Sometimes, hate is familiarity.
Sometimes, it's fondness.
Sometimes, it's love.
They're all so wrapped up together that it makes him more than a little crazy. He wonders if this is how it began for Drusilla, fascination and despair and seeing things that were more there than anyone else could ever see.
Spike is not the bad guy. At least, no more or less than Angel. He's learned that, over the year. He's had to learn to not think so much in dichotomies, something he should have learned sooner, maybe. When he was bad, he was very bad, and when he was good he was righteous. Or so he told himself.
Spike is less linear in his perceptions, always in the grey, always in the shadows. He's not particularly nice, he's a liar and he's petty and mean and he sees too much and plays all the angles, but he does good things for good reasons. For love. For compassion. From the heart, even if it stopped beating more than a century ago. Spike doesn't have a mission, he just sees things, and understands that people are also ... grey, and shadowed, and still beautiful for all that. And so is Spike. Sometimes.
It still rankles to admit that.
Spike is more *human* with his soul than Angel is, really. Spike had always been a bit more human, because ...
because a part of Spike was still William, and a part of Spike was Drusilla's lover, and Angelus' acolyte and Buffy's lover and Dawn's protector and Xander's nemesis and he'd lived more in unlife than most people did in their lives.
And now he is drifting loose, still fearing Hell, still hating this half-life, still bound to Angel.
Angel sits back against the headboard, the amulet on his chest. "Wes and Fred say it might work."
"And it might not," Spike says, turning, the city lights filtred indistinctly through him. "But what the hell. And that's damn near a pun, really, isn't it, considering my situation and all?" He moves to the bed, lays down upon it, and Angel imagines he can almost feel it shift and settle. "So let's fucking do this already."
Angel stretches down into the bed, turns on his side to find Spike mirroring the pose, and there's something bitter and wary and yet utterly unguarded in his eyes. Angel reaches out, and finds that he can touch, cool and leather and skin that he remembers from a long time ago.
"Fucking do it," and Spike's voice is a hiss and his eyes are both unwilling and resigned.
The ritual said only to touch, to share a breath between the dead. Angel instead leans in, pulls him close, kisses him, hard enough to feel it, for Spike to *feel* it and he gasps against Angel, "Bloody hell ...!" and Angel swallows it down, the curse and the sob and the sigh until Spike is dissolving into him, slow dissolution like melting wax. Angel closes his eyes, rolls over onto Spike and kisses him harder, grinds into him until he melts utterly.
Until he feels only the sheets beneath him. He opens his eyes and Spike's ghost is gone from the bed, from the room.
He gets up, naked, still wearing the amulet, goes into the bathroom, the only room with a mirror. Looks into it and for the first time in centuries sees a reflection.
Spike's body is lean and sinewed and scarred and flawed and ... beautiful.
"You're sure about this?" Sees the words shaped in the mirror, hears them in his head.
Angel shrugs. "We've both lived half-lives, in our own way. Maybe this will add up to some sort of whole."
Spike throws back his head and laughs. "And you thought I haunted you *before*, you great, bleeding ponce!"
Angel smiles. "I've gotten used to it." He turns away from the mirror, starts the shower. Feels the grey slide in between the black and white, hears Spike's laughter in his ears and finds William's humanity in his heart, more humanity than Liam had ever possessed.