Be Ashamed to Die by Tamen
1. I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning by Tamen
2. Calling the Cavalry by Tamen
I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning by Tamen
~Be Ashamed To Die~
The story's title comes from a quote by Horace Mann ("Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity"). The chapter title is a song by Bright Eyes.
Oh, and I own nothing.
Chapter one: I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
It was well into the day when Angel Giles rolled his 1967 Mercedes up to the familiar swanky LA apartment complex. He took the walk up to the door slowly with a bowed head and hands deep in his pockets; anxious apprehension carved into every line of his body.
The keys he retrieved never found made it to the lock as the door opened to reveal an elderly black man on his way out. When the man’s sagging eyes caught sight of the visitor on the steps, he cracked a big toothy grin.
"Well, hello there Angel."
The greeting was returned with a friendly smile of his own. "Hey Mr. Meyers. How’re you today?"
"Oh, I’m fine. Just fine," he responded jovially. "Off to see your brother?"
Angel’s smile waned visibly. He took hold of the door Mr. Meyers was holding before saying "Yeah . . . Just gonna check in on him . . . see how he’s doing."
"Alright then. You tell him I say hello. Haven’t seen that boy in the longest time." He looked at him pointedly.
Angel nodded distractedly. "Will do. Say hey to the missus for me." He turned from the departing wave the old man gave to enter the building and quickly jog up three flights of stairs. When he came to a stop at his final destination, he paused to catch his breath and calm his overtaxed heart that was pounding so for reasons other than physical exertion. He readied himself for any shock he could receive before using his key to let himself in.
The first step into the apartment was obstructed by a crumpled leather duster lying just beyond the threshold. Next to the coat was a glittering pink scrap of fabric that could have once passed for a woman’s top before it was ripped from the wearer’s body.
All things considered, the hastily discarded clothing really fit into the overall decor of the place. Jack Daniel’s bottles of varying levels of emptiness stood from every surface available and the entire living room seemed to have been converted into a giant ashtray as cigarette butts dirtied the ground in a haphazard fashion. The walls had more than a few holes punched in and sported several dark stains where drinks appeared to have been hurled. The impressive bay windows were covered, leaving the entire space encompassed in a disturbing half-light.
Angel sighed heavily and followed the trail of jettisoned clothing down the hall to the master bedroom suite where the door remained fully open. He made his way into the room, careful to sidestep the numerous liquor bottles that littered the ground.
He shook his head with disgust at the two figures adorning the black satin sheets as he turned to pull back the drapes blocking out the day’s light.
Immediately after the sun’s rays infiltrated the darkened cave of a room, a high-pitched squeak sounded from the far side of the bed. A very pissed looking blonde popped her head up and blinked her mascara-smeared eyes. She viewed him with suspicion as her clutched the sheet to her naked chest.
"Who the hell are you?" she shrieked shrilly. Not even giving him a chance to reply, she began prodding the lump curled into a tangle of blankets. "Spikey, there’s some guy here."
Said lump groaned in aggravation and shifted away from the bimbo’s insistent probing. Clearly not taking the hint, the girl sat up on her knees to shake the shoulder of her male companion.
"Blondie bear, did you hear me? I said there’s some guy here."
Angel grumbled in irritation. "William, get up."
Spike pulled the blankets from over his head and opened a single bloodshot eye to peer at the interloper. "The hell are you doing here, Peaches?" he asked in a raspy voice. "What fucking time is it?"
"It’s half past noon, Spike."
"Who is he, baby?" the girl whined discordantly.
He groaned again and yanked the covers over his head. "Harm, get the fuck out."
The girl actually had enough sense to look affronted at his blatant dismissal. "But Blondie Bear . . . "
Spike lashed out by sitting up suddenly, the sheet covering his nude form pooling at his waist. Glaring at her firmly, he growled through gritted teeth "sod off, you bloody annoying chit."
The girl called Harm huffed audibly and flung herself off the bed, uncaring of her naked state. Angel averted his gaze quickly but still caught enough of a peek to suspect the girl’s hair color came out of a bottle.
"You know what, Spikey? I’m tired of you being such a jerk to me," she complained as she searched the ground for her clothes. "One of these days, I might just not come back." Her dramatic statement had the air taken out of it a bit when she spotted her bra hanging from a lamp across the room and hustled to retrieve it.
Spike gave a deep-throated chuckle and dug the heels of his hands into his eyes. "Believe me, nothing would bring me more pleasure."
The girl spared one last glance at Angel still shuffling awkwardly next to the window Spike who was preoccupied cradling his head before turning on her heel and exiting with her nose in the air, sporting only a miniskirt and bra.
Upon hearing her final bitch about her ripped top and the subsequent vicious slam of the front door slam, Angel eyed his adopted brother with a narrow gaze. "Blondie Bear?"
"Quiet you," he muttered without looking up.
Angel chuckled sardonically. "No seriously though, she seems lovely."
Spike returned with a wry snort. "Harmony? Yeah, she’s a peach."
Angel rolled his eyes and snatched a trash bag from behind the bathroom door. He began depositing the plethora of empty whiskey bottles from the floor. Spike crushed his hands to either side of his achingly hungover head at the sound of the glass banging together. The brunette paid no mind to Spike’s duress.
"Look at it this way – maybe you pissed her off enough to keep her away."
Spike rolled over and fished a crumpled box of cigarettes out of the bedside table. Shaking his flaxen head sadly, he lit up and took a long drag. "Not this bird. She’s off her bloody rocker. Give her a week and she’ll be back making my life just a bit more miserable." He watched Angel make his way around the bed, scooping up bottles all the while. "You know, you don’t have to do that."
"If I don’t, who will? Where is your housekeeper anyway?" Spike looked down shamefacedly and started picking nervously at the bedspread.
"I uh . . . had to let her go."
Angel cast his eyes to the ceiling and let the plastic bag slide to the floor. "And why’s that?" The only response he got was the ambiguous shrug of his shoulders.
He resumed the task of tidying up, grateful that the aroma of booze and cigarettes became less stifling as his nose grew accustomed to the stench. "And this Harmony girl, why don’t you just ‘let her go’ as well?"
Spike took the opportunity of his brother’s turned back to swing his legs over the bed and slide into a pair of black jeans. He swayed on his feet (still a tiny bit inebriated from the night before) as he did up the fly.
"Harm’s a bit more persistent than all that. I couldn’t get rid of her if I tried. And, being the right decent shag that she is, I’m in no hurry to try just yet." He watched as Angel continued his perusal around the room and quirked an eyebrow.
"You know," he began slowly. "As much as I appreciate you moonlighting as my maid for the day, I’m gonna bet that your little visit has a hidden motive or two."
Angel set the bulging bag on the ground, laying all false pretenses aside with it. The damn kid always did have a knack for seeing through him.
He thought of letting the whole idea go. He remembered for the millionth time that at some point, he couldn’t protect him from everything; that it wasn’t his life to lead.
But seeing him standing there looking for all he world like the little street urchin he once knew him as, he couldn’t turn a blind eye. His eyes were reddened and sunken. His high, pronounced cheekbones were emphasized by his thinned cheeks, leaving dark hollows in their wake. Old scars decorating his torso were illuminated from the light of the window along with the outlines of his bones visible through his nearly transparent skin. He was gaunt; a shadow of what he once was and should be. And Angel couldn’t leave him like that.
"Spike . . . we have to talk."
Calling the Cavalry by Tamen
Thank you so much to everyone who reviewed. You have no idea how much I appreciated it.
Chapter Two: Calling the Cavalry
~One week earlier~
Buffy Summers was enjoying a very rare day off lounging on the hot sand of a beach. The soothing sounds of the waves were somewhat tempered by raucous yelps to her right. The deafening squeals were coming from one Xander Harris as his girlfriend Anya was finally able to tackle him to the ground after a very long, very exaggerated chase. Beyond them were Willow and Tara who busied themselves by strolling hand in hand along the shore. As usual, fifth wheel Buffy was left on the sidelines as her friends broke off into their respective couples. It always seemed that no matter how their little group outings began, they always ended up divided like that.
But it didn’t bother her nearly as much as it once did.
She opened her eyes from behind her fashionably large sunglasses. It was mid-afternoon at that point. The picnic that came with the friends from Sunnydale was lying a few yards back as the sun hung in limbo between the horizon and the clear blue sky. Xander had finally quieted down which usually meant he and Anya had become preoccupied in each other.
She took the silence as an opportunity to become engrossed in the waves as they curled along the shore. The tranquility that settled over her was so encompassing that Buffy almost missed the faint sound of her cell phone ringing not a foot from her head.
Rolling her eyes at the disturbance in her reverie, she answered the annoyance with a falsely chipper “Hello?”.
Immediately, her irritation all but left her as a slow smile spread across her lightly tanned face. “Hey Angel.”
There was once a time when even the mention of her ex’s name would result in an erratic heartbeat and sweaty palms. Now, her stomach barely flopped. ‘Baby steps,’ she thought cynically.
“I didn’t catch you at a bad time, did I?,” he asked casually. They really were improving at the whole friendship thing. Their infrequent telephone chats served as a far cry from the years following their breakup where they never even spoke.
“Not at all. In fact, I’m taking the day off with the gang. We’ve been hanging out at the beach.”
He gave a weary chuckle. “And this is the first vacation in how long?”
Buffy sighed. “Yeah, a while.” Not really caring to go down that road of conversation, she changed the subject abruptly. “But hey – how’s Cordelia doing? What is she . . . seven months along now?”
The grin that filled his voice at the mention of his wife of two years and Buffy’s high school nemesis-turned friend was evident as he proceeded into gushing detail about his developing family. “Oh, she’s been counting down the nine weeks until she’s due obsessively. Apparently the maternity clothes aren’t up to her standards. Other than that, she’s great.”
Buffy was smiling at the obvious love in his tone and damn proud of herself for being genuinely happy for the pair of them. Ignoring the slight twinge of jealousy that flared through her, she said softly “You’ll have to give her my love.”
“I will.” The pause that followed his statement was wrought with hesitation and immediately had her on alert. “Now, Buffy . . . the reason I called is . . . I need a bit of a favor. A bit of a big favor, actually.”
She settled back against the sand as her face shifted to show her piqued curiosity. “Oh?”
“Yeah, um . . .” He seemed to struggle with how to continue. “It’s about my brother William.”
Buffy’s interest grew further. Years ago, Angel would speak of his young adopted brother with a fondness and pride that was usually so unlike him back then that it couldn’t help but stick out in her memory. She had never met the boy but was well-versed in his antics based on several stories from the oldest Giles boy. “What about him?”
“Well . . .” he began tentatively. “He seems to have found himself in some . . . trouble.”
Buffy’s eyebrow quirked. “What kind of trouble?”
He sighed heavily into the phone. In her mind’s eye, she could picture him pinching his brow in frustration as he was prone to doing. “The kind that motivates me to make a call to my good friend in the rehabilitation profession.”
She smiled and allowed herself to slip into business mode. “Tell me about it.”
“You know Will’s always had a hard life. I guess it started with that horrible mother he had before he lived with us doing everything she could to screw him up, you can hardly blame him for letting some of that stick.”
Buffy nodded to herself. “You’ve mentioned his previous abusive home life before. It’s possible that any problems he may have now stem from those experiences.”
“Yeah, but you have to realize that even despite that shitty beginning, he’s accomplished so much.” His tone took on a doting quality as he launched into details. “He was number one in his high school class. He got a scholarship to Oxford and graduated with honors for Christ’s sake. He’s got several publishers interested in him . . . even a little Pulitzer buzz around some of his writings. I mean . . . the kid’s amazing, Buffy.”
“He sounds like it,” she murmured softly.
“He is . . . regardless of that Drusilla woman bringing him down.”
“Is this about her then?”
“Isn’t it always?,” he asked mirthlessly. This seemed to be a common theme in all the discussions she’d had regarding William.
William Rayne and Drusilla Curtis had been involved for years. Apparently he had been sixteen when they met (she was well into her twenties at the time). Her impact on him manifested itself in the form of a punkish makeover that resulted in changes from his appearance to his demeanor. In spite of how different he had become, Angel always insisted that newly dubbed ‘Spike’ was still his little brother at heart.
“She’s dead, by the way,” he said suddenly, almost offhandedly.
“What?,” Buffy asked surprisedly. The segue was poorly executed and left her a bit startled at the sudden change in subject. Her friends were starting to make their way back to the original site as the sun descended low over the horizon.
“A few weeks ago. She had a heroin overdose.”
“Yeah. And bad news that she was, Drusilla was Spike’s world. She wasn’t particularly good to him or anyone for that matter but that hardly seemed to matter. He worshiped her.”
“I see . . . I suppose he’s not taking it well.” She motioned to her phone as Xander loudly asked if she wanted a s’more.
“In a word, no.” His voice was dark and morose. “Not at all. He’s been binging like crazy, and drunk at all hours of the day. He’s taking stupid risks that make me think that he doesn’t really care if he lives or dies. I’m sure I haven’t seen the worst of it and I barely recognize him anymore.”
“So what are you wanting to do?”
“I want to help him. I want you to help me help him.”
“In Sunnydale Oaks?”
His nerves were back in his voice again. “Yes . . . but I want you to be the one who works with him.”
Buffy soughed. “That might not be the best idea. You know I’ve only been in counseling for two years. But I work with some great psychiatrists I could refer him to.”
“I’m sure they are,” he said wearily. “And this may be too much to ask from you, but I’m doing it anyway. I want to be able to know that he’s got only the best working for him.”
She snorted at that. “Going for flattery, huh? You should realize that there is more to it, though. For me to work with him could be considered a conflict of interest.” She shook her head politely as Tara offered a half-burned marshmallow concoction.
He made an incredulous noise. “Only if you’re being literal to the tenth degree. You’ve never even met him. And if you’re trying to help him, it’s hardly a ‘conflict’ in your interests.”
“But I know you. And I know your mom and dad. I have previous knowledge of him and his behaviors outside of any medical or legal records that I could be privy to – ”
He cut her off. “Buffy, I trust you. I have to know that someone I trust is looking out for my kid brother, and I would prefer that to be you. If you really can’t do this for me, for whatever reason, that’s fine. But please . . . do this for me.”
Buffy was silent for a moment.
It wasn’t really that big a problem that she knew her potential client’s family; she just didn’t want to be in the position where Angel was relying on her to cure his brother. She was a good therapist – if only a little inexperienced – but it wasn’t something that she was confident enough to gamble the feelings of someone she cared about on. Hearing him all but beg her, though . . .
“I’ll do it.”
“. . . thank you.”
She nodded absently. “Yeah, don’t mention it. Do you need an interventionist?”
“No, I’m not going to have an intervention.”
She stood to follow her friends as they packed up the picnic and made their way back to Anya’s SUV. Wincing, she said with concern “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”
“I can get him to agree to come,” he said dismissively.
“Angel . . .”
“Trust me, he’ll do it.”
“An intervention will yield better results.”
“I can’t give him an ultimatum. I already know that. My way will work better, just trust me on this.”
She shook her head skeptically but conceded the point. “Whatever you say.”
“I’m gonna track him down sometime this week so will that be enough time for you to prepare his case?”
“Yeah, no problem. I’ll get on it right away.”
“Okay. Thanks again, so much Buffy. You have no idea how much I appreciate this.”
“You’re welcome. I’ll do my best. I gotta go now but say hey to Cordy for me, alright?”
She shut her phone as she climbed into the backseat next to Willow. Xander turned around in the passenger seat, still giggling from a joke Anya told. “So, how was your day off, Buffster?”
“It was great,” she said with a bit of deceptive cheeriness. While the rest of them stuck up some more friendly banter, she turned to stare out the window. Very softly, she mumbled “really great.”
Author’s Note: I originally planned to have this section a little shorter so I could include Spike and Angel’s confrontation but it kind of got away from me, so that will have to be in the next chapter. Also, I’ll be leaving the country for a while and will be left without computer access so the next update may be a little slow in coming.
Once again, thanks for all the reviews. They brightened up my day.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.