Author's Notes: Spike reflects on the events in "Destiny." A one-shot, told in first person from Spike's POV, sort of stream-of-consciousness while he drinks in a bar. None of the events, characters, places, etc, in BtVS or AtS belong to me. They may be a little scuffed when I put them back, but I'm just borrowing.

Rating: PG-13 because Spike has a potty mouth, and for some sexual references.

Feedback: Please!

Distribution: Hey, if you like my drivel enough to archive it on your site, go ahead, feel free! Just tell me where it's going.

Spoilers: Anything and everything up to Angel 5:08, "Destiny."

Reflections

"Gimme the bottle," I tell the bartender. I pay him, take my Jack Daniels and a glass, and find a seat in a quiet corner of the pub. Lighting a fag, I pour myself a drink and toast the room at large before knocking it back.

Bloody hell, it feels good to be able to touch things again. You never know how much you take simple things like drinking or smoking for granted until you can't do them anymore.

Or shagging. I owe Harm an apology, my soul tells me, and I have to agree there. I hadn't treated her very well. Oh, hell, I hadn't even treated her like a person; a blowup doll would have served me just as well, the way I'd used her. Of course, what with the biting and the bleeding eyes and that comment about my "Slayer whore," I'd had to put her down pretty hard, but still. I shouldn't have done her like that in the first place. Bah. Bloody conscience. I drink another shot down.

I owe Fred an apology too. First thing I should have done when I became corporeal again was go and see her. She'd worked so hard to try to save me--but no. Gettin' led around by the wrong part of my anatomy, again. Not that I wouldn't like to give her a tumble. She's a cutie, and I think she likes me. Well, liked me. I still haven't really talked to her since I got all solid again. She probably doesn't want to speak to me now. Way to go, Spike. You've always been a great one with the ladies. I raise my glass to my prowess and toss my third one back.

That Eve bint is up to something. I don't know what, but she knows more than she's telling. Little Miss Mysterious. "Who says the amulet was meant for Angel" indeed. She must think we're bloody stupid. I vow to get to the bottom of her game before I'm done.

I sigh to myself. I know that I'm just making excuses to avoid thinking about Angel, and this...this thing we have. This juvenile, competitive bullshit. He'd once told me that there was no belonging or deserving anymore. I could take what I wanted, have what I wanted--but nothing was mine. Well, that had bitten him on the arse during our little fight, hadn't it?

Nothing was mine, except what I could take. He'd made that abundantly clear when he'd beaten me to a pulp that night I'd found him with Dru. He'd been older, bigger, and stronger than I was, and he thought he needed to teach me a lesson. And I had learned.

Now? The pupil had become the master. He wants his bloody Shanshu? Well, then, he's going to have to take it. Because, just like he wouldn't just give Dru to me, I'm not going to just give him this thing he wants more than anything. Of course, Sirk had been right, even while sending us off on a wild goose chase, when he'd said that it was predestined: The correct souled vampire will get the Shanshu, whether it's him or me, and no matter which one of us wants it more. Neither one of us really has much of a say in the matter.

Doesn't mean I'm going to bloody make it easy for him.

All that being said...I pour myself another. I'd finally beaten him. I'd never beaten him in what passed for a fair fight between us before. Sure, I'd sucker-punched him and gotten him that way a few times, whacked him in the head with a chamber pot while he was sleeping and Dru and I wanted to be on our own for awhile--but toe-to-toe, the two of us trading punches on level footing? Hadn't ever happened.

And now that it has, maybe he'll see me as more than just an annoying younger brother who's always tagging along and messing up. Hell--I down the shot--maybe I won't be seeing myself that way anymore either. I don't know if he'll ever see me as an equal; that's probably too much to ask--but maybe he'll at least listen to me when I've got something pertinent to say. It's something to hope for, anyway.

Then there's the Buffy Factor. Ah, Buffy. Off in Europe, eh? I hope she's having a good time; she's earned it. And I wonder if Angel's even told her that I was back yet. Considering that he hadn't told his associates that I had a soul, I doubt it. "Didn't seem worth mentioning." Oh, no...the existence of another souled vampire isn't an interesting tidbit of information at all. Bloody hell. I stub my cigarette out and light another.

To their everlasting credit, Angel's...Scoobies? Fang Gang? Whatever...had seemed a little disturbed that he hadn't told them about me being all soulful. Charlie, especially, is a good guy; I like him, although he seems to be a little too cozy with the "Conduit," whatever that is. This whole Wolfram and Hart thing makes me itch. Giving them everything they wanted on a silver platter. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Haven't they heard that before? I wonder what exactly happened to them, that they're willing to work inside the belly of a beast that they fought for years. And I hope that not too many of them will wind up either dead or evil because of it.

Which brings me squarely back to Fred. Is there a spark there? She'd worked harder than anyone to try to get me corporeal again--but was that because I'd targeted her as being the one most likely to be able to help me, or did she really care? And if I decide to start a relationship with her, what will happen with Buffy, when she comes back? Because she will come back.

Oh, bollocks. Isn't my unlife complicated enough without bringing another girl into the picture? Even assuming Fred would give me the time of bleedin' day, considering my stellar track record with women, more than likely it would just turn into another massive train wreck.

Like my relationship with Buffy. What I'd said to Angel in the opera house hadn't been too far off the mark, although I'd never in a billion years let him know just how accurate it had been. Of course she was thinking about him when she and I were going at it. She'd called his name out, more than once, at That Moment. And what did I expect, after all? She had just been using me; she'd admitted as much herself. I'd hated it when she'd run off after our encounters, "virtue fluttering," and I'd hated it more when she'd broken it off completely, enough that I'd...

I hastily pour myself another shot and swallow it in one gulp. Not going there, nope, no way, no how. Of course, as a direct result of that incident in her bathroom, I'd gone over to Africa and gotten my soul back, so that was of the good, but bloody hell. Of all my pre-soul vampire memories, that one still hurts the most, because I'd done that to someone I claimed I loved.

I wonder what she'll think when she returns and finds me alive and kicking--in a manner of speaking. Wonder what she'll do. She loves Angel, but I'm "in her heart," whatever that bloody means. And she had said she loved me, there at the end. I'd told her she didn't mean it, as a way of getting her the hell out of there before the whole bloody place collapsed...but had she meant it? I guess I'll find out. Later.

And I guess that the Great Poof will find out as well. One of us is going to be a very unhappy camper. Hell, maybe she's found some French guy and is snogging with him. Then Peaches and I can both be unhappy. Isn't that pleasant to contemplate?

Well, no, actually, it's not. Maybe another drink'll make it more so. The level in the bottle has fallen precipitously, without my noticing. The alcohol has given me a nice glow, and I think to myself that I should probably stop while I still feel good. And some blood would go down pretty well right about now too.

I'm not going to solve the problems of the world, or even my own, sitting in this little bar and drinking. I haul myself to my feet, a little unsteadily, and make my way out the door into the cool night air. As I walk back to the Wolfram and Hart building, I come to a few decisions.

I'll stay. Buffy doesn't need me in Europe, disrupting her vacation or whatever it is she's doing across the pond. But, dammit, that poncy bugger will tell her I'm back. He owes me that much. Besides, it would give her a nasty shock to come here and find me back in the land of the unliving, and, being the Slayer, she has enough nasty shocks in her life. This one she can do without.

And someone needs to keep an eye on this bloody "legal corporation." They already don't trust the Eve bint, and I don't either, but it's still up for grabs exactly who she's working for. Peaches and friends might be all starry-eyed at what the Senior Partners at the Law Firm from Hell have given them, but my eyes are wide open, and no soddin' perks are going to blind me to what they're doing. Not even otter blood.

I still want my own office, though.

And I'm not going to shag Harmony again, ever.

Finis