Anna S. (eliade) wrote,
Anna S.

What I did on Friday night instead of other stuff.

A little thing for kita0610, who asked, and also for thebratqueen, who asked for something entirely different a few days ago that I couldn't write and have been feeling guilty about.

Scribbling, really. Very much a non-story. No spoilers for this coming season of Angel.

He'd been a few hundred years past regret about not begetting a son he could put a name to. He'd begotten a lot of dirt-stupid fledges instead, whenever he needed muscle and cannon fodder or existence turned boring or he wanted to irritate Darla. He let them choose their own names and killed a few of them now and then just to prove he could.

He never chose attachments. They were forced on him or happened when he wasn't looking.

Killing Connor--that could have been a reason to descend again into darkness. Wasn't it his ultimate failure? No, actually. It wasn't. He blamed a lot of other people for what happened to Connor, not just himself. Love tore him up, but the world dragged on, and then he had the chance to set things right. He could turn back time, stick a fork in the road, give Connor an entirely different life.

"You understand that we'll need another baby?" Lilah asked. When he stared at her blankly, she lowered her gaze and said with a delicacy that rang false but might have been true: "The powers can't restore a human life without taking one."

It wasn't that he let his wish go. It wasn't a matter of let. The wish died as Connor had, which was apparently the universe's design. He turned aside as Lilah resumed talking, her words precise and meaningless, just more of the skillful tact-dancing she'd done professionally, and he must have made the right noises at the right moments because when he came out of his fog he'd committed to running Wolfram & Hart.

The universe had owed Connor more than it gave him. It owed a lot of people. Cordelia was one of them, and Wolfram & Hart turned out to be good for something because within a few weeks she was up and around, hunting him down in all of the firm's secret boltholes--the library, the screening room--and making gentle remarks like, "Have you reserved the room for brooding or can others join you?"

He would be sitting in the dark watching perfectly preserved movies from the thirties flicker across the giant screen, or pretending to read a book in front of the library fireplace, and she'd bring her company in with a kind of ancient grandeur: the recovering patient, the holy birth mother of ultimate good or evil or whatever the hell it had been, and he'd try to see the Cordy he'd once dreamed of loving, and all he saw was someone as old and used up as him. They didn't have much to say to each other; she wasn't kidding about sharing a good brood. She caught his like a contagion and seemed to be having dark thoughts. When it occurred to him to ask, when he dragged himself out of himself to meet her eyes, she fobbed him off with consummate skill and a smile. He sensed her time was shortening and her distance from him was growing; she wouldn't stay at Wolfram & Hart long. She had no stake in it.

Gunn ran staff meetings. Wesley had things to say, Fred, Lorne. Everyone else was interested; Angel sat passively and stared down the length of the table. Sometimes as the discussion eddied around him he wondered what the hell he was doing there and when that happened he got up and left. The others had to be wondering what his point was too; he saw their exchanged looks. He signed things. He approved what needed approving. He ignored attempts to interest him in anything. At the end of the day, and sometimes earlier, he retreated to his penthouse.

And then one day as he was sitting in the weirdly antiseptic sunlight of his office, gazing out at the building tops, he heard his door open, footsteps, the chuffing sound of a file sliding across his desk. Wesley was delivering it and made him open it without delay--if he hadn't it might have sat there for weeks. And inside the file were photographs of a John Doe with dark hair in a hospital bed, sleeping. Spike.

It was the first thing in three months worth leaving the building for, and he sat in the absolute quiet of his limo, staring at nothing, and let it roll him to the clinic that Wolfram & Hart owned. Its lobby and halls were elegant and carpeted, swallowing the sound of his steps, and he didn't have to say anything. He was that kind of guy; it was that kind of place. A doctor met him and spoke without needing responses, explaining about their very special patient, this vampire who shouldn't exist and who hadn't woken up since his arrival.

His windowless room was painted in the kind of subtle color that was actually several colors, expensively furnished, lit by soft lamps. His IV drip was filled with blood instead of saline. His arms lay motionless on top of the soft, costly blanket; he should have seemed dead, but looked to Angel as if were ready to open his eyes at any moment. Angel sat back in the visitor's chair, his own arms as motionless as Spike's, hands resting on his thighs; expectant and patient, eyes fixed on the vampire in the hospital bed. He came to visit seven times before Spike woke up, enough time to think at great length about what he had to say.

When Spike woke up he said none of it because the vampire smiled up at him as if he were one of the heavenly apparitions whose name he'd stolen, a vision, the best thing since sliced bread.

Angel blinked and felt immediately awkward; not only had he missed a cue, he was in entirely the wrong play. "You're awake," he said unnecessarily, and when Spike lifted his hand, Angel reached out and took it, without thinking. A minute or two later, doctors came in, interrupting their halting words and forcing Angel to let go, forcing him to step back from the bed. He put his hands in his pockets and watched, feeling funny.

"Do you remember anything?" he'd asked Spike.

"Light," Spike had said thoughtfully. "Lot of light."

He'd asked a few questions that had no good answers and then with superhuman generosity he was very conscious of offered: "Do you want me to call anyone? ...Buffy?"

The longest silence in the world followed during which Spike's memories reasserted themselves, his face taking on an expression Angel recognized, full of hardness and pain and frustration, and then clearing again to a smooth, false facade. "Nah," he said, as if it were a small thing. "Let it go."

Angel had known about the soul, but he hadn't gotten it. It hadn't hit him until now. Here was one of his progeny, someone in his direct line he'd been responsible for making--for raising in every way that counted--and unlike all the others who'd come and gone, he'd survived and turned out just like his sire. Just like his old man.

It was a passing thought and he snuffed it like a candle flame. He held himself aloof as he took care of everything for Spike that needed his attention: check-out, clothes, a place to stay. He'd been down this road too many times before; his empathy was tapped out. Okay, so he wasn't the only vampire with a soul anymore. That didn't make him Spike's guardian or guru or mentor--or whatever the hell the powers wanted him to be to their storm-tossed wreckage. He had his own problems; he had the starring role in prophecies and he wasn't giving away his shanshu. No one better try to tell him he'd been dragged from hell to babysit his understudy and hold his--

"Careful," he said anxiously as Spike stumbled up from his wheelchair. He took Spike's hand in a firm grip and rested an arm around his waist until he found his feet. The old Spike would have pulled away; this one leaned against him and sighed, and Angel found himself guiding Spike out of the hospital into the waiting limo. In the limo, he slammed the door on paternal feelings again and sat at a safe distance as they rolled back to the offices. They had nothing to talk about, he and Spike. Nothing in common but a load of ethereal grace. Soon Spike would get himself in gear and figure out which way his destiny pointed; wherever it was, Angel had no doubt it would be far from L.A.

"This is all yours?" Spike asked curiously when he saw the penthouse.

Angel felt embarrassed, put his hands in his pockets. "It's convenient."

It was just an arrangement. Just temporary. Besides, he had the extra room.

Two months later, Wes asked: "Are you sure he isn't playing you, Angel?"

He asked it during a staff meeting in front of everyone but Spike, and in the uncomfortable silence that fell Angel stared at him coldly and said in a flat voice: "Spike's none of your business. Never ask me that again."

Spike killed the demons of L.A. for lack of any clearer moral imperative. Spike played chess with him in front of a crackling fire and lost. Spike had nightmares that brought Angel padding to his bedside to touch his shoulder in the dimness of his thickly draped room. Spike got drunk a lot.

Once when Spike got drunk he pushed into Angel's startled arms and laid his head against Angel's shoulder and muttered, "Make the blood shut up for a while. Give me something else to think about."

Immobile, Angel let Spike's hands roam and almost said, "Not like this." But as the words rose up, Spike lifted his head and looked at him, jaw tight, eyes glittering with wetness. Angel didn't want to be cruel then, and he didn't want to be good either. There was no risk of happiness and not enough friction to call his demon and he fucked Spike into the mattress for hours and didn't know how he'd held back for so long. He locked one arm around Spike's throat and pulled him back onto his prick and stroked him while Spike's entire body yielded, eyes closed in a saint's ecstasy as if he'd been denied just this for a hundred years, but his frantic movements made everything in Angel rise wildly and dance on the head of a pin. It was a struggle and Spike was caught and held like a drowning man against him. Angel would drag him up to safety. Spike was the only one left he could save.
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