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The Darkling Plain
Angel was right. Money did talk. Everyone was astonished how much he suddenly hastened the renovations, and believed him when he claimed it was just to get the agency back together.
Late one night, he declared casually to Spike that it was done. Spike looked up from where he was sprawled on the couch, watching television, and muted the sound. He stood up. 'Let's go see then.'
Angel smiled and nodded but said he wanted a shower first. When that was done, he wanted to feed. By the time they left, dawn was approaching, and as they drove along the road where the Crypt stood, Spike shook his head ruefully. 'We'll have to run.'
Angel chuckled and swung the car onto a steep slope. Pressing a small device, a door rolled up, and he drove into an underground garage. He looked at Spike's expression. 'It was always here, Spike. I didn't magic it.'
Spike looked relieved and climbed out, making for the stairs. He jogged up and turned his head to Angel. 'Can't smell the fire anymore, at least.' He pushed open the door and went in.
Angel could not have been more pleased with the reaction. Spike stood as if rooted to the floor, his hand still on the door.
Angel eased past him so he could watch his expression as he looked slowly around, his eyes shrinking in the brilliant lighting. Everything was wood, marble and chrome. Everything shone with artificial brilliance. Around the central area, which had once been the dance floor, was a graceful curve of offices, each one separate from the other, but with glass fronts so they appeared to share the brightness and space. Slatted blinds gave some privacy when needed, but the design gave the clever impression of professional intimacy. In the central area were soft couches, enough for every member of the agency to sit in comfort for meetings, or for clients to wait. The bar had been left, but it was now sleek and modern and boasted coffee and soft drinks machines instead of alcohol. Spike wandered over to the offices and walked around the curving line, looking in. Computers, desks and chairs - they were neutral, professional, and only waiting for their occupants. He paused at one office, then tipped his head and peered in the next one. He chuckled. 'Ours?'
Angel came up behind him and wrapped his arms around Spike's waist. 'We get adjoining doors. For private conferences.'
'Yeah.' Spike went into his office and sat on the soft, executive leather chair, looking out at the couches in the lounge area. He grinned at Angel. 'You've surprised me. Well done.'
Angel smiled back shyly. 'You've not seen upstairs yet.'
Spike jumped up with an eagerness he didn't try to disguise and made toward the stairs… that weren't there. He laughed at his own lack of observation, and Angel waved toward a small elevator behind the bar. He went over and took out a card, running it through a lock. 'Safer.'
Spike looked impressed, and they went into its small interior together. Spike glanced around. 'This'll get christened later.'
Angel repressed a smile of pleasure and waited until they came to a halt. He put an arm across the door and then looked at Spike. 'There was another reason I didn't want you see it before it was done. And why I wanted to wait until after dawn.'
Spike frowned, pushed the button and stepped out. With a cry of fear, he jerked back into the gloomy interior of the elevator. Stunned, too shocked for words, he just stared at the brilliant sunlight flooding the apartment. Angel stayed very quiet and very still, waiting for Spike to make the first move. Spike stepped out again and lifted his face to the glass roof.
All the tiny rooms were gone. The apartment was one huge, open plan space with a glass ceiling. He turned and looked at Angel. Angel stepped out, not able to totally repress his own habitual flinch and shrugged. 'Who says we can't borrow from our enemies?'
Spike was too stunned to speak but turned his head slowly, taking in the changes. The vast floor space was covered in a soft, honey-coloured maple wood that shone in the sunlight as if it was wet. The wood theme had been carried into all the furniture: bare, minimalist, and beautiful. In one corner of the room, given privacy by some screens, was a huge, low bed, its neutral coverings making it blend into the floor seamlessly. Opposite the bed was a kitchen bar with a couple of stools. Where they stood was a well, one step deep, which contained an immaculate, stylish couch and coffee table. Cleverly emphasising the minimalist appearance of the furniture, but adding a subtle promise of warmth, were a number of large, strategically positioned church candles.
Everything was earth coloured, neutral, and restful, except for occasional touches of brilliant colour: a blood-red throw on the end of the bed, a painting on the wall - blood splatters from a crazed man's brush - and some cobalt glasses on the bar, which sent small, blue shimmers of colour onto the wall behind.
The sunlight dominated everything. It seeped into cracks; it banished shadows; it warmed the entire room. It made them pale and insignificant in its power. Spike stepped down into the small well and turned slowly as if he were unravelling. He tipped his head back and looked again at the beautifully curved ceiling of glass, the sunlight warm on his face.
Angel came up to him and put a finger lightly to the tears on his cheek. 'You'll still be my only real sunshine.'
Spike clenched his jaw and pouted at the same time, the comical expression making Angel chuckle, and suddenly, Spike laughed too. He ran his fingers through his hair and ruffled it in the sunlight. He stretched out his arms and waved his fingers in the shafts of light. He ran lightly up the step once more and over to the bed, testing it. With a significant look at Angel, he went behind the screens and inspected the closet, then the kitchen. When he was done, he spied the bathroom and went in, coming to a halt once more in wonder.
There was no bathroom as such, just a shower. The whole room was a vast shower, the tiled floor sloping down to a central drain. Showerheads faced him from every wall, and he could already feel their power on his body… his warm body… he went back out and stood in the sunlight again.
Suddenly, he frowned and looked around the apartment once more. He bit his lip then said, ''S odd. It's smaller - than downstairs.'
Delighted, Angel came over and caught at his arm. 'Okay. Last surprise.'
He led Spike down into the small lounge area then up the other side, and cleverly hidden by another strategically placed screen, he slid open a wall panel. Spike stepped into a gloomy room beyond: normal, low ceiling and no windows. This room was furnished with heavy oak and leather chairs. It was lined floor to ceiling with books on three walls, with a weapons' cabinet on the forth. In one corner, an easel had been set up, and sketching equipment lay scattered on the floor. Spike pursed his lips and said flatly, 'This is nice.'
Angel chuckled again. 'I've never shared with someone before. I kinda thought a private place would be cool.'
'Yeah. Nice. Very you.'
'Good. Because this one's mine. Yours is the other end of the….'
Spike skidded over behind the screen at the other end of the apartment and slid open the panel.
He spluttered with delight at the contrast. He didn't know what to look at first: the vast plasma TV screen on the wall, or the incredibly soft, almost scruffy looking couch that had been placed right in front of it. There was a bar, well stocked, but most obvious was a small, raised deck that contained another floor level bed. Behind the bed was a window, heavily curtained now in a reassuring, vampire-in-daylight drape.
Spike turned with a raised eyebrow to Angel, and Angel looked slightly confused as to his own motives. After a moment, he murmured, 'You can see your friends in here.'
Spike glanced again at the bed. Until that moment, he had not realised just how much Angel loved him and how far he was willing to go to express that commitment. He kept his face turned from Angel and went back out into the safe sunlight. He just stood in the middle of the apartment, his head tipped back.
Angel came over to him. 'So… do you like it all?'
Spike shrugged. ''S okay.'
Angel grinned and joined him, eyes closed, face tipped up to the sun. He'd heard the truth behind the flippant dismissal.
After a moment, he heard a rustle and opened one eye cautiously. Spike dropped his shirt to the floor. Angel opened both eyes. Spike bent and took off his boots. Angel stepped closer. Spike undid the button on his jeans and stepped out of them.
Angel stared at the body he knew so well, now illuminated in a way he'd never seen before. He'd not realised how pale and flawless his childe's skin was. Slowly, he unbuttoned his own shirt and let it drop to cover Spike's. Without bending, he kicked off his shoes. Keeping Spike's impassive gaze, he shed his pants and stood equally beautiful and equally pale in the warm sunlight. Something caught his eye, and he glanced down. One perfect bead of crystal glistened in the sunlight as it bubbled out of Spike's flushed cockhead. Angel's mouth watered, and he held out his hand, leading his childe to the large, low bed.
They lay still for a while, entranced by the effect of the sun on their bodies, then they began to explore avidly, wanting to see the places they knew so well, exposed and lit by its brilliance. The feel of their skin warming undid them, and they rolled and petted, licked and nibbled - passion so hot between them that they threatened to come before they were ready.
Spike couldn't decide whether he wanted the sun on his back, or to lie under Angel with it in his face, and the dilemma made him laugh. Angel, catching the infectious mood and tipping his head back, stretched Christ-like on the bed. Spike fell over onto his back, and they lay side-by-side, seduced by the sun.
Spike suddenly moaned in pleasure. 'I'm gonna buy some sunglasses. My first ever.'
Angel chuckled. 'Naked in bed with shades. Oh yeah.'
He turned his head and looked at the blond figure, suddenly sucking his breath in softly. 'Jesus, Spike. Your hair in the sunlight…. It's like…. Okay, now I'm sounding like a poof.'
Spike chuckled. 'Your eyes are like dark pools in its light.'
Angel grinned. 'It's like spun gold. Like wet corn.'
Spike turned and lay on him. 'I love you.'
Angel blinked slowly. 'I like being rich.'
Spike grinned and rolled off, and they went back to their mutual admiration of the sunlight.
It took all day. They watched it rise to its zenith then start to dip toward Angel's room, then disappear behind the Crypt, leaving a stunning, salmon-pink sunset stretched over them.
The apartment basked in the warmth it left. Their bodies were charged with heat and suffused with light. Only when the pinks and gold in the sky gave way to faint stars did they turn to one another and release the power of the sun in a frantic, passionate lovemaking. They rolled and bit and tasted and touched. Angel moaned softly at the feel of the hard, lithe body in his hands, and suddenly, Spike spread himself like a sacrifice on the covers and said huskily, 'Take your pleasure in me, Angel. Use me.'
Angel rose over him, pinning down the outstretched arms. 'Anything I want?'
Spike nodded. 'It's all I've got to give.'
Angel's eyes flashed amber, and he snarled such a low, drawn out sound that it was almost a purr. He dipped his head to Spike's neck and licked the warm hollow, making Spike cry out in anticipation. When the fangs descended, Spike was so tense, so ready for the penetration, that he arched and came: an arc of milky fluid splattering to his chest. Angel's purr became utterly feral, and he snuffled into the pooling cum, transferring it back to his food source.
In the aftermath of his orgasm, twitching with pleasure, Angel's strong sucking drew Spike into a very restful place. His extremities became leaden, cold. He lost focus on the intense body above him. He began to drift and hear voices in his head: memories, more real than reality. The neutral tones in the apartment made him feel as if he was lying in the earth, and for the first time, that thought did not trouble him unduly. The sun would rise tomorrow, and they would see it together. He smiled, and Angel seemed to sense the change. He slowly ran his hand under Spike's thigh, lifting it, and found his hole. The purring grew louder, more urgent, and a strong, insistent finger sought him out, entered, and began to explore him from the inside. All Spike could do was moan his pleasure and his need; he could not move at all and lay drained and supine under the hard, forceful figure.
Angel lifted his mouth from Spike's neck and sank down, pushing the leaden thighs up, seeking the entry to Spike's body. He bit into the soft, puckered edges until they throbbed, threatening to bleed, and all Spike could do was murmur a soft, incomprehensible sound of desire.
Pumped with the gift of Spike's powerful blood, surging with the need to dominate and take, Angel took his blood-swollen erection in his hand and worked it against the throbbing edges, cool precum trickling into the soft puckering. He worked this in with a finger, swirling it around the slick internal walls. When he was quite ready, he took his childe sexually just as thoroughly as he taken his blood. He thumped into the soft hole, using all his strength, utterly focused on his need to come. The body beneath him was so willing, so soft, and it warmed to his penetration. He heard a faint moan of pleasure, just a quiet undercurrent to his own harsher grunts, and focused on the sound, using it like an incantation to bring him off.
Swollen with blood, Angel's balls contracted so painfully when they were ready to disgorge that he shouted, the sound loud in the minimalist space. He quivered and stilled on Spike, his head hung down so he could watch his shaft spasm, cum throbbing along its length. When he finally looked up, Spike's eyes were so dilated they looked like pools of ink in the pale face. There was no colour anywhere else on the soft body; all was limp and drained. He scooped his childe up and, with one practiced swipe, opened up the artery in his neck, pressing the soft lips to it. He nuzzled Spike in, teasing the blood over his lips, stroking his throat until the demonic response to feed kicked in. He felt a tightening of the hold around his neck, let go just a little to test the latch-on, and then lay back with a sigh of contentment as his childe took back the blood he so desperately needed.
Angel lay on his back and watched the stars as Spike fed on him. When his childe had taken enough, he rolled them, so he lay over the slim form once more. He stroked Spike's face until it shuddered back into human form.
Spike put his thumb to Angel's lips and just pressed lightly. The thumb was captured, and the soft game turned quickly into shared release, hands on shafts, bellies catching milky fluid, and a tight entwining to pull damp bodies together for sleep.
It was so quiet in the apartment - the sense of peace only emphasised by the faint starlight illuminating them. Angel sensed Spike wanted to say something, felt an edge to his otherwise soft, sated form. He stroked his finger lazily up the smooth flank, enjoying himself, touching and possessing the cool body. Eventually, a murmured, 'Thanks,' just caught his ear, and Angel knew Spike was not just referring to their new home.
Spike woke when the sun touched his skin. He couldn't help it; he winced and rolled off into the shadows. Cursing, furious with himself, he climbed back on the bed and staked out. He felt something crunch beneath his back and pulled out a note. 'Someone has to work to pay for all this. They're all coming in today. Come down when you're ready. A.'
Spike frowned at the familiar handwriting and played the scene going on downstairs in his mind. He suddenly didn't want to enjoy the sunshine. Instead, he went for a shower, turning on all the showerheads and standing like their victim, pummelled and cleansed under steaming hot water.
He still felt wrong.
Cursing, he went to watch some telly on the big screen - guaranteed to cheer anyone up, but that didn't work either.
Finally, he got dressed and stepped into the elevator.
It took Angel about two seconds to see that something was wrong with Spike when he came down. He pursed his lips and turned back to his friends, enjoying their reaction to the new agency. They were all sprawled on the central couches, and Angel smiled at them; despite the individual offices, he had the distinct impression that this is where they'd all spend most of their time.
Spike came over and threw himself into a chair some way away from Angel. He looked sourly at Angel's friends then composed his face, bending to light a cigarette. He relaxed at the chorus of complaint from the humans and cast a small glance at Angel. Angel narrowed his eyes at him, and Spike knew he'd been sussed. He pretended to be interested in a magazine and didn't look at Angel again.
Suddenly, with a chuckle, a pair of hands was placed over his eyes, and Spike jumped up grinning. He ushered Jordan and Sam into his office and closed the blinds. He perched on the desk and waved them to chairs.
'This isn't going to work.'
Jordan looked outraged. 'This is fucking incredible!'
Spike gave him a pointed look, and Sam groaned. 'I told him he should have asked you what colour you wanted….'
'I'm not bothered by the fucking colour scheme - I love the fucking colour scheme.' He looked at them both. 'I just don't want… this. Us here. Me: co-sodding-director of Angel Investigations.'
'Ah.' After that sagacious comment, Sam was rather stumped and kept quiet.
Jordan pouted and then said seriously, 'I don't want to work for Angel either.' At a glance from Spike, he added, 'He makes me feel….'
He glanced at Sam for help, and the human finished decidedly, 'Inadequate. He makes us both feel like we've not washed behind ours ears.'
'And I don't?'
They gave Spike a look and then dissolved into a shared fit of laughter. Spike narrowed his eyes at them and folded his arms. 'Okay. Something more helpful than that perhaps.'
Suddenly, Sam stood up, pulled open the door and beckoned for Angel to join them. With a small pout, feeling he'd been the subject of a conversation he wasn't going to like, Angel came in and stood with his arms folded, leaning against the wall. He couldn't help a glance at Spike and found Spike giving him a similar, shy smile. They looked away but then looked back, memories of the previous night strong in their minds.
With a small cough, Sam brought the attention back on him. 'It's time we discussed our terms, Angel.'
Angel raised an eyebrow. 'Terms?'
'Yeah. We've decided that Big Bad Bu… our agency isn't going to merge with Angel Investigations.' He stilled Angel's protest with a small wave. 'We will take on work for you on a case-to-case basis - depending on our other commitments.' He made sure he didn't catch Spike's eye and continued as seriously as he could, 'We will charge a fair rate for our services, and in return, we'll pay a fair rent for the use of office space in your agency. You pay Spike; Spike pays us as he always does.' At that, he couldn't help a sly glance at Spike and saw that the same thought had occurred to the vampire: a pile of money on a bed, a poker game, and then other activities until no one remembered the money or who owed whom.
Angel watched this small exchange of looks with a shake of his head. 'All right. I agree to your terms, but I've some of my own: you pay rent whether you actually come into work or not; when you're in these offices you abide by my rules; when you are on a case for Angel Investigations, you act as my representatives - in a way I would approve of.'
'When we're working, we do what we need to stay alive. We can't be worrying whether Big Brother approves.'
'I won't employ you unless you abide by my rules.'
'We have our own boss - he's more than capable of deciding what's right or wrong… don't you think?'
Angel seethed inside as he saw the trap he was in. He gave Sam a look and then smiled. 'Sure. Okay. You abide by Spike's rules. Spike and I will discuss boundaries together in our own way.'
Spike chuckled and leant forward to Sam conspiratorially. 'Give up, Pet. There's a very good reason why Angel makes everyone else feel inadequate.'
Not sure whether this was a compliment, Angel pursed his lips at Spike. Spike blew him a kiss, which only further undermined the situation.
Sam rose. 'So, we're agreed. We work for Spike.'
Angel suddenly laughed and pushed off the wall, shaking his head. 'I think I've just been had.'
Three sets of eyes watched him leave, and there was a moment of silence before Sam said softly, 'I wish.'
He got slapped for his trouble, but as Spike went toward the door, he said softly, 'Speaking of having….' With matching grins, Sam and Jordan rose, and the small agency headed toward the elevator for a less Angel Investigations type of day.
Angel looked up as they passed and nodded at Spike to hold him back. 'We need to collect the last of our things from your place.'
Spike was watching Sam's body move in the faded jeans and said carelessly, 'Later, yeah?'
Angel frowned and seemed to want to say something more, but only murmured, 'I'll go.'
Not really hearing or caring, Spike nodded and joined the other two in the elevator.
Angel almost heard the soft, English voice behind him, asking him how he felt about that, asking him if he was going to tolerate it - why he was tolerating it. But no one was there; no one else bothered; no one asked him anything. Consequently, he didn't frame a reply or work through his reasons in his own mind.
He was in a dark mood when he went to the old apartment and put it down to the huge changes in his life recently. He kicked the door wide and looked around at the untidy mess, feeling more like trashing most of it rather than packing it and bringing it to his new life.
With a sigh, he began on clothes - his. Spike's, he threw on the floor and cast evil glances at.
Being day, he had planned to take most of the items out through the tunnels to an underground garage nearby where he'd left the car.
Staggering out with a couple of large boxes, he put them by the elevator and pressed the button, studying his nails thoughtlessly, enjoying his bleak mood.
The doors slid open, Angel bent to retrieve his load, then straightened. Wesley started to come forward then focused on Angel and slowly put down two large suitcases he was carrying.
Angel frowned. Wesley looked at the boxes and said softly, 'You shouldn't have bothered; I'm leaving.'
Angel blinked and when the doors threatened to close, put his foot into the gap. Then he stepped in and let them shut behind him. He held Wesley's gaze. 'You're wasting your time: you can't escape what you did.'
Wesley didn't seem so amenable to the guilt trip this time and snapped back angrily, 'Don't be so fucking introspective, Angel. I'm going back to sort out my father's affairs.'
'Thought you didn't care.'
Wesley gave him a withering look. 'Just take your damn boxes back to the hotel. You're out of my life now - you said it yourself.'
Angel smiled unpleasantly. 'We've left the Hyperion. We've got a new place.'
He saw Wesley's look, and once more, confusion washed over him. The human so obviously wanted to ask what, why, how, and, most importantly, where. Weeks of desperately missed friendship lay heavy between them. Suddenly, Angel looked back down at the cases and said hesitantly, 'You aren't coming back, are you?'
Wesley hung his head and swallowed, then put a hand to his face, shading it a little.
Angel stepped forward and snatched the arm away, and then all was darkness, everything unravelled, and he was just spinning in a very dark place of confusion and fright.
Go To Chapter 4
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