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Halfway back to Wolfram and Hart - a trip taken in total silence - Angel suddenly pulled over in the shade outside a grocery store. 'I wanna cook.'
'Cook- for you. I've never even used the kitchen. What do you want?'
Spike laughed. 'I'm not sure I'd better answer that.'
Angel gave him a look through lowered lids, and just before he slid out of the car, shielded under his coat, he murmured, 'That's for dessert.'
Spike stayed in the car, not trusting his legs to get him safely inside the store.
When they arrived back, Spike's new books had been delivered in a box to Angel's office. He hefted it into his arms and entered the elevator, leaving Angel to struggle with the groceries. They gave each other wry glances as they rode up, and Spike shook his head, feeling that assumptions were being made, which he would only give more credence to by protesting against.
He forgot all his worries, however, as he unpacked his box. He sprawled on his belly on Angel's bed, swinging his legs, happily surrounded with his new treasures, reading the backs and trying to decide which to start first.
Angel, unpacking the groceries, glanced over his shoulder at the scene and frowned. 'I guess you could have used the book Wesley has- it calls up any book you want. Much cheaper.'
Spike turned reluctantly from his books and digested this. 'Angel…. This isn't just about the words; it's about the feel of them and the covers, the weight of them in your hand, knowing you can always carry one with you. Sometimes, I wonder if you have a damn soul at all.'
'No, Angel, you ponder dull, thick books, because you're still trying to escape from the fact that your family only had one servant and you still think about yourself as a pretentious Irish peasant: dull and thick. You're not, and you know that really, but the part of you that is very, very clever is the part you won't ever let out to play.' He cocked up a scared eyebrow, pleased with his own boldness, turned on his back, rested an ankle on a raised knee, and then proceeded to lose himself in a story of other vampires who, like him, drank blood and would live for ever, but who, utterly unlike him, seemed very sure of who they loved and who they wanted to share their bodies with.
Spatula in hand, Angel stared at Spike for a while, taking in the casual way he sprawled on his bed, the easy way he read in his company, as if they were old, old lovers. As he turned back to the stove, something warm trickled through his heart, something that made him smile, then frown, then smile again.
Spike turned his head to look at Angel's back but, after a small, private smile, went calmly back to his book.
After a few more minutes, Angel produced the first of what was to be many bottles of wine. He poured some of the perfect, red liquid into glasses he hadn't known he owned and took them over to the bed. Spike brushed some of his books to one side, and Angel took the invitation to sit down.
'That book good?'
'What's it about?'
'Because we make for great stories…?'
'No, I mean why do you want to read about… I mean, aren't you sick of….'
'I like being what I am; you know that. Here….' Spike pushed over another book. 'Try this one. It's good. You'll enjoy it.'
'You've read it before?'
'But you made me buy it for you?'
Spike rolled his head over to look at Angel. 'Some things improve through familiarity, Angel.'
Angel licked his lips. 'Sometimes you find an unexpected newness in the old.'
Spike nodded. 'Yeah, you can. Sometimes.'
'Even if it's been there all the time, only you never saw it before.'
'Things happen - magical things - that make you think you see them.'
'Is the magic catching then?'
This so closely mirrored Spike's own thoughts on his capitulation that he was momentarily floored. After a moment, he poked Angel in the leg and said annoyed, 'You tryin' to be clever, or something.'
Angel laughed and opened the book.
They polished off four bottles of wine between them, reading on the bed whilst the food cooked. Angel broke off frequently, asking Spike things, listening to his explanations, digesting them, and then returning to his story. Spike watched the lowered head, remembering what it had felt like to hit it so hard that he had heard the skull crack, but wondering what it would be like to run his hands through the silky locks, wet from a shower.
As if hearing his thoughts, Angel looked up and said softly, 'There's time for a shower before dinner, if you want one.'
The offer seemed innocent enough, but Spike had an immediate image of them both, pale and glistening, warming up- quickly.
He shivered, swung his legs off the bed, and went to the window.
'What would you do, Angel, if our positions were reversed?'
'Huh?' Angel came and leant on the glass next to him.
'What if it had been me under the spell-desperately in love with you?'
'But I love you, so I'd have been happy.'
'God, Angel! Try to remember, will you! What did you think when I popped out of that bloody crystal?'
'That my life had returned to me.'
'Oh, bloody hell. When I became corporeal again! You HATED me!'
'Yes, but you took Harmony off to have her- not me.'
Spike turned his head and stared at him. 'The fall that is coming to you is going to be so hard and so fast that you'll burn, Angel. You'll burn.' Then he turned back to the view and murmured, 'But it's not going to be nearly as spectacular as mine.'
Angel put a hand on his arm and began to circle his fingers. 'I want what's best for you, Spike.'
Spike looked down at the hand and then, after some hesitation, laid his over it. 'Then maybe I'd better go home tonight.'
'It's not safe.' The next words seemed to come from somewhere a very long way away, as though the effort nearly killed him, but Angel added, 'I'll go.'
Spike looked over at the stove. He looked at the bed and the detritus of their afternoon reading and drinking. He glanced toward the bathroom.
He took his hand off Angel's and put it to the back of the dark head.
With a tiny gesture of his thumb, he invited Angel to stay.
When their mouths came together, there was equal need, hot between them. Angel moaned, long and low into the kiss. Spike stayed rational until he heard that sound, drawn forth by his mouth and his tongue, and then he gave his innate survival instincts a holiday. He just shut down. He refused to think about anything but the taste of Angel's saliva, the heat of his mouth, the hardness of his body. His own body betrayed him anyway, so he refused to fight it anymore.
Angel's hands sought Spike's zipper, even as they kissed, not letting them pull apart despite his frantic fumbling. Eventually, he had what he wanted, and he groaned loudly into Spike's mouth as he stroked him.
When Angel fell to his knees, Spike tipped his head back, hovered his hands in the air, but then allowed himself to sink his fingers into the soft, dark locks.
Angel sucked, languorously to start with, giving Spike's cock the same delighted attention he'd given the cold sweetness earlier. He cupped his hands under the heavy, stretched balls, stroking gently with his thumb as he slipped the wide head through his lips.
Spike had trouble staying on his feet: the intense sensation coursing through his groin made his legs shake. He pushed his fingers further into Angel's hair and used the long strands to anchor him, leaning into Angel's face slightly.
He knew he wouldn't be able to hold back for long, and when Angel sat back on his heels and began to slide his fingers up and down his hard column, Spike arched back with a cry and shuddered out powerful strings of sperm. Like a child in the snow, Angel lifted his face and caught the falling wetness on his tongue. Some hit his cheek and began to slide down. He swallowed deeply and ran the tips of his fingers through the spill, pushing them into his mouth as well. He rose from his knees gracefully, like a fighter who has paid some obeisance to his martial God, and returned gratefully to Spike's mouth. Into the mix of saliva and sperm, he murmured, 'Thank you.'
Spike turned away, fastening his pants, his holiday over. 'I've just damned us both.'
Angel caught his shoulder and turned him back. 'But I love you.'
Spike took a small breath in and smiled. 'Then I'll fix this moment, Luv, and it will be an unalterable memory when everything else alters- as it surely will.' Very slowly and very deliberately, he stretched out his clenched fist to the fading light.
Time seemed to slow down around them, but then Angel stretched his out too, clasping Spike's. They sealed this rediscovered bargain with a kiss.
Angel pulled away first and murmured, 'Smoke.'
Spike nodded. 'Kinda not the same effect without the….'
'No…. Fucking hell! Dinner!' Angel dashed over and the whipped the food off the stove, fanning the smoke.
Chuckling, Spike went to the refrigerator and pulled out two bags of blood, waving them at Angel. With a sigh, Angel tossed the pan into the sink and opened the door of the microwave. Spike leant on the counter, watching him. Licking one finger, he wiped at something on Angel's cheek, and Angel smiled shyly. 'I'll take a shower….'
The invitation was evident, but Spike shook his head. Angel glanced over at the bed. 'Are you thinking…?'
'I'm trying not to think about anything.'
Spike put his finger back to Angel's face, but this time to his lips, preventing him speaking. 'No. I'm going to save you from that memory, Angel. This far, but no further. Sorry.'
Angel pouted and murmured against Spike's finger, 'You don't have much faith in me.'
Spike closed his eyes briefly. 'I can picture your expression, Angel, when it hits you that all this was a spell….' Suddenly, he snapped his eyes open. 'Bloody fucking hell!'
'That sodding, freaky, little, demon kid!'
Angel looked at him bemused. Spike said grimly, 'Call a meeting, Angel; things have just taken a whole new twist- wait… shower, and then maybe call the meeting?'
Angel put a hand to the dried cum on his face, nodded, and went toward the bathroom.
It was a very small meeting; Fred and Lorne did not appear to have gone home, so they were easy to summon; Wesley was in protective custody, ranting and reciting sonnets, and Gunn had taken what Lorne called "a break with the brothers to chill".
Angel eyed his depleted team and nodded at Spike. 'Tell them.'
Spike sighed, not particularly anxious to repeat the story. 'I was patrolling, ya know? Keeping the streets safe….'
'The point maybe?'
Spike glared at Angel, but the intensely loving expression that came back to him made him lose his thread even more. 'Anyway… there was this demon fucking….' He smiled wanly at Fred. 'Sorry. Doing what I thought was a kid. I killed the demon, then the kid wasn't - a kid - and it turned into a demon, so I killed it too- cut 'is bloody head off. But see… he was controlling the other one somehow… making it want him…. It was the expression on the poor sap's face that I just remembered: disgust, hatred… for himself.' He avoided looking at Angel.
Fred interjected. 'But you cut their heads off…. They're dead, right?'
Lorne chuckled. 'Well, Honey, as you know, some of us take a little beheading like other people take hot showers: perks us right up.'
Spike looked down, dejected. 'If it is still alive, it's long gone.'
Fred stood up. 'There's always physical evidence left behind! Angel, get Special Ops to sweep the area.'
Spike nodded wisely. 'Yeah, you could always bring in the other demon's body.'
Fred gave him an incredulous look. 'Maybe mention that first next time!'
Spike shrugged and glanced at Angel. Angel was staring thoughtfully at his nails, then frowned and picked up the phone to make the call.
Angel paced anxiously in the lab as Fred poked and prodded the unpleasant object on the table. She had to work alone as her usual assistant had been banned for attempting to poke and prod Spike instead.
Spike watched the pacing figure. He couldn't see any anxiety on the dark features- any fear that the spell would be broken. It made his heart ache to see the easy confidence with which Angel sought the cure for other people, safe in the belief that his feelings were unalterable. Just to amuse himself - to armour himself - Spike closed his eyes and worked through lots of scenes where Angel came out of the spell. He put them in the office; he put them up in the bedroom. It made him smile- a bitter twitch of muscles that had nothing to do with humour. He had the feeling that nothing he could imagine would prepare him for what was to come. He opened his eyes and made a small promise that he would not blame Angel, for he knew he had brought this upon himself. He could have stopped it; he could have found a place to stay away from everyone while the spell played out.
He had called Angel, knowing he would come like a white knight to his rescue: like a sire.
He had let Angel fall deeper and deeper into the power of the spell by being exactly what Angel wanted, but then, for the first time, Angel had become exactly what he had always wanted.
'What's so funny?'
Spike blinked and found himself under close scrutiny. He shook his head. 'Nothing, Luv. Nothing.'
Angel nodded and went back to pacing.
What scared Spike more than the thought of Angel remembering what he had done under the spell, was the thought of Angel remembering what he had done. Angel would now know things he kept private: his loneliness, his need, his liking for blowjobs from his sire….
'Are you okay?'
Spike shivered slightly and smiled. 'Yeah. How's the unpleasant digging around thing coming on?'
Angel glanced over at Fred. 'I think she's extracted some weird kind of DNA that seems to be additional to that demon's.'
'Just don't go into specifics where she found it, okay?'
Angel didn't seem to hear, he just brushed Spike's hand and started to pace the other way around the lab, just for a change.
Spike lit a cigarette and wondered if it would be the last he would light in L.A. That he had to go was fairly certain. Angel would not tolerate his presence in Wolfram and Hart: being reminded everyday that he had fallen to his knees and sucked things that he had previously threatened to cut off.
He cast a sneaky glance at Angel and then squinted with great interest at the end of his cigarette. He would go before he got invited to leave.
'She's identified the demon.'
Spike nodded. 'Oh, good.' At least if he went on his own terms, he could snatch back some tattered shreds of his dignity. He would mend; he always did. He'd been love's bitch before, and he would be again. It was all shit.
He threw his cigarette to the ground and went toward the door.
'Where are you going?'
He hesitated, his back to the room.
'In a few minutes, we should have it.' He nodded. He sensed Angel very close behind him. 'And then we've unfinished business….'
He nodded again. They did, but it wouldn't be finished in this lifetime or the next. It would finish in some squalid alley one day, long into the future, when all this was just another screwed up memory in centuries of screwed up bloody memories.
Angel pressed himself against Spike, the business he had in mind evident between them. He bent his head and smelt into Spike's hair.
For a moment, Spike regretted stopping Angel from fucking him earlier. Angel was going to hate him so much anyway it seemed a pity not to give him something to really hate him for: memories of their bodies writhing; echoes of their lovemaking in his mind; touch on his skin like ghostly fingers.
Angel rocked them together, something hard and insistent pushing into the small of Spike's back.
He would then have something to remember, too.
Angel buttoned his jacket and turned to Fred.
'I have it.' She held out one of the folios. 'It was using a powerful spell on itself- to be irresistible… and I think it just adapted it to spite Spike. Probably a bit mad at the head thing….'
She jumped. 'Oh, there's a reverse spell… here.'
'I can just say it… if you want….'
'Go on then! We have an insane Wesley and a missing Gunn….'
She smiled nervously and began to recite from the book. Angel turned to give Spike a reassuring smile, but Spike had gone.
Spike wasn't surprised to hear a knock on his door that evening. He was slightly surprised by the identity of his visitor.
He opened the door and stepped back, kicking his holdall out of the way.
'It's not necessary. You know that- not on my account.'
'You've got balls to come here; I'll give you that, Watcher.'
'Why do you use nicknames for everyone, Spike?'
'Is it some form of defence to stop you getting too close to anyone?'
'Look, as someone who admired my hair yesterday, you're on pretty thin ice, and to be honest? I'm really not in the mood to trade shit with you.'
Wesley smiled ruefully. 'That's reassuring.'
Spike put his bag on the table and continued packing: folding his few clothes but then stuffing them in untidily. 'What are you here for?'
'Just to say thank you for being so… rational. There was a time you would have taken advantage of the situation and made me look a fool. I'm grateful that you didn't. I'd like to think we could continue to work together.'
'I'm leaving L.A.'
'Well, I'll just keep talking, and you can go on telling yourself that. He came down to free me from my extremely embarrassing restraints, and no one has seen him since.'
'I got the impression - in my five minutes of sanity, before I began to compose odes to your beauty - that he didn't accept it was a spell: for us, yes, but not for himself.'
'And I can't help but wonder if you gave him the same consideration you gave me.'
'Not interested OR listening.'
'And if not, why not….'
Spike held the door open and jerked his head toward the hallway.
Wesley nodded. 'All right. But do you need anything? Money? Contacts? I think Angel will want to know that I made that offer- eventually… when he can think rationally about all this.'
'Do I look like someone who needs money?'
'Just go, Wesley.'
'Will you promise me something?'
'Call when you get wherever it is you are going.'
Wesley nodded again. 'You are a selfish shit, Spike.'
With that he left.
Spike watched him walk down the hallway, reflecting that he had ripped men's throats out for less. He slammed the door and instantly regretted his small, petulant display.
Wesley smiled, a small quirk to one side of his face but regretted his small flare of anger, too.
Two days later, the phone rang on Wesley's desk, and distracted with a book he was studying, he picked it up and murmured, 'Hmm?'
'Oh. Where are you?'
'Where I went.'
'So, I called….'
'You didn't leave, did you?'
'Not L.A, no.'
Spike gave Wesley his new address, in a voice that clearly held many emotions in check, and then the call was terminated.
Wesley sat for some time with the receiver, tapping it against his face, totally oblivious to the thing he had previously found so absorbing.
Spike knew who it was this time - recognised the knock - so just called out, 'Yeah.'
Wesley came in and shut the door softly behind him. 'This is… different.'
It was an old house - very old for Californian standards, although that did not strike either Englishman particularly - with high, vaulted ceilings that gave an impression of vast space within the rooms. What had once been the ballroom had been turned into a separate, self-contained, open-plan apartment. On first glance, the wall of glass doors opening out into the small, private courtyard, seemed to make Spike's choice of abode very odd to Wesley, until he stood at one window, staring into the gloomy space beyond. Neglected for decades, the trees in the courtyard took out any light whatsoever, and he realised that it would appear like night even during the day. There was a delicious coolness under this canopy of green; heavy vines crowded the high walls, and the whole gave off a sense of being deep under the… earth.
Wesley smiled and turned back to the room. 'Good choice.'
Spike repressed a smirk, clearly very pleased with his new home.
Wesley raised his eyes once more when he saw a fire blazing in an old, vastly out-of-proportion fireplace. 'Glass walls and fireplaces. You live dangerously, Spike.' Spike didn't need to point out that he liked the warmth, even in the summer; the way he had pulled all the old furniture close to the flames made it clear to Wesley where the vampire planned to spend most of his days- either there or in the bed. The bed made Wesley smile. It was grand, in the style of the house: ornate, huge, and preposterous. He nodded toward it with a raise of one eyebrow, and Spike shrugged, clearly slightly embarrassed by its proportions, too.
Suddenly, Wesley began to laugh. Spike looked annoyed and withdrew the beer he had been about to pass over. Wesley sobered and said contritely, 'It's all very Anne Rice. Sorry.'
Spike gave him the finger, but passed over the beer and flung himself into a comfortable couch in front of the fire.
Wesley sat in an armchair further away from the fire's warmth and murmured, 'I'm glad you called this morning.'
Spike was watching the flames, and he didn't look up.
'I don't think you will achieve anything by running away.' Wesley edged forward and was about to sit when Spike snapped, 'What do you want?'
'I want something you have, Spike.'
Spike's eyes drifted from the fire, and at the expression, Wesley added wryly, 'Information.'
Spike frowned. 'You're the one with all those damn b….'
Wesley studied his expression and then let out a small breath. 'You don't know. I didn't expect that.'
'Why the question?'
'I hear his name in my dreams. I got the impression you would know.' He watched the uncommunicative vampire for a while and then said, 'Well, I'll be going.'
'Yeah. You do that.'
Wesley heard something in the voice that gave him pause: something he heard in his own voice all too often these days. Not knowing quite what he was doing, he said evenly, 'I'm going to stop for a drink before going home. Drinking alone is becoming an increasingly disagreeable habit.'
There was a pause, and then Spike said, with a small, amused glance, 'Is that an uptight Englishman's way of asking someone to come for a drink with him?'
Wesley kept his gaze level. 'No. It's a lonely Englishman's way of asking you if you'd like to come for a drink.'
Spike nodded, acknowledging the other's frankness. He rose and clapped Wesley on the back as he snatched up his coat. 'Tell you what, Mate, as we go, you can tell me one of your new odes; I like a laugh.'
Wesley smiled, pleased with the joke on him and that they were easy about the spell, but not fooled for a minute about what Spike really wanted to be told.
Spike chose a dingy bar that sold surprisingly good beer, and he bought the first round. When he came back to the table and put one in front of Wesley, the man hesitated, but said, 'I meant what I said about money, Spike; you only have to ask. The rent must be astronomical on that….'
'Nah. I get it for free.'
Wesley's expression ranged from suspicious to sceptical. 'That's a neat trick then.'
'Old lady who owns the house can't get anyone to live there. She took one look at me and….' He grinned, something clearly pleasing him in the memory. 'Pointedly invited me in- if you get my drift.'
'She knows what you are?'
Wesley looked at him slightly censoriously and murmured, 'Let's hope payment won't end up being in kind, Spike. Nothing in life is free; everything has a price.'
Spike tipped his head on one side and regarded him frankly. 'But sometimes you don't remember making the payment.'
Spike didn't elaborate, only squinted at him through the smoke of a newly lit cigarette.
Wesley sensed the vampire's desperate need to ask about Angel, but had no intention of helping him out. He deliberately chose another topic of conversation and saw a flicker of wry amusement spark in the blue eyes. Wesley smiled inwardly; it wasn't often he had someone as grown up as this to play with. He leant back and began to talk of L.A: an Englishman's dry observations on such an alien culture. After a while, Spike relaxed enough to join in, and they ranged over many topics of interest: places they had in common at home, people they now had in common in L.A.
There was only one person they didn't discuss, but he was present in every word they spoke.
At last, Spike said with a pout, studying his cigarette with oddly intent interest, 'You know I won't ask.'
Wesley took a sip of his drink. 'Then you won't find out.'
Spike flashed him a look through lowered lids and murmured, 'You bastard. All right then.' He took a long drag and blew the smoke out in Wesley's face. 'How's Angel?'
Wesley rose, as if this moment was what he'd been waiting for all along. As he left, he leant down and said very precisely in Spike's ear, 'He won't ask about you either. That's how he is.'
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