The title of this one is from the song "The Shining Hour" by Grant Lee Buffalo. Want an mp3?
The only spoiler is for how Spike first appears on AtS. If that's all you know, you're safe.
Much love to kita0610 and circe_tigana for looking this over, and to anniesj for her inspired idea. ::mwah::
For example: the sunshine.
Sure, not as big a problem as it used to be, thanks to necro-tempered glass. It's still glass, though. Different from actually feeling it on your skin, not that Angel remembers that from his long-lost human days.
At noon, he slouches in the portico of his apartment building, waiting for W&H's car to pick him up. Same as usual, except now he's got the none-too-welcome company of Spike.
"Now, this is the life," Spike proclaims as he strolls around the portico, teasing the sunlit edges. "Well, not the life, because hello, dead now. Bugger that. It's still sunshine."
Angel stares straight ahead, ignoring him this time mostly because he doesn't want to be some freak who talks to thin air - and he's not about to ask whether the doorman can see Spike.
"Mind tossing me a bottle of Coppertone? Oh, wait. You don't have any, poor baby." Spike turns and smirks. "Maybe I'll strip naked and let my best assets get a bit of a tan."
Screwing his face up in a glare, Angel finally looks over. Sure enough, Spike's standing full-on in the open air. The sun makes his leather coat shine, and his bleached hair glows like a halo. Oh, he really is stunning, all lit up like a god. Beautiful.
Angel closes his eyes to scrub away the image, and waits for the car.
He does have his own place in the sun, though. Filtered by glass, but hey, it's something.
What had Lilah said? Feels even better when you're naked.
Not that Angel's actually gotten naked in his office. Please. But he does get up to some really embarrassing stuff that he will never, ever reveal to another soul.
Every morning, Gunn sweeps the place for bugs and hidden cameras. He'll find one occasionally. No big surprise - Angel doesn't trust W&H one bit, even if this branch is his now. Wesley also worked some mojo to scramble any video or audio frequencies in the office, so that cameras wouldn't pick up any blackmail material. The AI team might be toeing the line of moral corruption, but they still put a premium on privacy.
The office is his sanctum, his playground. Sometimes he'll take off his coat and roll up his sleeves - once, he actually went shirtless - and throw open the blinds. Five p.m. is the best time for it, when the sun shoots directly into the room, and he can almost see the light reflecting off the distant Pacific. His secretary never schedules meetings between five and six, though she politely refuses to ask why. He'll just stand there, so quiet that even the murmuring voices outside don't bother him.
And he basks.
Two hundred and fifty years of walking this earth, and those minutes are the most real he's ever felt.
Didn't take long for Spike to fuck those over, too.
The bastard has this trick he likes to play. As hard as Angel tries to ignore him, Spike will stand right next to him, sparking in and out of vision, like a light switch flicked by a bored child. Trying his damnedest to distract him, not that Angel ever gives him the satisfaction. Even Spike can't take the sunlight away.
"Angelus basking in the sunshine. Fancy that." The smirk in his voice grates like steel razors. "I've half a mind to -"
Before Spike can horn in with one of those faux-clever comebacks, Angel's control snaps.
"Shut. The fuck. UP. You don't want to be here? Fine. I sure as hell don't want you around. Bully for both of us, The Powers That Laugh At Your Misery have stuck us together." He takes a step forward, shoves right up in Spike's ghost-face. Their eyes narrow in unison. "Until I can rub a lamp and shove you back in it, quit your goddamned talking."
Spike's chin tilts up, lips curl into something between a pout and a sneer. "God, you're pathetic. Trying to play Boss Man, but all you've got is that Hugo Boss suit. Not fooling anyone, you aren't. Underneath it all, you're just a wanker who can't let himself go once in a while. Tell me," he slowly blinks, "do you cry when you jerk off?"
So this is what Spike wants, huh? No-holds-barred, fists and fangs, having it all out? Oh, he can't begin to match Angel for all that. Boy's forgotten everything he was taught all those years ago.
"You tell me, Spike," he replies, his voice colder than blood. "Who's the pathetic one here? I'm in control. I do what I want. And you?" A long, slow glance up and down Spike's body. "Poor little Spikey. Can't go to heaven, and hell won't let him in. All you can do is taunt."
Spike's fists curl, anger seething off him in waves. That fierce need to fight, to kill - it's all over him. Angel knows that if things were different, by now he'd have been dusted with a pencil or broken chair.
Which just makes it better.
He moves in for the kill. Curls his mouth up in a grin and murmurs, "Buffy called yesterday. Things are going real well for her in London. Says she's never been happier. Maybe that's because she doesn't have to put up with you anymore."
Fury shatters into a million flash-blinding shards. Spike coils his arm back and -
The blow shoots straight through Angel. No resistance, only air, but fire sparks through his stomach. Tingling and consuming and all that pressure builds up up up and then -
Blown out like a candle flame. Like lust and death and the richest blood ever. It's Darla, and countless ingenue victims, and each night William sucked him off while Angelus teased him with a stake. It's Buffy and his soul flying away like a murder of crows. It's history, mixed with something he can never, doesn't ever want to name.
Every thread of emotion reflects in Spike's haunted eyes.
He felt it too.
Angel closes his eyes, leans back against the tempered glass. Palms skitter over the cool window, searching for a hold to keep him from sliding down to the carpet.
"I never -" Spike's voice trails away. He sounds so young.
When Angel comes back to himself and opens his eyes, Spike is gone.
Continued in The Two-Way Mirror