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. teland793@sbcglobal.net


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"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

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.