All About Spike

Miles To Go
By Rachel A.

Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Angel/Spike
Summary: Two souled vampires with a long way to go.
Spoilers: Through Grave and Tomorrow
Disclaimer: If they were mine they'd be on the same show, dammit.
Distribution: Yes, please.
Thanks: To Laura for helping me put this together, and to Cynthia and Donna M. for outstanding beta reading. And to all three of you ladies for much needed encouragement.
Notes: Well, I've pretty much been Jossed to hell with this one, but try to imagine it happening between Grave and Lessons, maybe before Spike *completely* lost it.



There are one hundred and forty-six miles between Sunnydale and Los Angeles, and on the way Spike thinks of one hundred and forty-six reasons he shouldn't be doing this. There are more, of course, but he figures there's a nicer symmetry to it if he stops at that number.

Once he reaches the city limits, he starts trying to remember why he thought it was a good idea.

There's the bike. He still loves riding the bike, after everything. Nothing like a good, long drive through the night, just him and a whirring hunk of metal between his legs, the road and the wind. Stupid bleeding soul can't change the way that feels.

So, there's that.

Also, Los Angeles isn't Sunnydale, and anyplace that's not Sunnydale is better than anyplace that is Sunnydale. Least as far as he's concerned. Least for right now.

He tried, but there were lights on in every room at Buffy's house, and he knew- just knew- that Clem was in the crypt, with junk food and beer, waiting for Spike to come home so he could shower him with friendship and good cheer, and it was all a little bit too much. He couldn't stay. Isn't even sure, now, why he went back at all.

And there's the satisfaction- has to be at least a little in seeing the bastard's face when he realizes. It'll make this whole fucking nightmare slightly bearable. For a minute, maybe. That constitutes a reason.

He's never been to the hotel, but as luck would have it, when he stops to look up Angel Investigations in the yellow pages he finds a flyer for the damn place on the windshield of a seemingly abandoned car. He takes it as a sign. Good or bad, he doesn't know, but quite impossible to ignore. There's even a bloody map on the back.

It takes him forty-five minutes to get there, through the insane tangle of LA roads and traffic, and he thinks of forty-five more reasons he should just go back to Sunnydale. Or somewhere else. Anywhere else.

But by the time he's convinced himself to turn around, he's pulling up in front of the hotel and it seems too late.

There's no one in the lobby, which seems like bad business sense considering the whole help the helpless slogan. The helpless usually have insomnia.

Spike saunters up to the front desk and pounds on the bell irritably. A skittish looking woman hurries out of a back room. She's wearing glasses and her mouth is full of food. Spike hates her on sight, but doesn't really know why.

She's holding a napkin, and she brings it up to cover her mouth and asks around her snack, "Can I help you?"

"Need to see Angel," he says, surprised at the vehemence in his own voice. He hasn't heard himself speak in...days? Has it been days or weeks? Doesn't matter.

The girl swallows and shakes her head. "Sorry," she says, smiling faintly, looking sorry in that way people have when they're really not but feel like maybe they should be. "I think he's sleeping. I'm sure if you come back during normal business hours..."

"Normal business hours? Don't you people fight creatures of the night and whatnot?"

She shrugs and nods and keeps up with the stupid smile. Spike thinks if this were all happening three, maybe four years ago, the stupid bint would be dead by now. It makes him feel crazy, thinking that, and he hates her even more.

"Well, it's night!" he says, slow burning hysteria creeping into his throat. "It's night, and I'm a creature, and I need to see Angel right bloody now!"

She starts backing away from him, but still- still!- smiles at him politely.

"I...I'll just...call him." She ducks behind the counter and starts fiddling with the telephone. Spike walks a circle around the lobby, trying to burn off the nervous energy that never seems to go away now. He hears snippets of conversation- "Someone here to see you...He won't leave...think he might need help...Charles isn't here..."- and eventually it becomes too annoying to tolerate. He walks behind the counter and pries the receiver out of her spidery fingers.

"Getting little girls to do your dirty work now?" he growls into the phone. "Not very heroic, mate."

There's an "oh shit" on the other end, and a dull thud as the telephone hits the floor. Then Angel's flying down the stairs, stake in hand, yelling at the woman- who is apparently named Fred, of all things- to get out, run away. Run away from the scary vampire. He's so predictable, Spike has to laugh.

And it's funny, too, because really, Angel himself could do far more damage to the girl than Spike could manage at this point. But Angel doesn't know that. There's a lot that Angel doesn't know.

Once he's got the damsel in distress shooed up the stairs, out of the way, Angel puts on his menacing face and points the tip of the stake in the direction of Spike's chest.

"You've got ten seconds to get out of here," he says, and starts counting down. "Ten...nine..."

It's all very amusing to Spike- the posturing, pretending he could actually do it, thinking Spike would fight it in the first place.

"That's not very friendly," he says, and Angel continues to count and circle. "Here I thought we could catch up, spend some time, discuss our common interests."

Angel stops at five, and looks him up and down, scathingly. "I've got no interest in you. And I don't have the time. Or patience."

Spike looks back, and notices how rough around the edges Angel seems to be. Skinny and paler than usual. Not that Spike's in top form himself these days. It hits him how long it's been since they've even spoken, how much has changed since then and how much of it he wishes he could change back.

"What about Buffy?" he asks. "Interested in her?"

He expects Angel's hackles to rise immediately, waits to see his muscles twitch and his jaw clench, but there's nothing. In fact, if anything, he seems to deflate. The stake hand lowers and his battle posture slackens.

"I'm really not in the mood, Spike. Just spit out whatever you've gotta say so I can go to sleep."

He presses on, trying to ignore Angel's boredom.

"I can see why you were so smitten with her. She's quite a wildcat in bed. Not that we made it to the bed very often, but I'm sure you know what I mean."

It makes his stomach churn, saying the words, but that's good. That's a part of it.

Angel shakes his head and laughs through his nose. Like it's a bad joke. Like it's all so absurdly impossible to believe that it doesn't even warrant a glare.

"This is what you came for, Spike? I'm going to bed."

He drops the stake on the counter, dismissing Spike as even the mildest of threats, and starts walking back up the stairs.

"So, that's it? Not at all concerned? My, how the bloom of love has wilted."

"Why should I believe anything that comes out of your mouth? You're a liar, and a bad one."

"What, you want proof? You want me to tell you about the scar under her left tit, or the noises she makes when she comes? Though I s'pose you might not know about those... maybe you should call her, see what she has to say about the matter."

God, he hopes it doesn't come to that. He'd have to stop it, if the wanker actually tried to call her. That's a nightmare he'd rather not live.

Angel's stopped on the stairs, and his back is a little stiff, which has to be a good sign.

"I want you to tell me what you want so I can get you the hell out of here," he says. "Is it money? Weapons? I don't have your stupid ring anymore."

"I want you to turn around so I can see your face when you realize you're not so fucking special anymore."

And he does turn around, making Spike regret the request, because that withering look of pity is most certainly not what he came here for. It must be in his voice. He hates his voice, the way it wavers and chokes on words- makes him sound like an eight-year-old having a temper.

He swallows and musters his pride, then continues.

"Yeah, that's right, poor little Soul Boy with his wretched curse and his pansy mission to help the helpless. Well, you're not the only one who can fuck a Slayer, and you're not the only one with a soul now either."

Angel stares at him, confusion and a little bit of curiosity finally creeping into his expression. He comes back down to the lobby to get a closer look. Spike can tell that he sees it now, that he knows it's the truth. Maybe not the Buffy bit, but he can see the soul. Or smell the reek of it, now that he's paying attention.

"Course, hasn't turned me into a bleeding arse-bandit, but I s'pose you were always that, weren't you."

He thought he knew how to do this, but things have changed more than he realized, and he's just pushing buttons at random now, waiting for the prize to pop out. It seems to go right over Angel's head.

"How?" he asks, still more curious than angry.

"They're practically giving them away down in Africa. And no pesky castration clause. You oughtta see about getting an exchange."

He's closer now- close enough for the smell of him to hit the back of Spike's throat, bringing back the sweet tang of a need he hasn't felt in years. Decades, even. Or maybe he has. Maybe he just found another owner, one who could do the same things, make it right.

"You didn't really....with her..." Angel flounders. He believes. It doesn't matter.

"You wanna see the scars?"

Angel doesn't say what they both know. He can already see them. Everywhere. Spike thinks he must be a walking, festering wound. The stupid soul's only made it worse, harder to hide.

"So that's what you came to tell me? That you're, what, her boyfriend? Feel like a big man now?"

"Oh, I'm not her boyfriend. She broke it off."

Never her boyfriend. Not even close, but he doesn't have to know that.

"So you got yourself a soul and she still dumped you?"

"She doesn't know about the soul yet." And if he has anything to do with it, she never ever will. There's just no purpose, no fucking excuse for causing her any more pain.

He steps a little closer and Spike feels his eyes, raking like pinpricks across his flesh. Angel's lips curl into a smirk that's one part mockery, one part disgust, and one more part...something. One part that...yes.

"Wanted to tell Daddy first?" he asks, voice low and vibrating through the pit inside of Spike's gut. This was such a terrible idea.

"Just didn't think it would matter much to her, given how we left things." Spike tries to get another image in his mind, a different thought that's far away from cold porcelain and horrible screaming and his wretched, sinful hands. This is the money shot- it's the best he's got, and it won't work if he's actually thinking about it, if he lets himself shake or cry.

"And how was that?" Angel asks.

"Well, like I said, she broke it off, but you know old Spike. Can't take no for an answer."

Dogs are nice. He had a dog once, when he was human. It was white with brown spots.

"You know how some girls are. Just don't know how to appreciate a good time. Had to get rough with her there at the end, show her what's what."

They had a cat, too, when he was very young. Orange. Stupid thing bit him, right through the fleshy area between his thumb and forefinger. Hurt like a mother.

"You're disgusting," Angel is telling him, but there's not enough conviction behind it, not enough of...that. Maybe it's because Angel taught Spike everything he knows about disgusting, and good times, and maybe somewhere, in places he doesn't let himself go anymore, he knows that everything Spike does, he does with a small part of Angel inside of him. Or maybe he just doesn't care anymore. "And pathetic," he adds. "It's no wonder she dumped you."

"Took her an awfully long time, though. Think she was sort of enjoying wallowing in the muck with me. Certainly was good at it."

"What do you want me to do?" Angel asks. "Do you want me to do this?"

And then it's there- God, it's finally there- his fist knocking into Spike's nose, sending him hurling back against the wall, then sinking to his knees. It's sweet, but it isn't real. There's no feeling in it. Angel's just making an intellectual point. Wanker.

Spike wipes at the blood trickling out of his nose, and hopes his eyes aren't too pleading when he says, "It's a start."

Angel regards him from across the lobby with marked disgust. "Get out of here, Spike. I don't have the energy for this."

Bored again. Spike doesn't understand it. Was he not making himself clear? Maybe he should just spell it out. I tried to rape your ex-girlfriend, you stupid git. The love of your life, remember her? Don't you fucking care? But he can't bring himself to say the words, knows that if he does he will start crying and it'll all be over.

"I'm not your sire anymore," Angel says. "And I don't want to be."

And, fuck him, the bastard's found a new way to torture Spike. But that's good too. In a way, it's all just perfect. If he has to beg for it, the whole thing is just that much more humiliating.

"You're a useless old man," he spits, sounding angrier, more hurt than he intended or expected. What could be so great in bastard's life, anyway? What could he have that's better, living in this moldy old hotel, wandering through hundreds of empty rooms, jerking off to memories of past fucks? Is Spike really such a pathetic alternative? He probably tells himself he's above it now, but Spike knows he's not. He knows now, for himself, more than he ever wanted to know.

"I'm useless? Tell me, Spike, what have you done lately to help the world? Look at you. What the hell are you doing?"

"Don't hand me that high and mighty bullshit," Spike growls. He's still on the floor. Still on his knees. "You think you're doin' all your good works for anyone but yourself, you're an even bigger fool than I thought."

"Maybe it started that way. Maybe it was a way of dealing with the guilt, but now..."

"Now what? What good does it do? Don't matter how many you save now. The other ones are still gonna be dead."

Spike wonders, though. If he could save one, just one, just...because, how would that feel? What would that be like? He doesn't think it would stop the voices in his head, the screaming. Wouldn't stop that tosser William from blithering around his brain, making him weep at every war photograph in the papers, every child he sees on the street.

"You think I don't know that?" Angel asks him. "You think you know more than I do about all this? How long have you had your soul, ten minutes?"

"What's to know? S'not a bleeding skill."

"You know what I'm talking about. I'm talking about moving on, coping, doing something useful with yourself."

"Yeah, well, it's not as difficult as you make it out to be." Spike realizes how ridiculous he must look, kneeling next to a tiny pool of blood from his nose that won't stop fucking bleeding, begging with his eyes for another blow, talking about how adept he is at moving on, coping, doing something useful. He stands up, brushing himself off at the knees.

Angel laughs. Wanker.

"It's not, huh?"

"No," Spike says, as emphatically as he can manage. He moves closer to Angel, attempts a swagger but barely manages a limp. "I'm doing just fine. Maybe you're just a pussy."

"Yeah, maybe I am. So did you want me to hit you again now?"

Wank. Er. Spike feels the familiar loathing washing over him like a warm, comforting blanket. Yes, the feeling is the same, but Angel is different. This mockery is of a wholly new breed.

"Just tell me," Angel says, and his voice is soft and even and oh-so rational, and maybe it isn't a joke. Maybe there is some vague sense of duty or even compassion in this new, not-so-improved Angel. "Just tell me and I'll do it. Just say it."

God, how Spike hates him. Hates his perfect, clean shirt and his stupid hair and his full, healthy body. Hates him for being able to take this, or leave it, and not feel a thing.

"Yes," Spike whispers, and he can't even look at Angel's face anymore. Can't look at anything but his shoes, and he hates those too.

But he senses Angel rearing his fist back, hears his intake of breath as he prepares for the beating, and then it all just...stops. He looks up again, and Angel's stance is relaxed now, hands hanging limply, uselessly at his sides.

"Nah," he says. Nah. "Not worth bruising my hand."

And Spike realizes that Angel's actually enjoying this. The worthless piece of shit is taking some perverse pleasure in this spectacle, this torment, and once he realizes, he wonders why he didn't expect that. Those Watchers and Slayers and Scoobies can tell themselves and each other whatever they want, but he knows the truth now. He knows that Angel's pleasures aren't as far from the dark heart of Angelus as they would all like to believe.

Then, as a final insult, Angel begins ascending the staircase and makes a vague gesture with his hand that could be a dismissal or a beckon. And it's up to Spike to guess which, or ignore it entirely.

He follows, his head bowed like a pathetic, recently scolded puppy. Angel stops when Spike is just two steps behind him. He looks over his shoulder.

"What are you doing? This isn't a hotel. Go home."

Spike feels like screaming, he feels like ripping Angel's lungs out right here, right now, letting him live without them for as long as it takes to give back just a little of this misery. And that's...well, it's what he came here for, isn't it?

It isn't until he's halfway back to his bike, lighting up a smoke, that Spike realizes yes, yes it is a hotel. And who the hell does Angel think he is, dismissing him like that, like some unwanted stray cat who wandered through the window? What gives him the right- the bloody gall!- to pretend he has no responsibility, no accountability? Why does his soul give him the ability to pick and choose the things he's sorry for, the things he's willing to deal with and the things he can just let go, like they mean nothing?

It isn't fair. It isn't right, and Spike isn't willing to let it go.

xxxxxxxx

He tosses his cigarette and stalks back into the hotel, following the path Angel left, following the scent he's tried so hard to forget.

He finds the correct room fairly easily, and takes some small satisfaction in finding the door unlocked.

Angel is cooking blood in his underwear. He looks shrunken, somehow, and bruised. Still big, though. Still a giant, hulking Neanderthal.

"You're a fucking asshole," Spike spits, slamming the door shut behind him with the heel of his boot.

"Why?" Angel asks, not bothering to turn around. "You think I owe you something?"

"Yes! Yes, you bloody well do!"

If anyone, anywhere, in the whole fucking universe owes Spike one, single, goddamn thing, it's this stupid git in his stupid, pansy-assed, silky blue underwear, and if he doesn't see that then Spike is going to show him. One way or another.

"You were Dru's boy," he says. "I didn't make you."

"Oh no, you're wrong about that, mate. Dru might've bit me, but you're the one what made me." Made through a decade that lasted a century, through blood and fire and fist and cock and cold, steel shackles, through every woman he's ever loved that Angel got to first. He was forged in the depths of hell, made full and real by a monster, and everything he is, everything he was, everything he's becoming can be traced back to this brutish, ignorant lout. And somebody's gotta pay for that. Somebody owes somebody some-bloody-thing.

"I can't help you, Spike."

"Who says I want your help?" Help is, in fact, the last thing he wants. He doesn't want to be saved, doesn't want to be some half-assed notch on Angel's redemption bedpost. "I'm giving you a golden opportunity here. Take out your aggressions, get all puffed up and manly, free of charge, no waiting. I know you want to. Everybody wants to."

He's actually surprised there isn't a line around the block of people wanting to kick his sorry, scrawny little hide. Maybe he should advertise.

Angel turns around finally, and gives him a long, strange look that Spike can't decipher. It isn't anger, and it isn't desire, and it isn't disgust, and those are really the only sorts of looks he's gotten for as long as he can remember. He thinks it might be pity, and that's enough to turn his stomach.

"I'm too old, Spike," he sighs, and the microwave dings and he turns away again to get his mug. Too old. Well, if that isn't the saddest thing he's ever heard. The bastard is too old. So what does that make him? A child? Yes, stupid, worthless, imbecile of a child, just like Angelus always told him. Just like everyone's always known.

Spike slumps into the only chair available, all the hope and animosity dribbling out of him, being replaced by a wave of self pity so strong it's almost another fucking person inside his head. This may be his most pathetic moment yet. The denouement of a hundred years of pathetic behavior. The lifetime achievement award in pathetic.

He should leave now, because there isn't any way to win this, and all he's doing is making himself the bigger and bigger fool. But there isn't anywhere to go and this is more painful than any beating he's ever gotten, so maybe it's exactly where he needs to be. Exactly what he deserves. Maybe he'll just sit in this chair making an ass of himself until Angel decides to stake him and put the world out of its misery.

His legs feel too leaden to move anyway. And the voices are starting up again, the voices of William's despair, Buffy's derision, the desperate cries of hundreds of thousands of victims. The voices are coming to him more frequently now, and the episodes are becoming more and more paralyzing. He doesn't think he could leave this room if it was on fire.

He looks around for a distraction, something to focus on to silence the cacophony. When it first began, back in Africa, he started gazing at rows of beads a woman was selling in the village marketplace, and eventually his focus shifted enough to stop the shooting circuits in his brain.

There's a picture on the small table next to him- a mewling newborn wriggling around in a towel, framed in wood. Spike picks it up and stares. Soon enough, his head clears up enough to form coherent thoughts, and he laughs mirthlessly.

"This is pretty sad," he says. Doesn't even have his own pictures to fill the frames he buys.

Angel's still fussing in the kitchen, not paying attention. "You're tellin' me," he mumbles, obviously believing Spike is referring to himself.

"Pretty creepy, too. What do you wanna look at someone else's baby for? You into kiddie porn now?"

"What are you..." Angel looks over and the mug of blood slips through his fingers and shatters on the floor. "Put that down! Put it down NOW!"

"What the hell's the matter with you? S'just some baby model. You know, if you take the back off you can put something else in here."

Something dull and hard smashes into the top of his head then shatters, spilling shards of glass everywhere, and after a moment of shock he's able to register that it's a bottle of some sort, and that Angel is towering over him with a hellish glare. He hauls Spike out of the chair by the front of his shirt, then sends him flying across the room. He lands haphazardly on the bed, bumping several extremities along the way.

And it really fucking figures. He's been spending the better part of his night trying to piss the wanker off and just as soon as he's given up completely, he somehow manages to do it by accident. Seems to be just his sort of luck. It reminds him of the old old days, before he learned exactly which words and actions would set Angelus off, before he figured out how to elicit whatever response he was looking for. Back then everything he did was a gamble and he never knew when the next punch was coming. Back then the rages seemed as random and unpredictable as the weather.

Angel is picking the picture up from the floor, wiping dust off the glass and setting it gently back in its place.

"You must be off your gourd. I tell you I almost raped your ex-girlfriend and it's the yawner of the century, but fiddling with a store-bought picture of some random toddler gets you into a tizzy?"

"My baby," Angel insists, thumping his chest for emphasis. "Mine."

"Are you high?"

"Shut up."

He's walking towards the bed now, wearing a look of pure menace. Spike recoils instinctively, but only a little.

"Did you kidnap a baby?"

"Get out. Get out of my house before I..."

"Before you what?" Spike asks, leaning forward on his elbows, giving Angel what he knows to be his most infuriating grin. The grin that launched a thousand beatings. From Angelus, from Buffy, hell even Giles took a shot at him once for that shit-eating expression, and it works this time as well as any other.

Oh yes, it's working quite well, because Angel is on him now, straddling his hips and pummeling his face with hard, angry fists. And it's real this time. No intellectual points here.

It might not be directly related to Spike- in fact, judging from the nearly incoherent stream of obscenities pouring from his mouth, it's probably about a million other things. Things that have been building and hammering away at his sanity for God only knows how long. Spike wonders what those things might be, who that baby really is and why it has the power to drive him to this, but he'd never ask, and Angel would never tell him, and it doesn't really matter anyhow because Spike's face is probably starting to look like ground hamburger meat, and he feels it everywhere, and that's all that really matters. It's like nothing else. No one else could give him this kind of pain. Not even his sweet, deadly Slayer. And he's hard from it, which is sickening- God, he's so fucking sickening- and he knows Angel can tell, and that it makes him sick too, makes him angrier.

He yells at Spike for it, calls him a sick fuck, and Spike laughs through his bloody mouth because the Scourge of Europe is starting to get a little swollen himself, and he's got no room left to judge now, none at all.

"Had a good teacher," Spike manages to choke out, and that seems to send Angel completely over the edge. Something in Spike's nose makes a horrible cracking sound, and it hurts so bad he almost blacks out, and Angel has lost any thread of control he'd been holding onto.

Spike can't see anymore, and the pain isn't coming from any specific location anymore- it's all turning into one, big, terrible blur.

He can't really hear very well either. Angel's voice is far away and strange- like he's yelling into a tin can- but he manages to make out something about his "stupid, fucking face" just before Angel pulls back on his haunches and flips Spike onto his stomach.

Angel's pillowcase is white, and Spike watches, with mild interest, as the fluids from his face spread and stain across the fabric. He wonders if Angel will keep these sheets, or burn them. Doesn't matter.

"Is this what you came for, you fucking lunatic? Is this what you want?" Angel's asking him, in that far away voice, and it is. It is what he came for, because he's tearing at his pants now, shoving them down to his knees, and this is exactly what he wants, exactly what he deserves. If he can get back just a little of what he tried to give, he will have accomplished something.

But he doesn't tell Angel that. It might make him stop.

He feels that familiar push, searching, finding, and then pressing inside of him, and he must have used something to ease the way because it doesn't hurt quite as much as it used to when he'd do it dry, but Spike can't imagine what. He can't imagine that Angel keeps a bottle of KY lying around, but it doesn't matter what it is, it just annoys him that it's not as painful as it could be.

Still hurts, though. Still feels like a violation, even though he practically begged for it.

And Angel- stupid fucker- he's starting to go fast and hard and make some kind of obtuse point. This is what you wanted? Well it's not so great now, is it? Aren't you sorry now?

But Spike isn't sorry, and for a moment it is great- absolutely perfect.

Then he feels that big, lumbering hand, groping around for him, closing over him, and it's not so great anymore. Spike tries to swat it away, but the resistance only makes the hand more determined. It tightens and pulls, moving in a pattern that is apparently like riding a bike- impossible to forget. It's been a hundred years, and the bastard still remembers how to touch him, how to make him weak and helpless and desperate for more.

He feels teeth- fangs- grazing over the back of his neck, but not biting, not claiming. Bastard won't bite him, but he's making him bleed more and more. Making him feel...too much. Too good. And it's a little too late for him to remember how much he used to enjoy this.

He should tell him to stop, just stop because this isn't going the way he planned at all, but it's probably a little late for that too. He doesn't know if Angel could stop if he wanted to now. He's in a trance, a black haze, and there's no feeling behind it. None for Spike, anyway. He might as well be humping his boxing bag, and Spike is used to this feeling from his months with Buffy- this feeling of becoming an empty vessel for someone else to fill with their own self-loathing and anger and pent-up desire- but it didn't used to be this way with Angel. Angelus. Now it is, and it's a kind of madness, a loss of control that there's no coming back from.

And besides, talking at all would mean acknowledging what's happening, and neither of them would benefit from that. So they don't talk. Angel makes intermittent growling sounds through his teeth, and Spike buries his face in the pillow, hoping to stifle his cries. And he wonders why it's so fucking hard to just find someone to love him. He gives his own love so completely, so easily. Why is it so difficult for everyone else?

But he didn't come here for love. He came here for punishment, and in a way, that's exactly what he's getting. He's about to come so hard his ears are already ringing from it, but it's still punishment. It's still killing him.

He tries to get rid of the goddamn hand again, pulls at the wrist even as he's thrusting uncontrollably against fingers that work his foreskin with practiced ease. And Angel won't budge, because it's the only control he's got left. Control over Spike.

He tries to think of something vile and repulsive, something to hold back the sweet death and humiliation for a little while longer, but there's nothing. Nothing to stop it. One more quick, hard tug and Spike is gripping the bedspread in his cold, white knuckles, screaming a thousand obscenities in his mind, and half of them are probably coming out of his mouth as well. He says, "I hate you. God, I fucking hate you," as he stains the covers, shoulders trembling, and he knows now that Angel will probably burn the entire fucking bed when he's gone.

He takes some comfort in the fact that Angel doesn't have the coherence to curse him as he comes- just pounds into him with a ferocity no force on Earth can rival, and cries out wordlessly.

And then it's over, simple as that. Angel's putting his pants on, and Spike's pulling his up, and the silence and the smell of the room are thick and heavy, but they're going to pretend not to notice. Spike thinks his nose might be broken. He's gonna have to set that tonight or it'll heal funny.

Angel looks like he's going to say something, but stops and wanders out onto his balcony. Spike goes to the kitchen and drinks some of the discarded blood from earlier. He figures now is the time when he leaves, but he's got no idea where to go. This was sort of his last hope.

He ends up on the balcony too, sitting in a rocking chair next to Angel, like two old men at the vampire rest home. He lights up a smoke and tries to think of something clever and dismissive to say, but Angel surprises him.

"I'm sorry, Spike," he says, staring into the dimming night. The sun's on its way.

"You're sorry? What for?"

On the one hand, there's so much to choose from. On the other, there's really nothing at all. Angel sighs and rubs his face.

"That picture...that really is my baby. Or, was."

This rubbish again. Maybe the old bastard really has snapped this time. At least, that's what Spike tries to think, but part of him knows that it's true. It has to be, really. There's no other explanation.

"Me and Darla...we had a baby. A boy. Beautiful, human boy."

It doesn't make any sense, and Spike doesn't really care, doesn't want to hear about Angel's real son, his real life. But he keeps talking, babbling about Darla and Holtz and Wesley and hell dimensions in a distant, disconnected fashion, telling Spike without telling him that he's a million miles away and doesn't have any interest in coming back.

And this is all supposed to explain why he was wound tight enough to explode his shrapnel all over Spike- it's supposed to tell him that it had nothing to do with him, like he didn't know that already.

And all he hears is that Angel has a son now. A real son. A son who's sixteen years old, who hates Angel, who tried to kill him, and all he can think is, someone has taken my place. I have no place. Not here. Not anywhere.

"I love him," Angel is telling him. "I love him with all my soul. It's...consuming."

"Love's like that," Spike says, and flicks his cigarette over the balcony railing. "Sun's gonna be up soon. I should hit the road."

"Uh huh..." He doesn't care, and that's just as well. But still, Spike finds himself buggering around on that balcony for a few more pointless and pathetic moments, waiting for...something. Something that will never, ever come.

He thinks about getting down on his knees, begging for Angel to explain it to him, show him what to do, how to live, how to make it stop for one goddamn second. He thinks about pleading for help, or death, or another fuck, but he can't do any more pleading tonight.

Maybe he could just cut the damn thing out. He doesn't want it anymore. He wants a refund. Not worth having if it makes him do things like this, makes him feel things like this. Maybe if he shows up on Buffy's doorstep, soul bleeding through his open flesh, she'll take pity. Maybe she'll kill him.

Whatever he does, there's nothing more to say here. He gets out of the creaky chair and starts for the room, but he feels like there's some zinger he should be tossing back, some nasty, cutting remark that will get Angel's attention, make him understand and hurt. He's already hurting, though. There's nothing Spike could do to make it any worse.

"Hey, Angel?"

There's a vague grunt in reply.

"You know what sixteen year old boys really like?"

Angel turns his head around and looks at Spike quizically, curiously, with interest. "What?" he asks, with an edge of desperation.

"Beer."

Angel laughs through his nose, and Spike smiles just a little bit and decides that there certainly won't be a better time to make his exit. He makes his way back through the hall, down the stairs and into the lobby, limping slightly the whole way. He's gonna be hurting for at least a day or two.

By the time he gets to his bike, he's crying. Wracking, painful sobs that would be embarassing as fuck if anyone was around. He can't stop them enough to get the key in the ignition, and that's probably a good thing. If he just sits here and waits another hour or two the pain will stop. Everything will stop, and the world will be a better place. Or exactly the same, except the seat of the bike will be covered in dust.

It's one hundred and forty six miles back to Sunnydale, and Spike doesn't think he'll be making that journey tonight.

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