Work Header

With a Shattered Pause

Work Text:

He stands in the darkness of a crypt, what seems like miles from the rest of the group. It's probably not that far, but it feels as though he's separated from them all, from Buffy's vaunted Scoobies and Cordy and Wes- and the casket, don't forget the casket- by an unbreachable chasm, too wide and deep and human for him to ever touch. It's just another reminder of his great failure- you left. She said she needed you, and you left- to be what she needed. 

Ahead of him, flirting with the sunlight at the mouth of the crypt, is a teenaged girl- Dawn? Little Dawn?- and a man hunched over with age and grief, and he feels a twinge of irritation at the two, who've forced him further back from the gravesite with their mere presences. He doesn't want to face Dawn's accusing eyes now, and even as he marvels at his own self-centeredness, he can't quash the idea that he's responsible for Buffy's death, if only with his absence. 

Dawn moves from the man's side to wander over to Willow, who immediately pulls her into a deep hug, and Angel moves forward, sending a silent glare to the man still standing at the entrance. He has the sunlight. Why can't he embrace it?

As if hearing Angel's mind, the man straightens and takes a step into the light, just as Angel recognizes the hair and build and scent. He darts forward and yanks Spike back into the crypt, slapping at the parts of his hair that have already started to smoke. "What the hell, SpIke?" he hisses furiously, cognizant of the somber gathering yards away from them.

Blank eyes meet his. "Sod off, Angel. I gotta do this." Spike executes a feeble kick to Angel's knee and struggles to pull away, but there's little strength in his movements, and it's easy to keep him in place. 

"Typical," Angel growls, pinning him to the side of the crypt. "You can't even let B- let her get some peace without making this about you."

"You don't know anything," Spike mutters, and there's a fierce rage building behind his eyes, one Angel hasn't seen in decades. "Not about this. About her."

"I know more than you ever will," Angel retorts, and words he knows can't possibly be true of this broken man escape his mouth. "What, you failed to get your third and this is your last, desperate cry for attention? 'Look at me, I can die, too?'" 

A laugh is torn from Spike, high and loud and more than a little crazed. A few faces in the cemetery turn to glare at them, and he wraps a hand around Spike's neck and tightens it until he stops. He's still giggling lowly as he sinks to the ground, tears of mirth pouring down his face, and then they're just tears. "I killed her," he chokes out. "'d wager nobody told you that part. I'm the one who killed her."

A coldness steals over him as he regards Drusilla's get, crouched into a ball on the ground, one hand limp and millimeters from the light, as though straining still for the death it deserves.  "Willow said there was a hellgod."

Spike's fist clenches. "She was counting on me. She said so. One job- one sodding job!- and I failed her at that." Reddened eyes look up at him, and not for the first time, he envies Spike's ability to cry freely in the face of grief. "I'm the reason she's gone, so shut your gob and let me do this!"

"Selfish moron," Angel murmurs, but he falls back against the wall of the crypt wearily. He'd come for a funeral, not to be saddled with babysitting duty for an hysterical vampire. Somewhere up there, Buffy's probably laughing. He isn't. 

And then Spike's tears are drying up again, and he clambers up awkwardly, avoiding Angel's gaze. 

"Don't-" Angel starts warningly. 

"I won't," Spike says unconvincingly.

They stand in silence as a priest arrives and speaks quietly with Giles. Beside him is Dawn, and as Angel watches, she tosses a worried glance at Spike and then mouths 'thank you' to Angel. He's not sure for what. For keeping Spike busy? For keeping him quiet? For keeping him alive? 

"I loved her," Spike says defiantly, and Angel isn't even a little surprised. 

"It's next to impossible not to," he agrees, and they stare at each other for a moment as all their defenses fade away, as grief and love and unabashed longing lie naked on both their faces. And Angel thinks he's beginning to understand his wayward protege, who's failed nearly as much as he has at being a vampire. "Tell me about her," he whispers, because he knows that Spike will know better than anyone. "Tell me who she was at the end." He doesn't really know anymore, does he?

Spike begins in a halting voice, but his words come deeper and faster as he goes on, his melodious eulogy drowning out the priest's trite one, and Angel drinks it all in with wonder and sorrow. By the end, they're somehow inside the crypt- though Angel can't remember how he'd gotten there- drunk out of their minds, and he's buried inside Spike as they both heave gasping sobs. 

It's just about sunset when he regains himself and Spike tenses, awaiting the end of their temporary truce. Angel strokes the side of his neck once before he turns to go find his friends and head back to LA. "Don't dust yourself," he orders. 

"Why not?"

"She wouldn't like it." He pulls away abruptly. "It's going to take a superhuman to handle Dawn, anyway."

"Yeah," Spike agrees wryly. "But an evil, soulless monster?" His words are harsh, but his tone is oddly vulnerable, and Angel nearly kisses him for the first time that night. He doesn't, of course.

"No," he murmurs. "Just you."

He opens the crypt door and steps out into the night.