Smashing every mirror in the apartment seemed like a good idea. For a few moments, he felt satisfaction seeing his reflection destroyed. Looking at himself was painful. Seeing himself, the man he was and had been for hundreds of years, made his soul ache.
It wasn't until he tasted salt that he realized that hot tears were pouring from his eyes. Leaning forward, he rested his hands on the sink and allowed himself to weep. He wept for the lives he had taken, the people he had hurt. He cried for the women he had tried to destroy before finally ending their lives.
Grief quickly turned to anger. Putting his arm through the wall, he kept punching, making the hole bigger until his knuckles were bleeding. Sliding down the nearly destroyed wall, he put his head in his bleeding hands and tried to get his breath.
He hated breathing. He hated having to rest to catch his breath. Sitting on the cold bathroom floor, breathing hard, he questioned his desire for this. He had fought his ex-vampire counterpart so fiercely for this reward and now it had been given to him and he couldn't remember why he had wanted it so badly. Not knowing if he still wanted it at all, he laughed at himself. It wasn't as if he had kept the receipt.
Pulling himself to a standing position, he looked at the mirror again. The shock of yellow hair on his head suddenly made him nauseas. Grabbing his coat from the closet, he started out of his apartment. He had to change, he told himself. It was time to be a new man. It was time to a man, period, he thought.
The clerk at the corner drugstore looked at him in a strange way but was smart enough not to say anything. Spike was glad, he hadn't slept in over a week and he didn't think he could handle a surly cashier. Walking in the night air didn't calm his nerves. He ran the last few steps to his floor and nearly broke the door down to get inside.
Not thinking or feeling, he tore the electric razor from its packaging and started in the middle of his head. Continuing to the sides and the back, he didn't stop until he was completely bald. The dark roots of his hair showed through his skull, giving the appearance of peach fuzz on his head. Laughing uproariously at his new appearance, he wondered why he found it so funny.
The fractured image in front of him looked still like the man he had been. Tearing the coat from his body, followed by his clothes, he stood naked in his bathroom, looking at the scars on his chest. Every one of them told a story, he knew their names and their histories. He hated them.
Pulling a pair of track pants on from his drawer, he stalked to fridge, pulling out every bottle he could find. Sitting on the couch, open beer bottle in hand, he watched ghosts scream and flail in front of him. Women moaned in pain because they were too weak to scream. Men begged for leniency and mercy for their wives and children. There was no mercy he could give them.
Drinking himself into a coma seemed a good way to make the visions disappear. Sliding down the couch to the floor, he begged for the images to go away. Weeping on the floor, he slammed his fist into the carpet and demanded they leave him alone. The whispers got stronger, louder, the corpses became more grisly looking.
He did not hear the door open. He did not hear foot steps coming towards him. He only felt strong arms lifting him from the floor and setting him gently on the couch. Putting his head on his knees, great wracking sobs shock his body. Was this what it was like, he asked himself. Had Angel gone through this too?
When he could breathe again, the ghosts were gone. A blanket was draped across his shivering shoulders and the beer bottles were cleared away from the table and floor. Looking to his right, he watched Angel watching him.
The darker man was leaning into the corner of the couch, his arms stretched to his sides, watching his previously blonde counterpart. Leaning back, Spike drew the blanket closer to his chest and tried to wipe his eyes with the back of his hand.
"It gets easier, you know. It will never go away, they'll always be there, haunting you, but they won't torture you forever."
Drawing his knees onto the couch, he rested his head against them and stared into the dark cavern the blanket created around him. "Why couldn't I have died?"
"You did. I changed that. Sorry if you regret it."
"No. I don't…I want to be punished. I want to burn for eternity for what I did. I want to be tortured."
Leaning forward, Angel put his hand reassuringly on the other man's arm. "You are being tortured. And you don't deserve it. You didn't do those things, your demon did. And he's dead. You'll learn to let it go."
Leaping from the couch, he grabbed the coffee table and threw it before Angel could so much as move. Roaring at the top of his lungs, he suddenly collapsed the floor in agony, screaming.
"I don't want to live like this! I'm sorry, Angel! I'm so sorry…" His screams turned to sobs as he lay on the floor, his head on the carpet.
Taking a deep breath, Angel picked him up again and put Spike's arm over his shoulder. Together, they walked to the bedroom and Angel deposited the smaller man on the bed spread. Covering him with blankets, he turned to go, looking one last time over his shoulder at a broken man weeping for a past he hadn't had a chance of changing.
The drive home was quiet, he kept the radio off. His night was quiet, filled with drinking and training. Two hundred push-ups seemed easier to do with a few scotches in him. As the sun came up, he smiled wryly at his thoughts. If Spike could, he would have ashed himself, Angel thought. He was thankful that was no longer an option.
Sitting a few hours later at his desk in his office, construction crews repairing the devastated building around him, he looked up not unexpectedly as Spike burst through the doors. An army of ghosts must be chasing him, Angel thought.
"What can I do for you Spike?"
"That isn't my name anymore." His younger compatriot was pacing back in forth in front of Angel's desk, seemingly not any less agitated than he had been the night before. Angel knew this conversation had been coming for weeks, ever since their transformation.
"What should I call you?" Angel was ready to cajole Spike off the ledge he was leaning precariously over. The ex-blonde had a knack for working himself up to outrageous levels of emotional distraught.
"I don't know. I know I'm not Spike, though. He killed people, he…" looking down, he winced at his already healing knuckles. He wanted to feel the pain for longer than he had. The pain focused him.
"What about William? Your given name?"
He resumed his pacing, now a look of disgust on his face. "He was a ponce. And I don't want to be called Billy or Bill or any o' that nonsense."
Thinking for a moment, Angel looked at the man at waved his hand for a moment to get his attention. "Will, then. What about Will?"
It would all come eventually, Angel thought. He was hopeful for the first time, he thought, since Cordy's death. Everything was going to work out. They were all going to start new lives. Together, he thought, they would able to beat the devil back. They had already killed a lot of his minions.
Smiling at his new vice president, though Spike didn't know that was his role yet, Angel thought he could feel change happening. Glancing at the letter on his desk, he smiled wider. She was going to come back to him, he could feel it. Everything was going to be just the way he wanted it to be for so many years. This letter, he thought, would be the first step towards happiness.
It was exciting to feel hope again. Angel hoped that Will, as this man in front of him was now going to be called, would someday feel that hope too. Angel figured he had some to spare.