Title: Big Exit
Summary: After the battle the survivors try to deal. Set post-Not Fade Away
baby, baby, ain't it true? i'm immortal when i'm with you. but i wanna pistol
in my hand.
- PJ Harvey
Once again, the world doesn't end. Sometimes he wonders if it ever will.
Has dreams about the deaths of stars, but of course he doesn't believe in dreams anymore. Trickster screaming nightmares. Lovemaking in the middle of the desert, with the sky above and a mirage lying in wait. It's all shit.
So he starts fucking Spike again.
Fucking Spike is almost like fucking the living, which is half the appeal. He smells of human things, always. Nicotine and toothpaste, leather and liquor and vice. He squirms beneath Angel like a bitch in heat with green, green eyes that are sometimes blue, forgets himself and has to catch his breath. His fingers grasp up handfuls of the bedclothes as he comes. If you know just where to touch him, his eyes will brighten spectacularly and then he'll abhor your very existence, when he knows you've seen what you already knew was there.
Angel knows from experience just where to touch him. In another century they'd shared a bed, and slept soundly upon it with blood on their teeth.
He had known what a flawed plan it was that he'd set into action, had known that there would be immeasurable losses. But he'd also assumed that he too would be lost and therefore spared any and all grief. This turns out to be his most grievous mistake.
Gunn had collapsed twenty minutes into the fray and had made no miraculous attempt at rising.
Spike had fallen too. Angel had thought that that was the beginning of the end, the actual end, but then after the blows had stopped coming Illyria had picked through the carnage to find him, and swaying on his feet and blood-soaked he'd grabbed onto Angel's elbow and looked embarrassingly weepy until he was shaken off.
"How is this possible?" Angel had asked. "How? Illyria- did you-"
"That's beyond her now, mate."
"But this isn't- this-" He'd fight and he'd fight and he'd never back down, that was what he did, but what was he supposed to do with this? Spike and him at the end of everything. It was a mind-breaking concept.
Maybe it was the curse, he thought uncomprehendingly. He would have been truly happy, to die with his friends. Truly. Perfectly. But no. No.
"The dragon circles," Illyria alerted them then, as a door had seemed to slam shut somewhere within him.
"Oi!" Spike had abruptly turned from him and screamed into the eerie post-battle silence, seemingly having found his second wind, jumping up and down and waving his arms around in a frantic manner in the middle of the street. "Here, girl!"
"What are you doing?" Angel was jarred into asking.
"You wanted to slay the bloody thing, didn't you? Oh, come on, haven't you ever seen Jurassic Park? See, I'm that Jeff Goldblum chap and I'm a raving lunatic." It seemed like a fair assessment. Spike had resumed his foolish dance. He whistled enticingly.
After a moment of hesitation, Angel called out, "Hey! Dragon!"
The dragon, ignoring them as stubbornly as a household cat, flapped off into the distance. It was anticlimactic. It was a farce. But suddenly nothing had seemed worth laughing over just the same.
The first time it happens. Back at Spike's ruined apartment while Illyria stands by the window and watches the world go by.
Washing wounds and Spike follows him right into the bathroom and says sorrysorrysorry and Angel had forgotten how very warm his eyes could be. Don't be sorry, he says, and don't look at me that way, and Spike strikes out, warmth fading fast.
He isn't sure exactly when they stop fighting, when they start fucking. All he's sure of is that he wants to see that look in those eyes again. But of course by the time he decides this it's shuttered back away behind lashes and years.
This is when Angel decides to take a break from helping the helpless, and from whatever it was he'd managed to accomplish at W&H. To pour his attention into an altogether different, well-remembered sort of artistry.
Spike's facedown on the mattress on this day, as fresh and as flushed as a real boy from the shower, but the room still reeks of sex, of blood. Angel, confronted with this, sits on the edge of the bed and touches that white-shock of tousled curls. Yanks on them, because he can. Wants to set something into action, perhaps even only a fist.
But when Spike catches him across the jaw, he mutters, sleepily, pissed: "Ring up dog girl, why don't you? 'M not your little toy, all right? Never have been."
Not playing today, then. Angel knows just how to remedy the situation. Spike's not the only one with a quick and knowing tongue, after all. "Yeah?" he asks blandly. "Why do you think I allowed you to be made in the first place?"
There's the expected struggle. Nothing livens Spike up more than bringing up the subject of his own demise. Then there's damp skin sticking to his own all of the sudden, and Angel knows he has the upper hand, at least for the moment. Chest to chest like this, Spike's out-of-focus, but all snarl and eyes, a certain sign he's feeling good and trapped.
"You'll never be anything but a pawn, Spike," Angel says, knowing he has a rapt sort of audience. "Even if you weren't one then, you are now. You're like me in that way."
"I'm not like you in any way."
"You know we should never have won this. You know that. It was an impossible fight."
"You fuckwit," Spike says, going suddenly still and deadly. "God save me from you hero types and your bloody death wishes."
Angel allows this, feigning brokenness, and Spike's out-of-focus but easy to read eyes say ha ha you stupid sod but I've got your number now and it's just enough of a winning blow to get him to resume his position, facedown and splayed pale and lean across the covers, thinking he's hot shit. Bearing down on him, at the last moment, Angel whispers into the curve of an ear, "Just what type are you? Tell me that."
Spike gives another snarl into the pillow before regrouping. "Don't blame you, really. Nothing much left for you on this here earth, right? A pesky conscience. A bunch of dead friends-"
"Shh," Angel says warningly.
And then there's that cooling flesh beneath his own, but Spike still moans like a man with a fever before subsiding into a strange silence.
He knows Spike hates this, what they do. Spike, as fierce as he can be, wants little more than a bonny lass to spin around the maypole, a springtime kind of love.
He won't be anyone's dirty little secret, not again, he yells abruptly and nonsensically in the middle of the kitchen while Angel peers into an empty fridge, banal-to-them words overlapping: We'll have to pick up some more blood.
"How very domestic of us," Spike says in a dire voice.
At this, Illyria looks even more considering than usual. "Look," Spike says to her in that same voice. "Why don't you go take a trek downtown? Buy yourself a new catsuit or some such thing."
"Do you wish to fornicate in private?"
"I wish- yes, that's it, yes. Here, come on kitten." He pushes a wad of cash at her. "You know what to do with that?"
"Yes. I will spend it."
"Brilliant. You'll be a shopaholic in no time flat. Buy us out of house and home, you will."
"I will," Illyria confirms, and exits determinately.
Angel wonders just who Spike would have him tell about them. Fred's shell? Is this love? she'd wondered before they'd forbid her to ask such things, and seemed vaguely dissatisfied at the thought.
Everyone's gone and Spike's still here. It's much too horribly fitting and cosmic to be any sort of a dream. He keeps expecting signed-away prophecies to play themselves out now that he's been rendered a spectator to his own immortality.
Just as he's given up on dreams, he no longer holds any illusions. He knows now that he wouldn't be happy, not even as a human, not even with Buffy all blonde and smiles at his side. Spike's crept into everything, even that old, locked-away smile. He's everywhere. There's nothing else.
Still, Angel knows that he can't blame Spike for this fatal mood, this long winter. He knows this and it makes it even worse, that between deceitful dreams he goes around slamming Spike up against walls in order to get what he lusts after even now, little gasps and cries, inhuman contact like human contact, the closest he gets to something worth fighting for these days. He doesn't even like Spike and here he is fucking a dead man as if it will bring one of them back to life, at least. Stupid, stupid.
And Spike hates this, but he comes back for seconds anyway, wanton and wandering and wanting his springtime love. Finding only Angel.
Destiny's a real bitch, Spike's always saying these days, finally catching on to the way things are now. Maybe Angel would mourn the loss of such innocence if Spike were anything like an innocent.
Thankfully, he's not.
"Should we have make-up sex, then?" Spike's asking now, resignedly. "Would help if you knew what we were fighting about, of course, but, you know-"
"Shh," Angel says, once again, and then they're upon one another.
I'm leaving, Spike announces one day with an extra note of finality to his voice, pocketing the keys to the Viper he'd managed to pinch before everything went down. Two thirds inconspicuous, one third blatantly obvious, like always. It almost manages to be convincing. Angel starts.
"This is your apartment," he points out, testing the waters.
"Keep it. 'M taking dye-job with me. Maybe let her get her wish and keep me as a pet, yet. Would complete the bastardization of my self-image, that's for certain. And it would be better than this, with you, anyway," Spike continues, faltering then, so that Angel knows suddenly and with absolute certainty that he isn't going anywhere permanent. He says so.
"Well, damn you right back to hell-" And Spike keeps it up with the insults, flinging them this way and that. Some of them are quite ingenious, really, but nothing that he hasn't heard before from that pink-lipped, vicious mouth.
"Spike," Angel speaks finally. "Fine - go. I'll finally have some peace and quiet, after everything."
Spike fairly sputters. "Oh, you want some peace and quiet? Have your bloody peace and quiet, then. S'all you have left here, anyway. Peace and quiet! Ha!" He throws a badly-aimed tumbler at Angel's head and stomps off theatrically.
Only to totter back in much later. Broken glass crunches beneath his boots as he comes over to kick at the bed in a rather insistent sort of way. Angel stops pretending to be asleep when the bed-frame starts scraping across the floor, anticipating drastic measures being considered. "Tell me Illyria's sober," Angel says then, with a certain amount of horror.
"Ah, she's sleeping it off," Spike says distractedly. "'Bout time you woke up and took notice of me, ya berk. What I have to say."
"So, speak," Angel says, expecting nothing more than a nosedive. Spike has imminent collapse written all over him. Angel's dimly jealous of this.
Indeed the other man flops down next to him, smelling of cheap liquor and even cheaper sex. Back to Angel. But then he begins to explain something, as if to one of them. "It's not me that needs you. 'S the other way around. Know that." A pause in which he can almost hear Spike collecting his rambling, alcohol-laced thoughts. "If I left you'd be- what? I don't know. I keep imagining you here all by your lonesome-"
Angel flips Spike over, surprised into pique, demanding, "Is that pity?"
"So what if it is?" Spike slurs, swollen-eyed. "What are you going to do about it, mate? Oh, how the mighty have fallen, eh, Angel? Angel, my soul sister. You great nance. That- face makes you look even thicker than you are." Obviously Spike's run out of both insults and tears. His own face convulses then but he doesn't cry. He won't open his eyes for anything.
"Go to sleep, then," Angel says after a few moments, allowing himself a certain gentleness he knows won't be remembered. "Shh, go to sleep. Neither one of us is going anywhere." He touches his fingertips to eyelids that are pale purple in the moonlight.
Neither one of us is going anywhere at all.
Angel dreams. Nothing especially deep. Cordelia's there, but it's one of those dreams where you're aware of your self in its dream-state and so he can't even properly enjoy either her snark or his own. (He's particularly, uncharacteristically witty in this dream. Cordy laughs and laughs and laughs and because of this everyone is happy. Spike's nowhere to be found.) And then when his dream-self forces his eyes open that eternal blight on his horizon is frowning down at him. Wonderful.
Spike doesn't look like he's faring his own state of consciousness any better. Angel can almost see the headache clouding up Spike's line of vision as the other man palms his temple with his free hand. "What did you do to me?" Spike wants to know. Incessantly, terminally furious at Angel, and apparently second only to the Connor of old in that department, he's wielding a piece of ragged table leg in his other hand.
Angel shifts uneasily. Spike's an expert killer, but he's nevertheless rarely managed to carry out a death threat. Angel has no real fear there, but this is theatrical even for Spike. He decides to err on the side of caution and not to provoke. Then he opens his mouth. "Well, I stumbled across a lad named William in the middle of a London street many years ago without knowing my bad fortune and he's been a pain in my ass ever since. I don't know that I did much to deserve that. So you tell me, Spike, what did I do to you?"
Spike's frown darkens into a scowl. "Why am I here? Just why am I back here, with you?"
"You tell me."
"How about you tell me," Spike says menacingly. "Or would you rather have me shove this bloody hunk of wood through your solar plexus so's you can feel your flesh dissolve around you into dust that you just know I'll dance a mad dance upon, you absolutely asinine wanker-"
"You might have better luck with that, going for the heart," Angel interrupts helpfully.
All at once Spike deflates, tosses the piece of table leg in the general direction of the fallen table, and drags his hands through his hair so that it stands straight up. He looks wild and feathered. "Fine," he huffs. "Feel like shite. Going to take a shower."
Angel finds himself padding after him. Spike strips clumsily. Hungover, squinty-eyed, angry. "Get out, yeah? You're right, this is my apartment. My bathroom. My right to take a shower without feeling like I'm a sodding extra on sodding Oz. Christ. Get out!"
Angel imagines Illyria perking up in the next room at the raised voices in a canine fashion and asks quietly, "Are we going to talk about that death threat?"
"Have always let them slide in times past, haven't we?" Unashamedly naked, Spike slaps the tap on and climbs beneath the spray, yanking the shower curtain closed. When Angel steps forward after a moment and flicks it back open, Spike turns his back on him abruptly. It's stupid and childish and pointless. It fits.
"Was thinking," Spike says eventually, apparently growing weary of the standoff, although he still can't seem to bear and give Angel anything more than his back. "A body needs human contact in order to survive, right? Isn't that what they say?"
"I don't know," Angel says neutrally. "Is it?"
"Isn't human contact with us, really. If you break it down in your head, right, it's not human contact at all."
"I can touch you," Angel says, because it strikes a chord in him like nothing has for days and days, what Spike's saying.
"Not human, though, are you?" Snappish.
"I can touch you," Angel repeats. He even wants it to mean something, but is hesitant to say anything else. Besides, he doesn't know if he can touch Spike, not really, and certainly not anymore.
"Could. Wouldn't like yourself for it much. I know this one, Angel. Though I won't play the victim this time around: can't say I'd be too fond of it either. And for fuck's sake, can you kindly hulk off and get out of here?"
Forgetting about Illyria and everything else, Angel grabs Spike by one slippery arm and spins him around. Spike's head thuds dully up against the shower wall and he curses. Then Angel's tearing his own clothes off and Spike's saying, "Fuck you, fuck you, I don't want this anymore, fuck," with a hard on that at first Angel reaches out for and just touches because there's evidently something within him that strives to be better, still.
It rises slickly in his hand and Spike bucks, head cracking back up against the wall. He hisses. His stomach hollows out into something concave. Angel touches that too, fingers then skidding down to trembling hipbones. Everything that is Spike shakes, like something humming with electricity that shouldn't be immersed in water, and Angel feels that shaking take him over too until he doesn't know which one of them is going to shake the other apart first. We should compete, Angel thinks with a sex-addled brain, over this too.
"Turn around," he manages.
"Turning, turning," Spike agrees, and does, palms flat up against the wall, arms shake-shaking.
His back is smooth and coiled muscle, welcoming now. Angel butts his head up against it, pressing closer and closer until it seems as if they're melded together. Hot water blinding them both and then Angel's hand winds around the body in front of him, searching and finding and touching and after they'd buried Wes it had been like this, Spike had touched him like this and they'd both pretended Angel wasn't crying, and now here like this he can't even tell if either one of them is in tears, but now's not the time to think of such things, regardless.
"Do you think I'm cursed?" Angel demands then anyway, bewildered by the swirl and eddy of his own thoughts.
Spike pants uselessly. "What are you asking me? Of course you're cursed- Oh, godohgod-"
Then they're both coming, or must be. Angel's convinced the world's finally ending, at any rate.
So before it comes rushing back, before Spike begins his boneless, slow-slide to the tiles, Angel just holds on to him, tight, saying, "Spike, Spike," and that's all. And for that moment he doesn't even mind that there's nothing else.
The title and opening phrase were snitched from PJ Harvey's lovely and bleak album Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea for those of you that are interested in that sort of thing.