Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me, I intend no infringement on copyright, and this is a strictly not-for-profit venture.
Spoilers: This is set after the end of the Angel series. No spoilers for Stargate.
Title credit: From "Lay My Burden Down," written by Utley and Bogard and sung by Rita Coolidge.Freedom’s child again
Bloody hell, Spike thought, as he peered cautiously into the hotel ballroom. The wedding reception was satisfactorily crowded, and ordinarily he wouldn’t give a second thought about sauntering in and helping himself to the spread at the buffet table. He’d already managed this particular trick successfully more than once over the past few weeks.
However, a number of the guests were in military dress uniform. Given Spike’s traumatic past experiences with the military, this would have made his blood run cold – if it hadn’t been that way already. As he ventured into the doorway, however, nobody paid him the least attention. Reassured, he made his way into the room. He was hungry, and though whatever was on offer that night wasn’t what he really needed, it would tide him over.
Spike knew that, eventually, he would recover from his debilitating case of survivor’s guilt. In the meantime, he was scrounging his haunted way aimlessly across the country, slowly pulling away from the site of that last furious battle in Los Angeles. He would never have dreamed that he would be the last one standing. But after the rest of his comrades quickly fell in battle, Illyria transformed herself into the more-or-less-human equivalent of an anti-demon neutron bomb, martyring herself to save a world she had no place in. Spike was alone, and it hurt like the fires of Hades.
Partway across the room, Samantha Carter was suffering a freezing agony of her own. I don’t belong here, she thought desperately. But, as she looked around as if for an exit (not that she could really leave), she noticed someone she was sure really didn’t
He was painfully thin and wan, possibly a homeless person – although his clothes were neat, if unsuitable for the occasion. He had loaded up a plate at the buffet and was making his way to a set of doors opening onto a balcony. What the hell, Sam thought; anything to take my mind off my own misery. She followed him.
Comfortably alone in the dark, Spike balanced his plate on the railing. Just as he lifted his fork, a voice behind him asked, "Care for some company?" Startled, he barely managed to save his dinner before it toppled. Jerking around to face the new arrival, he stopped himself in mid-curse. Standing in front of him was one of the loveliest women he had ever seen – and that was saying something, given the long span of his un-life and the company he kept. He found himself straightening in unconscious reflection of her posture.
"Friend of the bride, or friend of the groom?" the woman asked.
Spike mentally tossed a coin, and opted for the bride.
His balcony-mate chuckled. "Bad luck, friend. I am
Bollocks, Spike thought.
Might as well put a brave front on it. "Congratulations, then." What else could he say?
The blonde in front of him seemed to take pity on him. "Go ahead, eat," she said, in a tone that suggested she was used to giving orders. "I’m not going to bust you."
Warily, Spike complied, while the woman took up a place beside him and seemed to relax a little. She star-watched; it was a clear night, and the distant suns were brilliant in the dark blanket of space.
"Nothing for you, then?" Spike asked, as he approached the bottom of his plate.
"I’m not really hungry," she answered.
Spike looked at her appraisingly. "Well, don’t take this the wrong way, luv, but I’d guess at your age it’s not wedding-night jitters. Something not right, is it?"
She turned to him directly again and said, "I married the wrong man."
"Aah," said Spike, as if he understood – and he thought he did. Enough, anyway. He’d been
the wrong man.
I can’t believe I said that, Sam thought; I guess all it took was someone asking.
Together, they turned back toward the night. The balcony looked out over one of the hotel parking lots; an interestingly prosaic contrast to the sky above, thought Sam. She was starting to feel less numb, and she found her interest caught by one of the vehicles below her.
Spike followed her gaze. "Looking for an escape vehicle, are we?"
"No," she said, pointing. "I was just admiring that sport bike."
"Like it, do you? It’s a Kawasaki Ninja, the last remaining possession of yours truly."
bike? Really?" She said this with a sudden warm smile that, had Spike possessed a beating heart, would have stopped it.
They both stood gazing intently at the motorcycle for a minute as if it were the most fascinating thing in the galaxy.
"Take me for a spin?" she asked.
Spike beamed, but then hesitated. "There are probably a few things you should know about me," he began.
She interrupted him. "Are you a good guy or a bad guy?"
"Good guy," Spike said promptly. He’d helped save the world enough times now not to have to even think about his answer.
"Fine," Sam said.
How they made their way out without anyone noticing that the bride was absconding, Spike couldn’t have said. Once at the motorcycle, as he handed her his extra helmet, he introduced himself. "I’m Spike."
"Sam Carter," Sam said. As she fastened the leather passenger straps, she asked, "So where are we headed?"
Seated in front of her, Spike twisted his head back to say, "Does it matter?"
Sam thought for just a second before answering, "No, I guess it really doesn’t."
Spike grinned at her, she smiled back, and he turned to the road. As he revved the cycle to life, Sam wrapped her arms around his waist and settled into the ride.