Crossposted to sickchicks and my regular journal.
Hell Is In the Details – Epilogue – A Foregone Conclusion
~Two Years Later~
A couple of hours spent trolling through some of Los Angeles’ sleazier back alleys and bars made Spike question the common sense of his search. He was on edge and longed to drown his nerves in a bottle – make that several bottles – of JD, but knew he had to remain sharp and focused.
This was useless, Spike thought. Like searching for a soddin’ needle in a haystack. Time to check out some fresh open spaces. Might not find the tosser, but at least he could leave the stench of the city behind for a while.
A half hour’s walk and the changing landscape found his spirits much improved. Surrounded by green grass, trees and the deep midnight blue of the nighttime sky, Spike took stock with his preternatural senses, reaching out for… and yeah, there it was – due north, not far from where he was.
Of course it worked both ways, so by the time he was within visual range, the dark figure slumped on the bench with his head in his hands spoke first.
“What do you want, Spike?” The elder vampire was quietly resigned, as if a confrontation were somehow inevitable.
“Lookin’ for you, Peaches.”
Angel sighed, looking up to face his erstwhile childe. “So what is this, Spike? You here to finally collect your pound of flesh?” His posture remained open; it was obvious that if the younger vampire were to attack, there would be no defense offered.
Spike wasn’t surprised by his attitude in the least. Brood boy was back in the house.
"Nah... have to watch my girlish figure these days. Slayer gets all pinchy if she sees love handles formin’." Taking a small breath to steady his nerves, Spike took a seat on the opposite end of the bench, staring up at the night sky. “Truth is, Buffy an’ me was wonderin’ how you were managing’.”
Angel snorted in disbelief. “How do you think? And why don’t smell a mating claim on you? You and Buffy aren’t the love match you thought?”
Refusing to rise to the bait, Spike replied calmly. “What we have, Peaches, is what works for us both at the moment. We live together; fighting and shagging as the occasion suits. Snoggin’s pretty much our favorite indoor sport. Outdoor sport too. But we’ve both agreed that bein’ mated ain’t on the immediate agenda for either of us.”
Angel sighed. It was all out of his control, anyway. Was never meant to be in his control.
“Back to my reason for bein’ here, then. How’s the soul settled in now? Not back to fur an’ tails on the menu, are you?”
Angel shook his head, laughing a little, bitterly. “No rats and alleys this time around, Spike. I’m back to basement living – trading demon killing for a place to stay. Same kind of deal with the butcher for my blood. It’s not like being newly souled and crazed with the guilt of one hundred and fifty years.
“The last three or four years? I’ll admit the soul’s been beating me black and blue on a moment-by-moment basis for them. If I could… I mean… ”
For the first time, Spike grew agitated. “Oi, git. Shut your gob. You don’t get to apologize to me. Not now, not for that – not so soon. Maybe not ever. Not what I came for, anyway.”
Angel held up his hands in placation. “All right, you’re right. Apologies won’t change things or make them better. Sorry.” He shrugged. “You know what I mean. Anyway, if you’re still interested, I do realize how much I’ve lost. Friends, I mean. But I’m getting used to it. Figuring out just where I went wrong in the first place.”
“S’good, then. At least the Tribunal’s cobbler work did more’n hurt you. Buffy’ll be relieved.”
Surprised at Spike’s unvoiced concern, Angel found himself curious as to how the younger vampire spent his time. “Well, my unlife is an open book. What about you?” he asked. “Has Buffy managed to make a kept demon out of William the Bloody?”
“Spike is very much a kept demon. Kept, coddled, loved, wanted, and treated with respect. Slayer an’ me freelance for the new Council these days.” He laughed. “Seems Rupert finally managed to cough up salaries for Slayers an’ various ‘consultants’ as they’re needed.
“Between all m’human schooling an’ the demon languages and lore Angelus managed to beat into me, ol’ Spike’s become a valuable commodity. They get the fists and fangs, too – sometimes the lady an’ me step in to teach the fledglings a thing or two ‘bout fighting.
“Best part of my unlife is just being a family vamp. Watchin’ my Niblet grow up peaceful an’ happy, annoyin’ all and sundry for shits an’ giggles… s’all good.”
The urge to return to his Slayer battled with Spike’s desire to brag. He wasn’t fooling himself; rubbing his rich, full life with Buffy in Angel’s face was a bonus, if not the entire reason for his visit, but he’d just about had enough.
Spike nudged Angel up, just a gentle shove of the elbows that said ‘c'mon, let's get up and walk.’ Plenty of night left and ground to cover.
As they wandered about, Angel asked if this visit was the only reason Spike is in Los Angeles. Spike told him they'd gotten a small place in LA for the time being. Just taking a break from everything for a month or so. Resting a bit. - no patrolling, so they wouldn't run into each other. With most of Europe once more his playground, the relative anonymity of LA was welcomed.
Angel stopped mid-stride; the whole scenario of Spike seeking him out for mindless chatter and not retribution not sitting well. The elder vampire was determined to get to the bottom of things.
“Look, Spike… I know I don’t deserve this second chance at redemption. You would have been well within reason to have demanded my final death from the Tribunal. Hell, I would have asked for yours if the situation was reversed. Would you mind giving me an explanation? I mean, after all I’d put you and Buffy through… “
Spike clapped him on the shoulder once, before distancing himself slightly. “First of all, Angel, I am not now nor will I ever be you. S’the one thing you never learned… I react to things my own way – not yours.
“As for why I’m here? When all is said and done, a piece of paper doesn’t change who family really is. Your blood will always flow in my veins. Without you I would have been dust in an English grave near a century ago. So I care. We care. And one day, we hope…” Spike turned away, his emotions getting the better of him, and walked off into the cover of darkness.
Leaving a puzzled Angel behind, alone again.
Because Spike knew, and hoped that Angel would one day soon realize... it’s not the big mistakes you make that ruin lives – Hell is all in the details.