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The Darkling Plain

Chapter 5

Angel paced his office furiously. He tried desperately not to think about… the incident. Not thinking about it led inevitably to thinking about nothing else, and when acute embarrassment hit him once more, he hit the desk in retaliation.

There was a slight commotion outside, and he looked up. He saw Spike and, with a groan of relief, went out. Spike stepped to one side, and Angel skidded to a halt. His senses tripped over themselves to give him messages: Lilah; Lilah dead; Lilah turned; Lilah turned by his blood, his childe; Lilah still souled.

He swallowed deeply and blinked, unable to do anything more constructive. Spike stayed very still, watching warily and, Angel could have sworn, slightly challengingly.

It was this that tipped the balance. The challenge - the 'look what I did that you couldn't do' challenge. It was 'you are impotent' in another, subtler form.

Angel roared and flew at Spike. They crashed back through the window of Fred's office, the glass shattering like a fish tank in third-rate movie.

Suddenly, Angel felt hands clawing at his back, pulling his hair. 'Get off him!' He was flung back, and incredulously, he faced the two of them.

Spike glanced at Lilah. She looked down confused.

Angel began to brush glass out of his hair, blood running down his arms where he'd been cut. Spike picked a shard of glass out of his neck and stared at it thoughtfully.

'I did it for you.'

'You've damned us all to hell.'

'Why? How? She was dying, Angel. She had almost no soul. Now it's huge. It's…'

'I DO NOT have a soul. I am evil! I am so going to destroy you for this, Spike. I'll rip your….'

'Yeah, yeah, change the fucking tune, Luv. You've told me that a few times in the car already.'

'First chance I get, I'll stake you.'

'And pulling your grandsire off me was the start of that plan, was it?'

She clenched her jaw and stared mutinously at him then spun on her heel and went to the door.

He murmured, just loud enough for new preternatural ears, 'Remember what I told you: home. No deviations. Rest. Sleep until I come for you.'

She gave him another mutinous look, but Spike turned away from her nonchalantly, knowing he did not need to speak of this more.

Angel watched this small exchange as if something about it directly challenged him then shrugged his shoulders as if he didn't care, turned on his heel, and went toward the elevator.

Spike jogged over and put his hand into the closing doors to stop them. 'You gonna let me ride up with you, or pull another hormonal rant?'

Once more, it was the jibe about hormones that did it. Angel punched Spike in the face, waited until the doors closed, and then punched the buttons with a fury he did nothing to try and control.

Spike picked himself up, dabbed at his bleeding nose, and pressed the button to wait for the elevator to return.

He stepped warily into the apartment and heard the shower running. Taking his clothes off carefully and dropping them into the hamper, he went in, too.

Angel was leaning, braced against the wall, his head tipped back, the water cascading off his powerful features. Spike made a few faces for a moment then turned on one of the showerheads opposite him. 'You gonna talk to me?'


Angel marched out of the shower and began to towel his body viciously.

Spike sat wet on the end of the bed and began to inspect his wounds. Angel went to the closet, pulled on a pair of sweatpants and climbed into bed.

Without lifting his head, Spike murmured, 'No sex for Spike then.'

Angel ignored him and reached for a book.

Spike sighed and pulled a few more faces. 'Don't you at least want to know…?'


He crawled up alongside Angel and, making sure they didn't touch, slid down under the sheet.

Angel continued reading, turning the page with silent, monotonous regularity.

Spike flung out of the bed and went to his own room.

He sat naked on the couch with his head in his hands, feeling a sense of desolation wash over him: desolation and… something else, but the something else was very elusive, and he couldn't pin it down long enough to examine it. With a sigh, his other source of worry returned, and reasoning that he'd escape his own problems in Sam's, he went back into the bedroom and toward the closet.

Angel seemed to have forgotten his book, for he was sitting with his head in his hands, but when he heard Spike, he picked it back up with alacrity and pointedly turned the page again.

'Don't bother. I'm going out.'


'Do you care?'

'Not especially. It's not as if I don't know.'

'Why ask then?'

'I'm a masochist. Indulge me.'

'Look, Sam needs….'

'Colour me surprised.'

It was on the tip of Spike's tongue to blurt out his fear for Sam, have it soothed away, but the impulse died in the cold atmosphere. Instead he said softly, 'Least I'll get a decent fuck with him.'

Once more, it was exactly the wrong thing to say. Still overwhelmed by his failure earlier, Angel heard this not as a reference to him wearing sweat pants that night - as it had been intended - but as a reflection on his whole sexual technique.

He reared out of the bed and tore the shirt out of Spike's hand. 'If you go to him tonight, don't bother coming back.'


'You heard.'

'This is my fucking place too! You can't kick me out!'

'Is that all you can focus on? Is that all that concerns you?'

'Oh, did you want me to be all contrite and sorry and worried that we're over? Sorry, Angel. I don't feel like following your self-indulgent script tonight. Had a hard day, ya know?'

Angel slammed him back against the closet, but Spike pushed him back, and he fell onto the bed.

Spike stood over him. 'You are the most selfish fuck I've ever had the misfortune to meet, Angel. I'd be better off without you. Least my friends wouldn't….' He stopped mid-sentence, utterly confused. When he'd started, he'd known where he was going, but then the thought had slipped away again, like a slippery little piece of soap in the shower.

He frowned, picked up his shirt and left.

Angel watched his retreating back with a bitter look and wondered why he had ever felt guilty about what he was doing with Wesley. He flung on his clothes and punched the button for the elevator.

Spike fumed all the way to Sam's. He played the scene over in his mind, wishing he'd been wittier, more cutting, crueller.

When he arrived at the apartment block, he stepped with distaste over the drunk that lay sprawled in the gutter and punched the button for the elevator. Jordan rose up from the ground, changed and smacked him on the back. 'Hi.'

Spike jumped and whirled around. 'You fucking stupid loser! Don't EVER creep up on me like that! I'm a friggin' vampire! Or does everyone forget that?'

Jordan gave him a look. 'Another argument with the overhung one?'

Spike clenched his jaw and stepped into the elevator, pointedly not answering the question.

'Have you ever thought your life would be more fun without him constantly screwing you up?'

'Yes. Tonight.'

Jordan heard the tone and decided to keep quiet.

They went to Sam's door, and Spike hammered on it. Jordan looked at his fingernails and said confidently. 'He's got to be in there. There's no other way out than the door I was covering - 'less he went up to the roof.'

Spike turned his face creased in pain. 'What did you just say?'

'Up. The roof. Don't worry, Babe; he'll be in there…. What?'

Spike's eyes had widened, but he bit his lip, frowning deeply. 'I don't know. I can't remember. Bugger. And….' He hammered one more time then stormed off. 'Where are the fucking stairs?'

The roof was only a few feet away from the apartment block next door. Spike rolled his eyes at the easy jump and stomped back down to the apartment. With a kick, he broke in the door.

They searched through Sam's things for a while.

'This is like old times; maybe he's gone straight again.'

Spike stood up and looked at him. 'This is bloody hopeless. Let's go.'

As they were heading toward the door, he paused and went back to the phone. A piece of paper lay half tucked under it, and he pulled it out. Jordan came and looked over his shoulder. 'An address.'

'Recognise it?'

'Bad part of town, but not specifically.'

'Let's go.'

The street was dimly lit and reeked of urine and vomit. They circled around the block until they concluded that whatever they were looking for wasn't advertising itself. Spike heard voices coming faintly from under the ground, so they went to a likely looking door and forced it open.

A burly looking man bared the way. 'Members only.'

'We are sodding members.'

'Yeah, and I'm….'

'Unconscious, Mate, that's what you are.'

They stepped over the slumped body and jogged down some steep, dimly lit stairs. At the bottom, they widened into a hallway, with rooms off to each side, running the whole way along.

Pale forms were standing around, looking in the rooms. They stopped and looked in too.

Spike felt Jordan tense and leant over reassuringly. ''S always a shock seeing it for the first time.'

Jordan leant back and whispered equally quietly, 'I've seen as much torture in my life as you, Spike - I'm a freak, remember? I was just wondering which room we'll find Sam in - and why.'

Spike gave him a frank look, and they nodded, each feeling glad the other was there. They moved on from the tableau in the first room and passed other equally unpleasant sights. Jordan tapped Spike on the arm to draw him closer and said softly, 'Look at their faces.'

Spike looked at the slaw-jawed, lascivious expressions on the men, lurking to watch others' pain and nodded, murmuring back, 'I'd go down a treat here.'

Jordan chuckled and brushed Spike's hand lightly over his bulge. 'You go down a treat everywhere, Babe.'

Spike snatched his hand away with a small slap, but nudged him slightly with his hip.

When they came to the last room, they frowned and turned around. 'Did we miss him?'

'Maybe he's not here.'

Spike was staring at his feet. 'No. He's here. He's down there. Steps?'

They went swiftly back down the hallway, drawing a few suspicious looks, and Spike pushed open a door they'd not seen, under the stairway. Another steep set of steps took them down to a larger basement. Again, a group of men milled around the edge. Spike gave one a sneer of dislike as he saw the man working himself to the scene in the room. He pushed through the group and then hissed. Jordan caught him up, and together, they lunged forward.

Spike caught at the arm of the man who was wielding the whip. 'Don't you fuckers play with safe words here! Fucking hell! Look at him!'

The man looked surprised. 'Who the fuck are you? And, yeah! Course we do! We're a respectable…. Oomph.'

Spike gave Jordan an impressed look as the demon punched the torturer unconscious. He went over to the frame and ripped the ropes off Sam's wrists and ankles, cradling him in his arms and lowering him to the floor. He ripped off his own shirt and draped it over him.

He heard murmuring from the men in the room. Suddenly, rearing up in full game face, he screamed, 'Anyone wanna see some real torture? Stick around if you do!'

Jordan laughed and kicked at them as they fled up the stairs. He turned. 'We'd better go. They'll psych themselves up and come back as a mob.'

They both knew he spoke from experience, and Spike nodded, sweeping Sam into his arms. He could feel his friend's blood dripping through his hands and began to curse colourfully at him as he carried him. Sam, deeply unconscious, was spared the attack.

When they got out into the relative freshness of the street, Jordan pulled out his cell phone. 'We need to get him to a hospital.'

'No. Wait. We can't. Jesus, Jordan, we're… freaks. We'd have to drop him off and not stay, and I'm not doing that. I can look after him. I've been here and done this with someone else. Let's get him home.'

Spike took Sam straight back to the apartment; Jordan stopped for supplies, then together they began to examine the familiar body. Spike winced at the damage to the man's perfect skin, but reasoned that, with care, he'd recover with nothing more than some faint scaring.

Jordan swept all the bloodied towels and bandages into a sack and then set about making drinks for them all.

Sam came back to conscious with a moan, and before he'd even opened his eyes to see where he was or who was with him, he cried out, 'Spike.'

When he felt cool hands brush across his forehead, he started.

Spike tightened his grip. 'Shhh. Lie still; we're both here.'

Sam looked wildly around and struggled to sit up. Spike held him still and nodded at Jordan to pass the drink he'd prepared. He fed it slowly to the human until he lay back with a small groan.

Spike leant down and said very distinctly, 'We need to talk, but not now. You need to rest up.'

Suddenly, the human reared up and grabbed Spike's bare shoulder. 'Feed from me!'


'It's what you want!'

'I don't….'

'I'm what you want!'

'Yeah, Pet, I want you; you know that….'

Sam tore frantically at the bandage across his chest. 'Then hurt me. Take me. Love me.'

Spike looked helplessly at Jordan and then pulled Sam into a tight embrace. With some incoherent rambling, the human eventually fell into an exhausted sleep.

Spike eased him down and climbed off the bed, running his hands through his hair. 'Has the whole fucking world gone mad? Is this some kinda alternate reality?'

Jordan only gave him a look and refreshed the drinks.

'Yeah. Jeez. Alcohol - now!'

They drank quietly together, eyeing the sleeping human.

Eventually, as if he'd debated talking for some time, Jordan said softly, 'You were his safe word.'

Spike turned with narrowed eyes.

Jordan refused to be put off by the look. 'When he came round… first thought… his safe word.'

'I don't want this - this is….'

'No, you do.'

'Fuck off! I don't want him tortured and hurt and….'

'Nooo, you want to do it to him yourself.'

Spike caught Jordan by the lapels and propelled him back against the bar. 'You'd better be very careful what you say to me, Demon; I'm not in the best of moods tonight.'

'Hurt me too? Cus, I don't bruise as easy as a human, Spike. You won't get your rocks off with me quite as easy - but I'm always willing for you to try; you know that.'

'What! What the fuck is this?'

'You didn't see him after he'd had sex with you. I did. Lot's of times. He'd lie in my arms and recover. Jesus, Spike, you broke his fucking wrist last time; didn't you notice?'

'You're lying! This is all….'

'NO. He didn't want me to tell you.'


'Oh, how stupid are you, Spike? He wants you to love him, and he thinks this is what he has to do - be - to get that love! He's trying to be better than Angel! Trying to damn well keep up with you!'

Spike dropped the lapels and backed away. He turned toward the bed then shied away. He grabbed a shirt from the closet and strode toward the door. 'I've gotta get out of here. Everyone's gone mad, and I'm drowning in….'

'NO! You're not fucking running away from this, Spike.' Jordan barred his way. He saw the look on Spike's face and said menacingly, 'Don't break my bones as well, Vampire. You're my hero, and I don't wanna lose that.'

Spike took a deep, calming breath and then held out his hand. With only the slightest hesitation, Jordan came into his embrace.

'I wanted him because he was human. Because he was soft and warm and vulnerable, something I can't get from…. I thought he wanted the pain. I thought he liked walking on the dark side; it's why I let him.'

'He wants you to be his. He loves you - the first time he's been in love.'

Spike held him away gently. 'Why didn't you tell me any of this?'

'Because you don't do criticism.'

'What? Me? I spend my entire fucking life being criticised by everyone!'

'Yeah, and you fly off the deep end and rant and storm, and everyone gives in to you and tells you what a little poppet you are.'

Spike said icily. 'No one has ever called me a poppet and lived.'

'Sam could tell you to your face about Angel. He stood his ground there, but about himself? Denial, big time.'

Spike turned and looked at the sleeping human. He disengaged himself from Jordan's embrace and went to stand at the end of the man's bed, watching him thoughtfully. Suddenly, he whirled around and made for the door. When Jordan tried to intercept him angrily, Spike grabbed his arms. 'I'll be back. I wanna… get something. 'K?'

Jordan nodded, and Spike flicked his eyes to the bed. 'Watch him. Don't let him move about.'

Spike stepped into the elevator. He leant his head tiredly against the wall and wondered if his life would ever get any easier.

He found what he was looking for fairly easily but entered the shop extremely warily. One of the girls behind the counter looked up and smiled at him, then when Spike was studying the displays, nudged her friend.

He couldn't believe the cost of everything and couldn't remember if he actually had any money on him, and was too much of a coward to either check or to get to the counter without enough. Furiously, he stormed out and walked back the way he'd come.

The last time he'd needed some, life had been simpler…. Spike broke into a huge grin and jogged the rest of the way back, only stopping to pick up what he wanted as he always had done - for free.

He burst back into the apartment and found Jordan sitting alongside Sam, holding another glass of whisky for him. They both looked up in surprise, and Spike stepped forward and thrust his acquisition at Sam.

'These are for you.'

Sam's jaw dropped. He snapped it shut. He looked helplessly at Jordan, and then tears began to run from his eyes as, laughing, he jiggled his wounds.

Spike frowned and held the flowers closer. 'They're fresh. What you laughing at, you dozy pillock?'

Jordan began to laugh too, and Sam tried to take the peace offering, but he couldn't laugh and move, so Spike tossed them dismissively on the bed. He narrowed his eyes at the human. ''S last time I ever bring you a token of me bleeding affection - just you remember that.'

Sam nodded.

'Now, I've got another dozy pillock to apologise to. Can you two manage without me?'

Jordan gave him a very intense look of affirmation over Sam's head and then blew him a small kiss. Spike gave him a slow, English gesture in response then spun on his heel and left.

He grinned as he thought of Angel in the bed, waiting for him to come back and apologise, still pretending to read his stupid book.

He wasn't above crawling - metaphorically as well.

He hummed to himself as he entered the basement and jogged up the steps to the offices. He burst through the door and skidded to a halt.

Angel was coming out of his office.

Spike shrugged and smiled at him shyly. 'I know I'm an idiot, Angel. Seems it's the night for tellin' me. I'm sorry, 'k? I shouldn't have…. What?'

Angel stepped to one side to show Spike what he had concealed behind his back. Spike felt a shudder run through his body, and he couldn't find his voice. He shook his head, his eyes wide. Eventually, he managed to croak out, 'No. I don't believe you've done this.'

Wesley came around Angel and stood next to him, casting a small glance at the dark vampire.

Suddenly, whether at that glance, or just at his presence there, Spike lunged at the human. Angel intercepted and stood between them, putting Wesley safely behind his back once more. Spike tried to fight to get past him, but then stopped when he felt he was losing the moral high ground.

Angel frowned. He hadn't intended to so pointedly take Wesley's side against Spike's, but Spike's attack had given him little choice, the antagonists being so unequal in strength. He wanted to explain this but saw Spike's face and realised there was little point. 'We need to talk. Upstairs. Together. Now.'

Spike straightened and said icily, 'Say what you have to here, Angel.'

Angel turned and nodded at Wesley to return to the office and waited until he was out of earshot. He turned back to Spike.

'It was time. This had gone on long enough.'

'Are you trying to fool me or you? You've done this because of Lilah.'

'I did this long before Lilah. I just hadn't told you.'

Spike recoiled, and he swallowed disbelievingly. 'You've betrayed me just as badly as he did.'

'Stop being such a melodramatic pansy, Spike. Are you the only one who is allowed to make mistakes when they're upset?'

'Upset? Mistake? He damned me to a stinking hell, Angel!'

'No, I did that nearly two hundred years ago. He sent you back there for a very short few hours.'


'Stop it, Spike. He stays.'

Spike calmed himself to ensure what he said had real impact. 'Then I go.'

Angel blinked. 'You're over-reacting, as usual. You know I love you. I've proved it enough times. But I need Wesley too. He gives me something you can't, or won't.'

Spike jerked his head back. 'A warm rectum?'

Angel winced. 'You are such a fucker sometimes, Spike. I need his advice and friendship.'

'So that's not his spit I smell on your face?'

'No, it probably is. We're working around to what else I need from him.'

'This is it! I can't do this with you. I can't be second, waiting around, wondering what you're talking about with him - doing with him.'

'Maybe you could wait with Sam.'

Spike bit his lip, the argument slipping badly out of his control.

'You've never minded me and Sam or Jordan.'

'Is that so?'

'Yes! That is fucking so… you know I need….'

'Other people.'

'NO! I just need you… I mean, I don't need you at all, cus at this minute, I really hate you. But it's totally different to you and HIM.'

'No. It's not.'

'Yes! It is!'

'I'm not standing here arguing with you, Spike. I've told you: Wesley stays. In the agency, in my life - however I decide that 'in' will be.'

Spike set his shoulders and took a deep breath. 'Okay. Then he can have my office, and my side of the bed.'

He spun on his heel and left, just managing to shut the door before his legs gave way on him.


The End of Episode 2


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