Major spoilers for the final episode of Angel. Just how I thought it should have been...
Where All Things End
“It does not
end. A story finishes--or does for some, not for others--and there are
other tales, intersecting parallel, or sharing nothing but the time. There
is always something more.”
“Go. Live this day as if it were your last.”
It had been only hours since Angel had uttered those terrible, final words to the people that he loved most in the world. They would say their goodbyes, tie up loose ends, and perhaps find a moment of peace before the end. For none of them, he was sure, were deluded enough to think that this was anything else. Gunn, with all of his common sense, knew. Wesley with his beautiful, British fatalism, knew, and Spike, bless him, Spike had been here before.
Seeing Connor had eased Angel’s conscience; and with that burden lightened, he made his way to his penthouse to wait. It wouldn’t be long, two hours, perhaps, before he would face Hamilton and the end would begin.
He paused before the door to his apartment, though. He smelled something off. Something that shouldn’t be there. It was like candy. Like sunshine-baked, vanilla-coated, chocolate candy. And there was only one person in the world who smelled like that.
And dammit if there was only one person who sounded like that. Angel didn’t even bother to turn as Spike’s Doc Marten’s clunked down the hallway towards him; he just entered the penthouse and leaned against the doorjamb looking at the figure on his bed in bemusement.
He was not surprised. He had hoped that someone would come. Well, he had hoped, and maybe even prayed, that Buffy would come. After all, he’d been there when she needed him. And hell, he glanced at Spike who was staring open mouthed at the other person; Spike had sacrificed himself for her . . .
It made a kind of twisted sense, though. Xander Harris, who was now too skinny and whose hair had been too long without a cut, had always been the most human of the old Scooby gang. He had fought the same battles as the others, but on his own, mortal terms. He had never channeled great powers, for good or for evil. He wasn’t a ball of energy in human form, a witch, a demon, a vampire with a soul, or most especially a chosen savior of mankind. He was merely human. And still he had managed to fight the good fight at Buffy’s side for seven long years.
It had been a fight that had taken everyone he loved from him one by one, and had never given him anything back. It had started with his best friend, with Jessie, and it had ended with the love of his life. And losing Anya, it appeared, had been the last straw.
“Not exactly a great time for vacationing in L.A., Harris.” Spike broke the silence and lit a cigarette.
“Not on a vacation,” Xander replied, finally rising to his feet. When he turned to face the vampires, taking the pack of cigarettes from Spike, Angel was shocked at how the eye patch had altered his appearance. He looked older, dirtier. Much less like the soft, hurting Xander that had faced the end of the world only a year ago.
He lit up, watching the flame intently. “A little bird told me that the apocalypse was coming. Again.” He raised the eyebrow above his good eye. “Is it for real? Is everyone gonna die?”
“Looks that way, mate,” Spike answered, and sat on the window ledge.
“Huh. No magic axes or amulets for the lucky vampire?” Xander wondered, as he ashed into one of Angel’s favorite vases.
“Already went over that, Harris. Told Angel I won’t be the martyr this time.” Spike sounded indignant.
Angel moved closer to Xander, intending to loom and intimidate before realizing how much the boy had grown up. While he was not as broad as the vampire, he was nearly as tall. Angel gave the looming a try anyway and scowled as well. “That’s right, Xander. No magic. No hope.” He waved a hand at Spike. “Everyone dies and no one gets a free pass to come back for a second try.”
Xander chuckled. “Heard about that. Spike popping out of an envelope. I would have paid good money to see the look on your face when that happened, Angel.”
“Yeah, well. It won’t happen again. This is serious.” Angel tried a grimmer scowl.
“If you’re sure,” Xander stepped forward into Angel space, “that we’re all gonna die. That this is it--sayonara, aufwiedersien, adios, the last hurrah-- no more near misses.” Angel nodded. “Then this is exactly where I want to be.” He stubbed his cigarette out on his shoe and tossed it into a plant.
Angel gave up. He was letting a lot slide today--letting a lot go. He was dancing in the light of his burning bridges, but by tomorrow, if there was a tomorrow, it wouldn’t matter. If Xander wanted to fight with them, if he thought that it was something that he needed to do, then he had Angel’s blessing.
The creak of leather reminded him that he and Xander weren’t alone in the room. He turned to Spike, still crouched in the windowsill with the setting sun catching his platinum hair and setting it aflame, and growled, “What’re you doing here, Spike? I told you to do whatever you wanted. Live for a while.”
Spike’s smile was beatific, for once completely guileless. And then without a care for the fact that they were not alone he said, “If it’s to be my last day, I want to spend it with you. You make me feel alive.” He gave a theatrical shiver.
Angel collapsed into the nearest chair, and tried to ignore Spike as the other vampire hopped off the window ledge and began to slink toward him. “Y’don’t want to die without fucking me just one more time. D’you, Angel?” Spike asked as he reached him.
Angel heard Xander cough and start to sidle toward the door. “Er. I’ll just leave you two alone then? ‘Cause while rekindling the old flame is all for the good, you don’t need an audience . . .”
The older vampire made a split second decision regarding both the ferociously erotic idea of sex-before-death with Spike and the fresh, hot blood walking out the door. He grabbed Xander as he was passing. “You’re not leaving.”
Spike apparently agreed, for before Xander could break away from Angel, the other vampire was on him.
“Oh yes, mate, do stay,” Spike lisped through extended fangs. “Y’don’t want to die without having done this.”
Xander grinned, and it wasn’t a nice grin, while leaning back into Spike’s arms. “Oh, I think you’ll find I’ve done a bit of this and that since you saw me last.” He caught the back of Spike’s head with his hand and pressed the vampire’s fangs to his neck. “You’ll need my blood to make it . . . right.”
When Angel stood up he knocked Xander completely back into Spike, and sent the two of them off balance for a moment. He grabbed Xander’s thin face and turned it side to side. There were no visible marks. He snorted. “You don’t know shit, Xander.”
The human’s eye flashed, “Then teach me. Show me what it’s like before we die. Show me what’s so goddamn irresistible about it.”
And Angel understood. Buffy had been drawn to vampires, to both he and Spike. And then Anya had slept with Spike too. It was, in a sense, Xander’s turn.
He nodded over Xander’s head to Spike, who slowly began pulling Xander back toward the bed. They would go slow in taking the boy, but they would take him. And taking him, taking his blood, would be the final corruption of the innocents who had been touched by the Hell Mouth. It would also be the end of Angel’s fight-- he was no longer helping the hopeless; instead he was killing friends, ordering long-time associates shot, and fucking and bleeding the last of the golden children from Sunnydale.
The two vampires worked together to strip Xander, starting with his shirt and working down to his pants and finally slipping off his shoes. Spike was surprisingly reassuring, murmuring comforting words and running caressing hands over Xander’s arms and chest. This was a side of Spike that not many people got to see, the calm before the storm.
He would occasionally brush against a sensitive nipple and cause the human to gasp wordlessly as Angel sat and watched. He was content for the moment to let Spike arouse Xander. The other vampire had always been better in situations like this, more confident in his ability to give and receive pleasure. And it was a pleasure for Angel just to see Spike’s pale skin, divested now of clothes, slide slowly against Xander’s long, dark body as the vampire kneaded wicked hands into knotted muscled and squirreled his tongue into hidden crevices.
Once Spike’s blond head was bent over Xander’s crotch, taking the human’s purple-headed member in his mouth, the spell was broken. Xander’s high-pitched, needy cries echoed throughout the penthouse, arousing Angel and bringing back memories. Forbidden memories of nights just like this one, spent watching Spike seduce some hapless young man into their bed.
But that was so long ago, and so far removed from L.A., Wolfram and Hart, and what Angel had become, that it seemed surreal.
It had been decades since he had Spike had shared an intimate conversation, let alone a bed, or a lover.
Angel moved soundlessly to the head of the bed, slipping his clothes off as he went, and caught Xander’s flailing hands, pinning them above the boy’s head as he sat down. He knew what to do; the rhythm was familiar.
He left Xander’s hands locked in one of his as he trailed the other down Xander’s belly and across his thigh, coaxing the boy’s legs open. And when Spike felt Angel’s rough knuckles brush his cheek, he eagerly opened his mouth wide enough to accommodate Angel’s fingers, moaning deep in his throat as his mouth stretched.
When Angel’s fingers were slick with Spike’s spit, he pulled them from the other vampire’s mouth and pressed one against Xander’s entrance. He felt the boy tense, and Spike must have too, for the blond, locking hot blue eyes with Angel, swallowed Xander’s cock to the hilt.
Xander fought against Angel’s restraining hand and began to pant, bucking his hips into Spike’s eager mouth. And while he was distracted and his muscles relaxed, Angel slid his probing finger inside. There was a wet, choking sound from Spike as Xander swiveled his hips sharply in protest, but neither vampire released their hold.
Xander’s eyes rolled back in his head and he began to swear to himself under his breath. “Jesusjesusjesus . . .Spike,” he muttered, as he tore a hand away from Angel. He gripped Spike’s head with it, mussing the blonde’s hair, and grunted softly as he came.
If Angel had
had any lingering doubts about Spike’s plan for their last afternoon, they
were utterly banished when the other vampire captured his mouth in a searing
kiss that tasted both of Spike, the Spike he remembered, and of Xander:
sweet, salty and smoky.
“Lotion,” the boy said, half smiling when the two vampires turned to look at him. “I assume,” he continued, turning his back to them and kneeling, “that you want me like this?”
“It’ll do,” Spike answered quietly, touching Xander’s back and then taking the lotion from him. “You’ll not have done this before, then, luv?” he asked, drizzling lotion over his hand and smiling at Angel.
“ Mmm. Once. Maybe twice.” Xander shook his head and mumbled into the sheets.
“Wasn’t memorable, sounds like.” Spike motioned Angel around to kneel in front of Xander. “This will be.” He leaned over Xander’s back, rubbing his chest against the knobs in Xander’s spine until he reached the boy’s head. There, he pulled the shaggy hair back from Xander’s good eye and kissed his cheek. “Look.” Xander lifted his head and looked up into Angel’s eyes and then down at the older vampire’s erection, inches from his mouth.
Angel waited. He wasn’t sure that the boy would do it. He had been eager enough when Spike was blowing him, and he had offered himself to Spike with little reservation. But Xander just stared up at him, his one eye black with unreadable emotion. He didn’t move when Angel shifted closer to him and cupped his jaw in his hand, and he still didn’t move when Angel guided his cock to touch its dripping head to Xander’s lips. It was only after Spike, crouching behind him, nipped the flesh of his thigh in reproof, that he averted his disconcerting gaze and opened his mouth.
Angel felt a glimmer of guilt at that, but he didn’t let it stop him. The boy had wanted it; he had come to them looking for something: atonement, purification, punishment, and ultimately, it appeared, death. And Angel was certainly capable and willing, lately, to deal out the latter two.
Xander wasn’t experienced, and his teeth caught on Angel’s tender flesh. But, to the vampire, enclosed in wet heat while he watched Spike slide two fingers into Xander over the boy’s bowed back, it was enough.
And it got immeasurable better. When Spike entered Xander, the vampire’s thin, muscled chest strained with the effort of keeping a steady pace and his face went slack with pleasure. And Angel finally let go.
He had had no idea how much he had missed seeing that look on Spike’s face. The look of utter concentration, and utter pleasure. He was used to a sneering, leering, snarking, Spike. This was Spike exposed, with his emotions bared, and his passion uncontained.
It was only moments before Spike’s eyes flickered yellow and Angel could see his fangs between his open lips. Angel responded, knowing what was happening, and powerless to stop it. Xander, it appeared, was not ignorant either. This was what he had wanted, and his hand crept up Angel’s thigh to his chest and came to rest there. An offering.
Spike’s movements became frantic, then, and he fell forward on Xander’s back, letting the boy support his weight as he reached under them both, searching for Xander’s cock. Then everything happened at once; one soul-deep thrust brought Spike’s mouth level with Xander’s neck, and with a growl he pierced with boy’s carotid artery. Blood spilled over his lips and down his neck, and the smell of it broke Angel’s last barrier. He took Xander’s hand and let his teeth sink, smoothly, sinfully, into the vein on the underside of his wrist.
Time seemed frozen in a grisly, yet sensual tableau of fucking and feeding. Angel and Spike were emptying themselves into Xander, giving him their essence, while consuming him, and draining his life away.
Spike, the orchestrator of it all, ended it. He dragged his red-stained mouth from Xander’s neck and wrestled the boy’s hand away from Angel barely in time. Xander’s heart was beating tantalizingly slow.
Their eyes met over Xander’s back, yellow and yellow, and Spike ran his tongue over his hand, licking Xander’s come off it, showing sharp, bloody fangs as he did. They let Xander fall to wet sheets in between them, unconscious and sated.
For they weren’t done.
Angel growled a warning deep in his chest, but he wasn’t quick enough. Spike was on him, pinning him, and grinding their hips painfully together.
“Been an awfully long time, mate,” Spike murmured against Angel’s shoulder, letting his hair brush against the older vampire’s face.
“Too fucking long, Spike,” Angel replied as he flipped them over, surprised when Spike’s eyes faded back to blue. He ran a sticky finger over the scar on Spike’s eyebrow, leaving a trail of red, and whispered, “What?”
“Want it like this, Angel. The real us. Face to face.” He spread his legs apart and raised his hips invitingly. “Last time.”
Angel was touched. He hadn’t expected to be. He had expected to be aroused; it was impossible not to be turned on by Spike after all, but he had thought that all of his feelings, real feelings, for the other vampire were long dead. They had been at odds for so long, competing for everything from Buffy to the Shanshu, that he had assumed that any tenderness, any . . .love between them had withered.
He had been willing to sacrifice Spike based on that assumption. He had been willing to die thinking that he was, for all intents and purposes, unloved. Wesley and Gunn respected him, and Fred and Lorne had loved him. But Fred was gone and he had betrayed Lorne’s trust in him. To his shame, he hadn’t even considered Spike.
He had certainly not considered the Spike that was peering at him through hurt, lonely eyes and rubbing so gently against him.
The lotion was still on the bed where Spike had left it, and Angel slicked his cock with shaky fingers. He rubbed some into his hand and reached between them to find Spike’s opening, but Spike caught him and murmured, “No time for that. Fuck me now.”
Angel drew back and looked down at him. “You’ll be all right?”
“Always am,” Spike responded, grabbing hold of Angel’s erection and guiding it inside.
And it was like coming home. It was like the horror of what was coming just melted away, because Angel was locked inside of the circle of Spike’s legs and the cocoon of his body, and nothing could go wrong there. The years of separation followed by years of animosity didn’t matter. Saving the world, helping the hopeless, dying. None of it mattered. This-- making Spike hiss in pleasure and seeing tears well up in the blue eyes-- was what mattered.
High on blood and each other, it only took seconds before Spike was mewling and clutching at Angel’s back and coming, coating their stomachs with the pearly fluid. And Angel climaxed soon after, kissing Spike’s blood-crusted lips and tear-stained cheekbones.
Getting dressed was a challenge for Angel, and he accepted Spike’s help with buttoning his shirt. As Spike’s nimble fingers worked, Angel’s gaze fell on Xander, awake now but sprawled, pale and still, like a sacrifice to a bloodthirsty god. Or two.
Spike finished with Angel’s shirt and lit up a cigarette, offering one to a grateful Xander. “C’mon, love. Up you go. You’ll come with me then, and we’ll leave Angel to his brooding.”
Xander smiled at that and gave Spike a quick peck on the cheek as he climbed off the bed, looking for his clothes.
“This is it, yeah?” Spike asked, turning back to Angel who took him in his arms. “It is.” He paused. “But leave Xander here; he’ll be of no use to you.”
Spike shrugged. “ ‘S your fight, luv.” He pushed Angel away and looked out the window into the deepening twilight. There was a sense of finality in his stance as he reached a finger out to touch the glass. When he spoke again his voice was low and Angel had to strain to hear it. “Masters,” he quoted, “I have to tell a tale of woe, A tale of folly and of wasted life, Hope against hope, the bitter dregs of strife, Ending, where all things end, in death at last.”* When he finished speaking, he turned his back to Angel and walked to the door.
He gently touched Xander’s hand as he passed him and murmured, “bye, luv,” before leaving the penthouse.
And smiling sadly at Spike’s retreating back, Angel collected Xander and settled back to wait for Hamilton.
Only Spike, Gunn and Illyria met them in the alley. And not even the pouring rain could mask the smell of death that surrounded Gunn.
He looked at Spike, his shirt plastered to his lithe body, humming with energy, and imagined that the blond vampire might just live forever. Then he looked at Xander, with his single eye burning, waiting for a death that had been promised to him eight years before in a catacomb underneath a Sunnydale cemetery; and Angel was thankful for the boy’s sacrifice. It had made them stronger. Whether strong enough, he couldn’t know.
And as the demon horde approached, Spike’s whispered words came back to him: “Ending where all things end. In death at last.”
* Spike’s quote
is from William Morris, The Earthly Paradise.