Exactly 3,600 words, rating probably G (it’s not really very dark at all!). It takes place during AtS S5 “Time Bomb”.
Illyria appeared from out of nowhere, materializing in the middle of Angel’s office, with a limp human figure slung over her back. Angel jumped in surprise and spilled otter blood into his lap. Spike merely raised an eyebrow. “Been back to Suburban Hell, have you, Blue?” he asked.
Illyria lowered the body onto the table and aimed her intense, unblinking, gaze at Spike. “This one was important to you, I think,” she said.
Spike lowered his beer can and stared at the unconscious human. Now it was his turn to leap up and spill his drink. “Bloody hell! It’s Demon Bird! Anya!”
“She’s injured,” Angel observed. “Harmony! Call Medical.”
“Where the hell did you bring her back from?” Spike asked.
“The battle in which you died, and she died also,” Illyria replied. “I snatched her up before her heart ceased to beat. Perhaps she will not die. I have a strange sense of kinship with this one. If your servants can repair her then I will not be displeased.” She vanished again without warning.
Spike frowned and shook his head. Illyria’s actions were often baffling and this one was the weirdest yet. He had no idea how she could have got the idea that Anya was important to him. Oh, he liked her well enough, he’d been upset when he heard that she had perished in the final battle at Sunnydale, and he was glad that Illyria had rescued her, but she wasn’t someone who he regarded as a close friend. Maybe they could have been, if things had worked out differently, but since that disastrous coupling at the Magic Box they hadn’t really interacted much. Her unexpected attempt to seduce him at Xander’s apartment had been about the only time she’d even seemed interested in him in her own right rather than just echoing whatever Xander’s attitude to him had been at any given time and, as the whelp had fluctuated between comradeship and seething enmity almost at random, so Anya’s attitude had changed accordingly. No, they weren’t friends.
She had a bleeding entry wound from some piercing weapon, a sword or a spear, and Spike did what he could to staunch the bleeding until the medical team turned up and took over. Anya was whisked away for emergency treatment and Spike turned to Angel. “Any idea what the hell that was all about?”
Angel shook his head. “I have no idea. Illyria seems to be becoming even less rational. Maybe Wesley can work out what she’s up to, but I can’t. And, before you ask, I don’t see any point in asking him right now. He’s working on some mysterious device and he just grunts when I interrupt him, ignores whatever I say, and goes right on working.”
“Think he’s on the track of some way of turning her back into Fred?” Spike suggested hopefully.
“Beats me,” Angel said. “I think that’s impossible. Although, that wouldn’t stop Wes trying.”
When Illyria’s erratic behavior and time-jumping reached the point at which it endangered all their lives, most of all Illyria’s own, they found out what Wesley’s device was for. He drained off enough of the deity’s energies to stabilize her before she exploded. Illyria went off to sulk, resentful and grateful in equal measure, and Wesley returned to his office with the device.
The energies that it contained could be dangerous, and storing them would be difficult. Had Spike still been incorporeal they could well have provided the power to return him to corporeal form, but that problem had long been solved, and there didn’t seem to be any reason to keep the energy around and risk an accident. Wesley decided that he would discharge the device harmlessly into the sky. He laid it down on his desk and picked up his phone.
“Harmony, find out the positions of all aircraft currently in the Los Angeles area,” he instructed Angel’s secretary. “I need to know if there is a quadrant of the sky entirely free of planes.”
“Uh, Wes, how can I do that?” Harmony asked.
“Improvise,” Wesley told her, and put down the phone. He sat fidgeting for a couple of minutes, staring at Fred’s stuffed toy rabbit Feigenbaum who sat atop one of his cabinets, a poignant reminder of the woman he had loved, and then the phone rang.
“There’s a flight to Seattle six miles north of us and climbing, an incoming flight from Paris descending to the east, a New York flight climbing just to the northeast, and a couple of light planes off to the south, but due west is clear right now,” Harmony reported. “There’s a flight taking off for Japan in ten minutes that’ll be heading that way, though.”
“Thank you, Harmony,” Wesley said. “You are a true treasure.”
“Oh, wow, thanks, Wes, you really think so?” Harmony bubbled.
“Yes,” Wes said simply, having no more time left for courtesy, and put down the phone. He snatched up the device. In his haste his finger briefly made contact with the trigger. For a single second the muzzle blazed and a beam of blue-white energy crackled across the room. It struck Feigenbaum squarely in the torso.
Wesley’s heart leaped into his mouth. He stared at the plush toy in horror. Nothing seemed to be amiss, and he shook his head and headed for the window. He raised the device, pointed it upwards and to the west, and fired until the energies were exhausted. He placed the device in one of his cabinets, locked it away securely, and heaved a sigh. The excitement was over and it seemed that no harm had been done. He left his office and went off to see if Illyria needed any help adjusting to her diminished status.
The odd behavior of MTV’s West Coast satellite over the next few days, in which it alternated between broadcasting unreleased videos, next year’s charts, and unplanned repeats of the original series of ‘The Monkees’, never registered on Wesley at all.
And he didn’t see Feigenbaum stir, climb to his feet, hop up towards the ceiling, and disappear into the air conditioning ducts.
Anya frowned at Angel. “You’re still big and glowery,” she said. “Have you gone evil again?”
“I have not gone evil,” Angel denied. “Why do you always think that I’ve gone evil? I hardly ever go evil.”
“Well, this is Wolfram and Hart,” Anya pointed out. “It’s pretty famous for being evil. They tell me that you’re in charge here, so, evil seems a pretty logical deduction to me.”
“That’s what I keep telling him, love,” Spike grinned. “He hasn’t gone evil, though. Got this crazy idea he can make this place do good.”
“Spike. So, you made it out alive. I guess we won, huh?”
“We won, yeah, love, but I didn’t make it out alive.”
“Okay, undead,” Anya amended her description.
“Nope. Burned right up in a pillar of fire. Took out all the big uglies, blew the whole bloody place up, Sunnyhell collapsed into a sodding great crater.” Spike saw an expression of alarm on Anya’s face and hastened to set her mind at rest. “Everybody else made it out before it blew. Xander, Buffy, Dawn, Giles, Willow, Andrew, they’re all fine. Couple of Potentials bought it, but that’s all.”
Anya sighed with relief. “Good. Well, not good for the dead Potentials, I suppose. Wait a minute. You died?”
“Yeah. Came back, though. Popped back out of the amulet in Angel’s office. Was a ghost for a while, but I turned solid again. Been here ever since.”
“Ever since? How long?”
“Months and bloody months. Nearly a year now since Sunnydale blew, it is.”
“What?” Anya’s eyes widened. “Have I been in the hospital all that time?”
“You’ve only been here for a few days,” Angel explained. “One of my, uh, associates went back in time and snatched you up. She brought you back so that we could fix you up.”
“Oh. Does that mean that the others think that I’m dead?”
“I’m afraid so,” Angel confirmed. “We’ll tell them the good news now. We didn’t tell them right away in case you didn’t make it, but the docs tell me that you’re going to be fine.”
“That was sensible. When can I see Xander?”
“It’ll be a few days, I think,” Spike told her. “He’s in Africa, far as I know.”
“Africa? Where’s Buffy?”
“Lives in Rome these days, with Dawn.”
“Rome?” Anya frowned at Spike. “Then why are you here? I wouldn’t have thought you liked Angel well enough to come visit.”
“This is where I live. Help Angel out now and again. Piss him off a lot, which is always fun.”
Anya shook her head. “I don’t understand. You haven’t had a fight with Buffy, have you? Oh, I can just see it. Both of you too proud to make the first move. Stupid. Unless you left her at the altar out of childish insecurity, in which case you deserve to be alone.”
“Haven’t seen her since Sunnydale,” Spike said, shaking his head. “Don’t think she even knows I’m alive, well undead, unless Andrew didn’t keep his mouth shut.”
“What?” Anya’s eyebrows shot up. “I don’t understand,” she said again. “You know that Buffy’s in Rome, and you’re here instead of there giving her orgasms, and she doesn’t even know that you’re alive. How come?” She glared at Angel. “Are you keeping Spike prisoner?”
“Of course not,” Angel denied. He frowned at Anya. “What makes you think Buffy would want Spike to be with her?”
Anya rolled her eyes at him. “She loves him, dumbass.”
“Told you,” Spike smirked at the elder vampire, but then his shoulders slumped. “Would like to think so, love, but I can’t see it. Been too much pain between us for there to be a happy ending. She can have a shot at that normal life she always wanted, without me around to bugger things up.”
“You’re an idiot,” Anya said firmly. “There’s been too much pain for there not to be a happy ending. Normal life? Buffy? That’s just silly. Get yourself off to Rome right now and catch up on all those orgasms you and Buffy should have been giving each other.”
“I can’t listen to this,” Angel groaned, and he left.
In his absence Anya merrily chattered to Spike, telling him exactly what he should do when he was reunited with the Slayer, and causing him to both grin happily and cringe with embarrassment. From an air vent in the ceiling a pair of eyes looked down on the scene. Beady little eyes.
Angel was waiting in the corridor outside the medical facility. He greeted Spike with a glower. “I suppose you’ll be chasing off on a fool’s errand to Rome now.”
“S’ppose so,” Spike smirked. “Not polite to keep a lady waiting.”
“Don’t tell me you were stupid enough to believe that nonsense that Anya was spouting about Buffy loving you,” Angel scoffed.
“Well, yeah. ‘S not nonsense. Bloody true, innit?”
“Oh, please. What would Anya know about it? She hasn’t even seen Buffy in nearly a year,” Angel pointed out.
“Neither have you,” Spike shot back. “I’ve been bloody stupid, right enough, but it was in not setting off for Buffy right away. Although,” he added charitably, “I don’t begrudge the bits of help I’ve given you.”
“Help?” Angel sniffed. He pursed his lips. “Yeah, I guess you have helped out a bit. Thanks.”
“Have to manage without me from now on,” Spike said. “Rome here I bleeding well come, right –”
He was interrupted by a piercing scream from the medical facility. The two vampires exchanged glances and then raced back the way they had come.
Anya was sitting bolt upright, shaking, with her fists clenched and pressed up against her mouth. A nurse had just arrived and was fussing over her. Anya ignored the nurse but turned to Spike and Angel. “It was a bunny!” she gasped. “I saw its hideous shadow on the wall. A loathsome, evil, bunny!”
“There aren’t any bunnies here,” Angel told her. “This is a law firm, not a pet shop.”
“I saw it, I tell you,” Anya insisted.
Spike sniffed the air. “No bunnies anywhere around here, pet,” he assured her. “Must have just been a shadow that sort of looked like one. You’re perfectly safe. Get some rest, love.”
“Are you sure?” Anya relaxed. “I suppose I can trust those vampire senses. Sorry.”
The vampires cast a cursory glance around the room, said a few more soothing words, and left again, as did the nurse.
“I told you that Anya wasn’t to be relied upon,” Angel gloated. “She’s crazy.”
“Got a thing about bunnies, yeah, but apart from that she’s got her head screwed on pretty tight,” Spike said.
“Yelling her head off because she imagines the shadow of a rabbit doesn’t seem too rational to me,” Angel said. “I don’t –”
He was interrupted by another terrified shriek.
This time Anya was harder to soothe. “It was a bunny,” she insisted. “It jumped onto the bed and leered at me. A horrible, furry, bunny! And it was wearing glasses.”
“Wearing glasses? Anya, you’re imagining things,” Angel told her. “You’ve been through a lot, you were badly injured and snatched from the brink of death, and it’s not surprising if you’re having nightmares.”
“I’m wide awake. It’s broad daylight,” Anya pointed out. She frowned. “Uh, speaking of which, how come you two aren’t burning up?”
“Necro-tempered glass,” Angel explained. “It filters out the parts of sunlight that are harmful to vampires. All part of the deal that Wolfram and Hart gave me.”
“You are evil,” Anya deduced. “I knew it! You sold out to evil so that you could walk in the sunshine. Smart suits and big offices and vile, hideous, evil bunnies hiding everywhere.”
“Demon bird’s got a point,” Spike agreed. “Place is bloody evil, and it’ll get to you if you’re not careful all the sodding time. No bunnies, though.”
“I did see a bunny, I did, I did,” Anya repeated. “Call Xander! I want him to come and rescue me from this horrible place.”
Angel raised his hands and spread his fingers. “Okay, okay,” he acquiesced. “I’ll call him. Settle down. I’ll get Harmony on it right away.”
“Harmony? Harmony? Evil vampire Harmony?”
“She’s my secretary, and she’s off the human diet,” Angel tried to explain, but Anya yelled at him again.
“Get Xander right this minute! Evil, evil, evil!” She threw a magazine at him, followed it up with a vase of flowers, groped for more ammunition and came up empty. “If you weren’t evil there would have been chocolates,” she accused.
“Uh, the doctors don’t want you eating chocolates yet,” Angel explained. Anya started yelling again and Angel fled the room.
“And you’re evil too,” Anya accused Spike. “Get out! Unless you can catch the horrible bunny.”
“There is no bunny,” Spike began, but Anya began shrieking stridently enough to have given Dawn a run for her money and Spike followed Angel’s lead and also took flight.
Anya settled herself back against the pillows. Was she really delusional? Surely Angel and Spike would know if their firm was infested with bunnies. Of course, if they were evil again, they wouldn’t care about bunnies. The bunnies were probably their staff, or their clients. She could easily visualize Wolfram and Hart acting for that evil Bugs Bunny to have a restraining order put on that nice Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam.
She closed her eyes. Maybe if the bunny thought that she was asleep it wouldn’t torment her. She heard a soft ‘thump’, felt the bed tremble minutely, and heard a rustling noise. The bunny was on the bed! She screwed up her eyes and shivered. Something moved across the blanket and she felt a slight pressure against her foot. She couldn’t hold out any longer. She opened her eyes, saw the bunny, and screamed.
The door flew open instantly and Angel and Spike rushed in. “Aha!” Angel said triumphantly. “So there is a rabbit.”
Spike dived for the rabbit, hands outstretched to clutch at it. It hopped away and avoided his grasp, but in so doing it got closer to Angel, and the senior vampire seized it in an iron grip.
Anya stopped screaming. “Kill it!” she urged them. “Kill the evil bunny!”
“It’s a sodding puppet!” Spike exclaimed. “A wee puppet rabbit.”
Angel glared at him. “Will you shut up about that?”
“Well, it is,” Spike said reasonably. “A toy, anyway. All plush and everything.” Feigenbaum squirmed in Angel’s grasp, but to no avail. Spike approached and examined the rabbit more closely. “Hey! It looks sort of like Wesley. You don’t suppose …”
“Wesley?” Angel said in horrified tones. “You’re not …?” He took a closer look. “It’s not Wesley. I’ve seen it somewhere before. It’s – it’s Fred’s toy.”
“If it’s a toy how come it’s moving?” Anya asked. “Unless it’s possessed. It’s an evil possessed bunny. Exorcise it!”
“Okay, bunny, get down and give me fifty,” Spike ordered, “then twenty sit-ups, and half an hour on the rowing machine.”
“I said exorcise, not exercise,” Anya snapped.
“I know, love, was just pulling your leg,” Spike grinned. “Don’t think Wolfram and Hart is all that geared up for exorcisms, mind. Maybe Wes could come up with something.”
“It might be possessed,” Angel mused. “Maybe that crew who turned me into a puppet might have something to do with it. Did we get them all?”
“Don’t ask me,” Spike said. “Didn’t take me along on that one, did you?”
“You were turned into a puppet?” Anya asked.
Angel groaned. “Yeah. Long story.”
“Which I’ll be happy to tell you,” Spike added. “Should have seen it, pet. He was dead cute as a puppet. Still had that bloody stupid hair, of course. Was bloody hilarious. Specially when his nose came off, and when Wolf Girl tried to eat him, and –”
“Spike, shut up,” Angel commanded wearily. “Do me a favor and call Wesley, okay? This thing’s stronger than it looks; it’s taking both hands to keep it under control.”
“Get that bunny out of here!” Anya demanded.
“All right, we’re going,” Angel told her. Spike opened the door for him.
Before Angel could leave, Illyria walked in. “Why, if it isn’t Feigenbaum,” she drawled, sounding most unlike herself. “My cute little bunny.”
“Fred?” Angel responded, his jaw dropping.
Illyria’s head swiveled towards him. “You have found that which I had lost,” she said in her normal voice. “He shall be my new Qwa'ha Xahn.”
“’Case you hadn’t noticed, Blue, he’s a soft toy,” Spike pointed out.
“The form of the shell matters not,” Illyria declared. “Come to me, Feigenbaum, Qwa'ha Xahn, and do me honor.”
The rabbit squirmed in Angel’s hands. He released it, to the accompaniment of another shriek from Anya, and it gave a mighty hop and flew through the air to Illyria. She caught it and held it to her. It laid its head against her breast and its ears wriggled.
Illyria tilted her head to one side and stared at Anya, who was staring back with a horrified expression on her face. “I see you have been repaired,” the God-King observed. “That is satisfactory.” She returned her attention to Feigenbaum and lifted the rabbit so that its face was against the side of her head. “I can no longer hear the song of the green,” Illyria lamented, “but Feigenbaum can hear it for me.” The rabbit put its mouth to her ear.
“What’s that you say, Sooty?” Spike mimicked.
Angel looked at him in blank incomprehension. Illyria turned her unblinking eyes to Spike and her eyebrows lowered. “He is Feigenbaum, not Sooty.”
“Sodding kids, foreigners, and prehistoric demons. Giles would have got it,” Spike muttered. “I was quoting from a television show,” he explained in a louder voice. “There was this little puppet bear called Sooty, and he – oh, sod it.”
“The horrible bunny is still in here,” Anya complained.
Illyria’s head swiveled again. “I shall take Feigenbaum to interrogate the plants in the atrium,” she announced, and she stalked off.
“Dunno what she expects a rabbit to tell her about what plants are saying, ‘cept for maybe ‘Please don’t eat me Mister Bunny’,” Spike commented.
“She is very strange,” Anya observed.
“She’s the one who rescued you,” Angel said.
“Well, if she comes back without the loathsome creature, I’ll thank her,” Anya said. “For now, though, I think I’ll go back to sleep.”
Illyria strode through the corridors of Wolfram and Hart and descended the central staircase. Angel and Spike followed in her wake. Wesley saw the procession and his eyes widened at the sight of Illyria clutching the toy rabbit. He approached and joined the two vampires. “Is it my imagination or is Fred’s toy rabbit moving?” Wesley asked.
“It’s not your imagination,” Angel told him. “It’s alive.”
“Good heavens! Astounding.”
At the bottom of the stairs Illyria bent and placed Feigenbaum on the floor, and the toy rabbit hopped to the ornamental plants. It sat up on its haunches, twitched its nose, and wiggled its ears. Illyria stood watching it until the rabbit turned and hopped back to her. She held it to her ear once more and her forehead creased slightly.
“Well?” Spike asked. “What’s the bunny rabbit got to tell you about what the plants say?”
Illyria’s head swiveled and she fixed him with an impassive stare. “My Qwa'ha Xahn tells me that they say ‘Please don’t eat me, Mister Bunny’.”