He rests for a moment at the lych gate. Behind him, grey stones shade black in the dark; before him, the chapel, small and still. And he, the dead guy, pauses where the coffins pause, to catch a breath he'll never need again. He's not unaware of the irony.
"This way," the curate says. Angel nods, but the young priest blathers on. "We found him here, you know. Spot of clean-up after evening mass; there's a crew in to do it, Monday mornings, but Father Simon says they never put things right..." At Angel's look of patience wearing thin, "Yes, quite. Sorry. You'll know all this; that girl, his friend— she'd have told you when she called."
Angel scrapes his palm along the stone as he stands straight; a tiny rasp of pain. It wakes him, spurs him onward, past the gate. "It's alright," he says, excusing, dismissing. He waves a healing hand at Father Something Young and Way Too Trendy. Barry? "I know the way."
A hundred years on, but he does; his steps are sure. Father Barry's babble floats on the moss-scented breeze. "He's lodged up at the guesthouse since she left, but he wanted to meet you here. Not quite certain why. He isn't of the faith; I asked, and..."
Angel tunes the rest out, hand upon the door. Why here? Stupid question. When has the reason ever been anything besides 'to piss Angel off'? He knows he'll ask it anyway, which pisses him off, and proves the point.
Another pause, in the doorway. Not, this time, to stare at someone else's ancestors and put this off another second. Just the scent of incense, long-burned. Votives flickering faint inside their glass.
Boots, dusty and black, propped lazy on a seatback, crossed at the ankle. A column hides the rest.
Get your feet off that pew, boy! Show some respect or you'll learn it from the back of my hand... His own voice echoes in the stillness, though he hasn't said a word.
Ah, that's why, then. A hundred color pictures flood his brain — the things they'd done against that tapestry alone — and he'll have to face the curate again, on the way out. At least they ate the last one, not that he'd have cared, back then.
The door clangs shut behind him. The boots don't move. He can sense the smirk that hides behind that pillar— there's a twitching in his slapping-stupid hand. "You came back from the dead and dragged me halfway across the world because you wanted to play naughty altarboy again?" Easier than he'd thought, not to laugh; he's not sure he's joking.
The silence that's Spike, surprised; the tiny intake of breath that's Spike not snickering, stretching out the gag. Silence again for the space of that breath, and within it the steady, rhythmic sound of the impossible.
"Never wanted to play it in the first place." Spike thinks he can sneak his laughter out behind a layer of sulk, but Angel catches it. He's there, across the floor that's carpet now instead of stone, in the space of another breath. Looming over Spike, and that's familiar too.
Back then, he'd bent close, though, growling. Collar scratching his neck, wondering why he was glaring into bright blue eyes instead of misty gray. Vowing to beat Drusilla bloody for this trick, then not let her come for days. This was their game; father and daughter who'd played a thousand wicked variations of Nun and Novice. Not this toy whippet who couldn't name the stations of the cross, let alone think of something blasphemous to do at each of them. Who had every idea how ridiculous he looked in that cassock, and none of how obscenely innocent.
Now, Angel looms from afar, staring down. Taking stock. The jeans are loose; the white shirt open to the throat. The skin revealed by borrowed clothes is pink. Too much so; almost red.
Spike glances at his arm, then looks back up. "Stayed out too long." Angel expects the grin, but not the honest joy. "Don't freckle, it turns out." Faint hairs along his wrist, bleached white as the hair on his head.
Angel's fingers move without permission; he can't help it.
A hundred years ago, there'd been no question of his right. One wicked child had slipped another in her place, but blood was blood, and Spike was no less his. His to take fast, bent over the mourners' pew. His to fuck slow, hard against the altar, Christ watching without comment from above. His to trace the sign of the cross on skin laid bare, with smoking fingers dripping from the font.
Not his, not anymore. He isn't even sure just what Spike is. Still, Angel reaches — and Spike's forehead burns his palm.
"What are you doing here?" Angel growls, and in it are why here, why now, why me and why do you have what should've been mine? He doesn't move his hand.
"Funny story, that." Spike's voice mild as the cow-eyed Christ on the wall, but more amused. "Fell. Splat. Naked from the sky. Gave that little curate quite the view."
"Of course." He isn't twelve; he only thinks 'Originality is dead.' He shakes his head. "Why here?"
"Ah. Well." Spike's boot twitches. "Suppose 'cos she was here. Collecting up another brand new Chosen One." The grin's less blinding, but Angel's hand still burns. "And now she's in Hong Kong." Without Spike, and God knows what that means; Angel doesn't. "And you're here."
"She called me. For you." He doesn't know which word to stress, which finally makes him laugh. "Why?"
Spike unfolds his legs. Rises, and Angel snatches back his hand. "Blah safe, blah research, blah because I said so. Not my idea, trust me."
"Yeah? Then why're you here?" Angel asks again. Or maybe asks himself.
Silence. Spike dips his fingers in the font, and stares.
Ten seconds count themselves in Angel's head, before Spike flicks the holy water at him.~ fin