Title: Opportunities Missed And...Not
Author: babies stole my dingo (agilebrit)
Fandom: Angel
Rating: PG
Length: Short story (a little over 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: LiveJournal Community Freeversefic. Snippet goes thus:
All the messages
I longed to deliver
smeared on my lips

I had abandoned them
Almost by mistake
my urges muzzled me

Notes: Post-NFA, Spike and Illyria are the only survivors, on the run from Wolfram and Hart's assassins. After almost losing Illyria, Spike realizes something.


I'm a bloody idiot and no mistake. What on earth possessed me to grab Harmony in that fateful moment? Since I did that, any opportunity I had to have anything at all with Fred was flown out the window like a falcon from a cage. Thinkin' with the wrong part of my anatomy again.

So, all the things I couldn't say because I was a ghost were going to stay unsaid because I'm a wanker. Oh, I thanked Fred nicely enough when I made my grandiose exit. Got all the way to the docks before reason prevailed and I came back to Lucifer's Law Firm with my tail between my legs.

I might still have been able to salvage something after the Dana girl cut my hands off. Freddi'd been freaking pretty badly in the ambulance, but I was half out of my head with whatever the crazy little Slayer bint had shot me up with, so I couldn't offer anything in the way of a joke or a smile or even a coherent word. Another opportunity lost.

And then she was with Wes, and any chance I had to make things right with her was gone for good. They were so happy together; should have known it couldn't last, not in a place like this. How long did they have? A week? Certainly less than a month. And the cost of saving her was too, too high. For once, I was the clear-headed one, although it cracked my heart right out of my chest. I loved her...but not enough, I suppose. I wonder what Wes would have done, in our position.

I wonder what I would have done if it had been Buffy and not Fred.

:-:

"Behind you, Blue!" I shouted. Illyria spun, graceful as a cheetah, and beheaded...whatever it was that had come after us this time. A whole pack of them had us surrounded in an alley. The usual--big teeth, huge claws, horns, a few swords and clubs in evidence. They all blurred together after awhile. They'd managed to separate us this time, and I fought four of them, while Illyria battled seven.

I blocked a blow with the dagger in my right hand and skewered an opponent with the sword in my left. Three to go. Blue had put a couple of hers out as well. Her battleaxe practically sang through the air as she lopped the arm off one of her adversaries. It scurried backward out of the fight, which left her with...four.

I started to yell another warning--too late. A club slammed into her head from behind, and she went down. And didn't bounce to her feet again like she usually did.

I hadn't been holding myself back, not really. But a hot mixture of rage and fear consumed me--something I hadn't felt with this much intensity since Dru and the mob in Prague. Suddenly, the back-to-the-wall, fists and fangs, impossible-odds battle didn't seem like all that much fun anymore. I was never able to suss out exactly how, but somehow the demons were dismembered messily about the alley and I was on my knees beside Illyria.

I scooped her up in my arms and pushed her hair out of her face. Unconscious, she looked surprisingly vulnerable and so much like Freddi that my breath caught in my throat for a second. "Leery? Wake up for me, luv."

I pressed my lips to her forehead, and she stirred and blinked, smiling up at me for a second. Then she remembered who she was and pushed away from me huffily. "Presumptuous half-breed," she muttered as she rose to her feet.

I stood up too. "You're all right, then?"

"My head aches." She looked around at the carnage in the alley and put her hands on her hips. "You did not leave me any."

"Sorry, Your High and Mightiness," I said with a mocking little bow. "I was too bloody busy, you know, saving your life, to stop and consider whether you'd want me to spare a couple for you for when you got done with your little beauty sleep. Plus I got a bit angry and forgot myself." I leaned against the wall with studied nonchalance and lit a cigarette, my gaze fixed on the fire escape behind her. "I thought you were dead."

She stepped close to me and stared into my eyes, tilting her head. "You felt grief? For me?"

"'Course I did." I still didn't want to look at her. This wasn't a conversation I'd planned on having, ever.

"Why?"

"I've lost a lot of people in my time. Would hate to lose another, even though you're not 'people' as such."

She ticked them off on her fingers. "Dru. The Slayer. Wesley. Charles Gunn. Angel." She backed away, and now it was her, not wanting to look at me. "Winifred Burkle." Her head stayed down, but her eyes flicked up to mine, briefly. "You speak of them in your sleep."

"Do I, now?" I decided to risk a pummeling, and put my finger under her chin, raising her face. "And do I ever 'speak of' you? In my sleep?"

"Yes." Her voice was a bare whisper. She wrenched away from me and turned her back. "You say ludicrous things, things that cannot possibly be," she burst out. "It is impossible that you have such sentiments toward the one who took 'your Freddi' from you."

My life was full of missed opportunities and too many things left unsaid. I'd nearly lost her tonight, and I was damned if I was going to leave anything else unsaid, ever again. She'd probably beat me to a pulp for my cheek, but we'd been together for months, fighting side by side, and it might as well be out in the open now as anytime.

"I love you."

There. I'd said it. I braced myself, waiting for a thunderstorm of wrath to descend on my head. The seconds ticked on interminably, while she continued to stand there with her back to me, breathing in huge gasps. For a moment, I wondered if she'd done something to time, then she rounded on me, fists clenched. "You are irrational. I killed Fred. I killed you! I killed them all. You cannot love me."

I flipped my cigarette away and grasped her shoulders. "Love's not rational, Bluebird. It just is. God help me--" I pulled back and ran my hand through my hair. "--I don't have any hope of you actually feeling the same about me, because that's just the way my sodding unlife is. But I'm used to that."

She tilted her head again, calming down and considering. "I do not understand. And yet, it must be. You have never told me an untruth. Wesley despised me because I stole Fred from him. But you do not. You forgive. And...love."

"We've had each other's backs for months. Not surprising that feelin's of friendship would deepen over time."

"I am not sure I can return the emotion," she said, frowning. "But I would explore it with you."

I gave her a lopsided smile. "That'll have to do, I suppose."

:-:

And here we are. Another anonymous motel room in another anonymous city--but now it's different. This time, we're sharing a cuddle while we watch the telly, and she's letting me touch her without threatening to remove my insolent spine through my nostrils.

I don't know what tomorrow will bring, or if either or both of us will be alive at the end of it. I do know that, for once in my unlife, I've said the right thing at the right time.

The End