Survival Incentive

This is it. The whole enchilada. Good night Irene, the fat lady is singing and Elvis has definitely left the building. You just stand there and watch your colleagues file out of the room, soldiers all, ready and willing to step into the line of fire for your damn mission one last time. You share a significant lingering look with Wesley, both knowing it was probably your last. But, then again, you'd already lost him awhile ago anyways. In the end, everyone left and you were just standing there with Spike. You find this fitting somehow, which annoys and strangely comforts you in equal parts.

He saunters over, and you notice his swagger slip little. He catches you watching so he tries to affect a careful nonchalance. "What do you think all this means for that Shanshu bugaboo? If we make it through this, does one of us get to be a real boy?"

Christ. How the hell should you know? You try to ignore the little twinge of guilt that comes along with this loaded question. You had signed something away today, someone had thought the prize had been yours to sacrifice. You cross your arms. "Who you kidding? We're not gonna make it through."

This answer seemed to appease Spike enough for him to resort to his notoriously cultured bravado. "Well, long as it's not you."

You snort in response but bite back any comment, instead you cross the room to the bar and reach behind, snagging the 9-year-old bottle of Glenlivet you smelled earlier. You fill two tumblers with a couple of fingers of the amber liquid, holding one out for Spike. "You steal this from Wesley?"

Spike grabs up the glass, sloshing the liquid inside a bit. He shoots an angry glare towards you, insulted. "Still sitting in judgment are ye, your highness?"

You ignore this and just smirk at him, which you know pisses him off. "No. Just impressed you knew enough to take the good stuff." You settle down onto the edge of the tattered couch, gazing around at the room. This place really is a shit hole. You don't have the energy to feel guilty for that, too.

Spike regards you warily before joining you, but he sits a careful distance away. He holds up the tumbler, studying the cut glass pattern against the light. "Sure we have time for this, mate? Thought this was all world in peril, 11th-hour kind of stuff."

You rub your free hand tiredly over your face and wave your drink in Spike's general direction for emphasis. "We have time for one drink."

Spike just shrugs, wearing his patented "what the hell"? expression and holds his glass up as well. "What we drinking to?"

"Does it matter?"

Spike just stares at you, letting the hand with the glass drop down. He looks disappointed for a moment, which confuses you. "You really think this is the end, don't you."

You shrug. "We're not walking away from this." You weren't planning to, at any rate. You hold up your glass, not really looking at him. You feel him stare at you a bit longer before he raises his and touches it to yours with a little clink. You drink it down in one gulp. You feel the warmth spread through your chest and down your arms, and you close your eyes, savoring the feel. You know Spike does the same. You both crave the warmth, even if it is for a moment. Alright. Enough stalling. You take a deep breath and steady yourself. You hate that you have to do this. "I need to ask you for a favor."

He just chuffs a laugh at you, incredulous. "Let me guess – you are going to make me wear a necklace after all."

There was a time when you felt bad about that, when you thought it really must have sucked to have been burnt alive. You even felt guilty at your relief that it hadn't been you. But, he'd bitched about it so many times since that any sympathy you felt was long gone.

You try to keep the annoyance out of your voice, but it's hard considering you are annoyed with him the majority of the time. But, you actually need something from him, so you really do try. "Nope." You sigh, knowing that you sound annoyed.

You set down your glass and pluck his from his fingers, filling them again. He takes his back then pulls out a smoke and lights up, leaving the pack on the table in offering. You consider taking one, but decide that's too much to be doing with your hands right now. You look into your glass before throwing it back, but you don't drink the whole thing down this time. He's still watching you, trying to figure you out. He's been watching you a lot, lately. God. When did this become so complicated? You sip again.

"So…what?" He says this on the exhale. "Don't I need to be off saving babies and whatnot?" He shifts, sliding a bit closer, and leans back. You catch a trace of his arousal as he moves. You both have tacitly agreed to ignore this over the past few months. Adrenaline, fear, that's all this is. At least that's what you tell yourselves. What you tell yourself. Such bullshit.

OK. You were always a big follower of the ripping off the Band-aid in one pull school of thought. "I have a son." The room falls eerily silent after you say this.

He leans forward again, taps the ash of his cigarette into his now empty glass. He scoots forward a little, so he is sitting right next to you. He still hasn't said anything. He stares at his hand with the cigarette, watching the smoke curl away. You watch it too. He swallows and you realize you were watching his neck. "Is that right?"

You nod, eyeing him warily. He still hasn't looked at you, which kind of pisses you off. Also, the smell of his arousal is turning you on, which pisses you off, too. You shift away, knowing he smells you, too, when his nostrils flare. There are downsides to being a vampire.

"Let's hear it, then." He sounds kinda sad. Which is just weird. You were prepared for annoyance, disbelief, even anger. But not that. He still doesn't look at you.

So, you start to tell him. He gets the long version, since this is probably the last time you'll have the chance to tell this story. He moves very little during the whole thing, and speaks even less, which is what shocks the hell out of you, but never turns to look at you. You don't leave anything out, even the stuff you'd never admitted aloud to anyone before, even the stuff you've never admitted to yourself. You end by telling him that is how you spent your last day, drinking coffee with your son. You sit in silence watching him for what seems to be a long time afterwards. He is very, very still.

"I read poetry." You are so confused by his answer that you gape at him, which does make him finally turn and look at you. Seeing his eyes you know why he hadn't looked at you before. He looks away quickly, and his voice is kinda rough. "For my last day. I read poetry."

You want to shake him, but then you realize it is important for him to tell you this, that he needed to share this with you, so you just nod. "I always liked your poetry." And you did. It was all rhyming sappy crap, but then again you like 'Mandy'.

Then he just reaches out and lays a hand on your thigh. You stare down at it, careful not to move, and he gives you a little squeeze. "I'm really sorry, mate. Really, really sorry." Your throat feels thick all of a sudden, you feel like you might cry. Which is pretty damn unbelievable, considering you signed away what was probably your only hope for true happiness earlier that morning and didn't feel a thing. That damn brand is still itchy under your shirt, though, but you still don't want to move. He pulls his hand away.

You nod, still staring down at your thigh. "Thanks." You look back up at him, and now he's the one watching you, and you're the one who has to look away. There's just too much that you're not prepared to show him. You clear your throat and finish off your glass, because you still have more to say. "He doesn't want to know about me. Not right now, anyways. But he will. Someday, he'll want to know, and it'll be too late." You chance a quick look up, and he's staring at you, eyes wide. You look back down again, laying your glass on the table. "I need to know that when he asks, you'll tell him. About me."

"What makes you think I'm the one going to make it through this?"

You thought that Illyria probably had the best odds, but with your luck she'd probably try to force Connor into being her new high priest or turn him into a fichus. But, you were pretty sure Spike would make it, too. He had surprised you – not just because he beat the snot out of you, but because he had wanted it more. Or maybe you were surprised to find you didn't want it at all. "Because you're just that annoying that you won't even stay dead." There. This was better. Bickering and banter was much safer territory.

"Way to butter me up, Peaches. So, what, you want me to tell him how dear old dad was a pain in my ass for the last century?" Even though you can't see his face you knew he was smiling by the tone of his voice. "I know most times you think I'm an idiot, but I happen to have a long memory, Angel, and I remember pretty much all of the crap you've done over the years." You know this. You are counting on it. Connor's been lied to enough already.

You sigh and sit up straight, placing your hands on your thighs and prepare to stand. You stop, though, when you start thinking about what you both have to do, what the others are mostly likely already out doing. That this might the last time you'll be together.

Whatever had been building between the two of you over the last couple of months was hardly anything new. This shit had been going on since he was a fledge and you were kicking his ass across Europe . That's how it was with monsters. You were just sick enough fucks that violence and blood turned you on.

Unfortunately, that didn't change with the soul.

Not much actually did, truth be told.

And, the only one who really knew about that was Spike.

For years now, you let the humans believe the fantasy of your separate evil and souled selves. It was just easier for them to deal with you that way. You even start to believe it. Then Spike comes along, and you know you're a fraud. You hate him a little for that. He shifts next to you and you smell him again and your thoughts fly in another direction.

Nina. She mentioned it once. You came to her, hard and wanting as always, reeling from your latest fight, aching for release. You know the wolf in her responds to this, that she needs this just as badly as you do. Part of what turns you on about her. She was whimpering and curling around you, scraping nails, bringing the smell of blood into the room. You were so fucking turned on you almost couldn't think, and it was at that moment that she leaned over and whispered in your ear. "What did you fight about this time?" You just froze and immediately left the bed, standing under the cold shower until you were sure that she'd left the apartment. She never brought it up again. You feel a twinge of guilt towards her, but then again, she stayed. Still makes you feel pretty shitty for never loving her, though. You didn't even try.

You can tell he's waiting for you to go – this is his place after all. He reaches over to light up another cigarette, glancing at you as he leans forward, one eyebrow slightly raised.

That's all it takes.

You are on him, smashing him into the back of his ratty couch. You bring your mouth to his, kissing down hard, trying to force your tongue into his mouth. He makes a noise, like he's surprised, but he quickly recovers, tangling his hand in your hair and trying to pull you closer. God, you've wanted this for so long.

You can taste his matching need and anguish, so you suck on his tongue, making him writhe beneath you. You know you are moaning out loud, grinding yourself on top of him, trying to get inside. He just feels so fucking good. You get proof that apparently he feels the same way about you. Jesus. He is biting at your neck and you think you are going to come right there so you push away from him, panting. You peel yourself off of him, up off of the couch. He's just gaping up at you, eyes blazing with something other than anger for once.

When you start to walk away, he stands up, spinning you around by the shoulder. The anger's definitely back now. "What the fuck was that for?"

You just smirk at him and raise one eyebrow. "Survival incentive."

He blinks at you for a long moment, and then barks out a surprised laugh. He doesn't say anything further, walking out the door you hold open for him. But, you still catch the small grin on his face as he passes by. You watch him go, but he doesn't look back, just walks off ready to kick ass and take names. You realize you're going to have to thank him for this one last thing. Dammit. You nod to yourself, finally ready, and head off in the other direction to do some ass-kicking of your own.