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Title: Changes So Fast
Author: Tania
Rating: PG
Summary: A Post-Not Fade Away ficlet, Living forever hurts.

"Changes fast doesnít it?"

"Huh?" Angel asked, peeking his head around the bathroom door to stare at Spikeís wet body standing in front of the mirror.

"Time was this would have healed already."

Angel came around the door and stood next to Spike, taking the wet cloth from his hands and wiping the thin trail of blood that ran down Spikeís back, mixing with the water until it was thin like watercolors. "Youíll get used to it," Angel said in a voice that wavered between certainty and a choked sob.

"Will I then?" Spike watched the mirror as unseen hands moved the cloth over his shoulders, gently wiping at the numerous scrapes and gashes that crossed his skin. Spike sighed at the pain. Supposed he should be glad to have it. The pain meant he was alive. Truly alive.

"Yeah, sure you will," Angel said as he rinsed the cloth under the faucet, watching the steaming water swirl in a pink haze down the drain. "Someday when youíre old, and Iím still beautiful, and youíre cursing my name, youíll be so Alzheimer ridden you wonít even remember that you were anything but human." Angel smiled, but when Spike turned from the mirror and looked into the vampireís eyes they were brimming with held back tears.

"Itís okay," Spike said, leaning a wet head against Angelís shoulder and holding him as tight as he could, not tight enough he thought. Spike wanted to crush him, show Angel that he was still just as strong, but it was nothing but a memory now. He could lift weights the rest of his life and this body would never be as powerful as he had been in the first hours of his turning, let alone after a century of honing that vampiric strength. "Weíre gonna be fine, Angel. Promise, you and me...this is nothing, little scrape. Iíll know better next time."

"Right," Angel said softly, letting Spike release him.

"Come on, letís get dressed and see if we canít find a reason for you to save me. Thatíd make you feel better wouldnít it? Get to play the strapping hero, save the um, bloke in distress."

Angel almost smiled, not quite, but at least he wiped the tears from his eyes and handed Spike a dry towel. It was enough for now.

"I think Iíd rather stay in."

"Good enough, weíll watch the news, get a game plan."

"No, Iíve had enough of that for one day too."

Running the towel through his hair until each soft brown curl clung to his face giving him the look of an Adonis, Spike pressed on Angelís chest until he backed out of the cramped bathroom and into the cramped studio they were calling home for now. "You worry too much."

"Not really," Angel argued.

"Yeah really. Not much to be worried about anymore the way I see it. Thereís you, and youíre fine, quite fine in fact. Thereís me, Iím fine, in fact I think that with this striking tan," Spike walked across the room, giving a model peek over his shoulder before turning and walking back, "I think I look like that Calvin Kline model that married his mom."

Angel laughed and sat on the edge of the bed, waiting for more of Spikeís performance-slash-pep talk.

"The Slayers are fine, as a people I mean, out there going strong, saving orphans and uh, people who arenít orphans. We havenít seen any lawyers gone bad in almost a year, and everyone we love is dead."

"I thought you were trying to cheer me up?" Angel asked.

"I am." Spike said, pushing Angel back onto the bed as he crawled up and straddled his waist. "You have, letís say, fifty years left to dote on me alone. No one there to divide your attention between, just me to look out for."

"Iím failing to see the bad here, continue."

Spike helped pull Angelís t-shirt over his head and tossed it to the floor. "So see, fifty years of just this," Spike leaned down to kiss Angel, but was thwarted when Angel turned his head.

"Please stop saying that," Angel whispered.

"What?" Spike asked, sitting back up.

"Fifty years, itís...not long enough."

"More than most get." Turning Angelís head back with a soft hand, Spike kissed him, soft and gentle, reveling in the cool touch of Angelís lips. "Weíve already had more than most, we canít be greedy."

"But none of it counted before," Angel said through another kiss. "Weíre just getting started, and youíre already bleeding."

"Iíve been bleeding since the day I met you, I donít think youíve heard me complaining much."

"That was different."

"Now youíre getting my point arenít you? Everything is different now."

Angel grabbed at Spikeís hips, the warm touch still confusing his hands, feeling so unfamiliar to his skin. It wasnít just the tan and the hair, the smell was different now, so much less tang to him. Spike almost smelled sweet now, he was softer and it forced Angel to be gentler too. Gentler in every touch, more cradling and rubbing his hands over tired muscles each night, waiting for Spike to catch his breath between bouts of fighting, fucking, everything.

It pained him more than he could ever voice, but Angel knew that Spike understood, he felt it in every kiss and caress. For the first time in their lives Spike hadnít taken the prize, Angel had given it to him. Given because there was no choice, it was the shanshu or the world, really. He just never thought it would happen, how theyíd ever escaped that alley he would never understand, but here they were, intact if alone. Vampire made human and vampire made soulful, hiding in a cheap apartment fighting whatever battles they could, on a small scale. Saving souls and helping the helpless like they were meant to.

And maybe in the end each other.