I wasn't surprised to hear her voice. In fact, I had been expecting it much sooner. That she chose to appear now didn't come as much of a surprise either. It may very well be the last time I'd see her. Or anyone else for that matter.
"And how would you know, Fred?"
I glanced up and looked at her standing there in front of me. I flinched a little when I noticed what she was wearing. The dress she wore when I'd chased her down the hotel. Under the influence of Billy Blims blood. It only now occurred to me that ever since then, she never wore anything quite as...revealing. Until we started to work for Wolfram and Hart.
"Cuz, I know you, Wes. Better then anyone."
Perhaps this was true. But I knew better. She had not known me. Her memory, just as mine and everyone else had been altered. I would never know if she could've really loved *me*, instead of the image Angel had created of me. I cannot fault him for that now. After all, I took perhaps a greater risk when taking away Connor. I'm still angry though, at him. For changing who I'd become, who I was.
"You plan on getting yourself killed. Dontcha?"
I kept looked down at the ointment I was making for Illyria. To tend to the wounds of the creature that had killed the woman I loved. Love. Was now using her body as nothing but a mere shell, and not even appreciating that. It was more then a shell, more then just something she had to use to walk around the earth. It was the image of the woman I wanted to have a live with. A future. Until that was ripped away from us.
"You can't do that." Fred said again, this time with a firmness in her voice that made me look up.
"And why not?" I asked softly, already knowing the answers but not wanting to hear them. Face them. I wanted to deny them and find my peace once and for all. I was just so tired of it all. Of everything.
"They need you. You're running away from your responsibilities now? You never done that before."
I laughed at that, shaking my head. I had, run away from my responsibilities before. I was good at that. "I have no responsibilities left." Oh, there are many way's to run from them. One can bury oneself in work, crawl into a bottle of good whiskey. Or just become a cold hearted bastard. Running away, doesn't alway mean literally.
"But you always came back in the end. You never did run far."
Perhaps," I said, looking at her fondly. "You do know me."
She looked entirely to smug at that. Her arms crossed, head tilted in a way that would've been familiar but wasn't. "You can't die," She repeated again, more serious this time. She reached out with her hand and touched my cheek. Her touch felt cold as ice against my skin, and I knew it she wasn't really touching me. Not even in my imagination.
"Why not?" I whispered.
She glanced over my shoulder and I didn't to ask what, or whom, she was looking at. "You still have responsibilities." She smiled sadly at me, and took a step back.
"She killed you," I said softly.
"Did she? Did she really have a choice?" We all have choices, Wes. But she still has to learn how to really make them. She never had to make choices before. Not *real* choices."
Sometimes that woman is entirely to wise for her own good. Because deep down, I knew, *knew* that Illyria, GodKing of whatever the hell, devourer or worlds, conqueror of dimensions and a whole lot of other big things. In the end. Had no choice when it came to the shell she ended up in. And it hurt to think of Fred as 'the shell'.
"Why are you here, Fred?"
She smiled sadly at me, her image blurring a bit. "How should I know? This is your imagination." Her smile turned at little brighter and then she faded way from my view and my mind became mine again.
The room turned back to normal, and I once again found myself standing in Spike apartment. The air of impending doom surrounding me like a thick blanket. Yet, there was that tiny flicker of hope somewhere. Picking up the ointment and some bandages, I turned around toward Illyria, who was once again regarding me with those ice blue eyes. The ones that spoke so much, but told so little.
"This should make you feel better," I muttered, putting some of the ointment on a bandage. I swiped away some of the hair from her neck, once again struck by how it had once been auburn brown, and plastered some of it on the gaping wound.
She seemed lost, somehow less godlike then before. Then again, it must be hard for her. With all her strength and power, Hamilton had swatted he around the room as though she were nothing but a mere insect. The GodKing had been brought to its knees and had no idea how to deal with that. Other then to ask questions, investigate and look down at the feeling she could no longer squash.
"You will help me?"
"Because I look like her."