By Dana Woods
Spoilers: Through S5 Destiny
Written for the Original Ficathon Anniversary, for gentle_thorns, who requested Willow/Giles or Spike/Angel with no permanent death for anyone.
Disclaimer: Characters/concepts of Angel belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, et al. The rest is mine.
The loss of solidity makes it too damn easy to suspect that maybe he's really in hell all the time, and him being a ghost at Wolfram and Hart is just a mind fuck, a cunningly brilliant form of torture.
When Angel's face remains impassive as Spike sneers at him, when Angel walks right through Spike as though he's not even there, Spike's grip is lost and he knows the truth: he's in Hell and this supposed existence isn't real.
But it's only Angel who seems to have no awareness of Spike, which makes him wonder if Angel's devised his own cunningly brilliant form of torture for Spike.
He trails Angel up to the penthouse. Watches as Angel undresses down to bare skin and slips on a pair of silky black pants to sleep in. Goes a little bit crazy as Angel is utterly unresponsive to every single thing Spike says and does. If there's one thing Spike has always been able to do, it's get under Angel's skin.
Doesn't matter how loud Spike yells, how right in Angel's face he is, Angel says and does nothing. Just heads to the bed and slides in.
And if Spike thought it couldn't get worse, he was wrong, because after ten minutes, Angel tosses his covers aside with a sigh. His hand reaches out and slides the waistband of his pants down, then wraps around his soft cock and starts stroking.
His movements are controlled and tight, almost perfunctory, and there's no hint of enjoyment on his face. Spike would like to think it's because Angel's uncomfortable with his presence, even just a little. But he thinks it's actually because, as far as Angel's concerned, Spike isn't standing at the foot of the bed.
Spike isn't anywhere at all.
There's a pattern to the rhythm of Angel's hand, Spike learns over the next four days. There are words inlaid in the silences between the sounds of flesh-on-flesh, and points being made when the sheets rustle with Angel's movements.
Last night, Spike remembers, was a litany of silence in which Buffy's name resounded loudly. Tonight Spike listens closely to the staccato of flesh and silence and he hears snippets of everything.
His eyes take in Angel and there's something like awe that overwhelms him. Angel is a thing of beauty. That has always been the case and nothing--not souls or wheelchairs or Buffy--has ever changed that for Spike. Angel is broad and wide and strong. He's perfection of skin and muscle and the sight of him, bare-chested and exposed, would have brought a burn to Spike's gut if he could actually feel anything physical at all.
He supposed it's fitting that he can't, because this isn't about sex, or pleasure, or indulgence. It's about the digs that are made with each stroke of Angel's hand, which are insanely loud despite the fact that Angel isn't actually speaking.
I'm what Buffy really wanted.
His movements pick up speed in small increments. A gentle, easy build-up of pleasure, and Spike remembers Angelus, who didn't do anything gently or easily.
You're a pale imitation of the real thing, William, with or without a soul.
Angel's face shifts from human, to demon, and then back to human almost too fast to see, but Spike sees. He's more than a vampire, Angel is. He's the bloody Champion to end all Champions. The big handsome bloke that rushes in to save the day and the woman and the world, who only uses the demon for good, who leaves droves of admirers in his wake.
You did one spectacular act of good, and you're the only one who cares.
There's so much history. There's the history of mutual disgust that makes them tear each other into shreds with their eyes and their fists and their words. But there's also the history of absence that echoes uselessly, because neither one of them will ever, ever acknowledge that the Gypsy's took a little something when they gave Angel his soul back.
So you asked for a soul. Don't try to pretend it was altruistic. You're just as much a victim of circumstance as I was.
Spike wishes for the millionth time that he could leave Los Angeles, that some mystical tether didn't reel him in at the city limits. Because this hell is worse than any he imagined in those blurry months when the soul was eating him away from the inside out with guilt and insanity. And what terrifies him is the horrifying thought that this might be how he spends eternity.
You always did gravitate to your betters, wanting them to accept you.
There are a thousand digs in the silences, but these are the ones that stand out for Spike. A thousand bloody things that Spike already knows and doesn't need to hear again.
Angel's hand strokes faster, and his face grows blanker, shoulders hunching down under the weight of sins and crosses and regrets and every wrong thing he's ever done.
Look--I regret. Harder and better and more than you do.
And when he comes, he wipes his stomach with a sheet, and gets one last dig in:
This is what you're no longer entitled to.
Angel comes back from hell--after trying to end the world--and gets a bloody Christmas miracle. Spike gets pulled from the brink of hell--after saving the world--and gets bleeding eyes and flat Mountain Dew.
It's ironic, that the most painful dig isn't actually made my Angel, and Spike can only laugh bitterly.
All the unmentionables have been mentioned, so Spike isn't all that surprised that Angel pretends to be sleeping when Spike slips into the penthouse the next night.
Not surprised, just furious that Angel's getting the last bloody word again.
Angel passes Spike in the hall on the way to his office. Smells the come and the burning. Sees the shards glittering in Spike's eyes. He doesn't want to go up to the apartment, because he knows that something's waiting for him. Spike will never let him get the last word in anything.
But that's not how this works, and Angel only has himself to blame because he named the game, laid down the rules.
The hint of scent he caught as Spike passed--in the hallway that has the remnants of scent from a thousand people--didn't prepare him at all.
He approaches the bed, taking in the scene and the scent, and it's masochism at its highest, what he's seeing, but that's not what it's about.
The bed has been stripped, sheets and coverlet tossed off into a corner. The crosses are small and number a dozen. Angel removes every piece of his clothing, because he knows that's what Spike did, and then leans over the bed and inhales.
Spike. This is Spike. More familiar than surface scent, or even blood. Musky. Thick. Pervasive. Sin and damnation. Acrid with burnt flesh at the back of Angel's throat.
Closes his eyes and he can see it. Diamond chips in Spike's eyes giving way to a yellow sheen. Wiry body thrashing--not to get away from the pain, just to prevent combustion. Head arched back as he growls. Long, thin fingers never leaving his cock.
And that damningly beautiful face of his never once slipping away, because he would think it was a sign of weakness.
Your boy's moved beyond you, Angelus.
Laughter. Wild laughter. Falling past grinning lips. Back arching into the crosses in pleasure. Gasping hisses and trembling limbs.
This is life. This is living. You don’t recognize it, do you?
No, this is Spike, beyond scent, beyond everything: excited thrill of life pounding so furiously through him that it's a wonder his heart doesn't beat.
Forgive me father, for I have sinned: how many Hail Marys for not dwelling on every bloody thing I've done?
Angel lifts his leg, sets one knee on the bed and flinches away from the cross it lands on.
Only one of us can stand the burn of our sins, Angel.
He grabs hold of the mattress and lifts it up, shaking it furiously and listening as the crosses fall to the floor. Hefts the mattress over and stumbles back when a fresh wave of scent assaults him from the other side.
I'm everywhere you go, aren't I? One more thing to covet, to hate, to love, to need, to regret, to mourn.
Drops the mattress haphazardly and growls.
I always pull it off better than you do, don't I?