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Their bodies betrayed them in sleep. Angel woke first, when the last rays of day left the sky, and realised he was breaking the oath. Spike woke at Angel's soft groan of distress and found himself so tightly entwined with Angel's limbs that he could not tell where he began and Angel ended.
They lay for a moment; each knowing the other was awake. At the same time, they rolled apart.
Angel sat up and ran his fingers distractedly through his hair. Spike did the same, and they sat, back to back, wondering what to say.
Angel coughed and slid his pants on discretely. 'I need to shower and get to work.'
'Good! I mean… okay.' Spike slid back under the covers and was still there when Angel came out, dressed.
Angel frowned when he saw him. 'Is that all you're going to do all day?'
Spike peered out from under the sheet. 'No. I might doze on the couch for a while, too.'
Angel made a face then, as he turned, said softly, half to himself, 'I thought you wanted us to be more equal.' Before Spike could reply, he was gone.
Having had his small lie-in ruined, Spike got up and stomped naked for a while, smoking, wondering what he was going to do all day. Lying around thinking about Angel was not now an option. He glanced over at the refrigerator and grinned.
When Angel reached the house that evening, he sat for a long time in the car, working himself up to going in. He'd spent centuries honing self-control, but it seemed to desert him whenever he saw Spike. It was like blood: Spike's body sang a siren call to him, and he was as powerless to its pull as the tide was to that of the moon.
Finally, he squared his shoulders, thought about flowers for a while then marched down the path.
Spike was lying on the bed on his belly, reading, a bottle of whisky propped carefully between a small stack of books with another one empty on the floor. Various other bottles lay scattered around as well, and Angel kicked one thoughtfully as he came over. 'You're drunk.'
Spike nodded, which tipped over his small bottle-prop. He cursed and snatched up the leaking whisky. 'Yup. Didn't say nothing 'bout drinking on the list.'
Angel had to concede that it didn't. He felt an odd stab of disappointment. He wasn't sure what he'd thought they do, but Spike in this state seemed to put paid to anything. He sighed wearily. 'I'm going to shower.'
Spike didn't appear to have heard; he was engrossed in his book.
It was only as Angel reached over to pick up a towel that he realised Spike was holding the book upside down. He didn't comment but went thoughtfully to the shower and allowed himself more than three minutes- but only washing his hair and letting the water trickle over his tired body.
When he came out, Spike was leaning into the fire unsteadily, trying to light a cigarette. Angel pulled on some sweats and a T-shirt, and went out to the courtyard. He sat outside for an hour, his arms folded, staring bleakly at the ground. Then he rose, came in, grabbed his coat, and said stiffly, 'I'm going out.'
Spike - now prone on the couch, one arm trailing off playing with the whisky bottle - didn't bother to reply.
When Angel returned, Spike was in bed and seemed to be deeply asleep. His breathing was even, his eyes fluttering under the lids as if in the throes of dream. Angel slid in beside him and bit back any emotion. He'd lived with someone who couldn't stand the sight of him before. They even fit the same clothes.
Betrayed once more in sleep, they were snuggled close together when Angel woke. He could smell the slightly sour breath of a heavy drinking session close to his face and had the overwhelming desire to kiss the source of that strong, masculine scent.
With extreme caution, he eased himself out of Spike's arms and sat up, concealing his hard-on under the sheet. He had no idea how he was going to walk; his balls felt as if they were full of lead.
He heard a groan and turned to find Spike peering under the sheet at his own body. With a small, embarrassed smile, Spike turned and swung his legs out of the bed. 'Bugger.'
Spike twisted his head around. 'I'll go upstairs until you're gone….'
'It's Saturday. I'm not going in today.'
'Oh, fuck. I mean… good.'
Angel chuckled. 'I'll go shower.'
Spike looked at him and said softly, 'Take more than three minutes if you need it, Pet. Think about any damn person you want, hey? And I'm sorry about… last night. I kinda… needed not to be here for a while.'
Angel nodded, debated adding something about Spike's total lack of occupation, but only stood awkwardly, and with the sheet hiding nothing, slinked toward the bathroom.
He took two minutes, and he kept his hands high. This thing was important to him.
When he came out, Spike was dressed and tidying up the empties. He, too, had clearly not relieved anything in Angel's short absence.
With a small, pleased smile, Angel said, 'This is important to you.'
Spike nodded. 'Yeah. I guess it is. It isn't going to be easy, is it?'
'Nothing worth anything ever is.'
Spike pouted and wandered over to the kitchen to make some tea. Angel followed him and bent to look in the fridge. 'Why's there no food?'
Spike raised his eyebrow. 'Because you don't eat, and I eat out?'
'Let's go to the store and get something for dinner.'
'Aren't you going to go out?'
'Are you going to drink and shut me out?'
Spike look down shyly. 'No.'
Angel nodded. 'Okay. I cook. What time does the store open?'
Spike shrugged, and Angel suddenly said with a frown, 'Where's the watch I bought you?'
'In the closet, with my dresses.'
Angel's jaw shifted slightly as if he was going to rise to this, but instead, he only asked, 'Sewers or dash to the car under cover?'
'Sewers every time.'
They turned together and, grabbing coats, made their way to the door. Angel stopped and inspected it sadly. Spike almost touched his arm but snatched his hand back in time. 'We can call someone in to fix it. I've been meaning to get some blokes in to look over the house anyway. It needs some attention.'
Angel murmured, 'Don't we all…' and strode down the gloomy path towards the manhole cover. Spike chuckled and jogged to catch him up.
It was the first time they'd ever been in a grocery story together. It wasn't easy: one of them not eating but adoring food, one of them always eating but not caring what it was.
In the end, Angel had his way, and they chose carefully selected, fresh ingredients and things in foreign languages that Spike sneered at and said he wouldn't eat. For some reason, it didn't seem to bother him letting Angel decide on this. He liked watching him with the trolley, engrossed. Something warm trickled through his body, and for the first time, he did not think he was thinking about sex- something close, but not quite…. It was more like… watching Angel and thinking that he was his lover. It gave him an intense thrill, and he tried to keep an inane grin off his face.
'What are you thinking about?'
Spike glanced over. 'Something that's banned.'
Angel hitched in his breath at the realisation Spike was thinking about him and hurried on. 'Dessert?'
Spike chuckled at the obvious thoughts that conjured, and Angel, even more flustered, began to examine different varieties of ice cream. Spike leant on the cabinet and watched other people for a while. He observed the women observing Angel: that subtle way women had of checking a man out without actually looking at him. He turned back and, once more, had the striking thought that he was what they wanted to be: Angel's lover. He wondered if it should be enough: lying down and offering his body to Angel. These women would think it was. He was pondering these things when he glanced up to find the very same women now checking him out. He stared them down until they moved on, slightly flushed.
Their admiration of him made him realise it wasn't enough.
Angel needed to lie down for him. His role as the giver had been defined and set long before this strange addiction with Angel had come upon him.
'Are you frozen to that thing?'
Spike jumped and saw Angel lining up to pay. He shook his head and joined him. 'I'll pay.'
Angel was about to argue this when Spike said casually, 'I don't want to eat the proceeds of evil.'
Angel raised an eyebrow and relinquished the handle. Spike regretted the slightly pompous comment and had a feeling it would come back to haunt him. He risked a look at Angel and saw an annoying glint in his eye. 'Wanker.' He leant against the trolley, wishing he could smoke. Angel was watching a girl in the other aisle. Spike checked her out as well, and for a brief moment they smiled, clearly having the same thought. Then they frowned, realising how odd this was, given the circumstances, and went back to their individual thoughts.
Suddenly, Spike frowned and asked hesitantly, 'What about buying a telly?'
Angel pouted. 'I don't watch TV.'
Spike smiled innocently. 'We could get cable- for the sports, like'
Angel face showed a glimmer of interest. 'It would look out of place in the apartment.'
Spike waved his hand dismissively and began to load their groceries onto the belt. 'We could get some old cabinet, disguise it.'
Angel looked thoughtful, watching the food move along.
The girl looked up, bored and said, 'Ninety-three fifty.'
Spike put a hand to his pocket and then frowned. He waved imperiously at Angel, 'You pay,' and stalked off to the rear of the store, where they'd come in, leaving Angel to carry the bags, too.
Angel chuckled as he caught Spike up in the sewers once more. 'We'll have to speak with Gunn- see about having some actual money handed over to you.'
Spike grinned shyly. 'Then I'll buy us a telly.'
'Okay. But it's not on when we're both home.'
Spike tipped his head back and said quietly, 'Say that again; I like you saying home.'
Angel repeated it softly a number of times, and the sound echoed in the gloomy tunnels as they walked contentedly along.
A feeling a peace descended on them when they got home. Angel began to be busy in the kitchen; Spike sprawled on the couch reading.
As if having the same thought at the same time, they glanced at each and murmured, 'Spell' then laughed at the realisation that the two weeks since then now seemed more like a spell that the actual spell had.
Spike poured them both some wine and brought Angel's to him in the kitchen. He was busy with his hands in something floury, so after a little hesitation, Spike held the glass up for him, making a small show of not actually touching Angel's skin. Angel drank deeply, his eyes fixed on Spike. He swallowed and murmured, 'How can I find this more erotic than fucking you, Spike?'
Spike put the glass on the counter and hopped up next to it. 'Not allowed….'
Angel grimaced and dropped his head back to the preparations.
Spike watched Angel's hands, his arms, the way the muscles flexed as he worked. He watched his profile for a while, studied his hair with interest. Angel flinched slightly under the unusual scrutiny, his habitual self-doubt kicking in. 'What?'
Spike took some more wine. 'I'm thinking I might stop hitting you.'
Angel laughed. 'Yeah, that would be nice.'
'Too pretty to waste, ya know?'
Angel flicked his eyes over, a slight blush on his face, only discernable to someone with the ability to smell blood.
They ate in front of the fire, a picnic laid in front of them. Spike made Angel eat, passing him things and occasionally feeding them to him, still careful not to actually make contact and precipitate a chain of events he knew neither of them could, or would, pull back from.
Spike ate appreciatively, and Angel refrained from reminding him of his earlier avowal not to even try it. They drank a considerable amount of wine between them, but unlike the previous night, it wasn't a barrier, but brought them closer-took some of the tension away and made what was strange and incongruous seem natural. Spike stretched out with his book after the food and was about to release his top button, but clearly thought better of it and turned over on his belly. Angel drifted over to choose one, too, and frowned at the boxes pushed into one corner. 'We should get some bookcases.'
Spike twisted his head around to look. 'It's gonna get crowed in here: bookcases, telly….' He laid down his book and seemed preoccupied by some thought for the rest of the evening; so much so, that when Angel stretched and said he was going to bed, Spike just nodded and followed him over, both undressing discretely, backs to each other then slipping into the bed.
Angel folded his hands under his head, staring at the ceiling. 'I feel guilty about Wes.'
Spike copied his posture and replied, amused, 'For what, in a long list of misdemeanours against him?'
'For the other night. For today-in a way.'
'Well, yeah. I wonder what he does on a day off.'
'I've never really thought about it. Lie around and think of Fred?'
'Fred. Why Fred?'
Spike turned his head, incredulous. 'You do know that Wesley loves Fred?'
Angel blinked and took a while processing this then said irrationally, 'I can't see Wesley lying around somehow. I think he'd be more productive.'
'Yeah, it's our English Protestant work ethic.'
Angel refrained from pointing out the obvious, but Spike heard it anyway so murmured, 'Tosser.'
Angel's mind ran off on another track, and after a few minutes, watching Spike light a cigarette, he said, 'I have to go away for a few days next month to New York. There's a meeting of the CEOs from all the branches of the firm.'
'Oh. That's sounds like a lot of… fun.'
'I thought it could be- I thought you could come with me.'
Then turned and gave each other small, penetrating looks, both very aware that a lot more had been decided upon than a business trip to New York. As if voicing both their concerns, Angel said hesitantly, 'That's if we're still together… after this.'
Spike smiled and turned his back. 'Two nights ago, I'd have said there was no chance of that. Tonight? I'm not so sure. Goodnight.'
Angel let a lazy smile soften his face. 'Goodnight.'
The mornings didn't get any easier. This time when they woke, they lay and broke the rules for a long time, just twisted up in each other's arms. Spike pretended to still be asleep, and Angel let him pretend. It was too hard to pull apart.
Eventually though, Angel sighed and extricated himself, and Spike pretended to wake up. They smiled secretly at each other as if they'd broken rules someone else had made, pleased with the transgression, and then gave each other some space to readjust, shower and dress.
Sunday hit them like a sledgehammer: the feeling that something should be done but nothing could, and the thought of work again the next day ruining the pleasure in doing nothing. Spike was restless and twitchy; Angel morose and silent. They didn't even have the daytime options open to other people.
Finally, Spike said for the sake of saying something, 'I'm gonna take the car. Get a paper.'
Angel didn't appear to hear, and then he frowned. 'Let's drive around.'
Angel shrugged. 'Does it matter?'
So they drove around in the sunshine, feeling a strange sense of disassociation from what they were as the warm light touched their skin. It wasn't unpleasant though. Spike put the radio on, and they drove out to the beach, the only people staying in a car, but no one seemed to notice.
'We could come back here one evening- if you want.'
Spike shrugged. 'Not one much for sand. Too….'
'Invasive I was gonna say.'
Angel smiled. 'I like the beach.'
'That's cus it's full of half-naked women.'
'There is that.'
'When we get the telly, I'll let you watch Baywatch. Good all-American cultural entertainment. It was Harris's favourite show. After The Muppets.'
'Do you miss all that?'
'Do I miss Xander Harris?'
'Idiot childe. Sunnydale. Your life there.'
'That's the first time you've called me childe for a while.'
Angel turned his head. 'It doesn't seem so appropriate now.'
'Sire…? No, guess not. Do you ever hear from Dru?'
'I think I'd have the resources to find her, but no, I don't know where she is.'
'Everything's changed, hasn't it?'
Angel narrowed his eyes. 'Everything always changes. That's what sets us apart. We have to fight the constant battle to consciously change. They don't.' He watched the humans flowing around the car. 'They have no time; they change unconsciously or they die.'
'That's not true. Look at Wesley. He's reinvented himself- modelled himself on you.'
'Oh, come on, the moody, dark, sexy look? The untapped hint of violence? And I'm shutting up now.'
Angel began to laugh, and unable to hit him, trapped in the car, Spike turned the radio up full volume instead and began to sing.
Angel winced and turned it off, still chuckling. They pulled away from the beach and drove somewhere else. They spent the entire day driving around, and when they finally got back to the apartment, in the middle of an argument about German versus British cars, they stopped up short and realised they were both standing only inches apart by the bed.
A rush of need flooded into Angel, and he had to turn away, leaning on the sink, clutching it with both hands to prevent himself reaching out. Spike walked out into the courtyard to try the cooler air out there. When he came back in, Angel was engrossed with cooking, and the moment had passed.
Hesitantly, Spike came closer. 'I enjoyed today.'
Angel nodded, still not trusting himself to speak.
Angel nodded again, and gradually, over food and wine, they returned to the easy togetherness they'd enjoyed all day.
The argument didn't begin until later in the evening and neither could particularly have said what started it. They were in the middle of it before they could stop. However it started, it ended up being about Buffy: something neither of them had really discussed much before. The changes that had taken place between them since Spike had come to L.A. made arguing about a previous, shared lover extremely difficult, and they weren't sure who they were jealous or angry over. As always, the argument brought out older, more embedded hostilities, and before they knew it, they were trading bitter accusations about things they had once done and people they had once been in another lifetime.
Angel went out.
Spike went out in the other direction.
They came back, both still furious, but silent now, freezing the other out. They lay side-by-side, glad for the first time that they'd made the list, pointedly lying close and proving that they wouldn't want to touch each other anyway.
They were still mad the next morning, and Angel had to face a Monday morning already in a foul mood. He sat in the weekly update conference, glowering at the table and not listening.
When he looked up, only Wesley remained. The human shuffled some papers and said cheerily, 'Well, that's good. Pay rises for everyone. I'm surprised you agreed so easily.'
'What?' Angel stared at him, alarmed, and Wesley chuckled. 'Well, you agreed to a party for the Research Department anyway.'
Angel gave him a look and ran his fingers through his hair. 'Sorry. I've a lot of things on my mind.'
'Actually, it's rather refreshing.'
Wesley hesitated. 'Well, things are more back to normal.'
Angel watched him depart and leant back in his chair, thinking.
They'd had an argument. He'd argued with Spike. The overwhelming sense of familiarity in this made him smile. He'd argued with Spike. Spike- who didn't seem very different now to what he had always been.
Spike went out and spent the day hunting and killing things with a hunger he'd not felt for a very long time. It seemed to have meaning again: this tiny attempt to make better things that had become so stale and meaningless.
They were both in great moods by the time Angel returned from work, and with small, rueful glances, they knew the fight was over. Angel went to the kitchen and glanced into the refrigerator. He heard Spike venture, 'Let's go out instead.'
He turned and considered the suggestion. 'Okay.'
Spike smiled more knowingly, and Angel just nodded with a small breath of relief. 'Let me change.'
Spike drifted away to the courtyard and let Angel shower.
They chose at their leisure, ate slowly, drank a great deal of wine, and generally surfed on the crest of their angry words, enjoying them now as something powerful and thrilling which they could tease and play with. They'd both said things they'd meant, but things they regretted too, and they enjoyed smoothing over the hurt with different words.
The tension between them shifted subtly, until what had been all anger became all sexual need once more. It was hard to sit so close, knees almost touching, and not give way to the overwhelming desire to break their self-inflicted rules. It was fortunate it was crowded in the restaurant, or Spike felt that Angel would have: reaching out a hand to run it over the back of his, pressing the top of his foot on his. He could almost feel those small touches despite their absence.
They walked back slowly through the neighbourhood that Angel still found strange and slightly threatening, both glad to turn into the driveway to the house.
Angel sensed that Spike had something on his mind but assumed it to do with the fight, so was surprised when he suddenly veered off and went into the big house. He gave Angel a flick of his head, and Angel jogged up the steps after him.
Spike went into one of the downstairs rooms and looked about. 'I thought so.'
'This room is directly above us. Same size.'
Angel pouted, got his bearings and agreed. 'So?'
Spike beckoned and led him back to their apartment. He stared up at the high ceiling. 'I was thinking of having some stairs put in and taking over that room, too.'
Angel said rather inconsequentially, 'You own it.'
Spike nodded. 'What do you think? I kinda thought we could put the telly up there, the books, maybe a pool table….'
'We used to play billiards all day once.'
'You beat me all the time.'
Spike grinned. 'I remember that, too. So, what do you think?'
Angel did not miss the significance of Spike asking his opinion and looked up once more. 'Go for it.'
Spike grinned and threw himself on the couch, seemingly glad at last to have a project.
Once more, they went to bed as if it was no big deal. This time, Spike lay reading so contentedly that Angel was forced to fetch his book and join him.
With only one small murmured comment of derision at such an activity, he read quietly alongside Spike for some hours before falling naturally asleep.
Something woke Angel in the night, and he opened his eyes, concentrating to find the source of the noise. He realised it came from the pillows alongside him and turned his head carefully. 'What's wrong?'
Spike hunched into a smaller ball and seemed to wish to be anywhere other than where he was.
Angel ached to reach out and touch the pale back, to give the comfort that seemed so needed. Instead, he rolled closer and repeated softly, 'What's wrong?'
Spike rolled onto his back and blinked, causing a glistening trail to run free down one cheek. He replied sadly, 'The end of next week, Angel. What's gonna happen? Nothing's changed 'cept I want you more.'
Angel lay for a long time, staring into the soft darkness of the room before he said quietly, 'I lied.' He sensed that Spike was listening so continued hesitantly, 'I lied to you - way back then - when I said I'd not done this before.'
Spike sat up, rubbing his face thoughtlessly with the back of his hand. Nothing Angel could have said would have surprised him more than this. 'You've….' He could not say the words for the sharp stab of jealousy they aroused in his gut.
Angel bit his lips and said quickly, 'Not exactly like you think. In hell.'
'Oh.' The soft syllable was drawn out and painful.
Angel swallowed and continued. 'Everyone sees hell as a burning pit of fire. It's not. It's much like here really, only….' He swallowed once more. 'Everything you've always feared or hated or been disgusted by is the norm. They took me time and time again for over a hundred years.' He laughed, and the sound sent a shiver down Spike's spine. 'And every time, it was the first time all over again. I was never allowed to get used to it. And I was never allowed to want or enjoy it, because that was not to be my hell. But I wasn't allowed to forget each one either. The anticipation of knowing the rapes were inevitably coming, just made them so much worse.'
When Spike was silent, Angel glanced at him, his gaze not quite reaching the blue eyes. Suddenly, Spike looked away and hissed in a ragged voice, 'Say I can hold you…. Bugger this soddin' list!'
Angel shook his head, and when Spike made a move to force him, he said distinctly, 'If I'm to move on from that, I need to want it. And I think… by the end of next week… I might.'
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