All right, so I caved, and the Halloween prompt I wrote for fiction class ended up being a Spike-esque character named Will. (I do such a good job at disguising it, eh?) Obviously, the piece I turned in had some differences to this one, such as all mentions of Angel canon being absent. I wrote this all out just today, since I spent all my other time studying for the midterm I had on Monday. And I’ve another one next Monday, so I’m not making any promises on updates, although I’ll damn well try.
Apologies for any typos or jumping tenses or if some things just don’t make sense.
Title: Death Can Wait
Rating: PG-13 - R (depends on how offended by the "f" word you are)
Fandom(s): Angel: The Series
Pairing(s): Buffy/Spike (only implied)
Genre: Horror, Angst
Warnings: Language. A gruesome image or two, but not much.
Summary: One-shot. Missing scene for Life of the Party
. Spike really hates Halloween.
Halloween. Bloody fucking stupid holiday filled with bloody fucking stupid people walking around, dressed up, pretending to be things they weren’t -- pretending to be bigger and badder than they actually were. Strikes a little too close to home, doesn’t it?
Spike stifled a hiss of fury at the unbidden thought, continued to stare at the litter-strewn sidewalk as he aimlessly walked and walked. Jack-o-lanterns grinned maniacally at him from inside assorted shops.
“Strikes a little too close to home.” Angel had told him that, in a fit of exasperation, after he had gone to see about tagging along with Lorne and Angel to go see the great Arse Duke. Spike had looked out at all of the Halloween proceedings and given a despairing sigh, and Angel had finally blown up and summoned up a round of psychological insults that would have made Angelus proud, pointing out Spike’s uselessness, both past and present, and subtly pointing out the fronts that Spike put up for everyone to see. Spike had finally decided to take the hint and leave the premises accordingly, before they could get into Buffy territory, because Spike didn’t think he could take it that night.
He’d been stepping about for a good 24 hours now, thinking that it was a bitch that ghosts didn’t sleep, because that would have been a better way to pass the time. He’d tried it once -- sleeping as a ghost. In Wolfram and Hart’s basement, since he didn’t want anyone catching him at it. He’d thought he had nearly nodded off when he became alert to the fact that a fucking rat
was crawling through him. He hadn’t tried to sleep again.
He’d been out all night and day, and now it was night again. He’d watched as the crowds of people slowly seeped into their costumes, steadily riling himself into a much bitter anger. Now, he made sure he’d steered toward a part of town that was mostly empty -- no trick-or-treaters in an area where there were no neighborhoods, and everyone else was settled up in clubs or other local parties a few streets away. He did meet the occasional drunken group that would come walking unsteadily by, laughing uproariously, too loud and dumb with alcohol to notice the man who looked real enough, but really wasn’t.
A high pitched shrieking laughter reached his ears, and he glanced up to see some bird dressed in a frilly housemaid costume -- the seventh one he’d seen that day, he wagered -- which he would have found sexy if his capacity for any type of sexual bodily function had gone after he had died. She was leaning a bare shoulder on a guy wearing a pair of vampire fangs with a bit of blood make-up smeared near his mouth. That
pissed him off, and instead of choosing the logical choice of crossing the street to avoid the pair, he kept on straight for them.
If Spike had been possessed of an actual body, the lurching pair would have headed straight into him and knocked him flat on his arse. As it was, they just stumbled right through him. He turned a glaring eye on them, feeling malicious glee as they paused and turned to belatedly acknowledge him with drunken terror. He’d half a mind to give in to the urge to run up to them, vamped and snarling -- give the morons a right scare. But he stopped himself at the last moment and shook his head, muttering under his breath as he turned and continued on. It wasn’t worth it.
He rubbed an aggravated hand over his face, more of a habit than anything else, because he didn’t actually have that sense of touch. Sometimes, if he really wanted it, he could feel a spark of…something. But it was fleeting, and he would get so tired -- mentally, at least -- and he had stopped trying to reenact the feeling, stopped trying to make it stronger.
Another side-effect of the depression, he found, was that his ability to come in contact with the corporeal world had begun to fade. His little mug-grabbing game had ceased to matter to him, as his ability to want waned considerably. A bit funny, that. If there was ever something he was good at, something everyone knew him for, it was his wanting, his desires, useless though they were half the time.
He could still see, and hear, and speak, and that should have been enough. And, though he longed for that final rest, some days more than others, he knew that wherever he would be heading was going to be anything but restful. So, this should have been enough.
But no, what he really wanted now was a chance to be back, to be corporeal flesh and blood. To be able to do something rather than just exist in such a mindless world. He wanted to be able to affect things, to bloody matter. He had so much to offer, and it felt like such a scandal that now he couldn’t, even though it had only been recently that he had found such a passion for helping others. It was like the sodding Powers That Be wanted
him to be cheated out of the chance at atoning for any of his wrongs.
And perhaps they did. Already had their little golden boy, didn’t they? Not like they needed another one. A hundred years past and he was still getting stuck as second rate to Angelus. And now, as a ghost, he couldn’t even bloody get away from that fact, stuck in his grandsire’s city for all eternity.
Sighing, Spike raised a hand before himself and stared at the pale skin contrasting with the blackness of his sleeve. He would often do this -- stare at his clothes in a sort of perplexed bitterness, and wonder why it was that ghosts tended to appear in the same outfits that they had been wearing when they kicked it. The same jeans, the same shoes -- hell, he even still had his jacket -- they had all passed over with him, even though in all actuality, the real counterparts had been burned to ash with the rest of him.
He shuddered in remembrance and hugged his arms tightly to his body; the one thing he wouldn’t have minded losing was the memory of his death, the fire eating away at his skin and eyes.
His eyes. That was the memory that stood out the most vividly in his mind. They’d stung the entire time the sunlight had filtered through him, and burned viciously even before the rest of him had begun to incinerate. The film holding together the jelly of his eyes had broken apart in those last moments, before crisping together with the rest of him.
He passed by a stripper joint and didn’t even spare it a glance -- didn‘t even have the slightest urge to pass his head through the wall to take a peak inside. That should have been a major clue as to just how depressed he had become, despite the fact he no longer had the ability to feel arousal.
Didn’t even know why he had chosen to continue his wandering on this night -- he knew he couldn’t leave the city. At least he had more room to roam, unlike those stories you heard about spooks condemned to one shoddy house, forever doomed to moan and groan at whichever particular unfortunate family took up residence.
But he really didn’t want to be present for Angel’s little shindig, because he knew that seeing all of those bodies dancing together and not being able to suitably join in (what good was dancing if you couldn’t come in contact with anyone?) would just get him more down, and he’d always gotten a bit moody, come Halloween.
Listlessly, he turned to walk through the wall of a Laundromat. He didn’t even lift his head to look at the single elderly man who was seated in front of a working dryer, staring blankly at the clothes as they were tossed and tossed. Just walked on by, ignoring the startled gasp and faint yelling as the man reacted in fear. Not to worry, gramps, looks like your time’s nearly up, too.
Through a wall again, and then he was in a dark alley. The sound of whimpering filled his ears, and he saw some bloke pressing a girl in a pink dress up against the wall, talking to her in hushed tones about what a bitch she was to look at another man that way, while the girl‘s fright increased by the second. She looked to be in her early twenties, and strangely, had no costume to be seen -- nor did the man harassing her, whose slightly slurred speech indicated a certain amount of alcohol imbibed. He looked human, but without his sense of smell Spike couldn’t tell for sure. Usually vampires looking for a meal wore their demon faces like a badge of honor before they went in for the kill.
Spike clenched his jaw, but his mind was dull as he stared at the two. He came across this type of scene much too often these days, and he wondered why he felt the need to repeatedly visit the dark alleyways where such things occurred. Backing up, he was about to turn and leave the scene before it got ugly, when he felt the atmosphere suddenly drop to a freezing temperature -- which immediately grabbed his attention, because he hadn’t been able to perceive temperature since his “crossing over.”
Turning around to glance at the pair against the wall, he was shocked to see that they were completely frozen, like someone had turned on the pause button on the world around him and left only him able to play. Spike grew suspicious, and a bit nervous, glancing about warily. An eerie fog began to creep across the concrete of the alley, moving about in little curling wisps.
Then he felt a presence behind him. Didn’t need to see it, couldn‘t hear it -- just knew that it was there, like that telltale tingle he would sometimes get when a Slayer was near. But he somehow knew exactly what this was, and it was the farthest thing from a Slayer.
Spike felt a sense of resignation fill him, and his shoulders slumped, a voice at the back of his mind cracking that this was just what he needed to make his night complete. If he’d still been able to, this would have been the part where he’d take out a fag and indulge in a few hits.
“Took you long enough, mate,” he muttered, turning his head to face the newcomer.
Standing before him, a good seven feet high, was a being wearing a flowing, black robe. One long sleeve rippled away from the thing’s body, covering the arm that led to the deathly white, skeletal hand that curled placidly around a long staff holding up a wicked looking sharp silver scythe. Under the hood, a bleached skull stared out at him with empty eye-sockets, the jaw and teeth forever held in a macabre grin. It stood tall, powerful, and silent.
So, time to meet the real Reaper, then.
Spike raised an eyebrow, forced down his fear as he gave the demon a once-over. “Well, seems like you’ve got no problem sticking to the clichés.”
He saw no discernable movement of the jaw, and thus was suitably startled at the deep, vibrating voice that answered. “There’s a reason that it has become a cliché.”
Spike blinked twice, straightened, and turned to face the thing fully. God, he wished he could still smoke. “Suppose so. So, why are you here? Come to take me somewhere special?” He shoved his hands into his coat pockets. “Bit late for our date, aren‘t you?”
The thing was completely still, the eyes of the skull gaping and revealing the shadowed abysses behind them. “I have arrived to escort you to your final resting place.”
Spike tilted his head and regarded the darkly cloaked figure with narrowed eyes. “This…’resting place’ wouldn’t happen to end in double ‘l’ and smell a bit like fire and stone of brim, would it?”
“It has many names.”
“Right.” Spike felt real terror start to nip at him, and tried to affect a nonchalant tone. “Listen, uh, not that I’m trying to be ungrateful or anything, but I’m doing just fine where I am.”
The hooded head was unmoving, but he could feel the thing’s eyes boring holes in him. “Your time on this planet, on its surface, has come to an end.”
“No, see, that’s where you’re wrong.” Spike despised the note of pleading that crept into his voice. “I’m not done yet, not by far.”
The Reaper was unsympathetic. “You wander aimlessly, uncaring as to your direction. Your aura exudes despair, because you cannot offer anything more to this world. You no longer care for life. You are done.”
“This is because I got a little depressed?” Spike asked. “I’m okay, now, mate. Honest. Good as new. In fact, think I’ll go skip the rest of the way home.” He turned to make a break for it, and found that his legs wouldn’t follow his commands. Desperately, he tried to lift his feet, grunting as he struggled, but whatever was holding him didn’t give an inch.
He turned wide eyes on the thing, swallowing, and distantly wondering at the fact that he couldn’t even feel the saliva get pulled down his throat. “Look, there’s still things I have to do. People I’ve gotta help. It’s not my time. It can’t be. Not yet…”
“Why?” He was shouting then, anger surging inside and making him bold. “Who is it that gets to decide I have to go? The same blokes who thought it would be a right romp for me to get stuck here in the first place? Yeah, I don’t want to be a ghost. Big fucking surprise.” And then he was holding a finger up, pissed and pointing at the thing like he was bigger than Death itself. “How about you
wander about, unable to smell, to taste, to bloody feel
for a few weeks, and see how much you like it. I can’t touch anything, can’t affect the world in the slightest.” He lowered his hand, shaking his head with a small laugh, the anger draining out of him. Still, he managed enough to summon up a defiant stare as he continued. “So there’s really no reason for you to collect me up and send me to hell, mate, ‘cause I’m already bloody there.”
Spike turned and stared at the pair against the wall, not able to physically feel but knowing that there were tears about to brim in his eyes. A second later, his vision blurred, which he really didn’t understand, because they weren’t even real tears. Pissed, he wiped a hand rapidly across his eyes.
Where had he lost it? The ability to care? Had everything really piled up so much that he was growing numb from it all? Only thing he knew was that he’d never experienced such depths of cold in his soul until he’d become a ghost, not even when he’d been at his lowest. It seemed that his capability to feel emotions was just fading away, fading like the rest of him had faded. Ironic that now he was forsaking the very things that had driven him to sacrifice everything.
What would Buffy have thought if she knew what he had become?
The thought made the rest of him lurch in guilt, and he no longer wanted to go down the same path. He wanted to hold onto his passions, fleeting though they now were, and nurse them back to health. He wanted to feel like his big bad self again.
“Listen,” he said, “you can go ahead and try to take me. But I’m not going without a fight, unless you let me do something first. And not because I‘m scared, though you bloody well know I am.” He turned to face the thing again. “Because I’m not done yet.“ Spike pointed a thumb at the scene behind him. “I was just going to walk away from her, because I thought I was useless, and I couldn‘t really summon up enough to give a damn. Just keep on going and let the bastard do to her whatever he was going to do.” He lowered his hand. “Was too engulfed with my own problems, and on the fact that I sodding hate Halloween, because people get stupid, and there’re probably a million other crimes going on this bloody moment, maybe a lot worse than this.”
The Reaper stared at him hollowly, silent in the slowly trickling fog that still writhed about the ground.
Spike sniffed. “I’m not, now. Going to walk away. I don’t want to. Just let me have this one thing, yeah? Let me help her -- chase the wanker off. Then you can take me to hell, or wherever you damn well please.”
And then he was done, staring with lips pursed, chin up, waiting for reprieve or damnation. Death continued to do nothing for a long while, so long that Spike for a moment wondered if he hadn’t frozen with the rest of the world, too.
Then the skeletal fingers on the staff were shifting, bones creaking as the thing turned its black gaze away from him, and slowly began to move away, smoothly, like he was on a conveyor belt. Spike blinked in confusion, was about to open his mouth again in question, when suddenly the chill of the area rose back to an imperceptible temperature and the world started again. The Reaper had disappeared in the span of his blinking, as had the ominous, over-the-top fog.
He stared in blank confusion for a while longer, before soft mewls and begging caught his ears, and he turned to see the man with the woman again, continuing on where they had left off. Spike let rage fill him, hot and searing and fucking brilliant, like the fires of the amulet. He drew himself up, stalking determinedly towards them, moving so that he was half in the wall that they were leaning against. Since there was no sound to his footsteps, the wanker didn’t even notice he was there until he was suddenly there,
half sticking out of the woman the man was terrorizing.
He glared into the guy’s face, vamped and growled. “Hey,” he said darkly.
The man stumbled back in shocked surprise with a shout, falling on his arse, while the woman began to scream. Spike winced, but forced himself to pay her no mind as he advanced on the prat, who was now scrambling away on the dirty ground, too terrified to be coordinated enough to get up.
The man‘s back hit the opposite wall of the alley, and he was babbling in fright as Spike snarled in his face. “You stay the hell away from her, and every other helpless girl you come across, or so help me, I’ll sneak into your room at night and rip your heart from your chest. Hear that? I‘ll come in and just --” He stuck his incorporeal hand through the man’s chest, smirking at the terrified shout. “Rip. It. Right. Out.” He pulled his hand back, and moved away, pointing down the alleyway exit. “Now get the hell away.”
The man used the wall to lurch to his feet, blubbering in terror, then bolted as fast as his legs would carry him out of the alley. Spike shook his head, changing back to his human face before he turned to the girl, who was still shrunk against the wall, and tried what he hoped was a pleasant smile. “Go on, then,” he murmured, gesturing in the opposite way he had directed the man. “I won’t hurt you. Chased him away, didn‘t I?”
The girl stared at him in absolute horror, but managed to gather herself enough and nod in blank fear before she took off, sniffling. Spike watched as she disappeared around the corner, then sighed.
“All right, you can come and get me, now, if you want, tosser.” he said, extending his arms outward dramatically, disappointed that the moment was over.
He stood that way for a few long moments. But nothing.
Spike lowered his arms. “Listen,” he said, a bit impatiently, but with rising hope. “If you’re not going to come, I’m not going to wait for you.” He cocked his head, listening, trying to feel for the slightest sign that the Reaper was returning.
When still nothing came, Spike inhaled and let out a mighty, shuddering breath. Hesitantly, he began to walk towards the entrance of the alley, warily glancing about. When he reached the sidewalk again, and the light of the streetlamps, he shrugged, a half smile coming on his face. He didn’t know if he’d been granted a few more days or hours, or if this was a permanent thing. But he wasn’t going to waste it. After all, he was sure it wasn’t often that Death decided he could wait.
After a few more ghostly rescues, Spike headed back to Wolfram and Hart, satisfied that he was back again. (He’d even gone back to apologize to the elderly bloke at the Laundromat, but unfortunately, that had caused more harm than good.)
He planned to head straight up to Angel’s office, and not even spare a glance at any of the Halloween festivities, let the bastard know with a round of some of his more perfected insult etiquette that he hadn’t gotten to him completely, not this time.
So it was that Spike had absolutely no idea how he found himself nearly directly in the center of the dance floor, staring about morosely at the assorted demons, people and Halloween decorations, his mood plummeting lower and lower. Could have been the shining orange lights that had snagged him, or the grinning gargoyle statue, or the fucking bloody skull on the snack table with the tomatoes snug in the eye sockets and the celery hanging out of its mouth like a cigar.
He was trying to brighten himself up by imagining the Reaper being similarly adorned when Harmony was suddenly next to him. Oh, come on, now, I nearly had it,
he thought, turning and letting Harmony know in no uncertain terms that no, he wouldn’t dance with her and she was crazy for even suggesting it. But the ditzy bird was too high on her own happiness to even so much as give a pout at his words, simply dismissing him with a “Then what are you even doing here?” in response to his moping and going back to her dancing.
Spike shook his head, repeating her words to himself and moving with every intention of forcing himself out of this place and end this disturbing masochism, and immediately found himself face to face with Angel and Lorne.
Angel’s head tilted, a small smirk pulling at the corners of his mouth. It's nearly imperceptible, but Spike can see it, and he knew very well why it was there. The tosser knew that he had been avoiding him. “Yeah, Spike, I thought you hated these things.”
Without missing a beat, Spike replied, “Would have thought the same of you
.” And felt a bit of triumph fill inside at the resounding glare that followed.