[personal profile] thecarlysutra
TITLE: A Place Called Home
RATING: R
FANDOM: BtVS/AtS
PAIRING: Angel/Spike
SPOILERS: Set directly after the events of “You’re Welcome.”
SUMMARY: The things Angel doesn’t understand could fill a fucking book.
NOTES: For Kita, because she asked. I hope you like it.

The problem with being a martyr is that you have to die first.

Angel isn’t stupid, but there’s a lot he doesn’t understand. How airplanes don’t fall from the sky. The whims of fashion. This American Idol thing. And, more than anything, the laws that govern his life. It should have been him; he had earned it. Cordelia. Doyle. It should have been him.

But maybe the true punishment is that he has to live. Through everything. Forever. He has to live.

Fear of death is nothing compared to fear of an eternity without life.

He doesn’t understand. But he’s the leader, they look to him, so he has to pretend. He enters the bar to find them together, laughing, but the weight upon him is so grievous and so obvious that the moment they see him, they fall silent. And Angel has to explain, even though he doesn’t understand, himself. And he’s so numbed by grief that he can neither form the words nor hear them; he’s vaguely aware, somewhere, that his mouth is moving, his throat and chest in fabricating the breath to push the horrible words out, but he is merely a conduit. The words just move through him; it’s not his fault.

Only it is. It is definitely his fault.

Angel finishes speaking, and his friends cry and reach out for him, but he can’t. He’s so exhausted from pretending to understand, and he’ll just kill them, too. It’s for the best. Angel trips out into the dark, wet night.

He can’t stand to go back there, to his prison and her grave. The place where he lives, but not his home. He has no home; he has built his home in women – Darla, Buffy, Cordelia – but they’ve all died and left him. Adrift. And so he walks through the dark streets, a specter among the living, breathing, hopeful people walking through their city.

How people keep trying, how they keep the faith – this is something he does not understand.

“This is a bad neighborhood, nancy. Picking up some extra quid selling that wide, pale ass?”

Angel stops, turns for the voice. He wonders how long Spike has been following him, how lost he must have been to not notice.

Very. Very lost. That’s a given.

“Not tonight, Spike. Any night but tonight.”

And Spike doesn’t say anything. He stares, blue eyes icing through Angel – damn those eyes – his mouth an unsound testament to indecision. Finally, he shrugs, lights a cigarette, pale smoke rising around him, distorting his face in a hazy veil.

Angel starts away, back to his wandering. But then Spike is before him, in his path, thin fingers arresting his wrist.

“Come on, mate,” Spike says. “Let’s have a drink.”

“I don’t—” Angel says, but can’t decide where to end. He is very tired.

“Don’t give me that hero party line,” Spike says. “Did you wake up today not a Mick?”

Sometimes it’s just easier not to fight.

***

Angel is two-thirds a bottle of Bushmills in. Spike has, Angel is still sober enough to realize, been exhibiting uncharacteristic restraint; he’s mostly been smoking, though he’s knocked out a few beers. They are in a nowhere bar, in a booth in the back, which is just fine with Angel because he wants to be unseen, invisible. If they can’t see him, they won’t know what he’s done.

“She was the best of all of us,” Angel says, in lieu of nothing.

“Cordelia?” Spike asks, stabbing his cigarette out on the table. “People always say that kind of thing when someone’s dead.”

“I think I mean it.”

Spike lights another cigarette. With the butt dangling from his lip, he begins the two-handed task of peeling the label off an empty beer bottle.

“She was all right, as humans go. Always said what she meant; I like that. Plus, the legs on her—”

Angel flinches. “Don’t.”

Spike sets the beer bottle, only half-stripped, back on the table, and just studies Angel for a long moment.

“All right,” he says finally, softly.

“Is it my fault?” Angel asks. If anyone will tell him how he’s fucked up, it’s Spike.

“No,” says Spike. “Not unless you’re in control of the Powers That Be and Cordelia herself and medical science. And I just don’t give you that much credit.”

“I couldn’t save her,” Angel says. “I couldn’t even see it coming—”

“Listen, hero,” Spike says. “It’s not your job to save everyone.”

“I’m not talking about everyone. I’m talking about Cordelia.”

Spike holds his tongue for the second time in one night.

***

The bar is closing, and the barkeep comes over to hustle them out. Angel now has enough alcohol in his veins that a human would be dead, and has sunk so far down the slick pleather of the booth that his knees are jammed between Spike’s across the table.

“All right, nancy,” Spike says, rising from his seat – somewhat awkwardly, tripping over Angel’s legs – “they’re giving us the boot. Let’s get out of here before the flames and pitchforks.”

Angel doesn’t move. His body feels very heavy.

“I don’t want . . .” Angel says.

Spike comes around to Angel’s side of the booth. He studies the old man for a second, considers the logistics of picking up his heavy sire and lugging him out of the booth and the many blocks home.

“You’re going to have to get up,” Spike says.

“I don’t,” Angel says, not even making it to the verb this time.

Spike sighs, then bends, slips his arms around Angel’s immovable frame. Angel smells like liquor and grief, the sharp odor of the alcohol contrasting harshly with the old tears and grave earth softness of the emotion. Spike pauses. He has, over the course of his unnaturally long life, felt pity for Angel many times. For his soul and his occasional horrible hair choices, for all the obvious character flaws that kept the old man from being as cool as Spike. But that kind of pity was mostly of the comfortable in one’s superiority, hey isn’t that funny kind of pity. He has never before felt sorry for Angel and really felt for him. But he does now.

“Will,” Angel says, softly. Spike is bent against him, and Angel curls a hand around the back of his neck.

Spike looks away from the raw pain of Angel’s face. “Come on,” he says, his arms bracing Angel, and he begins to stand, to lift Angel to his feet.

Angel’s hand closes hard on Spike’s neck, to the point of pain. Reluctantly, Spike looks back to the old man’s face.

“How did this happen?” Angel asks. “It wasn’t always like this. We weren’t always like this.”

“We have souls now,” Spike says.

“Maybe we shouldn’t,” Angel says. His eyes are wild, desperate.

“You don’t mean that.”

“The bar is closed, ladies,” cuts a bored drawl from behind Spike. “You can do whatever freaky shit this is somewhere else.”

Spike turns to the beleaguered bartender. He starts with a cutting retort, but then feels it isn’t worth it, and turns back to helping Angel up.

But Angel is getting up on his own.

“You want to mind your own fucking business,” Angel says, pulling himself from the booth and taking a step in the man’s direction.

The bartender is not impressed. “Listen, pansy. I don’t care about your fucking business; believe me. I just need you to get out—”

There’s a growl – low, feral, familiar – and Angel is in game face and the bartender is running.

Spike is stunned. Usually the old man is so buttoned-down.

“Well, then,” Spike says, “that proves it. You’re much more fun when you’re drunk. ’Course, I always suspected as much.”

Angel sinks back into the booth. Spike has a sneaking suspicion that it’s because Angel is really too drunk to do more than menace, so he bends back down to help Angel up and out of the bar before the man comes back with an angry mob. But Angel doesn’t move.

“Spike,” he says. “I wanted to—”

“It was ‘Will’ earlier,” Spike says, not sure whether he’s teasing the old man or trying to win something from him.

Angel’s face softens. “Will,” he says.

Spike slips his hands around Angel’s torso, starts to hoist him up. “We should get out of here before your friend comes back.”

Angel resists, pulling back into the booth. Spike is pulled, too, and now they’re both in the slick seat, and very close. Angel brings his hand back to the nape of Spike’s neck, just rests it there. The weight of it is comfortable, but the reason behind it is unspecified and therefore uncomfortable, and Spike is torn.

“We need to go,” he says.

The weight on the back of Spike’s neck increases; Angel draws him close. And then Angel is kissing him, bluntly, desperately, and if anything, the grief smell, the smell of tears and the damp ozoney smell of the sky after the rain, just grows thicker and thicker.

Spike pulls away. “Angel. We need to go.”

“Please, Will,” Angel says, and his voice is weak and thin and he looks old, so old, not like Spike’s always teasing him about but like he could crumble away into dust any moment.

Spike hesitates, looks toward the door the bartender ran out. Angel’s fingers are five points of pure pain burning into his spine, and his voice is like nothing Spike has ever heard before – not from him, never from him – a rent sound, like something precious tearing, and Spike doesn’t want to look back because he does not – and this is the real shock – want to see Angel crying.

“Please, Will. Just—please.”

And Spike closes his eyes, and he turns back to Angel, and when Angel’s mouth again descends upon his, he reciprocates, moving against Angel, opening his mouth for him, drinking in the cloying ozone and the surprisingly bitter saline of Angel’s real tears. And when Angel falters, his hands unsure and shaking, Spike opens his eyes and he palms Angel’s jaw in his hand, and he presses him against the sticky cheap upholstery of the booth so hard that Angel stops shaking and just surrenders. His muscles beneath Spike’s hands, beneath Spike’s body, untense a bit, and a bitter lump rises in Spike’s throat. And he thinks about the hours of fantasy devoted to Angelus willingly submitting to him, and he wonders whether he’d be enjoying this if he’d never gotten a soul.

And he is grateful that he’ll never have to know.

Angel surges quietly against him, searching for friction, and Spike starts unbuttoning the old man’s shirt but halfway through he stops caring, and starts messing with his pants instead. The half-buttoned shirt hangs around Angel’s shoulders like sloughing wings, heavy and useless, but beneath his expensive pants Angel is hard, waiting. Spike unbuckles and unbuttons and unzips Angel, forces the fine fabric down past Angel’s hips, down until Angel’s position and the physical reality of the booth stop them. He is bending over Angel’s cock when Angel tautens again, and Spike changes game plan, straightening and taking Angel by the shoulders, pulling him up to his knees and then flipping him around, forcing him to his hands and knees facing the wall. Angel relaxes again, even as Spike is tugging his pants down to his knees, as he is positioning himself behind him. “Please,” he said. Spike can count on one hand the number of times he’s heard that word pass Angel’s lips. He can also count on one hand the number of times Angel has offered himself to him like this, and he wonders again whether he’d be enjoying this if he’d never gotten a soul.

***

Morning is pale on the horizon as they leave the bar. Angel walks slowly, face upturned, the last of the stars reflected in his eyes. He smells slightly less like ozone, but Spike can still smell it, even under the raw pungency of sex.

“Get a move on, nancy,” Spike says. “If we don’t hurry, I’ll burn to ashes walking you home. And you’re not worth it.”

Angel’s eyes flicker down briefly from the view of the heavens.

“You don’t have to walk me home,” he says. “That wasn’t a date.”

Spike smirks. “Don’t be bashful, gorgeous; I don’t care that you give it up on the first date.”

Angel looks back at the sky.

“You never did,” he says.

Together, they walk slowly home.

Date: 2008-07-30 04:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kita0610.livejournal.com
G-d, I love your Spike voice.

And OH, Angel! *wibble*

This was just what the Dr. ordered, baby. Thank you so so much.

Can I archive it?

Date: 2008-07-30 04:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Oh, yay! The thing I was most worried about writing this story was my Spike voice, so yay!

You're very welcome; I'm very pleased you liked it. And of course I'd be honored if you archived it. <3

ETA: And, obviously, thank you very much for the kind feedback. (Forgive me; I'm deficient this time of night.)

Date: 2008-07-30 04:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kita0610.livejournal.com
Dude, it's cool. I felt plenty thanked before. *smooch* LOVE.

Date: 2008-07-30 04:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] myhappyface.livejournal.com
It should have been him; he had earned it.

Dude, I don't even read Angel/Spike anymore, because of that whole all-consuming hatred thing, but when you make fic I have to read it, and you just break my heart with Angel like this, that scene I think I'm grateful I never had to watch on the show, delivering the death notice, and. Waaah.

Date: 2008-07-30 04:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

All-consuming hatred thing? I didn't know you had that. Tell me more.

I would not have made it through that scene.

Date: 2008-07-30 04:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] myhappyface.livejournal.com
It's mostly me wanting to vomit every time I see or think of Spike. Or are you being sarcastic? I can't tell. I think I need to go to bed.

It would have crushed me.

Date: 2008-07-30 04:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kita0610.livejournal.com
You wouldn't even read my Spike?

Now I am crushed.

Not that I have Spike for you to read atm.

Date: 2008-07-30 04:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] myhappyface.livejournal.com
Don't be ridiculous, I read everything you write. I read your Angel/Connor even when I didn't read Angel/Connor. I'm just saying, Spike is not the main attraction there.

Um. I loff you? DUN BE SAD!!

Date: 2008-07-30 04:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kita0610.livejournal.com
Hee.

I was teasing.

Mostly. I had a bad day and I require a baby aspirin and someone to tell me I AM PRETTY.

LOFF you TOO.

Date: 2008-07-30 04:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] myhappyface.livejournal.com
You are the prettiest princess ever! I would twirl you but you might vomit all over Carly's nice clean floor. :(

<333

Date: 2008-07-30 05:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kita0610.livejournal.com
Good plan! No twirling!!!

Date: 2008-07-30 05:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

That wasn't sarcasm, though I've been told my sarcasm voice very much resembles my regular voice.

Have you always had this problem with Spike, or only post-S3 BtVS?

Date: 2008-07-31 01:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] myhappyface.livejournal.com
I was talking with [livejournal.com profile] girlpire about this a few months back (by the way, you should definitely check her fic out if you don't read her already; it's great), and, since I was more coherent then than I would be now. . .

When I can separate Spike the character from Spike fandom's favorite fucktoy, or, since I don't care if people love Spike, from the bad fandom experience I had while the shows were on air, I don't mind him. I am at worst apathetic about him, and at best, sometimes I think he's funny, and he's a decent foil for Angel.

I mean, Angel/Spike was the first slash pairing I ever read, and I have a small-ish soft spot for it still, but my Spike Issues generally outweigh my ability to enjoy the fic.

Date: 2008-07-31 01:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

I see. I have similar Spike problems; although my love for Spike diminished greatly after season three, what really damaged my relationship with him was the Redemptionista. And not just because they flamed me and bashed Buffy and were generally annoying. They just tried to make every single thing about how awesome Spike was -- remember when there were petitions to get Angel renamed to Spike when Marsters joined the cast? -- and it's just ridiculous and overwhelming.

Date: 2008-07-31 02:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clevermonikerr.livejournal.com
Seriously? This petitioned existed? I only started watching over Winter Break and oh my fucking God what the fuck

Date: 2008-07-31 02:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Oh, I always forget that you are new to the ways of Buffy fandom! Yes, dear, there is some crazy, crazy shit in BtVS fandom history.

Date: 2008-07-31 03:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clevermonikerr.livejournal.com
bb, I don't get it :( :(
I really just don't. It's not that I don't understand liking Spike, just renaming a successful show because the character you like is going on it? Um. Wow.
I have no words.

Date: 2008-08-04 03:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a2zmom.livejournal.com
People wanted to rename the show?

People are bat shit insane. Some people anyway.

Date: 2008-07-30 07:32 am (UTC)
ext_15392: (Default)
From: [identity profile] flake-sake.livejournal.com
*loves*

Drunk Angel is wonderful!

Date: 2008-07-30 05:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

I like him, too.

Thanks!

Date: 2008-07-30 07:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dark-amia.livejournal.com
Oh that was wonderful! Great work.

Date: 2008-07-31 01:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.

Date: 2008-07-30 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a2zmom.livejournal.com
I don't have any time because nI am at work and having a really, really bad day but this was just so, so amazing. Every single word. YYou nailed them completely.

I hope to send better, more coherent fb later.

Date: 2008-07-31 01:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Oh, I'm sorry you're having a bad day! I hope it gets better. *hugs*

And thanks! I'm glad you liked it. :)

Date: 2008-07-30 09:06 pm (UTC)

Date: 2008-07-31 01:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.

Date: 2008-07-30 10:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trepkos.livejournal.com
That was lovely.

"Don’t be bashful, gorgeous; I don’t care that you give it up on the first date.”

Big Aw!
I can't believe I've never seen your stuff before.

Date: 2008-07-31 01:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.

Well, I pretty much exist on fandom's periphery, and Angel/Spike isn't my usual fare. But thank you.

Date: 2008-07-30 10:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greenstone-j.livejournal.com
Beautiful, beautiful Spangel. I loved every delicious bit, the pain, the banter, and the understanding *claps*

Date: 2008-07-31 01:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you! I'm so pleased you liked it.

Date: 2008-07-30 11:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clevermonikerr.livejournal.com
This was really great. I loved your Spike voice, and the Angel-bits were heartbreaking. I liked how it was set post You're Welcome and the bits about Cordelia.

Date: 2008-07-31 01:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you. I'm glad you liked it. <3

Date: 2008-07-31 12:44 am (UTC)
lynnenne: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnenne
Oh, lovely. This is a really wonderful piece, sad and bittersweet.

“Don’t give me that hero party line,” Spike says. “Did you wake up today not a Mick?”

Hahaha. Great Spike voice. He manages to offend even as he's trying to be comforting.

“Will,” Angel says, softly. Spike is bent against him, and Angel curls a hand around the back of his neck.

GUH. Hot.

I love the way you portray Angel's grief over Cordelia. My heart breaks for him. And of course he would turn to Spike in his grief; the title pretty much speaks to all the reasons why. Wonderful fic.

Date: 2008-07-31 01:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Wow, thank you! I'm so thrilled you liked it.

And I totally agree; like Nina was the only person Angel had grief sex with, when Spike was right there. Come on, show.

Date: 2008-07-31 02:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] adoxerella.livejournal.com
I saw this on the Herald, and I had to take a peek. Wonderful story, with great character voices, and just the right amount of ouch for the situation. I ached for Angel, and also a little bit for Spike.

Thanks so much for sharing this.

Date: 2008-08-04 01:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Oh, thank you so much for the lovely feedback. I'm very pleased you enjoyed the story.

Date: 2008-08-03 03:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash-carpenter.livejournal.com
That was wonderful - so raw and painful and yet beautifully and poetically written.

Spike knows how to give Angel what he needs.

Date: 2008-08-04 01:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you! I'm pleased you enjoyed it.

Date: 2008-08-03 05:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] treadingthedark.livejournal.com
I thought this was really beautiful. Moving and powerful.
Reading the comments though kinda harshed my afterglow.
I am a huge Spike fan, and I never, never heard of anyone wanting to rename the Angel show.
The very idea is nonsense.

Date: 2008-08-04 01:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Oh, sweetie, I'm sorry we harshed your mellow. Of course we weren't complaining about all Spike fen, just the people who wanted to rename the show and things like that. I'm sorry our gossip upset you. Anyway, thanks so much for the feedback, and I'm very pleased that you enjoyed the story part of this post. :)

Date: 2008-08-04 10:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cafedemonde.livejournal.com
Wow! What wonderful moments Joss overlooked.

Date: 2008-08-13 04:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you! I'm pleased you enjoyed it. :)

Date: 2008-08-11 11:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zoesmith.livejournal.com
Awwww that was so sad and beautiful!! A really wonderful tale. Your Spike and Angel voices are really spot on!!

I'm so glad Spike was there to take care of Angel. *happy spangel sigh*

Great job!!

Date: 2008-08-13 04:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thanks so much! I'm very happy you liked it.

Date: 2009-04-24 09:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bloodandbeers.livejournal.com
Oh, marvellous. So much hurt, but with an underlying sweetness. I love how you managed to walk that line with Spike, the way he can use insults as endearments. Lovely.

I was wondering if I could archive this at Blood and Beers (http://www.geocities.com/bloodandbeers/)? It would make a great addition.

Thank you!

Date: 2009-04-28 02:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Oh, thank you! I'm very pleased you enjoyed it; it's not a couple I write much. And you may archive it; I'm flattered you asked. :D