Untitled: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike/Xander
Untitled: Angel: the Series: Angel/Wesley
Disclaimer: None of it belongs to me. Please don't sue.
Summary: First you rape and pillage, *then* you burn.
Spoilers: BTVS 6.
Author's note: I don't have any notes, but I can't bear to leave any empty spaces. :) However, I just don't think that I'm all that anonymous in my slash-ho'dom.
c. Hell's Bells--
Xander looked around the dingy motel room. He had been standing in that one place long enough for a little puddle to form around his feet. What have I done? What have I done? His chest ached so badly that he couldn't breathe. He dragged a wet sleeve across his eyes and forced himself to move two steps forward and flopped onto the bed. Xander reached into his pocket for the pint of bourbon that he didn't remember buying, twisted the top off and let the whiskey burn its way down his throat. Sweet oblivion was only a pint away. He leaned back against the tacky, padded headboard and reached for the remote. He gazed, unseeing, at Headline News.
Thirty minutes later the bottle was empty, and the world was still in one piece. Xander was still awake, still wet, still moderately sober, and feeling a nearly uncontrollable urge to trash the room. He picked up the phone and tested its heft. What if he needed to call someone? No. What if Dunbar's Liquor delivered? He put the phone back down and kicked off his shoes. Let's hear it for self control. He laughed bitterly. He peeled out of the tux, and settled back onto the bed in his T-shirt and shorts.
Three hours later it was dark, still raining. Xander was still in the same position, swaddled in a cocoon of remorse. Blue light from the TV illuminated the little room, hiding its shabbiness in a cool glow. A quiet tap on the door startled him, and he lurched up from the bed.
He threw the door open. "Anya, I--" Xander's face fell.
Spike stood outside in the rain, with a plastic bag in one hand and a bottle in the other. "I brought you some dry clothes."
What's the use? Xander shrugged and motioned the vampire into the room. "Look, Spike. I'm in no mood. If Buffy or Anya sent you here--"
"Here." As he walked past, Spike pushed the fifth into Xander's hands. "Nobody sent me here, you stupid git." Spike spun around and glared at him. "You really screwed the pooch this time, didn't you?"
Xander felt his last vestige of self-control crumble around him and started to tremble violently. He wanted to hit something, preferably Spike, since he was here. He wanted to throw up. Instead, the tremors expanded into quaking shudders, and he stood there, appalled, as great, gulping sobs poured out. A cool hand settled on his shoulder. Xander looked up incredulously as Spike awkwardly patted him.
Spike pulled his hand back as if the touch burned him. He turned away and mumbled. "Is there anything I can do?"
Damn. Spike actually looked concerned. And uncomfortable. And wet. Xander motioned to the little table. Spike walked over and dropped the bag of clothes on the bed. He shrugged out of his coat and plopped down on one of the chairs. He held his arm out to Xander, looking expectantly at the bottle.
Xander looked down at the fifth of whiskey in his hand, not really remembering how it got there. He unscrewed the top, took a long swallow. He walked across the room and handed it over to Spike. He felt Spike's eyes dragging over him as he stood in front of him. "What's the matter, Spike? You've seen me in my skivvies before."
Spike didn't look away. "That's true. I've never seen you drunk and crying in your skivvies before, though."
"I'm not drunk."
"Let's fix that, shall we?" Spike handed the bottle back over.
"I don't want to talk about it, okay?" Xander tilted the bottle up.
"I'm not asking." Spike looked as wiped out as Xander felt.
Xander couldn't stand it. He wiped his eyes and handed the bottle back. "Then, why are you here? To talk me into going back? Well, save your nonbreath. No, wait. You've come here to torment me, right? Mock the idiot boy who freaked on his wedding day."
"Not really." Spike set the bottle on the table and leaned forward, elbows on his knees. He buried his face in his hands. He looked exhausted.
Now, this was disturbing. If Spike would only rise to the bait, he could beat the shit out of him and feel better for a minute or two. Instead, Xander sat on the edge of the bed and reached for the bottle. Spike's hand covered his, and there was a brief tussle for ownership of the fifth. Spike raised his eyes, and Xander felt the misery pouring off of him in cold waves. What's wrong with Spike? Suddenly, the room was too small. Xander loosened his grip on the neck of the bottle, but Spike just tightened his hand around Xander's.
"Women." Spike looked up, his eyes glistening. "Can't kill 'em... well, I could. Once upon a time. Don't want to do that so much anymore." He seemed to realize that he still had his hand wrapped around Xander's. He jerked it away, and Xander's hand fell onto the table. "What's on the telly? Here." Spike nudged the bottle in Xander's direction.
Xander reached again for the fifth and took another swallow. The liquor enveloped him in a warm blanket of self-awareness, once removed. Time spiralled away in the dark silence as he and Spike passed the whiskey back and forth. They watched the war on terrorism and the war on drugs and the war on poverty. It wasn't long before the bottle was empty. Xander didn't want to trash the room anymore. Xander didn't want to do anything except spend the rest of eternity in this almost drunken, almost painless, almost bearable haze. He stared at Spike out of the corner of his eye. He had certainly missed something big, but he couldn't think clearly enough to wonder beyond that. Maybe later. Maybe. Xander leaned forward and tried to talk without slurring his speech. He rested his hand on Spike's thigh and shook him gently.
"Spike. It's almost dawn, and check out is at noon. Don't you think you should be leaving?"
Wearily, Spike pulled himself out of the chair and reached for his coat.
Xander stood up, unsteady, and walked across the room. "Thanks, Spike. Thanks for coming." He opened the door. The neon light from across the street splashed a golden light on Spike's face, and for a moment, he looked almost angelic. Xander thrust his hand out, and Spike took it. Xander hesitated for just a second and then pulled Spike close to him in a clumsy hug. "No, really, man. Thanks. I think I'm going to make it."
"Hey, I'm evil, not clueless." Spike leaned forward and brushed his lips softly against Xander's. "Not clueless at all."
Xander watched Spike disappear into the darkness and then closed the door.
Gunn's disemboweled body lay about 10 yards away, his face frozen in surprise. And there was Fred, lying in an obscene fingerpainting, smears of blood where her bare feet could find no purchase on the slippery floor. Her severed head rested inside her arm. Wes felt the idiotic urge to set the head back in place. Lorne had been methodically ripped apart. No putting him back together again this time.
Then there was Connor, lying next to the elevator door, his body undefiled, but dead all the same. Wes marveled that he knew the boy's name. He would have sworn, not two hours previously, that he had never seen him before in his life.
Angel, vamped out, stood in the middle of the room, and a giant black cat paced between him and the elevator. He held Cordelia's comatose body in his arms. The Conduit growled as it turned from him to eye Wes.
"Wes! Don't cross the threshhold. It can't hurt you if you don't come in."
Two hours earlier--
"This wasn't supposed to happen, Lilah. I wasn't supposed to see you again, ever, as per the terms of our agreement."
"That's true, Angel. However, the Senior Partners have decided that you're not keeping up your end of the contract. This branch of Wolfram & Hart is hemorrhaging clients and money; the markets in demon sacrifice and corpse-raisings are way down, and you and your staff seem ill-prepared--even unwilling--to put a stop to it. It's the bottom line, honey. Plus, Connor has found you out. They feel that they should cut their losses right now and utilize the indemnification clause on page 6, paragraph 4b...'should the parties of the second part fail to fulfill any part of the preceding contract, all succeeding contracts shall be deemed null and void, yaddayaddayadda.'"
"Angel. How can the Senior Partners be held responsible for your Personnel Department? Connor was one of 450 co-op college students that Wolfram & Hart hires every year. I guess it was just...meant to be."
"You didn't *tell* me that if he *came* here, the spell would break down--"
"It pays to read the small print. I'd like to point out page 9, paragraph 3, subsection A.23: 'If subject of said spell crosses the threshhold of Wolfram & Hart, said spell is rendered null and void, and the parties of the first part are no longer obligated to fulfill said spell, and furthermore, shall restitute all damages, up to and includ---"
Wes stepped in just in time to see Angel snap a dead woman in half. As her body fell to the floor, a burning pain seared through his skull. He fell to his knees and grabbed his head in agony. Grief washed over him. Flashes of memory--a beautiful woman with a maggot-ridden face. Blood. A steel box. A steel cage. Angelus. Laughing. Cordelia. Faith, lying unconscious in his arms, her blood staining his shirt. The images tore at his soul, gouging out a place for themselves. A beast of stone, a sullen teenaged boy, a red-haired woman in chains. Lilah! Oh my God. Blood, more blood. Always blood. A baby. His throat started to throb. A wound started to bleed on the inside of his left arm, and he remembered. He remembered it all. Angel. Jasmine. Connor. Lilah... Angel.
Wes looked up through blood-tinged eyes to see Angel looming over him. He crumpled down in confusion and pain, only to feel strong arms lift him and carry him to the couch.
"Wes! I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."
Wes grabbed Angel's shoulder and pulled himself up. "Connor. Connor's your son. I took him from you. I took him from you to save you--"
"Oh God. Wes." Angel stared in disbelief at Lilah's rotting hands. The contract began to glow a sickly green. He turned his head away, and his voice broke. "I know."
Wes stared up at Angel in a panic, unsure of his rage, certain of his betrayal. "You tried to kill me for that." He scrambled away and backed himself up into a sitting position on the sofa. He trembled uncontrollably.
Angel had turned and was eyeing the body on the floor. Lilah had been dead for months, and she was starting to disintegrate on the carpet. The document, the contract, fell to the floor in a heap, its pages furling in an eternal flame. Angel dived for it, obviously afraid that it was going to disintegrate, too. His eyes darted to and fro over the paragraphs, flickering from brown to gold and back again.
A scream permeated the air around them. It was Fred. Angel looked back toward him and said, "Don't go anywhere, Wes. It's life and death now. Even if you can't trust me, trust that." He threw the burning contract in Wes' direction and was gone in a blur.
Wes rocked back and forth on the couch and hugged his knees to his chest. He was unable to touch the contract. It was just too much. And yet, it was enough. Enough to tie together half-remembered nightmares and enough to fill in the gaps that had somehow defined him. He had read a prophecy and sacrificed himself for it. He was a demon killer and had practically sold his soul to his enemy. He had kept a woman chained in a closet for three months. He had searched the Pacific Ocean in the near-futile hope of finding Angel. And he had. He was lover and enemy of the woman lying on the floor. But he had chosen Angel over her. He had always chosen Angel. Over everyone. Angel had never chosen him. It was enough.
The screams were louder, and Wes pulled himself unsteadily to his feet. He limped to the double doors of the office and looked out into the lobby. Excepting the three of them, everyone was frozen in place. Wolfram & Hart was shrouded in silence except for Fred's wails. She was on her knees in the elevator, hysterically punching the buttons as Angel tried in vain to break through a shimmering wall between the two of them. The doors pulled shut, and Angel slid to the floor.
"I have to get to the White Room, Wes. It's all going down in the White Room." Angel leaned against the elevator, his face covered with tears.
"What? What is going down?" Wes stood over Angel. Memories were still filling him up, each one sending a tremble through him. Memories of Fred and Gunn, and his heart felt like it would burst. Memories of Cordy. He felt unnaturally cold and rubbed his hands together. They had chosen Angel, too. They had chosen Angel over him, and it all made sense. Why should he have expected them to behave any differently than he did? Compulsively, he leaned over and began punching the Up button on the wall. It began to glow. The urge to ride up to the White Room was overpowering.
"The spell. If the spell is broken, our lives are forfeit. All of us." Angel held his head in his hands and babbled. "I-I didn't know. I tried to save my son. I tried to take away his pain."
The elevator opened, and Wes stepped inside. Angel sprang to his feet and rushed into the elevator. The force field began to glow as Angel grabbed Wes' collar and threw him violently out into the lobby. The doors closed.
"Don't come in, Wes. I'm begging you." Angel hugged Cordy's limp body closer to him, refusing to give it up to the Conduit.
The panther began to speak in a sing-song rhythm inside Wes' head. "Look what has become of you, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. Look what has happened. You love this vampire, and what he has done to you is unforgivable. You've given up everything for him, and you didn't even know you were doing it. Step inside and take back your autonomy. Step inside."
"Like Fred? Like Gunn?" Wes stood indecisively at the threshhold. He fingered the stake and spoke to the cat. "You're right. I sacrificed all that I was, all that I held dear, to protect Angel." He looked up at the vampire and frowned.
The cat's eyes glowed gold as it padded over to him. "You know what to do." It sat back on its haunches and waited.
Wes crossed the threshhold. He walked over to Angel without interference from the Conduit and took Cordy from his arms. He laid her gently on the floor, and then turned to Angel. "The Conduit is right. I gave up everything that I am--or was--for you. I loved you, and I chose--choose--to be here. I choose my autonomy." He gracelessly pulled Angel to him.
Angel's face returned to its human form. Tears glistened against his skin as he looked around at the carnage. There was no resistance.
Wes pulled Angel into a tighter embrace and leaned in close. He gently pressed his lips against Angel's and whispered into his mouth. "I love you still." In one desperate motion, he plunged the stake into Angel's heart. The White Room faded away from around them.
"Rogue demon hunter, my ass. Why don't you two just get a room?" Cordy's voice rang in his ears.
Wes pulled away from Angel and looked down at his empty hands. When he looked back up, the vampire seemed giddy and embarrassed. They were in his office at the Hyperion. He looked over Angel's shoulder to see Cordy standing at the office door, laughing at them. Gunn and Fred were leaning against the counter in the lobby, their heads close together, obviously in an intimate conversation.
Lorne stood just inside the hotel doorway. "Come on, you two. Get a move on, or I'm going to insist that you sing a duet--although I don't need any innate ability to read what's on your minds."
Wes stepped away from Angel and pulled his jacket off the coatrack. He shrugged into his coat and walked toward the door. "You coming?"
Angel smiled and followed him out of the office, into the night.