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by Te

     Subject: BtVS: (Un)defined
     Date: Friday, November 15, 2002 1:36 AM

     by Te
     November 2002
     Disclaimers: No one here is mine, and I should probably be
     less conflicted about that.
     Spoilers: Season 7.
     Summary: The definition of Spike.
     Ratings Note: R.
     Author's Note: My first theory about recent events.
     Acknowledgments: To my Webrain, for helping me figure out
     exactly where I stood. To Jenn, for audiencing.
     Feedback keeps me whole.

What is a man?

Spike has been turning the question over and over in his mind for quite some time now, though he's not sure precisely how long. His time sense is somewhat... skewed. The perils of being newly souled. He knows this. He knows.

But it's the things he doesn't know that bring him comfort.

Like the question of manhood. Manliness. Humanity.

Sometimes his inner voice comes in the form of horridly Xander-like babble, but there is comfort in that, too. Xander is, after all, very much alive and within his personal space much of the time, a yapping, angry-fearful solidity the other voices have little chance against.

Little, little...

Some quantities known, some qualities unknown, some quantification needed for the vast middle-space between. The space in which he is and isn't a terrified little man who died many, many years ago, is and isn't a bodiless, parasitical demon that believes itself something quite more, and is and is not... a man.

Spike is aware that he clings to the middle spaces like the lifeline it very much isn't, but it provides a focus. If he concentrates, even on something as deeply futile (and oh, you know the time is coming, don't you, luv? Don't you know?) answering the unanswerable, then he can pretend he is something other than what he is on the surface:

Undead flesh without cause, without purpose or drive.

There is nothing, after all, that he can do with his time. No one to recriminate, no one who has any use for his apologies -- heartfelt and soulful as they may be -- no one and nothing to do.

Oh, but there is, there is, they say, and Spike has to pause mid-shot. Just to be sure the phantoms aren't quite there enough to make him the sort of liability even this dive won't accept.

This makes the demon growl and rage within -- a crueler, dirtier comfort, but a comfort just the same. The demon is never anything but itself. Strange how it seems so much more clear, so much more single-minded -- he does not miss the irony of that -- now that it isn't alone in his head.

Or is that an illusion? A lesser phantom belonging more to Freud and Jung than the various Van Helsings of the world?

He is a thoroughly modern vampire, said his princess one day. Her eyes sparkled with rabid, racing joy even as everything in her voice and posture screamed mourning. "You know all the new things, the LOUD things, and they'll catch you up and take you away from me," she said.

And she was right enough, if self-fulfilling prophecies counted for anything.

Spike manages a very solid-feeling smirk as he waves for the bottle, slouching over his little section of bar territory like the old beast-god that's coming for them all, for everything. It feels right enough, in that old, familiar way.

Worms in the earth, rats in the walls and all that rot.

A point toward an answer, perhaps: he is, most assuredly, still a vampire.

Not that there'd ever been any doubt of that, what with the demon's constant demands for time, attention, and subjugation.

What with the whimpering horror of his clerkish soul, rifling through a century of memories and demanding suicide.

Really, if he were a lesser... man, he'd be quite the little psychotic right now.

He -- all of him, if the nasty little truth be known -- wishes there were someone around who could laugh with him. All of him, all of him...

The woman on the tiny, grimy stage is singing about being God in the cynical, derisive way only non-locals can manage. The bodies on the tiny, grimy dance floor have no real beat to move to, but that doesn't seem to matter to any of them. There's a real fin de siecle feel to the place that appeals, even if it's all a bit late.

Even if the funerary/celebratory mess of it all is pointless.

It always is.

He doesn't have to look around to see if there's anyone in here who at least gets that -- none of the other vampires he's noticed in the place are old enough. And humans burn bright and hot and quick.

Another answer for him, and did it really take him so long to learn this one? He is not human, by any stretch of the imagination. No matter how much he tried to be.

He'd never stopped living like one, not really. Taking great gulps of air into lungs that just wanted to wither. Eating and drinking no matter how much his digestive system wanted to rebel. Dancing around vast fires with his princess until his pores remembered how to open and spill something like almost like sweat...

Why? It's not a rhetorical question, even if it is directed to himself. Or the demon part of himself, in any event.

The demon just sulks, yellow-eyed and smoky-insubstantial somewhere behind his eyes. Still another answer: He is very much more than the sum of his parts at this moment, and bully for him, anyway.

He drinks in the hummingly loud silence of a world unpeopled by anyone but the oblivious humans and demons surrounding him and his own momentary quietus. He tastes the rolling, pretentious words of an older vocabulary sinking deep and insidious into his mind.

He was a man of letters, if one who reached constantly beyond his grasp. Some things never changed.

Pressure on his shoulder resolves itself through the haze of incipient drunken stupor to be the hand of a human. Warm through his shirt. Large, grasping suggestively, but still somewhat tentative. (Am I being propositioned by a man?/Fucking hell I love these terrified American nancy boys...)

So much for silence. Spike shudders and squeezes his eyes shut for long moments.

When he opens them, there's a young man, a boy no older than... The boy is sitting beside him, having deduced that a shuddering, pathetic drunk would be more likely to blow him in an alley than beat him to a pulp.

There's a sense of inevitability that strikes Spike quite dumb as he looks in the boy's warm, knowing eyes. As his heartbeat gradually drowns out all other sound in the bar. As his glass of beer tinkles cheerfully against Spike's shot glass in a self-deprecating, one-sided toast.

"Holden Webster," he says, and Spike blinks himself back into something that feels like real time, into the rhythm of what's going to happen.

"Spike," and he smiles at the boy. His second best. Because... because he knows exactly what's going to happen, doesn't he?

"I haven't seen you around here much. New in town?"

"Oh, I've been around," Spike says, and it's a lot like being on autopilot. (What are you doing? I don't/oh, this one's gagging for it...)

The boy quirks his eyebrow in something that could be worldly wisdom, if the babyfat wasn't still visible on his cheeks. "Oh, really? Well, in that case, I guess you know exactly why I'm here."

Spike leans out of the boy's face just long enough to light a cigarette, and the brief blast of clear, hormone free air is as bracing as a slap. "I think I have a fair idea, yeh." (We sound like trash/that's right, play up the ol' accent...) "Been watching me for a while." It's a gamble, but not an especially risky one.

The boy (for the love of God, call him Holden/we don't ask their names, as a rule/what are you talking about?) blinks so fast it looks like he's fluttering his eyelashes, but doesn't deny it.

Spike smiles, and wonders at the useful, pleasurable pity of running two fingers over that smooth, rosy cheek, in front of the beast and everyone. "It's all right, luv. I wouldn't have known you were watching if I hadn't taken a few looks myself." Somewhere within him is a sickening, exhilarating roil of horrified fascination and mounting hunger. Lust is a strong enough, pure enough thread to connect even the strangest of bedfellows.

Predictably, the boy doesn't even blink at this bit of ridiculousness. He's still too busy looking for the confidence he's sure he used to have. It's written all over his face: a very young, very intelligent young man, very much out of his depth. "You didn't seem half so... aggressive a minute ago." And on the offense.

(.../that's right, luv) "A minute ago I wasn't thinking of fucking you senseless, ducks." And that, of course, deserves his very best smile. Decision time, pretty boy. Do you take a chance? Holden flushes hard, heat so high Spike's sure he can feel it. Wants to lean in and rub it all over his skin, just to remember, just to take --

"... my lucky night."

And Spike doesn't even care that he missed most of whatever the boy just said. All of it is in his rueful smile. In the way his body is turned to face Spike's own, legs spread just enough. Spike drops his cigarette in the shot glass. "Oh, I do think so," and each word comes out with it's own smoky emphasis. Looks the boy up and down, nice and slow.

"Shall we?" Admirably unshaken, if only in tone.

Spike just nods, and follows him into the breezy dark.

The boy drives, which is really for the best. Even if Spike did have a car, he's really in no condition to drive. What with the argument going on behind his eyes. His soul seems to have caught a clue. His demon is at turns mocking and solicitous. And he is, himself, so much more.

Or less.

Does it matter?

It's enough to be here, surrounded by the scent of yet another babbling young man, tracing an idle hand along one long, strong thigh whenever the apprehensive-scent starts overriding the scent of want.

He can watch in an artificial silence, all confusion and kafuffle walled safely behind walls of bone and borrowed blood. And if he knows full well that his silent stare is just ratcheting the boy's desire into something very much resembling a fait accompli...

Well, he's spent many years trapped in self-fulfilling prophecies that were not of his own making. Surely he can have this one for his very own?

That old rotted rhythm of the earth has never felt so right.

"... so, really, you'd be amazed at how often the stories the schizophrenics tell --"

"Are the same? Maybe I would."

"I. I didn't think you were listening."

"I'm going to show you so many things."

"Jesus, who are you?"

Spike smiles a little wider and shakes his head, unnerving the boy beside him half-on purpose and jostling his buzzing, yammering little passengers. (Oh God, oh God, I beseech thee, deliver me from evil, deliver me into the warmth of your/that's the point, William. You'll be warm again. So warm. And the pain he feels will be nothing to the pleasure/his family --/smell him, Will. You can almost taste him.../I'm not a monster!/Oh, but we --)

"... here. Um. My apartment, that is."

Spike blinks himself out of it and lunges for the boy, licking long stripes along his throat and pressing him back against the driver's seat with one hand while holding his head back with the other.

"Oh, oh fuck --"

Sucks a kiss, and it's building, raging, the want in him something so powerful and...

It's like a click, like the safety on a rifle being switched off, like a vast, primeval engine sliding and moving into gear --

(I. I could do anything to him.../oh yes...)

"Spike, please... please touch me..."

(Anything at all.../no one can ever tell/me what to do oh...) Spike slides his hand down to the heat, the blood-iron rigidity between Holden's legs, smiling at the jerk and buck of the boy's hips.

"Fuck yes --"

And the butter-slick slide of his fangs into Holden's throat is all he needs to know about being whole.

For now.


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