Until I looked outside the window, and the sky is totally dark grayish and
heavy looking. Meh - a weather headache. Just what I needed. So, instead of
going back to bed (which I am wont to do), I'm posting the next chapter of
Beloved for your perusal.
Hopefully, you'll enjoy. We're actually getting somewhere.
Angel leant against the door jamb, quiet as a vampire. Sketchbook in hand, he silently filled page after page with candid images of Will and Buffy. Since the first moment he’d seen them together he’d been unable to resist the urge to capture them on paper as often as he could, unobtrusively.
The charcoal glided across the page, creating form and substance. Some of his best work, Angel thought, staring at the image of his two ‘children’, for want of a better term.
“Still stalking your victims, eh, Gramps?”
Not real, not real, not real, Angel murmured, whilst his hand smudged harsh lines into softer contours and shadows.
“We tried this before, we did,” that voice continued, its full baritone setting off sparks of memories long buried. “Couldn’t ignore me then, can’t ignore me now.”
Angel looked up and saw the Spike he used to know standing just inside the livingroom. “Cad ba mhaith leat anois?” he muttered, continuing to sketch.
Spike’s infuriating giggle sounded loud in Angel’s ear, and he checked to see if anyone else heard it. Which, of course not. Only he was afflicted with the sight and sound of his youngest childe.
“Still so easy to push your buttons, Sire,” Spike said, his tone mocking as he sketched a bow.
“Why the hell are you here, Spike? My son is safe, my life is content and full. I have no need of you anymore.”
Spike’s expressive eyes dimmed for a moment, but quickly recovered. “That’s just it, Angelus. I’m here. I’ve always been here. I’ll always be here.”
“Will is not you!” Angel insisted, stabbing his fingers in Spike’s direction.
“But he is! Right down to his very marrow,” Spike insisted right back. “Look at him. A handful of years from now and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if we stood side-by-side.
“Look. At. Him! He’s even dyed his hair to match mine. And he’s hearing my story firsthand from the woman who lived through it with him. Will’s accepted me, Angel. He is me and I am him. Why are you still having so much trouble with the concept?”
“I – I don’t – I can’t…” Angel fumbled for the words and came up short.
Spike gave him a look that said he’d figured it all out. “You took one look at that youngster when he’d dressed as me and almost had a heart attack. You saw the fledge you’d mistreated and betrayed, instead of the son you finally came to love and cherish. Broke your little mind. Couldn’t reconcile the two of us, right Angelus?”
“I’m not him anymore.” Angel wasn’t willing to let his default line go quite yet.
“Thought you learned that lesson in London a bloody decade ago, you foolish sod. Angel might have flown back to old Blighty to get his son, but Angelus came home with young William.”
Angel slid quietly down the door jamb to the floor. He was right. Spike was fucking right! Angelus had merged seamlessly with his soul and they had finally become one entity. Will was the only thing that had mattered at the time. Well, Will, Connor and Nina… but Will had been his – their – priority. Angelus had shored up the remnants of Angel after the kidnapping, and had been essential in getting the boy back. He couldn’t ignore it any longer.
“You’re right, Spike,” he said, with quiet acceptance. When he looked up at the continued silence, Spike was gone and both Will and Buffy had knelt down on the floor besides him.
“You okay, Dad?” Will asked, concern in his eyes.
“Is something wrong, Angel?” Buffy asked, resting her hand on his shoulder.
“It’s fine, kids. I’m fine. Just got lost in a bit of a memory,” Angel claimed, standing up and brushing down his clothing.
“You’ve been phantom drawing us again, haven’t you,” Will accused, without much heat in his statement. “They’re wonderful,” he said as he flipped through the pages. He stopped for a moment, staring at an image on one of the back pages. That however, is NOT me,” he exclaimed, stabbing the picture with his finger.
Buffy snatched the pad from Will and did her own fair share of staring. “No,” she said, shaking her head. “That most definitely is not Will. That is without a shadow of a doubt, Spike in all his glory.”
Sure enough, the image contained a nude Spike, lit by the flames of a nearby fireplace, as he lay in languid repose upon some satin pillows. Eyes closed, lips pursed, limbs relaxed and open, Spike had obviously had a very satisfying encounter not too long ago.
“I did say memory, didn’t I?” Angel muttered, gathering his things and heading towards the bedroom he shared with his wife. “Good night, kids.”
Will and Buffy stared at each other for a moment, shrugged their shoulders and went back to work.