Comfort

A/N: 563 words. Thanks to [info]romanyg for the inspiration.


Spike is dancing.

Spin, twist, drop gracefully into a perfect form of muscle and flesh. Arms down, hands firm, and the satisfying crunch of bone as steel pipe drives into skull. Breathing in the motion, it's unnatural, but Spike does it - doesn't know why he does anything else these days, so why not?

The man across the alley cringes and whines, trying to cover his face. He can't run; his kneecaps are broken. Is he the child molester? The murderer? The embezzler? Hard to keep them straight, and it doesn't matter anyway. The body limp at his feet now, blood pooling on the alley floor and pipe sticking up, glinting in the light, Spike lights a cigarette and considers.

"Could let you live," he says to the man, a test and not an offer. The guy nods his head fervently, pleadingly, and Spike fills with compassion - and contempt. He really does forget who this guy is. He could be evil, or he could be a bum in the alley. Or a father of three Spike caught at an ATM. Impossible to tell. But he can't just walk away - that too is a choice. If he is a murderer, and he kills again, there is blood on Spike's hands.

Teardrops in the ocean.

"What am I?" he asks aloud, more to himself this time.

Of course, there is a stuttering reply. "I'm s-sure you're a g-good p-p-person, please... please don't kill me..." He stinks of fear, of piss and spoiled milk, and guilt.

Spike feels his lip lift in hate, squinting at this pathetic bastard crouched against a dumpster, pleading for his life. There was a time when he'd have killed him without thinking, a time when the shrill note in his voice would have been crime enough, punishable as all things are. But in the here and now, it's not so clear: poor guy might just want to get home to his family, get out of the alley with the psychopath. Perfectly reasonable, really. Torn, Spike stands and watches him, evaluating and smoking, as he shivers and cringes, his hands hovering near his head.

Spike feels the inertia of decision coming into his head, and drops his cigarette, crushing it beneath his heel. "Well," he begins, the big reveal on the guy's fate as terrified eyes widen...

But then there are hands around the guy's head, and a swift movement, the crunch again. Spike glares at the offender as the corpse slumps down, making a tiny metallic sound ring from the dumpster. "I was gonna do that," Spike says irritably, pointing.

Angel says nothing, arms crossed, glaring. You're too dramatic, Spike. Just get the job done. I don't believe I have to tell you this still, after years of education. You're such a disappointment, boy. He doesn't have to say a word. Spike can hear it all, anyway.

So easy to hate him. So easy to get under his skin. Spike smirks, lights up again, donning the persona like a long black coat. "Did the other one. Just havin' a little fun. You'd been a little faster, I wouldn't have had to do at all. You're slowin' down, old man."

"Spike..." Warning tone, so familiar. Recognizable. Certain.

Spike saunters out of the alley, ignoring Angel completely and knowing he will follow, and there will be a fight. Secretly, Spike is smiling.