapter 1: Introductions
Lex has an unexpected guest.
Setting: Last season of Angel/Mid-second season of Smallville.
Over the years, I have forgotten who made the lovely cover below for me. If you tell me, I will be more than happy to give you credit.
Lex Luthor was renowned in the business world for his ability to keep cool under extreme pressure – a talent his volatile father sorely lacked. But despite his normally imperturbable nature, he found himself unsure of the proper course of action when a blue-skinned, leather-clad woman, swinging a bloody sword that was almost her exact height suddenly appeared in the middle of his home office.
A thousand questions sprang to his mind, but as he they fought for dominance, he simply set his scotch tumbler on his desktop and made a mental note to stop drinking.
The woman lowered her sword when she found herself without an opponent to fight. Her head turned slowly, taking in her surroundings, and her body followed almost reluctantly. She frowned when she spotted him. “This is not the deep well.”
“No.” The tone of her accusation made him want to apologize, but he managed to stop himself before he uttered the words.
She inhaled deeply and narrowed her eyes. “This time smells different.”
Not sure how to respond, Lex rolled his chair back in order to stand, but found the tip of her sword pressed into his neck. Inanely, he marveled at the strength of her arm, which did not sway at all under the weight of her weapon.
“What manner of sorcerer are you?”
He opened his mouth to speak, but she pushed the sword into the hollow of his throat, causing a trickle of blood to run down his neck.
“I’m not a sorcerer,” he whispered.
“You reek of fear and desire unfilled.” Sneering, she lowered her sword and turned, dismissing him. “Am I to be damned for eternity amongst the roaches of this dimension who forever scurry out of the light of their betters?”
“Are you…are you lost?” Lex rubbed his neck as he sank back into his chair.
She huffed once in amusement. “My Qwa’ha Xahn is dead. The plan of the half-breeds seems to have both failed and succeeded. My guide is gone and I am forced to remain within this shell without my ability to walk unseen in the worlds of smoke and half-truths.” Her eyes closed briefly. “At least this is not the world of shrimp.”
Lex disregarded her last statement, stood once again and walked around his desk, although he made no attempt to move any closer to her. “Maybe I can offer my assistance?”
“To do what?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps we can start by you telling me your name.”
Her full attention returned to him once again as she seemed to be determining whether or not he was worthy of further notice. Lex resisted the urge to take a backward step.
“You may call me Illyria.”
“Illyria,” he repeated. “I am called…” He paused for a moment. “Alexander.”
“The world of men has changed. They believe themselves to be above service and supplication. Just what do you believe you can do for me, Alexander?”
“You said this time smelled different.”
“Yes. Close in its putrescence, but not quite the same.”
Lex risked a small step forward. “So what happened in your timeline might not have happened in this one.”
Illyria blinked at him. “Fred.”
“I beg your pardon.”
Illyria granted him a small, almost nonexistent smile. “The shell may still live, thus might Wesley.” She breathed in deeply again, although this time she swayed slightly. “I sleep. Yet while peace still escapes me, a part of me shall have eternal rest.”
Dismissing Lex once again from her thoughts, she moved purposefully toward the door.
She stopped, but did not respond.
“Pray, permit me to accompany you.”
Turning, she gave him a small nod. “Your manners please me.”
He nodded once, acknowledging her concession.
“You wish to assist me?”
She closed the distance between them and studied him closely, her head minutely ticking back and forth like a bird looking for insects in the tall grass. “Why?”
“Because you don’t exactly fit in.”
Between one blink of an eye and the next, she completely transformed from a leather-bound biker chick to a soft spoken Southern belle in a floral sun dress. “I am not…I am not a damsel in distress. I am not a case.”
The thick twang was such a departure from the cold analytical voice that he found himself having to take a moment to mentally regroup.
“Of course you’re not a case. But my guess is that you don’t have possess any of our currency or know how to get where you’re going. I can help you on both fronts.”
“In return for what?”
“Time. With you.”
She took a moment to consider his proposal. “Agreed.”
Lex released the breath he didn’t realize he was holding. “Do you have a particular destination in mind?”
Illyria nodded once. “Yes. Los Angeles.”
Chapter 2: The Beginnings of a Plan
Lex and Illyria head to Los Angeles.
“Martin, please call the airport and have the jet readied for a trip to Los Angeles. Also, I'd appreciate your putting a suitcase together for me. I don’t...about a week. Yes, we’ll be leaving in about five minutes.” Lex carefully set the phone into its cradle and turned to face his guest. “Would you like for me to arrange for a change of clothes for you as well?”
“No.” Illyria barely glanced at him, instead she seemed drawn into the hallway.
Lex followed her as she wound her way down the main staircase and into his arboretum. While her head darted back and forth between the various plants and trees, her expression did not change.
Illyria made no attempt to explain her strange behavior and despite his internal vow not to ask, Lex found he couldn’t deny his curiosity any longer. “Are you alright?”
She looked at him in amazement. “I thought I had lost my ability to hear.”
“You can talk to plants?”
Illyria graced him with a disgusted frown that made him feel like a dim-witted schoolboy. He realized that while he might enjoy listening to the birds sing in the rose garden, he would hardly converse with them.
Before he could rephrase his question, she turned and observed him for a moment. “They are content. You understand the responsibility.”
Lex acknowledged the compliment with a slight nod of his head, and quickly changed the subject. “If you are ready, we can begin our journey.”
He held out his hand and watched as the woman tried to comprehend his gesture. Before he could explain, she took a hesitant step forward and captured his hand in a grasp strong enough to make his fingers sting. As gently as he could, he guided her hand to his elbow and led her toward the front of the house.
The limousine was waiting for them in the circle drive, with Phillip patiently standing by the vehicle’s open door. Lex worried for a moment that he would have to explain the situation, but Illyria climbed into the backseat without hesitation.
When he was settled and the car was on its way, he noticed Illyria studying him with a look that he was beginning to surmise was curiosity.
“I do not understand your willingness to help, Alexander.”
Lex exhaled softly. “I’m curious.”
“Yes. It’s not often that sword-wielding women suddenly appear in my office.”
“Then this situation has happened before?”
“No.” He raised his hand to stay her next question. “But this is not the first strange occurrence that has taken place at the mansion or in Smallville.”
“You want answers.”
“It would be a nice change of pace.”
“I do not know that I can provide you with answers you would understand.”
Lex straightened in his seat. “Whether I understand the answers or not is irrelevant.”
“The truth is all you ask of me?”
“It is all I ask.”
Illyria studied him for a moment and Lex was struck by how the lack of blue made her face seem much more innocent, almost sweet.
“Very well. Ask your questions.”
Swallowing once, Lex relaxed back into his leather seat. “Who are you, Illyria? Contrary to your appearance, there is more to you than meets the eye.”
“You are observant, Alexander.” Illyria nodded once. “I was a warrior, a monarch during the demon age. I was beloved by my followers and hated by my rivals. I was murdered and my soul was left adrift in the Deeper Well, a prison for the dead.”
A part of him wanted to laugh and toss the crazy woman out of the car and return home, but his time in Smallville had taught him to distinguish lies, even well meaning ones, from truth. And while he didn’t want to believe what he was being told, he also knew that Illyria was telling him the truth, or at the very least her view of the truth.
“How did you escape?”
“I didn’t. My Qwa’ha Xahn prepared a vessel and brought me into this world.”
“Yes. My shell.”
“And who was...is Wesley?”
“He is the one who loved Fred.”
“And he is gone?”
Illyria turned her face and looked out the window at the passing scenery. “Yes, he was killed by the magician known as Vail.”
“You felt something for Wesley?”
“Grief.” She turned her head slightly to look at him. “I did considerable violence in his name,” she said in a tone bordering on pride.
“And in the end?”
“A hellmouth was opened. We were four. Charles fought, although his injuries were too great. The half-breeds found a way to close the portal and turn back time. I was to go back to the Well.”
“But something happened?”
“And you don’t know what?”
“Fred, Wesley, Charles and the half-breeds may very well be alive in this timeline?”
“What do you intend to do if they are?”
Illyria closed her eyes. “I...I do not know.”
Chapter 3: Los Angeles
Lex discovers where Illyria is headed.
The plane trip was spent in relative silence. Illyria spoke when spoken to, didn’t hesitate to answer his various questions, but seemed to possess no curiosity about her surroundings, as if her entire focus was on the end of their journey. Lex left her to her thoughts as he made arrangements for their transportation and stay in Los Angeles.
Dawn was just beginning to stain the sky with thick brushes of bright oranges and purples when they stepped out of the aircraft. As soon as her feet touched the tarmac, Illyria rolled the back of her head onto her shoulders and spent nearly a full minute inhaling deeply. She turned, satisfaction practically beaming from her. “The hellmouth has not been opened yet.”
“Excellent. Where do you suggest we go first?” Lex found he didn’t want to focus too much on the ‘yet’ part of her statement. For the first time since he got on the plane, he wondered whether he might be in over his head.
“They resided at the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart.”
“Is that a hotel?”
“No. It is a...lawfirm.” She hesitated on the word, like she wasn’t sure what it meant.
Lex felt a chill of horror seep into his bones as vague memories teased the edge of his consciousness. “You don’t mean Wolfram Hart?”
She nodded. “Yes. You know of it?”
“I think I should be worried by the fact that you seem to know it.”
“I agree with your revulsion. They are contemptible creatures, no more important than they were in my time, but they have grown dangerous, spending their lives snatching up tiny pieces of this world, like paupers pretending to be kings, not having the faintest inkling of what it means to conquer.”
“And your friends resided there?”
“Yes. They sought to fight the evil from within.”
Understanding came to him in a flash. “They failed, and the hellmouth--”
“Was opened. Yes.”
“So we are here to--”
“Keep what happened in my timeline from happening in this one.”
Lex rubbed his hands down the length of his face as he walked to the Aston Martin, which was parked beside the plane. He escorted Illyria to the passenger side and opened the door. “I’m not sure walking into the lobby of Wolfram Hart is going to be the best way to approach this situation.”
“I can handle--”
He raised his hand, then gently took her right hand and held it between both of his own. “I’m not impugning your abilities, Illyria. But you yourself said this timeline was slightly different. What happens if you reveal yourself to this law firm and your friends aren’t within?”
Illyria’s shoulders slowly relaxed, making her look incredibly young. “Your counsel is wise, Alexander.”
“The workday shouldn’t be in full swing for another couple of hours. If we were to drive by the building, are your senses strong enough to determine whether your friends are inside?”
“Then let’s go.” Lex guided her into the car, then jogged to the driver’s side. For the first time since Illyria’s appearance he wished that Clark were within him. Despite the teenager’s lies, he was handy in sticky situations, and Lex knew on an instinctive level that things were about to get incredibly sticky.
Chapter 4: Wolfram Hart
Lex and Illyria to to Wolfram Hart.
Leaning back against the granite bench, Lex watched the swell of attorneys, paralegals and support staff make their way across the Wolfram Hart plaza. Some strolled leisurely as if they had all the time in the world – no doubt lawyers. While others practically broke national sprinting records to get inside the building. Something in the pit of his stomach told him that employees knew better than to be late to work with this law firm, but Lex couldn’t quite put his finger on why he felt the way he did.
Illyria was not watching the waves of humanity enter the tower. Instead she was frowning at a potted bush beside her. He touched her shoulder and her frown was redirected at him.
“These do not speak.”
Lex looked at the plant in question. “Maybe it’s not happy.”
“No.” A strand of curly hair fell into her eyes as she shook her head. “It is like before. Why should I hear yours but not these?”
Unable to stop the impulse, Lex reached forward and pushed the stray tress behind her ear. “Meteor rock.”
“I do not understand.”
“Smallville was hit by meteors about thirteen years ago. They affected everything in their vicinity.”
Illyria nodded once, gracing the bush in question with one more frown before returning her attention to Lex. “They are not here. There is a slight trace of Angel, but it is stale.”
“So they haven’t made the decision to work from the inside in this timeline?”
Lex acknowledged the modifier with a slight inclination of his head. He stood and waited for Illyria to do the same before he presented her with his elbow. Once she took it, he led them back to the car. “Any thoughts as to where they may be?”
“When I first awoke, Wesley insisted I learn about his world, but he was hard to understand as he often consumed massive quantities of liquid poison.”
“Yes, like you were drinking when I arrived. He spoke of a hotel, of how they should never have left it.”
Lex opened the car door and guided Illyria inside. When he was ensconced behind the wheel, he turned the ignition and eased them into traffic.
“That narrows the field down a little, but there are thousands of hotels in the Los Angeles area. Do you remember his mentioning anything else?”
Illyria’s index finger tapped her chin in thought. Lex found himself thrown by the very human gesture and decided to concentrate on traffic instead.
“He ranted about their work.”
“He talked about their exploits at the investigation company, about the good they did in the before. About a misunderstanding that he and Angel had that changed everything.”
Lex flipped opened his cell phone and pressed a few numbers. “Chastity, I want you to cross reference Los Angeles hotel buildings with detective agencies. Focus on the names Angel and Wesley.” He looked over at Illyria. “What was Wesley’s last name?”
“I never heard it spoken.”
“Did you...Yes. Okay, call me when...You do? The Hyperion. Yes. Yes. Okay, give me the address. Thank you.” He smiled in triumph as he snapped the cell phone shut. “Angel Investigations. Their motto is that they help the helpless. And better yet, they are located in the now defunct Hyperion hotel.”
“Are we helpless?”
“Not as much as we were a few minutes ago.” As Lex made a left hand turn, he wondered briefly if that was a correct statement or not.
Chapter 5: One Step at a Time
Lex and Illyria discuss the purpose of warning her friends.
No sooner had the Aston Martin stopped in front of the Hyperion, than Illyria hopped out of the car and headed for the entrance, forcing Lex to scramble to catch up with her.
She stopped beneath a flowering apple tree and looked over her shoulder at him, her eyes bright with curiosity as he closed the gap between them.
“Before we go in, I think you need to be clear as to what your purpose is for being here.”
“My purpose?” Illyria frowned. “I have already told you my purpose, Alexander. I must warn them not to make themselves vulnerable to the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart.”
Lex took a step closer to her and dropped his voice to a whisper. “I know. But then what?”
“Then I...” She blinked at him once. “I had not considered my actions past the warning.”
“Understandable, given the speed with which everything has happened. But before we go any further, I really think you need to do just that.”
Illyria stared at the doors leading into the Hyperion, but made no attempt to move toward them. “Again, your advice has been valuable to me, Alexander,” she said after a moment of silence.
Lex waited nearly a full minute before he prompted her with a question. “What do you want from life?” Illyria remained silent, but Lex knew she was considering the question and not ignoring him. “Do you want to go back to the Well?”
“I am already resting in the well in this timeline.”
“Fair enough. Do you want to stay here with your friends?”
Illyria’s eyebrows furled together in what appeared to be annoyance. When she spoke, her words were slow as if considering each consonant before releasing them. “They are all I have known since I was awoken.”
“And yet, these incarnations know nothing of you.”
“Do you believe that fact to be significant?”
Lex reached for her hand and held it over his heart. “I don’t know your friends, but your mere presence here means that one of them probably suffered horribly in another timeline. Will they appreciate your warning when you are standing before them in the body of a dear friend? Or will they ignore the tangible and simply take your word that they all die in the other timeline.”
Illyria withdrew her hand sharply. “What are you suggesting, Alexander?”
“I don’t know. I just think we need to take a moment to consider all the possible consequences.” He circled her once, frowning as he studied her. “Can you alter your appearance?”
Without a word, Illyria changed back into the blue-skinned, leather-clad woman who had first arrived in his study.
“Better. Can you take on any other shapes?”
“No. Not since...No.”
Lex picked a white flower blossom off her shoulder and held it out to her until she accepted it. “Maybe you should go to them as Fred, only I wouldn’t tell them about her being sacrificed in order to bring you into the world.”
Illyria crushed the blossom and dropped the petals to the ground. “You would have me use deceit?”
Closing his eyes, Lex took in a deep breath and released it slowly. When he opened his eyes, Illyria was looking at him without judgment, only expectation. “If it will keep you safe, yes, I would have you use deceit.”
“Because whether you care to admit it or not, you are vulnerable here.” He quickly held up his hand to cut off her protest. “And I don’t necessarily mean physically. As you said, they are all you have known since you were released from the Well. But consider this, that fact is only true in the timeline you left. It’s not true for this one.”
“You seek to protect me?”
Illyria squared her shoulders. “Their opinions matter not to me.”
Lex graced her with a small smile. “Now who is practicing deceit?”
“You cast aspersions at your better?”
His smile grew larger. “Why are you here, Illyria?”
“Alexander, your memory loss is...”
“Why warn them at all if you don’t care about them?”
Illyria’s mouth closed with an audible snap.
“My point exactly.” He took her hand once again. “If you go as Fred, they should at least hear you out.”
“Very well.” Illyria’s image once again morphed into Fred’s. “And what of the future?”
“I don’t know. Let’s just take this one step at a time.”
Chapter 6: The Message
Illyria delivers her message.
The lobby of the Hyperion looked like it had come straight out of a 1940s movie. A gorgeous marble staircase led up to the second floor, while the area where the check-in desk was located was sunken. Tiles which had once been magnificent showed signs of fire damage, and Lex could see the faint outline of a giant pentagram. A round settee sat slightly to one side and Lex halfway expected to find a beautiful woman in a long white satin dress to be sipping champagne and calling everyone darling.
Instead, the hotel seemed abandoned, despite several lights glowing in silent welcome.
A tiny figure sprang at Illyria as they passed the settee. Illyria reacted immediately, but Lex caught her arm before she could cause any damage.
"I got you, Freddie. You're it."
Both Lex and Illyria looked down in astonishment at the pint-size blond boy, who was hugging Illyria's right leg. The cherub grinned happily at them, but didn’t release his hold on her.
"It?" Illyria raised an eyebrow and looked to Lex for an explanation.
"He's playing a game called Hide and Seek. One person is it and everyone else hides. The object of the game is for the person who is it to find and tag someone before everyone makes it back to the starting point. The person they tag is the new it."
"I was not playing."
"Yes, you were," the young clinger disagreed. "You caught mama and mama got me."
Illyria's eyes brightened in understanding. She looked down at the child and said in a very serious voice. "I am not Fred."
The child frowned. "You wook wike Freddie."
"Our appearance is similar because--"
Lex gently grasped her elbow and shook his head. "Perhaps we should wait and give our explanation to someone slightly older."
"Conner, I thought you were going to--"
A light haired woman emerged from a hallway on the first floor, but stopped when she spotted Lex and Illyria. She blinked in surprise when she saw Illyria, then opened her mouth, but said nothing. She looked over her shoulder and into the hallway behind her. When she looked back at them, her face had lost all trace of her previous humor. She took a hesitant step forward, as if expecting to be attacked.
"Connor, come here."
"Why?" the child asked petulantly.
"Connor. Now!" Her voice brooked no argument.
“Mama.” Connor whined unhappily and stomped his foot once to express his displeasure.
The little boy released Illyria and shrugged an apology to Lex. "Okay,” he said in a voice that indicated he was anything but. “Freddie forgot how to pway hide n' seek anyway."
"I forgot how to what?" An amused southern drawl echoed from the hallway just a split second before a familiar petite figure emerged.
While Illyria and Lex studied the newcomer, the light haired woman snatched the boy into her arms and made her way to the woman's side.
The woman who wasn't yet Illyria's shell in the current universe studied them with wide eyes. "Oh boy."
The air in the lobby practically sang with silent tension as the hotel denizens tried to comprehend what they were seeing.
When the silence got to be too much, Lex held his hands out, palms upward. “We wish you no harm. We were hoping too speak with Mr. Wyndham-Price.”
Neither woman spoke nor did they relax their protective stances.
After what seemed like an eternity, Fred shook her head in amusement. “Of course. Where are my manners? It’s just...you seem to...that is...wow! You look exactly like me.”
“The reason for--” Lex cut Illryia short by giving her a quick shake of his head.
“Perhaps,” he said, “it would be best if we only had to explain this once.”
Fred extended her hand toward the round settee. “Have a seat. We’ll get Wesley and Angel.”
Lex nodded his compliance, took Illyria’s hand and led her to the red velvet couch. When the two women disappeared back into the hallway, with the child in tow, Lex leaned toward Illyria. “Do you have enough memories of the Fred from your dimension to be her here?”
“It might be best to try that approach.”
“They are afraid of us.”
“I do not understand. We are here to prevent a disaster.”
“But they don’t know that yet.”
“Know what yet?” a soft British voice from behind them asked.
Lex and Illyria stood and found themselves in the middle of a loose semi-circle.
Three men had joined the two women, the child was no where to be seen. Lex took in the large, bald black man and knew if things got out of control that he would be one to watch. The man directly in front of him had dark hair and appeared to be in his late twenties/early thirties. The last man had short cropped hair and glasses and seemed to be studying Illyria in disbelief.
“Hey, Wesley. Angel. Charles.”
“What is the meaning of this?” the one called Angel asked as he looked back and forth between Lex and Illyria.
Lex stepped forward and placed himself between Illyria and the surrounding men. “My name is Alexander Luthor.”
Charles frowned. “I know that name.” His eyes widened slightly as he realized why. “You’re Lionel Luthor’s son.”
Lex smiled at the man, but it held no warmth. “Yes, but please don’t hold that against me.”
Charles grinned. “Naw. I heard you do good things.”
“How are you even a part of this?” Angel frown, his stance never relaxing.
“Fred appeared in my study yesterday. We believe she is from another time stream, one that is similar to this one, but not exact. Her one thought since arriving has been to warn you not to make the same mistakes that were made in her timeline.”
“You seem awfully accepting of her claims,” Angel observed.
“I’m currently residing in Smallville. Her appearance didn’t even registered on the town’s strange meter.”
“Hellmouth?” Charles asked Wesley.
“Meteors,” Lex answered.
“What’s the warning?” Angel demanded, although not unkindly.
Lex turned to face Illyria and nodded.
“In my universe, we believed that Cordelia had ascended, but she was actually taken over by a rogue Power That Be. In addition, Wesley misinterpreted a scroll and believing you would kill your son, kidnapped Conner and gave him to a man named Hultz, who took him to a demon dimension and raised him as his own. Through a series of events, you, that is, we were offered and accepted positions at the Wolf--”
“Wolfram Hart,” Lex corrected.
“You’re saying we knowingly accepted positions with the enemy?” Angel’s frown was fierce.
“Yes. We thought we could fight the evil from within...use their own resources against them.”
“What happened?” Fred stood behind Wesley, her hand on his upper arm.
“We failed and a hellmouth opened beneath the building. Demons, dragons, and other hellspawn spewed forth. Many died. Angel, Spike and I--”
“Spike is dead,” Angel said harshly.
“Yes, but he comes back,” Illryia acknowledged. When no one else said anything, she continued. “We found a way to close the hellmouth and turn back time, but somehow I ended up in this dimension. I do not know what happened to Spike or Angel.”
Angel looked over at Wesley. “I don’t like it.”
“What’s not to like?” Lex asked.
“We’d never willingly join Wolfram Hart.”
Illyria, who was opening her mouth to speak, closed it and gave Lex a curious glance. Lex turned to her and took her hand in his own.
“Maybe this is a choice they will never have to make.”
“It appears that Cordelia didn’t ascend, and therefore wasn’t possessed. Maybe that one ripple was enough to prevent the other events from your timeline from manifesting in this one. That coupled with your warning, whether they currently believe you or not, should keep them safe. Therefore the time markers that created the original apocalypse won’t happen here. The paths that would have led them to Wolfram Hart simply don’t exist in this timeline.
“That is all I want,” Illyria said softly.
Ignoring the others, Lex stepped closer to Illryia. “The question now becomes: what do you want to do?”
Illyria turned her head and looked at the faces around her, stopping momentarily on Wesley, who was holding Fred protectively under his arm.
“You were right, Alexander. These incarnations do not know me.”
“The hell we don’t,” Charles said loudly, giving up the pretense of not invading their privacy. “It doesn’t matter what timeline you’re from, you’re still Fred, and that means you’re family and this is home.”
Illyria looked stricken. Ignoring Charles, she turned and sought Lex’s face.
“You’ve done what you sought out to do,” Lex said softly. “Come home with me.”
Angel stood to his full height. “We’re not done here yet.”
“Yes, we are.” Pulling a business card from the inside of his jacket, Lex handed it to Angel. “If you have any further questions, you can contact us at this number. You don’t need us present to rehash the facts we’ve already given you. In the end, you’ll either believe us or not. Our presence won’t change that.”
Angel turned to Illyria. “You don’t have to go.”
“Handsome man, saved me from the monsters. But the monsters are all gone now.”
One side of Angel’s mouth quirked slightly upward. “Well, they’re not all gone.”
“I know. And you will continue to fight and to save the innocent. It is your destiny.”
“What about you?”
“I need to rest.”
Angel stepped forward. “You will always have a home here.”
Illyria turned and took Lex’s outstretched hand, and together they made their way up the short marble staircase and out the double doors.
Lex was about to ask Illyria how she was feeling when a frantic voice called after them.
“Wait. Fred. I mean...me. Just hold on. Okay?”
They stopped and turned toward Winifred Birckell.
“In your time, were you and Wesley married?”
Illyria shook her head.
“Did...did he die in the apocalypse you spoke about?”
“And you came here to save him?”
“Thank you,” Fred whispered. “I just...thank you.”
“He died very bravely,” Illyria told her.
Fred gave her a small smile. “I don’t doubt that for a second.”
“I avenged his death on many of the hellmouth spawn. The streets ran red with their blood.”
“Good.” Fred nodded once, almost to herself. “Peace be with you, my sister.”
“And with you.”
Illyria watched the young woman disappear into the hotel before she turned back to her companion.
Lex raised her hand to his lips and pressed a soft kiss to her knuckles. “Shall we go home?”
Illyria cocked her head to one side. “I think I would like that, Alexander.”