Disclaimer: Angel isn't mine. Nor is Spike, sadly.
Um. Warning: idiocy is rife.
Spike always used to wonder how the end of the world would come about – and he'd never doubted that it eventually would. No matter how many times it'd been diverted before, no matter how many champions had kept the sun in the sky and life ticking on, evil only needed one shot to finish it all – and the good guys don't always win.
So yeah, he'd known the world would end one day, and had even halfway expected to be there when it did.
Reality hadn't quite lived up to his expectations, though.
For one, he'd hoped the final apocalypse would be quite a ways in the future, yet. And he hadn't thought there'd still be the occasional sign of life. He'd figured that everything would be gone, utterly destroyed – with the possible exceptions of cockroaches and Angel's hair.
Because, well, some things are just indestructible.
But he drifted from place to place, all over the bloody States, and there were some survivors still fighting to, well, keep on surviving. Most of them didn't have a clue why they still bothered – they just let the biological imperative to live control them.
Spike knew why he kept trying, though. The simple fact of the matter was that he'd never learned how to give up. That was the one lesson Angelus could never beat into him. Well, other than all those lessons on respect and discretion and the like.
Come to think of it, Angelus never actually managed to beat anything into him except an impressive tolerance for pain.
Speaking of Angel, he found the lumbering bastard wandering the ruins of Chicago. They'd parted ways after the big showdown in LA nearly a century before – Spike had gone to Europe, and Angel stayed in the States, traveling to the Cleveland Hellmouth to help out the Slayers and Watchers stationed there.
Since that Los Angeles battle, the two vampires had only crossed paths once, and then only briefly. They'd stayed, entirely by coincidence, at the same hotel in New York. It was the perfect place for them to have a few drinks, a few shags, and a few dozen room-shaking, furniture-breaking arguments.
After a couple days, they'd gone their separate ways once again, their wallets lighter and their bodies battered. Just how it was with them.
This meeting was different, though. The world was collapsing to ash around them, and there wasn't any time left to air out old grievances and slights.
The world was ending, was already gone, really, and Spike wasn't about to waste his last few days bickering with his grandsire about girls long dead and battles forgotten in the passage of time.
"Makes you wonder what the point of it all is," Angel said a few days after they met up in the Windy City. It was night, so they were outside, picking their way through a pile of rubble – they could smell someone trapped under the debris, still alive, though probably not for long.
Spike had survived the apocalypse and all that came after it because he didn't know how not to survive. He'd never learned to let go. Angel, on the other hand, carried on because he was too pigheaded to give up. Plus, he enjoyed moping too much to let himself die.
This injured human wasn't likely to have their willpower or their determination, though, or Angel's proclivity for self-flagellation.
Or any of those wonderful benefits of being a vampire, like super-strength and immortality, but that sort of went without saying. Anyway, the point was that the human was practically dead already.
And that shouldn't have bothered a pair of vampires, but no, they had to be special. All souled up and to the rescue. Frankly, Spike was sick of it. All the soul did for him and Angel was make sure that the End of Days wasn't nearly as fun as advertised.
Which had probably helped prompt Angel's little 'what's the meaning of it all, why bother with anything' angst-fest.
"Angel," Spike said impatiently, hefting a slab of concrete and contemplating the positive and negative points of throwing it at the other vampire, "everything makes you wonder what the 'point of it all' is. It's called brooding, and you do a bang-up job of it, mate."
"Gee," Angel retorted, "and here I was hoping the apocalypse might improve your sense of humor."
Spike imagined, in vivid color and with an excellent laugh track, smashing his grandsire's face in with his handy lump o' sidewalk. But for the first time in…well, since he was turned, actually, he really wasn't in the mood for a spot of violence. Sighing ruefully, he tossed the hunk of concrete over his shoulder.
It was just…there'd been enough violence, the past few days. Only the strongest demons had survived, and a lot of those were bent on destroying whatever was left to destroy – including peroxide blonde vampires. He had to fight practically all the time now, beating off buggers who by all rights were stronger than any bloodsucking fiend of the night.
Christ, and why shouldn't he be tired of fighting? The skies were scorched red and humans were the minority, now, so why shouldn't everything be turned backwards and inside out?
"But seriously," Angel was saying when Spike reluctantly tuned him back in, "what's the point? I fought for years to avert the apocalypse, and now…this. Why did I even bother?"
"Because you're a hopeless do-gooder with a fondness for striking heroic poses and having nubile, grateful young women throw themselves at you?"
"I mean," Angel barreled on, ignoring Spike completely, "I take one short vacation from the whole caped avenger gig, and the entire world goes to hell. Literally."
Spike froze, forgetting all about the now mostly-unburied (and unconscious) human at their feet. "D'you mean to tell me," he asked carefully, "that the world ended because you slacked off on the champion bit?"
Angel glowered, though he somehow managed to look wracked with guilt at the same time. The end result made him look rather constipated. "One week. I took one week of personal time, and I come back from a perfectly nice deserted island to find everyone dead and the entire world in ruins."
Spike didn't know what to do or say. He settled for, "It better have been one hell of a vacation," and went back to digging out the human – not that there was much left to do, once Angel pitched in again.
"It was…calming," Angel said. Spike rolled his eyes. The woman they'd rescued groaned, beginning to stir.
"Where you headed next?" Spike asked, as casually as he could, as they each grabbed one of the human's arms and hoisted her to her feet. Holding her upright between them, they started to walk away.
"Wazza?" the injured, woozy woman muttered intelligently.
"Didn't have anywhere in particular in mind," Angel said slowly. "You?"
"Always wanted to visit Australia," Spike said, after a moment of thought. "I've heard koala blood is pretty good."
"Koala…? But koalas are so… And how the hell are we supposed to get to Australia?" Angel asked, eying him like he'd just announced he wanted to chomp down on the pope, if the old bastard was still alive after the 'end of the world' show.
"'We'?" Spike repeated, eying Angel incredulously. "Who said anything 'bout 'we'?"
"Like I'm going to let you go off on your own?" Angel scoffed. "Knowing you, you'd destroy what's left of the world in five days or less."
"You're the one who fiddled while Rome burned, you arse," Spike fumed.
"No, that was Nero, Spike. I'm not quite that old. Or fat."
"Like you aren't Nero reborn? Let's compare, shall we? Just like our old pal the Emperor, you're crazy – "
"I am not!" Angel protested indignantly.
"'Hi, I'm Angel. I brood and sulk and occasionally lock unarmed lawyers in with a couple of crazed bloodthirsty vampires. Oh wait! Now I'm Angelus, a first-rate bastard and murderous madvamp who'll torture you for the fun of it while wearing leather pants and employing a few more facial expressions than usual – maybe as many as five. But wait! I'm Angel again, now with extra guilt but a shorter name, no leather, and a return to my two basic facial expressions: angry and angsty!'"
"That doesn't mean I'm crazy," Angel bleated, angsty.
"Multiple personalities aren't exactly a sign of a sane mind, Angelus."
"I'm not a Nero," Angel snapped, angry.
"You're crazy, you fancy yourself an artist, you shag your own family members – "
"Darla 'n Dru? And me, let's not forget me."
"God, why not?"
Spike leveled the darker vampire with a glare. "AND, you went off for a bloody vacation, and because you weren't there to do the moping righter of wrongs gig, the world ended."
"That never happened to Nero."
"Oh for Chrissakes, forget about bloody Nero! The point is, if anyone's likely to make this situation worse, it's you! Which is why you have to come along with me – you can't be trusted alone. So stop arguing with me."
Angel stared, blinked, gaped, and then groaned and shook his head. "But I just…you never.… You know what? Kill me now."
"Don't think I'm not tempted."
"What've I ever done to deserve this?"
Spike gave the question a great deal of thought as they carried their rescued human towards a small shelter for survivors Angel had helped to set up a few days before. But Angel's heroic tendencies were beside the point. What mattered was answering Angel's query in the most insulting way possible.
"It's your hair," he decided. "It offends the Powers That Screw Us Over Time And Again For Their Own Personal Amusement."
Angel eyed Spike dubiously. "You're one to talk. At least I don't bleach my hair."
"No, you just gel it until it's harder than a bloody helmet. Or would that just be your thick skull?"
"What, I'm the thick one?"
The human between them groaned.
"Oh, come on. We both know that I've always been the brains of the outfit – "
"Don't make me laugh. Remember Amsterdam? Real brainy, Spike."
"Well, if you hadn't gotten me angry, I never would have ripped out all three of that demon queen's hearts and her followers wouldn't have attacked our home and burned your wardrobe!"
"So it's my fault? Oh, right, I'd almost forgotten – everything is my fault when it comes to you, isn't it?"
"Hell yeah, and that includes the end of the world. And you can't argue that one, can you, you oversized Neanderthal?"
"Shut up, Spike."
"I said it first."
"Yeah, and I said it second, idiot. What's that got to do with anything?"
"You know what? I give up." Angel threw his hands in the air in exasperation, which Spike thought was rather needlessly theatrical. His grandsire really was a drama queen, and always had been. When it wasn't as annoying as hell, it was kind of funny.
Angel's words, however, weren't funny in the least. Giving up? It made no sense. It wasn't right. In fact, it was skewing Spike's universe.
"Right," he said, nodding. "Good. Why?"
"Why? Why what?" Angel actually had the nerve to look puzzled.
"You're not supposed to give up, Angelus. That spoils all the fun."
"Fun. You think this is fun?"
"Well, yeah. What of it?" Spike asked defensively.
"You're a moron."
They weren't walking any longer. Now they stood outside the front door of the shelter, facing each other in the moonlight, hot with anger and both of them ready to keep going until the other ran out of insults.
"Both of you, either be quiet or kill me now," the rescued woman begged, putting an early end to their stand-off. Angel flushed guiltily and opened the door, not meeting Spike's eyes.
Spike grinned to himself. The end of the world was starting to look up.