Happy Anniversary -- Revisited

by Saber ShadowKitten
Revisited II 12

Spike had left.

He hadn't gone far, just to a dingy motel within walking distance, but he had still left. He'd left the Hyperion, left his sub-servitude... and left Angel.

Spike's leaving hadn't been expected at all. Angel had returned from delivering the charity money to Anne to find the blond sitting cross-legged on the registration desk, his duster beside him, playing with an unlit cigarette. Angel had been too tired and still too sore after the fight with Boone to want to deal with his childe, but, like the glutton for punishment he was, Angel had asked the melancholy-looking blond what was wrong. And Spike had told him.

Angel had known that, one day, Spike would buck his saddle and jump the fence. He'd known that, and yet he still hadn't expected it when it actually happened. He especially hadn't expected the way it happened. No fists. No fangs. No broken bones. No blood. Spike had simply walked out the front door. And Angel hadn't stopped him. How could he have, after what Spike had said?

"Did you know, Angelus," Spike had began, his gaze focused on the unlit cigarette in his hand. "Back in the very beginning, when it was just the two of us, the relationship between us was almost exactly like it is now?" He'd slowly rolled the cigarette between his tapered fingers. "The only real difference was that we used to hunt together. Now, we each hunt for different reasons, and alone."

Angel had been confused. Spike wasn't one to be introspective. Insightful, yes, but not one who dwelled on the inner machinations of things. "What's going on, Spike?" Angel had asked.

"You know, the past is pretty much one big blur to me," Spike had gone on, not answering Angel's question. "But I can recall with perfect clarity a handful of things." He'd tapped the tobacco end of the cigarette against his palm. "I can remember the two Slayers I killed, what they looked like, the fights we had. I remember the night I first met Drusilla, how she smelled, and the dirty dress she wore. I remember the night you turned me and how angry I was you'd bested me." A small smile played over his lips but it quickly disappeared, and his voice became softer, more saturnine. "I remember how I felt when I first saw you in Sunnydale, a century after you'd disappeared, and I remember losing the fight with Buffy soon afterward."

Spike had tapped the cigarette twice more against his palm and made it magically disappear. "And I remember the very first time someone told me that they'd loved me," he'd said quietly. "It was exactly two hundred years ago today. Do you remember, Angel?"

Angel had gone to answer in the negative, to ask Spike again what the conversation had been about, but Spike had continued without pause. "I don't remember what I'd been doing, but I remember you laughing. Not one of your mocking laughs, but a genuinely amused one. And after you'd laughed, you'd shook your head and smiled and told me that you loved me."

Spike had put his fingers to his mouth and slowly pulled them away. The cigarette had magically reappeared between his lips. "And here we are again, precisely two hundred years later, in exactly the same bloody Dom/sub relationship as we were back then, with exactly the same beginning -- you besting me -- and for exactly the same amount of time -- roughly two years." He'd lit the cigarette and inhaled deeply, still looking at his lap. "But I know it's too much for me to hope, like the bleedin' pansy I am, that you'll say those words to me again, on the anniversary of when you first said them."

The blond had slid off the counter, picked up his duster, and put it on. "I'm leaving, Angel," he'd said, eyes downcast like a proper sub. "I need to get it through my thick skull that that was then, this is now, and no matter how much you act like it, you're not exactly the same as you were two centuries ago." A wry smile had flitted across his lips. "Although, apparently I am."

He'd looked up then, finally, and his eyes had been glittering like blue diamonds from unshed tears. He'd held the cigarette between his fingers again, the bitter scent drifting up to Angel's nose. "Goodbye, you effin' tosser. It's been a blast, but it's time I go before I embarrass myself any further," he'd said. He'd dropped his chin again, turned on his heel, and headed for the door. And if Angel hadn't been completely focused on his departing childe, he would've missed the blond's final mumbled words. "Happy Anniversary to the best night of my long life. You were right, Drusilla. I'm such a soft, bloody fool."

That had been it. Spike had walked out of the hotel, and Angel had let him leave.

An hour later, Angel had used the GST device and tracked Spike to a nearby motel. Angel had gotten as far as raising his hand to knock on the door, when he'd stopped himself. What could he have had said, anyway? "Sorry, Spike, I don't love you, but I do need you and want you, and not just for sex?"

The Host had told Angel to say just that.

The green empathic demon and Angel had been in the convertible, trying to stop the end of time. The Host, as Angel had labeled him, had prompted an outburst from the vampire about everything that had happened within the past weeks. Darla, her re-turning, killing the lawyers, his former co-workers' attitudes, the loss of his boundaries, Spike's revelation. The Host, in turn, had told Angel he was dangling over the edge of a dark abyss, with only Spike's grip on his hand preventing him from falling. According to the Host, if Angel didn't want to plummet back to hell, he had to ask Spike to pull him up, then start walking away from the abyss and back towards humanity, preferably while singing snappy showtunes.

Angel hadn't realized the road back to humanity began in Oklahoma!

Of course, Angel wouldn't be able to get the first "Oh" out if he didn't shut down Gene, the Karaoke-Singing, Completely Idiotic College Student's time distortion machine. The Lubber demons were making it very difficult to do so, however, and it was really pissing Angel off. The wrinkled, old-looking demons wanted the machine to work, to rid the world of the plague of humanity -- sort of what Angel had wanted the Judge to do once, back in good old Sunnydale, before Buffy had kicked the vampire squarely in the nuts. That had hurt.

Angel spun and back-kicked one of the Lubber demons. A few minutes before, the drive to Gene's had been abruptly halted by one of the Lubber's throwing itself in front of the convertible. More of the demons had immediately attacked when Angel and the Host had gotten out of the car. Gene's apartment was less than a football field away, and time was literally running out.

The Host was holding his own against the demons, singing Bonnie Tyler's Holding Out For A Hero at the top of his lungs. "'I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero til the end of the night. And he's gotta be strong, and he's gotta be fast, and he's gotta be fresh from the fight...'"

Angel shoved the Lubber demon he was fighting and ran for the door to Gene's apartment complex -- more to get away from the Host's siinging than to stop the device. When the green empathic's voice faded, Angel was able to think again... and the first person he thought of was Spike.

That cinched the dark-haired vampire's decision to go after his childe. Love, there may not be, but Angel wasn't about to let go of Spike's hand. Although the darkness of the abyss would be soothing to his tired eyes and frazzled nerves, Angel refused to let the all-encompassing 'Them' win. And who knew, if things were really as similar two hundred years ago as they were today, as Spike had said, it was very possible that Angel would love Spike again someday.

The dark-haired vampire slammed open the door to the basement of the apartment building. Gene's machine was running full-tilt in the center of the room. Angel started down the stairs, but was tackled from behind. He and the Lubber demon tumbled down the remaining cement steps and landed in a tangled heap at the bottom.

Growling, Angel used his feet and launched the demon off him. The Lubber crashed into a small storage platform halfway up the stairs. The vampire quickly stood, leaned forward, and flipped another attacking Lubber over his shoulder. The one on the platform jumped into the air and froze as the bubble of time-distortion encompassed him.

Angel blinked at the frozen airborne demon, spun on his heel, and ran for the machine. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the bubble rapidly descending towards him. He dove for the power supply at the foot of the machine. This utter lunacy was going to stop now. After all, Spike was waiting for him to celebrate some sort of anniversary, and Angel still had to punish the boy for calling him a "tosser." All that was left to do was pull the plug and--