All About Spike - Plain Version
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Chapter: (Angel) (Riley) (Spike) (Parker)
Some Years Later
SUMMARY: First part of the Some Years Later series: four short pieces about Buffy's exes. Written in May, 2002 while I was watching the end of Season Five, knowing a single spoiler from "Smashed". Rated PG-13.
Angel: Parting Gifts
Angel stands in the shade of the garage, a step from the open door. In
one hand he holds a bucket of soapy water and in the other a
squeegee. Out on the drive is his car, his convertible, baking in the
California sun. He wants to move forward, but his motor memory is
screaming Sun!Flee!Sun! and complaining that the bucket feels too
heavy and that his nose is blocked with cotton wool. His hearing has
dulled, his sight has dimmed, and all he can smell are tins of old
paint and lemonfresh windowcleaner. And for a moment he feels slightly
dizzy, because none of his memories of humanity have anything to do
with greenlawn suburbia and lemonfresh scent.
Then Dawn pops her head around the door---"Watcha doing?''---and he
gestures sheepishly with his full hands. "Nice day for it,'' she
says. "Want some help?''
But she's not really there to help, he realises, once he's managed to
actually walk out into the sunlight and start washing. She's there to
talk, bouncing up and down, her mouth a verbal waterfall. He finds it
hard to concentrate on what she's saying, she talks so fast, even
faster than Buffy, her speech peppered with idioms and references he
doesn't get. He's scraped the bugs from the windshield, and started on
the caked demon blood, before Dawn finally says something he can
"So-so-so-so-soooo, if I have to stay in Sunnydale for college I
should at least be able to go away for summer, dontcha think? I mean,
if I get good grades, which I'm gonna, cause I'm really concentrating
this year, even though I'm like doing double-duty helping you out with
demons and washing dishes and stuff.'' He doesn't disagree so she
leans in further. "So can you talk to Buffy? She still doesn't think
I'm a real grown-up and she thinks I'll get in trouble. I mean, Mom
would have let me! I know how to drive and I can look after myself. So
can't I, Angel? Will you ask her?''
He gazes at her a little blankly.
She looks downcast. "You never listen.''
He straightens up. "I'm listening, Dawn. I just think that it's up to
He turns to get a better angle for the driver's side window and his
foot catches the edge of the pail. Water slops out onto Dawn's shoe.
"Bloody hell,'' she mutters, in that way that Angel finds so jarring,
as she gives him a Look. "They're just my best sneakers.'' And she
flounces back inside.
Angel finishes cleaning the car. His face feels hot in the sun and his
neck is prickling with sweat. A hat, he has to remember to get a
hat. He's not sure what kind. Not a baseball cap, anyway. Or maybe he
could just take up washing the car in the dim safety of the garage.
Buffy showers after she comes home from patrol and says she wants a
quiet night in. Tomorrow, Saturday, they'll go to the Bronze to hang
out with the gang. But tonight she'll sit curled up in his lap,
flicking from channel to channel, as he tries to read.
It's not that he doesn't understand the point of television and it's
not that he doesn't sometimes like it. He'll watch documentaries now
and then and the travel shows, often startled by how much somewhere
has changed. But most of the shows seemed made for idiots, too easy
to follow, too unchallenging. Buffy can often watch four shows at
once, switching between them, without missing anything. And even the
current affairs shows seem to exist in some world very different from
the one he knows, some hallucinated consensus that has nothing to do
with what he has seen, of Los Angeles, of New York, of anywhere. He
doesn't understand how one is supposed to process this mass of
perfectly superficial information or even why one would want to make
sense of it all.
Buffy slides an arm around his neck and leans up to kiss
him. "Enterprise reruns or Brotherhood of the Wolf?'' she asks
and he can only shrug helplessly. She dangles an arm down to the floor
to retrieve a TV Guide. "Werewolves, martial arts, sex and black
magic---sounds a bit too much like work. But, hey, set in period
France! That's a plus.'' She rolls her shoulders as if they are stiff,
so he puts down his book, and presses his mortal fingers into her
tired muscle. "Mmmm,'' she says, wriggling a bit, "I could get used
He still doesn't believe he deserves her, that he deserves this, now,
so soon. He had centuries of bloodshed to wash from his hands, a
hundred thousand memories of the taking of life, of the scent of
burning flesh and the feel of eye-whites under his fingers. But
perhaps all those years in hell had counted for something, and the
time in LA was just to reintroduce him, to remind him of what being
mortal felt like. More likely, he doesn't deserve this at all, despite
all the prophecies and Big Shining Omens that pointed him this way,
that finally persuaded him to leave his new family and come back to
her town ("You've done your part,'' Wesley had told him. Cordelia:
"Go on, shoo!''). It was more likely that Buffy deserved him, that
she had finally been rewarded for all those years of sacrifice and
dedication. Buffy deserved a happy ending, so Angel would get one too.
And he loves her, completely and absolutely. He had once thought that
the years apart would change that, but no---as soon as he saw her
(standing outside her house, waiting for him, elated and astonished at
the sight of him in daylight)---he felt as he had always felt about
her. And everything that had happened, that might have separated them
(Darla, death) was unspoken but understood.
Except that there is something that he doesn't want to admit to
himself, much less Buffy, some deeply unpleasant part of him that he
can't quite get rid of. Because she has changed, mostly in ways he
admires. She's less sprightly but more assured, and she's comfortable
and capable in command now. And sometimes a weariness creeps over
her, when all she wants to do is rest her head on his shoulder, as she
had at her mother's grave. None of this he minds, it just means that
she's getting wiser without losing her sense of self. He loves her for
And she's still just as affectionate and spontaneous, reaching out for
him in bed with hesitant hands as he covers her with kisses. He still
feels so large next to her, he's almost apologetic about it (and he's
so used to apologising for his existence). But she's as warm and sweet
as he remembers from that disastrous first time.
Except that sometimes, when they're making love, if he, well, keeps
her up there too high and too long, something will steal over her. Her
movements become more fluid, her hands lose their hesitancy and her
eyes glow mischievous. And then she takes him as hard as she can,
until it hurts (he's only mortal now) and she doesn't seem to
notice. She's beautiful, moving in the joy of her own body, with the
grace of someone who is utterly confident of perfect coordination and
strength. But Angel loathes it.
He loathes it because old-fashioned Liam still thinks that true love
is chaste, because Angelus has already had his blonde whore. And
because it reminds Angel of Spike, the same careless precision of
movement and utter lack of inhibition. Which Angel desperately,
desperately does not want to think of when he's in bed with Buffy.
It's as if Spike is still somewhere in the house, slouching from room
to room and dropping cigarette ash into the house-plants. He's in
Dawn's speech and Buffy's body and there are still two bags of
mini-marshmallows in the pantry, well past their use-by date, because
Joyce once bought them and no-one else will eat them. Spike would have
known how to pick between Enterprise and the movie, he probably even
knew what they were, the characters' names, which actor had been
married to whoever in some other show. He'd always been like that, had
instinctively grasped what few humans and even fewer vampires do---how
to change with the times, how to keep up with them, how to avoid
becoming the old fossil that Angel sometimes feels himself to
be. (Angel has a century-old memory of the four of them going to the
theatre for someone's private box, and while three took their time and
pleasure with their kills, Spike had drained his quickly and then
settled down to actually watch the play.)
And Angel wonders if this isn't actually Spike's revenge, his comeback
for Angelus stealing Dru, if Spike hasn't finally won the set of
mind-games he's fought with Angelus from the beginning. Somehow Spike
has tainted even this Powers-ordained happy-ever-after that Angel
lives in now.
Even Dawn's argument with her sister is about Spike---he hasn't
written for months and Dawn wants to look for him. She worries that
"Dawn,'' Angel had once told her evenly, "Spike is surprisingly hard
And Buffy had laughed. "Tell me about it,'' she'd said.
Continued in Riley: Real Me
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