Wesley woke very early, as he always did these days. It really annoyed him, for there was little to motivate him in the passing of the days, nothing to get out of bed for except a shower - which he always felt in need of when Lilah had been there. He glanced at the clock, frustrated that it was so early still.
He pulled on a pair of old sweats and, rubbing his hair, went into the living room. He was startled by a soft knock on the door, not sure who or what he most hoped it would be. He put the chain on and opened it a crack cautiously. 'Ah. Spike.'
'I heard you were better.'
'I heard you weren't.'
'What do you want?'
'What do you want?'
'I want you to piss off.'
Spike chuckled. ''K. Sorry, gotta keep me hand in; you never know when I might need it again.' Despite the small laugh, Wesley had the distinct impression that Spike was not really joking.
Wesley sighed, as if making a difficult decision then shut the door on Spike. He released the chain and opened it again before Spike had time to change his slightly amused expression. 'Come in.'
Spike stepped in and went immediately over to the window, as if needing the reassurance of the additional space. 'This place smells.'
'I expect it does. I don't feel much like cleaning it.'
'What do you want, Spike?'
'I want you to tell me why you are here.'
Spike turned a withering look on the man. Ignoring the look, Wesley ran his eyes over the clear signs of physical healing on the vampire. 'You've been feeding well.'
'Yeah. Been stuffing every day. Had to. Been ordered.'
'Why do you want to know about me?'
'I don't specifically about you - I want to know about her. I know the bare outline: Darla was brought back human; she wanted Angel again; he wanted her; you staked her. I want to know more.'
'Again, I repeat, why?'
Spike turned and looked him in the eye. 'Why do you think? I need Angel to help me. Angel is the only person I can come to for help. I need to know why he wanted his dark side again. If he did, I might. If he did, what if I get into this with him - this healing - and he turns on me? See? I need to know.'
Wesley took a long, deep, thoughtful breath. He looked intently at Spike. He came a little closer to see what the vampire would do. Spike continued to look at him with a frank, honest - if slightly sad - expression.
Wesley nodded. 'I don't believe a single word of that.'
Spike frowned. 'Why the hell else would I want to know? You've been fucking with the devil too long, I'm thinking, Wesley.'
Wesley took a step back. 'You know about her?'
'Angel told me his version of it, yeah.'
'Oh, and wouldn't I love to have heard that.'
Spike grinned. 'It was colourful. I'll give you that.'
Effectively distracted from his initial suspicion, Wesley turned to put the kettle on. 'Tea?'
Spike came forward, keeping his intense blue eyes clear and fixed on Wesley. 'Haven't been offered that for a while. Yeah.'
'So, the sordid little story, hey?'
'Oh yeah, and don't leave anything out if it's sordid. Always liked sordid.'
Wesley poured the tea and handed Spike his. He sat on the couch, and Spike hopped up onto the kitchen counter.
'You know Wolfram and Hart brought her back? From… wherever you go when you get staked, I guess…. She was human then, and Angel could not resist her. He just couldn't.'
Spike leant forward intently at this, listening, but he did not interrupt.
'She would come to him at night apparently - some kind of spell, although we never really knew how. It didn't help that Angel didn't tell us….'
'Didn't tell you his dead sire was fucking him in his dreams? I wonder why he didn't….'
Wesley ignored his look and continued. 'Well, she got turned again….'
'No. Tell me more about the obsession.'
'Why? This is all just setting the scene for the part you wanted to know about.'
'No, I want to know it all. That. Tell me about his obsession. Why was he obsessed with her? What did she do? What was she like?'
'Well, you knew her….'
'Yeah, but I hated the bitch; I never got the attraction. Tell me what you think Angel saw in her.'
'Well, she was fragile in a way, I suppose. Fragile, but strong… no, not strong… feisty. Without trying to make her sound like Doris Day, she was very feisty….'
'Feisty….' Spike murmured the word, but then nodded at Wesley to continue.
'She was intensely sexual, of course, and being human, she exuded warm sexuality.' He blushed slightly at Spike's raised eyebrows. 'If you are into ice-queen bitches, that is. I prefer someone a little more….'
'Down and dirty?'
Wesley chuckled. 'Yes. Anyway, like you, I didn't like her, but even I could see why Angel might be attracted to her.'
'Jesus, Spike, do you want me to draw you a picture of Angel's sexual frustration?'
'Bloody hell. Look, work it out for yourself, Spike - you're a man… or have a man's urges, anyway….'
Wesley chuckled again at Spike's teasing look and relaxed slightly. 'Who's telling this? Urges are exactly the right word for Angel. He was, is, totally sexually repressed - he has repressed himself. I didn't really see or understand it until I….'
Spike leant further forward. 'Got a bit un-repressed yourself?'
'Yes. When I'm… with her… I can imagine Angel…. And, God that sounded so wrong. When I look at him now, I can see it all swirling around inside him: the need for physical touch, the need for release and the need for love.' Wesley looked down and stroked a small crease in his sweats for a moment. 'I sometimes think that the thing with Darla has left Angel… broody - as if…. No. That's too….'
'What? As if what? And how do you mean broody?'
Wesley looked up, but his gaze was far away. 'If he were a woman, I'd say his biological clock was ticking. He's desperate to love something. Darla stirred up all that huge capacity for love, and it's eating him away inside. He's vulnerable.'
Spike suddenly slipped off the counter, and Wesley jumped. Spike covered by waving his empty mug, and Wesley got up to make some more tea. When he thought the human was ready, Spike said quietly, 'Go on then. Darla human, Angel needing love.'
'Oh, yes. But he wouldn't let himself have her….'
'Will you stop interrupting? Because she was human, because he feared a moment of true happiness again, because she wanted him to turn her, because he'd practiced that repression for so long I don't think he could break free of it - I don't know…!'
'Oh. 'K. Go on.'
'Thank you. So, then she got turned again, and it destroyed him for a while. He got crazy; she turned up again, and she was still everything he wanted - but demon now, too. So he slept with her.'
Wesley turned away and began to poke at his teabag with a spoon.
'Go on, Mate.'
'I couldn't let him go to her. Do you see? I couldn't let her have him - not after he had come so far, made such a journey. So I stayed on at the hotel one night. I didn't really know how far they had gone together. I wasn't sure he would actually sleep with her - with the devil's whore. Huh. Anyway, I went into… the room. He was… engrossed, didn't hear me. I thought she was… attacking him while he slept again. I don't know why I thought that, but she was sitting on him like a bloody incubus….'
'Oh, do I sense this is gonna get good?'
'Not really. Not for me. Not for Angel, and definitely not for Darla. Angel was… grunting, and for one second, I thought he was suffocating - and to this day, I'm not sure whether that was because I had so stopped thinking about him as a vampire, or that I wasn't thinking much at all. I ran up, and I staked her from behind. They were so… busy, they didn't even sense me.'
Spike pouted to cover his need to laugh. 'And there was just… dust?'
'Hmm. Dust and something sticking up in the dust. It wasn't funny, Spike.'
'Nah. Course not. Tragic. So, one pissed Angel. Hey, Wes, what'd'ya reckon? Angel more pissed that you staked Darla or that you got to see his pecker?'
'I think I preferred you insane, Spike.'
Spike took his refreshed tea and, still chuckling, went to sit on the other end of the couch. 'Summary then…. Why Darla?'
'Why did Angel become obsessed with Darla? Do you want my honest opinion? I think because she was there, she was available - a demon - and she reminded him of a time when he did not have to restrain.'
Spike buried his face into his mug and kept his expression neutral. 'Okay. Now I know. So, 's not gonna happen again then - unless there's another Darla out there.'
'And that, I am very relieved to say, is not going to happen. I'm not sure what we've accomplished here, Spike.'
''S given me a laugh, for one thing.'
'Oh, good, I always enjoy providing the comic relief.'
'Do you like providing relief, Wes?'
'Ah, the madness returns. Time for you to go, Spike; it's nearly light, and I do not fancy having you lurking around here all day.'
Spike smiled and stood up. 'I'll see you around, Watcher.'
'Unfortunately, I doubt that.'
Wesley held the door, and Spike sauntered out into the hallway with a small backward wave of his hand then he paused. He turned and said casually, 'What brought him back from the dark place? What saved him?'
Wesley didn't need to think about that one and said without hesitation, 'His friends. He has good friends, and they stuck by him.'
Spike nodded thoughtfully, gave Wesley a two-fingered salute of thanks and disappeared. Wesley leant thoughtfully on the door, running the odd visit through his head. He knew Spike was not being honest with him. He distrusted the vampire's motives, but he didn't know why.
For all that he was depressed, lonely, slightly mad, and sleeping with his own devil's whore, there was still a very large part of Wesley that was just that: Wesley. That part was disturbed by Spike's visit. He showered, shaved, and when he felt the Wesley part reforming inside him, he went out for a walk in the sunshine to think. He wandered into a park and sat down on a bench, watching the children play. This complete contrast between sunlight and happy voices and what his life had become seemed to put things into perspective, and he found it easier to think.
He allowed both meetings with Spike to run through his head, letting them flow without consciously trying to examine them. In this way, connections were made, odd things began to make sense, and Wesley suddenly saw that there was another alternative to the scenarios he had outlined to Angel: Angel might be destroyed by Spike and lost to the great fight in that way.
Wesley pouted slightly. He had no proof. He had nothing concrete that he could take to Angel and say, here, this is what Spike will do to you. On the contrary, he had only superstition; nothing that did not look like sour grapes and, on the telling, might only ally Angel more closely to Spike.
He could see no way forward that did not mean alienating himself even further from Angel, and he had the uneasy feeling that if Angel ever needed a faithful friend, then he needed one now.
Angel came down early that evening to see if any interesting cases had come in. He leant on the counter, smiling at the three humans. 'Hi.'
They glanced up, and Fred beamed at him. 'Hi ya.'
They returned to their conversation, which, as far as Angel could work out, was about a movie they were planning to see. He laughed when they laughed. He smiled when he saw them smiling but, as usual, he did not really get it. He heard it; he understood the words, but the human sensitivities were utterly alien to him.
He even risked a comment and felt pleased when they all turned to him and included him, as if he were one of them. Then he feared they were only humouring him, and that they might think of him as nothing more than a demon playing at being a human.
Still trying to appear interested, he suddenly felt eyes on him. He turned to find Spike sitting on one of the couches, leaning on his knees, watching him with an amused smile. He went to sit next to him.
'How are you feeling?'
''K. Bored. Rather be doing something. Angel....?'
Angel turned, slightly wary. 'Hmm?'
'Can I ask you something?'
'Is this a trick question?'
Spike chuckled. 'Dunno. I just wanted to ask....' He glanced up at the humans who, while they weren't actually listening to their conversation, were clearly curious. 'Can we go somewhere. Your room?'
Angel glanced at Spike's face and nodded. 'Okay.'
He poured them both a drink, and they sat in chairs by the window so Spike could smoke. Angel was patient and waited for him to come to it in his own time. Eventually, Spike stubbed out the cigarette on the sill and said in a rush, 'How do you cope with it, Angel? What keeps you sane?'
Pleased beyond measure, flattered that Spike was confiding in him, Angel leant forward and said seriously, 'It isn't easy, Spike; I won't pretend that it is. It's a constant struggle, day and night. As you said, you need to keep busy. When I'm not working, I meditate, paint, sketch…. I don't allow myself any time when I am not busy.'
'You still draw?'
'When I'm in the mood.'
'I remember you being good. Can I see some stuff you've done recently - of the guys downstairs? Buffy?'
Angel frowned slightly. Still flattered, still pleased that Spike's attitude was so positive, he nevertheless did not want to share something so personal with Spike. Spike saw this hesitation and looked away quickly. 'Sorry. Don't worry, hey? Guess I've not earned the right yet.'
Angel blinked and, with a deep sigh, got up and went to his desk. He lifted out a folder and sat down again with it on his knees.
'This one is Buffy. From memory obviously.'
Spike looked at it a long time without expression. Angel watched his face closely then handed him another.
'Fuck.... The bitch.'
''S good. Looks just like her.' Spike quickly moved it to one side and put out his hand for another. Angel chuckled and handed one over. Spike jerked his head back at the portrait of Drusilla and ran his fingers lightly over her face. 'Best of all, Mate. Isn't she beautiful?'
'Yes. They all were. Are.'
Angel hesitated over this last one but, eventually, handed it over. Spike looked sharply at him when he saw its content. 'Me?'
'Where's me eyes then? You tryin' to tell me something?'
'I... I started it when you first got here.' Angel looked up at him with a frank expression. 'I've not been able to decide about you, so I haven't been able to get them right.'
'Oh. Maybe you should do it from life then, not just from memory.'
'Maybe.' Angel was uncharacteristically pleased with this veiled suggestion that they spend more time together and, puzzled by his reaction, took the picture back to replace it with the others in his folder.
'No humans then?'
Spike smiled. 'They were all the dead, Angel.'
'Been there though. Anyway. I'm kinda tired now; maybe I should sleep like you said.'
Angel nodded, pleased that Spike seemed to be following his advice.
Just as he went out of the door, Spike turned and said hesitantly, 'I'm really missing the fighting, Mate. I feel so angsty all the time, ya know? What do you reckon to us doing some training together tonight?'
Angel's dead heart sparked with pleasure. 'Of course.'
Spike grinned a slightly cheeky grin. 'I'll work off some of that easy-living flab for ya.'
'I'll teach you some manners.'
Spike laughed. 'Tonight then.'
Angel returned to the humans in the lobby, now not bothering to find out what they were talking about. His head was full of Spike: his swift recovery, the interest he was taking in his life, the promise of things they could do together. Not since Darla's re-appearance as a human had Angel felt such a sense of there being someone who knew him well enough for him to let his guard down slightly: someone who was also a demon, with demonic thoughts and desires coursing through them.
Suddenly, Angel realised for the first time that there might be some benefit to him from having brought Spike here. He'd been truthful: he'd done it for Buffy. But now it occurred to him that he not only had a fellow vampire living with him, but one that was soulled as he was: a soulled vampire who had known him for nearly two hundred years.
He tried some sketches of Spike to see if he could get the eyes right, but sketching from memory suddenly seemed very frustrating. Who wanted their own interpretation of such eyes when you could stare intently at the real thing? Angel knew a tiny amount of loneliness had lifted from him that day, and the promise of the coming evening excited him more and more as the day wore on.
Spike emerged just as the sun set, dressed all in black. Angel looked at him. 'What sort of training do you want to do? Weapons? Hand to hand?'
'I wanna run, and I want you to try and catch me.'
'Outside, Angel, in the dark, through the streets.... I just want to run and run, but I want you to hunt me down. Or are you too slow these days?' He lifted his eyebrow provocatively.
Angel laughed a deep, belly laugh. 'Yesss, I think I'm going to enjoy the teaching of the manners. How much of a head start do you need?'
'How little can you afford?'
'You cheeky brat. Okay. Five minutes. But....'
Spike was moving toward the door, so hesitated. 'What?'
'We are very... estranged. I don't sense you as I once did. As I ought.'
'Oh. So, what, you wanna bite me?'
'Not want to, but can't hunt you if I don't.'
'Oh. Kinda out of practice of this.' Spike stood nervously by the door. Angel went toward him.
'Has it been so long that you've forgotten?'
'Not forgotten, no. Just repressed somewhat.'
'Come here then.'
Spike chuckled a little. 'There should be rising music from a bleedin' orchestra, shouldn't there? Momentous moments? Profound reunions?'
'You think too much and most of it's crap. You wanted this hunting game....'
'Yeah. If I'd have thought of this, I'd never have suggested it.' He looked down at Angel's shoes. 'Go on then.'
'Look at me.'
Spike did and watched the transition. Oddly, he found this face less confusing than the other. This face had mostly only been what it purported to be, and he knew where he was with it. He tipped his neck a little to one side and smiled softly. 'Make it hurt. Make it a good one.'
Angel frowned but did not hesitate to place his mouth to the pale neck. He had not been this close, he had not smelt or tasted Spike's skin like this, for over a hundred years. It stirred powerful memories of a time when restraint was something to tie people up with. It made his demon nature writhe. It made his dead heart swell with the promise of family blood - his blood, coming back to him refined through this childe of his creation. It made other things swell, and Angel hesitated momentarily to enjoy the tightening in his balls and the slight tingle up and down his shaft as it thickened in his soft pants. At just the right moment, just when all things came together in a heady swell of pleasure, he sliced into Spike's neck. He could not help the small grunt of satisfaction at the feel of flesh parting to his desire once more. He put his hands around Spike's neck and entwined his fingers through the long hair. Deep, strong sucks eased Spike's blood into Angel's mouth where he held it a little too long, tasting it, before he let it roll down his throat.
He thought he could get no more pleasure from the bite until he felt Spike's hand creep up hesitantly to his neck, as if not sure it would be allowed or welcome. Angel took one hand off Spike and clamped it over Spike's hand, encouraging him to rub and play with his hair. He felt Spike's body relax fractionally, and for the briefest of moments, their hips brushed together. Angel pulled back from the intense pleasure of this brief brush, willing to explore his demon nature as far as feeding off this childe, but not willing to explore other more repressed urges.
Spike felt Angel pull back and eased him off his neck. He looked at Angel with his head tilted a little on one side. Tense and slightly disconcerted, Angel waited to see if Spike would mention the oddly sexual moment.
Spike suddenly grinned. 'Catch me if you can, Pillock,' and he flew out of the building in a blur of black.
Angel almost howled with excitement. No way was he waiting the agreed five minutes, but he knew Spike only expected him to cheat and grinned at their shared knowledge of each other. He dived out of the door and sensed the night air. Spike's blood, as a magnet on a compass, seemed to swing him toward the north, so he followed the instinct and began to run. Spike was right. It felt good to run. Now he was stirring his demon blood so, his senses became more acute. He could sense Spike's essence somewhere just ahead of him, sense that he had climbed. He stopped and looked up. A pale face watched him from the top of a building. Suddenly, Angel dived and rolled, a trashcan missing him as it was thrown from the building. It missed him by some feet, and Angel smiled in pleasure at the knowledge that Spike was only playing.
He began to climb the fire escape, faster than human eyes could have seen. He was flying on pure demon adrenaline now, but when he reached the top, Spike had gone. He eyed the gap to the next building and ran, landing heavily but squarely on the other side. Spike giggled from edge of the building he'd been on, tutted, and then turned, shooting down the fire escape. Angel cursed, backed up and leapt back, not getting enough run up and only catching the edge of the roof. He hauled himself up, but all this was delaying him, and by the time he reached street level, he'd lost sight of Spike.
Angel allowed his conscious brain to shut down, and he followed his instincts, running further and further into the run-down outskirts of the industrial district. He didn't even see the squalor, took no notice of the homeless or their needs, just needing to find Spike. The game was something much more to Angel now. Besides asserting his sire's superiority, besides proving he wasn't fat and that it was all just muscle, he couldn't deny his needs. He wanted to lay his hands on Spike. He wanted to punish him and teach him manners in some imaginative ways. As if conjured by the thought, Spike suddenly materialised at the end of the alley. He seemed about to scale a large chain-link fence, but turned when he sensed Angel. He let out a cry of annoyance that sent shivers down Angel's back. There had been an unmistakable recognition of his sire's power in Spike's cry. The small sound of fear only made Angel harder. He had not been consciously aware of his erection during the chase, it was just in the background: a subtle counterpoint to the pumping of his dead blood, the taste of power in his mouth and the joy of knowing that one of his childer was so close. Now, it dominated his mind. He felt it urgent, rising against his pants as he walked toward Spike.