Yep, it's been a heck of a summer.
The phone continued to ring. Somebody had forgotten to turn on the answering machine. “Fred?” he called. His voice barely made it out of his room. “Gunn?” He was weak, he was tired, and apparently, he was alone. He reached over and picked up the receiver.
“Angel Investigations,” he said, croaking more than speaking.
The voice sounded familiar. It was too soft though, gentle. Pained. “Hello?”
“Is this Angel?”
Of course. “Spike?”
“How do you do it?” Sounded like tears. He was always a bit of a crybaby. Poseur. Trying to act tough.
“What is it, Spike?” His voice was going. He wouldn’t be able to talk long. “I’ve had a hell of a summer.”
Spike laughed, but he choked, and it turned to a sob. “The pain. How do you stop the pain?”
“What pain? You hurt? Lie down. It’ll heal.” What the blue blazes was this about, anyway? Why the hell would Spike call him?
“Never. Never heal.” There was a pause. Angel was about to hang up. “I wanted it. Needed it. God, how I hate it.”
“Wanted what? Needed what? Make sense.” No time for this. Just wanted to sleep. Sleep in his own dry bed.
Spike mumbled something. Angel couldn’t make it out.
“Please, speak up,” he groaned. “I can’t take this right now, Spike.”
Angel shot up in bed, surprised he had the energy. “The what? Did you say soul?” Spike didn’t say anything, but Angel heard a sob. He knew. Knew the pain. Knew the ... “Did you say ‘wanted it’? You wanted it? You wanted a soul? Are you crazy?”
“Apparently so,” Spike said softly. “When does it stop? The pain?”
When you drive it down deep inside. When you have sex with a monster hoping you’ll become one yourself. When you shove a pillow over your best friend’s face. When you set fire to two creatures who were once your only companions. When you ignore it.
“Let it hurt.” He hung up the phone, rolled over, and went to sleep.