Title: A Complicated Relationship
Author: babies stole my dingo (agilebrit)
Fandom: Angel
Rating: PG-13
Length: Short-short (500-1000 words)
Disclaimer: Joss is the genius behind these characters; I am but a lowly follower. I make no money from any of this, so please don't sue me.
Written for: ScarletAngel68 requested: Spred (how unexpected), post-NFA. A mention of Fred's parents. Do what you like with Illyria - she could still be present like in your other fic, she could be in another body, she could be in her real body (huge tentacle thing, I seem to remember...hee), or maybe she has disappeared altogether for some reason or another.
Notes: Takes place in the same universe as "Cold Comfort" and "Gift."

He looked up from his computer screen at the kitchen table and smiled at me. "Blue letting you have the body for awhile, then, Freddi?"

"She said she was...tired." I got up from the couch and sat at the table opposite him.

"How's it going between you two? Can't be easy." Leaning back in his chair, he lit a cigarette. We'd settled into a routine of research, demon-hunting, and Slayer-training now that Buffy had gotten the Senior Partners off our backs. The Council had given us a basement apartment in Cleveland ("Naturally," Spike had grumbled at the time), and we worked with Faith and Wood keeping the local Hellmouth under control.

"Illyria can be difficult." I bared my teeth a little. "Of course, she says the same thing about me. So I guess we're even. Spike, no one's told my parents anything, have they?"

He looked away from me. "They came by Hell, Incorporated, before they went to Hawaii. Illyria pretended to be you. Gave our Wes a nasty turn, and no mistake. I don't think anyone's talked to them since. Bloody hell, I hope they didn't come back on their way back home."

Stricken, I said, "I should call them and let them know that I'm--well, not all right, because obviously I'm not." I felt my hair turn blue momentarily, then it went back to brown. "But I'm sure they're worried."

"Probably right about that. No tellin' what they heard, or what they think, not hearin' from you after all this time. Ring them up, luv. I'm sure they'd love to hear from you."

"'Mama, Daddy, I was dead, but I got better.' Yeah, that'll go over well." I ran my hand through my hair. "What in the world am I going to say to them? It's been almost a year."

"I'm sure you'll think of something."

"Okay." I stood and rubbed my arms, steeling myself, then picked up the telephone next to the couch.

The next hour was filled with tears, laughter, and explanations. I finally hung up, after promising to keep in better touch. Spike had moved from the kitchen table to the sofa while I paced around the apartment, and I bounced onto the cushion next to him and gave him a hard hug. "What's that for, then?" he asked.

"Giving me the push I needed to call them. Thank you."

"You'd have done it without me, pet."

"Maybe." I cuddled up next to him, and he wrapped his arm around my shoulders. "Spike..."

"Yeah, Freddi?"

"Illyria says you said you loved me." I paused and took the plunge. "Did you?"

"Whoawhoawhoa. Babe the Blue Ox is a bit fuzzy on the different kinds of 'love' we humans and human-like creatures feel for each other. Last time I fell in romantic love with a bird, it ended badly, so I try not to do it anymore. Besides," he added uncomfortably, "you never seemed to look at me that way, and then you and Wes were together..." He trailed off. "Time wasn't ever right."

I felt Illyria stir. "And now's not exactly a good time either, I guess, what with me being blue half the time."

He tilted his head. "That could be worked around, if you wanted to give it a go. But--and I'm not trying to discourage you, pet; far from it--our relationship is pretty complicated already, and adding another level to it might not be the smartest thing to do."

That was when Illyria shoved me down. "I do not like the trend of this conversation," she said to Spike. "You are my pet. The Burkle persona is not to become more important to you than I am."

"Oh, bloody hell." Spike lit a cigarette. "It's not a matter of 'more important,' Bluebird. I can never have the same relationship with you that I have with Fred. It's just different, is all. Not better."

"Your human feelings are conflicting and confusing. The so-called difference between the way you feel about the shell and the way you feel about me is of no consequence. I felt grief at Wesley's passing. I would not feel that again."

"Gee, now you know how he felt when you took me over," I muttered.

"Nevertheless," she continued, ignoring me, "you belong to me and not the Fred creature."

He lifted his eyebrow and gave her a sardonic grin. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were jealous."

"Jealousy is a petty human emotion."

"That may well be. But Fred and I were enjoying a nice snuggle before you butted in, and I'd like to get back to it."

Illyria huffed. "Very well." She subsided, and Spike stubbed out his cigarette.

"She's jealous all right," Spike said as I settled back into the crook of his arm. "But she'll just have to deal with it."

"She can be a cranky-butt at times. Not that I blame her, I guess, if I was her I'd be cranky too, especially if I thought someone was trying to steal you away from--" I put my hand over my mouth. "And I just said way too much." Way to go; Fred-babble strikes again. I closed my eyes and waited to get shot down.

But he squeezed me gently and kissed the top of my head. "No, you didn't, luv. I'd have had this conversation with you long ago if I hadn't been afraid..." His voice faded.

"The Big Bad, afraid of me? That's a new one."

"Well, when your relationships have been with crazy vampires, crazier Slayers, and airheaded bints, all of whom have tried to kill you at one time or another, you tend to be a bit gun-shy."

"Huh. Stacked up against all that, I guess a split-personality physicist-slash-ex-god seems pretty tame," I reflected.

A low laugh rumbled through him. "Indeed it does, pet. Indeed it does."