The spaces between brain and fingers and pixels are wide right now. It doesn't take long for the writing muscles in the fingers to weaken, so that you forget how to string together words to tell a story. An enormous effort is needed to get a character moving around and talking again, when all they want to do is brood silently in a corner of your brain closet, somewhere in the back, near the furnace.
It's especially hard when I'm trying to get Angel and Spike together, out of the closet. I am trying to sneak up on them with the innocent whistle of meta, hiding the butterfly net and manacles behind me. I feel really dumb.
Since I haven't seen much of season five, they're not up-to-date versions of themselves either. But what does it matter. I could put them on a spaceship. Maybe I will.
When I'm tired, Spike is tired, when I'm depressed, he's depressed, and then I like to give him blankets and reassurances and sex. Not that I'm Spike. Because that would be creepy authorial identification and intrusion, so we'll not go there.
I like it most when Angel, in my head, is nice to Spike, which is almost never. I'm trying to remember the last time he was nice. I think it was somewhere in a field in E____. Two vampires, stranded in another dimension, on a journey. I try to make Angel look at Spike a certain way, and fall in love. Studying the angle of his neck and his face in profile. He's ambivalent and stubborn, and Spike annoys him a lot of the time, and I think he'd like Spike better with long hair, so that he could mock him, but also secretly lust, because he could push his hands through it and it's girlish and there are certain things he likes that don't change. Spike thinks he looks like a drippy Lord Fauntleroy git with long hair, like Gainsborough's Blue Boy, and keeps hacking it off until Angel wrests the knife from him one day and then they wrestle and thrash and fuck, and after that all Angel has to do is glower and Spike irritably suffers his hair to lengthen, and he's privately fascinated by Angel's fascination. He likes to find out what Angel likes, because then he can wield the knowledge meanly or not, his decision.
He'd forgotten many of Angel's likes and dislikes, despite that Angelus had always been an overbearing bastard who made sure you knew what he wanted, even when he was all smiles and subtlety. Because he wasn't subtle, poor clod, no matter how hard he tried to slick one over on his victims. They saw him coming. Most didn't run though. Which only proved that people were stupid or that the Irish were undeserving charmers. Both, Spike thinks.
He's less unkind to Angel in his thoughts now, though, and sometimes he wants to slap himself out of that, afraid of being charmed. Suckered. Gutted.
It takes them a long time to get the hang of sex. Neither one of them wants to admit he's interested, so at first it's just angry frottage and bellowing. Even great lengths of boredom can't bring them together in peacetime. And then one night, after a year or two of travel and adventure, for some reason Spike is prickled with hurt and upset, turning away, lips compressed and tears brinked, nothing to do with Angel, which lets Angel feel tender for a moment and gives him the chance to touch Spike significantly, in a kind of blank-faced trance that lets him hide things from himself. If you erase each moment as it happens, you don't have to look back. He's always erasing himself, because he's the worst of himself, in deep, so erasure is a kindness to whoever he's with. Which is what lets him be gentle that night, which is different for them.
Angel wants Spike to be someone else for a while too, and for a while Spike is. They don't have to talk about these things; they can just be other people with each other. The next day they'll be themselves and Angel will be irritable and Spike will be more full of himself than he has a right to be. It'll be easy, then, to put a single unlikely night away and move on. It's an infertile night, like them, a dead end. They aren't going to choose each other over anyone else. As soon as they have the chance, when they're home again, they're going to be splitting and veering off from each other back into the relief of their restless infatuations, the women waiting for them in another scale of time.
Except time and the mission drag on longer than expected, and they get older than they expected, and little by little over the years they're making choices. Sometimes they have to rescue a damsel in distress, and they have the tacit agreement of reluctant heroes to always choose the woman over each other: you save the woman, go, drag her away, even if it means leaving the other one behind, foot stuck in the dragon's mouth. That's the story for years and years, a well-known pattern they don't diverge from, until Spike starts being uncooperative, refusing to go when he should. Angel mistakes it for all kinds of rebellion until he can't any more, until he has to face Spike's wrenching angry passion.
When that's no longer deniable it settles like a grudge between them, a bad air. Angel wants to be above this, hard and indifferent as granite, his patience and impatience the exact same face. He ignores it so that it'll go away. But Spike isn't going anywhere, of course. He's in step at Angel's side, and sometimes Angel has to look sideways.
After a while, Angel caves, lets Spike win the big argument of love, admits he's been denying his passion, gives in, loves Spike back in a forceful, physical fury. It's a lifelike, deliberate charade that channels all his energies.
He does this because it's kind, at least in the short term, and in the long term Spike will come out of his fever with a cool head, realize nothing could ever have grown between them, and they'll part ways, creatures sharing blood and age and experience, and nothing much else, as usual. As an unimportant contradiction to this, they're too alike. Both men, both dead. Angel can only love something different than himself, someone alive and lit up inside, and incredibly feminine in the ways that count and touch the heart.
He remains certain of this for a long time, cultivating a deception he thinks that Spike on some level must recognize and accept, until he begins to feel the smoldering muscular grip of jealousy at the stupidest moments. He refuses to enthrall himself to Spike and it makes him enraged, the way Angelus felt about Buffy. A dangerous feeling that could lead to cruelty, but he catches it before it consumes them both.
They have companionship and Angel is certain that he can point to the one particular moment when they were lying idle and naked at some inn, on coarse bedsheets above a tick of straw, and their voices talked of one thing but their eyes of something else, and that's when he saw the moment suspended in a globe of time, themselves enclosed in the curve of habit, and knew that they wouldn't be separating in the future, not by any choice. They'd gone far enough that they'd folded in on themselves. If they made it back to Los Angeles he wouldn't let Spike take off in a solitary wander. He wanted Spike near. And if he ever chose someone else, it would only be in addition to Spike, not instead of.
He could imagine a lot of scenes, pissing contests and jealous spats and bellowing, and he could see himself having to prove to Spike over and over just how possessive he was and how determined not to let go of what he'd gained.
Angel liked to imagine himself as a son of a bitch. But sometimes he made a fist as Spike walked away, to keep from grabbing him and pulling him back.