Notes: So, in the wake of the recent dipsoNick/Spike RPS Trailerforay, there were requests for JM/Spike. And because I am:

home sick,
shameless,
an ardent admirer of annakovsky,
_jolielaide's bitch,

I have tried.



Signatures of the Visible:

Postmodernity and Pastiche in the Autofictional Encounter.


by
Witling



It had to happen sooner or later. You hung around LA long enough, you met up with everyone. He's already caught a glimpse of Alyson crossing the street outside BCBG, bags and cell phone and waiting Alexis. Good for her. He looked the other way and kept going. Worse was seeing Juliet in a restaurant he walked by, completely unexpected. Didn't these people hoard privacy? Celebrity isn't what it used to be. She looked just like Dru, drinking a glass of fizzy water and laughing, and his heart sank down into his boots and off he went to get drunk.

This one, though—he's been half trying to avoid it, half seeking it out. And here it is at last. At least, here's the arse end, sticking out of the back seat of a sedan in the alley behind 14 Below. And all right, yeah, maybe he's more than half been seeking it out. Not like he hangs around the place for the music.

No security about, which is odd. But convenient. He stops and leans against the Dumpster across from the car. Strikes a classic Spike pose, his hands in his pockets and the blessed duster masking the fact that his palms are sweaty and he's shaking just a little. Now that is stupid.

"You got the Behringer, Kev?"

He doesn't answer that, and after a second the arse backs up and stands up and turns around and he's looking in a mirror.

Which he doesn't often get to do.

"Kev one of your little mates?" he says after a second, just to fill in the space.

Marsters just stands there looking at him, one hand on the roof of the car, the other resting on top of the open door. Staring at him. He's gone a bit pale, his jaw's dropped. Gratifying. Then his eyes narrow, and he starts to smile.

"Jesus. You're good." He takes his hands off the car and steps forward. Not waiting for security to show up, which is deeply stupid of him, but there you go. "You're really good."

Spike just stands there, looking him over. So this is the guy who's played him all these years. Who's been him. He's...well, he looks all right. Fuck that, he's hot. The shaved head looks great, and he's put on a couple of pounds but that's good, he looks solider now. Older, which is okay too.

"Season five," Marsters says, coming even closer, well within grabbing range, and giving him an up-and-down look, boots to hair. "Big Bad, season five. Right?"

For a second Spike just looks at him, and then he relents a bit. "It's the classic."

"Absolutely. Jesus, you've got the hair, and—hey, say something."

"Say what?"

"Say...you made a bear."

Spike rolls his eyes and pulls out his cigarettes and Zippo. "Your band sucks."

For a second Marsters looks surprised, even wounded. Amazing, seeing such clear emotions on his own—no, that isn't his face, it's a copy. Or he's a copy of it. Fuck that, he came first. He's still Spike. Next week this Marsters git will get another gig and be Harry Houdini or a modern major general or whatever, but Spike will always be Spike.

"Hope you paid door price, then," Marsters says, but his tone is easy and he's smiling again. Spike feels another chink start in his armour. Wanker's not supposed to be friendly.

"So," he says, lighting his cigarette and noticing Marsters noticing—that's right, every gesture's right, because they're his own bloody gestures—"what's next for you, then?"

Marsters doesn't answer right away. He stands there looking bemused while Spike slips the cigarettes back into his pocket without offering him one. It's like watching sand slide through the waist of an hourglass. He's starting to get it. Or if not get, at least suspect. And it's spooking him. Good.

"Did you get this off e-bay?" Marsters asks, reaching out and fingering the sleeve of the duster.

"No."

Marsters looks at him, his fingers still working the leather. His eyes go over Spike's hair, his face. Over and over again, and then suddenly he pulls his hand back as if he'd forgotten it was on an element, and takes a big step back toward the car.

"Whoah. Okay, you're freaking me out, man. You look—"

Just like you? Spike doesn't say it. Instead he blows a jet of smoke in Marsters's direction and says, "Pillock."

For the first time, Marsters looks back over his shoulder toward the propped back door of the bar. Inside, there are nineteen year-old band mates and big security blokes and telephones. Reality, sanity. Out here, it's just him and Spike.

"I'm not going to hurt you," Spike says magnanimously. "I could, but I won't."

Marsters looks back. Swallows. Skinny little bob in his throat, and Spike knows exactly how it feels, because. Well.

"Are you—?" Marsters is still trying to smile, trying to work it all out with friendliness and laughs, and Spike just stands there and waits. Funny, how they all look smaller in person. Marsters looks about five feet tall right now, in a thin damp T-shirt with New York City Yoga faded half-off the front, baggy jeans, white trainers. He looks like Spike could pick him up and chuck him right down the alley into the trash heap if he wanted to. Which he could. But he won't.

"Life treating you all right, then?" he asks, to jumpstart Marsters's flailing brain. "Got some idea what you're going to do now?"

Marsters says, "Yeah," in a faint and automatic voice, his eyes still on Spike's face. The wheels spinning so fast inside his head that it's obvious the flywheel's broken.

"Good." Spike glances inside the sedan. "Going to be a rock and roll star?"

No answer. Marsters takes a small step forward again, moth to the flame.

"Going to shag a lot of models?"

Marsters's hand comes out again and his fingers brush the sleeve of the duster. Then he extends his index finger and carefully, intentionally, pokes Spike in the chest.

"You're real," he says. His eyes dazed and lit up, like he's just discovered opium. Or sex.

"Me, I'm going to take a little trip," Spike says, as if Marsters has asked. "Back to London, see if I can't find some Watchers to mess with." Marsters pokes him again in the chest, then lays the back of his hand against Spike's face. "Trying to smoke here, mate."

"You're...cold."

"'m dead."

Marsters stares at him, process the duh in his tone, and then steps back and breaks into a laugh. Got a nice, slightly hysterical laugh. "What—am I, like, really stoned?"

Spike sniffs him. "No."

"Jesus Christ. You're...you're me."

"No." Spike reins in the anger and just holds up a finger for emphasis. "No. You're me."

"But you're not real, Joss made you up—"

"Not real?" The urge to throw a punch is huge, but he's got a feeling the alley's a funny place just at the moment, and violence would probably fuck it up. So he just reaches out and chucks Marsters under his chin, the way you do a kid. Bristled chin, because he's a rock star now, so he doesn't shave. "So, when Glory tore little strips off me to get to Dawn, did that hurt you?"

Marsters just looks at him.

"No, it didn't. Because it was all treacle and spirit gum, right? Wasn't real."

"It was..."

"When Buffy beat the shit out of me in the alley behind the Bronze, did that hurt you?"

"No, I—"

"Right, that was fake too. How about when you were in love with her, and she used you and hated you and—" He's taken it too far. He stops and smokes hard.

Marsters is staring at him with a strange, faltering look on his face. "I didn't love Sarah," he says. "We're...we were acting."

"Right." His voice is almost under control again now, but he still gives it a minute. "So don't fucking tell me I'm not real."

"It's a show," Marsters says faintly.

"Right, and it's over."

They stand there a minute in silence. Spike studies the roofline, while the cigarette burns down close to his fingers. He wants another one, but he doesn't want to chain-smoke in front of this twit.

"I don't..." Marsters trails off, rubs the back of his neck with his hand. "Look, I don't know who you really are, but if you're—" Nervous laugh. "If I'm totally crazy and you're who I...think you are, then. Just, I'm sorry. I mean, I didn't know."

"Didn't know." Spike's knuckles are itching, his shoulders feel tight. "Who the hell did you think you were?"

"I—" Marsters stands there with his mouth open, at a loss. "Me. I guess. I mean, who else would I be?"

Spike snorts.

"I'm insane," Marsters says quietly, rubbing his neck again.

There's a quiet crash from inside the bar, something musical being dropped, and it's just muffled and slowed enough for Spike to know that yeah, this is some kind of bubble they're in. And it's getting ready to burst. He drops the cigarette and grinds it out under his heel.

"Look," he says, "I'm not here to fight with you."

"Good," Marsters says. "Because you'd kick my ass."

"Yeah, I would. I just came by to..." It occurs to him that he doesn't really know why he's come. "Wanted to see you, I guess. See the wanker who's been cashing my paycheques for the last six years."

Marsters laughs under his breath, then holds his arms out from his sides, presenting himself. "That would be me."

"Hope you got a nice flat."

"I did, yeah. Thanks."

"All right then." Spike drops his hands back into his pockets, fiddles with the lighter, and can't quite make himself go. Something doesn't feel finished. "You...want anything?"

Marsters looks confused. "Like what?"

"I don't know. How often do you get to meet someone looks just like you, in the flesh?"

"Good point." Wicked little smile—so that's what it looks like. Nice. "You asking if I want to have sex?"

Spike pauses. "You're not completely not me," he admits.

"Hey, Joss works with what he's got."

They both sort of laugh, and Spike shrugs and starts to turn away. "Right, then, have a nice—"

Marsters's hand is on his shoulder, pulling him back around. Somehow it's not a surprise, and he turns easily, and then they're standing toe to toe, blue eyes staring into blue eyes, Marsters just a bit lower because Spike's got the boots. Marsters smells familiar. Every line of his face is familiar. It's fascinating, really. He'd forgotten what looking into a mirror was like.

"I'm not going to see you again, right?" Marsters asks, like it's just a formality he has to clarify.

"No." Well, there's always the deathbed appearance, but...no.

Marsters smiles, runs one hand up Spike's shoulder and through the back of his hair, ruffling it up. It feels good, friendly, intimate. Spike smiles back. They kiss with closed lips, an acknowledgement rather than a request. Spike knows exactly what Marsters is thinking—they taste the same.

"Wasn't all bad," Spike says. There's a still second when they can look each other in the eyes again, both smiling, mirrors reflecting mirrors reflecting mirrors.

Then there's another crash inside the bar, and someone yells Marsters's name, and Spike pulls away and turns away and walks away. Down the alley, away from the street where all his fans are waiting.







The End











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