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The Darkling Plain
Angel started and came forward, a smile of relief on his face. Then he saw the pile of Spike's possessions on the floor.
Spike grimaced and picked them up, pushing past him to enter the elevator.
Angel grabbed at his arm, and the top layer of CDs cascaded to the ground.
Spike screwed up his face and pushed blindly forward. In the elevator, he dropped everything to the floor and punched the button urgently. Angel picked up the dropped CDs and seemed uncertain what he should do with them. Suddenly, everything dimmed. The lights went off; the fridge stopped its habitual whir, but more importantly, all the lights on the control panel of the elevator went out. The only sound was the beating of the rain on the glass roof.
Spike's eyes widened, and he began to punch wildly at the dead controls.
Angel turned and looked around the apartment. 'Power failure. Lightning maybe.'
The rejoinder was bitter, even for Spike.
Angel sighed and put the CDs down carefully on a barstool. 'I'm sorry, Spike. I flew off the handle about Lilah. And I should have told - consulted - you about Wesley. Nothing's actually… happened between us, by the way - like you think.' He turned away, embarrassed about having to speak of such intimate things.
Spike didn't seem to care and was still trying to find a way to escape. Finally, with a string of curses, he came back out of the elevator and went to his own room, shutting the door.
Angel followed him in. 'I meant what I said, Spike. I love you, and I don't want this to drag out into some stupid argument.'
Spike began to shake and wrapped his arms around his thin body to try and stop. Angel frowned and watched as his childe strode back to the main room.
With a curse, he went out too and walked over to the elevator, craning his neck to look up at the small hatch in the roof. 'If you're so keen to leave, I'll go up and find the manual control box.'
He began to stretch to reach the panel. He heard a sound and turned to look back into the apartment. The water sweeping over the roof cast the room in eerie, moving shadows and light, and in the middle of this almost subterranean scene was Spike. He was staring at Angel with such an odd look that for the first time since he'd been dead, Angel felt someone walking over his grave. He suddenly realised that far from making up, the breaking had not yet even begun.
Spike ran at him like an enraged bull, and caught totally off guard, Angel crashed over, his head banging painfully on the floor. Spike began to kick at his face, and Angel curled into a ball to protect himself. Spike began on his back, kicking into his spine, flaring shards of agony through Angel's whole body. He tried to catch at one ankle, but Spike dodged. Angel flipped to his feet, but another phenomenally powerful charge caught him again. They tumbled down into the well and tipped over the couch, rolling off in a tangle of limbs.
Angel crawled away enough to gain his feet, but was swept off them by a low kick from Spike. He crashed through the coffee table and lay in the glass for a moment. The whole attack had taken about ten seconds, and Angel tried to recover enough to speak. He wasn't given the opportunity. As he sat up, Spike spun-kicked him in the face, breaking his nose.
This time, however, Angel did get a good grip on the ankle, and he flipped Spike to the floor, standing over him furiously.
Spike kicked him in the balls then followed up with another vicious punch to his head.
Becoming enraged, Angel went for him, and they tripped back over the small step, Angel landing on Spike. He was so much heavier that he held Spike down effortlessly, until Spike's knee came up and repeated the damage to his balls. Going green, Angel rolled off and curled into a tiny ball. Spike renewed his attack on the momentarily helpless figure.
Angel feigned helplessness for longer than was necessary, waited until Spike was off guard, and then rose up, bellowing, and drove him back toward the bed. They fell together, but Spike was quick and rolled away from Angel's attempt to pin him down. They fell off the other side together, and suddenly, Angel saw his opportunity. He sprung to his feet and by force of his superior weight, drove Spike into the bathroom.
Then he stood in the door, barring the exit.
Spike backed off to the far wall and pressed against it, as if he was besieged from all sides.
Angel swallowed some blood and spat out, 'Are you finished?'
Spike's eyes just grew wider and the shaking of his body more pronounced. Finally, he tested his voice and said raggedly, 'You went up there.'
'Up….' Spike's face contorted. 'You didn't even tell me. You left me to face it all alone. I'd never have known. Never. Forever thinking about you. Forever wondering where you were - whether you were still alive somewhere but trapped and needing me. Wanting me. I'd have looked for you for the rest of my eternity, Angel. I'd never have given up. I'd have gone insane with grief. And you didn't think to tell me. You just… left me.'
Angel bit his lip. This was unexpected and very, very unwelcome. He'd prepared no defence for this accusation.
'I - I wasn't thinking very….'
'You've taken it all from me.'
'Everything. My new life, my confidence, my trust. It's all gone.'
'Stop being melodramatic, Spike. Nothing's gone. It's all still here, just as it ever was. I still love you. Nothing has changed.'
'I know you do. And do you know what? I love you too. I love you more than I ever thought it possible to love someone.'
Angel smiled, wondering if the making-up stage was arriving.
'But it's not enough any more. Love has nothing to do with this.'
'Love has everything to do with it.'
Spike stood straight and came toward Angel. 'Can I get past, please?'
Angel frowned. 'No.'
'I want to go, Angel, and you can't keep me in here forever.'
'I could try.'
'I don't trust you anymore. You almost walked into the sun without so much as a goodbye. You treated me with less care than some casual acquaintance.'
'No. That's not true; I told you; I wasn't thinking….'
'Please, let me past.'
Angel finally stood to one side, and Spike slid through the gap. He ignored the evidence of the fight and went toward the elevator once more. This time, he looked up and jumped for the small hatch.
Angel came over. 'This….'
'This is over, Angel. I can't do it anymore. I've lost myself entirely in you. See… I didn't get it. I was so grateful that you finally came for me - gave me back my soul - I didn't get it. You GAVE it to me. Even that, I owe to you now. There's nothing left of me. Nothing that's mine, and now I need to start all over again, finding myself. But this'll be different, cus I can't spend my whole time fooling myself how much I hate you and venting all my fear and confusion on you like I've always done before. Because I love you. I'll never love anyone else now - that's all gone. But I can't do this thing with you. You're killing me, and I have to be free.'
Finally, Angel got it. There wasn't going to be tears before bedtime and kisses to make up. There would be no love or laughter to help him forget himself. Spike was leaving.
He flung himself into the elevator and grabbed Spike's arms. 'You're not leaving me.'
'No, you're right. I can't do that. You're in me. I'll never be free of you, but I can't see you, Angel.'
'Fucking stop this shit! Are you possessed? Is this a freaking spell? Okay, I'll get rid of Wesley. I'll tell him you come first. Is that what you want? I'll give up the damn agency. Anything, Spike!'
'Anything, but remember I exist when the chips are down.'
'I WASN'T THINKING STRAIGHT! I'd just watched myself shove a… torture Sam and then kill you! What do you fucking expect?'
'For you to think about me. How I'd feel if you killed yourself. To realise how much I need you.'
'I'm SORRY! How much clearer can I make it! Jesus, Spike, we've come too far now to let this ruin it all! Look at us! New start, new apartment. We're together. You say you love me! Well, prove it! Stay and talk this through!'
'Angel. I do love you. Whatever else you remember from this day, remember that, yeah? I'm not sure yet if we're staying in LA. I'm gonna try an' persuade them we need to be somewhere else. If they won't, eventually, I'll leave - when they're ready to be without me.'
'Stop talking like this.'
'You won't hear from me again.'
Angel wouldn't let him climb up to the roof, and they engaged in an unseemly struggle, until with a shrug, Spike walked slowly back to his own room. 'Never no mind. I'll go later.'
With a smirk, Angel reasoned he'd gained enough time to now talk Spike out of his intention to leave.
When he got into his room, Spike turned, gave Angel one final sad look, and then went to the bed, opened the window, and dropped out of sight off the small ledge.
By the time Angel got there, the street was entirely deserted, so he stood in the pouring rain staring at the emptiness.
He was the hollow man. He walked, which was something, but there was nothing inside. He could feel no emotion. Nothing seemed to touch him.
The fear was still there, but it was external now, a darkness that surrounded him. As long as he kept walking, kept moving, then he would survive.
Jordan got back to Sam's just before Spike did, and he gave small, complicit grin. Sam got up with a wince. 'Did they meet?'
Jordan flicked an eyebrow up and grinned. 'Locked up tight together, yeah. They'll be fucking, right about now, I'd guess.'
Sam smiled. 'I never thought I'd be glad to hear that.'
They heard someone at the door and then watched in disbelief as Spike came in.
Sam glanced at Jordan and then said hesitantly, 'Did you get what you wanted?'
Spike looked at him from the depths of his darkness and had to wait for a moment until the echoing voice made sense. Even then, he didn't know how to respond. He avoided the question. 'Where's Lilah?'
'She said she had an apocalypse to start.'
Spike didn't even attempt a smile; it would have finished him off. He nodded. 'Any joy with office space?'
Sam looked furtive. 'I got distracted. Sorry. Right on it tomorrow.'
Spike nodded again. He didn't care one way or the other, but he had to keep on moving or the darkness would catch up with him. 'I'll see you tomorrow then.'
'Where are you going to stay?'
Feeling a shaking begin that he wanted to hide, Spike turned and said lightly, 'I'm a vampire, remember? Lots of places for the likes of me.'
Sam barred his way. 'Stay here - on the couch. Please, Spike. I'll go out if you want. You'll have the place to yourself.'
Jordan backed him up. 'He can stay with me. You have this place, Babe, just for tonight.'
Spike didn't have anything to argue back with. He was too empty. Once more, he found himself nodding and went to sit on the couch while Sam packed an overnight bag.
'We'll see you tomorrow. Here. First thing.'
Another nod was too much effort, so he waited until he heard the door shut and then tipped over onto his side on the couch and let the darkness come.
Sam and Jordan stepped into the elevator together thoughtfully.
They gave each other a glance and when they stepped out, headed together towards Lilah's apartment.
Her apocalypse seemed to consist of a large pack of cigarettes and reruns of an old show on TV. She frowned at them but stepped aside to let them in.
'You do know I'm a vampire? Evil? Kill humans? Eat them?'
Sam nodded complacently. 'So, what's the plan for the blond one?'
Sam shook his head at her. 'You'll learn. See… he fucks up - usually with Angel. They argue - usually with lots of blood involved….'
Sam thanked Jordan for his useful addition and finished conspiratorially, 'And we pick up the pieces - get them back together. It's what we do.'
'Uh huh. And you're here because?'
'You're one of the picker-uppers now.'
'No. I've told you; I'm….'
'Yeah, yeah. So. Plans. I'm open to all suggestions… as usual.' He grinned and flung himself on the couch with only a small wince of pain.
Angel did not appear for three days. The power mysteriously returned to the apartment at some time, but Angel didn't notice.
On the third day, he emerged into the agency and after looking around for a moment, went into his office, shutting the door carefully.
Everyone watched him cross the space and, one by one, found excuses to be out of their offices.
Wesley, still very wary of his position with his former friends, tried not to join in the idle speculation, until Cordelia said casually, 'Spike's left him.'
He narrowed his eyes at her but said warily, 'That's not very likely.'
She shrugged and tapped her nose. 'Woman's intuition.'
Gunn snorted. 'That and the three hour lunch you had with the faggot yesterday.'
Wesley winced, and Gunn made an insincere apology. 'I always feel like he's watching my butt, man. It freaks me out.'
'Don't worry; I don't think you're Sam's taste.'
Gunn bristled. 'You making a point, English?'
'Err… yes. That you're straight?'
Wesley looked back to Cordelia. 'You spoke to Sam?'
She wrinkled her nose. 'I would have known without that, but yeah. Spike's got his own apartment, and they're looking for new offices.'
'Oh. And what caused….' He saw the looks they were giving him, gritted his teeth, and went towards Angel's office.
Angel watched him enter and kept his face neutral, neither inviting him to sit nor asking him to leave. Wesley perched uncomfortably, hovering between those two options. 'I have to go home for a while, Angel. England. I still have to sort my father's estate, and this seems to be the ideal opp….'
'You think you're the cause of Spike leaving and think by leaving yourself he'll come back.'
Wesley gave him a look. 'We need to discuss this mind reading thing, Angel.'
'Spike going has nothing to do with you. Directly.'
'Oh. So, this is just another Spike-drama, yes? Nothing serious.'
'I can't believe that, Angel. You are… inseparable.'
'Apparently not. We've just separated.'
'You should be pleased.'
Wesley stood up furiously and leant on the desk, glaring at Angel. 'I told you that I only had your….'
'I want you to do some things for me.'
Deflected, Wesley nodded. 'Of course. Anything.'
Angel smiled. 'My Grandchilde. Is that so surprising? Tell her I want to see her. She needs to be officially recognised into the blood, and I have many things I wish to tell her about her new life.'
'Oh.' Wesley bit his lip and wished he could think of something more sensible to say.
'And Sam. My finances are bad. I've accounts to settle for the renovations, and the final money for the Hyperion's been paid.'
'Lilah and Sam.'
'Yeah, can you do that for me?'
'Not Jordan...?' Wesley gave the faintest of smiles, and it was returned. Angel knew he knew.
'I've not thought of anything for Jordan yet. Give me time.'
Wesley blinked slowly at him. 'I'm glad I'm not really going to England. I'm rather looking forward to watching this play out.'
Angel raised an eyebrow and got up. He wandered into the main area and nodded at Cordelia. 'What are you doing tonight?'
She shrugged. 'Two auditions and dinner with Brad Pitt. What do you think?'
'Good. I'm thinking of changing my image. New clothes. I need a mirror.'
'You don't show up in… oh! Me! Go shopping with you?' She beamed. 'Shop-o-rama girl here!'
Angel smiled. 'Okay. When it's dark.'
With that, he sauntered toward the elevator and disappeared from sight.
Cordelia put her hands on her hips and stared in amazement at the closed doors. 'I will never get him! What the hell was that all about?'
Wesley came up and stood alongside her, smiling with genuine pleasure for the first time in a very long time. 'I think that was the beginning of the slow seduction of William the Bloody.'
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