Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Spike, Illyria, mild Spike/Fred
Challenge/Prompt: sunnydalescribe DC 4: Cattle
Word Count: 1,044
Date Written: 18 September 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
“What are you doing?” Spike questioned as he walked into the room and immediately noticed the beast wearing Fred’s body staring intently at the world through the window. Wolfram and Hart’s technology still amazed him sometimes, and as he stepped into the sunlight, he took a moment to look at the skin on his own hands and marvel that he wasn’t busting into flames. He’d died several times and sacrificed so much over the centuries, especially since he’d fallen in love with the Slayer; it was amazing to think that something might actually be returning to him.
Illyria lifted Fred’s head and gazed at him for a moment. “I am watching,” she said, “the world go by.” She looked back down at the streets far below as Wolfram and Hart employees filed out the doors at quitting time and others, many of whom were more than human though they acted the same, passed them by on the way into the building. “They are like so much cattle.”
“What?” His gaze snapped immediately to the back of her head; he put his hands down.
“These human beings. They are like so much cattle. This body,” Illyria continued to explain, “has memories of watching cattle being herded when she was . . . was a very young human.” Spike watched Fred’s reflection frown as Illyria tried to track the memories. “They were big, dumb animals all moving to the same call, much like this human species.”
Spike stepped up to her and followed her gaze outside. “I did used to call them all Happy Meals,” he admitted thoughtfully.
“Happy Meals?” She looked even more confused.
“Happy Meals on legs,” Spike clarified. “Easy, simple, and quick meals that even a childe could feast on without any real effort. Like the kid dinners offered at McDonald’s.”
“I do not know what a McDonald’s is.”
“Hmph. You’re not missing anything.”
“But somehow . . . “ She blinked and lifted Fred’s head. “Somehow I feel like I am.”
“Because,” Spike said, his eyes meeting those of Fred’s reflection in the glass, “you’re not her. No matter what you try to do, you are not and will never be her just as you will never belong among them.”
Fred’s face twisted with Illyria’s disgusted expression. “I would never want to be one of them.”
“You say that now, but you’ll change your mind one day,” Spike murmured.
“No, I won’t,” she spoke quickly, and it was clear to him that she was already beginning to become accustomed to denial.
“You will,” he said, “but you won’t take my word for it either.” He shook his head. Fishing into his pocket, he withdrew a cigarette and lighter. Holding the cig between his teeth, he cupped his hands around his mouth as he lit it. With his own expression partially hidden, he removed the cigarette and added softly, “Just like I didn’t for a long time. Angel too.”
“But they are like cattle,” she insisted. “Dumb, stupid beasts of burden. Pack animals too. Why would I want to be part of a pack?”
Spike’s black lips twisted into a smirk. “You’ll tell me one of these days, pet,” he told her. Suddenly he remembered watching Casablanca with Fred, almost tearing up at the end, and handing her Kleenexes as she did cry and even sob openly at the ending. “Not today and maybe not a year from now or five years from now. But one day, you’ll tell me that you do.”
“That sounds . . . strangely familiar,” the beast observed, frowning in thought.
Spike smirked again. “It should. Not to you, but to the corpse you wear.” He stopped suddenly and stared at her, his own face falling.
“I really wish you would have chosen someone else,” he muttered, turned, and walked out of the room before she could ask him any further questions. He was gaining some things and losing others, just as it had always been in his life. He could never have everything good at once. Hell, he could never have that many good things at once.
He stopped in the hallway and pressed his hand against the glass wall that separated him from feeling the sun’s effects though he was bathed in sunlight. What good was the sun, he thought bleakly, if he didn’t have someone to share it with? He remembered Fred and recalled how her smile had seemed to light up an entire room. She’d been the first to believe in him after Buffy, and her belief had come easily. He hadn’t had to fight and nearly die a half dozen times to earn her respect. She had given it freely; she had even believed readily in his capability to be redeemed.
But like everyone he’d ever dared to love, he had let her down. Now a monster, one as vile as himself or Angelus, wore her beautiful, sweet, and innocent face. Her smile no longer lit up a room, because it was no longer hers. Those looks she’d given him once had been as bright as sunshine, but what good was sunshine with no one with whom to share it? What good was anything without someone to share it? What good was he even, when he kept letting down those few people for whom he cared?
“Bollocks,” he snarled, rolled his cigarette between his lips, stuffed his hands deep into his pockets, and kept walking. No wonder Angel was always brooding; there was always plenty of depressing things over which to brood and always so few good things. It explained, too, why the humans were always so eager to be like one another. It made them fit in, made them feel like they belonged, just as Fred and Buffy had made him feel once what now felt like so long ago. He sighed again. Yeah, there was plenty to feel bad about, free and easy Happy Meals with legs notwithstanding, and so little to celebrate.
But he’d keep fighting, Spike knew, resisting the urge to walk out into the broad, beautiful, and deadly sunlight. He’d keep fighting for those few good things he had known, those few good people who had touched him, for Buffy and Dawn and now for Fred too. He’d keep fighting as long as he existed.