Disclaimer: None of them are mine and I don't claim them to be.
They're opposites in a way, Spike and Angel, the two of them. Or they're puzzle pieces. They're two things so different, so opposite, and so very much the same that they form one whole.
The man who hides behind the monster and the monster who hides behind the man.
It took her a long time to recognise those layers for what they really are. For so long, she hadn't wanted to see them and ignored them when she did. Even when they'd been laid before her, made so sharp and starkly clear, she'd pushed and shoved and punched and fought them, so hard, hoping they'd go away.
She beat Spike bloody, the skin on her knuckles splitting apart as she battered and bruised his face, desperate to find the hate that she knew, knew, had to lie waiting just below the surface. Somewhere down there was the villain she needed, the proof that things are clear and simple and the way she wants them to be. But all she ever did uncover was blue. Pain and love and humanity she couldn't stand. Things that didn't belong there, not on him. Not on the soulless beast. Not on the monster.
She wanted things to look the way they had before. Before she'd realised that the line she'd wanted to stand on, to protect, didn't exist at all. She remembers the line, though. The line between her side and the other. The good and the bad, the righteous and the wicked. The line had split them, always there and never wavering, and kept them apart, far away and never touching.
She wanted things to look like they had back when things were wet and smelled like rain and the blackness filled her eyes and swallowed her vision whole. Back when she lay on her back and tried to warm herself with a corpse she loved. Back when her hands fell clumsily on broad shoulders and when he apologised when she whimpered in pain.
When she was a school girl (when she could convince herself she was a school girl, and not at all a creature of the night) she thought he could fill her up. She thought he could fill her up to the brim with everything inside him and leave her satiated and loved and warm for the rest of time.
And later, she'd breathed in the smell of the earth and the dirt and the stone and the dead. The blood Spike had spilled on the edge of one of the rugs and the damp of the sheets beneath her. She'd breathed it in and tried to convince herself that was all there was. Senses and urges, basic and animal.
But she'd wondered and fretted and hurt over the thoughts all the same. Why did Spike get to feel these things? Why did Spike get to be this way, when Angel was the other way around?
When Angel sank his fangs deep and left her weak, when Angel could tear into her, or even just strike back, with only two blows to force him into it. When Angel had a soul, and did good, and fell for her, and had her love, why was it Spike who got to be this way?
Why was it Spike who could love her no matter who he was? Who could love her with the love of a man and the lust of a beast? Why was it Angel who could keep her fooled, have her guessing, when Spike's eyes so clearly read love and worship? Why had it been Spike with whom she could be herself, let go, and Angel with whom she had had to hold back, for fear of letting loose a monster.
Now she digs her fingers into his hair, her nails biting into his scalp, and she forces his nose to her neck. She arches her back as he drinks from her, as she fills him up now instead of the other way around.
Spike never changes faces in bed. He'll lie beneath them, moaning and panting and growling and purring, but his brow stays smooth and his eyes stay blue. But throw Angel a little too hard, go at things too rough, sometimes just catch him by surprise, and there is the demon.
She is not afraid of it. Not anymore. Not now that she understands, really, truly, fully understands, how this works. The monster lies under the surface in wait, always fighting for the chances Angel does his best not to let it take, the same way there's something very vulnerable waiting under all of Spike's bravado and bad boy macho-ness.
And that's okay. And that works. Because they work.
She wanted the surface to be all there was for so long, but now this moment is what she loves most. When the surface is gone, scrubbed away, and things are true and real. There isn't that same stark line, good and evil, dark and light, but there's one between the truth and the illusion and for a little while, for this short time, she can exist in nothing but the truth. The truth of what they are and what she is. Creatures of the night, things that hunt in the dark, and still also full of love.
Her legs ache and her chest burns from her panting breath. Everything in her hums with sensation. The teeth in her throat, Angel's fingers against her side along her ribs, Spike's tongue between her legs. There is hair stuck to her face and sweat on her breasts and a tear in her skin from where her elbow caught the jaw of an animal-eyed demon earlier in the night.
When she lets out her breath in a heavy puff, Spike shoves Angel off of her. Throws him to the other side of the mattress and wrestles him there.
She lies, sprawled, limp, and boneless next to them. Light-headed and dizzy and free. She wouldn't have this if they still hide, either of them or her. She wouldn't have this if she'd kept denying. But she gets it now. She can fit her puzzle pieces together, show them (even if for only a few moments) that they don't need to be afraid. Because all of this only works when they don't hide and when they are together.
Because Spike has taught her to love Angel wholly, not to fear the demon for the demon the way she used to. He will keep her love when his eyes turn gold because it's Angel that she loves. Not just one part of him, not anymore. She loves him now, rough and dark, and she loves him when he smiles, and she loves him when he frowns at her for interrupting him when he's reading.
She watches the bodies beside her as they intertwine, listens to them grunt and growl. Spike licks her blood off Angel's lips and she can see his teeth at work too, nipping and biting and maybe punishing a little.
She loves him. And she loved him earlier tonight when he shoved a stray crossbow bolt into a vampire's heart and she will love him when he rolls off of Angel, circles on arm around her, and entwines their fingers before he falls asleep.
She loves them both, all of them, every piece of them, but maybe, truly, in all honesty (because that's what she's about now, honesty), when they drop their coats, the Big Bad duster and the superhero cape stand-in, that when they open up and show her and each other everything there is to see, that is when she loves them most of all.