Talking Grey


Spike's prowling the lobby of the condemned Hyperion. He won't sit down, he won't talk or be talked to. He checks the windows now and again, like it'll do the least bit of good. They're stuck.

Outside, the troops mass and wait. Illyria's leftover God-King mojo won't keep them safe forever, but it'll hold until reinforcements get here. Angel comes out of the office, where Gunn lies bleeding, drying his hands on a blue towel. His eyes are haunted, his face drawn and determined, and he doesn't say anything as he heads across the floor and checks on the limp body draped across the couch. It takes all Illyria's concentration to keep the hordes at bay, and she looks comatose - or dead. She's bleeding from a bunch of places, but she told them it was fine in that don't fuck with me way that's nothing like Fred at all, and they took her at her word.

Spike paces, the coat swirling around his legs. Angel glares at him sullenly. "Could you not do that? They aren't going anywhere and neither are we, for now."

Spike ignores him, all disdainful arrogance, and heads up the stairs to make a sweep of the second floor. Behind him, he hears Angel sigh - almost possible to hear the wanker's eyes roll. Spike sneers where Angel can't see it, and starts checking rooms.

An hour later, he hasn't found anything and he's keyed up and angry. Could be the monsters outside getting under his skin, or his annoying prick of a comrade-in-arms. Or anything else, really, and what does it matter? Spike's fists clench and relax, clench and relax with the urge to hit something.

When Spike gets near the lobby, he feels the back of his neck tingling. Instantly he slows his step, makes it lighter and soundless. He lets his demon surface, takes advantage of the sharper sight and hearing to track anything out of the ordinary. They're surrounded, and Spike's as on edge and twitchy as a junkie without a fix.

Illyria's lying on the couch, just as he left her. The poof - Angel, not the settee - is missing, but Spike doesn't hear weapons, so he's inevitably off brooding somewhere. The office door's slightly ajar, and Spike can see Charlie's foot through it, lying where they propped him up on Angel's old desk. He slips across the lobby floor, checks that Illyria's... well, not on fire, since she doesn't exactly have normal vital signs. She's not, and so he moves silently into the office to see about the other one.

The attack comes on his left side, behind the door. He blocks a heavy punch easily and swings, connecting with a satisfying thud of flesh. His opponent swings again and Spike blocks and catches him off balance, throwing him against a wall. Hands catch the man and spin him around, and Spike dances back out of reach.

Angel studies the man for a minute, and then lets him drop to the ground. He's a bum, a human being squatting in the Hyperion that they've disturbed. Angel gives Spike a withering glance, and Spike scowls as the bum crawls backward, nursing his jaw and ribs.

"This is my place," the man complains, a combination of belligerence and whining. His clothes are a collection of dirty rags and castoffs, and he stinks like a cesspool. "You better get out, or I'll call the cops! Tell 'em you hit me."

Spike lets his heels touch the ground and lowers his fists, disgusted with himself, and with the deep human stench seeping through the air. "Get upstairs," Angel tells the bum tiredly. "It's not safe outside, and we'll be out of here soon." Spike turns away to check on Charlie, and the bum scuttles off, because Angel can be intimidating to humans - when he wants to be.

Spike's peering at Gunn's wounds, his pupils. "He's not gonna make it," he predicts, and Angel nods, looking exhausted.

"I know."

Spike glances over his shoulder irritably. "What're you so tired for? You're not the one patrolling."

Angel gives him a withering look and turns on his heel to leave the office. Of course, Spike follows.

"But, I guess I understand. All that guilt, 's heavy." He pulls his pack out of his jacket pocket, lights a smoke and ignores Angel's seething, pointed glances. "You're carryin' it around for five people, assuming that Lorne and 'Doyle' aren't coming back."

"Don't call him that," Angel demands quietly. "Lindsey's Lindsey, Doyle was Doyle. He should never have taken that name."

Spike recognizes the overbearing, ominous tone and steps back a bit, eyebrow raised. "You didn't. Lawyer-boy?" Angel doesn't say anything, his mouth tightening. Spike tilts his head, thinking. "Well, then who..." When the thought occurs, those eyebrows almost come off his head. "Lorne? You made sweet little karaoke-singin psychic Lorne do your dirty work for you?"

"Shut up, Spike."

Angel's on edge, won't be pushed on this, and Spike knows it. But he'd sooner purr like a cat than back down to Angel now, so he steps up and blows smoke right in front of Angel's face as he leans down, smirk firmly in place. Spike's spoiling for a fight, and he's gonna get one. "That how you keep yours clean? Don't get the blood on your own hands, and then maybe it doesn't count? Let's find out. You and me, we'll sing for him when he comes back, and he can tell us who's got the shinier -"

Angel bursts into motion, taking Spike by the lapels and standing, pushing him back into a wall and snarling as his eyes flash gold. The cigarette flicks out of Spike's fingers and settles on the tile, smolders darker and darker on the cold surface. "What do you know about it? Yours is five minutes old." Angel presses his fists into Spike's chest, grinding bones against bones, right up in his face, seething against his jaw, his neck. "Wait a few dozen years. Then maybe you can tell me what is and isn't good for your soul." Angel shakes Spike, which means he presses him harder against the wall, and then less hard, makes Spike's head knock against the wood. If Spike needed breath, he'd be missing it right now, but he puts up with it because Angel is angry, but not angry enough to hit - which means not angry enough at all.

"I'll take my lumps if I'm wrong," Spike pants. "I'm just sayin', let's put it in the hands of an objective -"

Angel's full-on demon comes flashing to the fore, and as with every time, it sparks a low-down gut reaction in Spike. He flicks his eyes to the floor before he can stop himself, but when he meets Angel's fierce gaze again, Spike's twice as livid for it.

"- observer." He grits it out through clenched teeth, because he's angry and because he knows what's coming. Angel doesn't disappoint - lets his coat go just to wind back and clock him, right in the face. Spike goes spinning, too off-balance to counter.

He lets himself fall to the floor, looks up at Angel with secrets in his eyes. "'Fraid what he'll find?" Spike whispers, challenging and furious. Angel stands there, glaring at him, too angry to leave and too threatened by Spike's long, laid-back, open sprawl across the floor to advance. "'Fraid he'll see mine's stronger? Better? More real?"

Angel's eyes darken with some emotion that isn't rage, and he turns to leave. Spike stands up and follows, confused but still spoiling, still barbed and sharp. "That's it, is it? Mine's more real, because I got it on my own, without any cursing. Not liable to flit off to parts unknown anytime soon. I earned it, and you -"

Angel turns to look at him, and Spike cuts himself off this time. He remembers Angel sounding it, being it, but this is the first time he's ever seen Angel look old. He studies Angel, tries to piece out the difference - as much as he hates and seethes and rails against Angel, Spike will always pay attention to things like that - but it's fleeting. Angel turns and walks away again, heads up the grand staircase, and Spike lets him go.