Eternity's Bright Promise - 9
Spike didn't take the news well.
Giles hadn't known how or when to tell him. Telling him in bed seemed a little unfair: telling him out of it, too harsh.
He waited until his flights were booked and until Anya had agreed to buy him out of the shop. He waited until just the right moment came… but it never seemed to. He was either asleep recovering from Spike, awake recovering from him, or just somewhere in between, anticipating the recovery. Spike seemed to be making up for three years abstinence, and if he didn't want to shag, he wanted to play, go out, or do things. He almost never wanted to stay in quietly listening to music or reading. Giles desperately missed his old life, missed it as much as he wanted Spike with him. It was a dilemma he could have done without, but one that finally precipitated his announcement.
He was finally having a quiet evening in, a few nights after their return from LA. He lay soaking in a very hot bath, thinking about Angel's expression.
The first he knew he had company, was a cold hand sneaking in under the bubbles to fondle him gently. He groaned and opened his eyes. Spike slid into the bath with him, his clothes in an untidy heap on the floor. 'Good plan, Batman. Hey! I'm back in your bathtub!'
Spike seemed to find this inordinately funny and pretended his hands were chained for a while, struggling to free himself. Giles watched him for a while, wishing he had his bath back to himself: there were some things you just couldn't share. Spike pouted when his game wasn't appreciated and said rather petulantly, 'Grumpy old fart.'
Giles tipped his head on one side slightly. 'I spent all day with you in your crypt. You introduced me to the joys of sex toys.' Spike grinned. 'You were here all the previous night. If I remember, we played something that involved leather, a chain and some very realistic blood.' Spike nodded complacently. 'The previous day, you came to the shop, and we had sex in the training room. So no, Spike, I am not particularly old; I am just completely, utterly worn out.'
'Huh. So, you ain't coming swimming later then?'
'Actually, I'm going to do some packing.' On reflection, Giles would not have broken the news to Spike, sharing a bath with him: there was nowhere for either of them to back off to and find some personal space. Spike seemed to sense this, too, for he only frowned slightly and climbed out, not asking any questions about this blunt declaration.
Giles left his bath with a sigh and followed the vampire into his increasingly dishevelled bedroom. Spike was still pouting slightly but was pretending that this was over some minor wound he had discovered in his arm. 'You goin' on a trip then, pet?'
'I'm going home for a while, Spike. I may stay. I'm not sure.'
Spike only lifted one eyebrow and continued to probe with fascination into the wound.
'I know it seems strange, Spike… now that we're…. What are we?'
Spike looked up. 'Don't rationalise this, Watcher.'
'What?' Giles felt that Spike had rather hit the nail on the head: that was exactly what he shouldn't have done.
'It don't pan out when you think 'bout it too much - so I don't.'
'Exactly, Spike. Thank you.'
Spike didn't reply.
'What would you do with me, Spike, when I can't walk unaided?'
'Next week's a long way off, mate.'
'Very amusing: purely because it is very close to the truth, and you know it. Want to help me change my incontinence pads, Spike?'
'Fucking hell, watcher! You'll be a thrill in the rest home: real cheerful view of old age you've got!'
'I have a healthy streak of realism, Spike…. When I'm not making love to a vampire under a full moon on a warm beach, anyway.'
He sat next to Spike on the bed. 'Can you really say you're surprised at my decision, Spike?'
'But why now? I don't get why now. Give it a few years, Rupert; you ain't weeing in yer trousers just yet…. Still give me a run for me money when we shag, honest.'
'No I don't, and honest is just what you aren't being. You're being kind for some bizarre reason that I still haven't fathomed. You know, Spike?' Spike looked up at him through lowered lids, and Giles' resolve fell into those seductive eyes. He thought about his plan, though, and recovered enough to say quietly, 'That's what I'll never understand about all of this, Spike; when I think back on it: I just don't understand why you picked me.'
Spike grinned cheekily. 'Told ya! I'm bringing ya down, corrupting you, bringing you to the dark side with me. All that bloody maturity, all that being a father figure, all that pretending to look after people and keep 'em safe… well, you ain't, and you can't.'
Giles nodded. He was relieved. Once more he saw through Spike's lie, but this time the lie only confirmed what he suspected had been Spike's motives for this relationship all along. He smiled inwardly. He'd lied better than Spike: the vampire had not seen through his own flawless lie.
Spike did not see him off at the airport. Giles hadn't expected him to. They'd said their farewells - of a sort. He hardly had time to miss the vampire's presence: he was overwhelmed by the grief of all the others. Buffy, desolate, had been unable to say goodbye.
When they had all left, he stared at the plane through the airport window, thinking about the last thing he had to do. It was so simple: just slip the letter to LA into the mail box by the departure gate.
Blue eyes were in his mind; cool skin seemed to brush against his warm skin.
He put his bags down and hung his head, trying to decide.
Spike sat on the sand near the high tide mark, playing idly with a piece of driftwood. He twirled it in his hands; he peeled it smooth; he pretended to plunge it into his heart. The soft sand ran through his fingers when he picked it up, and he was tempted to become part of it, lying forever on the beach.
What was the point of anything? He wished the watcher had left him alone. He'd been brought back to life only to be left with nothing once more.
He heard the sound of someone walking toward him on the sand, tensed, but did not turn his head. He stared at the sea, watching as the surf curled over and plummeted white to the land.
'Go away. You aren't welcome here.'
'I thought you might say that.'
'I fucking hate you. Go away.'
'Sorry?' Spike turned as the figure sat uneasily next to him. 'What's sorry 'sposed to mean? You left me. You didn't want me.'
'I know. I made a mistake, and I'm sorry.'
'I was confused, Spike. I thought I was thinking of you, but I've realised I was only thinking of me.'
'Well, duh. I could 'ave told you that. Look, I'm not in the mood for this. You can't have me and not have me and have me again when it suits you. I've got bloody feelings, you know.'
'Yes, I do know. You know I know that.'
'So, what? I'm just supposed to fall back into your arms and all is forgiven?'
'It's up to you.'
'Oh! That'll be the day! Yeah, someone taking account of what I want!'
'Oh no, don't start that crap. I don't need you; you need me.'
'Why do you think I… brought you back to life?'
'Cus you were a sad, old git that couldn't get a shag. So, what do you want?'
Spike turned again and looked at the calm face watching him. 'What made you change your mind then?'
'Seeing him in LA. I saw his face. God, Spike! His eyes! I saw how you were together, and I knew I was losing you to him. I saw you though his eyes… what you have become, and I wanted you again more than I've ever wanted anything.'
Spike chuckled. 'Corny old git, ain't you?'
The other smiled, shyly. 'Old age is no fun, Spike.'
'So, you want me?'
' But you left me… You left me! All that crap about havin' no future together.'
'I thought we didn't… couldn't. Spike, you know how different we are. But I saw you with him and what could be more different than that?' A hesitant hand reached out to stroke Spike's face. 'I thought I had lost you to him.'
Spike looked at him and blinked slowly. 'You never really lost me, just misplaced me for a while.' He took the hand in his and held it. 'No more leaving?'
'No. No more leaving. Spike…. Will you come with me now?'
Spike turned back to watch the surf for a while, thinking. Life turned on a whim, on a casual glance, on a watched back retreating across an empty lobby. Suddenly he turned and said, as if something very fundamental rested on the other's response, 'Swim with me?'
His question was met with a calm smile, and they stood and slowly undressed, Spike barely registering a letter falling softly to the sand from the other's hand.
The two preternatural bodies slid into the sea, which was lit by a soft, almost warm light from the moon and had become, at their entry, eerily still and quiet.
It took Angel a long time to write… but then he didn't really know how to express what he needed to say.
One day, a few weeks after Spike's arrival in LA, he sat quietly up in bed so as not to wake the sleeping vampire next to him, and began the letter he knew was long overdue.
Angel looked up for a moment, his pen suspended over the paper. He looked at the rumpled blond hair, the relaxed sleeping posture, the detritus of a day spent making love, scattered around the room; he closed his eyes for a moment and felt the ache deep in his body where his passion for Spike grew daily, smiled, and continued his letter.
Your gift travelled well to Los Angeles. I don't understand why you gave him to me, given what I have taken from you in the past, but I will guard him as you wish.
I understood the picture - as you knew I would. My soul now illuminates his confusion and his fear: his way will always be clear and his path well lit…
You wanted him to be happy…
… rest assured, Giles, he is, and I intend
for him to stay that way. After all, as you said, he is my childe; he is my
I picture you in England, when I look at him. I am, perhaps, the only person who could truly appreciate what you did. He still thinks you went because you were too weak, too fearful. He thinks you just gave him up. One day, I will tell him just how hard the sacrifice must have been, how hard, for you to do what you did… to let him go.
But in giving him his freedom, I think you've found yours. You're free of me and the painful past we share, aren't you Giles?
When I picture you in England, you always look happy - the sun always on your face. I hope this is true.