All About Spike

Chapter: 1  2  3  4  5

Afterwhile
By ascian

Semi-series of short post-ep musings, from Spike's POV

During/after The Killer In Me.



The Killer In Me

If you'd asked him a year ago - maybe even a month ago - if he wanted it out, he'd have laughed. It was what he'd wanted for years, wasn't it? The chip, the sodding chip, agent of his downfall. He'd blamed it for everything, for making him weak, for making him an outcast among his own kind, for castrating him. For making him soft enough to love her, and that was the root of it all, wasn't it? Really?

It's hard to remember, now, what it was like before she invaded his skin and made him hollow. Different, he thinks, without conviction.

Now it's tearing his head apart and isn't that more reason than ever to want it gone? And he wants the pain to be gone, more than anything, but in the moments between, when she's sitting beside him with that strange guarded sympathy, he looks through this and finds on the other side the vague twin shadows of death and freedom. Release, he tells himself.

The strange thing is that both ideas are terrifying.

Maybe they didn't expect me to last this long, he told her. And knows that this is true. He was supposed to be run through a maze until they got tired of him and spiked the cheese. Not supposed to be released into the wild. He doesn't have prophecies or a destiny mapped out, full of future engagements that can't be missed. He rather suspects that whatever plan there might have been was cut short long ago in an alley, and that he's been living on borrowed time ever since.

Something else you and I have in common, eh, pet?

But the truth is that he does have a place in this life after all - more or less - and in the newfound spirit of honest introspection, he is uncomfortably aware that the chip is what anchors him to it, keeps him in place. Keeps him safe. It's a leash, as surely as the chains around his wrists, and while he wears it, he is a good dog, and he can run by her side. It's not what he wants, not exactly, but it's almost close enough.

And now it's killing him. Cutting through his undead brain like a hot knife through butter. Chains cannot substitute for self-control, a leash does not pay for a life, and the truth of it is that the idea of dying almost comes as a relief, because it's become pretty clear to him that without the leash that's what happens anyway, except that it comes by her hand and he wants to spare her that for as long as he can.

She makes phone calls, looking for government agents in a flower shop, and behind the pain he finds himself admiring her insecurity and her bravado. It's funny, he thinks, that she is the one who is fighting for his life, the way he once fought her for hers.


Despite his somewhat morbid resignation, he finds that going gentle into that good night isn't really in his nature. So he goes into the the Initiative instead.

The place is halfheartedly closed up but not sealed, a noisesome testament to government inefficiency. Still full of dessicated skeletons with grinning fangs, and as dark as the grave he once dug his way out of. She is with him, of course.

The thing has a distinct X-Files theme to it, secret government agencies and enormous flashlights, and he feels an unexpected pang of nostalgia for a time when he spent entire sleepless days watching reruns and talk shows on daytime television. He misses television. He misses a lot of things. Ties to the world, he thinks, remembering something else he told her long ago, and almost smiles.

They are attacked. Of course things survived, how could they not? There were demons here, and of all the kinds of demons there are more than a few that thrive on darkness and death. This is their place, and there's no reason to leave. The thing that hurts, a lot more than his head - which also hurts - is his inability to leap to her defence. A gallant nineteenth-century impulse, that. And empty, because she rescues him again, but he can't help that part.

He is genuinely surprised when the government boys show up, but too out of it to react. Everything is thick and full of knives. She is leaning over him in the split second before the lights come up and he thinks, the thumping of humans moving around must've gotten lost in the being pounded by demons. He hadn't expected them to respond to her plea. A flower shop indeed.

Told you it was a government conspiracy, she mutters, as though it were a joke they shared. Despite the dazzlingly bright lights and the fact that his head is splitting in half before her eyes, he does register that.

After that things are fragmented. Someone is shooting molten lead into his skull and trying to gouge his eyes out with hot pokers. But they're doing it extremely slowly, and he just wishes they'd get on with it so that it can stop hurting so damn much. He's pretty sure he's going to die. Why would they help him? They're just here to claim the body.

Somewhere in the haze, either very close or very far away, he hears one of them talking to her, and understands something else. He is not going to die. They're here, against all reason, to save him. This is something he didn't forsee. Never imagined they would be able to muzzle him, make him safe again.

There's another option, though. Anxiety almost pentrates the wall of pain. Would they really take it out and let him live, reigned in only by a fractured conscience and dubious powers of self-control?

Unconsciousness is nipping at the soft parts of his brain as he hears them offer the choice to her.

He lets it swallow him before he hears the answer.



Continued in First Date

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