[n] an opening deliberately made in or through something;
[n] a fault;
[n] an opening into or through something;
[n] a depression hollowed out of solid matter;
[n] an unoccupied space.
A Hole in Their World
The silence on the flight back to Los Angeles was deafening. Spike and Angel sat across from each other, both staring silently out of their respective windows. In spite of the fact that Angel’s decision to save Fred’s life over the fate of possibly hundreds of thousands of innocent people had been rendered moot, the decision itself weighed heavily on both men.
In talking with Drogyn, Angel had called both he and Spike champions. Yet, the word itself had long become a millstone around his neck. To be labeled a champion made it sound as if all his choices were clear-cut – always made for the right reason, for the greater good. The needs of the many outweighed the needs of the one, or the few. But how did ‘the champion’ react today, when given the choice? He’d said “To hell with the world.” in order to save the life of Fred. Winifred Burkle. His employee and co-worker. His friend.
Over the course of his long unlife, Angel could count the number of friends on one hand. Fred was one. He smiled as he remembered his sojourn to Pylea, and her subsequent rescue from ‘cow’ status. Not to mention Cordy. His Cordelia. A true friend, and more. Gone from his life so recently.
Thinking of Cordelia inevitably brought up memories of Doyle. Alan Francis Doyle – half Brachen demon, his seer; his first conduit to the Powers That Be. Friend, also deceased.
Seems that being labeled a friend of his was a sure-fire death sentence.
Wes had been a friend, at one time, before his betrayal had caused the loss of his infant son, Connor. Who nobody remembered, courtesy of Angel’s unilateral champion’s decision to change the world; to give his then troubled teenaged son a better life. The last time he had chosen the needs of the one over the needs of the many.
Problem was, Wes no longer remembered the betrayal. He had no clue as to his ‘non-friend’ status, and Angel couldn’t tell him.
With his head in his hands, Angel wondered by what stretch of the imagination he could possibly still be called a champion.
He thought of Buffy, the girl he’d loved until the happiness tore away his very soul, thanks to the Romany curse, and he thought of Spike. Taking a deep, unneeded breath, he realized he couldn’t separate those two, even in his own thoughts.
Angel had tried to justify his continued relationship with Buffy once his soul had been restored. She was his friend, he’d told to one and all. That didn’t go down well with several people – Joyce, for one – and Spike, for another.
Angel swiveled in his seat to look at the platinum blond, and recalled with perfect clarity how the younger vampire had told off both Buffy and himself in regards to the ‘just friends’ issue. “You're *not* friends,” he’d said. “You'll never be friends. You'll be in love till it kills you both. You'll fight, and you'll shag, and you'll hate each other till it makes you quiver, but you'll never be friends. Love isn't brains, children, it's blood... blood screaming inside you to work its will.” So, not friends with Buffy. Which left…
Spike. The pain in his ass who’d been in his life since 1880. Childe of his childe, Drusilla. Thought him no more than an insolent pup when Dru brought him around after his turning. For twenty years they’d hunted, fed, fought and fucked their way through Europe. They stood together in defense of their family unit against all odds. Unfortunately, it all came to an end thanks to his lousy choice of the wrong entrée.
Still, tonight they’d fought together, once again in defense of family, remembering old strategies with ease. If there was anything he could be certain about, it was Spike’s feelings of loyalty and friendship towards Fred. And, if pressed, Angel would be forced to admit the strain in their own relationship had been easing. Yeah, they still fought like cats and dogs, but the deep rooted anger and hatred had been replaced by a more benign rivalry, and a grudging respect.
Sighing quietly to himself, he turned to face the window once more, as he thought about the holes in his life and heart, where four of his friends had been, and wondered if he’d ever trust his judgment again.
Bloody hell, he thought. The old man’s sighing was loud enough to wake the dead. He offered no words of comfort, as there was none to be had. They’d lost family tonight. Fred was as close to Spike as anyone had been in recent history. He’d put her on par with his Niblet, Dawn, at least before he’d bollixed things up with Buffy. His estrangement from Dawn was one of his biggest regrets. And as far as he knew, neither Dawn nor her sister knew he was back amongst the unliving. Carefully keeping his face turned towards the window, Spike allowed his tears to fall.
He wasn’t prone to brooding like his grandsire. Spike had been thrilled beyond measure to have an actual target to focus on. The fight in the woods brought back memories of old times; camaraderie and bed partners, and shared adventures. It had been just Angelus and William back in St. Pete. The women had been off to see the Master, Darla’s Sire. Spike shuddered at the memory of his presentation to the Aurelian line before the Master’s court. That old bat was not someone he’d cared to spend any time with. He’d heard tales from Angelus that made his blood curdle and had been absurdly happy when he had summoned Darla and Drusilla, alone.
For a time, he’d considered Angelus a friend. Yeah, one who beat him senseless and shagged him blind at a whim – one who demanded blind obedience as his right – but a friend, nevertheless. What had he called him? Another rooster in the henhouse. A couple of cocks of the walk.
Shifting slightly in his seat, Spike turned his head to glance at the vampire who, for all intents and purposes, was his Sire. Bound to him by blood and hatred for so long, he was relieved that the mere sight of each other was no longer grounds for mortal combat. Both being amongst the ensouled variety of vampire these days helped shore up their similarities and paved the way towards reconciliation. They would never go and pick out china patterns, but to have a mate with their history? Wouldn’t turn him away.
Mates, friends – the words brought fresh tears to his eyes. Alive, he’d had no mates to speak of. Nobody to share his interests or dreams with. He’d been surrounded by contemporaries who’d done nothing but ridicule him about everything from his dress to his pathetic attempts at poetry.
As a vampire, he’d had his ‘family,’ who were just as prone to isolate and humiliate him. Darla had been a bitch – jealous of any time spent with Angelus that hadn’t included being whipped and bloodied raw at her command. Drusilla, bloody mad luv that she was, lived in her own head so much of the time, that William wasn’t even a thought.
He’d become Spike – all balls and swagger - to try and banish his miserable, lonely existence. Shoved all of William as deep below the surface as he could – so far down he could never be hurt by anyone. Had it all sorted, right and proper, too. Until Sunnyhell.
Mortal enemies, reluctant allies, wary compatriots… lovers. Ex-lovers. Finally, in those days before he’d gone up like a Roman candle, they’d been… what? He couldn’t put the words to it. Friends? He recalled his little oh so clever speech to Angel and Buffy, when he’d told them they weren’t friends and never would be. But, Buffy had been in love with Angel, and thereby lay the difference. While Spike had been in love with the Slayer, he knew she didn’t love him back – at least, not in the same way. There was something… more than friendship, but very much less than love.
It was that uncertainly – the inability to quantify just where they stood – that stayed his hand and kept him from contacting the girl. At least he knew that she was proud of him when he’d fought and died, protecting them all. Cared enough to try and ease his death with her words.
Now? He was afraid of the awkwardness of the situation, and the more time that passed, the more difficult it would be. He knew that being her obligation would kill him. By extension, that ruled Dawn out, as well. Still, his heart broke for his missing Summers women. There would always be a family shaped hole in his heart for Joyce, Buffy and Dawn.
At last, his thoughts turned to Fred. He had truly considered Winifred Burkle to be his first and only real friend at Wolfram & Hart. She’d fought to save him when he was but a ghosty, and everyone else had been more than eager to let him fade to obscurity and a waiting hell. She never asked him for anything, and he never expected anything from her – but she gave of herself without compunction. No strings, just because.
And now she was gone.
With all they’d been through recently, with all the people lost to him, Spike wondered if he’d ever trust his heart again.
When they landed in Los Angeles, they both looked at each other and left the plane. No words were spoken.
No words needed.