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The Darkling Plain - Episode
They actually fell into some sort of routine for the next few days. Things were very normal, except for the fact that Angel was human, this running like an undercurrent to everything, but cases came in and were solved, demons were killed, and life went on as usual.
Angel would wake every morning when the sun began to fill the apartment and take the dog out into the real sunshine. When he returned, Spike needed waking up, and that was always fun: Angel's twenty-seven-year-old body responding well to the demands he placed on it in the mornings.
There were still things they hadn't done- things Angel was wary of trying, but they were both happy for Angel to top for a while. Spike could tell he not only needed it emotionally, but physically as well, clearly anxious about being taken.
The wake-up calls, therefore, usually consisted of Angel trying to catch Spike unawares, and Spike trying to pretend he was still asleep as Angel's hot shaft pushed against him, and as Angel leant over him, hot, horny, laughing, and full of the joys of being alive.
When he'd climaxed, which never took long, he'd cook, trying out new things, making far too much food for one person ever to eat, sometimes inviting early arrivals to work up to help him consume it.
Over breakfast, he'd question his friends about their evenings, avidly listening to their stories of human life, studying their faces and trying to mirror their expressions, copy their mannerisms. Spike usually stayed to say hi then went into the training room and worked with the weapons until they'd left, the drawn-out eating and talking boring him.
Things might have gone on like this for a few more peaceful days had there not been a small incident one day when they were all sitting around drinking coffee and discussing a case.
Wesley had made coffee; Angel had bought doughnuts, and everyone was gathered on the central couches with the books laid out on the tables in front of them. Spike was idly examining his nails and wishing Sam and Jordan were there- he'd hardly seen them for days. Wesley made a small comment. Angel swallowed his mouthful of doughnut to reply and, as he did so, leant forward to take another. Before he thought, Spike said softly, 'Maybe not needing that one, Luv?'
No one looked up- but for very different reasons. Gunn and Wesley, being men, had only heard a simple comment that a second doughnut wasn't needed. Cordelia and Fred, being women, had heard Spike say that Angel was fat, greedy, that he wasn't desirable any more, that he was boring in bed, and that he, Spike, had found someone else and was leaving.
Angel heard something between these two extremes. He heard enough to get up and go upstairs without speaking.
Once again, neither Wesley nor Gunn understood the significance of this and just continued their conversation about demons.
Spike understood well enough, but covered by nonchalantly lighting a cigarette and continuing his fascinating examination of his nails.
His cigarette was snatched out of his hand, and Cordelia leant in very close to his face. 'My office. Now!'
Spike brushed her off, but Fred stood and gave him a furious look. He sighed and followed them out of earshot of the men.
Seeing Fred wasn't helping much, Cordelia poked Spike in the chest and said slowly and pointedly, 'All this time, I've watched you two, and I've never said a thing- Jeez, what could I say! But I'm saying something now! If you never do anything else, go upstairs and make this right. You might as well have taken a damn stake to him again!'
'Shut! Mouth! Go!'
'Won't work: bitch here.'
He looked up at her through lowered eyes.
She shook her head and folded her arms.
'Bloody hell, woman! Are you made of soddin' stone?'
'Where your attractions are concerned? Marble. Go!'
Reluctantly, trying to make it appear that he'd been going up anyway, he went casually toward the elevator. If she saw the raised fingers behind his back, she didn't comment.
Angel was standing on the small balcony in the sunlight.
Spike stood to one side in the shadows and plunged his hands into his pockets.
'What do you want?'
Spike sighed and walked away. He knew there wasn't an apology invented that could make it better.
He stripped off his shirt and dropped it onto the bed as he passed, going into the training room. He picked the heaviest of the axes and swung it around his head. It was very heavy- exactly what he wanted. For the next hour, he worked his body - switching hands, spinning and rolling - until sweat poured off him, and he could fancy that he could feel his heart beating with the effort.
When he decided that enough time had passed, he went back out. Angel was on the couch, reading. Spike sat down cautiously on the far end and waited to be noticed.
When he'd waited for some time, he attempted, 'I'm sorry?'
Angel turned a page.
Spike gritted his teeth. 'I'm very, very sorry?'
'You think I'm fat.'
Spike shifted uncomfortably- it wasn't a discussion you ever wanted with anyone, and having it with Angel was distinctly embarrassing.
'No, I don't.'
'Don't with the cynical uh huh, Angel. That's my line.'
'And don't do that I'll-pretend-I'm-all-cool-and-neutral crap with me!'
Angel suddenly got up, flinging his book at Spike. 'Oh, I'm anything but cool and neutral. You called me fat in front of Wesley and….'
'Oh! OH! In front of bloody Wesley? I mean - like - you have such an image to maintain with him!'
'I don't know. It made more sense in my head.'
'You think I'm fat. There's no coming back from that, Spike.'
'Oh, fuck off, Angel. I just meant that you didn't need another….'
'Because I'd had enough?'
Angel gave him a spiteful look. 'I'm going out.'
'Away from you.'
'I'll call Sam over then.'
'Yeah, you do that, Spike. He's so fucking thin; you enjoy him.'
As Angel went furiously toward the door, Spike added, just loud enough for him to hear, 'Shall I give him the pants you can't fit into anymore?'
Angel picked up a pan, flung it in Spike's general direction, then stormed out.
Spike went back to the study of his nails.
Angel did not return that day, and by the time it was dark, Spike was so restless and needing something that he didn't want to wait in any longer. He showered, changed, and called Sam.
'Nope, not recognising the voice.'
'So, you've had a fight with Angel.'
'He's been there?'
'Duh. You always call me when you've had a fight with Angel.'
'Oh. Hey! I've not called you for days- that's gotta be good, yeah?'
Sam chuckled. 'Okay, what's with now?'
'Nothing! I just felt like seeing you.'
'I'm going out.'
'Oh. Where? And not to get away from me…?'
'Nothing, so where?'
'Where do you think?'
'Oh! Cool. I'll come too.'
He could hear Sam grinning and blew him a kiss. 'Give me ten.'
The club was packed. It was talent night, and there was a lot of talent there. Spike elbowed his way to the bar and bought a round of drinks. Jordan grabbed a table, and Sam went off to acquire some additional necessities for fun.
As Spike slid into the seat next to Jordan, he said softly, 'Sorry I've been kinda busy….'
Jordan nodded. 'You need to spend time with him, Spike.'
'Not tonight I don't.'
'So, what's it about this time?'
'I told him he was fat- apparently.'
'What! Oh. Shit.'
'Hey! Why is everyone taking this like I'd told him his fucking dog had died or something!'
'Spike! I'm not human, but that's - like - bad! I mean… it would be like me telling you….'
Jordan chuckled. 'I'm trying to think of something you'd find really, really offensive and finding it quite hard. Okay. It's like me telling you that you make Angel a lovely wife.'
Spike spluttered his drink and glared. 'You fucking what!'
Jordan just gave him a look and turned to Sam as the human can back with his acquisitions. 'Spike told A he was fat.'
Sam sat heavily, his face paling. Spike clenched his jaw, murmured something that made them both wince and got up to dance with someone else.
He took all his angst out on the patrons of Babel. He danced and flirted and made promises he had no intention of keeping. He played them, and with every heart he broke, he wished he could take back the words he'd said to Angel. He drank too much; he got badly stoned, and he had to be dragged out, cursing, furious, but pretty much unable to do anything about it. With an arm each, Sam and Jordan took him back to Sam's apartment and put him to bed.
They stood watching him for a while. Jordan pouted and glanced at Sam. 'It was peaceful while it lasted.'
Sam nodded. 'I'm thinking this might need some… fixing….'
Sam grinned. 'Yeah. I have.'
Spike crawled back to the apartment the following night having spent the entire day in bed being ill.
He assumed he was walking, though it felt as if he was on all fours, and he couldn't decide if this was a result of his still cringingly bad hangover, or the fact that he felt crawling for forgiveness was the least he could do.
He leant on the wall of the elevator and winced at the hideous hiss the doors made as they opened. He stepped in and then froze.
The room was entirely full of men.
He closed his eyes and tried again. There were two men; one was fixing something on the wall, and the other one was assembling something in the training room. Bemused, he wandered toward the first man and then stopped, stunned. All around the main room, someone had fixed mirrors. They were everywhere- full length, short, face height only. It had become the room of a narcissist with a major personality disorder. Out of his depth, and apparently not actually there anymore, Spike tried to ignore his lack of reflection and went to see what the other man was doing in his training room.
There was very little of his room left. It was filled with equipment: a huge running machine; a weights bench; a Stairmaster; a proper bike on a fixed, rolling road; and some Nautilus equipment. All of this technology was reflected in the wall, which had been turned into one huge mirror. Floor to ceiling, everything was replicated- except him. Again, he wasn't there.
He sensed Angel standing in the doorway behind him. Trapped, not wanting to talk in front of the men, he eased past without looking at him and went into the bathroom to take a shower.
At the changes there, he let out a small cry of distress. The toilet had been partitioned off, losing a lot of the space of the room. All the showerheads on one wall had been removed, and in their place was a large bathroom cabinet with mirrored doors. Under that was a sink, and under that, a pair of scales.
Spike's eyes travelled down the three objects, then back to the enclosed toilet. He didn't feel so much like a shower and went back out and sat on the bed. The closet doors were now mirrored, so he didn't exist in the bed either.
'Where were you?'
Spike jumped and glanced up at Angel. The apartment now seemed to be empty of builders, and he wondered how long he'd been sitting there not looking at himself.
'Stayed the night?'
'So… this is your petty revenge, is it?'
'Doing this to my apartment when I'm out.'
'Well, I thought it was ours, which kinda made it mine, yeah.'
Spike gave a small laugh. 'Yeah. Try and make this right. Go on, I dare you.' He got up and went wearily to the fridge. 'Want something to eat? Or have you eaten it all already…?'
'Why are you doing this?'
Spike whirled around. 'Me! Why am I doing this? Jesus, Angel.'
Angel came up close but, Spike noticed, not as close as he might once have done in an argument. 'Yes, you. You make no allowances, Spike. You never do. You're so damn perfect…. Well, we're not. We fuck up and make mistakes- me, Wesley.'
'Uh huh. We. Yeah, that's just peachy. You tryin' to tell me something there? You gonna expand on that mistake thing with Wesley?'
'Oh, grow up, Spike.'
'Nope, can't do that. Dead, remember? You killed me.'
'No, I didn't. A demon called Angelus did that. I wasn't even born.'
Spike provocatively ripped the top of a blood bag off with his teeth and held it out. 'Want some?' Laughing at Angel's expression, he squeezed the bag against his face, making the red fluid pour over his skin, into his eyes and mouth. He stuck out his tongue, waggling it in the taste.
'You're disgusting.' Angrily, determined not to be provoked, Angel turned away. Suddenly, he was seized, and Spike rubbed the blood into his face, grinding the bag around, pushing it into his mouth.
Angel gagged and spat and fought, but Spike held him as effortlessly as if he were a child.
Suddenly, Angel went limp, and he just stood there, not trying to get away any more. Blood ran down his face onto his shirt; his mouth was coated with it, his hair plastered and sticking up.
Spike stopped and took the bag away.
Angel waited until his arm was released, then calmly unbuttoned his shirt, put it neatly into the hamper, and went into the bathroom, out of sight, to take his pants off and take a shower.
Spike watched him go, feeling his heart was being ripped out with each step. He turned and faced one of the mirrors but didn't like what he saw in it at all.
Angel dressed and went out. He came back late and slept on the couch. When the sun came up, he walked pointedly past the bed and into the training room, where he shut the door. Spike heard some music come on - Bach, one he particularly hated - and then a soft running sound began. It went on for almost an hour, followed by some clanking and other strange sounds.
Angel came back out, sweating heavily, and walked even more pointedly into the bathroom.
Spike clenched his jaw, but slid naked out of bed and followed him in. Angel turned angrily. 'Do you mind?'
'I'm trying to take a shower here.'
Spike backed up and leant on the wall outside the bathroom. When Angel emerged, wrapped in a towel and rubbing his hair, Spike said softly, 'We promised we'd talk about things, Angel.'
'I think you've done enough talking. I'm bored of listening to you.'
'Is that so?'
'Yeah. Mind out the way.'
Angel rummaged in the closet, selecting clothes, rejecting others.
'Are you bored of me?'
A small twitch flared in Angel's face, but he clenched his jaw, not replying.
'I'm sorry, Angel. I didn't mean it.'
Angel dressed, pouting. 'It doesn't really matter whether you did or not, Spike. It was said and can't be unsaid.'
'Jesus, Angel! Are you really so… fragile? Is your ego so inflated that you can't take…?'
'You heard. Get out.'
'Of my apartment? Oh, this is SO much fun, Angel. Here we go round the bloody Mulberry bush again. Shall I go weeping to Giles? YOU fucking get out.'
'You heard. You leave. Cus, ya know, I can kinda make you now, can't I?'
'You wouldn't dare….'
'No?' Spike grabbed his arm and pulled him, bare feet, hair still wet, toward the elevator. He pushed him in and punched the buttons. 'Bye.'
Once more, the mirrors mocked him wherever he turned.
He crawled back onto the bed and pulled the covers over his head. It was strangely comforting, and there were no reflections, good, bad, or absent.
Some time later, however, he heard someone coming into the apartment and flung the covers back with a grin of pleasure. Sam watched him with a neutral expression.
'Oh, it's you.'
Spike sat up and realised he was naked. He pulled on some jeans and sat, staring disconsolately at his hands.
'Did you see Angel?'
'He was in his office, on the telephone. What do you want me to say?'
'Oh. He looked… okay though?'
'His hair looked weirder than usual, but okay, I guess.'
'There's a party- my place. Friday.'
'Yeah, like I feel like a party.'
'I want you there; so, you be there.'
Spike cursed, pulled on a shirt and some boots, grabbed some things out of the closet and nightstand, and jogged over to the elevator. He rode down, still fuming, stomped across the agency, and went into Angel's office.
'I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Here.' He put the shoes he'd brought onto the desk and then shyly held out a small jar. 'Some poofy shit for your hair.'
He turned on his heel and went to his own office, shutting the door between them very softly.
After an hour, he looked up from his silent contemplation of nothing to find Angel, leaning in the doorway, studying him.
Spike frowned and glanced away.
'I'm sorry about all the mirrors. I'll take down the ones in the main room.'
Spike nodded and shrugged.
'I'm finding it hard to… adjust, Spike. I'm trying.'
Spike's face crumpled, but he pouted to cover. 'I know, Pet. I'm sorry. Fuck, I'm just sorry, yeah?'
'So… you're not leaving?'
'Am I being… moved out?'
Spike tried a small chuckle, but it wasn't very convincing. Instead, he got up and went awkwardly to Angel. 'Anyone tries to dispossess you, you tell your vampire protector, yeah? I'll kick his bloody arse.'
Angel made a small, amused sound, but before he could say anything, he heard a small cough behind him. 'Is everything all right, Angel?'
Angel ran his fingers through his hair and murmured, 'Wesley. Get the builder guys back.'
Wesley glanced thoughtfully down at the bare feet, but nodded and went out.
Angel turned and went back to his computer.
Spike stayed in the doorway, trying to pick up from Angel's expression what he was thinking, but was completely cut off from him. He went in and perched on the edge of his desk. 'So… we're okay?'
Angel looked up. 'Okay? Yeah, I'm that, Spike. I'm just - what's that expression of yours? Peachy- I'm just peachy.'
'Huh. And… that's ironic, yeah?'
'I've just got back from hell; I'm human again- but I don't know which human I am. My so-called lover has just told me I'm not a very attractive human, and now I've gone and fucked up my apartment. So, yeah, I'm not sure, Spike. What do you think?' He threw his pencil angrily onto the desk, grabbed the shoes, and pushed past Spike. 'I'm going out. For a walk. In the sun.'
'Maybe wanna fix your hair first, Pet?'
Angel stopped and turned. Suddenly, his shoulders sagged, and he came back hesitantly. 'Who am I, Spike?'
'I don't know, Angel. I'm beginning to wonder that myself.'
'I'm not Liam. He was so… but maybe I'm just him with all this new knowledge and all these memories. Because, ya know, he was SO not who I want to be.' Suddenly, he put a hand on Spike's cheek. 'It's like you said about William- that lurking stranger you don't wanna be? I mean, what would you do if you'd come back human and started to be William again?'
Spike raised an eyebrow. 'I'm guessing I wouldn't go to Babel.'
'Exactly. I think. Anyway… Jesus, Spike, have I just filled our apartment with fucking mirrors?'
Spike began to laugh. Angel suddenly grinned and looked down. 'No one said it was going to be easy.'
Spike took hold of a button on Angel's shirt and pulled him closer. He opened his thighs and pulled him in tight. 'No. It's hard.'
Angel raised an eyebrow and glanced down. 'It is.'
Suddenly, Angel backed away. 'You don't have to do this, Spike.'
Spike took a very deep, very calming breath and tried to say in a neutral tone, 'What?'
'Pretend you find me… desirable.'
'What? What the fuck do you think this is? My bloody wallet sticking up here?'
'You're always hard. I was always hard. It meant nothing.'
'No, Angel, it means I want you!'
'I- I feel awkward. When we do it. Big.'
'I thought you said you felt smaller.'
'Sometimes. Other times… big. Heavy.'
'Oh, shit. Do I have to say I'm sorry again? Here- I'll carve it in blood on my fucking arm. I'M SORRY.'
'I know. But I thought it. I think it. You being sorry doesn't make it untrue. I'm not… I can't… I don't feel like…. Look, I'm not moving out or anything, but I think maybe a few days apart?'
'I just need….'
'No. We find space in the space we've got. I'll… bloody hell… I'll go out at night- vampire here, remember?'
'Yes. I do. I remember it all.'
'Right. I'll live vampire hours for a few days, Pet. I'll be gone when you're there, and I'll sleep when you're out in the sun. How's that?'
'Okay. That's… okay.'
Spike got up and eased past Angel toward the door.
'Why are you being so calm about this, Spike?'
Spike turned and gave Angel an ambiguous smile. 'I did not calm for two weeks, Angel- about something important. This isn't important. It's just a thing, and we'll get over it. You're back. That's all I care about.'
'Stop it, Luv. Course you are.'
'Okay. If you say so….'
'I do. Now, put your shoes on; fix your hair; go out, and take the little mutt with you. Walk in the park; enjoy the sun… and Angel- I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.'
to chapter 4
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