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The Darkling Plain - Episode
It was different.
It was novel.
Different and novel were… good- for vampires.
Angel couldn't believe how hard it made him: coming up at the end of a long day, tired and scratchy, to find Spike… researching.
Spike sitting quietly absorbed in a book made Angel want to absorb his slim body.
Spike thoughtfully chewing the end of a pencil made Angel want to chew on him.
It was just as Spike had said: a whole new persona, and it turned Angel on.
Spike knew it did.
They were so evenly matched. They never tired of playing with each other's bodies. They found each other endlessly fascinating, but when the sex was over, Spike went back to his books.
If it were possible, Angel loved this time even more. He cooked then fed Spike. He read. He sketched. He had the perfect, silent companion, until the tilt of Spike's head or the perfection of his nails or the blinking of his eye made Angel want him again.
Spike once joked he'd save time by researching naked - save Angel undressing him and all the re-dressing - so, he did: sitting one day naked amongst the books.
Angel found some good excuses for long coffee breaks that day.
Sometimes, Spike wanted the physicality of his old life, and they would go on cases together- the simple ones: hunt, fight, and kill.
That only turned them on even more, and they would take turns to fuck each other in the grimy warehouses and alleyways of their existence.
When it was all over, though, when the hunting and fighting and killing and researching and fucking were done, they had the best part of the day: the curling up together in their new bed, talking and sharing their lives.
That was different.
That was novel.
Different and novel were very, very good.
Spike made progress.
He didn't make a big deal about it. He just methodically and relentlessly applied his considerable, but rarely used brain, to the problem.
He was tireless; he was motivated, and he was focused.
So, one day, when he casually suggested to Angel that they invite Wesley back for dinner, Angel saw nothing suspicious in the request.
He was off guard, therefore, when at the end of the meal, Spike pushed his plate away and said nonchalantly, 'It's Lilah, by the way. Lilah is the one who'll become human- who the prophecy is about.'
Wesley swallowed his mouthful of pizza and looked at Angel. He got no help there; Angel was looking with equal astonishment at Spike.
Suddenly, Wesley chuckled. 'With all due respect, Spike, I really don't think you know what you are talking about.'
Spike leant back and narrowed his eyes. By leaning back, he could reach Angel's foot, so he tucked his bare toes under Angel's pants and rested them on his smooth shin.
Angel's mouth quirked up with pleasure, but he kept his eyes fixed on Wesley.
'I was against this plan of yours from the beginning, Spike; you really aren't qualified….'
'See, the first thing is the word itself- it takes the feminine, Wesley. Or didn't you notice?'
'Err… as in…?'
'Shanshu is the feminine form of the word. Further back in the scroll you have the words Rasshu and Rasshar….'
'Yes. I know. Earth and water.'
'Exactly. The earth- feminine. The water, representing the masculine.'
'I hardly think….'
'And further down, the people were either Asanshu, or Asanshar.'
'They were different tribes….'
'No, they were female and male.'
'All right, I concede Shanshu may have a feminine construction, but I don't see….'
'Well, unless it refers to Angel's new found preference in bed, I'm thinking Shanshu relates to a female vampire.'
'It's hardly enough to base a whole….'
'Oh, there's more.'
Spike smiled fondly at Angel's small interjection and pushed his foot further up, as he knew had been meant.
'Yes, more. See, this concept of souled kinda had me puzzled. There's three of us- maybe more by the time this Shanshu comes about. It's kinda vague to talk about just the souled vampire.'
'Well, you were totally unexpected, and as for Lilah….'
''Xactly. So, souled vampire…. It's referred to three times in the text in three different ways.'
'Three different ancient languages, Spike, and I'll have you know I translated….'
'No. The three ways are Angel, me, and Lilah- each souled, but subtly different: Angel forced to have his; me bloody well volunteering; and then Lilah….'
'Just like Angel- forced. This is very dubious research, Spike. You are just totally reaching….'
'No, Lilah's different to both of us. She didn't have a soul as a human- or a pretty diddy one. She's unique. Her soul wasn't returned; it was created anew for her- as a demon.'
Wesley was silent, this information being processed behind the dark blue eyes.
Spike raised an eyebrow. 'That brings me to my last point- original sin.'
He waited for Wesley's doubtful interjection, but none came. He smiled inwardly and said, 'The scroll talks a lot about redemption- the great fight and the rewards of that battle.'
Wesley seemed to cheer up. 'There you go! It has to be Angel! He's the one who most needs to bloody atone!'
'Ah, but that's not what the scrolls are saying. They talk about the pure vampire- well, not pure, but sin free: no original sin.'
'Yes, but that's AFTER Shanshu- the whole damn point of it! The Shanshu vampire will come back pure- in body and spirit.'
'No. It's before. The pure vampire will gain Shanshu.'
'That's impossible. Why does Angel need to atone, or be rewarded, if he's pure already?'
'You're missing the point, Wes. When you had the scroll, Angel was the only souled vampire you knew of. You translated it predisposed to believe it had to apply to Angel- you made it fit Angel. Lilah has no sin as a vampire. Her sins were before she became one. She is the pure vampire with a soul who will gain Shanshu - feminine - for atonement for sins she committed as a human.'
Wesley pursed his lips for a moment then said raggedly, 'Get me the scroll.'
Spike kept his triumph inside and did as he was asked, turning on a brighter light over the table for the watcher to pour over the ancient words once more.
He went into the relative gloom of the kitchen and leant on the counter, watching him.
On the pretext of clearing dishes, Angel joined him.
Spike nudged him with his hip as they leant together. 'Did you see his face? That was better than sex.'
Angel glanced down. 'Are you sure…?'
'Yeah, it's Lilah, trust….'
'That's not what I meant….' Casting a glance at Wesley's lowered head, Angel fell gracefully to his knees behind the counter.
Spike looked down incredulously and hissed, 'Angel…!'
'Oh.' Spike coughed to cover the sound of his zipper being lowered.
Wesley looked up, unfocused. 'Three different references to a souled vampire, and each one subtly different!'
'Yeah…. Oh, yeah….'
'I must consult…. Where's Angel?'
'He's gone down.'
Wesley glanced at the stairs. 'This must have been something of a shock. He'll be quite overcome.'
'And rather pleased with you, I should think.' He bent once more to the scroll, and Spike bit his hand to suppress the sound of his orgasm.
Wesley found something else fascinating and looked up. 'Oh, there you are, Angel.'
Angel swallowed and smiled at the human, very pleased with the world in general. 'You could go home now, Wes. I mean, why don't you take the scroll home with you? Check all this out? Second opinion?'
'Quite. I shall. Yes. Goodnight.'
Angel nodded pleasantly and watched him leave.
Spike pouted at Angel and zipped himself back up, then began to stack the dishwasher.
Angel watched his backside for a moment and then said petulantly, 'You've nothing to research now.'
Spike paused then turned. He shook his head but began to laugh. 'You focus on the important issues, don't you Angel. I've just saved us both, and you're concerned that you can't fuck me on top of the books anymore.'
'Well.... Researching made you so… hot.'
Spike straightened and gave him a look through lowered lids. 'Maybe I like this clever stuff, too. Shall I get a new hobby? Learn a new language? Study ancient history?'
Angel snagged him closer. 'Mmm. Something that takes a long time.'
'Something that's very… hard?'
Angel nuzzled into his neck. 'Like you.'
Spike chuckled then looked down coyly. 'So, are you impressed with me?'
Angel slid his hand down inside Spike's waistband. 'Yeahhh, very.'
'Angel, be serious.'
'I am…. Okay.' He chuckled, too, and went to pour them both some more wine. 'You are incredible. But… I mean… you know that already, right?'
Spike looked away too quickly.
'Hey!' Angel came over and handed him a glass. 'You do know that?'
Spike pouted and raised his eyebrows at the same time, a comical expression of uncertainty that made Angel smile.
'You know, Pet. The dream… being human…. It kinda got me to thinking about being William again. He's this bloody lurking stranger I don't wanna be again.'
Angel put an arm over his shoulder, and they walked slowly to the fire, sitting close on the couch. 'Shall we tell her?'
Angel looked at him thoughtfully. 'I'm not sure. What do you think?'
'She's not doing all that well with her unlife.'
Angel frowned. 'She's been left alone too much.'
'You sayin' I'm a bad sire?'
'Yes. You had a bad role model.'
'She's just sittin' in her apartment- not getting the whole unlife thing.'
'Imagine never knowing the attraction of being a real demon.'
They started thoughtfully into the fire for a while, remembering only too well this attraction, drinking their wine.
Finally, Angel roused with a small shake and said in a low voice, 'So… about that being impressed thing….' He lowered his eyes and began to unfasten Spike's jeans. He was impressed when he eased them down to Spike's knees. He was even more impressed by Spike's taste, and by the smell of him- up close and personal.
He played with him for a while, not letting him come, not letting him fall from that place where orgasm was so close, but eventually, he rose and said huskily, 'Bed.'
They showered first, lazily washing each other. They dried and climbed naked into the bed, hands already roaming over flesh they knew so well. The end was always the same - orgasm - but the path to get there was always endlessly new.
Angel pulled away from a long, exploratory kiss and murmured, 'Let's do human tonight.'
Spike grinned. 'Cus you ain't afraid of that old Shanshu now?'
'Hmm…. I'm happy to play at it; I just don't wanna do it for real- and now, I don't have to!'
Spike frowned. 'Does it really make a difference to how we can fuck? More than just how hard we can pound into each other?'
'Sure it does. When we play human, I don't think about blood all the time.'
'Angel, we always think about blood- always.'
'Well, okay, but I don't think about you as my childe… I'm more….'
'In your dreams.'
'No, actually, in my dreams, you were pretty pushy- for a human going out with my sister-in-law, that is.'
They lay in each other's arms, pondering this for a while, until with a sigh, Spike said, 'If anything would have kept me there, it would have been the baby. She seemed more than real, somehow.'
Angel flicked his eyes over. 'Sorry. I can't play that much human for you.'
'Nooo…. But you do suck well.'
Angel chuckled and rolled onto his side, watching Spike's profile. 'So, pretend you're human.'
'I was pretending. You're lying on my arm.'
Angel shifted so Spike could retrieve his arm. 'There's got to be more to being human than feeling pain- good things.'
Spike pulled Angel over to lie on him. 'Listen to my heart beating, Luv; it beats for you.' He rubbed his wrist over Angel's lips. 'Taste my warm blood.'
Angel sat up, straddling him, and frowned. 'Would you feed yourself to me?'
'Sam and Wesley did.'
'To bring us back, yeah- to save us. But in sex?'
'Some humans do it; you know that.'
'Because they both feel safe- both human. I'd be… scary.'
'You're scary now, Pet- blowing me in front of Wes? When I first came to L.A, you wouldn't have blown me a kiss in public.'
'We wouldn't have talked like this, either.'
Spike smiled and pulled him back down. 'Seein' as we're pretending I'm human, how's about you let me get some sleep?'
'And I'll lie awake- your dark protector.'
'Uh huh. Maybe stay awake better than last time then?'
Spike lowered his eyes. 'I think I am. I think you need to… smack me…?'
Angel moaned in pleasure and rolled them, opening his mouth to a deep kiss. As tongue entwined with tongue, he brought his hand down with a resounding slap on Spike's firm backside. Their bellies began to get sticky. Angel slapped once more; they moaned. One more slap, and they came together, Angel wrapping his legs tightly around Spike's back as they shuddered their orgasms between them. They kissed until the last shot was released, and then with a sigh, Angel snagged the covers over them both. They made themselves comfortable for sleep with Spike stretched out on top of Angel- a sleeping position that they were very aware only their preternatural bodies made possible.
'Let's do something good tomorrow- celebrate?'
'Our permanent demonic status?'
'Well, yeah. Why not?'
'And, let me guess, this celebration will involve drink? Loud music? Sex? Dancing?'
'Not 'xactly in that order, Pet, but you've got the general idea.'
'Okay, but ask Sam and Jordan, too. You'll need someone else to do three of those with.'
Spike grinned into the flesh of Angel's chest. 'Invite Wesley then. You'll need someone to stand in the shadows and brood with.'
'Wesley likes dancing.'
'Huh. Okay, cool.'
'Hmm. Maybe he's improved since he's become more… normal.'
They headed for Babel. Angel knew they would and followed in Spike's wake, pretending to be more reluctant than he was. He didn't have to fake reluctance, though, when he got there- it was foam night.
Jordan and Spike plunged gleefully into the white substance, while Sam went off to check out the possibilities for some chemical fun.
Angel and Wesley, cringing, went to the top floor and leant on the rail, watching the odd scene below, bemused.
Every once in a while, strange white figures emerged but were pulled back by eager hands.
'And… they're actually enjoying that?'
Angel shrugged at Wesley's disbelieving murmur. 'I guess they'd stop if they weren't.'
'Perhaps this place is exuding another evil spell.'
'A foaming spell?'
Angel didn't change his conversational tone. 'So, you agree with Spike?'
Wesley, however, took a long time to reply. 'I think his research was patchy- fundamentally flawed. I think his conclusions were hasty and not supported fully by the evidence, and….'
'But it's Lilah.'
Angel smiled inwardly. 'Okay. Good. And we tell her?'
Wesley turned to study him. 'Yes. I think we should. I'm very happy to do it, if you'd like.'
'Together- we'll do it together.'
Wesley nodded. 'But it's all a very long way off, Angel. The scrolls were fairly clear about that. I don't think we have to worry too much just yet.'
He glanced down at a blond, foam-covered figure having its T-shirt removed by eager hands. 'Anyway, perhaps it should be her sire….'
Angel chuckled. 'Yeah. I can hear that conversation now: "Hey! Bint! You're gonna be a live bint soon- reward, ya know?".'
Wesley laughed. 'You've changed so much since Spike came here. That was pretty funny- for you.'
Angel quirked his mouth up. 'I can do funny. Spike seems to think I'm hilarious.'
'Hmm. I meant laughing WITH you though….'
They turned back to watch the activities below, and after a while, Wesley said softly, 'I just don't understand how you can tolerate that.'
'Angel, don't be obtuse with me- please!'
Angel waited for a moment, then said in a low voice, 'If that was me and Spike doing that down there….'
'That's not really very easy to imagine….'
'Would you be… jealous? Upset?'
'No, of course not. Together, you and Spike are what defines you individually, I think.'
'It wouldn't threaten what you and I have?'
'Angel, I'm not too sure exactly what we do have now.'
Angel turned and smiled. 'Now who's being obtuse?' He put out his hand and caught a tiny pinch of Wesley's shirt, pulling him closer. 'I messed things up. I was confused and angry.'
'Yes. I think we all were.'
'Spike is more possessive of me than a vampire ought to be.'
Wesley twitched up one corner of his mouth. 'He's a lot more many things than a vampire ought to be.'
Angel smiled the smile of a man deeply in love, and murmured, 'Yeah, he is.' Then he looked up at the human through lowered lids and added slyly, 'And there's still a small incident in an English pub to be discussed….'
Wesley lifted his eyebrow, pursing his lips. 'I don't remember anything being all that small.'
Wrong-footed for a moment, Angel's mouth snapped shut. Then he tipped back his head and laughed, amused at his own reaction.
With his arm in a friendly embrace around Wesley's waist, they went back to watching Spike. Angel gave a small huff. 'He's watching us.'
'Nooo…. I think he's trying to lick Sam's tonsils.'
'No. Trust me on this, Wes- he's watching us.'
'He senses we're not just talking about research, books, boring, blah.'
Angel smiled to himself and then nudged his companion. 'Watch. He'll do something to make me stop talking to you- so I'm concentrating on him.'
Wesley watched with morbid fascination as Spike sank to his knees in the foam, Sam's head tipping back with evident delight. He turned back to study Angel's profile for a moment, then murmured, 'You're just playing with us- you and Spike. We're the playthings of our own demonic Gods.'
Angel didn't seem to find this concept odd. He merely commented conversationally, 'We walk like men, and we talk like men, but we aren't men. We will have each other for eternity.'
As if he was finally seeing something that had eluded him all this time, Wesley murmured, 'And this - we - keeps it alive for you….'
Angel moaned, a very low sound, and the human felt something powerful resonate from the vampire. It made him harden, and he licked his lips briefly, watching Angel's eyes dilate. 'When we get home, Wesley, he'll be… intense, wired, manic, needy, giving. He'll be so… sexy. And he'll be mine. I'll be the one getting the benefit of this.'
'In a hundred years you won't even remember our names, will you?'
Angel tightened his arm around Wesley's waist and pulled him closer. 'You're as important in my life as he is- only in a different way.' He blinked, amused. 'I've made him furious now. You hard, and him furious. Interesting night.'
'You like using me to make him jealous.'
Angel looked down, trying unsuccessfully to look abashed and guilty. 'Yeah.'
'When you're ready to really give him something to be jealous of, Angel, do let me know, won't you?'
Angel looked up incredulously. 'Are you flirting with me?'
'Would it get me anywhere?'
Angel suddenly laughed. 'I'll have to ask permission first.'
'Can Spike still talk then with Sam's cock in his mouth?'
If he was trying to provoke Angel, it didn't work. The vampire merely raised an eyebrow and seemed to be considering the question seriously.
Wesley suddenly laughed and pulled Angel close, placing a kiss on his forehead. 'You two'll be the death of me.'
Angel kissed him back softly, letting his lips linger a little too long over Wesley's. 'We'll come to your funeral. I need an excuse to dress Spike in that suit and coat again. Now, I want go somewhere else where Spike can eat something he hasn't sucked out first, but I'll be damned if I'm going down there to fetch him.'
'And here I was thinking the whole point of the evening was to celebrate that you're going to be safely damned for eternity….'
'Huh. You're right. In that case….' With a glint in his eye, Angel grabbed the human's arm and dragged him down into the foam.
He gave Sam a look, then bent to Spike and grabbed his bare arm. 'We're going.'
Spike rose up, extremely amused that he'd won their small game. He clasped Angel around the waist, grinding provocatively against him. 'Hello, Baby.'
Angel groaned. 'What are you on?'
'Nothin'! Just life- death.' He began to giggle, and Angel rolled his eyes.
'Locate the other drug-ridden waster, and all of you meet me in the street- now!'
'You are SO not any fun.'
Suddenly, Angel caught him closer and put their lips together softly. 'I can do fun, Spike, but I prefer to do it in the comfort and privacy of my own apartment. The question is: are you going to be the one that I'm going to have it with? Cus, ya know, Wesley is already waiting for me outside….'
Spike's eyes widened, then he flicked up an eyebrow and smirked. 'I can think of fun that can be had with three.'
Angel smirked just as seductively and leant into Spike's ear. 'In that case, invite Jordan and Sam too.'
For one second, Angel saw that Spike believed him, and he laughed at Spike's outraged expression when he got that he was being had. He slapped Spike on his wet jeans. 'Now. Outside, and don't make me wait, Childe.'
'Oh, yeahhh…. Let's play sire and childe when we get home!'
Spike dived back into the foam to locate his friends.
They emerged into the cool November air, Sam shivering and bitching about being wet, Spike and Jordan enjoying his discomfort. Angel and Wesley fell in behind the other three, and they began to walk to Angel's car.
Angel watched Spike's wet backside, half-listening to Wesley. Spike had his hand on the small of Sam's back and his arm around Jordan's neck. He was trying to get Sam to say obscene words in an English accent, laughing at his attempts.
Wesley shrugged tighter into his jacket, shaking his head censoriously, and murmured to Angel, 'So, you and me to tell Lilah then, I think?'
Angel, smiling at Spike's amusement, nodded.
Suddenly, he stopped and laid a hand on Wesley's arm. Spike stopped, too, and turned to him, eyes glistening with excitement. 'Blood?'
Angel nodded, and at a small, terrified scream, they all turned toward an old warehouse. Angel kicked the door in, and they saw a group of vampires surrounding a girl, pushing her between them.
Spike grinned and rubbed his hands together. 'Just what we need to wet the appetite for a bit of vampire fun later. 'Hey! Uglies! Wanna be starters?'
They walked casually toward the group. Distracted by the new arrivals, the gang didn't even see their intended dinner skittering across the floor away from them. Wesley helped her to her feet and pointed toward the door.
The vampires looked at each other incredulously, then the closer one growled, 'It don't matter. They look pretty fucking tasty to me.'
Angel slipped into game face. 'Really? You feeling tasty, William?'
Spike laughed and joined him in demonic form. 'Yeah, Angelus, I am.'
They could not help stabs of pride when they saw that their names had been recognised.
Angel took out two of the gang before they'd even realised they were the prey, and not the hunters. Spike took another three, showing off to his friends. He turned gleefully to Angel and said excitedly, 'Scenarios, remember?'
Angel nodded and chuckled, remembering that game very well. A look of intense desire flickered across his face. Spike saw the look and groaned, coming closer. He raised his eyebrow with a provocative smirk.
Angel didn't even see the vampire with the crossbow. It was such an easy fight- so routine. Distracted by Spike, complacent, happy, he let two hundred and fifty years of habitual caution go. A fledgling, made only two days before, fired off a bolt in blind panic. It hit him directly in the heart.
He didn't burst into dust immediately; he was too old for that. He lingered as he'd seen other ancient vampires do- not for long, but just long enough to exchange a look with Spike. It was a look of promises broken, futures stolen, and love that would have to endure alone. Then with no further ceremony, Angel crumbled into dust.
to chapter 2
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