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April, 2007 – Prospects

     Rebuilding the ruined pieces of Los Angeles was an unremitting work in progress, still continuing 3 years after suicide bombers had blown up not only City Hall but also the new Wolfram & Hart headquarters next to it, and with it started a magical chain reaction of explosions across the city.  Reconstruction was a lucrative business in LA these days.  Somewhere in the city a twenty-something named Xander Harris, friend of Slayer Buffy Summers, was working on his own rebuilding contract project, and in his spare time amusing himself by setting up absurd rendezvous between lovers who haven't seen themselves in forever, but according to him shouldn't be such stupid cowards and just get it the fuck over with.

     Pigeons hopped over the sidewalk, undisturbed by the rumbling of construction crews across the street. They warbled and twittered, fluttering feathers and dancing from foot to foot as they begged for scraps.  A man watched them from where he sat on the sidewalk, back against the metal gate of the Hyperion Hotel property line and arms draped across his bent knees.  Every once in a while he'd swing a foot out if they got too close, and the hoard would jettison backward in mass tumble of squawking grey feathers.  This man had done a lot of liberal and surprisingly benevolent things in his three plus years of human life—hand-feeding fat, dirty, overly domesticated city birds would not be one of them.

     A wrinkled paperback by Richard Bach lay next to him on the cement, but he found himself engrossed instead in the rumbling, rackety process across the way.  He was close enough to see the motions and hear the particularly loud curses that rose above the cacophony of machines pounding steel and cement, but far enough away that most of the laborer's dialogue escaped him; the overall effect was not unlike watching a silent movie.  He remembered silent films, an artistic curiosity he'd taken to from his first viewing.  His lover couldn't be bothered about them other than to notice his fondness, at least not until they began producing talkies years later.  Then she never cared to see a silent film, insisting that it was only if the people on the screen spoke that she could answer their questions.  He still took the trouble to correct her in those days, pointing out that they were just pictures, not people with thoughts and questions, but she waved him off with a laugh and a flash of fang.  They went to the cinema often in all the years following, never again to a show without sound.  He remembered missing them as time wore on, their quirky comedic style and the charm of live accompaniment.  Not too much though, because in that time he had no happiness that wasn't also his mistress's.

     The older days came back to the man in pieces, surfacing in brief moments of sensory reminders but staying for the most part veiled and murky.  Faces stirred together and names faded in and out; he remembered a perfect lemon pâtisserie he'd eaten in a café in Europe—and the pâtissier he'd had for follow-up—but not the city or the season or even the century.  Sometimes touching his jeweled pendant made it clearer, gave focus to images and thoughts.  He didn't like touching the adornment for too long though; the vividness of age attached to both it and himself overwhelmed him.  It was easier leave the gaudy thing in a small leather pouch, safely hanging around his neck under his clothing.  In three years he hadn't taken it off except to sleep, ugly as it was.  The circular disk of black crystals was the only item he'd awoken with—naked, dirty, and sunburned in middle of Death Valley, California—and had for months endured as his only proof that the lingering events and emotions in his head were not products of an unhinged hobo.

     His boss and ex-grandsire had a physical aversion to the thing.  Said it made the air prickly, though it hadn't when he'd carried and delivered it years before.  The man would have been lying if he'd said that part of the reason he wore the pendant (instead of just keeping it locked away) wasn't to annoy his elder, but for the most part it was sentimental.  The world-shaping power contained within had been used up with his second death, and now it boasted no more potency than a mild witch-charm, useful only for warding off hexes and amateur telepaths.   But it was his, he knew it intrinsically, his as a vampire and his as a human.  He only had to have the slightest skin contact with it now and a swirling onslaught of feelings would course like blood through his heart and veins and soul, singing that it had been created for him, only him, and the task for which he'd died.

     He didn't have to touch the pendant to remember his death.  That morning and the year preceding it were etched in diamond in his mind's eye.  Perhaps it was because he'd had a soul in those last several months, the same soul that made him human now.  Perhaps it was because that was the time he most wanted to remember of his old life...the year he was loved.  Regardless of the reason, everything before the soul were visions through a red filter, progressively fuzzier each year he went backward.  His first human life was little more than a watery puddle of dreams.

     The man glanced down and realized he'd been silently fingering the pendant, turning the leather pouch over in his hands.  With a twitch of his lips and little sigh he tucked it under his dark green t-shirt again.  An urge to glance at his wristwatch almost overtook him, but he knew he should give her more time.  It was a while yet before he was due to be picked up, a watched clock is always slow.

     The sunshine that day was as fervent as it was nearly every other LA morning, already cheerful and inching toward sadistic as the Apollo's chariot climbed higher over the skyscrapers. By now his skin had a healthy dusting of freckles across his arms and legs, but in the three plus years he'd spent here he still hadn't developed the normal Southern California tan.  He didn't think about it much except to notice that he habitually burned, not tanned, and such was reason enough to take care of his skin. He supposed his body was meant for old English weather, all rain and wind.  Sometimes that thought bothered him, because he wasn't sure if his body was his at all.  The body he'd known for a hundred and fifty years, one with a century of scars, was dust at the bottom of Wilkins' Crater...yet this body felt like his, moved like his.  It remembered how to step, how to fight and dance and sneeze and tell him when to piss.  It remembered how to itch, how to yawn.  Whether this was because he'd done some of these things for fun anyway as a vampire, or whether it was innate human nature, he couldn't guess. But it wasn't hard being human again, wasn't hard to live this way, and for that he was grateful.  His limbs were agile, his hands were strong, and contacts helped his eyes' natural shortcomings.

     When the sports car pulled up he stood and brushed the dust off his jeans.  A small woman gazed at him from the yellow convertible, then leisurely stepped out and walked around to the sidewalk to lean against the car and greet him.  He stared, faintly awestruck, as she pushed her sunglasses back over her dark blond hair and gave him a glorious green-eyed smile.

     He smiled tentatively in return, at a loss for words.  The moment stretched on, until she took the first step toward something more.

      "Hey."

     His tiny grin grew a little wider. "Hey."

     A blush crept up her lightly bronzed cheeks, and she had to look away first.  "So, I hear you might be looking for a new job."

      "I hear there might be prospects."  He smiled, and stepped a little closer across the bridge of air separating them.  "Some kind of woman's posse, goes around the world locating gifted young people.  All very feminist and girly-like."

     She met his eyes again, and beamed cheekily.  "I might know something concerning that club.  Though I don't know if just any man would be interested in that sort of thing.  All those women scampering about might be too much for him."  She took a step away from the car. He took another step himself, so that less than a foot of space separated them, and looked down at her with a wolfish grin.

      "That's fine.  I like women."

     Her laughter rang out over the city, louder than his hammering heart, louder than pounding reconstruction crew, louder than the music from passing cars or the cawing of seagulls and pigeons or the river of blood rushing to his head.  When she grabbed up his right hand and twined her fingers through his, like that morning in Hell three years and eleven months ago, he almost fell to his knees. 

     But she was already lifting his weighted bag with one easy swing, giggling as she pulled him by his hand to the car. She tossed the duffle in the backseat and hopped over the passenger side door, fingers still locked with his.  He stopped at the door, making no move to open or jump it like she had.  The blond woman paused to look at him in curiosity.  He brought her hand up, turned it over in his own, and kissed her palm.  When she raised her eyebrows, and he gave it a long lick too, winking.

     The he ran the few steps back to the Hyperion property gate, and picked up his almost forgotten paperback novel. He smiled for a moment at the cover photograph of a lone seagull against a blue sky, and then turned to make a running leap over the passenger side and land on the squeaky leather.  The oldest Slayer in the world winked back at him, pushed her sunglasses back down over her nose, buckled her seatbelt, and threw the gearshift into drive.

****


Author's Notes

Another title inspired by Fight Club.  I can't get enough of that that movie, though really the movie itself has almost nothing to do with this fanfic, as this is a brief glimpse into a story about the joy of human life and renewal, whereas Fight Club was all about lure nihilism and self-destruction.

I wrote the first part 3 days after the finale, finished on the weekend of Memorial Day when author was horribly alone & bored for three days straight, and without internet was forced to do homework and then actually write her own stuff instead of read other people's.

In case you didn't catch it, the battered paperback that the William/Spike went back for was Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach.  Because he would so have that book.  I've read it, and believe me a reborn Spwilliam would definitely fit it's audience.  And a thankyou to the Barnes & Noble telephone operator out there somewhere, who answered my questions on the author's name.

Thanks to Mutant Enemy, for creating this wonderful series and for giving Spike the greatest television death ever.  And then thanks to them again for rehiring him for Angel, whatever his new incarnation might be.