Chapter 16: Bridge
a rose in a fisted glove
A part of Spike had been missing Julia all along. But it wasn't really an active feeling. There was a bit of him that was never quite right since she had left, a change his very nature that was small and subtle, but still there. He didn't have to be thinking about her to miss her. He was just different when she wasn't around.
But tonight... he missed her. Really missed her, in ordinary, less abstract ways. He missed her laugh and he missed the way she jiggled her foot when she was nervous and the fact that she asked for everyone's pickle at the diner. And he missed kissing her. He never considered himself a Casanova but for some reason, everything went smoothly when he was with her. He couldn't make an awkward move if he wanted to. They just fit. Damn, he missed fitting.
It was really the first time in ages that he had a physical need to be near her, that his whole body ached with longing and helplessness. He hated it. He really hated it. He didn't need this now. He just didn't need this.
But oddly... he wanted it. He shuddered a bit as a gust of wind managed to swoop in through his jacket and he hugged the fabric lamely around his body. He looked up and found he had wandered in front of a church. There was some choir music drifting softly out of it, the midnight mass, and it had a ghostly quality he found appropriate to his mood. He sighed and sunk down on the steps. He was suddenly feeling very weak and very tired and just generally spent. He wasn't sure how long he was sitting on the steps of the cathedral before someone called his name. He looked up and saw Faye standing there.
It was pure coincidence. Faye had some wild impulse to go to church after her run in with the mob. She wasn't even sure she was Catholic but it somehow seemed like a good idea. She never expected to see him there. And she certainly never expected him to look at her quite the way he did. The second their eyes met she knew that his day had not gone any better than hers. Normally, she would take some amount of pleasure in this. Their relationship was an on-going competition after all, and it would have upset her to know he had a better anything than her, including a better Christmas. But today, when she saw his face, the last thing she wanted to do was gloat. She just wanted to wrap her arms around him and say she was sorry everything was so messed up and that they couldn't catch a break and that nothing ever worked out for them the way it should. She wanted to cry on his shoulder because she just felt like a good cry, and you couldn't properly have a good cry unless you did it on someone's shoulder.
But she didn't do any of those things. Instead she just sat down next to him and offered him a cigarette, which in their world, was almost as good as a hug. He stared at the outstretched smoke and then back at her. A hint of gratitude shown briefly in those Sad Sam eyes of his as he accepted her offering. They both sparked up and sat on the steps of the church in complete and utter silence, watching the snowflakes gather on their sleeves and half-heartedly looking for pairs. Then Spike noticed, "You're bleeding."
"It's not mine," she said in a tiny voice Spike could tell she was waiting for him to ask what happened. He wasn't going to, though. He truthfully did not want to know and whatever happened couldn't have been too awful because she was sitting there, relatively unharmed. So he just nodded and continued to smoke. This must of irritated her, because on some desperate last ditch effort for attention, she blurted out, "Do you believe in a divine plan?"
Spike snorted. "What, you mean like destiny?"
"No. Well, maybe. I dunno. Like if there is some sort of reason this crap keeps happening. You know? Like someone somewhere has got this all figured out and that one day we'll look back on this and it's going to make sense. Like we'll say, 'Ooooooh. So that's why. It was all a rich tapestry.'"
"The tapestry of us getting screwed?"
"Exactly," Faye paused for a second and mentally went over what she had just said. "Ok, I know that sounded a little crazy."
"Just a tad."
"But I think it's even crazier to just chalk my life up to bad luck. No one has this much bad luck. Someone is testing me."
Spike shrugged. "I'm pretty sure just about everyone feels that way, Faye."
She shook her head adamantly. "No. No, there's a reason for this. There has to be."
Spike's mouth turned up at an odd little angle that was a bastard child of a smile and a smirk. "Don't go looking for reasons, Faye," he advised good naturedly. "There are no reasons. Getting screwed is just part of the human condition. Every day you decide to get out of bed is a crapshoot and the house always wins."
Faye thought about this for a moment. "So essentially what you're saying is... God is the dealer in the casino of life."
Now it was Spike's turn to mull over the latest bit of nonsense to be spawned from this conversation. "I dunno," he admitted. "I guess so."
Faye seemed to inexplicably brighten at this revelation. "Well, that's good news," she said.
"How do you figure?" Spike asked her. He actually just managed to further depress himself with that little nugget and wondered how being cosmically shysted on a daily basis could be a comfort.
"Because," she said slyly. "I cheat."
Spike stared at her for a second. He stared and then he smiled. What else could he do but smile at this ridiculous creature beside him that was somehow shuffled into his deck? He looked for a second as if he was going to say something. But whatever it was, he decided against it and instead shifted his gaze to the endless sky. Even though man had officially tamed the final frontier, it could still make you feel small. He actually kind of liked that feeling. He still liked it.
But most of all, he liked the fact that there was a crazy person sitting next to him feeling just as small as he did. There was something comforting about that. He turned to Faye, his fellow insignificant speck, his comrade, his competition and his evil twin and said, "Let's go home already."