TITLE: The World Went On
RATING: PG13, for Spike's usual colorful language
SETTING: LA, post-NFA
LENGTH: 989 words
DISCLAIMER: Not mine, which is a shame because usually we're nicer to them than Joss was.
All Spike smelled was blood and motor oil. He lifted his face to the rain, ignoring the sting where the wet concrete scraped his already broken skin. He blinked to force the droplets clinging to his lashes to fall.
That just meant he now saw the dark gray smearing his fingers. The dust he’d snatched out of the air when a demon twice his size had reared up behind Angel and cut off his head. He’d tried to warn him. The others, he couldn’t save; Gunn was a walking dead man before stepping foot in the alley, and Illyria disappeared into the fray too early to track.
But Angel, in spite of his stubborn, infuriating ways, was the closest Spike had to family anymore. He didn’t want him dead.
He realized he should’ve learned a long time ago that what he wanted and what he got were two entirely different things.
Spike groaned as standing shot fresh pain up his spine. That bloody dragon had swooped in out of nowhere. Half of his clothes were scorched away, but the rain had quenched the flames before he could combust, leaving him staggering back against the brick wall and out of the thick of the fight. He remembered nothing else until awakening. The thought he’d somehow failed filled him with dread.
His only hope was it was still night. He wasn’t dust so he couldn’t have been unconscious for long. There might be a chance to get back into the clash and die with honor alongside his friends.
As he staggered out to the street, the first thing he noticed was the absence of sound. The soft drive of the rain splashing into puddles could have been any midnight in any city, not the center of a hellbent fray. Streetlamps flickered. A few were shattered, glass splattered at their bases like shed scales, but most were still intact, testimony that the world went on.
His gaze jumped up and down the street. Empty. No more fight. How could it be over when it had barely begun?
But it was. He couldn’t deny what he saw with his own eyes. In the distance, a car honked, to be answered by another.
The world went on.
Spike leaned heavily against the wall, shoulders sagging. He craved a cigarette, but the pack he pulled from his pocket was sodden and useless. If the rest of LA wasn’t under siege, he could probably find a shop close by and get another, but that felt like too much effort. Better to wait, hold up the wall and not think about it holding up him.
If the fight really was over, he had other things to worry about, like what he was going to do now. He’d avoided making any real decision for the past year, but the clock had finally ticked its last tock. No Angel to annoy. No Gunn to drink with. No Illyria to leer after when her back was turned, because really, the goddess had the ass of champions, especially in that leather number. All he had left was himself. Maybe for the first time since getting turned.
Bugger, what he wouldn’t do for a smoke.
The sound reached through his growing malaise only because it was different. It wasn’t a construct of the city, nor did it resonate from the streets in front of him. It cut into Spike’s awareness because it came from behind, from the bowels of the alley he had only just vacated. It breathed of life.
Spike’s head whipped around, any sense of lassitude gone. He held still, listening. Looking. Waiting for a repeat so he could determine what exactly it was. It didn’t come. He crept forward. Proximity might make a difference. The softly falling rain masked his steps, but he remained tense, ready for anyone or anything to jump out at him.
He felt the heartbeat first. Fluttery, like a small bird’s wings. Too regular to be demon, too fast to be human.
Then he smelled the blood. It wasn’t spilled from open veins, and it wasn’t stale from hours of exposure. It was fresh and hot and rushed through flesh loud enough for him to hear.
It also pulsed in time with the heartbeat. He’d been wrong. It wasn’t too fast for a human. Just for an adult.
He found it near where he’d been laying. He’d been too wrapped up in returning to the fight to notice. A baby rested atop a swaddle of black leather, wrapped in a blanket only dry because the open dumpster lid protected it from the bulk of the rain. Its eyes were screwed shut, a tiny fist at its mouth as its lips pursed around a thumb and sucked vigorously. That was the sound he’d heard.
Crouching down, Spike pulled away the edge of the blanket. His eyes widened for a moment, before his brows drew together into a thick frown.
The baby had a birthmark he recognized all too well. He’d certainly mocked it enough when he saw it on Angel’s business cards. Which meant only one thing.
Carefully, he eased the fabric away from the kid’s head. It opened its eyes, but he didn’t need to see the liquid brown depths to recognize the wide, sloped forehead.
Spike growled. “Now this just isn’t funny.” He imagined Angel wouldn’t think so, either. The last thing he wanted was to pick the baby up, but nobody else was in the alley. If he didn’t, there was no saying who’d find the babe, if anybody even would.
“Not calling you Angel, you know. It’s a pansy name.” He straightened, taking care to cradle the baby’s head. “Just have to come up with something a bit more manly. Like Spike.” He grinned. “Or Spike Junior. Could get used to that.”
He could’ve sworn the baby glared at him. Didn’t matter. All that did was he wasn’t alone anymore.