"The Night"


by Saber ShadowKitten






The cherry on the cigarette glowed bright orange as Spike took a slow drag. The smoke curled in his dead lungs, warming him briefly before he exhaled. The spring night air was crisp, and he could smell the coming rain that made the clouds above him thick and dark. Perfect, he thought. The day he chose to finally end it all and it looked as though the sun wouldn't be making an appearance.

Spike sighed. Wasn't that just the bloody bollocks? After decades of preventing himself from being killed, when he actively sought death, it avoided him. Maybe he should go down to Willy's and see if someone would rip his head from his shoulders instead. Trying to stake himself hadn't worked, and it was apparent greeting the sunrise wasn't going to, either.

The blond vampire took another drag on his smoke and stared unhappily at the town spread below him. Not a single being in residence wanted Spike around, which was why he was on the hilltop cemetery awaiting the sunrise. Until tonight, he'd been able to fool himself into thinking that someone wanted him at least a little bit, but that small hope had been effectively quashed. He'd been uninvited from Buffy's life, had been told by Dru that he was beyond help, and had been dumped by his shag-partner, Harmony.

"Bitches, the lot of them," Spike grumbled, shifting on the large rock he was sitting on. "I should just give up women altogether." He'd said as much while he'd been getting his heart ripped out earlier that night. Who needed women anyway? They were all psychotic, emotional, fragile, and squishy. And they never shut up. It was always: "Spike, I hate you," "Spike, you're pathetic," "Spike, I'd rather shag a wart-hog than you."

Well, they weren't going to have Spike to push around anymore. As soon as the sun came up, he'd be dust. If it didn't come up, he'd find a different way to end his miserable existence. At least then he'd finally be rid of the chip in his brain.

Spike heard voices coming from somewhere behind him and groaned. Just what he needed, visitors. It was probably the hated Scooby gang, come to prevent him from committing suicide out of some sense of moral goody-two-shoedness.

"We're lost."

"We're not lost."

"Yeah, we just got turned around."

"Who has the map?"

Silence.

"Who lost the map?"

"He did." "He did." "Don't look at me."

"Check your pockets. If it's not found, I'll be seriously ticked off and will have to punish the one who lost it."

Silence.

"I lost it."

"No, I lost it."

"I used it as toilet paper."

"Eew, that's gross."

"Just... find it."

Spike dropped his head in his hands. What he wanted less than the Scoobies was a bunch of lost humans, especially since he could do nothing to them. Worse, he'd probably end up helping them. He felt sick.

Footsteps crunched the brittle grass as one of the lost rounded the corner of the crypt Spike was sitting near. The blond vampire silently cursed, raised his head, and turned to glare at the intruder. He gaped instead.

The male that had been approaching Spike stopped walking abruptly and stared. "Woah. Deja vu," he said with disbelief.

Spike blinked, but the apparition didn't disappear. If Spike hadn't seen a video of himself recently, he never would've recognized the fact that the man standing five-feet away was... well, himself. Only not a version of himself he'd seen even in his wildest dreams.

The guy had shoulder-length dark blond hair woven into more than a dozen cornrow braids, each tied off with either a black or red bead. He was wearing a burgundy and gold football jersey with the number 14 on it in gold, and a pair of black shorts, exposing what had to be the whitest, knobbiest knees on the planet. White socks were scrunched down at the tops of scuffed black Doc Martens, and a pair of football cleats hung by their shoelaces over his shoulder.

More people rounded the corner of the crypt, playfully punching at each other. They stumbled to a halt next to the look-a-like, a third silently walking up behind them. Spike recognized all three: Xander Harris, the wolf, Oz, and an old-looking, grey-haired version of Angel.

"Dude, mirror, mirror on the wall," Oz murmured, adjusting the strap of a bag on his shoulder.

"Billy-goat, why am I seeing double?" Xander said. He and the wolf were wearing matching burgundy and gold shirts with numbers and black shorts -- team jerseys, Spike realized -- and both of their hair was dyed burgundy and gold.

"Don't know," the strange-looking Spike-clone replied.

"I told you we were lost," the grey-haired Angel said in a quiet tone.

"You did not," Xander countered.

"Did, too," Angel said.

"Did not," Xander returned. "You said: 'no, no, no, we're not lost, it's the portal by the bacla tree.'"

"I said left at the portal by the bacla tree," Angel said.

"Liar, liar, pants on fire," Xander sang.

"I am not."

"Are, too."

"Not."

"Too, too, too."

"I'm not listening," Angel sang, putting his fingers to his ears and walking away from Xander.

"He did say left," Oz broached.

Xander shot him a dirty look. "Who's the one who lost the map?"

"That'd be you," Oz replied dryly.

"Ooh, goody," Xander rubbed his hands together, "that means Billy's gonna punish me."

"Children," the braided-blond -- 'Billy?', Spike wondered incredulously -- sighed. The beads clacked as Billy shook his head, then gave Spike an exasperated look that read: 'what can you do?'

"Who the bloody hell are you people?" Spike finally blurted, jumping to his feet.

"Xander," Xander introduced, pointing to himself. He pointed to the wolf, "Oz," to the other Spike, "Billy," to Angel, "Angel." He pointed to Spike. "Who are you?"

"Spike," Spike replied.

"Well, bugger, it really is me," Billy said in amazement, a light English accent highlighting his words. He took a step closer to Spike and looked the vampire up and down. "Look at me. I look like a thug."

"Didn't you go through a thug-period, once upon a time?" Xander asked. "I seem to remember thuggage."

Billy's brows furrowed in thought, staring at Spike like he was a bug under a microscope. Spike could almost see the lightbulb that appeared above the other him's head. "Oh, right. I remember, now. That was during your Three's Company phase, Xan."

Xander whimpered and hung his head in shame. "Hawaiian shirts. What was I thinking?"

"Hawaiian shirts?" Oz said. "You haven't worn anything like that in... what, three hundred years?"

"Four," Xander corrected. "At least four. I don't even want to admit to four; but four."

"It was pre-bite," Oz added. "I seem to recall you shredding all your clothes post-bite, including the shirts."

Pre-bite? Post-bite? Four hundred years? Billy? Braids?? Spike looked at the three before him, looked down at his cigarette, and flicked it away. He didn't want to know what he was really smoking.

"I think we're scaring him... er, me," Billy said. He glanced at his companions. "Not that you two don't scare people normally."

"Hey! The only one scary here is Angel when he takes out his teeth," Xander stated, folding his arms across his chest. He leaned forward and called to the grey-haired man pruning a nearby wreath. "Right, Angel?" No answer from the gardener. "Angel?" No reply. Xander rolled his eyes. "He turned off his hearing aid again."

"I got him," Billy said. "You two start backtracking. We'll catch up."

Oz nodded, then turned to Spike. "Nice to see you," he said.

"Yeah, bye, Billy-look-a-like," Xander said. He and Oz started back the way they came, and Spike heard Xander say, "I think I remember exactly why I fell for Billy. You?"

"Definitely," Oz replied as they disappeared around the corner of the crypt.

Billy tilted his head and studied Spike as the silence stretched between them. "I think I remember this night," the braided-blond eventually said. "You're waiting for the sun, aren't you?"

"Uh... yeah," Spike answered slowly.

Billy suddenly smiled, his eyes crinkling in the corners, and he laughed. "Oh man, this is 'The Night.' Sod all, I can't believe it."

"What do you mean?" Spike said.

"Mate, you're unlife's about to change forever... and for the better," Billy said, grinning widely. He gestured to Angel. "See that old fart over there? In a few days time, if I remember correctly, Angel's going to shag you into a second death. Then you'll follow him around like a puppy for the next few centuries, gaining a litter of your own along the way."

Spike stared at Billy. "No bloody way. I hate Angel."

"Not for long," Billy said with a twinkle in his intimately familiar blue eyes. "Plus, you'll have Xan and Oz to play with in about five years, give or take."

"Bullshit."

Billy snickered. "Just you wait."

"You're wrong," Spike said.

"Why would I lie to myself?"

"You can't be me," Spike protested. "You look like an effin' nancy. And that can't be Angel, either. He's all wrinkly."

"I normally don't dress like this," Billy said. "There's a pick-up footy game on Terran Atlantis that we're going to play in. The Prionail have been bombing the portal pathway stations again, which is probably why we ended up here."

"What about the hair?" Spike touched his own platinum locks self-consciously.

"Angel," Billy said as if that explained everything. He glanced over at the man in question, fondness spreading over his features. "That man could paint me with glue and cover me in feathers, and I would happily cock-a-doodle-doo for him."

Spike turned and looked at Angel, who was quietly pulling dead leaves and flowers from cemetery wreathes. The tall man was stoop-shouldered, and his dark grey chinos and sweater hung loosely on his thin form. His white-grey hair was neatly combed and framed the wrinkled, papery skin of his face.

"He turned seventy-eight last month," Billy said softly. "We started celebrating his birthday the day he became human again, beginning with his twenty-seventh, which is how old he was when he met Darla. It's his reward, you know; being human again after all those years as a vampire with a soul, fighting and atoning and acting like a guilt-plagued poofter."

Spike glanced at Billy and saw the other man brush his hand across his eyes. "He won't make eighty," Billy continued, a sad smile gracing lips. "I can hear the sickness in his lungs when I lay with him at night. After nearly five hundred years together, he's going to be leaving me."

"What'll you do then?" Spike asked quietly, surprised by the emotion thickening his voice.

Billy shrugged. "Grieve and carry on. I'll still have Xan and Oz to care for and love. Werewolves are a right pain three nights a month. The only benefits I've seen about being one is enhanced hearing and smell, and relative immortality. Silver's the only thing that'll kill them, and they both stopped aging when they reached thirty."

Billy wiped his eyes again, then crossed to Angel. He laid a hand on the older man's shoulder, and Angel turned and gave him a smile that went right to Spike's heart. Spike watched as Angel tucked a pink blossom from one of the wreathes behind Billy's ear and heard Angel's low, happy laugh when Billy rolled his eyes. Billy did not remove the blossom, though.

The braided-blond flicked Angel's earlobe and yelled, "Turn your hearing aid back on, dolt!"

Angel touched his ears, all the while scowling teasingly at Billy. "You don't have to yell. I'm not deaf, you know."

"Right, and my middle name isn't Eugene," Billy said.

Spike's jaw dropped again. Holy crap! It really was him!

Billy took Angel's arm and the two began walking away. Billy winked at Spike as he passed by the peroxide-blond vampire. "Sun's not going to be coming out today, mate, which makes it a great day for a drive. I hear Los Angeles is nice."

They were almost around the corner of the crypt when Spike realized something. "Hey, erm, Billy," he called. "What about the chip? Do you still have it?"

Billy paused, looked up at the grey-haired Angel, smiled tenderly at the older man, then looked back at Spike. "Does it matter?" he asked softly, then disappeared around the corner with Angel at his side.

Spike stared at the spot his other self had occupied for a long time, then turned and looked out over Sunnydale. The street lights shined invitingly in the town, but he knew he was not wanted. He took a slow breath, sighed, and started down the hill. "Might as well take my own advice and go visit the Batponce. Since I have this effin' chip, the worst he'll do is turn me away, but not without blood and some dosh, the guilt-plagued poofter..."



End