Summary: What should have happened before Spike returned to Sunnydale
Spoilers: Through the end of Buffy S6 and Angel S3.
Distribution: My site, list archives. You want it, email me.
Disclaimer: Joss is God, Numfar owns all.
A/N:Written for the Flashfic-athon Challenge on LiveJournal.
But across centuries and continents, the one expression Angel had never seen on Spike was the one he was looking at now. He'd seen emotions written across that face like a heartfelt laundry list: anger, lust, pride, love, triumph, depression, resentment - even fear, though it'd been about 123 years since that one.
He'd never seen the dull resignation that Spike was trying desperately to hide behind the bat he was swinging at Angel, however. It disturbed him.
They fought for a while, Spike antagonistic and snarling, Angel mostly just unsettled. There was something fluttering at the edges of his consciousness - something important, something he should recognize. But three months at the bottom of the ocean and unrelenting chaos since his return had left Angel struggling with semi-constant disorientation, and he wasn't sure what it was he was trying to see.
It ended like it usually did: Spike bloody and beaten, pinned to the ground, Angel's fists full of various Spike-parts. Trying to reign in his temper was a new twist, though, as was Spike's silence. Angel's uneasiness grew.
"I fucked her," Spike muttered into the floor. His voice was devoid of even the faintest echo of challenge, as lifeless as his eyes.
"I know." Angel frowned. "What are you trying to -?"
"I tried to rape her."
The numbness had left Spike's voice, and something that sounded suspiciously like begging had taken its place. Angel wanted to know why. He felt Spike's back tense between his thighs, knew Spike expected worse than hitting. Stood and backed away, resisting the urge to kick Spike into the wall. Through the wall. "I know that too."
Spike rose to his feet but didn't lift his eyes, his gaze nailed to the floor somewhere just to the left of Angel's shoes. "How?" One slim hand drummed relentlessly against a too-thin leg.
"Xander called. I think he wanted me to kill you." Months ago, before Angel's summer of delirium, angry and hateful enough that he was willing to condescend to ask Angel, of all people, for help.
The hand stilled. "Why didn't you?"
Angel's hands clenched convulsively inside his coat pockets. He regretted not kicking Spike when he was down. "Couldn't find you. Then I was... occupied."
Through the wall, through the head. It was all the same thing, really. "Now... now I want to know what it is that could make you and Xander agree on something besides hating me."
Spike looked up then, eyes bright with self-hatred, and Angel saw it.
He flinched, his mouth falling open. Spike's bitter laughter scraped the air. "Funny, isn't it?"
Angel sucked in a breath in spite of himself. "How?" Spike didn't answer, but he didn't look away either. Angel walked over to him. "Buffy -"
Spike's pain upon hearing her name was solid, sharp and tangible.
Without thinking, Angel laid one hand gently along the raw, bloody edges of Spike's cheekbones. "Bu-" Caught himself, rubbed his thumb across a particularly large bruise. "She's not -" He knew it was stupid, monumentally so. But he'd never given it any thought, wouldn't have thought it possible. There were prophecies. "- Not a gypsy."
Spike snorted and shook his head, though not enough to dislodge Angel's hand. "You know me - have to put my own personal touch on things." Ironic look. "Wasn't done to me. Went and got it."
Angel blinked and dropped his hand. Blinked again. "You can do that?"
Spike shrugged. "Apparently."
Spike sounded casual, but now that Angel knew what to look for, he was overwhelmed with the intense blaze of Spike's agony, felt it under his own skin. The how might be different, but the hurt was the same, he was sure.
Angel reached for Spike again, ran his fingers over the bruises on Spike's face, noticing for the first time that some of them were old. He cocked his head, frowned. "You must've been hurt pretty badly, if the marks are lingering like this," he said, skimming a finger lightly down Spike's cheek.
Shifting uncomfortably, Spike looked away, and Angel had a rare flash of insight. He lifted his eyebrows and stared. "Tell me you didn't do this to yourself." No answer. "Spike."
"You gonna do it or not?" Spike snapped.
Angel dropped his hands and stepped back. "No."
"Jesus." Spike rolled his head back, stared at the ceiling for a few seconds. "Why the hell not?"
"We could start with the theory that if Xander Harris wants it, it must be bad. Go from there."
They grinned at each other for an all-too-brief moment before Spike remembered that he wasn't getting what he came for. "So that's it?"
Angel nodded. "That's it." He put his hands back in his pockets and shrugged, indicating the hotel lobby with his head. "Unless -"
Spike laughed then, the sound harsh and brittle. "No, I don't think so."
Angel nodded again. "Yeah. You change your mind..."
"I won't." On Spike's way out the front door, he stopped and looked at Angel one last time. "Thanks, though," he said, wearing yet another expression Angel had never seen on his face.
Maybe he could start a collection.