Also Comes in Strange
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 Title: One Moment
Author: Tania
Summary: The real life-changing moments are never planned.
Rating: R
Pairing: Angel/Spike

You pick one moment in time. One moment to turn over in your mind as something significant. You label it a life changing moment and let your world revolve around it for years. It's a natural thing to do. The funny thing is, it's rarely the moment others would pick for you that becomes the one you obsess about. It's not the moment your lover dies in front of you and her dust is curling around your own hand. It's not the one where you kiss her goodbye just in time for the phone to ring letting you know she's really gone. It isn't when the soul hits you at a thousand miles an hour shattering your mind with a century's worth of pain. They think it should be those. It should be the exact second you sliced your own son's throat that plays in your mind over and over.

But the moment that plays such a pivotal role was years before, before any of it. Before the demon haunted you, before you even acknowledged that it was a demon and not just an extension of the self you always knew.

It's this one moment, shared with the unlikeliest of co-stars, a night in some dirty village whose name escapes you even though the harsh orange lighting and deep pomegranate red of the carpets doesn't. You don't remember what the hotel clerk looked like, but you remember the chambermaid vividly. You remember every subtlety of honey sweetened blood dripping down your throat as her wet eyes stare at you, as her hands claw at straw colored hair, rending it from the roots as she whispers, begs, and dies. There's no memory of the coach ride there, or the boat ride before. You aren't sure if it was London or Prague that you were in when the idea to leave struck, but you remember the train ride in between, the long journey with no female companions, only a strong back not afraid to carry his own bags and to back you up in the inevitable barroom brawl.

The before, after, and consequences are vague flashes filled with the occasional wicked grin and flash of blue eyes. It's the during that plays out in your mind each night, clearly as if the reel were playing behind you. The lights dim each time you let your mind wander to that place so long ago that tastes like yesterday when you bite into your tongue.

The door opens slowly, a cool rush of air slipping in behind the thin slip of a man that enters. He carries the always present bottle of something potent, that infectious smile that makes the matriarch cringe and the lunatic laugh. You can hardly stop the curl of your own lips as the bottle is offered and the eyebrows raise in anticipation of drunken kisses still to come. Neither of you is sure if the ineffective alcohol is necessary to continue, but the drink comes all the same, bitter taste sweetening the temptation. The warm flush spreads from cheeks to fingertips, magnetizing them until you can hardly stop yourself from touching your companion. There are always too many clothes between you, cotton and wool, breeches and vests, too many buttons, laces, clasps and straps. No less than a woman, the only difference being the lack of silver chains and rings. With a man the neck is free of encumbrance, ready to be tasted, traced over with lips and tongue, scrape of teeth against downy hairs.

The shiver is vivid as technicolor, reminding you of fifties theaters with buzzers built into the seats during matinees. The very thought of that lover's tremble sends chills down your body, collecting in your toes until you can't help but fidget in your seat as the memory takes over. Your back slickens with a sheen of sweat just as it did so long ago when you stood naked before each other. You remember hands that seemed to multiply like an Indian god's, seeming to be everywhere, every muscle pinched and caressed, mouths pressed together in a hungry dance. The night slows, sounds outside disappear and it is you two alone, your touch loses its urgency, though not intensity. Each movement is deep and purposeful, stroke of cock, swipe of tongue, graceful bend over a mound of pillows. Passionately scented oils mix over cold skin in a dance of light and shadow, painting perfectly sculpted flesh until it shines like polished marble.

You can't hear words being spoken, and you wonder if there was ever a need for them. Was the moment so pre-designed that the actors knew their parts intimately, no prompting needed? It must have been, because you can feel the tightness clench around you even as your hand replays the sensation now. Soft warmth, not hot enough to burn, yet warm enough to stay with you for a hundred years, reminding you of all that you lost and gave away in that tortured century since. There has been no place or comfort to equal that one night of desperate, languid lovemaking, and you think maybe that is how it should be. So this is the memory that you base a lifetime worth of guilt around. A night spent in a blissful paradise with the only person still able to torture you with the memory.

So when he comes to you on lonely nights and begs you with mouth and action to take him as you did back then, you open up the wound and let it bleed a little, even if it is only him that sees.

And you wonder if maybe his world revolves around the same blinding sun of a memory, or if he means it when he says, "Angel, it's just a fuck."

Either way, you open the door and let Spike in.