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The Darkling Plain
Angel snatched up the telephone as soon as it rang. 'Where the fuck are you?'
'At home, where should...?'
'I thought you were Spike.'
'Oh. I only called because you said you were coming over - and not that I'm hinting that I want you to do that, but you said you needed to talk - and I just thought that….'
'Take a breath, Wes.'
'There's… events. I'm not sure what's happening.'
'Come over and talk?'
'I want to be here when Spike gets back.'
'Get one of the others to watch out for him and come over?'
Angel smiled for the first time in many hours and nodded. 'Okay.'
Wesley put the phone down softly.
He straightened a magazine. He ran a hand through his hair and suddenly wished he'd showered before calling. He tried to calculate if he had time for one, but the thought of answering the door to Angel, half-naked and dripping wet, made him blow out a long, slow breath. Instead, he sat down with a drink and sipped it slowly, trying to calculate how long it would take Angel to get there from wherever he was living now. Not being able to picture Angel going about his business in the Hyperion was very disturbing, and he sighed at his estrangement from the agency.
When the soft knock came, he almost couldn't stand. He opened it and saw the vampire standing with his head hung down. 'Bloody hell. Come in.' He poured Angel a drink and murmured, 'And isn't this like old times. What's he done now?'
Angel pouted. 'Things are kinda complex.'
'Ah. And that's… unusual?'
Angel gave a small smile and threw himself into an armchair, running his fingers through his hair. Wesley pouted slightly as if he'd expected or hoped for something else and then took the chair opposite him. 'Tell me.'
Angel recited a similar story as another vampire had that night; his was more succinct but lacked most of the critical facts. 'I made a deal with Lilah to turn her to get Spike's soul back. If I renege, Angelus returns. Spike's gone there to talk her out of it.'
'Oh.' Wesley regarded the lowered head for a long time. 'You must have felt very… trapped.'
'No way out.'
Again, a small nod.
'I'm very glad you didn't do it, Angel. Very glad indeed.'
Angel looked up sharply. 'Who's reading whose mind here?'
Wesley frowned. 'You can read my mind?'
Angel immediately rose and went to the bar. 'I've not heard from him for hours.'
Angel blew out a small breath. 'I thought about it, but I don't want to force her hand. Jesus, Wes, she ripped me out of my body as easily as I could rip her still beating heart out of hers… okay, I'll change that to a less bloody analogy maybe.'
Wesley got up. 'You neglected to mention that she actually did it. Some sort of preview of the ghastly deeds he'd do?'
Angel shrugged and said without thinking, 'It wasn't real. It didn't mean anything….'
Suddenly, he looked up and caught the human's expression for the first time. Another time that supposedly didn't matter ran through both their minds. His shoulders sagged, and he held out his hand. 'Hello, Wes. I think I forgot to say hello.'
Wesley smiled and came into the welcoming embrace. They gave each other one small, puzzled look, as if still unsure how they'd got to this place, and then with almost no conscious volition on their part, their lips met.
Wesley felt crushed by the vampire's need. He felt all the pain and frustration of the day unravelling in his mouth, Angel's need draining him, and he let the vampire take what he needed. They fell onto the couch.
Angel arose, heavy over him, and Wesley was taken down into a very dark place where there was just the sound of lips taking lips.
He felt a hand slip down into his waistband and hissed, arching to the touch. Angel found him and moaned, exploring warm, vital places.
Suddenly, Angel tipped them both off onto the floor and tore at Wesley's clothes. He went straight back to his mouth; enveloped, Wesley only heard the sound of a zip being lowered.
Wesley moaned, and the kissing increased. He lifted his legs and still the kissing went on. He frowned slightly and arched, trying to precipitate the next stage, but the kissing suddenly became more frantic.
Suddenly, Angel reared back, flung himself off and went to the bar, his hands out of sight.
Wesley heard the zip again. He eased his jeans back up and said hesitantly, 'Angel?'
Angel turned back with a very casual expression. 'Maybe later, hey?'
Wesley stood up. 'Are you bloody joking?'
Angel ran his hands through his hair. 'What? We have to do it ALL the time? Can't we just… talk?'
Wesley glanced down, and Angel turned sharply away, but he grabbed the vampire's shoulder. 'You can't get it…! Angel!'
Angel turned back furiously. 'It's been a bad day, Human.'
'No. It's me….'
Angel glanced down. 'Not from where I was.'
Wesley jerked back, a little pleased. 'Oh. Well, yes. I was rather…. But, oh. You.'
Angel sat down and put his face in his hands. 'It's the first time.'
'First time what? What! The first time in three centuries you couldn't…? Bloody hell. You really are out of touch with being human, aren't you?'
'You're really not helping.'
'I could.' He reached over and slid his hand inside Angel's jeans.
Angel removed it and stood up. Then he sat back down again and replaced it.
Wesley tried his best, but totally new to the activity, he probably wasn't the best cure Angel could have found. They persevered for some time until Angel rose with a curse and poured another very large drink. 'I'm gonna get drunk.'
His arm aching from so much exertion, Wesley nodded. 'Good idea. Pass me one too.'
Nate collapsed after they'd been there half an hour. He got up to look at a book, the legs had wobbled, and if Spike hadn't caught him, he'd have crashed inelegantly to the floor. Spike murmured, 'You need to feed, Luv. The body's just risen. It's desperate.'
'No! I won't do it. She'll have to wait.'
'Okay. Go upstairs and lie down, yeah? Keep still; don't waste your energy.'
'Nate nodded and went very cautiously up the stairs.'
Giles looked back down to his books, and it went very quiet in the room.
He only looked up when something touched his arm lightly, and he found Spike passing him a drink. 'Oh. Thank you. Yes, that would be rather welcome.'
Spike sat down on the couch opposite him and leant back, crossing his legs nonchalantly. 'So, are you gonna drop the icy politeness then, Pet?'
Giles didn't look up and made a show of turning a page. 'No. I don't think so. I think it's best all around, don't you?'
'You think too much.'
'It's all I have: thought. I'm not left with much else sometimes.'
'You've been thinking about me a lot?'
'As usual you twist everything I say to suit your own purposes.'
'You didn't deny it.'
'No, I didn't. I think about a lot of people and a lot of things. Naturally you're one of them. Now, do you want me to do this research, or not?'
'I was thinking… not - for a while.'
Giles glanced up sharply. 'Don't.'
Spike pouted. 'I just wanna….'
'You want things without thinking of the consequences to other people.'
'I know. I do. And I'm sorry.'
Giles took off his glasses as if he could see clearer that way. 'Well, that was new: honesty from Spike. Americans will learn to make a decent cup of tea next.'
'Oh, sorry, was I supposed to say something?'
'Oh, fuck off, Giles. Stop this crap with me. You wanted me, and all I did was show you, that's all. 'S not like I….'
'What? Ruined my life?'
'You knew. You knew somewhere in that incredibly dense cranium of yours that I wanted you, but you were all repress-y….'
'You repressed it, Mate. Couldn't be true… stiff upper lip and all that. Anything but a stiff….'
'No. Wind back. You said you wanted me….'
Spike put his glass down incredulously. 'Duh! Have we been talkin' about a different bloody kiss here?'
Giles got up, agitated and went into the kitchen. Spike followed him in and leant in the doorway.
'I think we have. I was talking about the kiss where you humiliated me and made me your sport.'
'Oh. Okay.' Spike gave a small blink. 'Cus, I was talking 'bout the one where I took the first opportunity I had after me chip was out to see if you wanted me too….'
'Kiss me and leave? I think my memory is better than yours.'
'I'm here now.'
'Because you needed something from me.'
Spike shrugged and looked contrite. 'Yeah. Guess. But I remember better than you.'
Giles smiled for the first time since Spike had appeared on his doorstep that night. 'This honest-William act is rather endearing. I must be ill.'
Spike grinned. 'So… seeing I'm here, don't 's'pose you've got anything to eat?'
Giles shook his head and opened the fridge. 'Anything with sugar?'
Spike went very close and leant in too. With a soft murmur, he said, 'Sorry.'
Giles pouted and turned his face a little closer. 'I'm being seduced by the devil, I think.'
Spike copied the pout. 'Tell 'im he can't have you.'
Giles chuckled, and they smiled at each other, amused. 'I think we both need to concentrate on what we have to do now.'
Spike straightened and took the offered plate of cake. 'Do you think you'll be able to do it?'
Giles rummaged for a fork and said cautiously, 'It's odd. All the references point toward the things that hold the spirit on the earth… some connection. Sometimes, it can be a possession that was held very dearly; sometimes, a place that meant a lot… sometimes, just something the spirit feels it's… missing. But I just don't see how that applies in this case.'
Spike swallowed the large piece of cake he'd stuffed in his mouth. 'It was here - in Sunnydale. Where I… you know….'
'Shall I mention the complete lack of storytelling skills again?! You killed him here? Where here?'
'In my crypt, and there's blood. Lot's of it, I guess. On my coat. And the sword. My sword. Angel gave it to me. After I got religion like and wouldn't fuck him.'
'Oh, so much more information than I wanted! Let's try to concentrate on the facts that actually apply. So, there's a coat and sword soaked in the man's blood in your crypt… yes?'
'Unless some fucker's nicked them, yeah.'
'Right. Get them. Spike…?'
'I don't want to….'
Giles hesitated but put his hand lightly on Spike's arm. 'It'll be hard, but what's done is done. Now's your chance to make it a little bit better.'
Spike looked in his eyes and nodded in resignation. ''K, Pet. I'll go get 'em. Then he can go… home?'
'I think so, yes.'
Spike fetched the objects, stunned at how little pain he felt when he picked them up. He almost felt good to have them back, more like the Big Bad, so he gave himself a good talking to about responsibility and grief as he walked back through the cemetery.
Giles was waiting when he got back, Nate lying wan and still on the couch. Spike laid the objects down on the floor in the middle of the ring of candles that the watcher indicated.
He stood back, but Giles shook his head. 'Sit next to me and take my hand. We need to free the spirit by offering it these objects.'
'I'm dizzy not deaf.'
Spike grinned at Nate. 'You ready to go up? Rapidly?'
Spike slid elegantly to the floor alongside Giles and, after only a slight hesitation, held out his hand. They touched, and both were momentarily distracted from the task in hand. Spike turned to Giles. 'Can we talk after this?'
Giles blinked then nodded. 'Yes. All right.'
Spike smiled and closed his eyes. 'Go to it.'
Giles began to chant. It was melodious and calming. Spike tightened his hold on the man's hand and then felt his hand being pushed forward to the objects. He touched the stiffened leather with his fingertips, felt the cold metal against the back of his hand, and suddenly, there was a whisper by his ear. 'Thank you.'
Spike jerked his eyes open and grinned at Nate.
Giles went on chanting, so Spike jiggled his hand. 'You can stop now, Pet. He's out.'
Spike put a hand up to Nate's cheek then drew it back sadly. He stood and looked at the ghost. Nate held his gaze then pouted deeply. 'I want to say goodbye. I want….' He tried to touch Spike too. He looked back at the body on the couch. 'I should have made more use of being in there. Damn!'
Spike dashed a hand across his eyes and tried again to touch him. 'I can't do this. I can't say goodbye like this. There's no closure. I'll still dream about you.'
Suddenly, the human rose from his position on the floor and came toward Spike. He looked in the vague direction the vampire was looking and said hesitantly, 'If you would like… I mean… for a moment. Just to say goodbye.'
Incredulously, Spike turned to Giles. 'No! Rupert! 'S not fair on you! I'd never have asked…. Oh.'
Giles' borrowed body turned, and Spike swallowed.
A warm hand reached for him and cupped his cheek. 'He's a very good man, Spike. He has a nobility of spirit.'
'Can he hear us?'
'I hurt him like I've hurt everyone else. I wanted him, but I've such a fucking shit record with humans, ya know? I wanted to say something, but he makes me so bloody mad all the time, it all came out wrong.' Spike placed his hand over Giles' and cupped the man by the back of the neck. They leant their foreheads together sadly. 'I've never pissed you off, have I? Doesn't matter what I did to you - curse you, kill you - you still like me.'
Nate chuckled in the borrowed body and tipped his face slightly. At the same time, Spike moved. Suddenly eye-to-eye, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to kiss. It was the gentlest kiss Spike could remember since being a child, and he felt a sense of deep peace descend, despite the strange circumstances.
The kiss deepened.
Suddenly, Spike pulled away and looked down. Nate's eyes widened, and he looked too. 'Oh.'
'Is that you or… him?'
Nate pursed his lips then looked up through lowered lids. 'I'm not sure, but it feels… extraordinary.'
They eased their lips back together, and this time, Spike pressed his body gently to the watcher's.
The kiss deepened until Nate pulled away and began to laugh, Giles' eyes wide, sparkling and incredulous. 'I'm so arrogant!'
'Hey, Pet! Last thing anyone would… well, yeah, sometimes….'
'I mean about this! Oh, God, I get it! I do! This was never about you! You didn't need me! I needed you!' He snatched Spike to him and began to run his hands wildly over the hard body. 'Flesh and blood. Bodies, alive and vital. Do you see?'
Spike clearly didn't, and Nate laughed again. 'I wasn't sent back as a reward, Spike. I was pushed out until I wised up. I'm not still eight. I should have grown up. I should have loved. Angel isn't weakened by his passion; he's given meaning by it. It informs everything he does and makes him strong. What arrogance I've spouted all my life, all because I was afraid to love.' He tipped his head back. 'Oh, I'm so ready to go now. Come, kiss me once more and then never dream of me again.'
Slightly stunned, Spike was drawn back into the warm embrace, and then the body sagged slightly in his arms. He found himself face to face with a very different expression. Giles coughed and stood straight. 'So, you said your goodbyes…?' He looked down, thinking deeply.
Spike came a little closer. 'He said you were extraordinary.'
Giles looked up, amused. 'No, he didn't. He said I was noble.'
'You heard! You heard everything!'
'Hmm, I did. Very… thought-provoking.'
'Yeah, he suddenly seemed to find shagging a more attractive proposition. Amazing that, considering he was a priest an' all, an' you have NO idea what I went through with….'
'That wasn't what I meant.' Giles twitched up his eyebrow with a small smirk. 'So… what is it you've always wanted to say to me?'
Spike's eyes widened then narrowed, and he poked the human in the chest. ''S rude to eavesdrop, Pet; didn't yer old Mum ever tell you that? Now, I've gotta get her to some blood. She's not risen proper yet.'
'All right, Spike. I'll let you go now, but… we will talk.'
'Talk, talk, talk. Too much bloody talk, if you ask me. Right.' He lifted Lilah into his arms and cast Giles a small look. At the smirk he saw, he clenched his jaw. 'I'm bloody going now!'
Giles let him get to the door then caught him up and put a hand on his arm to detain him briefly. 'I can't imagine how Angel is going to take this. But if you ever need a bolthole, you have one here. Come home, Spike, if you need to.'
Spike looked surprised then pleased. He softened his look and smiled back at Giles. 'I'm not doing another runner, 'k? We'll talk - when I've got this mess sorted out.'
Giles nodded. 'Come home for a while, even if you don't need a bolthole. Just come back?'
Spike chuckled. 'I've just seduced a fucking priest. Do you think I can rise to the challenge of a repressed, stuffy Englishman?' With that he disappeared into the warm Sunnydale night.
Giles leant his forehead against the door and glanced briefly at his suitcases. He closed his eyes to the delicious knowledge that life went on and that, once more, it held promise.
Go to Chapter 5
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