Pairing: Spike and Fred - friendship
Spoilers: Up to Angel - 5.03 - "Unleashed"
Disclaimer: Do I really need one? All right, Spike's not mine. Neither is Fred. Unfortunately, especially in the former case, they belong to Joss and ME.
Dedication: To Sandy for always encouraging me to write and fight that writer's block that's plagued me for so damn long! This one's for you sweetie! Thanks so much!
Summary: All he wants is to feel.
He can't actually feel anything at all if you get right down to it. Not the duster resting on his shoulders. Can grasp it well enough, but he can't feel the familiar well-worn leather under the pad of his fingers. Can hear the rustling papers on Fred's desk behind him. The air from the window she'd failed to shut properly must be passing through him, but he can't feel that either. Can hug his body tight enough to crack ribs, but they don't. No pain, no sensation at all.
He wants to scream, holler, throw things and hear the satisfying sound of them breaking. Craves a release. Wants to pound his fists against walls, and feel plaster crumbling under his bare hands. He stares out the window at the fifteen-story drop. If he tried to pound the panes he'd sail right through them and give the people milling about below quite a fright. But he wouldn't feel the fall, not the g-force induced rush that makes your throat lock up so tight you can't even scream, not the air that wouldn't even be whistling by him so much as passing through him as he'd plummet toward the ground, not the landing that should by definition fracture every bone in his body. Despite this he's still tempted to try. Tempted to take a running leap through frame and drywall to see how much of that vivid imagery might be true. If just one bit of it wasn't...it'd be something, he'd be feeling something.
But then again maybe he wouldn't fall at all, suspended mid-air like a cartoon character who hasn't realized their feet have left the ground. A bloody cruel trick. The universe having another laugh at his expense. And why not? There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to being a ghost. He should be sinking through the floor right now shouldn't he? But it seems to be solid under his feet, even if he can't feel that either.
"Spike!" Fred's just burst through the door, arms weighted with too many texts for her to handle. She careens dangerously to one side and his first instinct is to reach out and steady her tiny frame. He barks out a bitter laugh at that, which treacherously turns into a strangled sounding half sob. She's looking at him uncertainly as the books finally tumble down onto her desk. Can't blame her there, not after the last two stunts he pulled. So he just looks away, back out at the window, back out at the sunlight. Always been a masochist hasn't he?
"Are you...is it getting worse?" She finally says, coming around to him so he can just see her out of his peripheral vision. He shrugs, doesn't really trust his voice. More treachery lurking there he's sure.
"I've been researching all morning. I have the whole staff on it. Or everyone except for the few Angel commandeered to look into this technological whatsit that he confiscated at a clients house that no one has any idea what it does but thinks that maybe it has something to do with opening this certain kind of portal that's really..." She cuts herself off with a wince. "Sorry, I'm working on that. The run-on sentence thing. I have been researching though," she rounds back to the original subject, hesitating slightly, "I just haven't found anything yet."
He finally turns to her. Can see it in her face, how hard she's been trying, there's a desperation and frustration there to almost match his own. Her pretty doe eyes are full of sympathy and apology. Bless her heart. Barely knows him but she's trying so bloody hard. Never had anyone try like that for him, not so selflessly. Doesn't have the words to thank her for that.
"S'allright, luv. Didn't come for an update. Didn't come to pester you this time either," he says instead. Which of course begs that he explain why he's there at all. But she just accepts this and doesn't press him further. Looks so young and naive she does, that he never expects such wordless understanding. But, then again, there's also this look in her eyes sometimes, an old look. Makes him wonder what's in her past, what she's been through to put that look there, that understanding.
He's got nowhere else to go.
Fred's opening one of the too large texts she'd hauled in. By the looks of its crisp pages and glossy cover it must be a science related and not one of Rupert Jr.'s musty, mystical tomes. She seems to find the passage she's looking for and marks it with a blue post it before skimming for another one.
"I could tell you what I've ruled out, if you wanted, or what some of the lab-techs out there are doing. I've got some theories too, but they're kind of technical. Okay, really technical, but I could try to explain them to you."
He shakes his head, "No. Wouldn't want you wastin' any time with that. Better to keep going. I'll just get out of your hair. Don't want to be a bother, hold up the research or anything." Now that she's doing it, and looks so keen on doing it. Feels a twinge of guilt for how he's treated her thus far. Desperation is not a nice look on anyone. He turns to go and gets that little stab of apprehension over the unnaturalness of walking straight through a wall that he hasn't yet been able to shake. Has sort of been hoping that he won't have to shake it. That he'll be corporeal again before he can get used to it. Pipe dreams.
"You don't have to." Her tentative voice halts his steps. "Don't have to go, I mean. Sometimes it helps to have someone around to talk things out to, even if you don't have a clue what I'm talking about."
He wavers, but turns around. There's a pregnant pause. She's not really looking at him expectantly and he's not sure if she means for him to say something. She looks thoughtful for a moment, considering, then adds - "I'd like it if you stayed."
That's...well, that's that isn't it?
He nods slightly, trying to keep the small smile on his lips from breaking out into a goofy Harris-like grin or something equally ponce-y. He settles back into a chair, not feeling it, not knowing how he can sit at all. But, at that moment, that fact doesn't seem to matter all that much.
"Good," she smiles, "I have to warn you though. I have this awful habit of muttering to myself while I read or am trying to figure things out. I picked it up...well that's a long story, but there was this time when all I had was the sound of my own voice. Have you ever heard of Pylea? I got sucked into this portal..."
She prattles on about books in strange languages that open portals to dimensions stuck in the medieval times, about green warrior demons with horns that sound a lot like the poof who's always calling Angel by endearments that have to do with food, and was that something about cows? He can't really make sense of half of it but he's content to sit there and listen. Likes the way she talks to him, and the way he can sometimes hear a cute little Texan accent slipping through.
She goes on with impressively little breath as she sorts through her books, tagging and organizing them without missing a beat. There's a warmth in her voice as she shares her stories with him, her life, looking up for his reactions as she gets to the more outrageous bits. He finds himself laughing with her as she describes the prom queen being worshiped as a princess, or that lawyer bloke and the watcher having to trudge through sewage. Slowly, he finds that warmth seems to be spilling out into his chest. It might not be the sunlight, but it'll do. Yes, it'll certainly do.