All Rivers Run To The Sea

I must be getting slow in my old age. Not that I'm old in vampire years, mind you. I'm just a stripling compared to the real elders amongst us, but I feel older. Maybe it's the combined weight of years on both demon and soul. Like little William, riding along in the belly of the beast all these years is feeling every day of his hundred plus years.

Actually, it's probably the soul that's making me less the terror that I once was, and not in the most basic of ways.

We've made too much noise and clatter in this city, Angel and his do-good band of fighters and lately even myself. They're ready for us when we hunt them now and my name, my reputation, my sodding steel caps and leathers just don't precede me like they used to.

Stings like a bitch.

So do carefully carved wooden stakes. Hazel wood if I'm not mistaken; the witches brand of choice and a slow poison in the veins of the undead. Someone paid a pretty penny to get their claws on that stuff. Dipped in holy water too as if that wasn't enough, although I must admit it makes me smile when I think of the poor vampire fledge that got made to go fetch it from the font.

I'm watching the blood spatter down and I think, hell, they might just have gotten their moneys' worth tonight. I lurch against the doorframe like a cheap drunk. Shouldn't really drive like this. Should call a limo or something, except I'd have to go through Wesley to get one at this time of night. I don't think I could bear his cultured patience, the way his soft English voice falters so I can almost see the tired rub of his fingers on temple as he leaves off his books to come sort out another of Spikes' soap operas.

I clamber behind the wheel and put pedal to the floor as I thrash the engine. My blood is ruining the fine leather seats but I don't think Angel will care about it because it's not really his car, just a tool he uses from time to time. The sat-nav blinks helpfully at me from the dash but I don't really need it. The path is laid out for me like a neon pointer in my mind and it makes me realise how long it's been since I've had to use it. Time was I could have stood in any corner of the world and found him as easily as a pilgrim prays to Mecca.

Now, after so many years of disuse it burns me, hounding me urgently homeward and I wonder if perhaps I'm going to die after all. Has he risen from his nest to sense me and guide me home? I doubt it, but it doesn't stop me from coming. After all, where else would I want to be? Where else have I got to go? Last time I died, I was alone.

The carpark at Wolfram and Hart is underground and I immediately feel safer, or at least my demon does. Safe from the sun and the well meaning citizens safe from me should any of them have been tempted to approach the huddled blood soaked figure under the dumpster. Impending death has not improved my reverse parking. The silver doors of the elevator beckon invitingly and I rest my face against the cool mirror-tile as it whooshes me upwards. I love the second of weightlessness you get in an elevator, and my current sorry state only seems to enhance the sensation. The spinning and the stars are delicious and I'm sorely tempted to simply ride the lifts up and down till I expire and the cleaning lady sweeps me up in the dust bin and dumps me in some plant pot because ashes make great fertilizer, apparently.

"Spike!". Oh, great. She of all people should not linger in this place after dark. Sweet little Fred whose bird like arms are trying to lift me as I crawl out of the lift. I cannot help but hiss a warning at her and the waif thinks she's hurt me more, wide brown eyes taking in every slash and cut that marks my skin. She can see the glimmer of white wood as it protrudes from my gut and I can see the scientist inside her snap into place. Fred knows us vampires. I know she's been studying Angel and I, covertly. She's reaching for the stake but she's way too close, and she smells of blood. It's womans blood, too tempting even for me.

She yelps as I push her away, sprawls in an ungainly tangle of legs. She's not frightened and it's probably just as well. I curl up on the floor and wait. Wild things bear their pain in silence but I think if I were capable of speech right now I'd be poring scorn on the corporate carpet. It's hideous and stinks of chemicals and shoe wax.

I must be quite out of it because I see his bare feet first. Even the most dull witted humans can sense when Angel enters a room, there's some primal instinct that still registers the danger of him even if they tell themselves they're just checking out his designer threads or unfashionable hair style. As for me, a childe of his family, well, lets just say that my very cells stand to attention even as the demon grovels.

Just as well I'm lying down because the demon is being especially pathetic, whining and supplicating itself to the dark god that bred it.

I can feel his eyes on me as Fred prattles in his ear. He's not really listening to her. He doesn't need to. He's heading off an approaching Wesley with quiet words and something in his expression makes them go funeral home silent as he comes towards me. I grit my teeth so hard the gums start to ache as he stoops to lift me. Cradled in his arms like a child, the room tilts but I see Fred and Wesley. She's wringing her hands and he's fingering his temple while he speaks to Angel. Does he need help? Shall they come too? There must be something?

No, no and no. It's family business, this. I think I imagined him saying that, but it doesn't matter cause he's turned away and we're flying again, up to that sterile suite of rooms he calls his own. He doesn't say a word to me as we pass through to his sleeping quarters. His bed is artificially heated from underneath and too soft for my liking. He's clinical in his disrobing of my bruised and battered form. He leaves me for a while and my ears track his movements. He's quiet and unhurried as he gathers things together, so I begin to wonder if he's being deliberately slow just to avoid touching me, or perhaps I'm not gonna dust as soon as my burning guts keep telling me. How embarrassing, both ways.

The bastard doesn't give me any warning. He just pauses briefly in his actions, reaches over the bed and rips the thing right out.

Holy fuck. Holy fucking stake dipped in holy fucking water. There's a decidedly unholy sound in my ears and I know it's me but I can't stop. I can feel the mattress dip as he settles next to me and he's got a hand on my forehead, I think, to keep me from dashing my brains on his fancy headboard. I don't know what he's doing down there where the hole was, but it's going numb and warm.

"Do you remember" he says into the chorus of whimpers that I've been reduced to, "how many times I patched you up when you were little?"

"I wasn't little" I manage after a minute, but I know what he means. Newborn, fledgling, childe. Baby.

He's leaning over and I can look into his eyes if I want to. I don't, but I do, if only to glimpse the other in the depths of them. Hello, my boy. I smile that smile that he used to like back then, the one that had gotten me out of more trouble than I cared to admit. The one of the youngster, the nestling fallen out of the tree and fully expecting it's parents to care for it forever.

He smiles back, but he's far too old to fall for it nowadays. He moves out of my vision, heading lower where I gasp at his broad tongue as it deftly cleans out the wound, his strong fingers pinching the gaping sides together. The traces of holy water must make it a less than pleasant task for him and I can smell the singe of burnt skin on his hand. He stops every few minutes to assess the healing. I can see traces of my blood on his face.

"Darla was forever telling me to leave you be when you came home like this" he continues, "she said you ought to learn your lesson, not earn my attention. She was quite the jealous bitch, but then you knew that five minutes after you met her. But I knew that getting my attention was the lesson for you, one that you cared not to learn overly well".

He dips his head back, suckling and laving his tongue across my torn belly and I strive not to move lest he be distracted.

"Rivers" he says again after another pause, "you bled rivers of it. I used to watch it run and wonder if it would ever dry up. All for me, Will, wasn't it?"

"You know it was" I whisper, long past the point of caring whether he knows of my tears. He crawls up my sore body to lay us together, his head tucked under my chin.

"And now that you're back, you still bleed for me. I find I do not have the taste for it I once had, boy"

"I won't learn. I won't stop" I blurt. Gods, I sound just like the childe my memories have conjured up. I'm hopelessly addicted to this, always have been. I'm craning my neck forwards, wondering if he'll remember. It seems that he does, of course, because he's nuzzling the back of my neck, mouthing gently down the nubs of bone. His bite is swift and sharp and instantly immobilising, jaws closing around my spine. Just a millimetre to the right and I'm dust in his bed. I'm powerless, held like a lion cub in the maw of the jungle king. His hand ghosts down my flanks to grip my cock, not to stroke or tease but simply to hold.

I lie there, safe and still and I hope he'll let me sleep in his arms because it feels so good to be whole again. I dream of the ocean.