By Cody Nelson
SPOILERS: Through "Forever"
SUMMARY: Before returning to L.A., Angel pays Spike a visit in his crypt.
FEEDBACK: Please, to firstname.lastname@example.org
DISCLAIMERS: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and probably some others who aren't me.
NOTES: It occurred to me that if I was going to be writing from Spike's point of view, I ought to be familiar with his favorite show. So I watched an episode of "Passions." Aiyeee! My head still hurts. Dark Shadows meets One Life to Live meets Plan Nine From Outer Space....
He'd waited in the trees beyond Joyce's grave all night. All bloody night long. The service had been in the early afternoon. Typical bright sunny Californian day. No chance of attending, even if he'd been willing to make a horrible day worse for Buffy by showing up. But the mourners would all be gone by nightfall, he'd thought. He'd be able to go to the grave then. Say his goodbyes and leave the flower he'd nicked off some other ex-person's grave, since his own bouquet had ended up on the sidewalk in front of Buffy's house.
Bloody, bloody hell.
But no. Buffy was still there, looking like a statue standing over the grave. Spike's heart had twisted inside him, seeing her like that. God, he'd wanted to go to her. Tell her how sorry he was, for Joyce and for everything. Beg her to forgive him and offer her anything, anything at all to make her feel better.
But he'd hesitated. Was there really anything he could do for her, except stay out of her way? The night before her mum had gone in hospital, and he'd sat with her on the porch till dawn, he'd really thought things were going to be different. And he'd tried, he'd tried to be nice to her, to help her. But after that one night it was back to What do you want, Spike? and Ewww, Spike! and Get out of here before I stake you, Spike. Until Dru showed up and everything went totally round the bend. Now the very sight of him was all it took to get her blood up, and if she wouldn't listen to him before, she was dead sure not going to listen to him now.
Bloody, absolutely bloody hell.
So he'd hesitated, and then it was too late. Because Angel was there. Angel with his arm around her. Angel murmuring into her ear. Angel sitting with her, talking to her, comforting her. Angel kissing her. All bloody night long. All the way till dawn. And not only did he not get to offer condolences to Buffy, not only did he have to watch her smile and snuggle with Angel all night, but he never even got the chance to leave his bloody flower on the grave.
Spike sucked back a sob, hit the door with his fists, then strode into the crypt. Bourbon. There had to be a bottle around here somewhere. Half a bottle. A few swallows. Just enough to take the edge off the pain so he could get some sleep. Enough to dull the image of Buffy, standing like stone over Joyce's grave. Buffy sitting under a tree with Angel, all wrapped up with him and smiling up into his bloody face.
The door creaked open behind him. Spike whirled around, thinking, What do these bloody people want from me NOW?
Angel. It was Angel standing in his doorway. Looking all smarmy and soul-having. Angel with a how-d'you-do smile on his face, like he thought he'd be welcome here.
"What the bloody hell do you want?"
Angel stepped inside, a bit of the old Angelus swagger in his stride, as if he'd made his peace with the world, and closed the door behind him. "Two things. First, a place to stay for the day."
"Place is full of crypts," Spike muttered. "Go find your own. Or better yet, just head on back to L. Bloody A."
"Can't," Angel said, with a spread of his arms and a bit of a silly grin. "I drive a convertible."
Spike couldn't help a short laugh. "You great poof. Gone Hollywood, haven't you? What you doing staying in crypts, then? Thought you'd want some nice cushy hotel bed to rest your delicate bones."
Angel just shrugged good-naturedly. "I would. But that brings me to the second thing."
"Which is? Haven't got any blood here, if that's what you're after."
"That's okay. I brought my own." From a cavernous pocket in his great coat, Angel pulled a thermos bottle. "Probably still hot. I'll split it with you."
Blood. How long since he'd drunk blood? A week? Two? Beer and buffalo wings were all well and good, but a fellow needed blood, which he hadn't been getting much of lately. Angel unscrewed the lid of the thermos and the smell hit him: hot and rich and good. It made his teeth ache. Then Angel poured some into a cup, and all on its own his game face popped out, his forehead thickening, fangs growing in his mouth.
Angel chuckled and held the cup out to him. "I'll take that as a yes."
Spike took the cup and drained it in a single gulp. Oh, god, it was good. Thick and hot and smokey sweet, bright coppery tang. He didn't even care that it was pig's blood. How long since he'd drunk hot blood? He didn't have any way of heating blood here. Or refrigeration to keep it. It was a quick cup of lukewarm leftovers round the back of the butcher shop these days, when he could afford it. He'd tried to eat a stray dog once, and it nearly made him ill. To stand in his own home drinking hot blood out of a thermos was almost unbelievable luxury.
He shook his game face away as he handed the cup back to Angel, surreptitiously eyeing the thermos and wondering how to ask for more without sounding like he was, well, asking for more. Angel refilled the cup and gave it back to him. Then, after a considered pause, handed him the thermos as well. "Go ahead. I've got more in the car."
Spike wasn't about to question it. If the silly git was willing to give up his day's meal, let him. Spike took the thermos and cup and walked away, sitting cross-legged on the sarcophagus to drink the rest of it. Angel kept his distance, wandering around the crypt pretending to be interested in the decor.
"Right, then," Spike said when he'd finished. "The second thing?"
Angel gave up trying to stare down a gargoyle and strolled on over. "To talk to you. See how you're doing. Maybe make you an offer."
"We talked. I'm fine. What's the offer?"
Angel leaned against the side of the sarcophagus. He crossed his arms. "What's the hurry? We've got all day. Unless you were planning to go somewhere."
"I'm thinking about the last time we met. I'm thinking you don't have any reason to wish me well. I'm thinking Buffy must have told you...."
"Buffy must have told me what?"
"If you're here to warn me off her, you can stick it. I'll do what I like."
"Oh, I know that, Spike. I learned that about you a hundred years ago." He turned to look at Spike. Still smiling. Still too bloody cool. "But I also know you're not a complete idiot. You're impulsive. You let your emotions rule. But eventually you figure out when things aren't working, and it's time to try a different approach."
"And you're going to help me with that, are you? Help me with Buffy?" Spike said bitterly.
"I'm offering you the chance to help yourself, and Buffy too."
Spike suddenly felt a huge clunk in his gut. "Buffy put you up to this, didn't she?"
"No, she didn't."
He didn't believe a word of it. "Right, then. What did you and the Slayer cook up to get me out of her hair?"
Angel looked him in the eye, all solemn sincerity. Trouble was, Spike remembered that look on Angelus's face. When what it meant was you were about to go down in such cruelly inventive ways you'd be three days past screaming before you figured out what he'd done to you. Spike stared back grimly and waited.
"I want you to come back to L.A. with me. Work with me for a while."
With a disgusted noise, Spike pushed himself off the sarcophagus, and paced away from Angel. Angel continued calmly, "You know Buffy needs some time to mourn. She doesn't need you around right now. And you need a break from wallowing in your misery. Some regular work to give you something to do, and keep you in blood and beer. Do some good for a change."
All right, that last had finally got his attention. Do some good. Buffy'd like that. Spike turned back to Angel. "Did she say that?"
"She said she doesn't believe you can really be good. She thinks I'll kick you out in a week. You can prove her wrong."
Oh, yeah, that would be sweet. Prove little miss know-it-all wrong. But with Angel.... "And what's in it for you?"
Angel shrugged. "Someone to help out at the agency. Someone... like me. Family."
Family. Spike froze. Something caught in his throat. He suddenly remembered Angelus, holding a terrified blood-drained William up by the collar, looking him up and down contemptuously. This is your knight in shining armor, Dru? Let's hope being dead perks him up some.
Remembered Angelus laughing with fledgling Spike, all excitement and so fresh he squeaked. Patiently explaining the rules, since mummy Dru was too apt to wander into Alice in Wonderland territory to be a proper teacher. The flat of his hand meeting Spike's jaw with such force his fangs rattled, when lessons weren't well learned. Angelus's arms around him, as Angel's had been around Buffy, telling stories in his light Irish lilt, reassuring him that he was his boy, always his boy....
All a long time ago. And a different Angel. Spike cleared his throat. "Can't."
"Spike, there's nothing to keep you here."
"Glory," Spike answered. "Little Bit needs protection. Buffy needs help, whether she wants it or not. I'll leave her alone all she likes. But I'm not leaving while that bitch goddess is around."
"Buffy can take care of herself."
"Not on this one, mate. She needs all the help she can get."
Angel regarded him for a long time. "You're hoping to make yourself a hero, aren't you? Do something brave to save the day and impress Buffy?"
"No," he protested. Then, "Well, yeah. A bit. But not just that. I want to help."
Angel shook his head and smiled. There was an Irish lilt in his voice. "You're a romantic, William. It'll get you into trouble."
"Spike," he smiled back. "The name's Spike."
* * *
Spike put Angel on the sofa, while he made up his bed on the sarcophagus. Let the big soft bunny toughen up his bones a little; he wasn't giving up his comforter and pillow. Angel didn't complain, though. Not about going to bed on an empty stomach, or having no mod cons like electricity and running water in the crypt. Really trying to be Mr. Nice Guy, and it gave Spike the willies. Just what was the Soulful Snoop up to? He was a little too willing to forgive and forget, let bygones be bygones, and no way he was going to help Spike make nice with Buffy. Spike had half a notion Angel was going to sneak over and stake him in his sleep. Maybe that was what Buffy had really sent him to do. But no, that wasn't really Buffy's style. She'd want to do it herself. And Angel -- well, there had to be more to this ridiculous plan of his than he was saying, but he was no underhand assassin. If he decided it was time to put Spike out of his misery, he'd walk right up and look him in the eye and tell him so. Call him a poof all you like, there was no getting around the fact that Spike had never been able to beat Angel in a fair fight.
So let him plot his plots, Spike just wanted to be done with it, and get some sleep.
Noontime he was at the sofa, feeling much better for a bellyful of blood and a few hours' sleep. He switched the television on and gave Angel a shove. "Heave over, mate. Passions is on."
Angel groaned and reluctantly sat up. "What's this, Spike? You're watching soap operas now?"
"Just this one. It's great. It's got witches and the Devil and that. Now shut up."
And give him credit, Angel moved aside to let Spike sit down and kept quiet through the program. Spike sat forward on the sofa and watched, silently urging Timmy to do what the angel said, and Grace to just slap that bitch Ivy out of the way and get her man back. And hoping they'd get to go down the fiery elevator to Hell.
Of course, the minute it was over, Angel had to get in his digs. "Spike, you're a rare one, you know that?"
"Right. And you're common as dirt, with your soul and all." Spike got up to turn the television off. He stood for a moment regarding his guest. Angel sat there with a blanket half around him, looking sleepy and far too content. Angelus could look like that, when he'd just gorged himself on a priest or a pregnant woman or a little girl just beginning to bleed. What was going on in Angel's mind?
"You don't think I have a chance in hell with her, do you?" Spike asked. "You just want to get me away from her."
Angel looked up at him. The expression on his face didn't change. "I don't think you really care what I think about your chances with Buffy."
"Right enough. But I'd still like to know what you're after. And me impressing Buffy with my goodness isn't it."
"Spike." He patted the seat beside him. Spike grumbled a bit under his breath, but sat. "If you really want to be good, I'd like to help you. And I know that if you do, it's because of the way you feel about Buffy."
"She doesn't even believe I can really love her," Spike muttered bitterly.
"Well, she's wrong about that. I know you do."
Bloody hell, that brought tears to his eyes, which he was careful to keep Angel from seeing -- to have somebody, even if it was damned Angel, believe him. "Don't suppose you'd tell her that."
"She doesn't want to hear it, Spike. But even if she believed it, it wouldn't change anything. She deserves to have some kind of normal life. A home and a family. She'll never be able to have that with a demon. If you were really good, you'd understand that loving someone sometimes means giving them up."
"Bollocks," Spike said irritably. "Buffy's never going to have a normal life. She's the Slayer. She can't even shag a mortal bloke without worrying about breaking him in half. You think she's going to be going out on patrol with a little Buffy bun in the oven? Or let the forces of darkness have their way while she's home with a squalling brat? A demon's exactly what she needs. Someone who can fight beside her. Someone who can take what she dishes out. Someone who doesn't give a toss about picket fences and puppies. Only reason it wasn't you is you went all soulless and evil on her as soon as you hit the sheets."
That got a rise out of him. Spike was perversely pleased with the tightening of Angel's mouth, the narrowing of his eyes. "You don't make it easy to try to help you."
"Well, who asked you? And what d'you want to help me for, anyway? Last time I saw you, you were hanging from a ceiling in chains with half a dozen hot pokers through your cold dead flesh, courtesy of your old pal Spike. Not that working with you wouldn't be torture, but it doesn't really do as vengeance."
Angel's mouth curled into a sardonic smile. "No, it doesn't. And believe me, for a long time after your little visit I would have been happy to return the favor, if it weren't for the fact that you'd probably enjoy it. But then I heard about the chip -- my old pal Spike, defanged and helpless. And to make it even better, you fell in love with the Slayer. If I'd tried think of the most appropriate and humiliating punishment for you, I couldn't have done better."
Spike pushed himself to his feet. "Right. Well, just remember, mate, the chip only works on humans. You might have a soul, but you're still a demon. And I'd have no trouble putting a hot poker through you. If I had one."
"I'm not afraid of you, Spike."
Spike twisted in frustration. God, he'd love to smash that self-satisfied face in. A nice spot of violence to forget his troubles....
And then Angel would be right back to Buffy, saying, Yeah, you were right about him, forget him ever being good...."Oh, piss off. I'm going back to bed."
* * *
Spike went back to bed, but not to sleep. Angel was wrong, damn him, Spike could make Buffy happy, if only she'd let him. And he wasn't going to stop trying to make her see that. Maybe this plan of Angel's wasn't such a bad idea, though. Go down to L.A., kick some demon ass, save some spotty kids. Hang out with Cordelia a bit, he'd always liked her. Good-looking bird, and spunky for a human. Rack up some goodness points, and make sure Cordy or someone was sending Buffy the Spike report. After they took care of Glory, of course. And assuming Buffy still needed proving that he'd joined up with the forces of good.
And Angel. Family, he'd said. Come stay with me and be family. Probably a big joke to him, really, just something he'd said to get Spike to leave Sunnydale, same as he tried to make Spike think he'd actually be willing to help him with Buffy. Angelus had killed his mortal family, one by one, with a vicious evilness that even Spike found hard to stomach. Angel had dusted his own sire, and after she came back, he'd set her and Dru on fire. Not really much of a family man. And Spike had a hard time believing Angel didn't have just a bit of bad feeling left over that little torture session.
Still. Angel was his grandsire, practically his sire. Angel was the one who'd taken care of him and taught him and told him the stories about vampires and demons and Slayers. With Darla and Dru still on the side of badness, that left him and Angel on their own. They had each other or nothing. Family. Spike thought he wouldn't mind a bit of that. Maybe.
Eventually he dozed, until the feel of the setting sun crept into his bones, and the sound of footsteps woke him.
"You're leaving, then." Spike, lying with his face to the wall, didn't bother to roll over to see his guest off.
"Soon," Angel replied. "Sure you won't change your mind?"
It surprised him to find that he was tempted. But he'd already made up his mind, and he wasn't going to leave Buffy while Dawn was in danger. Maybe one day, though, he'd pop down to L.A. and surprise him.
"Nah. Say 'hi' to Cordelia for me."
There was a long pause. Spike didn't hear Angel's footsteps leaving. Finally, he turned over to see Angel standing over the bed, gazing down on him like Spike was a plate of food he was about to eat. "What are you looking at?"
Angel half-smiled. "William."
Spike pushed himself up onto his elbow. "William died a hundred and twenty years ago."
"I don't think so." Angel sat on the edge of the sarcophagus, down by Spike's hip, careful to keep a clean distance between them. "I was there, remember. I watched you reinvent yourself, doing your best to wipe out any trace of William. I don't think you would have done that if there hadn't been so much of him still in you."
"Well, he's gone now." Spike pulled at the cover, suddenly feeling naked, even though he hadn't undressed.
Angel stood up, fingertips touching the air near Spike's arm. "You'd better hope not. If you really mean to be good, you're going to need him." He turned to go.
Spike stared after him, pulling the cover tighter, his hand wanting to tremble as it gripped the fabric. "Angel." Angel turned, one hand on the door. "Supposing I do get to be good. And supposing Buffy decides she likes me after all. What'll you do?"
Angel smiled. That same smile that could mean either you're safe or you're dead."I'll cut your head off."
Spike grinned. "Thought so."
Angel shook his head, still smiling, and went out the door.