By Annie Sewell-Jennings
SPOILERS: Halfway through "Hellbound", then everything goes AU.
Got a question for you. A hypothesis. Just a little something to nibble on. Help you to pass the time. And we ain't got nothing but time, now, do we?
Say you haven't led the most virtuous of lives. Say you've been a very, very bad man, in all the worst of ways. And it don't matter that you might've tried to turn your life around, don't matter that 'cause of you, there's even a world left, 'cause it don't add up in the end. Doesn't balance the scales. So they tell you that you're going to hell. Gonna pay for all your dirty, nasty deeds, for all bloody time.
So tell me, Angel: what would hell be for you?
Oh, come on, now. No need to turn your back on it. Best listen good, mate, 'cause chances are, you won't be so far behind me. Yeah, that's right. Sit your sweet ass down for a 'mo. Not like you've got anything better to do.
Yeah, yeah, your fancy law firm. Lots of bells and whistles, this place. Lovely furniture, got to give you that, someone must've sold their soul for that desk ... wait, someone probably did. But it's not enough, is it? Silk sheets and a penthouse doesn't make it right. Live in the lap of bloody luxury, suckle on the teat of mother capitalism, and all you get is shit in the end.
'Cause see, you're miserable. Completely fucking miserable. Which, don't get me wrong, is exactly what you deserve, but you're still under the sad delusion that things are going to get better for you one day.
Redemption, my ass. You can hide under that rock all you want, you tosser, but I know you. Know you well. And underneath the big, brave Angel mask, you're still the sadistic bastard who made me what I was. Knew what you wanted then, and I know what you want now.
Oh, yeah, creampuff. Want everyone to look at you and see you as the hero. The good guy, the martyr, the one who laid himself down for the sins of the whole sodding world. Give up your girl, give up your happiness, give up your own son.
Didn't think I knew, did you? Oh, yeah. Know all about that mess. Poor little lad, all screwy and resentful. And you loved him more than you loved anything else in your worthless fucking existence, and you gave him up. What a loving father you are. Well, you did learn from the best, isn't that right?
Yeah. So did I.
And you carry the burden on those big hulking shoulders, and you sell out for a wardrobe crammed full of designer suits, and you agonize about every little misstep you take, 'fraid it'll take you off the path to The Big Salvation.
And the best part is that it's all. Worth. Shit.
Fuck glory. Fuck redemption. Fuck love, and honor, and mercy, and all that bullshit you've been stuffing down your own throat for all these years. 'Cause in the end, nothing you do makes a bit of difference. Not ... not a thing ...
Tried, you know. Not all the time, and not always in the right way, but I did. Try. Tried to make things better. Thought going out, getting a soul, thought that would do the trick. Keep me in line, right? Show that a ... a man can change. But I didn't change. Should've known. You never changed, either.
Yeah. We are what we are. Small comfort, that.
Don't know. Guess I always wanted something better. Was how I got myself wrapped up in all this vampire mess in the first place. Wanted something beautiful. Had my head all jumbled up in all sorts of nonsense, didn't I? Christ, I was a prat. Stupid, naïve, ignorant ... you know, you can jump in here anytime and disagree with me.
Oh, go right on ahead, mate. Rub salt in the old wound. Sit there with that smug bloody look on your face and pretend that you're not ending up any different than me. Yeah, that's right. Know why you don't look at me. Same reason why vampires don't have reflections, isn't it? None of us like to take a good look at ourselves.
Hey, don't get me wrong, here. Still got nothing in common with you. Only thing we share is history. Blood and history. And maybe that's enough. Used to be enough for me.
Still remember those days. All our death and beauty. Used to dream about it, back then, but the dearly departed don't sleep. Death's not that kind. And things get all hazy, all foggy. Names and faces. Pieces going missing. Can't remember Buffy's mum's name. I think ... I think she had brown hair. Something about chocolate. Don't know.
But yeah. Remember things. Way you used to touch me, with those big meaty hands of yours. Scrubbed at me all dark, called me names, fucked me 'til I bled. Scoured me, didn’t you, like you were trying to take off my skin. Maybe you were right. Maybe ... maybe there was something wrong with me after all. Christ, certainly is now, isn't it?
Got no skin now. Slipping away, I am. Fading. Turning to nothing. Bet that brings a grin to your heart, don't it now? Bad, wicked Spike, falling apart right before your very eyes. Don't it make you smile, Angel? Don't it make you happy, knowin' that you finally got what you wanted? Me, out of your poofy hair for the rest of time? No more Spike to snap at your heels.
No more ...
Don't ... don't look at me like that. Like you've got sympathy. Ain't got none, not a bit, and we both know it. You think I'm getting what I deserve. No flowers for Algernon here, eh? Hell, you're probably jealous. Pissed off that you don't get to be the one doin' all the torturing.
Well, if it'll make you feel better, mate, trust me - from what I've seen, they've got the torturing thing down to a fucking art. Hell's nothing if not hellish. Everything you never wanted, everything you feared, everything that gave you grief. Mix it all up together and throw it in a poor vamp's face. There you go. That's your hell.
'Cause they know, down here. They know what scares you. Know what makes you sad, what makes you angry, what makes you hurt, what makes you you. And the devil's got no mercy. No mercy whatsoever, even when you want it, even when you beg for it, even ...
No. I'm not ... not scared. Not anymore. Gone beyond being scared and right down deep into misery. 'Cause they've got my number, Angel. Know exactly what it is that makes me bleed. And I can't help it, I try to be strong, I really fucking try, but things keep fading, and I can't remember what color Buffy's eyes were, and I can't remember what I look like. Did I have blue eyes, Angel? Was my mouth sweet? Was ... was I worth anything at all?
Look at me, Angel. Look at me. See me, come on, don't turn your head, don't you fucking walk away from me! Not when I need you, need you like I've needed you for all these years, and now I'm not so proud to ask and you won't even bloody listen! Look at me, see me, tell me I'm still here! Tell me you still remember me! Touch me, please, oh God, just touch me, make me real, make me real, Angel--
He opens his eyes.
Wesley stands at the door, his hand wrapped around the knob. "It's half past nine," he says quietly. "You forgot the meeting again."
Shit. Angel winces, runs a hand over his eyes. "Sorry," he mutters as he stands, shrugs into his suit jacket. "Don't know where my mind's been lately."
There's a concerned look on Wes's face. "Is everything all right?"
No. Everything's really not all right.
But he just shivers, shakes it off, shakes his head. "Yeah," he says. "It's just ... this place, you know? Doesn't matter how long we've been here. Still gives me the creeps."
"Yes," Wes murmurs. "Perhaps there are certain things in this world we simply never become accustomed to."
See me, touch me, can't take this, can't do it, it hurts, please, just see me--
There. Right there. There's a smell in the room. Something old and aching, like the creak of leather or the sigh of cigarette smoke. Something full of longing, full of desperate need, and he can almost feel a cool, sweet hand brushing over the back of his--
"It's been almost three years, Angel."
Startled, Angel turns around. Sees Wesley standing in the doorway, his hands in his pockets, an unreadable expression on his shut-off face. "What do you mean?"
A shrug. "I simply mean that were he still here, we would have found him by now."
Angel knows this. They tried very hard, after all. Utilized all the equipment, made all the efforts, did every fucking spell in the fucking book. But he'd slipped into the ether, passed into the shadows. They tried to save him. They did everything they could.
Some people just can't be saved.
"Where do you think he is?" Angel asks softly. "I mean ... do you think ..."
A warm, tender hand descends on his shoulder, but it brings Angel no comfort. "I think he's wherever he deserves to be," Wesley murmurs. "Now, come on. The meeting."
But Angel can't help it. Has to take one more look. Sweeps his glance across the cherrywood desk, the leather chair, the cedar armoire, the wall of expensive weaponry. Because he can feel it, deep in his bones, that begging and pleading. The need to be seen, to be touched, to be made real, like he'd always wanted, and like Angel always denied.
And maybe, if he could just see him, just put his hands on his shoulders and pull him into his arms, he could save him. Could give him his eyes, his hands, his lips, his soul. Could make him real, could make him all right, and then things ...
But the room remains empty, and Angel knows that wherever Spike is, he doesn't deserve this.
He doesn't deserve this at all.