The Longest Distance Between Two Points - Chapter 4
Spike woke up with a start on the
cold slab he now favoured as his bed.
Fuck it. He'd done it again. He'd been dreaming of dreaming. He'd been having a dream about Prague and in that dream he had been dreaming of…before. He wondered if anyone else did this or was it just him? Was it just a sign of his impending madness, or a result of this bloody chip that gave him such vivid and painful dreams? He remembered every detail of the dream and some things about the time…before. He never allowed himself to think about that time, but if he did he remembered impressions and smells and pain. He guessed all his memories were confused and damaged by what came after. And he sometimes had the vague impression that the memories, like ice, wouldn't stay in his mind, but that they slipped out when he tried to focus on them and left him with nothing but a cold trail in their wake.
It didn’t help his thinking, of course, that he had a raging hangover and sour clammy breath and skin. He felt like shit basically. He had no idea why he'd gotten so drunk in the Bronze last night. It had been funny to start with; the others incredulous when he'd started mixing gin with rum and beer. Why did he do that? He hated the taste of it, but there was something in the smell that always made him think of moonlight and other fucking shit. He always tried to get to the bottom of the bottle; peering in as if there was something he was looking for, talking to imaginary creatures he saw there, asking for answers to questions he had forgotten. It always amused his young audience. But it hadn't been so funny when all he'd gotten this time was drunk, punchy and had to be brought back by Harris and laid on his slab. He was particularly concerned that he might have let his Big Bad persona slip when being so drunk. The humans had no real idea what being a vampire was. They saw him basically as a sort of human who used to bite people. But they were only children and he couldn't blame them for being innocent. He thought perhaps he had been too once.
He sat up and swung his legs over the side of the tomb and considered his options. He needed a shower, clean clothes, some food and a fag. Not in that order though. He lit a cigarette and considered the other three. He had plenty of choices really and quickly settled on the Slayer's. They were the most likely to be out and had the best shower anyway. He should know; he'd been using it regularly for over three years. He sometimes wondered if any of his new human acquaintances actually thought about how he kept clean or washed his clothes, given he lived in a crypt. It never seemed to occur to them. Humans were stupid as shit sometimes.
He crouched under his blanket and made his way over to the Summers' house. Just as he thought, they were all out either at school or work. He used the key he'd had cut and let himself in. First he stripped out of his stuff and put his jeans and tee shirt in the washer on a fast cycle, left his coat and boots on the kitchen floor and made his way completely naked upstairs to the shower. He could only assume that being three women in a house they just didn’t notice that someone else frequently used their shower, their shampoo and their soaps. He sometimes amused himself by imagining the arguments that would go on between Buffy and her sister about who had been using whose stuff. He got in under the hot water and put his aching head on the wall, allowing the water to work its usual miracle in his mood. This was part he always enjoyed about drinking…the post-drinking Summers' shower.
He didn’t dry off, not wanting to use and have to wash a towel, but wandered around for a while in the bedrooms, drying naturally in the air. He liked to keep a close check anyway on what they were doing, reading diaries and letters and looking in their closets and drawers for interesting information. It was how he had survived this long. When he was dry he went back to kitchen, transferred his stuff from the washer to the dryer and raided the fridge. He desperately needed blood, but a cheese sandwich would keep him going and he tucked into a three-layer monstrosity with pickle. He'd never seen these humans eating good, thick butties and thought they didn’t know what they were missing. He carefully washed up, put back on his warm, clean clothes, laced up his beloved boots, took his usual, small amount of money from the housekeeping jar in the cupboard and went into the sitting room to watch a little telly. He wished he could light up, but knew that would give him away, so he ate half the box of chocolates he found on the couch and smiled again to imagine Joyce blaming her daughters for their absence.
Feeling much better now he had the time and the inclination to return to the dream. He'd not really stopped thinking about it all this time, but his thoughts of it had been unfocused and drifting. Now he wanted to concentrate on it. That was the trouble being too much alone. He thought too much. He seemed vaguely to remember a time when he had stopped thinking, but he couldn’t remember why that had been and when he tried too hard to remember, his brain felt cold, so he stopped. But that dream. Had it been the alcohol that had made him dream of that time again? Maybe. He remembered being in Prague with Dru. That was a bad time. She'd needed so much blood to recover. He'd had to hunt and hunt and hunt in an endless blood bath of feeding, something that now made him hard to think about. Hunting. He'd loved it, but now it was over and he'd tried to make a new unlife for himself. Just as long as he still had this chip that was. When that came out, he had a whole new hunt planned. But he put that thought to one side to think about the dream again.
It had all gone badly wrong of course.
He arrived in Sunnydale with such expectations. He was going to reunite with Angelus. His Sire finally wanted him and even if they didn’t take up where they had left off on that hard wooden floor, even if Angelus did not lie down and spread his legs for his Childe, Spike knew that they would be all in all to each other. He would be Angelus' companion and friend. He would complete his Sire.
He'd arrived in this small town after a nightmare trip with Dru. The only good part had been stealing his beloved car, but the rest of the trip he preferred to forget. He would never attempt it again, with such a damaged companion. He'd made his way straight to the Master's court, to pay homage and to ensure that the rumours were true, that Darla was dead and that her Childe had done it. He was surprised to find the Master dead at the hands of a new Slayer. Having killed two, he was not afraid to find he'd come to the town of a Slayer and a brilliant plan had formed in his mind. He would take the body of the Slayer to his Sire as a 'welcome me home' present. He pushed to one side the thought that this made him no better than the family cat bringing home a dead bird to 'Daddy'. He was no one's pussy. So he stalked the Slayer, went to where he was told she would be, watched her dancing, watched her fighting, spoke to her, smelt her, wanted to feel her. Because this Slayer was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, she radiated her power, like light. She had an aura of purity that had drawn him like the proverbial moth to a flame: the immediate attraction of opposites. This small, blond, beauty. Oh, how he wanted to take that light and purity from her and bend it to his darkness. How he wanted to have her and destroy her.
Sitting on Buffy's couch, Spike gave a rueful smile to himself as this memory. He'd seen her - small and blond and female - but he hadn't made the connection. He hadn't even suspected it. How could he? How could he suspect that he had been supplanted, yet again, and by another small, blond female? A Slayer no less. It was inconceivable.
So he'd set up his killing field in the school, planned her death and was utterly shocked to find Angelus there too. It was not how he'd planned the reunion. He was also shocked by how much Angelus had changed. He'd have hardly recognized him if he'd past him in the street. Short, stylish hair. New clothes. He even looked as if he had lost weight; perhaps his clothes just fitted him better. Spike had always thought Angelus striking, powerful, attractive: now he thought him beautiful. His desire for this creature flared up in him again, making him feel reckless and powerful. This was not how he'd planned it, but what the fuck, they were here now. He hadn’t bagged his Slayer, but he went with the flow as ever and had embraced Angelus, expecting Angelus to be equally glad to see him.
Spike fiddled with the remote control for a while, flicking channels. He hated this part. He hated remembering this; it still gave him pain all these years later. It still made him wake up from dreams like he had had last night, his cheeks wet and his thoughts chaotic. Because in the passion of his embrace, he had smelt the Slayer on his Sire…fuck, smelt her in him. Angelus was illuminated by her aura. Contaminated by it. Spike smelt love on his Sire and it was not demon love, hot, red, violent and painful, the sort of love Spike had expected to smell for him. It was human love, white, pure and sugary and it had been for her. He could not smell the blood of the human boy on Angelus, nor smell Angelus' cum on him.
In the instant of that embrace, he'd known that Angelus was lost to him again and this knowledge destroyed him.
Not because his Sire was captivated by the Slayer, he could understand that; he'd seen her too. No, what destroyed Spike that night and made him crazy was that Angelus lied to him. He lied to his Childe about the Slayer, about himself, about everything. Everything that Spike had wanted, needed and expected from coming to this place was destroyed by that lie.
He was nothing to Angelus but an enemy that had to be lied to.
Much later, Spike had been told of Angelus' Damascus shit. Spike had no time for talk of souls. What was a soul for fucks sake? He'd had one. It was gone apparently. Was it hanging around somewhere intact, waiting for some gypsy to bring it back for him?
Duh! He didn't think so.
So...what...there were thousands of souls, all milling around somewhere? Yeah…right! What if you got the wrong one? It was all shit as far as he was concerned, a soul was just a fancy term for human confusion and a conscience and he was permanently confused and he still had a conscience, of sorts. He felt like shit when Dru got hurt because he wouldn't go to the Church with her. Wasn’t that a conscience? So did that mean he had a soul too?
So, Angelus trying to claim he was all-important and different because he had a soul was just crap as far as Spike was concerned. He still couldn’t hold a fucking cross could he? And in Spike's book, that meant Angelus was no different to him. It was just his Sire's pathetic way to excuse the obscene fact that he was in love with a Slayer. It was just his way to avoid being blamed for all the killing and torturing he'd done and have all the girlies sorry for him. It was sick.
Spike liked to pretend that all of this had occurred to him on seeing Angelus again in the school hall, but of course, it hadn't. All he had felt then was rage, betrayal and hatred. All the rest had come to him slowly over the following years when he studied Angelus, watched him obsessively and hated him with a demon level of hatred beyond what he would have thought himself capable.
Spike sat quietly on the Summers' couch thinking over the years since his arrival in Sunnydale. It had been a roller coaster ride, he had to admit that. Looking back now all he could remember was the hate.
Until the chip that is.
That tiny piece of technology had changed everything for Spike. It had given him access to the human world and he had discovered he liked it. He'd discovered television and junk food and the pleasure to be had in having friends (of sorts). He'd found a role (of sorts). He knew he could feel human style love. He adored Buffy. It had been easy, his obsession for her had just mutated from wanting to possess her power, to wanting to possess her love. She was all he thought of now.
He never, ever thought about Angelus, or Angel, or whatever the fuck he wanted to call himself. The names vampires call themselves: it was pathetic. He hadn't thought about Angelus, fuck, Angel, since he'd left. He never wondered what he was doing in LA. He never thought about him at all, never imagined him in that big city, working. Never thought about contacting him, never wanted him to come to Sunnydale and see him now he had the chip and felt so different about everything. Never wondered if he was happy. Never thought about going to LA to see if Angel's memory had improved, never wondered if there was any future for them at all. No, Spike never thought about Angel, it was better that way. He loved Buffy and that's what he was concentrating on now.
He had a dilemma too. Next week it was Buffy's Birthday. He hadn't been invited of course, but he wanted to take her a gift anyway. But what? He had thought about this long and hard for weeks. He had considered smellies, but thought that too personal from an undead creature she purported to loath and didn’t want awkward questions about how he knew what sort she liked. Chocolates were lame. He really wanted to buy her jewelry, imagined every night placing a beautiful necklace around her neck, bending over to nuzzle where it lay, sinking his…fuck, no! Stop that thought right there! Anyway he couldn't afford decent jewelry and wouldn’t insult her with crap. So that left him a bit stuck for an idea.
He reluctantly decided it was time to leave, buy some blood with his easy-come-easy-go-money, and return to his own place. He mentally did his leaving-the-Summers'-checks: machines off, dials back where they had been, shower as he found it, cushions pumped up, telly back to their channels, door locked. All safe. He crouched again under his blanket and ran towards the slaughterhouse. He always felt pissed off having to buy pigs' blood from his contact when if he didn’t buy it, it would only be flushed away, but he wasn’t about to upset his regular supplier by pointing this out. Besides, he had just stolen the money anyway. So he paid, ran back to his crypt and drank the foul, lukewarm fluid.
As he drank he didn't think about Angel and wonder how he liked his pigs' blood in LA. He didn’t wonder if Angel ever treated himself and bought illicit human blood as Spike sometimes did. He definitely didn't imagine drinking that blood with Angel, entwined with him in some large soft bed. He did tell himself that Angel was lost to him as effectively as if he had died again, not through his indifference to his Childe, or through Spike's hatred of him, but through the simple fact that Spike now loved Buffy; his own small, blond, female.
And wasn’t that delicious irony?
Spike felt something akin to pain in his head when a malicious thought slipped in that said…'and isn't your love for Buffy just another way to spite Angelus?' He'd had that thought once or twice before and he knew it wasn’t true. He loved Buffy because…because she…oh fuck, he knew she spent most of the time either trying to, or threatening to stake him. So he didn’t know why he loved her, but he knew it was nothing to do with using a small, blond female to punish his Sire.
And with these thoughts, Spike suddenly had an idea for Buffy's Birthday present. It was different: he had to admit that. Different but brilliant. The more he thought about it, the more he liked it. It set just the right tone. So he started his preparations.
Buffy had the usual gang to her party. It was supposed to be a surprise, but Dawn was not very good at keeping surprises. Her excuse to get Buffy to accompany her shopping to help her chose an outfit for a dance was so weak, that Buffy immediately suspected an ulterior motive. But she didn’t mind, any parties were good and she didn’t really like surprises anyway. She had enough of those in her everyday, Slayer life. There had been surprises though, one very big one when a knock on the door had been opened to reveal Angel standing there, apologetic look as usual on his face, with a beautiful bracelet engraved with her name. She forgave herself the awful thought that she was just as pleased with the bracelet as with seeing Angel and got over her confusion at this by inviting him in and introducing him to anyone he didn’t know. This only consisted of Tara, so the introductions didn't last long.
The party got into full swing. Some food had been eaten and some music played when another knock sounded on the door. Buffy opened it and was extremely annoyed to find Spike standing there, also with a gift in his hands.
'Happy Birthday, Slayer.' He pushed the box at her and she could hardly not take it from him. She didn’t want to open it though. It looked about the right size for a necklace and the thought of taking, or wearing jewelry from Spike revolted her. 'Go on. Open it then.'
Willow, Xander and Dawn crowded around her to see the present. She felt awkward, so she invited Spike in and with a secretly pleased smile he followed them all into the living room. It was with a shock so profound he nearly screamed, that he found Angel sitting on the couch next to Buffy's Mum. If he had thought for one moment that Angel would come to this party, he would have staked himself rather than tried to wangle an invitation. Angel was looking as shocked as Spike, but something else too. Angel was looking annoyed and…bloody hell, could that be jealous? Spike suddenly remembered that the last time he'd seen Angel, Angel had been hung in chains with hot pokers through most of the joints in his body. Something that had been partly Spike's fault. Not all his. But he'd admit a certain level of blame for that incident. He also remembered that Angel had never seen him chipped. He'd not seen him invited into Buffy's home either and welcomed (sort of), as a (sort of), friend. Oh...this was going to be good.
Spike immediately started to ham up the extent to which he was friendly with the Buffonians. Dawn helped immensely by unconsciously slipping her arm through his to peer over his shoulder to see Buffy opening the box. Joyce helped even more by getting up to get him a drink and slipping his duster off his shoulders to hang it up. Spike cast a glance over at Angel to see his reaction to all this. Marvelous. Angel's brow was practically Neanderthal with rage. Oh blessed day.
Buffy had succeeded getting the shoelace with which he had tied his present off the box and cast a glance at Spike with her hand poised to open the lid.
'It's not a severed arm is it, Spike? Maybe a bleeding heart?' But Spike could hear the humour behind her comment and was glad. Angel would hear it too and be even more furious. Besides, it fitted with his present, which he sincerely hoped she would find equally amusing.
'Just open it Slayer. Live a little.' So she did. She put her hand in and lifted out…a stake. It was a beautifully carved stake, polished so the wood grain shone with a deep luster and it had a pink leather wrist strap fitted through a drilled hole in the blunt end. In a sort of daze she fitted her wrist through the strap and tried the stake's balance and weight. It was perfect. She flipped it up for use and let it drop a number of times marveling at its feel in her hand.
She looked questioningly over at Spike who just shrugged his shoulders. 'You're always threatening to stake me, Slayer, so I thought I'd give you a better weapon. Make it memorable for me!' If anyone understood the double meaning in this throwaway line, they didn’t let on. Spike hoped Angel got it. 'See what I carved? Like a bullet...there's now a stake with my name on it!' Buffy looked at him and saw the twitch of laughter around the corners of his mouth. She started laughing too and made a mock play to stake him. He feinted to one side openly laughing now and they play wrestled for a moment before Buffy broke off to show everyone the present she was clearly delighted with. She showed it to Angel. He took it from her and twirled it around in his hand. Spike watched his reactions.
'It's fine wood. What is it?' He didn’t look at Spike, but the question was clearly addressed to him.
'English Oak.' Spike's reply was curt to the point of rudeness but no one seemed to notice. Angel ran his finger up and down the polished, smooth, hard wood. Spike distinctly saw in his mind the unwelcome image of Angel's finger running up and down his cock. He was furious to feel himself harden. He hadn't hardened to the mock fighting with Buffy, so why now? He was so mad at himself he stomped off to the kitchen to see if he could hasten the drink Joyce was supposedly making for him. He'd had a head start on the drinking, having consumed a large amount before having the courage to come here anyway. He found Joyce on the way back with a beer for him so he reluctantly returned to the living room where the party had gotten back into full swing. Dawn was dancing with a very reluctant Giles: Willow and Tara were up too, only their movements were slightly more intimate. Spike hopped up onto the chest of drawers to watch for a while and drink his beer. Suddenly Xander's voice broke the mood.
'Hey, dead men! How come you're wearing the same clothes? Is that a, ‘vampire goes to a party’, compulsory outfit sort of thing?'
Spike looked aghast at Angel who was looking similarly at him. Oh fucking hell! They were both wearing white shirts and black leather pants. Angel had black shoes, Spike his black boots. Before either of them could comment on this hideously embarrassing turn of events, Xander pressed his advantage. 'I guess it's a Sire thing then? You are Spike's Sire, aren't you, Angel?'
Buffy stopped talking to Anya and looked at Spike. 'You told me Dru was your Sire.'
Angel looked between Xander and Buffy with a pained expression on his face. Spike couldn’t be sure whether this was due to the fact he was being questioned about being Spike's Sire or because Spike had denied his parentage to Buffy.
'Come on Spike, fess up then. Whose your Sire really?' Spike looked at Buffy and then directly at Angel.
'It depends, Pet, on what you mean by Sire. But I'd say Dru was.'
Xander looked at Spike. 'That's not what you said when dead boy had me by the neck in the school. You said Angel was your Sire. You allowed to change your mind about this stuff then? Hey Giles, you're the vamp expert, what's all this Sire stuff then, can Spike divorce his Sire?' Giles looked quite crossly at Xander, perhaps suspecting that this humourous banter was probing into areas you didn’t want to with vampires.
If a vampire denied his Sire, it was serious business.
'Err, I don't think this is the time or the place Xander, to discuss vampire business, do you?'
'Well, it sure is weird wearing the same clothes.' Xander continued to mutter and snicker to himself for a while and Spike and Angel tried to look anywhere but at each other.
Buffy decided to play the new CD that Dawn had given her for her Birthday and pushed it into the deck. No one took much notice until Angel, trying desperately not to look at Spike yet watching him closely, saw that Spike was staring fixedly at the player. Angel listened too and caught the words of the song,
Days I'll remember all my life
Days when you can't see wrong from right
You took my life
But then I knew that very soon you'd leave me
But it's alright
Now I'm not frightened of this world believe me
I wish today could be tomorrow
The night is long
It just brings sorrow let it wait
Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I'm thinking of the days
I won't forget a single day believe me
It was as if the song had been written for them. Angel wondered how many other people get to attend a Birthday party with someone they killed. He guessed not many. Angel felt as if all eyes were on them, but of course they weren't. Spike was lucky, at least he had a drink to occupy him. Joyce noticed Angel’s lack of a glass and offered to fetch him something. Angel looked at her and tried to reply quietly.
'I don't drink.'
But as the music happened to finish at just that moment, what had been meant as a private comment to her, was overheard by the whole room including, of course, Spike. Anya was the first to pick up on Angel's words and in her blunt, ex-demon fashion asked the question everyone was thinking, but no one dared to voice.
'Oh, I guess if you drink you go all grrr and, 'I-must-kill-everyone', again and hurt people. Do you?'
Angel shifted uncomfortably under everyone's gaze but having been emboldened by Spike’s obvious reaction to the song, he fixed his eyes on the lowered blond head and said slowly and distinctly. 'No, I don't go grr when I drink. But I do hurt people.'
Everyone wondered why he looked at Spike so intently as he said this and why Spike had been strangely quiet since his denial of Angel as his Sire. He sat silent now, apparently intent on a flaking nail. Anya was about to comment on Angel's reply when Spike spoke quietly without looking up.
'Just as well people don't care what you do then, ain't it, mate?'
They weren't sure how this reply related to Angel's strange comment when Angel came back with an even odder remark. 'People used to care. They used to care a lot.'
At this, Spike left his nail alone and looked up directly at Angel. All heads in the room turned to look at him now. This was a fascinating conversation and they hoped someone would explain it to them.
'No. That's where you are wrong, poofter. They never cared. They hated you then and they hate you now.' At that clearly annunciated comment, Spike hopped off the chest and went into the kitchen to refresh his drink. If his hand was shaking slightly? Well, he would be the only one to know. That bloody song. Why did the Slayer have to play that? He found the bottle of stronger stuff he knew was behind the beer and gulped down a good half of it in one go. He was definitely drunk now and blamed that for the sick feeling he had in his belly.
In an attempt to lighten the mood, Joyce suggested they play a game. All the youngsters groaned in unison, thinking she was going to suggest charades, or musical chairs, or some other hideously embarrassing thing. But with a wicked smile she suggested a game of truth or dare and they all gathered around in a big circle in the middle of the room, eager to embarrass themselves another way. Angel stayed firmly on the couch. No one even considered him sitting cross-legged on the floor with them, it just wasn’t…Angel. As Joyce had suggested the game, she got to choose the subject and she chose, 'regrets'. Everyone had to name the thing they regretted the most. She nominated the Birthday girl to start. Buffy gave her the sort of outraged look only a daughter can manage and pouted for a while as she thought. Then with a smile she took the challenge.
'The thing I regret the most, is not telling my Mom I was a slayer from the beginning.' When Joyce looked in wonderment at her, she gave a slight shrug. 'You've been my strength since you've known. I wish I'd told you.' They smiled at each other for a moment before Buffy turned swiftly away and nominated Xander next. 'Come on, your turn now. What's your biggest regret.'
Anya clearly expected him to say something along the lines of, 'not meeting Anya earlier,' because she looked extremely annoyed when he said what he most regretted was not working harder at school and going to college.
But the veracity of his words was slightly called into question when he turned to Dawn and said in a pompous 'teacher voice', 'so you see, you've got to work hard at school, or you'll regret it like Xander Harris.' She punched him on the arm and he laughed then turned quickly and unexpectedly to Angel, who had thought himself excused from this game by virtue of staying on the couch. And by being two hundred and fifty. And by being dead.
'Ok big vamp, what's your biggest regret, or can you limit it to just one?'
Angel clearly didn’t want to reply to this and gave a small dismissive wave of his hand, but the others chimed in, pressing him. Some of those present clearly had personal motives in knowing his answer to this question. Both Giles and Buffy were quite insistent in their demands for his answer, one thinking of Jenny, one of her ‘first night’. When he still refused to play, Joyce reminded him it was truth or dare and that if he didn't answer, she would dare him to do something. Angel visibly blanched even whiter than he already was at this threat. He did not have the sort of personality that would allow him to act the fool, so he clearly decided that truth was the safer option.
'Alright then. What do I regret the most…from two hundred and fifty years of regret? I’ll tell you, shall I? Spike. That's what I regret the most. I regret Spike.'
You could have dropped a pin in that room and have the sound of its falling deafen your ears. This answer was as unexpected, as it was embarrassing. It was made even worse for some of those in the room, because they were facing the hall. Willow and Tara were facing Spike, who was frozen there, a bottle half way to his lips. They were so busy watching Spike stagger backwards and turn to run out of the house, that they barely heard the rest of Angel's reply. 'I regret not having Spike as mine all these years and I regret being alone, when I could have had my Childe with me.'
Angel wondered why Willow turned to him with a furious expression on her face. 'Angel…go after him!'
'Who?' Angel was truly bewildered.
'Spike. He heard what you said, about regretting him. Then he ran out. Angel! He heard you, oh…you should have seen his face!'