Word Count: 605
Summary: The inevitable trip to the aquarium.
Author’s Notes: Sometime between the end of Chosen and End of Days and the start of the 2010 World Cup. Spike, Illyria and Dawn plus Paul the Octopus. For speakr2customrs, who pointed out I had missed the bloody obvious opportunity Paul the Octopus presented.
If Illyria is listening to them, then she’s doing a fine job of pretending she isn’t.
Her face presses against the side of the display tank; her cheek squashed in so close it looks to Spike like she’s trying to squeeze herself into the glass, to reach the water by slowly pouring herself in through the gaps between each atom. She might well be, he thinks. With Illyria just about anything is possible.
“Where is it?” she demands.
“Dunno,” Spike shrugs, hoping that whatever it is she’s trying to do, she’ll hurry up and do it sharpish. He’s dying all over again for a cigarette, but as usual his needs are trumped by whatever passing thought has caught Illyria’s fancy this time. Perhaps a trip to the aquarium wasn’t such a brilliant idea; he knows what she’s like, so there is no one to blame but himself. Illyria is Illyria and she can turn any fun day out into a disaster waiting to happen. “It’s probably asleep,” he offers, hoping she’ll at least take the hint.
“Do they even sleep at all? I thought only mammals did that?” Dawn asks. She reads the sign by the side of the tank very closely, but frowns when it doesn’t provide any definitive answers. “Maybe they sleep at night, just like us.” She looks at Spike hopefully, then at Illyria and she seems to realise what she’s just said, “Okay, most of us.”
Ignoring the others and the warning notice that asks visitors not to tap on the glass, Illyria slaps a hand onto the tank, the web of her palm, splayed across the shear face of the aquarium wall.
“C’mon. I don’t think he’s coming out.” Spike tells her gently, not wanting to incur any unpredictable wrath.
Dawn adds her own encouragement. “And there’s a shark tank next! And if we hurry, it’ll be feeding time!”
Spike’s impressed. That sounds like a plan. “Sharks? Now you’re talking, Bit.”
But between them and the Discovery Channel favourites there’s just the small problem of getting a primordial god-king to shift her arse along to the next display. However, just as he’s trying to think of something else that might entice her along, a tentacle slips up the glass, its tip meeting the spread of Illyria’s hand, fingers to suckers, megalomaniac to cephalopod, in a way that’s in no way accidental.
“This one is special,” Illyria says, but her eyes never leave the creature before her.
“Sure it is.” Spike agrees although the thing looks like every other bloody octopus Illyria has dragged him to see over the years; soft, beaky and gangly limbed. Seafood, in other words.
Dawn scans the sign again. “According to this it’s called ‘Paul’. Huh. That’s hardly special.”
Illyria flashes them a look that Spike would swear could bore through steel. “It is my descendant.”
Dawn’s eyes grow wide. “Cool. So he’s like your Great-Great-Grandson times a thousand?”
Illyria slides her other hand up the glass, where again it is greet by another friendly tentacle. “More.”
“So does he have powers too?” Dawn leans in close to watch the creature with all the fearlessness of the young.
“The line grows weak. Flesh is fragile and bloated. This creature is an abomination, yet it is of my issue. Something of Illyria resides still inside.” Illyria straightens, breaking away from the inter or maybe not so inter-species connection. “It sees beyond the boundaries of your small, limited minds.”
Spike snorts. Dawn might be impressed by Illyria’s talk, but he’s heard it all before. “Yeah, but I still bet it can’t pick the winner of the World Cup…”