Moments before the words “let’s go to work” thrust the gang into battle, Spike is reminded of his last apocalypse in Sunnydale - the one where a flashy piece of jewelry around his neck turned into the sun and he died defending a world he spent a couple lifetimes resenting. It wasn’t until Spike met a certain blonde slayer that he began looking at humanity differently, as something he might try helping instead of hurting.
Being a part of Buffy Summers’ life was, without a doubt, the most defining period of his 100+ years on earth. His short time in the dinky, cursed town of Sunnydale, California was responsible for showing him the importance of love, family, friendship and fighting for what’s right. And as much as he hated to admit it, he found all of those things in Los Angeles too.
Before throwing himself into battle with the Senior Partners’ demon army, Spike takes a quick glance at the “friends” he accumulated at Wolfram and Hart.
Charles Gunn. Skilled fighter. Tortured soul. The only human left at “Angel Investigations”. Gunn has done a lot of unforgivable things in the past but like everyone here, he’s trying desperately hard to do the right thing now. Unfortunately, he only has about ten minutes left of doing the right thing. His abdominal wounds from earlier in the night are taking their toll and he’ll no doubt be a casualty in this war. Despite knowing this, the longing for a good fight is more alive than ever in Gunn’s dark-brown eyes. In a flash, he lets go of his injured stomach with difficulty and disappears into the chaos. Spike is suddenly filled with respect for the guy he barely knew before his eyes register on the newest and oddest addition to their team.
Illyria. One of the legendary old ones. Definitely the most powerful, deadly and unintentionally funny god he’s ever come across. Aside from her blood-red armor, she wears the face of a girl who was adored by everyone she encountered - even Spike. Fred’s soul was lost when Illyria infected her body and claimed it as her own, resulting in a battle that would never end with Angel’s team on top. Her superhuman strength, mobility, endurance and, not to mention, her ability to manipulate time, was no match for anyone in L.A. - let alone the world. It isn’t likely that anyone will ever get used to having her around, but having her on “Team Angel,” at least for right now, is hardly a bad thing. Illyria’s tears for Wesley are masked by the heavy rainfall, but her grief is reflected in the way she fights. Her tangled hair flips into the faces of incomparable demons as she obliterates them with a certain rage there isn’t a word for. They are bugs to her, soon to be crushed by her fists, as the loss of her “teacher” weighs heavy on her mind.
And finally, Angel. A guy whose self-loathing could easily be turned into a burning desire to destroy everything in his path if he experiences even one moment of true happiness. Luckily, with Spike around, that isn’t likely to happen. The two vampires spent a century trying to prove who was more villainous and now (assuming they survive the night, an admittedly unlikely possibility) they’ll spend a century trying to prove who’s more worthy of redemption; they’ll continue to fight over women (mostly Buffy), the remote, who gets the pointy sword or the fancy car, etc. It’s an indisputable fact that they love to hate each other. But right now, as the odds are against them and it doesn’t seem likely that their rivalry will continue, Spike lets himself feel the tiniest bit of love for his long-time rival.
“If only you could see me now, Slayer,” the recently ensouled vampire says under his breath.
He shakes his head and lets out a chuckle (that nobody hears) as his fist gets acquainted with a demon’s face. Spike pulls a dagger out of the inside of his coat - one that is already dried with Black Thorn blood - and plunges it into his enemy’s chest.
“One down, 30,000 to go,” he mutters.
The relentless rain refuses to cease; it comes down as hard and fast as Angel’s broadsword. Spike finds himself in a tussle with a Hellhound, a vial canine-like creature that exists solely to kill.
“Don’t worry, Spike. Hellhounds feed exclusively on brains. You should be fine,” Angel sneers, caught in his own battle with a Mohra demon.
Spike manages to capture the frenetic beast in a headlock and snaps its neck. A M'Fashnik quickly takes its place, baring his yellow fangs at William the Bloody. The competitive vampire is suddenly wearing his “game face,” baring his own pearly-white fangs and arrogantly smirking. The M’Fashnik barrels toward Spike with complete self-assurance that he’s going to win the encounter. Side-stepping the move, Spike grabs hold of the demon’s broad shoulders and hurls him into the brick wall beside them. The demon growls and claws at Spike’s chest violently, breaking the skin until a spatter of blood soils his skintight, black shirt.
“You’re a disgrace to your kind, vampire,” the demon growls.
Spike groans and reveals his dagger to the M’Fashnik’s reptile eyes before slitting his throat.
“Not anymore.” Spike charges off.
More demons pour out of the darkness like the endless rainfall. Eventually, they all start to look the same. Spike’s mind wanders back to Gunn, who isn’t anywhere in sight. Five minutes left. At most. Five minutes left, if he’s lucky. The thought leaves him feeling morose.
Illyria moves in a blur as she wipes out any and all beasties who are foolish enough to challenge her. For every ten foes that Spike and Angel take out, she takes out twenty. But they keep coming.
The two vampires shoot each other a knowing look that says “we’re outnumbered.”
Meanwhile, a much bigger (and more female) assembly of fighters plunge themselves into the fight from the opposite side of the alley. They don’t appear to be members of the Senior Partners’ battalion, as they are attacking Angel’s enemies with full force. Illyria, with her hawk-like vision, spots the bombshell brigade immediately. She glides through the crowd, deflecting every demon’s attempt to fight her by pounding them into concrete. Illyria finds her way to one of the unknown females - the goddess notes that her strength, stamina and agility are impressive, for a human. As heavy rain pours down on them, Illyria observes the girl for a few small seconds before she begins her interrogation.
“Who are you?”
The dough-eyed brunette doesn’t take her eyes off the Kailiff demon she’s battling.
“I’m Faith. Something I can help you with?”
“What is your purpose here?”
“Saving Angel’s ass, as usual,” she answers, ducking a swing from her opponent. Illyria studies her movements.
“You are not an average human. Sacred blood runs through your veins.”
Faith looks into the pastel blue eyes of her interrogator and scoffs.
“And you’re that goddess chick Angel told me about.”
“I am Illyria, God-King of the Primordium.”
“Sure, whatever,” she grunts after taking a blow to the stomach. “I’m kinda busy at the moment. Take it up with the blonde.” Faith gestures to a small, distant figure on the roof and Illyria’s eyes follow sharply.
“Is that your master?”
“My master ?” Faith angrily high-kicks at the Kaliff’s face.
“Yes, your superior,” she explains.
Keeping her eyes on the silhouette of the girl above them, Illyria strikes down a demon who tries to challenge her with flawless technique; Faith watches the blue woman in awe.
“Uh, I like to think of Buffy and I as co-captains, like on a cheerleading squad. But instead of teaching cute cheers to girls, we teach them how to battle the forces of evil. Get it?”
Faith swings her battle axe in the direction of the demon’s neck; he dodges. Her body fills with all things adrenaline and rage as she knee-kicks him in the gut and brings the axe down on his head in one final swing.
It’s apparent that Illyria is not familiar with the word.
“Whatever, fine, she’s the boss. Go bother her .”
Faith’s frustration suddenly disappears when she spots a tall, dark and handsome brood-machine in the horde.
He shifts his head in the direction of Faith’s voice, eyes wide when he sees her ruby red lips smirking back at him. Angel makes his way through the crowd using the pointy end of his sword and the swift-moving slayer meets him halfway. Illyria continues fighting but keeps a watchful eye on the pair.
“Faith? What are you doing here?”
“Do you seriously have to ask that?” Faith gestures to the chaos that surrounds them.
Suddenly, they are back-to-back, fighting off snarling beasties.
“Yeah, loverboy, Buffy’s here. We brought the whole stinkin’ crew,” she says proudly, decorating her battle axe with demon guts.
“That explains why I can smell Xander’s tacky cologne,” he jokes.
Faith is pleasantly surprised to hear Angel’s quip, which is as unusual as it is comforting during a stressful fight. His eyes scan the perimeter, catching dozens - maybe hundreds - of slayers mixed into the mass.
“Slayers. How did you find so many so quickly?”
“We work fast.”
Illyria appears next to Angel, casually holding a Vahrall demon’s severed head.
“This female specimen claims to know you,” Illyria indicates Faith. “She dismisses my presence like the rest of you and speaks like the other half-breed. I don’t care for it.”
Faith squints, clearly confused.
“Vampire,” Illyria says dryly, using the bloody head in her hand as a weapon against her opponents.
Spike’s existence suddenly creeps into Angel’s mind like the plague. Nobody outside of L.A besides Andrew, of all people, knows he’s alive.
“You got another vampire on Team Angel?”
All of a sudden, a Kleynach demon takes hold of Faith’s neck, lifting the slayer high off the ground. She loses her grip on the battle axe and its hard metal hits the concrete below her. The demon’s rough hands begin crushing Faith’s throat slowly with an unsettling satisfaction. Her mind is filled with one need: to breathe . The Kleynach is interrupted by Illyria’s fist rupturing through its chest. Faith falls to her knees next to her assailant - now lifeless. Angel rushes over to Faith, tenderly examining her throat.
“Are you okay?”
Faith retrieves her weapon and rises from the ground. She looks around for Illyria to thank her for the save, but she’s already gone.
“Five-by-five. Go find Buffy, she’s got a plan. We got this handled down here.”
“Where is she?”
“Up there,” Faith signals to the roof with her eyes; the same roof that a folkloric creature is lurking around.
“Oh, no. The dragon’s mine.” Angel flashes his friend a boyish smile and departs like a true creature of the night.