((Was written for slashthedrabble's challenge this week, 'lost'- but I waited too long to edit it down, and missed the deadline. Oops. Warnings: Angst and slash, S/A. 500 word ficlet. Reviews of any kind are loved. Post-Gift.))
Spike has his back to the door, and doesn't look up when he hears Angel enter. The crypt is bare and dusty, lit only by faint moonlight tinged with the chemical glow of far-away streetlamps. The night has leeched away the little color left in Spike, and for a moment, Angel feels like he's stepped into the past- like he's standing in one of the old silent theatres, watching a story told with only gestures and the contrast of white on black.
Angel sees the brittle tension in the lines of Spike's back, not entirely hidden by the slightly oversized duster. He has paused in the doorway, feeling unsure and off-balance now that he's come. He can't remember why it had seemed like a good idea to follow Spike home, while the bone-deep weariness of grief was making him feel every one of his two hundred-odd years.
There is still dried blood on his knuckles and faint purple on his cheek from their last meeting, hours ago above a sacred grave.
"Why are you here?" The voice is frighteningly tired, and empty. The fact that it cracks just a little at the end can be blamed on the empty bottle cradled against Spike's chest, visible now to Angel as the other vampire turns slightly on the stone sarcophagus. Still not completely facing him. As he opens his mouth to come up with some plausible lie, Angel notices that the few inches of Spike's wrist visible between the sleeve of his coat and the hand clutching the bottle of JD look frighteningly thin. He looks again at Spike, really looks, and is suddenly feeling things he can't reasonably explain- the faint stirrings of protectiveness and anger, inappropriate over something he'd given up claim to long ago. Spike looks like hell, and he wonders how long it's been since he's been able to buy blood, or remembered to drink it.
He realizes that he's been staring for far too long, and searches quickly for a sarcastic response that will draw attention away from the fact. "You've lost weight," and he means for it to be flippant, a parody of normal conversation that will draw Spike back to the old dance Angel knows, back to familiar ground. Instead, it sounds quiet and far too serious, too much like caring. Spike may have caught the strange tone, or maybe he's just too tired to play anymore, because he finally meets Angel's eyes with a glassy-eyed look that lets him see an underlying ache deeper and older than the fresh pain they've all suffered.
"I've lost a lot of things." And now Angel knows what they're both remembering, the last night in China a century past, that only one of them knew was goodbye. Suddenly, he realizes why he'd come. He reaches out.
Nothing can be done now about the loss of the woman they'd both loved, but there are older hurts that can be healed, and tonight, together, they take what they can get.