The snow falls silent and thick, a white curtain of cold that muffles his footsteps. He draws the thick furs closer, as if to keep out the chill. He hasn’t been warm in over 20 years, but he’s always known how to keep up appearances.
The glint of the moonlight throws the spires of the church into stark relief against the blue-black sky. Spike smiles as he makes his way down the river – a quick nip into the church and he’ll still be in time to meet Drusilla for a dance. She loves Russia – a land of feasting and famine, she tells him, where the heart of the Tsar beats frailly against the golden cage of death.
No bloody idea what she means by that, but the rest he understands well enough. The bodies pile up in the snow – dead soldiers, dead peasants, and those whose bodies are never found. Like the priest he’s paying a call on tonight.
Nothing like a bit of undercover assassination to pay the rent, he thinks in satisfaction.
Spike doesn’t know the particulars. Some courtier so offended by a sermon that they’re willing to shell out for the death of a holy man? A Tsarist bureaucrat tidying up a loose end with a fistful of rubles? He doesn’t care. What’s one more trickle in this flood of death?
He strides up to the large wooden door, past a ragged beggar huddled inside the slight arch. The wind stirs the air, setting the snow dancing around him. As his fingers clasp the sturdy metal ring, he catches the faintest whiff of a barely remembered scent.
“Angelus?” he asks, turning to glance over his shoulder.
The huddled mass in the doorway stirs and Spike can only watch, astonished, as the face of his Sire emerges from the bundle of rags.
“You’ll never pass for human, wearing those rags in this weather,” he observes numbly.
“Seems like you’re doing well enough for the both of us, “Angelus ripostes calmly.
“Well enough,” Spike concedes. “Easy enough to be successful if you’re willing to kill without asking inconvenient questions.”
“That why you’re here tonight?” Angelus asks softly.
“Yeah, just be a moment,” Spike answers. “I’ll finish the priest and we can head out for something a bit more…”
Angelus waves his hand dismissively. “No need,” he interrupts. “What did you think I was doing here?”
Spike doesn’t answer. He has no idea what Angelus would be doing in the doorway of a church, but whatever it was, it didn’t involve killing the priest. Spike can hear the thick, heavy thump of a frightened heartbeat just behind the heavy wooden door.
If Angelus had paid the good father a visit, this church would echo with the stillness of the grave. Spike inclines his head, flashing a wry grin that he hopes masks his confusion. Whatever bloody game Angelus is playing, Spike is sure he’ll reveal it soon enough.
“Saves me the trouble,” Spike says genially. “What’s say we get you cleaned and dressed for a night out? Dru’d be happy to…”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, “Angelus interrupts again. “She’d only work herself into a fury and then it’s an entire night of untangling. Besides, I came here to see you.”
Spike can barely keep the astonishment from his face. It’s a load of bollocks. This is a diversion – a feint away from Angelus’ true interest, whatever that might be.
“I’m touched,” Spike answers, following as Angelus leads him away from the church door.
“No,” Angelus replies softly. “You’re not.”
“No,” Spike agrees. “ ‘M not. You can play the doting daddy with Dru, but we both know you’ve kicked dogs with more affection than you show me.”
It’s not true, and he really only says it to provoke Angelus. They are tied by blood and that is stronger than friendship or hatred. But there are too many false notes in the tune Angelus is playing for this whole rigmarole to be a mere charity visit from the Sire.
Angelus holds out a hand, his fingers tracing a path through the fur of Spike’s greatcoat. “We’re the same blood, William. And I am weary.”
Spike snorts, swinging open the tall gate that guards the church’s dead. “It’s Spike, mate. Now, are you coming or you just interested in the sound of your own very dull voice?”
Spike moves forward, wending his way through the snow-covered graves. The sound of heavy footsteps tells him Angelus is right behind him. The crypts are only a few feet away and it’s as good a place as any to hole up for the night. There’ll be hell to pay when Drusilla finds out, but that’s for tomorrow night.
He kicks in the door and motions Angelus forward with a dramatic flourish. “After you.”
There’s not much in the way of comforts, but Angelus seems strangely comfortable nonetheless. Very comfortable, actually – Spike watches wordlessly as he retrieves blankets and spreads them across the largest sarcophagus. This isn’t his first night sleeping amongst the bones of the dead.
“She told us.” Spike’s voice breaks the silence of the tomb. “After China.”
Angelus doesn’t respond. Spike watches him, eyes narrow, and he can see the strong muscles tense and tighten. Fight? Flight? Spike isn’t sure.
“Wasn’t sure I believed her at first,” he continues conversationally. “Darla kept rambling about a gypsy girl and a curse and some missionary’s brat. Complicated story, yeah?”
Angelus nods, a brief jerk of the head that Spike takes as a signal to move forward.
“She said she’d burn you if she got a chance. Burn the filthy soul right out of you, if I remember correctly.” Spike said softly.
“If I thought it would help,” Angelus replies, “I’d let her.”
Spike closes his eyes, letting the words wash over him. He doesn’t know what to do – burn him? Hug him? Pretend this hasn't happened?
When he stumbles in to Drusilla’s arms the next night, he won’t have a good explanation. He can’t tell her what happened and he can’t tell her why. He’s done what he can for Angelus - Angel, he’ll correct himself absently. He’ll reflect that a quiet night in a Russian crypt is the closest he’s ever been to his Sire.
“I’m touched,” he says finally.