So 6 months ago I offered ♥ Lynne a bday fic. She wanted H/C spangel. I am juuuuuuuuuuuust a little bit late.
Much thanks to D. for the hand holding.
If it's gotta be anyone
“Is that really supposed to be comfort? Because damn but you suck at it.”
Feedback would be lovely.
It ends as abruptly as it all started. At some point, Angel looks up and the demons around him are all dead. It stopped raining, at last, but the alley is still so flooded that he sloshes in equal parts blood and water.
His heart aches when he finds himself alone on the battlefield. He didn't expect to survive the night.
A grunt stops him in his tracks. His fingers flex on the hilt of his sword and he follows that sound, trying not to splash too much. A few more steps, and he finds Spike. Sitting right in the water with his back to the brick wall and his eyes closed, a sword lying across his lap, he looks...
Angel's throat tightens.
The Powers That Be have a nasty sense of humor. They wouldn't mind giving Spike the Shanshu and letting him die in that alley.
Angel takes a step closer. Then another. Spike is never that still. Never that silent. Not even when he sleeps.
Angel swallows hard and whispers, "Will?"
For a few seconds, Spike considers not answering. But Angel called him Will, in a quiet voice full of fears. Spike can barely remember if he ever heard the old man sound like that. Angelus certainly never did.
So he opens his eyes and meets Angel's. He even tries to smile.
"You made it."
Angel shrugs. "We both did."
There's a finality to his words that Spike wishes he couldn't hear.
"The sun will be up soon," Angel says in a gruff, rough voice. "We should get off the streets."
Spike nods. "We should," he murmurs, but doesn't move.
"I've got a place," Angel continues, his voice tighter still. "Old hotel where we... where I used to live. It's not far."
Angel starts turning away, but he seems to think better of it and looks back, holds his hand out to Spike. "Come on. Let's get out of here."
Angel has big hands. They can make a sword look like a knife. They can kill with no weapon. They can bruise. They can help. Spike wishes he could take that hand.
“You coming or what?” Angel says, all but snapping.
There’s no inflexion to Spike’s voice, no hint of what he’s feeling or thinking when he says, “Would if I could.”
“What is that supposed—” Angel rolls his eyes. “I don’t even want to know. Come, don’t come, I don’t care.”
Spike doesn’t call him on his bullshit. He just closes his eyes again and presses his lips tightly together.
Angel starts walking away. Before he has taken more than two steps, a murmur stops him.
“I can’t move.”
Looking back, Angel frowns, then sniffs. There’s so much blood on the air, he can’t smell Spike’s. Can’t see a wound either, except for scrapes and bruises.
“How badly are you hurt?”
Spike’s eyes open and find Angel’s, blue drowned into gray by the night and everything they’ve seen.
“I can’t move,” Spike says again, voice flat.
Understanding is like a sucker punch.
It fucking hurts.
Not his legs. Not his spine either. That doesn’t hurt at all, not since that white-hot flash of agony that left Spike gasping for breath.
No, what hurts is the indignity of having to accept Angel’s help. Of being carried in those arms like a tired child. Of not having the courage to wait for the sun and just be done.
This wasn’t a part of his life Spike cared to ever visit again.
Especially with Angel as a nursemaid.
It hurts, but Spike doesn’t say a damn word. Neither does Angel, not until they get to his place.
“We’ll be safe here.”
Spike interprets that as, ‘you’ll be safe.’ A dozen flippant replies come to mind, and twice as many insults. He grits his teeth and remains silent.
He’s quiet, too, when Angel carries him upstairs and into a suite that smells of dust and, ever so faintly, smoke. Quiet still when Angel peels the dripping duster off him. But he draws the line at the bathroom door.
Angel isn’t used to Spike being so quiet. It feels… wrong. More disturbing even than his injury. But his first words still manage to piss Angel off.
“No. Just… put me on the bed.”
It’s late—or rather, early. Angel is tired. He wants to go to bed and forget everything. And Spike, of course, is making Angel’s life more difficult than it already is.
“Have you looked at yourself?” he growls. “You were sitting in bloody water. You’re drenched, and dirty, and you’re not getting in my bed like that.”
Spike snarls at him from inches away, demon mask rising to the front, hands gripping the doorjamb on either side of them to stop Angel from going further. “Who said I want to be in your fucking bed?”
That’s not how Angel meant it, but the words feel like a slap anyway. That will teach him to try to be helpful.
He carries Spike to another room and leaves him there.
For a minute – ten – an hour – Spike is sure Angel is going to come back. Of course he’s going to come back. He’s going to let Spike calm down, he’s going to calm down himself, and then…
And then nothing.
Time passes, and the only thing Spike hears are all the little sounds that give life to an old building. Angel might as well be in another city instead of just down the hall.
Why did Spike ask for his help to begin with?
Gritting his teeth, he clasps the headboard behind him and tugs himself higher on the bed until he’s sitting. He pulls his shirt off, then his t-shirt. The rest is more complicated.
He’s panting heavily by the time he’s managed to get rid of his shoes and jeans. It feels like he’s been battling his clothes and body for hours. Pain radiates through his arms and chest. He tries to tell himself that pain means he’s not dust, but it’s little comfort at the moment.
Angel lies in his bed, eyes closed, his skin still a little warm from a scalding shower. He’s tired in his mind, tired in his bones, even his soul, and yet he can’t sleep.
His thoughts keep circling in unending loops. His guilt ebbs and flows.
Out of nowhere comes a crash.
Angel jumps out of bed, already seeking a weapon before he remembers – they’re safe, here. Wes did the spells himself. No loophole. In perpetuity.
So that crash…
Barefoot, wearing nothing more than pajama pants, he moves silently down the hall and to the room in which he left Spike.
Angel grimaces when he walks in and finds Spike naked, lying on the floor next to the bed, his eyes closed and his lips pressed tight together as he takes in fast breaths through his nose. He reeks of pain.
“Going somewhere?” Angel asks.
A shudder rocks Spike’s body.
For a moment or two, Spike isn’t quite sure if he’s crying or laughing. Only when he opens his mouth and hears a river of tumbling rocks does he know it’s a laugh.
“Why would I want to go anywhere?” he wheezes. “Damn comfortable rug, this is. Picked it yourself?”
Angel huffs and takes two quiet steps toward him. “Are you going to let me help you or do you want to spend the day on the floor?”
Spike’s laughter slowly dies out until he’s lying perfectly still, his eyes still closed.
“I can’t do this,” he says, his throat too tight for more than a whisper.
Two more steps. “Spike…”
“Not again. Might as well be dead.”
Another two steps, and Spike can practically feel Angel standing above him.
Spike is afraid to open his eyes, afraid to find pity in Angels’ gaze. That’d be the final indignity.
“Are you done feeling sorry for yourself or do you want me to leave you alone to mope a little longer?”
Spike’s eyes blink open. He frowns at Angel, who frowns right back at him.
“Of all the moronic things you’ve ever—”
Angel stops himself, takes a deep breath, rolls his eyes at Spike.
“You’re hurt,” he says coolly. “You’ll heal. You know you will. And yeah, it’s not going to be fun, but you don’t have to make it worse either with this self-pitying crap.”
Spike glowers at him. “You have no idea—”
“No idea what it’s like to depend on someone else?” Angel cuts in. “No idea what it’s like to lose a part of yourself and not know when you’ll get it back, if ever? No idea what it’s like to wish you’d died with the rest of your friends?”
The words tear at Angel’s throat like shards of jagged metal. They don’t hurt as much as the slowly dawning understanding in Spike’s eyes.
“Are you going to let me help you?” Angel asks again.
Spike doesn’t reply. Instead, he raises both hands toward Angel. Angel helps him up, one arm curled tight around his waist, holding him upright as though his legs were not useless.
“Where to?” he asks.
Angel tries hard not to point out that he offered to help him wash up two hours ago.
There isn’t a scratch on Angel that Spike can see, and still, he smells as desperate as Spike feels. For a while as Spike soaks in a tub of hot water, Angel sitting in the next room, Spike considers what he could say.
In the end, he says nothing because God knows talking is not something they do. Not together. Not with any kind of deep meaning behind the words.
So instead, he hollers.
“Hey, gramps. ‘S there room service in that hotel of yours?”
Angel comes back in; heavy steps and heavier sigh.
“Twenty minutes ago you were talking about wanting to die, and now you want booze?”
“The miracles of indoor plumbing,” Spike deadpans.
What he doesn’t say is that he thinks – just thinks, mind. Maybe he’s wrong so he won’t mention it ‘til he’s sure. – he can feel the warmth of the water even below the waist. Last time, he couldn’t feel a damn thing for weeks.
“And I didn’t mean booze. I meant blood. Aren’t you hungry after the night we had?”
After all the blood he saw last night, the mere idea of feeding makes Angel want to retch.
“There’s no blood here,” he says with a little shrug. “But yeah, you’d probably heal faster with some blood in you. Do you want…”
The tightening in Spike’s jaw answers him before Angel even finishes. He nods tiredly. Of course Spike doesn’t want his blood. Why would he? It’s Angel’s fault if Spike’s in this situation.
At least he’s not dead like the others.
“Are you ready to get out of there or not yet?” he asks; the words come out of his mouth, but they don’t sound like him.
Truth is, Spike wouldn’t mind staying in a hot bath for a couple hours – or even all day. But Angel looks ready to bolt, so it’s now or never.
“Guess so,” he mutters, and leans forward to remove the plug. The water swirls down the drain and he’s already starting to feel cold. He knows it’s all in his head, but he still can’t shake the feeling.
Angel finds him a towel; pink, and Spike could gag, but luxuriously soft and oversized. The picking up and towel wrapping is a little undignified, but Spike knows he’ll need to get used to that until he heals.
And he is already healing. He can feel that ridiculously fluffy towel on his thighs – he’s sure of it. Almost sure, at least. Almost sure he’s not making it up because he wants to heal so badly.
In just seconds, Angel carries him back to the bed and starts putting him down. Spike grimaces.
“The covers are all muddy,” he mutters.
“Yeah? I wonder why.”
Spike doesn’t reply. Instead he says, “And anyway, didn’t you just offer to give me some blood? You’re not going to sit on a wet bed, that much I know.”
He knows, also, that Angel stopped before completing that offer, so maybe he didn’t mean it. He knows that, as much as he tries to sound unconcerned, his voice is tight with hunger. And he knows that Angel must remember as well as Spike does another offer of blood, a few years ago in Sunnydale. Angelus had voiced it, taunting Spike into accepting, then reneging on it.
“You don’t need it,” he’d said. “It’s not like you can even get hard for Dru. So why waste good blood on you?”
And suddenly, Spike isn’t sure he even wants that blood anymore.
Without warning, bitterness bursts in Spike’s scent. Angel opens his mouth, ready to ask what’s wrong, but thinks better of it.
“Fine,” he mutters, more to say something than because the word means anything right now. They’re both a long way from ‘fine’.
He carries Spike back to his own room. Finds boxers for him to wear because as large as that towel is, it’s just not enough. Spike looks away and grits his teeth while Angel helps him into the boxers. If he could look away too, he would.
As he watches Spike, laying there on his bed, Angel ponders logistics. By all means, it should be from his wrist. It’d be easier that way. Less intimate. Because hell knows there’s nothing intimate about this. It’s just because Spike’s hurt. Just because there’s no other option right this instant.
Just because they have no one else but each other.
When Angel slips into bed, Spike gives him one of these looks that are his only, at the same time challenging and vulnerable. Angel doesn’t say anything. He curls a hand to the back of Spike’s head and tugs gently. If Spike wanted to resist, he could.
But he doesn’t.
Instead, he clutches Angel’s shoulder with one hand, and pulls until their bodies are close; until Angel tilts his head, bares his neck, and closes his eyes.
Spike’s fangs are almost delicate when they tear into his skin.
At the first burst of blood onto his tongue, Spike could weep. He was so damn hungry.
He takes deep mouthfuls, expecting Angel to stop him any second, now. But Angel says nothing. His hand has fallen from Spike’s head to his back and it just stays there, still, neither encouraging Spike nor holding him back.
It’s so unlike Angel to be that passive that, before he’s really had his fill, Spike pulls away, looks at Angel without bothering to slip out of his demon mask.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” he mutters.
Angel’s eyes remain closed. “I’m tired,” he all but sighs. “If you’re done I want to sleep.”
“If I’m done?” Spike repeats in a low voice. “I don’t know. Let me think. What else could I do? Kick your sorry ass for being such a moron? Yeah, I’ll get right on that.”
Now, Angel opens his eyes. And frowns.
“Who are you calling a moron, asshole? Without me you’d still—”
“Be able to use my legs,” Spike cuts in, sneering. “Without you, all this mess wouldn’t have happened.”
He expected – wanted – hoped for a fight. What he gets instead is pain in Angel’s eyes before he rolls onto his side, his back firmly toward Spike. The idiot doesn’t even say a word.
Sometimes Spike really hates the damn soul. It was all so much easier when he didn’t give a fuck about anything or anyone.
Or at least, that’s the story he tells himself as he tries to fall asleep. It doesn’t work all that well.
“I don’t believe this,” Spike mutters, long after Angel was sure he was asleep.
Angel pretends he didn’t hear.
“I fucking don’t believe this,” Spike repeats, now poking Angel’s shoulder with a sharp nail. “I’m the one with a broken back. I should be the one moping. You should be comforting me, not the other way around.”
Despite himself, Angel lets out a quiet laugh. “Is that what you’re doing? Comforting me?”
Without you, all this mess wouldn’t have happened.
Oh, so true.
“You’re a moron,” Spike snaps, and it still doesn’t sound like comfort. “We all knew what we were getting into. It’s not like you forced anyone into this fight.”
Angel clenches his teeth. Didn’t he?
“You’re not responsible,” Spike pushes on. “If they were here—”
“But they’re not, are they?”
After a beat, Spike says, more quietly, now, “I am. And I’m telling you. Don’t take away from our decisions. Our sacrifices. Don’t you fucking dare to make it all about you, because it damn well wasn’t.”
It’s still not comfort. And it doesn’t even ring like the truth anymore.
When Angel turns toward him, Spike wipes his expression hurriedly, going back to neutral.
“Liar,” Angel said flatly.
Spike scowls. “Just wait ‘til I get my legs back. I’m gonna kick your sorry ass from here to—”
“Are you saying you’d have followed anyone else into that battle?”
Of course, Spike wants to say. He followed the Slayer right into the Hellmouth, didn’t he?
And now Angel, almost straight to hell.
And he’d have followed…no one else.
So he keeps his mouth shut.
“See?” Angel says.
“Shut up,” Spike mutters. “Wanker.”
“Is that really supposed to be comfort? Because damn but you suck at it.”
“Yeah? Think you’re any better?”
“I brought you here, didn’t I?”
“You left me in that room! I fell—”
“You didn’t want my help!”
“Of course I don’t want your help!” Spike pushes himself to a sitting position with one hand; he clutches the headboard so he won’t fall. The wood creaks under his hand. “I don’t want anybody’s bloody help.” His voice rises with every word. “I don’t want to be stuck in a wheelchair again. Depend on anyone for food and everything else. Again. But guess what. I don’t have a choice. And if it’s got to be anyone—”
He manages to stop before making a complete fool out of himself. Angel has sat up while Spike ranted. He’s watching him with that same deep frown that makes his forehead look a mile wide.
“If it’s got to be anyone,” Angel repeats, his voice shaking. His eyes are like gold, but he leaves it at that.
He lies down again. After a second or two, Spike eases himself down again.
Tomorrow they can suck at comforting each other some more. They might even get better at it. It’s not like they don’t have time, or anything better to do, or anyone better to do it with.
But for now…
“You should feed, too,” Spike says, barely above a whisper.
“I told you there’s no blood here.”
“Sure there is.”
He doesn’t say another word, but the offer hangs between them. It’s a long moment before Angel turns to him. Finds his neck. Bites.
Tough love. Blood. A bed. They’ve shared all of it before. Maybe this time it won’t even end too badly. Just as long as…
“You better not hog the covers,” Spike says when Angel pulls back.
He gets the ghost of a smile for all answer. He waits until Angel’s eyes are closed to smile back.
Maybe it won’t end badly at all.
- If it's gotta be anyone