Spike tore another strip of cloth from the ragged shirt he’d removed. One of Angelus’ lay next to him, ready to be donned when he was finished bandaging his wounds.
There wouldn’t be much left of the old one by the time he was done.
“Shut it.” His tone was hard. Spike didn’t care to hear what the other vampire had to say. Even though he knew what Angelus had to be suffering, he couldn’t say he felt much sympathy. He was simply glad that those stupid gypsies had finally caught up with the right vampire.
Angelus shifted uncomfortably. He wanted to make things right, but he didn’t know how. The guilt was overwhelming; he didn’t understand how Spike had lived with this for so long. “I could help,” he offered hesitantly.
Spike kept one wary eye on the other vampire and continued ministering to his own wounds. “Don’t want your help,” he growled.
Spike knew he would need blood soon. There was a part of him that wanted to make Angelus fetch it, knowing that the remorse the larger vampire felt would compel him to do so. A bigger part of him wanted to get as far away from his grandsire as possible.
Spike frowned, thinking. His best option would probably be to find a cow or some other large animal to drain. Of course, he would need to make certain that he wasn’t eating a pet or the only possession of some impoverished family. Spike hardly needed more guilt to add to what he was already experiencing.
Tying off the last bandage, Spike pulled the clean shirt over his head. It was too big for him, but at least it was in one piece. That was more than he could say for the old rag he’d been wearing.
“Don’t!” Spike spat, turning, his teeth bared in a snarl. “If I never see you again, it’ll be too soon.”
Angelus shrank back, cowed by Spike’s ferocity and the new curse. After all, the younger vampire had had three years to get used to it.
Spike’s yellow eyes glittered in the darkness of the barn. The sun had finally gone down, and he could be rid of Angelus, hopefully for good. “I’m leaving. If you follow me, I’ll put a stake through you.”
Angelus stared at him. “Where will you go?”
“Wherever,” Spike said coldly. “Spent enough time tied down that I don’t think I’ll be staying in one place for a while.”
Angelus flinched at the unsubtle reminder. Darla and Drusilla had done their share of playing with Spike, but he had been the ringleader. He’d been the one most responsible for it, for keeping Spike around long after the girls had gotten tired of the games.
He might never have tired of it, except for the gypsies’ unquenchable thirst for vengeance. That had put an end to his fun.
Spike’s face melted into his human visage, in spite of his hunger, although his expression was just as fierce. In fact, Angelus found that Spike’s blue eyes provided even more of a reproach. “It’s done,” he said. “Stay out of my way.”
Spike turned his back, limping off into the night. With any luck, Angelus would either wait for a while before leaving the barn where they’d holed up for the day, or he would head in the opposite direction. As long as he didn’t have to deal with the bastard, Spike didn’t much care what option Angelus chose.
What no one had told him, what William had never known, was that you could kill love. Even the purest sort of love could be choked to death, could be starved. Spike had believed himself in love with Drusilla, even after Angelus had proven that he could take her away from him at any given moment.
Spike didn’t really blame Dru. It was how Angelus had made her.
From the moment the gypsies had taken their revenge out on the wrong vampire, till they had finally caught up with the Scourge of Europe once again three years later, Spike had had the opportunity to discover just what hell was. At first, he’d blamed Angelus for the torture. After all, the big vampire had thought it humorous that Spike had a soul, had thought the curse a good joke. Drusilla and Darla had simply followed suit.
When Drusilla seemed willing to help him escape, and then had revealed his plan to Angelus, however—when she had clapped her hands in glee at the punishment that followed—
Well, a man could only stand so much. Spike didn’t much care for betrayal, and so he’d discovered the hard way that love could die.
What Spike hadn’t yet figured out was that love could live again.