Pretty girl, all long legs and angles. Back in the day he’d have had fun with her; broken and bled her before she died. But she smiles at him. Laughs and jokes. And it’s been too long – forever – since anyone did anything but shout or cry or mock.
Good girl, friendly. Playing along to make him feel good. Trying her best to bring him back, make him what he was – what she deserves – make him able to touch, keep him out of hell.
So he smiles and flirts. Hides the pain deep inside, scraping shoulders with fear. Being a man.
“Well... might be a hug in your future after all.”
“I see dead people.”
Dru had blood in her hair the first time he saw that movie. Just after they got back together. Sometime between the chaos demon and the fungus; in the few short weeks they’d been happy.
“I see dead people.”
All night horror showing in… Maybe Rio, could have been Dallas.
“I see dead people.”
Rocked his socks off at the cheesy effects and dumb motifs, vowed to bite that Olivia bint the first chance he got, and cursed out the Macaulay clone.
“I see dead people.”
So how come it’s terrifying when it happens to him?
“Vampire ghost here, ya sod. Bloody well invented afraid of the dark.”
Not Angelus. Difficult to remember when the fat git is circling, whispering sweet nasties in his ear. Makes him hard, that voice, and the memories that go with it. A blade, a fist, a gentle touch; all part of Angelus’ repertoire. Waits for it, breath catching in his throat.
Saved the world, he did. Hero. A champion. Fried on a pyre of guilt and soul and agony. But he’s still William. Not wanting to go to hell before feeling the touch of another’s hand.
Stupid. Can’t touch, can’t be touched. Casper, that’s him.
Right now even pain would feel good.
“So, yeah, surprise. You're going to hell. We both are.”
Even for an immortal, a moment can last for eternity and an hour pass in the blink of an eye. Time, life’s harsh mistress, doesn’t give a monkey’s uncle who she’s messing up, just gets right down to it and screws them over. Thus, the best night of his existence ended before he could grasp the wonder of it. And this? This unending second stretches out; longer than they had been enemies, further than the miles that had kept them apart. One hundred years wasted and only now realised on a couch, deep in the unbeating heart of the beast.
“You like Barry Manilow.”
Hell is electricity dancing in his head, a crumpled shape at a tower’s base, beetles scuttling under his skin. Hell is getting what she deserves and still not deserve her. It’s voices in his head and seeing a hanged man that another stares straight through.
Fear wears him away one atom at a time. Incorporeal fingers cling to the idea of touch, clutching pointlessly at people as they scurry past. Hammering panic snatches at his throat, ripping out despair. He sees them, shouts, yet they don’t see him. He no longer is. Faded away. Gone.
Nothing but a misplaced soul.
“I'm here. I'm—I'm still here!”
Back to his girl. Gotta say his thanks even if she doesn’t hear a word he says. Time was, hope was all he was. Hoping to win Dru, then hoping to keep her. Hoping to drink the Slayer, hoping his love for her would die. Hoping to get the buggering chip out of his head, hoping it would kill him before he took another life.
Hope; ingrained in every molecule. It’s hard, letting it go, but he finally gets there. Puts it down, not quite the burden it was. Smiles.
Only to have it born again and then ripped away.
"Oh! I'll never figure this out!"
There were times when he could smell it, pulsing through the bodies around him. Times when he’d go and sit in the typing pool just to keep his senses honed. But then he’d notice a bandaged finger or one of the women rifling furtively through her bag and he’d know he was lying to himself. All he was doing was keeping the memories as fresh as the blood.
So when she pops, splattering her life over Fred like some over ripe plum hitting the ground, he turns away and closes his eyes. Hellbound, he does his best to be human.
They’ve done Scanners and Sixth Sense. Next up, Psycho. Bound to put in an appearance sooner or later. But he’s no Norman Bates. Not any more. Left buggered up sicko in another bathroom with another pretty chit.
The glass finally proves he’s the kind of man.
He remembers touching glass – slip slide slick – and this is nothing like it. Resistance, that’s all, and that only when he concentrates real hard. Like writing on invisible jelly, or that layer on top of water that traps insects. Makes his hand shake, makes him wish to be the kind of man who could.
There’s this old saying – be careful what you wish for. Anyanka must have been around, or one of her ilk, ‘cos he remembers wishing for a touch. Anything. Even pain would feel good. Yeah, well. He was wrong. Not hardly the first time for it.
“Can I take it back?” That wish. Cos the blade doesn’t feel anything like he remembers. There’s no passion when it digs into his flesh. No lust, no hope, nothing but cold surgical steel.
And can you imagine, deprived for so fucking long and the first thing you feel is a knife in your back.
“Vampire soul... watch it struggle. More fun than the others.”
Glimpses of forever, and now we’re getting into Hellraiser territory. Or should that be Hell Razor. He slices and bleeds, pouring forever on a cold floor that exists only inside a fucked up head. Could be his, could be scalpelman’s. Doesn’t matter, still hurts like a mother.
Then back. To the basement. Hell reaching for him, twisted probing limbs of pure evil. Gonna take him, screaming and unwilling. Another pathetic victim laid out for eternity to consume.
A demon would love it, and thereby hangs the ultimate irony. The one Doctor Death’s hit on the head like the proverbial nail.
“The soul that blesses you...damns you to suffer—forever.”
And that’s true. It is what he deserves. Spent a century putting everyone from old timers to kiddies through hell, so getting dragged there himself is par for the course.
Still, it’s not fair. It grates. Angel’s been around longer and done worse – probably. And ends up with the penthouse and muscle cars. Bugger that, it fucking sticks in his gut and won’t go down however much he swallows.
So he chokes it up. Spits it out. Finds every scrap of hatred and love and passion for life, and clothes himself in it. Makes a stand, line in the sand.
“And guess what I want to do now, you prissy son of a bitch!”
Christ, he’s missed this. Fists and fangs and beating the snot of any bastard that gets in his way. Bone cracking adrenaline rush. This pain is good pain. This pain makes sense. This is hope, struggle, going down fighting like he always knew he would.
Till Pavayne gets killer’s fingers clamped round Fred’s neck and time’s trickling away, sand through an egg timer. No space for lines. No space for second thoughts.
Blood pounding with no heart to drive it. Save the girl. Gotta save the girl.
Bends the world to his will and puts himself out of the picture.
“The girl or the flesh. There's no time for both.”
So it’s Pavayne who ends up choking on air. Pavayne who bleeds out under Angel’s fists. Pavayne who gets the ticket to ride and isn’t coming back.
Which still leaves Spike trapped between nothingness and Angel’s ego, but beggars don’t get to ride. And there’s no regrets. Lessons learnt and all that. He still can’t give the girl a hug. Still can’t do more than leer over Charlie’s shoulder or fuck around with Percy’s head. But the coffee mug floats when he bids it rise and it makes Fred laugh.
It’s a start, yeah? And everyone’s got to start somewhere.
“I guess there's worse things than being a ghost.”