My hypothesis about the requirements for a fic to be popular on ‘Twisting the Hellmouth’ has been upgraded to a Theory; my Super!Xander ficlet 'The Incredible Xander' is already rapidly climbing towards 1st place in my ‘hits per chapter’ stats there with over 1,000 in less than a day. Meanwhile ‘The Cloak of Mist’, the best thing I’ve ever done, is down in second-last place with 77. It doesn’t feature Xander.
The current challenge on TtH is for Angel: the Series fics. Quite a while ago I did an Illyria drabble that was meant to be the first of a series telling a coherent story. I got distracted, as I’m afraid often happens, and I never even put it into Memories; I can’t even find the drabble myself now.
On the 29th of January, however, deird1 posted a mind-blowingly superb Fred/Illyria post-NFA ficlet called Shell Game. It reminded me of what I’d meant to do and, after a little re-watching of ‘Angel’ episodes on the SF Channel, I’ve picked up where I left off with a 250-word second instalment. I’m reposting the first one too as the original LJ post is lost. The first part is 100 words, the second 250, rating PG, totally ignoring the comics 'canon'. These are very definitely NOT my humorous punning stuff. Part 3 will probably follow in a day or two.
The rain lashed down. It washed the blood from the limp body of Charles Gunn. It swept away the dust of Angel the King and of Spike her Pet, turning it to mud, sending it into the gutters as no more than a discoloration of the water. Nothing was left of them. Nothing. Nothing.
Illyria raised her face to the rain and screamed out her pain and loss. She clenched her fists and looked around for something on which to vent her fury. There were no demons remaining. No dragon. No giant. Only their blood and ichor. And the rain.
Fred sat sideways on the couch, her feet resting on the seat, her knees drawn up against her chest and her arms wrapped around them. Tears trickled down her cheeks.
“They’re all dead,” she said. “All of them. I’m the only one left.”
Her father laid his hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently. “Baby…”
Fred took her hands away from her legs, reached up, and placed a hand on his. “It hurts so much, Dad,” she said. “Why does it hurt so much?”
Trish fought to control the tremble in her lip. “They’re dead? Angel? Wesley? Charles?”
Fred nodded. “All of them. Wesley, Angel, Charles, Cordelia, Spike…”
“I knew it was dangerous but… but… they seemed so… good at what they did,” Trish said.
“They had that nice new office,” Roger said, “and a whole load of people working for them, and you had that lab.”
“It was a trap,” Fred said. “It sucked us in and it killed them. If we’d stayed in the Hyperion we… they… wouldn’t have died.”
“Oh, my poor girl,” Trish said.
“I liked Angel,” Roger said. “You’re sure he…?” He didn’t finish the question. The look on Fred’s face was answer enough.
“I couldn’t save them,” Fred lamented. “I fought with everything I had, and I made it through, but I couldn’t save them.”
“You mustn’t blame yourself, honey,” Trish said.
“I don’t,” Fred agreed. She brushed the tears from her cheeks, tilted her head, and clenched her fists. “I blame Rupert Giles.”
Continued in Body of Lies