inspired by the History Channel's documentary ~ 'Life After People'
beta by lady_t_220
thanks forever to tabaqui and lostakasha
And when I'm gone
Who will break your fall?
Who will you blame?
It had been fifty years since the alley behind the Hyperion. Forty-eight years since the last humans had died.
Angel never found out if it had been a deliberate act or simple human ignorance. All he knew was after that bloody night of demons and trolls and dragons, the world hadn’t been able to turn away and ignore what lived in the dark. Talking about the latest werewolf killing or death became fodder for the five o’clock news, websites popped up with staked vampire tallies and demon hunting, peaceful or hostile, became an international sport that had no bag limits or season or license to buy.
Every human wore crosses and for vampires, at least, moving through cities was made difficult by misted holy water at random intervals in sewers and subway tunnels. Carrying wooden stakes was never declared holding a concealed weapon. Every place that had normally been safe to hide or sleep or heal or rest was flushed by special troops trained by the government and Angel wondered just how much the reformed Watcher’s Council had gotten paid for that information. Cash rewards were handed out for even simple body parts of anything that wasn’t completely human.
Angel and Spike survived by heading straight up to the border of Montana and Canada. Healing their wounds in a secluded, abandoned cabin in a part of the country where asking the common question ‘How are you?’ was considered the giving and taking of too much information. They took turns hunting game for blood in the teaming forests and stayed for two years, until a week had passed with only silence on the rusted Ham radio that had been in the cabin, along with handmade wooden furniture and a fat-bellied iron stove that belched smoke, but gave great heat.
They made their way down to the nearest city and found it, like they would find every city since, empty of all but bloated corpses and wandering animals.
Spike followed a quiet, unbalanced and enraged Angel back to LA and they searched for a solid year looking for Connor. For any trace of him. For anything that might tell them what had happened and why. The bodies around them rotted and left piles of bones that soon were dissipated by scavengers and weather, fires and time, and it wasn’t long until the skeletal remains of humanity were gone.
They found nothing and no one. And Angel retreated into himself until even Spike couldn’t take the misery and left. Telling Angel as he walked away that if he couldn’t find anyone alive, that if there was no one left to talk to; he’d simply talk to himself. Better company.
Angel was in the flooded, water-filled tunnels of the subway system when Spike found him again. Under the city, standing on the rotted platform as if a train would suddenly show up. Angel didn’t feel the chill of the water that covered and surrounded him. East of him the roof had caved in, chunks of concrete and bent iron over the tracks and only the sharp flash of scales in the last of the light from the empty world above, the turn of a fish as it swam in front of Angel made him notice Spike at all.
Their hair floated around their faces. Angel’s was longer now, reminiscent of Angelus and the color of Spike’s was more William without the dye that made it stark white. Honey blonde curls moved with the sluggish current.
Angel didn’t do anything but follow when Spike grabbed his arm and pulled him up the stairs. His expression didn’t change, his demeanor did not waver.
The sun had just set and Spike shook himself in the twilight, scattering water over the grass and weeds that had grown up through cracks in the sidewalk and covered the concrete. Angel listened intently to the sound of the drops hitting dirt, shocking movement that wasn’t plant or animal.
He went into the tunnels under the water to find complete silence, to get away from the reality of this too-quiet world. No machinery. No hum of electricity. No music. No talking. No sirens or engines. No people at all. He went under the water to pretend that when he returned, he wouldn’t be alone.
Water ran from his hair as he stood absolutely still, staring at Spike. It took Angel a moment to realize that Spike was talking. That he’d actually never stopped talking since they emerged from the cold water.
“Follow your scent into the fucking subway like some kind of swimming rat and expect to find you floatin’ face down but I can’t even get a break like that. Now I’m soaking wet and do you know how hard it’s gonna be to find another Ramones’ T-shirt that hasn’t been eaten by moths or rats or the fucking cockroaches? Where are you holin’ up in this god-forsaken city? New York. I can’t believe this is where I found you. Who the hell lives in New York City by themselves? It’s empty, you twat. And cold. Why not South America or Costa fuckin’ Rita or even godforsaken Florida? I mean, at least it’s Manhattan, but …
“And fuck, Angel, why were you under water?”
There was a pause and Angel thought of how humans would take that moment to inhale. Spike, of course, did not. He wiped water from his face and grabbed the long leather coat he’d left on a railing. He started to put it on and frowned, pulling the soaked shirt away from his chest.
“Don’t tell me. I really don’t want to know. Which one of these lovely buildings are you hiding in, Angel? I need a fire. Some heat. And what have you got to eat?”
Angel couldn’t remember the last time he’d used his voice, formed actual words. He wasn’t sure he still could. He knew that he growled sometimes, it kept wolves away from fresh kills. And he wasn’t completely positive that he wasn’t hallucinating this entire moment.
It had happened before.
“Where? What’s wrong with you?”
Angel felt sudden, dull pain bloom when Spike slapped his face. He licked his lips and tasted blood. His own, which did nothing to feed the hunger that had grown into a solid ache in his chest since last night, the day before … whenever he had last eaten.
He shrugged again and Spike made some exasperated sound. Turned to look at the crumbling skyscrapers that stood around them on the grass and weed covered street corner.
“I’m thinking Trump Tower is out. Come on.”
Angel followed Spike again. Down the middle of the street, past crouched piles of steel that used to be cars. In the distance they could hear the sound of a building caving to time. Brick and rotted wood falling to plant-covered asphalt and concrete. It was a common noise and the vampires didn’t look behind them to see the debris cloud rise into the darkening sky.
Spike found them a brownstone that still had a locked front door. He pushed it open with a shove of his shoulder and grabbed the wet, torn collar of the shirt Angel wore to pull him in.
“What? Do you think someone’s going to object? Get in here.”
The roof was mostly intact and where it wasn’t the rooms smelled cleaner, less toxic with mold and dust. Angel leaned against a wall as Spike knocked down the door to a bathroom and came out smiling.
“Porcelain, baby. Gonna be warm tonight. But first, food. Where is it?”
Spike looked at Angel as if he thought Angel would answer and Angel simply watched him. Although this time, Angel caught Spike’s hand before it could hit his face again and Spike laughed out loud.
“See? I knew you were in there somewhere, precious. Don’t tell me you’re not hungry. I can feel it from here.”
The word hungry registered with Angel and he was starting to realize that perhaps this wasn’t a dream. Or a hallucination. He turned and left the brownstone silently with Spike cursing behind him, tossing his coat over the rusted brass bed frame and this time it was Spike that followed. Angel moved through the city, taking alleys. Following a path that had been hoof and paw stepped into the dirt and grass to what used to be Central Park. What was once manicured and maintained had become wild and overgrown. Trees reached for the sky and ground covering vines sent tendrils and more into the surrounding city blocks.
Wildlife had taken over. Like nothing before. Exotic animals raised in and escaped from abandoned zoos hunted and bred, completely acclimated to the northern hemisphere. Deer and fox, coyotes and wolves. A couple prides of lions, more than twenty bear of differing subspecies. Four packs of feral dogs, roaming buffalo and cattle. Some hemmed in by the surrounding water and the still present fear of bridges made by men long gone. Some that had chosen to stay. It was a hunter’s paradise.
“Okay, so what-"
Spike started talking again and Angel left. Disappearing into the brush without a sound, an unfamiliar pull of muscles on his face as he heard Spike’s whispered, ’Not a-fucking-gain.’ and the almost inaudible movement of the vampire behind him. It took a shake of his head for Angel to realize that he was smiling. Grinning around sharpened teeth, but still … it had been a very long time.
Angel took Spike through the woods, walking parallel to the animal’s path. They moved like the demons that they were. Silent and deadly, stalking. For himself, Angel would’ve simply taken the first animal he found, but they both needed blood. He waited and looked for something bigger.
Just as the last light disappeared from the sky, a herd of deer approached the pond that used to hold ice skaters in the winter. Used to be a make-shift hockey rink on weekends. Used to have over-fed Koi in its shallow depths and now was home to frogs and carp and tadpoles that hid from minnows in the overgrowth of reeds along the edges.
The deer weren’t brazen, but they weren’t as timid as they used to be. The loss of humanity had left a gaping hole in the food chain. Angel and Spike sat motionless until a nursing doe from the herd stepped forward and ducked her head down to drink. Her dappled, fat fawn followed without a trace of fear.
It was over in a flurry of movement. Both vampires in complete demonic visage taking the doe and her fawn before the rest of the herd even registered the loss and there was no smell, no visual memory for the animals. Vampires had become the most efficient hunters on the earth.
If there were any left but Spike and Angel.
Spike still liked to drink his dinner from a cup. Any kind of cup. A coffee mug, plastic party ware, even the omnipresent Styrofoam that drifted in the winds. He had grown tired of having to find clean clothes, of looking for clean water to bath in on a warm night. He still had standards.
Angel simply tore open the doe’s neck with his fingers deep in the fur and sucked the blood as it pumped out over his tongue. He stopped once and they traded. Doe for fawn. The animal’s hearts beat furiously and slowed, faded, finished.
Angel wiped his mouth on the shoulder of his shirt and Spike grimaced as he did the same. His clothes were already ruined and still damp from the subway tunnel. They left the woods as quietly as they’d entered. A pack of dogs already tearing apart the blood-drained deer before Spike and Angel returned to the empty streets and the brownstone with the porcelain bathtub.
Spike broke several chairs, the old wood making it an easy job while Angel widened the hole in the roof over the bathroom. Not that they were worried about smoke inhalation, but just to keep any floating sparks from setting the dry building around them on fire. By the time Angel crawled back down and swung through the window frame into the bedroom, the gold lights of flames were flickering in the dark.
Spike had stripped out of his sodden T-shirt and jeans; he’d kicked off his boots. He pulled the bed’s mattress over to the doorway of the bathroom and sat, leaning against a wall with pillows and a once white comforter around him.
“Times like this, I miss cigarettes.”
Angel shrugged out of his clothes, hanging them neatly over the bed’s frame next to Spike’s coat.
“Tried to roll my own, you know? Went down to Kentucky and found fields of tobacco growing wild. Pulled it, hung it in this barn to dry. Tried to find a book that would show me what to do next and the fucking things just crumbled in my hands.”
Angel watched Spike’s fingers dance in the light of the fire. Making shadows on the walls around them. He knew all about that fresh hell. Mildew and time. No library was safe. Nothing left to read and the voices in Angel’s head had screamed once, shrill and deafening and dissonant and then were silent. Just like his world.
“So I tried to smoke that. Didn’t work.”
Angel opened his mouth and Spike waited for the crack about his intelligence that never came.
“I know. Stupid thing to do.”
The moment was gone and they slept as the sun rose. Angel pulled part of the comforter over him as he closed his eyes. The fire died to coals that burnt the porcelain black.
Summer was close, but the days were not as long as they would be in a month. Angel and Spike were dressed and walking the streets of Manhattan while it was still twilight. Angel followed Spike into different buildings that had once housed stores while the vampire looked for cleaner clothing. He went back to the brownstone alone after Spike yelled from the back of one that he had found some polyester sport coats and did Angel want to relive the seventies? He might have lost his mind, but he hadn’t entirely lost his sense of self.
They hunted in the park before dawn and took a cow buffalo this time. More blood than either of them could drink, with a decidedly interesting aftertaste and they slept through another silent day until the roar of a lion in the distance woke them both at the same time.
“Ever miss it? Not just the talking, the life around us, but the taste of them. Even when we stopped drinking from them the salt of their skin was still in the air. It flavored everything. I miss that. Miss the insults. The banter. The jokes. The music they made. The fear when they thought I was- we were, you know. The big bad.”
Spike had the fire burning and they sat, facing each other on the mattress. Outside, it rained and the air that blew in through the window frames was wet and cold. The roof over the brownstone was solid and their space stayed dry.
“Turns out we weren’t even close to being the baddest thing they knew.”
Spike’s head jerked up when Angel spoke. His voice was rough, it hurt to push out the word and Angel saw surprise in Spike’s face.
“Didn’t think I’d ever hear that sound again.”
Angel shrugged and Spike laughed hollowly. The small joy gone as he answered Angel’s question.
“No. Been all over. Went down through the fucking jungle to the tip of South America and back up. Nothing. No one. Every once in a while, I’d think I could sense someone, something in a city. Atlanta, for sure. Rio, maybe. New Orleans … But they didn’t smell, didn’t feel … sane. Not that you do either. But I’m used to your brand of nutso. Reminds me of Dru sometimes.
‘Course without the babbling. I stayed in Vegas until the power finally went out. Didn’t like it as much without the neon.”
“You mean other than us? I’m not sure. Nothing or no one that wants to be found. That’s for certain. What about you? This is a big city. Have you checked the Bronx? Harlem? Everywhere?”
Angel nodded and whispered,
He rubbed around his eyes with callused fingers and tried to remember the last time he felt whole. The last human he’d ever spoken to. The last song he ever heard. Hiding up in that cabin had allowed them to heal and survive, but they missed the last two years of humanity on earth. Even if they were being hunted, it would have been worth the risk to have just one more moment with people.
He should have been with Connor.
“You couldn’t have saved him, Angel.”
Spike’s voice was low, quiet and empty of all sarcasm.
“Whatever else your son was, you told me once that he was absolutely, completely human. Whatever they put in the water or the air or the fucking toilet paper to kill us, the thing that everyone breathed and drank and wiped their ass with, you couldn’t have kept him from it.”
Thirty years ago, Angel would have put Spike through the nearest wall for suggesting that he could not protect his son. Ten years ago, Angel would’ve sunk deeper into the despair that filled his mind. He would have let the depression eat him while he starved for what he’d lost. Even as near as five years past, Angel would have simply stood up and walked out and kept walking until the sun came up. Maybe he would have taken in his first sunrise in three centuries. But in the forty-five years that had separated them, passing in the blink of an eye and the slow crawl of eternity, Angel found that he could meet Spike’s clear, blue-sky stare. At least in the dark, the firelight framing them, keeping them both in place.
“I’m sorry for hating you, Spike.”
There was one minute of silence. Just the rain pouring down over the roof and walls and past the windows that hadn’t held glass in almost half a century. Time to take a breath of cold, wet air that neither one of them needed and then Spike’s braying laughter filled the space around them with noise.
“Typical Angel bullshit. You are fucking not. Goddamn, how I miss Angelus. Ruthless, smirking, sneaky bastard, he was. But he was honest. Never once lied to me. Well, not without some reason behind it. And it was usually a damn good one. Some virgin bit or a convent that he wanted all for himself.”
“Fuck you.” Angel muttered.
Regretting that he had spoken at all and for the first time in seventy-five years, a hundred, in forever, Angel shared Spike’s longing for a cigarette. For the ceremony of smoking. The tapping of the pack, the slide of paper on paper. The crinkle of cellophane, the dry, smooth, firm filter between his lips and teeth and the snap of a lighter. The smell of burning fluid and flint and fresh smoke and that first, so good inhale.
For something to do with his hands. With his mind. With his time.
Angel turned his head and watched the rain. When he looked back, Spike was right in front of him. Close enough to touch and the desire in his eyes burnt into Angel.
“Gotta kiss me first.”
“We still do this?”
“Unless you forgot how, old man.”
The first kiss was bittersweet. Careful as their heads tilted and they shifted positions. Nothing touching but their lips and Angel remembered the last time. In LA. Fists and fangs and tears when he couldn’t stop crying for what was gone. Weeping for his son. Salty wet mixed with blood that ran down Spike’s back, following the dip of his spine and after they’d both come, Spike left him. Dressed and lit a stale, dry cigarette and flicked ashes at where Angel curled into his pain in the dark.
It seemed to go on for hours. Just the lap of their tongues twisting and touching, their lips sealing together and when Spike finally pulled away, his eyes glowed gold, matched by the dim light from the fire. Angel tasted copper at the back of his throat.
“Owe you one, don’t I?”
“More than one, ‘Gelus. Stayed as long as I could.”
The second kiss included hands. Fingers dug into clothing that was easily torn and shredded off bodies that were made leaner from their stark existence. Proof that the environment held sway over even the walking dead. Thunder rolled above them, through clouds that seemed wilder, thicker, more uncontrolled since the end of people. Lightning started fires that burnt unchecked for weeks at a time and Angel never slept when it stormed. But this time, instead of sitting alone with painful memories for company, the weather fed the emotions that tangled between the two vampires, the passion that gave them an almost human heat.
They both wore their true faces because just like fighting, sex was more powerful when they did not hide. Standing as they undressed each other, getting down to bare skin. Going through the ritual of dominance even though they both knew how this would turn, they both knew that Spike was the stronger of the two.
What Angel couldn’t figure out was if it was simply Spike’s refusal to give in or his ability to carry on conversations with himself for days, months, years that had kept him from losing his mind. But with a duck of his head, cutting the tip of his tongue on the edge of his own teeth and feeling Spike push him against the wall behind him, Angel decided it didn’t matter. Spike’s teeth bit into the base of Angel’s neck, just above his collarbone and Angel was positive that it didn’t matter at all.
Angel closed his eyes as Spike ground against him. He rutted on Angel’s hip and thigh, lifted one knee and pressed it up between Angel’s legs, pressed muscle to Angel’s balls. Spike bit deeper and Angel moaned at the almost forgotten feeling; the tight clench of his ass, the coiled tension in his groin. He slid down the wall, open-mouth kisses on Spike’s chest.
Angel’s teeth dragged, he left fine cuts in a trail behind as he knelt between Spike and the dusty, peeling wallpaper. His hands on Spike’s hips, his thumbs over sharp bone covered by pale skin and he opened his mouth for Spike’s cock. Angel’s eyes were still closed, lost in the flavors that brought the past to the present, the lost to the now. Voices and pictures in his mind over and over and over. Darla … Dru … Spike … Penn … a world that was scented with perfume and sweat, filled with unspeakable violence and human blood.
Spike’s hips snapped forward and his cock filled Angel’s mouth, hit the back of his throat and Angel didn’t hear the low growl that came from the deepest part of his chest. He only heard Spike’s voice above him, he only felt Spike’s hands in his hair, cradling his head and holding him in place.
“Oh, yeah … ‘Gelus … like that … like that.”
Spike pulled away from him. Angel opened his eyes and looked up. A drop of spit and blood fell to Angel’s cheek from Spike’s bottom lip. He saw a feral light in Spike’s eyes. Something that had never been there before, something new.
It reminded him of the animals in the park, the wolves that followed him on hunts. The lions that watched from higher perches with wide, unblinking eyes as unfeeling, as inhuman, as predatory as he was while he tracked and pounced and drained and left the meat behind. So much refuse for them.
Spike stepped back, held out his hand.
And Angel realized that the savagery was not in Spike’s face or eyes, it was simply a reflection.
A hard shudder worked through Angel’s body and blood moved in a cool, sluggish path down his chest from the torn bite on his neck. He wiped his palm through it and took Spike’s hand. Let himself be led to the mattress, licking the taste of Spike from his lips to keep it right there, right on his tongue. To keep himself right here, right in this moment.
A dry log caught in the fire and flames danced through the bathroom doorway. Light flickered over them and Spike pulled Angel down. The demonic ridges that pushed up from under the skin of their faces gave the glow so many places to hide and twist.
’Show me your real face.’ Connor spoke in his mind and Angel smiled. Lips pulled back from teeth that were too long, too sharp, too not human.
“Gonna fuck you all night, ‘Gelus.” Spike said in the reality of the here and now and Angel shivered. Caught up in anticipation and need and pure desire.
“Stop talking about it, Spike.”
“Thought you liked it when I talked.”
“Only when you’re screaming my name.”
Spike’s fingers slid over the bleeding bite and pain flared in Angel’s mind. Spike’s hand wrapped around the back of Angel’s neck and they rolled together on the mattress. Spike’s knees between Angel’s thighs, pushing them apart. His cock hard and wet from Angel’s mouth. A slip-slide on skin and Spike had him pinned. Hands on wrists, teeth cut into lips and wet, burnt and burning copper in the air around them.
Spike paused for only a moment, the growl matched the look in his eyes and Angel kept his arms where they were. Spike reached for his coat, dug in a liner pocket and pulled out a tube of lubricant.
“Can’t be waiting around for you to heal, pet.”
Angel laughed out loud for the first time in fifty long, empty years. The mirth twisted to moans as Spike slide two slick fingers inside of Angel. Angel couldn’t spread his legs wide enough, he couldn’t clamp down hard enough. The back of his head made a shallow dip in the mattress as he arched his spine and groaned and it was Spike’s turn to smile. Fangs and forgotten, endless summer day eyes above Angel, Spike played his body like a violin. Like an argument and a fight and so much like a poem.
They came together in the dark. The fire burnt down to coals that had no light left to give. The clouds passed over the empty city, the moon lit the dark, grey and steel and no one was there to hear Angel’s roar when he came but Spike and the predators and prey in the park. Angel’s hands on Spike’s shoulders. His fingers dug into skin and muscle as he clung to what was left for him in this world. To what had always mattered most. To this moment and to the reality as it was.
Spike’s cock hit all the right places, Spike pushed all the right buttons. He knew Angel like he knew the back of his hand and the feel of his palm on his own dick and the taste of Angel’s come and of his own.
Angel wrapped his legs around Spike’s hips and held on and it was good. It was better than good.
Spike’s hair was smooth silk in Angel’s hands, his lips and tongue sucked lightly on Angel’s chest, bit softly around his nipples and under his arms and hard on his neck. They traced each other’s scars and stopped to talk about seeing the Northern Lights and standing in the snow and maybe they should take a boat to Europe and how much food could they store, how many animals could they trap and herd and why the hell either one of them hadn’t learned how to fly a plane over the years that slipped away.
And there were no tears shed when they both came again and again. Spike’s cock slipped in and out and in on already spent orgasms and lubricant. He burned Angel with his light, he pulled Angel’s hair and fucked his mouth with hard kisses as he fucked Angel’s ass. He stroked Angel’s cock until they were both done and soft and they could only come in dry spasms that hurt as much as it felt like touching heaven.
They fed on each other’s blood, solidified the bond between them and fell into dreamless unconsciousness as the sun rose above, sparkling on the wet earth beneath. They were still clutching, still groping, still drinking and sucking and licking, still fucking even in their sleep. Even as they slept.
The following night, Spike pulled on his coat and Angel knew it was time to leave the city. He stood; making sure the embers had burnt themselves out in the ancient, claw-footed tub of the brownstone Spike had found.
“I hated you because you always remind me.”
“Remind you of what, Angel? Of him?”
Spike shrugged into his coat. His face already turned to the horizon and the world beyond that. To the future and whatever, whoever they would find. In the next city, on the next continent, in the next lifetime and Angel stared into the burnt wood, the silver and grey and black.
“You remind me that as much as I’m dead, as much as I’ve died over and over, Spike, you remind me that I’m alive.”
Angel moved the last of the ashes with the broken leg of a table from whoever had owned, had lived in this home. There was nothing but dust in the tub. No spark to ignite and flame and Angel whispered,