Things got quiet. Not all at once, really, and not with that heavy waiting feel that’d crept into his bones when stuck in the Summers’ basement. This one hustled and bustled and moved, the daily grind grinding over Angel and his merry pals. They were mourning, of course, and had a business to run, and lives that needed tending to while the latest crisis was put away and sealed.
Spike didn’t go near them much, though, so for him, it really was quiet.
The apartment was still paid up through the month, so he headed back there to lick his wounds. No ‘Doyle’ to give him something to do, so Spike stared at the walls and wondered why it’d been so damned important for him to leave Angel in the first place. All that bollocks about being his own man, following his own destiny was just that—bollocks. Spike just hated being useless. And he hated being constant second best, he could admit when the bright sunshine filtered through cracks in his ceiling to remind him why he stayed there. It was one thing to play paladin to the knight, but to be the lowly squire-boy, ignored and unwanted?
The metaphor stuck in his head for a day, the reason finally dawning as he flipped through yet another stupid infomercial. It wasn’t the meaning that was in his craw, but the language he’d used. Knights and paladins and bloody role-playing games. It was something Andrew would say and, as he flexed his wrists in subconscious worry, that made him think of other things.
Things like why Andrew had been there. And where he’d gone since.
Spike’d meant what he said to Angel in the hospital room, about battle lines and sides. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t wonder, when all the normal bullshit in his head died down, just what was going on. Maybe even worry a bit, something he hated doing and could never stop himself from. It’d been easy to deal with when the girl in question was at least close by, snooping and spying when he was desperate.
She probably wasn’t even in the fucking country anymore.
He made the first call blitzed and high, the only thing to combat the nervousness he admitted to and the fear he wouldn’t. Stumbled through the pleasantries—dear lord, you are alive—and got straight down to business. The answer wasn’t a surprise.
“Fuck you,” Spike snarled, slamming the phone down so hard it broke in two.
The second call was made two days later, pleasantries much less pleasant, and with the same response to his question. “And why the hell not?” he demanded, mad, bad, and dangerous to know. “I didn’t bloody hurt her!”
It’s not about that, of course. She needs rest. To recover. She’s getting help, please don’t disturb her.
“Fuck you,” Spike snarled, slamming his repaired phone down, breaking it into three pieces.
Times like these, he missed the semi-regular patrol. The habitual, almost ritualistic, event meant the chance to pound something bloody and work off a little tension. The crack about Spike’s lonely bed proved true, but Spike didn’t honestly mind that—sex wasn’t the right kind of relief he was looking for.
He went hunting a few nights, but Percy and WonderBoy had made it pretty clear that his presence was unwelcome as a vigilante, so he found a bar and picked fights with anything mean enough to stand up to him. There weren’t many who did, since he was getting a reputation as Angel’s associate. It was just slightly better than Buffy’s lapdog, but produced the same amount of broken bones.
The third call didn’t involve any pleasantries at all. “How did you get this number anyway?”
“Just cause I’m not living in the bosom doesn’t mean I don’t know how to snoop,” he sassed back, just as frustrated and angry. “What’s the fucking harm of letting me talk, anyway? And don’t bloody tell me that she’s sick, needs time, and all the rest of that bullshit. Last thing that girl needs is fucking time.”
Silence on the other end meant Spike was finally getting somewhere. He hoped.
“Fine.” The caller disconnected, leaving Spike to curse at the phone uselessly for a few moments, but without breaking it. It was a start, and it’d come cheaper than Spike expected; Giles wasn’t ever going to forgive him for putting a line between him and his Slayer. Then again, Spike wasn’t going to forgive him for being the blind, pig-headed hypocrite that forced the damned issue, so they were even.
Interesting things were brewing over at Demons Inc. while he stewed, but Spike ignored them. He’d wander back into the thick of it soon enough, but this was going to come first because, well, he wanted it to. Angel didn’t need his help, though he used it easily enough, and it wouldn’t hurt the hulking bastard to ask the one time.
The call came in the wee hours one morning, shrill sound startling over the electronic beeps from the tv. He played video games like one of the hundred of idiot teens he’d sampled, blood high on endorphins that were oddly muted and with enough sugar to kill a few stray dogs. He hated it, but it was better than being bored and brooding.
“What?” he demanded, phone pressed against ear and shoulder, running through the list of people who had this number.
A fluttered breath was the response, a noise so high that a normal human would’ve missed it.
Bugger, blast, and fucking damn.
“Dana.” He hadn’t know her name then, but he could read files just as well as any lawyer, once he got his hands on them. “I’m—hell, sorry, I—sorry.”
So much work to get here, and he hadn’t the faintest idea of what to do.
“They said you wanted to—talk.” Her words were clearer, less fragmented. She still had the same half-choked pause, though, and he wondered how long before she’d lose it. If ever.
“Yeah. They—got you on drugs? Better kinds, yeah? None of that mind-numbing stuff.” If he babbled like any one of the children he’d died to save, he would stake himself.
“Yes. Mr. Giles says. . .”
“Says what, pet?” The cajoling tone came easily, his voice hushed and low in his throat.
“Magical. He says they’re magic.”
Turning off the consol and the tv unit with a flick, Spike stretched out over the sofa. “Yeah? That’s probably better for you. You know who’s making them up?”
He could almost hear her neck crack as she whipped her head back and forth, hair a lash across her skin.
“Well, then, I’ll check with Giles, make sure you’re getting the best.”
The conversation was totally inane, and if she didn’t have excuses to beg off, then he sure as hell did. He didn’t use them, though, just listened to the sound of her breathing—erratic, harsh and almost rattling in her throat—and tried to figure out what the hell he wanted to say.
“Hands. You can’t touch me.”
“I won’t touch you,” he replied immediately, wrists and fingers doing the flex-and-squeeze in automatic panic. “Not like that, Dana.”
It was her frustration that did it. Oh, the similarities had been floating through his mind for a while, but the childish need to say something and not knowing how settled him back into a role that wasn’t made for a telephone.
“Easy. One word at a time, pet, it’s not me who’s paying for this call.” He wanted to touch her again, to somehow prove that his unnatural stillness and chill were nothing like what’d hurt her. “Not what you meant, was it?” he hazarded to distract him from the ache. “About me touching you? You meant something else?”
This time he heard the nod and could almost see her eyes crinkle and dilate in effort. “You won’t touch me,” she repeated slowly.
“No, I won’t.”
Ah. Realization like the sharp blade of a knife, and Spike was nodding like she could hear what he could. “No, love, not ‘can’t’. Can. Could, if I wanted.” He didn’t add the caveat that he didn’t want, or mention the thousands of miles that did indeed separate them.
Innocent curiosity and tortured weariness, all wrapped up in a pretty little package. Yeah, it wasn’t a surprise he was interested, was it? “Sort of. Magic and modern medicine, pet. Kind of like what they’ve got you on, I’d wager.”
She made another too-high-for-humans-to-hear sound, Spike cursing the only medium he had to do this in. Borrowing the viper was a possibility—borrowing the company jet, Spike knew, was pretty much out of the question.
“You won’t touch me. Will you?”
Angelus’ used to tease him about his undead heart. Caring for Drusilla like she really was his love, when both of them knew that Dru was her own fey creature, loyal to whatever Miss Edith—it’d always been Miss Edith—told her that moment. Angelus had called it a remnant of a life best buried and dead. For decades, Spike had done his best to prove that was true.
“It wasn’t your fault, pet,” he said quietly, breath bouncing off plastic to tickle his lips. “Not a bit of it. What you did, love, you had to do.”
This time the whine was in a lower register, a babble of voices behind it telling Spike this conversation had been monitored at least on her side. With a yip of startled protest echoing down the line, Dana was gone and an angry voice was demanding what the hell had Spike just said, what did he think he was doing to a girl who was in no shape to put up with the kind of games Spike normally played.
Spike, himself, let the lecture wash over him the way hundreds had before. “Don’t get your precious in a twist,” he said when the tirade finally moved to pointed questioning. “Just told her a little something us monsters needed to hear.”
“And here I thought you had a soul,” Giles responded, the disconnection a quiet ‘click’ immediately after.
“Does it take a soul to forgive?” he asked the empty silence at his ear. Placing the handset onto its cradle, Spike spent a long time counting the long spider-web of cracks in the ceiling above his head, fascinated by each little length, twisting and turning and bleeding into other little lengths until they formed a pattern worthy of classic Italian mosaics.
He wondered, if he could sink down through the floor, what it’d look like from there.